Texas Hill Country, a Vette, and Words


Hello, friend. This weekend, I kicked my writer’s block to the curb. Here’s how:

My in-laws recently moved into their new house in the Texas Hill Country. We had been meaning to drive down and experience what the center of our Great State has to offer, but life kept getting in the way. Personally, I have myself on a ridiculous deadline and haven’t been keen on a non-writing weekend. But, since I found myself in a creative wasteland on Friday, we decided to take advantage of it and pay Peggy and Jerry a visit.
What a fantastic decision it was.


I’m not sure if it was the lack of five cats and the distraction they bring that helped me get back into the groove, or the obscene quiet, but I spent all day Saturday banging away at my scene and the words just flowed out like soft serve from a Dairy Queen. The chapter I was stuck on grew to over 3600 words and it’s still bulging at the seams. We got home on Sunday just in time for me to meet my writer peeps. After a productive meeting, I went home and produced two more scenes over the next day and a half. Can’t wait to go back down. I’m hoping my productivity continues to soar.

As a bonus, I discovered this 73 Vette in Jerry’s (my father-in-law) garage. Now, admittedly, I am not a Corvette guy. However, this car has a pretty cool story behind it. Jerry bought this thing new in 1973 and drove it around for a few years before deciding that the anemic, low compression 454 just was not getting the job done. So, he commissioned Reher-Morrison to build him a sick LS6. The engine has since been sitting in his living room (yes, LIVING ROOM) for 20 years. He only recently moved it to the garage when they moved into the new house. I’m not going to geek out over this motor here, but if you aren’t familiar with Reher-Morrison engines, I suggest a Google search. They were Big Block innovators in the 60’s and still churn out nasty power plants from their headquarters in Arlington. I offered my services to help Jerry put this car back together and I’m hoping he accepts. He retired a few months ago and is raring to get it on the road. ShIMG_5359ould be a cool car!IMG_5360


3 Cars I wish I still had :(


Hello, friend. Is there a car that you wish you had never sold? I have a few.

Edit: Thanks to Cody Hiler for catching an obvious misprint. You my boy, Blue!

Every true car-guy (or gal) I know had at least one, but usually a few cars they would give anything to have back. I’m no exception to this rule. In my 44 years, I have owned 50 cars(so far) and there are a handful that I wish I had never sold. My issue(s) is that many times, I will sell one car to get another. Or that I tend to get tired of my cars quickly and I’m ready to move on. Sometimes, I’ll buy a car just because I thought I “always wanted one of those” and when I get it…well…okay, check that off the list – on to the next one.

66linc21An example of this is the suicide door Lincoln Continental. I had lusted after the razor-sharp lines and ridiculous overhangs of those beasts since I was a kid. Three years ago, I had a chance to buy not one, but two 1966 Continental Hardtops in a package deal.  No, I never wanted a vert. In fact, I think cutting the roof off of a perfectly good car is one of the stupidest styling statements…ever. No convertibles! So I went in halvsies with a friend and long-story-short, I just didn’t get the spark from driving it that I had dreamed of. Plus, Holy Hell, the parts for that Continental-only morphodite 462 engine are other-worldly expensive. $500 bucks for a water pump? Ouch. This is why I like Mustangs – parts are cheap and plentiful. Do they have the Conti styling? Nope. But I can afford to drive one.

So, on with my list. There are more than three that I’d give a crucial piece of my anatomy to go back in time and unsell, but these are my standouts in no particular order:

In high school, I had a 78 Camaro (yes I had the requisite mullet to go with it). I was 16 and not very mechanically inclined. I had pulled the engine out to “rebuild it” and lets just say I didn’t know that a rebuild meant that some of the parts were new…like bearings and rings, oil pump, etc. So, I cleaned all the parts and put them back in, just as they came out – worn. That engine lasted about 6 months and locked up due to a lack of oil pressure on the highway. Fun times, lesson learned. To punish me, I think, Mom bought me one of these:



1977 Volvo 242 (the one above isn’t mine. I just grabbed one off the interwebs). This thing was a tank. It was rear wheel drive, 4 speed manual and surprisingly quick for what it was. Unfortunately, it was also a money pit. I went through multiple cracked exhaust manifolds, the HVAC system had gremlins living in it and the fuel tank was so full of rust that the engine would stop running when the gas level got below 1/4 tank. So, it had to go. The worst thing about this car, though, was me. I was too young and inexperienced to understand just how cool this car was. When lowered with the right suspension bits (and maybe a turbo LS…or not) these cars are a blast, look legit, and make great daily drivers. Every time I see one, it hurts a little, thinking what could have been.

The next one was probably my favorite car of all of them. A 1966 VW Bug. The story behind this car is enough for me want to kick myself for selling it. My uncle Miles’ dad  bought this thing brand new in 1966. He drove it rarely and it sat in a barn for many years. When I was 14, I learned to drive in this car. I spent  two full days blasting around the back roads of Terrell TX. The car spent the next 20 years in that same barn. When Miles’ father passed, he sat out to restore the car and get it running. It was a legacy project. But, after he had it painted, he lost interest. I saw it out there during a holiday get together and asked Miles about it. He told me that if I thought I could get it running, I could have it. For free(!) He just said that if I ever wanted to sell it, he would buy it back from me for what I had in it. I took it home and the finished product is below. This is the actual car:


I put a ton of work into it and drove it, as my daily, for over a year. Even in the hot TX summer, I loved rolling it, sans A/C. I got  many thumbs ups and offers to buy it. A friend of mine says that if your car doesn’t start conversations at the gas pump, you’re doing it wrong. Getting gas was an ordeal in this thing. Everyone wanted to talk about it and reminisce about how they had one just like it in high school. Great memories in that car.

In 2006, I found out that I needed heart surgery. The survival rate of the type of surgery that I required was in the high 90’s but I still had nightmares that my wife would have to deal with selling my cars and belongings. So, I bolstered my will and made sure everything was taken care of, just in case. Miles approached me and made me an offer. He said he would give me a lump of cash (which was way more than I had in the car) and let the car sleep at his house. He even let me keep the title. He knew we had two small kids and could use the money since I was about to be out of work for months. So, being the stand up guy he was, he told me I could buy the car back for the same amount whenever I was ready. It was like an interest free loan. Well, lets just say that medical bills suck and I really needed the cash. Miles kept the car and eventually sold it. But still, the gift he gave me will live on as one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. He is the reason I’m a VW nut. I’ve had other bugs, but this one was the best. Thanks Miles. You were a really great dude and you are missed.

This last one is the freshest in my history of cars. It’s only been gone eight months or so. it was a 1962 Pontiac Starchief. A very good friend of mine is a Pontiac nut and he introduced me to the car’s former owner at a car show. As soon as I sat in it, I had to have it. The smell of an old Pontiac is intoxicating. I got him drunk and convinced him to sell it to me. Except, I didn’t have any money. The process took a couple of months, but I went home and sold my Mustang to buy the Pontiac. I had the cash in my hand from the Mustang sale for maybe 24 hours before I had the Pontiac in my driveway.

IMG_3389IMG_2763It also needed some work, but me and my old car buddies thrashed on it and got it on the road. It got the full brake system. And I mean the whole thing including most of the hard lines, booster, master, wheel cylinders and all the rest of the minutia that adds up fast. This car drove great and rode better than a Cadillac. And that was with ghetto-ass heated springs and worn out shocks.

The main issue with it was the engine. It was the original 389 from 1962. It ran fine, but it used a shit-ton of oil. We went through 8 quarts on an Austin-Dallas round trip weekend car show adventure. It needed a rebuild (with actual rings and bearings this time)and again, the cash adds up. I was ready to spend it, but that was about the time I decided that I was going to get off my ass and get serious about writing.  My lovely wife told me I should quit my job and throw myself wholeheartedly into my novel. I took her up on the offer and here I am – trying to make a go of it. As a gesture of thanks and appreciation, I sold the Pontiac so we could fatten our savings. Also, not having an old car to distract me has helped me stay focused on my writing projects. I miss it every day. But as always, there will be others.