OLD CARS -The truth .Owners tales.How they really were.
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When I was in high school a couple of my Dad's toys were a 1925 Model T and a 1927 Pontiac. The difference between the two was really stark. It was easy to see why Henry had to replace the Model T. I one time drove the Model T across town to put it away and bring the Pontiac home, it was like day and night, the Pontiac seemed like a modern car, even though at the time it was almost 50 years old, with a three speed transmission, clutch, gas pedal and quiet.
My wife knew the owner so I mentioned this to him. I don't think he was pleased.
I remember paying (in 1968) a whopping 200.00 to have mine overhauled. I remember the guy telling me he had put in heavy duty clutch plates and more of them. After that, I had a firmer shift and no more trouble.
I loved that car...my 62 Impala SS 300 HP 327.
I'd guess the biggest problem with a 2-speed would be that the engine would be revving a lot faster out on the highway, resulting in worse fuel economy.
"I build them to go fast, not to stop fast."
Powerglides - Top gear is 1:1 so there's no difference at cruise. The difference is in the lack of a true passing gear. I think first was around 1.72:1 (lower for the sixes and higher for the big blocks) compared to the usual 1.5:1 second in a three speed, so you ran out of passing gear more quickly. Plus 1.72 was a lot taller than the usual first gear 2.5:1 so you lost a little off the line.
Racers couldn't wait to replace the Powerglide with a Turbo 350 but they really weren't that bad. The 'glide in my parents' '66 Impala starting slipping around 100k but the 283 had been smoking for a while so it was a group effort--and I suspect neither the engine or transmission had much maintenance.
I did a little research and found out that the small block Powerglide had a 1.82 first--also the Corvair PG. There was a heavy-duty PG with a 1.76 first used behind the 348/305, 409/340 and 396. The HD unit was supposed to shift at 5400 rpm instead of the usual 4700.
You should have been more diplomatic you know
Hey at least I didn't ask him if it could burn rubber.
shove that honda and toyota fans.
In the winter time he almost always left the car in neutral so that he could let it run for half-hour to warm up the transmission. Until the engine got pretty warm, you couldn't move that shift lever. Once, however, my brother-in-law borrowed his car. When he brought it back he left it in gear. When my Dad went to start it the next morning he was very upset to realize that he had to sit in the car with his foot depressing the clutch until it warmed.
He traded the '47 in for a '50 Nash.
some of the auto lore of yesteryears that has accompanyed it, is learning how the term Suicide Doors came to describe the front opening doors common to the early years. The term describes the door popping open, the frantic grab to save it from the wind force and then the weight of the door and wind pulling the occupant right out of the car.
Anyway, I'm living my dream with this little car doing small repairs that have cropped up from years of sitting and supervising the more significant work. I hope to be a good caretaker of this piece of automotive history and share it with a lot of fellow car lovers in the years to come.
I had an interesting little experience with it recently. One of my headlights was out. Truth be told, it's been out for a long time, but I usually only drove the car during the day, and on the rare occasion that I had to drive at night, the one remaining headlight provided plenty of illumination. So basically I procrastinated.
Coming back from the Mopar Nats in Carlisle, a cop pulled me over about halfway home for the light. He was cool about it, let me go with a warning, and just told me to get it fixed.
Well, it turns out those old round quad headlights ain't so easy to find anymore. And when you figure most cars probably haven't used them in over 30 years, it's no wonder! I finally did find one, at the third store I went to, and when I took the old one out, two of the three prongs for it broke loose and stayed in the socket. Geeze, I know they cut corners in the 70's and made things cheap, but did they have to carry that philosophy over into things like light bulbs!
It's amazing how fast the time goes by. I still keep thinking of a 30 year old car as something like my '57 DeSoto. When I first got fixated on Forward Look Mopars, they were less than 30 years old at the time, and mine was only 34 model years old when I bought it, in September 1990.
But suddenly that's not a 30 year old car anymore, but a FIFTY year old car! And all of a sudden a 30 year old car is something I remember my Mom buying brand new, and a 20 year old car is something that was brand-new when I learned how to drive. Dang it sucks getting old!
I started feeling old when cars I remember being new were seen in junkyards from simply being worn out. And I'm not even 30. I remember when a 30 year old car was a 50s car, too.
Speaking of feeling old, my 1988 Buick Park Avenue is 18 years-old. I graduated from college a year earlier when that car was new! I remember when an 18 year-old car was a 1955 Chevrolet!
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It was kind of a primer grayish black. About the only other thing I can remember is that one day Dad ran out of gas about a quarter-mile from the gas station, taking me to nursery school.
My Granddad (Mom's side) put another used engine in one of Dad's cars, but I can't remember if it was the GTO or a '62 Corvette that Dad had around the same time, too. I do remember Granddad saying years later that it was a Chevy 400 he put in, and the car was a piece of junk. That would describe both of them, though.
I remember having to have to adjust points on distributors and adjusting push-rods and lifters. Valve adjustments were part of routine maintenance.
Carburetor problems have already been mentioned, so I won't mention those, except that cars were very hard to start in the winter and took forever to warm up.
I remember cars not having seat belts in the back seat sometimes. And, I know of certain cars that didn't have any seat belts at all.
Cars seemed to rarely last beyond 100,000 miles, if they even lasted that long.
OK, sorry if I repeated anything.
Fun to drive, but 4 piston front disc brakes did not apply pressure evenly - so one side of the pad would wear faster than the other. Had to look carefully at your pads or you would think you had a lot of pad left and on the other side you were down to the rivets and scoring your rotor!
Bad engine mounts - kept getting a leak in the bottom of the upper radiator hose and could not figure out why. Tested the engine mounts - engine practically lept out of the engine compartment!!! The alternator fan was cutting into the hose when the engine was under load!
Spark plugs - never lasted more than 5000 miles no matter what kind I bought.
Cooling - the car was IMPOSSIBLE to keep cool on a hot summer day. Tried everything - had a 24 qt cross flow radiator and STILL could not keep that thing cool. Used STP Keep Cool to no avail. And when it got hot??? VAPOR LOCK! Don't try to race anyone or you would literally fall flat on your face - accelerate rapidly only to have the lock set in and the engine die completely!
0-60?? 6.3 seconds, 14.3 quarter mile - the same as a 2008 Toyota Camry sedan today!!! 12 MPG in town, 19MPG on the highway
Car had a penchant for blowing hoses - particularly the little 90 degree bypass hose between the water pump and the block. Once blew it in the lot of the largest Chevrolet dealer in Albany, NY in 1970. They did not have the part!!! Had to improvise with heater hose. Carried spare with me in trunk just in case.
AT blew a pump at about 15, 000 miles, and then again at about 35,000 miles and would not shift out of second gear. All covered under 5/50K warranty.
Power steering hose ruptured when parking the car leaking fluid onto the exhaust manifold and causing a fire requiring replacement of the wiring harness.
'65 Corvair - not too much trouble. Regular maintenance to replace the clutch cable at 10,000 miles, and carry a tool kit and spare fan belt. Replace the pushrod tube seals periodically, although their leaking did not affect the operation of the car.
TH400 was the weak link in the drive train - the 12 bolt posi rear end bulletproof.
The car was not atypical for its generation - and I cannot tell you how many 396/427 big blocks I saw when in the Chevy Service Department with cylinder heads removed and big holes in pistons from dropped valves.
Guess that was my point - fun to drive, unbelievable driving at 35 and flooring it, the AT downshifting to 1st from 3rd, and the front end practically lifting off the ground. You could really startle and impress your friends. But you paid the price for the fun with frequent repair, and many annoyances and inconveniences. Chevy had a lot of trouble with the 396/427 engine trying to keep it cool - a little mentioned fact in any road tests. And the vapor lock? The fuel line ran up the side of the block! :confuse: You would have thought they would route it away from the heat! Most serious street racers or people on the track wrapped the line with insulation OR rerouted it.
Chevy and GM got pretty decent mileage out of those cars equipped with the Rochester Quadra Jet carb - tiny primaries and HUGE scondaries. On the highway you were basically running a small 2 bbl carb but when you needed the power and got on it the secondaries would open up - and it sounded like the world was being sucked in! I was getting 19 on the highway with a 3.55 rear end and 7.75 x 14 Redline Wide tires.
I didn't mention the steering which many today would find unacceptable, being used to rack and pinion - the old worm and roller system and incredibly unresponsive. You wuld think you were trying to steer a ship by comparison to today's cars.
Most of those cars were "finished" when they hit 100K, without a MAJOR overhaul, unlike today's cars. Ah....the good ole' days! Yeah, right! :P
Oh yeah - the term land yacht meant more than their size! It also referred to their maneuverablility! They responded to input like a boat!
Were Chevys more durable than Fords and Plymouths, or did each have their own strengths and weaknesses?
1. Style -- GM was King from 1960 to about 67, then Mopar. Ford had Mustang but not much else.
2. Build Quality -- GM all the way. No contest. Of course, this was relative. All 60s American cars were sort of slammed together on an assembly line, some makes better than others but none had anything to brag about. What changed as you bought a more $$$ car was not the build quality, but the quality of the materials used. A Cadillac was a richer, chromier Chevrolet but had no better paint, door fit, etc.
3. Engineering -- GM early in the 60s, Mopar thereafter
4. Reliability -- GM overall but Mopar had, if primitive, still very rugged drivelines.
5. Performance -- GM early on, the Mopar became king of the streets at least--so they had the performance "image" if not the stats.
Ford was also ran in everything except the Mustang and without Shelby it wouldn't shine so brightly today.
GM also started using more plastic in their cars sooner than Mopar did. Stuff like switchgear, buttons, knobs, etc. Even with dashboards, GM seemed to have crash padding that was integrated with the design of the dash, where Mopar would just put a strip across the top of the dash and, if you were lucky, also across the bottom.
From a safety standpoint, a plastic pull-out knob for the headlights is probably better than a metal one, but it sure feels flimsy in comparison!
Usually, Mopars also seemed bigger inside, car for car, than their GM counterparts, so I guess you literally got more car for your money. However, one exceptions I noted was a '67 Newport I had. It was a 2-door hardtop. It didn't seem any bigger inside than my '67 Catalina, which is a convertible! It was a lot more noticeable with smaller cars, though. Especially Mopar's midsized cars. But that could be because what Mopar's midsizers were originally born as ill-fated downsized big cars, whereas GM's intermediates started off as compacts and then "grew up". And I remember CR once saying that a '68 Dart they tested actually had more legroom, both front and rear, than a '68 Impala they tested! But then a Dart sedan was really boxy, whereas the Impala was pretty swoopy, so styling probably had a big influence there.
I would have to say this about quality - I was a GM man. I would say overall they were the best made cars - Fischer body, solid cars with doors that "thunked". Yeah you could get a Monday or a Friday car - not good, and a pre-strike car - even worse! But all in all they were the best of the big three - IMHO. But you will get Ford fans and MOPAR fans arguing their case. GM engines were pretty bullet proof provided you did not abuse them, and they could be their own enemy. The TH400 Camaro 396/350 in drive would not shift into 2nd until about 6500 RPM - the engine red line was 5500!!! So when I saw the holes in the pistons? Valve float was the cause of the dropped valves. The Chrysler torqueflie was probably the best AT, the Chevy 12 bolt Posi or the Ford 9" the best rear ends. But none lasted like today's cars - the Chevy would need a fuel pump before 50K.
I preferred coil springs to overall handling and ride comfort but for the drag strip the leafs were the way to go with traction bars. The argument will be eternal as to which was better. Your preference really.
I have a TH400 in my '67 Catalina. It doesn't have a tach, so I have no idea how high the rpms get, but if I really floor it, it'll hold first on up to about 55 mph, and then actually chirp the rear tire when going into second. I used to think that was some cool stuff, until I realized that if I floor it, my '79 NYer with its choked down 360-2bbl will also hold first to about 55 mph. With a few notable differences. First, it won't chirp the tires. Second, it takes a lot longer to get to 55!
And bulletproof? Once when I was acclerating in a '65 Corvair Corsa with the 4 carbs the linkage stuck wide open at full throttle when I went to shift into 2nd - the tach pegged at 7K (redline 5500) before I could shut it off. Coasted to the side of the road - fiddled with the linkage and freed it up - looked under the car - no oil dripping or parts hanging out! Turned the key with some apprehension - started up and purred like a kitten! Then there was the story of the Z28 with the 302 engine - driver came into the pits with the engine limping a bit - it had a tell tale tach but someone forgot to tell him it had a 2-1 reduction ratio - he thought he had revved it to 6500 RPM . Wrong - 13000 RPM!! :surprise: The only damage? A bent connecting rod!
There have been quite a few all-original GM cars at various Hershey and Carlisle events, and the Cadillacs, particularly the Fleetwood models, seem to have better panel and trim fit, and better applied paint (probably not longer lasting paint, but it looks better, without major runs or other flaws).
At least through the late 1960s...things really started to decline with Cadillac's 1971 models.
Our '61 Pontiac had a 3 speed hydramatic, but the Bonnevilles had 4 speed. I remember that '61 shifting from 1 st to 2nd - you thought the tranny was dropping out of the car - talk about a rough shift! Ford had the Cruise -O-Matic and Chrysler the Torqueflite - 3 speeds each. The distinction among GM divisions lead to the divisional NASCAR battles between the 409/427 Chevies and the 421 Super Duty Pontiacs. I still remember Pontian dropping the 421 SD into a '63 Tempest with IRS and racing that thing! I think Mickey Thompson was the driver or Marvin "Pancho" Panch. What a hoot! Now those cars REALLY put the STOCK in National Asssociation for STOCK Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). You raced what you sold in the showroom, with some mods. But you wanted a hemi - you could buy one. A 427 Galaxie 4 speed? Yup. A 427 "porcupine head" Biscayne Chevy with solid lifters and 4 speed? Yup. Now in that sense, those WERE the good old days!
Mopars had awful fit and finish. The overspray and sloppy undercoating is legendary--and actually DUPLICATED by restoration fanatics!!!
But the Chrysler products were generally tough cars. You could beat the hell out of them, and I did, I did. :P