Friday, June 22, 2007

THE FAMILY YACHT


Car in photo is much more massive than it appears

So not long after it was made, Dad acquired a '77 Ford LTD fer me ma. It was powder-blue and absolutely massive, with two enormously long doors. Mom complained that she felt like she was going to be run over whenever she got on the highway - it didn't have any git-up-and-go. So Dad opted for overkill. He pulled out the underpowered engine the manufacturer so naively provided and dropped in a 460 Magnum with racing pistons, a high-rise intake, triple-grind valve job, ported heads, Holley double-pumpers and a whole lotta chrome, if memory serves. At family gatherings, the men folk would stand around the opened hood of the car and just drool and smile in admiration. Finally, an engine capable of lifting two-plus tons of car to escape velocity!

The neighbor guy commented to Dad "your wife just about burned the tires off that thing this morning - the smoke was boiling up from 'em."

Mom complained to Dad that something was wrong with that car-- that a belt or something always squealed when she took off.

He said "it's those Michelins, Caroline."

She knew. It's just one of those little games they play. Mom and Dad are like the non-drinking Ozark version of Nick & Nora Charles. It's fun to watch, and always a thrill-ride.

10 comments:

Fathairybastard said...

That's so cool. Great story. I'd so love to have my dads old Cordoba now. That thing was too fun to drive.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

http://www.posterboard.tv/cars-misc/markv.png

400 small block, RV cam, worked over 600cfm two barrel, C6, 2.47 rear end with disc brakes on all fours.

One of my old passengers used to remark in this manner, when I'd drop the car in first gear and get onto the highway from a stop. "This isn't so fast OH HOLY SHIT!". See, that rear gear means that I just kept it in first gear up to about 75mph or so :) Took a bit for the engine to work up into it's torque range (erm, 1800rpm and up) and then it was gone.

I miss that car greatly.

I don't miss 4mpg. Not a typo.

phlegmfatale said...

fathairybastard - My written version is just a pale imitation of how great it is to hear dad talk about it.

dr. strangegun - VERY cool. Yeah, you don't miss the low mileage, but you're sure glad you had the experience. Your and Dad's experience is one of the high spots of the golden age of the American automobile.

Many was the time he'd surprise hot-doggers out on the road who thought THEIR cars were fast. 4mpg - yeah, THAT would be hard to miss. The LTD had a 20-ish gallon tank, and Dad said you'd better start looking for a fuel station before you'd gone 200 miles, and that is if you drove carefully, feathering it out for efficiency. He said you could burn through the fuel in no time if you really got with it.

Ah, precious memories.

Mushy said...

Wow, that beats my family car story hands down! Thanks for sharing!

phlegmfatale said...

mushy - I don't know about beating your story, because all your stories are fantastic and so engaging. I'm glad you liked it. I think the important thing is to HAVE a family car story. I mean, the car is the only "room" type space in which the family is forced to be confined together for hours at a time - it's where a lot of the family crap really happens, if you think about it. And there's something poetic about moving forward together, about progression and dynamic experience. I could go on...

DirtCrashr said...

Aw man! I grew up with a f*&%#ng POS VW bus that couldn't do over 70 or get out of it's own smoke. Goign over to the beach we'd be doing 45Mph on Hwy 17, getting passed by people who left an hour later than us. Everybody could fit-in and everybody lagged-behind at the same time - perfect Socialist Democracy at work, edging down to the lowest common denominator. And if my Sister threw a s#*t-fit we were all stuck with her toxic attitude and no escape...

phlegmfatale said...

dirtcrashr - you were robbed of your youth, my dear.

Rabbit said...

Hell, I'm impressed you rattled off all the engine mods like that.

My dad was a car nut, even worse than I was. He had a '72 LTD with the 429 which he traded up for the '74 LTD with the 460; then in '76 he bought a PAIR of Thunderbirds, since it was going to be the last year for the "big 'Bird".

I suspect the suspension media was made from bungee cords and that caster wheels on the door handles was an unlisted option.

I love me some big-block Ford iron.

Regards,
Rabbit.

Kevin said...

Growing up in the UK, a car with a 2 Liter engine was big. We, however, did NOT have a big car. Oh, no... WE had a Peugeot 305. I read both your and Mushy's car stories with great envy... I've made up for it since -- 2 of the 3 vehicles I own now have V8s...

James said...

Sure, they sucked down the gas, but cars from that era were the best road trip vehicles ever. We'll never see their like again.

James