I Guess I Will Never Stop Learning This Lesson…
By the mid 1960’s in the Midwest 1955-57 Chevys were getting pretty rusty. In high school back in Illinois, we fantasized about all of the nice, rust-free cars there must be in Texas and other states where salt was not used on winter roads. So, you can probably imagine my excitement 35 years later when the need to own a classic Chevy hit me hard, and I was living with my family right here in Texas!
Still, I looked long and hard for what I wanted—a restored dusk pearl 1957 Bel Air, two-door hardtop, powerpak, stick shift. The search lasted over three years; I scoured swap meets, car shows, internet sites, and newspaper ads. As someone said to me, dealers are not taking orders for them anymore. A car buddy described me as a guy looking for a new ’57 Chevy—cheap. But, the looking was fun.
Two years ago I located a "like new" turquoise and white ’57 Chevy 210, two- door sedan with a Blue Flame 140 six-cylinder engine, a powerglide automatic transmission, and with a deluxe heater, the only option when new—not exactly what I was looking for, and not exactly cheap either, but a pretty good alternative I reasoned. The car drove well, it had good documentation, it was bone stock, so I could modify it to my taste, and most importantly, I liked it. There were 2100 miles on the frame-off restoration, and only 80,000 total miles on the body. It was built in St. Louis, Missouri; sold by Bale Chevrolet in Little Rock, Arkansas; moved to Norman, Oklahoma; and then to Sherman, Texas where I found it—a three-owner car. With my wife and two boys’ blessings I brought it home to Plano.
So, it was a great Christmas! Sitting in my garage was a six-banger, slush box as we fondly called them back in the day. But, like the old days I had a plan, which included a fuel-injected 350 and a four-speed. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the speed shop. I noticed that the six-banger ran pretty nice, and the "powerslide tranny" was really okay. It doesn’t thump anybody’s ground, and it won’t blow anyone off of the road, but I am more of a cruiser these days anyway. So, for now I am content to make some minor changes, like front disc brakes, a dual master cylinder, rear self-adjusting drum brakes, an electronic distributor conversion, and an ATO fuse panel. I added a radio, dash trim, wider wheels and tires, and I lowered the front end for a better look. Air conditioning will be added by next summer, thanks to the Club and to Vintage Air. The plan is to keep the basic stock look, and to enjoy driving my soon to be fifty-year old car as much as humanly possible.
The lesson? Oh yeah, the lesson. Do you remember in high school thinking we were a lot smarter than most grownups around us, and after we finished school thinking how much smarter they had become. Well, since the grownups were buying most of the new cars in those days, and GM sold a whole lot of these six-bangers, well maybe…you probably can finish the rest of this lesson.
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