Over this past winter, my family and I were taking a shortcut through the parking lot of an old service station to get to a store across the road and we came across this 1966 Ford Custom sedan. These days it’s pretty rare to see a classic car left out during a harsh Ontario winter, as most survivors are lovingly cared for and tucked away in garages. Even neglected project cars usually find some sort of shelter. It reminded me of my childhood when a car like this ’66 Ford would have just been an old car. At that time, seeing an old deteriorating 1960s car sitting at a service station was not out of the norm.
The ’66 Ford was probably in its best form as the luxurious LTD or the luxury-performance 7-Litre. With the introduction of the new stiff body structure residing on a relatively flexible perimeter chassis with soft springs in the 1965 model year, Ford had become the leader in quiet and isolated rides. Ford had also made an effort to move their interiors and craftsmanship to a new level, in particular for the low-priced market, leading to the great brougham epoch. However, this ’66 Ford Custom is quite the juxtaposition to a luxurious ‘66 LTD.
Like many cars from Canada sold during that era, this Ford Custom is a relatively plain and low option car. Under the hood of this Ford Custom resides the base level 150 hp (gross) 240 six-cylinder engine, which is actually quite fitting for a Canadian stripper. The Canadian market cars had often had slightly different engine availability than the American counterparts. 1966 was the first year that the 289 V8 was offered as the base V8 engine for the Canadian market standard Ford, replacing the 352-2V V8 that was the base V8 in prior years. The 390-2V, and 428-4V were available as optional V8s, along with the almost never seen 427 FE V8.
I suspect that the vast majority of the Ford Customs sold in Canada were equipped with the 240 six-cylinder or the 289 V8. Most of the ’66 Fords that have survived today are the higher-end models with the more desirable body styles and engines, so finding a Custom 4-door sedan with a six cylinder is interesting in my eyes.
This particular ’66 Ford was one that was vaguely familiar with. It was located in the neighborhood of a town that I used to frequent often, as I had family that lived close by. I recall this ’66 Ford about 20 years ago and it looked like it had just rolled off the showroom floor. It was the pride and joy of the owner of the service station. This was the type of service station that was once common. You know the type, a small dingy garage with a set of full service gas pumps. The owner was the mechanic that ran the shop and he usually had a couple of teenage employees to pump gas. I recall seeing this old blue Ford all shined up and parked outside the garage. Every now and then you’d see it raised on a hoist as the owner tended to its maintenance needs. He had invested time in making this old sedan look good.
It’s quite apparent the sands of time haven’t been kind to this old Ford. As I snapped a few shots, I question what happened over these years that made this car move from someone’s pride and joy, to being stored outside in a parking lot alongside modern bland-mobiles. Parked near a busy roadway, it would get splashed with the salty water on wet winter days. The once glossy paint job is starting to peel and has now thinned on the horizontal surfaces to the point that rust is starting to come through the paint. On the lower body, more severe rust has set in, enough that would require some sheet metal surgery. Hopefully the rust prone frame is still solid.
As I walked away from this old Ford, I wonder what lays ahead for it in the future. Will it get restored again? Will it continue to deteriorate and end up in a junkyard? I am not sure, but I can only hope that someone saves it from its current state of purgatory.