Ben Deutschman is one of those extremely lucky car guys-he still has the family car he grew up with during the primetime Baby Boom era.
The car was a typical automotive purchase of the early 1960s-practical and not very glamorous.
In fact, he’ll celebrate a family Golden Anniversary with the car this month.
Ben outlined the history: “My 1960 Plymouth Savoy was purchased new by my father on June 13, 1960 from Rossmeyer Chrysler/Plymouth in Metuchen, NJ Since the purchase of the 60 came not long after having moved into a new home, my father wasn’t exactly flush with cash with which to buy, or run a new car.”
However, the 1949 Plymouth he was driving was on its last legs, and a replacement for it was imperative.
Therefore, though a new car purchase had been decided upon as unavoidable, the car had to be reasonable in cost to purchase and operate, thus a six cylinder Savoy model became the vehicle of choice for my father”.
These cars were bulletproof as evidenced by the bio on the car-“As time went on, and the miles rolled by, the choice made in 1960 proved to be a wise one, as the 1960 Plymouth provided many faithful, economical years of service as the family Taxi, grocery getter, etc. The Slant six which powered what is now my Plymouth definitely gave the economy of operation my father needed from the car, while giving ample power to haul a full complement of passengers comfortably, (six at least), and their luggage”.
Eventually even reliability isn’t enough to drop a car from the first string roster: “My Plymouth was the household mainstay until June 1972, when it was displaced from its top dog position. By 1972 my Plymouth was starting to show the effects of 12 years of heavy-duty service, and my parents decided it was time to purchase a new family car. Unlike its predecessor though, my Plymouth was not traded in on its replacement, but as can be surmised, just demoted to second banana.”
Ben inherited the old family heirloom and immediately made kid-like bad decisions: “a ‘friend of mine’, convinced this then naïve teenager that my Plymouth’s engine needed to be rebuilt, and lucky me, he could help me in that endeavor. It seems that my Plymouth’s engine would smoke upon start-up, and for short time thereafter… I believed my friend had to be right about the need to overhaul the engine… what a mistake that was believing my friend’s astute observations, not to mention my unbridled faith in his mechanical abilities. After the “rebuild”, the Plymouth’s engine wouldn’t even turn, didn’t smoke, but it also didn’t do anything else”.
Sound advice was found, yet glossed over in Ben’s then adolescent mind “I should have asked my father if I should even think of getting involved in such a big job as an engine overhaul, without his supervision, after all dad was a Mechanical Engineer”.
Ben didn’t give up on bad decisions-even at that point “ At one point during that year of sitting idle, my father considered simply junking the car, but the paltry $25.00 he was offered for the car, if he hauled it down to the junkyard, dissuaded him from doing so. At the end of the year of idle time, I made yet another not so good decision. I decided I was going to purchase a “good used engine” from a well know national automotive mail order firm. The engine turned out to be a piece of junk, and since it took my High School Auto-Shop teacher three months to get around to installing it, the mail order company refused to take back the engine. The end result of this latest fiasco, was still more idle time for my Plymouth, until I could find an engine rebuilder who would be at least willing to look at the used engine to determine if it was at all salvageable”.
The news wasn’t good: “I finally did locate an engine rebuilder through my Aunt… it would cost more to salvage it than it was worth, and offered me core credit towards an already rebuilt motor… the rebuilder also replaced the transmission they damaged due to errors doing the engine installation. Six months after arriving at the rebuilder’s shop, and what ended up being 1-1/2 years after my original fateful engine rebuild decision, plus some threats of legal action brought on by the rebuilder’s foot dragging in the engine installation process, my Plymouth emerged from the shop under her own power for the first time. The year by this time was 1975, the month was February”.
That was the easy part-as most car guys know because the real task is in the bodywork “the long, arduous task of restoring my Plymouth to her former glory. The task was complicated by my lack of knowledge as to where to source needed restoration parts from… and an over exuberant youth’s driving technique…what was already deteriorated from age, what broke by my pushing the old gal to the limit… quite often slowed the rate of progress in the restoration of my car…it took a few years, some dented fenders, and lots of hard earned money, I did finally wise up, treating my aging Plymouth more carefully. I also started attending car shows, as well as joining a couple of car clubs, finding along the way, that through the car clubs and shows”.
A few more years rolled by and Ben’s car and personal life changed dramatically “In 1978 I had the first body restoration done on my Plymouth. In the summer of 1985 I finally got the interior redone… 2 weeks before my wedding day, found myself under the dashboard installing my new find. my soon to be wife wanted to use my Plymouth as our wedding limousine, and she wanted that record player in there too….”
Like most car projects the journey is long, costly and painful at times but it’s ultimately worth it and Ben’s was no exception-“Though it has now been 25 years since I first got started on the restoration of my Plymouth, and I have had more than my share of ups and downs with this project I can say it has been worth it. Not only has my Plymouth served as the wedding limofor my wife, and I, it also has survived long enough to serve as transport home from the hospital for my son, Martin, after he was born…so all in all it’s been a long and winding road, filled with potholes, and detours, but as I said, overall it has been worth the effort. Much like the mythical Phoenix, my Plymouth rose from the ashes to live again, to serve 3 generations of our family, and become a rolling piece of automotive history in the process”.
That, as they say, is what it’s all about in old car world-for a more detailed look at Ben’s car go to http://www.benscarpage.com/
Ben had some final words on his beloved Plymouth: “By the way, on May 26, 2010, my 1960 Plymouth officially turned 50 years old. On June 13, 2010, my family will have owned this car, 50 years. I wish I could afford to so some really stupid, over the top thing to mark at least one of these milestones”.
There’s a very good reason for that bare bones, practical car, and that was, we had just moved into the house I grew up in, the 1949 Plymouth my Parents had as a “Family Car”, was in need of replacement, and my Parents didn’t have a lot of money to spend on a fancier Belvedere, or Fury model. In fact, if weren’t for the fact that during the week, my Mom would be the primary driver of what is now my 1960 Plymouth, the car would have had a 3-On-The-Tree Stick Shift, because it was cheaper. Mom told me she insisted on the Automatic, telling my Dad that she didn’t want to be constantly on the Clutch driving around town shopping, and taking us kids to and from school. One other note, it’s rather an interesting coincidence that the car Mom insisted on having the Automatic Transmission in it, was built May 26, 1960. Mom’s Birthday, was May 26, 1920″.
A family legacy with many links.
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