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Frankfort Car Club, Inc. So this is the way it came about. When I was twelve, I started to go with my dad to the Calumet Junkyard. I fell in love with the old cars that were being junked, for instance a Crosley and a Frasier. But there was a little old man, Mr. He was our garbageman when we lived at l05th and Wentworth.. My dad had gone to school with his son, Joe. One night my dad stopped at a travern after work , and Mr Richon happened to stop in for a drink too.
Richon told my dad that his wife was sick and that his son was "healing" her. The son had made a tent with a wire frame and sheets and put flood lamps inside the tent in the living room. There was no way Mr. Richon could not stop the son.
He was much bigger and had a tendency to be violent. The two of them, my dad and the doctor, went to see Mrs. The doctor told Joe he was doing a good job, and he should keep up the good work. He then went back to his office and immediately filed a police report and returned with a couple of cops.
Joe ended up in the Manteno insane asylum, for the rest of his life. Shortly after this incident, Mrs. There was a Ford two door sedan, four door, Ford two door. I picked the two door , 60 horse -the older the better.
We towed it home, and I had it running in no time. And that is how I got one of my first cars and taught myself how to drive stick. By the time I was sixteen I had five cars in five different garages in Roseland. It burned oil and needed a valve job. Two of my uncles showed me how to do one.
Then I pulled the front and rear axles, transmission, and motor out of the car, and I painted everything black. Once I got the car back together I did the body work. Quite a few years later I sold it to a Chicago policeman. I must admit I always thought my first car was too new for this article until I did the math. Let's rewind to the summer of I was tired of driving the family hand me down. It was a light blue 4 dr'65 Plymouth Valiant with ci of rompin' stompin' power under the hood. I was 17, still in school, had a job and my own money.
My dad was on board with the idea, but he had his rules. He preferred Chrysler products, but was open to others as long as they weren't foreign made.
After spending most of the summer looking for something "dad approved" I finally found it. One afternoon was at the old Ford dealership that was in the Ford City Mall and there it was on the used car lot.
It was only a year old. All white, paint, top and interior. I had to work that night so I asked my dad to go take a look at it without me. I had gone over it enough to know I wanted it. I called him later that evening and got the "we'll talk about it later" answer, which I guessed was better than a solid no. When I got home I opened the garage and there it was. I couldn't believe it. I just bought my first car! By the following spring I was ready to make the first few changes.
Cyclone headers, aluminum intake with a 4 bbl carb, wide tires, and mag wheels was a good start. It had the light duty trans that didn't hold up very well, but a Turbo Terry rebuild and a shift kit took care of that. Oh, I dyed the interior black too. That was after my brother said it looked like an ice cream truck. For a small V8 the car was pretty impressive. Low 15's at the drag strip with open headers and the 4.
Not too bad for the time. When I got home from the track the 4. Most people couldn't believe it only had a in it. I had a lot of fun and turned a lot of heads with that car. Three years later it was time to move on to something else, so I sold it. Put the car out in front of the house one Saturday morning and by Sunday afternoon it was sold.
The year was and I was15 years old without a driver's license you had to be 16 for a license. I had friends that we would cruise to drive inns and always be looking for cars. I had been driving for a couple of years that is another story and wanted a car even though I did not have a license. We stopped at the dealer at 85th and South Chicago Avenue and admired the Ford. To our discovery, we found that it had dual carbs, high compression heads and dual exhausts. Looking over the 39 more closely, we saw that a bolt was installed in the number 8 cylinder spark plug location.
It was now for the drive home. Dad said you drive the Chevrolet our family car and I will drive the 39 in case we get stopped for no license plates remember I had no driver's license. When we got a few blocks from home we changed drivers and my Dad said it was missing and only then did I tell him that I know about the bolt in the number 8 cylinder. We made it home alright and now home with my 39 and with no tools, it was off to Sears for some Craftsman tools. I pulled the heads off and everything else was all right.
Now I had to address the problem with the head with the stripped spark plug hole. In our neighborhood there was an alley garage machine shop. The owner was a car guy who owned a Lincoln Continental. I do not remember his name but we would hang out at his shop when he had the garage doors open. I told him about the damaged head and he said that was no problem and for me to bring it in. He repaired the head and said no charge and good luck with the With the 39 now running properly wewould sit in it and dream about when I would get my license!
Even when it was held at the Amphitheater on 43rd and Halsted Street, it was always one of the premiere and not to be missed events of the year. The attraction was flashy cars, pretty models, and a look into the future via concept cars. That was back in the day when the foreign cars had small booths, usually located in the basement.
It was at the show that I first saw a Plymouth Roadrunner. That was its inaugural year. Months before the show we had been seeing a lot of commercials talking up the "economy muscle car.
I had to have one. The next step was to check with local dealers for the best price. I even saw the model from the show at one of the showrooms.
Cars from the auto show were often sold to the dealers instead of transporting them to the next show. I'm glad I kept the window sticker. I had no idea I'd be writing this forty years later. Roadrunners came standard with the with four speed and factory installed Hurst shifter. All s were modified with heads, cam shaft, and cast headers, Carter four barrel with an unsilenced air cleaner and dual exhaust.
This combo gave the engine a neat lope at idle and a roar when you got on it. It was rated at horse power rpm and ft-lbs torque rpm. The only other engine option was the infamous hemi advertised at horse power which was under rated for insurance purposes. Years later I discovered why this was such an expensive option. It included some other mods. For example, Roadrunners started out with a convertible frame which had the extra gussets to withstand the enormous torque ft-lbs rpm and bullet proofing around the bell housing as a precaution against exploding clutches and pressure plates.
My additions included Crager Mags on the front and chrome reverse on the rear and a column mounted Sun tach. Great memories include driving around with Janice with her sitting next to me on the bench seat listening to the Young Rascals, teaching her to drive stick for the first time, and bringing all of our baby boys from the hospital.
The Roadrunner was always a fun car to drive.
Don't want to forget the 2" lowering blocks in the rear springs. That's contrary to what a lot of the young people have done today by raising the rear end of their cars.
And oh, a change between a set of Plymouth moon or Olds flipper hub caps. These caps were in addition to the stocks which went on in the winter months. Even though it was a new car I still added switched amber lights under the dash and behind the grille. I guess to be different. Was this a chick magnet? Yes, did date a lot of gals in this car including one named Shirley.
Come to think of it she was not so impressed with the car because it took five years and a graduation to a Pontiac 2 dr. Ventura Hardtop that's another story before we married. It took a total of 23 years from when I got the first Chevy to get another Chevy with my son Ken. Then another 23 years of owning the old Chevy to jump to a Thunderbird. Always thought they were cool but can't remember them on the streets in when most guys were driving Chevys. As the ads of the time said about the Chevys, they were Sweet, Smooth, and Sassy Chevy puts the purr in performance!
I worked three evenings during the week and all day Saturday. It was October and time to buy my first car. My Dad and I kept our eyes on the lookout for a good used car. We checked out an ad for a 58' Pontiac, but the interior smelled like rotting fish, so we passed on it.
A week later there was an ad in our local paper for a Chevy Biscayne 2-door sedan. I made a call and said that we'd like to go look at it.
As soon as I saw it, I knew it was going to be mine. It was black with grey and black interior and in good shape. Under the hood was a hp. Blue Flame Six with the mighty 2 speed Powerglide automatic transmission. We fired it up and other than a faint tapping, it sounded pretty good. We took it for a spin and I knew I had to have it. Dad came up with the additional 25 bucks. We went to the bank, picked up my life savings, and went back to pick up my first car. It was all mine!
I drove it to school, work, sports and dates for about 6 months, when that faint tapping began to get louder and louder and turned into a very distinct rod knock. It sounded like someone was trying to hammer themself out of the 4 cylinder wall. Soon afterward it went up in smoke. Getting it repaired would have cost as much as I paid for the car.
My Dad said that he knew a guy who worked with him at the steel mill named "Bullhead Rutzen" who recently totaled his 62' Biscayne, and he thought that it didn't have many miles on it.
He talked to Bullhead who said that he would sell it, but it was a wreck. He had the car in his garage, so we went to his house to look it over. He wasn't wrong about it being totaled, but the Blue Flame Six and transmissii were untouched. The car had only 23, miles on it. I got it for 75 bucks.
You could almost say that it was my second car. After getting it towed home, we yanked out the burned up six, and prepared to drop in the fresh six. I asked my Dad if we could leave the 3 speed manual transmission on the engine.
He said, "let's check it out". After about a half hour of measuring and head scratching, we found that the clutch pedal linkage would bolt up with no problem. As a matter of fact, everything bolted up with no problem, except for the shifter linkage. I bought a Hurst 3 speed floor shifter kit, and that problem was solved. We replaced the stock muffler with a "Cherry bomb" and had a hot rod.
We double checked our ignition set up and all hose connections, and everything looked good. I got behind the wheel and when my Dad gave me the "thumbs up", I tried to fire it up. It turned over twice and came to life. Man did we feel good. After running it for a while and finding no leaks or problems, I shut it off. Things couldn't have gone better. I drove that car for another 3 years.
My Dad passed away a couple years ago, but whenever think about him I usually think about that 60' Chevy and the engine swap we did together. Boy,do I miss them both! They made accessories for cars like chrome lug nuts, tail pipes, baby moon hubcaps, etc. It was around October and I had my license about 4 months but I was still without my own wheels. My parents would lend me their only car, a Chevy Impala 9 passenger station wagon on occasions to drive myself to work, but the desire to own my own car was eating at me.
It was a car I was familiar with because my dad had bought one new in , so if I needed mechanical help I could always ask dad. The car took me everywhere I could afford to go. The car was great, but there is always one better down the road, like my Chevy Impala hardtop, speed. My first car gave me my badly needed independence, thank you old friend, I miss you.
Prior to owning this magnificent automobile I had access to my family home driveway full of various cars. These were thought of as "community property" shared. There were nine of us. There was never a shortage of vehicles to choose from when heading out on a Friday night cruise or that Saturday night date.
Now I had one of my very own! It was and life was good I went to work. I then added a new 57 Ford truck bumper. Ooops, no place to fasten the front license plate A loose starter needed tightening.. Oh, of course there was that rear main seal causing those puddles to appear on my future in-law's driveway.
The repair of that main seal took more than once or twice to finally get it right at least for a while. The final chapter was the Apcoa paint job. I went with Midnight Blue good choice. I then added the white pinstriping. Now to install the vibrasonic reverberating sound system and some blue mood lights under the seat and dash. It was now ready to roll. Sharp, Cool and Perfect. After a few years and probably a ticket or two I sold it to a young stud after telling him the main seal was leaking again.
He said "just don't tell my dad" He didn't do it soon enough and burned up the original engine by running it out of oil. That First Car was followed by a white Ford Galaxy. Then came the Black Riviera really sweet. Now it was family time and we all settled into our Buick Estate Wagon. And life goes on Dad also taught me a few things about driving by taking me out for spins in, of all things, his Lincoln Continental Town Car.
Size didn't make a difference then, it was driving. Within days of turning 16, 1 got my license. Now I was trying to make any excuse to drive my moms 73 Dodge Charger with a cu. Then I was using it on occasion to go back and forth to our home in Frankfort. Not long after starting to work at The Golden Bear, dad stopped in one day and asked me if I wanted to go with him to look at a new Mustang at Currie Motors in Frankfort. Would I say no? No, I was more than willing to go.
There was this Bright Yellow Mustang 2 door standard coupe on the showroom floor and dad asked if I liked it and if yes, would I want it. No hesitation on my part. Here was a brand new car and it looked like a million bucks sitting there under those bright lights. For this I got the 2. Next, one thing had to be done and that was to test drive the car.
The sales people pulled it out of the showroom and dad said he would take it for the first drive since I hadn't driven a stick. Dad watched as I left on that first drive of this car. He tells me that he was amazed to see no hesitation or jerking of the clutch. After saying that 1 would like to have it, dad said we could buy but with certain stipulations.
He proceeded to tell me that I had to pay for it, I had to pay for insurance, I had to maintain it, and I also had to listen to what he said regarding restrictions on the car. Knowing that the Golden Bear job wasn't going to cut it minimum wage, minimum hours , I got a job at the Jewel in Tinley Park.
I never missed a payment, including all insurance because I knew it would be dads car after the second missed payment. No insurance premium paid it would be in the garage under lock and key. I found every excuse I could in order to drive it somewhere and that included going to the store, picking up my brothers or whatever else.
Loved that car and kept it for g years and it never failed me during the , miles plus that I owned it. During that time I added a number of optional after market accessories such as air dam, headlight covers, fog lights, rear window sun shades and American Racing aluminum rims with white letter radials. The Mustangs had just come out with the third generation TGM , and was a complete departure from previous Mustangs. The only styling Q reminiscent of previous Mustangs was the long nose and short deck.
Production of this TGM lasted for 15 years with improvements each year. Total production of the 2 door sport coupe was , out of a total of , for In addition to my car with the base engine, the Mustang also was available with the optional 2. It was in the spring of and I was 15 years old and had been depending on my Cushman Eagle that I purchased with the money earned from cutting lawns for the previous 3 years, to take me to the far off places that were beyond the city limits of my home town of Harvey Illinois.
Towns like Lynwood, Dolton, South Holland and Lansing, all were now within cruising distance for my two wheeled chariot that allowed me to escape and seek new adventures. Plus, it allowed me to remove myself from the ever vigilant eyes and ears of the local police who by then knew my penchant for driving too fast and without the muffler that the Cushman Corporation had foolishly installed to quiet my mighty 8 horsepower beast.
I had found it safer when in my home town to confine most of my driving to the alleys as a chance encounter with the local constable was reduced. It was on one of those alley trips that I discovered my first car, a Chevrolet 2 door sedan. The car was parked behind a garage on Kentucky Avenue half covered with the weeds growing around it but it was love at first sight! I approached the house in front and inquired if the car was for sale and the kindly older when you are 15 everybody seemed older gentleman told me that it was but it was not in running condition.
I am not sure if my father even made it through our door when I pounced on him with my discovery and asked if he would go look at it with me. My father being the wise man that he was knew that I was not going to let him rest unless he agreed to go immediately to look at the car. We took the family car and drove the several blocks to the where my find was waiting.
Money quickly exchanged hands and with a chain we dragged my first car home. I soon discovered the reason the car was not drivable was due to a large hole in the side of the transmission case where the cluster gear used to be. I soon discovered the joys of scouring local "junk yards" now known as automotive parts recyclers and learned how to bargain with those seemingly always angry men who owned or worked in those junk yards establishing a first name basis with most of them within a 30 mile radius.
Sometimes I think they remembered what it was like when they were a kid and they were actually kind to me in most cases. Installing a new transmission on a car that had a torque tube instead of an open driveshaft was a learning experience that I would not soon forget as the taste of transmission oil became a staple in my everyday diet for about a week. My dad felt that was also a good time for me to install a new clutch while the transmission was out of the car.
The necessity of finding more lawns to cut so I could feed my new found money pit took away from my idle time. Funny how some things have not changed in the last 50 years, "will work for toys" is still relevant.
After replacing the transmission, clutch assy. Did I mention the seven lawns that I was now cutting each week to finance my project? It was worth all of the sweat and labor I endured the first time my dad let me drive it down the alley on its maiden voyage with me as the new owner. I kept that car for 2 years during which I continued to improve it. By then I sanded the entire car by hand and installed new fender welting on all four fenders after I finished sanding the body and fenders.
Naturally I painted it with Rustoleum spray can grey primer typical of a young persons car back in the day. Now 17 and a seasoned automotive veteran, I sold my trusty Chevy to buy a Oldsmobile Rocket 88 with V8 power and a Hydra-matic tire smoking transmission that literally would melt the right rear tire on take off. Three weeks after I had sold my Chevrolet I seen it at the local hardware store in town and it was sporting a new black paint job applied by the new owner using house paint and a 3" paint brush.
He was proud of it and the fact that a person had to be real close to see all the brush marks and the sags in the paint from his painting techniques. I felt sick thinking all of the time I spent hand sanding the whole car and each time I would see it I felt sad as if I had betrayed my "first love".
It is now 49 years and 58 cars later and still counting and I still think of that summer in and the thrill of the experiences and joy I had that still are with me today. Actually, it was my second year out of high school, but I had bombed out big time the previous year down campus in West Lafayette in the REAL Engineering curriculum and I was learning to walk with my tail tucked firmly between my legs, but I digress!
I had enrolled in what was called Mechanical Engineering Technology in those days. I was living at home with my parents and commuting to college in our second car, a Chevy Biscayne, four door, six stick that Dad had bought new as inventory surplus. Our neighbor who lived directly behind us had a used car lot and he said he had just received a trade-in that I might be interested in.
A Chevy Bel Air two door hard top with the Power Pac option high compression with a four barrel Carter carburetor with a three speed stick! Yep, that is just three digits! These were certainly different times. I had been working at the steel mills and paying my own tuition and book fees in exchange for living at home with free room and board.
I was bound and determined to foot my own way for my advanced education. Wow, what an undertaking. It sure gave me a new perspective of the value of the dollar. I was immediately the envy of all my friends! I owned that car until just the spring of the following year, I had put new tires on it, new shocks, new carpeting and some body repairs to the left rear quarter panel. Can you imagine that! These were dollars! I felt that 30 cents a gallon for premium gas was just outrageous when regular was just 25 cents!
It seems he was stopped at a light when a drunk bulldozed him. We shared a few tears for the memories of that gorgeous car. What a chick magnet it was in the short time I owned it. Back in , the Studebaker Brothers set up a blacksmith shop that produced high quality wagons.
Carriages came next the White House a fleet of them and then automobiles and trucks. It survived those days to produce thousands of 6x6 trucks and amphibious troop carriers for WWII, as well as 9 cylinder radial engines for B17 aircraft.
Alas, the end began on December 20 th , when the South Bend plant closed, and finished for good in March of when the last Studebaker rolled out of its Hamilton Ontario factory. Our feature car this week is one of the speed demons favorites- a Commander Coupe. I asked Paul what made him choose a Studebaker. So I grew up on Studebakers.
Around , I asked Jean, my wife to be, if she wanted to go to the Studebaker museum in South Bend with me. The paint and interior had been redone so it looks about like it did when we bought it. I spent over a year getting the mechanical end straightened out though; it was very rough in that respect. And reliable it must be, because I see Paul driving that car anytime the streets are dry-even in the midst of winter. A bright yellow Studebaker is pretty hard to miss. And also like a lot of guys, family, work, and other responsibilities kept postponing that quest for the sportiest of all Chevrolets.
The car was located up in Mc Henry; by fortunate coincidence, a Corvette specialist Orv knew was heading up that direction, so an inspection was set up. This was no pristine show car- many changes had been made over the years including the color and the engine. The Vette needed suspension, a top, interior and brake work too.
There was another catch- the seller wanted only cash — an impending divorce was mentioned. Not that the horsepower V8 had a mechanical issue; it ran fine. But this particular car had been built for speed- it was originally equipped with the top dog horsepower , complimented by a 4 speed stick and Positraction rear end.
And no power steering or power brakes. Along with the engine swap, racy side mounted exhaust pipes as originally fitted to this car were sourced and reinstalled.
But the sons in laws never miss an opportunity to take it for a spin. When they get behind the wheel and fire it up, their grins are almost as big as mine! In ,I was a year away from my license, but was already diagnosed as an incurable car nut.
I fiddled with Dad's 68 Caprice whenever I could, and most recently had been n adding gauges and other equipment to my brother's recently purchased 66 Corvair.
My brother mentioned that he had seen a Corvair wagon that looked abandoned up at the train station parking lot. I dashed up on my bicycle and confirmed there were no plates on the car but it was complete.
I had seen that car around the neighborhood from time to time, as even then, a Corvair wagon was not a common site. I had an idea where the owner hung out and was able to track him down before the police towed the car off to the auto pound.
The car was the same year and green color as the new Corvair my Dad had bought some nine years before. Over the next few months I bought shocks, brakes, a dual exhaust kit from Warshawskys, and a bunch of other stuff I'm sure I didn't need but just had to have. I don't believe the Caprice ever got back in the single car garage again, as I was always working on something.
A really big deal was when I got involved in the inner workings of the engine as it had a blown head gasket, ignored for so many miles it ruined the cylinder. It ran about ten minutes before it began knocking badly and threw a rod Lesson learned - get a torque wrench that will fit without a u-joint!
I had joined the Corvair club and found a member in some far south suburb named Homewood had another engine for sale exactly the same as what was in the car. I did my first engine swap and got that one successfully running. Over the next three or four years I painted that car, changed the complete interior, converted it to a four speed, had several different engines in it and generally used and abused it until rust finally did it in. I stripped out the good parts and scrapped what remained of the body.
These days I still own a green 61 Corvair wagon, but it's 'newbie' to me - I've only had it 25 years! It was Saturday, February 20, and I was with my mom, dad and a friend of the family Ken Stewart - who happened to be a vintage Chevy enthusiast to go take the 85 mile drive from our home in Mission Viejo, CA to San Diego and look at a Chevrolet Styleline 6-passenger coupe we saw advertised in Recycler magazine. The car was parked in the garage of an elderly couple that had owned the car for years and none of their grown children expressed any interest in it.
It was right about then we discovered the fuel gauge wasn't all that accurate and we sputtered to a stop. Forty-five minutes later and with a gleaming new gas can in our possession, we were back on the road. The car had original everything and was about as Spartan as was available; declined were the options of a clock, cigar lighter, arm rests or a heater. Its solid lifters and valves chattered constantly and almost drowned out the knock of Babbitt bearings slapping against the crankshaft in the CID engine which had "City Chevrolet" stenciled on the valve cover which matched the name on the sticker affixed to the interior of the glove box door and the license plate frame.
My mom and I spent considerable time polishing up the stainless trim, chrome, dashboard and cleaning up the rest of the car. It was amazing to see those parts gleam again just like they did when the car was new.
We got a kick out of the yellowed grocery receipt we found when we pulled out the back seat. It was dated and nothing on it was over a dollar. I bought this car off of my mom and dad at a deep discount with paper route money when I turned 15 and a half old enough to get my learner's permit and was the only one of my friends to have the unique problem of owning a car, but not having a license to operate it.
One June 11, my mom drove me to the DMV in it and passed the driving test. The only recommendation was to "add seat belts," which I later did. My knowledge of cars went from zero to dangerous quickly once the car was mine and it started to act its age.
First repairs were simple like replace the failed generator or pulling the radiator to have it re-cored. But things quickly escalated when the cylinder head cracked at each exhaust valve seat and the decision was made to rebuild the engine.
From August of to June of ,1 spent every free moment and nickel I had putting that back together with a lot of help from my good buddy Derek Meyer. That car served me well through college and since that re-build, I have had just about every single mechanical component and lot's of non-mechanical ones in my hands at some point or another. Rebuilding that engine gave me a lot of confidence early in my life and helped me realize that you can do just about anything if you have the will and a plan.
Other than that, she still run's like a champ and is just as much fun to drive today as she was when we first bought her. A black Ford Galaxie with a white top and red interior was my first new car. I took delivery on December 30th at 6 PM, This car was the love of my life.
It was a real show car-long, low and wide. I choose a 4 door hardtop model because I had a mother and father that did not drive, so easy access to the big back seat was a consideration. The only thing that I did not like about owning this car, which made me suffer somewhat, was when the gang from Apollo Car Club went to drag their hopped up '57 Chevies and such at Ford City or Oswego Drag Way. I had to stay on the sidelines with the girls in their tight white shorts and tee shirts, you know like on the cover of Hot Rod — poor me!!
I had the Ford when I started dating my wife, and I proposed to her in it. We used it as our wedding car and drove to California on Rt.
We used that Ford to move into our first house, and ended up driving it to Canada, New York, and Florida. We had fun accumulating , miles on it. We finally traded it in on a new '66 Ford. This type of Ford is gone for good now. I never see one for sale, but we enjoyed it while it lasted. Editor's note- I asked Paul what engine he had in that car. Almost embarrassed, he answered "It was the six.
Although a with either or horse was available, I knew that if I got a car with the big engine I'd be racing it hard with the other guys in the club, and I'd surely rack up some pretty big repair bills doing so. This car had to last me, so I ordered it with the six which was unusual in a Galaxie. It was all show but no go! Also of note is Paul's statement of how it was long, low and wide.
Ford Motor Company quickly had to obtain waivers in those states after new owners complained their 60's couldn't pass the safety inspections. I am a charter member of the Frankfort Car Club and I am still a member. My Dad was a mechanic in Olney, IL and he re-worked the car making it mechanically sound. We needed new tires, but it was during WWII and none were available. That car ran on used tires from the junk yard with liners and boots until we could purchase new tires in early Meanwhile my brother went in to the Navy so the car was all mine!
I was only 16 years old at the time and I drove back and forth to high school until I, too, joined the Navy in January where I was stationed in Memphis, TN from October to late December I drove the Model A back and forth on weekends to Olney and on other weekends carried sailors around Memphis. I never saw the car again because my brother came home from the Navy and got into an accident resulting in the car being sold. It was a great car!! Our family was in the beer distribution business.
My grandfather had started it back in , three years after the repeal of prohibition. I got to work there from the time I was 9 years old and loved it. The coolest thing was we had a lot of trucks and at an early age my dad taught me how to drive them. It sure made it easy when I finally was able to go for my license in Not long after that I got my first car, a Buick Riviera. It was dark green with a white vinyl top and a green vinyl interior.
The gentleman I bought it from had been a long time acquaintance of the family and worked for one of the breweries. The car was in good shape except for the fender skirts. They had rusted through but were covered by the dealer. After I had it for a bit, the original owner took it back to the dealer and had the skirts repaired.
I don't think they spent ten minutes on them. Some kind of tape and bondo, a fast paint and that was it. They held up for about a year then the rust won. I loved the engine with its 4-barrel carb. Like every other teenager I turned the top of the air cleaner over so it would make that great noise when you floored it. It was a big car but had a lot of power and to me it was fast. I don't remember having much mechanical trouble with it other than replacing the water pump and a set of mufflers.
The body on the other hand began to loose its battle with rust. Whenever it rained, water would come in around the back window and end up in the trunk where the spare was kept. This must have been going on for a while because that area began to rust through. Both rocker panels right behind the front wheels began to bubble also. Two years later I ended up selling the Riviera to one of the beer truck drivers for the same amount I bought it for.
Shortly after he bought it from me while driving it he had a fight with a freight train and lost. The car was destroyed.
Back in when we lived in Olympia Fields, IL. I somehow got the idea I wanted to build a kit car. I don't remember now where I saw or read about it, but I got some information on a Bradley. They sent me brochures and I contacted them and they convinced me that if I ordered one, it would be pretty easy to assemble. They said it would take about 70 hours. I ordered the kit in spring of A semi truck backed in my driveway and we unloaded a lot of boxes and a body shell.
I must say the instruction manual was very explicit. I worked on it in the garage a little bit every evening. The worst task I remember was fitting the gull wing doors. I spent hours with a belt sander trying to get them to fit properly.
I breathed a lot of fiberglass dust. I appreciate now what they mean in new car reviews by fit and finish. I eventually got the kit to a point I needed a chassis to mount it on. I bought a VW beetle from a junkyard. It was hit in the back and pushed forward and hit so badly that they scraped it. It was really good mechanically. We towed it home and the Bradley instructions told me how to get the body off. I took it apart and we loaded the body on our snowmobile trailer and took it.
I towed the chassis to the VW shop in Chicago Heights for a tune. The Bradley instructions told me how to mount the chassis and wire it.
Everything went well and I got it running ok and started using it. It was supposed to be my daily driver. After using it for a while, I found a lot of things I didn't like about the car. The side windows didn't open; they had a small section that slid down. I had air conditioning but it was still stuffy. The car was very low and it was not easy getting in and out I don't think I could even get in it today with my arthritis.
It was definitely a learning experience and when I look back on it, I wonder what was I thinking when I bought it. After these memories gradually went away, I can't explain why, I later bought an old jeep and then decided to take the body off the frame and re-build it. This will be another story later. Having been born and raised on a farm, I learned to drive at the age of 10! We moved to the big city, Milwaukee, when I turned twelve.
One block from were we lived was a Sinclair station. I spent many hours watching this old guy change oil, fix brakes, and tune up cars. One day he asked me if I wanted to learn how to work in a garage. Yes, of course, I did! I started by cleaning up the garage after school and soon I was doing oil changes and grease jobs. I saved up and bought my first car at Needless to say the car needed some work! Gus, the garage owner, let me keep the car at the garage and helped me fix it up.
By my fourteenth birthday Gus had pretty much showed me how to keep the car in repair. That summer during school break, while working on my uncle's farm, I got my "farmer" permit. Now, I could legally drive during the daylight hours. When fall rolled around I started working at Gus's Garage two nights and weekends. I advanced from oil changes to tune ups, brake replacement, and finally my first engine overhaul. My '49 Chevy was running like a top!
When my Dad grounded one car, I just went and got into another from my "stored" collection! I was seventeen in when I bought my first car. I promptly drove it to the parking lot where I worked.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The power plant of this beauty was a cu in V-8 with a 3 speed on the column. The car was painted flat black and probably with a brush. All the rust holes were patched with pieces of smoke pipe and screwed with sheet metal screws. My door locks were gate hasps with pad locks. My truck had a key. Need help filing taxes, including your federal tax return and state tax return?
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