“I suppose you could say that made him a little bitter,” said Cliff. “Skilled metalworker and engineer getting laid off like that without so much as a how-do-you-do. Worse, the union told him that if he went to work for one of the other Big Three and switched locals he’d lose all the progress toward his pension.”

“So he started customizing cars after that?” said Wills, laying her hand on the vehicle’s fine–yet somehow unplaceable–lines.

“Whoever said that this was customized?” Cliff laughed. “I had to put something in the form, sure, but this isn’t just some rat rod. My uncle built the car from scratch.”

“You mean he made all the body panels himself?” Wills said. She whistled, impressed.

“And the frame, and the seats, and most of the engine,” said Cliff. “He used a few stock parts here and there, like the engine block, but nothing from the Big Three. Most of the stock parts came from wholesalers after car companies went out of business.”

Wills took a step back. “Are you serious? Why would anybody ever do something like that? It would cost more than a new one!”

“Maybe to prove to himself–and anybody else that was paying attention–that he could do everything the Big Three could do by himself, and better,” Cliff shrugged. “They were living off Aunt Milly’s salary anyway; maybe he needed something to do. But it’s a one-of-a-kind car, and after he finished it in 1963 Uncle Wilt drove it every day until he died. I guess you could say it’s the one and only ’63 Culbertson there is.”

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