Cars

More 'ones that got away'

As a new year commences, some of us are still looking backward, wishing we had resolved to keep this or that car. Here’s some more of those sad stories of ones that got away.

1958 OLDSMOBILE 88

The top of the list is easy. The first car I restored was a 1958 Oldsmobile 88 convertible. I found the car in a salvage yard . . . it had frontal collision damage, rust and many missing parts, but the body from the cowl back was very good and straight. A bargain at $300.

The project took three years and was a family event of weekend parts searches, cleaning and rebuilding. My wife bought a parts car for me as a birthday present.

The finished car provided several years of fun at rod runs, fairs and parades. I can talk about this car forever. It was truly a great project and a connection for the family while I owned it.

Sadly, I had to sell the car during a period of unexpected unemployment. The family always comes first.

— Tony Lefebvre

1967 GTO

I ordered a 1967 GTO in December of ’66. It had to be red with a black vinyl top, it had to have the 360-horse engine instead of the run-of-the-mill 335 horsepower model.

But I ordered mine with a bench seat. I wanted my dates to be able to sit next to me instead of being on the door like they were my sister.

I put 50,000 miles on that car the first two years I owned it, and it never left Sedgwick County.

The bench seat worked because I got married in May of 1968. I sold my “Goat” shortly after that because I thought that it was a proper thing to do now that I was a married man. What a dumb move.

I got $1,700 in trade for a stupid English-built Cortina which was the absolute worst car I have ever owned. Later, even Sharon asked me why I did it . . . she loved the car. We actually saw “our” car a few years later . . . at a neighbor’s house. We just about died, but we had one kid and one on the way, so there was no chance in trying to reclaim it. So, basically, this one got away twice.

— Frank LaForge

1970 CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO

The car I wish I still had was a Dickie Harrell 1970 SS 454 Monte Carlo Chevrolet. I bought the car in 1971 for $3,200, it had 5,000 miles on it. The car was gun-metal gray with a solid lifter balanced and blueprinted 454 engine. The drive train was a beefed up 400 turbo threespeed automatic transmission with a 4:10 positrac rear end.

The car was bought new from Don Hattan Chevrolet and came from “Mr. Chevrolet” in K.C. I raced the car in some bracket drags at (the drag strip) north of town; the car ran in the high 12’s with street tires. I owned this car until 1981 when I sold it to a friend of mine, Gene Hughes, who owned the car for a few years then traded it, a thing that I am sure he regrets. The last I heard the car was in Salina.

— Dennis Schroer

1946 FORD SEDAN

Bob Bonham traded me a 1946 Ford sedan delivery and the thing had a ’49 flathead V8 and drove. I painted it, and my rat pack used it as a party wagon to crash events other folks were throwing.

In the summer we’d remove the back door and once the floor cushion caught on fire, and we chucked it out the back at 50 mph on South Broadway. I sold it in 1966 but missed it so a ’47 Chevy sedan delivery was bought for $75 from Don Mustain Salvage in Altoona. I painted it, but the party magic was gone; us guys were just too darned old for a party wagon. But “I wish I still had ’em!”

— Floyd Beck

1969 OLDSMOBILE TORONADO

Oh, how we wished we still had this 1969 Oldsmobile Toronado. We purchased it from the showroom floor of the Buick-Oldsmobile Agency in Everett, Wash., on Oct. 4, 1969. We drove it for 16 years and it had 126,000 miles on it when we traded it in 1985. It was such a pleasure driving a car that was so far ahead of its time. It had a 455 engine and the speedometer showed a top speed of 100 mph. We never tried to reach that goal, but got close a time or two.

It had front-wheel-drive, cruise control, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, split seats with a pulldown between, light covers that came down over the lights, and it had electric windows. It was a beautiful baby blue with a white hardtop.

It was running like a top when the man of the house decided it was getting too old.

— Tina C. Gilbert

1943 WILLYS JEEP

It was the spring of 1973. I was 16 years old and had dreams of ’65 Mustangs, ’68 Camaros and GTOs. So what was my reaction when my Dad had a 1943 Willys Jeep towed to the house? And yes, I mean towed. I have to admit my thoughts were “What a piece of junk!” However with the skills of my next-door neighbor, Bruce Bonnes, the Jeep came to life.

Being avid Oklahoma University fans, my dad had it painted Crimson Red.

I would park in the upper lot behind the gym because too often the starter didn’t work. That was no problem as my dad showed me how to get the jeep down the ramp and pop the clutch and be on my way. I was very proud to cruise around Derby.

Early in the summer of ’74 I was north of Derby coming back from pond fishing with a friend. The left tie rod broke and pulled us into a culvert. We rolled twice before coming to rest upside down. Fortunately neither of us was injured and we walked to a home to get some help. However the roll bent the frame of beyond repair. My Little Red “Sooner Schooner” was gone.

— Ron Page

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

  Comments