NORMAN — Dr. John Dyer has a gift for educating people.
Typically his day as a University of Oklahoma electrical engineering professor involves exploring and explaining the intricacies of Space Based Augmentation System error analysis or Cardiac Electrophysiology research. This talent extends to other less esoteric technology as well.
“Just think of it as the standard gear pattern that’s usually horizontal instead is vertical so you’re moving the shift lever up and down rather than back and forth,” Dyer said.
He was demonstrating how to manually change gears with a steering column mounted shift as we went for a ride in his beautiful 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S. The good doctor made it a snap to understand with words and actions. It’s a teaching method he initially learned from his Navy medical doctor dad, as a boy living in various parts of the country.
“When I was a kid my father had a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 220S with a bench seat in front,” Dyer said. “I would sit right next to him doing the manual shifting while he’d operate the clutch pedal.”
Still in grade school, young Dyer had a good grasp of how to smoothly operate a standard transmission.
That’s not all he learned to do with his dad.
“I’ve been working on cars since I was a kid,” Dyer said.
One memorable project involved rebuilding the motor on another of his dad’s rides, a 1962 Peugeot 403.
“We pulled the engine and tore it down,” he said. “He bought a head gasket and rings and we used cut-up cereal boxes with aviation Permatex sealant for the other gaskets.”
Another family repair was changing the clutch in the ‘57 Mercedes that involved a child-powered lever and fulcrum that didn’t meet with Mrs. Dyer’s safety standards.
“Mom thought someone was going to get killed,” he said.