Phil Mino

Phil Mino passed away Friday at 10:30 pm. Many of us old timers will recall him for his knowledge and dedication to the hobby and detail.
I will miss him.

Very sad. He and I traded parts quite a bit in years past.

Just got this forwarded to me from Larry. It is fitting, and all of us in the Model T community who have known Phil could say much of the same things.

My Mentor, My Friend

By Jason Deisman

Well Phil, the kids followed your wishes, but I’m not your kid! Since I consider this NOT an obituary, or a death notice, it is in fact an ‘article’, so it might just squeak by. While I would love to share that you had 5 wonderful children, that you were an accomplished bluegrass banjo player, and that you had a sarcastically mischievous sense of humor, I’m NOT doing that. This is a STORY of Phil J. Mino. A kid who grew up in Atherton, CA, and got his first Model A at age 12, joined the Model A Ford Club of America, remaining a member for the next 60 years, who attended Cal Poly with his Model A and Model T’s, was a corporate Bondsman for Saloman Brothers and then left the rat race and moved to Strathmore,Ca to grow olives and restore antique Fords. He consistently gave advice to those in the hobby up until his passing in August of this year. His loss has made me reflect, and this is the conclusions I have come to.

In recent years, many a discussion have been happening in Model A chapters all over the country on how to get youth more involved in Model A’s and get them interested in the hobby and our Model A community. I think Phil Mino had the answer.

That answer was being a mentor, and building relationships. This interaction is pivotal to the survival of our hobby and community. Its going to require a lot of “Phil Mino’s”

out there to get that passion burning again and to pass the torch. As I have most recently experienced, our time is limited.

Phil was a natural teacher. Sharing his knowledge was a source of great joy for him, and that’s how I met him.

I met Phil in 1994, when I wandered down his creepy, overgrown drive, because I had heard through the grapevine of a guy in town who was really into Model A’s. A guru per se. I was very fortunate and already had a 1930 2-door sedan that my dad had cobbled together and it had sat by our old barn for most of my childhood. I knew absolutely nothing about Model A’s and my dad, while super enthusiastic, didn’t know much more. I was hoping that Phil, this experienced builder, could maybe help us with the brakes or rebuild the steering box, and then we would be good.

So, I walked down the drive and knocked on the door. That’s where I met a mustached man who point-blank told me “I won’t do it for you, but I’ll show you how to do it.”

With that, we started a relationship that would last for the next 24 years. A relationship not just with me, but my entire family.

We wheeled and dealed. He would instruct me in all things Model A, and Model T as well. He would send me on many an adventure with my father to pick up parts and projects he had purchased all over California. We shared parts, shared projects, shared resources and best of all… knowledge. It was all about the passion.

Those that knew Phil knew he was a very particular individual and was a purist at heart. However, he NEVER discouraged me in the parts I chose to use to get something going, even if it wasn’t technically “correct” to what rolled off the assembly line. Rather, he pointed out the differences. He told me what I needed to do to take it to that next level in authenticity and correct restorations. He was patient while I progressed with my Model A’s and matured.

During the time of our friendship, I myself had a son, three kids in fact. Jay being the oldest had been around many of my projects for his entire life. He never really had an interest. Then one day Phil says, “I found Jay a car”. He passed on a very good deal so that we could get it for Jay to tinker with. We dragged an old cut off 1928 Tudor/pickup conversion home. Jay was so excited for dad to get it going for him. He definitely wasn’t expecting the “I won’t do it for you, but I’ll show you how to do it” from me!

Jay was turned loose and shown the parts pile. Never being discouraged or criticized about the authenticity or about asking questions. I have often referred to this hobby of ours as being “bit by the bug” or “the sickness”. Well its happened to Jay, he has been infected by it! He quickly got the ol’ A running and cleaned up. He then proceed to flip the 1928 Tudor and funded his own build. A 1929 AA CC truck that had been hacked off to make a farm truck long ago, it had a lot to be desired. Using an engine Phil had rebuilt, and Phil providing ever present guidance, we “horse-traded” for a chassis and some passenger car parts. Phil provided advisory and troubleshooting for both of us independently on our own projects along the way.

A man who most of his life, used a stamp and envelope, often waiting days or weeks to get responses to questions. His methods differed from my own generation of email, and my son’s generation of Direct Messaging, Social Media, and Youtube. Phil bridged the generation gap between all three of us.

How did he bridge that gap? How did he get us involved and interested in vintage in this time of technology? By friendship and guidance. By reaching out to both of us when he saw that flicker of passion. He opened up his knowledge, and accepted our choices and guided us in the right direction. He wasn’t so consumed by stuff to not share, so that others could get the full experience.

As I get older and continue to grow as a man, I realize that most decent men or women have 3-5 people who help make them who they are. He was one of those people for me.

In his final hours, it wasn’t about the cars or the deals that we had in common. It was our friendship and the bond we had made, thanks to some old Fords.

This past May, Jay got his Model A ready enough to debut at his high school car show. Although his truck is modified and I would say a “period correct” 40’s hot rod, it opened up the minds of his classmates who thought that these cars were out of reach. He won an award over all the other students’ Hondas, Mustangs and Jeeps. Teachers and students alike fell in love with an old Model A for the first time, or all over again. One of Phil’s final gestures was that he wanted to donate a 1929 Pickup to the local high school Agriculture/Auto shop class for a class build with the students. With the help of the Charter Oak A’s Model A Club of Visalia, other local antique car enthusiasts, and supporting businesses, we hope to follow Phil’s lead and build interest by guiding the next generation in “hands on” work with Henry’s Lady.

So in closing, I encourage you to reach out to every kid that comes up to you when you’re out with your A, the kids that want to take that photo, or take a closer look at your car, that kid that asks you questions wanting to know more about it. Even if that “kid” is 4O years old, offer them a ride. We’re a club, after all, and everyone with an interest in cars is invited. That is the way to win the hearts of the next generation of Model A owners. We build friendships, and we create a passion that lasts a lifetime.