This is a sweet story about Kenny Edwards and what his family did for him one Father’s Day. This story appeared in the Summer issue of Senior Living, pub’d by the Bluffton News-Banner.
Kenny Edwards of Zanesville always wanted an antique car. “I was not loyal,” he said. “Any kind of old car would do.”
In 2009 he received a special Father’s Day gift: a 1953 Chevy Belair 4-door sedan. The car was presented to Edwards from his three sons and their families. “They re-built it in my son’s garage from the frame up,” said Edwards. Another son, Doug Edwards, passed away in 1996. According to Jeremiah Edwards, the idea for him and his brothers to restore the car had significant timing. “We thought of it on Doug’s birthday when we were all together,” he said.
The Belair had a new engine — 235 cubic inch six cylinder with powerglide transmission. “They knew I was too old to shift gears,” said Edwards. The car sported an 8-volt tractor battery. “That gives it more power to start,” said Edwards. “Now it cracks and pops.”
Although the car had no visible rust, it was run through an electrolysis tank to search for and prevent rust. The frame and body then received a black power coating. Students from a high school shop class painted the Belair with a white top. The interior is coordinated in purple and white and black; the trunk floor is also purple with black trim. The colors are significant to Kenny, a Lions Club member. “Those are Lions Club colors and I wanted to drive it in Lions Club parades,” he said. Thus far, he has driven it in two parades.
The car does not have air conditioning but it does have new brakes and tires. “I like smooth chrome hub caps,” said Edwards. Lake pipes on both sides of the car create exhaust. “It runs like a street rod and sounds like a Harley,” said Edwards. The car’s curb feelers on either side help with parallel parking. “They prevent the whitewalls from getting messed up,” said Edwards.
The sons literally finished working on the car 10 minutes before Kenny and his wife, Melba, arrived for a family gathering for Father’s Day 2009. It was an emotional day as the sons presented the car to Edwards. “They told me I had been a great father and I deserved this car,” said Kenny. “All of us men cried that day.”
A lighter moment occurred that day when two of the Edwards granddaughters, ages 7 and 9, got in the backseat with Kenny in the front. One of the girls leaned over the seat and asked, “Grandpa, can we have this car when you die?”
Kenny and Melba often take friends and family for rides in the car which seats six. Kenny has taken the car to the Wheels of Yesteryear event in Bluffton and Markle Wildcat days where he won a 3-foot trophy for Best of Show. Mainly, the couple drives it for special occasions, such as family gatherings.
“I know our sons’ families, including the wives and children, sacrificed much time and effort and money to give me this car,” said Edwards. “I never expected to see anything like it. I’m still flabbergasted at the gesture of love.”