In yesterday’s post about my ’63 Thunderbird, commenter MarkKyle64 brought up an interesting QOTD – what is the easiest old car to work on? I think I can give my answer based on my current fleet of seven oldies. The ’65 Dirty Dart (pictured above) is quite straightforward, although I’ve never liked the Slant Six’s distributor accessibility or “right out there” bulkhead connectors. Additionally, parts availability is not good for early Darts. This isn’t necessarily the same question, but I’ll include it in my discussion, because finding parts obviously makes working on a car much easier. Yes, the Dart must be near the top of the list with its rugged simplicity, but it’s not my number one. Will you agree with my answer, or have something entirely different of your own? MarkKyle64 suggested pre-1980 vehicles, so we’ll use that as our guideline (which is easy for me).
Obviously, the Thunderbird’s out. See my COAL entries for reasons why; in general, it’s beautiful but awful to work on. Parts are available from suppliers such as Bird Nest and Thunderbird Headquarters.
My ’65 Corvair is fairly simple, but it’s not as simple as the Dart (in my opinion). Aluminum engines (think Heli-Coils), long shift tubes, twin carburetors, and a more complex rear suspension send this one down the list a bit. It’s not hard; it’s just different. Parts are quite easy to get, on the other hand, from suppliers such as Clark’s Corvair and California Corvair Parts.
The ’74 Firebird is not as easy to work on as one might expect when looking at that long hood. The engine compartment is fairly cramped, although behind the dashboard work is quite easy thanks to some thoughtful touches by Pontiac engineers. Parts specific to the ’74 are harder to find than one might think, but general mechanical items are easy to find for the most part, including more Firebird-specific items from suppliers such as NPD and Ames Performance.
My beloved ’53 Buick is out of the running solely due to its gigantic torque tube and gaping maw that I have to lean over. Honestly, it’s not that tough to work on in general, but a few jobs are bulky and heavy. Parts are out there, but are thin on the ground. Suppliers include CARS and Bob’s Automobilia.
The ’65 Mustang is a hair’s breadth from victory. Parts are everywhere from many suppliers and the engineering is straightforward. The only demerit to me is its shock tower design, which makes for a mediocre front suspension and poor spark plug access.
That leaves me to choose my ’65 Skylark. For purposes of our question, I’ll broaden my response to include 1964-1967 General Motors A-Bodies. They’re ubiquitous, so most mechanical parts are available. They’re simple. Engine compartment accessibility is good. Serious emissions controls were still a few years into the future. The front and rear suspension are solid and easy to work on. Buick specific parts can be found at Fusick Automotive Products and TA Performance Parts, among others. Chevelle and GTO specific parts are far easier to find.
What do YOU think? What is the easiest pre-1980 old car to repair and maintain?