Grand old American-made cars with V8 motors have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Two of the most memorable are still in my possession today. The first is actually my first car that parents purchased so that I would have a safe, reliable car to drive to school once I completed the requirements for my driver's license (it sat in the side drive for several months before my 16th birthday).
The car is a 1965
Dodge Coronet 500, and I have owned it since 1974. When purchased, the odometer had just registered its first 100,000 miles -- it now has approximately 125,000 total miles and resides next to my 2007 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible. This car has been with me through three years of high school, four plus years of college, plus each of the following:
- It has been the car of choice for several of my friends when they were married -- for transportation from the wedding venue to the reception venue. The most memorable of these was a friend's wedding at the Bald Knob Cross of Peace in Alto Pass, IL that was followed by a reception dinner at the Giant City State Park Lodge in the Bald Knob Room (Makanda, IL).
- It provided transportation for myself and several friends when we attended Forensics optional workshops on several weekends.
- It provided transportation for myself and several friends to both our five and ten year high school class reunions.
- It porvided transportation for me to my fifteen year high school class reunion.
- It provided transporation to summer enrichments classes for two straight summers and allowed me the freedom to drive down to the Kankakee river to watch the boaters while I did my homework.
- It became my first towcar in 1980 when my family purchased a 1981 Nomad Super-Light 1720 travel trailer (17 feet).
My old friend is waiting patiently in the garage for a new paint job, re-chromed bumpers, and brake modernization. Once these refurbishment steps have been taken, it will become a regular tow vehicle for my Overlander when attending VAC or Vintage Trailer Rallys. Despite its high mileage and age, it has only let me down once when the starter failed and had to be replaced -- a tow of 25 miles was required.
My second memorable car actually can trace its acquisition desire to my youth. The first convertible that any of my friends families owned was a white, 1960
Studbaker Lark VIII convertible. From my first ride in that car as a ten year-old, I was hooked -- the quirky little car was cute and nobody had one quite like it. Two years later when they sold the car I was greatly disappointed when my parents refused to buy it and store it in the barn until I could drive it in four years~(it sold for only $50.00)~and was fully operable (a father and son dispute was the reason for the bargain-basement price). I never forgot that little car and had asked my parents to look for a similar one when they told me that they planned to buy an older car for me to drive once I obtained my license. Well, that car turned out to be the 1965
Dodge described above. I never forgot the little Studebaker and frequently scanned various publications looking for a similar car -- in 1978, I spied an advertisement for a 1960
Studebaker Lark VIII convertible in restorable condition. I just had to convince my parents to make a Spring Break trip to Hillman, Michigan to look at the car (about 600 miles almost due North). What we saw wasn't too different from the way the car appears in the photo below:
The car was truly in restorable condition, as believe it or not, the rust wasn't so severe as to prohibit reasonable restoration -- and I was able to purchase factory replacement panels for each of the rusted areas -- the only reproduction body panels will be the front fenders -- and they were produced to very high accuracy standards. Once restored, this car will retain its original Jonquil Yellow paint with white upholstery and top. The plan is to ask this car to be one of the tow vehicles for my Minuet -- the friends who owned the similar 1960
had used it regularly to tow a 22 foot Concord travel trailer. The Lark has been waiting even more patiently than my Dodge as it hasn't been licensed for use since 1970 (it does run but the brakes are inoperable).
For me, it seems like Vintage Airstreams almost call for related vintage cars.