Thursday, March 17, 2005

1965 Ford Country Squire Wagon - $2250

Stacked headlights always look cool and the muscular design of the mid-60's Ford Fullsize cars have always looked particularly sinister to me. The massive headlight bezel with the overhang eyebrow looks like trouble.

This photo was taken within minutes of arrival and it looks, well, a little more presentable now. In the spirit of full disclosure that accompanies all Hooptyride sales, this photo clearly shows the lack of hood trim on the front leading edge. Every other piece of trim, every fiberglass faux wood trim, each Country Squire logo replete with horse, every interior knob - it is all there.

The Merits:
  • Runs great. Really great. Runs and drives like it should. Backfires impressively. Commanding, even. Cars from the 50s are not really practical for daily driving unless you update the drivetrain considerably. Oh, I am sure there are plenty that disagree, but the cars of the 60s are reasonable drivers. As long as you have somebody else's gas credit card.
  • 8 Passengers! Two full bench seats for three reasonably good friends per seat and a pair of the cutest damn, perfect condition jump seats in the rear for lovers or the short legged.
  • 390 engine with short little exhaust pipes means it is loud as hell.
  • Roadworthy today! I drove this car to the Pomona Auto Swapmeet without a hitch. I was traveling at 80 and lost track of myself as I neared a very subtle sweeper. All of a sudden that effortless powersteering pencil thin steering wheel became a handful. The steering, mind you, is perfect as these cars ever are but the 80 mph weight transfer in a car really gets your attention. Naturally, there was not a serious incident, but it was a very exciting 2 seconds of sawing back and forth. Vigorously.
  • Fast.
  • As mentioned before, Bill Carroll has some excellent 1972 advice on how to get drag racing. These are the bones of serious hot rodding - big block, big trans and 9" rear end.
  • The interior is, overall, excellent. The headliner, rear seat, jump seat and rear door panels are in really fine shape. The cargo area is not embarrassing. The dashpad is nearly free of cracks and the dash looks striking as they tended to in the 60s. The front seat and front door panels (especially the driver's side) are shot. Clever upholstery would really dress it up. I had the seats in my 54 Chevy done for $250.
  • Tires are great and brakes are recent.
  • Needs a tune-up as it back fires something fierce when you let off the gas. Not helped, I am sure, by the shorty-short exhaust pipes.
  • Front discs! It stops! Unlike my 64 Chevelle.
  • Roof rack
  • Air conditioning that I bet would blow cold if you added a can of R-12. The A/C now blows at what I would describe as 'not hot.'
  • Power rear window!
  • Working AM Radio
  • Seems to be a trans oil leak, probably the pan but I haven't gotten under there yet.
  • Very very close to rust free. True, it looks rusty as fuck. But it is all surface rust. That is just desert patina. There are a couple of pinholes along the roofline and some previous fake wood areas that need a little attention before they get worse. The floors, doors and quarter panels are solid as hell. The floors have zero rust. The footwell for those adorable rear seats has the beginnings of rust, but nothing serious, nothing through. I would wire brush it, treat with POR-15 and paint it with the trunk splatter paint.
What would I do immediately, were I to keep it, were I not to have all these projects:
  • Clean the shit out of it.
  • Buy some Pep Boys seat cover for the front bench or maybe splurge and get a real nice tapestry front seat.
  • As opposed to the cardboard backed door panels like the rest of my cars, the Fords are actually steel backed. I'd remove all the fabric from the driver's door panel and leave it steel.
  • Tighten down antenna
  • Tighten down rear view mirror
  • Tune-up and oil change
  • Investigate trans oil leak, replace filter, fluid and pan gasket
  • Polish all the stainless and chrome
  • Replace bulb in emergency brake indicator, remount in dash
  • Replace windshield wipers
If I were to keep it:
  • Prepare according to Bill Carroll's drag racing step by step
  • Drag race it
  • Not paint it, but replace the wood paneling
  • Add some KC Lights on top. Big fucking light bar with aircraft landing lights.
  • Run the exhaust to the rear (would be cheap and would cut the noise)
  • Add a three gauge cluster under the dash, because it would look cool
  • Buy some floor mats (the carpet is a little dirty, but it might clean up pretty good)
  • Do that wire brush, POR-15 and splatter paint project

This spectacular wagon was sitting at the side of the road and I couldn't pass it by. It was ready for the donation lot, ready for the crusher. It really is a wonderful suburban warrior but it is not for the faint of heart. The paint is so far from shiny it can't even remember being shiny.

Driving this car, you enter into different world of heavy iron Americans. Not classic car buffs, but bare knuckle fist fighters. Every time I get in the car, I immediately want to take my shirt off and pour a can of Coors over my chest. Tomorrow morning I am going to throw an ice chest and a lawn chair in the back, get some suds and beef jerky and just, you know, live. Just wherever. There is nothing like living in Los Angeles and driving an auto of this size. Stopping wherever for a cold one. This is the official car of the freeway bag. You might want to paint that on the doors, 'Official Pace Car of the Freeway Bag Nationals' but then, since you are shirtless and the car is paintless, the chances of ending up on COPS would be very high.