How a 1937 Chevy Coupe made its way into Washington's recruiting photo shoots
Wes Holden, a 2006 UW graduate, rescued his uncle's old car from storage and spent the last 5 years sprucing it up.
Bill Sporich bought the car some time in the 1960s, in Goldendale, Wash., some 70 miles south of Yakima. He drove that used 1937 Chevrolet Coupe on his first date with a young woman named Anne Coleman.
They married in 1968.
Bill was in the Navy, stationed in Hawaii and later shipped to Vietnam. The car stayed at his parents’ house.
It sat there.
It did a lot of that over the next 50 years.
Bill returned from war. The couple eventually moved to Ballard. Wes Holden, Bill’s nephew, remembers catching a glimpse of the coupe in his uncle’s garage. He’d have loved to get his hands on it.
His uncle said no, reasoning: “I think you’re gonna turn it into a hot rod.”
Bill and Anne moved to Tacoma in the early 2000s. The car moved, too, but remained unused, this time stored inside a boat shed. It still had license-plate tabs from 1968. Its paint, originally olive green but coated over with red boat paint, was fading. Blankets covered the car. Boxes and garbage bags surrounded it.
“He was really good at starting projects,” Wes said of his uncle. “He had 50 different things he had started doing. I think the car was on that list of, ‘eventually, I’m going to work on this.’”
It wasn’t to be. Bill’s health had declined, and he died on Jan. 19, 2019, at 73. A few months prior, he had finally handed the car over to Wes, knowing a restoration was in order, and asking that his nephew maintain as many original features as possible.
The Chevy is purple now. Shiny, too. You can’t miss the white-wall tires. The bumpers, door handles and hood hinges are spray-painted gold (re-chroming was prohibitively expensive). Wes hasn’t added it all up, but he figures he’s put $10,000 into it, and he isn’t finished.
It was the original engine and drivetrain, though, powering the car into the Dempsey Indoor on Friday morning, Wes behind the wheel, five years’ worth of refurbishment parked on the Huskies’ indoor track.
“Surreal,” Wes said.