In the middle of November 1990 two things happened almost simultaneously: the Stinkoln Clown Car finally wore out its welcome (there wasn’t much else left on its list of things to wear out), and my first issue of the Slant-6 Club of America’s excellent quarterly magazine arrived late.
On the first page of the classified ads, I saw it. I wasn’t (yet) very knowledgeable about the early A-bodies, but the picture in the ad below it reminded me intriguingly of a Citroën DS in side view:
Things that made me go H’mmmm: dad needed a new car, right? Right. And he drove American-made 4-door sedans, right? Right. And his first car had been a ’62 Plymouth with Slant-6 and pushbutton automatic, right? Well, then! With all the hubris I could muster (more than plenty; I was a mouthy, cocksure 15-year-old) I set about campaigning for dad to replace the Stinkoln with this what sure sounded like a creampuff of a low-miles ’62 Dodge Lancer. Mmmm, creampuffs.
It was an uphill campaign, to be diplomatic about it. He was an excellent trial lawyer; he argued adeptly for a living. More, he’d already begun shopping round for a car; he’d gone test-driving a new Mercury Grand Marquis (jeeziz, dad, after that Lincoln, really?).
I begged, I pleaded, I reasoned (in childishly spurious fashion), I cajoled, I stamped my feet…no good, any of it; clearly my kiddie-toolbox was the wrong one and this, to invoke Bugs Bunny, would call for some more grownup kinds of stragety—that’s a central lesson of the teen years, I guess.
Hey, I know…I’ll use research and evidence! I went to the downtown Denver main library and found this Popular Mechanics review of the new-for-’61 Lancer (click the cover to get the whole article as a PDF):
He read it, so that was promising, and he made notes in the margins, which I took as an encouraging sign of maybe a leetle wiggle in the boulder I was trying to move. But he was still of a fun-idea-but-that’s-all-it-is mind until I took up a new tack. The ’84 Caprice ate its water pump, and I leveraged the high cost of the repair (A/C, etc) to babble about $20 Slant-6 water pumps changeable in minutes with a box-end wrench. “We could work on it together…!”. That was enough to get dad to say “Well, maybe”. Aha!
Bob (he from whom I’d bought the ’64 Valiant ) had a friend in the Orinda area, who checked out the car for us. Meanwhile, mother and sister tried driving Bob’s ’64 Dart, to get an idea what the Lancer would be like. Mother was indifferent; sister was…er…not in favour. Bob’s friend called in and gushed about the car. Came right out and said “Buy it or I will!”. Mother got onside and transferred some money from the left pocket to the right, making it a nominal anniversary present. Transport was arranged with an outfit called Sierra Mountain Express, and about a week later—we were into late November—I was sitting at the dining room table when a giant truck came stopping outside; the car had arrived! All by its lonesome on an enormous transport truck.
I ran round with my old screwmount Pentax (it was about the same age as the car), taking pictures as the driver offloaded the car:
I handed off the camera to mother and gave the car an eager (understatement -ds) inspection, starting with the most important part…
…then I fetched the barely-unfrozen garden hose, and my pile of hair and I washed off many states’ worth of road dirt before dad got home:
I was freezing and wet, but you want to believe I didn’t feel a bit of it.
By and by, dad got home. Maybe he caught the bus, I guess. Note his briefcase and stuff tossed aside in the bushes (and faded, chalky paint on the car):
Excellent article! Love the Early A-Bodies. My Dad bought a 65 Dart new a week after I was born. My Grandmother bought a 66 Dart that she bought new in September of 1965. She drove it till 1987! My first car in 1982 was also a 66 Dart then I upgraded to 75 Dart. Glad to see your trying to use the Lancer as a “Daily Driver” and reminding us of how much maintenance the older cars were. We come a long way with cars but they aren’t the same. The older cars seemed to have more of a personality and variety in styling. The first Lancers and Valiants had shall we say “unique styling” and in a way “looks only a mother could love”. The slant six was also new in them Thanks for the great read early this Saturday morning!
You’re welcome, and thanks for the thanks!
I learned about magnetic heaters when we lived in the Middle West and I needed to start my 1950 Ford 8N with original 6v electrics in sub-zero temps to plow snow off the driveway. As long as the power stayed on, they worked great. I’d stick one under the tractor on the hydraulic sump and one on the intake manifold. Worked a treat.
And the OCD in me needs to point out that “Welch,” or core plugs are not designed to relieve pressure due to freezing coolant. They are simply plugs to seal the holes in the block that are used to remove sand used in the casting process. They have no other function and by the time they get pushed out due to ice, you likely have other, more serious, problems.
Of course you are right about “frost plug” or “freeze plug” being about as (in)accurate a name as “shock absorber”, but I wanted to show the seed point of my ignorant guesses and assumptions about why it was necessary to start the car.
A magnetic heater on the oil pan would’ve helped quite a bit, and surely one on the intake as well. Probably would’ve preserved the piston rings and cylinder walls, and we wouldn’t’ve frozen our toes or endangered our eyebrows—but then I wouldn’t’ve been able to tell this story!
Great series from Mr. Stern, and these pictures are priceless. I wish I had more candid shots of cars (and just life in general) from growing up.
My dad gave me a camera when I was about six. A Kodak Ektralite-10, a pocket Instamatic that took № 110 drop-in film cartridges. I took it to school (first grade) at least once, and somewhere there are pictures, colour prints of the playground, classmates, faculty and staff, I think some elements of a bus ride, etc. I have a dim recollection of removing them from a decidedly-not-archival photo album and putting them in a box, but I fear the box might’ve got lost in a move; I haven’t seen them in many years.
But yeah, I have often wished we’d had today’s high-quality pocket cameras (our phones) back then, or, in my more fanciful fantasies, a way to travel back in time discreetly and take high-quality pictures and videos.
Indeed! But then again, I did so many stupid/immoral/illegal things as a teen, I am glad there weren’t smart phones and the like to archive my every decision…..
There’s certainly that!
I took lot of photos over the years, first with Kodak Trimlite Instamatic 48 camera (why my parents picked this expensive one for a 11-year-old boy is beyond me) then Olympus XA2 (which faithfully captured the awesome photos for 20 years). I had amassed a large collection of photos over three decades. Unfortunately, the self-storage centre manager in Boulder erred with the bookkeeping and auctioned my stuff for a palty sum of $145. So, I don’t have anything other than the box of photos of my first overseas solo trip to Australia in 1987.
You’re one of the most fortunate to have lot of stuff from your life in 20th century packed away…do keep looking through your boxes.
I thought I was the only one doing this! I had a ’62 Comet as a daily driver from 1984-89. Had very few problems. Only got stuck once (clogged fuel filter). Like you and your dad, everyone took notice of “my car” and got a real kick out of it. It was so different from the typical flimsy, boxy ’80s stuff. I also drove a ’72 Mercedes as a DD from 1989-98. Also very reliable.
I like the looks of that ’62 Lancer in green. Lots of space age character. Virtually unknown today.
I spent a lot of time behind this dashboard:
Under/behind-the-dashboard work was easy and fun when I was a teenager. Neither half of that statement endured!
As one who DDd a 59 Plymouth in 1979-80 and a 66 Fury III in 1987-91, I understand all you say – there were fabulous things about those cars and there were issues not experienced by those with modern stuff.
On the safety thing, you are absolutely right. But being a bit older, all I can say is that we were all used to this. Everyone I knew when I was growing up drove cars from that period. Had I known someone who got screwed up in a bad accident, I might have responded differently. But nobody in my extended circle of family, friends, neighbors did, at least as far as I was aware. We grew up in an era when everyone was in those cars, and those were the 10-15 year old cars all my high school friends and I drove.
Being older and wiser today, even the cheapest 25 year old shitbox is far safer than anything built before, say, 1974. And now the guy in the old car is all alone in terms of safety – if some other car hits you, you pay the physical price and the other guy likely skates. But for all that, there are still days I would love to DD a Lancer like this.
That’s it exactly—everyone was accustomed to the level of (un)safety of cars and driving when the ’62 was a current/recent model; the options were to suck it up and hope for the best, or walk. What made for the questionable choice and cognitive dissonance was the ready availability in 1990 of vastly safer cars.
In a perfect world where crashes don’t happen and old cars are always in perfect tune…welllll…it would also have to be a perfect world where defoggers aren’t necessary. So I guess someplace like Orinda, California. 😁
I used to live in Lafayette, CA which is the neighbor town to Orinda, both just east of the Caldecott Tunnel off Hwy24 in NorCal. It’s not exactly Orange County in terms of climate although it gets hot in the summer. Trust me, the defroster and the heater are both used regularly. Temps in the upper ’30’s and low ’40’s are not at all unheard of on some winter mornings. It rains too. Sure, it gets a lot colder in Denver but once you live in a warmer climate for a while the whole perspective/tolerance changes.
Truth; in San Francisco 60°F is considered a polar freeze and 80° a tropical heatwave!
I imagine many CCers are familiar with the video of a 1959 Chevy being crashed into a 2009 Chevy, but here’s the link. Hint: You’d want to be in the newer car.
The most amazing thing about that crash video is who many old kooks claim the test was somehow “rigged” to make the 1959 car look bad. The seat separating from the floor and the steering wheel piercing the dummy’s test must have been “fake,” too.
I mostly wondered how corroded it was. I’ve seen frames I could crush with my hand and seats that came out without unbolting on rust belt cars of that era!
It wasn’t rusted. This has been debated endlessly, but it was proven to be a very sold car. Just accept the fact that it was designed in a different era.
I inherited a ’62 Dodge Dart from my dad as my first car in ’72. It was a four door, 440 hardtop, with the 318 poly engine. It got me started on my amateur mechanical learning/wrenching career, and even body work, as I repaired it after an encounter with a drunk driver! 🙂
I’ve picked up snippets about this legendary Lancer over the years, but here’s the full story at last. And what a story! I am deeply impressed that you got your dad to do this; My dad? Out of the question.
Of course he drove a ’68 Dart slat six, but that was bought new and it was his choice of car.
Very touching, and very real, in terms of the joys and hassles of running an old car as a DD.
Oh, this is just the start—there’s a whole lot more to it, to be continued.
Although I pursued it with zeal, I was shocked to “win” on this one.
That PM owners survey was a real eye opener about public expectations of technology a few generations ago. Detroit promised an American alternative to the VW and under delivered in gas mileage and workmanship.
I wasn’t then, but having read a mountain of tests like this of cars like these, it seems to me there were unrealistic expectations, fed by advertising and even more by salesmen, of American-car room and power with VW Beetle fuel economy. The workmanship thing is really unfortunate. These cars could’ve been put together so much better—they were, as built in Switzerland!
I have a soft spot for the first A bodies, their distinctive styling made them among the first cars to imprint themselves on my young mind in the late ’60s – early ’70s. In contrast, my folks had the competing early Falcon, and when it was gone, Falcons were out of sight and out of mind, despite undoubtedly being more prolific.
You had the one I would have wanted to have. The ’62 Lancer front end is handsome, and maybe a bit bland, but it tones down the car compared to the first Valiant version, and works very well. The relatively high level of trim on yours – especially the greenhouse makes these look much better, and that Lancer script on the door is awesome.
Fascinating that your dad was willing to take the plunge professionally in his parking garage, not everyone could make that work, his ability to enjoy the attention and probably some ribbing would not come naturally to some of the snobbier in his cohort.
Right you are; most of dad’s colleagues couldn’t’ve and wouldn’t’ve. Though most of them, if they had a kid into cars, he had a poster of a Countach or a 959 above his bed—not a bookshelf full of Slant-6 Dart and Valiant stuff.
Come to think of it, if a hassle-by-hassle and cost-by-cost comparison were to be made between tinkering with dad’s old Dodge and the Benz-Bimmer Brigade’s dealer $ervice trips…!
I have long had a preference for the high-trim models. A Valiant V-200 over a V-100, a Dart 270 over a 170, this Lancer 770 over the 170.
The early A-bodies were (and remain) polarising. The first time I saw a pic of one, my reaction was “COOL!”, so I guess we know my polarity on the subject. The new ’63 Valiant sold much better, but I wouldn’t want to live in a world where it had been introduced as the ’60 model.
As a grade-school-age gearhead, I liked the A-bodies. As an adult, I still do. I saw a print ad or a brochure (of which I had quite a collection) for the ’60 Valiant that said something like, “Valiant has a clean, lean $6000 look but lists for less than $2000.”
The ideal A-body for me would have the Valiant front clip (European-looking grille) and Lancer rear clip (less outré tail lights, no toilet seat).
Regarding lawyers and cars as status symbols, I’m reminded of a passage in one of Henry Gregor Felsen’s books, I forget which one. The teenage protagonist’s father is saying that if a fool buys a car or whatever, he’s still a fool, only with possessions.
Mr Stern’s articles are such a complex fascinating blend of personal insight and refreshing approach to automotive tales, I’m rendered almost speechless.
I suspect your teenage enthusiasm for these cars had a more profound effect on your father than you credit. Perhaps your arguments didn’t sell him on the idea of the vintage car as a daily driver as much as your personal enthusiasm for the concept and your confidence that it was the right thing to do. Well done.
As for automotive safety in older cars, I’ve long suspected the average old car motorist would benefit from personal protective gear. A helmet with suitable coverage would reduce head injury, which, according to Car & Driver 40 years ago was responsible for over 80% of fatalities. It needn’t be a big heavy race car helmet either. A lightweight BMX helmet with side and face protection would go a long way. Similarly, a lightweight motocross chest and shoulder protector would help for torso injury.
This notion may seem ridiculous, but so did bicycle and ski helmets, decades ago. Now they’re ubiquitous. And imho for truly old car operation, (no airbags) some PPE, might just be the thing for peace of mind.
Thanks kindly! This weekly storytelling exercise is a shift for me; I spend most of my days and nights doing more purely technical writing.
You’re surely right that PPE would help, but there’s only so much personal gear and only so much bolt-on retrofitting that can be done to countervail the inherent lack of safety engineering in an old car. A helmet would probably help with head impact, but its mass would probably aggravate an already-dire whiplash hazard, for example. Three-point seatbelts could have been added—doing it properly would’ve called for more than just drilling holes; the B-pillar would need a reinforcement bar inside it—but this would do nothing about that malevolent spear of a solid steering shaft aimed square at the driver’s heart.
And so on. I’ve done quite a lot of nooding on the subject over the years, in part because my work involves traffic safety. You’ve got me thinking up a CC post on the subject!
I see it had the aluminum block–any idea how many Valiants/Lancers were so equipped?
I can imagine how you felt when you got those back issues of the Slant 6 News. In 1990 I decided that my next car would be a Peugeot 504, and I began subscribing to The Lion of Belfort, a Peugeot owners’ newsletter. In October 1990 I found a ’71 gas 504 in great shape at a fair price. Even better, it came with a thick binder of back issues of The Lion of Belfort.
Edited to add: Now that I know 50k aluminum slant 6s were made, what was that as a percentage of total slant 6 production?
There were somewhat more than 50,000 aluminum-block 225 engines made between late ’61 and early ’63. Most of them went in ’62 Valiant-Lancer cars; some in ’61 Lancers, a few in ’61 Vaiants and ’61-’62 Plymouths and Darts, and a few in ’63 Darts and Valiants, with a small sprinking of other applications. It is a fascinating engine, and at the peak of my involvement I had five of them counting the one in the green Lancer (and could’ve had three more, had I been quicker on the jump). My favourite trick: call up a machine shop and say I was bringing in a Dodge 225 engine, then walk in the front door of the shop carrying the block in my two hands and say “Here’s that Dodge 225 I called about”.
Wow, I’m another one who is amazed at your persuasion skills and the agreeableness of your father. My 15 year old public opinion campaign was for my parents to keep our 1975 Vega for me instead of trading it in on the new 1981 Impala.
My campaign failed, but in hindsight that was a very good thing.
And now we know where you got your beard growing skills from too!
Dad first grew that beard in 1979 as a quiet “Eff you” to the stuffy, awful stuffed shi(r)ts at the law firm he worked for in Philadelphia, once he’d secured a position with a firm in Denver. With the Western less rigid adherence to formality he kept the beard, sometimes longer and sometimes shorter. It had the interesting tendency to go snow-white when he was under a stressful workload, then return to coal-black once things were less hectic. We didn’t see his chin again until chemotherapy took away all his hair in the late ’90s.
And yes, he was my inspiration on the beard front; here’s a pic from a trip up Kenosha Pass when I was 16—you have to look hard to see this first beta version of my beard, but it’s there.
I have gone hot and cold on the looks of the original generation of Valiants and Lancers, liking what I see in pictures but occasionally recoiling when I’ve seen one, particularly the Valiant, in the metal. I must say, though, that I really like this Lancer, in that green, and in the higher trim level. The chrome accents on the window frames and around the wheel wells, on the rocker panels and on the front fender blades really bring out some of the best angles on this car. You picked a fine specimen of the genus, Daniel!
The campaign you mounted to bring the Lancer into the family fleet is truly unprecedented, in my experience: I’ve never known any 15-year old car expert who was similarly successful, least of all myself. To that, I salute your father, and perhaps it demonstrates that the apple never falls far from the tree.
I always liked the first generation Chrysler A-bodies, but my first Valiant (I never had a Dodge version) was a 1968 Signet four door, a loaded one with air conditioning. I have looked fondly on those 1960-1962 ones ever since. But then I realized that one of my daily drivers, in fact the one parked outside at work right now, is only two years younger now than Daniel’s Lancer was when he bought it!
Not everything got better at Chrysler over the years, though. The 1962 Dodge Lancer had better headlights.
I like this kind of “that 1962 car was the same age then as a 1993 model is now” thought exercise, but there are confounds that complicate the matter, notably the steadily-rising useful lifespan of vehicles over the years, so the effective age of a 1993 car in 2021 versus a 1962 car in 1990 is not a straightforward versus. Tough to find data as far back as 1962. This table and this one cover 1970 to 2016, and the current figure is 11.9 years.
So in 1990 when we bought the Lancer, at 28 years old it was 3.68× the age of the average passenger car on American roads. And in 2021 your 1995-model is 2.18× the mean age. A car as “effectively old” as the ’62 Lancer was in ’90 would be something like a 1977 model today, or a car as “effectively old” in 1990 as your ’95 is today would’ve been a 1973 model or thereabouts. Whee!
Headlamps: Yeah, there were a lot of lousy ones on American cars of the early-mid ’90s, and Chrysler products had some of the worst—easily capable of making the driver yearn for old pre-halogen sealed beams.
Good series. I love the slant 6 angle. When I was young everyone’s opinion was v8 or nothing. I recall back in the middle of the ’70s my dad was looking at a ’72 Country Squire as the next family car and working on negotiating a price while I was trying to convince him that the 57 Nomad on the same lot was the better deal. Fed up with my interruptions he finally shut me down with “Nobody wants an old car like that!” Papers were signed, cheques written and we drove away in the Ford. At home we all piled in for a “Victory drive” to show off the new car. Not 10 miles away it died in spectacular fashion with smoke belching and steam everywhere. Exploded rad and all. A call to the dealer got a simple response “It’s your car now. Not our problem.” Dad always said that only stupid people swear. My comment that you should have bought the Nomad sure didn’t help the situation. Thankfully a stop payment on the cheque voided the sale and nobody spoke a word about the Country Squire Nomad incident ever again.
The outcome wouldn’t necessarily have been better with the Nomad.
And likely would have been worse because it would all have been 510Longroof’s fault. 🙂
While the body is still the original, goofy Exner design, it’s remarkable how much the Lancer grille and taillights otherwise improve the first generation Valiant.
It’s kind of a shame Dodge didn’t stick with the quad headlight grille on the next generation A-body Dart instead of schmucking those bug-eyed, Turbine Car headlights on it.
Ooh, I disagree. I think the ’63 Dart front end looks pretty close to optimal the way it was; the only real downside is the headlight bezels stuck out far enough to be easily damaged.
What a great story. I cannot imagine getting my dad to purchase a car like this let alone driving it to work. You certainly learnt a lot about cars this way! I hope this isn’t getting too personal but I wonder if he acquiesced as a counterweight to your mother’s difficult behaviour.
A 28 year old car now as pointed out wod be a 1993 model and have fuel injection, safety features, and was engineered for more durability than a 62. Sure, the 62 was easier to service but it needed more constant servicing and none of the 62 designers and engineers expected the thing to last 10 years. Cars were designed back then for this year’s showroom advantage and not for longevity. Nowadays the word that uncle henry bought a taurus back in 1995 and it has 283000 miles and is still going sells cars. (Just not to uncle henry)
Age and neglect kill more car parts than mileage does; a 20 year old car with 300000 miles is likely better maintained, serviced, and in better shape than the 20 year old car with 100000 miles on it which great aunt Lucy took to the store and church. When great aunt Lucy’s car “makes a funny noise ” she may not notice it or waits until she feels like fixing it. Fluids don’t get hot and circulate and keep seals sealing. Gaskets dry out and with great aunt Lucy driving so little, she’ll never notice a problem. It may not overheat until you get it in heavy traffic, etc.
As for safety features, the automakers and buff books kicked and screamed about guvmint regulation and throttling cars and expense, but even from my political standpoint (please excuse me!) These were necessary things. Most People will pay for $1000,stereo but not door beams and safety cages unless you’re an early Volvo customer. But Laura Bush was in an accident way back in the late 50s which killed the other driver. What we consider a minor fender bender today was frequently fatal.
Not at all too personal; you’d have to work a lot harder than that to offend me on the subject. I’ve never thought dad got the car to try to balance out, compensate for, or otherwise ameliorate mother’s defective behaviour (which was a lot like his own mother’s defective behaviour, because that’s how these things often work). Interesting idea. I’ll never know; he’s been dead 21 years.
It’s tempting to agree the ’62 car was easier to service than a ’93 car, but I’m not sure I can. Compare the ’62 Lancer with the optional bigger engine (225 instead of 170) to, let’s say, a 1993 Dodge Spirit or Shadow with the optional bigger engine (2.5 instead of 2.2). There’s usually a list of jobs that are a royal pain in the tuchus to do on any given car, so let’s assume those more or less cancel each other out, ignore them, and focus on routine maintenance and expected repairs. More or less equal ease of work on both cars, only the Spirit needed much less frequent maintenance; we certainly agree that the older car needed a lot more fiddling, a lot more often.
Also agree on the short design life of ’60s cars. The Valiant-Lancer-Dart cars developed a reputation for being unusually sturdy and durable because they were exactly that: unusually sturdy and durable.
You’re also right about regulations. We don’t have to take any particular political view about it; it’s just plain fact to say that regulations exist to manage important aspects of whatever subject is at hand that market forces can’t, won’t, or don’t address. Sure, everyone wants to breathe clean air, but not many people were going to volunteer to pay extra for a cleaner car on their own, and clean air wouldn’t happen unless more or less everyone gets a cleaner car, so…regulations. Same with whatever aspect of car safety we might want to discuss.
Great work Daniel.
Another great article, _four_ pages no less ! .
I’m a reality denier too, I drove a 1928 ‘A’ model Ford Tudor as a daily driver including L.A.’s notorious freeways….
There are some things one can do to older vehicles to make them more reliable (breakerless ignition is the very best bang for buck you’ll ever get !) but in the end, they do require far more touching even if they don’t break down .
Great story, you can see the joy on your face when it arrived, it certainly was in great condition.
It brought back memories of getting my first car, 1969 Valiant Regal Hardtop 318 V8 that I talked my parents into letting me buy in 1979 a year about a year before I got my license.
Dad used to drive it to work at least once a week, I know he used to enjoy that, a bit of a change to his car, a 1976 Volvo 244, That Valiant coupe was quite a special car for its time.
You were driving your Lancer with French selective-yellow ECE headlamps the day we met in person for the first time in the late 1990s.
Reading this article brought lot of memories of me and my father when I was growing up in Texas and learning the mechanical side of cars. He was sort of high strung when it came to me trying to fix the cars myself because he was afraid I’d do the Verschlimmbesserung (the precise German word meaning the fix that makes things worse. Here’s the British guy explaining perfectly what the word means: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSVNyPEQqxg ). My brother was half patient and half frustrated with me. I ended up visiting my brother’s classmate, Kenneth, in Plano, Texas since he was very patient and explained everything I needed to know about fixing and maintaining the cars. Eventually, I became adept at fixing cars (no thanks to my father and brother).
Fast forward to 2010s: my father couldn’t do lot of work around the house and with the cars due to his age. I started to fix his Mercedes-Benz E 280 (W210) more and more, learning the techniques from the YouTube videos and owners forums. That saved him a lot of money and made him realise his mistake of not trusting me back then.
Anyway, I look forward to more of your articles!
Google Translate comes through succinctly for us; it translates Verschlimmbesserung as disimprovement. 🤪
Incidentally, “Lancer” in French is the verb “to throw / launch”. So in France, with them yellow headlights, you’re driving around in your Dodge Throw. Hehehe.
Great post, Daniel, by the way. I don’t always read COALs, but yours are delightful. Awaiting the next installment eagerly.
Thanks kindly! I’ll try to keep ’em readable.
I eagerly read COALS, LT Dan’s and RL Plaut’s were standouts to me, and yours are excellent Daniel Stern.
‘preciate it, Lee!
We GearHeads appreciate good writing, I imagine we’d read whatever you wrote about Mr. Stern….
The only Lancer I ever experienced was the metallic purple respray over red, with original red interior, one that an acquaintance drove. Quite a sight. He worked at Sears auto center, so it was well maintained with plenty of Sears replacement parts. The car was barely over a decade old, so it was just cheap transportation.
Thanks oliver!! I now have a new word which is very useful.
My EE engineer uncle drove a ratty unrestored ’29 Model A coupe to the IBM labs for years. His boss liked it so much that he bought a restored one and started collecting them.
Our neighbors had a ’62 Lancer GT in lt. blue, circa early-mid ’60s. I always preferred it’s slightly toned down design to the Valiant’s, and loved the buckets and the thin dark blue contrast stripe around the beltline. Their other car was a ’60 DeS Fireflite, traded in ’65 on a new Polara. Real Mopar folks, he was a Westinghouse EE.
“If they’d hit the 59 straight on the engine, it would have punched through the Malibu.”
My first car, purchased in 1967, was a 1962 Lancer 4 door, base trim, white with red interior, 170 cu. in. iron block, 3 on the tree. Always had to crank it a lot to get it to start. I learned how to reshoe brakes, how NOT to rebuild a carburetor, and how to grease all the lube spots, and oil and filters, etc., on that car. It was an education. I’ll never forget it.
New for sixty-two: 32,000-mile chassis lube intervals!
Better than needing to replace parts because they CANNOT be greased.
Also better than the ’61-and-previous 4,000-mile intervals.
Meh. I’m under there every 5-8K anyway.
excellent my friend, very nice memory, I look forward to your next note !!!!
Yet another enjoyable article, Daniel.
Mom had a ’65 Dodge Dart sedan which my grandfather got for her as my parents were divorcing in 1969, and the ’63 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon had terminal rust. It had the 225 slant 6 and TorqueFlite automatic, so the drive train was pretty reliable and actually the right car for her. It’s the car I learned to drive and it was our only car for my teenage years. My brother did it in 10 years later with his patented L turn into opposing traffic. It had no A/C (my mother was hypothyroid in some way and was always in a sweater in 90 F+ heat) and AM radio. It was a very tolerant car for me to drive. Your Dodge brings back a few memories. Did the Lancer leak like a sieve?
An acquaintance of my from another HS drove a Valiant, which I thought was a weird style of a car.
When my professional life hit another nadir forcing me to return home from the northern latitudes to Atlanta, my dad–under severe duress from my stepmom–let me have his ’78 Datsun 810 sedan (I6/4sp manual, so worthy of a COAL) in early 1999 instead of donating it. That would be my DD for the next 2+ years. His neglect of routine maintenance periodically came to bite me. No one ever praised that car, it was largely seen as an unsafe (“no air bags!”) jalopy even though I liked it (it was probably the best highway car I ever had). After getting a job again, I bought a house and a new 2001 Nissan Frontier, and turned it back to him in better shape than he lent it. (If it wasn’t such an ordeal to get it to pass the yearly emissions test, I probably would have kept it longer.)
Of all the cars my parents ever had, these are the only two I wished I could have inherited.
Hello again Dan, I have now spent the whole evening reading your Lancer story and a whole lot of the replies. It does remind me of my dear Uncle’s 1962 V100 that he bought new. He previously had a ’55 Plymouth Savoy with a 270 V8.
Somehow I managed to persuade him to buy a used 1971 Valiant Scamp with a LA 318 V8. That was his last car and fortunately it served him well until the day he died. It is interesting how automobiles affect the lives of ‘us guys’ to the point that we have to ask, “What would we have done or been if it wasn’t for those cars we loved and fussed with as youngsters. I have only to look at my life and career with all the MOPARs that I have dealt with, right up to one of the most famous….