Readers Rides

A Friend’s Dying Wish For His Classic Car

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By Mark Weisseg

A good friend of mine who started his career as a diesel mechanic and moved to diesel instructor has this beautiful car pictured. It is an interesting story so please let me tell the short version.

Two friends. One on the east coast and one on the west coast. The west coast friend had this car in his garage for years with the intention of restoring it. But, as this guy closed in on his 60th birthday he fell ill and passed away. His loving widow reached out to his old friend on the east coast and asked if he would buy the car, restore it,and enjoy it in the good name of his now deceased friend.

So, the car was shipped across the country to arrive in the summer. At first glance the car had been sitting too long and there were numerous issues with the car. Not to be deterred my friend “Jim” as we will call him made a decision to do this car right. Jim is somewhat of a perfectionist so the undertaking would be huge.

Jim got this old car in his very tight garage and proceeded generally by himself at tearing it apart and cataloging every piece. Changes would be made but all for the better. So, Jim took the body off the frame,and removed every nut, bolt, screw, clip, and such. He bought a rotisserie for the frame so he could work on it easier. To enhance and make this job easier he landed up widening his driveway and building a new retaining wall to reinforce it. Interestingly, Jim was at my home once as we were going to share a ride to a meeting and he kept staring at the wall I built and asking questions. Little did I know at the time it was for his benefit later that the way I constructed my wall, he would do the same.

Jim worked nearly every night, weekends, holidays, and while managing a wife and one daughter left in the nest he was determined to do this car right and from scratch. He did accept some outside help when it came to the interior and engine rebuilding but for the most part it was his baby.

I along with others would ask him about his progress and he would flip open his laptop and show us the latest pictures of the project. Daunting is the word that comes to mind but man is he in deep. At this stage is when many throw in the towel. The car either sits forever or the rebuilder gives up and sells what’s left. Not my friend Jim. Come hell or high water he was going to finish this car to his tastes no matter what.

Well, that day came a few thousand hours and a few years later. I can attest to all of you this car is a thing of beauty. He drives the cars to shows and it is an eye catcher. Few people know the full story behind this car and I feel lucky that I do. Jim is not a flashy guy nor a guy that seeks the lime light. He is first and foremost a husband and a father.
This past car show season I was lost in my thoughts and out of nowhere Jim appears. He came to see me and my old truck. Gosh it was good to see him and he told me he brought “the car”. Holy smokes I thought because I had not seen him nor the car in a few years.

Time went way too fast that evening as we caught up on the latest happenings but I could not get one thing out of my head. Here was the car that looked so bad several years ago and my friend with the help of a few turned this into a instant classic. How proud was I that he did this and how proud his friend from the west coast must be. I had the sense Jim’s friend was guiding him from above all the time and how happy he must be seeing his pride and joy at car shows.

I am a better person for being Jim’s friend today. We share pictures and thoughts relating to the car and truck industry. As a matter of fact he and I know a big secret.

We have a mutual friend that has had his Chevrolet Nomad restored years ago and it sits in a garage all covered up. Why the guy does not drive it is a mystery and I certainly would like to have this car, but for now I will enjoy the fact that Jim’s love for a friend is now again alive in our city.

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