Monday, January 18, 2010
Flamingo is a man's shade of pink...
Disclaimer: I do not vouch that this story is true. This is the way I heard it.
I bought another car a couple days ago. I really didn't need another car, but I bought one just the same. This is sick and stupid with the economy the way it is, but for some reason or another, I can't seem to resist. I suppose my automotive addiction could be likened to a woman buying many, many pairs of shoes, except my cars take up a lot more garage space. I do think it is very interesting that most cars have a story. This is especially true with older cars. This is my new cars' story.
My new car is a 1959 Ford Thunderbird. It was built by Detriot's finest in the fall of 1958 and it was covered in a special order Lincoln paint color that is called Flamingo Pink. Along with the pink lower body, it has a Colonial White top. The interior is black and white. The carpeting, door panels, and center console are black, and the inserts in the seats and doors are white. It has a 352 CI V8 FE series Ford engine with a cast iron Cruise-O-Matic 3 speed automatic transmission. It is wearing some white white wall tires for shoes. It is a beautiful thing.
At the time I knew the man that owned the car, but I didn't know him well (now he and I are great friends). He worked in our local hardware store, and I think I originally went to his place to find out about a carb, some parts, or something. I don't remember exactly what.
In his garage at the time, there were quite a few beautiful old cars. There was a 1967 Plymouth Satellite. It was dark green and boasted 440 cubic inch power. It was mean. There was a 1957 Ford 2 door hardtop. It was red and white and looked like it was fresh of the ad from the Ford Motor Company in 1957. There was a 1959 Ford sedan. It was green and white and he a non running inline six. It was a project. There were shelves and shelves of amazingly neatly organized carbs, nuts, bolts, hubcaps, and all sorts of other parts. The boxes were all labeled. Everything had its place. There was a handmade shop sign that boasted "Quality, Honesty, and Integrity...We Don't Fuck Around." For a sixteen year old kid that was into cars, this was a mystical, fabulous place. Aside from all of the other pleasantries, there was a pink Thunderbird in the corner.
I don't know anything about this car prior to me seeing it in approximately 1990. I remember seeing this car back when I was just a dumb, young kid (I am an old, dumb kid now). I instantly fell in lust with it. I remember wondering why in the world he had a pink car, but I never really had the courage to ask. I was just happy to be there in the proverbial Mecca that was his garage surrounded by the nicest old cars I had ever seen. I knew the pink was a strange color for him to have, but I dared not embarrass myself by asking the story behind it and risk getting ejected. I knew then that the pearly looking pink color was probably not the most manly color in the world, but it was elegant and the style of the body of the Thunderbird allowed that color to be forgiven. It was a good looking ride.
This is the story I heard about the car. The previous owner bought this car as a bit of a fixer upper. It wasn't in bad shape by any means, but it did need to have a face lift here and there. The paint was in nice shape and it was pink. The interior needed some freshening. So, he sent the car out and had a new black and white interior put into it. He put new wide whitewall tires on it. He repaired the brakes. He brought it back to his house to fix a couple other minor things on it before gifting it to his girlfriend at the time. Sounds like a sweet gift.
As I was told, he never got a chance to give it to her. Before he got the car finished and ready for her, she was involved in a car accident and died. And then, the car sat. Just as her time had passed on, so did the time for the car. As he mourned her, the car sat in its own state of silent respect. Later on, he stored it more permanently. He blocked it up in his shed and there it has sat for the better part of twenty years. He took it out and drove it around briefly in 2001, he said. Other than that, it hasn't moved much at all.
Now, it is mine. The previous owner ran down a short list of things that need attention on the old girl. It has a headlight bulb socket that needs repair. It needs a new bezel for the truck keyhole. The dash pad has a few cracks in it. He said it needs a rebuild kit for the carburetor. Then, he said he has a different carb for it. Then, he said he will rebuild me a different carb for it. He told me that I should switch intake manifold from the stock steel one when I fix the intake gasket that is leaking on it. He said he has an aftermarket Weiand intake manifold for it. I asked where he got his hands on that. He said "You gave it to me 20 years ago. Don't you remember?"
Nope, I don't remember. Wow. Is it possible that I actually gave old car parts away twenty years ago? Am I really that old?
I am excited about this latest old car venture. I am happy to have a little history with this fine fifty one year old example of Detriot innovation. It is exciting to own yet another piece of American history from back in the time when cars were exciting to own. It was a time when all the cars from every manufacturer were rolling works of art. It is a good thing.
Maybe, just maybe I can create a story or two of my own in it. I am glad my friend trusts me with a car he has such a history with and I knows that I won't taint it. Maybe I can teach my daughter about a little piece of America. I just hope the curse of the girlfriend was a one time thing.