Restoring memories: Blain and Donna Massee restore a beloved car 47 years after first owning it

Restoring old cars is often called a labour of love, but for Blain Massee his latest yet-to-be completed project will be more like a drive down memory lane with his true love and life-long partner, Donna, when it's finished.

Inside a shop at the family home on a rural property northeast of Dawson Creek, is the body of a 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger – no engine, no wheels. While looking at it, it might just seem like another car up on what's known as a rotisserie, it's much more. This was not only Blain's childhood car, but it was same vehicle he and Donna rode in when they began dating nearly 47 years ago.

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“It got us into a lot of trouble,” says Blain. “It had a very touchy gas pedal, I guess you could call it.”

Donna certainly agrees with the trouble part, laughing, “the police loved his car...they loved to stop it.”

Donna fondly remembers riding in the Dart early in their relationship. “Drive-ins (movies) were big back then. That was our weekend thing. Cruisin' the Dub (A&W)...did a lot of that.”

Just before the two were married, the former president of the Mile Zero Cruisers sold the car, probably never expecting to see it again, but he would, thanks to a particular conversation he had about three years ago.

I was sitting around talking with a buddy of mine about cars we used to own and (my) car came up. Well, my buddy said I know where there's a purple Dodge Dart.” Since there was only one such car in all of Dawson Creek at the time, he was sure there was a good chance it was his. A faded former dealership sticker on the left side of the trunk confirmed it for him.

“The place that it was at, the people said, oh, if that's your car, you take it!” says Blain. “There wasn't much left of the car. I brought it home and, yeah, we're gonna make it run.”

Busy with work and other commitments right now, Blain figures it'll be another two years or so before the car will be fully restored. In the meantime, he admits, he's been able to overcome one of the biggest obstacles in restoring any car – finding parts; in this case, for an almost-50-year-old vehicle. That, he says, also comes with an interesting story, another conversation, this time with a co-worker.

“You need to go to this auction sale,” he was told, when talking about restoring the Dodge to his colleague. Not sure why, he looked into it further and discovered the vehicle up for auction had been rolled on the American TV reality show Bullrun.

“A fella had bought it out of the States and hauled it to Fort Nelson, and now it was at this auction sale.” says Blain. As luck would have it, only the body was damaged in the rollover – all the parts needed to put into his car were perfectly fine. Once work is completed on the shell, then the parts can be transferred over.

The hope, Donna says, is to keep the car as close to original as possible, including a Plum Crazy Purple coating to the outside. If that's the case, Blain jokes, it may involve adding a sticky throttle.

In fitting fashion, the couple celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary on July 12 at the opening of the 25th annual Mile Zero Cruisers' Summer Cruise in Dawson Creek.

— Dave Lueneberg
 

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