Hagerty.com

Through a lifetime of working on cars, Dan Walters still has the itch


#1

For most people, cars exist merely as a means of conveyance, something to be given no more mind than, say, a dishwasher until it breaks. For the enlightened however, automobiles are a hobby, even a passion. A fortunate few, like Dan Walters, turn their lifelong love into their livelihood.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/13/why-i-drive-1950-mercury-coupe

#2

I am 69 and have been working on cars off and on since I was 17. Before that other mechanical stuff. Used to help fix combines for my dad.
Lately, I have been wondering if I am getting too old to take on new projects. I was happy to read that I am not the oldest and so I am heartened by that.
My latest project is restoring a 2016 Cadillac ATSV that had slight fire damage.
I also have a plastic manufacturing plant and people keep asking when I will retire and I say when they drag my body out. So now you have given my a new lease on my car hobby.
Thank you


#3

I, as well, am old (76) and bought my first car, a 1955 TBird for $800 at 19 and have enjoyed the hobby ever since. This allows me to have something to do, communicate with my car friends and earn a bit of money as well. It’s a healthy outlet, especially if you have an understanding wife. I’ve done partial restorations on over 200 classic cars. See my WEB site at josephsclassiccars.com


#4

Great Inspiration
I am 67 yrs old and am a 3rd generation hot rodder. Currently restoring my dad’s 1947 Willy’s CJ2A with a small block V8 that is called the family “Jeep”.
These old vehicles are rolling works of art and are great schools of creativity for old and new generations. Garages are very important in these modern times to keep a “hands on” approach to our future generations.
Of course, my two sons are car guys with great skills they picked up in my little 2 bay shop converted from the domestic house. So, my wife has been totally on board from the get-go. Great history and great future, you can have it all.
Thanks


#5

Great article!! I too am getting old. 66 next month but my love of automobiles started at a young age when my dad who was a heavy equipment mechanic gave my brother and I a summer project to free the valves on a flat head 6 in an old milk truck he had purchased. We were successful and converted it into a snow plow that cleared the drive way to many winters. Bought a 66 Mustang at 18 three speed 289 two barrel and never looked back. Currently have a 67 Mustang fastback with a transplanted Boss 302, 41 Willy’s with a 572 BB Chevy, 2014 Shelby GT 500. The 67 I’ve had for almost 40 years. Repowered it 3 times over the years. Got my brother’s 73 vette that I’m going to restore. He passed at 55 and the restore is a tribute to him. You know your a car guy when every car that you owned you wish you still had!! Keep at it guys and you will never get old!!


#6

It is nice to see that us retired Car Guy’s still have a passion for something other than TV and Politics. I’m just finishing a Restomod 1972 El Camino and just starting a full restoration of two 1973 Porsche 914’s (one stock and the other outlawed).
Now that I’m retired I can do far more of the work on my projects and that saves huge money. But real benefit of working in the shop is it keeps me active during the cold winters we have up here in Canada. We all know if we stop we will just waste away and maybe miss the most fun we have ever enjoyed in our life time.


#8

At 75, I still own 25 collectible cars and pickups. Can’t bear to part with them as long as I’m still able to maintain them. No “show cars”, all drivers".There are folks who would love to take them off my hands so I can “enjoy my retirement…etc”. No thanks, I’m having too much fun. Can’t see myself vegetating on some warm beach waiting for the grim reaper Rather be driving through the countryside or talkin’ cars with the guys.


#9

Its nice to see all these old guy’s car stories. I can relate to them since I too am “getting up there” at 76. I paid $150 for my first car , a 1950 Plymouth and wrecked it shortly thereafter in a drag race. Didn’t hurt me but totaled the car.
I was Lucky enough to have bought a new 64.5 Mustang in 1965 and kept it for 5 years . I recently got the bug for another Mustang and found another 1964.5 Mustang coupe in fairly good shape . It was built in May of 1964.It needed a lot of little things done to it that had been neglected over the years. It has the original interior but it has been converted to a 289 with roller cam . Runs and sounds good. I don’t drive it a lot but do get it out on nice days for a drive into Walmart , etc. I just enjoy owning a nostalgic piece of history.


#10

Ahhh, Huron River Drive. He’s local to me. :slight_smile: I’d know that road at just a glimpse. The only good twisty bit around Ann Arbor. Love that old Merc. I designed some of the very last ones… RIP Mercury Division.


#11

Got ya all beat age-wise - age 83 - and I still refuse to grow up. Bought my first car in 1948 at age 13 - a 1937 Chev Master Deluxe Coupe (5-window) with a rumble seat and continental kit as part of the factory package. It had been owned by a little old lady who drove it all through WWII with no maintenance. The stove bolt 6 burned a quart of oil every 30 miles. That’s how I learned to fix everything automotive as well as do body and paint.

I went on to become an Advanced Engineer at FoMoCo in Dearborn during the 50s and then the proverbial Rocket Scientist in the 60s.

After retiring 22 years ago, I finally built my adult toy store complete with a 2-column, asymmetric hoist so I don’t have to crawl under anymore. The toy store currently contains my '48 Plymouth Coupe which I built and raced in the La Carrera Panamericana 2000 mile open road race for many years; my '57 T-Bird, a 78 El Camino, an 83 El Camino, a 2007 Corvette and a 14 Lincoln MKX daily driver. My 66 Mustang rag top is in my son’s garage in Houston along with my 74 Norton 850 Commando Interstate on which I toured Europe in 1974.

I don’t work as quickly as I used to be able to do, but I think I’m still a pretty good wrench and my love for cars is as strong as ever. Fortunately, my Bucket List is still as long as my arm and everyone knows you can’t check-out until you finish your list so I think I’m good to go for many more years.

Cheers, Tex


#12

Can’t believe you all talk about being old. Come on now, you are just a bunch of kids. At 91 I really enjoy my barn find/survivor "28 Ford roadster. Got that first car a 1930 model A highboy hot rod at 15 after having a lot of fun with a Harley JD with a suicide clutch.


#13

Turning 71 this month… first car, 63.5 Falcon Sprint, Corinthian White on red, 4 speed when I was 17. Tended to be attracted to lesser sought after cars/cycles… 70 race Midget, 76 Super Scirocco, Bultaco, Dodge Raider. Latest project, a Corrado G60. The odd-balls provide plenty of challenge… generate quite a bit of interest when they visit charity fund raising shows.
There are still plenty of enthusiasm in our generation. Just go to the Birmingham (UK) classic car show that is held the second week of November and you would be astounded at the skill level we “oldsters” have acquired over the years.


#14

I guess I am the youngster of the group at 55, but I love cars from the 40’s and the first couple of years of the 50’s. We have a ‘48 Ford Super Deluxe Convertible, and I absolutely love to drive and work on the car! It feels like a cooperative relationship or kind of a dance to drive and work on the car. It is like it is telling me what it wants and as long as I go along, we are both happy! I know that our car is nothing more than what was an average everyday car back in 1948; but compared to the utterrly antiseptic and obsessively perfectly engineered Mercedes I drive daily, I really appreciate a time when driving and owning a car required active participation. There is nothing like it, and I am sad for those who cannot appreciate it…


#15

Okay, guys, can a girl join this conversation? I’ll be 79 in a few weeks and have driven a 66 Mustang since they came out. Nothing fancy, Candy Apple coupe with a 289 engine and 8-track tape deck. It truly is fun to drive a piece of history. It’s my summer car now here in Minnesota but it still turns heads, and I know they’re not looking at the driver. My friends say I should start acting my age but I’m acting the age I feel. May we all have many more great years of doing what we love.


#16

Hi Guys, I am 76 and still do all my own maintenance on my three Pontiacs. Slowed down on car shows but still take alternate car on cruise once a week


#17

Dan was my idol when I was a boy just four years younger but 4 years at 14 is a big deal, my best friend dated Dan’s sister so I got all of the scoop on Dan.
I loved cars then and still do, I have shifted gears a bit and got into old boats and outboard motors but sill have two great red roasters that I have restored and looking for my 66th toy…
Norm (down on Arbor View at the time)


#18

Wow, when I was the first reply, I never thought I would be on the young end of all replies. I am really amazed. Also I do not feel so bad that I have more cars than I can drive when I read one of you has 25 cars. Great stories here of racing and general history. My first real project was a Chrysler 383 in a 1956 Chev (this was late 60’s when 327 Chev engines were really rare).
I had to take many years raising my family and only in last 10 years or so have I been able to get back at it. Chev 400 small block in a C class motorhome to go to Disneyland, Lately, my cars have been mid 90’s BMWs and newer including an LS swap in a 97 3 series.


#19

I’m 77 and still trying to figure out how you made $110 in four weeks delivering newspapers?