06 July, 2009

Reliving Route 66

I realize that this post is a bit overdue, but nonetheless, a break in my busyness has allocated some time blogging time. First off, the Goodguys car show. One must realize that this has been our goal for the past few years---getting the car to the show and back---but we've never been able to make it there for one reason or another. This year, though, barring any sudden problems, we were ready.

I got up Friday morning around 5:45 a.m. to make some final detailing touches to the car and to load up our gear (cleaning supplies, a cooler, a chair, our plaque, etc.). Right around 6:30 a.m. my dad started the car's 283 cubic inch V8, I climbed in, and we were off. The sun shone brightly on what would go on to be a perfect day weather-wise, and we progressed smoothly down the old highway---the same path my dad used to take in his first '61 whenever he'd go to the capital city.

It's a unique experience, I must say, driving in the early morning in a car like that. I experienced a little of that feeling when I went on our final Dawn Patrol, but even that did not compare with the trek to Goodguys; the incredible openness of that car, the fog slowly lifting off the rising crops, the cool morning air just beginning to radiate heat from the pavement below. The engine note was smooth and calm whereas the suspension was a bit hard, and before we knew it we'd arrived at the show. Pulling in and parking, we'd at least made it to the grounds. The real test would come when we were going to start the car again following registration.

After getting our number, true to form the car would not start immediately after returning to it. Dad had me remove the air filter (which was hot to the touch) to see if that would make a difference, but whether or not it did was questionable. Nevertheless the car started a couple of tries later, and we were on our way.

Waiting in line, my agitated father could only sit and coast behind an obnoxious Chevelle equipped with giant tires, a nonexistant exhaust, and racing fuel. We were gassed by this classless hot rod for about ten minutes, all the while being unable to hear our own engine---and thus any potential problems that may have arisen from it not starting a few minutes prior. We entered the grounds safely, though, and promptly went the opposite direction of the disfigured Chevelle. A shady spot on a hill was located, and after making sure the car wouldn't roll forward I began my detailing before anyone came over to admire it.

Over the next few hours the weather stayed as near to perfection as it could, and we received many positive comments about our car. Many loved my old transistor radio that I set on the passenger seat, and they also took interest in the plaque I made, giving details about production statistics, accessories, and the #1 song of 1961 (which was "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis, in case you are wondering).

At one point my father noticed that there were a couple of people walking around the car, looking at it from every direction. They had clipboards and pens, seeming disinterested in the decorations and enthralled by the overall of the car. One finally walked around and took down our car entry number, and it was then that my father and I couldn't believe our ears.

"Yes, I'm voting for this one," the man said to his partner, not even acknowledging our presence a few feet away. With a smile, the people turned and left, and that was that. Upon reflection, though, the more I think about this the more I am blown away. There were over 3,500 cars at the Goodguys show that day, and for any judge to walk up to our car---a car that is not even complete or wholly correct---and vote it for Best of Show, it just boggles my mind! It's an incredible testament to the beauty of that car, but also perhaps fate had a hand in it too. Who knows? Either way we were not in it for any awards. Just think, though, we got one more vote than I ever thought we'd get! I had to pat the car on the quarterpanel for that one; she should be proud.

By the end of the day I had told the story of that car and her curse a few times, and each time I couldn't help but think how much more than a normal car this is. We weren't just the restorers of that Corvette, we are engrained in it. Every member of my immediate family has worked tirelessly over the years to get it done. My mom contacted dealers and parts owners all over the U.S. for years to put this car back together, and she helped in its construction, too. She kept track of money and time tables, as well as many other things of which I'm probably not aware. My dad was the architect of this project, bringing together his lifelong experience with Corvettes and the masterful technical skills his father taught him. Without his knowledge, I wouldn't be where I am today in terms of my knowledge of cars and restoration. He's taught me so much, yet I feel like I know so little of what knowledge he possesses. My parents have worked together on this with me, and so have my friends. I've had friends help me do things like put in the transmission, replace the radiator, clean the car, or even just stand around it and talk. So much of who we are is in that car, and it's a neat feeling.

Once we were finally ready to leave the show, everything was packed up and the engine was started. Thankfully we had just as smooth a ride back as we did that morning, and by the end of the day the car resting peacefully, still in one piece and still operating.

Tomorrow I'll go up to the garage and start her again, checking fluid levels and all other vitals. Nothing should be wrong, but I wouldn't put it past this car, honestly...

Also tomorrow I'll continue working on the hard top window; if I have time this week, ideally I'll progress through all of the grits, and we'll have a completely clear hard top window again. Also I'll see what I can do about our driver's side door (it doesn't shut as easily as it should) and getting the soft top frame ready to have fabric put on it. I still have about a week and a half to get that frame completely ready, but that's assuming that as soon as the fabric gets here, someone will be able to put it on. I'm not so sure that will be the case, so I may have to call a family friend tomorrow and see if he can do it.

Well, this post has definitely gotten long enough, but I wanted to give an update about the weekend and what my plans are this week. With any luck all will go to plan and the car will even be able to make it to a local car show this Wednesday. We'll see about that, though.

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