Looking through some old pictures, recently, I found photos that Ronnie took of his first streetrod, a Hawaiian Orchid, 1938 Chevy, after he wrecked it one night. He was absolutely sick over what he had done to his car so he took the pictures to remind himself that drinking and driving don't mix. Then he went to work fixing it and very few ever even knew he had torn it up.
But time heals all wounds and eventually he lost touch with the knowledge he'd gained from tearing up his streetrod. He came home one night after an evening out on the town in his Viper Red 1948 Chevy, misjudged how much distance he had pulling into the garage and creased the drivers side fender so deep, it cut the metal open.
Again, he took pictures, then proceeded to fix the damage and very few knew what he'd done.
Ronnie loved '55 Chevys. He built two. The first one, he painted purple and had all the chrome parts redone. The second one, he customized, shaving off the door handles, and painted it Goofy Grape. The 55's, however, had a different effect on Ronnie than the other cars he'd built. They seem to take him back to his teenage years. As soon as he sat down behind the wheel, he didn't have anymore sense than he did when he was seventeen.
He ended up having to sell both the 55's to pay for DWI's.
When he had to let the Goofy Grape one go, it seemed like he began to fully realize that he could not have these toys and continue to drink and drive around.
While he still had the Viper red Chevy, Ronnie bought the dismantled Ford. He eventually sold the Chevy to finish the Blue Bird.
To Ronnie, the Blue Bird represented his very best effort. Is it perfect? Is it every streetrodder's dream car? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on what the individual wants and expects from the car, but to Ronnie it was his best honest effort to build a car "the right way."
I passed the Blue Bird to Ronnie's brother, Bruce, yesterday. Bruce sold all his racing equipment and made me an offer that I decided to take. There are too many different issues involved in keeping the Blue Bird. That was never a sensible option. I've always known I'd have to sell it.
When Deidre sent me a text that she had the money in hand and Blue Bird is no longer in my garage, I cried. But in many ways, it is a tremendous relief. Bruce has wanted the car ever since it was built. He loves speed and Blue can certainly give him that rush.
Every time we left Bruce's house the past few years, Ronnie would comment on how he wished Bruce would buy a streetrod instead of race cars . He imagined the fun we would all have going to the "rod runs" together.
So -- one full year after Ronnie passed on, one of his dreams is coming true -- in a roundabout way. Bruce has a streetrod.