On a Mission

It’s worth mentioning that we have done a couple of things to Aunt Helen since she came to live me.  We cleaned the engine, changed the distributor cap and rotor (which is blog worthy) and gave her an oil change.  I haven’t done a whole lot, though, because a) my time is limited for another month or so and b) my finances are limited (aren’t all of ours?).
Things are slowly starting to shift and I’m going to be able to dedicate a bit more time here in the near future.  A few things that are on the horizon include re-building the front end, fixing the dash pad and tracking down a hard to find trim piece for the passenger side door.  Here’s a picture:

So, I’ve been on the hunt for this piece.  I registered for the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) website so I could participate in their forums and posted a new thread looking for the piece.  I received a reply back with a suggestion of someone who actually called me back and said they would keep me on their radar.  I also joined the Forward Look Network and posted a thread.  Got a lot of other good information from just browsing.  I didn’t think it would be so challenging to track down this piece, but the trim package on most of the other Chrysler products during this time (Imperial, New Yorker, Saratoga, etc.) had different trim packages.  Also, the Windsor came in a 2-door style, as well as, a 4-door style.  I’m glad that I know how to use google so well because this process requires a lot of searching.

I also had my first yard experience.  We checked out Desert Valley‘s yard to see if they had any Windsors.  They had a ’61 and it had a completely different trim package.  Now girls, if you’re like me, you’re not thinking about the miscellaneous debris that might be strewn about at a yard.  My first advice, be prepared to get dirty and do not wear heels or open-toe shoes.  I thought sandals would be a good idea.  Don’t do it!  Here are some photos from the vastness that we searched for about an hour since random trim pieces were thrown inside the vehicles.

IMG_4098 IMG_4100
Here’s another small tip: My friend found a posting for a 2-door Windsor on Craig’s List.  They want quite a bit of money for it and it is in much worse condition than mine.  He picked up (he’s been doing this a while) that there were lots of cars in the yard surrounding the Windsor and he called the guy.  Turns out, they have a variety of Chrysler pieces on their lot, that is not a public lot, and they may have the trim piece we’re looking for.  We’re hoping to get down there this week.

In the meantime, I’m still on a mission to find that trim piece and really that’s the only piece I need aesthetically.  This is something to take note of when purchasing a classic car because those elements aren’t cheap and you can expect to pay $40 – $200 (even more) pieces for some of these embellishments.  It can add up fast.

The Journey Begins

On April 6, 2013, Aunt Helen and I began our journey together.  An opportunity to begin this journey with her came my way through a friend and I’m thrilled at the endless opportunities.  Aunt Helen is a 1960 Chrysler Windsor.

I don’t know anything about cars and I really don’t know anything about restoring cars.  And when I say anything, I really mean anything so this whole restoration experience is going to be about me learning because I’m going to try to do a lot of the work myself & with the support and guidance of those that are willing to help me.  After some searching online, I realize that a lot of other women may be in the same situation. 

I was looking for websites, blogs, etc. about girls that have restored vintage cars and I couldn’t really find anything other than some news articles about teenage girls restoring cars themselves. It seems like they are inclined that way and aren’t necessarily taking the time to document the work they’re doing so that other girls can be inspired to do the same and not feel stupid in the process. Restoring classic cars still seems to be a “man’s thing” and not anything that women are too involved with. This is interesting to me in the day and age of vintage (or new vintage looking) fashion. I would think that there would be a lot of women who are interested in classic cars and want to know if they are capable of doing the work themselves.

So here’s a little bit about Aunt Helen.  She’s from back East, hence the bit of rust, and is named after her first owner – Helen.  Her nephew acquired the car and drove it out to Arizona.  My friend acquired it from him after seeing it sit and now I’ve been given the opportunity to get to know her better. 

Physically, she’s in pretty good shape.  She’s got a bit of surface rust on her and she is missing a piece of chrome molding on the front.  I’m really hoping that I can obtain it from a parts vehicle or purchase a re-fabricated piece.

The engine is a 383 CID 305 hp (227 kW) V8.  This is a very big engine.  In 1959, Chrysler started to advertise their engines as the “Golden Lion” and the cars as “Lion-Hearted”.  Aunt Helen’s engine still has the Golden Lion decal.

The interior is pretty awesome.  The astrodome instrument panel is so space-age.  The back-lighting currently doesn’t work, but we are hoping that can easily be fixed.

The interior fabric, vinyl and carpet are all in amazing condition.

She just amazes me.  The first order of business?  Giving her a bath.  Yancie and I enjoyed the Phoenix sunset while giving her a much needed washing.