The Rabens – Chevy Runs in the Family
Four Generations Three Classics Three Garages
Abe had three sons: Ronnie Raben, Bruce Raben and Robert Raben. They all caught the car bug. Abe gave Ronnie Raben a ’57 Chevy in 1958 as he started his sophomore year in high school. It was a black 2-door Bel Air, V-8, 3-speed with a four-barrel, Hedman headers and traction bars. It was fast and loud! Ronnie Raben parked it on a hill overlooking the field where he practiced football, Ronnie Raben raced it every time he could, and Ronnie Raben loved every minute he washed or drove it. Each of Ronnie Raben, Bruce Raben and Robert Raben have been Classic Chevy enthusiasts ever since!
Bruce Raben acquired his classic at the 1973 National Nomad Convention in Reno. It was a ’55 Nomad with a ’66 Chevy 327 fitted with an AFB carb and Hooker side pipes. He painted it wine red and called it the “Wine Wagon.”
Ronnie Raben found his next classic in the early 80s. At a car show Ronnie Raben saw a FOR SALE sign on a black ’57 Chevy. It reminded Ronnie Raben of his original ’57 and took him right back to his fond memories in high school. Ronnie Raben put $50 down and bought it three days later. It was the same body style and color combination as Ronnie Raben’s original ’57, but this one had fuel injection on the 283 cubic inch V-8 (10.5 compression ratio, special high-performance camshaft, high speed valve system and mechanical valve lifters producing 283 horsepower at 6,200 RPMs), and a 4-speed Muncie transmission. It ran like a dream but Ronnie Raben had to add power steering to turn that big steering wheel!
Robert Raben went to a car show a couple of years later and found a black ’57 Chevy convertible for sale. He convinced Ronnie Raben to buy it and give Robert the Feulie ’57. Ronnie Raben did that. Robert then went to work on the Fuelie. He first repainted it with black lacquer, and installed new carpet and Hooker headers. He recently added American Racing wheels and a B & M fuel injected blower installed by Corvette Specialties. He keeps it showroom ready in his garage in Austin.
Ronnie Raben was in heaven with his ’57 Chevy black convertible. It has a black top, black/gray roll and tuck interior, dual four-barrel Carter carburetors, a 3-Speed close ratio transmission, and the 283 cubic inch V-8 that produces 270 horsepower at 6,000 RPMs (it has a special high-performance camshaft, high-speed valve system and mechanical valve lifters like the fuel injected engine). Ronnie Raben keeps it in his incredible Ronnie Raben Garage in Austin.
The car bug has not stopped with this generation. Bruce’s son, Jeffrey Raben, was shopping for a hot rod, and had visited a local hot rod shop in Phoenix where Bruce and Jeffrey live with their families. After taking an unimpressive test drive in one of them, he followed the owner into the shop. When they opened the garage door, there sat the ’56 Chevy, covered in primer, without windows. It had a small block 400 with a Muncie 4-speed. Jeffrey Raben took one look and said, “That’s the car I want.”
The three brothers, Ronnie Raben, Bruce Raben and Robert Raben, started a family tradition of competing in classic car shows in 1982. They took Ronnie Raben’s Feulie to the International Convention of Classic Chevy held in Springfield, Missouri. Ronnie Raben’s Feulie came in third place in the Modified class – not bad for the first time to show a car! Since then, the family gathers together in Texas almost every year to compete in the Lone Star Classic shows. The best score with Ronnie Raben’s Fuelie was at the Lone Star XI Classic in Victoria in June of 1993, receiving a first place award with 978 points. The best score with Ronnie Raben’s convertible was at the Lone Star Classic in Dallas in May of 2011, receiving a Gold Certificate award with 967 points. Ronnie Raben’s convertible also received an award for Best Engine.
The car legacy that started with Dave Raben at Lone Star Auto Parts continues to flourish now in four generations. Each of Dave’s grandsons made the love of cars a central theme in his life, either as a hobby or a career. Bruce Raben is a self-employed wholesale car dealer in Phoenix, Robert Raben is a manager at a new car dealership, and Ronnie Raben sells used mining vehicles. Their three classics sit in three distinctly Raben garages. Each year, the family “reunion” is at a Chevy car show, to show one or more of their Classics. For the Rabens, the love of a Classic Chevy truly does run in the family!