Tuesday, July 20, 2021

North Main - Chapter Three

The very first car that I purchased, with the help from my dad, was a 1962 Triumph Spitfire convertible. It was also my first project car as it was not running when I bought it and needed extensive work to make it road worthy again. I can't remember how much I paid for it but it wasn't much. Everything I bought for this car came from a junkyard, including a "new" engine for it. Back then the local junkyards were literal treasure troves. Triumphs were not that popular but I had no problems locating the parts I needed. The Spitfire was still quite a ways from being road worthy during the time I was driving the family station wagon, so I was eagerly looking for a running car to replace it with. To make matters worse, the wagon was having trouble starting in the mornings, especially if it was cold out. It was on one of those wintry days that our whale of a wagon would not start and that forced me to take the bus to school. My bus trip misery suddenly turned around while I was walking home from the bus stop. Sitting there in plain site I spotted it, the car of my dreams.

Now I had walked this same route many times before and had even caught a glimpse of this car parked in the garage a few times, but I had never seen it parked outside. I cautiously walked up the driveway to get a closer look and realized that the garage door was open. Resting comfortably inside the single car garage was a brand new Buick, still wearing the dealership's paper plates. A virtual light bulb suddenly clicked on above my head. The older neighbor lady who lived here must have recently purchased a new car and now had to park her old one outside. Suddenly my mind was reeling a mile a minute. Did she want to sell it? The car looked filthy. Had anyone else see it sitting here in plain sight? Maybe it doesn't run anymore. Why didn't she trade it in? I have some money saved up. What if she won't sell it? I'm going to knock on her door. Which is exactly what I did.

The car is question was a 1969 Chevelle Malibu 2 door hard top. The car was literally owned by a little old lady, only she wasn't from Pasadena. I had spotted this car around town every now and then, parked at the grocery store, at church, the post office and driving ultra slow between them all. This Chevelle was completely stock and still wore it's original paint. It was equipped with a 307 two barrel V-8 and a Power Glide transmission. The interior was mint and the body straight as an arrow. This was the closest I had ever been to it now that it was sitting out in the driveway. I peeked through the driver's door window and looked at the speedometer. To my amazement it read just over 26000 miles! I knew the car was too clean for the speedometer to have rolled over and my suspicions were confirmed later when I talked to the owner.

After knocking on the door and waiting for what seemed like an eternity for someone to answer, I was greeted by a little old lady who didn't look tall enough to me to even be able to drive. I nervously blurted out my question, asking her if she was interested in selling her car parked in the driveway. She looked at me sternly and said "Why, are you interested in purchasing it?"

I wanted a car so bad I could taste it but I didn't want her to know that. I gulped and said "yes ma'am" and then squinted, almost as if by instinct, like she was going to yell at me. Well, she didn't yell at me but instead opened her screen door and stepped outside to talk with me. "You know, you are not the only one interested in my car." she said matter-of-factly. "Oh" I said dejectedly, "Is it sold already?" I tentatively asked. "No", she said, "but the mailman is interested in it and offered me five hundred dollars." Before I could answer she continued "but I don't like him very much, he pesters me all the time." Suddenly I felt a glimmer of hope as it dawned on me that I might still have a chance of buying the Chevelle. Five hundred dollars? I didn't have that! Despair started to wash over me and I sort of mumbled to her that I only had three hundred dollars saved up. She didn't say anything so I blurted out that I could give her three hundred dollars and make payments if that was okay. After a brief pause she said "I'll take three hundred and seventy five dollars, just pay me when you have all the money." Without so much as a thought I quickly agreed, thanked her a few too many times, and ran straight home.

Now all I needed to do was come up with an additional seventy-five dollars and quick! Even though my elderly neighbor told me to wait until I had all the money I was in panic mode. What if someone else talked to her about the car? What if they had all the money? What if she actually liked them? Quickly a plan formulated in my head. I went to my room and recounted my savings - again, and again like it had somehow reproduced. I don't know what I was thinking, it's not like the money was rabbits and it was going to multiply. That night at dinner I broached the subject with trepidation. Even though it my dad who always lent me money, for whatever reason I would always talk to my mother first, which also was always a mistake. But this involved a little more then just money, I had to convince them to let me actually buy a car! I quickly formulated a plan. Now I had been taking the bus due to the starting problems with our station wagon so I casually told my mom that I had to be up early again in order to catch the bus on time. This caught my dad's attention (as I had hoped) and he asked if the wagon was acting up again. I told him yes and then casually rolled off my tongue "but I found a car today for sale and it's real cheap." My dad had barely said "how cheap?" when my mother interjected "we don't need another car!" I was actually counting on this reaction. I quickly said that I wanted to buy it myself, to which mom replied disdainfully "you don't have any money!" Cautiously ignoring my mother I turned toward my dad and told him it was three hundred and seventy-five dollars and I had three hundred saved. "Where did you get three hundred dollars?" blurted my mother incredulously. Still ignoring her I told my dad that all I needed to borrow was seventy-five dollars and I could buy it tonight! "What do you think we are, a bank?!" my mother practically shouted. Dad, unfazed, finally asked me what kind of car it was. "It's a Chevelle Malibu" I said, "1969". He looked at me from across the table and asked how it ran. Oops! In my rush to make a deal with the neighbor I had completely forgot to ask her about it's running condition. I had to think fast. "I still need to test drive it" I said, "I was thinking maybe you could come along." Dad thought for a moment and then said "probably so" and it was at that moment that I knew I stood a chance of actually pulling this off and getting the car. Sure, mom griped some more but the clencher for my dad was when he learned that it was located just down the street.

Dad also wanted to go with me to make sure I was not buying a pile of junk. I didn't mind at all, in fact I welcomed it as I knew he had a lot of mechanical experience. We walked down the street together and as we approached the neighbor's house I pointed to it and told my dad that's where the car is located. He told me he knew the lady's late husband and use to talk with him on occasion. We were halfway down her driveway when all of a sudden I noticed the car was gone! I stopped dead in my tracks, staring in disbelief. Her garage door was slightly open and I could see the new Buick was still in there! Oh no, she sold my car! How could she do that? I was about to start explaining what happened to my dad so I turned around to face him and then there it was, like magic, suddenly turning into the entrance of the driveway. The Chevelle was so quiet I never heard it approaching. We stood off to the side as the old lady idled past us and into the parking spot. Before she could even get all the way out of the car I approached her and asked if the car was still for sale because I had brought my dad to look at it. She flatly said "of course it is, I just wanted to make sure the gas tank was full when you bought it." When I bought it? Those words slowly sunk into my brain as I stared at the car like it was the first one I had ever seen.

My dad and the neighbor started talking like they were old friends catching up. I didn't pay too much attention as I was busy fawning over the Chevelle. Soon she handed my dad the keys and said when we were finished test driving it she would be in the house. Dad sauntered over to the passenger side to get in and I wasted no time jumping behind the wheel. I will never forget sitting in that car for the first time. To this day that instrument panel is my favorite and also,in my opinion, one of the best looking ones that GM ever produced. As we drove the car around the neighborhood I was being super cautious and my dad was listening for noises or anything out of the ordinary. The car was really quiet and rode smoothly even though it still wore bias ply tires. The black interior was in mint condition and the Olympic Gold paint was faded but still intact with no rust. It was equipped with only two options, power steering and an automatic transmission, and even had a radio delete plate. My dad asked me if I liked it (was he kidding?) and told me I would have to pay the insurance on it. I eagerly agreed but wondered if there were going to be any more stipulations. The test drive was over before I knew it and soon we were back knocking at the owners door.

Before long we were sitting at her kitchen table looking at all of the car's original documents and receipts that she had kept throughout the years. It was the first time I had ever seen a General Motors protect-o-plate but I had no idea what it even was. The transaction went pretty smooth with my dad writing her a check for the entire amount with the understanding that I would give him my $300 dollars that I had saved. "Well it looks like you have yourself a new car" she said, "take good care of it." "I sure will" I said, "thanks for selling it to me." As we were walking out she added "I'm sure the mailman will see it parked in your driveway so don't listen to him if he says anything." "Sure thing" I told her but I was already lost in thought of how I was going to fix up my Chevelle... 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Kid Rock

 This awesome video was released in 2015! Shows how much I was paying attention... You really need to check out all the cool classic cars that are featured in it...

Monday, June 21, 2021

Ellie's Garage

 I ran across this video the other day and just had to share....

If this caught your interest like it did me, you really need to check out all of Ellie's videos here on YouTube.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Gear

 As I write this people across the United States are starting to ring in the new year, starting from the east coast and continuing to the west. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that most folks, myself included, are eager to kiss 2020 goodbye and usher in 2021 with high hopes. This blog has been many things to me: a sounding board, mental therapy, reference, a personal history source, and I have accurately nailed many "firsts" on these very pages. Just a warning: this is one of those posts where I go "off subject" but I feel a strong need to type out some of these thoughts that have been building up in my head, lest I burst. So you are probably wondering, just as I am, what 2021 has in store for us. I hesitate to predict the following but I feel it must be said. I really hope I can look back on this someday and say how wrong I was...

Let me begin by saying that 2021 will be no 2019, that is, as much as I feel we all want things to go back to the way they were the simple truth is they won't, at least not for quite a while. According to some sources maybe never, depending on who ends up leading our country. The virus or new wave of viruses will get worse. It is already happening. Division will be deep and distrust will be rampant. It is already happening. People will reach their breaking point. It is already happening. I have already seen events scheduled for next spring cancelled. Others have cancelled their physical events and switched to "virtual' ones instead. What do they know that we don't? Fear and loathing will be the new mantra if certain factions have their way. I hate being Johnny Raincloud but almost all indicators are pointing in this direction. 

So what can we do? If you are religious, pray like you have never prayed before. Heck, even if you aren't that religious pray anyway. We need all the help we can get. Email your Congressman and Senator to tell them your concerns. If they get enough emails they will start to pay attention to the people that elected them. Remember they work for us. Don't be afraid of the truth, no matter what it turns out to be. Keep an open mind and listen to your gut. Just because you don't want to hear a certain version of events does not mean that there is not validity in it. Demand sources, proof, and do your own vetting. Forget about "anonymous sources", "an inside source", "spoke on condition of anonymity", and other similar crap. In short, do some of your own homework. 2021 is not the year to trust just anyone feeding you information, especially social media.

 In closing I would like to say that I am still holding out hope that the new year will bring back some normalcy. With that said and shifting gears, I will now return this page back to normal. Back to cool car stuff, trivia, stories, and of course updates on my project car. Here is to a Happy New Gear!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Time Warp Update

Wow, where does the time go? As I wrote this my latest project car, Time Warp, was pretty much finished. Actually, are project cars really ever finished? Lets just say that I had done about as much to it as I wanted to do! It has been quite the journey getting my '56 to it's current status. I was forced to address issues with every repair that I made. As soon as I would fix one item I would notice something else. I almost considering re-naming the car "Pandora's Box" due to the seemingly never ending repairs that were needed. Many a weekend thrash ended with a cold one, what I referred to as Miller Tyme!

Miller Tyme

I managed to take Time Warp to a few cars and coffee events during the shake down of the drive train. All was well and the car performed flawlessly. I thought a lot of folks would be interested in the engine compartment but it was the patina in the paint that drew the most comments! 

327 CID

Riverside Cars & Coffee

I must admit that color sanding and buffing the paint really made a difference and made the patina pop that much more.

I also completely redid the interior and more then a few people noticed the period correct bucket seats, steering wheel, vintage Stewart Warner gauges, and the custom painted glove box door by my good friend Jim at Riverside Pinstriping & Lettering.

Time Warp's Interior

 Of course no sooner that I had gotten Time Warp on the road, the pandemic hit! Car shows were being cancelled left and right so the car just sat. You might say that it was all fixed up with nowhere to go. Work was sketchy and my savings was low, a bad combination. Keen readers will have noticed that the first paragraph in this story was written in past tense...

Fast forward to today. As I write this Time Warp is no longer in my garage, it is now with it's new owner in Denmark. What a journey, both literally and figuratively, but there is both good and bad news. The bad news is that I had to sell one of my bucket list cars that I had put major time and effort into. The good news is that now I can concentrate on my moth balled '72 Olds 442, project Yellowjacket.


Fresh off the boat in Denmark

Project Yellowjacket


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Road Trip to Mustang Island

 I recently ran across this really excellent road trip story during my never ending quest for the written word of all that is classic automotive. The author's / adventurer's name is Heather Storm (cool name, right?) Now I must admit that I had no idea that Ms. Storm was a celebrity / super model prior to me reading this. I never would have guessed by reading her story, truly down to earth. Man, I must be getting old! Anyways, riding shotgun in Heather's classic '65 Mustang is her friend, Lucy. The names Heather and Lucy have sort of a Thelma and Louise vibe to them but this story ends much different. Take a look for yourself here.

Mustang Heather

Link to story: https://www.heatherstorm.com/blog/roadtriptomustangisland?fbclid=IwAR1ZF-mk4RDLmwstheUm4HIxiYJw-ihqpldTj6A0exwclwlVX4sVODdY-mQ

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The American Ride

I ran across this short film by Motorsports Molly, it kind of has an American Graffiti vibe to it. I thought it was very cool, check it out...