It was back in 1964 or 1965 when Butch Jones began tinkering with cars.
“I think it was a 1956 Ford,” he recalls of his first project. “I put wide tires on it and a four-speed transmission and hopped the motor up a little bit.”
Jones’ fascination with cars began when he was a kid. His interest in antique cars has grown since that 1956 Ford, and he’s revamped about a dozen vehicles over the years. He mainly sticks to cars from the 1950s and 1960s, partly because of the nostalgia of growing up in that era, but also for their simplicity and ease of finding parts for them.
For Jones, a retired construction worker, it’s been a cycle of finding, fixing, selling or trading cars. He does all the nuts and bolts work himself, turning to friends for help and advice. He leaves things like the paint and interior to the professionals.
Part of the fun is trading vehicles, Jones says. Two of his current cars were results of trades. Jones got his 1967 Oldsmobile 442 (a rare model for that year, he explains) by trading his 1951 Ford. His 1938 Dodge pickup was a result of trading his 1955 Ford with Jay Waterman.
Waterman had begun building the Dodge pickup from scratch when Jones saw it.
“I seen it, and I liked it, so we did some trading and he finished building it for me,” he says. Joe Jones of Indianola did the paint and pin striping on the Dodge.
It’s the challenge of the hunt — searching for the next car and accompanying pieces — that Jones really gets a kick out of. His favorite undertaking was a 1939 Ford pickup that had been sitting in the woods so long that trees were growing out of it.
“He’ll keep doing it until his body won’t take him out to the garage,” says his wife, Margaret.
The two are firm believers that hot rods are made to be driven, and scoff at what Margaret calls “trailer queens” — cars that are rebuilt and then pulled on a trailer.
“The most fun is when you can get them done and drive them on the road and go on cruises with other car people,” Butch says.