"I didn't trust the old gauges with the new engine, so I gutted them out," Bruce says. "The temperature [gauge] was erratic, and the gas was not right." He measured a piece of sheetmetal, marked where the gauges should go, and took it to a friend, who cut the holes and welded studs that allowed Bruce to bolt his new Auto Meter gauges right in. For the wiring, he turned to Gary Anderson, a street-lighting foreman for the city, who also performed the wiring on Carmel's '55 Chevy. "I knew engines pretty well, but I needed help with the other things," Bruce says. "Joe Chivaro helped with mechanical advice and some hand welding, and Dave O'Conner is a wizard with fabrication."

While the Dart is not a daily driver anymore, it does see plenty of street duty, and the Wilsons don't even own a trailer. "I try to work on the car in the spring, and usually, from around April through November, we have good weather here," says Bruce, who now lives in Elk Grove, just outside Sacramento. "Now that I'm retired, I structure my days differently." What could be better for a different kind of lifestyle than a car that is truly different?

Love Is In Her Eyes
The colors on this Dart are from the imagination of Carmel Wilson, Bruce's wife. "She has got the eye," Bruce says. "When she picked out two-tone blue [Toyota] colors for her '55 Chevy, I was not sold on it at all. But it turned out great."

Carmel says, "I saw the blue on a Toyota truck and gold/beige on a Camry, and I thought the two would go well together [on the Chevy]. I showed them to [Bruce] and he said, 'Yeah, right.' The painters weren't even sure they wanted to paint the car. But as soon as it was finished, they asked if they could buy it from me."

When Bruce saw a dark-over-light, two-tone Nova, he knew that's what he wanted for the Dart, and the Wilsons went to a new car lot to scope out colors. They knew they wanted green, and Carmel picked the Toyota-over-Ford combination. Bruce was still unsure.

"He always gives me his 'I don't know if that will work,' " Carmel says.

"I just couldn't see it," Bruce added.

But when he did see the finished product on the Dart body, he loved it.

"Men just aren't as good at color coordination as women," Carmel says. "I can pick out a blouse at the store, and I know whether it matches a pair of slacks I have at home without having to have them in front of me. Once, when we were driving, I pointed out our [Ford green] color on a Nissan van. Bruce said, 'That's not our color-it's on a Nissan.' But I insisted it was. When we went to pick up some [touch-up paint], we asked for the Ford color, and the man said, 'It's a Ford color, but you'll see it on Nissans, too.' "

Carmel believes if a car is not being restored to pure-stock specs, contemporary colors are the way to go. "There are a lot of nice-looking colors out there on new cars," she says. "Just pick one you like. We drive our cars, and with newer paint, you don't have to worry about being able to find the exact color. Touch-ups are easy. Both [the Chevy and the Dart] have been painted several times, and we will continue to paint them, so we need something replaceable."