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.