Rob H

My kids asked - Why do you like old cars?

My 9 year old daughter crawled up in the bed Saturday morning and said, "I wish we could go for a ride in the Trans Am today." (It is in the shop) "I like it. Why do you like old cars?" My dad was a shade-tree mechanic on the side and I've always had a fascination with cars and trucks. I was barely old enough to crawl and there are pictures of me playing with Hot Wheels. My dad worked with two gentlemen that owned classic cars and I would frequently see them. Directly across the street from us the one man had a restored 1957 Chevy convertible and the other guy and his son who lived down the street had several over the years, but the one I remember most was the 1969 Pontiac Firebird, blue with a high rise intake that stuck up through the hood. Hearing that Firebird take drive past the house was exciting. Another man I never knew would frequently drive past the house in a 1969 Camaro. It had no hood, nothing but shiny chrome in the engine bay. It was an ugly metallic green with red, yellow and orange flames on the side and white in the front. One day his brakes failed and he crashed his car in the ditch by the stop sign in front of my house. Chrome parts were scattered. He was OK and walked to the house to call the wrecker (no cell phones!). All of the kids in the neighborhood stood around as the wrecker hauled it up the hill and away. Several months later I remember seeing the car drive past the house - fully repaired looking and sounding like it did before.

Years afterwards my dad took me to many car shows, truck pulls and monster truck rallies. By the time I was 16 I had learned to drive a 1971 Chevy C10 pickup "three on the tree". Every day I drove home from school I would stop by and walk around a 1957 Chevy step-side pickup. After weeks of talking to my dad about how to save up the cash to buy it, we took it for a test drive. I remember him driving it pretty hard, the thing shaking and the passenger's side of the seat slid back and forth terribly. It was extremely loud (Cherry bomb extensions off of headers from the small block engine). He looked it over real well and told me all the reasons why it would not be a good vehicle for me. The next day when I drove past the place it was gone. I stopped in and the guy told me that he sold it just that morning. I left there heartbroken.

My dad had talked things over with my grandfather and they went in together and bought it for me, had taken it to the shop to get more tolerable mufflers put on it, the timing adjusted correctly and new brake shoes installed and adjusted properly. The plan was to store it in my uncle's barn until Christmas. My grandfather passed away 4 weeks before Christmas, but I remember my father asking me to go get something from the garage down the hill from the house that Christmas morning. My grandmother was there with a camera waiting for me to open the door. Mom still has that picture framed in the hallway. It was a dream come true. I literally dreamed about the vehicle after that, pouring over magazines getting ideas on how to spend my money on it. By the time I graduated college I had it painted, new wheels and bucket seats with a nice stereo.

I married and put that dream on hold for several years as other priorities took their place. The truck sat outside at my parent's house for a decade and time took its toll. I moved it to a barn and for another 10 years I would periodically wash it, drive it around the field and park it again. I began to be less interested in 50's vehicles and more interested in the muscle cars of the late 60's and 70's in that time. I totaled up the amount of money it would take to get the 57 back on the road in the condition I would like, and decided to invest in the Trans Am instead. I handed the 57 off to my brother-in-law who had expressed interest in restoring it. The second owner of the TA had restored it 80% to its original condition with the exception of building the engine to achieve 400+hp, but had run out of money to complete it. I am the third owner and thoroughly enjoy driving it, often with my wife and kids. Currently saving up money for new paint and stickers...

Want to follow that up with my son who is 13, I have been teaching him how to drive on the dead-end gravel road in my late father's 1989 Chevy Silverado. He calls it 'his truck' and I refer to it in that manner as well. He is making plans for it now, with his eye on borrowing my 2011 Camaro Convertible or possibly even the TA because he's been asking me to teach him how to drive a stick. Ha! Ok maybe eventually the Camaro, but the TA??? Fat chance... :-)

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