Justin L 1969 Chevy Caprice

'69 Caprice- All in the Family!

I remember being a kid, maybe 7 or 8 waiting for my grandfather to take me to school. The distance was only about a half mile from my house, some days it was nice, some rainy, some even snow. I would always find myself watching out the screen door window watching those headlights coming down the road. A Blue 2 door, '69 caprice, glacier blue, 327, automatic. I think that's when my passion for cars started. My grandfather and I usually took walks to a local repair shop where he liked to hang out with the owner to pass the time, occasionally help work on something, I would get a pop from the antique Pepsi machine, play with some match box cars and listen to stories told by him about cars, work, whatever. One day while walking back my grandfather looked at me and said one day, his car would be mine. I couldn't be happier to hear that news!!

Fast forward a few years, at about 14 or 15. My grandfather passed away, with me unable to obtain a drivers license the car was transferred to my cousin, where it sat for the better part of 6 years. the majority of these years I spent tooling away about how I would get the car in my possession. I finally got fed up of the car sitting, left to decay, I bought a battery, 5 gallons of gasoline and a can of starter fluid. I read up a little about how to get a car running, what to do about ensuring the engine isn't seized, etc. Once I ran through my basic checklists it came time to insert the original key that my grandfather used to start that car time and time again. It gives you that first girlfriend kind of feeling in your stomach. The GM logo was nearly warn off the set of keys. With a few pumps of the pedal I hit the key, 10 seconds later I felt the rumble of that 327 shake as it fired up. I spent the next few years going over once a month, starting the car, running it for 20 minutes, pulling it out of the garage and back in again.

I spent some time looking around the car for anything that could tie my grandfather to the car even further. Underneath the drivers seat I found the build sheet for the car 95% intact. I searched the glove box where I found what every car collector wants, Documentation! It was all there, original bill of sale, original dealer tag, even the dealer checklist performed on the car before it was given to the buyer. Receipts from the 70's and 80's for some body work tires, even his temporary insurance card that he received before being allowed to drive the car off the lot! I built a booklet with everything included to show the car world what was saved! It was time to make it mine!

I finally got the nerve to have the difficult conversation to make the car mine! I called my cousin and asked if we could chat, after a few minutes we both agreed on what to do, we had the title transferred 2 days later, it was mine! I drove the car around town, taking it to local shows until, in 2012, the timing chain went out. I replaced it myself, but the motor just wasn't running right. It was time for a rebuild. I spent about a year and a half taking it out, disassembling and rebuilding the motor. Surprisingly the bottom end was near perfect. I bought a new set of heads to help it breath a little better, changed the 2 barrel to a 4, but still retained the numbers matching drive train. (No worries, I have every nut and bolt that was removed from the car!) The interior is 99% Perfect and original! You can still feel my grandfathers imprint in the drivers seat from the springs being a little warn out.

I finally finished the car this summer, I have had it out a few times. While working on the project we had a family surprise. My first Son Colton was born. I cannot wait for him to grow up to share some of the memories that I shared and make new ones in that car. If all goes well, he may be the proud owner of this car one day, at least I hope. I think he is a car guy already (at 15 months old) every time he hears the car run in the garage he jumps up and chants Vroom, Vroom!!!

That's my story so far, as an open book. I feel every car story should be an open book, they should remain as close to the original ownership as possible. These classic cars are slowly dying off, and fewer young people share interest in the hobby. Fortunately, at 28, I am one of the few who are passionate about the way things were built, the story about how it became to be, how much hard work was vested to buy what they wanted and how they spent years on maintaining that dream to eventually pass along to a new generation. Those stories need to be shared. Help keep the dreams alive, like you a car only has one life.

Thank you for allowing me to share this story, its something I hold close to my heart, and something I take great pride in.

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    Jose Southern Ca. October 30, 2014 at 00:39
    Your grandfather was a great man, I enjoyed your story.

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