Around the age of three years old, the impression of cool cars was emblazoned in the mind of Nite Restorations’ Gordie Rutkowski. When he saw, even at a young age, his first car, he was engrossed in that special attraction, whatever it may be, to which all of us auto enthusiasts are drawn. While even as a baby, the attraction was so great, that the three-year-old remembers, decades later, his parents first ‘63 SS, then ‘67 Chevy Impala 4-door (As does this author from his infancy, remembering his parents’ big white boat, convertible, ‘65 Impala). “For a 4-door, I always thought the car had such clean lines,” says Rutkowski. “And when all the windows were rolled down, it was like an open cockpit under that hard top.”
From there, Gordie was hooked! Even playing with toy cars, he was taking them apart and putting them back together. If he saw his dad wrenching on something, then he wanted to follow suit. “My mom came downstairs one day and found me with the dryer all torn apart,” he chuckles. “I wanted to know how the drum went round and around!”
His first auto project was his first car, as a hand-me-down from his sister around the age of 14 years old. Until he was old enough to drive it himself, his dad drove the car as his daily driver back and forth to work at GM. Gordie recalls from back then that the car needed a heater core, and his dad told him to pull a couple parts and panels to prepare for the replacement. Gordie says that by the time his father got to the car, he had already removed the fenders, hood, and pretty much everything around the heater core. “My dad saw it all and he just shook his head,” says Gordie. “I guess this is gonna be a bigger project after all, said his father.”
To this day, the 1973 Plymouth Duster that Gordie and his dad worked on, is still Gordie’s prized possession, with a few more replacement projects having taken place along the way. Included in his many modifications have been changing out his chassis for a C6 corvette chassis, and trading the classic Mopar 440 for a modern LS2 engine with Howell EFI Harness and ECM.
After working on cars for most of the years of his life, Gordie converted from phone and cable installations as a trade, to mechanic and restoration work. He started in a shop working their needs, while working his own interests at home on his time off. In the early 2000’s Gordie launched Nite Restorations (Memphis, MI), eventually replacing the shop where he was working by day, and took over the customer base when the employer shop had closed.
“By using Howell EFI, I know it’s one less thing I have to worry about,”Gordie Rutkowski of Nite Restorations
Nite Restorations operated as a one-man biz for many years, with Gordie building full restorations, custom fab work and modifications. Fast-forward and the Impala-inspired 3 yr. old has grown into his own thriving car business. Within his service offerings Gordie has always been a proponent of carburetor conversions to EFI. “I started using Howell stuff back in the 90’s” says Gordie. “I was doing a lot of Chevy TBI and Tuneports conversions for many years.”
When the LS motor swaps began, Gordie’s use of Howell EFI conversions quickly grew to the point that Howell awarded him dealership status. “Almost anytime I’m working with a swap I just tell them at Howell what I want to do with the motor, and what I want to switch and change with the EFI harness. They take care of all the modifications, send to me, I plug in the ECM and it’s golden. There’s never any problems down the road. When I know my customer doesn’t want to mess with it, and just wants the reliability and the durability for their vehicle, I just call Howell for the kit, and I know I, nor my customer has to worry about anything. I don’t think any of my cars have come back for even a sensor replacement. As far as I know, they are all still out there running great.”
Gordie also takes advantage of Howell benefits knowing not only that Howell EFI kits deliver everything needed for the conversion in one fell swoop to run reliably thereafter, but in the business of custom restorations, many modification and custom designs are the key to success. Changing out motors from one vehicle into a vehicle laid out for a completely different design can often require some very creative redesigns. All of which, Nite Restorations has encountered for years.
“When I did my Duster for example,” begins Gordie, “and even a recent ‘69 Camaro project too, in converting to almost a race-car chassis underneath, everything was going to be close to the motor. The great thing about Howell is that I can work with them to discuss my plans and my design. I’m able to completely customize my design specific to the car, and design my own harness needed. I can explain what leads I need at what lengths, where the ECM will mount, relay locations, where I want my fuse box, etc. I can literally just send them the specs I have designed and laid out for my build. Then I have folks taking pics because even the EFI harness looks nice,” he chuckles. “I love that Howell will work with me on the harness and move things to where I need it to be. Dealing with other manufactures, they think that its one size fits all. And it’s just not that way. Each individual project is different, regardless of the package they try to persuade others to buy.”
“By using Howell EFI, I know it’s one less thing I have to worry about,” states Gordie.
Even if Gordie is not doing the build himself he invites those wanting to do it themselves, to call him to place their order. “I can assist with the buying and purchasing they need for their build. If they may not know exactly what they need, I probably have a good idea what’s needed. As a dealer, I can sell them what works best for their project, because I have probably already been through the same issues prior.”
Today’s customer comes to Nite Restorations because they know the quality workmanship that they expect, will be delivered. They know that Gordie does not cut corners, and they know and trust the honesty that Gordie delivers. After his many successful years pursuing his automotive passions, Rutkowski still has his eyes on his next dream project. “I’ve completed the car I grew up with, my Duster, and I still have a ‘65 Dodge Coronet that my friend and I used to race on the streets,” says Gordie. “That’s sitting here and I’d really like to do a Corvette drivetrain/EFI conversion for this one too. It’s waiting in line with all of the other one’s. But I’ll always have my Duster. I look forward to the next decade of this and then shuttin’ it down, kicking back and enjoying all of my cars I’ve accumulated!”