Cam Dedman spent more than a year of his time and nearly $30,000 of his money just to see the look on his grandfather's face when he gave him a special surprise for his 81st birthday last week.
After Dedman, 28, removed the blindfold and Fred Lamar saw that his grandson had completely rebuilt his 1957 Chevy Bel Air, Lamar nearly fainted with shock and joy.
"I was so emotional when I was pulling in,'' Dedman told TODAY. "As soon as I saw his genuine reaction, it was all worth it. His legs were giving out at first, but after that, everything was just great."
"I just couldn't believe it,'' Lamar said. "He's one special grandson, I'll tell you."
Dedman sprung the surprise on Lamar at his home in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 13, two days before Lamar's birthday. He posted pictures on video on Facebook, saying he did this "from the bottom of my heart for my grandpa."
He began working on the project in September 2016, telling his grandfather he just wanted to get the car running again. Lamar first bought the car in the early 1970s, but said he had not driven it since 1976.
"Since I've been a little kid I've always been real close with my grandpa, and he always had hoped to fix it up like he wanted,'' Dedman said. "I told myself one day I would be the one to do it."
Dedman estimates he spent between $20,000 and $30,000 restoring the whole frame, interior body, under body, engine and just about everything else. He even sold one of his own cars to raise money for the project.
He worked on it about four days a week in between his job in landscaping and restoration.
"Every time (Lamar) asked about it, I kept telling him I was busy and had things going on and was moving the car from place to place so I could keep it a secret,'' Dedman said.
"I didn't have any idea that that car was anywhere close to being like that,'' Lamar said. "I just thought he was not even working on it because he was running out of money."
Working on the car has also been therapeutic for Dedman during a difficult time. Two years ago, he was in a serious accident when his car was struck by a woman who was texting and driving. He had two vertebrae crushed in the crash and had to have surgery.
He was working with the McMahan Fire Protection District in Louisville at the time, but the accident ended his firefighting career after he needed rods inserted into his back.
"It took me a good while to get over everything,'' he said. "I had to get back to doing something I loved."
Restoring the Chevy has spurred Dedman to pursue his dream. He has always been into car shows and racing thanks to his father and grandfather.
"I always wanted to own my own hot rod shop,'' he said. "I think this was the final kick."
The car still needs a few more special order parts before Lamar can take it for a spin around town.
"When I got in the car, I was going to start it and take off,'' Lamar said with a chuckle. "I just love it. It's perfect."
Dedman is now looking to pass his love of cars to a fourth generation. His wife, Jessica, gave birth to their son, Cainen, seven weeks ago.
"I'm planning on making a custom car seat to match my grandpa's car,'' Dedman said. "I can't wait."
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