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Old Man Winter and the End of the Old Car Driving Season

Today’s used car lot photo seems appropriate here in Vermont at The Old Motor as checking the weather report this morning it appears that a small snow storm is coming in today. Unfortunately with it usually comes the road salt the highway departments use here to keep the roads free of ice and snow. If that does happen, it comes with the bittersweet moment that the old car driving season is probably over here for the winter season.

Like many of our readers who like to work on their own cars, the workshop here is filled with interesting projects to accomplish. But that’s is not the subject matter today, instead, we would like to try something new and let our readers to comment about their old car highlights or discoveries of the year. Also if you have a restoration project underway or are making improvements to your cars over the winter please tell us all about it.

Today’s photo is courtesy of contributor Benjamin Ames.

29 responses to “Old Man Winter and the End of the Old Car Driving Season

  1. I always leave my “Dirty Dart” ’65 wagon ready to go for dry roads and sunny days all winter here in Michigan. But with six old cars that are all running and driving, there’s always something to do. This winter’s project is pretty simple; I’m putting new valve o-rings (seals) in my 89,000 mile ’74 Firebird Esprit. Next summer’s list is, however, a long one! I won’t even get into that or I’ll be here all day!

  2. I see two snow bound Chevrolets, one a 1952 the other a 1953. My 1951 Chevrolet convertable powerglide was good in the snow , one of the few things a two speed slipomatic was good for.

  3. This picture brings back way too many memories. From 1978-1996 I was a sales rep at a Chrysler-Plymouth Mazda dealership in Reading, PA. If it’s 2 inches of snow every car on the lot gets brushed off. If it’s 4, every car gets brushed, moved, plowed underneath and moved back. Guess who does that?

    “If it’s not snow and ice, it’s nice.”

    • “If it’s not snow and ice, it’s nice.” I wholeheartedly agree, but this saying is not peculiar to the car industry. For me, anything under 60 degrees is Cold!

  4. My winter dilemma here in southern Saskatchewan is that my partially complete 1919 Ford T needs to be laid up for mechanical upgrades, but my dog loves to go for a run whenever the weather is warm enough. My T is ideal to accompany her, so what’s a dog owner to do?
    I live on an acreage where no salt is applied (gravel roads), so I can drive an old car in winter without the corrosion issues.
    Have to wear snowmobile clothing, though … a top-less touring car gets mighty drafty around here.

  5. The first car is a ’53 Chevy. I would say a Bel Air owing to the wide whites, side trim and higher end hub caps. The second car is a ’52 ‘Chebby’. Baby blue just like my ’52 and my very first car. It did 60mph in the quarter mile in 20 seconds. Not a rocket by any means but got 30mpg. Good times.

  6. Having lost a job that provided a company vehicle, I have recently been forced into rediscovering the joys (and challenges) of old motoring. I hooked a strap to my old car, drug it out of its place in the yard (jungle), and got her useable in just a couple of days.

    The car is a 1978 MGB. Not as old as the cars usually featured here, but, MG produced the B from ’62 through ”80 based on ’50’s technology and with modest changes. It certainly looks and feels old.

    This most recent slumber was only four years (she’d sat for over a decade before the previous revival) and I got rather lucky.
    Most all of the non working electrical components came down to cleaning connections. Timing and point gap were set correctly. Replaced the starter and the gas that was in the tank. Voila! The urethane suspension bushings and tube shocks from the y2k rebuild are still holding up. Amazingly the clutch and brakes were functional.

    Casey has been my only transportation for most of two months now, covering 60+ miles per day to and from a temporary job. Two used tires, rebuilt front calipers, replacing a section of exhaust pipe, and wiper blades have been the only necessities so far. I plugged the vacuum line to the brake booster as it was allowing fluid into the intake manifold and affecting deve ability. A brake master is on the horizon, too. Started out not wanting to idle, needing a half quart of oil every other day, and getting sub 10 mpg. Purrs like a kitten now, half quart of oil every other week, and 18 mpg.

    It’s slow, and loud, and has no radio or other conveniences. I get wet when it rains and it’s a bit chilly in the mornings, even here in Florida. I think when I get a new, permanent job I’ll fit an overdrive transmission, new seats, and keep driving Casey. I had forgotten how much fun this is!

    • Same here. Lost the company car and my 76 Plymouth Volare Premier has become my daily driver. I’m second owner, have had her for 22 years. It’s a 318, 84,000 miles and in excellent condition. It’s been great fun having people yell out “I LOVE your car!”

      However, I can say I miss power windows, backup cam, keyless ignition, blind spot monitor, fully automatic climate control, etc. etc etc.

      But, like PV4 I promised myself to take her out at least once per month after I get a new job and a new car.

  7. My project for today is to replace the water pump belts on my 55 Chrysler.

    I am also testing my new lift that I installed recently, the Chrysler is the heaviest car that I own at 4400 lbs.
    Maybe I will grease it while it is up in the air.

    I didn’t trust the strength of the concrete floor so I tied it into the massive 15″ H beam that holds up the roof. Wish me luck!

  8. The yellow 53 Chevrolet Belair is exactly like the one my Mother had. It was purchased off the showroom floor at Humphrey Chevrolet in Evanston, IL. The Chevrolet in the middle is a 53 model.

  9. Good morning David ! We don’t really have winter here in Hawaii, but like Aaron, I too am planning on a short rest for the 55 Studebaker to put in some new valve seals. The other plans are a better driveway and a garage. All the best to you sir, and I don’t envy a single flake of snow, ha ! Had enough of that in TN and AL while living and growing up over there !

  10. What a reality check. In the last few days you have taken us to a sandy beach and then sunny California and now SNOW! Just as it is doing outside here now. The ’52 has Genuine Chevy Accessories side bumper guards. Why did he not opt for at least the chrome wheel trim rings also? The ’53 is probably a Bel Air as it has the full wheel covers. Both have radio antenna. Deluxe push button or manual?

  11. What, no lot boy to clean the cars off? C’mon, chop chop, let’s get busy,,I think that would have been a cool job as a youngun’, lot boy. Think of the cool cars you could have driven while the boss was at the auction.

  12. Good clean snow sure cleans the tractor tires nice. Working on a concession wagon styled after a Cretors popcorn wagon. Have to hang the springs and wheels. You can only figure so much, then it’s trial and error.

  13. Anytime one can drive a collector car in December here in Minnesota it is a bonus……Last day for the Packard Station Sedan here was December 2…….

  14. As a researcher my discovery is a little different, but it was definitely exciting. I found I had collected over the years both a 1954 Land of Lincoln National Rallye (spelled as on the plate) license plate and a 1954 Chanute Sports Car Races license plate. Both were Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events. The events took place the weekend of June 5-6, 1954 at Chaute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois, and a concours d’elegance was also incorporated into the weekend. I have since found a pit badge and a poster.

    The rallye had cars starting from multiple places, but information about which chapters of the SCCA sent participants is hard to come by. I know for certain groups came from both Iowa and Chicago. John Shakespeare, the famous Bugatti collector, drove a Ferrari in the rallye, and he won both his class (over 1500 cc), and second place overall. The oldest car participating in the rallye portion was the 1930 Packard of Warren J. Banes.

    The Concours D’Elegance involved mostly modern cars, but in the Antique Division (up to 1930) a 1908 Lambert entered by Ray Zuend was 1st and 2nd went to LeRoy Kurtzeborn in a 1910 Hupmobile. The other antique class saw the 1930 Packard Roadster of Warren Barnes take 1st, the 1932 Packard Phaeton Sedan of Thurm Kuiper take 2nd, and a 1936 Duesenberg SJ brought by Sidney Dickens take 3rd. There were multiple classes for the modern cars, in both a Sports and a Trade division, but the most interesting surely had to be one of the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars brought by Stanley (Wacky) Arnolt. Based on an ad in the June 30, 1954 Chicago Tribune, this was almost certainly B.A.T. 5 which made its debut in 1953.

    The final event of the weekend was the races held on the runways of the air base. The first race, “The Gates 50,” named for the base’s commanding officer Major General Byron Gates, was won by Chuck Wallace in a Jaguar XK120 at 74 mph over a 3.3 mile course. The second race, “The Chicago Cup,” was won by Jim Kimberly in a 4.5 Ferrari at 82 mph. The third race, “The Central Illinois Cup,” was won by Rees Makin in an OSCA at 53 mph. The final race, “The Chanute Cup,” was also won by Kimberly in the same car at 79 mph. All races were run over the same course, and they were 52.8 miles in length except the last which was 151.8 miles.

    The races run by the SCCA on U.S. Air Force Bases were controversial because of using airmen to help with the races, and it was not certain that the races were profitable despite money going to the bases that hosted the events. Consequently, these races ran only from 1952 – 1954. There is one book on the subject called Runways & Racers by Terry O’ Neil and published by Veloce Publishing in 2011.

    Additional source for this writeup: “Sports Car”, the official publication of the SCCA, July-August 1954.

  15. Lots of winter projects here in southeastern Massachusetts . Still tweaking the Stovebolt six engine in my newly-acquired ’32 Chevy 5-window coupe. “New” carb should get here tomorrow, the last piece of that puzzle. The ’17 Ford Touring developed an annoying antifreeze leak on a tour up in Maine late summer. Off with the head to investigate that issue. Finally, my ’67 Aermacchi (Harley) Sprint 250SS needs attention after sitting the entire season without being started or ridden. Time to drain the tank and clean the gunk out of the carb. Sure do have a lot of parts and tools and stuff stacked up around the wood stove. That’s a good place to start getting organized for winter.

  16. That really reminds me of winter when I was a kid. We lived outside of a little town in Western PA, There were four roads leading in and out of the town – all one mile hills. Standard procedure before the days of road salt was to stop at a gas station at the bottom of the hill, jack up the car and put on snow chains. Of course, halfway up the hill, one chain would break and bang against the fender well the whole way home.

  17. A mere ten days ago in the Adirondack region of upstate New York we were enjoying balmy fifty degree weather and it remained nice enough to work outside, move some old car projects around, get things under cover and generally prepare for the long winter ahead. A part of me always selfishly hopes that the advocates of climate change are correct and the coming winter might be mild. “Old Man Winter” did not get that message and this week in just one evening eight inches of snow plunked down and the post storm hours left a very short window of opportunity to clear driveways and paths by plowing and snow blowing before really cold winds from the Canadian arctic descended and turned everything rock hard and slippery. OK…I get the message. It’s now officially the time of year to get to the small projects that involve polishing, rust removal, scratch and dent repair…figuring out how to weld it, expoxy it or somehow fabricate a new part from a worn original. It’s a great pastime and a perfect way to avoid cable TV mind rot. The only thing I dread is the short daylight in late December and through the months of January and February. Maybe this year I’ll find a car show or a swap meet during Jan, Feb or March in a warm place.

    My other obsession for the next ten weeks is how to keep warm.

    Looking forward to April 2018 and beyond…

  18. RE: Eric A’s experience: One of the difficulties with a “swinging chain – end- coming looser” – and banging – is that : It “does a Number” on the car’s sheet metal: After so many blows , it serves to work- harden the steel to a point where IF it isn’t corrected soon , [usually with rubber bungee J-hook rings , or bailing wire and slip-joint pliers]. Be prepared to shell out larger $$$ for a body shop to repair it , after “chain hammering”, as it is almost impossible to” move the metal” again! That said , I have also seen what a loose chain end can do – to hydraulic lines on the inside of the tire(!) Whenever I purchase chains , I try ’em on , as no matter what the box says — they might need the trimming of a few links , by hacksaw in a vise or bolt cutters . That said, I can also sympathize with the extreme cold associated with “Hanging Iron” ( Been there!) When I use chains, I keep 2 to 4 chunks of 6″ long 2 X 4’s to “ladder like”: Drive onto the board to raise the wheel UP so that the slack is tight enough to begin with, when the clip-hooks go on. and quickly tie off any excess. I hate chains , but I hate NO chains— worse, — in foul “salt”weather! Our almost 88 year old “30 AA Ford Truck, “Belle” stays home in “Salt weather”. Sporting a new (about 1935) Heater , She goes out in Cold, Dry weather Only, with her toasty warm cab, now! All of her previous Salt Damage was removed , as old Fords have available Patch Panels! A reincar-(truck)nation , — about 20 years ago. Edwin W.

  19. Here is sunny and warm St.Petersburg Florida the old car driving season never ends. We have many snow birds from up north that trailer their cars here for the season. The week night cruise in’s fill up with cars and seasonal friends. For me, this is the time of year to work on my cars as the garage can be over 100 degrees inside during the summer months. For myself, I recently added A/C to my 1950 Crosley mini 18 wheeler, a fathers day gift from my wife. Merry Christmas to all and to all happy driving!

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