Restoring old junk relics into beautiful custom cars has been the love of life for Mantecan Bob Hall – with his wife Barbara’s love, support and a little elbow grease of her own thrown into the equation.
Barbara quickly interjects, “What Lola wants, Lola gets.” She was referring to the moniker her husband has attached to the car and the monies spent on making her a perfect custom car, complete with her share of chrome in the engine compartment accented with a powder blue under carriage and frame.
The Del Webb resident has given more than a dozen vehicles a rebirth to the custom status in his garages over the years. Hall grew up in Tracy where he and his wife met and he worked in outside sales for the Heinz Corporation
Hall said the ’57 Buick is his favorite car – it is a “cruiser” and that’s what he likes best about the model. While the Chevys of that same year were more popular, their production volume caused more to turn into surplus. The Buick special was manufactured for only one year with its unique three-piece rear windshield. He said that it had been seen as an “old man’s car” making it less popular in the showrooms years ago.
“I remember in my high school years when a friend bought a Buick Century. I thought that was such a beautiful car, but I couldn’t afford one,” Hall said.
He added that he didn’t like the running gear and had that replaced along with a 454 big block Chevy engine. The Buick also boasts a 700R GM transmission with overdrive along with a Jag transmission. The vehicle also has new disc brakes and rack and pinion steering.
His wife remembers urging him to keep the Buick, but with one request: vintage air conditioning and heating!
Of the dozen cars he has restored one of his favorites was a 1955 President Studebaker. He sold it to a buyer in New York. Another was a 1964 Ford T-Bird that he bought in Manteca for $350, restored and sold. Hall also restored a 1963 T-Bird that he sold as well.
Wife Barbara said her husband always gets the itch to restore another car after selling the last one he refurbished. She noted that many of them looked ratty and rusty when he brought them home turning them into gems.
She chuckled saying everyone in the family was born with axel grease in their veins, loving to work on cars. Son Rick is restoring a 1970 Camaro and their twin 15-year-old grandsons Aaron and Adam are working on their own restoration and taking in car shows with their dad and grandparents.
Hall’s nephew, Forrest Hall, has opened Hall’s Classic Auto Body on North Walnut Avenue in Manteca.
The Halls say they are eagerly looking forward to the “Hot August Nights” car show in Tracy – the eighth annual being presented by the Tracy Elks Lodge on Eleventh Street east of the city.
The show begins at 1 p.m. with dinner – tri-tip and all the trimmings – set for 5:30. And “Elvis” is coming back by popular demand with a 7 p.m. show with “great songs” of the ‘50s. Some 80 cars are expected to be exhibited at the car show. For reservations call Mike Conners at 836-0592. Donation for the dinner and show is $20.
Another favorite stop for the Halls is a regular morning breakfast made up of custom car enthusiasts from the greater Manteca area that is held at Perko’s Restaurant each Wednesday at 7 a.m. on East Yosemite Avenue.