This story tells the history of the 37 Dodge which is also featured in my 5th book My Wasted Youth. All other stories in this book are based on the following summer when I am 18 years old and living on my own.
The more I worked on the 55 Chevy the more I realized that this vehicle is not a chick magnet being a 4 door sedan. Then there was a miracle with one of dad’s friends getting his wife pregnant. Yes having a pregnant wife is a good thing if you want to buy something from that person. Plus it takes 9 month to incubate the egg which will give me time to save up the funds needed to purchase a real chick magnet. After 9 months the egg was incubated in to a bouncy baby boy. When dad’s friend brought the new bundle of joy home I was there to greet the new family but I had an envelope that was not a baby card. The greeting card industry is made by women for women not men. As everyone got to enjoy the new baby, dad’s friend and I sat at the kitchen table with my envelope. Being 16 years old and trying to be cool like the Italian Mafia, I slid the envelope across the table so dad’s friend could see why the envelope was so bulky. After he had a quick look inside he slid it back to me and said no. That was OK, because I’m young and have lots of time on my hands. Then the fellow wife came in to the kitchen and asked what was in the envelope on the table between us. I think maybe she thought this was a big drug deal going down like on the TV Miami Vise. I reached out and turned the envelope so his wife could see why it was so bulky. Her eyes got big just like the smile on her face and told her husband to say yes which he immediately said no. That is OK, I took my envelope and pulled the $1000.00 in cash which was all $20.00 bills because the ATM machines only let you take $200.00 a day at a time. Now with the wad of cash in my hand I tossed one $20.00 bill at a time at my dad’s friend until he said yes.
Of course when there is about $800.00 all over the table and floor when he finally said yes that is when everyone that was in the living room is now in the kitchen. For some reason I even brought a receipt book so he could write the bill of sale for his 1937 Dodge Hot Rod truck that was in the shed on his acreage. Of course all the hot rod guys in Brandon Manitoba have been trying to buy the truck since it was rolled on the dangerous curves on the Trans-Canada Highway just out side of Alexander Manitoba. Now I was the proud owner of a wrecked truck with no motor or transmission but it still had status of being a legend in the hot rod world. Plus a very fast hot rod truck is a chick magnet when you cruise Dairy Queen to see and be seen. A 55 Chevy 4 door sedan is for when you are married with children and really don’t want to be seen.
Once I got the truck home it was an all winter job getting the truck stripped down and rebuilt with improvement since it has been 10 years since the truck was built as a hot rod in Cumberland Ontario in 1974. My dad had great knowledge on building hot rod motors but the only knowledge I had was by reading his hot rod magazines like I did with his Playboy Magazine too. To get a motor we found a 1970 Chevy Impala car that had the living daylights driven out of it. Dad said this was the prefect motor which he says just broken in. What I had read in his hot rod magazine is that we are starting with junk and need a new block bored out to over size piston and such. When I pointed this out to dad all he asked me for was my gold top credit card then we will build this motor according to the hot rod magazines. The motor took forever to build because I was working and dad would give me a list of parts to buy on pay day. Some of the parts were expensive and took a couple of paydays to pay for them. Plus dad assured me that any new parts we bolt on this worn out engine block can be put on the replacement engine when this one blows up. Once again my cup is always half full.
By the month of May the truck was ready for the road and first test drive. Dad and I leave the shop and I drive slowly and baby the motor because it is freshly put together. My dad is not impressed me because he has driven hot rod truck aggressively in the past and now I’m driving like it is grandma’s car. When we stop on the Trans-Canada Highway to check for leaks and see if anything was falling off because I forgot to tighten it, dad said he was going to drive. The 37 Dodge hot rod truck was geared for speeds not smoking the tires or laying rubber as it is called. Dad revs the engine up and slips the clutch as we pull back out on the highway. I’m in shock because that is a $1100.00 racing clutch that he is now smoking. He assured me that smoking it will break it in to what we want. My dad just wines the motor up to extremely high rpms then shifts the transmission. This has me worried because the engine being a fresh rebuild with blow up but dad assures me it will break the engine in the way it will be driven for the rest of it’s life. That is when I say I hope it last longer then 30 minutes.
The truck is running good as we head back to Alexander on the new 4 lane highway that was just complete. Of course my dad comes up close behind a fellow from Alexander heading home. Then he takes and drops the transmission one gear then punches the gas pedal to the floor which kicks in the 4 barrels on the carburetor. The 37 Dodge came to life and we were out and past the fellow who was doing the speed limit of 65mph as if the fellow was standing still. Once the truck was up to extremely high rpms, dad shifted it back in to high gear and truck just floated along at a high speed. But dad knew what this truck could do because he had driven it when it was first built 10 years ago. We arrived back home and all the locals came over to check out the truck and have a beer. The 3” side pipes with no mufflers let everyone know of our arrival.
My winter beater vehicle I drove while I rebuilt the 37 Dodge hot rod was a 1967 Chevy ½ ton truck with dual heaters to stay warm because the truck was a little rusty. The truck had the Chevy inline 6 cylinder motor with a 3 speed transmission but the cab was very roomy and you could fit a lot of friends in. Then to switch over to the 37 Dodge with such a small cab and lots of V8 Chevy small block horse power was a big difference. What I liked the most about the 37 Dodge was the way the 4 speed floor shifter was made to fit around the bucket seats to get 4th gear. When Naughty Natalie was riding with me and I shifted from 3rd to 4th gear I could always slide my hand up her leg to make her smile. The truck also had a few other unique design features that made the truck a legend in the hot rod world.
Once the truck had all the little bugs worked out and reliable, we made plans to attend a hot rod run where all the other hot rodders enjoy the weekend. Dad and mother would head to the hot rod run on Friday night with their RV which was a 1956 Ford school bus made in to a camper. I would arrive late Saturday night because I had to work at my job to make money. Everything worked out well and I arrived around 2am because it is a 2 hour drive from Alexander to the event. Instead of waking up dad and mother to sleep in the RV, I just climbed in the little plywood shack on back of the 37 Dodge because that is what it was made for 10 years ago. In the morning dad knocks on the plywood camper to tell me breakfast is ready. Of course Naughty Natalie replied back instead of me. That is when dad asked if I brought a friend and Naughty Natalie replied back to my dad “yes”. Once out the little camper it takes a bit to get straightened out because the truck box is short and I’m tall plus I have to wake up. But Naughty Natalie was always perky and happy so dad chats with her on how the trip was to the event traveling in the truck in the dark. That is when mother came out of the RV camper to announce that breakfast is ready. Seeing Naughty Natalie stopped her dead in her tracks and made her speechless. Of course dad has to ask mother if she remembers Joey’s little friend. Mother only reply was “yes” in a stern voice.
As we eat breakfast, the hot rodders gather around to see the 37 Dodge which has not been seen at any hot rod events since the roll over accident 6 years ago. Of course these guys are pointing out how things are different then when they last seen it. I point out to them I’m the new owner and it is my truck now so things will be different. This kind of pissed me off because off all the hard work I did over the winter to make it ready to attend these hot rod events that I grew up while attending with my parents. My dad asks if I want to do the beer run in the 37 Dodge just like the good old days I told him he can go because he has the memories, I was only 7 years old back then. Dad was all excited to drive the 37 Dodge on the beer run to town and he thought the other hot rodders would be eager to jump in to join him. But I guess I pissed them off when I told them I’m the new owner. At the last minute Naughty Natalie jumped in with my dad and off they went. Of course mother was pissed and you could see the fire in her eyes.
They seemed like they were gone forever for a quick run to town for beer and I was beginning to worry if the truck broke down. When they did return they stopped at the beer gardens to unload the beer. I walked over and dad had the biggest smile on his face because the truck preformed and handled like it did 10 years ago. As we unloaded the beer I warned dad that mother was mad and all he said that was normal for her. Naughty Natalie said everyone in town was looking at the truck as we drove around and your dad keep putting the truck in 4th gear. That is when I looked at dad and said it is a tight fit going in to forth. All he did was smile and smile some more. With the beer unloaded I took the 37 Dodge over for the safety inspection so I could drive in the driving events. I waited all my life to become of legal age to drive in the events after watching all these years.
The 2 fellows doing the inspection seem to be taking forever to look over my truck. Then when they came over and said it failed to meet the safety requirement of the driving events. When I pointed up to them that the truck was just inspected for a Manitoba Highway Safety which means I can drive on the highways. But you are saying I can not drive in your little event. Then both of them turned in to drill sergeants and were rude in pointing out why they failed my truck. Now if they had been polite and showed me why I might have understood. With that I told my dad we are out of here and left. My whole childhood was being around these events and then to show up with my own truck only to have them be so rude, I wanted no part of this. That was the last hot rod event I ever attended as a person or with my 37 Dodge truck.
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