Clutching to the Past
by “Animal Jim” Feurer
In the ‘50s and ‘60s, any hot rodder worth his salt had a car with a "straight stick." That means a manual transmission and a clutch. In the mid-‘50s when I learned to drive, myself and most youngsters learned to drive a stick shift car. I learned in my dad's 1950 Chevy straight-stick panel truck he used for his bakery deliveries.
However, when I got my license in the screwed-up, busy, traffic control-engineered streets of Ottawa, Illinois, I used my folks ‘54 Buick with a Dynoflow automatic. But sometimes, a little hypocrisy is the means to a satisfied end.
My hypocrisy got even worse. The same day I got my license, my dad took me to the Buick dealer in LaSalle where my folks bought their Buicks they loved, and had me buy a used, Calvin Grey 1950 Buick 2-door sedan. Straight 8, with a Dynoflow. $125…$147 with tax. (Notice the words “me buy!)
But at least that action, on the same day I got my Illinois driver's license, provided me with my own wheels! I got to take my ‘50 Buick out on the county road – alone – driving for the first time with no adult parents riding with me to respond with: “Slow down!... Watch for the stop sign!, etc.”
For the first time I could drive over 55 mph. I went out on that county road and ran the shit out of that Buick. WOW...105 mph! Then I practiced the "neutral drop" hole shots I had observed once from my friend "Buckets" showing me in his dad's new ‘57 Buick. Put the trans in neutral…hold the brake…floor the throttle…jam the selector in low…then let go of the brake. It worked pretty good when I tried it in my ‘50 Buick. Even got rubber!
Later that evening, I took my girlfriend Rosemary for a ride. It was the first time the two of us were alone in a car. As we go up Garfield Ave in LaSalle, I ended up drag racing Jasper Maggio in his souped-up ‘52 Chevy with two Stromberg 2-barrel carbs and Smitty Exhaust. I won! That “neutral drop” is what got him. "Thanks, Buckets!"
My 57 Black Merc is 312 3 on tree. The 63 is 390 3 on tree.
Continued on next page...
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