Don J 1957 Chevrolet 150 2dr Sedan

Just To Outrun Bubba

It was 1960, and my friend Bubba had the fastest 1957 Chevy in our Southeast Texas town. He'd bought it new, and he broke it in fast. It was a black, two-door hardtop with a 283 cubic-inch Power-Pak, 220 horses. In the quarter-mile, he outran everyone around, including everything I had owned: a '57 Ford hardtop, '58 Chevrolet Impala and a '59 Ford Thunderbird. All were too heavy and/or too slow.

I couldn't afford $130 per month on the Thunderbird, so I let a guy take up the notes on it in exchange for a 1954 Buick sedan. Almost embarrassed to be driving it, I began scouting used car lots. Lo and behold, within a week I made an even swap for a white, two-door Chevrolet 150 six cylinder, standard shift. It had an AM radio and a small heater, along with a mundane gray interior.

First thing, I had it repainted. Same white color. It looked great. Then, had Bel-Air upholstery installed with the red and black motif. Expenses so far: $250. Wasn't concerned about the radio and heater. They worked fine. What I wanted was a bigger engine.

Found one for $200 at a local wrecking yard. It had come out of a wrecked '58 Chevy and was a 283 Power-Pak, but for some reason 230 horses. The only thing wrong with it was a twisted dipstick sleeve. Bought a new one for $1.50 at the Chevrolet dealership, but when I managed to pull out the old one, the new one wouldn't fit into the hole. I solved that by placing it in Mom's freezer for an hour. It shrank enough to slip right in.

Two friends installed it for a hundred bucks and the 6-cylinder engine. Work included dual exhausts, and I had two Douglas mufflers installed. By this time, I'd lost track of how much I was spending, but I didn't care. All I wanted was to outrun Bubba, just once.

Everything had been done under wraps. Took about a week. As far as Bubba knew, I was still puttering around in a straight 6.

Finally, my opportunity came. One day, Bubba and I sat side by side at a red light with no other cars around. I looked over at him and smiled. "Wanna' race?" I yelled. He just grinned.

The light turned green, and I jumped out a bit ahead of him, which caused him to speed up to get ahead of me. That's when I wound it up in first gear, then shifted to second, planning to lunge ahead.

But it was not to be. Too eager, I had stripped all the teeth off the synchronizer, and to this day, I haven't outrun Bubba. But we did remain friends for a long, long time.

Somewhere, there is a photo of that beautiful Chevy 150, and I do hope to find it in order to relive that memory.

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