Charles Colombo learned to drive behind the wheel of his older sister's 1950 Chevy convertible on the streets of Rochester Hills, Mich. That was in 1962, and even then, it wasn't a bad first car. After high school, Charles left home for med school, leaving behind the Chevy, expecting one day to drive it again. Returning home for Christmas, however, Charles learned his dad had sold the car. For $50.

"Even then it was worth more than $50, wasn't it?" I asked. He just chuckled. It took a while, but Charles got over losing his first car, and one thing that helped soothe the wound was finding another, better, 1950 Chevy convertible 20 years later.

Continue reading Charles Colombo's story from the 2007 Woodward Dream Cruise after the jump, or see more photos of Charles and his 1950 Chevy in the gallery.





Over the 30 years he's owned his current Chevy, Charles has given it new paint and interior, but has left many original, but imperfect, parts. He and I agree the cracks in the vent knob and crazed lens covering the gauges add too much to the car's character to be repaired.

"My first car didn't have many options," Charles says. "A radio and a heater." But through the limitless parts shop that is eBay, Charles has optioned out his "new" first car with almost everything available in 1950.

He points out the stoplight magnifier on the driver's A-pillar. Pull up to an intersection in a 50-year-old convertible, and that thick windshield frame makes seeing red turn to green literally a pain in the neck. The three-inch square piece of glass reflects the stoplights so the driver need not strain.

He's also added a gray plastic or Bakelite OEM tissue box mounted in the passenger footwell and then another option many may never have heard of.

"Look there in the glovebox," he tells me. "See that box?" He points to a yellowed cardboard container peaking from beneath a stack of similarly aged maintenance records and repair receipts. "That's a men's shaver. It plugs into the cigarette lighter."

The Chevy is a smooth-riding car, the seats deep and cushy as we lazily roll down Woodward. I notice a ring on Charles' left hand and, since I was taking up the passenger seat, assumed his wife didn't share his love of cars.

"She's around here somewhere," Charles says. Probably lounging with other automotive widows I assume. Incorrectly. "She's in the '34 hot rod."

Turns out, Reyna, Charles' wife, does indeed like cars, she just likes hers a little older and, "She likes the power," Charles says.

Charles has taken his 1950 Chevy to every Dream Cruise since it became an official event. Look for him next year, when I'm gonna try to catch a ride with his wife. Sounds like that could be one bad '34 Ford.


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