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Dad's Dodge Royal

Updated: Feb 29


Here is a rambling story you might enjoy:

Hard to believe but my father, Reg. McGee in his 31 years in the car business only ever had 4 new cars as personal drivers. Typical of those very frugal people that experienced the hard times of the great depression.

He ordered a new 42 Dodge for himself and 42 models were only built for a couple of months because of the war. When it came in, Jimmy Campbell, the druggist came to Reg. saying "my old car is wore out," and in those days the drug store did deliveries. Father relented and Jim got the new 42.

Finally he ordered in a black 48 DeSoto as his car and he drove it 166,000 miles, selling it to Jas. Culp in 1954.  He would not have a radio in any car as that caused distracted driving in his mind. He then got a new 54 tutone green DeSoto Firedome and totally disliked the car and sold it in 1956 and got his first new car with power steering and brakes, a Dodge Custom Royal in three tone turquoise lower, white mid drift and black top. He drove that car till he died in Feb. of 1960.

He loved that car.


Charlie Johnston was a mechanic at Gord. Bannister’s Studebaker dealership in the early 50s but decided to move over to ours. He was an excellent mechanic and he and I became personal friends.

Now the good part.

Sometime in 1958, Fathers 56 Dodge was due for a tune up and Charlie worked on the car. We also road tested every car after work like this and I told Charlie I would take it out Hwy 21 South for this road test. My main thought was, lets open her up and blow out the carbon. I got the car up to just over 100 mph and turned around to head back to the garage and seen a huge amount of white smoke following the car. Oh, what did I do! Upon inspection we found the car had a hole blown through one of its 8 pistons. I am in deep trouble! I went to Reg. and said we had run out of spark plugs but more would be in by morning and to take a used car off the lot home that night which he did. McManus Motors in London was the Chrysler wholesale parts supplier in those days and open evenings for pickup, so I made a mad rush to London after closing time, picked up the replacement piston, con rod bearing, gaskets etc: that were needed. Charlie and I worked on that car into the wee hours and got it back running like new again. In the morning I went in and told my father his car was all done and ready for him.

He drove that car till the day he died not knowing anything about what had happened to his precious 56 Custom Royal Dodge.

Charlie stayed on for many years at our dealership but eventually went to Champion Road Machinery for the rest of his working career but he and I always remained good friends.

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