When you ask Ken Leek why, of all the classic cars around, he chose a ’65 T-Bird, his answer is, “I just like its styling.”
And that says a lot about why many of us car lovers choose our cars. It’s an emotional gut feeling when you see certain cars that make you say, “I want it.”
Logic may dictate whether or not you buy it but not whether you love it. Except for the “buy” part (hopefully), it’s a lot like any love in your life.
For Ken, there are three cars on his lifetime “want” list: the ’65-’67 250SL Mercedes, the ’62-’65 Jag XKE roadster and the ’65-’66 T-bird convertible.
He once owned a ’65 250SL Mercedes and says that the price of the Jag XKEs are now a bit too steep, so when Ken decided to buy a classic car, the T-Bird was the obvious choice to buy.
While to the casual observer the fourth-generation ’64-’66 T-Birds (known as the Flair Birds) may look the same, there are some important differences to the afficionado.
In 1965, Ford put on front disc brakes and added sequential turn signals, having the lights flash across the back of the car from the inside out toward the direction of the turn. Then, in 1966, they extended the rear light bar to cover the entire rear of the car, changed the grill and altered the body lines.
While that may not seem major, it was enough for Ken to limit his search to just a 1965 model. And, after six months, he found one on eBay just this last June.
While there are many tales of woe about buying cars on eBay, Ken’s is not one. He says the car was “about 90 percent restored” within the last couple of years.
The paint is excellent, as is the interior, including new weatherstripping. All the wiring is new and the many electrical relays for the power top and windows have been replaced. The previous owner had only had it a couple of years and used it almost exclusively as a parade car.
With a good-running 390 CID engine mated to a Cruise-O-Matic three-speed auto trans, it deserved longer runs.
For comfort it has power steering, brakes, windows and top, but no air conditioning. The lack of air is the main reason Ken trailered it back from Denver, where he bought it, to Grass Valley.
After he brought his T-Bird home, Pat Hauser, a friend and Roamin Angel, said to him, “Well, you’ve got a car that qualifies you for membership, so why not join?”
So he did, and he and wife Donna plan to go on a lot of Roamin Angel cruises in the future.
There are a few things Ken wants to do on his T-Bird, but he wants to do them right.
The first is to add air conditioning. Although he knows that the old systems were not as efficient as modern ones, he is going to get original dash vents and buy a modern system to push the cool into the car.
The AM radio is a bit limited, but he is going to replace it with a Ford AM/FM from when the car was built. The only repairs the car has needed is a front-end rebuild.
Although he is a “car guy” and capable of doing the work himself, he doesn’t have a rack and has opted to have fellow Roamin Angel David Brown do the work. As we get older, sometimes we get wiser.
For Ken and Donna, the fun of the car is driving it.
On the Fourth of July, they drove up to Truckee and had many honks and waves, as well as “at least 15-plus compliments.” While that is not the reason they bought the T-Bird, Ken and Donna do appreciate them. So, if you see them stylin’ around town in their topless T-Bird, give them a thumbs-up.
For more about Ron Cherry and his writing, visit www.rlcherry.com. For more information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, visit www.roaminangels.com, call 432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, PO Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or just stop by IHOP on Taylorville Road Fridays at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast.