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OLD CARS -The truth .Owners tales.How they really were.



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,846
    I think Ford really started a downhill slide beginning in 1955. Heavy, rough-running, leaking, rattling---a '55 Chevy seemed years ahead in my young little mind as it viewed these cars some ten years later.

    I guess to me, the '55-56 Fords were sort of automotive wallflowers. Not ugly or horrible looking, but not all that exciting, either. I just get this mental image of Aunt Bee from the Andy Griffith show driving one to town to do her marketing. Probably because she drove one on that show! I saw a '56 Ford 2-door sedan, all black, at a gas station the other day. Nice looking car, but I just think a '56 Chevy is a lot more exciting looking, and more youthful somehow. And interestingly, the '56 Chevy seemed to borrow heavily from Ford styling. Its full-width lattice grille is definitely Ford-ish in style.

    I always thought '57 Fords were kinda ugly, mainly because of those jutting, bug-eyed headlights. But otherwise, it seemed a much sleeker, more exciting car than the models that preceded it. Wasn't the '55 Ford actually just a very heavy facelift of the '52-54 style? That might be one reason it seemed a bit dull compared to a '55 Chevy. Anyway, the public evidently loved the '57 Ford, because that model year, Ford outsold Chevy by about 100,000 units. I guess the love affair didn't last though, once word got out about how poorly built the '57 Ford was. Still, it didn't sink their reputation like it did with Plymouth. While Plymouth was still struggling in 1959, with sales barely above the dismal 1958 level, Ford went on to trump Chevy yet again in 1959!

    When one of my uncles was young, his dream car was the '57 T-bird. Ultimately he got one, but I dunno whatever happened to it, as that was before my time. I guess his tastes have changed too, because nowadays he has a '49 Ford.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    "The 1949 Ford had been rushed into production, because the company was facing bankruptcy and could not afford to wait for the new model. As a result, a lot of last-minute tweaks were not made, and quality, particularly body fit, suffered, although Ford did try to make improvements for each successive model year. The all-new 1952 models from Ford were a big improvement."

    True, grbeck, although the company may not have used the term "continuous improvement," the outcome of their assembly practices yielded this result in the '50-'54 models.

    Separately, on the design side, Ford finally replaced its lackluster flathead I-6 with a modern (for its day) OHV I-6 for '52, and swapped its famous flathead V8 with a new high(er) compression short stroke OHV V8 for '54. Both were important improvements over their pre-war designs. However, with Chevy's '55 introduction of its 265 c.i. small block V8, especially, and Plymouths launch of its first V8 that same year, Ford's lead was short lived.

    "I think Ford really started a downhill slide beginning in 1955."

    While build quality at Ford may have suffered a reversal beginning with the '55 model year (I don't know this for sure, but it seems reasonable), it deteriorated considerably with the '57 models, although not as much as Mopar's did.

    Ford attempted to make quality improvements for '65, and again for '67, that seemed to show some results, but it wasn't long before build quality deteriorated again.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,116
    One of my uncles, (now deceased) bought a new 1957 Ford Skyliner. He has so much trouble with the car's top and other quality issues that he quickly traded it for a new 1959 Chevrolet Impala hardtop.

    The 1957 Ford had a lot of problems with body integrity that the strange features of the 1958 Ford corrected: hood scoop to strengthen the hood, fluted roof to stiffen the roof panel, and the double colon taillamps to stiffen the rear panel. A 1957 Ford's doors would often pop open on rough roads.

    Funny thing is, whenever I see a photograph of a mid 1960s junkyard, you see a lot of '57 Fords but few Chevies.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,846
    Funny thing is, whenever I see a photograph of a mid 1960s junkyard, you see a lot of '57 Fords but few Chevies.

    On a similar note, at car shows, it seems like '57 Chevies are all over the place, while '57 Fords are pretty rare. Even at the Ford Nationals in Carlisle, there aren't that many that show up. Especially when you factor in how many sold when new. '57 and '58 Plymouths are actually starting to get more common at shows. I think part of that may be the popularity of the movie "Christine". While that movie was scorned by old car lovers because they destroyed 12 or 13 Plymouths to make it, it put the '58 Plymouth, Fury in particular, on the map, and as a result has probably saved far more from junkyards than those that were smashed up for the movie. There's also a club dedicated to the Forward Look Mopars in general, and it gets a bigger and bigger turnout at Carlisle every year, so that might be one reason I see a disproportionately high number of '57 vintage Plymouths.

    Still, nowhere near the amount of '57 Chevies.

    Oh, here's an odd statistic. Of 32 years of DeSotos, the one with the highest survival rate is actually the 1961! The one with the fewest built! I think the National DeSoto club alone accounted for about 60 of them back in 1990. So 60 out of roughly 3000 built comes out to 2%. The most common year, however, was 1956, with about 200 in the club. There were about 110,000 built in 1956, so that only accounts for about 0.2% of them.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,116
    One that got away...

    Speaking of 1958 Furies, I used to pass a two-tone green 1958 Plymouth Savoy two-door hardtop next to a gas station on my way to college back in the mid 1980s. My Dad thought I should make an offer to the owner of the station to buy "Christine" but I was a broke college student and having such a car would eat-up all the time I should be studying and would eat up all my funds. I also noted a lack of a "V" on the grille, so this car was probably a lowly inline six-cylinder model anyway.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,116 a young person, did you encounter a lot of snobbery when you first encountered them? I kind of experienced it with the Cadillac-LaSalle Club and they kind of had a disdain for cars of my Brougham's vintage. This attitude has faded as I got older and they became more accepting of younger guys and newer cars.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,846 a young person, did you encounter a lot of snobbery when you first encountered them?

    Not in the National DeSoto club, no. But then, the only real interaction I had with them was a newsletter they put out. Can't remember if it was every month or every other month. It was a really nice, glossy, high quality newsletter. I need to re-join that club.

    Now the Maryland DeSoto club, that was a different story. I was only 18 when I joined both of the clubs. Most of the members, I'd say, were probably about 3 days older than God, although there were maybe 2 or 3 members that were in their late 30's/early 40's. But to an 18 year old, even that is an old man! For the most part, these people were just obsessed with keeping their DeSotos as original and pristine as possible, and harping on the War of 1812 and Moses and the burning bush and other fond memories of their childhood, and I just didn't have a lot in common with them. :P

    I'd be curious to see what the demographic of the Maryland club is like nowadays, though. I'd imagine that I'm still a lot younger than the typical DeSoto owner, but judging from what I've seen of the Forward Look era Mopars at Carlisle, it does seem like younger people are starting to appreciate these cars, so their appeal is spanning a broader age bracket.

    Now one area where I have faced some snobbery, is from the fact that I have both Mopars and GM cars. One acquaintance of mine, that lived near me and would run into me at car shows from time to time, actually got mad at me when I bought my Catalina! I was a traitor to Mopar, I guess. Whatever. Karma works in mysterious ways, because back in 1998, I saw him getting out of a '69 Impala wagon. Almost hit him with my '86 Monte, because he just blindly walked out right in front of me. I blew the horn at him and he turned and looked at me nasty, but then I recognized him. I ran into him about 5 or 6 years later at a car show in Rockville, MD, and now he says his whole family drives nothing but Toyota Corollas. He said the Mopars kept breaking down and leaving him stranded! :surprise:

    Sometimes I really have to bite my tongue at a Mopar show, when someone starts ragging on GM, or at a GM show when someone starts ragging on Mopar. I guess if I ever end up with a Ford product in my fleet, I'm really going to have to watch what I say!
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    The amazing thing is that meets for a lot of these clubs resemble a meeting of the senior division of the AARP, so they should be happy when a younger person shows interest in their favored marque! The nice thing about the Carlisle shows is that they attract a pretty fair number of young people.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,116
    These older dudes gotta appreciate the fact that guys like ourselves will keep an appreciation for those old cars going long after they've passed away. I've given some thought to as what is to become of my Brougham when I'm gone. There is some hope. I had some young dude interested in my 1988 Buick Park Avenue. Who knows? Maybe cars of the 1980s will be a hot commodity someday?Remember, back in the 1960s and well into the early 1980s, 1950s cars were derided and mocked. Today, they are cherished icons of a time that seems so long ago and far away.
  • itochuitochu Posts: 107
    Ah --the GM cars of 1958. Cathedrals of Chrome!! Those '58 Buicks and Oldsmobiles were awesome examples of American automobiles for the more well to do masses at their finest. Not like the Duesies and Packards and LaSalles of yesteryear that ONLY the very rich could afford. I have no idea what they were like to drive, ride in or own - my father had Chevies - a '58 Yeoman Wagon with a 6 cylinder engine! Good Lord - that thing weighed like 4300 lbs.+ and had NET 125hp! Could literally NOT climb some hills any faster than an 18 wheeler!! Then a 1959 Impala with a 283 whose hood would shake as you neared 95 MPH. When he got our '61 Pontiac Ventura it was like being in an other world! The differences among the divisions was SO great back then.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,846
    There is some hope. I had some young dude interested in my 1988 Buick Park Avenue. Who knows? Maybe cars of the 1980s will be a hot commodity someday?

    Well, already, I think a lot of people appreciate GM's RWD mid and full-sized cars from the 80's. The Buick Grand National and especially the 1987 GNX are pretty sought after. And to a lesser degree, there's the Monte SS and Olds Cutlass Hurst/442. Now I don't think any of the rest of them will ever become high-dollar collectibles, but I could see something like, say, a 1985 Caprice one day being about as desireable as, say, a 1965 4-door Impala with a 283 is today.

    I remember the first year I took my '79 5th Ave to Carlisle, someone left a note on it saying that if I was ever interested in selling it to give them a call. Now who knows? Maybe they were looking for a demo derby car, or sacrificial lambs for a monster truck rally! :surprise: But I have had young people come up and compliment me on it. We have this new guy in our office who's about 30, and drives a 1993 Camry, who just thought it was the coolest thing when he saw it in the parking lot at work one day. I also had some old guy pull up beside me once at a traffic light, look over at me, and sort of do a double take, as if he was shocked to see someone that young driving a car like that! Oh, and once I was next to this BMW 3-series on the highway that had a fart can on it, and the driver seemed kind of annoyed at me. I think it's because my 5th Ave, with no muffler on it, was drowning out his fart can! (seriously, who puts a fart can on a BMW?!)
  • loosenutloosenut Posts: 165
    my uncle was a motorhead -back in the days while i was just 10/12,and had a baby blue and white crown victoria -55 ford..i rember going to the bone yard with grandad,looking for a rearend for it,and they were trying to decide if a custom's rear would fit,i -even then,said the only diffrence was the donor didn't have the crown on the emblem or the stainless band on the roof,as if that might make a diffrence if the rearend would fit..his next one was a 68 impala ss with a 396 4 speed,..oh,to have that car today,,just as i turned 15,my stepdad rolled a beautiful 65 chevelle ss 396 powerglide auto,it broke my heart to see what might have been my first car with the windshield flat aganst the body,as the top was down when he missed the curve..OH WELL!! first was a -50 ford with a flathead 6/three on the couldn't keep a starter in that piece of....history,and i push started it untill i got rid of it..
    my 64 impala ss was nicer,as was my 65 rustang(i live in ohio)..
    ---when i ended up in southern california in the late -80/early -90's,i was amazed at the vintage-unrestored iorn that was still running around!..a-59 galaxy skyliner retractable hardtop,literally being driven by the little old lady from pasadena!..i picked up a-73 2 door fleetwood in great origional condition for $500..!!..if i'd only had the money,..i also had a-64 bug for 300,that car lasted me for three yrs,and still ran when i finally sold out and came home!!..i then watch the local car guy's gluing floorboards on those "bondo buggies",trying to save camaro's and chevelles..
    --now days,the astronomical amounts they get for a ss,or a super bee blows me away..
  • dougb10dougb10 Burlington, Ontario, CanadaPosts: 185
    The first car I ever owned was when I was in college in 1957.
    I bought a 1947 Oldsmobile 2 door fastback from the elderly lady owner for $350.

    It was a straight 6 with a hydramatic transmission. You might say it was rather sloooow! The best part of the car was the 12 tube radio which cranked out the tunes with pretty good quality...helping coordinate with the car's other best feature(a huge back seat that beckoned late night entertainment....if you get my drift.)

    The car was a real oil burner....fortunately, it had a working oil gauge...I would just stop the car and add more oil from the gallon can of Nu-Gold oil that I kept in the trunk.

    This slush box always started in the coldest Toronto Canada winter we had for the year and a half that I had it....traded it in to a dealer on a '53 Chevy Bel Air...who sold the Olds to some unfortunate who blew the engine in a week.

    Ah, the memories.

  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,240
    What a nightmare. If the thing hadn't looked so sporty, it would have gone down in history of having almost as many issues as a Vega. Couldn't keep a clutch in it (yes, I am very good with a stick. Have owned several), the electricals were spotty at best, brakes by Schwinn, rust by Bondo, and suspension by the lowest bidder.

    My grandmother used to say that car was like a person going to the dentist. Everytime it parked, the hood went up. Craziest thing it ever did to me was flying down the highway one night, I reached down and turned on the AC. The headlights went out. On a curve, at 70mph. Determined later that there was a short in the wiring to the compressor, and when I turned it on, it grounded all the power to the fuse box, lights included.
  • loosenutloosenut Posts: 165
    you had one with air??..ooooh!...mine,i got to sweat it out with 260 air..(2 windows at 60 mph.)..i spent a few summer nights re-wiring my green 65 coupe

    289 2 bbl 3 speed stick..ran good,but,like you say,under the hood constantly..
    ..mine kept busting the pivot point in the bell housing-where the fork pivoted to disengage the throw out would disengage the clutch just enough you could start it in gear without going down the street,but you couldn't be in neutral and put it in first with the motor running,then i'd just shift without the clutch...i finally tore it apart and fixed it..
    --i recently went to a police auction,figuring to pick up a car for a couple hundred..THESE PEOPLE ARE INSANE!!..there happened to be a 66 convertible..a six cylinder body-4 lug wheels,tiny shock tower braces,ect-that some goober dropped a 302 in it..the top latch was broke on one side,but the paint was nice..these idiots bid that car to 2800 bucks! at a police auction !!
    i wouldn't have given that for it -RETAIL!!...god must love idiots..he made so many of them!! :sick:
  • ljgbjgljgbjg Posts: 374
    Another amazing thing about the old Chrysler b block engines - 383, 413, 426 wedge, 440 - not only were they bulletproof, but the oil pump was external! At 115,000 miles, our 1966 Dodge Monaco 383 started making some ticking noises and the "idiot" oil light came on. I had to drive it home - had no choice. Shut it off.
    Read up in Chilton's, went to the junkyard and got a rebuilt oil pump, crawled under the car, removed a couple of bolts - out slipped the old one, in slipped the new one. Tightened her up - turned the key - clackety clackety - hummmmmmmmm. Smooth as silk and off went the oil light. As you looked at the car, the pump was at the front right side of the engine. VERY easy to replace. God Bless Chrysler on that one - would never have made sense to replace it if it had been in the oil pan - too much $$$$$.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,846
    I had an '82 Olds Cutlass Supreme with the 231 V-6, and it also had an external oil pump. Similar thing morning the idiot light came on for the oil pressure, but luckily I was at home when it happened, and I just drove another car. One of my friends replaced the gears in the pump for me in like a half hour. The oil light did go off, but that thing was still on its last legs. Alas, the 231, at least in that era, wasn't near as bulletproof as the old B/RB engines.

    I had a '67 Newport with the 383-2bbl for a couple months back in 1999. The drivetrain was rock solid and smooth, and the a/c still worked fine. But unfortunately, the body was rusting out and the interior looked like a training ground for attack dogs. It was probably salvageable, but then I bought a brand-new Intrepid, and had too many cars with no place to put them, and when the brakes went out that was the final straw.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,116
    My 1968 Buick Special Deluxe with a 350 V-8 also had an external oil pump at lower right front portion of the engine. The Buick engines will last forever as long as you don't starve them of oil.
  • kreuzerkreuzer Posts: 117
    me on a 1964 2-door Ford Fairlane? I believe it's the basic model and has a 260 v-8 with automatic. What should I look for in this car and any tell-tale signs to watch out for? Does this car have the single cylinder breaking system (suicide) or does it have the double reservior? The seller is saying that it has minimal rust. Where should I look to see if the rust problem will be major?
    Thanks for any advice and much appreciated!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,846
    I don't think the dual master cylinder was forced onto cars as standard equipment until 1967, so most likely the '64 would just have the single.

    As far as rust goes, I don't know anything Fairlane-specific, but I'd say check the usual suspects, like the lower rear quarter panels, bottoms of the fenders and doors, the spot where the rocker and quarter panel join together. Maybe lift the trunk mat and check the floor underneath. Also probably around the base of the windshield and the base of the rear window.

    I think the '62-65 Fairlane was unitized, meaning that it doesn't have a real frame. But it would still have a front and rear sub-frame to cradle the engine, tranny, front suspension, and rear axle. Might be a good idea to get up under it and check areas where the suspension connects with the sub-frames, and also where the sub-frame connects to the actual body of the car.

    It might not be too hard to convert the car to a dual master cylinder, if that bothers you. FWIW, I've had cars with dual master cylinders that would experience complete brake failure, so even that's not foolproof.
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