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Remembering back when...

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I'm too young to have a "back when" story but I'll tell you about something my dad did. Back in the 70s when my dad was in high school he built a hot 327 with a Muncie trans for his 57 Chevy. One day he was testing the clutch and ended up falling off the milk crate he was sitting on and the car just kept idling down the road.

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My high school parking lot, Glenbrook South, '74-'75 era. Yes, we had Ralph Nader for a guest speaker. No, I don't know why my friend Pete Rosado was in drag at the Homecoming parade.

gbs1975.jpg

In junior high, my American Lit teacher had a cherry white and green '56 Olds 88 two-door hardtop that she'd bought new; she told me her father worked for GM in the '30s and helped design the Hydramatic. Wish I'd kept in touch with her afterwards; I would have been the second owner for sure.

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Crusin' was never about parking in a shopping mall parking lot was it Chip? http://www.myrideisme.com/Blog/phoenixs-cruise-on-central-truth-about-the-5-bucks/ Friday and Saturday nights were for crusin'. Up and down Speedway Boulevard ( yep , that's the name of the street, still is) aimlessly lookin' for girls and cool cars with the occasional stop light drag just like the movie American Graffiti.

I had a '56 Chevy Bel Air all through high School (1961-1965) 283 ( ok, it was a 265, but that's what i'd tell everyone, they didn't know) dual exhaust, four barrel ( yep, the mighty Rochester 4gc) . Ivory and Cinnamon or what ever they called it. Didn't last long, a friend had a '56 just like mine painted a dark Cadillac metallic green, so it was off to the base hobby shop ( Dad was in the Air Force) to get the color right (my first paint job) :P

Edited by Greg Myers

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My FIRST car story; first one I remember. As a very little guy, I was able to accurately identify just about every car or truck on the road; I don't know exactly why, but styling really impressed me. My Dad was not a car guy. But I vividly remember "our" car: a black, second-hand '49 Ford 4-door sedan Dad bought from a car dealer when it was 3-4 years old. One fateful day the fan belt expired with a flourish. A simple enough task, Dad was up for the challenge. He walked a couple of blocks to the Ford dealer and purchased a new belt. He walked home and promptly began installation of the new belt, only to discover it didn't fit! Back he walked to the dealer to return the belt. The parts guy said it had to be the right belt because there was only one for all models. They pulled all the belts out and checked every one to make sure of the length. The parts guy insisted he sold Dad the right one. Dad insisted it didn't fit. After some very spirited discussion about one another's competence, a veteran mechanic wandered into the conversation. After listening a bit, he pulled a different belt from the inventory ~ one not listed in the parts guy's book for the '49 Ford. The mechanic sent Dad back home with the new selection and suggested he try it. It fit like it was made for "our" car! Dad drove back to the dealership to pay for the 'new' belt and asked what was that was all about. The mechanic explained - to both Dad and the parts guy - that the belt that fit "our" car was a special part for police package cars only! They didn't list police package parts in the parts counter book because they were so rare. The mechanic serviced the local police, sheriff, and highway patrol cars that came in, so he had the only parts book with those 'special' parts listed.

"Our" little second-hand Ford was a high performance retiree from the county and had been the sheriff's personal ride until it was replaced with a faster, flashier new Ford.

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Great story, Danno. Cool to have a "police special" as daily transport. My own father had a '49 Ford business coupe.

I was like you as a little kid; I knew all the cars on the road. Interesting.

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So Dan, did that car sow the seeds for your later occupational endeavors?

Possibly so. I sure never looked at that 'plain jane' Ford the same way again!

But I think the seeds of career calling were more influenced by regular overdoses of 'Highway Patrol,' 'Dragnet,' 'Whirlybirds,' 'Rescue 8,' 'Sky King,' and 'Roy Rogers.'

My career path of choice, though, even as a young kid, was automotive engineering/styling. Had my eyes firmly set on GM Institute . . . until high school. That's when the reality of higher math and lower ambition crashed headlong. I never did really like slide rules! :P

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My first car in 1973 was a 63 Riviera that came with two crunched quarter panels. It only had 60K miles on it and did not have power seats/windows, etc. I loved that car. I had many others: 63 Impala SS, 66 Chevelle SS, 33 Plymouth with a 289 in it. I can't even remember all of the lesser 60s iron I went through.

My high school parking lot was not bad! There were two guys with Boss 302 Musrtangs. Several 383 Road Runners, a very nice 56 Chevy Bel air Hardtop, lots of Chevelles and many 6 cylinder 3 speed rusted out mustangs. There were two guys who had identical 58 Chev 4 doors in the same two tone green paint job. I remember a 340 Duster and one 340 Dart. Another guy drove a 49 Chev fastback in lime green with a small block and automatic in it. I don't remember the teachers driving anything too interesting in high school but my second grade teacher - Miss Monahan- drove her model A to school! It was 1965 and she was a spinster. In Junior High the shop teacher had a new 71 Torino with the laser stripes and another teacher drove his german Ford Taunus to school.

After I graduated a friend of mine bought a Boss 429 Mustang from an ad in the classifieds in the paper for $2000. (1976) He kept it for about six months and then he sold it for what he paid for it. He ended up with a beautiful 69 Cougar Eliminator with 428 SCJ 4 speed and detroit locker. It was mint. He sold it several years later to buy a new Ford 4X4 pickup. DOH!!!

Live long enough and we all have stories of the ones that got away. I passed on a 60 Caddy Convert, complete and running and little rust for $200. Also was dumb not to buy a 63 plymouth two door with a 413 and torqueflite with extra engines, trans, etc for $175. Also missed out on a nice chopped and channeled Model a coupe with a 300 inch flathead in it that was set up for dirt tracking for $125.00 SIGH.

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Here I am starting down the road to a law enforcement career

G
Edited by Agent G

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Ah, such memories. I had been building model cars since I was a little kid and kept on in my teen years when others' interests had moved on. I didn't have any money and my parents wouldn't consider my having my own car in high school ('68-'71). I grew up in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.

In junior high, the only hot car was a brand new '66 Chevelle SS396 in Marina Blue with a black interior that the janitor bought new. He parked it next to the shop buildings and we all drooled over it.

In high school, surprisingly there weren't a lot of interesting cars but there were a few oddities. One brother and sister each had Barris-customized cars: Albert had a '67 Malibu SS with a custom hood and spoiler with some custom paint. His sister had a custom-painted Opel GT with panels and lace. A guy in auto shop had a bare frame with a '50s Hemi and a kitchen chair welded to it so he could putt it around on the school access road. One of my buddies (non car guy) drove his grandmother's hand-me-down '62 Dodge convertible. It was black on black on black with rust, dirt a tattered top and the interior was filthy but it was sort-of cool in its own weird way. I did my senior photography project (10 minute slide show) on Van Nuys Blvd. cruising and still have most of the photos.

In my last two years of college ('74-'75) in central Missouri a guy living in my boarding house (similar to a frat without the frat stuff) was buying up Superbird, Daytona and any Charger/Roadrunner/GTX with a Hemi or 440. Remember, this was right after the first "gas shock" in '73 when people were unloading any gas-guzzler for a pittance. His name was Ed Burn (or Burns -- I may have the spelling wrong). I have no idea if he kept them long enough to capitalize on their huge run-up in value in later decades.

My college car was a 4-cyl. sub-compact. Oh, well.

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I was a car guy from birth. When I was three I had my Uncle John follow the city bus, stopping at every stop and watching who got on or off. Later in life he laughed that the bus driver probably thought he was crazy. Since my father was in the military, we lived all over the world giving me a different perspective of cars than the average American kid.

But my father settled down in NJ for me to go to high school in one place. My dream was always to drive a car. In NJ you could get your learners permit on your 17th birthday back in 1975. I believe I got mine the very first hour I was eligible. I took the day off school and my grandfather took me to motor vehicle first thing in the morning. I owned a lawn tractor that I mowed lawns with since I was 14, and a buddy who was a year older had let us drive his car around a bit, so my grandfather thought it was a miracle when I just got in the car and well, drove!

My first car was a '66 Valiant with a 225 slant six, that I drove to high school. My friend Greg had a 1970 Maverick, but he was always destroying cars so he went through a long list of them. My friend Mark started out with his sister's hand me down, 1962 Chevy II, brush painted white with no floor what so ever. One time when we got pulled over drinking, we literally put the beer on the ground and pulled the floor mat back. Once he saved his money, he got a 1966 Mustang with a 6 cylinder and three on the floor. My friend Larry had a 1966 Tempest, GTO clone. He was the one of us with mechanical ability so he put a 389 in it and it was no doubt the fastest of my crowd's cars. My cousin George had a 1959 Plymouth Belvedere 2 door hardtop, flat six with the push button tranny. Later on he traded it for a '55 Chevy 2 door sedan that was a total piece of rusted junk.

There were a fair amount of interesting cars in my high school lot. One kid had a nice 1970 Mustang, another had a pretty beat 55 Chevy convertible. Charlie had a nice '56 Chevy and when I saw him at our 35th reunion he said he still had the car. One girl had a Corvette because her dad was the local Chevy dealer. My German Teacher had a first generation Celica, my first taste of a Japanese car. He used to give me rides home from school and would nail it and wind out each gear for me. I always liked Celicas from that day forward.

And of course there were the high school antics. One day I was sitting at the curb waiting for my sister. Part of the deal of driving to school was that I had to transport her. A dumb jock walked up, stepped up on my bumper and proceeded to walk across the freshly painted hood of my Valiant. I instinctively threw it into reverse sending him flying. He sprained his wrist in the fall, and the school nurse wrapped him up. Those were the days of no cops, no insurance claims. But being high school, I was the one who got in trouble. I got banned from driving to school for a week. But I gained a lot of respect in school for that one!

We always wanted McDonalds breakfast but you weren't allowed to leave school even if you had study periods. We had two dean of students, a nun and our gym coach. I'd find one of them, tell them I forgot my gym shoes and get permission to go home for them. Of course the shoes were already in my car, so I'd rush to McDonalds and buy everyone's breakfast order. I'd leave the food in the car, and come back into the school twirling my shoes. Then someone else would sneak out to my car and retrieve the food. We got away with that one more than we should've!

There was the time that a clueless female teacher sent Eddie the cut up out to her 1961 Plymouth for a book. Our classroom was on the front of the school, facing the circle that the busses used. All of a sudden a '61 Plymouth comes flying through the circle with the horn blaring. We were all laughing our tails off. And the teacher? She scowled and didn't even recognize her own car. On Eddie's second pass, she pulled the shades down! He showed up a short time later with the book. He said he parked the car at the opposite end of the lot. Wonder if she ever noticed?

Edited by Tom Geiger

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In my last two years of college ('74-'75) in central Missouri a guy living in my boarding house (similar to a frat without the frat stuff) was buying up Superbird, Daytona and any Charger/Roadrunner/GTX with a Hemi or 440. Remember, this was right after the first "gas shock" in '73 when people were unloading any gas-guzzler for a pittance. His name was Ed Burn (or Burns -- I may have the spelling wrong). I have no idea if he kept them long enough to capitalize on their huge run-up in value in later decades.

I have an uncle that had a cherry 69 Chevelle SS with a 396 that he dumped for $700 because of gas prices.

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I have an uncle that had a cherry 69 Chevelle SS with a 396 that he dumped for $700 because of gas prices.

My second car was a 1970 Impala sport coupe with a 350. I sold it because of the cost of putting gas in it... back when gas was 50 cents a gallon! Back when my buddies and I would go cruising, we'd each chip in a dollar and put $3 worth of gas in the car. Any of our 6 cylinder cars did fine, but that Chevy need double that and nobody would pay up!

I sold the car to another young guy,one who had a floor buffing business and all his equipment fit into that enormous trunk! A while later I was at the junk yard, came around a corner and there was my car! The entire left side of it was wiped! I later saw the guy and he said he hit ice on the highway and rode the guard rail. Tough end for a good car!

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There were no cars back in my HS days as I lived in The Bronx, NY and no one needed a car in the city.

Our (my wife and I) first car in 1975 was a '67 Ford Galaxie 4 door that I bought from my Aunt for $300. It had a 289 and after awhile it started burning oil. A friend pulled the 289 and put in a 302 from a wrecked car. We had that car for a few years after we moved to Long Island and bought a house. I used to take a road called Ocean Pkwy. to work to avoid the bumper to bumper traffic on the regularly traveled highways. One day I wanted to see how fast the car could go and put the pedal to the metal on Ocean Pkwy. which rarely ever had any traffic on it at all. I got the car up to 105 MPH and it just wouldn't go any faster. The car was practically shaking itself to death but it just would not go any faster. A couple of days after that while I was driving to work there was a loud BANG and the car started smoking like a chimney. I pulled into a gas station near work where the car wound up staying. The engine had blown.

Our next car was a '71 Plymouth Satellite that my brother-in-law gave us. It had a 318 and I really loved that car. After a couple of years the car started falling apart. I wired up the front pan to keep it from rattling and falling off. The rear window and trunk seals leaked like crazy when it rained. The driver seatback was held up by a milk crate. The engine and trans were still strong though and the A/C worked fine. I wound up selling it to some guy in Brooklyn, NY who was thrilled with the car for only $150.

Next up was a '74 Chrysler Newport Custom that we bought from a neighbor who bought and sold used cars wholesale. We paid $1,200 for the car and it was gorgeous. It was like a limousine inside and had power EVERYTHING. It had a 400 engine with a 4 barrel and man did that car MOVE...!!! I got my first speeding ticket in it. As the speedo needle went up you could see the gas gauge needle going down. When the gas crisis hit the car was unfortunately stolen. We wound up getting a good reimbursement from our insurance company.

After that we wound up going through a series of cars... a Maverick (don't remember what year it was), '78 Olds Cutlass Cruiser Wagon, '83 Chevy Celebrity and an '86 Chevy Caprice Classic. Those cars, besides my dear old '59 Dodge Coronet are the ones that I drove and have great memories of.

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I remember when every Camaro, Mustang, Nova and Charger was jacked up high in the back, to the point of being ridiculous. Just going around a corner slow was a trick for some of them. Few of them went slow.

We were poor and, I had to buy everything I ever owned myself. And what I couldn't afford was the '69 Chevelle I wanted most.

I couldn't stand the idea of a "stock" ride, and souped-up stuff cost big bucks. So I bought the first of many VW Beetles in about 1982. Did some work to it, increased the mileage and made it run better than new to boot. And for a ton less $ than a SB Chevy. I owned about sixteen different bugs, mostly Bajas, over an eight-year period.

It all culminated in my last bug, a 220hp (barely) streetable car that would turn upper 11's to low 12's... My custom plates read "I8AV-8". Got me in some trouble with the "big car" dudes, but I pretty much held my own. Surpised more than a few of those V-8's.

Then I grew up.

My wife and I can afford a hot rod now, and we've been looking heavily at '57 Chevys... But, we're also looking at, you got it, BUGS. She's always wanted a convertible, and I could lower it, build a motor, etc. Maybe I'm not so grown up after all.

It's too bad. I'll bet most of the folks responding to this topic are over forty years old. Many considerably older. School parking lot hot rods nowadays are tuners with coffee-can exhaust. Not many teenagers hanging around the local speed shop, or working hard to save the money for a new carb and intake from J.C. Whitney. I find it horribly sad that my own soon-to-start-driving fifteen year-old son, while appreciating SOME rollin' iron (he calls a lot of Icononic cars "old and busted" however) has ZERO interest in turning wrenches on something of his own. He doesn't know, or care, about compression ratios, ignition timing, induction theory, cams, porting, etc. etc. Sad.

Sigh.

Dale

Edited by Dale W. Verts

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I never had children, but if I had a kid, when he or she turned 15, I planned to give 'em a nice motorcycle.. -in seven or so cardboard boxes of parts. And a shop manual and basic set of tools.

I got darn near everything that same way when I was a kid. I started mowing the neighbor's yards, then one day I noticed this old BSA in the back of a guy's garage.. He had taken the engine apart and couldn't figure out where to go from there ..Que the big little kid smile :D I noticed that approximately every 10th house had a basket case motorcycle, sooooo... ;)

Soon, my folk's backyard had a dozen different bikes.. Vespas, BSAs, Triumph, Hodakas, and a bunch of Japanese stuff. I became a half-fast bike wrench in a few years from that.

Bugs are just as easy to teach a young'un how a machine works. If you build/fix it yourself, you're gonna appreciate it more, as well as catch the Gearhead Flu we all have on this site.

Build it, ride it, love it 'till I die. -Put that on my tombstone, amigos.

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I find it horribly sad that my own soon-to-start-driving fifteen year-old son, while appreciating SOME rollin' iron (he calls a lot of Icononic cars "old and busted" however) has ZERO interest in turning wrenches on something of his own. He doesn't know, or care, about compression ratios, ignition timing, induction theory, cams, porting, etc. etc. Sad.

Back when my eldest daughter was 17, she had a boyfriend who was six months younger than her, which left her to do the driving. I had fallen asleep on the couch one Saturday night when I get the phone call... they are stuck with a flat tire. Can I come to them? I get to them and there's numpty Steve standing there, useless as if there were two girls stranded. He didn't even attempt to pull the spare out, no just standing there looking stupid. So I decide to teach him how to change a tire. He can't pull the tire from the trunk whining that it's heavy and dirty. He couldn't turn the wrench to loosen the lugs... so finally I just changed the tire showing him the steps and scolding him for not paying attention. I might as well as been talking to my dog. I finish, put everything away and leave them to drive on their own.

My daughter must've dropped him off and came storming in the house livid... she was mad at me for yelling at Steve! She said I made him cry! Bambi boy! :)

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Thank you for the replies.

It is very interesting to hear about everyone's respective experiences.

I wasn't a rich kid, but at least I had a car, and I am thankful for that.

I have to admit, I was hoping to hear from some of the guys that are older, who might have remembered Model A's, and possibly Model T's, being driven to school. My uncle, who was in high school during the 1950's, remembers many Model T's.

I would also like to hear from those younger than I. It seemed like the younger kids, for a while, all drove Pontiac Grand Prix from the early 80's, as well as the Buick and Olds versions. There also seemed to be a time, after me, that used Mustangs (all post 1972 models) were the rage.

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Oldest car I ever drove back then was a 1948 Plymouth "Special Deluxe" business coupe. That'sthe car I learned to drive a manual transmission in. I co-owned it with a friend.

G

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Back when my eldest daughter was 17, she had a boyfriend who was six months younger than her, which left her to do the driving. I had fallen asleep on the couch one Saturday night when I get the phone call... they are stuck with a flat tire. Can I come to them? I get to them and there's numpty Steve standing there, useless as if there were two girls stranded. He didn't even attempt to pull the spare out, no just standing there looking stupid. So I decide to teach him how to change a tire. He can't pull the tire from the trunk whining that it's heavy and dirty. He couldn't turn the wrench to loosen the lugs... so finally I just changed the tire showing him the steps and scolding him for not paying attention. I might as well as been talking to my dog. I finish, put everything away and leave them to drive on their own.

My daughter must've dropped him off and came storming in the house livid... she was mad at me for yelling at Steve! She said I made him cry! Bambi boy! :)

Sigh. Not all of us are like that... Currently helping my dad re-build a AMC 360 bored .30 over.. B)

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Sigh. Not all of us are like that... Currently helping my dad re-build a AMC 360 bored .30 over.. B)

Y'sure that you don't mean ".030" overbore ?

(just ribbing you , Dyno :) )

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Back when my eldest daughter was 17, she had a boyfriend who was six months younger than her, which left her to do the driving. I had fallen asleep on the couch one Saturday night when I get the phone call... they are stuck with a flat tire. Can I come to them? I get to them and there's numpty Steve standing there, useless as if there were two girls stranded. He didn't even attempt to pull the spare out, no just standing there looking stupid. So I decide to teach him how to change a tire. He can't pull the tire from the trunk whining that it's heavy and dirty. He couldn't turn the wrench to loosen the lugs... so finally I just changed the tire showing him the steps and scolding him for not paying attention. I might as well as been talking to my dog. I finish, put everything away and leave them to drive on their own.

My daughter must've dropped him off and came storming in the house livid... she was mad at me for yelling at Steve! She said I made him cry! Bambi boy! :)

LOL Great story. Did she break up with him later?

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I've had some leaky beaters that were so bad, I seriously considered lashing a gallon can of oil to an inner fender, with a drip-feed into the engine.

A quality solution being, of course, job one. B)

Reminds me of a story dad told, growing up during the depression a neighbor's tractor had an oil leak so he hung a tin can under it to catch the oil and would pour it back in ! Times were hard indeed.

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