When folks see you driving an old car they often say, “Aren’t you afraid of breaking down?” My answer is two-fold. First, my cars rarely break down. Second, if they do, I: 1) have lots of friends, 2) have a chance to make new friends and 3) have a little adventure.
On Saturday we were returning from the 8th annual car show in downtown Winneconne, Wis., when the ’48 Pontiac Streamliner 8 started making noises. We thought we had either left a tool under the hood or that a part had dropped off the car. Neither was true, but my girlfriend noticed the car was almost overheating. We did a U-turn, drove back to Winneconne and stopped at a convenience store for some 50/50 coolant mix. Surprisingly, the car didn’t need much.
Two other hobbyists driving old Ford pickups stopped and offered help. We were told to stop at a certain house if we had more problems. We did have more over-heating, so we stopped. These “new friends” had a nice shop with a couple of Fords under restoration. We figured a stuck thermostat, so we drained the coolant, removed the hoses and took off the thermostat housing. No luck. The car didn’t have a thermostat.
Time to call a tow truck. We rang up Dave Pugh at Expert Towing & Transmissions in Oshkosh. He is a collector and has a batch of Fords from a T to a Torino, as well as a ’36 Dodge tow truck. Dave came out with a flatbed and took the Pontiac to his Omro site, where he’ll fix it.
I have already sent an email to Sam Ashendirf at Northwestern Auto Supply (800-704-1078) to alert him we may need a water pump, thermostat, thermostat retainer and gaskets. There are a few water pumps on eBay, but I’d rather trust Sammy to send me the right one and a good one, as he has never failed to deliver.
To get home, I called my son-in-law who lives in Fond du Lac and he dropped off the Sunbird convert I fixed for my granddaughter, so we could get home in it.
When an old car breaks, you can either look at it as a disaster or as an adventure. I’d rather go the second route of having a unique experience and getting through it with the help of past and new friends.
As for the car, what’s your guess? Water pump? Radiator? Something else? What was the noise we heard before it over-heated? Let’s see who can solve the mystery of the over-heated Poncho!