With grease and grit

The beginning stages of the restoration of the 1970 Chevy

With wide grins, Nick and Steve Gibson threw open their garage
door to present a father-son project that’s been six years in the
making.
With wide grins, Nick and Steve Gibson threw open their garage door to present a father-son project that’s been six years in the making.

The 1970 Chevelle Super Sport that gleamed underneath the bright lights of the garage represents countless hours of sweat, laughter and frustration the Gibsons wouldn’t trade for the world.

“This car has definitely brought us closer,” said 17-year-old Nick Gibson, a senior at Gilroy High School. “The whole purpose of the car was to start a father-son project, kind of for us to bond.”

Spinning wrenches runs in the Gibson family’s blood. After learning the standard “mama” and “dada,” Nick Gibson’s next word was “car,” his mother, Erin Gibson, said. Her husband has been fixing up cars since he was even younger than their son, starting with a 1972 El Camino and cycling through hundreds of classic cars since, including a 1970 Chevelle similar to the one that’s been taking shape in the Gibson garage for the last six years.

The new Chevelle sports the same license plate as the one Steve Gibson owned when he was younger.

“He showed an interest from the time he was small,” Steve Gibson said of his son. “I’d be out in the garage working on whatever and I’d tell him ‘go get me a wrench that has a nine with a 16 under it’ and he’d go find it. He learned his numbers that way.”

The family has spent many a dinner hour in the garage, sometimes with the older Gibson munching on a sandwich on his back under the car. Father and son start most weekends by poring over the newspaper for needed parts or waking up at the crack of dawn to drive to Turlock to troll for parts at the city’s swap meet – the car equivalent of a flea market.

But with the Chevelle, parts are hard to come by, the Gibson men said, and searching for a part at 4 a.m. by flashlight is a necessary evil.

“When my friends are asking their parents for video games, I’m asking for fenders,” Nick Gibson said.

He received the Chevelle as a 13th birthday gift after falling in love with the model when he “drove” it while playing a video game.

“I thought it was the coolest car,” Nick Gibson said.

The Gibsons searched for six months before settling on the frame that eventually morphed into the glossy relic that now sits in their garage.

“Anybody that’s into cars always says the ’70 Chevelle was like the icon of the muscle car era,” Steve Gibson said.

This particular project has posed a few more problems than usual, however. Father and son recently installed their third engine, after the first two blew up.

“It’s been a lot of fun but there have been a lot of challenges,” Steve Gibson said. “We’ve had more issues with this car than I’ve ever had with any of my other ones. But that’s just all part of building a car. (Nick’s) stuck it out. We’re hoping the third time’s the charm.”

When exasperation sets in after a new issue presents itself, Nick Gibson has learned to set down his tools and take a breather. Erin Gibson has captured a few of those moments on tape, her son said.

“She’ll film through the good, the bad and the ugly when I’m screaming ‘turn off the camera!’ because I’m angry the engine blew up,” Nick Gibson said with a sigh. “Sometimes I’ve wanted to give up. But I’ve learned that if it doesn’t work the first time, I got to just keep going at it. It’s become my mission. It’s been my baby I feel like I’ve raised.”

When he’s not spending time under the hood, Nick Gibson’s psyching himself up for his first semester at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo – where he’ll study construction management – or working to restore an old Chevrolet truck with his buddies in the GHS Automotive Club. Nick Gibson also plays defensive end and middle linebacker for GHS’s varsity football team and picks up garbage around Ascencion Solorsano Middle School, his old alma mater, as part of the city’s Adopt-A-Spot program.

But as busy as his schedule gets, he always makes time for his car and his dad. The duo is gearing up for the upcoming GoodGuys cars show in Pleasanton in March.

While Nick Gibson is busy attending college, he said he hopes to still go to car shows with his father. Father and son will continue to share their passion for classic cars.

“It captures my whole life in a way,” Nick Gibson said. “It’s brought us all together more and given us all something that we can share.”

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