Interviews

The Curves of the 50s

At the peak of a new decade, the 1950s birthed a new generation that would carry on a legacy for years to come. The Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe first rolled off the line in 1941, and was manufactured through 1952. The exterior smooth curves and original chrome and stainless trim, quickly made it a staple of its time.

We got to sit down with Ashley to photograph and talk about her 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe Fastback. She got into cars young. Her dad was a mechanic when she was growing up and he had a 1973 Ford Ranchero that she worked on with him frequently. She can remember bleeding the breaks when she was seven, barely old enough to have the strength to push down on the pedal.

Ashley started her hunt for her own classic vehicle about 2 years ago. After a long time of searching, the perfect one popped up in August of 2021. She was originally looking for a Ford Shoebox, but gained interest in the Chevy Fleetlines. She drove out from Hampstead, NH to Troy, New York to go look at one She decided that this was the one for her and brought it home. Once it was back in her territory, she looked at it more closely. It needed a lot of body work. The body mounts were gone, the floor pans had holes and the inner rockers were “non-existent.” She got to work and brought this classic vehicle back to some of its former glory. Ashley was able to enjoy it for a little bit of the end of the season last year. Over the winter, the bondo on the hood showed itself as the weather changed. They stripped the hood and repainted it. While stripping it, they discovered five bullet holes. Ashley likes to think it may have been a bootleggers car.

Her Fleetline is still a work in progress. There is still a lot to be done; the interior, the exterior, and all the wiring. It is kept in storage over the winter. Her old boss at one of her mechanic jobs allows her to rent one of their lifts for a day to be able to work on it. Otherwise, she is out in her driveway doing it old school. With the car being dropped two inches, driveway works proves to be a challenge.

This is Ashley’s first baby, her first project car. She has always loved the era of cars between the late 40s up to the early 60s. The classics from the 50s is where her heart lies. Those smooth lines, body styles and curves that first rolled off the line in 1941 is what eventually brought Ashley to love it now as it once was back in its prime.

We hope to circle back with Ashley as she continues to work on her classic, and see the final result.

Until next time.

Motor on.

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Driving

Mercedes Day at Larz Anderson Auto Museum

This summer has brought a lot of great opportunities for me to write about my experiences, and I could not be any more grateful for it. Sunday September 11th, Larz Anderson Auto Museum held Mercedes Day. An onslaught of beautiful Mercedes and their owners flocked the grounds of the estate. These cars are a testament to the craftsmanship and durability that comes with the name, Mercedes.

This event was a great opportunity to step back, observe and listen. No matter the vehicle on spotlight, it’s good to see people come together and talk about something that they love and enjoy. I found a spot to park myself and took a few photos of the cars rolling in. Here are some of my favorites.

My good friend Matt brought their family Mercedes to the show. For Matt, this car was more than just a car. It belonged to his father who passed away last year. His father bought it in 1995, when the car was 10 years old. His mother did not have any romantic attachment to it and just wanted it gone. Matt’s sister did not want it gone and kept telling Matt that she thinks their father is talking to them because she kept seeing them out and about.

Grief is a funny thing. We hold on tight to those memories of those gone before us. For some, getting rid of reminders of those loved ones is one way to help the grieving process. Matt’s mother was certain that she wanted to sell the Mercedes. They found someone down in Cape Cod who was interested and Matt agreed to take it down to them. Matt’s mother was nervous about the car braking down and offered to follow him down. Matt told her to just drive down with him.

On the way down to the Cape, she said that the car drove really nice and asked if the car had a radio. Matt’s dad had nothing but the best, of course it had a radio. He turned it on and it was her favorite song, “Somewhere Out There.” His mother got emotional as they continued on there way.

As they pulled up to the dealership, the interested party was up front and honest. He stated that the amount of money that he would offer would not be life changing. He somewhat convinced her to keep the car, stating to just let her kids and grand kids enjoy it. On their way back home, Matt turned the radio on once again and “Celebrate Good Times” started to play. Matt and his mother both agreed that his father was there in the car with them, telling them to keep the car. Since that day, they have decided to keep the car, and it will remain in the family forever.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Michel, another Mercedes owner in attendance of Mercedes Day at Larz Anderson. Michel has not one, but two Mercedes, one is a 1987 190E 2.3-16 and the other is a 1985 190E 2.3-16. The 85′ is a blue-black color and the 87′ is a smoke silver. Michel’s love for this model started way back when he used to play Gran Turismo 3. For those unfamiliar with the video game, it is a racing simulator. In order to race in the different cups and on the tracks, you have to earn your “licenses.” One of the licenses that were required had Michel in 190E 2.5-16. He had to attempt the specific license quite a few times. The game is as realistic as possible. Michel fell in love with how the car handle. He did some research on the car just to learn more about it.

A week later, his brother called him while at a local used auto parts shop. The shop frequently received rare car donations. Michel’s brother said he was standing in front of a 2.3-16. When they asked about it they were told that someone had already put a deposit down on it. The parts shop also said that the Mercedes didn’t run and it needed a new motor. They were told to wait another week to see if the other interested party actually came to pick it up. The other party never showed, so Michel, his brother and father grabbed a jumper pack and went down to pick up the car. They completed the needed paperwork, paid for the car, and then jump-packed the car. To the shops dismay, it started right up and turned out to not need a new engine. And so the love affair began.

Michel drove the car for a few years, and then sold it to someone in Montreal. After a couple of weeks, Michel and his brother were out driving when they stumbled across another 2.3-16 sitting in a driveway in Saugus, MA. Michel knocked on the door, and a little boy and his father answered the door. The father said it was his brother’s car. He got the owner’s number and patiently waited for his chance. He saved the number under the model of the car. He called a few times a week, starting all the way back in 2010. As time went on, he called less and less. He continued to call or would drive by occasionally to see if the car was still there.

One day when he drove by he did not see the car parked in the driveway. But it was just blocked by a another car, a Hummer, that the owner had purchased. Fast forward to 2021, Michel’s calls and texts had gone unanswered, but still he persisted. One day he decided to take another ride out to Saugus, MA to see if he could persuade the owner. By then, the car had been sitting for more than ten years. It had sunk into the black top and the paint was faded. But he still wanted the car. He rang the doorbell, and a much older boy answered the door. It was the same little boy who had answered the door 10 years ago. He remembered Michel and said that he would pass the interest along to his uncle. Michel gave him every single number he could possible be associated with so that he would not miss the call.

The call finally came. The owner of the Mercedes called and Michel answered the phone to laughter. The current owner, Sonny, was amused, and impressed, by Michel’s patience and persistence over the ten year span. Sonny stated he was moving away, and told Michel he would sell him the car. They agreed on a selling price, and Michel and his father went down the next day with the cash in hand. They took it home, put it up on a lift and it surprisingly had no rust, even after sitting for so long. The car is currently being repainted. So we got a chance to photograph his other 1987 Smoke Silver Mercedes.

To some of us, a car is not just a car. It is an extension of ourselves. Thank you Matt and Michel for sharing your stories.

Until next time. Motor on.

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Car Shows

Cruising Downtown 2022

As we all wind down from the long weekend, there is a lot to reflect on and be grateful for. Some of us take vacations, spend time with loved ones or spend time alone. And some of us spend out time doing something that we love. Labor Day Weekend brings with it Cruising Downtown in Manchester, NH. One of my favorite events of the year. The Manchester Rotary Club closes down Elm St., and many of the adjacent side streets so that thousands of car enthusiasts can enjoy a day of beautiful vehicles. My morning starts at 4AM with my alarm clock. Although it is early, I am excited to get out of bed and start my day. My 1962 Morris Mini-Minor was ready for her final event of the season before her seats would make their way down to CT to a friend’s shop to be reupholstered.

Before the actual event starts, show participant gather in the parking lot of the Brady Sullivan building on Elm St. I arrived at the lot at 5AM. The sky was still black and the vehicles and their owners were still waking up.

Rotary club volunteers are busy getting last minute registrations ready and handing out preregistered envelopes. People converse with each other, happy to see their friends. For some, they only get to see these people a couple times a year during car show season. The people are on of the main tings that I look forward to when I attend this event. With everyone’s busy day to day lives, it is good to come together and be able to enjoy a common interest.

As 7:15AM rolls around, everyone starts their engines to cruise together to Elm St and find their spots for the day. My Friend Abby and her 1078 Volkswagen Bus and 1969 Volkswagen Beetle are already parked and patiently awaiting the cars to cruise downtown.

Once parked, my favorite thing to do is watch and photograph them as they all roll through. One after another, the registrants for the 2022 show found their spots for the day and got out to wander the street to take in the sites. By 10AM, the streets are filled with spectators. They speak with owners of their favorite vehicles about their builds and indulge in some fair food. Several of my friends were set up along Elm St. Either with their vehicle, or with their business as a vendor. It’s worth noting that locals find it odd walking down the middle of Elm St. It’s almost like that just for the day you are transported into a different world. Here are a couple shots of what I missed coming in.

This even is always my favorite one of the year. It is good to see people that I don’t normally se and enjoy a day of cars.

Until next time. Motor on!

You can purchase photos from this event to support me on my adventures at the link below!

https://maelynnhill.smugmug.com/

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