Sunday, January 03, 2010

Chuggin' Right Along...

Here’s a bit of advice to the younger generations from this rather old man. I am only 74 and refer to that as “rather old” although I do not feel a day older than 73.

If you own a car that is in good shape, try keeping it for the next fifty years. Of course it does not need to be your basic vehicle. However, if you will keep it for half of a century, you should be able to sell it for a really good price. How do I know? Read on…

When I was a teenager living in Beaumont during the 1950s, there were old good-running Model A Fords for sale all over town. The going price averaged $75.00. I could have bought several. If I had kept them, I could sell them today for $25,000 to $50,000. In fact I could sell them for enough to retire.

One day in 1951, I saw a Model A pickup truck on sale for $75.00. It was located at a small business located on Railroad Avenue. That’s the street that had a train track running right down the middle.

I pulled into the parking area driving my dad’s old 1936 Dodge. You had to hold that Dodge’s floor gear shift in third gear with your hand. Some cogs were missing from third gear so if you did not hold it in place, it would jump into neutral.

Anyway, the owner of the Model-A said that I could drive it home to show my dad. You see, I was 15 years old and had a driver’s license but my dad would have to purchase the car as I was too young to transact the purchase of an automobile.

The windshield was cracked but when I started it up, the motor sounded good like an old Ford should. I pulled out to enter Railroad Avenue. There were some cars coming so I applied the brakes. Guess what? No brakes. I rolled right out into traffic with no hope of stopping that old car.

Actually the car had mechanical brakes but they were out of adjustment. Mechanical brakes were small cables that slowed the rear axle when you applied the brake pedal. The cables could be adjusted to work properly. However, if they were out of adjustment then it was like driving with no brakes at all. This incident is when I learned about mechanical brakes.

When I rolled out into the street, traffic stopped for me. I breathed a sigh of relief but was fearful of driving all the way to my house. I lived at 1375 Pipkin Street in South Park which was more than two miles away with lots of intersections and stop signs. So, carefully I made the block and returned to that parking area. I told the owner that I did not want to drive the old car home with no brakes. He said, “Well, for $75.00, what do you expect? It’s not a new car.” I climbed into my dad’s old 1936 Dodge and backfired out of there.

But recently I saw an ad on the internet. It read something like, “Model A Ford pickup truck for sale, $55,000. Runs like a top. Needs windshield.”

Could that have been the old Ford I tried to test drive? Probably not. Most of those old cars had cracked windshields because they did not have adequate shock absorbers. If you hit a well-defined pothole, the windshield would crack. In many instances you would have a flat tire as an added bonus.

So again, to the younger generations: Keep your cars. Someday you may be able sell them for in excess of $100,000.

I know because I did not do that.

Winston Hamby


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