Chevy Classics View

Rockin’ Down the Highway

Colin-Date-head-shotIt’s funny sometimes how ideas for this column just pop into my brain. Writing my View typically means the magazine is just about wrapped up. All the stories are in, artwork layouts are being finalized and ads are in place. Whew. So, when I’m satisfied the guts of the issue are put to bed, it’s time for me to start rattling the keyboard. What shall we talk about this time ’round? I’ve had my ear buds in for the past half hour and what comes on the iPod? The Doobie Brothers’ “Rockin’ Down The Highway”. A driving song if there ever was one! This particular tune has almost landed me in hot water a few times – it just makes me want to downshift and peg the pedal hard against the floorboard. I’m typing away here – the Doobies’ tune has come to an end, and what’s next on the playlist? The Doors – “Riders On The Storm”. Haunting, to say the least. This one sounds best on a lonely highway at sundown, storm clouds roiling overhead.

It’s amazing how huge a role music plays in our classic car hobby. Listening to Elvis through that tinny 6” dash speaker while cruisin’ ’round the block in your Tri-5, or filling the cockpit with Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” on some wide open stretch of Interstate – the tunes set the mood, big time!

How about car shows? Ever been to one where there’s no music blaring through the loudspeakers? Neither have I. The songs that have been written over the years about cars and driving are too numerous to count! Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys certainly focused their efforts on the road tunes. Oh, here we go – The Eagles’ “Hotel California” just started – that ominous beat coming through my ear buds. As you can imagine, I’ve got a huge “car/road” collection of songs on my iPod. Little Old Lady From Pasadena, 409, Little Deuce Couple, Hot Rod Lincoln – all perennial favs.

The best moments (for me, anyway) come from matching the music to the moment. I took a ride (not as the driver – bummer) in a ’62 Impala SS about 10 years ago. The owner had “409” pumping out of his beefy aftermarket sound system. And yes, that big Chevy happened to sport a 409 under the hood. It was an incredible moment for me and still sticks in my brain. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t even have to be music. I used to love listening to afternoon ball games on the little Sonomatic AM radio in my ’69 Buick. Single dash speaker, kind of crackly, just set the mood – good times indeed.

Like drive-in movie theaters and old time burger joints, music in our cars tugs us (sometimes not so gently) back into days gone by. And sometimes, that’s just where we want to go. Would love to hear your thoughts here. Tell us a great story – some magical moment that linked a song to your car or road trip – an indelible slice of time. I can’t wait to hear it!

OK, onto this issue of our magazine. The part you’ve all been dying to see – full coverage of this past February’s Winter National in Orlando – all 10 pages of it –begins on page 6. Is your ride there? Next up is a black ’57 Chevy that is driven and raced, everywhere! Check out this awesome classic on page 16. After that, some Reader’s Rides – a ’55 Chevy, a ’71 Chevelle, and four – count ’em – four ’57s!

The centerfold spot this month belongs to Warren Sutton’s beautiful ’67 El Camino, and I think you agree – this is one clean, nicely modified car. Er, truck. Er, car…

Our tech centers around the ins and outs of quarter panel replacement. Watch how it’s done on this ’56 Two-Ten. Hopefully this story will take some of the trepidation out of tackling this job yourself.

A newer, periodic feature we have in Chevy Classics is “Future Collectible”. This month, you’ll find a piece on the 1996 Caprice. It may not be that old now, but give it time!

There’s an update on our Project ’55 on pages 38 and 39. That car heads to the body shop for some serious sheet metal scrutiny. Watch the action as Stan’s Cocoa Corvette’s shop gets busy on this Bel Air.

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we did putting it all together. Don’t forget – let’s hear some great music-in-your-ride type stories!


Secret Crushes

Colin-Date-head-shotHow about you? Do you have any secret crushes? I suppose if you told, they wouldn’t be so secret anymore, would they? Don’t sweat it – this little editorial isn’t intended to get you into any kind of hot water. Well maybe, depends on how willing you are to bare your feelings. What the heck am I talking about? Secret crushes on cars, of course – what did you think I meant?

I’ll lead off with a good example; I know a dyed-in-the-wool Tri-5 Chevy guy. He’s owned them (all three of ’em) over the years and has sworn up and down to having never strayed the course. “The only real Chevy is a Tri-5 Chevy”, I’ve heard him proudly proclaim on more than a few occasions. Except one day, in a hushed, don’t breathe a word of this tone, he admitted that he used to own a ’67 Mercury Comet. And, get this, that he missed that car – a lot. Wow. Judging from the look on his face, he appeared to be greatly relieved in finally getting this off his chest – like it had been some incredible weight killing him slowly all these years. He swore me to secrecy – so, I’m not naming any names here, or even geographic locations. After that confession, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like an attorney whose client just admitted he was guilty of some ghastly crime. Wait, it is just cars we’re talking about here, right? My friend has never breathed another word about this since.

Those of you who read my column here even on a semi-regular basis know that I pretty much love all cars. I have my favorites for sure, but I’m not so stuck on any one particular model that I have to secretly admire another one.

A while back, I shared an experience I had about 20 years ago. I was photographing a 1970 Chevelle back in Oregon. When we were wrapping up the shoot and heading back to the owner’s place, I asked him if he’d been a Chevy man all his life. When we pulled up to his three car garage, I saw what filled two of the bays – a ’69 Mustang Boss 302 and a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner. He told me yes, he was a Chevy man. But he was also a Mustang guy and “secretly” loved Mopars. Go figure.

How about you? Guilty as charged? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Any responses will be treated with the utmost confidentiality, of course! We’ll even publish your response under a John or Jane Doe if you wish. Email me at

Onto this issue! Our first feature car belongs (I should say, used to belong) to a good car show buddy – Gary Robbins. We photographed Gary’s Cranberry Red ’70 LS6 Chevelle last summer in Oklahoma. Gary has since parted ways with this beauty, but his memories live on! This “King of the Muscle Cars” story starts on page 6. Next up we have a feature on a wild ’55 Pro Street Chevy. I met owner Hilbert Osborne at this past February’s Winter National in Orlando. His car is almost window-shattering loud! Check it out on page 14, but put in your earplugs first! Starting on page 18, you’ll find a feature on three Chevy A-Bodies. I met Bill Whorley at the Winter National as well. He’s a great guy who shared the story of his Chevelles (and his El Camino) with me. Then, on page 20, we have a piece on a ’56 Two-Ten Wagon. This car has belonged to owner Lloyd Malsam for over 50 years, and as you’ll soon find out, has been extremely well cared for. Our centerfold (and cover) car is the pride and joy of James Deason. I also met James at the Winter National in February, and he’s got a great story to tell! Check out “The Replacement”, starting on page 26. Rounding out our feature car department, you’ll find a super sharp Super Sport ’64 Impala residing on page 36. Owner Paul Lizun tells about his journey with his first new car – pretty cool!

There’s also some good event coverage in this issue. Page 9 brings us a story on last year’s Gambler Classic River Run in Laughlin, NV. Also in the Silver State – all the happenings at last year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas – begins on page 22.

Tech centers around quarter panel replacement (page 32) and fixing stuck vent windows (page 34). Both good things to know! We also have an update on our Project ’55 – see page 38.

Happy Spring!



April 2016. The Corvette Issue, Behind the Scenes

Welcome to the all-Corvette issue of Chevy Classics magazine! We had a blast working on this one, and I must say, to quote John “Hannibal” Smith of the 1980’s TV hit The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

My original pie in the sky vision for this issue was to feature cars from each generation (C1 through C7), but given time constraints and owner’s individual schedules, that quickly proved elusive. I soon learned that C5, C6 and C7 owners tend to be working stiffs with not a lot of extra time on their hands. Next thoughts were to narrow the scope and pick some earlier (mostly ’60s) Corvettes that we could get down and dirty with. This was, I believe, the way to go.

What we’re presenting over these pages is much more focused than the aforementioned “all gen” concept. We have a good representation of C1, C2 and C3 gens here – important cars that aptly showcase some rare and highly collectible examples of the breed.

We’re kicking things off with a very clean, mostly unrestored Polo White ’54 Roadster. In its second year of production, Chevrolet offered the ’Vette in more colors than just white (3 more, to be exact), but the vast majority of them (3,200) were sprayed in this color. Learn more about the ’54 – beginning on page 6.

Next up, on page 10, is a Nassau Blue ’65 Sting Ray. When I first laid eyes on this car, I knew it had to be in this issue. Important mostly because 1965 was the first (and only) year the big-block 396 cubic-inch Mark IV engine would reside in a Corvette.

Starting on page 14 you’ll find a Mosport Green ’66 Sting Ray; a 427-equipped one at that. 1966 was the first year the 427 appeared in Corvette, and this one, a slick convertible, easily made the cut.

Check out page 18. What’s this you say? Another ’66? Yes, but for good reason. This car is one of just 66 “Big Tank” Corvettes produced that year. Yes, 66 in ’66. If you don’t know much about the Sting Rays equipped with RPO N06, you’re about to learn a whole lot more.

Then, more big-block firepower – a lot more firepower, actually. Starting on page 22, we have an honest-to-goodness 1968 L88-equipped Corvette. Exactly 80 of these were built that year. The L88 427 was an ultra-high compression big-block with aluminum heads and a Holley 850 cfm carburetor. Dynos have them pegged at 560 horsepower. Mega dollar muscle!

Our final feature car this issue is our centerfold beast – an Ermine White ’67 Sting Ray, also ordered with RPO L88. Why jump from a 1968 model back down to a ’67, you ask? Only 20 Corvettes got the L88 treatment in 1967, making this car the rarest and most valuable of our incredible line-up this issue. Hence, the centerfold spot!

Switching gears (but still in ’Vette mode!), we asked six Eckler’s employees what their favorite all-time Corvettes were. Thought you’d enjoy the responses here…

“My pick would be the one I own now – a 1967 roadster, big-block, 4-speed, Tri-Power. It’s the epitome of a muscle car. Just brute power, no frills. It’s what helped create muscle car legends, and why they’re so popular today. I’ve owned it for 43 years, and it’s still exciting to drive!” – Mike Boffo, Senior Tech Manager

“1967 coupe, 427/435 horse. Since owning one, it has been my favorite Corvette and most enjoyable to drive. Plenty of power, great looking and represents the Corvette brand.” – R.J. Schmieder, Senior Corvette Brand Manager

“Hard to pick just one, but if I could afford it – a red 1969 L88 convertible. I love the C3 body and the L88 had something like 560 horsepower, even though it was rated at 430. Can’t beat a big-block with a ton of power.” – Tom Whytas, CFO

“My pick would be a 1965 convertible with a 396/425 horse engine. This was the first year for a lot of cool standard upgrades and the first big-block 396/425 horse motor, and standard 4-wheel disc brakes.” – Justin Whitten, Strategic Sourcing Manager

“The 2012 Centennial Edition ZR1…rare, the fastest top speed of any production Corvette, and it’s the supercar you can drive daily.” – Scott Carpenter, Corvette Brand Manager

 “Since I am not as old school as some of the other Corvette guys here, I would say my 2016 Stingray would be my Corvette of choice. As much as I love the classics, this car has the best lines and high end sports car look of all the Corvette generations.” – Tom Holodak, VP of I.T.

How about yours, dear reader? Let me know what your dream Corvette would be (or is!). Shoot me an email –

There are plenty of great Corvette stories and features in this issue, so feel free to dig in!

Until next time,