We recently had the idea of mounting a classic car on our wall at Auto One Palladini. We wanted something with fins, chrome, sweeping lines and classic appeal. We also wanted something that looked like it had been around the block a couple of times. I took it upon myself to search the local classifieds for such a beast. In my searching I found a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker 4 door Hardtop that had already been cut down the passenger side and was previously mounted in a bar. The perfect car had been found and the necessary plastic surgery had already been performed. Having been previously mounted in a bar I could only imagine the charm that oozed from the graceful lines of Chryslers full-sized family hauler from an era where plastic didn’t exist. Just one more issue to resolve. Can I buy it? I called the seller who had a great southern drawl. “YESSIR SHES STILL FER SALE AND ‘ROWND BACK OF THE SHED.
I should have checked the location of the ad before I replied. West Virginia is where the sliver of a Chrysler was located. I think everyone has at one time or another seen the movie deliverance and been petrified about winding up in an area like that. I am a different sort of city slicker. I grew up going to North Carolina in the summers, Virginia and have been to New Orleans several times. I am well trained in the ways of southern country hospitality. I explained that I was calling all the way from Canada!” and that I would bring a van to come pick up the parts Ray or “Huleio” as he was known in the town said he would hold the car for me and take me for my word that I would pick it up in a week’s time. I told him that he was too kind and would be rewarded with real maple syrup. A cliché I know but, he seemed really excited to try some.
Any car fan will agree that sometimes getting out on the open road and going for an extended drive is a much needed change. There is something quite soothing about driving on rural highways at your own pace while appreciating Zeppelin 1 on the radio. The wide open country and fresh country air are a welcome change to the rigors of hectic city living, and the agony that is commuting. Any classic car fan will appreciate gambling time, money, pride and safety to travel to some back-wood property in the middle of nowhere to visit only the finest procurer of classic Chrysler passenger sides in mid-America. I have a co-worker who is like myself a car guy and generally shares the same music interests as me. He is also an apprentice mechanic (if we break down in the woods he can save me). I had found my partner in crime.
We left at 5:30 in the morning with the following: passports, some water, A permission slip from Auto One Palladini, money to pay Huleio, Maple Syrup and the entire Led Zeppelin discography. We made great time through Ontario and New York State. Pennsylvania is where you start to get into the foothills of the mountain ranges the territory is breathtaking. Long hills up are rewarded with beautiful sweeping vistas of not-quite-snow-covered farm land and meadows. The valleys take you into densely wooded areas. West Virginia is more the same as Pennsylvania but with no snow. The exposed golden brown hills and valleys reminded me of a fall wheat harvest on the prairies. You cannot travel as quickly through West Virginia and Pennsylvania because the blind corners and hills slow you down and the scenery is amazing.
To get to Huleio’s house you have to first travel a long winding road with downed tree branches resting on power lines and many rusted out cars that seemed to have been left where they were at the exact moment they decided to stop running. If this is not a sign of a laid back community, I don’t know what is. As if out of a movie, Hulios house is located on a narrow dirt road up a hill in a treed area. Based on his collection I would wager that Huleio loves both vehicles and dogs. He seemed to have many of each. Of note: 1984 ford F-150 with 500,000 (!) miles, a ford bronco from the Regan era, a chocolate coloured Great Dane, 1961 Dodge Phoenix, Alaskan Malamute, 1982 Cadillac hearse (license plate was CADI AVR) and a dachshund. There were more cars, trucks, dogs and motorcycles but I was in sensory overload as it was so I focused on the task at hand. Huleio explained how a famous quarterback had owned the bar where the car was and when the bar was sold to be made into a mini-mall he went in and “liberated” the Chrysler. He was also telling me about how he went to Toronto in the early 1990s with his wife in his Ford Bronco to see “that phantom of the Opera Play”. He didn’t ask me if I knew “that guy Doug” from Canada, nor did he ask if we live in igloos.
We loaded the one sixth of a car in the back of the van and tied everything down while casually talking about weather trends, Canadian tobacco, how Huleio had once tried to make moonshine but couldn’t “quite get it right”, cars, dogs and Huleio’s bad back….. Then Huleio seemed to remember he had something else for us…. He went into the shed and brought out a bottle in a paper bag….. moonshine?….. MOONSHINE! Huleio told us that it was a gift for us and we were welcome to take it back to Canada if we thought we could get it across the border.
I am a man of strict morals. One does not simply say “no thanks” to free liquor. Especially if it is moonshine, something that you just don’t get offered every day. I reasoned that a Customs officer would be sympathetic towards my situation too. I also should mention felt like Bo Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard for a fleeting second. I had to get the moonshine to Auto One Palladini. Then I remembered that instead of the General Lee we had a Ford Econoline.
We looked pretty funny driving back to Canada that afternoon. Anyone who could see into the back of our van would see the passenger side of a 1960 Chrysler in the back window. Looking in the front windows you could see what looked to be a metal divider between the passenger and driver. This was actually the front passenger door and window from the Chrysler sticking up 4 feet. We got to the Canadian border sometime around Zeppelin live in new York (we had long since exhausted all studio albums). The customs officer took our passports and asked a couple of questions about why we were in the USA prior to her actually looking at us. As soon as she saw a car door standing up right and a tale light in the back window she waved us through and no doubt thought to herself “poor saps”.
The trip was a huge success. We got a great piece of American nostalgia, met some amazing characters, got moonshine and came home safe and sound. I hope we decide to get some more classic car parts because I know where I am going to get them……..