High school grad making a difference

Sebastian Gupta created "The Saab Project," in which he took a 2000 Saab 9-5 sedan and worked to restore it to factory conditions.

June 21, 2011 2:50:14 PM PDT
A local high school graduate is making a difference after starting a project -- on his own -- to benefit the Houston Area Women's Center.

What teen wouldn't love a shiny car with brand new everything. Well this teen restored everything in it, but not for himself -- he did it for others.

The 2000 Saab has been completely restored but it looks brand new. Sebastian Gupta bought it at an auction last summer for $1,400.

"The first time I opened this hood, I saw quite a mess. I mean it was filled with leaves and there were remnants of maybe a squirrel's nest in here," he said.

And underneath, it wasn't much better.

"There was a big hole in the bottom. It wasn't muffling the sound at all so the SAAB had quite a rumble when you started it up; driving on the highway would give you a headache," Gupta said.

And yet, Gupta wanted to restore the car as part of a project.

"Last summer, my parents challenged me to spend my summer doing something that involved my interests in business and mechanical engineering and also something that benefited those less fortunate," he said.

A great idea, until he had a master mechanic give an assessment.

"It was bad. It was in real bad shape," master mechanic Brian Boone said.

Like most teenagers, Gupta didn't let the bad news stop him. He worked on the car every day for two months, replacing just about everything.

"Even the turbo charger on the car, the brake suspensions, the bushings, a full A/C system, you name it and it's done. It's effectively a brand new car," he said.

It is the Houston Area Women's Center that will benefit from the car's sale, a resource offered from hard work.

"Not being especially mechanic myself, I have a real appreciation for what must have gone into it. I'm very impressed," said Rebecca White with the Houston Area Women's Center.

The car currently is on auction online and all the proceeds will go to the center.

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