When I was 17 and graduating from High School in 1965, I wanted to get a better car. My older brother Glenn said that he was going to go shopping with me so that I did not buy a piece of S__t (Crap). We found a 1963 Grand Prix, metallic midnight blue, 389-4, 3-speed auto, cruise control, power antenna, power driver’s seat, reverb, but no air-conditioning. I fell in love with the car immediately. I did not have enough money for the down payment so Glenn said that he was going to loan me $400. I was in heaven driving this car. All of my friends would spend their evenings working in their garages on their cars trying to get them ready for the drag races on Saturday. I spent my evenings cruising the streets like Whittier Blvd. in Southern Calif. looking for beautiful girls.
I saved my money to pay my brother back the $400 and when I tried to hand him the money he took a swing at me. I ducked and he knocked over a lamp. I wrapped my arms around him so he could not swing at me again. Then he said “Don’t you know that I was giving you that money?” He was always watching out for me and trying to help me not make mistakes in life. He refused to take the money. He said to use it and do something nice on the car. So, I took the 8-lug wheels off the back of the car and I installed Oldsmobile revers chrome wheels with basket spokes and pop offs. It really made the car pop. I wanted to do the same for the front but so much more was involved with that so it was on my wish list. At the time, I did not know how popular the 8-lug wheels would become.
I had the car until 1967 when I got drafted. I sold the car because I felt that I would not be able to keep up the car payment while in the Army. I later found out that they had a program for draftees where you could make $1.00 a month payments and then continue your payments when you were discharged from the service. I was pissed that I had sold MY CAR.... however with the Vietnam war going on, I believed that I would wind up in Vietnam and I was not coming home.
When I did wind up in Vietnam, each morning I would pray to God to give me a sign if I was going home and if not, to please let me die today to get over being in that hell. I volunteered for ever dangerous job that no one else wanted to do like walking point on patrols, demolition (responsible for blowing up mortars and artillery shells that had not exploded) and blowing up enemy booby traps and VC tunnels (Tunnel Rats).
I started receiving what I felt were signs from God that I was going to go home. The first was when I was walking point on patrol and I hit a trip wire that was connected to a Chinese grenade tied to a bush about 4 feet from me. The grenade went off but the powder was wet and it just went up in smoke instead of exploding in my face. The second sign was just a couple of days after the Tet offensive in 1968. My squad was being sent out on a patrol and while we were getting our gear ready to leave, our cook came over and said that he needed someone from our squad for KP (Kitchen Patrol). All of a sudden I realized that my arm was up in the air. So off I went with the Cook while my squad argued about who would take my place walking point. A friend of mine, Keith Rodgers said that he would do it if he could carry my M-79 grenade launcher. We were dug in on top of a hill and the patrol walked down hill towards the jungle. Ken started walking into the jungle and the enemy command detonated a 155 artillery shell right in Kens face, killing him instantly. Kenneth Rodgers and just died in my place. The Army bombed, napalmed, and artillery and mortars blew the hell out of this patch of jungle all night long.
The following morning we were going to send out another patrol and this time I was walking point. As we jot towards the bottom of the hill I saw two VC run over and jump into a bunker. I carried an M-72 LAW Rocket Launcher and I pulled it out to shoot a rocket at the bunker. The LAW is designed to blow up tanks and bunkers. They will penetrate up to 11 inches of steel, 30 inches of dirt and the have one hell of a punch. Well, instead of the rocket launching and going to the VC bunker, the rocket blew up on my shoulder. There is no way that a human being could survive that explosion but I did. This was the last sign that I needed from God. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital and 2 weeks later I was sent home. I had lost about 40% of my hearing in both ears.
On return from Vietnam I wanted to have a really fun car so I built a 1930 Model-A installing a 289 Mustang motor and drive train. It was fun, radical as hell, but required a lot of maintenance. I sold it and purchased a 1945 Harley Davidson Knucklehead Motor Cycle. It took me over a year to get it customized just the way that I wanted it. I then went through several radical years of my life that I call “My Motorcycle days.”
Now I am retired. I have always wished that I could have my 63 Grand Prix back but boy had the price of these cars gone up. I had been looking for a good buy on one for about 3 years and I finally found a 64 that I thought was a good deal. It tuned out that it has a lot more work on it that needs to be done but I am currently restoring this car the best I possibly can by myself. It has a 389 with Tri-Power, 3 speed automatic, Power Steering, Brakes, windows, driver’s seat, 8-lug wheels, and Air-Conditioning. Living in Arizona that was a must have. It does not have a Power antenna or Cruise Control. I think adding the Cruise Control is cost prohibitive.
I did not estimate that parts for this car would be so hard to find. I currently am looking for the following:
1. Rear Window, left side stainless steel dress molding.
2. Right side, fender mounted remote mirror.
3. A 1964 bumper jack that works.
I have several reasons for wanting to restore this car:
1. I enjoyed the 1963 Grand Prix more than any car I have ever had. I want to put a Grand Prix back on the road as a sort of thank you for all of the good times that my Grand Prix gave me.
2. My brother Glenn was killed in a car accident in 1979. I want to build a car that he would have been proud of as he loved cars more than anyone I have ever know. This 64 Grand Prix will be a tribute to Glenn, my big brother, my best friend. I am going to build something that Glenn owned into the interior of the car. That is a stainless steel screw that was one of the 4 that he had screwed into his skull when he was 12 years old and he had volunteered for an experiment spine surgery to fuse the spine into a solid bone. Glenn had had Polio that ate all of his muscles in the upper portion of his body and he would have become a hunch back with this surgery. He was an amazing person. His dedication to doing things right got him promoted in his job. He became the Chief Test Conductor for the command modules for the Apollo Space missions.
I attached a few pictures of my cars and such. I have more.