Maybe it was because it was a Chevrolet or maybe it was just luck.
Whatever the case, Russ Stout of rural Brainerd somehow managed to start a 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air four door with a six-cylinder motor on Mother's Day that had been sitting behind my wife's parents old house in rural Verndale for at least 25 years.
One tree had grown through the car's front bumper and another grew next to the passenger door.
The car, which still has the original wheels and hubcaps, belonged to my wife's grandfather, the late Laurence Back. He purchased it new from Minnesota Motors in Wadena (where NAPA Auto parts is).
A tree had even grown alongside the Bel Air after sitting in the woods for so long.
My wife's mother, Linda Terveer, can still remember taking a "sunny and warm" afternoon off school in the spring to go pick up the car with her mother and father.
Hazel Back, Laurence's widow, noted that the car was paid for in full with a check. It also would be Laurence's fourth new car in his lifetime. Before, he owned a 1935 Chevrolet, a 1948 Chevrolet and later would purchase a 1967 Chevrolet and a 1976 Plymouth Volare.
None of the family knows exactly why Laurence parked the car, which had 1974 license plates, behind their house. Since it was next to my wife's playhouse, it also became a place to play for her and her sisters, Lori of Baxter and Louann of Minneapolis.
Stout said when he opened the car's hood and saw that all the engine and its parts were still intact, he had confidence that he could start it.
The first thing he did was tighten the wires on the starter.
He said at first the crankshaft wouldn't move but once he grabbed the fan and started working it back and forth, he freed it up.
Stout then installed new sparkplugs, points, a condenser and oiled each cylinder. To oil each cylinder he used a few squirts from a small oil can.
To solve the problem of the old gas still in the fuel line, Stout siphoned gas from a small plastic bottle he set on the roof. Once he siphoned the gas, he put the hose coming from the bottle directly into the fuel line.
After all of these steps, he actually had the car running for several seconds before it died.
He became so excited he raised both arms in the air and looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger posing during his muscle-building days.
Stout later learned that there was too much oil in the cylinders causing the fouling of the spark plugs.
Once he did get it running, he also discovered the clutch wouldn't engage or disengage. Upon further discovery, a rodent's nest was the culprit of this malfunction.
Several weeks later, he drove the car around the St. Mathias area. All it needs now is a new master cylinder for the brakes and all new wheel cylinders.
By the way, the car belongs to my wife, Lori and Louann. So someday hopefully I will drive it in Brainerd's Fourth of July Parade.
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