What is it...and how did it get to look like that?
Hello and welcome to the first of what I hope are many more scribbles here at Hot Rod Time. I would like to thank them first and foremost for giving me this opportunity to share with you my stories and experiences from the many miles and smiles I have had while traversing the landscape in one of my classic rides. But before I go any further I feel as though I should share with you a little background on me and my rodding credentials.
My first experience with vehicles and my first ride in an automobile was in a '64 Corvette Stingray on the way home from the hospital shortly after I entered this world. A thirty-five mile sojourn south from Salt Lake City to the rural suburbs. My father worked for the local Chevrolet dealership at that time and my early years were watching and observing him tinker with his vehicles such as the aforementioned Vette, his '63 Corvair and the family '69 Chevy Caprice four door.
The obsession with cars continued through my formative years and after working odd jobs from throwing hay around the horse stables, mowing lawns, even working part time after school at a local tire shop, I saved enough scratch to purchase my first car: A 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS. Although I had my heart set on a Chevelle the same year, and went so far as to have an ad from a Motor Trend from that year of the SS 396 model hanging over my bed, I bought the Impala with the idea that when that Chevelle appeared I would unload the Impala and life would go on…….
Thirty years on I still own the Impala…. and drive the wheels off of it every chance I get!
The 327 and Powerglide two-speed automatic would give way to a 400 small block and a Turbo-Hydromatic 350, Just what this lead footed longhair needed at that point of my youth. Later down the line the ten bolt rear would be replaced with an 8.8 twelve bolt positraction rear and a front disc brake upgrade which would save both man and machine in the future from eminent ruination.
After a few years of learning how things work, break, catch fire, explode and just plain quit working (and how to fix them after all these things), plus driving it everyday I picked up another daily driver and pulled the Chev down to restore it and make it really my own. A couple of years later it hit the street and the pounding of the local main drag began in earnest.
Before this time I had attended maybe a handful of car shows and a cruise night at a local burger joint – with or without the car – and I was happy just dragging Main chasing girls and finding the occasional street race or party. But someone I met at that burger joint suggested I take it over to a car show over at the local community college. It was a moment that literally changed my life forever! Many of the relationships I hold dear today within the hobby were consummated that day on the lawn and in the parking lot of that college.
A quarter century on there has been engine and transmission rebuilds, upgrades, and other changes here and there but the overall nature of the Chev has stayed the same. Because I have somewhat of a loathing for these flat objects with four tires towed behind a truck or RV called a trailer I have been almost rabid about maintenance; mine is a driver. Sure I do shows, many of them in fact and enjoy them and the friends I see at them, but I also enjoy the open road. The freedom of dropping all the windows on some two-lane blacktop on a summer day with tunes blasting away traveling to parts known and unknown. A rod run, a barbecue, or just a drive to get away. Jr's motto here: "If it's on a trailer it's either broke or stolen."
I have had other vehicles as well. I have owned a 1987 Monte Carlo SS that was going to become a ground pounding street machine before the local air quality fuzz quashed that plan with their tactics. So the 1979 Malibu, which was my daily driver for a dozen years or so, became that street machine. There were still some DAQ hurdles with that too here locally but not on the scale that they would have been with the Monte. Plus the t-tops were a concern I had about structural rigidity which the 'Bu did not have.
A 400 small block too sits between its frame rails; a bit hotter that the Chev's plant as is the Turbo 350 behind it. It's a much snappier shift kit in the Malibu, as opposed to the '66, and wasn't initially set up to do much more than just be fast. But it too sees the road frequently and it quite drivable even with all these go fast goodies. It needs the cosmetic portion still but everything else is invested in the motor and powertrain on that animal.
Between these two machines the mesas and vistas, mountains and valleys and from sea level to ten thousand feet these rides of mine and I traverse every summer. Nowhere in the Intermountain West is off limits. Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, California, and more have my wheels traveled whether it's to a run or just for fun. I have participated in portions of two Hot Rod Power Tours in the late 90's, Super Chevy shows at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Bandimere Speedway in Colorado, the Route 66 Fun Run in Arizona as well as thousands of other runs, big and not so big, all over the west.
This is not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle. A way of life that others outside of our hobby try to understand through the various reality programs out there on the tube but need to experience for themselves to get the real thrill. It's not about trophies and glory, while recognition is nice at times, it not all there is. If the people like you out there reading this that make this hobby the great one that it is….and I proud to be a part of it!
I look forward to sharing past stories, current car shows I attend, commentary on things within our hobby and future antidotes and experiences with all of you on here in future editions. Until then shine your rides, charge your cameras and enjoy the wonders of the road…..at least when Mother Nature will grant us that option!
Until next time…..Cheers!
© All texts and photos are by the owner, except where indicated, and © 2017 Jay Horrocks Jr.