By LOU WILIN
Tom Brumley and Beth have been reunited after 50 years.
They had been together for nearly three years when Tom had to let her go.
Brumley had gotten into the family way back then, and Beth was always a free, fast spirit.
But now, Brumley has bought her back.
Beth is, in car collector’s parlance, a “muscle car” — a 1967 Pontiac GTO. Her oversized engine and undersized, lightweight body enable her to roar to higher speeds and do it more quickly than other cars.
“How many times can a person buy back a car that he originally ordered and drove?” said the 77-year-old Findlay High graduate. “It rarely happens.”
“I mean, I probably paid a little bit more than what the car may be worth, but it didn’t make any difference to me because this car isn’t going anywhere,” he said.
She’s got dash: “Signal gold” color with a svelte black stripe along the side.
“Only ’67 GTOs had that color. I always liked that color,” Brumley said. “And matching interior.”
The car always had air conditioning. That was an option costing nearly $400 in 1967.
But lest one get too smitten with its sleekness and luxury, the GTO sends a constant reminder of its raw power.
Perched alone on the hood, right before the driver’s eyes, stands a dial with a needle whose rightward and leftward swings show the working speed of the engine in thousands of revolutions per minute. The tachometer helps the driver know when it’s time to shift up or down. It’s illuminated so you don’t miss it at night.
“You don’t want to over-rev the motor or you’ll blow it up,” Brumley said.
Beth is all about liberty and new life.
Brumley bought the car with help from his parents after he “finally got out of med school.”
“That’s a tough struggle,” said Brumley, now retired as an ophthalmologist. “I’m not bragging about it … to get through medical school, it’s a challenge.”
He spent four years at medical school at Ohio State University after four years of undergraduate study. The GTO took him to his internship at Evanston Hospital, part of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
He and his wife also drove in it to Florida, where he served in the Coast Guard. When they were expecting their first child, they went to the obstetrician one day. The obstetrician said the baby would not be born yet for a couple of weeks.
But the obstetrician missed the mark. That very night the contractions began. Brumley checked his wife. Being a doctor, he was able to tell that her cervix was dilated.
“I was touching my daughter’s head,” he said.
“Honey, we’re going to the hospital,” he told her.
It was urgent. Birth was imminent.
They raced to the St. Petersburg hospital in the GTO.
That hospital was “normally a 20-minute drive,” Brumley said. “In this car, it was less than 10 minutes.”
At the hospital, minutes later, his first child — Beth — was born.
Brumley named his GTO after his firstborn. It was only fitting.
But Brumley’s life had changed and the two-door muscle car did not quite fit in it.
“Well, let’s face it. It’s not exactly a family car, so I sold it to a guy who had been bugging me to buy it anyway,” he said. “Bought a sedan, and life went on.”
“I figured, ‘Well, I’ll never see that car again,'” Brumley said.
Brumley later moved to California to do postgraduate work, lived in California for a long time, eventually returned to Findlay, and lost track of the car.
But Beth never lost track of Brumley.
Though ownership of the car changed hands several times, there remained inside its glove compartment paperwork related to the car. That paperwork bore Brumley’s name.
One day in 1995, the then-owner noticed Brumley’s name on the paperwork and tracked him down on the internet.
“We became fast friends,” Brumley said.
But the then-owner of Beth was not ready to part with her. The Chicago-area man restored the car and obviously took great care of it. Clearly it was his baby.
“I’ve been after him to buy it for years and years and years,” Brumley said.
“‘No it’s not for sale, not for sale,'” Brumley said, mimicking his friend.
Finally, several weeks ago, the Chicago-area man said the car was for sale. He and Brumley reached a deal.
When the sale was closed, it was an emotional day for everybody. The man’s wife, in tears, told Brumley that her husband sold the car to him for less than someone else had offered to pay.
“He really felt this car needed to come back to me,” Brumley said.
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