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About Your Parents' Cars

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
edited March 2014 in General
My parents' first car was a well used '36 Ford, which was traded for a less used '38 Dodge. These were followed by a succession of unremarkable wheels, including an approximately even split between used and new; three Pontiacs, three Plymouths (including a Valiant), two or three Fiats, a Dodge Dart, two Oldsmobiles. Their best, but not their last car, was a new '57 Chrysler New Yorker 4-door sedan.


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    was a gray 1957 Plymouth that she bought for something like $75 in 1965, when she was 16. Wow, and they say depreciation is bad on domestic cars nowadays! :surprise: Anyway, she doesn't really remember much about it, except that "it was big and gray" (her words) and that one of the door windows shattered when someone slammed it too hard. Beyond that though, she doesn't remember if it was a 6 or V-8, 2-door/4-door/hardtop, or the series. She didn't really like it, and didn't keep it long.

    Her second car, purchased soon thereafter, was a 2-tone pink and black 1959 Rambler station wagon. I think it cost about $200, and she bought it from a used car dealer. One of the wheels fell off while she was driving it, but the dealer fixed it free of charge. Probably worried about getting sued! Anyway, she didn't keep it long, either.

    In 1966, she bought a brand-new Pontiac Catalina convertible. She had a job waiting tables and saved up half of the purchase price, and one of her aunts loaned her the other half. It was kind of a goldish color, IIRC from the old pictures I've seen. Anyway, a few years later, she met my Dad, and he drove the hell out of it and tore up the brakes. And then my Mom had me, and didn't like the idea of driving a baby around in a convertible. In 1972, she swapped cars with my grandparents, who had a 1968 Impala 4-door hardtop, a turquoise color with a black vinyl roof. This is the first car I can remember.

    In 1975, Mom bought a new LeMans coupe, in kind of a persimmon/bronzish color. That gave way to a 1980 Malibu coupe, in light blue, which she gave to me when I reached driving age. She then bought a leftover new '86 Monte Carlo, two-tone gray-over-silver. Years later, when she didn't want it anymore, she gave me that one, too.

    My Dad had more exciting cars, but he had a habit of buying junkers. His first car was a 1964 Ford Galaxie hardtop. I dunno if it was a 500, XL, or whatever, but it had a 390 under the hood. He hated it, mainly because it was a Ford and he was a Chevyhead. He ended up selling it and getting a '63 Impala SS with a 409. I forget how much hp it had, but I he said it was the more powerful 409. 425 hp, maybe? It had a 4-speed, and was black. Then he got drafted and so he sold it.

    When he got out of the Army, he bought a '65 Chevy Impala SS hardtop. I think it had the 425 hp version of the 396. He had this car when he met my Mom. I think the car ended up throwing a rod on a country road, and he just abandoned it. Weird to think tha someone would just abandon a 5 or 6 year old car like that, but I guess back then it was more common. I think it was pretty ratted out when he bought it though, and when it was broken-down, that's probably when he started ratting out Mom's convertible.

    He bought a '62 Corvette in the early 70's, but it was a piece of junk. I barely remember it. I think he paid $400 for it, but somehow, he got $400 for it when he sold it, which was amazing because he wrecked it and tore it up pretty good. Next on his list of clunkers was a '64 GTO 2-door post, in primer black. I still remember Mom driving him out to pick it up when he bought it. We followed him back home, and I rode in Mom's car, and I just remember a shower of sparks coming from under the car as something dragged along.

    The Corvette and the GTO were both stick shifts, which my Mom couldn't drive. Well, Dad had a habit of going out with his buddies on weekends, and would take her car, leaving her at home with a baby and no car for her to drive (she can't drive a stick, and the Vette and GTO were broken down half the time, anyway). So my Granddad got us a '64 Galaxie to use as a spare car.

    My Great-Granddad passed away in 1977, and Dad got his old Torino. It was a '70-71, 4-door sedan, light silvery green. When my parents got divorced, Dad stayed up here for about a year, and then moved to Florida. I forget what he said ultimately happened to that car. I think he seized the engine up somehow.

    In the early 80's, he had a 1966 Pontiac Executive 4-door hardtop, in a deep metallic blue. I think it had a vinyl roof, too. I never saw it, but I remember my grandparents saying the thing was a boat. He lost his license around 1984 or so, and gave that car up. He moved back up here a few years later and depended on public transporation for nearly 20 years.

    Then, finally, he bought a used 2003 Buick Regal LS. He says it's about the most boring car he's ever owned, but he doesn't mind that one bit. In fact, he said that if he had gotten a car like that when he was young, instead of messing around with all these musclecars and clunkers and such, it would've kept him out of a lot of trouble!

    This is some fuzzy logic I'm sure, but the other day Dad was saying that he's glad he bought the Buick instead of a brand-new car, because while he would've gotten tired of any other car by now, the Buick is just such an appliance that he doesn't even pay attention to it. He doesn't even think about it in terms of something to get excited or passionate about, and then ultimately bored with. So because of that, he's planning on just driving it till it drops. So, I guess that's a compliment, of sorts. :shades:
  • My story? Can I tell you my loooonng story? The truck was purchased new for $2,700 by my dad in December 1968. He bought it from Roseville Oldsmobile/GMC. It’s a ½ ton long-bed with the 307ci V-8 and the three-speed column shifter. This truck came with absolutely no options. It did have a heater but no AC, radio, or cigarette lighter. Nothing automatic. Even the choke is manual. My dad installed the seatbelts for the driver and passenger seats. He also purchased the original service manual that has seen extensive use over the years.

    In its early days, the GMC saw typical duty as the family truck and a commute vehicle for my dad and his carpool. My mom has a fond memory of being pulled over by the CHP while they were driving the new pickup to Reno for a weekend get-away. She kinda likes to brag that they didn’t get a ticket after my dad pleaded ignorance to the fact that the larger, load-rated tires on the rear would make the speedometer indicate lower (good one, dad). Some of my memories as a kid include shoveling loads of aggregate out of the long fleetside bed and into an electric concrete mixer for our patio. I remember riding in the bed with a load of wine grapes from my uncle’s vineyard in Antioch. It was fun “splatting” the grapes on the road signs at 55 mph as we drove back home along the Sacramento River. I remember riding in the back of the truck along Highway 50 during camping vacations up to Union Valley Reservoir. I also recall many mountain rides during the 3 or 4 summers when my dad and his buddies built his cabin near Donner Summit. The GMC would be loaded with lumber and construction supplies and would strain up those long grades on Interstate 80. We also pulled a trailer up and down from there for a few years. By the time I was 14 years old, I had memorized that entire drive looking through the truck windshield.

    It must have been around 1974 when my brother started driving and would take my sisters and me to school in the pickup. By necessity, all of us kids learned how to use the clutch and the three-on-the-tree, and remember, no power steering or power brakes. Both of my older sisters drove the GMC through their high school days, and I started driving it in March 1981. I’m sure the other kids could add pages of events that happened in the truck. But hey, after 26 years together – this is my truck story. On spring and summer days when my dad didn’t take the truck to work, I would drive to my friend’s house to pull their boat to Folsom Lake for some water skiing. Since my brother had a Jetski at that time, but no truck, I also hauled his ski to the lake. I learned to ride a personal watercraft and water-ski thanks to that truck. In 1984, my dad purchased a new GMC S-15 4WD. I got the old truck. Well, after I graduated high school, I bought my own Kawasaki 550 and that bright-red Jetski, faded blue GMC and I were regular fixtures at Folsom Lake beach throughout my extended college career. Still today, the truck bed shows the unique wear pattern from hauling the Jetski, evidence to all those memorable days. The GMC was my regular daily driver through all those college days, and for quite a while after I graduated, got a new job, and got married. Like most trucks, the GMC and I have helped many friends and family members when they moved or needed to haul something sizable. Recently, it saw duty hauling gravel, bags of concrete, and lumber for projects at our family’s new house.

    Thinking about it, I have probably turned every single nut and bolt on that truck. As a kid, I’d watch my dad change the oil or replace the brakes (with that trusty service manual by his side). I learned how to hone a cylinder, hand-pack a wheel bearing, and bleed a brake system. When I was sixteen I got a job at the local gas station/repair shop and remained employed there all through my college years. We would put an old tire in front of the grill and push the broken-down cars into the service bays with the truck. The job allowed me to keep the GMC maintained during those high mileage years, although in the beginning I was pretty naive about listening to the signals that were indicating mechanical illnesses. Good thing this truck was tough and determined to run forever. At around 140,000 miles, it developed an oil leak from the timing chain that was swinging out into the cover and had sliced a hole in it. With a little piece of electrical tape and a couple quarts of oil, I limped the truck through another summer of jetskiing. We replaced the timing chain only to discover that the nylon-covered gear had disintegrated and been sucked into the oil pump. Lack of oil and improper timing damaged the No. 8 cylinder, which lost some compression. We replaced the oil pump and chugged the motor for another 25,000 before I pulled it out and had it rebuilt in 1986. I rebuilt the transmission and front end at around 200,000 miles and just like any young boy would do; I continued to drive hell out it. That stock little motor will still kick out an occasional third-gear scratch for me.

    About three years ago, my buddy convinced me to strip it, do some body work, and repaint it. The primer was showing through what was left of the original weather-beaten pigment. “Heck, we’ll have it done in a couple weekends!” he said. We worked together many days and many nights and after about 14 weekends; the truck was sprayed in his neighbor’s body shop. Holy Cow! All of the sudden the GMC looked great! But still, the truck continues to spend its life outside, bravely weathering the elements. I am giving some attention to the neglected interior where I discovered some rust at the typical locations. It pains me to see that I have been a bit naive in body maintenance too, but I sit here typing proudly to gain some recognition for my GMC, inspired by this truck and motivated by the passion and enthusiasm others have shared towards it.

    Now at 296,000 miles, the engine bay is the area that truly shows the age and dedicated service provided by this good-ol’ GMC. It reminds me of the older, simpler automobile era. I don’t think it needs much work done in there (although I drool when I see old trucks with nice engines) and I don’t want to modify the stock motor and spoil the unique character and the true heart and soul of my old GMC. It does make me smile when people tell me, “Hey, nice old truck, you should build a nice motor for it,” I can’t help but respond, “Yeah, but my story -- Can I tell you my story?” Maybe I will add another chapter someday.

    Found this photo from 30 years ago.

  • fintailfintail Posts: 48,086
    My family has a load of heaps too.

    My dad's first car was a 1951 Chevy coupe he got when he was 17 - in 1954 (my parents are relatively old compared to those of my peers). His first new car was his next car...he graduated from school early, joined the air force, and in 1956 bought a new Ford Crown Victoria, a special order car in solid white. From here on he was a bit of a chronic car buyer. A year after he bought the Crown Vic, he traded it for an identical single color car, but in black. In 1960 he bought a new Pontiac Bonneville. Around 1964 I think, he bought a Dodge Coronet 2 door HT. He then bought a new 1967 Galaxie 500XL convertible, in yellow with a white top. By this time he was also into motorcycles as a hobby, so he would have an old truck or wagon around too. In 1970 he bought a Mustang, and around 1971 he bought a big Brady Bunch Dodge wagon to haul bikes and junk. The rest of the 70s I am unsure about off the top of my it is still before my time. In 1979 or 1980 he bought a Plymouth Horizon for a work car, this blue 4 door is the first car of his I recall. In 1981 he impulse bought an Audi 5000 Turbo (while keeping the Horizon as well), another car I remember very well. In 1985 the Audi led way to a new Chevy S10 Blazer, a complete nail of a vehicle. He kept that til late 90, when he bought a new Ford Exploder, which he really liked. Around 1995 he bought a big basic Dodge 4x4 for hauling, and a couple years later bought a Chrysler T&C to replace the Exploder. As I was growing up, he had a few vintage cars too...a 60 Ford Country Sedan, a 68 Fairlane were the nicest. His most recent purchase was a $100 Datsun 610.

    My mother has been a little more normal. Her first car was a used 59 Ford retractable, in the early 60s. In 1965 or 66 she replaced it with a 61 Impala convertible, in a suitable white on red. That was replaced with a VW Beetle around 1971 - my dad messed with that car, and dropped some kind of larger engine in it...maybe out of a Porsche 912? My parents have stories. In 1976 or so my mom bought a big new (or barely used) T-Bird, white on white. She loved that car, and that car is the first I can remember. Around 1984 or so the T-Bird was not aging well, and was replaced with a Cutlass Ciera. She actually liked it too. My mother then had a job where she had to travel a lot on the at my dad's impulse shopping urging, she bought a Tempo in 1985 to travel in. That car remained in the family til around 1999, and had over 190K on it when it was sold. In 1986 my uncle bought one of the first Ford Taurus...and it impressed my parents so much my mother got one in 1987. She has since had a few Taurus...she avoided the ovoid models, and bought a facelift 2000, this is her current car. She is now growing tired with it, and talks about getting a Camry or Avalon (but she doesn't seem to know how much an Avalon costs). I might try to steer her into a CPO Lucerne.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    My Dad's first car was a 1950 Ford coupe painted flat black ala a rat rod. Don't know much about this car and the following two as he had them before I was born.

    His second car was a dark green metallic 1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire convertible. He bought it from a dealer near Allentown, I think it was called Gilboy or something. It was used and had once belonged to a doctor. This is one of the cars I wish Dad had kept.

    He also had a black 1962 Volkswagen Bug his mechanic ruined when he took it in for service. The mechanic didn't have metric tools, so he ground down the bolt heads to fit the SAE tools!

    He then bought a used 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne two-door sedan that had once belonged to the Pennsylvania Power & Light utility. This is the first car I can clearly remember. It was cream-colored with a gray cloth and vinyl interior and had that cool little roof overhang over the back window. It had an inline six-cylinder engine mated to a three speed manual on the column. The car was a bit dressed-up for a Biscayne as it had whitewall tires and the attractive full wheel discs. This car was involved in an accident in 1970 with a grocery delivery truck right near my grandparent's place. The whole right rear quarter panel was bashed-in and Dad decided to replace the car. He almost bought a gold 1968 Chevrolet BelAir sedan until he noticed something fishy during the test drive. He pulled up next to my Grandpop's place, lifted the hood, and discovered the car had burnt valves and the crooked dealer filled the entire crankcase with STP!

    Instead, Dad bought a 1968 AMC Javelin for $1,500. For some reason us kids named the car "Cootie." The car was medium metallic blue with a black vinyl interior and powered by a inline six. This car had a hard life with Dad as he was the polar opposite of me when it comes to car care. Dad smoked like a chimney before he quit for good over 25 years ago. The ashtray of the car was overflowing with butts, ashes, and paper debris. He put a lighted cigarette in the ashtray slot and set the mound of gum and straw wrappers alight and managed to melt the radio. What killed the car was also related to Dad's smoking habit. He was driving to work, put his head down to light a Tareyton and smashed the car into a tree! We're getting ready to go to school and I remember Dad coming back in the house looking dazed telling my Mom he got into an accident. Mom was furious as the family didn't need the financial hardship of an auto acccident as she was pregnant with my sister at the time. I recall my aunt coming over the house to take us kids to school. She swung be the tow truck place to show us what happened to Dad's car. The right front end of the car was bashed in almost to the right front wheel. By some miracle, Dad was able to drive the car, but it steered terribly. He quickly got rid of the car for a measly $75.

    There is a silver lining to every black cloud as Dad bought one of his coolest cars after that incident - a maroon 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible! We kids LOVED riding around in that car with the top down. Mom hated the car because she thought Dad was driving around in this cool ride looking at other women.

    Unfortunately, Dad was forced to sell the GTO and replaced it with a 1970 Ford Torino two-door hardtop. This car was gold with a black vinyl top with a gold brocade and vinyl interior. I believe it had a 302 V-8. This car was destroyed by a hit-and-run drunk driver in a red 1972 Pontiac LeMans. Dad and us kids get up for church Sunday morning and are walking to the car. Dad notices that his car is parked crooked and then sees why! The car looks fine approaching it from the right front corner, but as he walked around the back, my Dad yells "OH NO!!!" The left quarter panel and trunk is bashed in to the rear window. Fortunately, the guy who hit Dad's car fessed up.

    He then replaced the car with a big 1972 Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon. It was dark green metallic with the woodgrain trim and had a dark green vinyl interior. Compared to some of Dad's other cars, the LTD came across like a luxury car. It had a 400 V-8 with a four-barrel carb and drank gasoline like Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas." This car turned out to be the worst car my Dad ever owned. He was forever under the hood fixing something. One night my Dad wanted to take Mom out for dinner and the LTD refused to start. Dad is out there in his good suit fumbling around trying to get this beast to start while spewing a string of profanity that would make Tony Soprano blush. Dad eventually gave up, relented, and borrowed my Grandpop's ultra-reliable 1974 Chevrolet Impala. Not only was the car a mechanical nightmare, the car rusted with a vengeance. I remember spending a whole day and a great portion of the evening of one summer day in 1979 when my brother and I are pressed into helping him bondo this heap. Bro and I were hanging out and we walked by my Uncle Daniel's garage where we saw Dad working on his car. We foolishly approached him and asked what was up and he said, "Where the (expletive) were you kids? I need you! Get you lazy (expletives) over here and help me!" Well, the Bondo didn't hold up. By the time he finally got rid of the car in September 1981, the car looked like mice ran through the body. For some reason Dad wanted a professional body shop to fix the car, but the owner said the car was beyond repair. I guess Dad didn't want to face the fact he got burned badly on this purchase. The car was eventually sold to some kids for $150.

    During the LTD debacle Dad had bought a new 1978 Ford Granada coupe. This is the car on which I learned to drive. It was dark red with a white landau top, thick white vinyl trim, and wheel discs with white accents. It had a red brocade and vinyl interior. The car had a 250 inline six. Unlike the LTD, I remember this car being far more reliable. It was a lot better on gas. My brother eventually wrecked this car in 1984 by plowing it into a house with my Dad in the passenger seat next to him!

    Finally getting rid of the LTD, Dad bought a new 1981Ford Thunderbird Town Landau. Dad was so proud of the car as he felt as if he "arrived" to have such a nice car. Unfortunately, 1981 was the worst year a Thunderbird buyer could've chose to "spread his wings." The car was "powered" by a wheezy 255 cid V-8 that could barely get the car uphill. However, this car managed to be passed down to all of us kids but in reverse order. My sister drove it in high school, then it ended up with my brother when Dad offered it to him for free. It ended up with me when I sold my 1985 Chrysler Fifth Avenue to my brother as part of the deal. I didn't keep it for long as it was a total wreck by then. The headlight doors didn't work anymore and were permanently open. The driver's side window no longer worked, the exhaust system was gone, the interior smelled like dead fish as my brother took the car fishing all the time, the landau
  • My mom gave me this 1990 Buick LeSabre in 1999. She bought a new one. It was my commute car for our carpool. I just sold it to help pay for the new Pilot so I happen to have a picture. It was just as nice when I sold it as when I got it.


    My mom gave my older brother their 1980 Olds Omega 2 door coupe when she bought the Buick. He trashed it. :sick: My dad gave him the 1984 GMC S-15 4WD, he trashed that too. :sick: If I had more room at my house, I would never sell any of my cars. They are worth more to me as transportation than the money I got from them. When you have old or classic cars, it helps to have a couple extra. :(
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    My mom didn't learn to drive until she met my dad, so all the early stuff was his. At various times he had some sort of Triumph, an early-60s full-size Olds which he sold to Grandpa, a VW squareback, and a Peugeot. I came home from the hospital in a white 60-something IH Travelall, which he got rid of when the reverse gear broke in 1979. He got a dark green early-60s Ford pickup and mom got a Plymouth Horizon, which are the first vehicles I remember. The Horizon was traded in on a K-car wagon in 1981 after my brother was born, and the Ford left not long afterwards for an early-70s C10 which was already a rustbucket. That in turn became a dark green Pinto which died when my dad hit a pregnant deer one morning. At this point, dad was tired of beaters and bought a stripper special '85 Isuzu diesel pickup (40 mpg with a 4-speed) to drive to the bus stop.

    The K-car was traded for a 1988 Dodge (Mitsubishi) Colt Vista Wagon, and that was traded for a year-old Corolla in 1993 that eventually became my sister's car. Dad started driving in to work more often, so he got a base Camry in 1999. The frame rails on the Isuzu rusted out and the frame sagged enough to start the driveshaft chattering, so he parked it in 2000 and bought a '97 S10 to make dump runs in. He bought out the lease on the Camry in 2002, then wrecked it twice in 6 months (neither was his fault). The second wreck totaled the Camry, so he went out and got the 2000 Benz E320 that he drives now but is starting to talk about replacing.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    My dad's first car was a late 40's Willy's surplus jeep.
    image I learned this by hearing the story that he'd flipped it, but was injured because he landed safely in the ditch with the car upside down on top of him. Teenagers!
    Later he was apparently a salesman for Willys Overland for a while although I don't know much about it. I DO remember the story that when you sold a Willys you HAD to sell the Deluxe steering wheel because there wasn't a base model steering wheel. According to the story, if you didn't order the deluxe, the car came from the factory without one. True? I have no idea.

    I'm not sure if he owned one then.... no photos of one exist if he did.

    The next car I know about was a 48 Buick

    that my mom drove in the late 50's. I barely remember it I just know it was big and dark inside and gray outside. It left us when my mom drove it into a field somehow. She was glad to see it go. She was 5 feet tall and her petite little left leg didn't match up well with the HEAVY clutch in that Buick.

    Next followed a green and white 55 Nomad wagon a lot like this one below.

    I'm pretty sure it wasn't new when we got it, and I know that we had it as late as 1962. My sister and I remember a trip to colonial Williamsburg that year, in which we got to ride in the back with the seat down -all stretched out and comfy, counting the black and white cows in the beautiful green Virginia farm land. We liked that car.

    Before you tell me that we should have kept it forever, I have to tell you about the viciousness of northern Pennsylvania rust. Things got ugly with that Chevy before it went to the boneyard. Too bad, though. Good vehicle and a handsome one.

    Next, my dad went a little crazy. We had a pair of Russian Czarist exiles (seriously) for neighbors and they loved oddball cars. They talked my dad into a 1959 SAAB model 93.

    My dad fell in love, and we became SAAB fanatics for the next 7 years. My dad even bought a matched pair of white SAAB 96's for mom and himself. These were the quirky little ones with 3 cylinder two-stroke engines.... My dad went all out and bought the Rally model for himself.(Won the '63 Monte Carlo!) with the Halda Speed Pilot and the 'Shrike' engine with 3 carbs and no valve train to limit the RPM. 52 glorious horsepower! From 840 cc's. Naturally any engine that stressed had a short life My dad liked to say that "the redline was limited by the destruction point of the materials". He also liked to drive the cars through twisting mountain roads at 60 mph scaring the hell out of friends and neighbors who'd never heard of a speedometer calibrated in Kilometers! :blush:

    We were on a first name basis with the service department who kept a good supply of short-blocks in stock.

    This picture isn't a Shrike with the triple carbs but it does show a couple of interesting points that I remember. Note the radiator is BEHIND the engine close to the firewall where it's safe and warm. Also note the chain running from the firewall to the grill. That's to pull up a little rubber window shade to help the engine warm up faster in those cold Swedish/Pennsylvania winters. I don't see it in this picture, but our car had an oil can holder in the engine compartment. That was so you could have a can of warm oil to put into the gas tank when you bought gas. Maybe it was an extra cost option.

    When SAAB finally moved to a 4-stroke engine in 1967, I remember going on a test drive with my dad. I was thrilled because this car would ACCELERATE! going uphill! What a concept! For some reason, my dad didn't buy one though. Perhaps because that engine was English... which seems like a fair enough warning.

    Instead he went with a '67 Plymouth Valiant with the 225 Slant Six


    This is probably a good place to stop... everyone is familiar with the trustworthy, loyal, brave, and durable Valiant.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Judging from the cars he chose, your dad must have been an interesting guy.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    My dad was a VERY interesting guy. I miss him
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Here's a close cousin of the car I grew up in from age 6 to about 14. This is actually a 1958 while ours was a 57 and it's not painted the hideous Aqua color the my dad thought was so great....


    Ah! here's a 57!

    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    My dad worked for the Packard Motor Company before and after World War II--25 years total. He went as a young kid from the Packard assembly line as a trainee, right into Burma, India, China, the Himalayas, Egypt, in the Army signal corps. No wonder he came home to New York and always gazed out on the horizon from that day on!

    After the war, he moved up into the Packard Service Division, and was a kind of field engineer, going from dealership to dealership, attending to difficult problems, analyzing warranty claims and giving tech sessions. He later was some kind of District Manager for the east coast.

    So we always had Packards in the family. First ones I remember fully were the "bathtub" Packards, then the 50s sedans, and finally the rather luxurious Patricians. They were pretty slick cars those last Packards, what with electronically shiften transmissions (little buttons you pushed with your pinky) and self-leveling suspensions. Big, cushy, quiet cars, like a Cadillac. Dad always parked the Packards around the corner when he took me to the dentist, so that we wouldn't get charged too much.

    After Packard went down in flames in '56, he joined Studebaker for a short time, but Studebaker treated all Packard employees so shabbily (it's still a story told with disgust by automotive historians) that Dad left and joined Lincoln-Mercury and we had one of those big Turnpike Cruisers. But these cars didn't interest him (1958 wasn't a very good time for Ford) and so he joined Renault, which in 1958, was a "hot" company that was outselling VW for a short time. My older brother reached driving age so he went from a '48 Packard to a '53 Studebaker and then Dad got him a deal on a Renault Dauphine. Dad drove I think an R8 rallye-type Renault at that time. We had R10s, Caravelles, the whole catastrophe. He delighted in bragging how these little cars could zip through traffic and drive past gas pumps. And he was right about that. They were fun. They would send him to Paris, gave him a nice office....he lived high on the hog with Renault. He really liked his French boss, who I remember. Descended from a French noble family I think. Great guy. Very charming. Died when his plane was struck by lightning! Dad was very upset by this I remember and he left the company soon after some French tyrant took over, and ruined the entire American operation to boot. Who says that a car company's fate cannot be in the hands of one man?

    Dad retired from the auto business and then worked in the fraud division of the Better Business Bureau, a job he was very good at, being so well-trained technically. Fraudulent repair shops were dead meat. He had a very high kill ratio and I don't think the BBB has ever equalled it. He used to dress as a bum named Louie Martini and bring his "car" (a doctored mule with coded parts) to suspect shops for repair.

    When he stopped working, he set up a big machine shop in his basement and always helped me with the parade of American and foreign crippled cars I brought home. No matter how weird, he figured out how to fix them. Of course he could make a lot of the parts. Jaguars, Morgans, Buick Rivieras, he didn't care. Bring it in and he'd tear into it. People came from all over with Borgwards, Ferraris, Isettas...looking for a way out of an impossible jam. He could machine, cast, weld, fabricate, upholster...pretty handy guy.

    He drove less and less as he got older. I think his last car was one he got brand new almost as a gift from the son of one of his Packard buddies, a kid who grew up and opened up his own Ford dealership. So he gave Dad a deluxe Pinto for him to putt around in. At his age, Dad didn't need a car but to do little errands in the city. I doubt he put 2000 miles a year on it, if that.

    Long way from a Packard, but he came to appreciate efficient little cars as much as the big ones.

    He never forgave Studebaker though. He always said of the Studebaker-Packard merger that "they couldn't build Packards worth a damn, but we built them some very good Studebakers."

    He died in 1989. Over 400 local people came to his funeral....we had a full military ceremony, oddly enough, which he asked for (he never ever spoke about the war)....all the various neighborhood types from every country in the world (this was New York after all) who had come to his machine shop to get things fixed, or who he had advised when they got cheated by repair shops. It was quite a scene. The UN comes to Little Italy and the US Army.

    Dad was a real car guy and had a full understanding of automotive engineering. He always said that Packard engineering was the best of all the American car makers and that the death of Packard was the end of America's Golden Age of car-building.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Your dad was a cool guy. We need more people like that around.

    *tips hat
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    thanks. Yes he was. What I really admired about him is that he didn't become one of these old "curmudgeons" who decried new technology. Even in his late 70s, he was still learning about computers and chips and turbos and all the rest of it. New cars were not a mystery to him, although at that advanced age he wouldn't actually work on them---but he fully understood HOW they worked and admired them.

    But he didn't like really corner-cutting...if he saw a plastic coupler or part that was under stress and would certainly fail, he'd shake his head and call the engineers "penny wise and pound foolish" and that that part would be bound to fail the new owner.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Very interesting story about your dad, Shifty.

    "My parents' cars" implies father and mother. Did your mom drive?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    no thank god :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    no thank god

    LOL, that makes me think of my dear, departed Grandmother on my Dad's side of the family. Back in 1989, when I bought my '69 Dart GT, Grandmom sat behind the wheel to see how it felt. She was only like 5'2", and she was actually looking out through the little gap between the top of the dash and the steering wheel! Scary! And to think that, back in the day, they had a '75 Dart!

    Grandmom had her license, but Granddad did most of the driving. I don't ever remember Grandmom scaring us as kids though, but when I saw her behind the wheel of my Dart, it made me wonder how she ever drove without sitting on top of a phone book!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 48,086
    That's a great history.

    I love old Packards, especially prewar...I look at Packard as occupying the Mercedes segment of the NA market in its day.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    mixed in with family blood is a real treat. Sounds like quite a guy, Joe.

    Through my growing up years my dad was king of the $150 car. His brother has borrowed a pretty substantial amount on my dad's credit and never paid him a dime and dad was by his own words broke twice in the early sixties. They were bad days in general for the family but the legend of the $150 cars (who knew they made that many Plymouths?) lives on fondly in memory. DAd is still talking about his next lease even though at 89 he no longer drives.

    On to grandmothers driving. My mom's mom drove a while, had an accident with a tree and swore she'd never drive again and kept to that word.

    My dad's mother was a better story. My grandfather, who died before I was born, got his licensed suspended for DUI in the late 40s. This was no mean feat in the forties especially since the family knew important folks. Anyway, he decides that while he could maybe walk to work - he had a barber shop across town - that he needed a ride to the bar. That's where my grandmother came in. He started teaching her to drive and she was getting the idea. Then he died suddenly of a heart attack at the exact age I am now. My dad and uncles assured her transportation whenever and wherever she wanted and years later she told me how mad she was that she let them talk her out of that car.

    One last thing. When dad got out of the hole his brother dug for him, he'd go out and surprise mom with a new car. Only trouble is his idea of a nice car was like a new Chrysler Fifth Avenue with all the doo dads. Her idea of a nice car was a Datsun 510 with a stick. In that respect I am certainly my mother's son. You couldn't impress her with options either as hard as dad might try.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Gee, a stickshift 510? I wish I had a Mom like that!! My mom wouldn't know a Ferrari Testarossa if she tripped over it. But she WAS a good cook!

    One nice perk with having a Packard man in the family was that he would arrange to have the Packards of local big-wigs fixed up when they were having trouble. This included the local monsignor (Catholic Church equivalent of a local Il Capo) and the dean of the (then excellent) borough university. I wonder if I owe that great, free, 4-year education to a Packard? I'll never know.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Mom was an absolute nut about stick shifts. Though it might have been because she learned to drive on a Model T wit the planetary gears. Next to that a stick was a snap! I think she figured that an automatic went too far into wimp territory.

    a link into that color on our 57 Plymouth. This one isn't a wagon. Ours wan. It was a Custom Suburban which I think was pretty close to the base model. It did have the two speed push button transmission.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    oh lord if you can drive a Model T you can drive anything. I found it easier to drive an armored personnel carrier than I did a Model T. No wonder in the silent movies you always see people's heads about to jerk off as they start out in their Ts
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    I think that turquoise is a pretty nice color, as long as it's used with an accent. Such as, either a turquoise body with a white roof/side accent, or a white body with turquoise roof/accent.

    As for hierarchy, I just pulled out my old car book to verify, and it looks like the Custom was the midrange model. There was a cheaper model called the DeLuxe, and a top model called the Sport. The Custom was a broad range, offering a 2-door wagon, as well as a 4-door wagon in 6- or 9-passenger configurations. The DeLuxe was only offered as a 2-door wagon that year, but expanded to offer a 4-door for 1958.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    that the Sport Suburban was considered a bigger deal. Didn't have a park button, which the Custom did not? If I had to guess we were probably two door and a six. It definitely "sat six." There were seven of us when you included the parents which you kinda had to do since they were the only ones who could drive it. In fact that is something missing in my life. I never drove a car with a push button transmission.

    Does your deSoto still run?
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    Yeah, the DeSoto still runs, although it has no brakes. It doesn't have a park button either. When you park the car, you basically throw it in neutral and then pull the handbrake. Instead of working on the rear wheels like most parking/handbrakes, the Chrysler system back then clamped down on the driveshaft.

    I think they finally made "Park" standard on the 1960 models. It was a lever that you threw into position.

    For the time, the pushbutton system was pretty cool, and actually somewhat idiot-proof. It had safeguards built into it that would lock out 1st and 2nd if you were going too fast. And reverse would lock out if you were going forward more than 10 mph. Although I'd imagine that throwing a car into reverse when it's moving forward at 10 mph isn't exactly good for it, either! And unlike most automatics, if your battery was dead, you could push-start it, although I think you had to get it up to about 10 mph. I think the old-style GM HydraMatic, with the 4 speeds and pump in the rear, had that capability too.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Very interesting story about your dad. I can tell there is a lot of him in you.

    I have to chuckle when I think of Renault Dauphines. Many years ago my buddy and I were speediing on our bicycles on the way to my early morning paper route. It was probably 4:00 in the morning. Very steep residental street.

    Well, we got too close to one another and somehow one of my pedels wnt into the spokes of his front wheel.

    It sounded like a harp as the spokes snapped. The wheel, of course collapsed and my budy went headlong into the back end of a parked car. A Renault Dauphine!

    Over the car he went landing squarly on the hood of the Renault. I too had crashed through a low picket fence.

    We did the only thing that made sense...WE RAN! We limped down that quiet street carrying our broken bikes as lights came on in houses and dogs barked.

    Who knows what damage was inflicted on that Renault?

    Amazing we survived our mis-spent youth!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    In some foggy recess of my cluttered mind, I seem to remember something.

    I seem to remember you started an early fifties Packard by pulling the gearshift lever toward you.

    Am I dreaming or what?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think that was true of the stickshift "bathtub" Packards, yes, and some Nashes as well.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Of all the brands on the market today that one could perceive to be Packard's spiritual successor, I think Lexus comes closest to embodying what Packard stood for; namely, comfort, reliability, solid performance, and prestige.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Could be---one thing to keep in mind was that Packard was a very conservative company. The engineering was sound but not flashy by any means. Packards were not pimped out like Cadillacs. They were quite Spartan, at least until their desperate final years when they'd try anything to survive in the GO-GO 50s. But you'd always find more chrome and more gadgets on Caddys, Lincolns, Rolls, Pierce, etc. than on Packards.

    Of course, nowadays restorers pimp these cars out as well, to my chagrin, as that really violates the temperament of the company, I feel.

    It was a stately car for stately sober people. In that sense, Lexus does match--although Packard was never the "newcomer".
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    My youngest brother who was only maybe 4 months old when we got that Plymouth had fun with that when he got to be maybe three. He'd open teh door and play with the buttons. Unfortunately, if you pulled the button out it would not go back in unless you removed the faceplate. After the second time the mechanic showed my mom how to fix it.

    Funniest push button tranny ever was on the 58 Edsel which, of course, (only in here could I use that of course) had the push buttons on the steering wheel hub. I can just picture somebody going for the horn and throwing himself into reverse....

    BAck then the people across the street had some relative that came about once a week in a brand new 58 Edsel. I was impressed!....
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
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