“You know, one day I’d like to have an old car,” Joey Olier mentioned to his wife, Deonne, several years ago. That offhand comment has led to a hobby, a lifestyle and an addition on their St. Martin home.
They started by going to a few car shows at the beach. Now the garage he and his son built onto their home is filled with a ’27 Model T he built from the ground up, a 1942 Chevy truck for her and all the Coke signs, miniature model cars and memorabilia their shop can hold.
He needed the shop because the carport let the parts rust up while he worked. The first car he built was a ’39 Plymouth two-door sedan, lavender and white. It was featured on “My Classic Car.”
That was followed by a ’29 Durant, one of only 10 in the world like it.
“It’s in Detroit, Michigan, right now, in a museum,” he said.
His latest project is “Big Black,” with its stroker motor and 455 horses under the hood.
“It’s chopped 4½ inches,” he said, giving the Model T tall roof a more squat look.
“I built the frame for it,” he said. “Fifteen years I was building this, off and on.” He ordered parts or found them at the Cruisin’ Swap Meet, but as the project dragged, his friend Chuck Cox of Long Beach, took over, built the roof and finished the job.
The body is relatively light and the engine so powerful, “I don’t bring it out when it’s wet days,” Olier said. It also runs hot, which makes him avoid heavy Cruisin’ traffic.
Joey intended to build a “hers” version of “Big Black” for Deonne, but she changed that plan when she found herself an “Angel Baby.”
Deonne told the owner of the ’42 Chevy truck the first time she saw it, “That truck is so pretty it looks like an angel.”
He named it Angel Baby, she said, and when the Oliers bought it in 2005, they kept the creamy off-white paint color.
They put a new, all-oak bed in the truck, and while it has the looks and style of a classic, it also is equipped with air conditioning, power steering, power brakes and a CD player.
“I drove her to work,” said Deonne, who is now retired from her job as director of D’Iberville’s Planning and Zoning Department.
She took a week off every year to volunteer with Cruisin’ The Coast and city officials decided D’Iberville needed to become one of the Cruisin’ venues. The first year was 1999, and because there are no downtown businesses in that area, D’Iberville was allowed to have vendors.
The Oliers haven’t done much Cruisin’, although they register both of their vehicles every year, because since the first Cruisin’ The Coast they’ve been among the thousands of volunteers.
They joined Singing River Street Rod Association, where Joey now is president.
“Singing River is one of the oldest street rod clubs in the state of Mississippi,” he said.
National Street Road Association
They also are part of the “Fellow Pages,” the National Street Rod Association’s book of members who can be called on to help when people are traveling with their antique cars.
“That has happened to us quite a few times,” Deonne said, and they’ve also returned the favor, using their shop and tools to help others.
“They spend enough money coming here to Cruisin’ The Coast,” he said, and people from South Mississippi show hospitality.
The producers of the “American Pickers” television show, however, chose not to accept Dionne’s invitation to come poke around through their collection of old Coke machines, pedal cars, a Shell gas pump, rotary telephones, old oil cans and an 8-pack of oil bottles and a carrier from the early 1940s.
“They told me his shop was too neat,” she said.
Joey said he doesn’t want to sell anyway. It took all he had to collect what he’s got, “and he’s still collecting,” she said.