COAL Capsule: 1963 Thunderbird vs. 1963 Riviera – Side Eye

Filed in the drawer of “doing something right while doing something wrong” is being able to line up your 1963-model personal luxury cars for a quick picture.  That it has to be done at the storage facility is “doing it wrong”; that it can be done at all is “doing it right.”  There’s only room in my garage for two big cars at a time, and the ’53 Special never leaves home because of favorite child syndrome, so here we are.  Read on for a very quick update on these glamour boats.

Thanks to some gloomy, cold, disgusting weather (in other words, Michigan in spring), I only extracted the T-Bird from storage a week and a half ago.  I had to replace my four-year-old made-somewhere-else radiator that had sprung a leak but was epoxied together and therefore could not be fixed by a radiator shop pile of garbage; therefore, over the winter I had the original radiator recored at the local radiator shop for less money than I paid for said pile of garbage four years ago.  I spent a little time out in the garage doing that before hitting the road.  The T-Bird seems to be in good shape for now, but it has a few relatively minor things on the repair list for summer driving season.

The Riviera, on the other hand, is unfortunately going to be one of those cars that tests my mechanical aptitude regularly; it has a heat-related bog situation where it seems to go lean under load or when I throw some revs (it does go lean – I use a wideband 02 gauge).  It’s worse when the car’s been sitting with a hot engine or has been in traffic, which sounds like vapor lock.  I’ve run more tests than you can imagine, and nothing has come up as conclusive, so I’ve done the professional thing and have retrogressed to parts swapping and pure conjecture.  Without going into mind-numbing detail as I normally do, let’s just say it’s frustrating – times such as these feel like I am being punished for epic Greek hubris without the high stakes.

It’s still a driveable car, but if I need to get into a high speed, full-throttle chase “right now,” the bad guys may or may not get away, depending on how the car feels at that moment.  Fortunately for me, that is an uncommon situation, but the problem also sometimes gets in the way of burning down the right-rear tire, which is nonetheless good for the tire and for my standing in the eyes of my fellow citizens.

Regardless, it wouldn’t be driving season if I weren’t preoccupied to the point of distraction with an old-car problem, so here’s to a successful summer for all my fellow CC readers.