You never forget your first car. And if you're lucky, your first car is cool, fun, fast, or at least interesting enough to be worth remembering.
Scotty Gray's first car was a Rambler. That wasn't exactly the sexiest set of wheels in the late '50s or early '60s, but it's the type of car that has earned a funky, quirky respectability through the years. Scotty remembers his fondly enough that he took notice of a '62 Rambler Wagon one day while visiting Richard Stokes' Rockwall, Texas, shop, Stoked-Out Specialties (www.stokedoutspecialties.com). He kept an eye on the car in the weeks that followed.
"I watched the transformation from a neat wagon to a car taken to the next level," Scotty says. That transformation included the installation of a Heidt's IFS, an '86 S-10 rearend with ladder bar-style control arms, and Air Ride Technologies air springs at each corner. The revamped chassis was also treated to Wilwood front disc brakes, an ididit tilt column, and Billet Specialties Vintec wheels (18x8 and 20x8) wrapped in Nitto rubber
Installing a small-block Chevy in the Rambler's pint-sized engine compartment wasn't exactly easy, but the Stoked-Out crew sure made it look at home. The crate engine was set up with a polished Professional Products intake, four-barrel carb, S&S headers, and a March Performance pulley system. A Lokar-shifted TH350 backed it up.
The Rambler's body was clean and unusual enough that it was left essentially stock and painted a distinctive Standox Cyber Green with a Cool White top. By then, Scotty could no longer contain himself and made a deal to buy the compact longroof for his wife, Nancy. But first he wanted Stoked-Out Specialties to finesse the car a bit more to her liking.
The fine-tuning process included smoothing the firewall, building custom inner fenders, and thoroughly detailing the engine and its compartment. Inside, the dash was similarly smoothed, painted, and then filled with Classic Instruments dials and Phipps vents for the Hot Rod Air system. The late-model bucket seats, custom console, and new door panels were all wrapped in pecan-colored Ultraleather. Surfer images stitched on the front seats and painted on the air cleaner were augmented by a real surfboard in the weeks following our photo shoot.
"This car has been a real joy for Nancy and I to own," Scotty says. "The attention it gets is really unbelievable." In other words, it's a small car that's long on appeal-a classic compact that can generate grins at shows, haul butt on the highway, and still bring home the groceries. It's the type of car that's easy to remember, even if it's not your first.