MY RIDES: Past, Present, and Future
SOME PEOPLE talk a good game. Some of us have been there- done that and got the T-shirt. Here’s proof.
The first car I ever drove (Other than steering Dad’s car while sitting on his lap.) was a ’62 Volkswagen Beetle that my dad gave me at the age of 12. His logic was that I wouldn’t be sneaking around and taking cars on clandestine drives in and out of the yard like my older brothers did. Unfortunately no pictures of this car exist.
MY FIRST CAR was this ’57 CHEVY Sedan Delivery bought from Harper’s Metals for $20. bucks.
These pictures are of the ‘as purchased the second time’ version of the car- the day I sold it to one of its previous owners. I never did have this car on the road. More stories and pictures at a later date.
MY NEXT car was a ’56 Chevy 150 Handyman Station Wagon. It had a 301ci. small block Chevy with a 3-speed manual transmission. It was fun for peeling-out, but the column shift linkage would often hang up and stick in two gears at once. Got the stupid idea to make a profit and sold the car instead of driving it to high school when I turned 16. It was last seen at the bottom of a scrap pile in Harper’s Metals yard. *** Need to re-format the picture I have of the car and will post at a future date.
WHEN my dad forbade me to buy back the ’57 sedan delivery, I promptly went out and bought a 1948 Monarch coupe. This car had at one time been a LTCHS auto shop teacher’s project car, and the body was restored in the high school auto body shop. Like most projects undertaken by someone with more dreams than skills, this was a car that responded to efforts to revive it with a kick in the nuts.
WHEN it was all said and done, the toll was 2 engines, 7 transmissions, 2 rear ends, and 2 driveshafts. Not to mention the hit and run on the front fender, and the rear fender getting torn off by some high-school cheer leader.
BEFORE my dad found out about the Monarch, he tried to get himself back in my mom’s good graces by giving me a ’51 Ford F-1 as atonement for forbidding me to buy back the ’57. While this truck provided a number of ‘learning experiences’, we also had fun with it as well. I could say what, but I am not sure if ‘the statute of limitations’ applies. Then again, there might just be such a thing as KARMA after all,
ANOTHER potential Money Pit was my brother’s former ’64 Malibu SS that I bought after a subsequent owner had driven the car into the ground. I unloaded the car on a ‘friend’ who sunk a ton of money into it and never got it back together. He still considers me to be ‘the devil’.
THIS is just what I did before and during High School.
AFTER HIGH SCHOOL:
The first car I put together that did almost everything I wanted to do was this ’65 Falcon Futura hardtop coupe. It came into my life as another Harper’s Metals score with a good body and a bad engine. A 289 was sourced from our core pile and given a Red Deer Auto Wrecker’s overhaul. It was just fast enough to win its fair share of street races, and loud enough to attract unwanted attention from the cops.
MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE car came about as a result of my good fortune and tragedy for another family. The Bat Outta Hell 1962 BelAir Sport Coupe was one of my most successful street racing programs. The car itself came to us when the powerglide automatic gave out on the highway south of town. I have always liked these cars from first seeing pictures of ’62 Super Stockers in the pages of Hot Rod Magazine. For a hundred bucks, I was the new owner. The next stage of ‘the plan coming together’ involved a tragic and fatal accident that demolished a ’69 Ralley Sport Camaro and killed its young owner. The engine only needed a thorough clean up and inspection of its components. The only glitch on start-up was a slightly bent valve. A full-manual aluminum Powerglide was built and installed behind the Camaro’s 350. Subsequent paycheques would see new go-fast speed parts added. Quarter mile times for this 3600lb. car got into the low 14s. Top end speed was a little north of 140mph.
“If I’da known then what I know now” best says what I think about most of the cars up to this point. None moreso than the BelAir. Its retirement didn’t end well. ‘Nuff said.
THE NEXT PHASE in my how to go fast on the cheap program was a succession of Pontiac Acadians and Chevy IIs. I started out with a rust-free ’66 Acadian Canso SD that my uncle had been in a collision with. (No good pictures to show you.) In the process of acquiring parts to restore the car, I collected several others, putting them back on the street while by best car sat and sadly never got finished. I eventually sold it along with a pile of new parts to save my first marriage. Needless to say, I should have kept the car. I have a stack of photos of ‘parts cars’ I cannibalized, but I will show you a couple of ‘death-traps’ instead.
This ’67 Chevy II was purchased from Popow and Sons Auto Wrecking for 2 or 3 hundred bucks with an expired engine. I just happened to have a 275 horse 327 out of an Impala that I bought from an insurance company. I also added the hood and mag wheels. It was fun to beat around in for a while- if you didn’t mind getting splashed in the face whenever it rained or the snow melted. I decided to park it before I got killed in it. The guy I sold it to put a drivetrain back into it (including a 4-speed). He dumped the clutch one too many times, tearing out the floor and sub-frame. Guess what? I sold him another car.
This ’67 Nova was another ‘parts car’ that I pieced back together and put back on the road. Believe it or not, I bought it from a fellow known as ‘Bondo Billy’. At the time I was holding onto a large inventory of parts for the ’66 Canso Sport Deluxe. They somehow wound up in this car as a compulsion to build something fast got the better of me. It got the Bat Outta Hell’s 350, a built TH350, and a 4.56 posi rear end, as well as Moroso front springs and 90/10 drag shocks. The goal was to build 2 identical cars to try to sucker somebody into a race as well as insure and license only one car. Fortunately, no cop ever looked at the VIN tag. Getting stopped 3 times in less than an hour “because I was so colorful” convinced me to get the body into just 2 colors. AND…
As they say, the rest is history. A fellow known as ‘Abdul Ben The Hacker’ finished the bodywork. Together we radiused the wheel openings to get rid of the rust and clear the 29×10 slicks. The quarter panels were also pushed out 4″ so the tires would clear the body when the air shocks were deflated. The cool part was that few people noticed something different. When my priorities changed, the car was pulled apart and eventually sold after it was painted.