Condensed chronological biography of Michael J. Kollins
Throughout the soul of a successful man, is a successful woman - RPK
The automobile passion is in my blood, and has been since birth. I can thank my parents for that, namely my father, but not without the loving care and patience of my mother.
Michael J. Kollins was born on March 20, 1912 at St. Clairsville, Ohio, son of Michael A. and Marian (Peck) Kollins. Michael Sr. eventually had an automobile dealership/repair shop where young Michael learned his A, B, and C’s from the hubcaps on the wall. This was an era before you could buy service parts, thus a defective part needed to either be repaired or crafted on site. It was this passion at a young age that gave Michael the persistent drive to excel.
Highlighted professions include: retired automotive engineer, retired U.S. Navy officer, historian, formal speaker and author. Michael was married to Julia Advent on January 16, 1934, having 3 children; Michael L, Richard P, and Laura G.
Michael attended St. Clairsville and Powhatan Point schools 1916-1928 in Ohio. Moving on to Detroit, he studied at College of City of Detroit 1928-1932 and worked as an Engineering Co-op student at Packard Motor Car Company 1930-1932.
Appointments held included being a test driver and engineering analyst at Packard Motor Car Company 1932-1933, and Service counselor and manager at Chrysler Detroit Company (circa 1928-1930). His private efforts included being a racecar builder, owner, driver & mechanic within the CSRA 1932-1939 & American Automobile Association (AAA) 1932-1954 sanctions.
As our nation was interrupted on December 7, 1941, Michael joined the U.S. Navy the following week. His active duty was between 1942-1945, serving as an engineering officer, engineering training officer, Chief Machinists Mate, Ensign, Lieutenant JG, Lieutenant, and Lieutenant Commander. He was active with the PT boat program which used Packard aircraft engines. Though not credited, he wrote service/user manuals for the PT boats. Following the war, he remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve until retiring in 1972.
Following WWII, Michael rejoined Packard Motor Car Company Chief of Section Service Engineering and Technical Data from 1945-1955. During this time, he privately designed & built a custom bodied Duesenberg on a Packard chassis with input from Ed Macauly, Charles Phaneuf, John Rinehart & Richard (Dick) Teague 1951-1958. Note that during this time 2 children came and Packard had to relieve him. I think you can see the patience and love of Mrs. Kollins by now.
Meanwhile, back at Chrysler from 1955-1975, positions held included Jefferson Plant Service Engineer, French Rd. Manager of Warranty Administration, and Highland Park Service Center Manager (retired).
Outside of his day job, Michael was active within; United States Auto Club (USAC) (primarily Indianapolis 500); Technical Inspector, Vice Chairman Technical Committee & Director of Product Certification 1955-1985 & Honorary Member old timers Club. Memberships; Society of Automobile Engineering 1952-(life member status), Engineering Society of Detroit 1972-(?), President – Kollins Design & Engineering 1975-(?), Society of Automotive Historians 1982-(?), National Automotive Historical Collection – Trustee 1982-1996.Oakland University Chorus 1969-1995, Capuchin Charity Guild – Board Member 1983-(?).
Over his life, his books & published material include, but not limited to; ’Motor Torpedo Boat Engineer’s Handbook’ (U.S. Navy publication), ‘Pioneers of the U.S. Automobile Industry’ – 4-volume set – published by SAE – 2002. Technical Reports & Manuals for Packard & Chrysler Corporations, Co-author ESD Technology Century (1995), Auto Racing Forum, NAHC ‘Wheels’ articles, Motor Trend and other automotive publication contributor.
Michael J. Kollins passed away on 12.3.2003.
Survived by Julia Kollins (passed April 12, 2010) who made all this happen, his 3 children and 3 grandchildren; Monika, Chloe & Fiona.
I am proud to write this honorary piece to both my parents, and follow their footsteps with my automobile passion and writing.
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