55 and Counting
By Gary M. Moore
Dec. 10, 1964 — my active duty discharge date from artillery school at Fort Sill (Oklahoma). From there, I would return to my Massachusetts home unit at the National Guard Armory in Salem for my formal separation.
I’m Don Moore, 19 years old with separation pay in my pocket and dreams of a new car. Not any car, but a first-year ’64 Chevelle Malibu Super Sport convertible. I had seen one on base. It was love at first sight!
By this time — December of ’64 — I am home and now the ’65 Chevelles are out. I loved the lines and the mid size. The ’65s are similar to the ’64 model,but with the extra horsepower of the 327s. A 19-year-old can’t resist horsepower.
I went down the street from my home in Marblehead to the Brown and Merrill Chevy dealership, established in 1923 and one of the oldest Chevy dealerships in the country. Cliff Brown himself waited on me. After negotiations that started with a sticker price of $3,516.20, we settled on a sale price of $3,050 cash on delivery. I owned my “dream car,” a truly sharp-looking red 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS convertible with a four-speed and the 300-hp 327-cid V-8. The Chevelle also boasted a matching red interior, a black manual top (yes manual, power was extra money), standard steering and brakes. No power! I paid for a few extras including an AM radio, driver-side rearview mirror, dual rear antennas, wire-spoke stainless-steel wheel covers and whitewall 7.75x14 tires. I burned off those two-ply rayon tires in less than a month and had to replace them before my mother found out.
As a 19 year old, my father had to co-sign for the purchase. Meanwhile, my mother didn’t know that I had ordered a V-8! I was lucky enough she agreed to my having a radio on board since they were such a “distraction” to safe driving. What would she say about today’s on-board devices?
Life followed with its usual predictable activities; work, marriage, a house, kids, their education, sports and, sadly, a divorce. Somehow the SS survived all those years, despite my wife’s hitting everything but the lottery with it. After some 20 years of wear and tear, I took the opportunity to provide the SS with a “light” restoration. Though our marriage was kaput, my former wife and I agreed that the Chevelle was worth saving. She agreed to allow its placement in storage at the home garage that, in recent years, I had rebuilt and expanded.
About 1997, I dragged the car out of storage, had the engine rebuilt, did other basic maintenance and drove it for a couple of years. In 2000, I decided it was time for a complete body-off-frame restoration. Three years later, I drove the SS home, finished some additional detail items and have enjoyed her since. She lights up area concours d’elegance and local car shows alike. Taking her out to travel our beautiful oceanfront roadways is a special delight.
I have also had the privilege of being chosen to drive our veterans in local parades, often times as the grand marshal vehicle. Vets from the Great War through the latest conflicts in the Middle East have enjoyed the exposure of their heroism aboard the bright red Super Sport. Today, I am mindful that our WorldWar I vets are all gone. They were indeed all very special, and I thank them!
In September 2020, the local National Grand Bank will hold its annual old car show and the SS and I will be there to celebrate my 75th year of life and 55 years of proud ownership of my ’65 Malibu SS. I hope to see lots of my old friends at the show, but being only a few feet from the site of the Brown and Merrill dealership where I purchased the car so many years ago, I particularly wish to visit with the guy that sold me the car, Cliffy Brown. He was at the show in 2015 when he threatened to take back the keys. Now, he will be 90 years young, I will be 75 and the car will be 55.The only keys left to steal will be the ones to our grateful hearts.
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