A short bio:
53, car lover, married 26 years, very understanding wife (VERY). Adult son – Graphic designer – free-lance. Formally a New Yorker, ex-military, 3 degrees and a couple of certifications. Lived on both coasts and a bunch in the middle and some overseas time.
So some background coming your way. No not my life’s story, just a little car related history. Grew-up in up-state NY – way upstate. My Dad was a body man by profession, working for various dealerships and auto body shops as well as owning a couple of his own (moderately successful). He was a premier body man, the way he did it was artful. He also fancied himself a mechanic, he was pretty good at that, but not nearly reaching the level he achieved “working on fenders”.
You can see that I was brought up with cars. When we owned our own shops – (4 of them, I think) I worked weekends and summers in each one and learned the skill. I also learned that I didn’t want to work this hard for a living. But I got a very good respect for the craft. I also loved the Chilton Manuals and the body shop books. Each had depictions of front(bumpers/grills/headlights) and the rear (bumpers/tail lights). I memorized as many as possible and I could pick them out on the street and site the make, model and year.
In addition to the constant exposure there were four specific events that helped to set the seed for what would become my passion now.
The very first occurred when I must have been 3 or 4 at the time when my uncle owned a 1958 blue and white Corvette. I remember him puting me in the car and I remember the image of the steering wheel and the two-tone paint. Family legend has it, that I was the only nephew he allowed in the car…don’t know if that true or not, but it makes for a cool story.
The second was a Chevy II Nova. My Dad often let folks use a garage bay sometimes when they wanted to do a little work on their own. I don’t recall the guy’s name but he used the garage for a couple months to work on this awesome drag car. I believe it had 396 engine with triple carbs and it sounded beautiful. I must have been 12 or 13 at the time and I remember hanging over the fender while he worked on it. I also recall helping him put out a gas fire when one of the gas lines on the tri-power setup sprang a leak while starting her up.
The next was going to the stock car races at Fond-Foultonville track. My Dad had a buddy who ran a car there and we got to go into the pits. I remember the smell of fuel, exhaust and burned oil. I remembered how hard that dirt track got at the end of a night of racing.
The final event was my first car. I was graduating from high school and my parents presented me with a fully restored (my father’s work) 1966 Chevy Impala Convertible. It was the prettiest car I had every seen and the 2nd coolest (the first coolest was my friend John DeLong’s 1972 (I think) Mach I Mustang..beautiful car and fast. The only way I ever beat him in a street race was by running a red light, when he slowed..I didn’t.
So you’d think I would continued to work on cars and I did for a bit while in college. I drove the Impala to death, wrecked it twice and sold it cheap. Bought a Plymouth Duster and did all the body work and sold that. Then I stopped.
I grew to dislike having to work on them. Maybe not that, as much as I was afraid that I’d be trapped in what was (in my thinking and at the time was) a depressed industry and family problems gave me the impression that it was best to leave that all behind. Which I did. For many years I wouldn’t touch a car, unless I was just jump starting someones or I need a quick repair of my own. During that time I did manage to own a 71 Chevelle and a Burlinetta Camaro, but those were short-term and at the time I was glad to get rid of them.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to drop me a comment or note.