Monday, April 01, 2019

a cautionary tale, of what buying an old car, sight unseen, and untested - the headaches of picking it up for a cross country drive without doing old car 101. In this case a young couple in their 20s bought a 66 Coronet in Texas, and drove it to New York

This young woman sold her 63 Rambler, then discovered that she missed a cool old car, so she looked around until she found this really nice looking Coronet... and bought it, with a picture frame in the back seat filled with relics including the original bill of sale and a local newspaper feature on the car. That's enough to completely fool her on what a problem she had just bought, and would have to deal with for a week on the road

She wrote up the experience in Autoweek

reading it reminded me that some people still buy old cars without knowing what they are getting into, and then don't realize that unlike new cars, there's 40-60 years of use, wear, tear, oxidation, deterioration,  dried out rubber lines, mouse chewed wiring, and leaks.

In no time at all, they had to pull over for gas, and that's when the fun began. It was already overheating, and only firing on 7 cylinders in just under 2 hours of becoming their only means of getting 1500 miles.

As soon as it got dark, they found out the headlights didn't work, and cell phone coverage wasn't good enough for a phone call. Then they realize the battery is melting from the alternator pegging out at 18volts, the engine is stalling on slow city corners.

They quickly buy 2 more batteries, kill them as well, and then finally get serious about doing old car 101. New sparkplugs, ignition wires, distributor, rotor, fuel line, fuel filter, coil, alternator, and ballast resistor.

You know, all the simple easy and cheap stuff to instantly replace when getting an old car which you know nothing about.

They had a couple simple problems that are unexpected, their accelerator cable broke, headlight switch broke, and the collector bolts came undone. And all that was in the first week, and first 1000 miles of ownership


  1. My wife has a 16 year old grandson that wants to buy an old car to "fix up" I should send the article to him. BTW, he knows next to nothing about how to fix a car.

    1. the best thing we can do for the young ones who are coming of age is to prep them for the world they're about to conquer, and get them ready to handle any little problems that pop up.
      A 60s car, like a Mustang or a Camaro, or Charger, is a perfect way to get them self motivated to persevere through the frustration of seized bolts, expensive parts, and electrical problems that can't be easily solved.
      A car, a mentor, and a couple hundred dollars in simple hand tools and the young ones are going to build a cool high school car, self confidence, and just like going through the boy scouts, they'll have the skills for the rest of their lives, to get their own or some one elses vehicle out of trouble in most minor issues.
      I've tried to give my advice before, that all young people ought to spend a couple weeks in a tire shop, mounting, balancing, and installing tires. It's a simple basic foundation skill in mechanics, and a skill that will have them earning a living ANY where cars are. All tires wear out, get punctures, and there will always be a job for someone who can work in a tire shop.
      It's like being a bartender, or waiter.. you can always get a job. It's maybe not what you want to do, but it's an honest paycheck.
      I hope the 16 year old has a mentor or two that will help him along the way with tools, garage space, and help look for a cheap old car... getting an inexpensive start is so damn important. I hope he scores a VW bug! Great starter car!

  2. Great! I'm sending this link to a friend in Scotland with a 66 Monaco wagon. I could just send him a link to the article, but I think he should be exposed to your blog too!

    1. Darn right he should, it's time for clan McLean to celebrate it's Californian cousin