Being a car guy himself, Star Ledger columnist Greg Hatala of NJ.com, vividly recalls the first car he ever purchased out of his earnings from doing an assortment of jobs. “My first car — purchased with money saved from paper routes, clearing tables and other jobs — was a 1972 Chevelle with Cragar mag wheels. I loved that car, and still stop and stare whenever I see a similar one,” Greg says.
Greg Hatala from NJ.com can still remember very well his very first car – a 1972 Chevelle
It didn’t end there because a couple of years ago, his passion for the classics led him to cross paths with his second best find. “About 10 years ago, I bought a 1966 Ford Galaxie convertible at auction for $2,900. I did this without mentioning the matter to my wife, which may have been a mistake,” he says. As it turned out, it was not a serious mistake. The ‘66 Galaxie was such a beauty that Greg often received offers from prospective buyers, all of which he respectfully and wittingly declined until recently.
“Constantly, I would be asked if the car was for sale. I found that the best answer wasn’t ‘no, it’s not.’ Instead, I would tell those interested in buying the car about it’s the engine size; my Galaxie had the ‘family sized’ 289 cubic inch engine and potential buyers were always looking for the muscular big block 428. Funny thing about my wife and that car: she was sad to see it go when I sold it,” Greg explained.
It was kind of hard to part ways to the Hatala’s ‘family’ car, a 1966 Ford Galaxie
As his wife can attest to, most of us find a deep connection between ourselves and a beloved classic. “A car doesn’t have to be a muscle car or even American-made to be beloved,” Greg says. “I’ve personally always been fascinated by the 1962 Citroen, the one with the taillights up near the roofline, and still want a vintage Volkswagen Beetle convertible because taking them apart and putting them back together is half the fun of owning one.”
Greg shares the same affinity together with the rest of countless classic and vintage car fans. More than a piece of automotive machinery, these vehicles from yester years are pieces of our once former selves worthy to be told and shared to those who care to listen.
Here’s Greg’s pick of some of vintage autos around the Garden State area in Lower Township, New Jersey. Scroll down and you might see something that is familiar to you. Photo descriptions courtesy of Greg himself.
A Chevy is being worked on at the Tydol Service Station at 14 Broad St. in Eatontown in this photo from the 1950s. Courtesy of the Monmouth County Historical Society
Les Dunham is pictured here together with his Scorpion, a custom show car he built in Boonton in 1961. Courtesy of kustomrama.com
This photo was taken in Pennsauken in 1909. Note the plush seats that were quite possibly more luxurious than seating options in many American living rooms at the time. Courtesy of Pennsauken Township.
Frederick Walker is shown in 1939 posing with his car in Paterson. Can anyone ID the make? Courtesy of Ellen Henderson Policastro.
A gentleman identified as Mr. Rexon adds water to the radiator of this car (with a tea kettle!) in Stratford in 1905, while his father sits behind the wheel which is on the right side. Courtesy of R.L. Long.
This photo was taken in the early 1930s at Budd Lake near Hackettstown, and the car could be a 1929 Ford Roadster. Courtesy of thehistorygirl.com
The parking lot at the Eighth Street Station in Bayonne is full. The spaces are occupied by cars that likely would be highly coveted today. Courtesy of Paul Lake.
Can you identify the make of the auto in front of B.D. Travers’ Esso station at 177 Second St. in Keyport? I can’t. The photo was supposedly taken in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Courtesy of the Keyport Historical Society.
Workmen are shown loading automobiles onto a freight car in Paterson in this photo from 1920. Courtesy of the Paterson Museum.
Do you think you can identify the scenes from these photo’s? Is there a treasured classic car photo that you wish to share? Let us know at comments below.