Tony N

I am My Father's Son

I always appreciate the stories about dads passing on the love of classic cars to their sons (and daughters), but I always get jealous. You see, my dad was a "car guy," a "gear head," and affectionado of Fast American Cars... But alas, my father passed away at the age of 41, when I was just 15. In the ensuing years I grew to love the same sorts of cars my father loved, not because of my dad, but that just happened to be where I found my passion. And according to my mother and some of my dad's friends, I also seemed to inherit much of my father's personality, despite our short time together.

I always felt especially jealous of my older brother's bond with Dad. My brother is 5-years older than I, and as such, he got to build a dream Chevelle with Dad, back around 1980. A 1968 Supersport, with a 427, M22 "Rockcrusher" 4-speed and 4.88:1 gears. The car also featured a Vertical-Gate shifter and Lakewood Ladder bars welded to the rearend housing... What a beast! The irony is that in later years my brother told me that the "Chevelle" idea was more Dad's than my brother's, that my brother just wasn't that into cars. So here I am, a kindred spirit with my father, in all things automotive, yet cheated by just a few years.

By the time I was born in 1967, Mom and Dad had moved away from "Musclecars," but Dad had always loved fast cars. As a Highschool Junior back in 1957, Dad had a 1955 Chevy Bel Air 2-door post. He had pictures of the car along with some time slips from the old Half Moon Bay Dragstrip (just south a San Francisco), pasted into his yearbook.

In 1958, he special ordered a 1958 Bel Air 2-door hardtop (NOT an Impala), with the 315HP 348 engine, 3-speed manual trans, Positraction and 4.56:1 gears! We still have the Carbon copy of the order and delivery forms. This is the car he owned when he met my mother and they started dating. My mother loves telling the story of how she got all excited the first time he asked her to get into the back seat... Her excitement quickly fading when he remained in the front. Turns out, he wanted more traction for a race...

Dad went through a succession of cars, all pretty much of the higher Horsepower variety. The cars included:

1958 Bel Air 2-door Hardtop, Black/Black, 348/315HP!, 4.56 positraction

1959 Corvette. Taught mom how to drive, in a 4-speed Corvette.

1960 Corvette (I have the "Corvette Owners Club" card with the VIN)

1961 Pontiac Ventura 2-door Bubbletop, Black, 389 (425A Trophy) with a 4-speed. Mom and Dad Honeymooned in this car!

1962 Ford Galaxie 500, Brown, 406 with a 4-speed ( have a few pictures).

1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe,White with Red interior, 340HP and a 4-speed. Still have the sales contract and pictures.

1964 GTO, Black, 389, 3X2, 4-speed, 3.55 limited slip. Still have some pictures and the original window sticker.

Unfortunately, Dad never kept any of these, always trading in on the next hot thing. Mom said she know when he was extra late coming home after work, that he was out buying another car... Dad wasn't wealthy, he was just a house painter who took over the small family business from his dad. I guess that is why he quit buying musclecars after his second child was born.

Some other notable cars include

1967 Dodge R/T (Coronet), 440 Magnum with a 4-speed. Mom was rearend while pregnant with me.

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix, but only the Model J, not the SJ... I recently found a few pictures.

There were stories of an early '60's "Chrysler/Dodge" with a 413 engine. apparently dad talked my grandfather, Papa, into buying this car, but my dad took it racing every weekend. Between the loud exhaust, his son always borrowing the car, and the solid lifter cam noises, my grandfather quickly traded the car in... Papa just wasn't into cars like his son.

My passion is Chevelles, as my brother's '68 made a big impression. For 30+ years, I have owned many 1966 Chevelles, and still have one, a SuperSport with the L78 (375HP 396, solid lifter cam, etc), M22 "Rockcrusher" (1of 12 built). The original engine and transmission are long gone, but I have owned the car for nearly 30 years. It is currently undergoing a complete restoration, but that is on the back-burner as I spend time and money on my daughters. My daughters love the Chevelle, but haven't be inducted into the world of gearheads. we are working on that. I also own a 1970 Chevelle "hot rod" thats fun to drive (the girls love to cruise around in the Chevelle). The picture above is of one of the other Chevelles I previously owned, a 1966 SS convertible.

I would love to buy, or even locate one of my father's cars, but despite having VIN and license numbers, I have not had luck finding any of them (even prior to the restrictive "privacy" laws). I did locate my brother's Chevelle, but it was wrecked, rebuilt, and sitting for years with an owner that not ready to sell (the same gentleman that original bought the car from my dad and brother). I have considered building a "clone" of one of Dad's cars, but I havn't had luck locating an affordable project to start.

Almost daily, I dream of my dad, think of what we could have done together, and how his granddaughters would have loved him...

Father's Day will always be bittersweet...

To all you sons and daughters out there, make sure you hug your fathers if you can, and tell then just how much they mean to you...

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