Bryan Goff pulls his freshly painted ’65 Chevelle into his favorite Petaluma, California, gas station to fill up for the evening’s cruise. He is approached by a man his father’s age with kind but envious eyes. The man says, “I had a car just like that, bought it new right off the showroom floor.” Bryan smiles, as he already knows the second half of this story. “I sold it for nothing long ago and wish I still had it,” he continued. We’ve all heard it before; had to it sell for college, a house, improvements, or a kid. Now when we see the new models come out, we don’t buy them thinking they will increase in value and it was no different in the ’60s and ’70s. Bryan’s generation was the first to see these muscle cars as an investment from the start. It wasn’t until it was too late that the baby boomers saw what was happening with these now classic cars. Bryan took this sentiment to heart and even his friends tease that he would probably be buried in his car. “That would be an insult to the car,” Bryan said jokingly.
He had an appreciation for cars early in life as his dad put him to work at his body shop in Los Angeles. Ten-year-old Bryan, oozing with energy, was put to work wet-sanding cars before they got their first coat of color. He went on to say, “Dad always had an old car or 11 at the house and he was very mechanically inclined.” Bryan doesn’t recall a teacher/student relationship but he took every opportunity to watch. The real wrenching didn’t start until he got his first car months before his 16th birthday.
The father-and-son pair checked out swap meets, car shows, and local ads for inspiration. Bryan developed a taste for early Impalas and box Novas. They predicted Impala’s near-20-foot nose to tail would be too much for the high school parking lots and drive-through lanes, but the Nova was a little petite. The early Chevelles were a perfect middle ground. Pop’s shop serviced the local police cars after the chase-induced fender benders, which led to the discovery of an officer’s ’65 Chevelle up for sale.
The functional drivetrain, primer body, and trunk full of trim was the perfect start for the sophomore. Dad surprised him with a straight body and new paintjob for his 16th birthday. For a kid with a hot street car, Bryan managed to avoid getting any speeding tickets, but there were close calls. Just being a kid in a bright-red muscle car seemed to be reason enough to warrant being pulled over.
Grown up, Bryan signed up for the Coast Guard just out of high school and has served for over 15 years. Throughout his enlistment he has moved all over California and even as far as Baltimore. Bryan drove the Chevelle everywhere he served. When he ended up in San Diego, he knew the 100,000 miles he had put on it had worn the car out, and it was ready to be freshened up. Dad kindly lent his carport to Bryan for repairs but while Bryan was on active duty, Dad didn’t expect much to get done. One day he walked over to see what Bryan had completed and saw it half apart. He was proud to see his son take advantage of the space and that he was doing it right. Bryan also saw this as the time to build it from ground up exactly the way he wanted it.