A Lifetime Of Classics

A Conversation With an Avid Automotive Enthusiast

When the opportunity to meet someone who has been around Classics his entire life, owns a small collection of them, and had an interest in telling us these stories, I jumped at the chance. A few phone calls later, we arranged a date, time, and place.
Meeting with Mark was a genuinely great experience. I was welcomed by he and his wife Nancy as if I were an old friend and I was able to capture another group of stories to share with you. 

We started out by going from car to car, discussing their details, and sharing some side stories. We eventually did get to each Classic, but the best part of each car was not reviewing the specs, it was hearing the stories attached to them. So rather than dig into the cars, one-by-one, here are some of the best parts of our afternoon conversations.

Q-How did you get started in the hobby?
"It's what I grew up with. Back in the 50's and 60's, if you had a Hot Rod it always had a name. My older brother was a good artist and did work for a sign painter, but his passion was pin-striping and lettering. So everyone in and around Hazleton, PA with a fast car was at our house getting them striped and lettered."
A favorite of Mark's is this hand drawn illustration done by his brother around 1960
"My brother worked out of a borrowed garage behind our house. When the striping was done, these guys would always light up the tires as they left. That would set my Dad off into an angry outburst. I remember him running out, lug wrench in hand, hoping to catch up with, and throw it at a long gone car."

"Back then it seemed everyone had some kind of a fast car. You had the 409 Chevy's with dual quads or built up Hemi's in some stripped down Dodge, but whatever fast cars were around were at my house and we got to see all of them up close."

"There was even a local rock star named Eddy Fury who brought his chopped '51 Merc to get done. It was brown on the outside with an orange and white tucked and rolled interior done in Tijuana. My brother eventually bought that. It had a flathead with 3 duces, overdrive, glass packs...well...that car just sounded great!"

"My brother also had a '53 Corvette he bought for $1,000. I drove it sometimes when I was in High School. The windows didn't roll down, they popped out and went in the trunk. You had to park it just right too or it wouldn't even start. If it was tilted a little to much this way or that the carbs on the Blue Flame 6 would either flood or starve. He should've kept that one. It would be worth over $100K today."

Q-How long have you been collecting cars?
"I've bought and sold dozens of cars over the years, but decided to start collecting in '84. I found a highly modified ’63 split window coupe with a numbers matching 340 horse 327. The coupe had a tilt nose, flared fenders, and stripped down interior. I brought it back to stock. I taught myself how to do the body work and to this day there's not a single crack or stress point in any of the fiberglass. I found all of the other cars by chance too. Except for the ’32 coupe and the Chevelle, they all needed work when I found them."

Q-What is the number one suggestion for anyone getting into the hobby?
"Never let your heart alone buy the car. You have to make the decision long before then. Restoration is expensive and takes a long time, especially if you do the work yourself. 

So if that's what you want to do, you have to buy it right and know what it's going to cost to fix it before you buy it. I've maintained that philosophy since I began collecting. One car at a time and one budget at a time."

Q-What is your favorite car?
"I really don't have a favorite. The one I drive the most is probably the red '64 Corvette Convertible. I bought the car back in '91 for $13,000. I trailered it home, stripped it down and did a frame-on restoration. It's one of a few '64's with factory A/C but I didn't put the A/C back in. Not much point of A/C in a convertible. The motor was shot, so it's now a 383 CI small block. It's the only one with power steering, which is maybe why I enjoy driving it so much."

Before we knew it, we had gone long past the original amount of time we had scheduled to meet. Cars back in place, I was invited to stay for lunch, prepared in gourmet style, by both he and Nancy. We'll leave the rest of the storytelling to Mark.

Every Classic has a Story 
Some are clueless mysteries needing to be solved. A number of them have the help of a trim tag or a build sheet, but they do not tell stories, they only tell facts. Some stories are passed from owner to owner. Unfortunately, most never get told or to more than a handful of people. Undocumented, these slices of history just vanish with photos and documents lost or thrown away.

We invite you to share your Classics, your stories and photos as a part of the Garagistry community, "Preserving Automotive History...One Car at a Time". Get the details here.