WHEELS

In My LIFE

 

Aubrey's first car was this 1956 DeSoto, which had been his

grandfather's car..

 


 

My family owned a trucking business, O. C. WIley & Sons, which was based in western Lynchburg, Va.  and it became the oldest intrastate trucking company in the state. From when I was old enough to pick up a case of canned food and stack it, I started spending a good amount of my non-school  or non-train watching time there. When I was off school and not playing like a nomal kid, I was there and often taking road trips with my father or any of the drivers. I started to learn the state's geography young.  Naturally, they all would let me take a trun at the steering wheel. At first I would sit in my Dad's lap and steer. He'd work the gas, shift gears and apply the brakes. By the age of 13, I could drive one of those powerful, but very slow, White tractors!  They were painted red with the company name in white, arranged in an arch on the doors.   Pictured is a typical beast, a 1952 White. 'Course I couldn't get a license until I was 15.

Growing up, my father's father lived with us in our houses on Harrison Street, Lynchburg, Va. He and I were close. When I lost him in May 196, in his will, my grandfather, Ocie C. Wiley, gave me my first car. The car was a 1956 DeSoto Firedome with the new for '56 354 c.i. Hemi. The transmission was the two speed, push button Power Flite and the standard rear end was 3:36:1. Nicky Wright in his book "Fifty Years of Chrysler's Hottest Cars" describes the drive train combination as "Taking off like a Saturn rocket!"  And it weighed 4400 pounds!

    My second car was a 1962 Chevy Impala Super Sport. Unlike the 409 of Beach Boys fame, this SS had a 327 engine with an automatic tranny. It was a nice looking car but overall, it was not a good car.

While improving my formal eductaion at Ferrum College (then a 2 year school), part of becoming a well-rounded person meant going with my dorm pals to nearby drag strips on Sunday afternoon. At places like Starkey Speedway, a 1/4 mile drag strip in Roanoke, the strong running and uniquely styled Mopars caught my attention.

In this September 1962 picture we see a '62 Chevy 409 and a '62 Plymouth 413 launching from the starting line.  I became a Mopar man in 1966, purchasing a used 1961 Plymouth from the Virginia State Highway Department for $400.  After adding about 200,00 miles to the odometer and it still was sold it for a profit.

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 Starting in the early 1990s with the building of a nice garage, I  purchased  and restored a few old cars. The first was a 1969 Dodge Coronet 440, which as it turned out, was the same car I had test drove in 1969 but didn't buy because I couldn't afford it then!  After about eight months of work, it was ready for painting, which was done as original, yellow with  a black vinyl roof.

      This 1964 Plymouth Fury was purchased  as a "Daily Driver"  while I was teaching. It was a real classy teacher car, I thought!  It had a "donut" on the right front door and it rode hard as heck!  The 361 engine and push button tranny had been blueprinted and balanced at Richardson Auto Machine and the 4.11 rear end  and  with 15' wheels in the rear (14" in the front), the car had plenty of torque.  While restoring it, I found many puzzels, but when I found the original build sheet, they were solved; the car had been built for police service!  A history of the car's VIN revealed it had been with the Virginia State Police, probably an unmarked investigator's car since it was originally white all over!  I located a vintage Motorola two way radio complete with antenna as well as the correct siren and flashing lights which were installed behind the grill. Checking with local police, I made the car "street legal."   At its first car show, it caught the attention of a visiting Virginia Sate Trooper who was happy to pose for this picture!

      Along the way, this 1970 Plymouth Duster was obtained and after a few years of fun with it, I painted to this gray scheme. When built, it was copper color, then purple, then dark green, and fianlly this dark gary.  When obtained, the drive train had been assembled by Bill Richardson of Richardson Auto Machine Works and it was in very strong condition!  The car had been set up for Drag Racing so I couldn't see taking it back to its somewhat boring original appearance and condition.  The picture of it in a dark green color on the left was made when I was driving it in one of several AutoCross events I entered.  Although never winning anything, it is great fun to do!  The operators of the AutoCross events always admonished me for doing a burnout at the start line!  Too bad, I still did it! The paint shown in the right picture is how it looks today, a metalliac gun metal color with a satin finish black hood. The 'Cuda-like hockey stick stripe is black also.                         

 The workhorse of the old fleet is this 1966 Ford F-100 pickup.  All  of it has been restored or rebuilt except for the paint, which is still original. We keep needing to use it as a truck! It has 352 engine with 'three on the tree.' The rear end is a 4.10 ratio and it will pull a tree out of the ground!  And I have twin glass-pack mufflers on it.  There's a little red neck in each of us!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 ~~~~   Strawberry Level Texaco and Country Store   ~~~  

About three years after the garage was built in 1993, I built an addition to the end .  I built it as a replica Texaco gas station-country store, circa 1960.       You some of the things you will see include: an old poster encouraging you to vote for Harry Truman, another poster  alerting you of an upcoming Hank Williams show, and an assortment of slightly used rope, some without knots!  Here, if you left yourself go back a few decades, you can purchase Blue Horse notebook paper, Craddock Terry shoes, a horse collar, tools for farming or logging and tools for working on your eight cyclinder car, a variety of hub caps and wheel covers ranging from the late 1930s into the mid 1970s, tires for your truck, tractor or car, have your inner tube checked for air leaks, buy a sode drink for 15 cents from an RC drink machine, and  buy a gallon of Texaco Fire Chief gasoline for 32.9 cents.  Many household items are also available, including fresh eggs and fresh produce, in season.  

The exterior of the replica Texico gas tation-country store, circa 1960, provides a nice display space for a collection of vintage farming and automotive items.

Entering through a Merita Bread screen door, you leave the Texaco gas service station and enter the interior of the country store area of the garage. The Royal Crown soda machine is from 1959 and drinks will cost you 15 cents.  The hand-crank cash reigister has slots in the drawers for the wider size US currencey in use at that time it was made in 1921.  

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Some of my 6000+ hub caps and wheel covers are shown stacked  under their own shed. They are separated by manufacturer and  they are loosely grouped by year. They range from the mid 1930s through the mid 1970s for both cars and trucks. And they are for sale!

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Now you have read much about my interest in cars. Come visit, sit a spell in a rocking chair at the country store porch and tell us of your passions!