Ever since I was little, I’ve loved classic cars, especially Chevrolets.
I guess I could say that’s because my dad was a car buff as are many of my cousins. My dad used to have a 1957 Chevy 2-door, Bel-Air hardtop as well as a 1956 Chevy, 2-door Bel-Air hardtop, both of which my mother sold nearly a decade ago a few years after my dad had passed away. They were cars I wish I had and the money to fully restore and maintain.
Before I got my driver’s license as a teenager in Ohio, I bought a 1953 Chevy pick-up truck for $200 in 1983 with the thought of restoring it someday. It was a rusty relic that had been discarded in a barn for about 10 years, gauging from its license plates that were dated 1972. Having the treasure pulled home on a tow truck, the bubble-shaped truck was a three-on-the-tree with a floor-button push start that somehow became drivable mostly by the help of my dad in time for the beginning of my senior year in high school. The truck had corner windows that allowed me to see the world from behind the wheel that helped steer me and a pile of my friends to freedom and fun on $5 of gasoline that lasted a week.
The truck is long gone; I sold it about a decade ago to a teenager with similar aspirations of restoring it, about the time my mom sold the ‘56 and ‘57 Chevies. My dream is to own another ‘53 pick-up as well as a 1963 Corvette split-window coupe someday. We’ll see.
But for others who love classic cars, the Corvette Club of Arizona in partnership with Thorobred Chevrolet in Chandler is hosting its 13th Annual Thorobred Thunder All-Chevy Car Show, 2121 N. Arizona Ave. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.
More than 100 cars and trucks are expected to be displayed in the event, with the majority of those cars owned by East Valley residents. The show will be a day filled with nostalgia, homemade ice cream, hamburgers and hot dogs and a DJ playing 1950s and 60s music — resonating of an era filled with sock hops, soda shops and the pride in owning a piece of the American Dream.
“It’ll be a good show,” said Bill Rhode, a 43-year Chandler resident, who is co-chairing the show with Garry Mion and who is a member of the Cactus Corvair Club. “We’ll have El Caminos, Novas, Camaros, and we’ll have a lot of Corvettes. A lot of people will be there with beautifully restored cars. They’ll be pleased as punch because they’re proud of how they’ve restored their cars — and they should be. A lot of people have the cars for nostalgia because it was the cars they used to have when they were younger, or people purchase them because they were the cars their parents used to own.”
Rhode will get to show off his maroon 1964 2-door Corvair Spyder convertible he has owned for seven years. Rhode said that guys like Dave Friesz of Mesa will be there with his 1964 Corvette coupe and Frank Hagan of Mesa likely will bring his 1962 Corvette or his recently-restored 1960s-era Chevelle.
Admission to the show is free, and car entries for the show still are being accepted, $35, the day of the show. To enter, the car must be a Chevy or at least have a Chevy engine in it. The show will feature about 50 percent Corvettes including some from the early 1950s and awards will be presented in various divisions for all cars. From each entry, $10 will go toward two of the Corvette club’s charities — Packages From Home that ships items to those serving in the military and for Hospice of the Valley.
A 1939 Lincoln Zephyr also will be on display that was owned by Pete Golightly, a former longtime service manager of Thorobred Chevrolet who passed last year, a few days before the car show. Golightly was a member of the “Over the Hill Gang,” a group of hot rodders.Mike Terrey, service manager for Thorobred Chevrolet, said on Thursday that 90 cars have registered for the event, so far, but more are expected.
“It is a tradition,” said Terrey, who owns a yellow 2004 Corvette Z06 and has been involved with the show for about 10 years. Each year, we have a lot of repeat attendees and we keep growing in numbers. We really get some neat, neat cars.”
For Rhode, owning the Corvair Spyder allows the retired state employee to return to his youth as he once owned a light aquamarine-colored 1964 Corvair Spyder with a white interior and white top that he purchased for about $3,400 then.
“I bought it when I got off the ship after my discharge from the Army in 1964 and drove it from New York to Wisconsin,” Rhode said. “It was such a fun car, driving it with the top down in the autumn when the leaves were changing color. Then, I sold it for tuition money to go to college.”
Rhode said he paid $9,500 for the Corvair he now has.
“Owning an older car is interesting,” Rhode added. “There’s a lot of things you have to figure out to keep them running — looking through the old manuals to see whether you’re able to buy a part you need replaced, or if you have to make it yourself. My Corvair is a flat turbo-charged 6-cylinder, and it’s hard to find someone who works on those engines anymore. But, the cars are fun to work on and fun to have.”
And just maybe I’ll go to the show to see if I there’s a restored ‘53 Chevy pick-up there I can sweet talk someone into selling — to reclaim part my American Dream that now would cost much more than $200 and $5 of gas that no longer would last for a day, much less a week.
But it is nice to dream, isn’t it?
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