When I was sixteen, I bought my first car. An old man from town parted with his pride and joy, a 1968 Pontiac Beaumont. For those who are not familiar with the name, the Beaumont was essentially a Chevelle with a GTO interior, a split grill, and a few cosmetic changes. Unknown to me at the time, the cars were of limited production, and given the fact that we Canadians suffer from harsh winters, not many of those cars made it very far without rusting out.
I read today how a car identical to the one I had sold at a Barret-Jackson auction for over $26,000. The car was restored with a new engine and tires. At the time of purchase, the car I bought for $350 was actually in better condition that the one at the auction.
The old man who originally owned the car had the entire interior covered with see-through vinyl. He had the floors covered in the stuff as well, with tape holding the edges closed so that salt and water didn’t find its way into the interior. Of course being a kid, I removed all that plastic. My ass stuck to the stuff in summer, and in winter…my ass froze. The black Naugahyde vinyl wasn’t much warmer, but at least I wasn’t sliding from side to side whenever I made a turn.
Although I sold the car years ago, I still have some great memories of the car. Being a teenager with your own car was something special back then, and with the 283 four speed, I was king shit, or at least I thought I was at the time. Girls liked my car, which I customized with a set of old Cragar five spoke rims I picked up at a swap meet. I always had the back seat filled with girls, and no matter how nerdy I may have been, they just loved cruising in the car.
The car’s paint was beginning to flake when I bought it, so a friend of mine who had his own garage opted to paint it for me. We laid on a few coats of sky blue metallic, and digging around his garage we found some gold metal flake clear coat and he laid the stuff over the blue paint. Hey, this was the early eighties, and back then gold metal flake clear coat was cool.
I used the car winter and summer. The wide 60 series bias tires were like skis, and often I felt like I was skiing across our snow covered roads.
One evening, while bringing a girlfriend home, the car took a slide on a sharp turn. I headed directly into the oncoming car, which was sliding as well, and on my side of the road. I remember jumping from the car, not worrying about my health, but for the health of my beloved car. The front grill was smashed in. His car wasn’t even hurt, and even if it was, it was only a damn k-car.
We both went to the local police detachment and reported the accident. He was a local businessman from the area and I was a dumb kid. Of course they didn’t believe my story. I had to pay for his damage, and then fix my own car.
This was when I discovered how rare that car was. It was impossible to find a grill anywhere in Canada, and since the car was only produced in Canada, there were no grills in the states either. Remember, this was decades prior to computers, internet or ebay, so word of mouth, a phone book and luck was the only way to find anything. I had no luck.
Dad and I modified an old Chevelle grill to fit the car, and although we did our best and Dad found it looked great, it just wasn’t the same. I lost interest in the car. I decided to sell the car. I put a sale sign on it and in just three hours a guy came to buy the car. I wanted two grand for the car, but after a bit of haggling, I let it go for $15oo. At the time I thought I did pretty good. I purchased the car for $350, drove it for three years, met lots of girls, and then sold it for $1500. Good thing I didn’t know how much I could have gotten for it some thirty plus years later or I would have never sold it. I had access to my grandfather’s barn, a few bales of hay would have kept the old car in great condition….
oh well…hindsight 20/20 I guess. Still wish I had it though! Maybe when I win the lottery I look up the ad, maybe the car is still available.