I bought my first car when I was still in high school. I had just turned 16 years old and my older brother had a 1969 Olds 442 with a 400 and a Hurst 4-Speed. I thought is was the coolest car on earth and wanted one. I lived in Boulder City Nevada and saw in the paper a 1968 442 for sale for only $1,500. I really wanted a 69 but none were popping up for sale so I thought I'd take a look. So I grabbed my brother Ron and our friend Robert and drove to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and saw an olive green 442 with a black vinyl top sitting under a tree in the yard. It looked like brand new except for the after market 15" Keystone Rogue wheels all around.

 

 It drove perfect with it's 400 big block with C heads and the factory Hurst 4-Speed. I fell in love with it and offered the guy $1,200. He took the offer and I raced my brother who was driving his 70 Cuda all the way back to Boulder City from Vegas.

The first thing I did was was install a set of chrome mud flaps...hey, it was all the rage back in the 70's. Another staple of the 70's was amber fog lights. So I put a pair hidden behind the grill.

 I tinted the windows very dark. Partly because it looked so cool and the other is it helped reflect the sun of the nevada desert. I didn't know it at the time but the Keystone Rogue aluminum one piece wheels are very rare. Unlike the standard Keystone Klassic wheel which is steel with an aluminum center and a different hole.

I also really wanted the factory rear wing/spoiler that you could get on the 69-72 442s. At 16 I didn't have the money to buy one so I bought an aluminum rear wing at a speed shop on Freemont street in Las Vegas. It looked very neat and I think the rear of the 68 442 hard top begs for a spoiler. I also love the body of the hard top vs the convertible which I think the quarter panel of the convertible loses it's beauty by the C pillar.

 

 

 So, one day I decided that I didn't like the beautiful metalic green paint and black vinyl top. I wanted to have a black and gold car and proceeded to strip the perfect paint off of the 442.

I had never done body work before and didn't have any advice. Knowing what I know now, I would have used the factory paint and baked on primer as a base for the new paint job.

It was a messy, dirty job. It could have gone a lot easier. I reversed the tires so the raised white letters were showing.

 To afford to paint the 442, I asked Henry Bender, who had restored my brothers 70 Cuda if he would paint my 442. He said he would and let me paint the outside of his shop to pay for the paint job. What a nice guy and he did a great job.

Here it is with it's old-school red primer. Again, why didn't I just sand the original paint job and then paint the car? I don't know.

 

 

 Here it is finished It was a deep glossy black with a gold stripe that followed the body line on the bottom of the car from front to back.

I had traced the trunk 442 emblems off of a 76 442 as a stencil for my rocker panels. I am not planning on doing that to my re-creation.

 This car always got lots of attention. When I moved from Boulder City Nevada to Spokane Washington in 1980, I stopped in Lake Tahoe and a guy with a hemi orange Super bird tried to trade me for it. The Super Bird was missing the intake manifold and six pack and the head light buckets so I didn't trade him since I was in the middle of moving. That was the largest regret of my life.

This shot was taken in Beatty Nevada on our way to Spokane. My brother was driving his 1970 Mach 1. We stopped for a burger in this shot. We would get out into the open road in the middle of no where in Nevada and peg the speedometers.

 

   It didn't take me long to fall in love with the 68 over the 69 442. I love the split head lights and the horizontal tail lights. The beautiful C pillar and sloping fast back. What a great looking car.

 I belive this is the last photo I took of my beloved 442. The year was 1983. I had gotten pulled over and the cop made me take the window tinting off of the car or he was going to have it towed away. So I pulled it off right there at the side of the road. I was so mad.

I all of the sudden got hankering for another muscle car. I don't know why I didn't have the foresight to keep my very first car. But I always seemed to need money and if I wanted something different, I had to sell what I had. I put an ad in the paper and listed it for $1,200, the same price I payed for it those many years before. A guy from eastern Montana showed up and bought it without even starting it up. That should have been my first clue that I shouldn't have sold it. I watched it drive away until I couldn't see it any more. But I did hear one last call from my old friend the 442...a massive burn out a few blocks away. And then she was gone.

I ended up buying a 1972 Camaro SS with a factory 4-Speed for $900 and thought I had really moved up. It wasn't half the car the 442 was.

 

 

 I dreamed about that car for just over a quarter century. I wondered if it had been totaled and crushed. Was it languishing in a junk yard or field? Was it tucked away in a garage restored and loved by it's current owner? I never wrote down the VIN and had no way of traking her down. I gave up hope of ever laying eyes on it again. Rest easy old friend, where ever you are.

Fast forward to 2009. After building 23 Starsky & Hutch Gran Torinos, I decided to do something different. I was going to clone my first car since I couldn't find it.

 I started searching craigslist all over the country for a good candidate. After looking at many, an ad appeared on the Spokane craigslist. It was a white Cutlass S with black fenders with a gold stripe on the bottoms of the fenders. I raced over to see this car to find out if they were the fenders from my old 442.

I wondered, was my old 442 wrecked and this guy bought the fenders? What is the story? Were they from my old car? I had to know.

 

 

 After close inspection I discover that they are indeed the fenders from my old 442. They were battered, rusted but unmistakably them from the red 1970's primer, to the olive green paint under the black. Also the headlight buckets were from my old car.

I asked the guy where he got the car and he said from a guy in Wenatchee Washington. I asked him if the guy had a 68 442 with a 4-Speed and he said yes he did. I asked him if he still had the guys name and number which he did and he gave it to me.

I called the number and talked to Darren and told him my story and described the things I had done to my old car. I told him about the rear window not being tinted all the way down because I couldn't reach all the way with the squeegee. And how I traced the 442 letters on the trunk lid onto gold window tint and put it on the bottom of the rear window. Also how I put in a set of Auto-Meter gauges under the dash and one in the open hole in the dash. How I drilled a hole on the instrument panel for the toggle switch for the fog lights. The Radio Shack digital clock that I put into the ash tray door. The clincher was the after market aluminum rear wing which is still there. All that stuff was still there. Darren said..."yep, this is your old car".

 And here it is today. Darren had opted to go black and red instead of the black and gold I had done back in the 70's. The super rare Keystone Rogues are long gone. But it still sports the aluminum wing, the after market passenger mirror, Rear window tinting, Radio Shack digital clock, all the Auto-Meter gauges. You can even see the gold over spray under the rocker panels.

The cool thing is that Darren got this car when he was 16, just like I did. He told me it was a wreck. The guy that bought it from me from eastern Montana was from Darrens home town. He drove it a while and got a reputation with the car and false stories about it being sold in the local dealership new were floating around. I filled Darren in on the real history of the car. The guy eventually wrecked it and parked it for years. He put it up for sale and Darren's dad bought it for him for Christmas and Darren rebuilt it him self.

 

   Note the Radio Shack digital Clock & the Auto-Meter Gauges I had installed so many years ago. It still has the factory Hurst 442 Shifter.

 My old aluminum rear wing still standing proud on the deck lid.  

   The two types of window tinting I put on the rear window back in high school.

 Now I want to show you my re-creation