Make us your home page
Instagram

My Favorite Car: '55 Chevrolet Bel Air, John Matenkosky, Palm Harbor

'55 Chevrolet Bel Air

Just before I turned 18, my dad inexplicably traded our mundane '51 Hudson two-door on a brand new '55 Chevy V-8 Bel Air. Talk about an instant love affair! Up to the time just before this picture was taken, this car was a gorgeous two-door hardtop. My dad bought it new the summer I turned 18, and he surprised everybody by not picking a stripped-down, economy model. No, sir, this was the top-of-the-line V-8 sporting a special paint called Dusk Rose and almost everything a young male would consider necessary. I added the AM radio, since Dad didn't want to pay the dealer's price. The fender skirts, the rear antenna and the dual exhausts with the Sportsman mufflers all came as soon as I could scrape up the cash, because, after all, the car needed them to be super cool in the late '50s. When not away at Penn State, I spent my time washing, waxing — Simonize in the can, of course — and admiring that car, as did everybody in town. The wide whitewalls were always spotless. There was never a bug on the windshield. And, except for a slight scratch my mom put on it while learning to drive, it was perfect. I loved that car, and Dad and I made a deal for me to buy it from him when I graduated. That brings us to the picture, which still brings tears to my eyes. My younger brother was returning from a date and took his eyes off the road long enough to come to a quick stop against an obstacle. My brother was okay, but Dad entrusted the banged-up '55 to a cut-rate body shop, after which the car was never the same. It ended up as a trade on a four-door Chevy Corvair, and, when I graduated, I bought a '53 Oldsmobile 88 convertible. Since then, I have owned 20 cars, but my all-time favorite is still Dad's '55 Chevy.

Tell us your love story

What's your story behind your favorite car? We're highlighting some of your beloved wheels. Here's what we need:

• Your name.

• City where you live.

• Age (with your date of birth).

• Year, make and model of the car.

• A description of the car and why you love it.

• A high-resolution photo or a scanned image. (The photo must be of the actual car.)

• Send these to drive@

tampabay.com.

We're still accepting

submissions for

My First Car.

So keep them coming!

My Favorite Car: '55 Chevrolet Bel Air, John Matenkosky, Palm Harbor 10/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 21, 2013 5:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul

    Markets

    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall

    Business

    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages

    Business

    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel

    Business

    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.