Roger V

At age 15, a hard-sell to my Dad

Being a "car" kid in the fifties, I just couldn't wait until I was sixteen to get my driver's license. In fact I couldn't even wait to get a car. My Dad was pretty hard-nosed when it came to just about anything so I figured this was going to be next to impossible. Either I had a good reason or he gave up with my pestering him. My logic was to buy a car so I could learn the mechanics of such by hands-on. He said he would agree but that I would not be allowed to license and drive it when I got my driver's license. I didn't like that restriction but figured I would at least get to first base by having a car.

We found a neat '50 Chevy coupe with the long deck. I'm not just thinking learning mechanics but customizing it which was popular at that time. It sat under a tree with the resulting droppings. That didn't deter the illusion I had for it.

I pulled the engine apart replacing the piston rings and had the head rebuilt at the repair shop next door. My Dad announced that we were going on vacation in three days. He wanted the array of parts all over the garage cleaned up. I made it into a challenge and got the engine put back together by the time we left on vacation. Bare in mind I never took an engine apart let alone do any form of rebuilding. Also, I didn't have any help either.

I had all sort of ideas from the little 25 cent Rod & Custom books that I hid in my school text books during study hall! Of course I didn't have the resources of Barris and the like. I did manage to fill-in the hood and deck lid (nose & deck it) as well as the original tail light holes. Somewhere I found '50 Ford tail lights and mounted them under the deck lid. A hard lesson learned was when I was disc grinding without safety glasses. A trip to the doctor resulted in three pieces of rusted imbedded steel being removed from my eye(I still see those three dark spots today). The bumper guards were removed for the clean look. I dressed-up the 216" engine with chrome covers for the generator, etc. as well as the little air cleaner, oil cap, and radiator cap. See-through red gas line was necessary. A bright blue paint job completed the engine. Some of my re-wiring needed correcting as pressing on the brake pedal caused the dash lights to illuminate!

Next I spot primed the spots apparently from the tree drippings. Since I never painted before I didn't know you were not supposed to paint a car under a tree in the back yard. All my Dad had was a diaphragm compressor with a bleeder spray gun. If that wasn't a recipe for disaster, I chose a metallic alkyd enamel, '57 Chevy Sierra Gold Poly. My first spray resulted in the worst curtain of runs on the door I have ever seen! No problem, I just soaked a rag in reducer and wiped it off. I finished the whole car with no runs, leaves, or anything real noticeable.

D-Day arrived and the engine was too tight to start. I turned sixteen and got my driver's license. I convinced my Dad I had to license and insure the car so I could have the gas station next door push start it. He bit but told me the next insurance period was not going to be renewed. Well, at least I got six months driving out of it. Since he wanted me to save all my money for college, I painfully had to sell. I never saw it again...........

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