Kissing Frogs: The Automotive Version

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

A common phrase you sometimes hear in the car business is that you have to “kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince,” meaning that you have to look at a lot of sad, bad cars to find the real gems.

If you read my post When Mary’s MX-5 Was Miata of the Month, you got to read about some of the frogs we kissed, including one with shark’s teeth, to find the right Miata for her. The toothy Miata shown below was not that one, this is a much nicer car than that one but the photograph gives you an idea of the effect. If the Miata we looked at was in as good shape as this blue car, I would have played part-time dentist.

We went through a similar process when Mary and I looked for a car to enter in The Great Race, which at that time required cars be of a specific vintage. Originally, I wanted to have a Ford Falcon because of the nostalgia factor but it’s a simple car that should have been able to handle a cross country rallye as well as being easy to fix when the inevitable old car breakdowns occurred. I found an early Futura, similar to my original Falcon, in Minnesota and asked a friend who lives near Burnsville to take a look at it. Not only was it not a real Futura but it was a rust bucket. And that’s one of the challenges of finding an old car that was originally inexpensive; people don’t seem to take care of them.

Then we went looking for a 1958-’60 Thunderbird “squarebird.” In 1958, Ford made 38,000 Thunderbirds and produced 200,000 over the three years the cars of this design. Although I was unable to find the original price of this car (if anybody knows, click Contact and tell me, I’ll send you a nice prize) but they were not cheap. We kissed the squarebird frog seen here but while it was affordable, the cost of making it reliable for the trek was prohibitive. And while nicer examples of the hardtop model are available starting at $20,000, that was outside our budget for this project.

We ultimately ended up with a 1953 Packard Clipper and while you can read some information about the car in that linked post, there is a “rest of the story…” aspect to our Great Race plans that will have to wait for another time, after the pain is gone.

So Mary and I have kissed a few frogs along the way in our search for automotive nirvana. And that’s kind of where I find myself today. In my last vlog I asked for some suggestions about the next JoeCar project and some of you replied with some ideas. Monday’s post will include a vlog covering some of these suggestions but I’m looking for more. Click the Contact button and let me know what you think would make a a good project car. I only have two criteria: The car should be inexpensive (under $10,000) but interesting. That’s it. Let me know your thoughts.


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