Vintage cars the envy of the neighborhood

Written by Bob on November 30th, 2009

Photos By Bob Otto / Freelance Writer & Photographer

CALIMESA, CA – When Dan Healy backs either one of his cars out of his garage, some of his neighbors turn a bit green with envy. For one of those cars is a 1961 Chevrolet Impala convertible, while the other is a 1924 Ford Model T. Two vintage automobiles that turn heads wherever Healy drives them.

But what’s even more impressive is the history behind Healy’s collection. They’ve been in the family for a combined 133 years. Since they first rolled off the car dealers’ showroom floors.

Healy’s late wife, Beverly, bought the Impala from her father, who owned a Chevrolet dealership in Toluca, Illinois. When Beverly saw the white Impala with black convertible top and wide, white-stripped tires, she wanted it.

“I was single at the time and with her when she bought it new in the fall of 1960,” Healy said. “It was parked in the showroom and she said, ‘I like the looks of that car.’”

And so it seems, do others. Healy says he will never sell the car, but one potential buyer made a strong pitch. “This guy said he would give me $100,000,” he said. “I told him no, but he said, ‘name your price.’”

In Healy Name Only
The Impala and Model T will always remain in the Healy family. When Healy was a young man, his dad Timothy Healy asked his son to keep the vehicles in the family name.

“Dad said to always keep them, don’t sell them,” he said. To make certain dad’s wishes remain true, Healy has already transferred the titles to his son Owen. “I am sure he will pass them on to my granddaughter (Olivia, age 11/2),” Healy added. “The Model T’s license plate (reads) ‘Owens T.’”

Healy also has safely stored away the T’s original license plate issued back in 1924, as well at the T’s original tire jack. The Model T has been completely restored. It gleams jet black in color. And the interior has been reupholstered with original-looking material.

When Healy pushes the starter button and drives the Model T out of his driveway, it’s near perfect and ready for showing in parades and car shows.

Healy and his son have entered the Model T and Impala at several car shows including the Route 66 Rendezvous in San Bernardino, where both cars – especially the Impala – have drawn admirers from throughout the country.

“Everybody wants to buy the Impala, it’s usually the only one there,” Healy said. “And the Model T wins first place at every show we’ve taken it too.”

As a young kid of 14, Healy drove the Model T from the family farm to school in the small town of Wenona. Along the way, he picked up his farm buddies. And one time he decided to see how fast the car would go.

“My buddy Bernie was behind me in his car that had a speedometer,” Healy said. “I held down the throttle and got it up to 49 miles per hours.”

Occasionally Healy drives the Impala on his morning coffee runs to Uncle Ray’s Donut Shop in Yucaipa. And when people spot it parked in the parking lot, heads turn and eyes stare – many with a bit of envy.

“It’s all original, the kind of car that everybody admires and would like to have,” said Jim Holt, one of Healy’s friends.

But there’s more. Healy also owns a 1954 Oliver Super 88 tractor. It too was bought new back in 1954 when Healy farmed with his dad in Illinois. Although it’s not in vintage shape like the cars, Healy plans on restoring it – and of course keeping it and passing it on to his future heirs.

“We always owned Oliver tractors,” Healy said.

And the Healy’s always will.

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