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1962 Bel Air Family Wagon - Home Is Where The Heart Is

This Dad Recognizes The Importance Of Keeping A Family Under The Same Roof.

By Mike Ficacci, Photography by , Mike Harrington

The future of the car hobby, or any hobby for that matter, rests in the hands of the up-and-coming generation. I'm referring, of course, to the kid across the street who always seems to wander over when you have your hot rod out, or the teenager who can't seem to locate the beams while taking that first pass down the quarter-mile.

We've all been there in one way, shape or form, whether it was trying to locate an elusive hood latch, or dropping the clutch countless times before getting out of the driveway.

Kevin Goitia is no stranger to high-performance cars; he's built countless dream machines over the years out of Kev's Kars Inc. in Kenner, Louisiana. He and his wife have done the cruise nights, the Hot Rod Power Tour, and the weekend getaways more times than they can count.

So you can imagine the pride Kevin felt as he watched his three sons grow up to share his love of his favorite hobby. Then he found a way to harness and cultivate their passion.

"With my other hot rods, we always needed a chase car to store people, food, clothes, etc.," he said. "It was time for a change. Time to cruise as a family-in one vehicle, with style and space for everything we needed."

He told the boys to start looking for such a ride and, almost immediately, his older son struck gold on the Internet. The boy came across a beat up '62 Bel Air wagon. Not knowing a thing about eBay, the roles were reversed for that afternoon, as Ryan gave Pops an education on the many facets of online shopping. Soon after, they emptied the PayPal account, and the car was shipped to Louisiana.

Kevin said he was truly flabbergasted by the condition of his purchase. "When we received it, I though to myself, 'What a dog!' I opened the left front door and it dropped right off the hinges."

Dad and the boys began the process of stripping the '62 down to bare metal in hopes of having a finished product for the Power Tour less than a year away. "That was a mistake," Kevin recalled. "Ryan, Dustin, and I said we would never try that again. It just got way too intense."

They tackled the suspension first, visiting Darrin at Air Ride Technologies for his expertise and, ultimately, installed the company's airbags in both the front and rear. Then they added Baer 13-inch brakes, Billet Specialties Vintec wheels (18x8.5 front, 20x8.5 back), and BFGoodrich g-Force skins (245/40R18 front, 245/40R20 rear).

Keeping it simple in the engine bay is a rebuilt 5.7-liter small-block out of a '99 Yukon, backed by a three-speed automatic transmission. The last thing Kevin wanted was to be stuck on the side of the road with a malfunction of some sort-especially with his wife or one of his boys at the wheel.

"I also needed to keep my youngest son, Blaine, happy so I retained the air-conditioning system, and installed a Sony stereo/DVD system in the car."

There are many custom, one-off goodies throughout this wagon, but none more noticeable than the paint job. Done in-house, they began with a PPG red basecoat and expected the pinstripe/flame job to go off without a hitch. Boy, were they wrong.

"Applying the flames took more time than any one installation on the car, even though we had quite a few people working on it," said Kevin.

When they finished up, and the fat lady started singing, Kevin and his sons were able to stand back and look at the masterpiece they had created together. After 14 months of working as a team, the boys learned some great lessons through baptism by fire in the fabrication shop.

Then, in the summer of 2003, the family packed up the restored wagon and headed off on a 1,600-plus-mile inaugural run to that year's Power Tour. Since that first trip, they quickly accumulated more than 15,000 miles, stalled for awhile when Hurricane Katrina ripped the roof off their shop. Today, they're attending any and all car shows, cruises, and Super Chevy Shows they can get to.

With this project complete, the passing of the torch has officially taken place. Kevin's two older boys have projects of their own-a pair of vintage Chevrolet pickup trucks-a '72 and a '49.

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By Mike Ficacci
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