Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Readers ride: 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon, 2-door classic stationwagon

When you see this 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon, your looking at a junkyardlife. Tyler Fleming and his dad Steve, of Gadsden, Alabama, live a junkyardlife. The pair buy old cars, wrench on them, drive 'em and sell them when another project comes along. More than a dozen vehicles from the '40s and '50s have crossed their path in the last few years. "We buy and sell cars," Tyler says. "We have an enclosed trailer that we keep pretty well stocked with parts. When we go to car shows my dad will take the latest project car and I'll take the trailer, loaded with parts to sell."  
1959 Ford Ranch Wagon 2-door 
The father, son duo know driving dream cars doesn't come cheap. "We figure since we are already at a show, we might as well try to make a little money," Tyler says, matter-of-fact. "It's sorta like killing two birds with one stone. Have fun at the car show and make few extra buck at the same time. Nothing wrong with that right?"

Tyler spotted this '59 Ford 2-door Ranch Wagon for sale on Craigslist last fall.  "The owner, in Russellville, Alabama, said the car came from south Georgia," the younger Fleming says. "I believe him, after laying under it and all the red dirt falling in my face, it had to come from south Georgia." The previous owner made it drivable and took it to a few car shows but was ready to move on to something else. That's where the Flemings went to work.
BEFORE: Original 1959 Ford 223-cubic inch engine
Engine swap, more
The Ranch Wagon's tired inline 223 cubic-inch engine with the 3-on-the-tree tranny got the boot. "We installed a 302 cubic-inch engine with an automatic transmission out of a '79 or '80 model Lincoln Versailles (aka the top of the line Granada)," Tyler says. "We've changed out the straight shift rear end gear for one that will work better with a automatic trans, reworked the brakes, put the shifter in the floor and had the front seat recovered." 

 AFTER: 1979 Ford 302-cubic inch engine now in the '59 Wagon.

Future plans
Since these photos were made, the Flemings have added a luggage rack to the roof, along with surf boards that were bought at a trade day. The father-son duo keep the wheels and wrenches turning. "The plan is to leave the paint as is and just make a cruiser, surf wagon out of it," Tyler says. The rear seat will be recovered this winter, providing they still have the car. "We plan on keeping it for a while or at least until something else comes along."

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Junkyard 1967 Chevelle Super Sport, SS 396

Have you seen a battered, big block 1967 Chevelle SS at your local junkyard? A reader from Mobile, Alabama sent photos of this rusty, abused, muscle car. All that is left is a shell of a beast that was factory-equipped with a 396-cubic inch, V8 engine. To say this is a basket case would be a compliment.  

The engine and rear end have found new homes. A distinctive 1967 SS big block hood, crumbling into a thin layer of rust, leans against a fender. The inside of the Super Sport looks as bad as the outside. Time is running out for this 1967 Chevelle. The crusher looms.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cars in Yards: Slick 60's 1964 F-100 flareside, a hunting truck full of memories

  Memories don’t rust. In 1975 the Brown family, of central Alabama, bought a used, green 1964 F-100 flareside. The Ford, with its 223-cubic inch, 6-cylinder engine became the family workhorse and hunting truck. 35 years later, the family’s eldest son, Travis remembers going coon hunting in the pickup with his dad. "Back before everyone decided you had to have 4-wheel-drive to go hunting. That 2-wheel-drive F-100 would go anywhere you wanted to go," Travis says. "We took it bouncing through the woods with dog boxes loaded in the bed." The straight axle, step side Ford remains in the Brown family despite almost being stolen, losing its engine and narrowly avoiding the scrap yard.

Can’t steal this 
  Brown’s dad was squirrel hunting in the early 1980s when a would-be thief was outsmarted by the F-100’s transmission. Travis’ dad swapped the 3-speed column shift to a floor shift during the truck’s hunting years. When the transmission swap was made, the shift pattern was reversed. The thief hot-wired the ignition but got caught in the act when he couldn’t make the truck go forward. Reverse was where first gear was supposed to be and vice-versa. A curious landowner recognized Brown’s truck and called the cops on the guy fiddling with the shifter. When Brown crept out of the woods, his squirrels in tow, he was overwhelmed. Sheriffs and a band of convicts were searching for him. Authorities thought the truck thief might have harmed Brown before he tried to make his escape in the Ford. Brown was relieved that the cops weren’t there to bust him for hunting. 

Running 6 cylinder engine sold for $20 bucks 
  In1983 the truck was parked. A few years passed and Travis’ brother, Clint, wanted to learn to drive the truck. It had not run in years and was languishing in the pasture beside their house. Clint, 12-years old at the time, was determined to make it run and he did. He fired it up and wheeled it around the field a few times before his hot laps caught the neighbor’s eye. The deal of the century was made. Clint agreed to sell the engine and remove it from the truck for a crisp $20 bill.  
Scrap yard calls 
  Ten years ago, the F-100 was headed to the scrap yard. Travis couldn’t let that happen to the truck that held so many memories. He hauled it to his house, unable to let go of a piece of family history. 
Travis riding his bicycle around dad's 1964 F-100 in 1979.
Future plans 
  Travis plans to return the weathered but beloved pickup back to it’s former glory. “I  made a promise to myself to fix up this truck when I was 13-years old,” Travis recalls. A fuel-injected V8 from a 1988 F-150 may soon
make its home under the hood of the 1964 F100. For now, trips down memory lane are just a glance away when Travis walks by his dad’s old truck parked in the yard.  

Ford F-Series pickup truck fun facts
1961-1964 models also known as Slick 60's.
1967-1972 models also known as Bumpsides.
1973-1979 models also known as Dentsides.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Junkyard desert delight: 1951 Ford F100, more classic pickup trucks

Sand, sun and slow-rusting classic trucks can be found in the desert junkyards of the United States. What was left of decades old paint on this 1951 Ford pickup truck has been burned away by the blistering sun. The dry, desert air has preserved the F100's bare sheet metal. Wear items, such as interior pieces and rubber weather stripping have not held up as well to the sun’s abuse.  
These photos are from Hal Lee's search for a rust-free hot rod project along the Colorado and New Mexico border. Lee came away with tons of photos and one old car during his adventure. It looks like there are plenty of vintage trucks ready to be plucked from the desert. 
You might want to check out Desert Classics for more western junkyard inspiration. They have hundreds of restorable classic and vintage vehicles and tractors for sale in Butte, Montana.
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Cars in Yards: 1977 Pontiac Trans Am draws crowd, not east bound and down

A black 1977 Pontiac Trans Am tossed in the weeds like a used beer can? The car, that made Burt Reynolds and Sally Field famous in “Smokey and the Bandit,” has been parked in the same spot for more than a decade. Forgotten, neglected and hopefully for sale and cheap. I took the bait and stopped to get a closer look.

Look, it's Bandit!
From busy highway in north Alabama, this second generation Firebird Trans Am didn't look like a cream puff. But I cringed when I saw the condition of the sheet metal on the right side. The Rallye II wheels on the T/A's right side were sunk into the earth, bringing the rocker panel and damp ground close enough to kiss. Evidence of rust along the lower edge of the quarter panel meant the trunk seal or rear window rubber gave up long ago. A lack of T-tops may have left the floor pans in good shape - 10 years ago. This ’Bird is in bad shape but still tempts flocks of motorists.
Is it for sale? Multiply by 1,000
“It was my son's first car. The Trans Am is not for sale,” said the man on the four-wheeler. He offered the answer quickly. A stranger asking about the car is a common occurrence. “I guess a thousand people have stopped to ask about that car. The more popular these cars get, the more I get asked about it." I didn't question the man as to why his son was keeping it. He pointed down the road and said, "that's my sons place." Good enough for me. They want it, it's not going anywhere, so be it.

More would-be buyers will stop by
The popularity of these Bandit-era Trans Ams will continue to expand as new generations watch "Smokey and the Bandit" for the first time. The movie grossed over $126 million and helped Pontiac sell a record numbers of Trans Ams. A ton of them were painted black and their owners all dreamed of being cool and fast like Burt. Covering this once proud, black Trans Am with a tarp might save these owners a bit of trouble in the future.

"Smokey and the Bandit" 1977

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