Tony Dow has been reunited with his first car more than 50 years after he bought it brand new when he was a young TV actor. The former child star, who played Wally Cleaver on the 1950s and 1960s hit Leave It to Beaver, recently got an unexpected gift from an old pal — posthumously, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Dow has been given his first car back, a ride that he first purchased in 1962, sold in 1965, and never thought he’d see again.
Tony Dow purchased his first car, a brand new, midnight blue 1962 Corvair Spyder, while he was working as a young actor on the beloved CBS sitcom. Tony drove the car to the Leave it to Beaver set every day for four years before selling it to Alan Dadisman, a man who built props for Universal. And now, 50 years later, Dow got a phone call from a friend of Dadisman who informed the actor that the Universal props man had passed away earlier this year, but he had left specific instructions to track Tony down and give him his old car back.
When Tony Dow went to reunite with his old set of wheels, he learned that it hadn’t been moved at all for the past seven years, during the time that Dadisman had been ill. But the car had been fully restored since Tony originally owned it, with a black paint job in the 1980s and with the addition of an 180-hp turbocharged engine from a later model Corvair.
“It was gorgeous,” Dow said when he went to see the car. “I still can’t believe it.”
Tony Dow ultimately hired a tow truck driver to transport the retro ride from Alpine, California, to his Topanga Canyon home. The sweet set of wheels arrived just in time for Tony and his wife Lauren’s 36th wedding anniversary.
“Who keeps a car for 51 years, then goes to the effort to try to find its former owner to give it back,” a stunned Tony Dow said after he was told that Dadisman bequeathed his former car to him.
Fox News posted a video of Tony Dow getting into his classic car, which was first restored by Alan in 1987. Dow, now 71-years-old, revealed that he hopes to restore his new/old ride to its original specification and get it back on the road again. Dow even joked to a local TV station that he planned to take the car to Bob’s Big Boy and “try to pick up girls” like he used to back in the day. Of course, his wife might not like that idea!
In his adult years, Tony Dow has worked as a TV director (Coach, Babylon 5) and a sculptor, but fans surely remember him as the older brother of Jerry Mathers’ Beaver Cleaver character on the long-running CBS family comedy Leave it To Beaver. In fact, a memorable storyline from the classic sitcom had Dow’s character, Wally, purchasing his first car, which was a 1953 Chevrolet Two-Ten, for $220.
Of course, fans of this feel good story may want to ignore the fact that Time magazine listed the Corvair as one of the 50 worst cars of all time, citing Ralph Nader’s assertion that the Corvair’s single-piece steering column could impale the driver in a front collision, as well as the fact that the car “leaked oil like a derelict tanker.” Maybe that’s why Tony Dow got rid of it in the first place. But 51 years later, he seems to just be happy it found its way home.
Now, if Tony Dow can only get the Beaver to ride shotgun, this story would have the perfect ending.
[Photo by ABC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images]