Cars of the Past

It started in High School .. or maybe earlier. My father was not a car guy. He took the family car in for oil changes, and I don't recall him ever fixing anything. Self-serve gas? Heck no. He preferred to engineer things, like the remote dashboard mounted overdrive switch on our 62 Belair Station Wagon. Or the rear air deflectors he made out of sheet metal in HP's machine shop. The first family car I remember was a blue with white trim '53 Chevy Belair 4 door sedan. I have 35mm slides somewhere of it. That got traded in for a 62 Chevy Belair station wagon. Of course they both had stovebolt sixes with 3 on the tree. I learned how to shift and how to pass on the highway in the 62 Wagon.

My mother didn't start driving until she was in her 40s... so around 1965 when I started high school, Mom got her first job as a bookkeeper and her first car: A Baby Blue '62 Fairlane 500 with a white top. Four door sedan, of course. 170CI six and 2 speed AT. This was my first Ford. In my senior year at Blackford High School in San Jose the Fairlane became mine. And what did my Mother get? A '63 Impala 2 door hardtop, with a 283 and Powerglide. Now this was a big step up for my family. Only 6 years old, that car was a step up for my Dad!

The photo on the left is after I had the Fairlane for a few years and added a few things. Like a fresh Baby Blue paint job (Miracle Painting on the Alameda circa 1970) chrome reverse wheels with Baby Moon caps. Around this time I also swapped the 170 Six and AT for a 289 and 4 speed (T-10) (or was it a 260, I really don't know). I bought the engine and tranny complete with bellhousing and clutch for $125, then paid Henry Honda Automotive on Boynton Ave $100 to install it....

The Fairlane was my daily driver through 4 years of college (Santa Clara University) and got driven everywhere. Well, pretty much within Northern California..... Lake Tahoe a time or two..... mostly just to school and work. Looking back it's hard to remember how I supported that car and went to school. But then gas was around $.30 and I could fix minor stuff. And it didn't cost much to live at home.

It was during this same time that my buddy Larry and I started acquiring various other cars. I'm sure it was Larry's idea, he being the entrepreneurial type (still is). I'm pretty sure it all started with a 1946 Cadillac out of the Buy&Sell press for $100. I have a recollection of using my Fairlane to push the car home down Winchester Blvd because it had a broken driveshaft. We had the driveshaft fixed at a wrecking/service yard. I remember the car running at least once .... not sure if it ever moved on it's own. I don't think I ever drove it, Larry might have since it was parked in his parent's driveway.

While we were working on this Cadillac, of course we kept looking for other deals .... and there it was in the San Jose Mercury News: A 1958 Cadillac with a "come buy me" price of $58. We found out it was so cheap because someone had dropped a lit cigar on the driver's seat and burned a hole right through it.... the hole wasn't the worst part... the smell was... But hey, it ran and so compared to the '46 Caddy it was a steal. Of course all of our working capital was tied up in the 46. So Larry arranged a loan through his father so that we could acquire the '58. Wow, now we had a fleet of two Cadillacs, one of which actually ran. I don't have any photos of the 58, and only one of the '46.

I don't really know how the next deal happened. But we wound up trading both the '46 and '58 Cadillacs for a 1962 Cadillac convertible. Now this was a nice looking car. You just had to look past the bondo and the Earl Sheib paint (any color you want, $29.95) I guess it seemed like a good deal.... the '46 was probably never going to run, the '58 literally stunk ... that '62 really looked sharp. It wasn't until the first winter rain that we discovered the plugged drains in the doors. The car made this sloshing noise as you stopped..... I have no idea how long we kept that car. I don't even remember much about registrations or insurance......

The next adventure involved a 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix. We somehow wound up trading (again) the '62 Caddy for this Grand Prix that a guy in Santa Clara was trying to unload. The car had no California registration but the seller had a temporary Colorado registration and a bill of sale. He convinced us that should be enough to register the car in California. The fact that he hadn't bothered should have been a red flag.... so we trade cars, and take the GP home... Did I mention the rod knock.....? Well, it was two years newer than the Caddy and didn't leak like a seive. Just that title issue. We eventually did get the thing titled. Took some letter writing to Colorado.

We next (I think..... my memory is getting a bit fuzzy) found a guy with a Buick Special with a 215 V8 and four speed who wanted a GP. So we traded yet again. (Do you sense a pattern here?) Unfortunately, after he took posession of the GP and probably found out how much the motor would cost to rebuild, hereneged on the deal. So being the nice guys we were we took the GP back. Looking back now, that Buick was probably the most collectible of this whole bunch of cars. We wound up selling the GP to a friend who worked at the Country Inn in T&C village .... I think we got $300. He later was heard grumbling about the rod knock, but he really wanted the car and we were glad to be rid of it.

Along the way there were several other cars, some more memorable than others. Some I have photos of and one I have no recollection of at all.... but pictures don't lie, it's parked in front of my house. So in no particular order.....

A Nash Metropolitan. Probably a 1960. My sister's first car was a 1958 Metro, so I already had a predisposition to these cute little Austin powered English baby Nashs. We paid $100 for it. I did a fair amount of work on this one. It needed a valve job, so I took the head off and had it rebuilt. It had a wheel cylinder spontaneously dump brake fluid. I had my mom stitch new interior panel covers out of white and black vinyl. We sold the car to a waitress at work for $200. I doubt we broke even.

A 1964 Galaxie coupe with a 352-4V. Now this was a pretty decent car. It was solid and straight, though it sure didn't run like a big block V8 should..... I seem to recall it having an oil pressure issue.... the motor was probably really tired. We had it painted blue, probably at Earl Sheib, since they were still $10 cheaper and my buddy Larry was a frequent customer having his car painted at least 3 times. More later. I have no idea what we sold the Galaxie for or even when.

Then there was the pair of Impalas. I think this was another Buy&Sell press find. I think it was $100 for both cars. A '61 and a '64 Convertible. The '61 ran, the '64 had a broken cam shaft.... in a 348 motor. I don't know if the motor was original to the car or not...who paid attention to that kind of stuff in the early 70s? Oh, and these two Impalas were parked on Impala Dr. in San Jose. Or was it Cadillac drive...? The '64 would not even roll, it turns out the reason was it had a wrong wheel which didn't fit and rubbed. I think we conned AAA into

towing it to Larry's house. I took the '61 to my house and parked it across the street. I know we sold the '64 to a guy from Watsonville who was going to race it. We asked why a convertible, he said because they were stronger. The big motor might have also been a selling point.

Then there is the Oldsmobile. I cannot for the life of me remember this car. Not a thing. I'll have to ask Larry. Speaking of Larry, here are pics of his 1968 Santa Clara Sheriff's car and his 1970 AMC Javelin 390.

Back to my personal cars. In 1974 I was making decent money as a cook at the Country Inn in San Jose. So with my richs I was able to buy my first Mustang, a 1969 Mach I with a 351W-4V, Automatic and Air Conditioning from Town Ford in Redwood Citry for $1,595.... this is the first car in my family to have AC, and my first true performance car. It was medium green with a white interior. And that terrific dash with the woodgrain. I only kept it for about a year before becoming enamored of the 71 body style. There was a White '72 Mach I at the local Friendly AMC dealer on Stevens Creek Blvd that I just had to have. Even if cost twice at much as the '69 had. I think it was $3200. My father actually loaned me the balance after selling my '69 for around $1600. I only have a few pics of the '69. I kept the '72 until 1980.

The "Modern" Era

For the next several years I had company cars from HP and was basically carless. Janet had her '74 TR-6 daily driver(replacement for the one that got away), then in 1982 I bought my '67 GT500. In 1986 we decided the TR-6 was on borrowed time and we bought a new Mustang GT. This was the first new car I had ever bought. Later in the year, I switched jobs at HP and no longer had a company car. I drove the TR-6 for a few months, then Janet and I switched and she again drove the TR and I got the Mustang. It was during this same time that
Janet's parents continued the tradition of giving us their old cars, and so we inherited a '71 Lincoln Tow(n) Car. They had earlier given us the notorious "Blue Buick with the Bullet Hole"... both of these were sold, cheaply, once they outlived their usefulness.

In 1988, after deciding that the GT500 was too valuable to modify for track use, I bought a '66 GT350H replica from club member Ray Rapuano. This was my dedicated track car until around 1995. I sold it to club member Aki Terasawa. A year later is when Kerry Hoctor and I bought the '67 Shelby Trans Am from Paul Parslow.

In 1990 I bought a 1988 Mustang GT for me, as Janet now drove the '86 GT. The TR-6 was retired from active duty. It's now been parked for 17 years. In 1996 we bought a 5.0 HO Explorer to replace the '88 GT which I sold to Scott Hirose. Janet still drove her '86 GT until 2002 when we bought a new '02 Mustang GT for her. The '86 went to a friend of club member Lupe Garcia and to this day (end of 2007) is still running on it's original motor with around 200K miles.

In 1993 I bought a '68 Corvette as a toy, and in 2000, I replaced that with a 1999 FRC Corvette hardtop. That car became my street/track car for when I wasn't running the Trans Am car. In 2007 I sold the Corvette to yet another club member and bought a new 2007 Shelby GT Mustang as a driver/track/fun car.

And I think that's it. Unless I find photos of other cars I don't remember..... oh yea. The first motorcycle, a 1976 Kawasaki KZ400. I also had a 1978 Honda CB550K... no photos....

© 2007 Walt Boeninger - all rights reserved