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People talk about having a soft spot in their heart for chocolate, large breasts, cowboy boots, whatever it might be. Me, I have a spot in my heart for ’55 Chevys that’s so big and so soft it might as well be rotten.

But its good rot, I tell you, the kind that turns to sweet, and downright irresistible. I’m talking basking in a glow and many fond memories here, not the real thing. I’m talking about one of my pals, the medium green ’55 Bel Air I bought off the gyp auto lot down on Rt. 46 in the early first days of my hot rodding journey. Sonny Poteet and I hark from the same era, same sketchy, flickering images. When we were barely into our 20s, the ’55 Chevy had more or less taken the place of the ’32 Ford 3-window.

It wasn’t so much the car, but the engine that came in it, the lightweight, thin-wall casting, stamped steel rocker arm small-block. Potentially it was an edgy character ripe for the aftermarket, as Duntov had decried in his famous white paper. Certainly, it changed the way people thought about a modern power plant. All the Caddies, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, etc, looked ancient and cloddy, like off-register throwbacks, even then. You know the story.

Maybe you even heard the story of my ‘55 Chevy D/Gasser. It had a tilt nose, 10-percent engine set-back, B&M Hydro, floater-axle rear end, Crane heads, and Hilborn leakers, circa 1965. Save for the stock control arms (the cool Ohio and Cali guys were using stick axles) it was an envious and well-constructed piece. These cars are an inextricable part of my past and of the lives I lived in them.

Of one thing I was certain: I cared more about the mechanical attributes than what was wrapped around it. The body had to be straight and without gouges or rust, but what happened below the fender line was what really spun my crank.                         

Sonny and Nancy Poteet are from the modest environs of Brookside Village, a few minutes due south of Houston. Sonny’s story is a little bit different than mine. “I wasn't even looking for a classic car but noticed a '55 Chevy Bel Air that was being stored in a friend's warehouse,” he said. “Once I learned it was for sale, I couldn't' get it off my mind. A few days later, I went back to learn the owner was interested in buying some jet skis. I had two new Kawasaki 1100 jet skis with a custom trailer and yes, we traded toys.”  From there, the trail turned kinky...

 

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