A rambling telephone conversation last night touched on the topic of "first cars."
Mine had the distinction of already being a classic when my Dad purchased it for a shockingly low price: a '64 Ford Falcon with, yes, a "three on the tree" manual transmission. The various interesting holes in the sheet metal, including a disturbingly large one under the gas pedal, probably had something to do with the price. We* fixed that with sheet metal and pop rivets, and there ya go, chalky white paint and all. It was also the car in which, about three months later, I killed the engine (teenager, manual transmission...) at a 4-way stop about a mile from home and in the silence, heard a disturbing sound: drip, hiss...drip, hiss, over and over -- and it was coming from behind me. In fact, it was from the general area of the trunk: the gas tank had a tiny leak -- onto the muffler. I walked home and was promptly sent back with chewing gum, instructed to plug the leak and drive the car the rest of the way home! ...It turns out that it's not that hard to install a new gas tank in a '64 Falcon: the top of the tank is the bottom of the trunk!
That incident aside, I have many happy memories of the car. Ford stopped making them in 1970; their own Mustang was too much competition and after a short stint as a kind of underfed Fairlane, it was done....
...In the United States, that is. In Argentina, they started building 'em in-country in '62 and didn't stop until 1991! Better yet, styling changes were more evolutionary than revolutionary, so by the end, it was a car with something of the "timeless" lines of a BMW or Mercedes sedan, only Ford-ish -- no, really. It's a nice-looking car. See for yourself!
* Dad had this theory about kids and cars. My sister and I both got inexpensive, not very powerful, manual-transmission cars for our first ones (hers was a VW Beetle!) and had to show him we could change the air filter, the oil and a tire before we could drive by ourselves. --And we had to do all the minor maintenance with Dad's help. He said it was for our own good and he was right: I don't like to work on cars but it doesn't intimidate me.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago