I travel a lot on business and had an overnight trip to Omaha back in the mid 80s. The rental counter said that they were short cars but did have a one if I knew how to drive stick. My first two cars were sticks ('65 Comet and '68 Javelyn) so I said sure. They gave me the keys and told me where it was parked and I found a silver 280Z waiting for me. Too bad it was only an overnight trip.
That was the first time I had a 5 speed transmission and loved it. I really did turn heads while driving through Omaha.
Eventually I had another 5 speed, a Saturn SL2. That I did have for 5 years before my son took it over. Really did like driving in snow with a stick. Of course now I livve in the deseert of AZ so that is only a bad memory.
vandamme, I am sorry you and your spouse had electrical problems with your 1200 as I did. Your story struck a chord with me. When I was very young, my dad bought a 58 Plymouth and we went on a real driving summer vacation a week or so after he bought it, to Michigan from our home in Chicago. Dad's Plymouth blew a head gasket, in of all places, Ludington! Spent the whole vacation in Ludington.
Certainly NOT my first vehicle, but in Oct 1969 I picked up a 1970 MUSTANG MACH I in mdium blue metallic w/ 351 Cleveland, close-ratio 4-speed, HURST Shifter, "posi" rear & AM-FM radio, . No other amenities. At the time I needed to quench my desire for "go fast"! At any rate, since this was an early build vehicle, many of the underpinnings were from the '69 MUSTANG, save the obvious changed body panels. And, one of those items was the speedometer cable. While the dash layout was different from 1969 to 1970 models, the cables must have been an afterthought since the cable on my vehicle was too short, and constantly became disconnected. Several trips to the dealer did not rectify the problem. They finally resorted to having an independent speedometer repair facility custom fabricate a new cable, since ALL the FORD part numbers were incorrect.
Needing more reliable & more economical transportation, I traded it in 1972 for a DATSUN 510 Station Wagon. In over 100K miles, NEVER did anything to it except change oil, normal maintenance, etc. Sold it in 1976 to a friend's father-n-law, who drove it for several more years. The ONE big complaint was that the body panels rusted out, BUT mechanically & electrically, it was PERFECT. And, one minor complaint, when traveling in cold winter climate, with the defroster running full speed, the heated air was insufficient to keep the windshield free of ice/snow/freezing rain build-up. Several of those trips had to be interrupted to physically remove the build-up from the glass.
When that vehicle was gone, I purchased a 1976 TOYOTA CELICA hatchback (looked like a 1960s Mustang). All these vehicles were garage-kept. In only a few years, the bulbous gasket sealing the hatchback became loose & floppy. Inspecting the cause, it was immediately evident that it was improperly designed. The turned-up lip of body sheetmetal had completely rusted away, giving no support structure for the gasket.
Traded that vehicle in for a 1980 DATSUN 200SX, a sporty job, which was very comfortable, great on gas, and trouble-free. Sold it to the neighbor's son, a college student at the time for a FORD BRONCO II.
We've had the two DATSUN vehicles in our family, and I can honestly reflect that of all the vehicles that we've owned in the past 60 years, those two DATSUNs provided very reliable transportation in all conditions. Can't say that about that CELICA, since there were several other mechanical problems. I would say that TOYOTA has made GIANT leaps of quality since then, since our last three CAMRYs have been an absolute joy to own, and virtually maintenance-free, except for preventive care.
My bad wiring story finds me, my spouse and her 1200 suddenly slowing to a crawl in Ludington, Michigan. Opening the hood (in a sandstorm, of course) I found the plastic-sheathed accelerator cable had melted. The battery ground cable had gotten disconnected (I postulated that somebody in Detroit the previous day had tried to steal the battery), and the only ground connection to the engine was through the accelerator cable sheath. The heat from the current had finally melted it.
I was able to crank up the idle so we could drive at 25 MPH to the nearest dealer, who was 75 miles away across Lake Michigan, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Fortunately, that was 5 miles of driving, and the rest sailing on the ferry.
My father in law, who fought "the Japs" in the war, was continually dissing the 1200. He claimed the engine block was made from melted down B-25's. Perhaps true, because the piston rings lasted 40,000 miles. And the rear brake cylinders split one day when I stood on the brakes to avoid a Buick running a stop sign.
Despite being Ziebarted, the car was a rolling chemistry demonstration of NaCl+H20+Fe => FeO2. I pop-riveted sheet metal over the holes, and gooped it up with roof patching compound.
I had a Datsun 510 sedan and station wagon, 1200, and a "68" 2000 Fair lady (roadster)...
Never had any significant electrical problems with any of them..
510 sedan.. at night, flipped it on a mountain road (car coming other direction with "high beams on", causing me to take the curve too wide. (no , it didn't hurt)
2000 Fair lady... The Judge made me sell it (I was young and loved speed).. Have you ever gotten 18 "points" in one week? I grin every time I think about that car.
1200 (square back , not hatchback) .... lot of miles.. but fell asleep while driving - totaled it... (yes , it hurt)
510 wagon.. stayed in the family for over 20 years! Abused it with truly scary "off roading" expeditions, (ever spend an afternoon "jumping" your car several feet in the air?) The only electrical problem: fractured alternator mount (belt slipping under load).. Yes , I did have to do some maintenance, but it still holds the title of " the cheapest cost of ownership of any car I have ever owned" ($0.04 / mile for purchase of car, gas, oil, maintenance, insurance -everything included).. gave to youngest brother for his first car...
There are always the possibility of getting a lemon.
Yes, the Eighties were a bad time for Detroit. That same Mustang developed a "tick" after 30K. I lived with it until 70K. The cam shaft had a deep groove on one lobe and when I pulled it out I found that a piece of teflon tape from the nose had worked its way into the journal for that lobe, starving it for oil from day one. The car lived without major repairs for another 100K.
Times have changed, my son put 300K on his Focus, and I had 230K on my Explorer before retiring it. In the Eighties Detroit just didn't seem to understand how important quality was and also how important to business a good "starter" vehicle is. People bought lack luster American vehicles and then turned to imports that put great efforts into their small vehicles. One of my favorites was an early Ninties Mitsubishi that had outstanding engineering. The cheap little car even had roller rockers.
I spent the late 70s and 80s helping my father do freelance automotive work (in addition to his day job), and got a worm's-eye view of the utterly shameful products Detroit was putting out during that period (and I say that as a Detroit native). And the UAW and Big Three wonder why there's an entire generation out there that still equates "imports" with "quality." I remember my father buying his first-ever import because, after a year of shopping the dealerships, he couldn't find any American-made car in his price range that he was willing to trust. And this was a man who'd spent his life doing all his own car maintenance!
My first car was a 1984 Ford LTD station wagon (bought from my mother for $1). It was gently used and got good maintenance, but by 120,000 miles the engine was a complete writeoff. My father and I ended up spending months rebuilding it from the block up, but after that the body started falling apart. And don't even get me started on the fuel pump idiocy....
Of course, my sister (whose husband is a Ford employee) just last year had to get rid of their Ford Expedition well before it hit the 100,000 mile mark because it was a complete lemon (including blowing a spark plug right out of the head while they were towing their camper), and no amount of repairs ever got rid of all the problems. OTOH, we both now drive crew-cab F150s which (knock on wood) seem to be holding up nicely. But Ford always did seem to pay extra attention to protecting the F150 brand.
Fifty-six-year-old Pasquale Russo has been doing metalwork for more than 30 years in a tiny southern Italy village. Many craftsmen like him brought with them fabrication skills when they came from the Old World to America.
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