Jeremy Hegfors, underwriter for American Family Insurance. drives the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda he restored with his uncle.

Rebuilding, Restoring and Giving Back

Updated August 27, 2018 . AmFam Team

Jeremy Hegfors is an underwriting operations services senior representative for American Family Insurance — but he’s so much more, too. Jeremy honors his late uncle Dale’s memory by carrying on his passion for restoring classic cars — but most importantly, he’s dedicated to raising money to defeat cancer, the disease that his uncle bravely fought.

Jeremy Hegfors’ uncle Dale passed on his love for classic cars at an early age.

Sometimes it’s hard to trace your inspirations back to their roots. But not for Jeremy Hegfors — for him, it all begins with Hot Wheels cars, strawberry milkshakes and a 1940 Ford Deluxe Sedan.

Jeremy, an underwriting operations services representative for American Family Insurance in Eden Prairie, Minn., fondly remembers his childhood trips to his uncle Dale’s house. It’s at that home in Ely, Minn., where Jeremy learned about and came to share in his uncle’s love of classic cars.

Inside the house, Jeremy and his sister Kim explored an imaginary world, created by Dale, with their Hot Wheels cars. Outside, Jeremy would often hop in the driver seat of one of his uncle’s cars — of which he had 32 of throughout his lifetime — and pretend to cruise Ely just like Dale did in his youth. And later, they’d make trips in one of those cars to Dairy Queen, where Jeremy remembers his uncle’s unvarying order — a strawberry shake.

His love for vintage automobiles exploded as he saw his father and Dale's finished restoration of a 1940 Ford Deluxe Sedan. Jeremy remembers the car vividly — its metallic green paint job, all-leather interior and the cassette player mounted in the dash. The three of them regularly took the car to the Minnesota Street Rod Association’s (MSRA) “Back to the 50’s” Car Show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul.

Jeremy loved the compliments they got on the car, and he especially cherished the conversations it started. Paired with all the meticulously cared-for vehicles he saw at the shows, he knew it wouldn’t be long before he started his own rebuilding project.

Thanks to Dale’s advice, Jeremy settled on a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda. This car wasn’t a distinct metallic green color like the Sedan, but it was certainly memorable — because it was painted approximately six different colors.

Jeremy, his father and Dale quickly tore the car apart and began the rebuilding process. Dale helped rebuild the car’s front suspension, and the three of them rewired the car’s original AM radio to support Bluetooth. And while it might seem like a relatively minor part of a highly technical and intensive rebuilding effort, it’s probably Jeremy’s favorite feature of the car.

Both then and now, Jeremy says there’s only one kind of music that plays on that radio: classic rock.

“It was important to Dale that I have a car that I could enjoy and work on at the same time,” Jeremy says. “Most of his projects didn’t work out that way, so the Barracuda became a dream of both of ours.”

The first two years of the rebuild were filled with ups and downs — something that Jeremy quickly learned is typical in the restoration process. But even with those challenges, working with his father and Dale on a project they all had deep-rooted passion for made the struggles seem insignificant.

Dale was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, and after a long battle with the disease, passed away in 2018. His last ride in his cherished 1967 Hemi Charger came less than a week before his passing, and Jeremy thinks that ride made him feel that his life was complete.

“Dale was an incredible mentor to my sister, cousin and me,” Jeremy says. “He enjoyed taking time to learn about each of our lives, and offered advice if we ever needed it. When we were young, he helped us play. And while we were older, he enjoyed teaching us more about life.

“But even though Dale is gone, his dreams still live on through me.”

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