Meet the Makers: Nilav Maulik, Modifed Cars

Sophia Stern, Reporter

In Automotive Technology (Auto), students are given the freedom to be creative outside of a classroom setting. During his time in the class, junior Nilav Maulik has repaired a golf cart and worked with other students to build a model of a vintage car.

Maulik decided to take Auto after a friend recommended it. Previously, he had taken Industrial Tech at Jane Lathrop Stanford (JLS) Middle School. In class, one of the main projects students work on is maintaining the race car of Mr. Camicia, the course instructor. “Mr. Camicia’s primary race car is a pink Mazda Miata, which is based on ‘Vroom Vroom the Penguin Car’ from the Madagascar movies, so keeping that in racing condition is our top priority,” he said.

One of the largest projects in Auto is building a model of a vintage car from the 60s, the Surf Woody. “The project was started by two students around 2000, who tried to build a life-size version of a 1960s model car,” Maulik said. So far, they have built the car’s interior, along with the chassis, drivetrain, transmission and suspension. “Everybody in some way or another has pitched in on the car,” he said.

This year in Auto, Maulik as well as other students have also fixed a couple of Model T’s which ran at the Homecoming Halftime show, redid the throttle cable assembly on a Mazda Rx7 and built a wooden bed for a ’55 Ford pickup truck.

Previously, Maulik also repaired a golf cart. “The golf cart had some issues with wheel alignment,” he said. “This affected the travel in the suspension and handling.” Students worked to fix this and made the cart functional once more. “We had to machine a piece of steel that dropped the suspension about four inches and neutralized the camber,” he said.

Auto gives students the opportunity to be creative and use skills like problem solving, which is one of the reasons why Maulik enjoys it. “Auto is one of the most unique classes at Gunn because it doesn’t feel like a class at all,” he said. “It’s more of a playground for people who like solving problems, thinking on their feet and well, cars.”