I started working on cars at a young age building model cars. I bought my first real car at 14 with paper route money. It was a 1929 Model A closed cab pick up.
It was a basket case with some missing parts and 3 or 4 of some other parts. It was just a full scale model to me. When I was old enough to drive, it was ready and I drove it to high school.
My dad had Model T's, my brother had a Model A and my mom collected antique clothes. Going to the old car swap meets was a family outing.
This is me in my dad's 1914 T speedster at the Model T Hill Climb on Signal Hill around 1970. I got a 3rd place trophy!
Dad also had a 1915 Model T Depot Hack which we logged many miles in. That's dad with the hat, my brother and I are tossing the beach ball in the background and mom is sitting on a beach towel. In 1968 we drove from Long Beach CA. to Dearborn MI. and back for the national Model T Club of America meet that year. The annual meet was at the Henry Ford Museum.
After a couple years in high school, I wanted something that went faster. My parents didn't want me to have a hot rod. One day when I was delivering papers I saw a Mini Cooper S and a Porsche 356 at a traffic light. At the green light they took off in a drag race. The Mini won. I started working on my plan to convince my parents that a car smaller than a VW couldn't possibly be a hot rod.
So anyway, I didn't have the money to buy a Mini Cooper S even after selling the A. But I did find a 1960 Morris Mini 850 that I could afford. Back then you could still find MG 1100s and Austin Americas in the wrecking yards and I got an 1100 engine and trans. I was working at Kerr's Mufflers by then, and I was in my senior year of high school. School told me that if I wanted to continue taking Auto Shop I needed to take it at City College. So the first part of the year I took Auto Shop and built an engine (not stock) for my car and the second part of the year I took Body Shop and did body and paint on my car. Willie Stroppe (Bill Stroppe's son) was in my class. A few years later I did buy a 66 Mini Cooper S from Jim Proffit who became a good friend and future boss.
After the Mini phase I bought my first Mustang. A 1970 Mach 1. It had a 351 C, 4 barrel, automatic. The first month I got 3 speeding tickets! What a fun car! Of course I warmed it up a little with a cam, headers and a shift kit.
Time rolled on, got married, had to sell the mustang to pay for my first kid, and had a few boring cars. And then I got a job at Prestige Thunderbird restoring 55 through 57 Thunderbirds, and getting paid for it! I was there for 9 years. While I was there a guy named Dan Bennett started working in the parts department. He's an LASAAC member. During my time there I bought a 67 fastback 390, a 67 coupe 289, a 66 Mercury Cyclone GT (which I still have) and a 65 coupe 6 cyl. that is now The Junkyard Dog.
The Cyclone is my current restoration project.
The Junkyard Dog.
My friend Jim Proffit had a restoration shop in Long Beach called Racing Restorations.He worked on pre-war european sports and race cars. Specializing in BMW and Veritas, but also British and Italian cars. And I would work for him on weekends and in times of unemployment. His most famous car that I worked on was featured in Road & Track and Auto Week magazines. A one off race car that competed and won it's class at Le Mans in 1939 and is the only BMW to win the Mille Miglia, in 1940.
This is Jim driving the BMW at Goodwood. The car is now owned by BMW and is in the company's museum in Munich Germany.
I worked at Brauns Automotive for 5 years building engines and rebuilding cylinder heads. Here is a blown Pontiac I did.
After Brauns, I got a job at Shaver Racing Engines in the cylinder head dept. Shaver is very much into sprint car engines. This is Donnie Schatz who drives in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. Shaver has built Schatz's engines for over 20 years. I was there when Schatz won his first 4 in a row championships. Schatz has gone on to win 10 championships as of 2018. At Shaver we also built off road racing engines for Baja 1000 racers and some interesting vintage engines. Dave Dralle would bring engines he built to Shaver for dyno testing.
For a while, I was buying cars at towing yard auctions and selling them for extra money. One of these cars was a Datsun 240Z that I decided to keep and still have.
Now I'm retired and working on my own stuff.
This is the 1966 Mercury Cyclone GT that I mentioned earlier. My wife looks at the piles of parts and worries and asks if I know how to put it all back together?
But by far the best decision I ever made was to ask Jesus into my life. Cars and houses are nice things to have, but they are just things. You can't take them with you. Salvation through Jesus is something no one can take away and I will take with me forever.