My Classic Car Story

By: Don and Kathy Riddle

Club Member - MCCJC

I started looking at classic car ads online about 7 or 8 years ago, and drooled all over the keyboard, but with 3 kids at home and in college, that was all I could do, was “look”. We never could seem to be able to afford the ones I really liked.  Heck, we couldn’t even afford the ones we didn’t like. Specifically, I was looking for a RED 64 Chevy Bel Air, which my  wife (Kathy) and I dated in when we met in 1969.

There seemed to be lots of 64 Impalas, but the 64 Bel Air’s seemed to be rare as hen’s teeth. So, for years, I looked, dreamed, and looked some more, and in the meantime, kept paying that school tuition. Thinking maybe “one day” our time would come, and then again, thinking, it probably wouldn’t.  Although I had never seen it, I knew my cousin in Nebraska had a 73 RED Corvette, (he was the second owner) which he had owned for 15 years, had kept it in his basement, protected, and only had the chance to drive it 3 or 4 times a year. 

And all those years, he swore he would never sell it.  Another reason he rarely drove it, is because he lives out in the country on a GRAVEL road, and refused to drive it on gravel. So he bought an enclosed trailer for it, and every time he wanted to drive the car, he would load it into the trailer, drive 5 miles into town past the gravel roads, unload the car and take it for a spin, then reverse the process to get it home.  Wow! Makes you appreciate Mississippi roads! For several years we tried talking him into bringing it down for Cruisin the Coast to no avail.

He wanted to, but he never could seem to work it into his busy schedule. I had seen pictures of the car, and couldn’t believe how good it looked, at least on paper.  Anyway, last summer (2008), we attended a family reunion in Iowa, and stayed at my cousin’s house for several days, on the way there. I was finally going to get to drool in person over this Corvette I had been hearing so much about, and seeing pictures of. Maybe he would even let me drive it!  While eating dinner one evening, his wife made several comments to him, like “you never have time to drive that thing, you need to just sell it” (they were trying to raise money to buy a store).

Well, when I heard that, my EARS perked up, they flapped forward and doubled in size, so as not to miss a word of this interesting conversation.  He then led us to the basement, pointed to the car and said the magic words…. “Do you want it?” Well, it wasn’t a RED 64 Chevy Bel Air, but it WAS a RED Chevy! Close enough for me! But then my mind came back to earth as I began to wonder how much he wanted for it. Oh Well, it was fun to dream. Then he said the words I will never forget….”You guys are family, so I will give it to you for exactly what I paid for it 15 years ago, plus any improvements I made”. “Take it with you and just send us a check when you get home”.

I looked over at Kathy, and was waiting to hear those words every husband has permanently burned into his eardrums….”We Can’t Afford It!” But instead she said “Hey, let’s get it!” I couldn’t believe my ears and my heart was racing, but I looked at over her and in a very cool, calm voice said, “Are you sure?” (Yeah, Right!!).  I drove the car home, and Kathy followed in the Van. It was a hair-raising 1200 mile trip back, trying to avoid flying debris on the interstate, waking up every hour to check on the car, the night we stayed in a hotel, and the next day, grimacing as 18-wheelers were all around us, flinging rocks, chunks of their tires, lit cigar butts, chickens, cattle, and every thing else that is out to “get” the one car that you don’t want to get even a nick in. 

Well, we got it home safe and sound and it now has its own room with central heat, air, tiled floor, and a blanket for cold nights.  It’s not a 600 HP hot rod, but it is fun to drive, and we’re back in a “RED Chevy again, just like in 1969 (well, almost). It is numbers matching, has a 350 ci, Edelbrock “performer” intake, Ceramic coated Hedman Headers, Holley “Street Avenger” 770 CFM Carburetor, 280 Cam, MSD Electronic Ignition, TH350 Automatic Transmission, original interior, and the engine was rebuilt about 7000 miles ago.

It has been repainted once in 1993.  We then found the club, and have met some of the most wonderful group of people we have had the pleasure of being associated with.  Well, that’s our story and I’m sticking to it. See ya’ll at the next meeting.

Don and Kathy Riddle