My wife and I took our usual fall trip up to Barrie for the flea Market and car show. This was in September of 1989.
We were staying at a Hotel on Bayfield Road and heard there was a cruise night at one of the burger joints further up the street. It was a large turnout but there in the middle of the vintage cars sat a car I had wanted to own for many years:
A 1957 Chevrolet Belair Convertible, Matador Red with a white top.
It had the world famous 283 V8, Power glide, pushbutton radio, power steering, power brakes, Continental, fender skirts, trunk lid dress up kit, EZI glass, proper throw in mats, Kleenex dispenser, rear antenna, dual exhaust – heaven could not make it look any better.
There was a young man with the car, and he said his parents had gone shopping. I asked if they ever considered selling the car and he replied that Coca Cola was looking at the car right now perhaps to use it in a promotion.
I told him I wanted to speak to his Dad and he said he was taking the car out to the Barrie Flea Market Car Show the next day at 9 am.
I was waiting in the car show area and in he came. The owner was a Mr. Don Caldwell, from Holstein, Ontario.
I asked him if I could buy the car and he said yes and that the price would be $50,000.00 remember this was 1989.
The only reason he would sell the car was that they had visited Costa Rica, loved the place, also liked the idea they had no taxes and free health care so they bought a farm and were moving soon.
I bought the car immediately. As I was writing out a cheque on the hood of Jim McDougall’s pickup he spotted his wife walking up the lane and went to tell her he sold the car. She was drinking a beer, I saw her start crying and threw the beer bottle at a rock and he now had his arms around her trying to console her. I thought, well I might as well rip up this cheque. He came back to me and said "it’s your car; but I have to drive her home in it tonight. On Monday I will deliver it to you in Goderich."
It seemed that the overwrought lady, between moving to a foreign country, starting everything anew and now losing their much loved Chevy was just too much.
Monday morning bright and early he landed in with the car at my shop and that’s where my love affair started with this car.
It looked and drove near perfect. Never once did it ever let us down and it took First Place at so many car shows I lost count. You will never understand the love affair people have with a ’57 Chevy until you own and drive one. One of our favourite things to do with the car was to drive it down harbour hill in our town because it had a set of Woody Woodpecker mufflers, if you dropped it into low, it let out the most beautiful backfire noise you could ever wish for. For sure I’ve done that 100 times.
The years went by with us and the car, 32 years in fact, when I got a call one day from a man looking at our website and had spotted the car sitting in our building. He wanted to buy the car, but I said no. This man had purchased three 1956 Fords from me and wanted the car to display in a Chevrolet Dealership in Acheson, Alberta.
As he pressured me I got to thinking this car now had some road chips, roof starting to show its age and so on and I explained all that to him, I threw out a price where I knew he would not buy it, but he simply said "I will wire you the funds, please look after shipping arrangements as you have before."
It was a bittersweet day when that transport pulled up and loaded that car.
Several years later, Tom Dixon from Port Albert came into my shop. He handed me a business card to read about a B&B they had just stayed at on holidays visit to Costa Rica. It was from the man that I had bought the ’57 Chevy Convertible from many years before.
It truly is a small world.