Ryan Clarke has worked on his 1955 two-door Chevy sedan all of his teen years.
"I got it when I was 13," said Clarke, who turns 19 next month.
All the body work has been done and now he's waiting for his dad, Dan Clarke, to do the paint job.
"I'm going to paint it sea-mist green with Indian ivory on the roof," said Ryan Clarke of Castle Rock. "It's two of the original colors from '55."
Clark was among about two dozen teens showing off their wheels at the 24th annual All High School Car Show Saturday at Lower Columbia College. Typically, the show draws 50 to 60 entries, said Jim McGinley, one of the show organizers. "I think the weather is definitely keeping them away," McGinley said between rain showers.
Clarke, who graduates from Castle Rock High School next month, said he paid $3,000 for his Chevy six years ago. The floorboards were rusted out, and there was no engine. Since then, he's put "lots and lots" of money into its restoration. Swap meets and special orders online have gotten him the parts, such as replacements for a section of fire wall and the front and rear sway bars.
To make money for his car, he worked a lot of odd jobs when he was a young teen. The last couple of years he's cut and sold firewood and worked at Bredfield's Hardware store in Castle Rock. Today, he works at NAPA Auto Parts in Castle Rock.
"The only stuff my parents paid for is little stuff, like some chrome pieces for Christmas and birthdays," he said.
But that doesn't mean his parents haven't invested more than a gift here and there. Dan Clark has been working alongside his son through much of the fixin' up.
"We've got hundreds of hours into it. ... I don't know if we've reached 1,000 yet, but I think we're getting close," said Dan Clarke, who owns Castle Rock Brake and Alignment in Castle Rock. "He's pretty diligent (about the work). He just keeps going."
The elder Clarke is no stranger to making the old look like new. "I've restored probably 10 to 12 projects," he said. His wife drives a 1968 shortbox Chevy pickup, and Ryan's brother has a 1968 fastback Mustang.
"I promised I'd help each of my kids with a car," Dan Clarke said.
Much of the chromework was off because they're preparing to paint the car, but they re-attached it for Saturday's show.
"It's hard to put it back together and much easier to just leave it off," Ryan Clarke said.
"But it's good to put it back on to make sure everything fits before we paint it," his father added.
After the paint job, it will be time to install the window glass and work on the interior.
In addition to his son's '55, Dan Clark says he has about six more projects in the works.
"It's a good thing I built a pretty good-sized shop at home," he said.
And just how much does Ryan Clarke love his lovingly restored Chevy?
"I can't wait for it to be done," he said. "I'm going to keep it forever."
Here are the show winners for the 2010 All High School Car Show, presented by local car clubs. An additional 28 trophies were presented in various categories.
- Ryan Clarke, 1955 Chevy, Unique Tin's award
- Dylan Kingsley, 1969 Chevelle SS, Clatskanie Cruiser's award
- Tyler Teeters, 1997 Chevy S-10 pickup, Untouchable's award
- Taylor Eden, 1987 Chevy El Camino, Columbia River Corvettes award
- Darrin Bryant, 1992 S-10 Blazer, Solid Rock Cruiser's award
- Brian Troske, 1999 Firebird, Country Cruisers award
- Dylan Kingsley, 1969 Chevelle SS, Gearlords Bob Carr Memorial Award
- Abby Klein, 1955 Chevy, Best of Show award