Last time I had brought the story on my 63 Bonneville convertible to the time my parents gave it to me.
I turned 21 in 1967, when they gave me the car. Like almost everybody, I was draft bait. I figured there was no way I was not going to Viet Nam. And it was true. My first duty station was Georgia. In order to get there I drove across the country over 6 weeks, covering about 3,500 miles. I sort zig-zagged; going east but with a lot of north and south. The car ran great. I was still cool, even though I was going into the military, which by that time was very unpopular and uncool.
Following Georgia, I was assigned to Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, where I met a woman who I would eventually marry. While I was enjoying the pleasures of an all-expense-paid trip to Southeast Asia, I left the car in her hands. The car promptly broke down. As it turns out the car was sending me a message: "Don't do this". Of course I was not listening. I mean cars have no intelligence, right? So I got married and I had a new wife and a broken car.
I was teaching school at the time and the school had an auto shop. Fortunately for me, I could take classes. I really did not know anything at that time about cars, but I learned. I took the classes and helped out around the shop. Finally, it was time to rebuild my motor and transmission. I took both the engine and trans completely apart. Along the way, I even got a two year degree in auto repair. (I was never fast doing the mechanical work and realized if I had to work at flat rate, I would starve to death.)
Never one to do something halfway, I bought as much new chrome as I could get. The car was about 9 years old at this time and availability of new dealer parts was coming to an end. But for the most part I got what I wanted. One day, while I was working on the car, some jerk comes up to me and says, "Why are you working on that junk?" I was able to control myself and limited my response to "Just wait." However a series of other things did go through my mind. As I am writing this, those same things are going through my mind.
To my complete surprise, after being taken apart and put back tog ether, the car did start and the first try AND the transmission actually shifted! The transmission was particularly difficult to work on. It's a super hydramatic with no external adjustments. So you just put it together and hope it works. This was not the right transmission to take on for your first effort. I got lucky. Better to be lucky than smart clearly applied here.
So, a little paint and a top and carpet, the car was good to go. I promptly put it on a truck to be carried back to California.
Me and the car endured. And the car loves my "new" wife of 25 years. However, with kids and 4 startup companies, I never really drove the car much. Right now it has about 130k original miles. And although it has always been garaged and the car is a nice "twenty footer", it started to look as old as it is.
So now after doing so many cars for customers, it's time for my old friend. Right now the motor and trans are out. When the mechanic called and asked,"How long ago was the motor rebuilt?", I was in a panic. However, as it turns out the motor passed all the tests and will only get new seals. Looks like the same for the transmission. The wiring is gone and the dash pulled for rechroming.
Pretty soon the car will be at the shop and we will do the engine bay and jambs. Yes, I will be
I actually plan to drive the car to work and around town. Why not? Perhaps I can recapture some of my coolness, at least in my mind, if not my body. The only downside is the car does not have A/C. My father said we live in the East Bay and it does not get hot enough. What did he know anyway?
Photo Albums: 50th Anniversary • Downtown Grass Valley Car Show • Wildflower Hike • Wyotech
1963 Bonneville - Part II • What is Diminished Value?
Union Hill Car Show • Roamin Angel Friends Went Rv-ing