All My Cars
We all remember our 1st car, how anxious we were to drive, we just couldn’t wait to drive, drive, drive. These are some memories I will never forget. Cars, girls and what more does a young man need?
The 1 car I drove, I did not own, I was only 12 at the time, living in old South Dakota. When school got out in the spring, most boys and girls would look for a summer job and being in S.D. there just weren’t many jobs other than farm work. If you worked on a farm, you could get out of school earlier in the spring to get the crops in early, etc. I was working in the Nelson Shoe Shop, this one farmer used to come in for his shoes and get his harnesses fixed, I got to know him real good. He also went to the same church, English Lutheran in Britton, this is. the same church Donna and I got married in, only 11 years later.
This farmer’s name was Ted Larson, he was the son-in-law of Joe Grope a big, big farmer. Ted came from Minnesota. I also drove my 1St tractor, a John Deer H, 2 cylinders. What a wonderful tractor, those of you who are or were farmers know what I’m talking about. In order to start the tractor you had to turn a big petcock, this let the gas into the carburetor. The tractor had a large fly wheel on the right side, you would give it a big turn usually and the engine would start at once, if not you gave it another turn, once the tractor started, you would turn another petcock, which let diesel in, then at once, turn the gas petcock off and the tractor would run all day long. I used this tractor to cultivate corn after the 4th of July. We would start haying, we’d us the tractor to mow the grass, then we would use horses to rake the hay. Then days later we came along with a tractor to pick the hay up, it goes on and on. Well, we used a car to pull the hay stacker up with. This is when I got to drive my 1st car, a 1924 Chevy, a little 4 cylinder, 3 speeds. We would pull this stacker up, then back up 30 feet or so and repeat this all day long. But at the end of the day is when my fun really began! I got to drive the Chevy back to the farmhouse, along a small narrow dirt road, going maybe 25-30 M.P.H. Boy that was just plain fun and I got paid to do it, $2 a day, plus room and board. I learned more working on that big farm than one could ever learn in school. I just loved that old Chevy, and I loved working for the Gropes’, Ted was a wonderful man and boss. Just one of those guys you never forget.
The next car was an old Model T-Ford, this belong to a good friend of mine, Cubby Price, I have told of Cubby in other stories. He was a nice boy, a good friend to have. He would come down to our house and pick me and the other kids up. We’d all take turns driving that old Model-T. We’d all chip in and buy the gas at 17-18 cents a gallon, so we would drive until we were out of gas, this went on for a year or two. That’s a wonderful memory.
The next car was actually a Chevy pick up, old Herman Johnson had this big grocery store in Britton. In that day they would deliver groceries, Herman would use his truck to deliver the groceries, he would let me drive the truck many, many times. I would always help him unload the freight trucks, so I got to drive quite often, again such a wonder memory.
Next was a 1929 Chevy, 4 door, my older brother bought this car. He would let me and the others use the car at times. One beautiful spring day, a good friend of mine Noreen said, let’s skip school and use Rubin’s Chevy for a nice ride. So we got some money together, filled the tank and with a couple of other boys, and we took off. We drove up to the hills east of Bntton, went to most of the small towns, we ended up in Kidder only 8 miles from Bntton. We called Noreen, Garlic, well he was driving along at a good clip, a Ford passed us, old Garlic said hey don’t do that, so he floored the old Chevy. All of a sudden, bang, bang and the engine stopped. We got out lifted the hood, boy there was oil all over, and one big hole in the side of the block, we had thrown a rod or two.
We hitched a ride back to Bntton and walked down to old Sam’s. He had a big auto wrecking and used car lot. He also sold Farm tractors, etc. Old Sam made this homemade wrecker, it was made out of an old Cadillac. He let us use it to pick up the 29 Chevy, we were all tired out when we got back. Sam told us he would sell us an engine, but we had to remove it from the car and also take the blown engine out. We skipped school for 2-3 more days, we used old Sam’s tools, none of us had ever done this before. With the help from some of the old guys that always hung out at Sam’s, we got the engine out of both cars, and got the new engine into Ruben’s Chevy. It ran beautiful, much better than the old engine, this kind of helped ease the hard feelings with Rubin. The car ran beautiful for a long time, only thing we never got to drive that Chevy ever again. It also taught us all a good lesson, don’t drive an old Chevy hard, they will always throw a rod.
Well this about ended cars for a while, I joined the Navy and the rest joined some Armed Forces. When I got discharged in spring of 1946, I got a good job in my beloved Seattle, saved some money and bought this 1936 Oldsmobile, straight 8 old flat head, gut-less wonder. It didn’t have power to race other cars, let alone do much more, but it was beautiful, blue, new “Carson” like top, red leather like seats. It was really fun to drive and boy did the girls love that car. Back then drive in movies was a big thing. I’d get a friend and we’d pick up girls and go to the movies, and you know what young people do.
I had this car for a few months and one day I noticed water on the ground. I checked every thing I knew. This old friend of mine knew cars real good, he checked it over and it had a cracked block, a big break on the side of the block. Old Bill said, no problem, said to me, you got $5, I said yes. He said, let’s go, we drove to Renton, pulled into this old garage, Bill knew these guys. They opened the hood, took a wire brush, cleaned the crank off, took his welder, ran a few welds, said there you go kid, $5 and you’re good as new. That Olds ran good for a couple months, nice weather was here, I wanted a motorcycle. So I sold the Olds, I believe I got as much as I paid for it. I bought this 1937, Harley, 45” for $325, I rode this back to South Dakota.
The next car I bought for $600, a 1939 Ford Coupe, I loved that car. That old V-8 would out run any General Motors car. I was working in the Shoe Shop, which also did car upholstering. I redid the seats and doors in red leather, we thought it looked like the real thing, of course it wasn’t. But it looked good and the girls loved that car. I had lots of fun with that car, ones I’ll always remember. Time went by, I sold the car and got married to one of those cute little blondes. I had my motorcycle and we moved to North Dakota.
My next car was a beautiful 1937 Studebaker-6, 4 door, I paid $65 for this car, a fanner had traded it in on a new Chevrolet. That old Studebaker was a much better car than the Chevy ever would be. Well Donna and I loved that car, we had good times riding in North Dakota and Minnesota. When school got out late May, I welded a trailer hitch onto the rear bumper rails, and we towed our house trailer to South Dakota. We left on a Sunday morning, as I didn’t want to buy a license for the trailer. We drove on all gravel roads to South Dakota., 125 miles. I made it home to my parent’s home in Britton, they had a huge lot, big trees on the east end, so I backed that trailer into a place Donna and I had picked out. We put the house trailer on blocks. I drove the Studie back around into my parent’s back yard. Donna and I were happy to be back, but we did miss ol North Dakota.
One day a Deputy came by our house, he was real nosey, he thought he was Dick Tracey, wanted to know when I was going to get South Dakota. plates on my Studie. I said hey, I only been back a week or two, he said you got 30 days to get South Dakota. plates on the Studie. By the way, he asked how did you get the trailer down from North Dakota.. As long as it is on private property you didn’t need a license. I said hey, Dick Tracey, I had a friend tow it down for me. He said I heard you pulled it with the Studie, I said no, and leave me alone or I’ll tell dad’s attorney you bothered me. He left me alone, I never liked Dick Tracey after that.
Life went on. I went back to the Shoe and Sign business, and did really good for those days, I bought the Shoe business. One day a guy came into the store, he wanted to buy the Studie, I let him drive it. He said who painted those cartoons on the doors, I said I did, he said I can’t believe it! He said sell me the car, I’ll send you a lot of customers in for signs. He knew all the right people in that little town. I sold the Studie and I got a lot of signs to paint. One customer had 2-3 big gas trucks I painted Phillips 66 on both sides of the tanks and the truck doors.
Donna and I were riding the Harley, no car, fall was coming fast, starting to get cold and the nights were real cool. Donna said let’s ride up to Fargo and see her uncle who had a big Tavern. He was a wonderful man, loved cars, like I did. He told me he knew of this 1940 Ford, 2-door I could buy for $300, so we went with him in his beautiful Buick. It had port holes on the side of the hood, that’s the days Buick built big quality powerful cars, not like the junk they have passed off as cars for the last 1518 years, small V-6 push rod engines. I guess I’ll get a lot of Buick lovers mad at that one, but I happen to like the powerful V-8 modem, overhead cam engines, like our Jaguar, 4 liter V-8.
I bought the Ford, we stayed over night. Donna drove the Ford back to S.D. and I drove the Harley, the weather was nice, I could have rode all day, but it was 150 miles home and almost all gravel roads. We got home early, drove that Ford all day and showed it off to all our friends that night. It was really a nice care and ran like new.
I was driving by the Oldsmobile dealer one day and saw this beautiful car, 4 door Kaiser, looked like new, a farmer had traded it on a new Oldsmobile 6, big dummy, the Kaiser was twice the car. I traded the Ford in, I didn’t have all the money so I financed the Kaiser with G.M.C. credit, first car I had ever financed.
Fall was here and it was getting cold out, I said to Donna one day, I’d like to move back to Seattle. She said when are we leaving, I loved that. So, I sold the Shoe business. It was late November and I said to Donna, we got to go now if we’re going to go at all. So we packed up our 1st born son John, he was only 8 or 9 months old. Our parents just loved little Johnny boy, it was hard leaving, but off we went. We didn’t get 10 miles out of town and ha a blow out, had to go back and get a new tire put on, then off we drove again.
All the roads were 2 lanes, small and narrow. We got through S.D. into N.D. we were on Highway 12, about 90 miles from Miles City, Montana and it started to snow and real hard, it was piling up real fast. Thank God for the big visor on the outside, it kept the snow off the windshield so I could see. We came to a good size long hill, we got stuck. I had no shovel so I removed one hubcap and used it for a shovel, they always had big barrels of gravel on the sides of the roads. So I put gravel under the tires in front for 10-15 feet, got back in the car and took off, we made it over the hill, Donna was praying all this time, little Johnny was fast asleep.
We made it to Miles City, that Kaiser was wonderful, good heater, road nice and handled beautifully. We got a nice motel and got a good night’s rest. We got up early and looked outside, it had snowed all night, the snowplows were out. We went over to a small Café and ate, we were both real nervous. A worker in the Café told us to wait for a snowplow and follow it out of town, so that’s what we did, 40-45 m.p.h. We were both pretty much worn out when we got to Billings, Montana, 145 miles later. We filled the gas tank and the guy at the station said, get out of town fast there’s a big storm coming down from Canada. So off we went, going was slow, just too much snow on the ground. The plows and the gravel trucks were also out, thank God we were on the main road east and west. Lots of travel and big trucks on the road. Billings was 100 some miles away, lots of big long hills but we made it, left on 12 headed for Helena, 350 miles away. It snowed hard at times, let up just enough so we could keep driving. We finally arrived in Helena, cold as hell, must be close to 6,000 feet up. We got a motel and some sleep, little Johnny was just wonderful all the time.
The next morning it was snowing, we followed a snowplow for many miles, over the big pass, we finally made it into Missoula, a beautiful town. We had a good meal, filled that Kaiser with gas and left. The snow had stopped, but it was cold out, every time we stopped for gas Donna would get coffee. The Kaiser got over 2 1-22 miles to the gallon, it had a big tank so we could go a long distance between stops. We got to Look-Out-Pass on the Montana, Idaho border. It’s high and going down was just plain hell, the road was bad, snowing and slippery, even with the gravel on the road. We spun around going down a couple of times, each time hitting big snow banks on the side of the road. We finally made it to Mullins, Idaho, at the bottom of the pass. Donna said you think we could stop for a cup of coffee, she was just holding little John, taking it in like it was nothing. The snow had stopped and the roads were pretty good until we got to Fourth of July pass, then the snow on the road was deep. Big trucks, stuck cars off the road and no police, we got through the stuck cars, wheels slipping all the time. I made it to the top! I said to myself, you big dummy, if you ever do this again, I’ll !*!. We made it to Spokane with the Kaiser running like new. We filled up and left small narrow roads, old 10 is always narrow. We made it to Seattle that night, it was raining out, but warm. We stayed at one of my sister’s homes.
I got a good job, in a few weeks we moved into a housing project, nice house, they all had coal stoves, and ice boxes, nothing fancy but real clean. I had a good job in a Boot factory but pay was poor, 85 cents an hour. I painted signs at night and on weekends, soon we had money for a down payment on a house. We found this house, one bedroom, large living room, full basement, big wood stove and another wood stove in the large kitchen. The house had wood pilled up to last us years, it had its own well, our payments were $35 a month. The house was only $3,400, that’s hard to believe now. We could live real cheap and save money for a bigger house.
Well, one Saturday I was driving around, I seen this beautiful black Chevy Coupe. By that time we had our second boy, they fit into the back seat nice. I traded that beautiful Kaiser in for that Chevy Coupe, what a dummy. The Chevy was nice, we drove it to S.D. one time I think, you just could not push it. Those old 6 cylinder, push rod, no oil pump engines just would not take much. I remember the rods going through the block of the “29” Chevy. I could stand it no longer, I wanted a car that would go. I saw this beautiful blue Kaiser one day, so I traded. We drove the Kaiser for a year of so, the looks were getting old. I saw this 1951 Ford Coupe on a lot one day, it looked and ran good, so again I traded, one big MISTAKE that was. The car wasn’t a week old and the engine blew up. I took it to Renton Ford, they pulled the pan off, it was full of sawdust. The big crooked car dealer had took me. I had to buy a new motor, Renton Ford was a good dealer, I got payments so it wasn’t so bad, I loved that car so one day I had it painted a beautiful Maroon. I painted some signs for the paint job, the body shop needed signs and I wanted a paint job. Old Bill was a wonderful painter and body man. He taught me a lot about spray painting. I used this when I got a good job in a Neon Sign Shop before I lettered them. The Ford was a good car with the new motor, I would cruise all day, 80-85 M.P.H. and in those days that was real good. Well, I kept that car for a while.
One summer we drove back to S.D. to see our parents, brothers, and sisters, when I seen this beautiful blue, 4-door, Ford, brand new. You guessed it, I traded my “51” in on that new 1956, total price $2,500 they gave me a good trade in as the “51” was really good looking and I had the papers to show. It had a new motor and the work done by a Ford dealer. We drove the ‘56 ‘back to Seattle.
I got a real good job painting signs for $3 an hour, this was about 3 times as much as most jobs paid. We bought another house up on Beacon Hill, nice neighborhood. I bought this 1948 Indian Chief “74” for $125, I rode this one over 2 years. I started buying used Motorcycles and fixing them up at night. Soon I had a basement full, so I put an ad in a small paper and got lots of calls. Donna would sell the motorcycles during the day, I’d buy more, fix them up, Donna would sell them, and I sold and worked on Saturdays. The Sign Shop was seldom open on Saturdays, when we did have to work on Saturdays, we would get double pay. Man, that was big money.
I started looking for a lot with a house on it when I saw this one place. I day dreamed that this was my next home and store. I knocked on the door and asked the man, you want to sell your home? Nice old man, he said, you got any money and a good job? I said I got both. He said he wanted $8,500, nice house, old but nice. It had a full basement and a garage ready to fall down, but I said to myself, I can fix it up and sell bikes from it. The lot also had a small house on the back of the lot that rented for $35 a month with a nice couple, she was a school teacher, they had no kids of their own, but sure did lover our boys. I bought the house, made payments to N.B.C. Bank, right down the street. We moved in within a month. I sold our house up on Beacon Hill, this gave me a few dollars to fix the old garage up with, my old friend Sam Denton helped me. I bought a used large window for the front, made a door out of old wood. I always bought used lumber when possible, half the price of new. I started selling motorcycles fast, still working at the Sign Shop. I sent in for a JAWA dealership, I got it, I had to buy 2-3 cycles. I still remember the first one I sold was a JAWA 250cc. The bike sales were really good, so I had to quit the Sign Shop. But I continued to paint in the garage or in the basement. We had a large wood stove in the basement, it was nice and warm to paint there.
When I got my Dealers’ License I got a used car license for just a few dollars more, I started buying used cars. Every Wednesday, South Seattle Auto Auction just 3-4 miles down the road. I would buy One, at first, sell it during the week, the next week do the same. Business was good, we were buying uLselling motorcycles and used cars like crazy. We had taken on Suzuki in 1960, they sold only 50” to 80” and 250” the T-10. All good bikes and they sold very good. I must tell you in early 1956 I joined the world famous Jolly Rodgers Motorcycle Club. I rode in the drill team for a number of years, I was busy day and night. By the time our 3rd boy came along, also our 4th son a few years later, next door to our store there was a huge lumberyard lot in the back. The boys started riding the 50cc, next door in the big lot, boy did they have fun.
About this time I tore the front porch off the house and built a store from the house to the sidewalk about 30’ by 50’, boy, I was sailing right along. I needed more money to buy more motorcycles and cars, so you guessed it, I sold the “56” Ford. I bought this like new Simca pickup for $425 at auction, I painted it, signs all over it, it was a wonderful truck and used little gas. Donna had been working right along with me, she even helped with the repairs. When I put a new piston in a cylinder, she would hold the cylinder, I push the rings in with screwdrivers, I had no ring compressor until later on. Donna had to have a car to get around, the pick up was always busy. I bought this old Austin, 4-door, what a ;, wonderful car, fun to drive, I started loving small cars. I still do, I have a 98 VW Big Turbo charge L. . For the last 1 5 years we have had a winter home in Arizona, I drove the VW down a number of years ago, I was driving on old “99” about 20 miles north of Bakersfield, 65 m.p.h. zone, I was driving 70. When all of a sudden this big Dodge Viper goes by, then another one and then others, 7 in all, I said to Donna, I’ll get behind them and see how fast they are going, 90 m.p.h. My V.W. stayed right with them, I did this for about 10 miles. I told Donna I didn’t need anymore tickets, I backed off to 70. We never saw those Vipers again, but at least I know my V.W. can cruise at 90, no problem.
I was buying a lot of cars, I had a beautiful big Dodge 500, this was a fast car, poor handling on the road like most U.S.A. made cars, just bounced along. I sold the Dodge in a few months, I bought a 1941 Lincoln Continental, V12, big black, beauty, I had planned on keeping this car. But a real good customer friend, Bill Blackman wanted that Lincoln, he talked me out of it. That Lincoln got me started in liking Lincoins and I’ve had a number of them through the years. I next drove a small Renault, Dalvien, what a wonderful car. Little 4 cylinder, engine in the back, this car used very little gas. It was really fun to drive, but I sold it. I bought this little MG Midget, what a wonderful handling car, 4 speed, really fun to drive. About this time our oldest son Little John was driving, he talked me out of the M.C. one night. The next day I drove it, it handled bad. I checked it out, the right front side-wheel rim was bent bad. I finally go it out of John, he hit a curb, he always drove fast, people said just like his dad. Well I fixed the MG and sold it, I was buying and selling cars like crazy. I bought this beautiful blue gray Studebaker 6, only paid $400 like new for it. We both loved the Studie.
Donna wanted to go back to S.D. for Thanksgiving, so we drove the Studie, nice trip back, no problems, we had a nice time. It was early December when we left old Britton, no problems, we drove on 12 out of Aberdeen going west, very few towns in western S.D. It snowed on and off, not like in ‘51’ until we got to Mullins Pass. Cold out and snow coming down the pass, snow on the road and slippery. All of a sudden, the Studie spun around, by time I got straightened out, we hit a big snow back on the side of the road. Thank God for those big snow banks, it keeps you from going over the side, down to La-La land. We finally made it to Mullin, Donna was really scared. We had the 3 small boys in the back seat, they were just eating all this up. We stopped and Donna had her cup up coffee, I didn’t drink coffee until about 10 years ago. We got to Spokane, it was snowing and raining some time and freezing out. You could hardly go 40 M.P.H. it was so slippery out, by early evening we had made it back to Seattle, it snowed on Snoqualmie Pass, but the plows were out, on the west side of the pass it started raining, good for us. That Studie was a wonderful car, it had the best radio of any car I’ve had since. Going through the Mountains I could pick up Del Rio, Texas, what a wonderful station. They sold everything from socks to nuts, played one song, sold junk for 10 minutes, it was fun to listen to. I always wondered if they are still in business. I haven’t had a good radio since that Studie, even our 2002 Jaguar can’t match the Studie’s radio.
After a lot of cars I had for a week or 2 I bought this beautiful white ‘62’ ford Ranchero and painted it fire engine red, with painted signs all over it. I used this in the business and I remember I and a good friend drove it to Sacramento, the 25 mile National, super good races. Sacramento and San D?? always had super good races. Only God knows how many times I’ve rode down to the races. After the races we drove to San Francisco, I was buying Vesp parts from this one distributor, so I loaded the Falcon up, I had it so loaded down that the rear spring didn’t work. I got parts so cheap, I could not pass them up, besides no freight. We made it back to Seattle with no problem. We always took in the sights in San Francisco, it’s a good city to have fun in. I could tell you a story of John driving the Falcon through Oregon in California, plus, plus, plus, but I’ll save that story for another time.
I had seen this 1966 Ford Ranchero, just had to have it! It had the 289-V8, what a wonderful engine, a fast car. I drove this car back to S.D. one fall late 1960’s. My dad was getting old, was very sick and so I asked brother Alex if he’d like to go to S.D. when are we going he asked. We took off from Seattle feeling good. Drove the first night past Helena, Montana and got a motel room, ate and went to bed. We left early, 6:00 a.m., we took that lonely road, Hwy. 12, 100 miles to Forsythe, Montana. No towns, nothing but big ranches, none close to the highway. I thought we’d have plenty of gas to make it to Forsythe, I was wrong. We had been driving 80-85 m.p.h. all day, the wind blowing against us, our gas mileage was real poor, about 3 miles from Forsythe, we ran out of gas. Brother Alex hitched to town in about an hour he made it back with the gas. We filled it up in town, ate and left. We were lucky, we could have run out 40-50 miles back, I don’t know what we would have done. We stopped more often from then on, towns are far and few between in Eastern Montana and the Dakotas. We made it to Britton, no more problems. Had a good visit and drove back to Seattle, only we had that 2 gallon can filled this time, just in case. I drove that Ford to California a few times.
I wanted a new car and we had the money, so I purchased this big beautiful 1966 Chevy, Caprice wagon. Had the wood on the sides, I take that back, it only had what looked like wood, good old plastic. That big 396 put out 325 H.P., at least that’s what the manual said, it would go fast, real fast.
We were going back to S.D. one summer the 4 boys were all in the back seat. We were east of Billings on 90, cruising along at 80-85 when a big Ford went by like we were sitting still. The boys kept saying dad don’t let that Ford beat you, go faster, faster. All this time Donna was saying oh for God’s sake slow down, let that guy get the ticket. We had the Chevy up to 115 on the speed-o–meter, I backed off. You could go as fast as you wanted in Montana at that time, but you had to have your car under control, period. That 396 was a good, fast motor, the Chevy went through brakes every 15-20,000 miles. Tires you were lucky to get 20,000 miles. The car had much to soft a suspension, it should have had sway bars, etc., American big cars were just too soft sprung. They had poor shocks, etc. But those big V8’s would really fly. The 66 Chevy would break motor mounts, then the engine would stick wide open. By the time you got the engine shut off, you were in trouble. I came close to getting killed several times, so I traded that fast Chevy for a big Mercury. I bought the Mercury in the fall, I didn’t realize it didn’t have air. Come summer it was crazy hot, poor vents. I don’t see how they could have made such a good car and not put air in it.
I seen this big beautiful 1972 Lincoln Continental, Metallic brown, really a sharp car, so I bought it. It was my 1 new Lincoln. We drove this car for a couple years or so. Big gas hog, lucky to get 10 miles to the gallon. We drove this car back to S.D. one 4th of July. Coming back, cruising along 85-90 our second son Rick was in the back sleeping when all of a sudden he woke up, said he had a real bad dream, that we had crashed the car. We were at the top of the pass, east of Butte, Montana, when all of a sudden, Bang! We seen smoke from the back, the car started handling bad. Smoke coming from the back, I got that big Lincoln stopped, got out the right rear axel had broke, was sticking out about 1 foot. We hailed down a car, they stopped in Butte a couple of hours passed then a big wrecker came and towed us to the Lincoln dealer. We got a nice motel close by, went back the next morning. Car not fixed, no axels, they had tried everywhere to find an axel but had to order one from the factory. We all flew back to Seattle, 2-3 weeks later the dealer called, our car was fixed. I had bought an extended warranty, only it was not a Ford warranty. I tried to get the to pay the bill, no luck, I forget what it cost but it was a lot. I was real busy at the store, no time to go get the Lincoln, so I sent my 3rd son Mike over to drive the car back. He bought the car home, told us boy that Lincoln will go. I asked him how fast did you go, he said it hit 120 easy. He made it back 3:00 the next day so I knew he had to have had that Lincoln flying fast.
I started having problems around 55-60,000 miles with that Lincoln. The ignition went out, left us stranded on 1-5 coming home from the T T Races in Castle Rock, Washington. I got the car towed to Seattle, had it fixed, then something else broke, it needed shocks, tires, etc. Donna was getting tired of driving that big bus around so we sold it, I had 3 or 4 cars around for her to drive. A fast Datson Z 300, 5 speed, I loved this car but got too many tickets with it. We drove it to the races in Sacramento, 25 mile National, after the races we drove down old 99 south. Drove up to Redwood Park???, boy those trees are big and tall, some over 2,000 years old, many 50’ around. You have to see those trees to really appreciate their beauty. After we left the park we headed toward the Bay area. I was going north on I-S when this guy in this ford Taurus, super high output, came flying by me, I cranked that Z up to 90, that S.H.O. kept going, I caught him at 115 M.P.H., I could see the red lights behind, I thought of out running him, but no, I slowed down to 70. The cop came along side, waved me to the side of the road and he kept going fast after that S.H.O. After I could see the cop car no longer, I pulled out driving 70. 1 never caught up to the patrol car or the SHO. I pulled off the next off ramp and finally found a 4-lane road going north. I figured the cop did not get my plate number, at least I hoped he didn’t. We got back on 1-5 around Sacramento, I didn’t say anything to Donna, she finally said, Carmen you sell this car when we get home. We made it home, no problem, I loved the Z car, fast and good handling. I sold it. I never heard from the California Highway Patrol. I thanked the Lord and promised him I’d slow down, only I didn’t say how slow.
I forgot but a few years before the Z, I bought this beautiful Black 1964 Ford 4 door. It had a 289V8, those were really good motors and fast. We drove it to California a couple of times. We drove down one December, the boys were out of school for Christmas, so we took the boys to Disneyland. We all had a wonderful time going and coming home was nice until we got north of Redding, 50-75 miles and then caine the snow. It was snowing good, I had filled up in Redding so I could make it to Medford, Oregon, no problem. The snowplows were out with gravel trucks behind them.
We made it through the mountains, it was getting dark. I said to Donna, let’s stop in Grants Pass, get a Motel and we can make it home the next day. Just out of Grants Pass, I had a blow out, the rear tire, I started to slow down then bang, the other rear tire blew. We were only a few miles out of Grants Pass so I drove in very slow. I pulled into a big tire shop, right across the street was a nice Motel. Donna took the boys and got us a room. I stayed until they had new tires on. Out of all the cars I’ve had this was the first time I ever blew 2 tires almost at once. You have to remember in the 50’s to 60’s tires were still poorly made. Today they’re wonderful and 60-70,000 miles is nothing. In the 50’s and 60’s, 20,000 miles was good. We drove home to Seattle the next day, it rained most of the way, but at least it wasn’t snow. I had driven through the Sisque many times, now with snow. But, the last 10 years I have had to put chains on 4-5 times. I kept the ‘64’ Ford a few more months, I was fast, real poor handling like all Detroit cars at that time.
Business was booming at the motorcycle store. Russ our son, was getting interested in cars, we built a few hot rods. I seen this beautiful Cadillac Seville made into a Roadster. They were selling these in California, so Russ and I flew down, rented a car and drove to several dealers to see these beautiful Roadster, they all wanted $60,000 =- $70,000. Russ said, dad we can build our own. We flew home and went to the auto auction the next Wednesday, bought this 1981 beautiful white 4 door. I drove it a few weeks, all our friends who seen this car loved it. Then I told them we were going to cut it in half, cut the top off and take 26” out of the center, even one of my sister in laws said I was crazy. Why would you want to do that they asked? If you’re not a car lover, you would never understand. Well, we cut that car in two, my son Rick did most of the work. He also did all the bodywork, then he painted it white. It looked beautiful. I took it down to Durham’s Upholstery store, they made a top for it. At first, I loved driving that car then Russ said it’s too high, so we lowered it, it looked nice, but rode like an old Vet. I started having problems, 2 cylinder, gear box went out, the fuel injection caught on fire, and burned all the wiring up in the engine compartment, it cost nearly $6,000 to rewire it. G.M.C. just couldn’t build a good car in the middle 70’s through the 80’s, not until the 90’s were those cars worth driving. I still can’t stand them front wheel drive junkers other than the Vet and their trucks. They still don’t have any cars I would buy and now they have a! “.1, as their boss and brain, by designing, they just may start making good cars again. I traded the Cadillac off for a Harley, I knew this man Doug, he worked at a Honda dealer for years. He just had to have my Cadillac, I thanked the Lord for sending Doug to me.
I bought a little Isuzu, 2 door, 5 speed, really nice car, but no power, wonderful gas mileage, I sold it and made a few dollars. I had been driving Japanese pickups for years. I had a new red, 1970 Datson, 4 speed, 1600cc, I paid $2,000 for, out the door. It was a wonderful truck, only if you didn’t have a load in the back, it rode hard.
My boys used it like a jeep, it seemed to go anywhere and it never broke. I sold the Datson, bought a new 1974 Toyota pick up, a wonderful truck, it had a longer wheel base so it rode ok, not good but ok. I keep buying and selling used cars, God only knows how many, I kept the Toyota for a couple years. A customer wanted it in the worst way to haul his dirt bikes to the races, so I sold it to him. I went out and bought a 1976 Toyota pick up, they have got to be the best trucks made, never a problem, I drove that ‘76’ for a couple years or so. I seen this new red Toyota pick up, I bought it. I drove it all over California and back to the Dakotas, Minnesota and all over, it was just a good thick. In 1990, 1 went back to Lincoln dealer and bought this beautiful white, 4 door. It had the 302, which is really a bored out 289, but that car was good. Rode beautiful, good gas mileage, only the handling was nothing to talk about. We drove it everywhere, never a problem. Then Ford came out with the 4,6 overhead cam motor, so I traded it for a ‘93’, again white. I had a red Carson type top put on it. It also had lots of gold plating done. It was a good car until around 60,000 miles, then the spark plug wires had to be replaced, the rear air bags went out, with out air the car runs on the rear axel, I had it fixed and a few months later they gave out again. I got tired of fixing it so I sold it to a man I knew for years, he wanted the Lincoln as far as I know he still has it. In 1996 I bought a really nice Ford Escort and we used it to drive back and forth from Seattle to our winter home in Arizona. Never a problem, really good gas mileage, it would cruise all day at 75 m.p.h., but I seen this beautiful blue Toyota King. In Mesa, so I traded the Ford in on the Toyota. I still have it, it’s a wonderful truck, I forgot again, before the blue Toyota, I had a ‘92’ red long bed, this was truly a good truck.
I had been riding my motorcycle to Sturgis since 1972, 1 got to know a few people in Sturgis, I was staying at this one home, got to know the couple real good, they both rode motorcycles, only not Harleys. Tom Rubeil wanted a new Harley, this was in 1993, Harleys were really hard to get. I got this 1993 FLHS in so I called Tom, he said can I buy it, I said you sure can, I’ll even deliver it. It was early May, so we loaded the FLHS in the Toyota and Donna and I headed for Sturgis. We got there the 2nd day, Tom couldn’t wait to unload the Harley. He paid me on the spot, he kept that Harley to just a year or so ago. While in Sturgis, Donna and I and 2 other couples toured the Black Hills, it was so nice to ride the hills this time of year, no big crowds. While in Sturgis in May, Donna and I climbed to the top of Bear Butt Montana, this was something we wanted to do for years. I rode my Harley back in August to Sturgis.
In 1984, I bought this new Honda Accord, 2 door, paid $8,500 for it, what a wonderful car, drove it 60,000 some miles and only put one set of fires on. I drove this car to California one fall for Thanksgiving. I had a brother in law living there, my mother in law had been down there for a couple months. We picked her up and brought her home to Seattle, she had been living with Donna and I for the past 20 years. J.t was very sad, she died in December a week after we got home.
Our Honda made it through the Sisxue Mountains, no problem, the snow was real deep for over 100 miles and ice on the road for 200 miles in Oregon, I loved that Honda, but I sold it. I bought a car I always wanted to have, a BMW-325-IS, red, 2 door, I paid $25,000 for that car, lots of money in those days. I don’t believe I ever had a car I enjoyed so much as the 325-IS. I drove it to S.D. a couple times. It would cruise any speed, 100 if you wanted to go that fast, Montana had no speed limits at the time. I remember one time I and a good friend drove to Sacramento to the 25-mile Nationals. We had fun racing cars all the way down, lucky no tickets. On the way back Bob wanted to drive, he was a very good driver, so I let him drive. He would race every car that wanted to race, we had more fun down by Eugene Oregon. Bob was racing this hot Mustang, going 90 to 115 M.P.H. most of the time, all of a sudden we seen big red lights in the back, Bob said no tickets, he had the Beemer up to 125 m.p.h. I said what the hell are you doing, you’ll get us both in jail. We came to an off ramp, he took it, he could see a big trucks top and a truck parking lot, must have been 150 trucks, he drove the BMW behind some trucks, turned the engine off and said we’ll stay here half an hour or so. He figured the coup would try to catch the Mustang. We never found out. We left driving 5 over the speed limit, he did this until we got past Portland, once across into Washington I drove. We were lucky, Bob’s a good guy but kind of nutty in a good way.
I remember another time I was racing cars in eastern Washington. We were driving out of Cle Elem, towards Ellensburg, I was cruising 70-75, this beautiful white Mustang cobra went by me, fast. I took after him, I got along side and waved to him, let’s go. I knew that Mustang could fly, I had the BMW wide open for 2-3 miles. I was a block ahead, I figured he’d chicken out, as I knew he had a faster car. It was lucky we both slowed down to just over the speed limit. There was a cop behind us on the other side of the freeway. Donna said you’re going to jail for that fun you just had, I said maybe, maybe not, the cop followed me all the way to Ellensburg, 10 – 12 miles away. I turned off the cop followed me, I thought, what’s he up to? The Mustang kept on going, I really don’t know if he got stopped or not. I pulled into a gas station, filled up and drove over to a Café to eat. When we came out the cop was gone. I drove back to Seattle only 5 over the limit, hard to do, but much better than going to jail. Anything over 85 they can take you to jail. I was really lucky. I always loved to drive in eastern Washington in wide-open spaces. One other time, I wasn’t so lucky. We were coming back 4th of July weekend, I pulled out of Vantage, just west of the big Columbia River, and it is wide. The hill going west on 90 is 10 long miles to the top, always a lot of slow drivers. At the top I started to pour on, I came up on this Jaguar, I knew this was a car that could go. So I stayed behind him, see what he was going to do. He started going faster and faster, soon we were going over 90. I should have known better as I drove this road hundreds of times, always lots of State troopers. But I could spot none, so I followed the Jag, almost to Ellensburg. I went under an over pass and her comes those big red lights. I stopped, the cop came over to me, just said, let’s see your drivers license, I gave it to him. I said I wasn’t speeding, he said not for the last 5 miles, but back there you were. I said how do you know that? He said, the airplane was above you guys all the time, he clocked you at 90-95 for miles. I had Donna and some of the boys in the car. He seemed like a good guy, all of a sudden he said, you promise me in front of your wife you’ll drive the speed limit home and not come back to eastern Washington and pull an act like you two just did and I’ll write you up for 80. that will keep you out ofjail and from losing your license. Then he said, Mrs. Tom, why don’t you sell the BMW, sooner or later it’s going to kill you people. She said, thank you very much, he could see she was white as a ghost. Donna said, if he don’t sell the car, I will! That ticket cost me plenty. I sold the BMW a few months later, I still miss it. But I had got, only God knows how many tickets driving that BMW. But the BMW is one car very few can match.
I had lots of Toyota pick ups, never a problem, I had a 1974, yellow long bed, a 1976 red Toyota long bed, I always tried to buy long beds as I could have motorcycles in the back. One year my son Rick, myself, Sam and 3-4 other riders were on our way to Sturgis. I think it was early 1990’s. Rick had one of my bikes in the back just in case one of our bikes broke, all of us would have a bike to ride. Rick drove a Honda Gold Wing. We were on 1-90 going east just pass Billings when bang, Sam’s rear tire blew out. We all stopped, got that spare bike out fast, in went Sam’s Harley. We rode off fast, we had been cruising along at 85-90, Rick in the Toyota staying right with us all the way, only place he would drop behind was on the long hills. But coming down the hills, look back and here comes Rick, that Toyota stayed with us all the way to Sturgis and back. One thing that’s always sold me on Toyota was they just never let us down and they would and will cruise with the best. Rick drove the Toyota over 189,000 miles before it broke, then it was the cam chain, which you should change at 100,000, he almost doubled that. At this write up, I have my 1996 Toyota pick up and a 2003 King cab. What wonderful trucks and cars.
Way back in 1963 or 64, I sold these two guys two new Triumphs, they worked for a large car dealer. The one guy came into the store one day, he pulled in the driveway in a beautiful, blue 2 door Toyota Corolla, 1600cc, 4 speed. He threw me the keys, said go drive it. I drove it around for half an hour or so I had to take it back. He could tell by the smile on my face I loved that little jewel, I said how much, he said $3,400, I said I’ll take it Boy what a wonderful small car, I drove it everywhere. California many times, S.D. at least once. It would cruise all day at 70-75 and still get over 35 miles to the gallon. The only thing I ever did to that car was brakes and tires, I love small cars. That little 1600 cc was one of the best cars I ever had. But like all the other, I sold it. Ford Explorers were coming on the scene so I bought a new 1993 Sport. It had the 4 liter O.H.V. engine, very good lots of tork. I could pull a trailer load with motorcycles uphill, down hill, that sport would go no problem. Only thing it was slow off the line, it just didn’t have it. I drove it to S.D., California, Arizona, etc., never a problem. When I sold it, it had 67,000 miles on it and still had those firestone tires on. But I’m sure I was lucky, as plenty of people have had their problems with those tires. I bought a new 2000 Kia, Spoilage, 2 liter. A very nice little S.U.V. only short wheelbase gave it a choppy ride on bad roads and the gas mileage was nothing to brag about either, about 19-24 miles per gallon. Well I traded it after 2 years for a new Toyota King cab which I have now. In 1998, the new V.W. Bug was back, my son Russ brought this one to the store. Turbo Diesel, I drove it and just could not stop driving it. Russ found me a new 98 silver bug, 5-speed turbo. I still have it, I don’t believe I could ever sell it. It has 60,000 miles, has never got less than 45 mile per gallon, will cruise all day at 80-85. I drove this car to California, Arizona and many other places. It’s no wonder the roads are full of Volkswagens.
Before I forget, back in 1978, I bought my first Vet, brand new Indianapolis Pace Car, I paid $25,000 cash. This one good customer was selling cars in Renton, so he found this Vet for me. I drove it home, 8 miles, put it in the warehouse and there it sat for many years, I never drove it again. I figured if I keep it here for a few years, could make some good money some day. The prices went up, I believe as high as $70,000, I kept it and the prices took a turn down. Classic cars were dropping fast, I finally sold it for $18,000, what a big dummy I was. If you remember in the 1980’s the Carter years, inflation was crazy high, interest rates were 15-20%, unemployment was super high. I took $18,000 across the street to Washington Mutual Bank, they were paying 12-13%, so I put the money in a C.D. I made my money back in a few years, thanks to Jimmy Carter. He’s a wonderful, nice man, but a terrible politician.
In 2002, I bought Donna a car she always wanted, a S-Model Jaguar, 4 liter, V8 – 284 H.P. I drove it to S.D. in 2002 but have driven it very little since. It’s Donna’s car, she will most likely keep it until God calls her home. We both love to drive it, its one car we will most likely keep. I have had many other cars through out the years, back in 1960’s to early 1980’s we bought a lot of cars at South Seattle Auto auction. I drove many for weeks, months, years then sold them.
We have a beautiful home in Maple Valley, Washington with a large 4-car garage with tile floors. Our cars and motorcycles look so beautiful sitting on those tile floors. We have a large barn, it will hold 4 cars and 15 motorcycles. The barn has 2 large stalls for 2 beautiful Arabian horses. These horses are our son Rick’s. Rick has raised these horses since they were colts. Rick used to ride the horses but I have not seen him on one in over 2 years. Just a few years ago, we had 4 horses, we had a beautiful small pony, our grandkids rode this pony. It got some kind of disease and died fast, we were unable to save it. We had another horse, I sold this one 2 years ago. The price of hay is high, one has to feed them hay 5-6 months a year, at $9.25 a bail, l2Olbs. In the last 50 years we had so many horses and dogs only god knows how many. Angel and Tally are beautiful horses, so now days I feed them twice a day, talk to them and just love them. You horse lovers will know what I mean.
I get 4 car magazines each month, 5-6 motorcycle magazines and half a dozen other magazines like Forbes so I have plenty to read and dream of cars I’d like to have. I have been looking at a 1968 Ford Thunderbird, 4 door, big 427 engine, cars in nice condition, I’m just looking, but who knows. Big and powerful but poor handling. Detroit built some big powerful cars, I had many, but never had one that handled that good, they rode nice but that’s about it.
In 1982, the Oldsmobile Cutlass was popular, I liked the looks, so I bought a so- called hard top, white and blue from Loberg Olds in Renton, Washington. Remember when G.M. got caught putting different engines in their other brands, well mine had a 3.8-V6 made by Buick, I thought, well Buick used to build some good cars. I thought to myself, well maybe I got a good car, boy was I surprised. First off the car just did not have any power, it was a gutless wonder. First thing I always do, check the oil, new car or used. After 200 miles I checked the oil, it was down a quart, I just couldn’t believe it. I called the dealer, he said to watch it, said I may have read it wrong. I drove the car another 250 miles, Donna actually drove it the most. I checked the oil, down a quart. I took the car back to the dealer, picked it up 2 days later. Donna drove it 200 miles, I checked the oil, down a quart. I talked to the dealer, he said bring it in, I did this totaled 27 times. We drove the car to California, what a big mistake, a quart of oil every time I put gas in. Going through the Sisxue Mt. in California, really got me pissed off. The Olds just did not have any power, it would barely make it over the steep hills, I thought boy, what have I got here? At speeds over 50, the wind came in around those windows and in the doors. I talked to 2 different Service departments in California, they both said you got a problem, take it back to the dealer you bought it from, make them fix it. They never would. We drove the Olds to S.D. once, Donna like the car so I tried to put up with it. The dealer just would not fix the car, they always had an excuse, like it’s not broke, what can we do, so it uses a little oil, drive it. I finally said no, I’ll sell this piece of junk. I sold it for $7,500, boy was I happy to be rid of it. I’ll never buy another G.M. again! I have had many G.M. cars, always something wrong with them. God knows I gave G.M. every chance to sell me some good cars. But I wonder, can they build one? Like so many cars in the 1980’s and later, the paint was poor, it would come off in big patches, you all have probably seen this. Well that’s all for the Olds. I feel sorry for the person who ended up with that old Olds.
Cars, motorcycles and girls, that’s what keeps us going.