AmbidextrousPosted on March 13th, 2013
Orthopaedic surgeon is a hot rodder at heart
By Nina Russin
When Dr. Richard Shindell was growing up in Phoenix in the 1960s, he and his buddies couldn’t wait for September, when area car dealerships would roll out the new models. Shindell’s father owned a sheet metal shop, so working with his hands came naturally. While in high school, he owned a 1953 MG TD, a ’59 Ford with a police package, and a 1960 Bugeye Sprite he restored himself.
Shindell entered ASU as a biomedical engineering major, and finished with a degree in art. But he also had an interest in medicine, dating back to his eighth grade science class, where he enjoyed rendering parts of the human body.
After undergraduate school, Shindell ran dormitories at ASU, which carried the benefit of being able to attend classes at no cost. A combination of the financial realities of raising a family and his long-time interest in the field drew him back to medicine.
After completing his med school prerequisites at ASU, Shindell and his wife moved to Wisconsin where he attended medical school, eventually settling on pediatric orthopaedics.
“Once of my first rotations in my third year of medical school was orthopaedics,” he said. “Everything just clicked.” Shindell would use his gifted hands to help children born with Scoliosis, Club foot and dislocated hips lead more normal lives.
“When I do a spine, people tell me I’m the best at bending the metal of anyone in surgery,” said Shindell. “I think that comes from working with cars.”
With the grueling schedules of internship, residency and raising a family, Shindell had to put his passion for cars on the back burner. It was not until he and his wife moved back to Phoenix and he had established his practice that he was once again able to pursue his love of cars.
During the week, Shindell performs surgery, primarily at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. He also runs clinics at Children’s Rehabilitative Services.
After hours, Dr. Shindell puts on his machinist’s hat, and goes to work at his restoration shop in downtown Phoenix.
He had always wanted a ’32 Ford. It was, after all, the quintessential hot rod. As the 75th anniversary of the Deuce grew near, he began searching the internet for a car body.
He found one in Kansas, snatched it up and brought it back to Phoenix. He had the body dipped and realized it wasn’t quite what the seller had promised. Shindell and his former high school friends spent many a weekend removing rust and welding in patch panels.
He located the perfect engine in parts: a 1957, 392 Hemi with 354 heads. After putting the engine together, he swapped the fuel delivery system over from carburetion to Hilborn fuel injection.
Shindell used his metal-bending talent to fabricate an aluminum front end. His former high school buddy, Mark Niver helped Shindell learn the art of machining.
Wanting to keep as much original equipment as possible, Shindell converted the former gas tank to a battery box.
After many late nights and long weekends, Shindell found himself the owner of one head-turning Deuce, which went on to win Best Traditional Home Built Car at the Good Guys show last November, and took second place in the Altered Street Sedan class at the Grand National Roadster Show.
Although he doesn’t have any new car projects in his immediate plans, Shindell plans to pursue his love of cars and restoration for many years to come. At the end of the day, this orthopedic surgeon has octane in the blood.
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