Mythical 1958 resto-mod

Nov 19, 2021
Thunderbird Year
The Used Car Salesman

Here is the little red beauty right here. Ye-up, it’s a ’58.

The story behind it? Sure.

I guess being well off has its perks. Yes, I do own a mansion and a yacht. Oh, it was difficult; to get to this point, believe me. Double jobs, long hours, cultivated professional relationships, and careful investments. It all paid off. It was a great plan, but I can’t take credit for it; it was her plan, our plan. Just as our goals came within reach, she disappeared. No note, no clues, no money withdrawals, no possessions taken, just vanished.

So, two years later, feeling anything but normal, I found myself at the point where my money did all the work, and I could be very comfortable, if not happy. That is how I happened to be driving along Interstate 40, just west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, at twilight. Twenty-plus miles of flat, straight pavement under the wheels of my custom ’58 T-Bird.

This is not just any ’58 T-Bird. Custom. It looks stock, but under that elegant late ‘50s styling was a modern muscle car. Power everything; steering, brakes, windows, seats, top. AC. A sound system you could open a nightclub with. Power, yeah; 900 plus horses under that simple, bright, shiny, red hood scoop. Run to the back by a 4 speed racing tranny, with a dual rear end that lets you go from dragstrip to road racer instantly. And, in white outlined navy cursive script under the side mirror, you’ll see “Emily; L’il Heartbreaker”. Yeah, I know, move on, closure, all that. Let’s just say it was therapeutic. Under her name, the crests of all the Lamborghinis, Porches, Ferraris, Cobras, Dodges, Corvettes, and Jags Emily had broken the hearts of. Count ‘em; 37 in all. There’s even a Maybach emblem there, one Emily splashed on The Autobahn.

Anyway, I had pretty much been spending all my time going as fast as possible in this car. So, I’m cruisin’ west down the highway at about 150 or so, hardtop on; you do not want bugs hitting your face at over a hundred! So, I’m enjoying the colors of a gorgeous sky just after sunset, watching the stars show up as the daylight faded out. I had driven eastward earlier, checking for speed traps, and found the road clear. No it was time for that rush that made me forget her, for a few minutes, at least. Driving 20 miles in less than five minutes can do that. Sometimes.

That’s when I saw the lights off to the south. Streaks of multi-colored lights leading down to a green glow, about ten miles off road. I had just happened to glance that way, and saw them appear, just like a switch was thrown.

So, I slow down and see a trail leading from the road off in the direction of these lights. Yeah, I took it. It was surprisingly even and easy to drive on, but you couldn’t see it unless the light hit it just right.

About ten miles off the highway, the road goes up just a bit, and I’m looking down on, well, you won’t believe this, but it was there; three big, really big, ships. No, not Navy ships. Though, each was about the size of an aircraft carrier. Space ships! One round, like a puffy version of a 1950’s movie flying saucer, one long and pointed at both ends, and one like a rounded triangle.

But the space ships were not the strangest thing there. The green glow came from a floating strip, like lights for a baseball stadium, but floating in air. Beneath the lights was pavement. A mile long strip of flat, straight pavement, like it had been burned and polished into the desert. And at one end, three cars!

Well, cars are the best description I could think of. They each

had wheels and clear windows in front, and some kind of pipes out the back. Three different designs, each a different color and shape. So, being a curious guy, and feeling I had little to lose, I drove down the trail to the end of the road.

My arrival caused considerable agitation, I can tell you. There were three different shapes of aliens walking around; one a short, stocky, green type I named Toads in my head; another a tall, grey, thin pasty kind I call the Zombies, and the last, a type shaped just like us, but covered in what looked like a winding of cloth. The Mummies. As I drove up, the twenty or so aliens that were busy moving things around all stopped what they were doing and stared at me. When I stopped, they all went back to work, except for this one Zombie who looked like a ten year old Ronnie Howard stretched to nine feet tall, who glided over to me. Yeah, glided; his legs just hung down as he moved, feet about two inches off the ground.

Well, Zombie-boy starts clacking at me. All clicks, clacks, and clucks. When I look at him like he’s from Mars, he starts over again, whistling some noise like Chinese-Arabic-Russian through a flute. So, I said, “What?”

That seemed to help Ronnie, who replied in a sort of French accent, “Race or watch?” That’s when I noticed the grandstands off to the side of the strip. There must have been a couple of thousand aliens sitting there.

“I’ll race.” I shrugged. Ronnie motioned me to the closest end of the pavement. Two of the cars, one a lime green rounded Jello-mold, the other an orange needle, where side-by-side on behind a line on the strip, with a bright blue light floating in front of them. I watched the light turn from blue to red, and both cars made a lot of noise and a lot of smoke, and took off down the track, tires screeching. Counting in my head, I guessed these were pretty close to my T-Bird in speed. It would be a good test for Emily; who’s heart would she break tonight?

I watched as part of the crowd cheered, at least I think it was a cheer, and the two cars cruised back to the starting line. The side of the Orange Needle opened and a Zombie climbed out, made a gesture to the Jello mold, and then motioned to a group of Zombies near some equipment. One of them walked out leading a nice looking horse, saddle and all, and handed the reins to Toad that had climbed out of the Jello mold. The Toad jumped up and down for a minute, and then was swarmed by a dozen or so other Toads. After about 90 seconds of celebration, they broke up. Some Toads led the horse up a ramp into the saucer-ship, and the others started working on the Jello mold.

Just then Ronnie motioned me to the starting line. OK, I had this pretty well figured out, except what to give them if I lost.

I sat at the starting line, and the Orange Needle pulls up beside me. That thing was pretty loud up close, while my Ford was still in “street-quiet” mode, as I liked to listen to music when I raced. I had a Beach Boys cars mix on tonight. I watched the light; there was nothing to time. It changed to red as “Fun, Fun, Fun” poured out of my speakers, and I floored it as I let out the clutch. I just let the Ford do the work, and concentrated on shifting smoothly. Up ahead, I saw a red line of light across the track, getting closer fast. When I went through it, I glanced at my speedometer-182, not too shabby-and at the Orange Needle. He was a good 50 yards behind me.

Well, I followed him back to the starting area, and got out. He was already out, and gestured to me. And I’m thinking, what would I do with a horse? But out comes a Zombie with a happy-looking Golden Retriever on a leash! So, after rejecting naming the dog Emily, I named her Leia and sat her in the passenger seat.

Back at the starting line, I saw the Jello mold line up next to a silver wedge. It was hard to see from where I was, but it looked real close at the finish. Again, the cheers from the crowd told me the Toad won again.

When I looked to see his prize, I nearly collapsed. My knees went weak, my head spun; the Mummy led a woman over to the Toad. It was a gorgeous freckle-faced strawberry-blonde that looked just like, it WAS Emily! My Emily! She glanced at me, and I saw her eyes light up! She was led up that ramp before I could react, but I knew what I needed to do.

The race with the Mummy’s Wedge was a little closer, but I still smoked him by 15 yards. My prize was an enthusiastic black Labrador Retriever. I named him Luke, and he politely sat in the back, behind Leia.

So, here I am, the only time I’ve ever been nervous with this car before a race. Me, the two dogs, and my music at the starting line, next to the Jello mold. I switched Emily to Racing Mode, and the un-muffled sounds of that big engine drew what I want to believe were sounds of awe from the crowd. I maxed the volume on my music, and heard “Baby when you race today, just take along my love with you” as the light changed.

I really don’t remember the race itself. Everything after Emily came down that ramp and into my arms just sort of dissolved away.

Well, anyway, that’s the story behind her. She’s the Official Universal Drag Racing Champ, and here is the trophy to prove it. Diamonds? Well, I never thought to read the appraisal, just looked at the number on the bottom of the form. You can’t find another car like her, and I think $2.5 mil is a very reasonable price. I believe Emily has poured some champagne for us in the den. I’ll break out a couple of Belinda Empires to seal the deal. This way.

Why are we selling it? We’re moving to Kokomo; no drag strips there! And, from the challenges I keep getting… well, I’m just tired of all those races. I’m running out of space to keep my winnings!

The trophy? No, the trophy’s not included. That I’m keeping.

Luke! Leia! Down! Excuse the dogs, they’re friendly, but enthusiastic. That? Oh, the other race I won. It’s called a “Druck”; we named it “Han”. Perfectly harmless. Gets along great with the dogs. You’ve never seen a three-foot long flying reptile before, have you?