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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I grew up in a small town in central Idaho. My parents owned a motel and cafe in a resort town. Because of my age I was not allowed to do much unsupervised and spent many hours in front of the tv building models. At the age of 12 I was quite the accomplished modeler. My favorite models were the large beautiful cars of the 30's, Packards, Deusenbergs, Rolls and my personal favorite was 1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster. As time passed I had built almost every model I could find of the 30's era, and began to expand my interest in model years.
I moved on to the 40's, Ford's, Lincoln's, Chevys etc. I had quite the collection. All the modeling soon evolved into buying car magazines. Where I further expanded my interest and knowledge in cars. I still remember the first time I acknowledged a 57 chevy. I was about 14 and reading a chevy magazine. I saw a photo spread of a well restored 57. When I first gave it an involved glance, I was laying in bed reading before going to sleep. I remember as if it was yesterday. I studied the headlights, the grille, the bumper, and I thought, what an ugly car. It looks like a catfish. I went to bed thinking "that is the most ugly car I have ever seen". :(
A few nights passed, and I was reading my magazine again. Again I turned the page and saw that ugly 57 chevy, and as I stared at it to confirm my disgust with how ugly it was, suddenly something happened inside me as if someone had flipped a switch or waved a magic wand. In the blink of an eye, I was staring at the most beautiful car I had ever seen in my life. The style, the curves, the flow and appearance of forward movement. The thin chrome strips that fit together between the front and back window of a 2dr hardtop. The way the wing dipped in the middle of the rear window, right behind the door, and swept to the rear of the car, not too exaggerated nor wanting, but just right. Everything curve and detail seemed to compliment the next. It was a work of art and I was mezmerised. At the age of 14 it soon became all I could talk about. I drove my parents crazy with my obsession. I had to have one.
Dad told me if I graduated high school with all A's he would buy me one for graduation, but I didnt want a restored one. I wanted to build my own. I soon located a 57 4dr hardtop on a ranch out of town. I was bucking hay for the rancher that summer and he had it in his barn. He wanted $400 for it.
I got my dad to come out and look at it with me. The rancher was in his 80's and he promised us it would run, he bought it new and said it ran just fine. But Dad later told me no, I could not buy it, even with my own money, because it was a 4dr. A guy down the street bought it a couple weeks later, took it home and cleaned it up, tuned it and sold it a week later for $800. I was really mad. I thought at the very least I could have done that and had made $400 to go towards a 2dr hardtop or convertible.
I kept searching and had found almost every old car in the county by the time I was 16. I even had an old miner fellow give me a 1928 chrysler, but when I went up to his mining claim to get it, all that was left was the frame, the cowl the radiator, and the steering wheel. Someone had stolen all the rest of it.
Then one day in my parents cafe I was reading the newspaper. There was an ad for a 57 chevy 2dr hardtop about a 100 miles away. I turned to one of the local customers and said, "one day I am going to own one of these cars", and I read the ad to him. When I said that he replied, "there's one sitting over on the Barkell ranch in the trees as you go out around the lake". He told me all about the car and where it was. It wasnt even 50 yards off the main road, I had just never seen it before because it had trees and bushes growing up all around it.
I left and went to school. I was so excited all day, I couldn't sit still. As
soon as school was out, me and a couple friends drove out to find it. I knew right where to look. I saw chrome flash in the bushes. I parked the truck and ran towards the dark shape hidden by several years growth of foliage. I FOUND IT! It was a belair 2dr hardtop. I looked it over. It was mostly all original. All the glass was good, no dents really, all the chrome was there. I opened the door and sat inside.
I will never forget the smell. You know that smell I am talking about. The smell of an old car that has been closed up for many many. years, that old sun-baked dust and slightly musty, abandoned car smell. To me on that day, it was the best smell in the world. It had bucket seats; 65 Ford mustang bucket seats, bolted to risers - welded to the floor, and a hole in the tranny hump for a stick-shift. The rest was all stock. I popped the hood and there was no engine. I went to the back, the trunk lock was gone, so I grabbed a
screw driver and turned the cam to open the trunk. There was the engine, what was left of it anyway.
I was sold. I ran home to tell my dad about the car. I layed out every excuse, salespitch and argument my 16 year old brain could muster regarding why I should own that car. Dad came out to look at it with me. He looked it over and then told me... no.
He told me I had no idea how restore or build a car. I had no experience in mechanics and no idea how much work was involved. But this time something within me had changed. As before with the other cars I accepted dad's wisdom and his "no" answer. However, this time I did not. I was not convinced with his reasoning, I completely disagreed silently inside myself. Dad was leaving for a two week hunting trip.
I had contacted the owner who was a woman about 28. She was the second owner. Her brother was, at one time, turning it into a car to race down in the valley at the speedway. He had one himself, and this was one he was building for her to race. However, he became to busy and the car sat in that spot for 10 years. She wanted $600 for the car, which was another reason dad said no. She wanted too much. I still disagreed. Coincidently, I had just $600 saved up form working summer jobs.
To me this was a sign that me and that car were meant to be together.
September 4, 1980. My dad was gone on his hunting trip. I met the woman at the car and paid her $600 and with the help of some friends, hooked up a chain and towed it home. When dad came home, he looked out and saw the car. He was furious. I remember what he said, but those kind of words are not best suited for this forum.
As winter neared, somehow I managed to talk dad into letting me rearrange the garage and make room for me to work on it inside. I spent every night after school working on my 57 chevy. When spring rolled around I took it to the highschool down the road. I had been taking shop class and the teacher let me bring it down to do some work on it. All the guys in shop class laughed at me and my car. HA HA... what a piece of junk. I just kept working on it.
My birthday was nearing, and dad took me aside and spoke to me. He said, "Son I am proud of you. I was wrong. You have worked hard on that car and learned a lot against a lot of odds and for your birthday I am going to buy you a motor and a transmission, and hire a mechanic to go all through
the engine with you, the brakes and whatever it needs so that it is running right and you know how to do all of that."
I spent that spring at the mechanics house where he had a shop, learning and working on my car in the evenings and on weekends, when he had time away from his regular job. He made me do everything myself and stood over my shoulder and supervised. We completely rebuilt a 283 engine and 4-speed
tranny and put it in the car. When we were done I drove the car home.
For some reason, I never have understood, for a third owner car, it had many colors of paint on it, including patches of the original paint, and some of the factory primer. But the car was running now and the paint job on it would not do. One sunny day, a friend and I decided to paint it all one color.
Since we were cool-cat, varney and leather jacket type rebels anyway, we figured flat black primer would foot the bill rather nicely. We went to the harware store and bought $18 worth of flat black primer in cans, and went home and painted it all one color. :cool:
I drove the car like this for the rest of highschool. I replaced those mustang bucket seats with Camero high-backs I got from a wrecking yard. The guys in shop class who laughed at me now wanted a ride in my 57 chevy, but they didnt get one. I remembered who had the big mouth
too. He was a rich kid. His dad had a 57 chevy 4dr post with a blown 427. It sat in his garage mostly, and while the kid bragged that it was his car, it was really his dads. He is also the guy who never got a ride in my 57. Besides, I never could understand why someone would put that much money in a 4dr post anyway. I was now much more educated in being cool, and 4 doors on your ride were just not cool. In fact. they were down right nerdy. :confused: Of course, that was the perspective of a 16 year old. Today at 42 I would never suggest to a car enthusiast he was a nerd for having a 4dr.
Afterall, they dont make old cars anymore, and we car nuts have to stick together to preserve and promote our hobby/sport.
However, I do remember one guy in school who was kind of nerdy. He had a 62 plymouth something, that he took and cut a large square out of the trunklid because he wanted to make it a rumble seat coupe.
Sorry, but we all got a good laugh out of that one. This same guy later bought a really nice superbee and then got drunk and wrapped it around a telephone pole doing 90mph through town with 5ft of snow on the ground and icy roads. He wasnt hurt, but the car was u shaped when they towed it away. Funny thing is, I dont think it was the accident that taught him the lesson, as much as it was the years of walking for lack of a drivers license. :eek:
At the end of highschool, I didnt have the straight A's my dad hoped for, but I did have all A's and B's, and for graduation dad paid to have my car painted and upholstered. That summer I had it in my first car show.
I didnt win anything, but it was still a lot of fun. Years later I wrecked the car on an icy road. Not too bad, I just dented a fender, but it was bad enough that the custom flame job was ruined. So when I decided to repaint
the car again, I went back to all original. I stripped the car down and discovered something that I had seen before with confusion and didnt quite understand when I was 16. The car was a two tone vehicle from the
factory. I was shocked. It was original larkspur and harbor blue. This explained the multicolor paint when I found it. It was 3 colors, dark blue, light blue, and rust-colored primer. Someone had block sanded it here and there to the point it looked like a hand made quilt. After researching the numbers, it all made sense.
Today, 26 years later, the car is restored to almost all original. I still need to redo the interior with factory materials then it will be finished. But I am married now with two kids so I have to save up the money for that project. With college coming up for the kids it might be awhile yet, we'll see. I also found out my 57 is #69 off the factory floor in Oakland, calif. and I am the 3rd owner. However, because of a glitch in the states titling system 20 years or so ago the state considers me legally the second owner. But I know I am not.
I also know the salesman who originally sold my car and what dealership it was sold from. The dealership no longer exists, and the town it was in almost disappeared when they shut down the log mills.
I know this has been a long post, and if you read my story, I appreciate your time doing so. I still have my 57 which I have named "Belle". I have collected off ebay and swapmeets nearly every factory accessory
option availble for the 57, and put it on Belle. I have one more option I want, and thats the factory continental kit, but that will come after the interior. I will keep this car till I am too old to drive it anymore and then it will go to my son. My daughter wont mind because she is getting grandpa's original 1980 Z28 TTop Camero. Now if I can talk my dad out of his 52 MGTD with the 327 vet engine hiding under the hood, life will be good. For some reason he keeps telling me NO. I guess some things never change. :rolleyes:

6,404 Posts
Had a couple cups of coffee and finished the story -- great story! Of course, I would've whooped your ass if you were my son and brought that piece of crap to my house! And for $600 no less! What a freakin' rip-off! :)

As for the nerd in highschool who never got a ride in your 57 --- phooey on him! He deserves what he got (or didn't get)!

Lots of this just plain boils down to this -- there's no rhyme nor reason for our passions, just be glad that we have them and thankful that we can pursue them!

Congrats on a great ride!

49,668 Posts
Man what a story. You started out getting into cars very much the way i did. My dad liked old rides also, only difference is he didn`t say no when i told him about buying my 57. Of course hes the one that told me where it was. I bought mine in 1978 and like you have had to work on it when money was available. Glad you told your story. And welcome to the site,Terry.

181 Posts
Great Story Kid. It brought back alot of memories for me and my first car in High school. Mine was a 1966 Dodge Polara with a 440 in it. You are right you never forget your first car and the stories around it. Some of the stories my parents never knew about, thank heaven. I will share a short funny one. My best friend and I decided to play hookey from school and go see a movie in a large town about two hours away. On the way I got a speeding ticket. We decided that telling our parents was not in our best interests. Well, my best friend had a flat bed ford and we decided to haul "charcoal wood" to get the money to pay for the speeding ticket so that our parents would be blissfully ignorant of our nefarious antics. Basically we used chainsaws to cut down large, hardwood trees, cut em up into hauling size and sold em' to the charcoal plant for money. Back then a guy could make a quick 10 bucks hauling a pick up load of dead wood and more for good solid oak or hickory. Anyway, our scheme seemed to work perfect. We got the money and got the ticket paid. We congratulated each other on a plan well done and slept well knowing that our parents were none the wiser. A couple weeks passed and one night at the dinner table we were talking and my mother calmly asked if I had happened to get a speeding ticket I hadn't told them about. I replied, somewhat nervous, "Not that I can remember". "Odd, she said, you got a letter from the Charlston police department today with a check in it for twenty-five cents. The letter that was with it said you overpaid your fine. You sure you don't know anything about a speeding ticket?"

Steve from Arkansas
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