by Animal Jim Feuer
Classic Car Ramblings and Reminiscing subtitled " Beating The Reaper"
I'm sure my die hard Ford fans will boo the fact I had other brands of cars. But , I love all American classics. In fact I promote my shop service as "All American Classic Car Service." I usually prefer doing just engines, but there are times I take on servicing a complete car, like the 440 six pack, 70 Cuda in here now. I put over 100 hours in that Fish.
From rebuilding the carbs, to installing new ceramic coated Hooker headers, to new trans, and replaced the rear end third member and axle bearings.
Working on a whole car once in a while instead of just building a classic or race engine is a nice variety break. It has nostalgic value for me. Reminds me of my younger days as a journeyman garage mechanic. I know that old stuff pretty well and owned quite a variety of them ,and also worked on them for customers. Which means I got to test drive everything from a Hemi Cuda , to an AC 427 Cobra. Name a classic, and I either owned one, worked on one, and drove one. All brands.
Last car I did ,just before the Cuda, was a nice low mileage ,black, with red interior 63 Impala convertible. It was classic equipped , with a 327 and four speed. All Original. Everything I did to it was stock type replacement and repairs. I did the brakes, motor mounts, clutch, stock shifter repair, all steering and front and rear suspension parts and alignment. I did do one mod. I installed a Petronix electronic module, in the orig. dist. with an adjustable vacuum can and advance wt and spring kit.
That Impala drives like a new one. For me it was a trip back to the early 60s.
It is no secret my fair weather driver is a torrid red 2005 GTO. I it bought brand new. Of course, it's a manual a six speed. What else would I have? Fun car to drive. I drive it 90 miles each way to Rt. 66 Drag Way in Joliet ,where I work tech part time.
So you see, besides Ford products I am no stranger to GM and Mopar, classic cars. I even owned a 68 AMX 390 four speed. And built engines for AMC customers. Also worked on Packard's and Studebakers and everything else American. I have done some foreign engines and cars , but I prefer the American iron and plastic.
To appease my die hard Ford fans that I did not abandon the blue oval, I also have a nice red 64 Galaxie 427/425HP R code. Numbers matching. 5th vin character is an R. I also have a 63 Mercury Monterey 2 door sedan , Breezeway, 390 with manual 3 on the tree. All original. And shared with my grandson and his dad we have a 66 Mustang Street Machine. Of course there is my 2004 F 350 Crew Cab dually and our 2008 Explorer. Even my Bass Boat has a 40HP Merc!
Oh! Oh! Here is a foreign vehicle. Oh no! Not Animal Jim with a rice burner. Yes it is true.-- I bought it off the showroom floor in 2005. A candy apple green Vulcan Mean Streak Sport Cruiser. 1600cc. No window-no bags-just go!
Finally -- Here comes a story. And it is true.
One of my favorite cars of all time (there were several favorites) was in 1960/61, when I was 20 years old. It was a black 56 Chevy 210, two door sedan. I stumbled upon that car at Tory Chevrolet in the little town of Ladd, IL. Ladd is just about 7 miles northwest of my hometown of Peru, IL. Tory always had interesting used cars. I bought a customized 51 Merc from him once. But that is another story.
My friend Charley and I loved to go to car lots and look at cars. That is how I found that black 56 at Tory's. When I spied it. I said to Charley, "Look at that 56 Chevy. It has no Chevy medallions on the front of the hood or on the trunk. There is no sign the Chevy medallions were ever there, it does have the big chrome Vs indicating it is a V8. "
photos courtesy of Animal Jim Feurer
I continued, "It has black walls, black rims and small hubcaps. And look at those huge Bucron's on the rear."
I opened the hood. A huge oil bath air cleaner appeared. Under it were two WCFB four barrel carbs. Charlie opened the door and announced the 56 Chevy, with two fours ,was a 3 on the tree manual shift. Oh my!
About that time John Tory himself appeared. "Nice little Chevy eh. Especially if you like fast cars." John Tory looked over, spying Charley's car we came in. It was 57 Inca Gold Fairlaine 500, badged with Thunderbird 312 logos." And it appears you boys still do."
John Tory went on to tell us the car was previously owned by Don Columbo from Princeton, IL. Columbo was a fairly well known street and some times drag strip racer back then, probably 5 years older than Charley and I.
John tells, "Yep, Old Donnie won lot of trophies with this car at Cordova Drag Way." John added, "Donnie bought this car special order from me brand new. It came with that Corvette engine and the two four barrels. Right off the bat Donnie was into modifying it. He ran it in stock class, but I think he was cheating like hell! Ha Ha!"
John continued, "I went with him to Cordova once. Donnie would remove that big restrictive air cleaner, bump the timing up , adjust the lifters on that big Isky cam he put in the engine, take off his street tires and put on the big Bucrons like ones that are on it now. Then he would open the shorty lake pipes. No one in his class could touch him and that 56 Chevy."
John gets the keys and gives then to me, since I was the most interested. "Here take her for spin boys. " John Tory knew Charlie and I pretty well. We had bought cars from him before. I think he already knew I was sold on this 56. And he knew if I test drove it , that would seal the deal.
Before we got out of town, I already knew this car was very special. I never felt such articulate throttle response before. We get out on the county road, and I get on it. WOW!!! Even faster that I imagined. I had to have this car.
We went back to the dealership and I told John Tory I wanted the car. My trade in was a 57 Ford 2 door sedan with a 292 two barrel V8, and three on the tree. It ran pretty good but not as good as Charlie's 57 Fairlaine 500 with the 312 Bird engine. And definitely not even close to this 56 souped up Chevy.
Even though I was trading down a year, my 57 Ford was still in nice shape, so John made me a fair deal. I was not 21 yet so I had to go get my dad in Peru to sign for me. I came back to Tory's later that afternoon with my dad. Before any signing or me paying from my hard earned savings, I took my dad for a test drive. Dad was far from a gear head. If you could make the Peru, Brewery hill in high gear , is how he measured a powerful car.
Dad was an a great outdoorsman. As he raised me to be. Hunting and fishing was his life. And here he had two sons, me and my six year older brother Sonny , who were both car crazy.
When test driving that hot 56 Chevy with dad, I tromped it a bit to show off the 56's amazing acceleration prowess. Dad responds with, "So this is what you like? Ok then. Just don't get yourself killed."
The next day Charlie and I went out on the Dimick black top north of LaSalle, with my newly acquired 56 Chevy and Charley brought his 57 Fairlaine 500. We just had to know for sure. Charley's Ford was no slouch, but after me driving and Charlie riding in that 56 the day before. We already were pretty sure.
So we ran each other. Several times. Even once from a rolling start. Our suspicions' were confirmed. That black 56 Chevy consistently beat Charlie's 57 Ford by 3 car lengths'.
Man I loved that Chevy. It was magical. Those were magical times in my life. continued on next page...
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