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The personality of those old cars

October 2, 2011
By John Sheda
I graduated from South Tama High School in 1969. What a great era to grow up in. I have lived in Independence for over thirty years and my three daughters are most definitely "Mustangs" but Deb (Veit) and I shall always be "Trojans." Some things just never change. In the era of the fifties and sixties, cars were really something to behold. They were a young man's dream. If you don't believe me, go back and watch "Happy Days" or "Grease." Had to have those "souped-up" cars. Take her out on the quarter-mile and see what she could do. 

 The first car of my very own was a 56 Chevy Bel-Air. Sky-blue and white two-toned, two door beautiful car. Dad helped me buy it from a farmer in the area and it had about 75 thousand miles on it. Lots of miles back in those days. I bought it in 1967 for 275 bucks. I loved that car. The guy I bought it from was a bit on the heavy side, thus the front seat springs were shot but as long as I could see over the steering wheel, I was "in like flin." The car only had one small problem---it didn't like to start! Buying a car battery was out of the question, (weak bill-fold), but parking it on a slight downgrade was the perfect solution. Put that baby in neutral, give her a little push and then "pop the clutch." And she took right off. Y'all remember that popping the clutch thing, don't you? Heck, ya. 

 My second car was a 1960 Corvair. No, no...not corvette! A Corvair.   That little car with the engine in the back. Loved this car too but it was always a headache keeping it running. That engine in the back may have worked for the Volkswagon Bug, but it sure didn't for the Corvair.  However, it is on my Bucket List to someday get a Corvair. Does anyone have on out there????  My third car was The Car----a baby blue 1965 Mustang 2+2 Fastback. Bought it in Vining---Riha Motor Company. Ran the "bejeebers" of it. I always figured with a great car like this, it would always be easy to pick up the chicks, but alas, I guess it must have taken more than just a great car.

 Now interspersed between these cars of mine, my folks usually had pick-up trucks but one time Dad bought a 57 Pink Cadillac. It was about ten years old or so but that was a car. Long with big fins, a big trunk and a big engine. It was a beauty. Ten miles to the gallon but who cared---gas was only 31 cents a gallon. Head out to Zhorne's Gas Station, fill-er-up and charge it to the "old man" and away we went.

 But enough of my cars. It's been a long time ago but I do remember Ken Behounek and his 63 dark blue Chevy Impala Convertible. Yes, Convertible! We were the "cat's meow" when we drove around Tama-Toledo every Friday and Saturday night. Scoop the Loop is what we called it. We often had the old Chelsea gang; Joe, Mary Jean, Lois, Debbie (my wife, now), Tom, Chuckie, and some others from time to time. We had a lot of fun. I think Ken had a 327 engine and when he popped that!!

 My good friend, Glen Sedlacek had the car of cars. His first was right out of that old song...."Three Deuces and a Four-Speed." Glen had a 1964 GTO! With 3-Deuces and a 4-speed. Talk about zero to 60 in a short time. Can anyone say "whip-lash?" Later, Glen bought "The Judge." Remember that car? Bright orange! What a car. Chuckie Formanek bought a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Bright Purple, if my memory serves me correct. Where did these guys get the money?  I still had the Corvair!! My good friend, the late Larry Behounek, surprised us all one day when he drove up to the Silver Dollar Tavern in a brand new, 1974 Gran-Torino. What a beautiful car. It looked exactly like Clint Eastwood's car in the movie of the same name. It was a beaut!

 But the car of all cars has to go to my friend, Jim Hayek. Jim had a 1969 Chevy Super-Sport with a 396 engine. Two-door and dark blue.   I remember only two things about being in this car; when Jim and I went to Duluth, Minnesota for my brother's wedding. Jim let me drive that baby most of the way. It was a little slice of heaven. The second time I remember riding in his car was when four of us were going from Chelsea to Belle Plaine and Jim and I changed seating positions in the car----while it was moving quite fast. Jim was in the driver's seat and I was in the back seat opposite the driver. Larry, who was in the front side passenger's seat was told to keep his foot on the gas pedal while we changed seats. And change seats we did. And we lived. No crash. But right now as I am typing this, my heart is beating a little faster and my forehead a little sweaty. That was scary.

 As I close this drive down memory lane, I called Deb to ask her about her car and if she had any recollections of cars of old boyfriends and the such. She had a 1970 Chevy Impala she bought from Prusha Motor Company. When I asked her if she remembered any other cars, she replied, "I just remember if they were red, blue or green. Most of my girl friends didn't know a thing about cars." However she did call me back and said she does remember her brother, Jerry having a 1957 Chevy, powder blue and in perfect shape...........until a tornado ripped through the farm and a tree landed on the car. And she also remembers Jerry's brand new red 1969 Mercury Cougar. Deb was so tickled when he let her drive it. 


So, what kind of car did you drive? What was your very first car? Let me know at or call me at 319-334-4117. Have a great week. Meet me at the quarter-mile just south of town.



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