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February 14, 2012  |  Comments
#carlove: Sometimes, a car picks you

Photo By  Joe Bell

Joe Bell's 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24.

#carlove: Sometimes, a car picks you

The following story comes to us from Joe Bell, of Tampa, Fla. Joe is one of our many awesome fans on Facebook. In honor of Valentine’s Day and knowing Joe’s enthusiasm for automobiles, we asked him to share with us his #carlove story:

I have been a car fanatic my entire life. My earliest memories seem to have always involved cars. At 10 years old, my interest in cars truly peaked. It was 1989 and I went to a car show in Buffalo, N.Y., with my aunt and uncle to see the Lamborghini Countach, my dream car at the time. Little did I know, it would not remain my favorite car.

Nine years later, I’m 19 and like every typical boy, I wanted a hot car to ride in. I already had my first “beater” and even owned the typical sports car (a red Ford Mustang). Something wasn’t right, though. It just didn’t work for me. My grandfather, who had worked for General Motors for 35 years, and uncle had owned many Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 convertibles – now it was my turn.

As soon as I bought this car, I fell instantly in love. She was red, with silver ground effects and a black rag top. I was living in Phoenix, Ariz., at the time and rarely traveled outside of the city. Somehow, in that first year of owning the Z24, I clocked well over 40,000 miles on the odometer! That’s a lot, considering the city is only 50 miles wide!

I had no idea how special this car was until I started reading the owner’s manual and doing some research. Using the vehicle identification number (VIN), I was able to track down the Z24′s assembly plant. It was located in Tonawanda, N.Y., just a stone’s throw away from where I grew up and the very same plant my grandfather worked in before he retired. I kept digging and found out that the car rolled off the assembly line on Oct. 19, 1989. Believe it or not, my birthday.

This car not only shared my birthday, but was assembled in part by my own family, my personal hero – my grandfather! What are the odds to purchase a car that’s so connected to you? And over 2,000 miles away from our – the car’s and my own – birthplace! This Z24 was fated to be mine.

I only owned the car for about a year and a half – being a teenager made it difficult paying for such a ride. I couldn’t justify the insurance prices and I needed something more affordable. While I regret losing the car, I never stop thinking about the freedom that rag top gave me: The long drives through the Arizona desert at night. The intimate closeness I shared with it. What it meant to me personally because of my grandfather. I loved them both.

I’m honored to share my story with you all.

Joe Bell,
Tampa, Fla.

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  • Lee

    Love it

  • JustinG

    The very same thing happened to me. I set out to buy my first car, specifically looking for Camaros. Like Joe, GM, Chevrolet in particular, runs in my DNA. I found a Camaro IROC-Z in great condition. 5-speed, T-Tops, 5.0 motor, all stock. I didn’t pay attention to the VIN but as I was underneath the car, changing out parts and updating them, I noticed 10/88 written in that unerasable “dealers’ chalk” on the side of the engine block. I also found written in that same ink 10/24. Now I was curious and I did some research on the VIN. My Camaro rolled of the assembly line on 10/24/1988, my exact birthdate! I knew there was something special about this Camaro when I bought it. Unfortunately, Joe, mine didn’t come from Tonawanda, it came from Van Nuys, CA. Parts came from Tonawanda, but not the car.

  • Beejer58

    Very nice!!  Sounds like Grandpa sending love to his ‘boys’.