You never know what’s around the next bend in the road, especially when you’re looking for old cars along the way. Many of the cars we found on Route 66 were cars that had family history of some sort, but you keep hoping you’ll find something with interesting provenance. It wasn’t until just outside of Albuquerque on Route 66 where we found just that.
We stumbled upon a fenced in yard with some very cool old cars. As we approached the yard, we were greeted by Steve Amiot, a retired restaurateur who has been playing with his cars for the past thirty five years. Steve had collected everything from Ford pickups to a ’63 Falcon Furura, ’58 Chevy wagons to Ranch Wagons and even a SAAB Sonet. And, despite his wife’s requests to sell it all and head off on a long vacation, somehow we could see that wasn’t going to be happening any time soon.
After perusing Steve’s lot for nearly an hour, there was one car that caught our attention. It was a simple black ’61 Lincoln Continental. It had a few cracked tail-lamps, but other than that, the car was all there. It had the famous suicide doors and white leather interior with only one apparent flaw. For some reason, the right side of the rear seat had been worn out. It was cracked and showed signs of excessive wear. Now, we all leave our own signature on the cars we drive. It could be small scratches on the center console where we have the bad habit of tapping our nails. It could be the scratches caused by our ring finger on the steering wheel or scratches that are the result of the way we scuff our feet on the rocker panel as we enter and exit the car. It’s inevitable that somewhere along the line, our cars will tell stories about us in ways we knew.
That is exactly what was happening here. We started to ask the questions like: why the back right seat? Why the original black California plates? Who owned this car? Who drove it, and who sat regularly on the right side of that back seat to cause such an impression and so much wear?
Then Steve gave us the answer. He had the original registration for the Lincoln in the glove-box. After careful examination of the document, verifying the matching vin-number and plate number, it was apparent that this vehicle was originally registered to the Beverly Hills resident and Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.
As the story was told, she never drove the car. She was however driven by her driver and she would always sit on the right side in the back of the car in order to make her grand curbside entrances at various venues.
Yes, you never know what’s around the corner. These and more stories can be found in our newly released book, Barn Find Road Trip Route 66.
To hear more stories about the making of this book, you can join Michael Alan Ross at the Canon Live Learning Center in San Francisco on December 13 from 6:30–9:00 p.m.
Don’t forget to pre-register here.