Saturday, August 23, 2008

Baker City Memory Cruise

**Click Pictures for full size**
Baker City Memory Cruise, the 18th annual, kicked off this morning and considering the price of gasoline had a great turnout. I only shot a few pictures to keep the site from loading too slowly. What I did was to shoot a few representative shots and some friend's cars and some that had particular meaning to me. This year the cars were in pretty much a first come, first parked rather than the usual of being grouped by classes. Cars came from all over Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.

This '58 Chevy Impala is equipped with a tri-power 348 "W" head Chevy engine. It was a classic high torque engine, a performer for its time. The car is owned by a particular friend of mine. You may have seen the house I framed, sided, roofed and painted for him. There were shots on the site from that job, a three story house. The 58 is a convertible, a fairly rare vehicle, restored a couple years ago. This car was pretty beat up, a friend of mine that I stop to see pretty often runs the restoration shop that did the work and I had the chance to see it in various stages.
Terry has been involved in the Memory Cruise for quite a few years and the Baker City Thunder Mountain Car Club.

This is a "W" head 409 in a 62 Chevy Belaire 2 door. I lost the picture of the car itself, a beautiful black auto. This is a twin 4 barrel high performance 409, the motor which was made famous by the Beach Boys. I have a special place in my heart for the power plant and the cars, I owned a '63 Impala SS 409, purchased my senior year of high school. Probably a bad choice of transportation for a teenager. I, obviously, survived it but that is too much car for the judgement level associated with such as me.

This blue 38 Chevy came over from Twin Falls, Idaho. we were parked within a couple cars of each other and made friends. The car took an award for Best Interior.
My 62 Chevy II parked next to a bone stock 55 Chevy Pickup Cameo. The 62 went to the show because it is for sale, I don't particularly want to sell it and don't have to sell it, but it is silly to keep it in a garage and pay a full ride on insurance for a couple hundred miles per year. It is the kind of car that will sell easily - to the buyer that wants this particular car. You cannot tell from the outside that this car is a 62 Chevy II body and back seat and no more. It is so heavily and specially modified that it is buyer specific.

I parked the Chevy II and got to thinking that the 50 COE dump truck was only a few blocks away. It takes some kind of nerve to put something like this in a car show, but people don't see these things. I walked the 5 blocks, drove the thing to a car wash and knocked off 2 1/2 years dirt and entered it. I had no thought that it was a prize winner but I was quite sure it was the biggest thing in the show. I got two Poker Run cards for two entries, the one for the COE drew five 5s and won $100, how funny, that trumps plaques.

I'd never seen this particular paint treatment before. I thought it was one of the really unusual and cool things I'd seen. It is a very nice car, but it just struck me.

You have to really work to do this, you have to think and you have to plan and you have to work smart. This is an Olds 455 and Tornado front end in the back of the Corvair. The back seat is in stock position so what you're looking at is an absolute monster and an exercise in complete pointlessness. If you tune the engine to perform it wheelies so it needs to be run de-tuned.

It takes a certain kind of person to dedicate the time, energy, and resources to a thing like a car. These are not transportation, they are an extension of the owner and an expression of something not concrete made solid and substantial. Some of these beauties are driven regularly, the purple 78 Chevy PU next to my COE is driven regularly, frequently with a camper into the mountains - it won best 70s Truck. My wife drove the 62 Chevy II all year around, with studded snows on all 4 in the winter for almost 4 years while I used it for weekend fun at the drag strip. Most people use an auto to get around and that is the extent of their interest in them, something to get from here to there with as little hassle as possible. Maybe they'll watch other people's being used for racing or such, but in the end, just a vehicle.

When I first found the 62 in drastic condition I saw a possibly cool body with the potential to be much more than what Chevrolet dreamed possible in 1961. All it took was a lot of research, planning, innovation, and damn hard work to get to a car that they could have built if they'd had late 90s know how. It is fast, it handles, and it stops...and it produces power with out being unmanageable. There are 355 cubic inches producing 425 horse power and 400 pound feet of torque, power that in late 60s would have meant a shuddering shaking gas eating monster that would start once in awhile and only idle when it felt like it. Cars of the period packing that kind of power would stop pretty well, a couple times in a row, but the drums would begin to fade with heat and real pressure was required for hard stops. The suspension systems ranged from comfort sloppy to tank like rigidity and even that didn't assure quick and accurate response. Even the sports cars of the day couldn't handle with most newer cars to day.

It is monetarily more sensible to buy a few years old car than to build a thirty plus year old car that rectifies those short comings, but you would then have the same car anyone else could have. It would look like and sound like any other car. It would be just a car. Here's the deal, the things cost too much money to run and insure and generally keep in repair for it to be just a thing. If I must put put the effort into it, I want something back other than here to there. I want to know that I did this, that this fine piece of machinery is unique and special. That it is not only presentable, but strikingly attractive. Where ever it goes, it is seen and known as an expression of American ingenuity...and power.

There certainly is that bit. On the drag strip with racing tires the car goes from the line to the sixty foot mark in 1.74 seconds, 0 to 44 miles per hour - a head snapping affair. The tachometer goes from the pre-launch 1800 rpm to 6000 rpm in about 1 second, a very busy interval. Life is very interesting for a little over 12 seconds. If you don't get it, that's alright, you don't have to - but it is something, emphatically something.


Phil said...

Great pics and commentary, Chuck. In 1952, an older cousin introduced me to the world of hotrodding via Hot Rod Magazine. In 1956, I discovered sports cars; by 1960, I was into sports cars exclusively, and never looked back. Still, there's that nostalgia thing ....

Chuck Butcher said...

An MG TA won best sports car, it was beautiful. Lots of 'vettes of course.

jsg said...

I'll take that one. And that one. And all of those over there...

Oh well. "If I were a rich man," right?

Thanks for the short course in art appreciation.

Chuck Butcher said...

I certainly uderstand the "I'll take one..." Actually, I'm selling the 62 Chevy II.

Carl said...

Nice commentary Chuck !!! And also nice pics of our trucks side by side. We had alot of fun with the show !! See you there next year !!

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Elliott Broidy said...

What an awesome collection.

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