One has been chosen.

I had absolutely no expectation of finding something this (relatively) quickly, and this car is the opposite of nearly everything I’d been looking for. But love is blind, and sometimes bloody stupid. Regardless I am now the (somewhat nervous) owner of this 1964 Ford Falcon wagon.

It is the midrange model and has a few options(automatic transmission, power tailgate window) but is still pretty spartan. The exterior still has the original white paint and the tan seats & door panels are there and decent, though the carpeting & headliner are missing. This car has been sitting under a pine tree for about eight months due to a bad valve. The battery is flat and it won’t start and the tree has left it dirty outside & moldy inside.

According to the previous owner he bought it from Iowa via ebay in 2009 and had a lot of work done(tires/radiator/starter/exhaust/new front floors) to make it a decent driver and used it regularly until “a valve went bad”. However he knows nothing about engines and couldn’t explain it any further. I’m going on the assumption the head is bad on the off chance it means I’ll be pleasantly surprised. My plan is to go out where it is still sitting with a battery & fresh gas to see if i can get it to run enough to at least make loading it on a trailer easier.

Besides the engine the single biggest problem with the car is the roof. The edge of the roof is badly rusted/rotted from above the back doors all the way to the tailgate. This is apparently common on these wagons as condensation forms on the inside of the roof and collects in the edges rotting them out from the inside. I’m going to just seal the holes for right now, and deal with proper repairs in the spring. I’ll probably weld in patches for now and depending on how that ends up looking probably look for a good roof to splice in down the line.

For now though my plan with this car is to make it a reliable beater and just enjoy it without trying to make it perfect. An old wagon with a chrome roof rack and faded original paint is undeniably cool, and should make for a great project.

Of course updates will be posted her as things happen with the wagon, I will also still be posting car shopping entries from the backlog of vehicles I looked at before I bought this.

A quick couple lessons in selling cars

A quick tutorial where you, the reader, can learn from the mistakes of the sellers of this 1950 Desoto. Sorry for the single tiny pic, I didn’t take any at the time and it was the only one of the actual car I could find online.

1) Don’t lie about the cars running/non-running status. Mostly because it is kinda easy to tell once I get there. Saying the car ‘runs well’ when you haven’t actually gotten it to start will just piss buyers off.

2) Parts/repairs done before the car say outside under a tree for three years aren’t “new”. If you advertise the car as having ‘new’ brakes and I show up to see the lines/fittings are rusty and you tell me that is just because the car sat for three years I will know that you are, once again, bullshitting me.

3) I REALLY don’t care what the sexual orientation of the guy you got it from was. No, really. It has no bearing on my interest in the car directly, and listening to two guys make gay-bashing comments will ensure I don’t want to buy this, or any, car from them.

A 24 hour rollercoaster of car ownership.

I found this 1950 Dodge Coronet on ebay. My girlfriend and I almost instantly fell in love with it. It ended up being a short abusive relationship.

We drove up to look at it in the dark, and spent about an hour looking the car over & taking it for a test drive each, all the time rationalizing at top speed. The seller made a big deal of the rebuilt engine, all new brakes and repaired & rust-free floors. So we told ourselves since those were all good we’d have a car we could drive while we dealt with the “minor” issues of the unpainted hood, tattered interior, shoddy wiring, rust on the trunk panel… you get the picture.

After looking it over we headed home to wait for the auction to end. In the end I was the high bidder at $1830, but it didn’t hit reserve. He sent me a second chance offer for $2300 which after some hemming & hawing I accepted. We drove down after work the next day and brought the car home. Taking another closer look when we got home the car looked rougher than I’d remembered, but I was still enthusiastic about it.

The next morning I decided I was going to take it to work, I headed out a bit early started her up and chugged off to work as usual. My commute is mostly back roads with a brief 3-mile highway section in the middle. On that highway section the Dodge felt a bit down on power, but I didn’t think much of it .However as I came off the exit ramp the car’s brakes seemed a bid spongy, and it stalled when I came to a stop. I started it back up, but it was running very roughly. The gas tank was nearly empty so thinking maybe it was getting crud from the tank, I pulled into a gas station and fueled up. It took a few tries to start it again, and still wasn’t running well. Trying to pull out of the lot, I hit the gas and the engine died. I frantically hit the brakes before rolling into traffic, only to have the pedal go to the floor. A short but exciting trip into a flowerbed and the car was stopped.

After getting car started enough to move it out of the way, I called work to say I wouldn’t be in that day, & called AAA. While waiting two hours for a truck I poked around under the hood but found nothing obviously wrong with the motor. However after borrowing a wrench from a Desoto mechanic who happened to be passing by, I discovered the brake reservoir was completely dry. While making that unpleasant discovery I made another, most of the driver’s side floorboard was rotted out(something he’d specifically said he’d fixed). I left a series of increasingly upset messages on the seller’s phone.

Too keep from making a long story any longer, I was able to convince him that the car he had advertised bore no resemblance to the car he had sold me and he agreed to take it back and refund me my money. In the end I ended up out about $100 in various small expenses and a day of work.

However it was a a bit of a wake up call. I’m very prone to buying with my heart and not my head when it comes to cars. I’ve got a long string of terrible cars as a testament to that. So the one good thing to come out of this car is that it made me much more aware of that tendancy in me, and so I’ve been a lot more careful about the cars I look at. Whatever car I do end up buying, I’m still going to be deciding with my heart. After all classic cars are an inherently irrational choice, why buy something decades old and hopelessly outdated & unreliable when compared against a newer car? However now my head is going to also be involved a bit more heavily in the decision.


The one that taunts me.

Another craigslist find, this 1951 Plymouth had apparently been stored for sixteen years with the plan of an eventual restoration. The owner finally realized it would never happen and decided to sell. He said that even after its long slumber it only needed a new battery & points to drive from his mother’s garage to his business, the brakes even worked.

I’m not sure what model it is, but it is clearly the most stripped-down basic model sold. It has dog dish hubcaps, no radio, & rubber floor mats. What amazed me was, in addition to its lazarus like revival, the car was amazingly original, and was in very good shape(hiding from 16 years of new england weather probably helped). I found some rust in the floor & trunk but none in the outer body, and while the rubber mat had dried out such that it had shattered, the rest of the interior was in great shape. The only big issues are the need to go through everything due to sitting so long, and that the driver’s side of the windshield is badly cracked and would need replacing(a $300+ job in parts alone, minimum).

However at the time, and even now the car taunts me because I can’t decide if it is exactly what I’m looking for or exactly what I’m not. I have a great respect for simple vehicles that are what they are without trying to be more..And dog-dish hubcaps have always been my favorite style. But the car is also so simple as to be a bit boring, and it isn’t clearly the art-deco of the post-war era nor the glorious excess of the late-fifties. Every time I look at the pictures of the car I get a bit of a thrill, but don’t know if that would last long enough to be worth pursuing.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if I just couldn’t decide and then moved on and had a twinge or regret; But every few weeks the seller re-lists the car on craigslist and it gets me waffling all over again.

I think I figured out why your truck has been for sale for over a month

I found a craigslist ad for a ’51 Chevy truck that had been posted a bit over a month ago. On the off chance it was still around I sent them an email on Friday asking if they still had it and saying I really wanted to come look at it but that since it was 3 hours away I’d like to ask some questions[1] about it and could they give me a call. Saturday afternoon I received an email saying only “I’ll ask my husband to give you a call over the weekend.” It is now Tuesday and I have received no call.

As I said in the subject line, I think I understand why their truck is still available…

[1] I’d just looked at some truly terrible trucks that day(which will be posted about later), and was a bit gun shy.

Any more atomic age and it would have a reactor under the hood.


This 1961 Cadillac was the first car I looked at after I decided to sell my Comet and get something else. It was advertised as being straight but needing TLC for $2700 firm(and man was he adamant on that point). I was very interested as from a purely looks standpoint the ’61 Cadillac is my absolute favorite. It embodies the jet-age aesthetic better than any other car, and from the back especially looks like it should be roaming the superhighways of a tomorrow that never quite happened.

This particular one though had obviously been siting for a while then had been “fixed” by a guy who was clearly interested only in turning a quick buck on it. The ‘very straight’ body had globs of bond in the bottom of both front fenders, the front edge of the hood, and one door was half sculpted out of the stuff.

But so badly did I want this car that I was willing to look past that as well as the fairly thrashed interior. However after we’d driven 45 minutes to look at it, the guy wasn’t there and wouldn’t be for a while. So I went and took one last look at the car before we headed out, and happened to glance under the passenger wheelwell. What I found there caused me to get into Box(my xB) and drive away without a second glance.


Though it is hard to see from the pics, most of the corner of the car is rotted away. The body mount bracket is no longer actually connected to the body in any way and just about everything else is either rotted, missing or bodged together out of what might be road tar? (oh and as a bonus, I didn’t notice until just now the zip-tie holding up what looks to be a rubber fuel line where there should be a metal one) I expect whatever I buy will have some degree of rust and rot, I live in New England after all, but I’m not interested in trying to repair major structural rot.

As I recall this car stayed on craigslist for a while, eventually dropping from $2700 to $2000 before disappearing, so I guess he found a buyer either willing to deal with the rot or who didn’t bother to crawl under the car. I still get wistful about this car, mostly as a representative of ’61 Cadillacs in general, but all it takes is looking at the pics of the underside to remind me why I don’t regret not buying this one in particular.