Life with an Old Car

I had the unusual experience of using the Thunderbird to retrieve parts for another car yesterday. We were just doing regular maintenance, but for the moment at least, the Tbird was the only running car in the household.

For the past few weeks, the ‘Bird has been running so well that I have been loathe to tear it apart, even though there are projects ready to go–the parts are even sitting on the workbench.

“Running well” doesn’t mean that the Thunderbird has been problem free. I learned the hard way that an erratic gas gauge is sometimes worse than no gas gauge at all: I ran out of gas at the local supermarket last week. The gauge showed just under a quarter tank–a place it sometimes rests even when the tank is full.

After shopping, I was able to start the engine, but it stopped right away. I was lucky that the car was parked and I was close enough to home that I could walk there with the perishables. By the time I came back with a gas can, the place was packed, people were circling the lot looking for spaces and a restaurant right by the car had a long line of waiting customers outside the door. So, I had quite an audience while filling and starting the ‘Bird. By the time I backed out, there was a very impatient person waiting for my spot.

It wasn’t more than a day or two later that we had a brief freak rain shower while I was out driving. I was dismayed to see the wipers struggle half way up the windshield, then completely give up the task. By the time I got home, the rain had stopped. I took the wiper arms off, put them back on and they worked perfectly. Perhaps they only work in dry weather? It doesn’t usually rain here until October, so I’ll have to wait and see.

I have noticed that except for the initial purchase price, the cost of ownership is about the same monthly outlay as a car payment. There have been moments, most recently at the supermarket, when I’ve been sorely tempted to make loan payments instead of parts purchases. But, last Friday a guy walked by my house, stopped by the Thunderbird and said, “What a beautiful car! Can I walk around it and take a look?”

Yeah, it’s worth it.

1 thought on “Life with an Old Car”

  1. even when in the process of restoration they are awesome lookin pieces of machinery…after i go through the car and get it reasonably problem free, since you have to take out the rest of the car for the dash i am going through it…right now rebuilding steering column and would like to put a few relays in to take care of current running through ammeter. will have a whole year on the road before body work happens. i have quite a few morning at 3 am working on it by work lamp…and..yeah….its worth it. find a back up set of gauges when you can and keep them till you need them…you will need them….just lucked out on a set from a ebay for 35 bucks

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