“Irene” is another addition to the family this spring. Purchased new in 1976 by a regular customer at the shop, this Chrysler Newport Custom Coupe has racked up only 39k miles since new and has had only the best of care, including being housed in a heated garage. The owner was, let me say, a bit eccentric and quite fussy. She and her husband farmed, and never had any children, so everything they owned was gently used and cared for. After her passing, all of her household goods and vehicles were put up for auction. I had no intention of purchasing this, but Rich kept after me to go to the auction “just to see what it brings”. Of course one thing leads to another, and I became the second owner. Along with the car came the buyers order from the dealer in Sterling. They ordered the car in January of 1976 and took delivery the following March. An interesting sidebar to the story is that they traded in a 1960 Oldsmobile 98 hardtop with only 45k miles. I remember that car well, as my grandmother lived across the street from them and I still have this picture in my memory of that car sitting in their driveway. It was a copper color that was popular at that time. Wish I would have been old and wise enough to not let that one get away!
I have serviced the Chrysler since it was new, and was always intrigued by the unusual color. Officially, it’s called Saddle Tan, but I always referred to it as “pumpkin”. Others thought it was “apricot”. Whichever, it’s definitely unusual…. The padded vinyl roof is Chestnut in color, and the interior is Parchment. It has all of the obligatory power options, tilt/telescope steering column and an 8 track tape player. It is in showroom condition and rides and drives as it did when new.
This truck has been a guest at the shop this past winter, and got tended to as my regular work schedule permitted.. It’s a 1923 Model TT Ford closed cab truck. Passenger vehicles were designated as a T, but trucks were identified as the TT’s. Powertrains were the same in all of them- L-head 4 cylinders that produced about 20 horsepower coupled to an innovative planetary 2 speed transmission. A heavy duty worm drive differential in the TT models along with heavy duty rear springs, axles, larger rear wheels and tires made it capable of heavy loads. I was told that it hadn’t run in 40 years or so. The tires had dry rotted, and mice had been living in it. The good news was that it had been inside all of those years. Most of the fabric insulation on the wiring was gone due to mice and the ravages of time, so all of the wiring was replaced, and rebuilt ignition coils were installed. With a new battery and fresh gas in the tank, the old TT came to life. It even ran on the magneto after starting!
The earliest Model T’s had no generator or electric starter. They used a “hotshot” battery that had to be recharged periodically, and cranked by hand. Later production added a generator to recharge the battery. Eventually an electric starter was optional and became standard equipment by the end of production. This truck has a generator, but no electric starter, so it has to be cranked by hand. The ignition switch is turned to the left, which allows the battery to energize the coils so it will start at the low rpm cranking speeds. After it starts the switch is turned to the right- past the off position- to connect the magneto (which is built into the flywheel) to power the coils. Spark advance and throttle are controlled by levers on the steering column, and fuel mixture is controlled by a turning a rod on the passenger side of the dash that’s connected to the carburetor. Driving an old Ford required lots of driver input and active participation! Then there was the matter of getting it to move. A lever coming up through the floor between your left leg and the door was the parking brake/neutral/high gear control. Three foot pedals were L-R: low gear, reverse, and brake. It seems a little daunting at first, but with a little instruction and practice, it becomes second nature.
Other than vacuuming and cleaning the glass, I tried to leave as much “patina” on it as possible. (funny how we used to call it dirt not too long ago). The old truck wears it well, and with all of its’ warts and battle scars, it looks just right with it.
It’s been a busy late winter and spring here at the shop. During that time I’ve added a couple of vehicles to the ever-growing fleet. This one is a 1930 Ford Model A Deluxe Coupe. I’d been looking for a Model A for some time, and heard about this one through a friend of a friend. It had been restored sometime during the 1970s by the father of the seller. She inherited it, but was unable to drive it, so it sat in her garage for the last 10 years. After hauling it home I performed a complete service and tune on it. Nothing sounds as wonderful as an old 4 banger Ford idling. Thunka, Thunka, Thunka!
After the Model T’s were discontinued in 1927, the American public anxiously awaited the unveiling of the “New Ford” during the period that the factories were tooling up for Model A production. Model A Fords were manufactured from 1928 through 1931. Although all Model A’s were virtually identical mechanically, the styling was updated beginning with the 1930 model year. It differed from the 1928-29 cars with the most recognizable features being the radiator, which became more upright and rectangular and the wheel size being changed from 21″ to 19″. It was thought that the 1930-31 cars looked more modern.
I especially like this particular car because it has the stock trunk instead of a rumble seat. Hopefully this summer we’ll manage to take a few weekend trips in this great old car!