This is my father-in-law Nelis’s 1962 Ford Fairlane 500.
He’s not here for me to ask now, but I believe it’s the first new car he ever bought. He drove it back and forth to work at Marshall Space Flight Center, several years before I was born (and many years after).
Additionally, it was an occasional steed for family trips, such as to southern Indiana for Christmas to see family. Lea sat in the middle (“on the hump”) in the back, because she was smallest. That’s how it came up in conversation this week—remembering Christmases past. Seat belts? Pish-tosh:
Lea’s dad had preserved it a bit here and there, but it was basically a survivor. He’d worked on the paint a bit himself, and these look like new carpets. But he’d never driven it infrequently enough that it required any sort of comprehensive restoration. When I got in it to drive it to get new brakes and stuff, the turn signals and the radio worked, OK?
Speaking of the radio, check out the cool Civil Defense symbols at 640 and 1240 on the dial. This was the last year they were mandated, before the creation of the Emergency Broadcast System:
Incidentally, that time I drove it, it also belched fragrant black smoke for about half the trip. I’m not accustomed to a car with a manual choke, and I neglected to lean it out promptly when it warmed up. I bet my gas mileage was stellar for that part of the drive.
This car was a steel, vinyl, and glass embodiment of the American dream. My father-in-law grew up poor, survived World War II, married his high-school sweetheart, and used this car to build his daughters’ futures. We certainly got rid of it for a not-good-enough reason. I’m sure it came down to space. My sister-in-law kept his ’76 F100 pickup. I should have twisted her arm to make it this one.