*This is a wonderful little story sent in by Taylor Saia, the wife of Nick Saia, from the story "Nighthawk," which can be found here: NIGHTHAWK – ironandsteele This story is another great example of the strong bond between us and these amazing machines that we love so much. It ties the importance of family and history together nicely and perfectly embodies the type of stories I love presenting here on this site. Thank you, Taylor for the great read!*
My entire childhood was spent with my grandpa, Mark McDonald, after school and during summer breaks. He got to retire young and watched me while my parents worked. He spent his days working on various projects like model airplanes and reading hot rod magazines. I’d flip through the pages of Rod and Custom and Street Rodder picking out my favorite cars, usually based on which colors I thought were the prettiest. I didn’t know it then but I was building the foundation for a lifelong appreciation for classic cars and americana. In 1996, when I was just 6 years old, my grandpa started building a 1940 Ford Pickup, and that project would give him something to tinker on for the next two decades.
So many of my memories of spending time at his house include “the 40”. I remember the early stages, when it was a reddish patina and didn’t look like much in my little kid mind. I can picture clear as day the image of my grandpa working under the hood, meticulously crafting some part at his work bench and cursing under his breath when things didn’t go right. I’d pop out from time to time asking about a snack or just to roll around on the creeper in the garage while he worked. I remember helping him put in the windows and thinking his method of inserting the glass into the frame with rope was the most ingenious thing I’d ever seen. He didn’t know it, but by watching him work so meticulously and with such tenacity on something he was modeling a work ethic that I’d grow up to value and implement in my own life. One of my favorite memories of my grandpa building The 40, was when he had it painted and wanted a red pinstripe down the side. He asked a local pinstriper who wasn’t up for the challenge of one small straight line, and instead of accepting it wasn’t going to happen, my grandpa diligently and painstakingly did it himself, and it turned out awesome.
In 2016, it was time for my grandpas next project, a 1929 sport coupe. This meant it was time for The 40 to move on to the next chapter of it’s life too. My grandpa sold The 40, and to my surprise I did not handle that well. I felt like a part of my childhood went with it. I was happy that he had a new project he was excited about, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that The 40 wasn’t meant to leave the family. Another major life event happened for me in 2016 (comparable if you ask me), I married my husband. A hot rod guy from Northern CA, he understood better than anyone the emotional tie you can have to a classic car.
Unbeknownst to me, my husband got in to contact with the guy that bought The 40 in 2018 and tried to strike a deal to buy it back. When the man bought it from my grandpa, he had agreed that he would sell it back to the family if they wanted it for the same price he paid for it. Apparently, handshake agreements aren’t something he sticks to. The guy wasn’t interested in selling, as he’d always dreamed of having a 40 Ford too. My husband searched high and low for another one for the guy, explaining that this wasn’t just ANY 40 pickup, it was my dream car. After a full year of trying to barter with the guy, he secured a deal. It cost him a lot more than what it had been sold for and he had to throw in his dirt bike, but he was about to have one happy wife.
Christmas Eve 2019: We weren’t supposed to spend it in my hometown and with my family, as they live 4 hours away, but Christmas Eve morning my husband INSISTED we load up in the car and make the drive down because he had found a great deal on an ATV in my hometown. He put the trailer on his truck, and we were off. He dropped me at my parents, I didn’t think anything about it as he went to pick up the mysterious ATV. He’d been gone a long time, and the family had gathered at my parent’s house for Christmas Eve dinner. He finally arrived and insisted I came outside to see the ATV. As I walked out the door, there in the front yard, was The 40, with a big red bow on the hood.
I cried incoherently for a solid 20 minutes at the sight of it. My grandparents were present for the big reveal, and just as excited as I was to know The 40 was back in the family. It lives in my garage now, and my own 5 year old gets to
ride in it as we cruise around the town.