Bob Holland was stationed at Castle Air Force Base outside of Merced, California, in 1964. When he wasn't diagnosing weather equipment as an electronics technician, he was cruising in his 1960 Biscayne.

As the year was coming to a close, he deemed it time to get a new vehicle. After scanning the magazines and seeing ads for the latest Chevelle, he figured it was worth checking out. He swung by a couple dealerships, interested in the 327-cubic-inch, 300-horsepower V-8 models.

Bob Holland of Elgin drove his Chevelle cross country from California to Illinois when moving here in 1966.

Fortunately, he waited a few weeks to mull it over, which was just enough time for him to hear a higher-output 350-horsepower V-8 was soon to come out.

"I said, 'OK, I'll take one of those,' " Bob recalls.

Bob could have had a sporty two-door coupe or, being in sunny California, you'd think he'd want a cool drop-top version. But no, he wanted something with more room.

"I wanted a sedan to haul my buddies," he says. "I went to a local a dealer where they promised they could get the hotter engine but (the dealer) had no desire to order it in a four-door."

Holland is shown racing his 1965 Chevelle at Byron Dragway south of Rockford. Courtesy of Bob Holland

His search went on, leading him to Jack Head Chevrolet in Alhambra, California, where Bob was told he could buy the car of his dreams. Bob ordered a Mist Blue sedan in January and, even though it was built in Fremont, California, he had to wait until April to pick it up.

It also took some effort to retrieve it; he was living more than 300 miles away. A brother in nearby Mohave agreed to give him a lift to the dealership, but the prize waiting for him at the end of the long journey was worth it.

"Seeing it for the first time was amazing," says Bob, who went on to daily drive it to and from the Air Force base.

One afternoon while ferrying some fellow servicemen, one of them commented that the Chevelle was "pretty fast." He suggested Bob should run it at the track. Another pal chimed in, saying he had a friend running a '58 Chevy that very weekend over in Fresno.

Holland ordered his Chevelle with the high-performance "L79" engine, a 350-horsepower small-block V-8.

Bob took them up on the offer and headed to the drag strip, where the mutual friend loaned him a set of "slicks," or wide racing tires.

"My very first run it went 14.88 (seconds) at 95 miles per hour," Bob says of the quarter-mile sprint. "I was hooked on going fast."

Bob returned to the track a few weeks later and hasn't stopped competing. His decades-long ownership still includes regular trips to local drag strips, continuing after he relocated to Illinois in 1966.

"I loved the way it ran and just had to keep it," says Bob, who has raced at Lake Geneva and Byron dragways.

This first Chevelle led to Bob owning 17 more through the years, but Mist Blue '65 always holds a special place in his heart.

"This is the one I'm keeping forever," Bob says. "It was No. 1."