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It’s all in the detail

This aspiring producer holds the dream summer job of every car enthusiast

Steve Williams stands proudly next to one of the cars he detailed for Daniel Schmitt & Co. (Photograph provided by Steve Williams)

Steve Williams stands proudly next to one of the cars he detailed for Daniel Schmitt & Co. (Photograph provided by Steve Williams)

By Erin Cozad | Contributor

Steve Williams, a sophomore film major, spends his summers similar to many other college students: working. Williams has been a mechanic at Daniel Schmitt & Co. Classic Car Gallery in St. Louis for two years.

The job is fairly simple. When a car enters the shop, Williams must perform what is called a customer detail. First, he begins cleaning the interior of the car by vacuuming the floors, scrubbing the windows and shining any furniture inside. Then, he washes and buffs the exterior portion of the car.

Williams does not perfect just any normal cars. The vehicles that enter Daniel Schmitt & Co. once belonged to some of the most prominent members in America. Williams has gained the opportunity to wash former President John F. Kennedy’s and Elvis Presley’s cars.

He elaborates on his experience of caring for Kennedy’s 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible.

When asked if he was nervous to freshen up the $2.5 million vehicle, he said, “I definitely would’ve been nervous to care for the car. The thing was that my boss did not even tell me it was John F. Kennedy’s car until I was halfway through the job!”

A Ferrari Dino on display lights up the room with its glamour. (Photograph provided by Steve Williams)

A Ferrari Dino on display lights up the room with its glamour. (Photograph provided by Steve Williams)

Williams looks back on the opportunity to care for Kennedy’s car with enthusiasm because he knows it was such a rare opportunity. He loves his job because he gets to work on one of his passions every day and gets the chance to work on some of the most expensive cars in the world.

Although washing such prestigious vehicles can bring pressure, it is Williams’s favorite part of the job. Being a “car nerd,” he loves seeing all the different types of high-value cars that enter the shop. However, because of the consistent flow of rare cars, sometimes the job can feel boring when the same car sits in the shop for days or even weeks.

Challenges also come with the job. Summer working conditions in a car shop can be brutal. A typical work day consists of 10 hours in the heat of a Missouri summer. Temperatures usually range around 95 to 100 degrees.

Working in a secular environment also poses a challenge. His co-workers often mock him for expressing his faith.

Williams responded to this challenge by saying, “I have never been in a situation where my faith has been challenged or (questioned), so it was a very uncomfortable feeling.” He believes he is a stronger Christian because of it.

A C1 Corvette strikes a pose outside the garage. (Photograph provided by Steve Williams)

A C1 Corvette strikes a pose outside the garage. (Photograph provided by Steve Williams)

Williams plans to work part time at Daniel Schmitt & Co. next summer and cannot wait for what exciting classic cars enter the shop. Although he will most likely not be pursuing a career in the car industry, he hopes to find a film job incorporating cars. His dream is a side job where he can create promotional videos for car companies for their new or classic vehicles.

No matter where Williams’s film career takes him, he will never lose the “car nerd” inside of him. Whether he pursues a career involving cars or simply works on his own car someday, he will always bring the lessons and experiences that he gains from his dream summer job.

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