The following stories are just a small sample of what you will find in the pages of the first two books in The Old Car Nut Book series. These first two books are stories from people across America and tell about the events that sparked their interest and the passion that keeps them involved.
Check out Rik Hoving Kustoms
Books three and four are being compiled now and will focus on Road Trips and Racing. Who doesn't like to travel or go just a little fast once in a while. If you have a story that you want to share, check out How To Submit and send us your story now.
Book Three, "Road Trips" will be published in May 2015. Book Four, "Racing" will follow later that year! Get your stories in now while there is still space for you.
At one time, I counted over 20 cars I had owned by the time I was 21 years old. Four of those cars were ‘55 Chevys, including one purple customized convertible. It was shaved and decked, had ‘57 Olds side trim, and ‘54 Packard tail lights.
Another one that I remember fondly was a red and white 1955 Chevy Sport Coupe. I found it in a gas station with no motor (sense a theme here?), and two Powerglides in the trunk. I paid $65 for it and towed it home. After selling the Powerglides, and reclaiming the change from under the seats, I was into the car for $7.
It was a rust bucket as were all five year old cars in Illinois. I had just wrecked a ‘58 Impala, so I pulled the 348 four speed and dropped, or should I say wedged it, into the ‘55. It ran OK, but my buddy Tom’s 327 powered ‘55 Chev 150 would always beat me.
As luck would have it, I spun a bearing in that 348. So, I saved my nickels and bought a 409 425 HP short block and made the 348 heads and tri-power work on it. It ran better, but later when I scored a set of heads and quads off a 409 and she really started to fly.
Tom could no longer keep up with me; nor could anyone else. We used to street race for $20 and never had to buy gas on the weekends. It wasn’t much to look at with the bumpers pulled off and sporting a rattle can black primer paint job, but man was it fast!
My posse consisted of four other guys who all drove ’55 Chevys, except Willy who had a fuelie ‘57 red convert. We all wrenched on our own cars and each others as often as we could.
I'd slide behind the huge steering wheel, peer out the tiny windows, and dream that I was driving it. Of course, in my dreams it was pristine, rather than the rusting hulk sitting in the briars on two flat tires that it really was. Someday, I'm gonna have one of these, I'd tell myself.
The light had just turned green and together we “racked off the pipes” as we accelerated away together. As we cruised on I didn’t notice the two motorcycle cops sitting at their usual perch next door to Busch’s Drive-In restaurant, another popular hangout back in those days.
For whatever reason, Bob had somehow disappeared. Maybe he had spotted the cops and bailed on me. I continued up the Ave and as I passed K-Mart, Officer R. Otis was hot on my tail. He was the nemesis of every young guy with a car. He lived and loved to be hated.
Within seconds, there were lights and sirens behind me, causing me that sickening feeling that you get when you know you’re the object of too much attention by the long arm of the law. In a panic, I immediately pulled over and stopped at Bucks A&W Drive-In at the curb… in the right turn only lane.
Resigning myself to saying goodbye, I bent and gave her a final kiss on the hood and walked away. I was so upset that I forgot to even take any pictures. Walking away, I didn’t look back and I’ve never seen her again, but I keep going back to the New England Summer Nationals every year.
I started it up and after driving to high school just one day it was knocking worse than ever. I tore the engine down again and discovered I had installed one of the little dipper scoops on the rod cap backwards, so I had to purchase another junk yard rod for $1.
The engine was improved, but it always knocked and used oil. That was the type of backyard rebuild that was common back then and I was proud to be able to do it and lucky to have a running car.
The body was another story. The wood framing was badly rotted, and unlike today, I did not have the skill or tools to rebuild a wood framed body. The rear portion was particularly bad, and the rear doors were about to fall off. In my infinite wisdom, I figured the best thing to do was to convert this sedan to a pick up.
I removed all of the body behind the front seat, and manufactured a truck bed out of 2x4 and 4x4 lumber sheathed over with 1 inch boards. Of course, this was all used lumber that I had on hand. The wooden truck bed extended back over the gas tank and covered the gasoline filler cap, making it impossible to fill the tank. I solved this problem by leaving one small board un-nailed so it could be slipped out come time to re-fuel.
The deal was made on a Saturday, so we picked up the car and took it home on the following Monday. We washed and shined, until we had it absolutely sparkling. Our summer of a lifetime had started. We, of course, didn’t realize the significance of that moment in time then. What kid thinks past today or at best tomorrow?
Buddy’s Dad covered the cost of the car and three months of insurance, but left it to us to figure out money for gas, oil, and whatever else we needed money for. We scouted out a half dozen lawn mowing jobs and used an old reel style, muscle powered mower to accomplish the work. We did a lot of pushing! We also had a morning paper route and along our path picked up beer and soda bottles for deposit returns. We made it work and two happier guys never existed.