Riding With Friends is a new segment this week, detailing the more memorable rides owned by my friends and family. We begin with a 1962 Chevy Bel Air, owned in high school by my friend Justin. He liked the car, but WE found it highly entertaining.
Justin, Duane, and I were the Three Amigos. If you haven’t seen this brilliant film from 1986, I highly recommend it. Justin was the smart one, Duane was the pretty one, and I was the court jester. Yes, I’m generalizing. The three of us were all in the music program at our high school, so we hung out often, and cruised for chicks on many occasions. Sometimes we’d park next to the IHOP, facing the road, waiting for hot chicks to drive by. Sometimes we’d flash our lights, sometimes we’d honk. WOW WE WERE SO COOL. The IHOP parking lot afforded us easy access to the road, so we could rip out after the girls if they honked back. See? You Instagram and Snapchatters don’t know what you are missing.
I don’t recall exactly how Justin acquired the Bel Air, but I thought it was amazing. Justin reminds me a lot of Billy Joel, both in look and musical talent, and I know Billy would look cool cruising in the Bel Air.
Check Justin out at:
Justin and Duane were as into cars as any normal male would be, but I have never claimed to be normal. This car was 209.6” long, which isn’t that long when compared to a full size truck or hearse. It weighed more than three Volvos, which is to say it weighed more than most dump trucks. Given the 3.8L straight 6 engine producing 135 horsepower, acceleration was more of a suggestion rather than a tangible concept.
Justin initially spent a few weekends trying to bring its faded blue paint back to life, blistering his hands polishing with Turtle Wax rubbing compound. There is only so much that chemicals can do for faded paint, but it didn’t really matter. The car was great fun regardless of how it looked. Justin concentrated on keeping the behemoth centred between the lines, Duane would ride shotgun, and I would enjoy the expansive back seat. Duane and I would, at a moment’s notice, commence with rocking the car from side to side. The suspension was so worn out that the car would rotate wildly to and fro, very much like a big, very wet dog coming in from the rain. This would seem to annoy Justin, but bring gleeful amusement to Duane and I, all other drivers, and pedestrians alike. Oh, the strange looks we got.
There were no seatbelts, at least in the back seat, and the back seat was wide, had fantastic leg room, great roof height, and a very low transmission tunnel. This created the perfect environment for me to stand up (albeit bent over), and I would pace back and forth inside the car. While it was moving. On the road. Justin would yell for me to sit down, which I would eventually do after completing a few laps. Oh, the strange looks we got.
I envy Justin and Duane, as I believe they moved on from an obsession with cars early past high school. I however, am an unrepentant addict. I have grown so fond of the memory of the ’62 over the years that I recently purchased a 1963 Mercury Montery 4 door, in light baby blue. With a massive back seat. With faded paint. Just like Justin’s Bel Air.
It feels a little like home.
View From The North is written by Shawn T. Greek, located in the Great White North of Salmon Arm, BC. That’s in Canada, eh! “Silly” is my default setting.