Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Requiem for a 1977 Ford Mustang

Looking for some car advice here from the SoSG readers.

Back in December of last year, I bought a 1977 Ford Mustang. I'd seen them quite regularly as I was out driving around, and they looked pretty good from afar. Engines that revved with a lot of power. Nimbleness in a turning radius that appeared to be able to cover a decent amount of ground. A front grill that looked almost as if it was smiling at you all the time. And it looked pretty good in a two-tone blue and red exterior, so I thought it would look great in an all-blue paint job.

So I went on craigslist and searched for one, and sure enough, a beautiful one that fit all of my needs appeared. The seller was in Atlanta, and though I had to pay a pretty hefty price, my needs were pretty urgent (my current car was having a lot of trouble getting traction over the last year, due to a number of reasons), so I figured it was worth the premium.

Now, I don't know much about older cars, but I figured that if it was born in 1977, it couldn't be in that bad shape, right? And the previous owner said he'd driven it with regularity, almost every day of every summer for the last 12 years, and it never let him down.

It showed up at my door, and I had a big party with the neighbors in which a lot of people came by and looked on with jealousy. It looked a little wider around the body than I had thought it was, but I was hopeful that once I got the new paint job on it, it would soon become the envy of the block.

Well, it isn't quite running as I'd expected. The engine seems to get caught in idle a lot. It doesn't maintain its balance going around turns. And it seems to have lost a little bit in the pickup speed; maybe this is to be expected of older-aged cars, I don't know. I tried to use the car for my daily commute every day of April, and despite multiple checkups and oil changes, it doesn't seem like it's getting any better. And my neighbors are starting to snicker, particularly once they see it sputtering back to my garage, sometimes rather quickly just after getting out of the driveway.

The curious thing is, I went to my mechanic, and he said the best thing to do was to continue to drive the car every day. There wasn't anything wrong, he said, fundamentally. I implored with him about the noticable lack of power, the sputtering out of the driveway only to return to the garage, the fact that the car drove a lot heavier than I had originally anticipated. However, my mechanic was firm in attesting that only driving it every day would get it back on track. In fact, he wouldn't even admit the Mustang into his shop, as he was resolute that I had to keep driving it until it started humming again.

I'm thinking of going back and using my older beater car (which I bought the prior year), despite the fact that it didn't get traction last year, it's a much smaller car, and has a much weaker engine. (Plus, the hood seems a little askew, but that's not a performance issue, though it bugs me.) Under the right circumstances, rare in occurrence and only for short periods of time, it can motor around the neighborhood once it gets going. It's not a good long-term solution, but I can't see the value in driving the 1977 Mustang without taking it into a shop somewhere and giving it a full inspection, or maybe even a break from me trying to ride it each day. Driving it into the ground doesn't seem to be helping. On the flip side, the mechanic is pretty well-regarded and I'd like to take his advice to heart.

What do you readers think?

12 comments:

Alex Cora said...

Hmm, quite a predicament. I say take the 1977 mustang to a rehab shop for some repairs. Let it rest there for a couple of weeks. Of course in order to not hurt the mustang's feelings, tell your neighbors it has a strange but benign problem - like a lose gas cap (or a strained hip flexor). In the meantime, use the smaller, less powerful car, but one that is currently running really smoothly. If the smaller car starts to break down, you can bring the other one back. Or if they both start to break down, you can go back on ebay and try to package BOTH of them for a brand new shiny car - which of course, might be difficult because of the price tag. Let us know what you decide!

Ben said...

That is quite possibly the funniest analogy I have ever read. I just started reading your blog and I must say you guys are great!!!!

Keep up the great work, and I hope one day I can add to the SoSG.

Best,
Ben

Orel said...

Brilliant work, Sax! Bravo!

And welcome, Ben. Thanks for commenting.

Mike Scioscia's tragic illness said...

*golf clap*

Ben said...

Given what's going on right now in today's game, I would say the following:

You must take the mustang out everyday. Sad as it sounds, the mustang is somehow good for your collection of other vehicles (mostly newer models) to feel better about themselves and their power by comparison.

I know that sounds sadistic and cruel, but cars (much like people) need to feel better than their peers in order to perform at such a high level.

Finally, I believe that the mustang will prove its reliability in the end, despite you not being able to hear the car stereo over the loud jeering of other drivers...

Rob said...

Don't forget in Atlanta they use salt on the roads in the winter to keep the ice down. Rots out the body and exhaust in a hurry.

Steve Sax said...

Rob, I hear you...but the body doesn't looked rotted out at all.

Au contraire, it's huge.

Jennifer said...

Great post! I can't say I agree with the idea that keeping him makes everyone else feel better. When they all work their way into loaded bases, and he comes up and strikes out with a smile, I don't think they're feeling so hot. And to have him play and leave Ethier on the bench (or any of the other three, for that matter) is just idiotic right now. That boy needs to be sent to boot camp until he drops about 40 pounds!

karina said...

Did you guys realize you were mentioned at Blue Notes?

http://sportsblogs.latimes.com/sports_baseball_dodgers/2008/05/34-games-in-and.html

Orel said...

Yes, thanks Karina!

RandomNevada.blogspot.com said...

Steve and Orel,
Cool story on the Mustang...is this the real deal? Some of my Dodger heroes are really posting here?
How does Garv feel about the blog's name? I think it's very funny...
I'm in Reno now, I used to shoot some Dodger games back in the day...
Thanks Guys-for all the great memories...
~Pony Bob
www.randomnevada.blogspot.com

Dodgertown Terri said...

To Rob's comment about Atlanta --- It is not Chicago here it only snows like twice a year. So the salt thing is not an issue.

What probably happened it you are putting a part Ethanol fuel in it and this engine is not designed for it. Water collects in the bottom of your gas tank. This will wear out seals and the like. Sax don't know if you remember my banana bread I use to make for you and Marshall at DT back in the 80's but I hope you would.