A little about me & my cars…

Hi there. My name is Jeff Thisted, and this is my story about me and my 1955 Chevy…
I drive a 1955 Chevy 210 Handyman station wagon.
It’s my daily driver, and my only car.
First of all I’m a car-guy.
I love cars, all cars, but I’m partial to Chevy.
I’ve owned a few over the years:
My first car was a 1971 VW Super Beetle. It was orange and it was a 4-speed. Growing up in Colorado, the Bug was great in the snow.
After college I sold the bug and bought a 1989 Honda Prelude. What was I doing in a Prelude?!? Well, my mom had one, they drove nice, never had any mechanical problems and she co-signed the loan with me. I drove the little Prelude to LA with my first wife to follow my dreams of becoming America’s favorite TV game show host.
While I was working on a gig in Hollywood CA, I walked out to where I had parked my car and it was gone.
Welcome to LA kid.
The police called me four hours later and told me they found the bare frame in Los Felez.
It turns out Honda Preludes are worth more in pieces than they are as whole cars.
With the insurance money I bought another used Honda Prelude and a Suzuki Intruder motorcycle.
The motorcycle got totaled when a driver made the old left-turn-in-front-of-me trick.
The motorcycle was totaled but my leg was salvageable after 9 surgeries, 3 plates, 35 screws and an 18 inch titanium alloy rod.
While I was in the hospital I got a call from insurance saying that my wife had wrecked my Prelude with a guy in Vegas. Really?!?
So… No more motorcycle. No more Prelude. And no more wife.
My mom was sitting with me in my Hospital room when I got the news.
When I started thinking about what kind of car to buy my mom said to me: “You know… you don’t have any responsibilities right now. No more wife and no one to answer to. Why don’t you get a car you’ve always wanted? I’ve always heard you talk about old Corvettes. Why don’t you buy an old Corvette?”
My Mom – the voice of reason – telling me I should buy and old Corvette?!?
I stopped looking at whatever it was I was looking at and started looking at my favorite year Corvette: 1969.
I think it took me two weeks to find exactly what I wanted: a 69 small block convertible with no power steering, no air conditioning and no power brakes located in Connecticut.
I had a cashier’s check FedExed and had the car was delivered the next week.
I was still recovering from one of the surgeries after my motorcycle accident when the Vette arrived.
I had a fair amount of hardware in my leg and I still couldn’t bear to push in the clutch pedal. I asked my surgeon if it was ok and he told me:
“You can put as much pressure on it as you can physically bear, but you’ll never be able to push in that clutch pedal.”
After that I spent hours a day trying to push in that clutch damn pedal.
At least a couple of weeks went by and the pedal wouldn’t budge.
When it went in I didn’t even have the keys with me. I had to hobble back up the stairs to my apartment on my crutches to get the keys so I could fire it up.
My old Corvettes stiff clutch pedal helped me to walk again.
The Vette ended up being the star-car on the TV show JAG for a decade.
With the car working on a TV show and making more money than I was at the time, I decided to look for another car since the Vette was my daily driver and only car at the time. I found a 1968 Chevy Impala station wagon just down the road from me in Venice, CA. I bought it with over a ¼ inch of house paint brushed to it.
Yes… the house paint was brushed on.
The Impala had a 396, but it was a little tired, so we took it out and dropped in a fire-breathing 468.
I painted it blue with bright yellow flames.
It was a beast! But it was a rust-bucket.
I got rid of the wagon, but not before snatching the 468 & T400 out of it.
Then I found a 1972 K5 Blazer with a seized up 350. Bought the K5 and with the help of 1972 Big Block Corvette valve covers and an 8 pound sledge hammer I slid the big 468 & T400 into the K5.
The K5 was my Frankenstein.
It had a 468/T400/NP205/Dana 60 front/14 Bolt rear, 4-wheel power disc brakes, power steering, 45-gallon fuel cell, 10-point roll cage, Corbeau seats and a Rhino-Lined interior.
I got rid of the K5 because of future-ex-wife number 2…
Then I got a little 2001 S10 Blazer that became my daily driver.
While my first “real car,” the 1969 Corvette convertible, was sitting under a cover in my garage.
Sitting. Gathering dust. Breaking my heart.
I had had the old Vette for almost 20 years.
The Vette didn’t fit my water-ski gear, mountain bike or any of my camping gear so I rarely drove it.
It was time to let it go.
I told my sister-in-law and the next day I got a phone call from my brother:
“Is it true?” he said
I didn’t know what he was talking about.
He said: I want the Vette.
He said: “I want the Vette, but I don’t ever want it to come between us. Is that cool?”
I said: “It’s a car, you’re my family. It’ll never come between us. Besides, you’re keeping it in the family. Thanks!!”
So I sold the Vette and start looking for an old station wagon.
Why a wagon?
I dunno. I’ve always like ‘em. You can hot-rod ‘em and carry all your stuff.
Initially I was initially thinking more along the lines of a first-gen Chevelle wagon.
But then I remembered the Tri-Fives. I love the Tri-Fives and the 55 is my favorite.
So I started searching.
The car had to have a 350, Power Steering, Air Conditioning and power front disc brakes.
It took me seven months, but finally I found it in upstate New York. And I found it on eBay of all places.
Buying the car was a pleasure, but getting it shipped out here was a nightmare.
A lot of those carriers are shysters out to get your money.
After waiting over a month my new 55 still hadn’t been picked up, so I called the carrier and asked to have my hold fee refunded because I was going to go another way.
They said they’d give me a refund but it never went thru.
I had to ask my credit card company to go to bat for me and get my money back.
Then to add insult to injury, the car arrived with no license plates on it.
In the pictures it proudly displayed the old California blue plates with yellow lettering, but when it arrived they were gone.
I asked the driver: “Hey man, where’re the license plates?”
“The car didn’t have any plates when we picked it up.” He told me.
I got on the phone and called the seller who told me they were on the car when it left on the transporter.
He then apologized and said he should’ve taken them off and put them inside the car.
So the old blue-plates were gone.
I tried to file a claim against the carrier but there’s a $200 minimum and the plates didn’t qualify.
All I could do is report them stolen.
But, I finally got my new car!!
I couldn’t drive it without plates & registration, and I couldn’t just let it sit.
I had to play.
Before the 55 had even been picked up in New York, I went to Summit Racing and ordered a new K&N air filter, an Optima Red Top battery and a 6-pack of Royal Purple 20w-50 synthetic oil & filter.
First I put on the K&N air filter, then the Optima red top and finally I jacked it up and changed the oil & filter.
In my mind we was ready for the world.
Little did I know we had a long journey ahead of us.
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4 thoughts on “A little about me & my cars…

  1. Love the story Jeff. I remember all too well of your hard times at the beginning in LA. While I was in San Diego at that time, I felt so sorry for you. You did forget to mention that along with your motorcycle accident and wife issue, there was a huge earthquake and fires. Man, you went through a lot of stuff your 1st year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kev! I completely forgot about the earthquake & fires. I also forgot to mention the first “Welcome to LA” incident. We had just arrived in LA. Santa Monica to be more specific. We were gonna stay at my cousin Dan’s place until we got settled. They say it never rains in Southern California, but it was pouring down rain when we showed up. It rained all night. The next morning I went out to the car and found a palm tree branch had smashed in my windshield. My first night in LA. Welcome to LA kid…


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