(first posted 9/15/2021) Lucille’s Story is rather unremarkable since her inception in 1972 at Ford’s Los Angeles Assembly plant. It was the archetypal little old lady car that racked up less than 1,000 miles a year on average for the first 41 years of its life. However, her life became much more interesting since last summer, when a German man called Philipp decided that he wanted to pick up a good, wholesome and extremely large American wagon while on his American holidays.
Philipp’s a car guy through and through, his only car since 2009 being a 1979 Opel Kadett C 2-door sedan that he restored himself. This time however, he was in search of bigger fish (terrible pun completely intended). What started as an idea eventually evolved into a thread in the FinalGear forums, where he asked for help finding one. There weren’t a lot of requirements: automatic transmission, power steering, a V8 engine and most important of all, a completely stock engine, exhaust and drivetrain.
The last one was crucial. Germany taxes vehicles by emissions and engine displacement. To register Lucille as a normal pre-2008 vehicle would cost 1673 EUR ($1905 at the time of writing). But if you register it as a classic vehicle it costs 191 EUR. Doing that however means that everything on the drivetrain must be period correct. You can swap parts, even the engine, but everything that you swap in must have been available for that vehicle at the time or within a couple of years of its production.
Phillipp had decided he either wanted a 1971-72 Full-size ford wagon or one of the B-Body wagons if it came with GM’s amazing “clamshell” tailgate. FinalGear is a very close-knit community so everyone started to look for possible candidates, with offering to personally go and check them out. It took a month but finally one of them found Lucille 15 hours away from him in Ohio and bought her after a bit of haggling.
Lucille doesn’t have wood paneling to interrupt its Wind blue paint. The Country Sedan was the middle-of-the-road offering when released, slotting in between the austere Ranch Wagon and the Broughamtastic Country Squire. No six cylinder engines were offered on any of the Full-size wagons of this generation, so the base offering was the 351 (5.7-liter) Windsor and went all the way to the big 460 (7.5-liter). Lucille has a 400 ci heart mated to the heavy duty C6-three speed auto to move her about.
Philipp was due for the U.S in October, so there was time to fix some issues. The magic doorgate, which was supposed to fold down or open outwards regardless of whether the window was up or down, wouldn’t open. A breakerless ignition was fitted, as well as a performance intake manifold to allow the engine to breathe better and take full advantage of a bigger Carter 4-barrel carb. The normal headlights were converted to modern H4 units. All before being dropped in Chicago to meet her new owner. Needless to say, the first test drive had him fall in love with her all over again.
And what a first meet. Philipp and Lucille bonded by driving 2500 miles through Route 66 to St.Louis, Memphis, Tennessee, and then all the way back up to New Jersey so she could be shipped to Germany, where she arrived on December the 12th. She passed the TUV inspection, needing only new tires, brake fluid and a tune-up. With that out of the way, the next order of business was to install a throttle body injection system would improve everyday driving. This has been the most intensive and time-consuming project so far. Getting the system configured just right wasn’t easy, but after much sweat, soldering and programming it was done. Most recently it was given a rustproofing treatment to ensure she doesn’t get attacked by the tin work for years to come.
Philipp has noticed that the reactions he’s gotten in Europe are very different than the ones in America. Instead of a sense of familiarity, and people remembering how their relatives had one or that they spent their childhoods on the back of one, Europeans give it a thumbs-up as a very different and interesting car; certainly not something from their childhood or family history. Let’s hope Lucille and Philipp keep raking those in for a long time. Knowing him, I’m sure of it.