I had my driver's license at the age of 12. Growing up in the Detroit area, I was always car crazy, probably because my Uncle John raced as an independent at Indianapolis and was always working on Offy's and vintage Cadillacs in hist country garage. My dad gave me $200 dollars to buy my first car and I told him I was going to by an old car. He was not encouraging and muttered some expletives. A man by the name of Bob Gault owned a classic car store in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and advertised vintage cars for sale every Sunday in the Detroit Free Press. I wanted a 40 Ford Coupe, (and still do), but when I got to the olde car store, all that Mr. Gault had was a 40 Chevy coupe and some Model A's. I had never seen one. It was driven by an olde lady on the western coast of Canada. She never used 2nd gear, so it would grind and grind, before the vacuum shifter finally got it to go into second gear without grinding. The body was fair, the interior was perfect original, including the wood grained dash and window frames, but the frame was quite rusty. The color was Neptune Green.
I drove the car in high school for two years and then my friend/mentor and mechanical genius Al Hockmuth said we should install a small block Chevy and a floor shift. So, I bought a 56 Chevy wagon for $10 dollars for the engine, tranny and rear axle. Al showed me how to port and polish the Duntov heads he gave me and Gratiot Hot Rod Shop bored out the 283 0.030 over and they balanced it. I installed a Duntov cam, and Wieand high rise manifold and four barrel carb. The locating dimensions of the 56 Chevy wagon were identical to the 40 Chevy's dimensions, so the engine and drive train swap was quite simple. The drive shaft length did not have to be altered. We built up a set of ten leaf springs for the rear axle.
On Woodward Avenue in the 60's it was quite fast and I ran a lot of hot rods from all over the country that used to come to Woodward Avenue and Ted's Drive Inn each Saturday night. During my college years, I drove the Chevy from Detroit to California three times on Route 66 and the car never failed me. On a dyno in North Hollywood, it registered 283 horsepower from that SBC. Almost one horsepower per cubic inch, which was something back in those days.
The frame was getting really bad, so sadly I sold the old hot rod in 1971 and bought my first real car, a 70 1/2 Z-28 Camaro, but you know, it just wasn't the same. I have great memories of that fabulous first car.
PS. I'm still into hot rods and Corvettes, over 50 years later. "Still Crazy After All Those Years".
Highlands Ranch, Colorado