I know this is a blog about food and cooking and eating and dining and not, generally, about cars, but please allow me a moment to digress.
I come from a very, VERY car centric family. My dad has been a collector his whole life and I caught the bug at an early age. I used to terrify my Grandmother when she'd take me on the road with her to antique shows. We'd be quietly riding along in her van, her listening to WJIB (DING DING - on the waterfront) and me wishing I was anywhere but where I was. We were usually heading to another building crammed with old smelly stuff and old people who talked endlessly about the old smelly stuff an how they scored getting it at this or that estate sale or we were going to an auction where I would literally sit on my hands in fear that I would accidentally touch my nose or ear and bid on something. The calm quiet would occasionally be punctuated by my sudden scream; "Oh My God - look there's a 1964 goat (GTO) with Crager mags!"! Or I would make a loud gasp and scream look and point at some far fetched dream car tooling down 95. Gran would yell "What, What?" roll her eyeballs and tell me to stop scaring her to death like that. Dad would quiz me when we would drive along heading to Topsfield or Revere to visit relatives. He would point or nod his head and say "year?", "make?", "model?" I learned to distinguish a late 60's car by their head lights and tail lights. Our father daughter outings were generally to car races, road rallies or the annual new car show at the Hynes.
I bought my 1st car at 15 from Bing Bickford's car lot in Tyngsboro. A 1966 Pontiac Catalina Convertible. I remember buying it, I remember what I paid for it, I remember it smelled a lot like those old buildings full of antiques I had always been trying to escape, but it had a bitchin' lucite steering wheel just like the Cars first album cover and I would sit in the drive for hours pushing the radio buttons, polishing the chrome and dreaming of the day I would get to drive it.
In 1975, I was 11 years old and my dad leased a 1975 Pontiac Grandville Brougham convertible. He drove it for about a year while my Mom drove the 1971 Grandville convertible. The company they were leasing it from went bankrupt so they offered them the car for around $3,000 which was a great deal on it then. Dad went on to drive something else, they sold the 1971 and Mom started driving the 1975. I named her Betsy after the Harold Robbins book.
At the time we lived in Chelmsford and in a few years I started going to Beaver in Chestnut Hill. Mom and Dad both worked in Newton on Wells Ave and mom would pick me up after school in Betsy and drive me to the office where I would swan around, schmooze with everyone and study. If she had the hard top Pontiac we would take the boring route home, 128 to route 3. But if it was warm and sunny we would take Betsy and wend our way through Waltham and Lincoln, Concord and Carlisle over narrow windy roads, radio blasting Elton John or Wings and we would both be happy to take our time, hair blowing in the breeze and receiving the occasional horn toot of approval from a passing car. In the spring we would stop at the farm in Carlisle and buy bales of hay for the tomatoes that we would put in the backseat and drive home with a shower of hay streaming behind us. The bags of cow poop at least went in the trunk.
Eventually Mom moved down to Virginia and had Betsy brought down on a car carrier. She lived in Virginia for 15 years and in that time poor Betsy really didn't get much road action. Mom said in all those years she was there she maybe drove her 300 miles. In fact Betsy hasn't even been started in the last 3 years. She has just been languishing under a car cover. Recently they bought a new Mustang convertible and I knew then Betsy's days were numbered. Mom and SD are ready to retire. They are selling up Virgina and finally moving back up here. I said to Mom offhandedly in an email one day, "Betsy can certainly hang out here until you guys are settled in the new house, we have plenty of space". Mom emailed back to say Betsy would not be moving and that she had to find a home for her down there. My heart sank! NO!
I sprang into action. There was no way I was letting her leave the family. That car had been ours for 35 years and she was not leaving the family now. I emailed dad and told him and he said don't let that car stay in VA. I'll find a carrier for you, we'll bring it up here and you and I will restore it. I've been off my rocker with excitement since. So on top of being crazy busy at Create a Cook, garden season starting, selling off more of Gran's antiques on ebay that Mom has been sending up as she packs up VA, I am taking on my first restoration project. The pictures above are of Betsy arriving Monday. Dad had me bring her right to the museum so we could get her running before we brought her over to my house. I got a call an hour ago. Dad yelled down the phone "Can you hear that?" The sound of a 400 4-barrel came revving back at me. He said " I just had to put a battery in her and poured in some starter fluid and she started right up!". I emailed Mom to tell her and the reply came back. "She always was a tough old broad"
And now she's my tough old broad. Welcome home Betsy.