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Old Yeller and thumbs up

Old Yeller and thumbs up

When you’re near 70 and toddle around the countryside in an 11-year-old Silverado pickup with dented sissy bars — no one notices. This old-timer with the walrus mustache wearing a gimme cap may occasionally get a hand wave from atop a steering wheel from a fellow pickup driver on a rural road, but that’s about it.

A couple weeks ago, though, I was given at least two hands full of thumbs ups in a weekend in Alameda County in the South Bay area.

A great one came through the sunroof of a new Honda with dealer plates while rambling/rumbling down Altamont Pass into the San Joaquin Valley as I returned from my first road trip in Old Yeller.

I was coming back from the Good Guys West Coast Nationals car show in Pleasanton. Cars were flying down the pass four lanes wide, and I was weaving in and out and keeping up with the best of them in Old Yeller.

Old Yeller is my mistress — the only one my wife allows. She is a 1955 Chevy two-door sedan configured as a Pro Street car. That means she has a full roll cage, is back-halved, fully-tubbed with very wide tires in the rear and a 2-inch drop in the front. A 500-cubic-inch Rat motor (ask a gearhead what’s a Rat?) is attached to a 700-R overdrive transmission connected to a 4:11 rear end. It sounds incredible with engine gasses expelled through a 2.5 inch Flowmaster exhaust. It roars so loud you cannot hear yourself think. That’s OK, because I wear hearing aids anyway and noise doesn’t bother me — at least noise like that. If it starts to bother me, I just turn off the aids and let the rumble rattle through the old body. There are other goodies, like a pair of full-power 2006 Tahoe seats. I am an old hot rodder who wants to be comfortable. I think you can get the picture. If not, the above photo should do the trick.

A few of my non-gearhead friends have asked me why I have built such a hot rod rather than a stock car, and several gearheads could not believe I drove Old Yeller round trip from Fresno to Pleasanton. As for the second question, what else do you do with a car but drive it? It was not built to be a trailer queen. I have the windshield bugs to prove it.

As for the answer to the first question, I jokingly tell people I use it to frighten little old ladies in Fresno driving white pocket rockets, and to get thumbs up like from the Honda on Altamont Pass.

The Good Guys show was incredible. At least 3,000 of the coolest rides you will ever see. They were everywhere in town. It was rubberneck city for a weekend.

While the sunroof thumbs up was a nice gesture going home, the best was in town at a stoplight. This cute little thing glanced over and smiled and gave me a thumbs up. OK, it was the car, but the guy behind the wheel smiled back and mouthed “Thank you” and the young lady acknowledged Old Yeller’s wheelman with a responding nod and a bigger smile. Yes guys, she was over 21.

Old Yeller is a mid-life crisis my wonderfully understanding wife allows me to experience. Besides, my rear end won’t fit a Corvette. If you see a Harvest Gold and White Shoebox around, let me see a thumbs up and I will smoke the tires for free.