The first thing that drew us to this 1947 Pontiac was its history. It was originally a paddy wagon or “Black Maria,” where a ride in this police vehicle meant that you were running out of luck in a hurry.
These days a ride in Hugh Thurston’s retro-wagon means a whole lot of happiness for him. He calls it a “Pontota”, because it is a Pontiac body on top of a Toyota 4-Runner frame and power train.
It took Hugh three long winters to forge a bond between the Pontiac body and Toyota frame, and he would not recommend the experience to the faint of heart.
One of the minefields in an interview with the owner of an old car is the custom side of the vehicle.
I’ve seen tens of thousands of cars and done thousands of interviews. In that time, I’ve seen things done to old iron that I would rank as excessive.
I have to remind myself that old vehicles are a very personal statement. You don’t own them because they’re practical. You own them because they reflect something from your past. A mental cue locked in your memory banks triggered a need for a particular old car, or truck, or a look, and eventually you are the proud owner of an iconic ride. That highly impractical vehicle is for you, not mainstream society – otherwise buy a Subaru.
That’s how I rationalize the “off the beaten path” cars, but this 1963 Plymouth pushed the envelope in a big way.
The easy answer to this question is everyone one of them- from the tranny guy, to the engine rebuild guy, to the auto body technician and all the other restoration people along the path to a completed project. But which one of these trades will figure most prominently into the final equation for you?