|In 1984, I was 15 years old. I got my first car that year. $900 bought a rusty 57 2 door 210 sedan with no title. Dad and I spent MANY a night for almost two years restoring it. The car was finally ready to drive about halfway through my junior year in High School. This car became my daily transportation. It was white with a black interior, 327/4 speed and 3:70 rear. This is a 210 car with Bel Air trim added on. It was no show car, but it was nice enough to attract attention, good and bad. I had a blast in that car, and it goes without saying (I'll say it anyway), many memories from my teenage years will always include that vehicle. I still live in the same area as I did then, and 20 years later I'm still finding folks that remember that car. Even when they don't know me.
I drove the car as my daily driver until 1988, when the car was parked in my parents' driveway. 1988 was the year I started undergraduate classes in another city. Maintaining a 30 year old, hotrod car is not a good choice for the average college student. So, I went from driving a 1957 Chevrolet to a 1978 Mazda GLC. A bit of a difficult adjustment, but all for the best. (I immediately began acquiring traffic tickets at a much lower rate.)
I graduated from college in '92 and became a fulltime taxpayer. Over the next 10 years or so I had scarce extra money nor a place to work. So, the 57 continued to sit dormant in my parents' driveway. By 2001 I was able to make a down payment on my first house. By 2004, I had started building a shop so I could restore my 57 for the 2nd time. In the Summer of 2005, right around the time the shop was getting finished up, I happened to run across two project cars in two months' time that I "just couldn't pass up". So now the shop I built specifically for this car had suddenly become full.(sucks to be me!) I don't expect "non-car" people to understand this behavior, but I will say that you can't just wait until you are ready to buy and then expect immediate availability of project cars at good prices. Where possible, you gotta strike when the opportunity presents itself.
Fast forward to May 2006(the time of this writing), and sadly the 57 is still sleeping. My parents have now had people knocking on their door trying to buy "that old car" for 17 years. Mom and Dad are so used to it that by now they actually have a standard little spiel they go into when people stop by wanting to buy it. (I hear FedEx/UPS guys are prone to inquire.) It's hard to believe it's been there that long. 17 winters and 16 summers it sat there. Two different car covers were deployed as the years drew out. Eventually the 2nd cover rotted away and the car sat there naked to the elements. One year an ice storm deposited a neighbor's tree across the trunk/quarter panel area. Around 2003, a rear tire went flat from dry rot and the obligatory cinder block was stuffed under the frame to keep her off the ground. I know it sounds like I abandoned the car. And I guess I did, although never in my mind.
I think a lot of folks would have sold her off years ago. And I certainly had my chances to sell. I remember back when I was driving it every day, there was someone trying to buy that car at every turn. Time after time after time- "...How much would you take for that car?" And I particularly remember how often people would try to buy it for nothing, as though I wouldn't know what it was worth. Whatever! Whether they offered a dollar amount or not, I'd always say the same thing, "It's not for sale". Even after the car was parked, the offers to buy didn't stop; they just went to my parents instead of me. Considering how long the car sat there in their way, I'm sometimes surprised the parents didn't sell it for me.
So why hasn't it been sold? The reason is this. Back when I was driving this car every day, people would always want to stop and talk about it. You hear a lot of personal anecdotes and stories when you drive something like this, it's just part of the experience of driving an older car. The car generates conversations. I've heard a lot of memories over the years. Although I've forgotten most of what's been said, there's one particular set of words that I do remember. I've heard them so consistently often, that the words have truly been burned into my brain:
I used to have one just like it.
I wish I'd never sold that car."
I don't want to be that guy! I usually assumed the part about having one "just like it" was exagerated, but the "I wish I'd never sold it" part always rang true with me. Sometimes you could really see it on their face. I know there's often reasons outside our control, which force us to part with things like this. So far I've managed to dodge the bullet. I've had the car for ~22 years now.
There's a lot of money spent by folks in this hobby just trying to recreate what they used to have years ago. I'm lucky enough to (still) have the real deal.
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"History and Perspective" page 2
Click here to see pictures of the
car circa 1985-1988