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First Drive: Out of the Garage with this 1947 Chevy Custom

Chances are you’ve had a car project of your own. It may have taken years, decades even, or maybe it was a much shorter endeavor. Maybe you built it on your own in your garage or, for those ballers out there, you bankrolled a shop to do the work. No matter if it was months or years in the making, hand-built or paid-for, I think the feeling is about the same when you get behind the steering wheel for the first time. You sit there with the motor running, about to make a left turn out of the driveway and then it hits. Your stomach curls, mind races – it’s the first drive. If you’ve done the work on the car yourself, like I've done a handful of times, your mind races to remember each step of the build. The feeling hits me like a ton of bricks each time. Did I tighten each bolt enough? How’s it going to drive? What might go wrong and why?


I recently got my 1947 Chevy roadworthy enough for her first test drive, making sure to get the paperwork done first so she’s all legal beagle first and we head out for a shake-down. She isn’t pretty yet, but that’s all part of my process.


The first order of business was to take her to a shop a few blocks from my house to get a few things done that I couldn’t do at home, like exhaust and alignment. My mind was on overload during the short trip thinking about everything that was going to go wrong.


Will it be one of those shameful times I call AAA for a rescue and tow back home? Will it fall apart like one of those bad Bug’s Bunny cartoons? During the first few trips I’m rebuilding the car over and over again in my head. Did I do this? Did I grease that? Why does that feel the way it does and how can I fix it? Although I like to drive old cars, but they must be safe and I like them to perform up to today’s standards.


Luckily for me, my hard work paid off this time. The trip was uneventful and we got home safe. Each time I head out in my “new” Chevy, I go a little further from home — making mental notes about what I need to do next to make her safe and smooth rolling.


For some, everything’s right the first time and you’re doing burnouts before you get to the end of the block. For most, it takes a number of back and forths to the garage before you get it all right. For some, things just don’t go your way for awhile! But it can all be fixed, right?


Like Han Solo said, “She might not be pretty, but has it where it counts kid.” For this project, there is still a ton of exterior work to do on my old girl (there’s already been a lot of customizing done) - but the bones are solid.


No matter how long you drive that car, you’ll always remember the first ride. What was yours?

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