Cars are born to be driven, this much is the Gospel Truth. Sometimes that means a “full repair” just constitutes a good, solid drive. Especially after it’s been sitting a while.

It’s a bit of a read, but sometimes the best medicine really is just driving, and xequar is your doctor:

Great Aunt gave us first chance when she decided to sell her place Up North and her ‘77 Thunderbird in 2013. Thing had last been registered in 2007, and had probably only been driven once-to her brother’s machine shed-after Great Uncle passed in 2002. So, there it was, in the far back corner of a machine shed, behind a combine, which was behind a tractor, which was behind several pieces of equipment.

We bought the car, despite flat tires, the aroma that signaled there was a dead mouse somewhere in the car, layers of dirt and dust thick enough we had to take her word it was a champagne color, and not able to start it. She promised us she’d ask Great Uncle that owned the shed to get it started and moved out for us.

We came back a couple weeks later to collect the car, and it was, in fact, outside. Great Uncle had thrown a new battery in it, and apparently getting the car running had drained that battery nearly dead. But, the car started. The gas gauge was on E, activating the wipers nearly killed the car from the battery’s weak state, and we couldn’t see out the windows.

Got it on the road (a state highway), taking it really easy. It didn’t want to shift to second, but it finally did. It didn’t want to shift to third, either. Got to about 40 (should have shifted at around 25) when the car finally backfired like someone fired a shotgun next to my ear (partner behind me said it shot black smoke out like nothing he’s ever seen before at that moment). Then, it was great. The car ran smooth, shifted through the gears normally, and got up to 55 just fine. About a mile later, I had to slow down for a car making a left onto a county road, and the thing stalled from the dead battery. Swapped the battery for the fresh one we had in the trunk of our car, and it fired back up and didn’t miss a beat.

So as far as I know, all it took to get the Thunderbird running after sitting for seven years with a minuscule amount of gas from the Clinton administration in it was a lot of cranking. We’ve changed out most of the fluids, and it runs like a champ. We haven’t touched belts or hoses or anything. Did have to replace a rear brake line, and the front shocks we pulled out of it still had the Ford embossment from 1977 on them. We watched it roll 80,000 original miles the second time we drove it.

Please note that while “simply driving” was the best remedy in this case, it won’t necessarily work for all repairs. Congrats on your win, xequar, and may the road ahead bring you nothing but the finest backfires a 1977 T-Bird has to offer.

Photo credit: Dave S


Contact the author at ballaban@jalopnik.com.
Public PGP key
PGP fingerprint: 0D03 F37B 4C96 021E 4292 7B12 E080 0D0B 5968 F14E