Tom Gloy’s Lean-To Treasure
Tom Gloy has a philosophy about collecting. “I only want a small collection,” he says. “I want to be able to drive them and I don’t have a large storage space. So I keep it to a limited number of cars, and I try to have the best…” By “the best,” he doesn’t always mean the most perfectly detailed example of restoration, though he does have a couple of those. What he means is a car that makes him feel the happiest.
If you don’t know his name, look it up. You’ll quickly find that he was the 1979 Formula Atlantic champion back in the days when drivers like Gilles Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg, Bobby Rahal, and others were contesting the series to build their careers. He also won the 1984 Trans-Am Championship in a Mercury Capri. And he raced Indycars for Penske, European Formula 2 for Ralt, and even won a race with Bob Garretson in a 935. It’s not likely he would tell you any of that, though; for him, he just found a way to have some fun and make a living along the way.
Life After Racing
Upon his retirement from racing, Gloy started playing with hot-rods. He soon found that many of the hot-rodders also had interests in classic cars. Because he’d always had a “thing” for Porsche 356 Speedsters, he thought that might be a good place to start. He found a 1957 he liked, but wasn’t perfect. It didn’t have a matching-numbers engine, but he didn’t care. It was a Speedster and he loved driving it and that set the hook. “I had a ball with that car,” he says, “and I started to notice how much other people enjoyed it vicariously. Wherever I took it people smiled.” Eventually he figured out that the 1958 version was the perfect year. “As I started to learn more and more, I realized the differences in the steering box and the front suspension and the shifter and a few other things in the 1958 are really things that I enjoy.” Then he sold that car in favor of the 1958 Miessen Blue car he often shows at meets around California.
He also has a 1961 Super 90 Coupe with GT options that won its class and overall at the 2007 Dana Point concours. But his favorite car recently is one that’s “a little rough around the edges,” he admits. The car is a 1958 Super 1600 with a whopping 75hp, and all drum-brakes. It lived most of its life since the late 50s with a single family in San Diego, much of it in storage. And when we say “storage” we don’t mean how most modern collectors keep their cars. It wasn’t even a barn-find; more like a lean-to find. And it showed a few box-marks from that time. It’s common enough; a car sits in one place for a while and someone sets something on it…then something else. Eventually, it’s barely visible beneath the boxes. A little weight sitting in one place for four decades can leave a mark. Or in this case, 21 of them.
Gloy found a really good dent guy who assured him he could smooth it out without doing any more damage. “I told him I didn’t want to see any evidence of his work or for him to go too far,” Gloy recalls. Unless you’re a body guy or a skilled 356 appraiser, you can’t tell where they were. There’s only one mark left, that was backed with another metal panel and they didn’t want to drill through it.
The only part that isn’t original on the car is the tonneau/boot cover, which had shrunk beyond repair during the decades the car stood still. Gloy took it to a few people to see if they could recondition it and stretch it, but no, it was too far gone. He has it, but he found another one to use.
Underneath, it could be prettier but Gloy said he hasn’t found any rust in the car. “I don’t know how that’s possible, having lived in Southern California in the salt air. Jack Stratton, who rebuilt the engine about ten years ago, said he didn’t think they ever washed the car.” And by “ever” he meant EVER. When Gloy got it home he vacuumed a proverbial ton of sand out of the car and started looking under it. He says he found a bunch of “stuff” in the fenderwell and thought “uh-oh.” Worried but curious, he pried some of it out, thinking it could be something bad. He got through the muck only to find the original coating. So he figures he won’t mess with what’s worked for the last 50 years. Maybe they ran it through mud with magical protective elements…?
The underside shows a “patina” of leaked transmission fluid, though Gloy plans on fixing that. All in all, the car has survived really well except for the faded paint and the worn-through upholstery, which Gloy reveals at car-shows but covers with a suitably aged cover when he’s out on one of his frequent drives.
When the car came out of storage about 10-12 years ago, the family went through the motor, changed the brake lines and blasted the wheels to make sure they weren’t cracked. They’re the original date-stamped wheels.
The Joy of Driving It
Gloy says, “That car attracts people from everywhere. A beautifully restored Speedster always attracts people, but this car seems to attract even MORE, for whatever reason. The fact that it looks normal for its age or even less than normal seems to make it all the more fun. I enjoy it despite, or even because of, its rough patches. If it was original and perfect, it wouldn’t say the same thing. It’s amazing the numbers of people who surround that car when you have shiny cars all around it. And I’m a shiny car guy! Or, I always was until I got this car.”
Gloy still enjoys his perfectly shiny, restored concours cars, but not in the same way. “I think I’ll stick with this original 58 as my Speedster because it’s so enjoyable and people like it so much. And it’s getting to be so rare to have an original car like that. The Miessen car is absolutely fresh and a beautiful car, but it doesn’t meet my criteria as a car I can drive. I could, but I can’t bring myself to be the guy to rock-chip it. Whereas this car, rock chips just add to the value….”
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