Thursday, July 26, 2012

San Jose Street Sighting - 1968 Ford LTD Country Squire wagon

It's still summertime, and summer is the season of the road trip. Unless you're me, in which case my road trips usually seem to occur in winter. But that's another story.
Back in the good old days, road trips were the domain of the family station wagon. I could of course wax romantic about traveling hundreds of miles in the back of a big station wagon with no air conditioning, the rear hatch window rolled down to let in all the exhaust fumes, and the sun magnifying its rays through the untinted windows in an effort to fuse the children to the vinyl seats. Why? Because I'm 24 and that was before my time. My family road trips happened in a 1985 Pontiac 6000 STE, a 1994 Ford Taurus GL, and later a 1999 Buick Regal GS. All had air conditioning and some kind of music player, but they pale in comparison to the infotainment systems available today to keep kids occupied on long journeys. Honestly, I'm not really a fan of TVs and video game systems in cars. In my youth I'd look out the window and try to enjoy the ride, provided it wasn't all just Interstate 5 for six hours straight. I'd usually arrive at our destination with a sunburn on one side, a neck ache and a severe case of boredom. Road trips have gotten a little less boring in the years since I got my driver's license and a digital camera.

This 1968 Ford LTD Country Squire wagon is a relic from the "good old days" of the station wagon. Before the SUV this was the utility vehicle for soccer practice and running down to the hardware store for cedar paneling and linoleum. It's unapologetically big but with a touch of '60s style. There's a subtle Coke-bottle shape in the body, and a sleek front end with hidden headlights in the grille. You can't even get those on a Corvette anymore, and here they are on a station wagon! The interior is huge with thickly padded bench seats perfect for stuffing the whole family and their dog in, and the steel roof rack looks sturdier than most modern units for holding luggage.
Where this wagon falls far short is its condition. And that isn't the car's fault despite Ford's reputation for hit or miss rustproofing in those days. The paint on the body appears to be the original gold color, and it's lost its luster. From across the street, the paint doesn't look too bad. But when the artificial woodgrain on the sides began to peel and look otherwise nasty, the owner did a half-hearted masking job with tape and rattlecanned almost the whole bottom half of the car brown. The result is an unappealing overall look on a car that makes it seem worse than it is. True, there's some rust starting in the roof and the rear bumper's mangled, but it could be saved. The body panels are in great shape and from what I can see, so is the interior. The chrome hubcaps, too, are free from damage and it wears its original license plates. The only non-stock parts on the car are the door mirrors. Come on, spring for a proper paint job when you can afford it. This is a really cool car in search of a restoration.

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