When I met Nan in 1991, I owned a 1984 Corvette -- just one Corvette. Nan owned two sports cars -- a Datsun 300ZX and a classic 1967 1/2 Datsun "Fairlady" Roadster.
I decided a beautiful woman who owned two sports cars was too good to let get away, so we got engaged, married, and joined our lives together.
Nan had purchased the Roadster in 1984 and drove it to college classes at San Diego State University. The car had a convertible top, but she preferred to not use it in favor of a tonneau cover -- a California girl in a convertible. Parking at SDSU for commuter students was a challenge, so she would head to class in the early the morning chill, crouched down in the driver's seat, peering between the top of the dash and the bottom of the steering wheel.
Nan loved the car and after we became a couple, she would drive it around San Diego County on weekends with me riding shotgun, and her big golden retriever, "Boomer", sitting on the back "ledge" behind the bucket seats. After Canon was born in 1993, Nan would take her for rides in the Roadster down by the beach here in Carlsbad.
Nan had purchased a vanity tag for the car -- 1 SASY 67. Completely fitting.
By 1997 I had purchased and restored a 1962 Corvette. I did all the maintenance on the Corvette and her Roadster. I came up with a great idea! I said to Nan, "You know, the Roadster is worth $4,000, and we could put $10,000 into it and it would still be worth $4,000. Maybe we could sell the Roadster and buy a classic Corvette for you!" I'm not sure how "sold" she was on this idea, but we did sell the Roadster (see below) and Nan used the money to purchase a Robinson's English Greenhouse, which she had shipped from England, for her garden. Eventually we purchased and restored a 1956 Corvette for Nan.
Before we had an opportunity to think about how to market the Roadster, a chance conversation solved that problem.
In the early 1980's I was traveling the country selling and installing computerized ticketing systems to college sports teams. Customer # 4 was the University of Washington Huskies in Seattle. The Athletic Department was instantly sold on the system since it had been operational at USC, San Diego State and the University of Illinois. But the UW IT department was slightly skeptical of this new company with a new product. So to ensure that everything would meet expectations, they assigned one of their IT guys, Dennis Sullivan, to oversee the project. Denny got deeply involved in the project, going even so far as to pick me up at SeaTac airport, drive me to the campus meeting sites, and escort me to my hotel. We became good friends and have maintained this friendship ever since.
Shortly after we decided to sell the Roadster in 1997, I took a business trip to Seattle and asked Denny to meet me for dinner downtown. We talked about PAC 10 football, family, careers, and sports cars. Denny told me that he once owned a sports car -- a 1967 Datsun Roadster, but he sold it in order to have a larger vehicle to support a growing family. Completely surprised, I told Denny that we were selling the classic Datsun so I could buy Nan a classic Corvette. Denny said that he would like to buy it. Reaching a decision to sell and to buy was never easier! Before we shook hands on the transaction I insisted that Denny be aware of every problem, irritant, or issue with the car (which I later listed and emailed to him) -- I wasn't going to lose a long-time friendship over a 96 HP Datsun.
Exhibiting far more courage than I could ever muster, and showing his belief in the reliability of classic Datsuns, Denny flew to Carlsbad and drove the Roadster 1,200 miles up the California (and Oregon and Washington) coast to his home in Burien. Before cell phones, I worried every night that the car might not make it -- but it did. Denny has recalled to me many times that the trip was one of his fondest memories! Here is Denny's recollection:
"The drive back to Burien was amazing. I drove the Roadster like Nan, with the top down. It took over four days. I chose Highway 101 for the scenery and less traffic. At Cary's recommendation, I used partial choke to keep the engine running well. Along the way I stopped in LA to visit with my son, Scott. I took a little side trip through the Redwoods. I would let truckers pass and they waved and tooted their horns."
Denny and his wife, Nancy, continued to keep in touch sharing the annual Christmas cards and photos -- sometimes a photo of the Roadster -- over the 26 years from 1997 until now. Denny kept the California license plate, but was also able to secure the State of Washington plate 1 SASY 67.
For a reason that I'll never be able to explain, I sent Denny an email on February 20, 2023 with our usual update on how things are going, and the latest news from Carlsbad. At the end of the message I said, "How is the Datsun Roadster doing? If you ever think about selling it, maybe you could call us first?"
Three days later, I received a reply from Denny with an update from Burien. His response included this, "Well the Datsun has been sitting in the garage for over a year. . . . You guessed it right, I was thinking of selling after I replace the master cylinder and have it running and (I will) give you a call first."
Then on May 2, 2023, while Nan and I were sitting at our monthly Corvette Club meeting, my phone lit up with the following email message from Denny, "Greetings from Burien and hope all is going well. Well, the Roadster is for sale and as you requested, you have the honor of being first. Denny & Nancy." Attached to the email were four photos of the car in Denny's driveway, looking as good, or better, than it ever looked.
I was so excited, I left the meeting, ran outside, called Denny on his cell phone and said, "Sold!" In a generous style that Denny has always exhibited, we worked out all the details of getting 1 SASY 67 back in Nan's hands after 26 years.
This time the Roadster would be shipped, rather than driven, back to Carlsbad. Denny and Nancy packed up everything that was associated with the car -- spare parts, the original wheels (Denny had replaced them with some cool "mini-lite" style wheels), receipts, and a big Tupperware box full of manuals and receipts that we had given to Denny 26 years ago. They sent this photo of themselves with the Roadster as it began its trip back to Carlsbad.
"At home, the Roadster was used to drive to and from work, taking the grandchildren for rides, and the Roadster also made the trip to the San Juan Islands.The Roadster has been idle for the past couple of years. This moment, and this transaction, come at the most perfect time -- we are looking to start paring down for the future, and the return of the Roadster to Nan is the best of all worlds."
We kept the new addition to our car collection a secret from the neighbors, but when the delivery truck arrived in the neighborhood, everyone came out of their houses to see what was going on.
It was a joyous reunion, shared by all our dear neighbors. Everyone loved the idea that Nan was getting her Roadster -- her college car -- back after so many years.
After the delivery truck left, and the neighbors returned home, I spent a few minutes unpacking the car and organizing a few things to make the Roadster comfortable in its new garage. I was touched at the loving way that Denny had packaged up everything -- the original wheels were carefully wrapped, and the parts and documentation sorted neatly for the 1,200 mile trip. Even more, I was so pleasantly surprised at the excellent condition of the Roadster after 26 years in the Seattle area. The car had received a beautiful new paint job, the seats had been reupholstered, and the engine compartment displayed new parts of correct vintage. The car was close to pristine. It was obvious that Denny and Nancy loved 1SASY67.
As I closed up the garage, I noticed an envelope, addressed to Nan, taped to the dash. I took it into the house to Nan and here is what she found inside:
No gift could have ever been more perfect, no kindness greater, no friendship more dear.
Denny and Nancy, thank you so very much!
Love, Nan and Cary