Featured Member of the Week: adamekj

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Chicago on what one might call “the poor side of town” or “the other side of the tracks.” It was right near Maxwell street which was known for its great deals on anything from shoes to shoe polish; BUT, just don’t ask where they came from.

My dad was a fruit and vegetable peddler on the South side of Chicago in a truck and had Mayor Richard J. Daley as a customer for all of his life. I was very familiar with horse drawn peddler wagons as they were parked next to my dad’s truck while we were restocking it at 5 am at Chicago’s South Water Market on those hot Summer mornings. There I sat watching “the truck” from the front seat parked right next to those horses as they relieved themselves. I never forget those smells! This alone convinced me I would have nothing to do with such a career in my lifetime.

How did you first get interested in this hobby/passion?

Well, my dad was good at his thing but no good at mechanical things so as things made noise or stopped working or needed maintenance on the truck….At age 9 or so…..I became the pit crew for my dads truck. Please keep in mind that at the end of a 10 to 12 hour day on the truck, the produce also needs maintenance such as sorting through the onions and potatoes to pick out the old rotten ones and do they ever get smelly and slimy when they start to go bad! Getting under the truck became an escape from reality as my dad knew it, anyway.

This escape turned into my real world, which, because of the Vietnam war, took some twists and turns, but put me onto a path of a gear head all my life.

At 13 I was turning nuts and bolts at a local gas station. At 18 I was helping build and pit a USAC grand national stock car. In my mid 20s I became a service manager for Mack Truck, and when I became 30, I moved over to the Robert Bosch Corp. GmbH and now LLC automotive aftermarket division headquarters in the Chicago area. I became everything from a certified quality system, environmental and health and safety system auditor to handling technical OEM warranty issues, quality assurance and product liability issues, testing and reporting technical data for customers with concerns about automotive products, which included truck parts, sold in Canada, Mexico and the USA. I did a lot of traveling to Mexico, Germany and the USA, to both Bosch factories and Bosch suppliers. I retired about 3 years ago but occasionally get called back on various technical assignments.

What Rides do you currently own?

2004 Caddy CTS is my wife’s daily driver

1998 Caddy SLS is my daily driver

1968 Mercury Monterey 2dr fastback with a factory 428 cobra jet motor is in process of resto into a 100% retro late ’60s street sleeper.

1956 Mercury Medalist Phaeton 4dr hard top semi custom is my wife’s show car

1939 Ford deluxe coupe street rod “GRUMPY’S RIDE” is my show car

What do you like most about your Cool Rides?

Looking at all the cool cars and being able to show mine off there.

What is the best memory you have with your favorite ride?

About 30 years ago, I sat in a local barber shop and picked up a Hemming’s Motor News, and saw an ad out of the Winston Salem NC area that read: Rare 1968 Mercury Parklane convertible with factory installed wood grain sides. $6000 or trade for electric trains.

Well, I had the trains. Our first car, that got stolen in 1969, was a new 1968 Mercury and I had recently bought my wife a 1983 Mustang convertible that I thought was a hunk of junk. To make a long story short, I stripped out my 1979 Olds Toro and filled it with trains and headed for North Carolina with my wife. A short ride later, from Chicago to Winston Salem and for $500 and the trains, the wife and I were on the way home with one complete but totally messed up Mercury. Yep, the master cylinder was no good and the idler arm was shot but I drove that ole Merc. home pushing it up and over 100 mph just to see what I had just gotten my hands on. It was worth fixing. Now, I knew I had a convertible “E’S MERC” or Elaine’s Mercury that I would be proud to have my wife drive anywhere. This car was as Mercury, which we called back then: A car line with luxury and performance in mind.

It took over 9 years to restore that car to like new with the help of the 3M Company who made the wood grain decals for it. It did end up on the cover of the October 1998 issue of Collectible Automobile and in many many other publications, plus getting numerous car show awards for the next 10 years or so. The last time I saw it was on E-Bay being sold out of Honolulu for an asking price of $35K.

That 19 year ownership run is my best example of my most “favorite ride,” because it  made me feel so good about all the effort that I  put into that car as a reward to my one of a kind wife. She has been putting up with my car crazy stunts, and this one of a kind car that I will never ever forget, along with all the kind and friendly people that we both met in our travels across the USA.

How do you store your ride(s) during infrequent use, and what maintenance tips can you provide for readers?

ALWAYS USE STA-BIL® and HEET® in the gas on that last ride of the season. Try to keep the tank as full as possible while in storage plus remove the negative battery cable while your car is being stored.

My experience goes back almost 30 years and it stopped a problem that I had every year in the Spring when I went to fire up my 1968 Mercury Monterey 2dr fastback with wood grain sides and a 390 cu. in. 265 hp motor with a 2 barrel carb. This car was my long range runner car show car and for reasons which relate to things I learned at Bosch from gasoline manufacturers, I only ran one on the big 3 gas companies 93 octane non-leaded fuels with a touch of liquid lead which boosted it to about 100 octane. Yes, a real lead additive was added to it because an FE Ford engine needs the octane boost to help it run cooler, reducing spark knock and vapor lock and lastly it had the original valves, seats and guides in it.

Before I used STA-BIL® in the gas, when I went to start it at the storage facility, it would not start because the carburetor float bowl would empty, most likely evaporate or leak past the needle and seat, and the float needle would get stuck in the seat bore and not allow the fuel bowl to fill up by cranking the engine via the fuel pump. For 2 years in a row, I was forced to remove the top of the carb to access the float bowl and clean it out very carefully with carb cleaner and re-assemble the carb in a  storage facility environment before I could get it started. I read about STA-BIL® claims and I tried it the following year. For 6 consecutive years thereafter, I had no more starting problems in the Spring with any of the 10 or so old cars since that time which must be over 20 years ago.

Next, use HEET® to chase condensation in the gas tank. The fuller you keep the tank, the less exposed area of the tank skin is subjected to temperature changes that cause condensation to form on the inside of the tank and possible corrosion damage to your entire fuel system.

Lastly, I have found, with many work related experiences especially with Bosch, that the only real way to prevent battery discharge to ground while in storage, is to remove the negative battery cable while being stored.

What was the first car you ever owned?

OK, so I’ll answer it this way:

1) At age 13, I had a 1955 Ford 2dr Customliner sedan with a 272 cu. in. V8 and 3 on the tree that never ran. My parents never knew about it and have no idea where it went to after I got my first running car.

2) My first running car I ever owned was a 1956 Plymouth Belvidere 2dr ht with a flat head 6 cyl. motor and a 2 speed PowerFlite AT . It ran for exactly one day after I bought it. See ” What is/was the WORST car ever made? ” for details.

What is/was the BEST car ever made?

The best  car ever made would have to be the 1991 Caddy STS with a 4.9 Liter V8 200 hp motor. I owned and drove one for over 19 years putting 175+K of the most brutal miles on any car I ever owned and it never let me down. It was hunter green (real dark green) with saddle tan leather interior. Caddy won the Malcom Baldrage national quality award for the highest quality for a manufacturer that year and being a certified quality system auditor by the American Society for Quality with the heaviest right foot in the entire USA, I can attest to agreeing with their choice and a personal first hand extended product quality benchmarking of this car.

What is/was the WORST car ever made?

The 1956 Plymouth Belvidere 2dr ht with a flat head 6 cyl. motor and a 2 speed PowerFlite AT that I bought as my first car because my dad, who owned a 1956 Chrysler Windsor T and was a die hard Chrysler lover, forced me to buy it instead of a 1953 Henry J. I guess he knew what would happen to the Henry J real quick so I got stuck with this $35 “I wonder why I bought it car” that ran for exactly one day after I paid for it!

How did you first hear about the Cool Rides Online website?

From a STA-BIL® flyer we got a a local car show.

Is there anything else you’d like the Cool Rides Online members to know about you?

Yes, one thing.

Car people (young/old, female/male, rich/poor) are, to me anyway, the best people out there and the easiest to talk to and get a long with. I love them ALL!