with many boys my interest in cars started at a young age, I think
my first real
started when my oldest
by a fairly new 1955 or 56 Mercury to show Mom and Dad. I remember the low
rumble of the exhaust system, shiny paint and the overall beauty of the body
(which I still love). I was 20 some years younger than Monte and of
course begged for a ride and away we went. He had to "show me what it would
do" of course and that feeling of power, the rumble and sound of air
being sucked into the carb and the ever luring squeal of a bias ply tire
searches for traction on hot asphalt instantly addicted me to the world of
make big noise and look cool doing it. I was about 7 at the time.
On this page I thought I would run down some of the sets of wheels I have had over the years (not that they are all that interesting but its winter, cold out side, I am bored so this is the kind of thing that happens at times like this).
Most kids get their drivers license and then get a car, well I had a car long before I had a license to drive one. My first car was a 1931 dodge touring I found at a farmers place and was told I could have it if I towed it off, well it didn't take long to get the thing home. To say it was a car might be stretching it a little as it had no front fenders or hood, both front doors were gone, one rear fender was gone as well, the cloth top was rotted out. However the important stuff was there and still worked, 4 wheels and tires, motor, radiator, steering wheel, part of a drivers seat and a windshield to keep the bugs out of out face...oh and the emergency brake worked...foot brakes didn't but then my theory was if the rear wheels stopped the rest of the car should as well ( my logic gets a little scary at times). It is obvious this was not going g to be street legal ( but then nor was I at the time) so me and my comrades in crime got it all running an we would sneak it through town and out the slaughter house road to the sagebrush hills and use to hunt squearls or rabbits or whatever, that open cloth top made for good hunting while on the move. We spent a lot of time playing with that old thing but it finally gave up on us and we towed it out to a friends and his plan was to make a Jittny buck or something out of it. Don't have a picture of it.
As like most kids in this area coming to the age of cars buying a new or even fairly new car was not an option so we usually took what we could afford and went from there.
Car number 2 come in the form of a 1953 ford 4 door that the junk man had and all of a sudden he quit driving it. I ask him where his ford was and he said it broke down and he couldn't get it to run so was going to sell it, I ask how much, he said $25, Now remember I live is a very small town and in doing so one gets to know the people very well and one phenomenon of this place back then was very few people fixed cars if they just up and quit, they just parked it and drove whatever they could find that was running. I always found that odd for a farming community. Anyway knowing this Me and one of my sidekicks went up to his place and of course Calypso my dog went (and growled the whole time we were there, that dog absolutely hated Bob (the garbage man). and in our evaluating the old ford found the rotor had broke into. I paid him the $25, pushed the car by hand down a few streets to a guy that we thought might have an old rotor which he did and give it to us free, got in it started it and drove it home...dog growling all the way. Now unlike the Dodge before it this was a legal car and by this time I had a license. The first mod was of course the grill it had to go ( I had a thing about grills). Went down to Don and Helens General Merchandise (only store in town) and bought 10 cans ( all they had) of flat black spray paint and not too sure we even washed it first and we painted it flat black, dents, rust, bugs on the radiator...black...all black except we did tape off what little chrome was on it. One of the objects of the paint was to make that growling dog think it wasn't Bob's car any more ...didn't work Saved up some money and bought a $9.98 floor shift conversion from JC whitney. couldn't afford any hubcaps so wheels were bare. Somebody gave me this "spark Monitor" that kind of looked like a Tach but all it did was flashed 8 little lights when it was running. The motor was the basic 53 flathead v8. Did find a little chrome air cleaner cover off of something that fit it. The thing burnt oil something fierce, we would go to Safeway in Baker or La Grande and buy "Chieftain" ( or something like that) 40 wt oil by the 2 gallon can for 2 bucks and always had 2 of them as well as another full of water. Had to run a strand of barbwire across from one rear door handle to the other cuz one door latch didn't hold all the time as I discovered one day when I had moms groceries I had picked up in Baker in the back seat and made the corner by the park a little aggressive and the door flew open and I scattered veggie cans and milk for a block. (why barb wire you ask...well it was what I had at the time)
Drove the old thing for quite a while and finally sold it to my Sister for $75 when there pickup was in the shop getting fixed. They used it until they got the pickup out then they gave it back to me and I had #3 by them so we cut the top off with a cutting torch (probably should have took the headliner out first as it created somewhat of a fire) and welded the back doors shut. Made a heck of a rabbit hunting rig and I will have to give it to that old flathead ( they were known to run hot anyway) we poked sagebrush through that radiator so many times that you could read a newspaper through it (just take the pliers pull down some cooling fins, crimp the vain as tight as you could on both ends...poor water in and your good to go) and it never quit from being to hot, infarct I don't remember it ever quitting us anytime and it made many of crossings of the Powder River below the damn and never stuck us in the middle. finally one morning on the way elk hunting it blew a water knuckle that apparently never got drained the night before ( too expensive to put antifreeze in so just drained it at night and put water in it when you were going to use it). I still didn't fail us as it got us home, spitting steam but never missed a beat. The next spring I pulled the motor and sold it to a kid who had a 53 merc and towed "the Beast" as my sister and mother called it to the junk yard and give it an honorable bullet hole in the right front fender. Dog growled all the way out.
#3 in on the list was a handy down from my mom when she no longer needed her 1958 Fairlane.
I didn't do much to that one nor did I have it long. It was the basic 292, 4 door. The only story on that one was I tried to lay a patch of rubber longer than someone else's and blew it up plus caught it on fire. Did replace the motor and then sold it. Actually I drove it more when Mom owned it
Rig number 4 was a kind of a "half owned" thing. It was a 1959 ford f-100 pickup (Ma owned the other half). What was
about this pickup was that it had lights the full length of the bed as well
the front of the cab. The dash had built in gauges for everything that one
might want to know the scoop on, built in tach, oil gauge, oil temp, amp,
volt, trans temp,rear end temp and a air tank pressure gauge for the cool
dual air horns mounted on the cab. It was a fun pickup to drive, looked like
christmas tree going down the road.
"The Merc" come in as car 5. This was my probably my favorite car over the years. I found it parked in a farmers yard with each passing the weeds got taller around it. It was a 1955 2 door hardtop (no window post),green and white two tone. The body was excellent, paint a little faded, interior was pretty good shape as someone had done a black and white pleated job on both front and back bench seats. Had a 292, 3sp od with the stock 2bbl carb. I finally couldn't resist and eventually stopped and ask what the story was on it ( I missed the chance to buy a 1956 crown vicky not too long before that because I just kept going by and never stopped to see what the deal was on it and it finally disappeared, later found out the guy only wanted $100 for it ...A CROWN VICKY...needed a butt kicken for that one). Anyway I don't remember exactly why they were selling it but it did run but battery was dead and he wanted $75 bucks for it. I immediately flew home and got the money and stole a 6v batt out of something and headed back out to get it. One thing we forgot was gas but was driving Mom's car and had an "oklahoma credit card" so no problem. After a little priming she fired right up and other than some smoke until everything got oil and lubed up it didn't run too bad but did have some rough spots. It didn't take long after I got it home to do a tune up and the thing run pretty darn good. It didn't take much longer for the grill and bumper to disappear and a set of nerf bars on the front, got it painted a bright orange ( tech name was "competition orange")
Put on some running lights, a set of baby moon hubcaps, a floor shift conversion, 4 track stereo, replaced the exhaust with a 2 1/2 inch sys, tach and full set of gauges. Later I found a 312 out of an abandon hotrod project left at my Dad's and while working at the local auto wrecking place in Baker ( Lynnscotts) I found a tri-power set up that was on a "59" that come in for scrap. Loved this car. I had a lot of fun terrorizing E. Oregon in it and jut looking at the pictures brings back coll memories....ahh to be a teenager again. Unfortunately the merc met it demise in Nov of "68" when I booted a dingbat half way across an intersection in Baker when she stopped right in front of me for no reason at all and I was looking at a couple girls that hollered at me. The sad part was a combination of events. I was going into the service in Dec and my insurance was up the first of nov. Using my logic ("C-Logic) I didn't want to pay for 6 months of insurance I wasn't going to use so dropped the insurance on the first of Nov. Next event was that I sold the front nerf bars that morning and removed them and put on a "baby bumper" which didn't help much as it just dipped under the rear bumper of the dingbat and tore up the front of the merc to the point I had to tow it home. Next event, The dingbat was from out of town, out of state and apparently didn't have a drivers license because she immediately jumped out and run around to the passengers side. Anyway it sure tore up the merc. Sold it shortly there after.
The next car I/we owned was after I got out of Military tech school and got married. What better to have when you have no money
The wife and I soon bought this "63" VW with a solid metal crank back type sunroof and being "me" and not to be satisfied with anything stock I put some air shocks on it along with some wheel spacer/adapter to chevy wheel lugs and some mag wheels on the back, stuck in a cassette player (wasn't easy finding a 6v one of them let me tell ya) and some aftermarket slip on head rests .Short of all that it was all stock. the trick to driving one is put your foot to the floor and just shift gears to proper speed, 20 mph up hill 85 down. This thing was just flat fun to drive also with the sunroof it made a neat rabbit hunter in the desert (was stationed at Williams AFB in Arizona), just sick the driver on rabbit, stand with one left foot on drivers seat edge and right foot on pass seat stand up through the sunroof and fire at will. That rear hand break between the seats made for some neat turning tricks.
Next rig in line come to us when I found a 1961 Falcon Econoline van that looked perfect for hauling the race bike around. I have no pictures of it but it was just your basic tan delivery van with the motor setting right between the seats. Still had the VW while we had this van as the wife didn't think much of my cool old van. I think it had something to do with sloshing cans full of 2 stroke gas in the back and lingering smell of racing bean oil...smelled ok to me, infract if you have ever smelled burnt racing bean oil...kinda good smelling stuff.
Of course the 70's were the Van years if you lived in the southern AZ or CAL area and not to be left out of cool we went for broke and bought a brand new 1972 robin egg blue short wb Ford van ( e-150). It was nice in the drivers compartment
with AC, PS, PB, nice seats and good tune box so wife was cool with that and the back I paneled and had room for the bike ( did have to put a gas can holder on back bumper so those nasty fumes stayed outside). It had a 302 v8 so had pretty good power, especially compared to the old van. 13 mpg but then gas was $.30 a gallon so who cared.
On departure from the AF we moved
back home (that is why we had the bike on the front bumper in above picture
as it was taken Dec of 72 headed home to Or. inside van was stuffed
full of everything we owned plus a month old little boy so wasn't room
even a dirty diaper in there) anyway Father-in-law had a nice "64" ford
sitting below the house and didn't run (remember what I told ya earlier).
when I ask about it the answer was typical area answer "don no,
just quit running" well an old disowned cars to me are like droopy
eared puppies to others, I just got to have them. I go pop the
hood to see the problem...mmmm cracked dist cap and a taped together
IT WONT RUN....wonder why. Well a run to the parts store and one 64 (
I think it was a Galaxy) come snorting and screaming up out of the weeds
into the driveway (it is winter here and was a little slick coming up
that hill). Used the 64 quite a bit until I had a flat and no spare
then hung the transmission up on a rock up by the burn area and poked
a hole in
then in the process
of trying to get back to the highway I also snagged a boulder and took
out the oil pan..rough day but it looked like a pretty good short cut
when I started out.
Next in line come a new "74" VW Super beetle It was bright yellow with a black stripe. Other than newer and brighter color wasn't a whole lot of difference from the old bug except it had a heater fan. Along with the new bug I bought a 1951 GMC 5 window pickup, cool old pickup, steering box had so much slop that to keep it going in a straight line the steering wheel made a 7 inch swap from left to right but wasn't too bad after you got the hang of it. Another rig my wife left the driving to me and she took the bug. Along with those two one of my co-workers at the cement plant give me a 1948 ford 2 door town car. Never did get to do anything with it as I got hurt shortly after.
After I was injured in "74" my vehicle needs kind of changed a little. For me to be able to be independent at driving it really didn't need a van but the car had to be somewhat specific. The basics were 1..must be 2 door and as wide opening as possible. 2.. must have an automatic trans. 3..power brakes and steering wasn't a necessity but preferred. First attempt was a "65" Plymouth sport fury. bucket seats, 383 magnum. Nice car but the console caused some problems as to get the chair in I would transfer in fold the chair up put the foot plates on the edge of the bottom door plate and scoot over fold the seat forward and get my wrists behind the foot plates and pull it in. The console made that a problem. The next car worked out quite. It was a "66" Chev Impala with bench seats, 283, new white paint and was a pretty clean car. I drove it for a couple years before going big time in debt for this brand new
1976 Dodge van
This was a pretty fancy rig. 318, ac (never had ac before), ps,pb, pw, real top of the line 8 track stereo, captain seats, fully paneled and carpeted with a bed in the back and an ice cooler and custom honeycomb aluminum wheels. I had a new Richon wheelchair lift put in it and due to a malfunction in my old hand controls (brake rod broke in downton Long Beach, Cal...that got exciting} I got new controls for it as well which were much better than the old ones. I was real disappointed with the 318 until I had headers and dual exhaust put on it then it acted like a real 318. It was also my first rig with a a 2 way radio in it I could use without stopping to use the mic. My family thought I really should have a cb in it so in went a 23 channel midland cb and wired a Turner power mic head under the header with a switch on the hand control, worked ok. The aluminum wheels become a problem when I lived in Phoenix, Az as in the intense heat they would flex so much going down the road that they would wear out a set of front tires in 3 months. Before I found this was the problem I changed every front end component in that thin and finally traded it for a "78" Plymouth Sapporo, sure was better on gas but wasn't much of a car. Due to some problems with #2 wife I lost it and wound up with a "66" Plymouth Barracuda. Biggest piece of glass in the back of that thing I had ever seen. It only had a 225 slant six but was enough to make it move right along and was about as tough of a motor as I have ever seen. I wore that car plumb out, drove it for 10 years when I found a "79" Chrysler Cordoba in beautiful shape, 400 v8, air ,power everything. It was a real nice highway car, just floated along , quite, seat would adjust to any pos, was just a nice car.
Although the Cordoba was treating me fine I inherited a "76 chev short wheelbase van, root beer brown with custom wheels. They bought a new van and the motor was making noise and they didn't want to put any money into it and ask if I wanted it. Heck yea. found the noise was simple lifter noise so took it to my mechanic and solved that problem. I priced a new w/c lift and decided I couldn't afford that so I designed my own. Denny and Guy built it for me. The principle was simple, a platform just big enough for my wheelchair to sit on mounted to a swing out arm device that had a steel sleeve with a nylon insert that rode on a hi strength steel 1 1/2 inch rod that was mounted vertical from floor to roof of van. this was lifted by a 1200 pound automotive winch and cable. Actually it worked better than a conventional lift as if you parked your drivers side tires right on the line you could get in and out in a single normal parking spot. Anyway used that lift in the "76" the whole tim e I had it as well as my next van ("85") chev. to a total of about 12 years and the only problem I ever had was I had to change the switch once and the cable once. I also had a custom 350 built for it which sure woke it up. run alot of miles in it.
Next in line ( im about done here..actuall had a "82" olds for about a month but found I had got too fat to transfer in and out without having to take a nape in there somewhere) was the "85" Chev van. Nothing special about it although was nice when I got it it had a 305 in it and that is as about as gutless v8 I have ever witnessed in a rig. Pretty much drove it into the ground but did get a new lift put in it thanks to the VA. It (the van) however just wore out and gave way to my present Gimpmobile
My 2000 e-250 ford van with 5.4 Triton (sounds impressive huh..well how about a 338 ci v8..not all that impressive in size but does have some good poop to it) The floor has been lowered 4 inches and the body raised 2 1/2 (that's what makes it look like a 4wd). This allows for me to drive from the wheelchair which does make it convenient. The seat can be bolted back in if needed. It has all the fancy stuff like heater, ac, ps,pb,pw, and of course a lift. Several projects I need to do to make it truly user friendly for me yet but is a nice rig.
a shot of my new Devino wheels. looks much better than those butt ugly wheel
covers that were on there
OTHER NOTE WORTHY WHEELS
Around 1982 or so I come up with a hair brain scheme of getting me a camper. I soon found that campers and motor homes are not wheelchair usable at all, just no room in them so I come up with a plan....build my own out of an old school bus...so went and found this 24 ft from back of drivers seat to back door.
big yellow when we got it home,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,big gray when we got it finished
between myself and family members we built the whole thing our self's.
looking toward windshield I mounted a shelf above windshield and mounted a tv as well as stereo/cassette and cb. Bed was mounted across back in front of the back door with shelves above on each end. also was a stereo, cb and a intercom sys to front door (so if I was in bed and someone knocked I could see what the wanted). all lights were 12v floresent running off either a 35 amp 12 converter or 3 deep cycle batteries.
down the right side was a heater (cant see it) window cabinets,fridge and a closet built over the wheel wells. on the left was the kitchen counter (cook stove wasn't installed yet here but was a 2 burner. sink was right in front of window and as you can see I could roll right up under it all. The shower/toilet was built in the other wheel well and in all reality was the easiest shower I have ever transferred in and out of...period. It was capable of about a week of running in the wild before batteries needed charged and all the holding tanks needed emptied or filled. The steps were cut out and I designed a lift that fit in the stair well that was operated with a 1200 pound auto lift. I also built the hand controls so I could drive it (it had an allison 6 speed auto in it) I think however if the state of Az had ever seen those controls I would still be asking to see daylight, but the worked and worked very well actually. Hot water heater and lots of storage was under side panels. I rebelled from society and actually lived in it roaming from the valley (Phx) in the winter to N.Az campgrounds in the summer for 3 years.
Other Dumb Ideas
Fizzbomb the race mustang. Our dirt track mini stock we run for a few years, My son Scott drove - Dave wrenched it - I paid the bills
we did manage one heat win out of the deal
Project Ranchero...my 70 ranchero project car that I never got to finish so sold it
The 1973 cement truck experiment..........it failed but I lived to wreck again.."it just fell over boss, I swear"
Well there is pretty much the history of the "gimpmobiles" and some pre-gimp