1938 Chevrolet Master Business Coupe
07 March 2006
Meet Sweetie. She's a '38 Master Business Coupe. I pulled her out of a barn East of town a year ago last December.
I know she's
not a truck but she's a Stovebolt too. I know because I've unscrewed enough
of them over the last year.
The year is 1938. The city is Arkansas City, Kansas. A brand new Chevrolet dealership has opened. It's called B.A. Tubbs Motor Company. The dealership is located at the South end of the downtown core area. B.A. Tubbs starts out just selling Chevrolet and later on expands to include Oldsmobile, Cadillac and GMC trucks.
A customer by the name of Elijah Morris Ham, a local letter carrier and farmer, walks in shortly after the new dealership opens. After perusing the Tubbs company's wares, Mr. Ham decides to purchase a new Chevrolet Master Business Coupe. Although Mr. Ham kept the old Chevrolet for many years, for reasons unknown to anyone else Elijah drove the coupe but sparingly. During the 1950s and into the 1960s, the B.A. Tubbs Motor Company tried numerous times to buy the coupe back from Mr. Ham. The dealership was well established by then and Elijah's car was one of the first cars the dealership sold. B. A. thought the car, already a classic at the time, would look great sitting on the showroom floor. Elijah politely refused Mr. Tubbs advances each time.
Elijah Ham was a family friend with the Webb family and as a senior citizen befriended the young Mike Webb, then just a child. Mr. Ham was a Grandfather figure to Mike. He taught Mike to read and write and learn mathematics by playing cards and other games. Elijah cared for young Mike so much that he gave Mike his beloved Chevrolet Business Coupe when Mike was only 14 or so years old. Of course, Mike was too young to drive so the car was put in Mike' s parent's names until he turned 18. It was about this time that yours truly entered the picture.
My family moved to Arkansas City the same year that Mike finally became old enough to own the coupe, the beautiful old car I would name Sweetie. My first contact with Sweetie came some years ago when Mike, finally 18 years old and the legal owner, came driving up in her. Mike was grinning ear to ear as the rest of us guys died of envy, just as Mike intended. Sweetie was so sleek and lovely in her beautiful black coat and she had all the right curves in just the right places. Despite being many years our senior, she was the perfect lady that day in that she didn't smoke, smell or make rude noises.
It was love at first sight for me but alas there was NO way Mike was about to part with her. Until very recently. I never saw Sweetie again.
The years passed but I never forgot her. On occasion Mike would speak of her and told of the time when he and she were out for a spin and the brakes failed. Sweetie's right front fender got slightly bent because of it and Mike, not having the money to get her fixed, took her home, rolled her into the barn and waited for better times ... which never came. Mike fell on hard times and over the years, I would occasionally broach the subject of buying Sweetie from him. Mike always politely refused my advances because he loved her, too and was hopeful he would someday be able to restore her to her former glory.
Mike's health then began to fail, adding yet another obstacle to his goal of restoring Sweetie. As often times happens in life, he and I gradually saw less and less of each other as the months turned to years.
Then came early October 2003, by chance we met at a local city wide garage sale. I was helping to supervise the sale when Mike came slowly walking by with his cane. We sat and made small talk for a while and I again asked if he would consider parting with Sweetie. He again said no but I detected a change, something different, perhaps the realization that he wasn't going to be able to restore her after all. I continued on to say that if he did relent and sell her to me I would pledge to keep her as original as possible and not cut her heart out as most suitors would, using only her body, turning her into a common harlot, a street rod. Again I was turned down.
In November of 2004 my thoughts again turned to Sweetie and the fact she had been sitting in the barn for far too many years. I called Mike on the telephone, pleading with him to consider Sweetie's well being. I told him that if I wasn't the ideal suitor for Sweetie's hand then one of his nephews should be the one. Every day she sat abandoned in the barn she died a little more. Someone needed to nurse her back to health while it was still possible to do so. Mike told me he'd think about it ... the same thing he told me so many times before.
December 2004 brought another garage sale which I was again helping to supervise when along came Mike once more ... this time with a walker. He sat down beside me and said "I about have everything out of the way for you to come take a look." I couldn't believe my ears were finally hearing those words! Sweetie would live again! We discussed when I could make a preliminary inspection followed by negotiation.
The very next Saturday turned out to be the day MY intimate association with Sweetie began.
I have a PowerPoint slide show of the restoration so far if anyone would be interested. Let me know and I'll burn it to a CD (I'm on dial-up so can't send it e-mail) and send it to you.
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