I Missed Out on My Dream Car as a Teenager—Then Found It Parked in My Driveway 25 Years Later!

What are the odds of me being reunited with the very car I'd coveted a quarter-century ago?

My life from the teenage years onwards has always had a place for special vehicles, along with nature, agriculture and farming. While a high school student here in Lacombe, Alberta, I was involved in our local car club, The Road Hawks, which had two purposes: first, to restore and customize vehicles and second, to assist anyone needing help on the road. A “courtesy card” was always given to anyone we would help. Through this club, I became very good friends with the son of a much-respected General Motors dealership owner in Lacombe. Dave’s father was a huge collector of vintage cars, trucks and related memorabilia. After school, Dave and I would often head to his dad’s dealership to have a pop and do some janitorial work. On this one particular day—November 2, 1958—the dealership’s very first new 1959 model came into the showroom. It was a black-and-white fully loaded four-door hardtop, with rich red interior and a silver-fleck headliner. And those flat rear fins, wow! I fell in love with the car immediately and later tried to talk my mom and dad into buying it. Dad simply said, “Farmers don’t drive fancy cars like that.” End of conversation.

A local elderly retired couple bought the car and had put very few miles on it when the gentleman passed away several years after purchase. I did not want to bother the widow right away, but after a couple of months I dropped in, identified myself and told her l had always been interested in the ’59 hardtop.

“Oh,” she said, “I just sold it last week to a nice young couple from Edmonton.” I asked if she had a receipt as I would like to trace the car. “No,” she said, “they gave me cash and I gave them the keys.”

Several years later, a girl I went to our country school with dropped in for coffee and a visit about old times. When it came time for her to leave, I went out the back door to say goodbye and I nearly fell over and said, “Muriel, where did you find a car like that!”

“That’s the old Chapman car from Lacombe,” she replied. “I think we might sell it because our girls are just learning to drive and find it too big.”

I couldn’t believe it! I told her that whenever she was ready to sell, I would like to have first chance at buying it. Sure enough, they came by one Sunday afternoon, driving the ’59, saying it was for sale. I didn’t know if it was going to cost $500 or $5,000, but I really wanted it. The car had 36,760 original miles, had never been in an accident and was in mint condition. It even had the original seat covers and, thankfully, was in my price range.

I’ve always wondered why General Motors modified those big rear fins in later models, and now I know; when you meet a large semi-cargo hauler on a two-lane highway, you can feel the rear end lift a bit!

A family treasure today, our car now has vintage plates and has been used in weddings, driven in parades and displayed at car shows. Everyone admires it. What are the odds of me becoming the happy owner of my dream car a quarter-century after first seeing it? How lucky can one be!

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Originally Published in Our Canada