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Vietnam veterans and the old car hobby


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Just a thought. I wondered if many of us Vietnam war veterans got into the old car hobby after coming home.It seems like there was a boom time in the mid seventies for antique car buyers and sellers. I bought mine in 76 after being discharged in 72.

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I know of a 1936 Terraplane that languished in a neighbor's garage because it belonged to their son who was a casualty of the Viet Nam war. "Not for sale".

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Thanks to both of you for your service in SE Asia. I'm glad to see that you're alive and (hopefully) well half a century later. I spent a couple of years in the Army from 1971-73 but never left the States because things were obviously winding down over there. A buddy from high school went over there in 1970 and had some serious drug and alcohol issues when he came back and he died in 2000 at age 48. Thanks again for your service.... 

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Served in the Navy on the USS Oriskany Air Craft Carrier,  in the Golf of Tonkin 1969 -1972.

Bought my first Old car about 18 years ago, a '68 AMC AMX, also inherited my Dad's '69 C10 Chevy Pick Up Truck and bought a '74 Porsche 12 years ago. I was a gear head since I was 13 and still am at '70. Vietnam didn't make me an Old Car Guy it just delayed it.

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The seven year drug/alcohol/jail binge after Vietnam kinda slowed me down, but I've had old motorcycles and cars I thought were special since I was 12 years old.

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A lot of Vets came home and bought muscle cars. I wasn't in-country as the Navy sent me DC shortly after I completed some special trainin in 69. Was a car guy long before then, and all during my subsequent 23 years of service. 

Terry

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My gearhead status began long before my all expense paid tour of SouthEast Asia.

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From what I remember many returning vets seemed to buy one of the many new high performance cars on the market at the time.  I was a 1970 HS grad, did two years of college, got my draft notice right after college graduation in June 1972. Reported to draft board for pre-induction physical, never got called up as my draft number was out of the range being called.  Still remember and honor those who did get called and the great sacrifices they made at such an early age.

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Bought my first old car in 1963 while I was a junior in high school. I saw an old car in the back of a barn, so we stopped to ask if it was for sale. An elderly lady said it was her son's, but he was stationed in Germany. She said that he was not returning to America which I found surprising, so I asked again if it was for sale. She asked how much money I had on me and I said about $10. She said "I will take nine for it and you keep a buck for gas". That is how it all started, the bug bit. When I got discharged from the Navy in '68 I wanted a fast car not an old one ('70 Chevelle cowl inducted beast). I did get serious with the old car purchases in the '70's however. Early Cad, Brush, Ford T's and a couple of A's. This was when cars sold cheaply, not like today.

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I was USAF, wanted to fly where I was going and no way I was going in Navy so no draft involved.

Returned in 1970 and ordered a Buick GS 4-speed/AC/Guages/tilt steering/power.

 

For me a $200 car was a FIAT 850R Coupe that needed a clutch. $500 for a Corvair Corsa 'vert with 140 that got a QJ and trombones. Won a lot of autocrosses after I added a posi.

 

Briefly in 1970 was the last time I just had one car.

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Drafted Jan 10 67  - got injured and was at Walter Reed where the surgeon messed up and damn near killed me. Got orders for nam the day after surgery then 3 more times before I was released six months later. They decided it best to send me to Germany instead to drink beer for a year then discharged me Dec 23 68!  I traded in the 62 Tbird my brother destroyed on a Dodge Charger and also bought my first sports car a 58 MGA that was a basket taste. Got the MG running and the body fixed and primed. Sold both to go back to school and life put a hold on future old car plans until 92 when I bought a 49 Ford pickup out of the last barn in the city limits of Chicago. It took a long time to restore it as  life and $ were always competing. 
now those injuries are the biggest problem. I’m happiest in the garage doing something, heck even sweeping is better than being a couch potato. 
dave s 

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I'm the right age for Vietnam but this may be irrelevant to the OP as I didn't serve (4-F a lot more serious than bone spurs :rolleyes:).  Anyway, I caught the old car bug when I was grade school age - first hot rods, then stockers, now both.  I used to drool over the rods in those little magazines - remember those?  Had to hide them from my Mom as she had that "hot rods to hell" idea - dunno what she would have thought if I had Playboys.  🤣

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One year in Mekong Delta with Navy Seabees. Father was into old cars but I had college and career on my mind when I got back. In 1980 I restored a '64 Lincoln Continental Convertible for my mother in law (she owned it since new), and ultimately inherited it on her passing in 1985. Then in 1994 bought a super-charged Auburn convertible that my brother and I restored, then in 2004 a '29 Packard roadster and '19 Locomobile Sportif, then in 2011 a Duesenberg Dual Cowl, then in 2016 a '36 Cord. Also two '66 Buick Rivieras at various times.

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Navy no Vietnam 68-72. Bought a 39 Chevy pickup in 79 then a 31 A roadster in 81, a 31 A slant windshield sedan in 84, a 62 Galaxy and a 47 Ford pickup along the way. A 31 A pickup bought in 2010 is the only one I have now

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I was discharged in 1971 and was in Nam for a year.  I learned to drive in a 1936 Dodge cp and when I came home, I still had the old Dodge and still drove it.  I loved the older cars and now at 70,  I have 8 older cars that I have collected since then and still have a 1936 Dodge only a RS cp now.  I had some medical issues related to my time in Vietnam and made me unable to do much work on cars or anything else.  Took me out of work and forced early retirement - but, I still enjoy the hunt for parts and the friendships I have gained from the old car hobby.  I am having a 1963 Galaxie loaded convertible restored now and I get to locate and purchase all the parts for the project.  Still a lot of fun.

 

Edited by 35cz8
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My father was involved in AACA while I was growing up in Western NY, so i was exposed to this at an early age  When I got home after TET of 1969 I really wanted a "Vette" but no company would insure a Vietnam vet in a corvette. I ended up buying a 1969 GTO, Carnival Red convertible, hood tach, 4 speed, 4.11 posi. and a reverb. I could insure this car as a Lemans. Love those C-Rats.

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I was in Vietnam 64 65 came home to place no one wanted Vets ended up as a firefighter . Wife want me to do something with my anger ,so we bought a 1932 chevy and 8 years later it was finished . AACA is a great support group  .Have done 15 Glidden tours with that . Have made a lot of great friends here .Kings32

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7 hours ago, Eldovert said:

 

That was a very well written obituary. Unfortunately there were and still are a lot more Bills with these same issues after coming back from Vietnam. We need to keep all of these heroes in our prayers. Thanks for posting this....

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I served on the USS Arlington AGMR-2 in the Tonkin Gulf for two tours with an excursion to North Korea and a pickup job for Apollo 8. I had owned cars since I was in the 7th grade in school. I left behind a, '56 Studebaker Golden Hawk, '56 Chevy two-ten 2dr htp, a '56 Willy Bermuda, and my village's '51 Chevy ambulance when I went in. Just old junkers at the time and they kind of vaporized over the four years.

 

I had no trouble replacing them in a short time and was back up to multiple cars in a short time. My grandmothers '36 Chevy took a spot and I bought a '68 Riviera. Rented two garages in town and just been buying impulsively ever since.

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It started before going into the service. Had a 1936 Dodge humpback delivery that was sold before leaving on active duty. It's the only vehicle that I wish I still had. Shortly after leaving the Navy in 72 I purchased a 1930 Model A 2dr sedan. After getting married that was sold as money was needed more than old cars. Just recently purchased a 1930 Desoto CF and am getting it back on the road. Hopefully in the next 2 weeks. Plan to use it as a driver. 

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I was into cars before ‘Nam era as I graduated in 1964. Between 1965 and drafted since I lived in NC I was drawn to FE powered Fords after visits to Holman Moody. Hey I still have their catalogs!  That was my performance period. After 1972 release is when I gravitated to restoration but never leaving the 60-70’s era as first project was a 66 big engine Corvette.  That evolved to full size early 60’s 409’s

Robert

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Had the old car bug before my USAF adventure.  I made air target charts and got lucky with a tour in Germany 65-67.  Peaceful place with a good selection of cars.

Bought this pre-WWII style Mercedes, then a Porsche Speedster to bring home.  10 VW's and 100 other cars later, I'm a pre WWII old car fan. 

1934  Fords since 1972.

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57 Speedster.jpg

Edited by Paul Dobbin (see edit history)
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I wasnt born until 62 so I was only 10 in 72 when things were pretty much winding down.My father was a flight engineer on a

B24 bomber flying missions over Germany towards the end of WWII. When he came home to Jacksonville FL he went to work for 

the US Navy for 40 yrs repairing aircraft and worked his way up. He was transferred around a good bit and sometimes we lived 

on the navy base where he was stationed or in the local community with military families living all around us,  We were taught 

to respect our country, our flag and most of all the military servicemen and their families.  Bare with me folks  - The last 4 yrs of

Nam and for several years after he was stationed at NAS Cecil Field- a jet base for A4's and A7's that rotated in and out to Vietnam

area carriers. All my friends in the neighbor hood and at the local school had fathers serving over there -either Navy or Marines.

My oldest brother and my sisters husband enlisted and served on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal  which was deployed over there  

Every night we  watched the local and reports of local and national news  with coverage of Nam - especially for the reports of

of casualties  to local squadrons. Every night Walter Cronkite would give the number of service men killed or wounder that day and

a total for whole duration of the war. We had friends whose dads were never coming home and friends whose dads were being deployed.

 I saw first hand how Vietnam affected families, and even my dad as he lost friends and colleagues. He was always so upset at the 

way all the Vietnam vets were treated.   All that to say what a healthy respect all of us kids in our family has for our all of our service men 

and women that served in the Vietnam war,  The tears are now flowing down onto the keyboard and I am literally crying right now for the 

way alot of Americans treated our Vietnam Vets and for the way many dont appreciate our Armed Service personnel. THANKYOU TO ALL 

OF YOU MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED.  My heart goes out to you with such deep respect.       Now that I Hijacked the topic  -

I would stand there assisting my day while he worked on the cars, trucks, lawn mowers, boat engines, tvs, radios, or any other appliances

that were broke especially for families whose dad was deployed or was killed over there. He could fix anything -mechanical, electrical, 

or electronics. He learned alot of skills in the military and while working for the military. I loved working on cars with him - In turn I learned

to be a Do It Yourself Gearhead and a Shade Tree Mechanic from my US Veteran Father.  He Passed away  and was buried at sea from the  

decks of a US Navy destroyer in the Gulf of Mexico in 1993.   Thankyou to the United States of America US Armed Forces .

To our Vietnam Vets  -WOOYA !! 

 

Sincerely, Kelly Jordan    Lake City ,FL 

1964 Volvo 122S (sold) My first car and restoration 

1967 Mustang Coup

1925 Chrysler G70 2 door Coach 

 

 

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I cleaned up my act in 1978 so it's been almost 42 years since I had a drop to drink nor any illicit drug. At the time, I had nothing left from my pre-Army days. And the only things I still owned from post Army crazy days were two shotguns, two BSA motorcycles, and my 53 Buick Roadmaster pickup. Life has been good since then, leon bee ain't my real name.

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2 hours ago, leon bee said:

I cleaned up my act in 1978 so it's been almost 42 years since I had a drop to drink nor any illicit drug. At the time, I had nothing left from my pre-Army days. And the only things I still owned from post Army crazy days were two shotguns, two BSA motorcycles, and my 53 Buick Roadmaster pickup. Life has been good since then, leon bee ain't my real name.

Glad you made it thru all the turmoil -both Nam and your aftermath. Thumbs Up,Affirm.

Cricket JKJ

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10 hours ago, leon bee said:

 my 53 Buick Roadmaster pickup

 

I wouldn't mind seeing a pic of that. Did you convert it or was it like that when you bought it? Also, congrats on your recovery.... :)

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Came home from SE Asia as a S/Sgt. in 1970 and bought a 1970 Chevy Chevelle  , had it a few weeks and was hit head on by a drunk in a new Impala totaled both cars. Bought a 1969 Mustang 428 SCJ, sold it when I got married. Kids are grown and gone so we now have two 1930 Chrysler Model 70s. Coupe is a show car and the Brougham is an all original driver.

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Smoked little and drank less, either would screw up my major source of income: pool. In the USAF this was serious business.

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I never smoked but always had a pack of Marlboro’s on hand and a lighter. When the Sargent would start looking for guys I always offered one to him. The grunts that didn’t smoke always got pulled for guard duty or some other job that needed to be done. Very seldom did I get pulled from a 10 minute break to do that. 
Learn quick or clean the can ! 

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I bought a new 67 396 SS Chevelle before I left for overseas. After I returned from SEA I bought a 67 427 Corvette Convertible.

It has been a huge rollercoaster of muscle cars and Corvettes ever since.

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Bought my 29 Hupp in 1968 and completely disassembled it to restore it.  After getting married in 69 I was getting drafted so I joined the Navy.  Spent most of my time in Guantanamo and on the USS Saratoga working on radar equipment.  Started family while in GTMO which put the Hupp on hold for almost 50 years.   Been working on it for three years now since retirement and hoping this is the year it becomes drivable.  

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On ‎4‎/‎18‎/‎2020 at 1:11 PM, cricketkj26 said:

I wasnt born until 62 so I was only 10 in 72 when things were pretty much winding down.My father was a flight engineer on a

B24 bomber flying missions over Germany towards the end of WWII. When he came home to Jacksonville FL he went to work for 

the US Navy for 40 yrs repairing aircraft and worked his way up. He was transferred around a good bit and sometimes we lived 

on the navy base where he was stationed or in the local community with military families living all around us,  We were taught 

to respect our country, our flag and most of all the military servicemen and their families.  Bare with me folks  - The last 4 yrs of

Nam and for several years after he was stationed at NAS Cecil Field- a jet base for A4's and A7's that rotated in and out to Vietnam

area carriers. All my friends in the neighbor hood and at the local school had fathers serving over there -either Navy or Marines.

My oldest brother and my sisters husband enlisted and served on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal  which was deployed over there  

Every night we  watched the local and reports of local and national news  with coverage of Nam - especially for the reports of

of casualties  to local squadrons. Every night Walter Cronkite would give the number of service men killed or wounder that day and

a total for whole duration of the war. We had friends whose dads were never coming home and friends whose dads were being deployed.

 I saw first hand how Vietnam affected families, and even my dad as he lost friends and colleagues. He was always so upset at the 

way all the Vietnam vets were treated.   All that to say what a healthy respect all of us kids in our family has for our all of our service men 

and women that served in the Vietnam war,  The tears are now flowing down onto the keyboard and I am literally crying right now for the 

way alot of Americans treated our Vietnam Vets and for the way many dont appreciate our Armed Service personnel. THANKYOU TO ALL 

OF YOU MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED.  My heart goes out to you with such deep respect.       Now that I Hijacked the topic  -

I would stand there assisting my day while he worked on the cars, trucks, lawn mowers, boat engines, tvs, radios, or any other appliances

that were broke especially for families whose dad was deployed or was killed over there. He could fix anything -mechanical, electrical, 

or electronics. He learned alot of skills in the military and while working for the military. I loved working on cars with him - In turn I learned

to be a Do It Yourself Gearhead and a Shade Tree Mechanic from my US Veteran Father.  He Passed away  and was buried at sea from the  

decks of a US Navy destroyer in the Gulf of Mexico in 1993.   Thankyou to the United States of America US Armed Forces .

To our Vietnam Vets  -WOOYA !! 

 

Sincerely, Kelly Jordan    Lake City ,FL 

1964 Volvo 122S (sold) My first car and restoration 

1967 Mustang Coup

1925 Chrysler G70 2 door Coach 

 

 

The 7-1/2 minute long version comes to mind while reading this: 

Craig

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Interesting choice of good WWII pictures for a Vietnam protest song.

 

Took a few years before I stopped diving for cover every time a firecracker went off.

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16 hours ago, padgett said:

my major source of income: pool. In the USAF this was serious business.

 

An old Navy Corpsman gave me a handful of equagesic pills to help me deal with the petty officer in charge of out fireroom one time. Boy, can you shoot some fluid pool on those!

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My Vietnam vet cousin a multiple Purple Heart recipient wrecked his 68 Camaro by flying it off the road after the war and into a barn. After that he became the Chief of Police in his hometown. 
 

When I grew up in the hobby it was mostly the WWII guys. Now the hobby is dominated by the boomers. The Vietnam vet guys I have met usually have the better cars and the more diverse cars. 

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