This video totally brings me back; Dad owned a repo agency at the same time this video was produced, so a lot of this stuff is very familiar—”Japanese cars are the easiest to break into” made me nod my head without thinking about it. I remember figuring out how to slim jim a domestic car (24:03) in one afternoon; I’m mechanically inclined but cars were engineered so simply in those days it wasn’t really that hard. He shows a special tool for busting into the Ford Fairmont (12:13); I just made them with coat hangers. The part where he busts into the garage made me laugh; I wonder if this guy got sued or prosecuted for making this.
I got a text from our old friend Brian H. asking for a little help jockeying cars around in his new garage, and pleased to hear from him, set something up for Saturday morning. He and his wife bought a house out in the country with multiple garages and a lot more space, and he’s picked up a couple of new projects to play with as well as helping Bennett store some of his fleet.
After walking the dog, I warmed up the Scout in the driveway, looking nervously at the overcast sky. The weather report did not call for rain until late that evening so I waited for the defroster to blow condensation off the windows and set out on the road. Brian’s new spread is in a still-rural part of Ellicott City, and his house is tucked in between a horse farm and a stand of woods. I passed Heavy D (Bennett’s truck) in the driveway and parked down by a three-bay garage where the two of them stood talking. We stood around and caught up for an hour or so—it’s been several years since I’ve seen Brian—and then I got the tour of the barns. He’s got an incredible setup; lots of room, lots of excellent tools the homeowner left behind, and tons of possibilities.
Bennett took me out for a ride in his Speedster while the sky was still clear, and we got it out on Rt. 40 to hear the engine wind up. It’s a really nice little car. It’s a replica that was made professionally about 30 years ago, and since buying it he replaced the original engine with a bigger unit built by a VW race specialist. It’s been sitting for a long while so he’s got some work to do getting the carburetors to run correctly, and the brakes need to be gone through front and rear. The gel coat is dull so the red doesn’t shine as much as he’d like, but now that he’s got a warm dry space to store it, he’s planning on buffing out the color and making it shine again. It’s a fucking blast to drive in, and larger on the inside than it looks. However, on our way home the carbs flooded so we sat in a field waiting for them to drain, and limped home on what sounded like three cylinders.
From there we looked over the main barn where Brian has his Edsel stored on rollaway carts and his Dad’s old Dodge D-100 in a state of disassembly waiting on some love. The day’s mission was to pull the box off the Dodge and store it in the back of the pole barn, then move the Edsel around to the back so that there’s more room up front for Heavy D to sit next to the Dodge. After a little consultation we got the box up and over on to some sawhorses, and the Edsel slid around back, easy as pie. He’s put the Edsel on hold while he gets the Dodge closer to running, and he’s got his hands full there. The Edsel has a fresh new engine installed and ready to go, and he’s made progress with the body, but there’s a lot more to accomplish.
Meanwhile, his house needs work along with all of those projects, so he’s got his hands full! He took us on a tour of the main floor, which was completely remodeled before the purchase, and then the basement, which holds almost as many horrors as ours did when we bought it. We sat and ate some pizza and caught up some more, and it was great to just hang out and be with friends for the day.
Along about 2:30 Bennett and I got ready to head out, and Brian sent me home with the smaller of the two blasting cabinets he inherited with the house—a beautiful Eastwood side-loading unit with a light and vacuum port on the back.
I got home at about 3 and did some work around the house before getting a shower and dressed up for our Saturday advent activity: seeing the Cirque Nutcracker at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. We drove in to the city and got to the BSO an hour ahead of time, which allowed us to relax with a drink before the show and people watch. Our seats were high on the fourth level but we could see everything and the sound was perfect. The production is incredible, featuring acrobats, jugglers and aerialists, and we were all captivated through the whole thing. It was lovely to get dressed up with my ladies and feel fancy for an evening after two years of living in socks and pajamas. As the lights went up after intermission and the first performers came back out, I reflected on just how lucky I am to have great friends and a beautiful family, and how much I’ve enjoyed the leadup to this holiday season.
Having spent a month working on the bus with Brian, I found myself wishing I had a more purpose-built vehicle for the trip and for the work. Driving the Scout was awesome, of course, and it’s easy to throw heavy tools in the back and hit the road. But I’m always worried about rain getting tools and the truck wet, and until I get the electrical, wipers and fuel gauge sorted out, I’m going to be preoccupied with the weather report instead of enjoying the ride.
We bought our current cars to transport our family with the most available room and the best possible gas mileage, but a gray sedan does not make hauling tools or drywall easy—in this I have firsthand knowledge. The CR-V does great for a lot of things but it’s not fair to Jen for me to be stealing that all the time, given that she has no love for the Accord.
Looking ahead to the next vehicle in our future, I have been seriously considering a pickup of some kind—but not a Texas-size mall crawler. There are several medium-sized pickups on the market right now that look really good: the Tacoma has always been an attractive option, of not trendy, and Ford just re-introduced the Ranger. Both offer quad cabs and several trim packages that would fit our needs well. I’m not looking for a lifted overland-kitted expedition vehicle, but something with all-wheel drive would be nice. Ford offers a stripper version of the Ranger with rubber flooring and base-level accessories but I bet we’d never see one of those in the wild without special ordering it. I’d like something that offers reasonable gas mileage, seats four people, and maybe even has a manual transmission (the Ranger doesn’t have this yet, but the Tacoma does).
I do a daily search for Scout parts in my area on the off chance something good will show up, and that search usually includes whole vehicles. I stumbled across an ad for a 1966 International D1200 pickup that is just the right amount of beat-up without being disgusting. The common vintage car term for it these days is ‘patina’ but it just looks like a well-worn International to me. It’s a V8, it’s a manual, and it’s a longbed. I don’t see a second stick present, so it’s rear-wheel drive, like God intended. The top of the cab looks clean, the dash is in good shape, and look at that bench seat!
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking about this truck and trying to put it out of my head. I don’t have anyplace to store it under cover. There’s a good chance the brakes on this rig are built with parts I wouldn’t be able to replace—and I’m not that interested in an axle swap. International D-series sheetmetal is rarer than hen’s teeth on the east coast. The tailgate looks pretty crusty. There’s a line of rust around the rear fenders all the way around the truck. There are no pictures of the rockers, door pillars, or cab corners—the most likely places for this truck to rot. There is no picture of the bed itself, which means it could be made of road signs and roofing tar.
But god, would I love to load this thing up with a toolbox and Jen and Hazel and take it to the landscapers’ and fill the bed with bushes or mulch or dirt and haul it all home. And I could see Jen driving it as well.
Oh for the love of all that is holy I want this 1960 Buick station wagon. This design was directly after the apex of tailfins and right before the shift to boxy, crisper lines of the mid-60’s. The wraparound windshield is still present, the way the eyebrows over the front headlights curve around the fenders and swoop all the way back to the taillights are beautiful. Those curved rear windows! Those round taillights! So much good stuff here.
The first thing I’d do is remove all of the stupid faux lettering and pull the surfboards off the roof; then I’d source some new door cards, yank the swamp cooler, polish what’s left of the paint and drive the wheels off that thing.