Her name is "Bernadette" after my Grandmother, Berna Dean! She is a 1965 Chevrolet Bel Air Station Wagon, originally with a 283, and was owned and driven by my Grandmother.
This is a story about a girl and a car:
I bought my Grandmother's 1965 BelAir Station Wagon way back when (80’s-90’s) for a sum of $450, paying her out in time payments. After I had her paid, Nannie gave me a check for $200 for my birthday that year...which was kinda weird, but she argued with me about keeping it. The next Christmas I got a check for $250, in essence, she "gave" me the car. I think I still have that check, I never cashed it.
Why you ask: because I was a car freak back then, and because I have a VERY big fondness for this car...not really sure what else to say, but I LOVE this car, and all it represents to me, and it's a part of my Grandmother I treasure so!!! My intentions were to fix her up, and drive her, but at the time horses took all my money and she just sat. Many years rolled along, daughter came, a move, and life...and still the car sat, all with good intentions on my part. My Grandmother passed in 1997, and sometime after that, my little cousin Brandon asked if he could have the car as he had always heard of all the stories of family trips and memories, and hated to see the car just sit. He wanted to restore it, and keep it...and I agreed with one stipulation, that he could not sell it, or I had first refusal, and he agreed. So I signed over the title and he had a non-running pile of decaying metal to contend with.
The next time I saw the car was my Aunt's 80th birthday (some 10 years ago), my cousin drove it to the party! I was in love all over again!! I was angry at the time that he took the 283 she came with and put a 454 in it, but the reasoning for the decision is now apparent; and he kept so many memories with the car that it made it pointless to stay angry with him. He took the totally ceased-up 283 out, and put a 454 in, along with a new tranny, and all the mechanicals that needed to be replaced to make it a working-again vehicle. Paint was done, but to the original Chevrolet blue it came with. He redid parts of the interior, but kept certain items like the door panels and dash, and what he did have redone was as close to original as possible. He tinted the windows, but kept the vacation stickers of family trips for which the car was used. He kept so many little things that keep it “original”, but yet made it new and exciting to look at and to drive. And yes, completed with racing rims and wider rear tires, which were NOT original, nor am I sure my Grandmother would have installed.
Forward to 2014: Now, as life makes shifts and changes, I find myself with the opportunity to take the car back...which is what I'm doing.
I literally JUST got her back (Oct 2014). Her first show was Halloween Classic Car Show 2014. I am working on my "show book", it will be a work in progress as I pull together family photos, memories and treasured stories to add to this wonderful hunk of blue metal, forever known (and now tattooed) as Bernadette.
Bernadette - named after my Grandmother Berna Dean, and solidified by sign of a shooting star the night I drove her again after years of being separated (Sept 14, 2014)
This is my story, and the updates are we have purchased more period correct rally wheels to get rid of the dragster look. Also have some Cal Custom Valve Covers and will be putting 454 badging on her. My cousin put a 454 in, but he put 502 valve covers and badging, for a "meaner" look. I prefer to have it "correct" so that will be changed soon. Some front end work needs to happen before the new wheels will be fitted; and other than some tweeking on the interior and the constant mechanical maintenance, I plan to keep her the way she is and enjoy the H*ll out of her!!
Thank you guys and gals of Conroe Cruisers show for the compliments, President's Choice Award and for honoring me and my "history" of my beloved Bernadette!! Motor on...>p>Some attached pix are of my Grandmother Berna Dean with the car back in the 70's, and then my Grandfather and my Aunt/Uncle on a trip to Canada in the car (Brandon's Grandmother, my Aunt Shirley). And one of "me" with my award and her tattooed rear end at the show :) The president asked me what _I_ had done personally to her...well, I had her tattooed at the Lone Star Throwdown in Conroe a couple months ago, and other than take her to shows and a new fuel pump (my cousin left her sitting in the garage for years!!) that's been about it so far. :) I did drag race a couple of kids in a Dodge Pickup on the way home from the Halloween Show last Fall, on the same streets as the Conroe Show, I let them "win" though cause we were right in front of the police station - HAHA And one more, stylized by myself, with my own photography (yes, I take car pix!)