Hurricane Sandy brought trauma and loss to many families when it flooded the homes of many, and destroyed valuables and things dear to people caught in its crosshairs. The Mooney family was not excluded from this, and neither was the family’s prized 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air.
When the water began to rise, it came quick and moved fast. According to SILive, the family evacuated their home to stay with cousins in an apartment building. Everything they owned was left behind in a scramble, including the ’55 Chevy parked on the side of their home.
“That morning, I could not see my car,” John Mooney said. It was completely submerged. It didn’t float away because “it’s not airtight like today’s cars,” he noted.
When the rescue boats arrived, Mr. Mooney noticed the rescuers complaining of their oars striking something under the water. It happened to be his classic Chevrolet submerged under the 12 feet of water they were now floating on. When the family was able to return to their home, Mr. Mooney was disgusted by what he saw. The Bel Air was covered in sewage, and his first thoughts were to immediately scrap the car.
His eldest son convinced him otherwise, though. The car meant something to the family, since the car was restored by Mr. Mooney over three years beginning in 1997. When he purchased the Bel Air, the vehicle was without an engine, transmission and windows.
The restoration process took two years Mooney says, and it wasn’t without its setbacks. For three weeks he was unable to open the doors do to corrosion from the salt water. Two months later, the Bel Air got its second lease on life, and the motor turned over after painstaking work.
Now the family says the car is better than ever, and they take it every chance they get.
“We take the car everywhere, this is like our family car,” Mrs. Mooney said. “Why should it be sitting in a garage collecting dust? My husband built it to drive it.” Well said Mrs. Mooney, well said.