Rich & Jan Hardy
I always enjoy publishing Member Spotlights, and interviewing Rich and Jan Hardy was my great pleasure.
Prepare to be entertained. as I share their lives. Destiny brought this wonderful couple together, and their strong
love and tenacity to overcome life's trial and tribulations, are the reasons they will be celebrating their 54th
wedding anniversary together this upcoming July. Here is the “Rest of their fabulous Story”. But first…
Rich and Jan's early life ( before Rich and Jan were a couple…)
Rich’s earliest memory of seeing his first Imperial was when he was about 14 ½ years old. His Dad, a
successful automobile salesman, came home one day in a brand new 1951 Imperial demo. Rich remembers
being awestruck with this beautiful driving machine. He recalls the exterior color of the Imperial being black, but
what he remembers most was being very impressed with all the ‘brushed nickel’ the interior of the Imperial
contained. Cars in those days were chrome laden, but the brushed nickel gave the Imperial the edge of luxury.
Rich’s 2nd earliest memory of the Imperial was when his Dad picked him and his buddy up from Midway Airport in Chicago, Il. They were coming home from
serving our Country overseas. Rich’s Dad arrived in a beautiful ’57 Imperial. His special memory of this trip was that his Dad expertly nosed the Imperial onto
the freeway, heading back to Wisconsin. Rich was fascinated by the round gauges that lit the dash. The speedometer was already registering 70 to 80 mph,
and Rich and his buddy were hanging on for dear life. Why, you ask? Well, Rich reminisces that when he was stationed in North Africa, there was an old
Packard – Straight Eight that was “handed down” from crew to crew. This once luxury car was old and in need of repair, and with all the bad roads, the
Packard was driven 20 to 25 mph tops. Rich remembers that along the Mediterranean Sea, near base, the Grand Prix race track was once host to many car
races. For fun, Rich and his friends would take the old Packard for a run on the ancient track where they would “punched it, and blow out the carbon”. As
these special memories fade, Rich reverts back to 1957. He and his buddy are lulled comfortably in the large Imperial’s pure luxury. Though it took a bit of
time to get used to it, Rich and his buddy survived their AWESOME experience!
Jan meanwhile was enjoying her growing years on her parents’ farm in Placerville. She had the freedom to roam without harm. She joined the 4-H and
competed with others, displaying her remarkable sewing skills. In high school, she loved the experience of helping to run the Senior Member Club which
involved MANY clubs. She enjoyed playing sports in high school, especially baseball during her summers.
When Rich Met Jan – (but I need to share this first: )
Rich purchased his original ’52 New Yorker while still overseas, thanks to his Dad’s “hawk eye.” In 1952, Rich’s Dad, a top automobile salesman, sold a brand
new ’52 New Yorker to a nice “older” lady who kept the car for four years. When Rich’s Dad changed dealership’s, she followed him as a loyal customer and
bought a brand new Oldsmobile from him. Rich’s Dad knew that Rich wanted a car, and offered to buy the ‘52 New Yorker from her. It only had 40,000 miles
during the four years she owned it. The deal was made, and when Rich came home, he paid his Dad a whopping $750, to own his ‘52 New Yorker. On U.S.
soil now, Rich received orders that stationed him to Point Arena on the Northern California Coast. From Wisconsin, he drove his Mom, his Aunt, and younger
brother to Bellingham, Washington in the ‘52 New Yorker, and then headed to Point Arena, California to report for duty.
Rich met Jan in December, 1957, when his Air force buddy, Gary, invited Rich to drive to Placerville to visit
Gary’s parents and Gary’s younger brother, Nick who was at a 4H party when they arrived in Placerville. Not
deterred, Gary and Rich decided to ‘crash’ the party, (in Jan’s words) and the “rest is history.” As Rich
remembers the evening, the girls were all dancing, and the boys were just standing around. When Rich and
Gary arrived at the party, they had no trouble dancing with the girls. However, one girl caught Rich’s fancy,
and you guessed it, her name was Jan.
Rich and Jan had a whirlwind courtship. They met in December 1957, and got married in July 1958. Rich’s ‘52
New Yorker became their daily driver. They started their life together by driving it on their honeymoon.
They drove back to Wisconsin in the ‘52 New Yorker to start their life together. They started their family right away. Unfortunately, Rich had trouble finding a
job. He dreamed about going to Engineering school but his G.I. Bill did not quite cover the expenses. He was finally offered a job in a Studebaker Parts
Department, and took it. They lived in an apartment on a farm, and as young couples do, furnished their home. Due to the economic times, Rich soon lost his
job. They decided to move back to California with the aid of Jan’s parents. They now had one child and a second on the way. The ‘52 made yet ANOTHER
journey back to California, and it was December 1959. The route they decided to take was Highway 66. They did this to avoid snow, but it followed them on
their alternate route anyway. Going through Texas and New Mexico, they hit snowstorms, and floods, all while towing their belongings behind them. This
determined family withstood their great adventure traveling back to California. Ironically, Rich worked in Automotive parts jobs back in California, but still had
difficulty in keeping jobs because of the economically depressed times. Rich then saw an advertisement needing electronic technicians at McClellan Air Force
base because the Vietnam war was heating up. He took the test and passed, and from that time he remained gainfully employed at McClellan Air force base
until 1994. During their life, the original ‘52 got old and tired. With their growing family their next few vehicles were station wagons
Joining the Imperial Club — (without one)
I asked Rich and Jan how they got involved with what is now IOANC. To explain, Jan recalls that as empty nesters
now, they wanted to find another ’52 New Yorker to take the place of Rich’s original one. Rich received information
from John Tennyson about a ‘52 New Yorker for sale. Rich contacted the owners, and they made a trip to see it. The
owners wanted to sell it, but, they also wanted to make sure that they sold their beloved ‘52 New Yorker to
someone who would put it back in good condition. When Rich assured them that he had previously owned a 1952
New Yorker, and wanted another one, they agreed to sell it. The asking price was $750, but Rich was able to buy it
John Tennyson then gave the Hardy’s information that led them to first join the California Chrysler Products Club (CCPC) , where they enjoyed taking the
many road trips the Club organized. Rich and Jan recall that there was a Car Meet at Ohlone College called Bay Area Fall Classic. IOANC was separated
into two Northern California clubs at the time. The Imperial Clubs from the Bay Area and Sacramento Valley were present at the Meet. Tom Johnson, a long
time IOANC member, befriended them and invited them to the Imperial Club State Meet in Napa at the Silverado Country Club which they visited. The best
part of that Meet was that the Hardy’s were invited to have their ‘52 New Yorker photographed along with all of the other beautiful Imperials. Rich and Jan
became a “fixture” at all the Imperial events from that day forward, and were enticed to ‘finally’ join the Imperial Club, even though they did not have their
Rich and Jan’s Imperial Story— (they FINALLY own their own)
Rich had mentioned several times that he would like to own an Imperial.
Bob Trepanier, then IOANC Club President, contacted Rich many times
telling him about an Imperial that a club member in Southern California felt
he needed to sell. He had a ’62 Imperial. He was advancing in age, and he
didn’t want his wife to have to worry about getting rid of the auto, if or when
something happened to him. Rich called and spoke with him, and agreed to
purchase the Imperial if he liked it when he saw it. Rich and Jan traveled to
Southern California, and they DID like the ‘62 that they now own. After they
purchased the Imperial, Rich and Jan asked if they could leave it there until
after their vacation to Arkansas. Upon their return, Rich drove their newly
purchased ‘62 Imperial home to Dixon, Ca, while Jan followed him in their
LHS. The ‘62 Imperial has since won many awards at IOANC and non
Club Photographer and IOANC Tour Director
Rich and Jan are VERY active in IOANC. When I asked what their favorite Club Memory was, they could not pinpoint any one thing, as they thoroughly enjoy
and are involved in most every event. Rich is Club Photographer, and Jan is IOANC Tour Director. Beside their ‘52 New Yorker and ‘62 Imperial, they have a
‘54 un-restored New Yorker Deluxe Convertible under car cover parked in their driveway. It will be a gem, when Rich gets around to restoring it. I asked Rich
how he got so good at fixing his cars. He said he did it from necessity a long time ago. The Hardy Legacy now comprises of four generations. Rich and Jan
have 5 children, 15 grandchildren, and 2 great granddaughters and they just found out a 3rd great grandchild is on the way. Though retired from the Corporate
life for a while now, they have a thriving glass etching business, and are very involved with Dixon Chamber of Commerce. It has been a pleasure to give the
highlights of Rich and Jan’s life. I could write a book about them, otherwise. Thank you , Rich and Jan for your efforts in helping to make IOANC a fun club,
and for being our MEMBER SPOTLIGHT this issue.