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Ron Cherry: Passion for going topless – in cars, that is

Ron Cherry
1940 was the last year for the Ford design that started in 1937 and is the most desired for many collectors. 1941 brought in a whole new era of Fords.
Submitted Photo |

Wayne Davis is well known locally for his passion for toplessness. It all started in 1999 when his uncle decided to sell a 1950 Mercury Monterey convertible that had been in the family since new.

One of Wayne’s aunts told him about it and he decided to buy it. However, the car had been up on blocks for years and was not exactly easily accessible.

“I had to trim a tree, take down a fence and move a greenhouse to get it out,” Wayne recalled. But he did get it out and, after three years of work, got it on the road. From then on, Wayne has been devoted to toplessness.

Since the ’50 Merc, Wayne has owned ten convertibles, topless cars, and still owns five. In 2010, the National Auto Museum in Reno, devoted an exhibit of five of his cars on a rotating gallery.

“It was the highlight of our collecting hobby,” Wayne said about his and wife Alzina’s cars. “It was really neat. We’re still involved with the museum.”

Over the years, they’ve bought cars that came in all conditions.

“Some needed a lot of work,“ he said. “And some not so much.”

He described a ’53 Buick Skylark convertible that was “a rust-bucket sitting in a field in Applegate.” After Wayne finished with the Buick, he said, “A guy came along and said ‘I love your car.’ He wanted to buy it and I told him what I wanted. He said, ‘Okay,’ and sent me the money. That was an easy one.”

That kind of automotive expertise does not happen overnight. Wayne started driving when he was only 10 years old.

“My granddad left a ‘41 Plymouth he couldn’t drive anymore behind our house,” he remembered, “so I did.” He’s never stopped loving and working on cars. But there were a few setbacks. When he went into the service, he had a chopped-top ‘34 Ford Victoria (Vicky) and a ‘30 Ford Model A roadster pickup hot rod that he left with his mother for safekeeping. “A phone guy was up on a pole one day and saw them. He asked Mom if she wanted to sell them and she said yeah.” Wayne paused. “I still love my mom.”

Wayne’s latest acquisition is a ‘40 Ford Deluxe convertible. “I first found it in Hemings, then saw it on eBay. The ‘Buy-it-now’ price seemed fair, so I bought it,” he said. For many, eBay cars are pariahs. There are many stories of cars purchased on eBay that turn out to be nightmares. Wayne’s is not one of those. The seller was in Indiana, so stopping by to check the car out was not an easy task. “He sent a lot of pictures and we talked a lot on the phone,” Wayne said. “I went on faith.” Whether he was wise or lucky is a matter of opinion, but Wayne was right.

The ‘40 Ford had a frame-off restoration about ten years before he bought it. He has not been disappointed with its condition. “The paint, the rubber, everything was good,” he said. It was completely stock, including the 6-volt ignition system and 85 HP flathead V-8 engine. It had a 3-speed trans with a column-mounted shifter, a first for Ford that year. For options, it had the “Ford” logoed bar between the front bumper guards and a clock. Although it did not have an optional radio or heater, Wayne has original ones and will be installing them later. The Ford has tan leather seats and a tan and maroon dash with a Hartz canvas top just like the original, except this one has a bigger, plastic window in the rear. It did not have the “teardrop” fender skirts when Wayne bought it, but he had a pair and installed them after he bought it. It did, however, have the “fancy hub caps and beauty rings” that Wayne liked, with wide whitewall tires on original wheels. The clincher for the deal for Wayne was the color, original Yosemite Green. “I loved the color,” he said.

Once you’re into the topless kick, it’s hard to stop. Wayne’s wandering eye is already on his next convertible, a ‘60 Ford Galaxie Skyliner. The car is fully restored and ready for fun in the sun.

Cars are a joint enterprise for Wayne and Alzina. “She’s always been supportive and drives them,” Wayne said. “She’s a good car person. She likes cars.” However, she does not share Wayne’s passion for going topless. “To get her to ride in one is tough,” Wayne admitted. “She says, ‘My hair’s blowing,’ or ‘It’s too cold,’ or ‘It’s too hot.’ She likes them, but she doesn’t always want to go with me.” Wayne said that her favorite car is a ‘50 Chevy fastback “resto-mod” with a modern 350 CID engine. Going topless is not for everyone.

Ron Cherry’s four books, including the Morg Mahoney detective series, are available on Kindle and in print copy at Amazon. His next book, a mystery that takes place in a small town in the Sierra Foothills, will be out by Christmas.Check out his website at http://www.rlcherry.com.

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