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The Road More Traveled

As far as birthdays go, I'm 40 years old and my racecar is 41. It's a '64 Plymouth Savoy 6-passenger station wagon that runs mid-10 second quarter miles in NHRA Stock Eliminator trim. It runs A, B, or C/SA with a 426 Max Wedge, depending on how much it weighs but it's a natural "B" car. Every single time I go to the track and get behind the wheel to make a pass, or even roll the car off the trailer, it's one of the most exciting things that's ever happened to me.

I am not exaggerating! Getting married, the birth of my children, driving a 10-second stock Mopar, 1-2-3!

The first Mopar that I ever worked on was originally assembled when I was three. I remember lusting after, and then demanding my first model kit, the '70 "Stardust" 'Cuda when I was five. I have no memory of building it but I sure do remember that picture on the box. (No, I don't still have it and no, I'm not looking for it on eBay).

If I didn't look just like my brother my parents would have thought I was switched with someone else's baby at the hospital since no one in my family over the age of five has much interest in anything automotive, never mind a specific brand (although my parents did take their honeymoon in a '55 Plymouth 2-door wagon. Word has it that my dad beat on it with a 2X4 because the tailgate wouldn't open. Maybe the apple really doesn't fall that far from the tree!)

I've always been crazy for cars but unlike most of the other kids playing with toy cars in the sand box, I've been lucky enough to fashion some sort or livelihood out of it. My road of self-employment has led me through some bleak neighborhoods, financially speaking, but I've always been able to keep my Mopar flame burning strong.

When I moved to Oakland, CA, from Seattle in '86 I was driving a battered '68 Plymouth Satellite 2-door hard top with a 318 2 bbl that I'd bought for $150. I lived like a king out of that thing for a couple of weeks until I finally scored an apartment without wheels on it. Man, I hope that car is still alive somewhere.

Around the same time, my grandmother gave me some money and I shocked my family by dropping $2000 on a '69 Dodge Super Bee that will be a legend in my own mind until the day I die. After a couple of years of fun I sold it for $2000 for one or two of the usual reasons.

When I moved back to Seattle in '90, I scored a T- boned '65 Plymouth Valiant wagon for $20, changed the oil, tuned it up, and drove back down to Oakland to pick up a load of my future wife's stuff. Aside from consuming a gallon of oil for every tank of gas, the car performed flawlessly, and the Wagons of Steel legend was born.

My next wagon was "The Mighty Josephine", a '72 Chrysler Town & Country that I scored for $300. It had been jumped and partied in by a couple of generations of teenagers before settling into a temporary career shuttling goats. Needless to say, it was bent, the seats were trashed and it smelled like a petting zoo. The old 400 2bbl was tired and the transmission was close to death. My wife was less than impressed, but I saw the potential. I swapped in a good seat, a 440 and a freshened up transmission from a donor Imperial.

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