My family and I were visiting Apple Valley, Minnesota last week. One sunny afternoon, we decided to stop for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. As I parked our vehicle, my son and daughter said "Dad! Check out the cool car!!" In the parking lot, right next to the restaurant, was a beautiful Chevrolet Bel Air.
This car was sweet, and I couldn't stop admiring it. Finally my son and daughter had to drag me away from the Chevy and into the restaurant. As luck would have it, we were seated right by a window with a perfect view of the Bel Air.
My family and I started talking about this awesome car, and I told them that my dad (their grandfather) used to be a mechanic, and worked on cars like this for many years. I told my family that my dad would have loved to check this car out in person, but unfortunately he was back home a few hundred kilometres away.
Then the lightbulb went on over my head. "We should take some photos of this great car and then show them to my dad!" But then it dawned on me...we were out shopping for the day and I didn't bring my camera...I hung my head in shame.
Then my daughter said "Dad...you and mom have your cell phones. We can take pictures using the cell phones." I'm old school. I always take photos with an actual camera, not a cell phone. But I had no choice. It was either use our cell phones to take some pics, or get no photos at all. When the waitress came over I asked her if she knew who the car belonged to and what year it was. She smiled and said "It's a 1956, and it belongs to our bartender". I replied "It's a beauty"!! The waitress gave us a huge smile and walked away.
A moment later a middle-aged gentleman came to our table, pulled up a chair, sat down, smiled and said "I hear you've been admiring my car."
The bartender happily told us the story of his beloved Bel Air.
It so happens that the bartenders father bought this car brand new back in 1956, and treated it with TLC for many decades thereafter. The bartender smiled and at the same time his eyes were tearing up as he told us of the many rides and adventures he and his family had throughout his youth driving around in this 56 Chevy Bel Air.
Unfortunately, a few years ago, the bartenders father was becoming too frail to look after and drive the Bel Air. So, the father gave it to his son...the bartender.
The bartenders father knew that his son would treat the Bel Air with the same TLC that he had bestowed upon it for all those years.
The bartender went on to tell us that most of the car is original (including the paint and interior). Only the parts which break down over time (such as tires, engine parts or light bulbs) are new.
The bartender also told us that him and his dad still go cruising at least once or twice a week. His mother has passed away, and his other siblings now live across the country; However, the "boys" continue to ride.
I asked the bartender if we could take some photos of his car, to which he replied "My dad and I would be honored". Having said that, he shook my hand and said "It was a pleasure meeting you folks. Come back and visit us again soon."
My family and I will go back and visit our new friend again soon. Our new bartender buddy reinforced my beliefs that these beautiful automobiles are more than just cars, they are works of art, and they each tell a story. I hope you enjoyed this one.