Street Talk: Crazy ’bout an automobile

See the Street Talk video at

July 13-14, 2019

Bill Brower, Clarendon

It’s a 1954 Chevy panel truck. I’ve owned it approximately 10 years — did all the work myself. We travel with it, go everywhere with it, wouldn’t hesitate to get in it today, head west with it. 

RH: What’d you do to it to make it what it is today?

BB: All the drive chains have been changed, the engine’s been updated, transmission, rear end, all the suspension. It’s got power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, all new interior. It’s basically a new vehicle in an old shell. 

Gino Piscopo, Rutland

It’s a 1962 Austin Healey. It’s been modified with a 327 Chevrolet Corvette engine in it — it was done in 1964. It’s a two-owner car. I’ve had 32 Healeys, and this is the nicest-driving Healey I’ve ever owned. 

RH: You’ve had 32. Is this the last one?

GP: I’d never say that. There’ll be a No. 33 and a No. 34, I’m sure. 

RH: What do you like about this car?

GP: It’s dependable. It’s the only Healey I’ve ever owned my wife says I can take on a 100-mile drive and not work on it for six days after I bring it home to get it going again. It’s just an honest, fun-driving car.

Marty Lemmo, South Glens Falls, N.Y.

I’ve had it about 3 years. I’ve always loved the (Corvette) body style, and it’s just fun. It’s a driver, a nice driver. 

RH: What’d you do to it?

ML: I bought it just the way you see it. 

RH: You didn’t do nothing to it?

ML: OK, I had the clock repaired. And I had the radio — for what it cost to get the radio repaired, I had it replaced with original style that is now modern. It’ll play AM-FM stereo, and I plug my iPod in it so I can listen to what I want. 

RH: What do you like about this car the best?

ML: Just the way it looks. It’s fun. I mean, obviously it’s a fair-weather car. What I like about it is, 95% of the ’61s have a white cove. Everyone can recognize these cars — red body with a white cove, and it was a $16 option in 1961, and apparently the guy didn’t want to go for everything.

RH: A cheapskate.

ML: Ah, what can I tell you? In today’s dollars it’s about $110 option. Personally, I like it without the white. I like it with the solid color. 

Kevin Durkee, Fair Haven

RH: So it seems like you’re a car fan. What is it about you and cars? 

KD: Oh, my goodness, they’re pretty. I love the rumble when they start ’em up. It’s just fun, it’s good clean fun. They’re works of art. They’re just beautiful. 

RH: What was your first car?

KD: A Volkswagen. A 1955 Volkswagen Beetle. 

RH: How long did you have that?

KD: Well, I had it a year or so, but it would only go 50 miles an hour, so I sold it, and it was absolutely perfect. 

RH: What’s the best car you had?

KD: It was a Plymouth Barracuda 273 with a four-speed. That was a nice car. But I’ve had a lot of Volkswagens. I’ve got a Mustang now. I really like that, it’s a 2018. That’s a lot of fun. 

RH: It’s almost brand-new. What do you like about that one?

KD: It’s a convertible — what’s not to like? 

RH: Just tell me it goes pretty quick.

KD: Well, we don’t want to be talking about that on film here.

Tom Truex, Wallingford

My wife and I were out for a ride, and we came across this at a service station over in Cornish, New Hampshire. Actually, it was right around Plainfield, New Hampshire, I should say. And we saw it outside, and it was in pretty rough shape. Hood was all caved in, and it was rusty. So we figured this would be a good retirement project if we could get it cheap, and we did. So over the course of the next five years, with a lot of help, we took it all apart, everything off it. We fixed the things that needed to be fixed mechanically, and the rest was cosmetic. Right now, it’s running good and I hope it stays that way. 

RH: What is it exactly?

TT: It’s a 1935 — it’s a GMC chassis and the fabrication was done in South Portland, Maine. There was a guy that used to work for the McCann firetruck manufacturers in Portland and he went out on his own. His name was Charles Rutledge. He manufactured — not a whole lot — there’s not many in existence, but there’s, I’m guessing, maybe a dozen Rutledges that he made. It was a very well-made truck, but it was more geared toward the small town. It wasn’t a custom truck like you might see, that the cities might have. It was a small, rural firetruck. 

David Cavacas, Rutland

RH: Tell me about your Pacer.

DC: I wanted to build something that nobody else had, and I think I succeeded in doing that. My parents and grandparents had ’em when I was a kid. Friend of mine came up with the idea of putting a big block in one, so I just took it a little further. I put a big block Chrysler motor into it and all the full-sized running gear. Wanted to go drag racing — we’ve done a little bit of that with it. It’s a pretty fast little car actually. Other than that, I restored the whole thing myself, built the thing from the ground up, painted it.

RH: What do you call that color?

DC: It’s Synergy Green. It’s actually off a 2010 Camaro. I saw one driving down the road one day while I was building this, and I said that’s the color the car’s going to be, and I’m glad I did. Everybody was skeptical about green at first, but when I painted it, it fits the car. Other than that, we take it out to car shows whenever we can.

RH: So it’s not exactly your daily driver.

DC: Oh, no, no. Gas mileage is not real good. It’ll be lucky if I get five miles to the gallon. It has two big carburetors up in the front. 

RH: It’s got a beautiful rumble. I could hear you coming from a long ways off.

DC: Thank you!

Glenn McPeters, Essex Junction

RH: Tell me about your Chevelle.

GMcP: I’m the second owner. Came out of backwoods Virginia. I’ve had it about 10-11 years. Full-frame off restoration, with sort of like a Day Two attitude, you know, just parts you could buy in 1969. It’s 396 in the garage, it’s got a 454 in it now, 562 horsepower, just over 6 seconds, eighth-mile, 97 miles an hour. It’s just bad ass.

Camera and production by RH Alcott

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