I had a few minutes to contemplate my car/life choices the other day. Technically, I was waiting a few moments to try to start the engine on a 94 Buick Roadmaster, which had coughed, belched, and stalled on me. It had happened the previous day on a hot start, and a few minutes of turning the key again, it eventually fired up and settled in a nice idle and got me home. I’m not sure what was wrong with engine, but it gave me time to think if my choice of beaters was from the right decade. The wife is always saying I need newer more reliable modern cars, but I’m thinking that 94 might be too electronified and I need something more carburmafied. Because here is the truth — my oldest carburetor fed cars might have a few issues (well…always something) but you can nurse it home and fix it. An electronically chip controlled key-ignition system won’t work at all if something goes wrong, but an old school mechanical setup…meh…you’ll notice the degradation before total failure. Modern cars have too many single points of failure because of digital electronics– if too much moisture accumulates in the 94 LT1 optispark chamber…well…no spark, no run. On the other hand, you can run a conventional points system at about 2% of its optimal design specification (gap or dwell or whatever) and it’ll run like garbage, but it’ll still run enough to get you home. So maybe, just maybe, a Ford Pinto with a carb fed 302 V8 is an upgrade in reliability from a 94 LTI? Asking price on this next one is optimistic, but the concept is good. Find this 1979 Ford Pinto offered for $15,000 buy-it-now or make-offer in Katy, TX via eBay.
When I saw the photos for this next car I first thought it was a Torino…but then I realized it was an LTD…except it wasn’t. It is a Ford Galaxie (not a Galaxy) XL, which is a big 429 ThunderJet V8 powered 2-door behemoth that has a set of rear sail panels that simulate a fastback roofline. It comes from a time when car designers had free rein to style as they pleased with little concern for cost, crash safety, external visibility, ease of repair, and various other plebeian concerns. And if you thought it looks good from the outside, just look at the driver centric dash pod…wow. Find this 1969 Ford Galaxie XL Sportsroof offered for $23,500 in Glendale, AZ via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
The other day I wrote a meandering diatribe where I claimed that a Volvo 122S was the textbook definition for an honest classic…and I’m going to have to add another honest car to the automotive dictionary, because this next car is an honest hotrod. Its got a small-block-Chevy in a ’41 Ford Coupe body with 3-on-the-tree, drum brakes, and all the best stuff you’d expect from a 40s hot-rod built in the 60s or 70s. And that’s not a bad thing, because HotRodding back in the day was less about pulling out your wallet for the latest/greatest junk you found at SEMA and more about figuring out what would fit with an adapter plate and some good ole American elbow grease. That hole for the original lug-wrench starter-crank might not be useful with the Chevy engine instead of the original flat-head, but man it looks rad. Find this 1941 Ford Business Coupe offered for $9,500 in Sacramento, CA via craigslist.
This next car came in as a tip from BP who reminded me that Hemmings had gotten into the auction business a few years ago to compete with all the online auctioning that is springing up around web. Hemmings had been a big name in classic cars for longer than most people can remember, but it wasn’t until 2019 that they launched an auction service…and truth be sold, I almost never go look at it unless someone sends me the link. But a site that is flush with car sellers and light on buyers is a recipe for a good deal (and the opposite of certain other sites where people seem to think the local currency is Brazilian Reals) and I think this next thing might go for a reasonable amount of money. Find this 1997 Ford F350 XLT Crew Cab with Power Stroke diesel bidding for $2000 reserve-not-met with 6 days to go on Hemmings.com.
In Episode 2 of Season 9, the guys at Roadkill take a Ford Torino Wagon that is powered by a gigantic Cummins 6BT inline-6 under the hood… well… actually, it doesn’t have a hood. Anyway, the guys at Roadkill didn’t build it, but they did drag race it against another Cummins swapped classic American body-on-frame thing. You can find the episode on streaming on the Motortrend App, or you can watch this low-res bootleg version before it gets taken down. Anyway, that same Torino is now offered with the Cummins diesel and offered for sale. Find this 1972 Ford Torino Wagon offered for $9000 in La Habra, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
If you wanted a fun 2-door from Ford in 1973 you had a few options. You could get a little junky Pinto, a larger junky Maverick, a plus sized Mustang, a gigantic Torino or a XXL Thunderbird (which was a 5000lb two-door, no joke). But there was another Skywalker. There was a hidden gem, built in Germany by Ford, badged as the Mercury Capri, and it handled better than anything from the Americas. Oddly enough, the American public loved the Capri and at its peak the Capri was the second most imported car into the USA (first was the Beetle, of course). However, you don’t find many Capris driving around on the street today and this next example is about the top of the market…and wowza, that is some groovy paint. Find this 1973 Mercury Capri bidding for $17,000 in Charlotte, NC via eBay.
Tipper Rock On sent in this next car with the note; There is always a lot of talk on DT of high mileage Mercedes-Benz diesels. Check out this Maverick’s mileage! Yes indeed, 469k miles is a boat load for any car, particularly one as basic and underappreciated as the Maverick. Anyway, I’d buy this car just to make it hit that 500k mile mark if I had a commute these days. Find this 1973 Ford Maverick offered for $5000 in Yorba Linda, CA via craigslist.
I saw the photos for this next car and was enchanted by the deep red paint. And I was truly hoping from the deepest pit in my heart that the interior pics would reveal a stick shift…but alas…this second generation Taurus SHO was one of the few that left the factory without a pedal for your left foot…and I don’t see why you’d want to drive this thing. It is slower and less reliable than something like a late model Acura TSX sedan or any number of other front-drive sedans with slushboxes and basic accommodations…but the manual transmission version brings with it all the charisma, joie de vivre and analog goodness that comes with life with a manual. Why do all the clean ones have to be slushbox? Find this 1993 Ford Taurus SHO offered for $5500 in Phoenix, AZ via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
It is funny that you can’t buy a convertible pickup from a new car dealer today (at least since the SSR went out of production in 2006) because the convertible pickup has been a common form of transportation for the better part of human obsession with the wheel. Remember Ben-Hur? Charlton Heston’s chariot (technically a quadriga), was basically a Roman equivalent of this next car. What? Yes, it had wheels, a spot for the driver, and place for junk. Because to do work with a vehicle (regardless if that work is to transport someone places, or move stuff, or wreck someone else with spinning wheel spikes) what you really need is a propulsion system, a spot for the driver, and a work bed. Everything else — flappy paddle gearboxes, touchscreens, massaging chairs, rear seats, electric windows, opera lights, landau roof, any roof, 4-wheel-drive, airbags, cigarette lighter, ashtray, warranty, navigation, bluetooth, 8-track, et al — are simply luxury items. Get back to basics with this 1926 Ford Model T Pickup offered for $5,200 in Opelousas, LA via craigslist. Tip from Ramjet.
I’ve driven a vintage 60s sedan with manual drum brakes all the way around and I would have said it was terrifying to drive except that the single-barrel carb equipped inline-6 barely made enough horsepower to get you into mildly excited speeds, much less so to sphincter clenching speeds. But upgrading to dual-power brakes is easy, and swapping to Mustang spindles with disc brakes is a weekend project, and swapping in a mildly tuned V8 is just another few days, and soon you have a Super Sammy. Why do I feel like all of my automotive project planning ends with a car that needs wheelie bars? Anyway, maybe grandma’s car should stay stock. Find this 1965 Ford Falcon offered for $6,500 in Ft Lauderdale, FL via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.