May 2015


When I was a boy I always wanted to build a matt black 1955 2 door Chevy with a big block.  I wasn’t like every other kid, I didn’t want a Z-28 Camaro or a 1969 fast back Mustang.  Everyone has one of those.  I wanted something that would turn heads that no one else had.  The older I got the more I wanted something I could drive every day and truly enjoy.

When I turned 15 my father and I found this ’56 Bel Air in Clyde, Texas  and I fell in love.  Betsy (my black and white 1956 Bel Air) was the reality of all my dreams as a kid.  For the next 6 months I got her ready.  Fixing all kinds of electrical issues and making her street legal.  We installed seat belts, an alpine stereo system, headers, a straight exhaust with silencers, and wheels.  At first glance she looks original but she’s quite the sleeper.  'Betsy' will do zero to 60 in eight seconds flat.  When Betsy hits 70 mph the front end will shake lightly, at 85 mph the font end will shake and go from side to side, at 100 mph the engine drops and the front end picks up to where you can no longer see the road, and at 135 Betsy taps out.  This has only been done once and was by far the scariest 3 minutes of my life!  Betsy is my daily driver and you can see her every week day in my high school parking lot beside my girlfriend’s ‘63 Ford Falcon.  As my daily driver, Betsy gets driven like she did back in 1956 through rain, shine, snow, or ice.  Every day is a new adventure with Betsy, often times she is driven with something half fixed or hanging apart under the dash, but by every weekend with the help of my girlfriend, my father, or my friends another project gets finished.

My car attracts a lot of attention everywhere I go, and it’s a common topic between the teachers and the students at Ryan High school.  I was worried that she would be a target for students to attack in the parking lot, but to my surprise there were more gear heads and car lovers than one would think.  I have several friends who are major gear heads and absolutely love ‘American Muscle’, and then you have the tune up kids who love imports, the drag racing kids, and the mudding kids.  But they are gear heads all the same who appreciate cars just like myself.  Many of the kids in my high school are like this but the cold hard fact of why you see so few classic cars is because they are more expensive to maintain, upgrade, and pay for gas.  But there’s  my friend Lauren at age 17 who is building her 1969 Mustang.  My girlfriend Audrey drives ‘Henry’, her 1963 Falcon to school every day (she got Henry at age 15).  One of my shop buddies is currently working on a 1969 Nova to build for college and he’s 18.  There are tons more at my school just like them who dream to build, it’s an appreciation that you can’t teach.  I plan on building and restoring other cars of all makes in the future, but no car will ever be as special to me as Betsy.  That’s why a few months ago I set off looking for my father’s first car, a 1973 Ford Mustang with a 351 Cleveland for power.

You can give a man the car of his dreams with everything he can’t afford and a blower. But the simple truth is he will take a rusty old Pinto full of holes with a smile on his face and a tear in his eye, because a man’s first car will always have a special place in his heart.

Thanks, Bobby Wallace