Travis Lloyd would have been a teenager when a ‘57 Chevy first caught his eye. The car debuted in September 1956, sporting its distinctive tailfins and tubeless tires. It slugged it out with Ford as America’s top-selling car in 1957.
In the years to come, the car’s popularity as a hot rod would soar. Its relatively low weight paired with a General Motors’ small-block 327 engine made it fiendishly fast, and the ’57 Chevy blossomed into a star on the NASCAR racing circuit in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Today the ’57 Chevy is prized as a collector car, and Lloyd’s love affair with this chromed piece of 20th century Americana continues to this day.
Four days before Christmas, he finally got a date with the car of his dreams courtesy of his daughter Alice Coleman of Quitman, social media, and the Lake Country Classic Car Club.
Lloyd, a 77-year-old Gun Barrel City resident, is battling stage 4 cancer, and his family wanted to give him a gift he would long remember.
“He’s always loved ‘57 Chevys. That was his dream car. So we started looking into renting one for the day,” Coleman explained. They found a place that would rent one, but it was in California.
“So I thought, well, I’ll put it out on Facebook and see.”
At first, her Facebook post went out to her circle of friends and folks around Quitman. And then someone urged her to make the post public. Before long, she was getting calls from throughout the nation and the world.
“I got calls from Iraq. I got calls from Germany, from all over. North Carolina, New York was one, the United Kingdom. It just blew up … and the prayers have been awesome,” she said. “A lot of people were really excited about today.”
Allen Smith of Minden, La., caught wind of Coleman’s request through a classic car blog, and he and his wife, Diane, drove about 2½ hours to Quitman in their beautifully restored aqua 1957 Chevy.
“If he wants a ride, that’s fine. If he just wants to look, that’s fine, too,” Smith said.
As it turns out, Coleman didn’t need to go any farther than Quitman to find her dad’s dream machine once her social media post reached members of the Lake Country Classic Car Club.
“With those words, we got busy and got in touch with Wayne Caldwell, who has a ’57 Chevrolet. He said, ‘Sure, I’d be glad to take him.’ So we’re up here to give him a ride in a ’57 Chevrolet and we’ve got about 10-12 cars here from our club,” said Larry Barnes, the car club’s incoming president. “We’re just here to try to make his dream come true.”
Members of the car club arrived at the parking lot of the Dairy Queen and quickly set up a mini car show for Lloyd. Along with a few prized ’57 Chevys were other gleaming beauties, like a Ford Galaxy, a 1961 Dodge Phoenix and an Oldsmobile Super 88 that sparkled in the sunshine.
“We’re into classic cars, and anything that has to do with classic cars. We’re also active in our community,” Barnes said. “We support a lot of charities in this community and the communities where we have car shows. We’re just a community organization. When we heard about this, we said all right, we can make this happen. So we did.”
Lloyd clearly was touched by the lengths to which his daughter would go to make him happy, and he was moved by the outpouring of kindness from strangers. At one point he dabbed a tear from his eye.
As for the ride in Caldwell’s fire engine red ’57 Chevy, he beamed: “Oh man, I liked it! Yeah, it’s wonderful!”