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

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Comments

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    The quality of all the big three brands was good through '54. In fact, in terms of materials, ruggedness, durability, comfort (ride and room) and convenience (automatic transmissions, A/C, power options), straight line acceleration, style and value, American cars had no equals in the world through the '50s and, with few exceptions, the '60s and part of the '70s. 'The European cars, by contrast, generally handled better, were more responsive and provided much better feedback, held the road better, had better brakes and manual transmissions, were more economical, and offered more variation in terms of drivetrains (rear engines, FWD, conventional front engine/RWD, front engine/rear mounted transmission, air cooled and liquid cooled engines). European cars generally had an edge in terms of workmanship, and fit and finish after 1954. They were also generally more fun to drive, except on the new interstates and long straightaways. Their engines were too small and their gearing was too low for our wide open spaces.

    In terms of the Japanese cars, there were so few of them imported in the '50s and '60s, and their quality was frequently so poor, that there's nothing to talk about until the '70s. Beginning in the '70s there's lots and lots to talk about, but we don't need to because we all know the reasons why the Japanese succeeded so well in North America.

    Regarding the Big Three, GM and Chrysler (Corp.) had the best quality through '54. Ford (Motor Co.) lagged by some measure. GM had style leadership, although Ford was a strong competitor on styling from '49-'54. Chrysler had very conservative styling through '54.

    Beginning In 1955 much changed. With a few exceptions, cars got bigger and bigger and heavier and heavier, and styling and color schemes became much bolder. Unfortunately, workmanship and build quality began to suffer big time, with GM deteriorating less than Ford, and Ford less than Chrysler. Chrysler's quality started to deteriorate rather dramatically after '54. All three offered styling innovation and excitement, new and larger engines that more than compensated for the size and weight gains, and more power options.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    One of the things that led to Chrysler's deterioration in quality was their purchase of Briggs. Briggs bodies were so durable and rust resistant that you could see a 1950 Plymouth sitting in the woods for decades and the body would largely still be intact. On the other hand, a 1957 Plymouth body would be lucky to make it through two winters without showing significant rust.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    One of the things that led to Chrysler's deterioration in quality was their purchase of Briggs. Briggs bodies were so durable and rust resistant that you could see a 1950 Plymouth sitting in the woods for decades and the body would largely still be intact. On the other hand, a 1957 Plymouth body would be lucky to make it through two winters without showing significant rust.

    That's been my experience, at least from the junkyard trips I've taken. There's a junkyard down south of Culpeper, VA, called Leon's, that's about 100 acres, been open since about 1963, and a lot of his cars have been in there since he opened! Last time I was down there was 1997. He did start crushing cars around 1994 when he ran on financial problems, but for awhile land was so cheap that if they ran out of space, they'd just buy up adjoining farmland!

    Anyway, as an example of how things changed for Mopar, there's a '51-52 DeSoto hardtop coupe next to a '58 Firedome hardtop coupe. The '51-52 still had a front tag that dated to 1962. I have no idea how long it had been in the junkyard, but judging from the trees growing up around it, easily decades. Plus, it was in a low area of the junkyard near a creek that tended to stay damp. Still, that car looked like it had plenty of salvageable sheetmetal, and if someone really wanted to restore it, it might even make a good shell. In contrast, the '58 parked next to it was collapsing upon itself as the rear quarter panels rusted and caved in. The front clip wasn't too bad as I recall, probably saved because the car still had its front tires on it, and the engine had been removed, so it was sitting high up front.

    All throughout that junkyard, there were 1949-54 Mopars that looked almost rust-free. Now, I'm sure they were rusted out underneath, where you couldn't easily see, from sitting around for decades, but on the surface they looked good. In contrast, the '55-56 models in that junkyard showed a decline. No worse than any Ford or GM product of the same vintage in that yard, but still not as tank-like as the '49-54 models. Now the '57-58 models were, by and large, like that '58 Firedome I mentioned above. Just about ready to return to Mother Earth.

    Oddly though, the '59 models seemed like they had held up better. I heard that Chrysler actually did improve the quality of the '58 models over the '57, and then the '59 models were improved even further. I don't know how much of an indication this is, but when I was in the National DeSoto club, I remember looking at the club roster, and as I recall there were as many '59 DeSotos in it as there were '57's. Very few '58's. As for total production, DeSoto built about 117K cars in 1957, 49K in 1958, and 46K in 1959. So either there's something about a '59 DeSoto that makes people lust after it more nowadays, or they really were built better enough that more of them survived than the much more popular-when-new 1957.

    Another thing I noticed that was a bit odd, was that there were a good number of unitized 1960-64 Mopars in that junkyard. For the most part, they looked like they had held up much better than the body-on-frame '57-59 models. So I'm wondering if that was an indication that Mopar really started getting their act together with the '60 models? I figured that being unitized, the rust would have gotten to them sooner, but perhaps the rustproofing measures they took really were better?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    "Another thing I noticed that was a bit odd, was that there were a good number of unitized 1960-64 Mopars in that junkyard. For the most part, they looked like they had held up much better than the body-on-frame '57-59 models."

    Indeed, rust resistance did improve with the introduction of initized Mopars in the '60 model year, compared with the '57-'59s, and maybe compared to the '55-'56s, which were better than the '57-'59s, but still not as good as the pre-'55s. Now, I don't know whether or how much unit construction contributed to the improvement, but Chrysler realized that its assembly quality and rust resistence had slipped significantly, and that it was damaging its earlier well earned reputation for building solid, if not-too-exciting cars (kind of like Toyota today, maybe?). So the company made an effort to reverse this trend for '60, and I believe it included the message in its advertising that rust resistence had been improved.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Until the late 1960s, Cadillacs were built in either the main Detroit plant, or the Fleetwood plant. Production lines were slower than in the Chevrolet plants, and the workers had longer tenure than workers at other plants, and were more likely to have worked exclusively at Cadillac. The production line for the 1967-68 Eldorado, for example, was noted as being the slowest in the industry at that time. This changed in the early 1970s, when GM began building Cadillacs in other plants.

    Carlisle and Hershey do feature many original Cadillacs...they were more likely to be bought by rich older people who took care of them and didn't drive them much. From what I've seen, through about 1970, there really is a difference in panel fit and paint application quality with Cadillacs as compared to less expensive American cars, particularly the Fleetwood models.

    Now, I don't think that Cadillacs had higher quality chrome or more durable paint, and I haven't been able to look at the "guts" of the cars. Everything just appears to be assembled with more care. I've never read anything that says a Cadillac of this vintage was more durable than a full-size Chevrolet or Oldsmobile.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It would be interesting woujldn't it, to do a side by side comparison of two original cars, one Chevy one Cadillac?

    I've been asked to appraise "original cars" and invariably 9 out of 10 aren't---wrong engines or obviously re-paints, new windshields, new upholstery, etc. Perfectly original cars are quite rare and often a bit shabby after 50 years.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    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, particulary 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.

    With GM, it seemed as though Chevrolet really dropped off in quality after 1964. The 1965 full-size models had some issues, as did the all-new Corvair, particularly in regard to assembly quality and body rigidity.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    yeah but 1949 saved Ford's butt nonetheless.

    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    yeah but 1949 saved Ford's butt nonetheless.

    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 remember thinking that Ford was in the past and Chevy was headed toward the future.

    In the 60s, the only Ford I remember being remotely popular with young kids was the '57 model. Everybody wanted a Chevy or a Pontiac. Oldsmobile was still an older person's car, Buicks were for doctors or real estate moguls. Chevy spoke to youth and to adventure and well, that small block V8 was a great engine.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Ironically, the 1957 Ford had serious quality control issues, although the cars looked sleek and youthful.

    Prior to the advent of the small-block V8, Ford had the youth market with the flathead V-8, but then with one stroke, Chevy stole the hearts and minds of young hot-rodders everywhere. Ford did have the station wagon market with the Country Sedan and the Country Squire, which spread to the rest of the line and gave its vehicles a more "family" car image. They were what your parents drove.

    Pontiacs always seemed a bit more upscale to me. When I was a kid, one of the first relatives to graduate from college and get a decent job drove a 1964 Grand Prix...which still seems appropriate, even though it was a few years old by the time I first saw it. It had a younthful air, but somehow was more sophisticated than a Chevrolet Impala SS.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    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: 4,600
    "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 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    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: 23,560
    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 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    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 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    ...as 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: 23,560
    ...as 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 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    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: 23,560
    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!!
    ..my first was a -50 ford with a flathead 6/three on the tree..you 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.

    Doug
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    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 bearing..it 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: 23,560
    I had an '82 Olds Cutlass Supreme with the 231 V-6, and it also had an external oil pump. Similar thing happened...one 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 Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    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: 131
    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: 23,560
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Pretty basic car,not too much to worry about. As for rust, THAT'S something to worry about if it's in the wrong places. The wrong places are:

    suspension anchoring points on frame or chassis

    Where a door frame meets the floor (that's REALLY bad)

    Bottoms of rear fenders as they wrap under the trunk (difficult to fix)

    Bottoms of door edges (difficult to fix)

    You might bring a magnet along to see if it sticks to the body everywhere or not. Where it does not stick, you have "bondo", which is hiding something.

    Mechanically, the timing chain tends to go slack making the engine run rather weakly on acceleration for a V8; you might also hear chain clatter near the fuel pump area.

    Oh, squeaky ball joints when you jump up and down on the front of the car.
  • kreuzerkreuzer Posts: 131
    I'll have to be sure to bring a magnet with me when I check 'er out. Rust is something I don't like, but if it's not too bad then I guess I could always have it undercoated to prevent anymore. The thing about these old cars is that you can do a lot of the work yourself and I would think just about any good mechanic can work on them. I would also be inclined to think that the cost for most parts would be cheaper compared to the modern cars.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,943
    Having had a rust-bucket '65 Mustang, don't underestimate the rust issues, just check everything, suspension/spring mounts areas especially. Bad floors could also point to rust under the cowel air intake.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    here's one nasty little blast from the past that I had almost forgotten about. I went out to see if my '79 New Yorker would start up today. It's usually fine when the weather is cooler, but used to have the habit of starting up just fine in the morning, getting me to work without incident, but then flat-out refusing to start in the evening.

    I took it to a mechanic who's not afraid to tear into older cars, and he ended up having the carb rebuilt. It's been much better, but there have been one or two times where it seemed real easy to flood.

    Well, I figured today, with temps well into the upper 90's, it would be a good time to see how it acted in hot weather. I immediately burned the hell out of my fingers with the igntion switch. Remember the "good old days" when those things were chrome and the key was just a small thing? Nowadays, you just stick your key in and it's big enough that you just use it to turn the car on. Not so back then. All I can say is OUCH!!

    But, on a brighter note, the car did start, even in 95 degree weather with the sun beating down on it. So maybe its troubles really are over, and I can start trusting it more. :P
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Yeah but can you really trust any vehicle built in 1979?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    Yeah but can you really trust any vehicle built in 1979?

    I think I would, if I had enough experience with a particular car to know what its weak points are. For instance, my other '79 NYer, the 2-tone beige 5th Ave, has always been reliable. The only thing it will do, which I've noticed is common with many older cars, is that if I'm running errands in it, it seems to get a "hot spot" on the starter. So if I turn it off and then try to re-start it soon after, it'll stumble just a bit, but then fire right up. I guess, if the battery was getting old, that would be hard on it and would be likely to leave me stranded.

    My "new" '79 though, the one with the recently rebuilt carb, has left me stranded enough that it might be awhile before I trust it unconditionally!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    Heck, I had a 1979 Buick Park Avenue with the 403 V-8. It was an extremely reliable car. I think I'd trust it more than many new cars.
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 2,044
    OK, I think this would be an interesting aspect to get some opinions on. Assuming your classic car didn't have any actual issues, how much would you trust it? Would you take it on a 1000 mile trip without being nervous? Would you be comfortable having it as your only car? You get the idea. Any thoughts?

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    I pretty much do have an old car that I rely on every day - a 1988 Buick Park Avenue with the 3.8 V-6. It is extremely reliable and fuel efficient to boot! I have driven it from Philadelphia to Canada and back without a hitch 2 years ago. With today's psychopathic pump prices, it is my daily driver by default while my new Cadillac DTS Performance is only driven occasionally.

    Heck, the thought of having it as my only car has crossed my mind with this tanking economy. I see things getting much worse before they get better. Even if I am doing well, it might be in bad taste for me to be driving around in a new Cadillac while others are suffering.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    I pretty much do have an old car that I rely on every day - a 1988 Buick Park Avenue with the 3.8 V-6. It is extremely reliable and fuel efficient to boot! I have driven it from Philadelphia to Canada and back without a hitch 2 years ago. With today's psychopathic pump prices, it is my daily driver by default while my new Cadillac DTS Performance is only driven occasionally.

    Heck, the thought of having it as my only car has crossed my mind with this tanking economy. I see things getting much worse before they get better. Even if I am doing well, it might be in bad taste for me to be driving around in a new Cadillac while others are suffering.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Yeah, good topic, bhill2.

    Let's not kid ourselves; there's more risk of a break down in driving a classic car, or just an old, miled up car, a long distance, compared with a late model one. And, of course, break downs can be annoying and aggravating, at the very least, and expensive if it means you miss an important function or appointment, or have to stay over in a motel. Speaking for my '87 BMW 325 with 119,000 miles, and my '88 Nissan 300 ZX with 176,000 miles, both of which are extra cars, I'd be willing to take some added risk if my newer car weren't available. I think the chances are good that I wouldn't have a problem going 1,000 miles in either car, but I know I'd be assuming some risk.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 48,263
    My fintail has small issues, but it relatively sound. I believe it could make a 1000 mile trip, but I would be concerned the whole time, and I wouldn't want it to be a 90mph trip. But if I was able to go 60-70 the whole way...I am optimistic the car would survive. There'd be stops to check under the hood and add some oil, but I think the car could make it.

    The old thing was my only car for several years, and I took it on a few trips then with little incident.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    I was a bit nervous when I first bought my '76 LeMans. It was out in the outskirts of Cincinnati, about 500 miles away. Honestly, I didn't give it any thought at first...until I signed the paperwork and it was officially mine, and the seller and I parted ways; and it suddenly hit me that here I was, 500 miles away from home, with a car that came out the same time as "Logan's Run", and whose prior history I really had no knowledge of.

    Fortunately, it made the trip home with no issues at all.

    I think if I had some old car I had been using as a daily driver for years, where I really knew the ins and outs and all its quirks, I might be willing to trust it to more heavy-duty driving. For instance, with my '79 5th Ave, I've had it for 6 1/2 years now, driven it the 100+ miles to Carlisle multiple times, and pretty much know its quirks.

    This other New Yorker I bought, though, sat around for several years after the original owner died. His son, who inherited the car, rarely drove it. In the year before I bought it, it only went about 10 miles...to the gas station for its annual inspection and back home! Oh, and then, back to the station the following year, which is where it was when Grbeck saw it, and told me about it.

    When I went up to buy it and pick it up, I brought jumper cables, antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, and an extra battery! I couldn't find any starting fluid, but did bring a can of carb cleaner. It said "highly flammable" on it, so I figured it would do the trick. :shades: Luckily I didn't need any of those things...well other than the carb cleaner, when it did get a little cranky up there.

    Once I get the belts and hoses changed, tranny serviced, coolant flushed, etc, and as long as I know its hot-start issues are behind me, I think I'd trust the car. Now I would't try something like running it from here to Texas in a day, like I did a couple times with my Intrepid. And if I did take a trip, I'd make sure to bring along extra coolant, oil, etc.

    Heck, I relied on my '68 Dart as my primary transportation from April 3, 1992 (I remember the date because it was the day after my 22nd birthday) until late April, 2007. It had 252,000 miles on it when I bought it, and probably around 335-336K by that time, which was when I got my '79 Newport on the road. I had taken that car out to Oklahoma and back on one trip, Ohio and back on another, been up to PA multiple times, and spent about a year delivering pizzas with it.

    It would probably still be running, if I hadn't let it sit around so long. Sometime in late 2001, it refused to start. It was probably something minor like the fuel pump. Only thing is, I didn't have the time or money to mess with it at the time. So I let it sit. And sit. It sat in my grandmother's yard for awhile, and then when I got the place across the street, I dragged it over there with my truck. And then moved it around in the yard a few times. At one point it would start up if you poured gas down the carb, and then die once that burned off. Then it wouldn't do that anymore. And then it lost its brake pressure. And rust, like cancer, never sleeps, and just got worse over the years.

    I'm convinced that, if I had fixed whatever was wrong with that Dart at the time, it would still be running today. Heck, the engine does still turn over. But after having the thing since 1992, and having had another in 1989, I'm sorta Darted out.

    I sat in it the other day though, just to reminisce. And I swear, for my body at least, that thing is more comfy and roomier in the driver's seat than most modern cars!

    Now that I think back on it, that Dart died a couple months after I bought the 5th Ave. Maybe it got jealous? :surprise:
  • faroutfarout Posts: 1,609
    I can honestly say cars are made much better today than the cars of the fifties or sixties and up until maybe 1996. My how I remember having shoe brakes on all 4 wheels. The front ends seemed like it always needed something. Paint often had runs right from the factory. Fit on the outside was uneven, and air leaks from the windows were bad. No seat belts until about 1961, no powre steering in the early fifties, Poured babbit barings in the early fifties. Engine were ready for an overhaul by 60,000 miles with a valve job somewhere along the line.
    Thge safety features were almost nonexistant except for safety glass. Heck turn signals did not come standard until 1953.
    The automobiles of today are worlds apart form even the 1990's, so much better!
    THE WORST CAR MADE TODAY IS BETTER THAN MOST ALL THE CARS OF THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES.

    farout
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    I have to agree with you. There's a lot of nostalgia for the "good old days" but we tend to remember the good stuff, not the bad.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,943
    "but we tend to remember the good stuff, not the bad. "

    Like having a piece of manilla folder cardboard and a small screwdriver in the glove box so you could set the points just in case? ;)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    No reason at all you can't drive an old car every day if you really keep after it, and by the late 1970s cars were pretty reliable with their electronic ignitions, radial tires and at least front disc brakes. The only real problem with driving a late 70s domestic car around is that they handle and brake badly compared to modern automobiles, have lousy lighting and instrumentation, and are sometimes nasty to work on--- so you have to make adjustments in your driving--if you've stepped out of a modern automobile I mean. But on a well-maintained vehicle, reliability should not be an issue, assuming of course you don't pick a "known turkey"--that is, a car that was hopeless the day it left the factory.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    I'd say even a late 60's car is tolerable, if you pick the right one. My '68 Dart wasn't a bad driver. The 318 V-8 was enough to get it from 0-60 in under 10 seconds, and it would hit 100 mph with little strain, and that's really more than most people need in a car. While it just had manual drum brakes all around, they were pretty good as long as they were adjusted correctly. They'd give you 1-2 panic stops before fading, but honestly, that's all you need. And after you've done 1-2 hard panic stops like that, hopefully you're not stupid enough to try for a third! Put it this way, that car put up with some heavy use for about a year, in pizza delivery, and the brakes were never a problem!

    As for the ignition system, well you're supposed to change the points, condenser, and plugs every 12,000 miles. I know from experience that they can go further, but that's not always a good idea, I guess. I think I let the points/condenser go about 40K miles once, and the spark plugs around 50K. The plugs will last longer nowadays simply because of cleaner gasoline, but I guess there's nothing you can really do to get longer life out of points.

    Also, putting radial tires on a car like this helps immensely. I ran 205/70/R14's up front. Sometimes I had those on the back too, but sometimes I ran bigger 225/70/R14's.

    As for lights, well you can upgrade to halogen headlights, which will help a lot. I guess you can't really do much about dashboard lights and taillight/side markers, though.

    Some 70's cars actually had better lighting and instrumentation than modern cars! My '79 New Yorkers are almost TOO much. Open the door and you're blinded with 8 interior lights! They also have real gauges for oil pressure, coolant temp, and amps. PLUS an idiot light, for redundancy. They're lit up pretty well at night, although most new cars are going to be better.

    **edit: One thing I forgot to mention, about the '68 Dart. When I bought that thing, I was 22, and it was 1992. Prior to that, I had only had a 1980 Malibu and a 1969 Dart slant six. Oh, and my '57 DeSoto. I had also logged a lot of driving time on my grandparents' '85 LeSabre, '85 Silverado, and to a lesser degree an '86 Fox-based LTD, and an '89 Taurus. So compared to those (other than the Taurus maybe), the '68 Dart wasn't too drastic of a change. I guess though, if you were used to only 2008-era cars, and suddenly tried to start driving a '68 Dart, the change would be pretty drastic.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    I think the kingpins are shot.
    I've gotta take my car in for a tune-up.
    That thing's already got 50,000 miles on it! It's almost shot!
    I've gotta change my sparkplugs.
    I've gotta go in for a valve job.
    My car needs new rings.
    You need shoes on you front brakes.
    You gotta get your brake drums turned.
    I was late because my car vapor locked!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    I agree. My 1968 Buick Special Deluxe rarely gave me any trouble and I'd be comfortable with driving it today.
This discussion has been closed.