I was born in Flint Michigan in the summer of 1966. It was a non-eventful birth, but I did have tons of brothers and sisters born right before and after me, so I sure wasn’t lonely. My skin was light blue, similar to the sky. I soon learned that my top would come down with a push of a button. They did not put a big engine inside of me, but this turned out OK as some of my siblings with large engines ended up in salvage years before they reached the age of ten years old. Anyway, I had a small V8 (283), producing 195 horse power with my 2 barrels and equipped with the 2 speed powerglide transmission. I was proud to wear the SS emblem and loved my vinyl bucket seats.
I was delivered to a Chevrolet dealership later that summer. The dealership, to the best of my recollection (as this was 50 years ago), was Jim White Chevrolet in Toledo, Ohio. I still recall that summer day when a couple (Bettie and Otto Bollenbacher) showed up with their two boys (Barry – age 13 and Randy, 11) at the dealership. I was parked out front and I was the first car they saw. I remember hearing Bettie stating how pretty I was and that her dad was buying her a new car so she would visit him and his wife more often. I later learned that the couple and their two boys lived in Lima, Ohio, but their parents lived in Toledo. The salesman showed the Bollenbacher family what a great car I would be for them and even cranked up the Delco AM radio for their listening pleasure. He put my top down and after a test drive in which Mrs. Bollenbacher tried out the accelerator, I heard Mrs. B say “I’ll take it.”
So on August 6, 1966, for the grand sum of around $3,200, I found my first permanent home. I kept my Protec-O-Plate in my center console where it remains today.
My first parents lived out in the country at 115 Harper in Lima, Ohio. They provided me a nice garage that I slept in at night. Mrs. B was my primary driver in my younger years. She was a kindergarten teacher and kept exceptional care of me. The two things I remember most about her is that she always put my accelerator to the test and seeing how good my brakes worked. I later heard her right foot was made of some type of metal, I think it was lead. When Barry was about 15 years old I showed him how to drive. He was a good driver as I recall, nothing like his mom and younger brother. When the youngest Bollenbacher was 15 (guess that would have been in 1970) he first got behind the wheel. I remember Mr. Bollenbacher driving out by the reservoir on the west side of Lima, stopping the car and telling Randy it was his time to learn to drive. I later helped him pass his driving/parrellel parking test (he needed a lot of help), due partially to my power steering.
In 1973, Barry purchased me for $500 from his parents. Barry needed a car to take him to college up at Michigan State. We had some fun times together up there and we discovered my trunk was big enough to handle 3 kegs of beer at one time. He was studying forestry so in the summers, I took a couple trips out west for his summer jobs with the National Parks Service. In the summer of 1975, my worst fears were realized; the younger Bollenbacher purchased me, at a grand sum of $450. I wondered how something like that could happen to a car like me. I was always good to the young Bollenbacher, even though he had the same right foot issue that his mom had. I showed him how to sneak his friends into the drive-ins with my spacious trunk (and you know who you are), how to cruise downtown Lima between the “Red Barn” and “Frisch’s Big Boy” and how fun places like the Wayside Inn, the Hut, the In-Between (Ottawa) and other watering holes.
I also got him to Shawnee High School with never an incident. I am proud to say that I was the first car with a GPS built-in. It seemed that regardless of how many adult beverages he and his friends had (I think their names included: Les, Warren, Steve, Jeff, Dan, Mike and others) I always got them home safely. In 1975, I accompanied young Bollenbacher to BGSU for his last two college years. I had a lot of new adventures up there and feel lucky that I survived those college years. Some of my best memories where taking his crew to a restaurant called Loma Linda’s in Toledo, going to various record stores, beer/pizza runs, and stopping at the old CI and Howards in downtown Bowling Green.
After young Mr. B graduated from college, I stayed in the family barn in Lima for several years. Then I journeyed to Evansville, Indiana, with young Mr. B until 1987. By this time, young B reduced me to weekend use, but I always remember him saying that someday he would restore me to my original factory condition.
In 1987 I moved to the Cincinnati area as young B was transferred there. By now young B took good care of me, always keeping me in the garage where he lived. In 2015, my long-time wish came true. Young B decided it was time to schedule my restoration. He found a great body man in Covington, Kentucky, by the name of John Ahlbrand. I was with John for about a year. He did a great job restoring me to my original condition and color. My power plant was rebuilt as was my tranny. I got a new top and new interior, all original colors. Finally in Dec-15, Mr. Ahlbrand delivered me to young Bollenbacher (who wasn’t really young anymore, but because Otto is still living in Lima, I continue to call Randy young Mr. B). I looked just as I did when I left Flint, Michigan. Everything was brought back to original specs and I am so proud of myself.
I did let Mrs. B take me for a spin a few months ago, and I guess they never did find a cure for the metallic right foot of hers. Here are a couple of pictures of me (one with Mrs. B). I hope you enjoyed reading my story and these pictures as much as have enjoyed my life with the Bollenbacher’s. Oh and by the way, I will soon be celebrating my 50th birthday with my family.
This story was “transcribed” by Randy Bollenbacher, now 60, and a Cincinnati area resident who works for the US Treasury Department as a national bank examiner. Randy is a 1973 graduate of Shawnee High School.