Cars We Remember: Reader’s memories show love of cars and the collector hobby
Q: Hi, Greg, I’m writing from Kansas City, Missouri, and enjoy reading all the articles on collector cars. In one column, you mention a Yenko Camaro, a great collector car. I was looking for a car that would give me the “kick” my 1963 Corvette always did, and went to Bill Allen Chevrolet in Kansas City to see a yellow Yenko Camaro. There it stood with the hood up and four guys standing around while the guy behind the wheel was revving up the motor real high.
I remember stopping as I wanted to test drive the Yenko Camaro (this was in 1969) and I had to tell these guys to stop revving it so high or they would break the engine. One of the guys was a salesman, which even made the situation worse, so I told the dealer to write up the deal himself as that salesman didn’t deserve a commission for abusing that great muscle car.
Anyway, I bought the Camaro and then later sold it back to the same dealership for $3,000 more than I paid. Your comments on revving the engine are welcome, as I know you have experience with racecars and high performance.
Second, I really like the articles about those beautiful 1950s Pontiac and Oldsmobile dreamboats. The ragtop convertibles are some of my favorites, although the 1958 models were too boxy for me. Also, I had a friend who was hooked on Corvairs and owned five or six of them. He used to enter his Corvair in those parking lot style rally events but had trouble cornering as it would slow down and misfire. I told him to turn the carbs around, which effectively stopped the “side-to-side gas wash” which meant the gas was swishing around and not going into the motor in heavy cornering. I made him some adapters of ¾-inch aluminum, and we tried it on a 110 horsepower engine first and it worked. I made him five more over the years and my friend still has his 1964 Corvair.
Your column on the Cadillac Allante and that Northstar engine I remember. That car just never caught on and was similar to the Buick Reatta. I also like that you told a reader to enjoy his car and do what he wanted instead of following “original matching numbers” beliefs. You told a Chevelle owner who wanted to make his car an SS clone to go ahead and have fun in this hobby. This ”matching numbers” isn’t always the right thing to do, as if I wanted to make changes I did. To me, it’s about having fun.
In ending, I’ve owned many cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles and even boats in my day. Today, there are still opportunities to buy what you want at a price you are willing to pay. I once bought a 32 Ford Vicky for $21,400 and to make a long story short, I sold it for $35,000 not long after. A husband and wife saw my Vicky at an auction we were both at even though I didn’t have it for sale. I then turned around at the same auction and bought a ’40 Chevy Master Deluxe on a no reserve bid for $21,400. I still have that one in my garage.
I was raised on a farm and learned how to buy cattle at the area auctions, so that’s how I learned to bid and see a good deal. I also learned to break horses thanks to my grandpa, who was a Jicarilla Indian (pronounced Hic-a-re-a) and thanks to him, I was making $40 to $50 a week at age 12 breaking three or four horses a week. That was big money back then, and my mom put all of it in the bank and in 1953, I bought and paid cash for a brand new 1953 Chevy 210 4-door with a 235 straight six and powerglide transmission. I only had my farm permit in 1953, but it shows what you can do if you work hard.
Thanks for reading my real long letter, and I felt I just had to reply as your columns touch me with so many good memories. Respectfully, Dick Mansfield, Kansas City.
A: Dick, just as I wrote about “Mr. Rambler” a few weeks ago, I appreciate your comments and especially your 12-page handwritten letter. I wish I had the space for all of it, as you have experienced a lifelong love of cars and trucks and know what you are talking about.
As for revving up that Yenko Camaro to high RPMs sitting still, it is one of the worst things you can do to a high-performance engine, or any engine for that matter. Glad you called out those youngsters who were hurting a rare car.
Thanks much for your letter, and continued success to you.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now, BestRide.com and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader input at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.