Passion for the classics
Man feeds hobby of restoring cars; his collection now sits at about 100
Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 9:04 a.m.
FAIRFIELD — Carl “Bubba” Bussard has a personal collection of about 100 cars, including some made famous in songs.
An immaculate teal green 1960 Corvette looks like it came straight from the set of the Route 66 television show with the famous theme song of the same era.
There’s a 1932 Ford “little deuce coupe” hot rod with “flathead mill” that likely will “walk a Thunderbird like it’s standing still” as immortalized in the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe” released in 1963.
In another spot on Bussard’s 22-acre spread in the northwestern tip of Marion County is a 1964 Chevy Bel Air with a 409 engine, four-speed manual shift, dual quads (four barrel carbs) and a posi-traction rear end as celebrated in the Beach Boys song “409,” which was released in 1962.
There’s even a 1969 GTO with a 400 V-8 waiting for final restoration work. The 1964 model GTO with “three deuces (two barrel carbs), four speed and a 389 engine” was highlighted in the song of the same year by Ronnie and the Daytonas.
But the real music to Bussard is the deep rumble of the old school 1932 Ford hot rod with a standard ignition and Offenhauser flatheads. Not to be outdone is the snarling high revving snap of the high-energy type ignition fired from the 502 V-8 in his 1961 Impala and 1968 Camaro.
“Most all the cars run. When we go to a show we drive and only trailer the two race cars. One is a Pro Street Dart drag car and the other is a Corvette we take to Daytona and Road Atlanta,” Bussard said.
Bussard, 65, said the self-described obsession with collectible and high-performance cars began in 1990 when he restored a 1946 Mercury convertible and installed a beefed-up 454 engine as a hobby and distraction from his work as owner of Boone Welding in Gainesville.
Bussard get his vehicles from various sources, including meets in Webster and Moultrie, Ga., through word of mouth and from friends. He has yet to sell any of his restored cars.
Some highlights of the collection include a 1958 Chrysler Imperial with a stock 392 Hemi engine; a 1957 Chevrolet 210 wagon — all original — with a 283 engine and four-barrel carburetor; a rare 1931 American Bantam sedan hot rod; 10 Corvettes ranging from 1958 to 2006; a red 1969 Road Runner 383; a restored 1968 blue Charger 383; a 1967 Chevelle SS 396; a 1970 Barracuda; a 1958 Chevy Apache truck and a 1968 Dodge A100 van, which has an open bed style cargo area.
“A (high-performance) A100 was drag raced by Bill Maverick. He had one that would do a wheel stand and had ‘Maverick’ written big on the side,” Bussard said.
Bussard’s neighbor and friend, Randy Cash, 52, a heavy equipment operator for the University of Florida, said he is impressed by the collection, which he has seen grow over the years. Cash has a 1968 Mustang Fastback powered by a 351 Windsor V-8 engine.
“I counted 65 cars a few years ago,” Cash said.
“I like the Apache truck, but if I had a shot at any of the keys here, I’d go for the 2006 Corvette which is the most powerful ’Vette made to date,” Cash said.
Bussard has a 1937 Plymouth coupe awaiting restoration. It may be his next project after he finishes the 1938 Straight Eight Buick that is now on the lift in his fully outfitted garage.
“(The 1937 Plymouth) is just like the first car I had at age 15,” he said.
Mike Nelson of Automotive Recycling in Gainesville has partnered with Bussard and witnessed his friend’s collection grow over nearly 20 years.
“I do the detail work on his cars and I keep about a dozen of them here with three or four on display in sort of a museum,” Nelson said. “One is a 1947 Studebaker convertible (modified) with a 454 engine and Corvette running gear.
“It’s a real pleasure working with Bubba. He’s like a brother to me.”