I recently had a conversation with the charming and beautiful (and quite forgiving, I might add) Mrs. Magicboltbox about my relative lack of recent car purchases – I haven’t spent any ill-advised cash on greasy old car parts or greasy old cars in quite a while. Lo and behold, here is my chance to kill two birds with one stone: it’s a genuine parts car! I can immediately start annoying the neighbors and fending off angry city inspectors once I deposit this steaming heap of used-to-be-awesome in the backyard! It’s got a (presumably) running 455, a hopped-up transmission, and enough tetanus to keep a railyard full of hobos in the clinic for a week!
Joking aside, I could probably yank the engine and transmission (I’m unsure at this point whether it’s a stick or an auto) for my own use and part out the rest (over a period of time that would surely involve no less than two divorce threats, four threatening letters from neighbors and/or the city, and three trips to the ER). Assuming all goes to plan, I’d probably come close to breaking even at the end. Of course, it wouldn’t go to plan and I’d end up with an engine with a bad rod knock and a rusting corpse of a car that I sell for $200 scrap. But it sure would be fun!
I don’t normally spend much time surfing Craigslist ads for cars younger than me (actually, that’s a lie – I spend way too much time surfing Craigslist for cars of all ages), but the juxtaposition of this car really stood out. Not many people would consider a nearly thirty-year-old car “modern,” but for me this is still a late-model vehicle. So imagine my shock when I read that this “newer” car has a 1959-vintage 283 small block between the fenders, coupled to a never-available-in-this-chassis four-speed manual transmission (the shifter for which pokes majestically through the floor and into the blood-red front bench seat, I might add). The car rides a little high for my tastes – probably a result of the air shocks mentioned by the seller – and the cheesy 80’s headlight covers need to go, but the car otherwise looks pretty spotless and would make a very fun stoplight racer with the stick shift and those 4.10 gears in the rearend. I’d still rather have a Grand National, but for the money I don’t think you could go wrong here.
Although the seller is clearly “a busy person” and unwilling to negotiate on the price, this car has a ton of character and if it’s as solid as it looks, it might be worth dealing with them. The whole rat rod/patina thing has just about jumped the shark, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t clearcoat the car as it sits, throw on a set of glass packs or side pipes, and cruise it just like that. It has a great vibe, a nice stance, and 60+ years of wear-and-tear (and probably the odors to go with it) that I can’t help but love it.
There’s something about this ungainly car that I like. I think it’s the juxtaposition of the swoopy roofline and jet-age tailfins with that bulldog-ugly jawline. The color wouldn’t be my first choice, but the plain steel wheels and complete chrome and trim put it over the top. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen one of these cars in person (I don’t have the numbers handy, but I don’t think the early-60s Mopars sold well or held up well over time), so you’d probably be the only one at your local cruise-in with one. Relative rarity isn’t always a good thing, but it might be in this case.