THE FINAL PUSH
I’d done a competent job with the reconstruction of the finned refugee from 1959 but I had clear limitations. The interior was far beyond my rudimentary chimp-like manual skills so the thought of installing carpet and headliner was up there in the…
“what’s in the late Michael Jackson’s medicine cabinet” scary range.
The other problem was the wiring. I’m reasonably well-versed in the fine art of reading a basic wiring diagram and this old 50’s ride had a very simple schematic so I hand built a new wiring harness based on the diagrams and an old harness from a 58 Dodge. That was the easy part. The hard part was trusting my ability to tie it in.
I folded my cards. The thought of a giant car wiener roast on the maiden run of the 59 was a compelling argument against gambling plus I knew a guy named Spud Purcell who was a genius with automotive wiring. Simple answer given my luck so far with this project.
Spud tied up a ton of loose ends on the car. Minor things like throttle linkages, e-brakes, transmission kickdowns neutral safety switches, window mechanisms and major electrical wiring tie-ins. The optional stuff. Spud has an all encompassing skill with old automotive iron so he was one of the few guys wearing white hats in this tragic comedy. He did a great job making the car roadworthy in a matter of fact, detailed style-the antidote to the last 8 years.
Unfortunately the other guy, the interior guy was cut out of the same ‘show no mercy‘ cloth as most of the players in this sordid game. He took forever-enough time for me to have taken 6 semesters of graduate level courses in “how to do something as simple as installing a few #$%^ing square feet of carpet” in a car.
Naturally this “pro” left wrinkles-unfixable wrinkles
As for the 3 piece headliner-that haunts me to this day-every time this piece of crap falls down. Apparently this clown measured everything on the dead-reckoning scale because he cut it just short enough to flop down after the first winter.
But like everyone of the bad actors in this brutal situation comedy the guy liked to get paid right after the ‘put down the tools’ part–this guy had the check cashed before I had my coat on.
That was a minor setback-the car was really close to the finish line.Spud turned the car out in the spring of 2000 after a few more minor tweaks. The car was back in my hands for good- the spurting blood had stopped. And I still had a pint left in the bloodstream. That’s a huge victory in car world.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Every time you take a Viper Red finned monster like a 59 Plymouth out in real world 21st century traffic there’s a 100% chance you won’t see another one. That is a priceless experience.
That still doesn’t justify the relentless philosophy of consumer rape throughout this project but even at extortion rates this car has appreciated far past its cost-that sure won’t happen with a brand new Ford truck…
So despite merciless gouging from bit players like “Right-on John”, I came out ahead and in possession of an incredible, defining piece of late 50s automotive history. After a few more weeks in my hands dealing with the little things and some detailing this baby was on the road.A full 10 years later.
Would I do it again? Definitely. The same way? Not a f^&%% chance.
Jerry Sutherland @mystarcollectorcar.com