Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Al Gaines. I was born with the need for speed and an interest in custom fast cars; I built over 20 street/drag cars and motorcycles while I was being abused by my father. I currently am the Chaplain in the Lane County Juvenile Justice Center, working with the kids who have learned to survive. Most of the kids in detention have a picture of my car on their wall and they have learned to trust me because of my background.
How did you first get interested in this hobby/passion?
We had the Sunshine Speedway in Florida. We worked hard to build sleepers and customs to street race and run in the 1/4 mile drags. First of all, one of my friends had a father who took interest in me at 14 years old and taught us how to build engines. Our first car we built was a Henry J with a 327 engine; then we built an Anglia with a mid-engine Chevy which scared me good. It was so squirrelly and fast that he sold the car. There were 7 of us, greasers kids who built cars to beat the Corvette surfer kids and rule the streets with the fastest car.
What Rides do you currently own?
My daily driver is an old 1992 Pontiac Bonneville SSEI with a supercharged V6. My custom is a 1971 AMC Javelin SST with a fully built 401 which 2 of us built, running about 450 hp. This car was donated to me by a donor/friend who said to me, “You work with kids and this is a kids car, and God wants me to give it to you.” I’ve worked on this car for 19 years now.
What do you like most about your current rides?
It’s the best having something no one else has and beating the big 3 in most of the car shows. I have made this one of the most beautiful and fastest cars AMC ever made and I built it the way I like it. I’ve won 64 trophies and I’m not done.
What is/are the fondest memories you have while owning your Cool Rides?
We had the Pacific NW Mopars Show up at Woodburn Dragstrip and I showed up because Mopar accepts AMC’s in their shows as they owned AMC before they put us out of business. I took “Paint of the Show” among 250 beautiful Mopars!
What was the first car you ever owned?
I owned a 1957 Plymouth Savory with a 318 when I was 13 years old. Back then I didn’t know much, but I was going for a certain look; the only way to raise the front and lower the back was to put railroad ties in the truck. Through doing this, I achieved “the look,” lol. I fully tore the 318 apart to understand how it worked and put the engine back together good enough to drive it to the junk yard.
What is/was the BEST car ever made?
I lean toward a Boss 429 Mustang or a GTX 426 Hemi. They were both fun to race against.
What is/was the WORST car ever made?
The ’59 Fiat was a pile.
How did you first hear about the Cool Rides Online website?
Last year I went looking for online car shows to get my car more exposure and found Cool Rides. It was a blast competing online.
Is there anything else you’d like the Cool Rides Online members to know about you?
Currently, I have a vision for a place in the country where I could take some young people under my wing and teach them how to build engines, do custom bodywork, and custom paint jobs. There are so many street kids who just need someone to come along side them and teach them a better way to go. I have dedicated my life to working with these at-risk, young people who are survivors because they have never been taught right from wrong. I have a team of 57 people who have a heart for the down and outers and make a difference. Thanks for letting me share. Look me up and you can learn more about this ministry.
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