SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - For me, that car was like Moby Dick and I was Captain Ahab. For years I had seen it on the streets, but never could catch up to it to get the story behind it. Until today.
My whale, made up of Detroit iron, was cruising up South Main Street in downtown Salisbury, just north of the square. I thought he would pull in at Hap's to get a hot dog, but he kept going. I stayed right with him, even sneaking through an intersection where the light may have been very close to red.
Finally, I got him when he pulled into the parking lot at Mclaughlin's Grocery, the brilliantly colored behemoth now rested just feet from the front door. The driver, wearing an orange DOT ball cap just as bright at the fenders on his car, came out to see what I wanted.
"Can we talk about the car?" I asked. "Oh yeah," owner Melvin Webb replied. "It's a '74 Pontiac Grand Ville, 455."
Pontiac made 21,714 four door hardtop Grand Villes in 1974, but there's not another like this one anywhere on the planet, and in a world of cookie cutter SUV's and muted paint jobs, Melvin's ride is a real standout.
"Well, it's just something I like," Webb told me. "I've had it I'll say about ten years."
I told Melvin that when I was following him through town, I noticed that just about everyone on the sidewalk turned their heads to look at this car. That wasn't exactly breaking news to him.
"Oh yeah, kids love it every time they see it, want me to honk the horn and holler at them," Webb added.
And get this…the Grand Ville isn't alone. Melvin told me that he has about ten more cars that are similarly "decorated." Melvin did most of the paint and design work himself on all of the cars.
Melvin said he gets a kick out of driving the Grand Ville around town and hopes it brings a smile to people who seem him pass by. Believe me, it does.