Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Cutlass Salon Time Capsule


Over the past few days, Mr. Michael Bullock has been sharing portions of his story about the 1977 Olds Cutlass he ultimately inherited from his grandfather. I know this man is humble, mainly because of how he originally approached me via email about how he wasn't looking for sympathy for the trials he has faced over the years. The only thing he wants done, is to make sure the story is told about his grandparents, and the love he has for their Cutlass. 

What can I say, that's a gentleman in my book. Also, that shows an appreciation for family, which I think doesn't really come until later on in life. At least, when I was younger, I always enjoyed spending time with my family. I definitely loved going to my grandparents house when I was a kid. I got to go home to Kentucky and hang out at my grandparents house, good home southern cooking by my grandmother early in the morning, the house was just filled with smells of bacon, eggs, gravy, fresh brewed coffee, toast...while also waking up to the fresh morning country air...listening to my Aunts, Uncles, Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa calmly talking about the days before, then and now. 

But enough about my family, I feel that same kind of compassion for my grandparents in his way of explaining his story about his grandfather. They traded in a 74 Chevrolet in 1977 and bought the Cutlass brand new, at a whopping $7,028. After his grandfather purchased this car, he kept every living receipt on this car, from wiper blades to tires. 

It was a much different time in 1977, the average annual income was $15k, average rent was $240 per month, the cost of gas was a cool $0.65 per gallon. The new Cutlass Salon was considered an "upscale Euro-style luxury/sports sedan" and included upgraded suspension, radial tires, reclining bucket seats and dimmer switch. Of course, what really matters is what these sleeper ponies came with under the hood, all Cutlass models came standard with a 180-horsepower 350 cu in Rocket V8. Absolutely necessary to take advantage of every ounce of that 65 cent gasoline. 

Michael Bullock always wanted this car when he was younger. He remembers his grandfather being a great story teller and always making people laugh. I'm sure he had a heart of gold, and probably filled with a lot of southern charm. He shared a story of his grandfather, who was 82 at the time, when he was in Rock Hill, SC on his way home to Chester, SC. It's about a 30 minute drive between the two locations today. His grandfather had made a wrong turn on Interstate 77 heading towards Charlotte, NC when he was pulled over by a State Trooper doing 82. The State Trooper asked "Why are you speeding sir?" and his grandfather responded with "I'm lost and I was trying to get away from all these crazy drivers out here." The trooper was laughing so hard he said "Mr. Campbell, I have not laughed this hard in a long time." and the trooper kindly showed Mr. Campbell the way home without writing a ticket. 

For 36 years, Mr. Campbell worked third shift at a sock factory in Chester, SC until he retired at the young age of 65. Soon after his wild chase down Interstate 77, he was placed in a nursing home and eventually passed away in 2011. Michael says that Mr. Campbell was an excellent storyteller and a writer, about life and family with a Christian theme. 

Micheal Bullock now lives in Gainesville, GA, retired in 2013 with his wife and kids. Where his gentlemanship and his humbleness comes from is what he shared with me about his personal challenges. While he doesn't let his disabilities get the best of him, by staying active as much as he physically can, at the early age of 23, he had already underwent a fusion of L4, L5 and S1 vertabrae, two major back surgeries, three knee surgeries and a left shoulder surgery. I personally had no words to really express myself once he told me that. All I could think to myself is, Wow, to be so young, and to have so much work done has got to be a challenge. 

In 2011, he was diagnosed with remitting MS and fibromyalgia. He suffered from slurred speech, memory loss such as forgetting his childrens' name, and loosing train of thought during conversation. Along with this, comes with family challenges. 

I'm going to keep to his request to not dwell on his challenges and stick to the passion of the car. I met Mr. Bullock through the Chip Foose Fan Club web page. He shared photo's of the 77 Cutlass in hopes that maybe Mr. Chip Foose would see his car. I absolutely love how much Chip Foose gives faith in people. How much impact this man can have when it comes to family heirlooms like Michael Bullock's grandfather's 77 Cutlass. This gives me hope that people hold on to dreams, and important memories of family all because of the car that made them smile as a kid, the car that stories were told about by his grandfather that helps ease his mind while he lives through his challenges. When he looks at his own children and knows that one day, he will share the same stories to them, and i'm sure they will one day speak of them to their friends and family. Literally a time capsule of his family. 

As Michael Bullock always says when he signs his emails to me...

God Bless,

Chuck Ruffin

a.k.a. Sgt. Car Man

Be sure to check out my pages:

Join my Carspotting Group:

#chipfoosefanclub, #chipfoose, #overhaulin, #oldsmobile, #cutlass, #disability, #dreamcar, #sgtcarman, #southcarolina, #family, #christian, #humble, #cars, #oldsmobile

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Disability and a Dream Car


Imagine, you are 17 years old, enjoying life as you see it in the mid 80's, realizing that one day, when you turn 18, Adulthood begins. Freedom is just around the corner, the decisions you make have more meaning, have more to do with becoming completely independent. Now, you have the opportunity to sign up for the service, or put your name in the Selective Service, you can buy smokes, basically move out and have your own place. It's every young adult’s dream, to finally be an independent teenager. Who knows what is next, what are you going to do? Go to College? Move out of state? Cruise the countryside? The world is yours. 

But then, one day, all of that changes. You are riding your motorcycle and you get into a tragic accident. WHAM! You shatter your T5 vertebrae in your spine, now you are a paraplegic from the Chest down. That's what happened to a good friend, Tim Graves, in 1987.

If you don't know what that is, here is what I could find on:

Thoracic vertebrae are located in the mid-back.

Thoracic Nerves (T1 – T5)

·         Corresponding nerves affect muscles, upper chest, mid-back and abdominal muscles.
·         Arm and hand function is usually normal.
·         Injuries usually affect the trunk and legs (also known as paraplegia).
·         Most likely use a manual wheelchair
·         Can learn to drive a modified car
·         Can stand in a standing frame, while others may walk with braces

You would think that being paralyzed would be difficult enough. Especially being so young, all of those great opportunities you dreamed of are now not as easy to accomplish. Being handicapped in the 80's is much different than it is now. More organizations exist for disabilities, better technology to help with getting people around in life, and vehicles are much easier to drive today than they ever have been. 

Well, Tim's challenges were not over. As all American men do, we dream of having a family one day; finding that special someone and marrying her to spend the rest of your life with, someone you connect with. Tim found that with his soon to be wife he met in 2010. Two years later, he was able to go to the Philippines and meet her and her family. It was a time for him to finally be more than happy. 
This is the time where his dream of getting back in his 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass starts to become a challenge. On his trip back home, he was transitioning to his wheel chair and ended up getting his rear end stuck on the brakes. With paraplegic’s, this type of event, where it could cause any bruising on a body part that doesn’t regularly move, can be devastating and turn in to a much worse injury. He initially didn’t see any immediate bruising, but a few days later it developed. He had to complete his journey back to the United States, which comes with an 18 hour flight. Sitting down that long, his bruise slowly blistered, then burst open, turning in to a deep tissue wound under a pressure sore she size of a softball.

Over time, the wound began to heal, and it shrunk in size, but the healing stopped and now it was time to seek medical attention. The surgeon’s decided to do a muscle flap surgery which ultimately made him completely bed ridden. Plus he had to stay off of his rear end in order for the stitches to not break and for the surgery to heal properly. I think this kind of commitment would even be a challenge to someone who isn’t paralyzed from the chest down, let alone, someone who solely relies on his upper body to move the rest of him.

While he inevitably faced an uncomfortable and stressful time healing and being completely bed ridden, he was also dealing with lawyers to help get his newly found love to the U.S. He spent most of his time on video chat with her while his lawyers looked for ways to get her a legal Visa to travel so they can finally be married. Thankfully, some mild luck finally fell into place, they found a way to get her a K1 Visa, meaning she could come to the U.S. but in order for her to stay; she would have to get married to him within 90 days, or face deportation back to the Philippines. His wound has still yet to heal, the visa went through in October 2013, and then, by December 19, 2013 they got married.

From reading the story he shared with me, it seemed that this is where things started to look up for him. He was married to someone he loved, and finally had someone he could spend quality time with.  Of course, life still has its daily challenges, and responsibilities. He lives in Southampton, PA and in 2013 there was a lot of snow that came down that year. While transitioning from bed to his wheel chair, he tore 2 tendons in his left rotator cuff, now even limiting his abilities even further. Not only does he have to still heal from his wound on his rear end, but now his shoulder damaged, and doctors cannot perform surgery on his shoulder while his wound is not healed due to risk of serious infection that could be life threatening.

While his daily challenges are quite the obvious, it makes me personally never want to complain about having a hard day ever again. I find myself with daily life struggles just like every other American…never enough money, how am I going to afford anything between paychecks, my vehicles need maintenance that are beyond the savings or income I have, my daughters are sick, my wife is sick, work is really pressuring me to finish these projects on time, what if I miss my deadlines, I’m going to be late to a meeting, do I have any time for myself.

Which brings me to the story of his 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass, he purchased the car in 1991 all stock with hand controls. In 1991, he worked in a machine shop, spending most of his money on modifying his car. The Cutlass has a 468ci BBO, UMI tubular adjustable upper and lower control arms front and rear, QA1 coilovers up front, all new exhaust system 3" , 50 series Flowmasters, X pipe, Electric cut offs, Hooker Super comp headers, Phoenix th350 2500 stall, 3.42 rear, 12 bolt posi, Procar bucket seats, B&M Hammer shifter  all auto-meter guages, grant steering wheel and many more modifications. Needless to say, this thing is a beast, just waiting to be unleashed to the open road again.

Unfortunately, with his permanently damaged shoulder he cannot transfer in or out of the Cutlass because it sits 6 inches lower than his wheelchair. He jokes to me in his email that there isn’t a wheelchair that has a 6 inch lowering kit, maybe this is something that some wild machinist or car enthusiast will work on someday…a lowering kit for wheelchairs to help with disabled to get in and out of their lowered cars. Ultimately, what he would love for it to have is a suspension system high enough so he can use a transfer board to get in and out without any help.

When I hear about his want to get in to his muscle car, the first thing that comes to mind is Dan Short, #Fantomworks, on the East Coast, building his Chevelle to support wounded veterans and making it wheel chair accessible with a built in ramp. Now I don’t know, it might be a long shot, but if he can build a car like that, imagine what kind of possibilities would open up for Tim Graves.

Now, living with his wife, and his Parents who are in their 80’s struggling with challenges of their own, his only wish is to be able to finish the car before his parents pass away. I can see why Tim Graves is such a fan of Chip Foose and Overhaulin. Chip Foose puts a lot of beautiful touches to his cars, he is compassionate, and he knows that the effort he puts in to every car he touches will be appreciated by that person for generations to come. If I were Tim Graves, I would long for Chip Foose to come to my rescue as well, so I could at least live decently knowing that my other love in life is complete.

Thanks for reading my story today…If you like what you see, and appreciate what you read, leave a comment below. Share this with your friends, family, and fellow car enthusiasts to spread the word about his story. I know he has a lot more to tell about it, and I’m sure as I get to know him some more, I’ll keep learning about it myself.


Chuck Ruffin

a.k.a. Sgt. Car Man

Be sure to check out my pages:

Join my Carspotting Group:

#chipfoosefanclub, #chipfoose, #overhaulin, #oldsmobile, #cutlass, #disability, #danshort, #fantomworks, #southampton, #pennsylvania, #dreamcar, #sgtcarman

Sunday, October 18, 2015

When Bad Things Happen to Nice People


This one comes to me as a request to help him spread the word about his 2001 Dodge Durango. It's not my usual classic car highlight, or modified car, this one is just a run of the mill standard daily driver. It's just a daily driver, to Jeff Sigman, it is his life, his transportation to help with his needs, it's something that i'm sure he probably feels as if his luck is just running out. Maybe everything is just crashing down on him all at once. 

Jeff owned a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer that had the transmission go out on him. I'm sure everyone knows, if you don't have 1. some kind of warranty 2. know how to fix it yourself 3. have the capability, tools, and space to fix it  or 4. the money to buy the replacement parts, and transmission is a deadly cause of a lot of cars. It's the step where you almost have to give up. He didn't though, he gave it a shot to get it fixed, ran great for about 2 more months, then it gave up on him again. Even though he knew the transmission was out, he knew someone needed a vehicle to get around, so he lent it out to someone who drove it for a while, and then the worse thing happened; the engine blew. 

Thankfully, some light was sort of shed at the end of the tunnel for Jeff. A friend of his said he would trade Jeff for a 2001 Dodge Durango. Straight up, no questions asked. He went with the deal, what was he supposed to do? I'm sure his finances were already hurting and this is his friend. His friend had explained to him the Dodge had some knocking noise. His friends have insisted that he needed a new motor. I don't think that is the case just yet, which, i'm crossing my fingers that a little bit of my googling research may help him and his friends find a solution and get this truck running for him. 

I took a look at this YouTube video.

I also read the description of his video, which it seemed to be somewhat accurate. I don't know if these engines are notorious for this sort of issue or not, but he seems pretty adamant this is the issue and not to waste any money on other parts. Here is his description:

This is a 2000 Durango Sport it has the 4.7 engine. The truck had a loud knock so decided to take the engine apart and found a dropped valve seat. This is before getting a new valve seat installed, valve and new lifters. if your engine has a similar noise do not waste your money on new coils, plugs or injectors; these engines are known to drop valve seats. Please be respectful and do not post any rude comments; if you have any questions feel free to comment. Enjoy the video
What I haven't mentioned about Jeff is what kind of person he is. He is just like the rest of us hard working American's. He is 45, disabled and lives in Parkhills, Missouri.

I hope the word gets out a bit about Jeff Sigman and his 2001 Dodge Durango.

If you like what you have read, please visit my other pages that I have out there! Also, if own a project car, have a story you want to share with me, email me at I'll be happy to work with you and write something about you, your car, and your story!


Billy Boyett - 1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS


I decided to take a journey on the blog. One that includes members of the Chip Foose Fan Club, their cars and their stories. Often times we find our selves as car lovers, automotive enthusiasts, mild mechanics or artists and have that one project car that never seems to get finished. 

Sometimes, cars end up becoming project cars due to unforeseen circumstances. Expenses can rack up quickly, costs of repair seem unimaginable, and sometimes our own skill isn't enough to complete the whole job. 

In this case, Billy Boyett a 25 year old Rigger at Robalo Boats from Nashville, Georgia, for over 10 years dreamed of owning a 1989 Chevrolet Camaro. He purchased the car in April of 2015, with a 5.0 L (305 cid) LO3 Small-Block V8. This was the first year since 1987 that Camaro came back with the RS, becoming the base model for Camaro that year. The 305 came with  a heart pounding 170 hp and a newly featured dual carburetor.  As any young hard working American does, he saved up the money on his own and finally purchased his very own dream car. 

Unfortunately later on this year, the car caught fire in the engine bay. He doesn't know exactly what caused the fire, but he does know it originated from the battery compartment. 

Now the car sits the way it was after the fire left it to ruin. With every hard working American who has the dream of owning their dream car, priorities of living generally take precedence. If you are like me, Family comes first, then of course we always have the bills each month that we have to pay the best that we can. Definitely food is a consideration, and if you ever want to enjoy yourself, because you work so hard, then you have to spend some money with the people you love to do that. 

One day Billy wants this machine to hit the road again. The way he always imagine it to be; A muscle bound, horsepower beating, fuel guzzling, loud exhaust screaming machine of sheer awesome! 

Take a look at the current state of Billy Boyett's 1989 Cheverolet Camaro:

Thanks for reading my Blog! Be sure to check out some of the pages that I have out there. The links are available below. 

If you have a car, project car, a story to be told, email me at 

Chuck Ruffin

a.k.a. Sgt. Car Man

Be sure to check out my pages:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Being Admin of the Official Chip Foose Fan Club

Just this year, an amazing thing happened for me and a new friend, Clifford James . We became Administrators for an on line Chip Foose Fan Club Facebook page. A pretty simple role really, but still rather time consuming.

We are in charge of approving new members that want to join. This is a closed group, and it is tailored to those who have either met Chip Foose, watched his television show Overhaulin on Velocity, or know of him through national car shows. We don't have a lot of restrictions for new members, as long as they abide by the following:

1. Be a fan of Chip Foose
2. Don't be disrespectful to other members or the group
3. Don't post irrelevant posts (No Porn, Non Chip Foose related photo's, No submissions focusing on getting your car worked on.)
4. Have fun

The best part about the Fan Club is that it continues to grow. Originally, the group had 1400 members, now we are at nearly 5 thousand as of today. There is a lot of interaction on this group. We see posts of fan club members from all over the world, we see photos of members with Chip Foose, and we see a lot of photos of users who purchase Chip Foose Fan items.

The best part is that most of the time, the members will share pictures of their own cars. A car guy or gal is a car guy or gal, and that sometimes means they are a fan of one of the world's greatest automotive designers.

Just to highlight a few of the members vehicles that have been shared, take a look below:

Here is his Post: I'd like to see Chip perform his magic on my Grandfathers 77 Cutlass that he bought new. He passed away in 2011 and I'm disabled and don't have the money to fix it.
The car has never been wrecked but it has been repainted one time.
The entire car is original.

2. Doug Kennedy - Statesville, NC

3. Donald Watson - Rolla, Missouri

4. Robert Ramirez - Valpariso, Indiana

5. Vince Tinebra - Holmdel, New Jersey

Those are just some of the members and the cars that they have shared on the group. We have members from all over the world, and as a new project, I plan to plot the locations of the members that have let me know where they are from on Google Earth and i'll have a map to share with people. 

Sometimes, being an admin does have its downs, we get rude members, or members that are bot accounts posting inappropriate posts and then we get the occasional random drop in and then leave members. 

I took the initiative this year to write a letter to Chip Foose asking if we could get official recognition as being an official Chip Foose Fan Club. Of course, this was months ago and I haven't heard a word back from him or his staff. Which, i'm not entirely surprised. He is a legend and he owns a restoration garage, plus he has national car shows to prepare for, and run a T.V. show. Who knows, it may be in a stack somewhere at his office waiting to be read and to be recognized among the other thousands of Fan Mail he receives. 

As the days go on, I will constantly work towards new ways to keep this group more interactive, potentially create events to meet and greet with Chip Foose and maybe other members from Overhaulin. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

1974 De Tomaso Pantera

The term itself is just as menacing as the entire name of the car. Pantera, Italian for Panther. This was an Italian car designed from 1971 to 1991. It's mid-engine unique design was a fan favorite for its 20 year run, and only 7,000 of them ever produced. 

What I think is hard to believe is that the car itself was designed by an American Designer along with a Ford engine in its mid-engine compartment. Not just any Ford engine, but when it was first built, it came with a Ford 351 Cleveland, 351 cu in (5.8L) V8 engine that produced a severely underrated 330 hp

After 1975, Ford stopped importing the Italian beauty car with about 5,500 of them produced at that time. After 1974, Ford US discontinued the Cleveland 351 engine, but production continued in Australia until 1982.

The beautiful part about this car is that it has the Italian flavor, designed by an American Designer and built with an American engine inside. The technology within the car was ahead of its time.

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of meeting the only owner of a 1974. He bought it originally in Ohio in 1974 and has kept it pristine without modification or significant restoration to the car. This beauty was a head turner. Now it resides in the beautiful state of Colorado, Colorado Springs and belongs to a true American citizen at his finest. Take a look at some of these pictures, and I know your mouth will water at the want to get in and take this car for a ride down the road.