TORRINGTON, CT – Jorge Baujin is unlike many classic car owners who have expensive relics. The Torrington dentist doesn’t drive a flashy muscle car, an aged luxury model or an exotic rarity. And that’s just fine with him as his modest possession nonetheless stands out because of its simplicity.
“It’s grandma’s car,” Baujin said recently as he stood in his driveway. He was referring to his four-door 1963 Chevrolet Chevy II 300. The light blue compact model has an eight-cylinder engine, an automatic transmission and a pedestrian yet comfortable bench seat.
“It was just something I looked at, and I figured could manage fixing this piece by piece. You can almost crawl in the engine to work on it. No real electronics to speak of. It was just something that I thought was very manageable.”
It was in 2006 when he got the call from a friend at a local car dealership. “He said, ‘You gotta come up. Bring your checkbook. I got a car for you.’ So at lunch I went up. I took it for a drive,” Baujin recalled. “Fell in love with the car. Purchased it. Very inexpensive that day. I think he just wanted to get rid of it.”
The price was roughly $800 for a model that had an original MSRP more than three decades earlier of $2,180. The previous owner had passed away and the Chevy II was traded in by his son. It was running and wasn’t bad cosmetically but came with a “lot of headaches. It had a two-barrel carburetor and it was just struggling for air, so it would cut out from time to time.”
Baujin said he took it to some car shows before eventually parking it. “It just kinda got locked up in the garage and life got busy,” he said.
It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Baujin’s attention returned to the Chevy II. “I narrowed down some of the problems, began cleaning it, enjoying it,” he said.
Chevrolet introduced the Chevy II for the 1962 model year and the first generation body style, of which Baujin’s car is an example, lasted through the 1965 model year. Three generations followed through 1979 with a fifth generation being produced between 1985 and 1988.
The top trim level of the Chevy II got the added name of “Nova” between 1962 and 1968, before the Chevy II moniker was dropped and the Nova name took over for all iterations for the 1969 model year.
It was earlier this year that Baujin sent his Chevy II out to get its issues addressed at Gary’s Hilltop Auto Repair. A four-barrel carburetor got added and it now exhibits some pep, although the accelerator pedal is a mite touchy. The drum brakes require that the driver plan well in advance of stopping.
“Now that I got it functioning near the end of the season, I’d like to put the camping chairs in the trunk and hit (car shows) next year; a lot of the shows just for fun,” he said.
The Chevy II does have some paint flaws; a few bubbles and chips. “I’ve been toying with the idea of maybe having it repainted. It’s not the original paint. A little body work and that’s why I thought about if I’m going to have the body work done, I might as well paint the whole thing.”
Baujin is insistent, though, of maintaining the Chevy II as an affordable hobby. “This is a mid-life whim,” he said. “It’s a fun little car and, again, it’s the uniqueness. It’s not a Corvette. It doesn’t have 14 coats of lacquer paint on it. It’s simple and it’s fun and easy to work on.”
And it’s proof that owning a classic car doesn’t have to empty one’s wallet; an example for anyone who might be considering getting an old vehicle. “Get something manageable. Enjoy it. It’s not about the money, it’s about the fun that you can have with it,” Baujin advised.
“If there’s a little rust on it, don’t worry if it’s not cool, it’s yours. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. Play with it. Get on the internet and learn how to work on it yourself. Become mechanically inclined.”
In talking about his Chevy II, Baujin leaves the impression that he’s much more invested in the car emotionally than financially. “There’s nothing sexy about it, but it’s mine and I enjoy it and I like playing with it,” he said. “If I can’t sleep late at night, I grab some of the polishers and I play with it and it’s fun.”