It was the weirdest restoration request Rick Dale had ever gotten.
A man came in his shop after his father had died. His father had an unusual request before his death: He wanted to be buried in his hot rod car.
The son decided he couldn’t do it, but asked Dale, a longtime restoration expert and star of History Channel’s “American Restoration,” to come up with a solution. Baffled at first, Dale and his team eventually crafted an urn modeled after the beloved car’s hood scoop.
“It was solid in the bottom so Dad wouldn’t leak,” remembers Dale.
Dale and his team at Rick’s Restorations in Las Vegas have restored all kinds of antiques, showing the process on “American Restoration.” On Sunday, Dale and his wife, Kelly, who runs the business end of the operation, will jump from screen to stage for a special presentation at MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board.
The Dales will unveil a video of a project they’ve worked on just for MotorCity Casino. Audience members will get a chance to ask questions face-to-face. And at the end, the Dales will reveal their big project in person.
“It’s going to be a really good event,” Rick Dale says. And “the piece will function in the hotel ... This is going to fit in perfectly with the auto theme they have.”
Kelly Dale says the idea about doing a live show came about after doing a similar appearance in Canada. Fans of “American Restoration” came out to see the Dales and ask questions. And the couple revealed a project they’d been working on.
“People really enjoy almost being on the show without being on the show,” Kelly Dale says.
MotorCity Casino Hotel has had other lifestyle or human interest events in the past — cast members of A&E’s popular “Duck Dynasty” came for an event in 2013 — so it made sense to bring in Rick and Kelly, says Bill Borenstein, MotorCity Casino Hotel’s vice president of entertainment.
“Rick and Kelly Dale are part of one of the top-rated cable TV shows and fans seem to be fascinated by their success,” says Borenstein.
Rick Dale has been doing restoration work for nearly 30 years. He and his team have restored a 1960s NASA jet pack, a 1920s grand piano, 1940s gas pumps and a 1950s Hopalong Cassidy bicycle.
Restoring vintage items isn’t about the money, Rick Dale says.
“It’s about restoring someone’s memory and that emotion and everything that comes out — and it’s so fulfilling,” he says.
When it comes to restoring your own treasures, Dale has some sound advice: take your time and take pictures as you go, so after you tear something apart, you’ll know how to put it back together again. And do your research.
“The hardest thing when restoring is when you come to something missing,” he says. “When you have a part that is missing, if nobody has a picture, then I start to use my imagination.”
And be patient, Kelly Dale advises.
Their upcoming visit to Detroit will be her first trip to the Motor City and his first since 1983 when he and his dad drove through en route to New York.
“I know Detroit has had its ups and downs, but I’m really excited to see it,” he says.
3 p.m. Sunday
MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board
2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit
Tickets $20 and up