By Michael Kitchens
At 73 years of age, Jarry Galdeira has been around. What’s interesting about Jarry is that since he was 10 years old, he has owned one classic car or another. His first ride was given to him in 1949 – a 1932 Ford 5-window coupe – which was the stimulus for his eternal love of the old school automobile.
Jarry’s introduction to his first ride was from his older brother and his friends, who taught him how to build cars from the ground up. They were regulars at the stock car races at the old stadium. As a part of his brother’s pit crew, he became immersed in the fabrication scene. Whether it was chopping tops, fixing wiring, engine work, body, and paint or upholstering, he learned it all. “During those days, they never had bondo.” he says.
After high school, Jarry joined the Army for six years thereafter finishing his time in the National Guard, eventually retiring after several tours including Vietnam. He’s spent quite a bit of time on the mainland and has experience the automotive scene from various perspectives while residing in California and Texas. Throughout this time, he has owned practically every classic car Ford has put out and even quite a few other brands such as Chevy and Mopar. Some of the stand-outs for him were ’32 and ’40 Fords, Model A’s, ’55 Chevys and ’33 Plymouths. His favorite car, body-wise, is the 1932 Ford Phaeton.
Jarry builds cars in his free time for himself and for his friends. He’s currently building several cars including a 1954 Buick Convertible as well as a T-Bucket. “I just keep myself busy. I do old school stuff.” he says.
While living in California, Jarry came across a farmer who happened to have a beat-up 1955 Chevy Bel Air 210 sitting against his fence. Jarry needed a parts car for several of his project cars so on a whim, he asked the farmer if he was selling the ride. “The farmer said ‘just get it out of my yard’” says Jarry.
Some time passed and he suddenly had the urge to own a proper ’55 Chevy to which his wife replied “If you want a ’55, fix it.” The car had zero rot on the bodywork but had suffered the ravages of rampant kids and neglect and was covered in dents. As a testament to Jarry’s bodywork skills, this is the original paint job. “That paint job is almost 36-37 years old.” he says. Wow.
The entire car has been worked over with Jarry’s special touch. Power is created by a machined-out big block 454 mated to a 700R transmission. The frame has had special attention paid to it while the ever popular Ford 9 inch axle sits snugly in the rear which has been tubbed out. Thanks to the tub work, the car rides on massive Mickey Thompson Pro Comps fitted to Centerlines in the rear with Firestone rubber on the front. This setup is affectionately called a “Pro Street ’55″ and reminds me of the older Hot Wheels I used to play with as a kid.
The interior has been re-upholstered by Jarry and features the requisite fuzzy dice as well as a Grant GT steering wheel. Another addition to the car is the refurbished trim set he purchased for $10 at a swap meet in California.
With a motor with less than 10,000 miles on it, Jarry’s future plans consist simply of nice re-paint and some minor detail work.
“My grandson is 11 years old, and it’s his car…I’ve got a little bit of time before he graduates.” says Jarry.
What a lucky kid.
Engine: Chevrolet Big Block 454
Drivetrain: 700R Transmission, Ford 9 Inch Rear
Interior: Custom Upholstery by Jarry, Grant GT Steering Wheel
Wheels/Tires: Firestone on the front, Mickey Thompsons In the Rear on Centerline Wheels