With every classic car comes a classic story...
Ellen and Lars Anderson's 1973 Cadillac Eldorado: It's been painted to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Bill Wittenberg's 1979 Chevy Camaro
As a boy growing up, I've always had a fascination for Muscle Cars. Had Matchbox cars and loved them. To finally own a Muscle Car is my Dream Come True. A 79 Chevy Camaro with a worked 350 is all I could wish for. I have had the car about 6 months and enjoy it every time I take it out.....
Kevin Ford's 1982 Pontiac Firebird
This was my first car purchase. I was 18 and my Dad went with me. Initially, I had buyer's remorse, thinking it was too much car for me. But then I was comforted by the realization that if my Dad was okay with it, it will all work out. Dad wouldn't help me "make a mistake". Today I'm 43 and he's almost 80 and the car is still something special that we both appreciate. And we both appreciate each other.
Lynn Johansen's 1990 Cadillac Hearse
Not your ordinary grandma
You find yourself sitting at a red light unassumingly waiting for it to turn green. You don’t notice the car that stealthily pulls up next to you because your mind is wrapped up in either your destination or time constraints to arrive where you need to be. It is only upon the light turning green do you hear the rumble of a loud exhaust that catches your attention to your right. You hesitate for a moment and glance over to take in the source of the noise as it starts to pull away from you. It is then, that you do a double take at the sight of what appears to be a grandmother in a hot rod pulling away from the green light. As your eyes scan across every inch of the unusual length of the car, you see a beautiful, big blue eyed, blond haired little girl peering at you from the backseat wearing a huge grin and waving at you. You slowly lift your hand to gesture back and you hesitate, realizing this is no ordinary car, nor is it a car with a faulty exhaust. It is as you take in the little girl’s grin that has now turned into a giggle, that you realize she is smiling at you through the back passenger side curtains of a hearse. She is full aware that the vehicle she is riding in is most definitely unique and she enjoys every minute of others responses to her actions.” This is how my daughter describes my Sunday afternoon drive with my granddaughter. Hearses and cemeteries have always fascinated me so when the opportunity arose, I could not pass up buying it. She began her “life” as a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham with a 350 cubic inch 5.7 litre V8 engine that rolled off the assembly line in Arlington, Texas. Her next stop was at the S&S Coach Builders in Lima, Ohio. Abby was one of 17 built Sayers & Scovill that year and she was one of 3 built for the Piser-Weinstein Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois. I often go to car shows and sometimes get shunned by the other "classic" cars. I then explain that the hearse is a true custom car. You can't go into a dealership and buy one. You go to a coach builder and order it to your specifications from the exterior color, the fabric of the curtains, etc, as well as the normal things such as make and exterior color. I am a member of two hearse clubs, one fairly new and the other is well established with over 500 members world wide. Hearse owners love to show off their coaches. Last year at our annual hearse show we had about 60 hearses, flower cars and ambulances on display. Among the many places we have been invited to display them are Volo Auto Museum, Brookfield Zoo, Haunted Trails, Worth IL annual zombie walk. This year we participated in Palos Heights 4th of July parade and let Berwyn’s Halloween parade. So the next time you are sitting at a light waiting for it to turn green and you glance over and see me and my 13 year old granddaughter next to you, realize we just as normal as you. Don’t stereotype us as freaks. We merely appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of owning a funeral coach, and if there is anything to ever be bothered about, remember more people die in ambulances.
Bernard Ashley's 1953 Ford Pick Up
Little red started out as a rusted out,beat up junk that was left sitting in a old barn when we decided to buy her. 3 years later and lots and lots of hours of work she now is a sexy trophy winning cool ride that any one would appreciate.
John Gottfried's Phantom 57
Owned for 50 years, 10 years raced at Oswego, 13 years did ISCA shows, now just cruise nights. Has a lot of 60's look, straight axle, 63 SS interior, Nickey motor, candy brandy wine paint and vinyl top.
Garland Meyer's 1994 AC Cobra Kit Car
Driving It Home
I bought an AC Cobra kit car in May 2006. The car was located approximately 2 hours from where I lived. To save money I decided to drive the Cobra home. It was my hope that the car would not have any problems. Soon after I began driving it home, I realized the amount of horsepower the car had. My wife rode along home in the Cobra. Not only did the Cobra have a lot of power, the ride was rather firm. Not a luxury riding car. :-) We got the car home safely. But my wife decided that maybe next time she would not go for quite as long of a ride in the Cobra. Being a show car, we only took the car out occasionally locally. In 2011 my wife died from breast cancer. I still have the Cobra. Even when my wife was living, the Cobra is as much of a conversation piece as it is a car to take out on sunny days. I have attached a photo from a time when my wife and I took the Cobra out to a local restaurant where we had dinner. The photo is next to a church across the street from where the restaurant was located. I like the way the sun glistened next to the church in this photo. I have faith that I will see my wife again some day.
Rob Paczkowski's 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass
What Started It All
I have owned over 40 cars. None pristine or perfect but this was the first. I was not of the era of getting rid of SS Camaro's, Boss Mustangs, or Hemi Cuda's but every car I owned, I loved. This is mine that got away. (Sold in Elgin about 20+ years ago if you see it) I presently have a 1979 Corvette that I have owned for 14 years, the car I wanted and was drawing while in high school driving my Cutlass. Now being in my 50's, the only one I miss is the first. To all you just starting out, enjoy every moment because what you get from your cars good or bad, it is a journey that you will never regret.
Tom Schroeder's 1969 Pontiac GTO Convertible
Happy Birthday Mary Ann!
Ever since I was a young boy, I was always fascinated with cars. One of my earliest memories is driving in my grandparents’ 1954 Hudson Hornet on Sundays going for ice cream. My brother and I were in the back, hanging over the front seat, watching my grandfather steer this big car through the streets of Chicago. Even in high school, I remained intrigued with the Hudson and its impressive race track record as I questioned what made them perform so well. The seeds of auto lust were sown. Soon my dad would discover that I had gears in place of brains. Bored, one summer day I pulled the carburetor off the family station wagon, just to investigate what made it work. My father screamed some colorful words when he saw the picnic table full of carb parts! My fascination with cars was nurtured. One day, while walking to high school (uphill, of course) I saw a brand new 1964 Ford on the street. It was quite different from other cars of its day and it was orange. This was my first glimpse of the brand new breed of car, the Mustang. It was the talk of the school. Most people today know the Mustang as a high-performance car but initially they were mostly six-cylinder. Pontiac, however, took a different strategy, targeting the younger performance-oriented males. They created the GTO. Mustang immediately re-tuned and became high-performance, as well. General Motors competed with Ford adding the Camaro and Firebird to its corral of sleek pony cars. The rumble of these sports cars speeding down the street was nirvana to my ears. Cars became my passion, with week-ends spent at the Drag Strip, or tinkering with cars, or occasionally “conversing” with police officers on the road. You see, gear heads unfortunately come stock with a lead foot. While I am not making any confessions to my insurance company here, I can say it was one way to learn the diligent work ethic of “Chicago’s finest” and to keep the paper industry employed. Thank heavens they were not computerized at that time! So as not to bore you I will fast forward to 1980. Ok! Stop for a minute. Along the way I met my true love in 1966, my wife. Enough of that let’s get back to cars. When we were married (1969), our first car together was a 1968 Javelin. I liked it because the styling was unlike the other pony cars, and it was automatic so Mary Ann could drive it. Yet I still felt an unrequited love for the GTO. In 1980 I found IT. IT was a 1969 GTO convertible (the year I married my other true love) in all factory original condition. IT became my pride and joy with its 400 cu. in. engine, 4-speed transmission, black-on-black body with a red interior. There was only one major hurdle to purchasing this car – the wife, of course! I did have something going for me, however. Coincidentally, her birthday was only a few days away. So put a bow on it and “Happy Birthday, Mary Ann!” While she lacked the same degree of enthusiasm as I, she nonetheless took ownership and it became her daily driver (excluding winter.) She conquered the 4 speed and had her share of fun peeling away at stoplights, leaving others in her dust. Soon she was a fixture in town tooling around with the top down, our regal German Shepard sitting tall at her side. The dog was male (gear head) and of course saw this as the chariot to which he was entitled. Meanwhile, I was biding my time in a 1974 Z-28 Camaro, while still pining for her GTO. Opportunity finally knocked when we moved to a different home. She wanted a hardwood floor installed, but the cost was beyond our budget. Being the loving husband who always puts his wife first, I offered to sell the Z-28 to purchase the floor. The deed was done. While I may be good husband, remember even with age, I still have gears for brains. The fine print in this agreement allowed me to repossess the GTO. Now that it was all mine, I could give the car the complete restoration it so well deserved. This was accomplished over several years with the help of a lifelong friend. We did almost everything ourselves, with the exception of the final paint, engine and transmission re-building. When finished, the car handled like a new 1969 Pontiac GTO and it did us proud. But no story goes without tragedy. And for me, it came In November 1995 one week after the restoration was complete. My friend and I were cruising late afternoon down a rural road when a ten point buck leaped in front of us. We T-boned the deer upon impact. The hoofs flew up and smashed the hood as it crumpled from the weight of the animal. The grill & head lamps were severely damaged and the front fenders were pushed into the doors, in turn shifting them into the rear quarter panels. There was even more damage than met the eye. Since I first signed up with Rally Insurance that spring, I was anxious about sharing this bad news with them. But they were right on it. They quickly sent out an insurance adjustor to evaluate the damage. He was knowledgeable, very thorough, and found things that I was unaware of. They let us take the vehicle to the body shop of our choice. It all proved hassle free, and we were very pleased working with our new and competent insurance carrier. And this is how My Pride & Joy was going to go through a second renewal. Again, we disassembled almost everything from the car and took the rolling chassis to the restoration shop. I contacted Valenti Classics Inc. formerly of Caledonia WI. to do the insurance work. In addition, since the car was already down to bare bones, I personally contracted with them to do additional work not completed in the first restoration. When finished, the car was once again pristine and even better than before. Through all of this I have tried to keep the car as original with no modifications. Yes, there are reproduction parts when I could not find good or satisfactory originals. We no longer use it as a daily driver, taking it only to car events. We are proud to have won many trophies at local car shows. With all of the cars that perked my interest or that I have owned, the 1969 GTO is and always will be my Pride & Joy. I thank Rally Insurance for soliciting these stories from their customers and providing excellent insurance over all these years.
Julio Santiago's 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 XL
My Altered Wheel Base 427 Fairlane
In 2010, I was looking for an old car when I noticed my Fairlane on Ebay up for bid. They had a video of the car running and I said I had to have it after I watched it. The previous owner built the car and drag raced it on a few drags in Oregon and Washington state but it was the sound of it running that sold me on the car. I started bidding on the car and with a few seconds to go, I had to guess what my next bid would be to outbid the other person who wanted it as well. With 3 seconds to go, I entered a bid that was $50 higher than the last bid. Luckily, the other bidder did not have time to counter my bid and I won the car! Since then, I've put more money into the car plus replaced the clutch and tires, as well as a few interior add ons. The car is a beast and is still pretty loud even though I replaced the mufflers to quiet it down.
Julio Santiago's 2001 Ford Mustang
I purchased this 2001 Mustang in 2010 with only 22k on the odometer. It was shipped up here in 2010 when I bought it. Apparently the owner did not drive it very much. He parked it and put a lot of modifications in it and then decided to build something else. The car is supercharged and has two pages of modifications. Too many to list, but he was building it for the track and I don't mean the drag track. I had to replace the 17 inch wheels and tires with later model 18" because I have less then 2&3/4th inches of clearance underneath and had to replace the Cats twice when going over tracks. Everything has been modified: trans, engine, suspension, and has a dual gas pump from a Cobra. It wasn't until 2 months ago that I replaced the original battery from new. Wow 14 years old. The car has not seen rain or snow in over 13 years. Currently the tires cannot handle the power and tend to break lose with very little traction. I need a sticky tire to get the car off the line and make good times.
Tom Frazier's 1999 Pontiac WS-6 Firebird
I was a performance car enthusiast in my youth and I owned a number of MOPAR cars, one of which could be a $1,000,000 car today. I also owned and raced both an alcohol and a fuel funny car which we ran in the mid-west for 10 seasons or so. Then I thought I had gotten old enough so I bought a class C motorhome which could not spin the tires so I sold it and bought the Firebird from my brother. He mostly kept the car in his garage because he is even older than I am and it just turned 25,000 miles. This will be my 3rd summer with the car and if I stay on course I intend to drive out to Baltimore to research some family history and then hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head south. I'll visit Atlanta where I lived for a short time and then travel on to the Florida Keys where I was stationed many years ago. I also have some dear friends in central Florida that I will visit. With that in mind, I guess I should have kept the camper.
Bob Duran's 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am
Turbo Trans Am
I purchased this Trans Am from the original owner. There is no rust on this car at all. It has been always garaged and has never seen rain or snow. There was only a small ding in the driver's side door which I had repaired when the car was painted and fitted with new graphics. Great car to drive and nothing looks like the f body Trans Am. It is from Smokey and the Bandit 2, just without the gold pin striping.
Michael Borowiak's 1997 Chevy Corvette
I Got Tricked
I have been a car enthusiast for as long as I can remember! As a child, I could name any make and model of car that I saw. In 1964, my dad bought me a 1959 red Corvette toy car. My five-year old self vowed that, "one day I will own a REAL red Corvette!"
Shortly after moving into a new house in April 2001, I saw my neighbor washing his red mint-condition 1997 Corvette. I immediately went over to introduce myself and admire his car. I told him that if he ever decides to sell the Corvette, I would like to be the first one to buy it. Two years later, my heart leapt when my neighbor decided to sell his car.
After speaking with my wife, we decided to buy it. It was a surreal moment! My dream was about to become a reality! My wife planned on paying for the car while I was at work. I drove home ecstatic over the idea of becoming a Corvette owner at long last.
However, my hopes were dashed when my wife informed me that the seller had changed his mind. He couldn't bear to part with the car after all. Crushed, I collapsed on the soda in despair. Deep down, I had feared this all along. I began muttering about how disappointed I was.
I heard a distant voice saying, "Tell him already! I can't take it!"
I looked down and saw a telephone sitting on the sofa cushion. Not quite comprehending what was going on, I looked at my wife confused. She laughed and handed me the title to the Corvette. Apparently she had decided to play a joke on me. And her girlfriend heard the entire conversation. Her friend felt so bad after hearing my heart-tugging disappointment that she couldn't contain herself and began shouting into the phone! I was overjoyed! I really owned a Corvette! This gem of a car has a mere 22,000 miles on it and was very well maintained. I proudly put the car in shows over the summer. And now when I come home with trophies, the neighbor who originally owned it offers to buy it back from ME.
Gary Stanek's 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring
I have cloned this 1973 Plymouth Satellite Sebring Plus to be identical to the 1973 Roadrunner that I bought new in ’73. I bought this car 2 years ago. I walked into Country Classic Carts in Staunton, IL, and found it almost hidden against a far wall. I could see a little of the front and thought to myself that if it was a ’73 in not too bad shape, then I had to have it! It had damage to the right front fender and bumper. There was rust in front and over right rear wheel well. The left rear had been struck or someone backed into something really hard. It caused damage to the fender, bumper, and caused the trunk bed to buckle and the seams to come apart. I still had to have it. Almost every option on this car was the same as my roadrunner. The rally red color, the white interior and buckets, sport dash with 150 mph speedometer and built in tach and 318 CI automatic A/C. In the last 2 years, I’ve had all the body work done and the car completely repainted. I have been working on a 360 CI and just need to finish a few minor things so we can drop it in. I found a floor console and converted the column shift to a slap stick on the floor like my roadrunner had. I replaced the carpets and head liner, which was badly torn and scrubbed the white interior until it shined. I found an original bulge hood and had the stripping installed and all the roadrunner emblems. New wheels and tires and bumpers straightened and re-chromed and new chrome mirrors and to many others to list. It has been my money put and I’m very happy with the end result. I’ve been luck to win a few trophies at local show. I drive it every chance I get. It’s no trailer queen! I love to let kids sit in the car at shows and honk the roadrunner beep beep horn. It really excites them. If you can’t enjoy it, why have it? I hope to finish the engine in time to drive the car a couple of legs of the Power Tour as it passes through Illinois this summer.
Amanda Kennedy's 1970 Volkswagen Dune Buggy
The Return of J.R.'s Buggy
My dad brought home this 1970 Volkswagen Beetle with dreams of building it into a dune buggy with my brother as a father-son project. They did complete it, and this was the car we drove when my dad taught me to drive a stick shift. After we finished high school, my parents sold it because we were no longer using it. Fast forward 5 years, and my dad passed away from skin cancer. I've been searching for the buggy since he passed away, hoping to get it back in the family and create more memories in it. It took some time (and Oprah even got involved at one point!) but we were able to track the VW to Utah and purchased it. Although it has 2 other owners since my dad, neither of them drove it much and when it arrived back in California, we found my dad's hide-a-key in a rusty storage box in the exact same spot he had originally hid it. Even better - the gas gauge never worked so he had painted a stick with the different fuel levels and we would stick it in the gas tank to check the fuel. The car came back wit the gas stick, dad's handwriting and all, still in the car! We love having it back and are making new memories in it with our growing families.