I’m not shy in my admiration for first-gen Mustangs, and I have to admit that one is pretty high on my perpetual list of next old cars. There are almost always a handful of these for sale in my area at any given time, but this one jumped out at me because of the color and the proud grandma in the photos. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to have a car painted “twilight turquoise?” I’d probably lose the Cragars and put some blackwall tires on it, but I think that’s all it really needs. If it’s nice enough for grandma to drive, it must be nice enough for you.
After last week’s high-priced Bonneville, this similarly expensive Torino seems like a bargain. Well, maybe not, but you could practically eat off the engine compartment, and look at that angry face! I honestly could not remember ever seeing one of these cars before. I knew it was a Torino, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that specific grille before, and it’s awesome, in an “I’m going to thump you, punk” kind of way. It’s sitting up way too high, and it “only” has a 302, but that purported $12k paint job sure looks nice.
It’s officially convertible season, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen one this nice for sale. It’s pretty much the perfect spec: tri-power, 8-lug wheels, loaded, all on top of a pretty blue color with a white interior. That’s a lot of car, and if you were looking for a full-size Pontiac convertible, I don’t know if you could find a better one. Of course, it’s a LOT of money, to the point that I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving it daily or running errands with it (as I tend to do). Still, it’s hard to not see yourself behind that gently curved windshield, winding your way down some country road (and hanging on for dear life around every corner). There’s lots of ways to spend ~$30k, and this certainly isn’t the best or most responsible, but this is still a pretty good one.
Far be it from me to question the integrity of anyone selling a car on Craigslist, but this car is not really a two-door. Well, it is in the sense that it has two functioning doors, but not in the sense that it left the factory that way. In case you were thinking that the space between the trailing edge of the door and the rear wheel well looked a little off, you’re right – two-door Bel Airs of this vintage have longer doors than this one does. That’s not to say that this car isn’t in good shape otherwise, but I’d be leery of any other amateur bodywork or weirdness. I guess I can’t blame anybody here – it’s not like it would be easy to sell a brown, four-door, six-cylinder Bel Air, and you’ll certainly have the only one like it if you buy this one.
In college, I once borrowed a buddy’s car to drive 25 miles away to look at a clapped-out Centurion convertible, so this car brought back a few good memories – mostly because I wisely decided NOT to buy that car. At the time, I negated that wise decision when I ended up buying an equally clapped-out convertible that was 15 years newer. In spite of (or perhaps because of) that experience, I still get the urge for a convertible around this time of year. This particular Centurion is WAY nicer than the one I looked at those years ago, and is probably not much more expensive. It might not have the same panache as a Cadillac or Lincoln, but it’s probably 1/3 the price of a similar Caddy.
It’s been nearly a year since my last post about the Tempest, so let’s quickly get up to speed: Shortly after that post, I threw in the towel and had a co-worker (who is a part-time professional mechanic) fix the transmission leak. I felt a little vindication when it took him a couple days and a few attempts to figure it out – it turns out that there was a missing o-ring on the kickdown cable connection at the transmission that was the culprit. It also explained why the car only leaked when it sat for a while – the missing o-ring was above the sump and therefore only submerged when all the fluid drained back out of the torque converter.
With that fixed, I decided to just drive the car through the fall and pretty much ignore any flaws that weren’t going to kill me. The car was parked in the garage all winter, but between the horrible weather and my other to-do list items, I didn’t really touch it until this past month. With spring around the corner and the overwhelming gasoline fumes that tend to accumulate in the garage after I drive the car finally getting the best of me, I decided to finally get around to replacing all the rubber fuel hose in the vehicle with proper steel lines. I bought new pre-bent front-to-back lines off of Craigslist, and made a second attempt to bend a new line from the pump to the carburetor.
I invested in a tubing bender that would accommodate 3/8 line, and set about making the new fuel line. The tedious process went something like this: bend, check fitment, bend again, check again, bend again, check again, get lazy and try to bend it by hand, fight off tears when the line nearly kinks, check again, swear, and finally force the line into place. God forbid I ever have to do this again, but I think I’ll take the time to remove the power steering pump and upper radiator hose to give better access to the front of the engine.
With that complete, I moved on to the main fuel line. I quickly realized that you aren’t meant to install a pre-bent line with the body still attached to the frame. I persevered through a couple hours of pushing, pulling, more swearing, and some awkward bending, and the line is pretty much where it belongs (or close enough). All that’s really left is to install new rubber hose to connect the line to the tank and the inlet of the fuel pump, and we’ll be in business.
As of right now, that’s were it sits. The weather has been rainy and chilly yet, so I haven’t really missed any driving opportunities. I should be able to get everything buttoned up and ready to drive by next week, and that’s all I’m doing to the car for a while. I have a new exhaust to install and I plan on dialing in the steering a bit (more on those later, hopefully), but if all goes according to plan I’ll be driving the Tempest earlier in the year than I’ve ever driven it before. That’s really a testament to my laziness over the winter more than anything else.
This car couldn’t be any more of its era, and I love it for that reason. Well, not enough to spend even a quarter of the asking price, but I do love it. Between the color scheme, the giant graphics on the door, and the “Hemi” 2.6L engine, this thing screams “1980” louder than if you put on some Christopher Cross on the radio and turned it up all the way. The Fire Arrow was a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer, but all I really care about are the stripes and the hood decal. It’s a shame there are no interior pics, because I think I see plaid seats through the window, and that just ups the ante even more. I can practically feel my sideburns growing just from looking at the photo.