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Paso Robles man drives 3,000 miles to reunite parents with family car

Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-19 21:45:56-04

In this heartwarming and hard-to-believe story out of Paso Robles, a local man embarked on a cross-country road trip to reunite his parents with their family car.

"This is a 1932 Ford five-window coupe that my dad bought in 1954," said Chuck Ott. "He hot-rodded the car in 1957, he painted it, did the upholstery work, and the way you see the car, other than the wheels and hubcaps is exactly the way he built this car in 1957."

"It was the first car when my grandparents first met, that my grandfather was building as they were starting their family together all the way back in the 50s," said Chuck's daughter, Kendall Mello. "I think it spurred that hotrod excitement."

However, Ott's father sold the car in 1996, and roughly a decade ago, Chuck stumbled upon an image of the exact car in a catalog for collectors. He says he contacted the owner to ask if he could be notified if the car ever goes up for sale, and this past winter, Chuck's plan began taking shape.

"He sent me a text the day after Christmas, that said, 'I saved your voicemail after all these years and I didn’t have the heart to call you back then and say, no, I am not ready to sell it. But I am ready now, and are you interested?’' Ott recalled.

And when Chuck Ott learned that the family's classic Ford had been moved across the country to Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, he and a friend quickly booked a one-way plane ticket out there to pick up the car themselves and drive it back to the Central Coast.

"It was a total of 3,034 miles, five days of driving, a lot of sightseeing," Ott said.

He says he drove the 91-year-old Ford through Oklahoma to see family he hadn't seen in years, along with stops in Nashville, Texas and Arizona.

"It was tough coming across the Mojave Desert, 90-degree weather with a car with no air-conditioning, no radio, windows down, the air vent open," Ott admitted. "The back window rolls down so you can get airflow through the car, but it was still 90 degrees outside."

He says the trip had been put off for weeks because of the many storms that hit California earlier this year, but that it was all made worthwhile when he finally pulled the Ford into the driveway of his parent's home.

"Dad’s first hotrod. Getting it back was mind-boggling and I never thought it would happen…and just to have his legacy, his first car. It is pretty awesome," Ott said, holding back tears.

He says aside from one lost hubcap, his dad's car endured the entire journey from Pennsylvania to Paso Robles. The family is planning to take the car to car meets and showcases, and long-term, keep it in the family.

Ott says he was also active on social media throughout his road trip, where he grew a big following from car fanatics across the country who offered up their homes and businesses as pit stops during his 3,000-mile drive.