Wednesday, May 5, 2010

#14 - The Story of Thunder Road

Well, due to a ‘special request’, we taking another ‘detour’ this week. This a story about my first car, and yes, I do still have it.

We lived in Memphis, TN and my dad was a truck driver. One Friday night in 1972, he came home and told my mom that they had to make a road trip the next day. He wouldn’t tell me why. They got up early on Saturday and late that afternoon, they came back, with my mom driving our ‘normal’ car and dad was driving…well...what was that? It turned out to be a 1950 Ford Crestliner that he found in Gordo, AL. His first words about it were- “You need to fix the brakes”.
The drivetrain had been replaced with 1964 Falcon Sprint components – a 260ci V8, a four speed trans and an 8 inch rear. The vinyl top had been sprayed on and the original Coronation Red metallic had some funky green painted over it…but it was MINE!
Over the next few months I learned to arc weld because I had to constantly change out the exhaust system. I’d go thru city inspection with a normal muffler and get home and swap it out for a Thrush glasspack.
The speedometer didn’t work, so there is no telling how many miles I racked up on that car over the next 6-7 years. I joined the Navy in ’73 and took the car to Virginia and back, several times. Then we transferred to Florida and drove it down there…breaking the rearend gear when we hit the state line.
We went thru 5 different paint jobs over the next 33 years, one engine overhaul, a fresh rearend and many, many gallons of gas. In 1980, I swapped in a 1965, 396ci Chevy motor with a powerglide. While the ‘Ford guy’ in me wanted to keep it all Ford, that 396 dropped in so sweetly that it would have been a crime not to put it in.
When I remarried in 2003, I still had my Crestliner- still in primer, didn’t run, no interior…a true ‘project car’. My new, lovely wife, decided she had seen enough of the primer and she wanted to go cruising, so we had the car done right by The Hot Rod Shop in Corinth, MS. The 50’s parts list reads like a who’s who of automotive goodies: 1965 Chevy 396, 700r4 trans, Fatman spindles, power windows, killer stereo system, front disc brakes, 2003 Mustang Laser Red and ’73 GMC Sliver paint, 2003 Chrysler Sebring convertible front seats and whitewall radials.
This is our cruiser and there is no telling where we might show up…not too bad for a 60 year old car that I have owned for 38 years…

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