“They say he has gasoline in his blood”
People always seem to ask, “Why do you like old cars?” My answer is sometimes long. A big part of that reason is because of a man named Wayne Chance. Wayne lived around the corner from where I grew up in Minden, Louisiana. He always had a car under the carport or in the garage that he was working on. I have always loved antiques, period. From old clothes to old pictures, if it was old, I loved it and wanted it. To me cars were just an extension, of that love for the old. To me antique cars are the ultimate antique. They are a way of expressing your inner-self. They are an extension of your personality. In some ways, they even form your personality.
The following story is about a man that I have always admired, because he was maybe one of the biggest factors influencing me with my love for old cars. After all, he is the one that, sold me that first car. A 51 Pontiac, when I was 15 years old, for $200.00! He was the one that saved all of his old Hemmings Motor News Magazines for me. I took those magazines and looked ever car over, while I dreamed of the day that I would be able to get something bigger and better. This is about the special feeling, of seeing that person that watched you grow up, watching you go through the judging stand of your first Petit Jean show. You get the feeling that you have finally accomplished something that you have always wanted. You get the feeling of completion and total satisfaction with your life. That may sound strange to some. But I bet there are a few that understand that last statement.
Wayne Chance was born and raised in Sabine Parish in the city of Florien, Louisiana. Wayne graduated from Florien High. During these years he was a star basketball player for the Florien Black Cats. Wayne always had a love of cars but didn’t always have the money to fund this love. During high school, Wayne worked for Mr. Andy Speights wrecking yard and garage. Wayne told me he wished Mr. Speights were alive today, so that he could thank him, for all the things that he did for him. He helped Wayne finance his first car when he was fifteen years old. That ‘49 Chevy was the first of many cars for the Chance family. When Wayne would pile the cars into the wrecking yard, Mr. Andy would tell Wayne to check the gas tanks! If the cars had a drop of gas he would let Wayne siphon it off and put it in the old ‘49. If a car came in that had better tires on it, Mr. Andy would tell Wayne to swap tires and get him a better set of rubber for the old ‘49. Mr. Andy also funded Wayne’s weekends, with a $5.00 loan for movies and dates. This loan would be added to Wayne’s tab, to be worked off the next week. Wayne said Mr. Speights was the one that got him started with his life-long love of the old car hobby. Wayne’s job was to pull the engines and stack the tires. He learned a lot and learned to love cars. Everyone has someone in the beginning that inspires that love for cars. My inspirational someone is Wayne Chance. Wayne’s someone is Andy Speights.
In 1962 Wayne married his other love. LaVerne Chance was also a pretty good basketball player in her day and this attracted Wayne to her. In 1963 the first child came along. That first child was a 1939 Chevy resto-rod. The other children Danny and Karla would follow soon after. Five grandchildren are now the center of attention in the Chance household. Son, Danny has a son and daughter. Karla is the mother of three little girls. The first child, the 1939 Chevy is still such a part of the family that it shares space on the wall with the other family members and is the backdrop of family portraits. Son, Danny also shares his father’s love of cars. Danny owns a 1963 Corvette and is in the process of a ground-up restoration with his Dad on a 55 Chevy.
Wayne and LaVerne both went into the medical field. LaVerne became an R.N. and retired several years ago. Wayne retired in 2000 from the Minden Medical Center as director of the Radiology department. You have to work somewhere to be able to fund your habits when it comes to the old car hobby. As we all know this hobby doesn’t come cheap!
Wayne’s brothers, Carl and David also have the love of cars. This love has remained a constant in the Chance family with probably at least 100 cars between the three brothers at any given time. The brothers are regulars at the Pate Swap Meet in Texas. In fact they have made almost every year at Pate for the last thirty years. Swap meets are where Wayne says he is happiest, in his car world element. It is the thrill and excitement of the hunt. It is the fact of not knowing what you will find, around the next corner or in the next booth. The hope of finding that rare part or car that you have been looking for! It’s where you may find something that you have looked for over a period of many years. Wayne first came to Petit Jean Mountain in 1973 with Mr. Ervin Talton and Wayne Crawford, for the annual Father’s Day Show and hasn’t missed many since. He loves the mountain and the swap meet is his favorite hunting ground. He never goes far without an empty car trailer (just in case)! He travels to the Hershey and Carlisle, Pennsylvania swap meets on a regular basis. The illusive car of his dreams is the type car that he had when he married in 1963. He told me that for the last 20 years he has been in search for a 1950 Oldsmobile 2 door 88 Holiday Hardtop! So if anyone out there knows where he can find one he would love to hear from you!
He has his garages near his home filled to capacity. One garage he built two-story just to have room for spare parts! The longest distance he has traveled for car related business so far is San Francisco, California. He delivered a car he had sold and picked up a FIND while he was out there. No reason for making that kind of trip and bringing back an empty trailer…. is it!
Wayne’s favorite years of cars are the 50’s and 60’s models. He said he likes these because these rides are the ones that he couldn’t afford new when he was growing up. He said everyday he wakes up with the anticipation of being able to work on one of his projects. He buys them and puts them in order to work on. He tries to finish one before he starts on another. He buys the cars he likes and is always looking for that perfect car that strikes his fancy. Some of his finds, just to name a few, are the following: a 1958 Impala that he has owned for 28 years. LaVerne is the owner of a beautiful 56 T-Bird that they have owned for 15 years. That 1960 Corvette is a keeper for sure! This is just to name a few. The corral changes slightly during the year with the exception of the ones that he considers the keepers and a part of the family.
Last year Wayne joined MOTAA (Mid-America Old Time Automobile Association) http://www.motaa.com/ at the Fall Show held in Minden, Louisiana. He entered a car or two and took home a trophy to boot. Wayne has helped judge many shows and was a past judge for many years at the World of Wheels in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is also the local car appraiser for insurance companies. With the high tech world of internet you can visit Wayne’s world at http://www.waynescars.com/ he sometimes has a list of a few that he may want to let go. If you are out and about you will probably see Wayne Chance at a local show or swap meet. He is the one with the fancy car shirt and grease on his hands. Wait…. that just described everyone…. I know!
Until next time keep it between the ditches.
Schelley Brown firstname.lastname@example.org MOTAA Jr. Vice President and member of Ark-La-Tex Antique & Classic Car Association