Northwest NEWS

February 28, 2000

Front Page

Life in the fast lane: driving is only part of the fun

1932 Ford

Woodinville's Al Gallacci stands with his 1932 candy apple red Ford dream machine. Gallacci says driving it is second only to the fun of building the car. He also built a blue 1966 Cobra 427 SC. The two will be on display at the Seattle Roadster Show at the Stadium Exhibition Center.
Photo by Bronwyn Wilson.

by Bronwyn Wilson, special to the Weekly

   It's one of life's thrills. Turn the key in your shiny red roadster, and the engine rumbles like thunder in Texas. Put on your cool shades, then hit the gas. You blast off with the speed of a missile, the convertible top down, and wind buffeting your hair.

   Sunlight dances off paint and chrome and everyone on the road notices your car. Beep! A motorist shoots his thumb up in the air. Beep! Another smiles and waves. Blame it on an adrenaline rush, because you punch the accelerator a touch more. Wuh-hoo! Is this fun or what?

   For many of us, this is a dream fantasy. But for Al Gallacci of Woodinville, it's real life.

   "A lot of people wave, honk their horns, say hi," says Gallacci, who built his own shiny roadster, a '32 Ford dream machine in candy apple red. However, Gallacci warns about high performance, "You have to be very cautious, this '32 has 350 horsepower."

   What's more, driving is only part of the fun. To Gallacci, "The first fun thing is actually building it. The second fun thing is driving it."

   This explains why Gallacci didn't stop at one roadster. Another of his creations, a dazzling blue '66 Cobra 427 SC with chrome side pipes, gleams proudly beside his '32.

   Al Gallacci's passion for building began when he was a young boy constructing model airplanes. As a teenager, he bought a Model A Coupe from his grandmother for $400. Then for a high school shop project, he rebuilt the car's engine. That was in 1948. Soon after, he was drafted for military service and forced to sell his treasured Model A. By this time, he was hooked on cars, and when he left the military, he dreamed of owning a '32 Ford, the first car to have a V-8 engine.

   With many hours of work, his dream has come true. Gallacci's '32 Ford and '66 Cobra will be on display at the Seattle Roadster Show running March 9-12 at the Stadium Exhibition Center.

   Though antique in design, his custom '32 has a racy appearance with chrome-spoked rims, pinstriping, and white leather upholstery. And the Cobra has the looks of a pinup model for a foldout in a hot rod magazine. But it isn't all sweet and innocent--its engine sounds vicious. Both cars were put together piece by piece, nut by nut, bolt by bolt.

   The majority of car parts were ordered by mail through Street Rodder magazine. The chassis and fiberglass body were the only parts not delivered to Gallacci's front door. It took two years to build each car. Gallacci, who is a retired contract engineer, worked full time on both. "I did everything but the paint and the upholstery," he says. "I did everything mechanical."

   Gallacci is a member of the Woodinville Classic Cruisers, a car club that started up a couple of years ago. There are about 120 members and they get together to share their interest in cars. Gallacci says that all ages love the hobby, but many of the younger ones in their twenties enjoy it mentally and usually have to wait until their forties or fifties to afford it. He mentions that many women are as enthused as men. "Some women show their own cars," he adds.

   As for Al Gallacci's head-turning roadsters, there are plenty of awards to show. Assembled in a huge mass on top of his television cabinet, trophies in all sizes announce their standing. One is for "Best Paint" and another for "Best In Its Class." There's even a special memorial award engraved to him on a silver platter from the Portland Roadster Show.

   So what's next? Gallacci plans to build another Cobra, one with a top. Because with this much fun, you can't stop at one or two.