‘I did this because of my father. Now my grandchildren know that my father was Poppy. I’m Pop. Poppy had a car just like this.’
“It’s a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air two-door. It was called the Tri-Five era. Cars from those three years — ’55, ’56, ’57— are still very fashionable. This is the original motor, original transmission. I have a passion for it because my dad owned one. He bought a new one in 1955. Before I got my license, he said, ‘We’re selling the car’ because people only had one car per family. My mother didn’t drive. I said, ‘No, please!’ I always wanted one.
“Thirty years later, I was able to get this, and I have been working on it ever since. A good friend of mine had the car, moved to Florida with it, and did a lot of the work. I was always helping him with it. He was from Bethpage. He said it ran its course and asked if I wanted it. I said yes and continued building it. This was a 10-year project.
The car is just a throwback. All metal. No plastic. Real old American cars.
“I’m doing a lot of subtle things underneath and on the suspension. The car is just as beautiful underneath as it is on top. It’s a labor of love. My grandchildren now like changing the spark plugs with Grandpa and changing the oil with Grandpa. My kids don’t like it, but my grandchildren do. My wife enjoys that this is my girlfriend.
“It’s a throwback. I did this because of my father. Now my grandchildren know that my father was Poppy. I’m Pop. Poppy had a car just like this. The speaker is from a drive-in movie, and it does work. In fact, sometimes I bring a wireless mic and kids think the car talks — like the old days when they used to roller skate up to the window and bring the tray to the window and you’d order a hamburger and fries and watch a drive-in movie. The car is just a throwback. All metal. No plastic. Real old American cars.
“I drive the car about 800 miles a year. In the winter, it never comes out of the garage. All summer, I drive it around to car shows and parades. I did a Fourth of July parade. The firemen have me up there because it’s red and white.”
Interviewed by Tracey Cheek