Jerry Gary, Jr. was sick. Really sick. The likeable Smithfield, Virginia auto parts consultant spent more than a few days wondering if his time was almost up. However, during his lengthy illness, he stumbled across a book about the Street Machine Nationals and the heyday of pro street and found a freshly stoked fire for all things fat-tired.
Within a few months, Gary had recovered and he was ready to find a car of his own. “When I was growing up, I was consumed by two things: car magazines and my girlfriend (and eventual wife) Shari,” he said with a laugh. In particular, Gary says he has always had a particular interest in the venerable Chevy Vega. The mini-Camaros featured clean lines, light weight, and were common subjects for small block swaps. “I will never forget the first time I saw my Vega. It was in April 1986 issue of Popular Hot Rodding magazine. I purchased a subscription to the magazine as a present to myself for my 20th birthday,” he said. At the time, the highly-detailed ’72 was owned by Jim Bell and had been voted as one of “America’s Best Hot Rods” in that month’s issue. The car was being shown on the ISCA circuit and had been to the Street Machine Nationals. In addition to a 302 small block pirated from a Z/28, it featured a wild multi-color paint job and extensive chrome plating on the suspension. Almost 30 years ago, Gary recalls saying to himself, “One day I’ll have a Vega like that.”
Over the years, Gary owned several Vegas as well as other high performance cars. Some were street cars and some were race cars. In 2012, bitten hard by the pro street bug again, Gary was on the hunt for a new ride. He had no idea that his new ride would be one with such vintage fat tire roots.
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