Longtime fascination

Classic car owner favours vehicles from the ’50s and ’60s

Frank Gale fgale@thewesternstar.com
Published on June 26, 2014
Classic car enthusiast Tom Fitzpatrick of Port au Port East poses for a photo while removing the air breather for a checkup in his 1979 Chevrolet Impala convertible.
Frank Gale

Tom Fitzpatrick has always liked cars from the 1950s and 1960s, and four of them have now become his passion.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the chrome fins, the hood ornaments, the sounds from the mufflers and well-tuned engines of cars from this era,” said the Port au Port East resident, who is formerly from Stephenville.

While it’s been 33 years since he’s owned older cars, Fitzpatick said his love of these vehicles dates back to when Stephenville resident Al Davis used to drive around in his 1950 Ford, equipped with a Thrush muffler system.

“That car was immaculate and the sound from it was just beautiful,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick gets the most use out of his 1970 Chevrolet Impala convertible, equipped with a 350-cubic-inch engine and running with 300 horsepower. He uses it so often for weddings that he doesn’t even take off the magnetic stickers anymore.

In addition to this convertible, he is hoping to put his ’53 Chevy Belair and his ’67 Plymouth Belvedere in this year’s Joe MacNeil Antique and Unique Car Show on Main Street in Stephenville. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 26.

Fitzpatrick has a fourth car, a ’59 Ford Galaxy, which he said is currently under restoration and won’t be going in the show.

The first car he bought was the 1967 Plymouth, which had just one owner before him. While Fitzpatrick does some of the mechanic work himself on his vehicles, he leaves the more major restorations to professionals.

Fitzpatrick has had his cars in shows from Stephenville to Grand Falls-Windsor over the years and said it’s fun to go out talk with other car enthusiasts.

“People come along having a chat and when they see a certain car they have flashbacks of when that person or someone they know had one like that,” he said.

As a result of his hobby he became good friends with Paul Walsh, an antique car enthusiast from Pasadena, and they’ve gone to car shows together.

“This is most certainly fun. If you have an interest for old cars, this is an excellent hobby to have,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m also an avid watcher of ‘Overhaulin’,’” he said of the American automotive reality TV show that features classic cars being restored.

The car enthusiast has one more vehicle purchase in mind, but doesn’t know if he’ll find it — a 1960 two-door, hardtop Buick Invicta.

Fitzpatrick works on his cars every weekend during the summer, when he’s not out for a cruise or in a car show.

Bob Byrnes, chairman of the Joe MacNeil Antique and Unique Car Show, said the event this year will once again have live entertainment on Main Street, while Zion Drive will be dedicated to motorcycles this year.

He said a hundred or more vehicles are expected to take part in this year’s show, including the Joe MacNeil collection.