Bruce Silence had a Chevrolet Nova when he was in high school and his next car choice was a Chevrolet Chevelle.
Seventeen years ago he found one, a 1970 model SS, and bought it.
The previous owner later died, and every time Silence entered a car show after that, it was in his memory.
On December 14, 2021, Silence died of cancer. He was 58 years old.
Since then, the sunburst orange Chevelle with a black stripe painted on the hood and trunk has been owned by his wife, Michelle Silence.
Bruce was a longtime active member of the Seymour Area Cruisers Car Club, helping with the Fraternal Order of Police Donald M. Winn Lodge 108 Annual Pre-Scoop Cruise-In and Car Show for the past six years. Held the night before Seymour’s popular Scoop the Loop tradition.
Michelle was recently asked if she agreed with Bruce’s Chevelle being the featured vehicle on this year’s Scoop the Loop T-shirts. Of course she said yes.
“I screamed,” he said. “I cried like a baby and called all these guys (family members). It meant a lot to us. It still does.”
The Chevelle was on display at Friday’s auto show, and Michelle and one of her daughters and three grandchildren wore Scoop the Loop T-shirts with the car.
“We’re very, very, very proud,” Michelle said, smiling.
The car was among more than 250 entered at this year’s show, which was the seventh annual. It was hard for Michelle to learn that Bruce was not part of the show.
“He helped with that and he loved this car show, he loved being a part of it, definitely a car guy,” he said.
For years, Bruce was the sole driver of the car because he was trying to find a specific type of tire, Michelle said.
“For years and years and years, he wanted to put new tires on it. I bet we looked at a million tires and he could never find the ones he wanted,” he said. “About a year and a half or two years in, he was sick and finally picked a set. I don’t even know if they were the set he wanted, but I feel like he was preparing the car for me.”
Bruce had done a lot of work on the car over the years. Michelle said it was a “funny blue” color when Bruce got the car because it had been used for racing so it wasn’t fit to be a show car.
“He and my uncle did all the work,” she said. “They painted it, and here it is today.”
Since Bruce also liked Harley-Davidson motorcycles, he chose their signature colors, orange and black, for the Chevelle.
“He did all the work on it, just everything,” Michelle said. “He put a new engine in it, the 454, because he didn’t have a 454 when he got it.”
Bruce regularly drove the car, but now for Michelle, he said it’s more of a show car.
“I have to work a little because he put the bigger engine in it,” he said. “There are some things we need to do.”
Bruce won many trophies showing the car and was proud to include his children and grandchildren in shows and parades.
He once said he wanted the car to stay in the family and Michelle is complying with his wishes.
“It’s meant to stay in the family because he’s always talked about the grandkids being the ones to have it after him, so he never wanted it to go anywhere, that’s for sure,” he said. “He stayed with us.”
In front of the Chevelle in the Robertson Feed Mill parking lot Friday night, Mark and Diana King of Seymour and their son, Mike King, were in three vehicles.
Mark and Diana drove a red 1955 Chevrolet and a black 1932 Ford, while Mike drove his father-in-law’s white 1991 Avanti convertible.
Mark and Mike made the Chevrolet a father-son project after purchasing it in 2003. They worked on it for about a year.
“My first car when I was 16, we started when I was 14, we built my first car together. That’s what got me into cars, so we’ve been working on cars together ever since,” Mike said. “My high school car, we built it together. Mom even upholstered it. We were all involved in that one then, so we’ve always worked with cars.”
Mike said the Chevrolet was a “barn find car” with surface rust when they got it.
“We had a guy in Franklin paint it,” he said. “I did all the rest of the work, the engine and the suspension.”
The Ford is unique because it is made of Henry Ford steel and has a Chevrolet engine. Mark said they have had it for 10 years. When they got it, it looked very different from the Chevrolet.
“He was in really good shape,” Mark said.
With the Avanti, Mike said his father-in-law, Gary Bateman, bought the car in 1993 and it only has about 16,000 miles on it.
“One guy told me it’s one of 26 built in ’91,” Mike said. “They’re pretty rare. They’re all hand built … (and) used to be owned by Studebaker years ago and made in Indiana.
All three vehicles are mainly only taken to car shows. The Chevrolet has been driven all over the country to various shows.
The family, however, enjoys participating in the Pre-Scoop show because proceeds benefit the FOP’s Cops and Kids program, which brings together local children and law enforcement officers for a shopping trip in early December at Seymour Walmart Supercenter.
“It’s a very good show. We like it very much. It’s a nice show,” Mike said.
“It’s a great cause,” said Diana. “We try to support it.”
On Saturday night, Scoop the Loop filled the downtown streets. Some people chose to drive loops, while others decided to be spectators.
Raymond and Charlene McKinney of Seymour did the latter, sitting on chairs in the bed of their navy blue Dodge Ram 1500.
They remembered getting the noose years ago.
“That was every Friday and Saturday night,” Raymond said.
“This reminds me of the era,” Charlene said. “You got to see your friends, call them and we’d all stop in the middle of the road.”
Both are glad that Scoop the Loop was revived in 2011.
“I love it. I wish they had it about twice a year,” Raymond said.
“I told her I wish it was every weekend,” Charlene said.
They both enjoy looking at the old and new vehicles and seeing familiar faces.
“There’s a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time, and then just all the new and old vehicles, and of course, I like the music (coming from the cars),” Charlene said. “I’m 64, but it makes me feel like I’m 18 again.”
The couple planned to stay the full four hours of Scoop the Loop.
“Always do,” said Raymond.