Hot Rods & Cruisin’

For those who love “classics” and “hot rods” as much as we do…. kick back, turn on some cruisin music and enjoy the ride…. Classic cars take me back to the day (1970’s) when our father would load us in the family car and take my brothers and I to the drags at “PIR” where we would smell the fresh scent of burning tires, alcohol and top fuel.

Seems like yesterday when “Top Fuel” dragsters and “Funny Cars” would race the 1/4 mile at speeds up to 240 mph. We chose our favorite race car drivers like “Don Garlits” and “Cha Cha” Muldowney, Don the “Snake” Perdome and others like “240 Gordie” Bonin, and “Jungle Jim”. If these names ring a bell and you would like to step back in time, visit http://wediditforlove.com/2007-Fontana.html for “nastalgia” at its best!

I recall shaking whenever we were close to the “blown” cars where 1,000+ hp engines would shake the ground and send flames out the headers. Growing up the baby of the family, I think back to my brothers building, cruising and racing hot rods like Chris’s first Road Runner, then Chevelle with a 454 that would lay rubber all the way down the street or my brother Rick’s old Road Runner with a 383 blazing “hemi” orange with two black racing stripes. Maybe it was my grandparents old red 69′ SS Chevelle two door….. I don’t know???? Might have been my Uncle Mike’s 67′ GT 350 Mustang or was it Chris’s 68′ black Charger with a tunnel ram and dual carbs???? Whatever it was, I always wanted a classic hot rod of my own. Since our parents had to deal with some hot rod issues, they decided “Troy” could not have a car with a V8 while living at home so…. since I loved to fish and hunt, my first vehicles were 4 cylinder pick up trucks like my Ford Courier, Datsun King Cab, Toyota SR5, etc…. ended up they worked well for hauling tackle and dirt bikes.

Once in my late thirties our family had the opportunity to purchase a 68′ Chevelle with a “blown” 350. Something sparked my spirit so we purchased the car from a client in Bend. Something about the glossy “red” Chevelle like my grandparents use to own just grabbed me…

My first "Classic"

Blown 350

When I drove the car home I’ll admit I was a little nervous of the hp under the hood….. after all, I didn’t know what to expect??? Of course once the car was home I started thinking of all the things I could do to “personalize” it since I wanted to make it my own! This is when the “hobby” started and I began to build a passion for classic hot rods.

We started off placing a “YENKO SC” graphics kit on the car making it a “clone” from 1969 called a “COPO” (central office production order) YENKO SC 427 Chevelle. This was a very rare edition Chevelle that had an incredible look with performance. Next… we changed over the shifter from the original hoop design to a B&M speed shifter with a lock out feature. Line lock was installed to lock up the front wheels for “burnouts” at the strip. The car went in and had a custom sound system installed for shows and cruisin. We installed new glass and trim on the car along with new tires to change the stance. We lowered the car and spent some time adding modifications to the motor and suspension. Once we were finished the car looked great and drove like a touring car that would plant your head in the seat if you had the “guts” to “stomp” the throttle.

COPO Yenko SC Clone Look

"COPO" Yenko SC Clone

New "383 Blown Stroker"

"Rebuilt 383 Blown Stroker"

Once finished, the car was entered in the Central Oregon Rod & Custom Show held at Deschutes County Fair & Expo. My daughter and I set the display up where the car received the “Might Muscle Car” award and placed 2nd in the “Classic Pro Street” division. Robyn and I ended up spending lots of quality time together waxing and polishing for the final judging.

Display

"Blown" 383 Stroker

Thanks Robyn and family for all your help and support to win at our “first” show. The next year came and we were fortunate to have my brother Rick from Portland along with his wife Cindy bring their 68′ Blown Camaro to be on display. Rick had spent a lot of time on a Camaro he purchased in Idaho the year before we got our Chevelle. Rick too had the passion for the hobby and to “personalize” his car. I remember when Rick first purchased the “beast” as the car had still been in the early stages of conversion from drag racing to “Pro Street”. Rick spent lots of time cleaning, polishing, and detailing as well as adding modifications to help resurrect the “blown 454”. Today the car is beautiful and we have been able to enjoy lots of use with the “Mighty Muscle” bearing two black stripes!

Rick & Cindy

Rick and Cindy

Over the past couple years, Rick & Cindy have been able to attend multiple cruises and participate in the Portland car show earning mutiple awards.

67' on display in Portland

Portland Show

"Mighty Muscle"

While enjoying the past few years cruisin, drag racing and attending car shows, we felt it was time to make a trip to “Kool April Nites” where other car enthusiasts gather for what proved to be one of the best cruise -in’s on the west coast! We polished the cars and loaded them in the trailer for the seven hour drive to Redding, Ca.. Once we arrived, the weather was perfect and we were just in time to make it to the last cruise in at Gene’s Drive In where cruisin all began!

Unloading

Redding, Ca. Unload

Gene's Cruis In

"Gene's" Cruise In

"Gassers"

"Gassers"

The cruise in ended up so crowded the police had to block off the streets for traffic control. We had tons of fun and observed classics and hot rods ….. thanks Gene!!!! Friday night in Redding is usually the famous west coast cruise in at “Kool April Nites” with the car show on Saturday. Rick & I headed to the route so we could get in before police shut it down. Once we arrived, there were cars five lanes wide as far as we could see…. great event for hot rod enthusiasts!

Staging for the Cruise

"Kool April Nites"

A fello "Blown" Brother

Vette Buddies

Vette Buddies

Once Rick and I were able to get some food we gathered on the street to watch the thousands of cars cruise the designated four mile loop till dark. We were amazed how many different types of classics and hot rods there were from all parts of the country.

Kool Willys

"Kool Willys"

What's This???

What's This???

For those wanting to see more pictures of the cruise visit http://www.koolaprilnites.com/photos/ . I’m sure you will find cars that remind you of the good ol’ days… enjoy! Saturday finally arrived so we headed to the Expo early and set up our cars in a good spot for the show. The weather turned out great with more people than we anticipated. Great event for those who love classic car shows and want to step back in time and take a walk down memory lane.

Setting Up The Camaro

Final Touches

 

Chevelle on Display

Show under Way.....

Check out the professional displays inside the Expo…more $$$ than we want to spend.

Sweet.....

"WOW"

After a long day at the show walking around and remembering yesteryear, we decided to head to the Saturday night drags where it all started in northern Ca. – what a weekend….. first, a great cruise in at Gene’s, then what turned out to be an incredible cruise downtown on Friday night, then perfect weather for the massive car show and now time to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned quarter mile showdowns.

Arriving at the Strip

Redding Drag Strip

Can you say under 10 sec.????

Can you say under 10 sec.????

Injection.... out of Control!

Hmm.... looks like Rick's 67'????

Low 8's Charger

Low 8 sec. Charger

Thanks for walking back through time and remembering the classics with us. Stay tuned for more classic stories to be told while folks “Pursue The Outdoors” and share online. Thank you family for taking the time to enjoy one of Dad’s crazy hobbies!

About the Author

Troy Neimann

Troy Neimann

Troy Neimann lives in Central Oregon with his wife of 19 years and their three children. You can find Troy with his family, friends and partners out most weekends enjoying the Lord's creation "Pursuing The Outdoors".