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Sharps40

1937 Dodge, Ol Bessy Is Coming Home!

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I'll put this in here as a place holder and hopefully no only will it come home after 21 years but I'll be able to tell the story of bringing it back to life herein.

Dad called. We have been looking for a 37 Dodge to take the place of Ol John Lee the 65 Chevy Truck I had been driving.

Fortunatly he found the car. My/his/our car. His Dad bought it for him. I worked with him on it and road around in it all my life. It became mine at 20 years old and I drove it till a drunk hit me on the drivers side totaling it when I was 30.

I sold it.

Dad found it. Its been sitting in the hotrod shop in VA for 21 years waiting to be finished.

The owner knows we want it back. As is, or accident damage repaired and running/driving.

So for now Dad and the shop owner talked it over and Ol Bessie is "Back in the Que" for repairs.

Don't know what the costs will be or if I can even afford it but we'll start with trying to own it again and move out from there. With luck I can at least geti it home to the garage.....maybe more.

As it sits, and just before the wreck 21 years ago it had: New upholstery that I sewed myself from scratch, I had redone all the woodgrain finish on the metal trim, rebuilt the dash gauges, installed a new wiring harness, built a Ford 200 6 with weber carb, new radiator, TCI Streetfighter C4 Trans, new leaf springs and shackels, new front suspension and kingpins (wonder how many folks don't have a clue what kingpins are?), rebuilt the steering box and brake system, new glass, new rubber. It was a solid daily driver. For years with a flathead and three speed and all that work had under 1000 miles on it when the accident occured.

But, Dad said he wants the shop to work up the estimates on a running driving car with the accident damage fully repaired. We'll see......I am excited and guarded at the same time.

Edited by Sharps40

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Its there. It might be here eventually. A Corvette is ahead of it. We don't know if we can afford to buy or buy and work but its there and we are working it. I cried when I saw the photos.

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From a close look at the photos, much of the body work and rust repair is already done. I confirmed my memory of installing a modern pressurized radiator for the new Ford L6. I can't tell if the rear axle is original or a Ford 9". I seem to remember having perches welded on a modern axle......All the suspension is like new. 22 years old, 2000 miles!

Email from Dad today:

"Rich: Soooo many things to consider, but they will all fall into line.

I met with Jim yesterday, and talked with two of the fellows who do the restoration work. They are working on a Corvette body now, getting it ready to remount to the frame. Jim says the Dodge can then be brought into the system for work. I told him that we would like to get it running, have all the rust and body repair work completed. The rust in floorboards and trunk have already been completed---by Billy, no longer works there. I took photos---can't see much---there are fenders etc on the top, the interior is filled, and boxes on the hood. Will be better able to assess things when Jim calls it into the shop. We did not discuss any prices---just that what you would like to have from him is a running car, nice would be painted and upholstered, but with the possibility that a fender or panel might have to be replaced, maybe just a primer job and do the final paint and upholstering at your end. We are getting closer to having some work done on the Dodge---can't put a hard date on it. I'll keep visiting and pleading to be next into the shop. Try and be patient---but I too can get a real good feeling about that one being back on the road. Takes me back to 1957...."

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Dad is here.  A visit.  News.  The Dodge is mine again.  It was never not mine, since I was 16.  I drove it daily till I was 30 when it was wrecked.  I spent all my money on a lawyer chasing a drunk with nothing and nothing was left to fix it.  I sold it.  23 years ago. 

The day I sold it.  23 years ago.  Dad bought it back.  He and Jim kept it a secret.  Working on it occasionally as time and manning and money permitted.  Stored away in the hot rod shop.  Waiting for 23 years.  Till I wanted it back. 

I almost bought one in Chicago last month.  It was sold the day I arrived to look at it. 

The title, in my name, never transferred has sat in secret in Dads lock box waiting. 

For 35 years it has been my car. 

Before that, since 1957, Dad was the second owner of the Ol Dodge. 

Its coming home.

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I have no idea what strength it takes to hold a secret and a plan for 23 years.  Last month I was hours from buying a running driving 37 D5, sight unseen when I found it'd been sold.  Since February, I nearly went to Maine 3 times for another one but couldn't break out 3 consecutive days from work.   

 

Last eve, we stop out at the local corner Country Store.  Chatting over the deck of the Versa about the weather, the new gas pumps, sipping Cokes.  Like we've done for a lifetime over the hood or deck of innumerable cars and trucks.

 

Dad says, You still own the Dodge.  Don't be angry.  I bought it back the day you sold it.  Jim is going to howl when I tell him that ya finally know the secret! 

 

I didn't sleep much last night.  When I did, I dreamt the kids eye view through the passenger side of the open windshield, a flying Ram trailing an expanse of Midnight Blue.....

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Great story Sharp.

 

 

My Uncle owned the same 36 Plymouth Coupe several times over a period of 50 years.

 

The Coupe sat in a junkyard 10 years in Winchester, Va before he found it the last time,

 

it had front fender damage, but he found a 36 Dodge front for it.

 

Bob......

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PROGRESS!

Financial restructure is completed for looming retirement, early on on time, it dont' matter now!

I own the jeep!

Huge medical debt moved off the table!

$10K available for the Dodge.

Come on now, get that corvette off the floor and get a steel car under the Flame Wrench!

Edited by Sharps40

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A good talk with the shop owner this morning. Our first contact in 20+ years. Quite a bit of laughing over the joke played. Follow up email to reestablish contact and get the evaluation processes rolling as we await the final movement of the ol Dodge from stuck in the corner to shop floor.....

 

 

"Mr. Walker,

 

Good to talk to you this morning. Contact information is listed below the signature. Quite a secret and glad to have it out of the bag!

 

Ideal desire is running/driving/done. Somewhere in between works too. Ultimate goal is a look like it was in the late 50s. Metallic blue (current metallic color or perhaps Cobra Midnight Blue Metallic), close to stock ride height but with modern agility on the road as an occasional town and highway driver.

 

As we discussed, if the budget demands less than Running/Driving/Done, priority starts with body work and paint + glass/rubber, with a nod toward doing much of the heavy lifting underneath to avoid paint damage/painted panel removal later.

 

If there is any question on the existing engine/trans don't bother to square and level/finalize the mounting as we can discuss new power train.

 

The old 4.10 dodge rear must go in favor of a modern rear. Any make is fine....would be convenient to match the make to the power train, i.e. Ford to Ford, Chevy to Chevy, etc.

 

Original suspension under it is 5000 miles since being rebuilt, however it's 25 odd years since it was greased or rolled. If smart, I am open to a modern suspension, but, would like to avoid the super low hot rod look.

 

Power disc/drum or disc/disc on a dual master cylinder are pretty much a mandatory safety item as well as lap belts (2 front, 2 or 3 rear).

 

Much more to it I am sure. I'll be sure to rely heavily on you and your craftsmen's knowledge and expertise.

 

Mark me more than a bit excited!

 

Standing by here. (Well, actually, jumping up and down waiving and shouting!)"

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". . . get a steel car under the Flame Wrench!"  What is a Flame Wrench?  I'm still adding tools and want the latest!

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Dad was down at Classic Automotive again last night.  He and Jim had another grand hoot and holler at my expense.  Much additional talk about Ol Bessie and at least from an initial look....The projected budget for a running driving painted car (using the existing 200 Ford/C4) may be excessive. 

 

They had a lot of talk about concerns for a zero mileage engine overhauled 20+ years ago, same for the trans.  And, at this point, we all recognize that a 74 Maverick engine and trans is in fact an antique power pack. 

 

In addition, much discussion of the 78 year old suspension (5000 miles from rebuild and 20+ years growing stiff from lack of use) which lead to how little can the car be lowered by placing an independent front with rack/pinion and possible replacement power pack options.

 

In some follow up discussion with Dad this afternoon, it seems the Corvette is nearly ready for paint and could be moving off the floor in a couple weeks thus freeing up the 3 man team to tackle Ol Bessie.

 

For now, we are exploring the budget and whether it allows for a total driver quality do over with modern suspension (without getting stupid low) and the possibility of a V6 or 8 cylinder and 4 speed overdrive automatic...........

WeeeOhhhhhh!  Ol Bessie could come back not only pretty but strong too!

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I wouldn't think much harm would have come to either the suspension or the engine or trans being stored indoors that long. The only concern I can think of it body shop dust getting into the engine if it wasn't sealed up well.

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We are not worried about the suspension either.  Nothing beyond 468 dollars average nos price for a break drum!  If the budget is large enough, makes sense to remove those items in favor of something more nimble, recognizable and available/less costly.  We plan to drive it and one of the things to consider is service parts and service men in East Buttwhistle Wyoming or any of the Buttwhistles in all states I'll be driving to and through during retirement.  If its off the shelf and in the available specs books, a breakdown doesn't have to be the end of the trip. 

Edited by Sharps40

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I wouldn't think much harm would have come to either the suspension or the engine or trans being stored indoors that long. The only concern I can think of it body shop dust getting into the engine if it wasn't sealed up well.

 

Ditto

 

Why redo what was done and is likely perfectly alright. A good grease job takes care of the suspension. Change oil in engine and tranny and use them. I put in an engine that was rebuilt with 2000 miles on it into my '38 Chrysler. The engine had sat at least 20 years and was fine. These old cars can be driven a long way with the original powertrain. Just look up some threads by bamfordgarage and see where his flathead has taken him. If you want a hotrod with all the modern conveniences, why chop up a good original car....go out and buy one already done. Sounds to me like the shop you are dealing with is looking for business!

Edited by RobertKB

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It not an original car, but it is our car.  Its ours, that's what's important, not whether it meets any particular criteria in the car community.  Has not been an original car since 1957 when Dad bought it and started doing the changes he wanted to make it his.  The car does not have a flathead.....it currently has a Ford 200/C4 combination.  Dad an I left the flathead (60 over, 90 off head, Dual Carter BB, Split Manifold dual exhaust, etc.) out on the lawn many years back.

 

Don't take the post wrong, we'll investigate all options, but Nah.  The shop I'm dealing with kept Dads secret for 20 years.  To suggest they are money mongering is to make a spurious statement from a lack of knowledge of the personalities involved, their relationships, the current personal situation(s), etc.  Which, all in all, is to be expected and forgivable since none here have been in on the many conversations.  Have faith.  Ol Bessie will be treated well.  Every project needs a plan and an alternate to prevent it becoming a Craigslist ad for a box of parts!  (Dayum, that coulda happened here to Ol Bessie!) 

 

   We're discussing what's best for the way we want to use the vehicle.  And given some recent family health concerns, I have decided that Dad and I laying under the car farting around with our share of the restoration work like brakes, suspension, wiring harness, tuning, etc....are steps that (with a suitable budget) go away in favor of a set up that gets the car on the road sooner and with no questions as to reliability.  Whats best may well be original suspension and the Ford drive line, or it may be a change out to something less than 78 years old.

 

I should have held the car and fixed it years ago.  As it is, Dad held the car for me because that's what Dads do and now I am driven to have this ready for both of us to drive while we still can and for as long as we still can.

Edited by Sharps40

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