I am in love with old vehicles….for me, old cars seem to have a soul, a story to tell. Speaking of stories, here’s one about my first Hot Rod: I grew up working on old race cars, street machines and trucks with my Dad. I always loved working with my hands and improving old American Iron….and the time spent alongside my Dad was and is priceless. When I was 14 I had already helped my Dad with several project cars and spent many years crewing on Dad’s drag-racing cars….but now it was my turn. I remember riding with my Dad to the drag races and staring out the window at old vehicles rusting in mid-western fields and dreaming of finding one of my own to revive. I had been saving money from mowing lawns, raking leaves and shoveling driveways….I knew how to drive a stick and was on a motorcycle since age 8…..so needless to say, I was preparing for the big 16 a few years earlier than most kids. Well, a few months before my 15th birthday I had located a 1965 Impala Biscayne not far from my high school, in fact, I had rode past it many times and finally told dad about it. I remember digging it out of the mud and watching Dad work his magic to get the old 6 cylinder running….it was exciting to think we were on our way to taking this beast home. We had settled on $600 which is exactly what I had saved….but the next day Dad said: “why don’t you walk up the street and see if Mr. Miller wants to sell that old ’65 Chevelle”. Now Chevelle’s were a favorite of mine and they were lighter than big Impala’s which meant FASTER….especially on my budget! I figured Mr. Miller had no interest in selling but what the heck, right? I remember walking up to the house and nervously knocking on the door. If memory serves me, I believe his wife came to the door first and explained that Mr. Miller had just had a major surgery and it would take a minute for him to come outside. He made his way out with a cane and a heavily bandaged leg. Turns out Mr. Miller had an aneurysm in his leg and had it amputated…he now had a prosthetic and was more than happy to see a visitor and chat about his Chevelle. I quickly discovered that is was a V8 car and a stick shift….two of my favorite things and had 52,000 original miles on it!!! Mr. Miller said he would be happy to entertain selling it, especially to someone from the neighborhood. I told him I would head home to talk to my Dad and be right back….I remember sprinting down the street at full steam to deliver the news. We returned and settled on $800, Dad spotted me $200 but I had to “work” it off. I can still visualize what it was like to start up the car and drive away from Mr. Miller’s house…..of course, after Dad and Mr. Miller had to school me on shifting a “3 speed on the tree”! The next few years were incredible, reviving this car, having Dad rebuild a powerful motor and spending every dime I made improving it. Plus, I always honked and waved as I passed the Miller’s house. I bet it was cool for him to slowly watch the car transform and when it was finally done, I stopped and took Mr. Miller for a ride….it was an experience that has always stayed with me.
Get out there and find something old….and make it new….in the process you’ll have your own story to tell someday!
PS: this is a picture of my latest project, a 1969 Chevy C10.