Steve & Jeann Nelson
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MY Auto -Biography --- By Car #49
It was late on a warm August night that my engine roared to life for the first time. However, my story really began long before then.
Shortly after my owners, Jeann and Steve Nelson, started going to the endurance runs put on by the Northwest Vintage Speedsters, Jeann saw several women there driving their own speedsters. Steve had some ideas he wanted to try on a speedster, so he began to collect my parts.
Meanwhile, Jeann saw a speedster at the start of The Great America Road Race (which began that year in Sonoma) and just fell in love with the gray body and dark green undercarriage. While attending the Oakland Roaster Show, Jeann spoke with the representative from Dupont to find just the right color.
Jeann chose my number 49 for two reasons. First, it is an upside down 6 (from Car #46) and because her older brother, Dean, (who passed away in 1997), was a long time San Francisco 49er fan (So is Jeann). As it now seems to be the fad, I have a tattoo. Just look at the lower left-hand corner of my windshield. My body is a copy of a Morton and Brett body. Steve purchased it from Jack Mulkey of Calistoga. Next the hunt was on for just the right wheels. Steve found and purchased a set of five Pasco wheels. He also searched for other parts and pieces he thought would make me just perfect. Some of those parts are a dual fire Sherman head, a Winfield side draft carburetor, and an oval gas tank.
That?s when some of their friends stepped in to help. Jim Hendrix and Jeff Millerick did most of my bodywork. Jim fabricated my hood and the valances that fit along the bottom of my body. Jeff worked on getting my body smooth and shapely and ready for paint. Dennis Hartwig volunteered to apply my paint. He and Steve took my parts to Dennis? son?s shop (Creative Concepts) and gave me a smooth, bright paint job. I have two coats of single stage Speedster Gray and two coats of clear coat, which they baked at the shop. My undercarriage is a beautiful shade of Forest Green.
Steve told Jeann he hoped to drive me into town when I was ready for upholstery. However, I had to be taken in on the trailer. Rod Sousa of Rod?s Stitched Interiors had my upholstery done in four days. It is a soft gray to compliment my paint.
Steve spent many days (and part of the nights) putting all my parts and nuts and bolts in just the right place. He would get up at 6 am and work until midnight most nights trying to complete my by Labor Day 2003. But, alas, it was not to be.
On that warm August night, Dan MeEachern (He built my engine) and Lloyd Butler (He made my beautiful dashboard) came by to help with my entry into the world. Jeann was standing by with her camera and was extremely anxious to hear me make by first sounds.
As Steve pushed my starter button, Dan and Lloyd were bent over me. When I roared to life, the cry ?Shut her down! Shut her down!? came from Dan and Lloyd. There were a couple of leaks in my Sherman head. It was obvious I was not going to Grants Pass the next day as planned.
While my owners loaded up my sister, a little red speedster #46, I sat in the garage very sad and lonely. I would have to wait until Labor Day 2004 before I could spin my wheels with the rest of them in the Northwest.
When they returned from Oregon, I was just sure I would be on the road in no time at all. But, again, it was not to be. As Steve waited for my head to be welded, he took a closer look at me, and found several other small things wrong. My choke was on backwards, and my fan shaft was a little to long. Jeann and Steve both kept telling me that it was best that I did not go to Grants Pass.
Not until around the beginning of October could I go out on the road and feel the asphalt under my tires. As I went down the street, I gave Jeann and Steve a scary moment when they realized my brakes would lock up. As punishment, Steve put me back in the garage and went off to do other things. (How could he think that new Coke sign on the barn was more important?)
Finally, when he came back, Jeann drove me for the very first time. She complimented me on how smooth I was to drive and how comfortable she felt behind my wheel. She and Steve felt I was ready to show off, so she drove me to the gas station for my first taste of a full tank. They were so proud of me that they stopped by a friend?s house to let me show off. I had one more surprise for Steve. I decided not to start. They had to push me. (That should teach him to leave me in the garage!!)
Everything is now fixed, and I am on the road. I will be having a coming out party soon, I hope.
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