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Member Spotlight – Gary Steeves

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1929 Chevrolet 020 (1)Submitted by Gary Steeves
Never thought that I would get to write this story, after all it has been fifty years. In 1963 I had a fresh driver’s license in my wallet and I also had a real summer job working at the Canadian Gypsum Co. Mill in Hillsborough. I always had a passion for old cars; I built car models when I should have been studying, collected ‘car’ tokens from Jell-O boxes and cut out car ads from magazines; that was why I was so excited to see the old ‘29 Chevy for sale. The chap that had it for sale worked at the ‘mill’, and was known as a wheeler dealer; so, I looked him up the next day and he gave me the low down on the car. He had picked up the car from Ellison and Annie Steeves from Shenstone, NB, who had gone on their honey moon in the car in 1932. Ellison had purchased the car so he could court Annie, a teacher that had come to the community. Darryl, the seller, further told us that he had picked up a rotted out ‘30 Chev sedan with a rebuilt motor and an old ‘29 or ‘30 Chevy cut down into a tractor. The package deal, $200, would take them all, a lot of money, but I had it. Man I was excited, it would start up and drive. The deal was struck and she was mine.

The fact that it did not have ‘tags’, or I did not have insurance, was not going to deter me from having a ball running the country back roads. Coming home one hot August afternoon from the swimming hole with seven teens inside and two on the running boards, the ‘big’ hill proved too much for her. The ‘rap, rap’ was the Babbitt bearings, engine shot; oh well, I had the other one, so with my father’s help, as well friends, we got her back on the road, my first engine swap.

September came, so off to school, grade 11, also came cooler weather. The Chevy had no heater; however, a friend, Johnny Dixon, approached me with a deal. He had a ‘54 Pontiac Chieftain with ‘tags’ and a heater and wanted the ’29. “I’ll give you the ‘54 and $75 to boot”, he said, “she’s yours”, I said.
The ‘29 went out of my life; I would see her again in the summer 1982 at Ellison and Annie’s 50th anniversary. She was red with black fenders; I had painted her a light blue, but she still looked good. I got my picture taken with the happy couple, that was neat, and then she was gone again.

My wife Heather and I had joined the N.B.A.A.C. in 1971 and have had different old cars over the years, but the old ‘29 Chevy was still in the back of my mind. Whenever I talked to her about it, she would say, “well, Trent, Gary and Heather with the ‘29 Chev why don’t you buy it back”, that was all I needed. It took several months to track it down, but I found it and bought it in July 2010, 47 years from the time I first bought it in 1963.

The car is a 1929 Chevrolet International two door sedan or ‘coach’, Chevy’s most popular model; it sold new for $495.The year 1929 was a big year for Chevrolet; this was a first for the six-cylinder engine, thus the longer hood, creating a more regal look to the car; also, it was a first for dimming headlights, what will they think of next?

Over the last three years I have had a great time rebuilding the car. Chevrolet cars of that era had a design problem in that they used wood in the construction of the bodies, thus many rotted out and went to the scrape yard. The ‘29 had the same issue, so some new wood plus metal went into rebuilding the body. The engine, I believe, is the same one that I swapped into it, I had it checked and it is still all OK.

The interior has been replaced with a new ‘LeBaron Bonney’ upholstery kit in an original blue color. The exterior color is ‘Nassau’ blue and very close to what I had painted the car ‘back in the day’.

I have relived a lot of memories working in the garage on the ‘old girl’, as they used to say. I saved a couple of the wheel nuts that still have some gold metal flake paint that I had put on them back in ‘63.It also hit me one day, as I was using my vise, that it was blue from the paint that I had painted the car with back then; awesome, so that is why I say she’s ‘TWICE MINE’.