Telltale Skirts

rustfather

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Telltale Skirts
« on: May 30, 2017, 10:18:11 PM »
Telltale Skirts


by Domenic Tringali


At twelve years old, I started buying every hot rod or custom magazine I could get my hands on. I was destined to grow up being a motor head or whatever your personal term for a lover of cars might be. My father was one and my older brother was falling right in step, as well. Again, it was my destiny. I would have felt the same way regardless of family, though. I just always loved cars!

My brother started building hot rods at age 15 in our back yard and we have both made a lifetime of building and playing with old iron. It was in the old man’s DNA and he passed those strong genes to us. He was also in the plumbing business and by age 16, I was working in his shop, so I have always had the mindset of how to make things fit and work.

All of my friends were car guys, too, and so I was always around cars and people were always bringing me cars. One such car is the theme of this story. It started out with a blaring horn coming through my bedroom window one morning from the driveway, waking me from a deep slumber and dreams of bare metal, welders, paint and upholstery. Isn’t that what everyone dreams about?

The horn was coming from a 1955 Chevrolet that had been given to a friend by his brother’s widow. They had driven for two days from Texas to New England and needed money more than they needed the car. He offered it to me for $500. The car was in bad shape. There was no interior, other than the driver’s seat and the only paint on the car was a gray primer. The three speed floor shifter needed bushings, but the 265cid V8 purred like a kitten. It ran like a brand new car. I gave him cash.

My brother, Rich, and I got right to it and by the end of two months we had the car as straight as an arrow and painted a rich light blue. The interior was completely custom with custom seats and both the headliner and rug done in a rich blue fur. The Moon steering wheel and chrome record player completed the interior.

Designed to be a period piece, we had installed ’59 Caddy taillights, a tube grill, and wide whites, with spinner hub caps. The door handles were shaved and the hood emblem and all side chrome were gone. It was lowered in the rear and the crowning touch was the addition of ’55 Ford fender skirts. There was certainly none other like it… a one of a kind car.

I would have kept it forever, but when our dad wanted to put a deck on his house shortly after it was completed the contractor said he didn’t want money, which dad didn’t have anyway, he wanted the ’55. I hated to get rid of it so soon after it was finished. It was just the way I wanted it and my brother and I had both put our hearts and souls into it, but at the moment we decided it was just a car and dad needed a deck. So, we said OK. In reality, he got the better of the deal. The deck bid was $5,000 and the car was worth at least $8,000. Oh well, we’d rather build cars than decks, so we said good bye to the Chev, thinking we’d never see it again. It broke my heart and I missed it more as every day passed.

As it turned out, the contractor moved next door, but the car was nowhere to be seen. He had sold it a guy named Sonny, who we found out, had sold it to someone else. The car would up in New Jersey and then sold again to a guy in New York. She was being passed around like a cheap whore. My poor baby! I lost track of her after that and once again, believed I’d seen the last of her.

As time went by, that car kept tugging at my heart strings but I kept pushing her to the back of my mind. I really had resolved to quit thinking of her when in 2002, my brother and I were at the New England Summer Nationals walking and watching all of the cars go by when a very familiar baby blue ’55 Chevy rolls up. I about fell over. I stepped in front of the car, forcing the driver to stop. I went to the window and told the guy that it was my car. We had built it “back in the day” and it was exactly as we had done it.

The guy was insistent that I was wrong. The car had been built back in the 60s and I would have just been a little kid, going on and on with a story that someone had fabricated and he had embraced as reality. I told him he was either lying or very misinformed, but I could prove him wrong right then and there. He thought I was full of **** and took my challenge, adding that he’d give me $100 if I could prove him wrong and convince him. I was right.
When we built the car, the only way we could get the ’55 Ford fender skirts to fit was to weld two 5/16 brass closet bolts to the inside of each skirt. Then we drilled holes in the body and secured the skirts with wing nuts on the inside. So, that was going to be my proof. I told him in detail what we had done and let him know what I was going to do. He was hesitant, but agreed, and so I reach under the car and removed the skirt, showing him the bolt, the wing nuts and the holes in the fender. I told him that because we had built it to be a period piece, I considered him insistence that it had been built in the 60s a huge compliment.

He invited me to drive the car and to come over to his house for dinner so I could spend some time with her. After dinner, we spent about an hour talking with him, my brother and I reminiscing about old times. I suspected that her owner was not only being gracious, but had ulterior motives, as well. He figured he had a big fish on the line and wound up asking me if I’d like to have the car back. Well, of course I would, but what was the price? He casually threw out the $40,000 price tag and I about choked, knowing that I would never get her back in my lifetime. That was way too steep for my blood.

Resigning myself to saying goodbye, I bent and gave her a final kiss on the hood and walked away. I was so upset that I forgot to even take any pictures. Walking away, I didn’t look back and I’ve never seen her again, but I keep going back to the New England Summer Nationals every year.



rustfather

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Re: Telltale Skirts
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 10:42:38 PM »
photos in 1983

rustfather

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Re: Telltale Skirts
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 10:45:19 PM »
even made the book

TS3X65MPH

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  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Telltale Skirts
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 06:56:42 PM »
Cool Story.
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

rustfather

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Re: Telltale Skirts
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2017, 08:28:21 PM »
thank you