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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our 1955 and 1960 Fords

Manny with 1955 Ford
Somewhere in British Columbia
1955 Ford "Country Sedan" from TV Show "Highway Patrol"
     Annie and I fondly remember the car we were driving when we arrived in the U.S.—a 55 Ford station wagon. That car might have been a special Canadian model differing slightly from U.S. models.
     Here's what the American version looked like:

     I recall that our dog Prince was always in the back of this car. He was nuts about oranges; whenever we drove near orange groves, he'd go apesh*t.
     I remember our stopping once just so that the guy could get it out of his system. He'd grab an orange and chomp on it, releasing all of the juice. He'd do that over and over. What a knucklehead.

     We always called this thing the "pink car," but it is possible that this color is actually "buckskin brown." Not sure. Ford also had a more pink color, "coral mist."

     This last video shows 1956 model Ford station wagons, but they look much like our '55.

Next: our 1960 Ford sedan

Owens Valley, c. 1964

     Some time in the early 60s(?), we sold the old '55, which was by then pretty beat up, and purchased a used 1960 Ford. We always called it the "green Ford." Pa remembers buying it from Cal Worthington in Fullerton, who was famous (infamous) for his "Go see Cal" commercials.
     I do believe that our particular 1960 Ford had a six cylinder engine—the economy engine. I looked it up: it had 145 horsepower. Pa has always described the car as “gutless.” (Ford proudly claimed that this car was the cheapest full-sized car available.)
     We kept this car for quite a while, as I recall. It eventually became the "Boy Scouts" car, i.e., the car used taking the Boy Scouts (of Troop 850, then 536) to camp, etc.—something that could inspire the emergence and spillage of vomit and other bodily fluids. 
     I recall a time we took the car to dusty, bumpy Trabuco Canyon with a carload of Scouts. That trip produced vomit on the back seat floor. The right side, as I recall.

     The car above is actually a 1960 Ford stationwagon, but it looks identical to our Ford sedan from the front. I chose this picture because of the car's color—the color of our car. The color is called "Medowvale green," evidently. Ford claimed that their paint required no waxing.

     Leaving aside the color, this looks exactly like our '60 Ford.

     After we bought the '60 Ford, there was no desperate need for a 2nd car—we engaged in car pooling, says Pa—but we did buy a 2nd car for Ma to use during the day when necessary.
     As I recall, we bought an early 50s Buick, which we named "the Bomb" for obvious reasons. It was amazing to be in the backseat of this car. It was like being inside a tank. It smelled very old back there. My imagination ran wild. I pictured some dark, strange, distant past.

Annie swears this '53 is the one
     As I recall, Pa did not have a high regard of this car and we did not own it for long. Pa once explained that it had a very unusual transmission—no gears!
     I did some research, and it appears that he was referring to Buick's famous "Dynaflow" transmission, which Buick used from 1948 until the early 60s. According to Wikipedia,
Buicks equipped with the Dynaflow transmissions were unique among American automobiles of the time in that the driver or his/her passengers would not detect the tell-tale interruption in acceleration that resulted when other automatic transmissions of the time shifted through their gears. Acceleration through a Dynaflow was one smooth (if inefficient) experience. It was because of this slow shifting that the Dynaflow transmission was nicknamed "Dynaslush."
     For what it's worth, I do remember Pa spending many hours in the garage working on our cars. We rarely brought cars to shops to be repaired or maintained. Same goes for our TV. People really did repair things in the old days. And nothing, it seemed, was ever simply discarded. It was not yet routine to take one's car to "be serviced."
     Lots of oil was dumped straight onto the ground. I remember doing that myself, right next to the garage, when I changed the oil on the lawn mower. Gosh. Nowadays, if you doing something like that, somebody's liable to call the hazmat team.

      Ford colors, 1955. Bottom right, second from bottom: coral mist.

     Ford colors, 1960. "Meadowvale green" near the middle, third from bottom.


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