When Norman Kressmann was having his 1957 Cadillac restored in 1998, a car in a side lot caught his eye, and memories of when he was 18 years old in 1962 came rushing back.
It was an interesting time in American history. John F. Kennedy was a vibrant, young president.
“It was a very different time,” said Kressmann, who lives in Raymore. “I don’t know if we thought we were invincible, but there was certainly this feeling that America is really strong and nothing is going to shake it.
“There was also this contention with the Cold War. It was a scary time. We felt strong, as now, but there were influences coming against us.”
It was also the year the Ford came out with a 406 engine that produced 450 horsepower.
Kressmann knew he had to have one. The first new car he bought as an 18-year old was a 1962 Ford Galaxie 406.
“When I got married I decided to get very conservative and traded 450 horsepower for 101 horsepower,” Kressmann said. “I was not happy with that decision, but it was mine. Ever since then, I wanted to get another one.”
So when Kressmann spotted the 1962 Ford Galaxie 500XL Club Victoria Coupe in 1998, it didn’t matter to him that the car needed plenty of work. He wanted what he considered the twin of the car he bought as an 18 year old.
The chrome needed replacing. The interior needed to be redone. The body was fine, but the entire car needed to be repainted.
“It was a basket case,” Kressmann said.
Kressmann knew it was going to take time and money to get the car up and running like the car he owned in 1962.
“You have to be extremely patient,” he said. “… You have to be prepared to pay a lot more than you expected to. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, there is something underneath it that you have not considered.”
Finally, six months later, the car was in driving condition. When Kressmann got behind the wheel, he felt like that 18-year-old many years ago, when he drove his first new car off the showroom floor.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Kressmann said. “It brought back a flood of memories, just reliving my youth as the car came to life.”
From the 406 cubic-inch V-8 engine to the styling that Kressmann feels is very clean, the 1962 Ford Galaxie is a joy for him to drive.
“I love the styling of the old cars,” Kressmann said. “I love the feel of actually driving them. I love the memories they bring back. My ’57 Cadillac, for instance, I got hooked on that car when I was 11 years old.”
Kressmann doesn’t buy new cars. He purchases older ones, restores them and keeps them. In all, he and his wife have six older cars. He enjoys the history of these cars and doing his small part in preserving the history instead of letting it fade away.
It is one of the reasons why Kressmann is thrilled that his 1962 Ford Galaxie was recently put in the Kansas City Automotive Museum, at 15095 W. 116 St., Olathe, for the next six weeks.
“It is an honor to be asked,” he said. “The museum folks are really nice to deal with. It is a nice facility. It is a wonderful experience to be able to go there and see cars like the 1929 Packard or the 1941 Cadillac.
“My small contribution to it is preserving these cars and letting other people enjoy them as much as I enjoy them.”
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com