Your Turn (Before and After)

1965 Chrysler New Yorker

Jeff Saunders grew up sharing his father’s love of cars; his brother shared his dad’s love of fishing. Jeff thinks he got the best of the deal. “I wouldn’t know which end of a fishing pole to use, but I’ve owned some great cars,” Jeff said. Perhaps none better than his 1965 Chrysler New Yorker, which has only 23,000 miles and is all original – right down to the plug wires and tires.

Jeff’s father, Bill, owned a Chrysler dealership in Michigan for years, so he was often the first to know about the availability of some great cars, like this New Yorker. Mr. Saunders purchased the car over 25 years ago after the original owner was injured and could no longer drive. He later gave the car to Jeff and his brother. Last summer, Jeff and his wife, Sharon, along with his father and mother (Donna), took the car to The Survivor ® Collector Car show in St. Charles, Ill., where it received a Zenith award for an original unrestored car.

“Dad always had a soft spot for original, untouched cars,” said Jeff, who lives in Milford, Mich. “So that was a trip I wanted to take with him. He’s in his 70s, and I just didn’t want to look back and think ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda.’ It was such a great time for all of us.” Jeff’s gorgeous New Yorker has been driven only 5,000 miles – less than 200 miles per year – since the Saunders bought it.

“We drive it just enough to keep its blood circulating,” Jeff said. “It’s such a time capsule. It’s just really cool.”

Price Range for a 1965 Chrysler New Yorker: $6,600-$19,000*.

1962 Buick Special Skylark

In August of 2008, F.L. “Pat” Jacobs did something he’d never done before: He purchased a car on eBay “sight unseen.” The move wasn’t as risky as it sounds; Jacobs was pretty darned sure what he was getting. The burgundy 1962 Buick Special Skylark – with only 35,000 miles on the odometer and totally original except for tires and battery – had been featured on the cover of the Buick Club of America’s Buick Bugle magazine.

The car was exactly what Jacobs had been looking for since he sold his 1938 Buick Special only months before. The low-mileage ’38 was all original except for the paint job, but it was simply too hot to drive in the summer. So Jacobs began hunting for an early ’60s Skylark that he could “modify” by adding air conditioning.

After agreeing to purchase the ’62, Jacobs flew to Columbus, Ohio, where he picked up the car and drove it back to Washington. He said he was a little worried about the 2,400-mile trip – “Those hoses were 46 years old!” – but he made it home with only a couple of minor problems along the way, including a leaky fuel pump in Wyoming.

“It was quite an experience – and absolutely worth it,” he said. “The car is a real beauty.”

Price Range for a 1962 Buick Special Skylark: $4,100 – $21,500*.

*Values provided by Hagerty Price Guide, Jan.-April 2011  

1963 B-422 Mack Bob Pickup Truck

1963 B-422 MackAfter being discharged from the Air Force in the early 1960s, Ronald Harper worked as a truck mechanic. He came across a B-Model Mack Truck that he thought might make a good “pickup.” In 1978, Harper heard of an excavating business that was phasing out B-Models to R-Models, and he purchased a one-piece tilt front end for a B-61 Model Mack that was manufactured only one year, in 1965.

1963 B-422 MackThrough the years, Harper purchased two B-422 Macks, titled and tagged as “Bob Trucks” with no gross weight. He was finally able to build his truck on a Chevy one-ton dual chassis with his tilt front end. The pickup is now powered by a 455 Oldsmobile Rocket Tornado engine, turbo 400 transmission with 30% U.S. Gear overdrive.

To complete the truck, he purchased a Western Hauler Bed, had the truck insulated and upholstered using stainless steel screws through the cab and installed modern amenities.

“After four years and many hours of labor,” Harper said, “I finally accomplished my goal, which was to build a one-of- a-kind 1963 B-422 Mack Bob Pickup Truck.”

1950 Chevrolet Pickup

1950 Chevrolet PickupPaul Austin’s uncle purchased this 1950 Chevrolet Pickup new and eventually sold it to Paul’s grandfather. Paul bought it for $300. The truck served on the family’s farm, later provided transportation to the drive-in movie for his mother and father while they were dating, was the “getaway vehicle” for Paul’s sister’s wedding and became the main vehicle for Paul’s lawn mowing service.

1950 Chevrolet Pickup“It’s a very important part of Paul’s family,” said Texas restorer Barry Wilson. “During the restoration, we’ve had many visits from family members.”

1960 Willys-Overland Station Wagon

1960 Willys-Overland Station WagonJim and Mickey Harnage’s project began in 2002 when they took a trip to Victoria, B.C., to visit some cruising buddies. One of Jim’s friends was restoring a Jaguar, and Jim “got the bug” to begin a project of his own.

“Since Ford and Chevy dominated the field, I decided to go elsewhere to find a project and settled on this Willys wagon,” Harnage said. “Four years and a lot help from friends have produced a really cool street rod.

1960 Willys-Overland Station Wagon“Every good car has a diligent crew, and I have mine in the form of two delightful granddaughters. They take good care of ‘Willie.’

1956 Ford Thunderbird

1971 Thunderbird After Frank Salvatore acquired his “dream car” in 1997 and sent the California vehicle to Nostalgia Motors in Boonton, N.J., for a ground-up restoration. The work took three years to complete, but it was worth the wait. The car was immediately awarded gold status at the 2002 International Thunderbird show in Parsippany, N.J., and has captured many awards since.

1971 Thunderbird OriginalThe matching-numbers vehicle has a few modifications to insure its road worthiness: front disk brakes, aftermarket Griffin radiator, radial tires and under dash after-market air conditioner. And its 312 engine and Ford-O-Matic transmission have been completely rebuilt.

The peacock blue color was an original factory color, and the black canvas top is over the car’s original soft-top frame.

1958 Chevrolet Corvette

1958 CorvetteRon and Anita Novak’s red and white classic was rebuilt by Russ and Don Post of Custom Specialties and Roger Burman of Lakeside Rods & Rides. The custom red interior is by Pro Stitch Upholstery. It has a 350 engine, a 350 turbo transmission, an original Corvette hardtop and a tuxedo black cloth soft top.

The ’58 ‘Vette has won many Best of Show and first place awards and has also appeared in several car magazines and calendars.

“It always draws a crowd,” the Novaks said.

1971 Pontiac “Tirebird”

1971 Pontiac TirebirdIn 1971, BFGoodrich introduced BFG Radial T/A Tires; and to promote the new tires, the company purchased and modified seven Firebird Trans Ams, renaming them “Tirebirds.”

“Like possibly thousands of others, I always wanted this car,” John Motroni said. “It was featured in several muscle car magazines of the mid-’70s (Car Life, Popular HotRodding, Engine Swap) and was the personal project and political cause of famed engine builder, magazine editor and Dry Lakes Hall of Fame member Tom Senter.”

Years after Senter sold the car, it ended up in the barn of a Fresno collector in 1982. It sat there until Motroni lived out his dream by purchasing it through a GoodGuys magazine ad in 2004.

“I’ve owned it ever since,” Motroni said. “I rebuilt the mechanics of the car, but I kept Senter’s 1974 Ferrari fly yellow paint job.” 

1986 Chevrolet Camaro

1986 CamaroWhen Steve Ridgway began restoring his 1986 Chevrolet Camaro, the car was a 2.8 V-6 automatic, “no frills” model. It didn’t stay that way. Ridgway set out to make the vehicle appear and function as a “factory built” car, and he promised himself that he would only use junk yard parts.

It took Ridgway 27 months to complete the job but cost him only $1,200 – and that included the price of the car itself.

1931 Buick

1931 BuickWhile in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1956, Walter (Wallie) Meisner spotted “a big old Buick that seemed to need someone to care for it.” So he purchased the car, drove it to his parents’ home in Chicago and stored it for four years until he finished college and served his obligatory duty in the U.S. Navy.

In 1960, Meisner towed it to his home in Minnesota and began a body-off restoration. It took him a year to disassemble the car, making numerous notes and drawing diagrams along the way. But as Meisner’s family grew (he and his wife have five children), the project was pushed aside.

1931 Buick RestoredForty-eight years and four moves later, the 69-year-old Meisner still held out hope to one day complete the Buick’s restoration. In 2004, he turned to restorer GeneWendt, owner of Crown Point Classics in Hazelhurst, Wis., and in July 2006 the project was finished.

“Since then it has received many awards, from BCA and CCCA to VMCCA (Glidden Tour 2008), and I drive it with great pleasure,” Meisner said.

“I thought it was old when I bought it in 1956,” he joked.

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