Last post on Jul 08, 2008 at 7:21 PM
You are in the Classic Cars
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Coupe, Convertible, Sedan
Feb 09, 1999 (8:37 pm)
Anyone interested in telling how it really was 30
+ years ago.Young readers staring starry eyed at a
Jag E TYPE may be keen to know what they were
really like when in easy supply and less than 2000
dollars for a good one.Ex jag engineer has stories
to tell! Other makes available.
Feb 10, 1999 (3:41 am)
I owned a Jaguar XK140 that I bought for $750...pretty darn nice, too. I repainted it fly yellow with red wire wheels and drove it for years in Manhattan. It would never, ever start in winter. It would run until about November 27th and restart sometime in April. I think I got it started once by hooking up two 12 volt batteries, and engine heater and starter ether, but maybe that was just a dream I had. Biggest thrill was one day on the New York State Thruway, it broke a tie rod at something like 80 mph...I must have spun 5 times, or so it seemed...by some miraculously intervention, I did not hit, nor was I hit, by any vehicle in the four lanes of traffic. Sold the car to a Russian couple who spoke no English, except the wife would point to the rocker panels and say "Bondo! Bondo!"
Feb 12, 1999 (3:41 pm)
Yes I remember what cars were like in the 1960's-carburators generally had problems when the cold winter weather came on. I can remember my fathers Chevy Malibu-in January you got one or two chances to start the thing before the battery died. I also rember backfires.
All of this is a thing of the past, with the advent of fuel injection.
Still, I remember that cars were a whole lot less complicated, and they could be fixed easily. I have personally rebuilt carbs for around $10.00 in parts and a few hours time.The front engine/rear drive layout left lots of room in the engine compartment-I had an AMC Concord where I did'nt even have to get under the car to change the oil-everything was accessable from the top! (drain plug and filter)-all you had to do was slide the pan under (try that with a modern car).
Feb 12, 1999 (6:14 pm)
I think the trend today is to build cars that will run much more reliably and longer than the cars of old, but that are essentially disposable once they break a major component....like appliances are now...after ten years, you don't fix the old refrigerator...
#5 of 309 ratch
Feb 14, 1999 (5:28 am)
Another thing -- I'll always remember the day Big Daddy broke 200 MPH -- we were at Carlsbad Raceway -- I don't remember where he did it, but we were thrilled. Broke 7 seconds around that same time.
Biggest disappointment was the big block Chevys -- all that hype and such a legacy in thier small blocks.
Cast iron wonders -- 352 and 390 Fords -- intake manifold weighed almost as much as a bare 283 block!
Loved that '56 -- put a Corvette 2 - 4 setup on it, switched out the Powergroan for a three speed, and commenced to clean house on everything on the road at that time.
Early 60's you could get engines from Chevy dealers -- warranty replacements -- for $25.00! Then they put a stop to it.
Remember the T-10 4 - speed? Blow third gear and cluster all the time! Then out came the Muncie -- we called it a rock crusher -- almost bullet proof, but slower to shift.
Automatics wren't getting it -- except for the Torqueflites. We used Hydromatics with Cadillac plates. Still remember that hard 2 -3 upshift -- the whole thing had to change -- and it was never smooth!
Leaking Holly carbs; pot metal Rochesters; Qudrajets (utterly outstanding carb once it was set up right), Carter AFBs (Pontiac loved 'em).
Remember using the flowmeter to set up your 3 deuces? Old Strombergs? Rebabbetting rods?
So much for nostalgia -- want to talk about reliability and maintenance?
Feb 14, 1999 (9:12 pm)
Thanks for that trip down memory lane...some of the cars you mentioned could still raise some hell on the street!
Interestingly, the carburator is still king on the dragstrip, isn't it?
#7 of 309 Back in those days...
Feb 16, 1999 (4:22 pm)
Those old enough to remember will quickly agree with me that cars are, indeed, better today.
I'll always fondly emember my beautiful 1962 Impala Super Sport. It was a great car, however, the Powerglide had to be overhauled at around 60,000 miles. Coming up with 200.00 wasn't easy for an 18 year old at that time! Shortly thereafter, a valve job was required. The front end needed ball joints and control arm bushings.
This was normal stuff back then. If a car managed to make it to 100,000 miles it was pretty tired. Today, 100K is a walk in the park.
I had an Accord traded in last summer with 288K on it. Compression was still perfect, everything checked out fine. Outside of scheduled maintance, nothing had been done to the car!
Later on, I had a 64 Impala SS with the mighty 409, 4 speed. At 80,000 miles it burned oil and needed an overhaul. Pretty common back then.
That 409 couldn't handle, couldn't stop, and got 7 miles per gallon.
But...oh, could it blast off the line, and what a sweet sound.
Not as sweet as my first car, a 1952 Chevy. NOTHING sounds like an old six cyl Chevy with a split manifold and a pair of short glasspacks!
Wish I had those old Chevys back....
Feb 16, 1999 (6:00 pm)
We could arrange that, get out your checkbook...
Feb 16, 1999 (9:38 pm)
I would probably take the old '52 back.
This time I wouldn't lower it. I would split the manifold. Put on an 18" glasspack on one side and run a straight pipe on the other.
Then I would find a long hill in a quiet residental neighborhood late at night. I would drop it into second gear going down the hill, let out the clutch, and rap that beautiful music.
They I would hope the cops were more understanding then they were in my Southern California neighborhoods so many years ago...
Do you remember that smooth mellow sound?
#10 of 309 ratch
Feb 18, 1999 (1:57 am)
One changeover I always wanted to do was a Chevy 302 in a 50 - 52 Chevy coupe. Never looked at it real close -- compartment seemed too narrow.
I almost bought a Chevy split manifold six -- around a 50 or so -- really can't remember. Was in Oceanside California.
Now, I'd like to build one more car -- a street car like we actually drove -- based on what we could afford. I can hear that Chevy backing down on the pipes or racking -- cherry bombs...
In the main, reliability is way beyond what we ever had, but I think modern cars are more apt to leave you stranded without warning.
Aside from high mileage failures like timing chains and such, 60's cars usually gave some warning before they quit. At least it seems like they did.
Some hints: 60's small block Chevy pickup engines usually had forged steel crankshafts.
If you can get the pistons, a 283 crank in an early 327 block made you a 302. Destroked 327.
2 - 4 bbls ran good on Chevy smallblocks. 3 - 2 bbls didn't. 3 - 2 bbls ran good on 389 and 400 Pontiacs. I didn't have any experience with 2 - 4 bbls on these engines.
348 and 409 Chevys ran good on any carburator combination. I liked 2 - 4s better than 3 deuces.
Never was happy with the Chevy big block -- way too much torque and way too much reciprocating mass.
Anyway, thanks for a chance to say something about the old cars. Can you still hear the vibrator on the old radio?
'49 Merc, Buddy Holly, and Sharon -- at the light, 56 Ford rapping up alongside. Ha!