I took an early morning walk in Dillon. This place was just too interesting to not take a closer look. It is for sale if you are looking to become the American Picker of Montana. Of interest on the chalk board is a 1975 Chrysler claimed to have eight thousand miles on it for ten thousand dollars. The store was not open, and I was not carrying that much cash so I did not investigate.
We cruised the north side of Canyon Ferry lake to the Norwegian Wood Golf Course. The setting is part golf course, part retro railroad depot, part ranch. They raise Highlander beef cattle on site. I was told there will soon be pork on the menu, much to the chagrin of the pink skinned critter I saw wandering around the corral.
Be very hungry if you order the Avalanche burger with potato salad and chili. The chili on this burger made me feel guilty. It is simply too good to be ordered as a topping on an entree.
The red solo cups you see in the photo are not standard fare. They have a significant wine and specialty brew selection. As we were all cruising cars that cost more than our first house, on a very sunny day, water and lemonade hit the spot thank you very much.
Reservations requested for four or more in your party.
Leny’s Repair and Service is a shop like the early years of hot rodding.
There is a spray booth with a ’61 Impala. A ’64 Impala sits on the hoist. A metal lathe is along a side wall. There is a magazine rack with Cars, Rod and Custom, Hot Rod and Hemming’s Motor News. Engines stand, waiting to power someones pride and joy. A pair of Goodyear Drag Slicks mounted on Magnesium wheels in a corner.
Not only is there cool stuff here, the place itself is cool. The window sign, sink stand, neon lights all say we are building something out of the ordinary here.
Ford Motor Company built the Gran Torino at the end of the muscle car era. Ralph Nader, insurance companies and environmental regulations were changing the automotive industry. Gone were the ground pounding, high compression, two-four barrel carburetor, big blocks of the sixties. The 1972-1976 model years had the looks of the factory hot rods, but not the performance. They were fast for their day,but smog equipped meant less power. The classic car market for these cars had always been weak.
Clint Eastwood appeals to “the guy” in every man. His character is misunderstood by everyone but the movie audience. He communicates poorly with friends and family. Bad guys shake at the sight of him. Now Clint Eastwood makes a movie titled Gran Torino. He owns a Gran Torino in the movie. As I watched the movie I thought the value of those cars is going up right now. Thank you Mr. Eastwood.
Pictured is a 1972 Gran Torino at the Blast From the Past car show in Helena, Montana. The value of the car has increased considerably according to the owner. A benefit I had not anticipated was parts availability. Any restoration relies on the availability of model specific pieces. The Gran Torino Sport had an optional laser stripe on the side with a fading color scheme that is very hard to recreate in a paint shop. The desirable option had been out of production for years. Since the movie Gran Torino, the demand is high enough for graphics companies to reproduce the laser stripe. Cars that may not have been restored to their full glory are back thanks to the power of the media. I love America.
I was eleven years old the first time I saw this car. My sister Charolotte was at college in Logan, Utah. Her boyfriend Dave had just returned from basic training with the national guard. He came to live at our house in Montana. He showed up at the house in this 1966 Chevy Malibu Convertible. I just found out (4 July 2012) this purchase was destined to be a good thing. The purchase was sealed with a Kiss. Dave’s mom, June Kiss, co-signed the loan for him to buy the car. I remember riding to Morony dam east of Great Falls. His friends had a swimming pool at their house. My younger sister Cori (5 years old then) has the same memory, as Dave let her steer the car on the dam road.
Dave and Charolotte eventually married. My dad lost a daughter, but I gained a new Chevy. Just kidding Dave, love ya. As their family grew the convertible just wasn’t practical. Run the heater all you want at -15 with that canvas top you are not warming up. They upgraded to an Olds Toronado and sold the car to Cassie, my next older sister.
Cassie also has children and lived in Montana, but is more a free spirit than Charolotte and carried a few extra blankets and coats on family trips. Cassie’s free spirit lifestyle led to me purchasing the car at a deeply discounted price ($125). The catch was I had to retrieve it from a ditch before the county hauled it away. No problem, I was an old hand at getting cars out of ditches. I had put plenty of them in the ditch on my own account.
A friend, Tom, and I took my dads truck to the crash site. We soon had all 4 wheels of the Chevelle on the blacktop. After an adventurous drive home, Tom drove the truck, we disassembled the brakes and put them back together. Driving was much more comfortable with all wheels slowing at the same rate. Sure the body now had quite a few dents, dings and scrapes but I got it on the road same day I brought it home. Some guys might have given it a thorough inspection, but I had an A&W Root Beer calling my name.
A few months after buying the car the transmission started what my mom called “acting up”. It was slipping if you drove very long, but was OK for short trips. the OK trips got shorter and shorter. Finally the car would not go at all. I bought another car to drive while I “fix up” the Chevelle. I still own that Mustang.
After buying the Mustang, the Chevelle sat behind my parents house until I also trashed the Mustang transmission. I bought a parts car 67 Fairlane. After putting the transmission in the Mustang I traded the Fairlane for a powerglide to put in the Chevelle. While installing the Chevelle transmission I found that the trip through the ditch had crushed the transmission coolant lines. I had driven the car the entire time I owned it without the transmission ever being cooled. Those powerglide transmissions are tough. Having decided to attend college I tried to sell the Chevelle for college money. My mother bought it from me ($600). I just realized after all these years that she also gave me the $125 to buy it in the first place. I am a putz. My dad didn’t want that junker in front of his house, so it went in the back yard to serve as a parts car for local thieves.
After about 8 years in the back yard my mom begged Dennis Woolsey to rescue the convertible. Having been on an automotive rescue mission his entire life (427-57 Chevy, 55 Nomad, Buick Riviera, 55 Chevy Gasser), he brought a trailer and took it to his home in Salt Lake City. Dennis spent many years and a few parts cars completing the restoration. Shortly after completing the Chevelle project he decided to retire and move to smaller house. Having a needs a garage always, occasional driver did not fit that plan. He offered to sell Dave and Charolotte the car, but they had just purchased a Model A from a neighbor so they didn’t have room for it.
At the same time I was retiring early from my full time job. My wife and I had not been getting along. I was living in a friends camp trailer on a piece of property Charolotte owns. On a phone call to see how I was doing she mentioned Dennis was looking to sell the old car. Immediately I called to get a price. Being the more practical type, he suggested it might not be the best thing to do with my life up in the air and all. Oddly enough my wife gave me the same response. I indicated if that is what it hinged on the marriage was probably over anyway. The next day I called Dennis, got a number, wrote him a check, mailed it. He called a few days later “Maybe I should send this check back, I don’t know.” I said, ” Well I am already being charged interest on the loan you better stick that thing in the bank.” I went to Salt Lake City a couple months later and picked up the car. I have driven it almost five thousand miles since 2008 and don’t have a bit of regret over the purchase. My grandson, Aiden, loves going for A&W Root Beer with the top down. The circle of life goes ’round.
Note on the picture above you can see the 68 GT/CS Mustang I bought on 2 July 1976, 2007 Prius (recently sold), 1990 Chevy K3500.
A young college student in Great Falls, he drove 3 days straight to get to a Jack Roush autograph event in Indianapolis then back in time for Blast from the Past. Erik I am checking the relationship with my genealogy team. We must be related.
This is his second Roush Mustang. A girlfriend “borrowed” his first one without his knowledge. When he called to report it missing the GFPD said it was not missing. They had a reported incident with his car involved. He was allowed to retrieve his personal effects. It now rests in a boneyard in Helena.
He has done most of the modifications to the car. Supercharging the engine was left to a shop. The 100mph tape supplied with the side scoops is not rated for 140mph, note lack of side scoops.