Tuning cars as fine as strings

Head orchestra director Bill Zauner collects vintage cars, VW Classics

He’s got a routine.

Like most other head orchestra directors, Bill Zauner begins every day by tuning the violins and cellos, as well as leading students in warm-up exercises. However, his life after school is different. Of course, it includes grading assignments and locking doors, but Bill has a hobby contrasting to the majority of his co-workers waiting for him at home.

Bill has been absorbed in the art of mechanics ever since his dad brought home a 1950 classic Chevy pickup truck. He began working on the truck with his brother and father when he was in fourth grade, which led him to become interested in the mechanics of his first car. Once he was able to earn enough money on his own, he bought his own VW bus.

“It was kind of like a father [and] son bonding Thing,” Bill said. “He taught us how to work on cars. My first car was a 1959 Lincoln. When I got my first VW bus from my freshman year in college was when I really got into it.”

Bill has transferred his father’s love for cars into his own life and has kept the passion alive throughout his adult life. Additionally, he established a bond with his wife, Madison Zauner, for repairing old, beaten down cars together.

“I would say he does all the hard work but I am fully supportive of the hobby,” Madison said. “Car shows, VW art, helping ‘bleed the brakes’ when he needs me or more. As soon as I can learn to drive standard, I hope to help drive to car shows.”

With support from Madison, Bill is able to work more diligently on cars such as the ‘brunch mobile,’” which Bill restored two days before their wedding during the summer of 2019, and it was used for many of the photos from the wedding.

“You can always see us on a sunny weekend driving around Flower Mound and Lewisville trying out different brunch spots,” Madison said. “He loves seeing the cars bring smiles to peoples faces.”

In addition to transferring the passion into his adult relationships, Bill has kept the hobby alive with his father and brother with their assortment of classic cars, three of which are still in the family today.

“My sons and I started with a 1950 Chevy Pickup 25 years ago,” Bill’s father Michael Zauner said. “That is the only classic I still have. We have also had an American Motors Corporation (AMC) AMX muscle car, a 1959 Lincoln, a 1973 Plymouth Duster.  AMC and Plymouth are no longer in business. [Bill] also had a Firebird that we cut off the roof and put in T-tops. My other son still has his Duster.”

Along with the cars he has worked on with his family, Bill also uses his off time to work on his own projects with his wife at home. Bill’s ability to take on new projects has impressed others around him, especially his wife.

“The most interesting thing about the collection is that he has put in almost all the work himself,” Madison said. “Many people his age and his work schedule have not accomplished such a fun collection. It always impresses others that he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and rebuild a car from the ground up.”

Bill has used his passion for cars and employed into a hobby he enjoys away from his day job as a teacher. Using this hobby as a stress reliever, Bill constantly thinks about his cars in his free time. Even in his sleep, he wakes up at 2 a.m. and realizes where he needs repairs on his cars.

“Teaching is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but it is emotionally exhausting,” Zauner said. “Going out in the garage [without] having to think, you wrench on some bolts and do that stuff. Sometimes you have a problem, like the alternator wasn’t working on the Beetle for the longest time. That was very frustrating because I couldn’t figure out what the issue was. It’s normally more simple. I redid the brakes on my Karmann Ghia and I spent four or five hours doing that. It’s physically exerting, [but] it’s not a workout or anything. It’s my escape.”