COAL: 1969 Ford Custom – Cheap By The Pound

1969 Ford Full Size-20-21

The Ranger needs a head gasket. The author needs a way to get to work and the parts store/machine shop while the truck is apart. What’s the best car $200 (1994) will buy? How about Jason’s car?

Affectionately known as “The Boat”, Jason’s car is a 1969 Ford Custom. It may possibly have been one step up, the Custom 500, but it’s doubtful, and the details are lost to time. Powered by a 302/C4, it’s otherwise pretty bare bones – AM radio, power steering, 4-wheel manual drum brakes, and a cloth seat.

This car was originally purchased by Jason’s Great Aunt Mina. Apparently the prototypical spinster, she bought the car new in 1969, and it passed to Jason sometime in the early 90s with only about 60,000 miles on the clock. Problem is, any 1969-model American car comes from the era when a car was pretty used-up by 60k, and The Boat certainly was. It doesn’t matter that it took 25 years to acquire that 60k, the car was beyond its useful life by the time I got it. Nobody had ever really driven it, but neither had anyone maintained it.

I mentioned earlier that The Boat had 4-wheel manual drum brakes. That was a bit of a lie. It was built with 4 manual drum brakes. By the time I got it, no more than two of those brakes functioned, dependent upon the time of day and phase of the moon. Likewise, all of the front end components, steering and suspension, were but a shadow of their former selves. Looking back, it scares the crap out of me that I ever drove it past the end of the block.

On top of all that, everything leaked. The engine leaked so much oil that I would do oil changes for my friends, and pour the waste oil into The Boat. It really didn’t matter at that point.

Oh, did I mention that the gas tank leaked as well? Big ol’ Fords had big ol’ gas tanks (25 gallons, if I remember correctly). One day I was feeling particularly flush and filled the tank, only to watch the top 10 gallons leak right back out on to the ground. I called Jason.

“Why didn’t you tell me the top half of the gas tank leaks??”

“It does? I had no idea! I could never afford to fill it!”

Well, I drove it until the Ranger was again roadworthy. I put an ad in the local paper, offering a low-miles 302/C4, sold in a worthless car. Sold it within a day for $175. Thus ends the tale of The Boat.