When I was a kid growing up in Southern California I really liked going to the gas station with my dad in our pickup truck. I've mentioned the truck before-it was a Kodiak brown big-window '58 Chevy with a hopped-up small-block under the hood. The old man always seemed to know where there was a gas war going on, and that would be the station that wem headed off to. Sometimes it was the Hudson station across the street from Reynolds Buick in Covina with Premium at 29.9 cents, or maybe the Martin station in West Covina had the best prices around. My dad would often tell my mom we had to go get some Purple Martin in the Chevy, and then maybe we might go look at some new cars. Looking at new cars with the old man was always fun too, because that usually meant we were going to take something out for a testdrive.
I think if I had to narrow it down to my all-time favorite testdrive story with the old man it would have to have been when the '66 Oldsmobile Toronado first came out. After checking out the new '66 Rivieras at Reynolds Buick we jumped back in the '58 and drove over to Mandy Williams Oldsmobile. Back then there didn't seem to be any kind of real procedure when it came to testdrives, sometimes the salesman went with you, and sometimes he didn't. In the case of the Toronado, for whatever reason the salesman was insistent that he come along.
I was bummed-out because it meant I had to ride in the back seat like a 13-year-old kid, instead of being cool and cruising in the front seat. I don't think my dad really cared one-way or the other because he had a mission to accomplish. Not in the sense of flying a brand-new Boeing bomber underneath a bridge during World War II, but it was a mission nevertheless. The ultimate goal was to see how fast the new Olds Toronado could go up Kellogg Hill. Our souped-up '61 Buick Invicta could hit a 100 up Kellogg and that was always the benchmark that my dad held other cars up to. I could tell right from the moment when we first pulled onto the east-bound San Bernardino Freeway that the big 'ol gold Oldsmobile with the chrome wheels was going to make a good run. Everything was perfect, traffi c was light and we got a good clear lane with nothing up ahead. The Toro hit a hundred and just kept climbing, but then suddenly at 105 mph the salesman who had started to clench his fists at 80 was now tilting his head way back and screaming like a girl. Looking back and trying to remember anything beyond that point in time is just a blur, and now that I really think about it, maybe I should file this one under "poorbastard stories" instead of "testdrives with the old man."
Getting back to the '58 and remembering going to the gas station was always fun because when my dad would open the hood there would always be someone that had to see why the truck sounded so badass when it pulled up. The first thing that people would do was read Corvette on the valve covers and then it was nothing but oohs, and ahs from there. I've never forgotten how good that felt, and upon contemplating it just now, I have to admit that underneath the hood of some of my trucks is nothing to write home about, but that's all about to change. I'm going to start with some of my older trucks first, because the newer ones with all that smog junk and hoses running everywhere are going to really take some effort. I guess the first step will be to break it down into Fords and Chevys, I only have one Dodge. Starting with this issue I'm really going to kick out the jambs on my '72 F-100. To get a closer look, check out the story in this issue where I've installed a set of RHS heads along with some other super trick stuff. Moving on to my '56 F-100 with a 272-inch Y-block motor in it, I think I'll heat up the 272 before I yank it out and drop in either a 292 or a 312. There is one thing for sure, and that is my '56 will always have a Y-block in it.
Moving on to the Chevys, I think I'll start with my '66 short Fleet. We've already tossed out the compound 4-speed truck tranny in favor of a 5-speed Tremec conversion from Classic Chevy 5-Speed. The next step-after logging over 10,000 miles with the Classic Chevy 5-Speed behind a stock truck 327-is to move up to some serious performance with a Power Crate 350 engine with 400 horsepower from YearOne. I'm really looking forward to driving the '66 when that baby is dropped in. They say you can never go back, but I think for a shakedown run I'll drive out the San Gabriel Valley and see what the old girl will do up Kellogg Hill. I'll bet it's over a hundred. Then after that if I'm not in police custody, I think I'll rumble into a local cut-rate gas station and pop the hood. -John Gilbert