We get a lot of emails telling how an article we published was a source of bringing back a great memory. Let’s face it, that’s a big reason why most of us enjoy the hobby. Paul Acri of Webster, New York, saw our article about Bob Neuhart’s black ‘57 Chevy sedan, and told us, “Like you, I am a gearhead and have been for as far back as I can remember. I’m 76 years old, and that black ‘57 Chevy brought back a great memory for me.”
It was late-April 1960, when Paul happened to drive by Payjack Chevrolet’s used car lot in Medina, New York. Sitting in the lot was a black ‘57 Chevy Bel Air with a white ragtop, red and silver interior, and a when he took a harder look, he realized it had a Power-Pack 283ci engine, a three-on-the-tree, and no overdrive. “This was my dream car back then, and I had to have it. I was curious why anyone would trade in this car, and even talked to the previous owner,” Paul said.
I have been offered a ton of bucks for it, but I would never sell a ‘member of the family’. – Paul Acri
It turns out, the guy that traded it in was a family guy in his early 30’s, whose wife was expecting their second child. He needed more of a family car than a convertible. Paul purchased the ‘57 in May 1960 and drove it continuously until he went in the Navy in February 1961. “I stored the ‘57 in my aunt’s garage, and when I came home from boot camp. I put it back on the road and drove it for a month. It went back in the garage when I left for Navy electrician school. When I got out of school, I went back home for a month and drove the car during that time. When the Navy decided my services would best be served on the West Coast rather than the East Coast I sold it for $35 less than what I paid for it,” quipped Paul.
After the service, he spent the next 8 years in college, and his love of performance cars never dwindled. While he never had another ’57, Paul says he did have a ‘55 two-door sedan. “I bought it used in ’65 as a project car. The last engine in the ‘55 was 331ci small-block I had rebuilt with all kinds of aftermarket goodies,” Paul continued, “the exterior was painted a ‘69 Caddy Sapphire Mist Blue. It was one hell of a street machine for a number of years. I miss that old stovebolt too.”
Paul’s story does have a happy ending, however. “In January 1971, I purchased a Mulsanne Blue ‘71 Malibu ragtop. The car was a factory powerhouse, with a 402ci engine, a four-speed, and a 3.31-geared, Posi-filled 12-bolt. Paul also told us that he still owns the Malibu, and even though he’s owned it for 47 years, the odometer only shows 30,000 miles.
“I have been offered a ton of bucks for it, but I would never sell a ‘member of the family’. Paul continued, “this is the car that brought my son home from the hospital when he was born. He’s grown up with the car and loves it as much as I do.” Paul concluded, “sorry if I have rambled on, but thank you for taking the time to read my story.”