Larry Fulsome Has Kept His First Car Since 1962, and Logged More Than 400,000 Miles On It
Larry Fulsome loves the look and style of a ’57 Chevy. He looked at several to purchase as his first car in the early 1960s, but his dad rejected them as being too much of a “hot rod.” Finally, he found one at a Chevy dealership in Mesa, Arizona, and began a great journey that has lasted nearly 60 years and over 408,000 miles.
Larry’s dad worked at the GM Desert Proving Grounds in Mesa, and perhaps this led to his admiration for all things Chevrolet. The two found this ’57 Bel Air sport coupe on the used lot of a Chevrolet dealership and bought it for $1,000 on the week of Thanksgiving 1962. At that time, it had 46,658 miles on the odometer.
Larry dated his future wife, Lu, in this car and it was the family car after they married. Once Larry moved out on his own, he began making custom touches to the Chevy, starting by removing the bumper guards, which his dad wouldn’t allow while he was living at home.
The Bel Air treated the family well and served as the family transporter and Larry’s daily driver for years. He rationalized that while the car might be old, it was paid for and reliable, with a known maintenance history. So, rather than trading it in on a vehicle with unknown issues, he kept the Chevy.
The car originally came with a 283c.i. V8 and four-barrel carburetor, producing 220 horsepower. It was matched to a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. Larry gave it a new paint job and interior refresh in 1966 since the Arizona sun can be harsh. The car’s first complete rebuild began in 1989 and was completed in 1992. Over the years he has gone through four engines; it currently has 350ci crate engine.
The car has been involved in four collisions through the decades. The last one was in 2000 – Larry was in the middle of a four-car wreck, where two of the other cars fled the scene. After that, Lu convinced him that if he was going to get the car repaired, he might as well allow for some additional custom work he’d always wanted. So, a local body shop took custody of the family keeper and installed a ’57 Buick grille – a proven modification from the late-’50s and early-’60s. The car was re-painted India Ivory over the Colonial Cream yellow.
As you might expect, when a car has been in the hands of a true car guy for almost 60 years, there have been other changes, too. Larry lowered the front end 4½-inches, shaved the hood, and capped the hood blisters. He also shaved the deck and installed a wagon rear bumper to move the license plate off the trunk lid. Chrome reverse wheels with spider caps and narrow whitewalls help complete the early-’60s look, as do the white-painted front inner fenders.
At the time of this writing, the car’s odometer reading was 408,747 and still rising. Larry is meticulous about keeping track of the car’s repairs and gas mileage, so his record keeping goes back to when he bought the Chevy. And despite the car show looks, he still uses the car as a regular driver and frequently chooses it for trips around town. He won’t pass up a chance to enter a car show and still gets admiring glances wherever he goes. Road trips are part of the equation, too, as Larry has ventured to California for events like the Grand National Roadster Show and LA Roadster Show. He’s made a ton of friends because of the car and has attended all of the Goodguys events in Scottsdale, Arizona, except for one.
Now, we’re sure there are lots of keeper cars that have been with one owner for ages. But approaching 59 years and over 400,000 miles might be a high bar for anybody to exceed. Plus, Larry Fulsome is still going strong. Who knows what the odometer will read in five more years?
Photos courtesy Larry Fulsome & Mark Bach