Early last Saturday morning, I threw a bunch of tools into the back of my friend “Madman” Mike’s pickup and we headed north. Our destination was Sudbury, over 4 hours away. Somebody in Sudbury was parting out a 1966 Chrysler convertible that had some parts that each of us was looking for.
Sudbury is primarily a nickel mining town, but as the largest town in Northern Ontario, it also serves a hub for business, shopping, health care, and (if Stompin’ Tom’s lyrical account is accurate) Bingo halls and bars. It has a famous landmark, the “Giant Nickel”. I caught it with the sun shining bright off the face of King George.
The first notable vehicle we encountered in our travels was this VW Cabriolet.
Next we passed a Vehicle Production Group (VPG) MV-1. This was designed to be a purpose-built wheelchair accessible taxi cab. They had a custom-built body and chassis, and a Ford drivetrain. I’ve only seen one other MV-1 before, owned by a municipal transit company.
VPG had been funded by a $50 million loan from the US Department of Energy. They ultimately went bankrupt and were acquired by AM General, which has resumed manufacturing MV-1’s.
About the time Highway 400 merged into the Trans-Canada Highway, the weather started to turn. I had been checking the Sudbury weather forecast for the past few days and Saturday was supposed to be decent, so this snowstorm came as a surprise. Thankfully it passed and by the time we arrived the sky was clear and blue, although the temperature only ever reached a high around -8C.
Finally we reached our destination just before noon and found the object of the hunt: a 1966 Chrysler Windsor convertible. The Chrysler was not alone however. A 1958 Cadillac, a 1968-71 Charger and some other vehicles kept it company, all buried in the snow.
The owner said that the drivetrain from the Windsor was destined to go in the Charger once the weather improved. Normally I’d be dismayed that yet another C-body was serving as an engine donor, but in this case I didn’t feel so bad about it. You’ll soon see why.
This particular convertible had a blue roof, and it may actually be the factory original. The blue roof was available with only a select few exterior and interior colour combinations; otherwise a black or white convertible roof was available. I also spotted the bumperettes on the front bumper, drivers side adjustable mirror, and the hole in the rear deck where a power antenna had resided. We already knew that it had bucket seats, and that the driver’s seat was of the 6-way power adjustable variety.
Digging a path through the snow and opening the door revealed that the car had not only power windows, but also power vent windows, factory tinted glass and day/night rearview mirror. This Windsor had been well equipped! We never dug out the hood to take a look underneath, but the seller assured us that the engine had a 2-barrel carburetor. That meant that it was the base 270hp 383 big block V8.
Whoever had ordered this car must have really loved it, because they had had the bodywork restored and repainted. Perhaps they figured it was easier to remove the lower body moldings and fill in the holes, because that’s what was done. Then they apparently continued driving it year-round until it was unsafe to drive or the owner couldn’t drive anymore. It is one of the most thoroughly rotten Chryslers I’ve ever inspected.
To open the trunk, I had merely to pull up on the trunklid, and the latch ripped right out! It had 1973 plates (the last year that Ontario issued new plates annually) and the last registration sticker on them was from 1982. Chances are good that this had been a one-owner car for all of its useable life.
Mike had come primarily for the bucket seats to replace the worn out ones in his 300, and he was in luck. They had been nicely reupholstered in white, which matched the interior of his car, were still in good condition, and thankfully were already unbolted from the floor for easy removal. I was hoping to score the power antenna and dashboard control for it to retrofit into my Windsor, as well as the 8-foot long beltline moldings on the rear fenders, and any other exterior chrome that was in good condition. I didn’t fare so well. There were two power antenna units inside the car, but both were broken. The chrome was all either missing or damaged, which I’d expected after seeing the car upon our arrival. I grabbed a few pieces, not sure if I’ll use them or not. I also removed the rear quarter windows, which are unique to C-body convertibles and break easily. The first one was a struggle, as they’re not intended to be removed with the top in place, and without power I couldn’t operate the power window regulators either. Then the owner ran an extension cord over and handed me a grinder with a cutoff wheel. The second window came out much faster!
By this time it was after 5pm. I was cold, hungry and tired. I was wearing a bulky snowsuit, and there was a hole in the floorpan that got bigger every time I fell through it. When I got out, I found I could no longer close the passenger-side door even though the hinges weren’t sagging. The unibody had actually “bent” from me climbing around inside. (Good thing we decided against buying the whole car and towing it home!) We left to get some supper and be on our way. I didn’t get home until midnight. But that’s okay, because…
We’ll get to work on Monday, but tomorrow’s only Sunday,
And we’re out to have a fun day for it’s Saturday tonight. Yeah!
Mike said that, if I didn’t stop humming the tune to Sudbury Saturday Night, I would be riding out back with the parts.