'65 Ford Galaxie 500 Convertible
It was July 7, 1971, two days before my 16th birthday, when I went to the local Ford dealership in El Paso, Ill., with my mother to purchase my first car. I didn't have any idea what car I wanted; I just had to have one. The owner of the dealership, Gene Heller, showed us this '65 Ford Galaxie, which was recently traded in, and I fell in love with it. The convertible top had its usual appeal, although it was a bit underpowered with a 289-cubic-inch V-8 2-barrel. But it had a Hurst 3-speed manual transmission on the floor, and the sound of those twin exhaust Thrush mufflers when we started it sold me. I paid $650 that I borrowed from my grandfather, and we drove it home to the farm. The first thing I did was install a Holley 500 2-barrel carburetor in place of the stock Rochester, which boosted the power to a barely acceptable level. I removed the stock hubcaps from the rims and painted them with black spray paint. Thus my ride was tricked out. Here I am, above, pictured at one of my jobs where I bused tables at a local supper club on weekends. Notice the fashionable straight-leg high-water pants. I also worked at a gas station and did field work at a local seed corn company to pay back my grandfather. Regrettably, my younger brother rolled the car eight months later in a corn field after losing it on a gravel road (while I was at one of my jobs). Nobody was seriously hurt, but the car was totaled (below). There were many fond memories in this car for the short period of time it was mine.