Although it’s the less stylish notchback body style (with a vinyl roof, to boot) and that it’s three shades of avocado green, this actually looks like a pretty nice car for the money. Yeah, the door panels are a little saggy, but the interior is clean and all there, and it’s a V8, four-speed car. The luggage rack and the whitewalls need to go, but you could take care of that while the car is getting a paint job that at least matches. For about 8 grand you’d have a pretty nice cruiser, and for a few dollars more you could have a good-handling road racer or a hard-charging drag car. Personally, I’d be tempted to primer it, slap on some fender flares and the widest tires I could find, and go autocrossing.
Monthly Archives: October 2012
There isn’t much I don’t love about this car, especially viewed against the last one of these I featured. Once again we have that great ’60’s turquoise against a nice black bucket seat interior, one of the prettiest full-size coupe designs of the decade, a clean engine compartment with few alterations from stock, 8-lug wheels, and best of all, a four speed. The price seems just a little steep for a car with little following among collectors, but it’s fair if the car is as clean as it looks. These Grands Prix are near the top of my personal “want” list, and if I had the money I’d be hard pressed to pass this one up. I just love the aeronautical feel of the gauges and the subtle curvature of the body lines, and the four speed and 8-lug wheels are just icing on the cake.
Put on your platform shoes, grab a blacklight, and pop a couple Valtrex, because we’re diving deep into a cesspool of 70’s excess today. Personally, I think this thing is kind of cool, what with the period turbine wheels and the bright blue paint. I also thought all custom vans required a Viking warrior slaying a dragon on Mars airbrushed on the side, but I guess this one escaped that trend. What didn’t escape was Cookie Monster, because it looks like somebody skinned him and used his pelt to upholster the floor and sides of the van. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how cheap this van is, you couldn’t get me to set foot inside this petri dish without a biohazard suit. I don’t want to even think about the smell.
So after the last update, I got the car on the ground, topped off the transmission fluid and oil, and set about
mangling modifying the kickdown cable at the carburetor. Since nothing is easy, it didn’t go as planned. The existing throttle cable bracket is too far back to correctly secure the kickdown cable, and the “universal” bracket I bought was placing the cable too far forward. I made several attempts at modifying the bracket, only to end up making the universal bracket unusable and eventually cracking the cable housing where it attaches to the carburetor. Resigned to the fact that I was going to have to buy a new cable assembly, I left it loose and got the car started.
After a few shots of starting fluid and lots of gas pedal pumping, the engine was cranking along fine but still wouldn’t start. I started poking around the distributor and realized that at some point in this process I had pulled the positive battery lead from the the distributor cap. With that back in place, the car fired up like nothing had ever happened. Thankfully, the exhaust wasn’t too loud (I think it actually sounds pretty good), so I cycled the transmission through the gears and topped off the fluid again. I moved all my tools and detritus out of the way and gingerly backed the car out of the garage. It was (sort of) alive! I made my way down the driveway and up the street, only to find that the transmission wouldn’t shift out of first. Slightly panicked, I manually shifted the transmission in to second and third, which seemed to work – so I guess it’s more a of a semi-automatic transmission at this point.
Despite that possibly ominous result, I felt mildly relieved to at least have the car running and driving – worst case scenario, at least I can drive it to someone who knows what they are doing. A few nights later, a new kickdown cable in hand, I crawled back under the car to replace the now broken original cable. Once again, what should have been a fairly easy task turned into a bit of a nightmare. At one point, I sounded a lot like the father in A Christmas Story when he is trying to fix the furnace. I wove a tapestry of profanity that rose above my garage and hovered in the air like a storm cloud. At one point I think I had a fever vision (perhaps brought on by the aroma of mixed transmission fluid and flop sweat) of taking a sledgehammer to the car, followed by gasoline and a match. But I eventually persevered (only after realizing that, among other things, there was a rubber grommet on the new cable end that was preventing it from sliding into the transmission), got the cable bolted in, and fixed a dripping cooler line while I was at it.
I stopped there, because I need a piece of angle bracket to mount the new cable to the intake manifold. After doing a bit of research, I believe my no-shifting issue might be the result of my ham-fisted, hare-brained use of a hammer to tap the new vacuum modulator into the transmission case – I think I broke the valve when I did that. I plan on trying the modulator out of my old transmission to see if that does anything. Come hell or high water (or snow, for that matter), I will have this thing running right in 2012.
I have no idea if this is/was a Bel Air, Delray, 210, or some other submodel, but if this thing runs and drives it’s probably a steal at this price. If you were handy in the way I’m not, you could paint this, finish the engine, and put an interior in it and double your money pretty easily. For me, I’d just get it running right, get a functional and reasonably comfortable interior in it, and drive it just like this. It’s got an awesome Two-Lane Blacktop vibe to it, and I love it in spite of my normal aversion to baby-boomer-bait late ’50s cars.
For one reason or another, mid- and full-size Mopar products usually carry higher price tags – both before and after the sale – due to a generally lower survival rate and smaller aftermarket support. Perennially the “3” in “Big 3,” there’s always been a kind of underdog flair to most Chrysler cars, but that oddball nature appeals to me despite my typical GM leanings. This car is finished in a great turquoise hue with a black vinyl top that accentuates the somewhat radical roofline, and the Cragar SS’s look great too. Overall, it looks great for the money, although Mopars are often more susceptible to rust than their GM and Ford counterparts. Great coke bottle curves and fender gills bring to mind the contemporary LeMans, and maybe that’s why I like this car so much. Regardless, it sounds like a great starter classic for used Taurus money.