You shared some phenomenal car stories with us in 2022
One of the best parts of our jobs here at Hagerty is that we get to share our passion for all things automotive with you. The traffic runs the other direction as well, thanks to all of your submissions sharing the vehicles that mean so much to you, your families, and your towns. (Want to send your car’s story for consideration? Email a description and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org)
We receive so many tips that it’s impossible to write about them all, but now is a great time to revisit some of our favorite reader-submitted (or inspired) stories from the year that was. Many of these people and their vehicles will be familiar to you from previous Hagerty articles in 2022; others we’re mentioning for the first time. Each one reminds us of why we—all of us—are so deep in this hobby to begin with.
Bill Chapman suffered optic nerve damage and went blind more than a decade ago, yet he still treasures his 1947 Plymouth Special Deluxe four-door sedan, even though he can’t see it—let alone drive it. Bill’s story came to us by happenstance when he called Hagerty to file an insurance claim (which you can read about in the full story linked above) and had a long conversation with a member of our claims team. His heartfelt tale had our comments section buzzing.
“For some reason, reading this made my eyes wet,” Brian Harriman wrote. “Wonder if it’s allergy season.”
Chris Pohlhammer added, “Terrific car and story. I hope I handle future health challenges as gracefully and cheerfully as Bill has. I’m sure it was not easy to come to grips with initially. Shows the power of positive attitude, friendship and love.”
It was an honor to share Bill’s amazing story.
When our own Kyle Smith wrote a column about what he believes are the six most rewarding moments in vintage car ownership, he focused on a car’s first show or event, the first startup after a repair or restoration, catching a problem before it’s a problem, conquering that first difficult DIY repair, the first time you chauffeur an (appreciative) friend, and taking a road trip or cruise.
Unbeknownst to most of you, Kyle’s story inspired a comment from regular reader DUB6 that added a seventh rewarding moment to the list:
“These are all good, and I’ve experienced most of them. However, in my case, the ABSOLUTE MOST rewarding moment came when I revealed the project car and the plan to build it (alongside her) to our youngest daughter. It had come about as a result of her answer a few years prior when I asked her what her favorite car was. The answer set me upon a quest to get one into her life. It was a bit more of a challenge than I first thought, but the way it happened is something I wouldn’t change for a million bucks. The smiles and hugs I got as we worked our way through the challenges were priceless. Showing her the title and registration with both her and my names on them was the topper, as she then knew without any doubt that one day the car would be all hers.”
Way to go, Dad!
In 1966, teenage newlyweds Alex and Mary Gabbard won a radio mystery contest and were awarded a $1000 prize, and the two used the money to buy a new Sunbeam Alpine. That was Mary’s choice, by the way, not Alex’s. Decades later, however, the car is a beautiful reminder of Alex’s bride, who passed away in 2020. Looking back, he calls the purchase and ownership of the Alpine “the greatest adventure of our lives.” The story was pretty special to us, too.
Keith Evans spotted a Nissan Figaro on a trip back to his native U.K. in the early 2000s, and was so smitten that he vowed to buy one when he returned to the U.S.
Easier said than done, and not just because the Figaro was never imported to the U.S. and thus fell under the 25-year-wait restriction. He lived in California, which is chock full of restrictive emissions regulations. But he preserved and shared his story with us, for which we are grateful.
Dave Armstrong got the Nomad itch as a kid in Saratoga Springs, New York. Two of his uncle’s buddies owned 1955 Chevrolet Nomad wagons, and he always wanted one for himself. Years ago, Dave’s grandmother was living in a nursing home in Vermont, and on a visit there he saw ad for a ’55 Nomad. A former drag car, it was missing a lot—first and foremost a savior. Dave accepted the challenge, and after a full restoration he’s the proud of owner of a stunning head-turner.
For one reader, Dave Towns, it triggered memories of two cars that got away:
“My first car was a ’56 Pontiac four-door that I bought at 14 years old. At 16, I put it on the road. One cold/slippery winter day here in Canada I damaged the right front fender. I heard about one that was sitting on a farm not far away. Turned out to be not one but two Pontiac Safari wagons, both in decent shape, but interiors were shot. The owner wouldn’t sell one, so I bought the pair for $75. I pulled the parts I needed plus a Mallory dual point distributor and GAVE the two cars away. Would love to have one today.”
The other Dave can probably relate. OK, OK, so can we.
In the 1950s, Tony Briski’s dad landed a job at Chevrolet Engineering, and on one summer day in 1959, the department held an employee open house event. Tony noticed “the neatest little car I’d ever seen: the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle No. 1, or CERV-1, sans body. Dad introduced me to two men standing nearby, Zora Arkus-Duntov and Mauri Rose, then plopped me in the car’s metallic blue driver’s seat. I played with the controls, and at that moment, I became a car guy.” Nearly 60 years later, Tony built a CERV-1 for himself, and his story drew plenty of comments.
“I remember the various press releases of that car (yes, I am over 75),” Michael B. Carson wrote. “That car and growing up in the L.A. area in the ’60s made me a car guy for life. It amazes me how someone can build a car like that (by) using pictures.”
Added hyperv6: “I am often hard to impress, but this more than impresses me. In fact, I am downright envious.”
Welcome to the club.
As a child, Tony Ventrice loved antique cars. As an adult, he noticed fewer and fewer of them at car shows. So, he did his part by buying a 1922 Ford Model T Touring. “At automobile shows, I saw muscle cars and hot rods, but not enough antique cars. I wanted to preserve the history of these cars by keeping them as original as possible, and I put together a display of items associated with the Model T and its time period to show the significance of ‘the car that changed America.’”
Chris Hook inherited his passion for cars from his dad, “mostly thanks to a 1968 AMX X-code Go Pack 390 that he bought in 1972.” His parents met, dated, and drove away from their wedding in that car, but as often happens, the car was eventually parked and moved the back burner. Chris doesn’t remember it moving under its own power after the family moved in 1990, and since his father rarely spent money on himself, it took a gift from Chris—earmarked for the AMX—before his dad agreed to work on it.
Unfortunately, his father passed away unexpectedly, at the age of 60, before ever starting the car again. Chris couldn’t afford to restore the AMX, so he sold it to someone who would. After a year of mechanical work to get it running, the good Samaritan sold it back to the family just for the cost of the parts that he had replaced. Despite the survivor having less than 20,000 miles on the clock, it no longer sits idle.
“Dad always told me cars were meant to be driven,” Chris says, “so I drive the AMX monthly.” His father would be proud. And since saving driving is always top of mind here, we’re smiling too.
When Denise Coulson was 16, her parents decided they wanted to start off-roading in California’s Anza-Borrego Desert. They just needed a vehicle to do it in. So they sold their 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza and bought a new 1971 AMC Jeepster Hurst Commando … mostly because Denise’s mother could see over the steering wheel. Over the years, after Denise married and moved to the East Coast, the Jeepster was used less and less and ended up parked in her parents’ garage.
When Alzheimer’s claimed them both, Denise had the Jeepster shipped home, and she says, “The Jeep has brought me fully into the classic automotive world. Truth be told, I have had this passion since childhood, though I’m not sure where it came from.”
Pretty sure we know where it came from.
So many of us remember cars or trucks that remain a part of us long after they’re gone. Dennis Wilson hung onto to his. Born in 1944, he grew up a sharecropper’s son in north Alabama, so he knew the importance of taking good care of whatever he could afford. Shortly after getting married in 1964, he worked for $37 a week and managed to buy a a 1948 F-1 pickup for $250. “I was washing the Ford when my wife came home and asked whose truck I was washing. I told her it was ours,” he wrote. “… When I told her I wrote a check, she was curious if I knew how much money we had in the bank. I assumed that since we had checks, it meant we also had money. She then gently explained that in the future, we needed to talk about things before I made big purchases. But the truck stayed.”
For 12 years Dennis used the Ford as a work truck, and to go hunting and fishing, then he parked it for 22 years. Starting in 2000, he spent nine years restoring it. “Today, 58 years after I bought it, I still have my wife and we still have our truck. I enjoy driving it, taking it to shows, and joyriding with the ‘co-owner.’ I plan to pass the truck down and keep it in the family.”
Twin brothers Bruce and Brian Richardson bought and sold Corvettes in northern California to help finance their college education in the 1970s, but Brian could never part with one of them: a 1963 convertible that is the earliest-known second-generation Corvette in existence. When Brian passed away, Bruce and his wife, Lainey, reached out to us and wondered if we’d be interested in the story of the C2. Are you kidding? Of course, we jumped at the opportunity, and once again many of our readers were compelled to comment.
While some debated the legality of locating the through DMV records (at the time it was perfectly legal to search a VIN for $1) and others worried about where the car might end up, two of the comments came from readers with firsthand knowledge of the car.
“This is so cool. I lived down the street from them when they trailered this home,” John Butruce wrote. “I remember one of them telling this 16-year-old that it was s/n 3, which didn’t mean much to me back then.”
Dennis Montalbano added, “Brian and Bruce were good friends (of mine) growing up. I remember us sitting around wondering where the earliest C-2 was located … I was at Brian’s house earlier this year for a car reunion. Tragic end to a great person. The Richardson brothers painted my ’56 Corvette in my garage in 1975. I still have that Corvette.”
To support Brian Richardson’s family, his ’63 Corvette convertible is scheduled to cross the block at Mecum’s Kissimmee Auction on January 14. We appreciate Brian and Lainey for sharing their story with us first.
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