You know how it is. The yen comes over you like a blanket and there's no stopping it, no ignoring it off. And once you find the object of your desire-or a close facsimile-you put your bread on the table, drag it home, and the real work begins. The time you spend with it becomes the near-palpable investment. Money you can always recover, but when time is gone you can't ever get it back.
At CHP we strive to find material that is owner vested. We see that sweat equity. We see the late nights. We see the all-nighters. What we don't see are the strain it puts on your family, the broken promises to your wife and kids, and the missed birthdays and anniversaries, all for the love of an inanimate thing. Jim Baker tried hard for none of that to happen, so his '66 Chevelle SS took a little longer than some to finish. Maybe it's more resto than restomod and doesn't have all the really cool stuff he envisioned, but it represents just as much validation as a ride costing three times as much.
To keep the lid on uncontrolled expenses, Jim did everything himself except for putting on the paint and hanging the headliner, right there on the floor of his garage. He was not without the assistance of the proverbial cavalry, though. "I had much help from True Connections for many of the N.O.S. parts I needed," he says. And man, did he need them.
His SS was a basket case. "I really didn't want such a project," he says. "I had looked for four years and I had a budget. Everything else I'd seen was extremely rusty. I bought this one because it had a straight body, good bumpers, a good grille, and a four-speed transmission. It was a real 138 car [first numbers of an SS VIN]. The dash was missing, but everything else-the wiring, chrome bits, driveshaft, console and many boxes of parts-was in the trunk."
He found his Chevelle Named Desire not far from his Southern California digs. It was being held captive by a car nut just like him, who had way too many projects he wasn't about to finish. Jim peeled off $3,400, basically the cost of a piano the guy wanted for his wife. The car was originally from the Bakersfield area and it had been inert for more than 20 years. The factory Madeira Maroon Metallic it had worn proudly 40 years hence had been all but obliterated by the natural elements and bad karma out on the flats.