Class of 1967

J O H N   B U R R O U G H S   H I G H   S C H O O L, B U R B A N K, C A






Still remember it like it was yesterday (Nostalgia fueled by Ginkgo Biloba) by David White

Growing up in Southern California the car culture was ingrained in you whether you wanted it or not.  The Hot Rod culture started a little earlier in the late 50s, but by the time we were 16 (1965) and growing up in Burbank, it had definitely made an impression on all of the guys.  Having a car when you were 16 was a big deal for all of us, and without one you were nobody.  I was drawn to the European school of Sports Cars and Formula One Road Racers, but I always wanted a 1955 or a1956 Chevy.

One day I was over at Eric’s house and I was amazed to see that he had a really cool 1956 Black and White Chevy 2 door coupe. I don’t remember if it was the pillar less sports coupe but whichever one it was didn’t matter back then, it was a 56’ Chevy.  I was with John Cherry and Tim McCorkle, Eric asked us if we wanted to take a quick ride to test his engine.  Now Eric, John, and myself were all the same age but somehow Eric had managed to buy this really cool 56’ and it had a “Hot Rod Engine” in it.  He probably had a ‘283’, but may have had the famous ‘327’ engine, which of course came out in 1962.  I remember walking around in the back parking lot of Bob’s Big Boy restaurant endlessly checking out all these car engines that I knew absolutely nothing about.  How was I supposed to know the difference between a ‘327’ and the new ‘396’?  What was a “hemi”, how could I tell?  What were ”headers” and “cut-outs”?  What was “posi-traction?  These and a thousand other details were always left unanswered.

Eric Blomdahl's '56 Chevy

Anyway John and I jump in the back, and Tim gets in the front of the car and Eric proceeds to go through the gears up Keystone towards Magnolia.  Now I had been in a few cars before at the famous “River Road” next to the L.A. River behind Warner Bros., most notably Tommy Howells’ father’s 64’ GTO which was the first car that I ever went over 100 mph in.

As Eric guns the engine and takes off I feel this sudden explosive force pushing me back against the seat like nothing I had ever felt before, wow this is cool.  Second gear comes up fast and I hear the famous ‘scratch’ from the back tires as I’m slammed back into the seat a second time even harder.  By now we’re really going fast and I’m starting to get scarred because I don’t want to crash or die (that’s what I’m thinking anyway).  Eric hits third gear as hard as he can and before I know it he suddenly backs off before the end of the street comes up.  I look over at John and my face is flush as we both start laughing really loud because it’s such a relief that we’re O.K. and nothing happened.  John had this infectious laugh that made you laugh even harder and if you didn’t then he’d slug you in the arm to make sure you did anyway.

Eric pulls the car around and immediately heads back to his driveway.  When we get to his house he jumps out of the car, Tim opens the hood quickly and then Eric pulls the dipstick.  His face turns mad as I look at the dipstick together with John wondering why the oil looks milky white.  What’s the big deal about anyway?  Eric and Tim look at each other and shake their heads, Dam it, water in the engine again, we’ll have to rebuild.  Why did I have to take Scientific Prep? I wanted to take auto shop Mom!

I never got a 55' (I've got one now) but I do have a 37' Chevy.