One super major-yet-quiet part of vintage Chevrolet ownership is collecting parts, accessories and whatever else suits one’s fancy. Back in the day, we simply called this “junk-yarding,” “hittin’ the boneyard” and “shakin’ the shelves and rafters.” You see, many in-the-know would take vacation time and visit rural Chevrolet dealerships off the beaten path in search of high-performance parts special-ordered, but then never sold. As years progressed, parts managers were glad to sell this stuff off for any fair, agreed-to price—quite often next to nothing. This also holds true for sales department banners, framed factory photos, and more specific to a single model and/or model year.
With my 53 years of hands-on, never-ending Chevy adventures, it has never ceased to amaze me when another veteran owner/collector shows something really neat that I’ve never seen before. Seven years ago, I was about to take photos of Garrett Stewart’s dual quad ’57 Bel Air from Waverly, Ohio. Before I began, he opened the trunk lid and removed a mint pair of ultra-rare, rolled up, 1956-issue, dealership and zone office factory bamboo window blinds—never seen or even heard of them before.
The following year on a multi-Chevy feature car shoot in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Holmen, Wisconsin’s Jim Carlson gave me a great tour of his “Auto Center USA” business (www.autocenterusa.com). It is a full service, parts and specialty car lot facility known to many worldwide. Secured out back were many ’59-’61 Impala bubbletop and opera roof bodies. I had heard of guys performing a bubbletop conversion, but never knew where they were getting the necessary parts. It would be neat to turn an opera roof ’62 Chevy (Impala sport coupe or Bel Air/Biscayne two-door sedan) into a big rear window “bubbletop.” Many have already been done.
I remember in 1963 gently prying a pair of aluminum side emblems off a ’60 Impala. Six years later in 1969, while touring a few acres of ’29-’40 cars and trucks on a past-dealer’s acreage in Fairfield, Iowa, I secured a late-’30s Chevy grille emblem. Not worth much, but neat nonetheless. I have enjoyed these and other keepsakes ever since—all securely stored in my rollaway toolbox lower drawer since the late ’60s. So, let me ask you, what’s hidden away in yours?