OLD CARS -The truth .Owners tales.How they really were.
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So, a couple weeks ago, I find this gorgeous 62 Chev Impala SS, IDENTICAL to that one we had, in the same "Twilight Turquoise", in INCREDIBLE original condition. 40,000 documented miles-the car has been driven less than 1,000 miles since 1989, when it was stored, pretty much. Anyway, driving this car now, as a virtually new, tight, original 62, gives you a chance to really recall that era. This car has manual steering, where my Dad's car had power. You know what, the manual is so light, I can hardly tell-even in parking. The difference is in the ratio-which is slower. The brakes are also manual-like my Dad's was-and boy do you have to get use to them after being used to the modern power units of today! [I replaced all the original brake hoses before I drove the car much-I learned my lesson that way years ago with another car-but that's another story] Anyway, driving this car around, a virtually new, pampered original, a few observations:
1. The Powerglide and 327 are amazingly reponsive! I never owned or drove much any Powerglide cars-but overall, it works fine.
2.The steering-manual at 28 to one, is amazingly light and accurate-just slow.
3.The brakes are the hardest thing to get used to-I remember brake jobs around 30,000 miles or so. But these work fine-you just have to press harder!
4. The interior is-well-they just don't make 'em like that anymore. The so-called "bucket" seats are comfortable-but if you're used to the mdern seats we have now-where's the adjustable lumbar, tilt, etc? And no tilt wheel!
5.The interior styling and appointments are the thing-topline Chevies like this had an edge in "luxury" I think even over the more expensive GM cars of the day. You know those flashy interiors of the time when American cars were doing the chrome and horsepower wars.
6. The car has no smog controls at all-and no safety equipment either-not even seatbelts! The padded dash is mostly for looks-maybe a little cushion if you hit the front or something. The engine actually has one of the open road draft tubes-not even any PCV crankcase pipe from the oil filler cap to the carburetor. The automatic choke works like a watch, and the thing starts and runs like a watch-and it's incredibly smooth and quiet for a 38 year old car. And it handles pretty decent for its size-with the new radial tires.
7. Even with the 10.5 to one compression, the thing runs fine on 92 octane unleaded. No pinging-I was surprised.
Anyway, I wasn't even looking for this car, but I do keep my eye on all the ads all the time just to see what's out there. So when I saw this car, I just had to have it. I'm sure you know that one!These old SS Impalas seem to be holding their values from all the guides I've seen-so I won't lose a dime on the car for what I paid. I don't care about making money on it-it's just a fun car to own and drive. I Look at it this way-for the same money, I could have bought a new Daewoo or Hyundai-or maybe a strippo Toyota Echo or Corrolla-and then what would I have?? Well-never mind.
I'm just going to drive it [along with my other 4 rigs] and enjoy it-like any car. No trailer queens in my garage. Who knows how long I'll keep it-but for a deja vu experience, it sure is fun!
62-64 Impala 2 door hardtops, probably since my first car
was a 63 Impala. I did find with that car to keep that
manual steering feeling light lube it frequently, I was always
surprised how much easier it was to turn the steering wheel
after I greased it.
Enjoy your "new" Impala.
My father, who is a Chevy guy, had a '64 Galaxie with a 390 (I think) as his first car. He hated it at the time, simply because it was a Ford, but nowadays says it was a good car, and he should have kept it.
When I was a kid, we also had a '64 Galaxie 4-door as a second car. I think my grandfather bought it for like $75.00 for us. Come to think of it, I hated that car when we had it, too, because it was a Ford! Like father like son, I guess ;-) Still, we had it for years, and it ultimately got given away to some friend's mother, who totaled it.
I would think a 289 (or 292, or whatever they used for the base V-8) would be a bit overmatched in a car that size. I think the '64 we had when I was a kid had a 352 in it.
Chevy was at an advantage back then, because its 283 was already small enough to stuff under the hood of a Chevy II.
Didn't Ford have a smaller variant of the 260, as well. For some reason, the displacements of 221 and 244 come to mind. I used to enjoy looking over the old Consumer Reports and other magazines in college, and I remember at least 1 compact V-8 listed that was smaller in displacement than the Mopar 225 \6.
According to my books the 292/170 was base V8 in the '62 Galaxie, then the small block 260/164 in '63 and 289/195 in '64. The 292 offered decent performance in the '50s but was detuned--smaller valves, milder cam--through '62, and had a problem with top end oiling. But if it was me I'd buy the cleanest one I could find regardless of engine.
These are heavy cars, and it would take at least a 390 to haul one around with any kind of authority. My father had a '65, a lighter car, with the 352 and it was a slug.
In the late '60s a friend and I got a "test ride" in a '63 Galaxie XL with 406/385-hp and 4 speed. Black on black, a gorgeous car that made really nice noises--that engine became the world-beating 427 later in '63. The salesman drove it maybe five blocks to warm it up, then leaned on it hard and--boom!--lost second gear. Probably not uncommon, since they still used the old Borg Warner T-10 then, not the top loader. Just another $500 car in those days.
As mentioned before, the 260/289 was a narrow-V design, and as such it was a very popular choice for transplants into Land Cruisers, AH3000s, etc. It's a great little motor, makes good power and is very reliable. It also has a sweet little engine note.
At that time, I was taking a class in Auto Mechanics at OSU, and I ended up donating that car to the lab, where we went at it with cutting torches, and used the front end, steering, etc, for demos in the lab-and of course just to be able to tear apart a car like that had value in itself. The all-synchro 3-speed was OK, and I got some money for that. I remember looking at that little 260 in that huge engine bay and thinking "no wonder that engine is shot!" Heck, if I had to lug around a 300 pound woman on my shoulders, I'd be shot too!
It's been a while, but I think you can also check for slack by turning the crank with a socket attached to a breaker bar and watching how long it takes for the rotor to move--something like that.
Got my first Cougar cheap because the chain was shot. Of course, I bought it without hearing the engine run, so it should have been cheap. Replaced the gears and chain--easy and cheap--and it ran great with 160k (260k?) on the clock and not much obvious maintenance. Made a believer out of me.
The engine hasn't given me any problems at all. I think a fuel pump is the only replacement I've made in all ten years. I guess I should check the timing chain!
Don't wait until it breaks or you could bend some valves. Additionally, the plastic pieces will go into your oil pan.
Those Meteors uses the STRANGEST front suspension!
Tiny little springs in front that were unique to that model.
My grandparents and aunt did buy Impalas and her 65 4 door hardtop became my first car upon high school graduation in 1973. How I loved that car - maroon with beige interior and the trunk we called 'the cave.' A 283 and power glide were economical and responsive enough for my driving habits.
The Impala convertibles of the 60s were my favorites - particularly 63, 66 and 67 - just certain styling cues that I found most appealing and someday it would be nice to own one of those beauties.
We have owned a 66 Mustang 'Sprint' convertible since 1986 that fills the bill for our fun car, but as a family we've outgrown it so it probably will be sold off this year. Lots of great times and memories with that car!
Best to all
The two Darts were daily drivers, whereas the DeSoto and Catalina are "toys", I guess, cars I've always wanted to own. The '67 Newport had been given to me, and I bought the Bonneville cheap from my cousin. Both were in pretty sad shape, and I got rid of 'em both.
I put about 27,000 miles on the '69 Dart, from 1990-92, until a fateful day when I got run off the road and hit a traffic light pole sideways. The next day, I saw a '68 Dart for sale, and ended up buying it within about 2 weeks. I drove that one for 85,000 miles...most of it on a broken power steering pump, which is probably bad enough with a slant six, but this sucker has a 318! Still, I got used to those cars, the way they felt, the way they handled, even got used to no power steering. Both Darts had 70-series tires on them, so they cornered relatively well, a far cry from the bias ply tires that they probably rolled off the showroom floor with. The '68 has 10" drums that are sometimes hard-pressed to haul down that 318, but I got used to that, too. The problem was, though, I got so used to the way a Dart felt, that when I'd try anything else out, I didn't like it!! I got a few newer cars over the years to try to move up to something more modern...an '82 Cutlass Supreme that shredded its tranny and later its 231, a '79 Newport that came from the junkyard, and ultimately returned, and my Mom's '86 Monte Carlo, that performed beautifully for the 3 months and 13K miles I got to enjoy it...a teenager in the parking lot took that away from me one night when she felt that stop signs didn't apply to her.
The Dart actually did kind of get replaced as my daily driver in December 1997. I was running on 3 bald tires, spun out in the rain, and hopped a high curb on the median. Messed up a ball joint, bent one of the rear axles on the fairly rare 8.75 rear-end I had put in, and knocked some trim loose. After that it mainly sat, while I got a new axle shaft, finally bought a new used power steering pump and gearbox, and now all she needs is for me to take the new ball joints out of the trunk and put them on.
After the Dart's being being relieved of daily driver status, I put another 8-10K on the Newport, 13K on the Monte, then got rid of both after the accident...by that time the Newport had about 248K on it, and I just wanted something newer with more power features, an A/C that would work, and a water pump that wouldn't leak. So I bought an '89 Gran Fury, put about 40K on that, and the 41K on my Intrepid. These newer cars have spoiled me, though, so I don't know if I could ever go back to that Dart as a daily driver. When I get replace the ball joints I may drive it occasionally, on nice days like I do my DeSoto and Catalina 'vert, but I don't think I could ever go back to depending on it for daily transportation. I mean, I would if I had to...if suddenly I couldn't afford the Intrepid's monthly payment or something.
I guess I've finally come to my senses and joined the world of monthly car payments, but I do still get excited whenever I see a nice (or not so nice) old 50's, 60's, and even some 70's and 80's cars still driving around.
It also bragged about a "battery saving" alternator. Were other cars still using generators by 1966? I know Chrysler was one of the first to switch over to alternators in 1960.
Another crock it boasts about is "self adjusting brakes". Yeah, if you get out yourself and and and adjust them (at least if a 66 Charger's brakes or anything like a '68 or '69 Dart's!)
Now cars may be going to 48 volt systems in the next few years. Watch for it.
I remember just last year driving a friend's 30s Ford with mechanical brakes. A van started pulling out from a driveway. I hit the brakes and just rolled right on past him...I felt I was trying to stop a cargo ship.
Things like standing on those manual brakes to make the car stop, at the same time not putting so much pressure as to lock 'em up! Wider turning radiuses, etc.
Still, I'd imagine a late 60's car is a lot closer to a modern car in handling characteristics than a 30's car!
They showed alot of old footage from the 20's and 30's of just how bad the roads were, deeply rutted, washed out, muddy, nonexistent, etc. Kind of interesting that, while cars have improved so much over the years, I don't think a modern car would have lasted more than 5 minutes back then!
C13, I know what you mean about non-collapsable steering columns. Had a friend killed in a wreck, the steering column penetrated his chest like a big spear.
I was in a wreck in 1992, a new Buick Roadmaster rearended my '86 Accord at a stoplight. His airbag didn't deploy! I hit the steering wheel and bounced off, chest injury and whiplash. Belts do not hold you if rearended. My car was totaled, the fuel tank was pushed down and under the car, the spare was pushed all the way into the passenger compartment against the front seatbacks. No fire, the tank was almost empty. I got out, staggered around smiling, thinking, 'I'm going to get a new car out of this.'
Great truck movie is : "They Drive By Night"....with George Raft and Humphrey Bogart. Highly recommended!
As for non-collapsible steering columns, I remember reading in some old magazines, like Consumer Reports, that they actually looked for the placement of the steering box under the hood, and took that into their safety considerations. Some cars had the box ahead of the front axle, so the slightest impact could sent the steering column back into the driver. My '57 DeSoto has the steering box just aft of the front suspension, so I guess it would be somewhat safer. I don't want to test it, though!
I think my '57 DeSoto has 12" drums all around, but I'm not sure. At least they're power-assisted. Chrysler products that year had something called "Total Contact" braking, but I'm not sure what that means.
First car to use 4-wheel brakes was the 1923 Packard, and first car to use hydraulics was the 1920 Duesenberg.
As in modern times, usually the expensive cars pioneer the newest technology....possible exception to this hard rule was the Ford Model T, which was very advanced (in some ways) and very cheap.
Cons: clunky boats that needed tuning every six months and were used up at 60k or 80k if the rust didn't get them first.
Pros: would run on an odd number of cylinders for years and you could fix 'em yourself when you could afford to. Another pro: you could sit on them, lean on them and in many cases walk on them without denting them. And they didn't get blown all over the highway by a stiff breeze.
They had character, and sometimes big V-8 power, but the ride and handling were only somewhat better than a buckboard.
Do I need to mention the Chevy 2-speed Powerglide transmission?