I've always had a love-hate relationship with older cars, say 1960s vintage. On the one hand, they have character, but like any old machines, they frequently need repairs, which means they often have downtime. That's not a problem unless you depend on an old car to go to important places such as work and school. That was the situation I was in for most of my life, so as much as I would have liked to have an old car to tinker with, it just wasn't practical.
That has changed recently. I started thinking about what I'd be interested in, and I settled on a particular make and model year range: 1965-66 full-sized Fords. I've always liked that bodystyle, as I think it's a good balance between bulbous and boxy. Cars of that era have at least a token amount of safety equipment (front seat belts were required in the US starting in 1964) but aren't strangled by emissions-control equipment. In general, parts for American cars of that era are cheap and readily available.
Last Sunday I saw this car on Craigslist:
This is a 1966 Ford Custom 500. Custom 500 was the second-lowest trim level that year, above Custom and below Galaxie and LTD. This particular car is interesting on a few levels, starting with the drivetrain:
The engine is the 240-cubic inch inline six. It's a shorter-stroke version of the 300, which was Ford's truck engine for 35 years. That means that parts are abundant. You'll notice no power brake booster or power steering pump, and if you look closely you can see the shift linkage. It's a 3-speed column shift. The interior looks Spartan at first glance:
There are a few nice touches, such as a glovebox light and cranked wing windows, that I didn't expect to see in this model. I also didn't expect carpet, and I definitely didn't expect it to be in such good condition. The seats, door panels, and headliner are all fine.
My roommate took a look at the back seat and said it's "big enough to f**k in." That thought hadn't occurred to me, but I suppose he's right:
As expected, there are a few items that need to be addressed. You probably noticed that there's no horn ring, for example. The part to fix it is on order. I've replaced the front shock absorbers (the rear ones are on order; the auto parts store had the front ones in stock), and the car is a bit less floaty now. I found a set of hub caps on eBay, which will greatly help the appearance. I'll probably think long and hard about whether to have the car painted and the few minor dents removed.
I've become familiar with rockauto.com and Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts. I'm sure I'll do plenty of business with both, as well as the local auto-parts stores, in the future. In the meantime I have a project that's useful and turns heads on the road. At the same time, it isn't so valuable that I have to be paranoid while driving it. :-)
Tags: 1966, car, ford
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