A lifelong Michigan resident, I’ve spent many a dark evening contemplating whether I most dislike January, February, or March. All three are months that offer little sun and less hope, so I have to find the fun where I can. The garage this winter has been a struggle with a ’63 Thunderbird power steering system, a battle that I may win at the expense of my bank account. Costing far less was a trip to the local Model A club swap meet, where I spent a recent Sunday buying bric-a-brac I didn’t need but wanted anyway.
My first find was a ’64 Chevelle station wagon ($8). I like wagons, I like blue cars, I like toys, and I like weird stuff. This grand slam was made by an outfit called Gamda Koor Sabra, and a quick eBay search shows that they produced some pretty well-made ’60s toys based mostly on American cars.
The Chevelle has held up nicely over the years, with only some paint rash to indicate that it wasn’t recently plucked from the pegs at the local toy store (do those still exist?).
I like GM A-Bodies, and although Chevelles are probably my least favorite of the four varieties from 1964, this no doubt earned a place at my hoarding table.
My next purchase, second on my list and in dollars spent ($5), was this General Motors brochure celebrating 50 million cars. GM was very good at promotional materials, and this one is filled with beautiful illustrations from GM’s past and 1955 present. The actual 50 millionth car was a gold 1955 Bel Air Sport Coupe that emerged from the line in Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors.
My favorite illustration is of the contemporary 1955 Cadillac Coupe deVille, a car that has wooed me before.
My next find was this very nice small booklet of service specifications for 1965 Fords ($1). As the owner of a 1965 Mustang and a lover of all cars 1965, I had to pick it up even though I already have access to all the information inside by way of my massive collection of service manuals.
If I ever need a quick reference guide for bearing clearances or piston ring gaps, however, I’ll know where to look.
Finally, I found this almost mint brochure for the 1974 Mercury lineup ($1). I have no great love of malaise era Fords themselves, but I love Ford brochures from their darkest days and I’ll collect a brochure or advertisement for almost anything.
If I were the son of a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in 1974, and couldn’t buy the car I would have really wanted, the Cougar XR-7 would have been my pick. Aside from those railroad grade bumpers, it’s a nice looking car.
As always, I could have come home with dozens more cheap brochures and other knick-knacks, but I do my best to minimize the damage.
Until the next swap meet, I plan to pass the winter months rehabilitating a rough ’69 Schwinn Heavy-Duti…
and driving around the Dirty Dart when the weather cooperates. Oh yeah, there’s that steering system. My summers might be more packed with mechanical sorting and car shows, there’s still plenty to do if I know where to look. How are you passing the winter?
Postscript: I think the T-Bird’s steering is repaired. My admittedly short test drive revealed that it’s no longer trying to steer me into a ditch at the slightest turn of the wheel.
Unfortunately, it took two rebuilt steering boxes to arrive at that result. After several conversations with old-time Lincoln guys (Continentals used the same steering box as T-Birds, and Ford only used this particular box from 1961-1964), I discovered that age has not been kind to these old steering boxes, and getting a good rebuild is getting harder and harder as they age. The problem doesn’t always show up on the test bench either, leaving nobody really at fault; it only shows up when the car “lane jumps,” which is exactly what mine was doing.
I also rebuilt the rag joints and replaced the worn rubber steering box mounts with some solid spacers. Lifting that 40 pound steering box up into the car twice was a good test of muscles I don’t often use, but now I perhaps can get back to some lighter duty work on that old Schwinn.