THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - December '14

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The Man Dressed in Black Leather I've always been into cars and motor- cycles. My father had been in the automo- tive industry in some form for most of his life. He'd owned a gas station when I was a toddler and I would stack the oil cans out at the pumps. I was the only kid in first grade draw- ing cars. I lived down the street from this little hot rod shop called The Syndicate of Speed. I was in grade school and that place was so alluring and exciting. It was the early '60s and the hot rods that used to pull up there were bad-to-the-bone seri- ous, no-frills rides. I'd hear them peel out and run up front to see them screaming away down the street. I even remember the first time I ever saw a chopped motorcycle. I must have been all of three years old as my legs were very short. I heard this incredible noise out back and ran to the edge of the hill behind my parents' house. The entrance to the Bissel Bridge sat at the bottom of the hill and I saw a man dressed in black leather riding this incredible machine, living life at a level I could never have imagined. Between this image and the cars at the speed shop, I knew exactly what I wanted out of life. Blowing Head Gaskets Fast forward to 1976. My father was not the greatest businessman but he had lots of heart and never gave up. He had opened a little mobile auto parts business selling starters, alternators and brake shoes out of this deathtrap, top-heavy, under- powered delivery van that was the size of a UPS truck. It was the kind of truck that was always overheating and blowing head gaskets in the middle of nowhere. To this day I am an expert at removing a radiator cap from a radiator a nanosecond away from exploding. Applying the brakes on a steep hill required bravery the equivalent of bungee jumping off the Empire State Building, as you had to pump them up a few times before the truck would even think of stopping. This is what I learned to drive in. My first and only driving lesson consisted of my dad pulling the truck over on Route 2, 1981, this is me with two of my Mustangs. My beloved '66 Mustang that I built which featured a 302 block with 289 close chambered heads, 600 Holley carb, 4-speed Toploader and Hooker headers. The '69 fastback behind it had a 351 Cleveland Cobra Jet motor. December 2014 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 83 1982—I'm installing the 427 motor in my 1968 Cougar CT Eliminator. 1983—I never should have sold the Cougar. But I did.

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