1962 Chevrolet Pickup

Old Cars and TEOTWAWKI

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My first car was a 1953 Chevrolet that I bought for $50 in the summer of 1960.  It had a blown transmission and I was able to find a replacement for the princely sum of $10.  Now I have no real mechanical ability, but a friend and I were able to get the car running.  Even someone with my limited skills could perform a tune up and even rebuild an engine.

Today I have a couple of vehicles.  My newest is a 2007 Subaru.  It is a nice little full time four-wheel drive car.  I like to drive it.  However it has a problem, I couldn’t repair it if my life depended on it. All the new vehicles are very complex.  Now I can change the oil and a few simple things.  However if it has a real problem I am in trouble, it has about 14 or 15 computers that cannot be repaired, if they have a problem I would need to replace them.

If a major disaster occurs and it doesn’t involve EMP and by some miracle, I can still get gas, how long can I keep the Subaru running?  I have tools, oil and extra belts.  But any little hiccup and I am in trouble.  My solution is to keep the maintenance as current as possible and not count on the vehicle for long term.  If your only vehicle is a newer one, get a manual, stock what parts you can, keep the maintenance up and hope for the best.

Me I need to have something similar to that old 53 Chevrolet.  There are still a lot of 60 and early 70 American made pickups on the road.  I would suggest a 6 cylinder with as few accessories as possible, for example no A.C or electric windows.  Depending on the terrain you live in you may not need to be four-wheel drive, but at least get a positraction differential.  Stock tools, parts and a good manual and you can keep it running as long as fuel is available.  If you don’t believe me, just look at current pictures from Cuba and see all the cars from the 1950 that are still running.  They estimate that 60,000 pre-1960 American cars are still running in Cuba.

Howard

3 thoughts on “Old Cars and TEOTWAWKI”

  1. 50’s and 60’s vehicles – how common are the tire sizes? Are the bolt circles on the rims the same as a modern vehicle, for ready availability of extra tires?

    Regardless of your choice, how about buying a good-condition duplicate to have spares like a differential, driveshaft, suspension springs, etc.? I’d think this would be far more important with an older vehicle, especially if local donors you have an eye on have been sitting in a back field for 30 years.

    Do you select based on how long key parts were used in various models? Do you want an engine or transmission that was used in a brief transitional period, or one used for a decade or more? (i.e. Chevy 350 engine, Turbo 400 transmission)

    Another good test is to see just what the engine will run on. You won’t always have fresh pump gas. Now might be a good time to find out just what the limits are. A carbureted 50’s-60’s vehicle might be very happy running on 100LL avgas on one end of the spectrum, or a jug of hooch at the other end. Will a modern fuel injected car run on avgas? (the lead will poison the cat converter so YMMV) Will the fuel eventually deteriorate the injector o-rings? If you can order a set of o-rings for $7 shipped on FleaBay and you get half a dozen sets in stock, is that a problem any more?

    This is a great topic to cast aside Internet Expert Commentary and personal assumptions (what happens when you ASSUME?) and actually test and record results.

    1. TimV

      Those are all good questions, in my family and circle of friends we have stripped some vehicles down to the last bolt and completely rebuilt them. The more common the vehicle was the easier it is to find parts. In the future I will write more on this subject and attempt to answer all your questions.
      Howard

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