CC Tech: Parklane Reunion and Suspension Update

In late April the son of the former owner sent me an email mentioning that his Dad was cleaning out the garage and found some parts I might want and to give him a call which I did.

To refresh the story I bought this car back in the summer of 2003 after sitting on Craigslist for several months and apparently the only person to show real interest. The owner was selling his Cougar and going to get an older BMW. Well he did get a 91 convertible if I remember correctly. However, he spent the years after restoring his original purchase Datsun 260Z and I’d really like to see that car’s story.

We decided to meet not far from where I live, just off 680, as he was going to drive from San Jose to Colorado to drop off things for his daughter. He drove up in this which you can see behind my Parklane.

So we get out and say hi and it seems Don is surprised to see that the Parklane is alive and well. He calls his son, up in Seattle I believe, about the meeting and his son asks him to take pictures even though Dad says you know the car. Now having a sharp eye he noticed that the carpet was replace as it was a slightly lighter green compared to the old. After some cit chat he pulls out a box from the back of the Trans Sport. In it are some small odds and ends which are Mercury related but there are also several power window motors that can be useful. Two of them worked well so I cleaned them up, greased them, got a new wheel for one and stored away.

After about 45 minutes he had to get on the road to make his next scheduled stop hours away. So he hopped into the Trans Sport to continue on his way.

Now I did mention that the car now had a 1 1/8″ front sway bar now.

Over the summer I finished the rebuild of the rear suspension. I had originally done the two lateral arms last year when I removed them and installed new bushings. I got stopped when I tried to remove the upper control arm as you can see in the picture. Not a great place for the muffler shop to stick a muffler brace back in 2004. So while I pondered how to remove it I ran across upgrade parts for the 65-68 Galaxie/Mercury. Stronger arms with little flex and polyurethane bushings so I splurged and bought them. So the lateral arms came back out and the new ones went in.

The driver’s side is extra hard because the access to the nut is shared with an emergency brake line. So I had to take an old spare 11/16″ open end wrench and grind it down to half the normal thickness to hold the nut in order to remove the bolt. The nut then falls into the space with no access except for using a magnet to pick up the nut, hold it in place, and push the bolt back in to intercept the nut for threading. Below you can see I tried getting the nut in place by using sticky stuff on the wrench to hold the nut but it fell off where it couldn’t be reached in the end. So cue the magnet although the first time I did this side I did manage with the open end wrench.

Now I knew I had to cut out the bolt that I couldn’t fully remove but how. My sawzall wasn’t a good option as the blade just bounced around on the hardened bolt. My 4″ angle grinder couldn’t reach the bolt because the snout hit the bracket. The only way was to remove the guard and insert a 6″ cut off wheel and to be very careful. Still could only get half way through before bumping up against the frame so that meant rotating the bolt and cut again.

As one can see the bushings were pretty worn.

Last was the panyard arm. Getting it out was straight forward. However, the bolt assembly on one end needed to be removed and I quickly determined I needed something strong to hold one side of the assembly while I removed the nut on the other side. Since I am on the USS Hornet every Saturday I get to use the machine shop and the big vices down there. Once off and back home I can transfer that part to the new panyard arm. That bolt on the right side was really torqued down.

Now placed into the car. While working under here I also replaced the broken axle vent house.

With everything in it was time to drop the car to let the new arms settle in before torquing them down. Test ride would have to wait for another day and that was a week day where my son got off from school at 11:45 meaning no traffic on the freeway. The difference in ride is not apparently when driving straight down the highway but on a lane change or the big sweeping 180 degree exit it was apparent the car had much less lean. I could go through the trouble of adding a rear sway bar but why bother when I am not really going to be ever whipping this car around curves. It isn’t a muscle car, despite what some others like to say, it is a freeway cruiser. It does that very well as I found a wide open spot on the way home and my son said you are doing 100. It is that smooth and quiet that you really aren’t aware of how fast the car is moving. Compared to my 73 Polara where you can tell you are going that fast with all the rattle noise made by the typical Chrysler quality back then. Can’t speak for a 1967 New Yorker but the big Mercury is absolutely devoid of any noise from the suspension or car. This is a great car to drive.

Funny thing on picking up my son from school. The school is in Alamo and there is nothing in Alamo that is less than $1.5 million if not higher. So all the cars are either Teslas or some high end CUV and SUV. So I pull up in the 67 and all the eyes left focus on the car and then my son as he gets in. I felt a little bit like Uncle Buck. The car does have a very faint wiff of blue smoke, probably valve seals, so an engine rebuild is soon due with 153,000 miles. Now under cover just in time for the Big Rain.