MARCH 28, 2009: Lost Star – 1975 Monte Carlo- a bicentennial road trip machine

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Greg Chury was a freshly-minted high school grad back in 1976 when he bought a gently used 1975 Chevy Monte Carlo-the ultimate 70s bumper car.

Then he and a buddy decided to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial by taking the Monte on a giant road trip to see a friend in Colorado.

The big Chevy was a willing accomplice on the tour.

Because this was 1976 the car came with 3 options–an 8-track stereo, a CB radio and a sunroof. Greg was an intelligent, non-disco guy so the 8- track played the Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller and Peter Frampton– not KC and the Sunshine Band-this isn’t a horror story.

As for the CB, Greg likes to call it his“10-4 good buddy” stage but in reality the radio saved him from stern lectures and a few speeding tickets from various law enforcement agencies-to a point.In 1976 Greg was also in mid-courting phase with his future wife and he picked up some giant points when he offered to take her brother Don on the road trip.

That piled up a wheel barrel full of lifetime PR with Kathy, his future bride and Don, his future brother in law. Kathy was also impressed that her mom and dad had the confidence to send their 14-year-old son on a long driving vacation with Greg–that was a huge endorsement.

Greg had another motive that he didn’t put on the table-Don had his learner’s permit he loved driving and he didn’t drink. The perfect driving companion. Greg and his buddy sat back relaxed, cracked the odd beer, cranked up the 8 track and let Don pile up hundreds and hundreds of miles of valuable driving experience. They saw a lot of scenery with Don at the wheel-they even did some sunroof time that was technically a “moon” roof after a Coors fueled night on the town.

Fortunately Greg was at the wheel when the trip hit a minor legal snag.

He was stopped for speeding in Utah by a Mormon version of Barney Fife-a deputy who advised Greg that he had to go in front of a judge in the next town.“Town” was a loose description. This was a gas station and a diner and the judge was also the short order cook so Greg had to wait until the lunch rush was over before the judge could hear his case.Greg did the only thing he could-he ordered lunch. Not exactly a U.S. Supreme Court Hall of Fame moment but at least Greg and his traveling entourage didn’t starve through the slow grind of justice.

Judge Roy “Chili-Bean” finished his kitchen shift and directed Greg to the Court House in the back of the gas station. That’s where Jethro Bodine the fry cook became a magistrate of the law and he promptly sentenced Greg to a $25.00 fine. To this day Greg is glad that his whole tip went to the waitress, not this part time hangin’ judge.Time marches on, Greg married Kathy a few years later, a kid came along and suddenly the Monte Carlo was filed under “I” for impractical. It was traded in for a far more practical Honda Accord.

“Practicality”-the fatal word for car-car guy relationships.

Greg has no real regrets about the loss of his Monte Carlo. It was the perfect car for a lengthy care-free road trip when you’re 18 and traveling with some good buddies in an 8-track, CB radio-equipped, sun-roofed 1975 Monte Carlo.

No Honda Accord could ever take that away.

Jerry Sutherland @mystarcollectorcar.com

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