Category archives: My Classic Car

My Classic Car: A father shares the story of Maxx Christopher’s Opel GT

Maxx (at far left) and the Christopher family fleet, including Dad’s classic cars and Maxx’s older brother Cody.

(Editor’s note: This story was written by Maxx Christopher’s father, Andrew.)

I write this story with sorrow and with joy, to tell the story of my son Maxx Christopher’s love affair with cars from the time he was crawling, pushing Hot Wheels Johnny Lightings cars across the floor.

Maxx always loved cars, car movies, car shows, working on cars and just talking about cars.

When Maxx was 4 years old, I bought a 1971 Pontiac GTO (a restoration project), As I began the restoration, Maxx started helping me in the garage, first by holding the light and handing me wrenches and sockets. At an early age, Maxx got to know his way around a toolbox.

Maxx watched and participated in transforming my ’71 Goat into a show-winning car,  winning trophies in several shows including the GTO North West Regionals.

But this was only the first of several show cars that Maxx worked on with me over the years. There was a 1972 Olds Vista Cruiser, 1968 Mercury XR7 GT 390 Cougar, a 1972 Olds Cutlass “S” , and a 1974 Triumph TR6. Maxx had become quite knowledgeable about classic cars.

Photo courtesy Andrew Christopher
Photos courtesy Andrew Christopher

When Maxx was 13 he saw a picture in a car magazine of an Opel GT and fell in love with it. Maxx told me that someday he was going to get a Opel GT and my answer to him was that you never see Opel GTs.

But as fate would have it ,the next week one popped up in the local want ads. Maxx and I went to look at the Opel GT. There was a complete car, but all apart in boxes.

I bought the car for Maxx for a $1,000.

After all those years helping me restore my projects, Maxx finally got a project of his own, and I thought this is going to be fun spending time with my teenage son wrenching on his car in the garage. I told Maxx I was not going to work on the Opel unless he is alongside me. He  participated on every aspect of the restoration.

The next three years are full of cherished memories for me, spending time with Maxx restoring his Opel GT — time we spent together was not only car talk but what happened in high school that day along with leaning life lessons not only for Maxx but for me.

By the time Maxx turned 16 his Opel was completed and wearing stunning bright orange paint. Maxx drove his Opel GT to show off his car at its first car show a month later and took two trophies — best sports car and best high school car. He was so proud and I was so proud of him.

Maxx continued to drive his Opel GT to school and to car shows, taking home trophies until he left to for the Job Corps Urban Forestry program on the Oregon Coast in October 2009 to begin training to become Arborist. The Opel GT stayed in my garage while Maxx completed the 13 months of training.

When Maxx retuned to Southern Oregon he loved being able to drive his Opel GT on the mountain roads again.

With the economy being slow, Maxx had a hard time finding steady employment as an arborist, but he didn’t give up. Then he found an arborist job on the other side of the world, in New Zealand, on the Internet.

Maxx applied for a work visa and he was off to New Zealand at age 18, leaving his Opel GT behind again.

After five months missing America with work coming to an end, Maxx returned home, only to find a still bad economy with scarce employment opportunities. He decided to join the military and serve his country in December 2011. In January 2012 he passed his armed forces test and his physical.

But two days before he was to be sworn in, he lost his life at the hands of a drunk driver. It was February 4th, 2012. Maxx had climbed into the back seat of a car that had been driven over  to pick up Maxx and a friend. They got in not knowing the driver had just consumed a ½-bottle of rum and was five times over the legal limit.

Today, the Opel GT sits in my garage and remains a part of our family, and I can feel Maxx is riding along with me when I drive his car.

My Classic Car: Gary Chittenden’s 1961 Ford Sunliner

Photo courtesy of Gary Chittenden
Photo courtesy of Gary Chittenden

Great story from Ed Fisher. I just sold my ’55 Crown Victoria and felt the need to own another car. I found a 61 Sunliner and bought it over the phone. I have always thought that they are very under-appreciated cars. Very elegant. Mine doesn’t have the 401, but I just want to cruise, so the 352 is good enough. I will probably sell this one as well and buy another “One I’ve Always Wanted.”

Gary Chittenden
Coldwater, Ontario, Canada

Many thanks to Gary for sharing his story.  Why not share yours?

My Classic Car: Ed Fisher’s 1961 Ford Starliner

Photo courtesy of Ed Fisher
Photo courtesy of Ed Fisher

Way back in 1961 or 1962 I had a “401” 1961 Starliner, 3-speed with overdrive. I won many Super Stock trophies with it. Had a great time. One fantastic memory was driving it from Akron to Daytona, checking into the motel, putting slicks on it, and drag racing on the back stretch of Daytona Speedway on Saturday night the night before the 500.

I was first loser (to a towed Super Stock). What a memory. That was also the year Curtis Turner was driving a ’61 Starliner. Came from the back of the pack to I believe 5th place and then blew the engine! That was accomplished in just a few laps.

What a car!!!

I had the chance to buy a ’61 Starliner 3 years ago. It has the “401” also. It is aqua and white,very original. So I went to North Carolina and bought it.
I live in Phoenix and take it to various shows here.

Ed Fisher
Akron, Ohio

Many thanks to Ed for sharing his story.  Why not share yours?