Down, but not out in the cold |

Down, but not out in the cold

To say Wayne Davis is just a car guy would be like saying the Pope is just a Catholic. Between the ages of 16 and 21 alone, Davis owned 17 different cars. He presently has a collection of eight restored classics and one more being restored. Davis and his wife of 46 years, Alzina, are active members of the Roamin Angels Car Club. They said, “We love the car culture and the people involved.”

Davis was into cars at a young age, driving for the first time when he was 10 years old and having his first car, a 1928 Chevrolet, when he was 13. He progressed to a 1932 Ford 3-window coupe, with a hot flathead while a junior in high school. When Wayne and Alzina were going together as teenagers in Pasadena, she said pretty early on she realized that the cars and Wayne were a package deal. She has grown to love and appreciate the fine cars and even has a 1950 Chevrolet hot rod that is her “special” car. You can look forward to that as a featured car in the not-too-distant future.

I had a wise old man give me some very good advice as a young boy and I never forgot it. He said, “If you always buy your houses on water and your cars with a top that will go down, you’ll never go wrong.” He also had another catchy little phrase that said, “When the top goes down, the price goes up.” I should have asked the Davises if they knew the same old man, because they live in Lake of the Pines and have six convertibles in their collection.

The car out of their collection which I am featuring today is a 1953 Chevrolet Belair convertible. The Belair was purchased two years ago at the Mitch Silver Car Auction in Reno as an anniversary gift to each other. (I should have kept this story for Valentine’s Day – this is my kind of a marriage). The Chevy is powered by a 235 cubic inch blue flame 6-cylinder, backed up by 3-on-the-tree. The sweet sound that came out of the dual exhaust when Davis backed the Chevy out of the garage was wonderful. It was the unmistakable sound of Fenton headers going through glass packs. The engine compartment is meticulously painted and detailed by Davis and his wife with all of the correct decals and stickers. They take great pride in the detailed finish of all their cars. It wouldn’t have been any finer in 1953 on the showroom floor.

The convertible has had a total restoration and the fit and finish is museum quality. The undercarriage of the car, while remaining stock, is also painted and detailed. This was the Davises’ handiwork, not the restorer’s. I walked around and around the car, trying to find a flaw. I found none.

The interior is just as beautifully finished as the rest of the car. Everything looks like new. Wayne did mention that the electric clock didn’t work. That sure would make me sell the car.

The convertible came equipped with a hydraulic top, which makes raising and lowering very simple. This is one of the rare convertibles that, in my opinion, looks as good with the top up as it does down.

The Davises mentioned that they like to drive their cars, especially the Belair. They say it is very dependable, trouble-free and rides well.

While the Davises say they are just average people who love cars, fellow members of the Roamin Angels that I spoke to said that they may be average people, but they have bigger than average hearts, and are very caring people. The comment was even made that, “When I grow up, I’d like to be like the Davises.”

Thank you for all your help on my Willys ring and pinion…I think I have a line on one because of you all. The NASCAR test is going well here in Vegas. If you’ve never been to a NASCAR race, Vegas would be a good one to try on March 10, 11 and 12.

Got a note from reader Paul Nichols who said I should have mentioned about the tremendous torque the over-the-road diesel (such as “handsome hauler”) generates. He was right, as they often will put out 800 to 900 foot-pounds of torque, and when you compare that to a typical 350 horse Chevrolet engine that only generates 150 to 200 foot-pounds of torque, you get the comparison. An even more striking example is one of the 800 horsepower NASCAR engines and the fact that they only generate 525 foot-pounds of torque. I think that was the problem with my Willys-too much torque and not enough brains. Ha!

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