Helping a Copperstate 1000 participant tune his Porsche 356 before heading out for the day.

Helping a Copperstate 1000 participant tune his Porsche 356 before heading out for the day.

Getting ready to drive a 1953 Porsche 356 Pre-A through the race track at Bondurant Racing School during the Copperstate 1000

Getting ready to drive a 1953 Porsche 356 Pre-A through the race track at Bondurant Racing School during the Copperstate 1000.

Tim Kortebein

JR | St. Joseph, MI

Program:
Automotive Restoration

Internship:
Copperstate 1000 road rally in Arizona

Scholarship:
Mercedes-Benz USA

A love of German cars arrived early for Kortebein, but from an unlikely source – the Volkswagen Beetle “Herbie” from the campy 1968 movie “The Love Bug ” (and its many, many sequels).

Don’t judge; he has a good reason.

“In the ‘Herbie’ movies, the cars have personality,” Kortebein said. “And in real life, different cars have different personalities. A car is more than just a machine. It has quirks and a history.” Besides, he largely identifies with Herbie’s odd personality.

“Eccentric, up for anything, always ready to go,” he said. “That’s a bit of how I view myself.”

Fortunately, his interest and love in collector cars and engineering has a foundation that lies deeper than campy movies about an anthropomorphic diesel compact.

It’s rooted far more deeply in his family, in fact. His parents lived in Germany before he was born, he would tinker in his dad’s basement workshop, and his grandfather even let him have an antique model train set to take apart.

Kortebein said he didn’t know what his grandfather was thinking, but he was successful and still owns the train set today.

“For as long as I can remember,” Kortebein said. “I’ve loved pretty much anything on wheels.”

As an underclassman, he’s already had valuable internship experience – working at a hometown restoration and custom shop, where he got to learn on cars as diverse as a 1929 Hudson, a 1968 Camaro, and a 2015 Mustang.

“It raised my standards and thinking about working on higher-end cars,” he said. “Maybe my love of German automobiles can take me farther than I imagined.”