Cass Nawrocki of Moose Lake used time alone in an apartment in Washington, D. C., while his wife was at work to begin what his fans had been urging him to do for years — he started writing a book about his craft.
“Any Impossibility in Shaping Metal” was the result, and to Cass’s surprise, the book has received worldwide acclaim.
“My books have sold in 27 countries,” he said in a recent interview. “The highest number of books has gone to Australia.”
In a little over a year since the book was published, Cass found himself heading to the post office often with books for interested readers in Europe, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Poland, as well as Australia and the United States.
“We didn’t advertise it but my wife developed a web page,” said Cass.
Because his book became so popular, it was mentioned in several magazines, such as the May 2012 edition of Street Rodder.
“A photo of my book and another book were shown on a page with a few sentences about each,” said Cass. “That article alone was responsible for the sale of 200 books.”
A mention of his book in the Duluth 914 Porsche Club publication also resulted in orders. He said that he took 20 books to the post office because of that.
As a result, Cass said that there are not many books left of the 750 that he had published, and he is now considering the idea of a second printing.
It was a long road that brought Cass from Communist Poland to live and work in Moose Lake for the past 20 years.
Casimir Nawrocki was born in July 1943 near Warsaw, Poland. His father opened a taxicab business after he bought and repaired old German cars left over from World War II. Cass learned from the skilled workers that his father had hired.
“That was back in the days when we reused nails,” said Cass. “Many times during the repair process, no spare parts were available. I had more technical skills than my father. We had to be really creative to make those cars workable.”
Because of his dissatisfaction with life in Communist Poland, Cass defected in June 1967. Through a circuitous route and sponsorship of a Catholic organization, Cass arrived in New York in January 1968.
His journey took him to Detroit, where he stayed for four years, learned English, and married another Polish immigrant. The couple had a son.
But riots and destruction in Detroit at that time sent the Nawrockis to live in Arizona. Cass found work in Phoenix with a man who restored luxury cars for a company.
The next step was for Cass to open his own restoration and fabrication shop. He became the first fabricator in Arizona. By the time he left Arizona for Minnesota in 1990, he had succeeded in establishing himself as a fabrication master.
Cass and his wife moved to Moose Lake to be with her family.
The 2,000 square-foot shop where he now works is home to many metal fabricating and shaping machines that Cass has created and designed for his needs. Photos of his past projects hang on the walls of his office.
Cass also builds wood frames from white ash for the cars that he spends more than a year building. Airplane parts have been built in his shop, including an engine cowling for a 1931 Waco biplane for the late singer John Denver. One of the cars that Cass built is now in Jerry Seinfeld’s collection.
Cass specializes in classic cars, such as Packard, Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes. Cars that he has built have won prizes in car shows, including a Mercedes 540 K Special Roadster (Paris, France, 1992), 1932 Ford Fordor (Detroit, Autorama, 1992), Stinson SR-6A (Oshkosh, 2000), Curtis 500-X (Amelia Island, 2001), 1932 Lincoln KB (Pebble Beach, 2003), 1932 Auburn (Santa Maria, 2007) and a Mercedes 540 K Special Roadster (Portland, 2010).
Cass builds the bodies, the cars are finished elsewhere.
“I recognize every car that I have built when I see them in photos,” said Cass.
Cass’s wife, Grace, died in 1992, and he met and married Tatiana, an environmental scientist from Russia, not long after. Tatiana now works in Washington, and Cass visits often.
At 69, Cass said that he doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.
In the book, Cass describes the basic steps in fabricating metal. Real jobs are described and the various steps are shown. His ingenuity is evident as he describes how to adopt the various fabricator’s tools, machines and equipment.
The book has been well received by fellow metal shapers and others in the business.
“Words cannot express how impressed I was with Cass’s work and his tools,” wrote Kerry Pinkerton, a fellow metal shaper. His comments are printed on the last page of the book.
“This is a man who simply doesn’t know that something can’t be done so he just does it,” he added. “There were more nuggets of wisdom from the couple of hours we were there than my brain could process. My jaw was sore from hanging open.
“The car that Cass is leaning on is a scratch built Mercedes 540 K. Cass made the entire body, from the wood framing (a work of art in itself), to the door latches, to the trim and the sheet metal. All flawlessly metal finished at a level of craftsmanship and skill that I have NEVER seen before.”
Cars like the ones that Cass fabricates have sold for as high as $9 million, it has been reported in car magazines. A 1967 Lamborghini Miura that Cass had worked on for quite a while in his shop sold for $660,000.
The comments from those that have ordered and read his book are gratifying to Cass.
“Miraculous projects,” and, after a tour of the shop, “remarkable, packed with mouthwatering machines” are comments that Cass has received.
Visitors have come from several locations in the world, including Belgium and Sweden.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Cass. “I wrote the book to pass on my knowledge, and I made money with it. Some people want to shape metal, while others just wanted to buy a technical book. Some have bought it for gifts. I am impressed and Tatiana is impressed.
“But it takes too much time to write a book, I won’t write another one.”
Find information about Cass’s book on the Internet by Googling “Any Impossibility in Metal Shaping” or http://forgiare-il-ferro.webs.com. Contact Cass by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.