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Updated on May 06, 2012
WHEN A CAR IS MORE THAN JUST A CAR
Thanks to all who rated our '68 Polara and story to #1 Top Ride on February 4, 2009!!!
I share the story below as an example of the special place cars often hold in our lives. Although we all love the popular classics, most memories were born in ordinary rides. This is an example and I hope it motivates other car enthusiasts to consider doing something similar for someone they love. I wrote, performed and home video recorded a song inspired by the story titled "Wheels of Love". For those interested, the lyric and link to listen to the YouTube video is on page 2.
This little adventure began in August 2008 during a visit with friends to a weekend truck show in Carlisle, PA, where I started collecting 1:18 scale diecast model classic cars and trucks. Shortly after my return, I happened to ask my wife, Louise, if she had a favourite old car, and she immediately said a "1968 Dodge Polara 500, 4 door, blue". I asked her why, and she said it's because it was the last car her father owned at the time of his death on Nov. 30, 1968, and that her mother (who died in 1988) then learned to drive. She went on to say that the Polara represented the freedom the family needed to get through the tragedy and begin healing. I asked her if she'd like me to find a diecast model. She said "yes".
Well, after a lot of searching the internet, no model is made, but in early September, I stumbled on a web-site where a real '68 Polara 500, 4 door, blue, 318 ci, only 70K miles, was offered for sale. The car is an exact duplicate of the one owned by Louise's Dad 40 years earlier, including colour, inside and out. There it was, sitting in the garage of a house located in Calgary, Alberta, about 3,000 miles west of my home in Chelsea, Quebec (just outside Ottawa, Ontario). Had I found one of those gems!?
I contacted the seller, Bob in Calgary, who is the son of the original owner who had passed-away. Bob was very helpful to make this happen and after numerous email/photo exchanges and arranging to have it checked out by a local Calgary mechanic, unknown to Louise, I bought the car. I had it shipped by autotruck and it arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at a local classic car restoration body and detailing shop that I had made pre-arrangements with. The only bit of rust was behind the rear wheels and new metal has been fabricated, with minimal painting in that area. Apart from that, it's all original, and everything works. I picked it up Friday, Nov. 28, got a safety check (passed, no problem), registration, license and insurance.
I also had old photos scanned of Louise's Dad (Gilles) and Mom (Rollande), placed it in a small plastic frame and affixed it to the dash.
On Sunday, Nov. 30, the 40th anniversary of Louise's father's death -- having made arrangements to have the car sitting in the same driveway at the old family home in downtown Ottawa as the original Polara did 40 years earlier -- I presented the car to Louise, again, totally unknown to her. As we pulled into the driveway in our '03 Mazda Protege5, our two sons and their girlfriends, and my parents were on-site, hiding, and armed with cameras. Upon seeing the car, and especially the photos of her parents on the dash, Louise was an emotional wreck -- but overjoyed!
The photo above is Louise and I driving off to visit the cemetery to pay respects to her parents and other family members laid to rest there, then a drive to Rockland, Ontario to surprise her sister Nicole, who was also stunned. With Nicole, we then drove east to Alfred, Ontario, travelling the same road Louise, Nicole and their parents did so many times before 40 years ago in the original Polara, to visit the sites of their Dad's family, long since passed-away.
Oh yeah, the car now has a nickname: "Gilro" a combo of Louise's parents first names.
Update: A great gift has been given to my wife and I by CarDomain member LedZeppelin on behalf of the renowned The Mobilized 5. LZ had read our story and emailed me to request a side photo of our Polara, saying his family had a Polara when he was young (turned out to be a Plymouth Fury) and he hoped to see a side profile. I emailed him a picture. As I mentioned at the beginning of our story, the purchase of our '68 Polara started out as a search for a 1:18 scale diecast model. LZ also collects miniatures, 1:64 scale is his preference. He sent me an email with the pic below and at first, I thought he'd actually found a model of the '68 Polara. My wife and I were floored, partially thinking I could have saved us a lot of money! Just kidding! LZ is also very good at graphics rendering and he actually took the time to use the pic of our Polara that I'd emailed him, to create the image to make me think he'd found a model. When we realized what he'd done, we couldn't believe it. We appreciate so much such a kind and generous gesture. Thanks LZ, and the other members of the M5: Frdbrnk408, fireball22, TEKWATCH and MoparRob07.
Below are some recent photos taken at home, fall 2011:
Displaying entries 1-5 of 67
I use to own one of these, same color too. I wish I still had it :(
Sweet mopar all 5 *****
Great story! The Sunday, Nov. 30th story, misted me up a bit! Quite a gesture! Enjoy your C-body! I enjoy mine!!
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