Workplace Classics, Part 3: A Season Of Change


Change. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes. Nothing stays the same forever. Without an occasional shakeup in the routine, you’re not really living life to the fullest. What does change have to do with CC’s you ask? In this case, everything.

I recently enjoyed a quite fruituitous change in the conditions of my employment. I’ve traded sweltering valley heat for cool ocean breezes, and also shaved roughly an hour off my total daily commute. Both myself and the guy I replaced were ready for a change. We had both grown weary of our respective long drives, and our work relationships with our supervisors by this time were still amicable, but tense. When one of the senior brass offered to let me and the other guy swap locations, we both seized the opportunity without a second thought.


The green 1973 or 1974 Suburban pictured above belongs to the guy I traded places with. It’s remarkably clean, straight, and original. It hasn’t been blinged, Bubba’ed, or totally trashed like so many of these have. And it’s his daily driver.


The grille badge above certainly explains the owner’s large fuel budget. A carbureted, low compression 454-cube big block V8 pushing a 19 foot long, 7 foot wide, 5000 lb. brick down the road isn’t exactly the ideal formula for high MPG’s.


The above photo illustrates these trucks’ main Achilles heel- rust. For all of their legendary toughness, the ’73-’87 C/K trucks have always been particularly vulnerable to the tinworm. The only vehicles that rival these for rust are early 70’s big Fords. This one actually isn’t too bad. I hope the owner addresses it before the condition becomes terminal.


Tailgate party, anyone?


This gorgeous tangerine orange ’71-’73 Camaro belongs to one of the staffers inside. He’s the same guy who owns the lovely blue 1968 Chevelle in the second installment of Workplace Classics.


I have no idea what’s what’s lurking under that hood, but if it’s anything like what’s in his Chevelle, this is what you’re most likely to see if you challenge him:


I can’t look at one of these cars without thinking of my 9th grade biology teacher, Mrs. Watkins. She was a lovely woman in every way, and probably the only lady teacher that I ever had a genuine crush on. She and her husband owned a 1970 Camaro Type LT.


I have a feeling that Mrs. W and her husband were both gearheads. At the time, they owned a successful Suzuki motorcycle dealership in Torrance, California. Her daily driver was an Audi 5000 turbodiesel, but their weekend toy was the Camaro. Their particular Camaro was an odd mixture of musclecar and brougham. It was pale metallic gold with a tan vinyl landau roof, woodgrain dash with full center console, and the ubiquitous 6-hole rally wheels with raised white letter tires. Yeah, I know- an early 2nd gen F-body with a landau roof. Yuck. I’ve seen the car up close, and she filled me in on its mechanical specs. Under its plain flat hood was the holy grail of small blocks- the 350 cube, 370-horse LT1, mated to a four-speed Muncie transmission and 4.11 12-bolt rear end. I’d seen her leaving the school parking lot in it a couple of times, squealing its dinky little 14-inch tires without even trying. She was well aware that I was a total gearhead and a budding mechanic, so she asked me for my help in selling it. Unfortunately, given my youthful lack of experience in business matters, I wasn’t much help. I wonder if she still has it…


When I attended high school and college in the 1980s, these cars were one of the ones that were de rigeur with the rocker and surfer crowd back then. Despite growing up in Inglewood, I spent a great deal of my free time hanging out in Torrance and the neighboring beach cities, and these cars were everywhere.


One final relevant footnote on this blog entry’s “change” theme. As of this writing, the parking lot where I shot the photos in part 1 and 2 of my Workplace Classics series is now long gone. Not long after I posted part 2, that lot was ripped up and a new, fancy, high-tech department building is being built in its place. I attended the groundbreaking ceremony with the rest of my old crew. The deputy mayor, the police chief, and several well-known local media personalities were among the notable guests.

Once the new building is complete and the personnel moved in, the old building will be torn down and a multistory parking garage will be built its place.

Time marches on.