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  • #16
    Interesting info.

    I think I'd take the the Smart ForTwo in a crash. It's a well engineered car for crash safety, given its size. It's not good for much else, however.
    DGS (aka salguod)
    1960 Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather
    www.salguod.net

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    • #17
      Doug, my cousin has a Smart Car. The engine is a 3-cylinder automatic. When he got the car new, it was a total DOG! Then they sent him a notice to bring it in for a 'transmission software upgrade'.

      The difference was amazing. This little car has lots of power for two grown men boppin' around, doing errands around town. I didn't drive but for a big guy like myself, it is quite roomy inside. I was impressed, but I'd never buy one.

      Cousin John bought this as another toy. He has a '57 Bel Air, '65 Mustang convertible, and two Amphicars (in addition to his daily drivers). He's retired, married twice but single, and never had children. Strange, how life turns out.
      My latest project:
      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
      --Lee Iacocca

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      • #18
        I like the idea of the Smart - small, cheap, fuel efficient commuter. Unfortunately, they're not that cheap (about the same price as a roomy 5 passenger Honda Fit) and not as fuel efficient as you'd hope based on what you give up. Top that off they drive poorly with a transmission that's notorious for being horrible, as your cousin found out.

        So if I'm not saving money and not saving much gas and it drives poorly, why bother?
        DGS (aka salguod)
        1960 Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather
        www.salguod.net

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        • #19
          Converting from manual to automatic transmission

          (my apologies in advance for sounding like an know-it-all old fogey): I don't want to rain on any parades (yours or your daughter's), but this is a BAD IDEA for multiple reasons. While I think it is touching that the younger generation likes our old cars (we need new blood in the hobby), a teen's first car should NOT be a squarebird (nor any 50+ year old car). My first car was an 8 year old squarebird and I drove sqbirds for daily drivers for 14 years. But that was many decades ago (since then, my sqbirds have been retired as hobby cars), and there is no way I would recommend one as a daily driver for anyone (not to mention a teenager) unless you live in a small sunbelt town and didn't have to drive in today's urban/suburban traffic. The driving characteristics of old cars like a sqbird (slow steering, marginal brakes, sloppy handling, etc.) are so different (worse) vs. modern cars. Modern cars are boring (generic, look-a-like fat-*** wedges, 4 door aero-blob appliances), but they are much safer, handle much better, and get much better gas mileage. About any newer car (less than 20 years old) would preferable for a teen's first car. Being in the big city snowbelt, front wheel drive and anti-lock brakes would be a good thing, and you won't find those in a vintage car. If your daughter is really into Thunderbirds (for now anyway--teens are fickle, I've heard, and tend to switch interests quickly), you could probably find a decent '94-97 TB for $3k or so, which would a fraction of what you would spend on restoring a sqbird (and/or spending many $ to upgrade to disc brakes & other modernizations). Then years down the road after you restore your sqbird, it could still be "hers" for Sunday afternoon drives when she is older & wiser & an experienced driver (assuming she is still interested), but not as a daily driver.

          On anther note, while I am not a numbers-matching fanatic (it's your car/$, so do what you want), I suggest NOT converting your rare stick-o/d car to an automatic. If you really want an automatic, buy one or find someone to trade cars with (& keep the stick as-is for yourself or someone else). All the hassles, time, and $ of converting would be avoided and you could spend that time/$ restoring an automatic car. Also a low compression, carbureted truck 390 & C6 in a high altitude area sounds like a recipe for abysmal gas mileage (& probably a dog too), whether or not you change the rear from the 3.70 gears to a 3.10.

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          • #20
            My first car was actually a 1974 Chrysler New Yorker. At the time it was 19 years old which at the time was already a very retro unique car, and I have driven similar vintage vehicles since (my primary vehicle is a '75 Cougar now). I did have one car built in the 2000's, but after it was rear-ended and totalled I went back to a vintage car. That being said, 70's cars have many modern amenities and handling characteristics, not to mention safety features such as seat belts and impact beams that earlier decades do not. My Cougar has A/C, cruise control, and easy parts availability. And when I got rear ended recently by a Chevy Suburban, the car did a very good job protecting me and my passengers. So what am I getting at? I have to agree with the previous post that a Squarebird would be a great secondary or hobby car and I would recommend something slightly newer, safer and servicable but still funky and cool that they made a lot of like a '77-79 model, a Maverick / Comet or 1971 and newer model year GM, such as a Cutlass.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by cbnsingram View Post
              I am restoring a 1960 convertible to a driver for my daughter's first car. The car now has the original 3 speed with overdrive transmission. My daughter would be most comfortable with an automatic transmission. I have two available in other project cars - '58 / 352 combination and a '60 / 430 engine combination. The original engine is locked up - so I am going to use the 390 from a '76 F250 that is running well with an automatic transmission - I think a C6.

              1. Can anyone point me to someone who has converted from manual to automatic before? I know it will likely be a hassle with the column change and such (or perhaps a floor shifter for the automatic?,) so I would like to learn from someone's experience.

              2. Also, would I be able to fit both the engine and transmission from the truck - and if so what would I need to be concerned with as to ratios and rear end?

              By the way, I intend to keep the manual transmission for use in the automatic donor vehicle or for later installation in the convertible. I am not concerned with keeping these original. I just want to bring them back to life, pretty them up and drive them.
              All of our members have great intentions but...
              This is a seasoned restorer, evidenced by his parts and capabilities. He just asked for a little direction from our members who have swapped engines and transmissions.

              I have two daughters who really prefer driving lighter, more modern cars, rather than heavy classic cars that are 'dad's pride' and guzzle gas. I'm sure the common sense part will work out somewhere between Dad and his daughter. In the mean time, it's great to see a project to restore another Squarebird convertible! I hope everything works out and the car hits the road. - Dave
              My latest project:
              CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

              "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
              --Lee Iacocca

              Comment


              • #22
                This is a bad idea all the way around. Why not keep the T-Bird as a fun car for her later and find something else for her to drive. That way the car will still be around the older that she gets and might even appreciate it even more. And not to mention just how rare a Squarebird w/ stick is in the first place! I would never change a stick into an automatic. I hate automatics! Every car that I own is a stick (including an Explorer & a Focus wagon). I've even gone to the trouble of changing 3 different cars from automatics into sticks. My belief is that ALL cars should be sticks today, that would certainly cut down on the applying of makeup, eating, cell phone use and texting. Just for the record, my old Squarebird was the best winter car I've ever driven in snow. Would go through anything and I never got stuck. But to drive one as an everyday car w/ drum brakes is a bad idea. Keep the car and take your time restoring it and find her another beater to drive.

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                • #23
                  A used Ford Focus would be a good car for a teenager.

                  And if my daughter drives like my WIFE did when SHE was in high school, I'll be installing a roll cage and nerf bars all 'round before handing her the keys...
                  http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...ryNumber=33517

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                  • #24
                    Converting from manual to automatic transmission

                    Good Golly, Miss Molly! I did not know that you, Bill Van Ess, was a member of this Forum! I see you joined Alexander back after he got this Forum going. But I also notice you have rarely posted! Thanks for your input. It is certainly valued, considering all your years of experiences with these old Birds of ours!

                    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
                    '59 Tbird "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" aka "Tweety Bird"
                    "It's Hip To Be Square"
                    Thunderbird Registry #33025 VTCI #11178

                    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or (Cell) 210-875-1411 (Home) 210-674-5781

                    http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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                    • #25
                      Thanks

                      Thanks for everyone's concern but as suggested, and thank you simplyconnected for that, the question was not should I help my daughter have the car of her dreams but rather, how can I do these bits of the work. She wants to drive it to school for two years and then garage it for a full restoration. She's not a makeup applying texting teenager. Sorry if the teenagers you deal with are. She is concerned about the car and so wants it to have an automatic while she's driving it and the original transmission will be reinstalled during the later restoration.

                      I really am trying to take all of the comments in a positive way, but re-reading some of these I have to believe that a lot of the negativity comes from a certain snobbery regarding what should be done with a classic. I happen to think that if they can be driven they should be, especially by someone who is passionate about them.

                      Thanks again for any genuine concern for my daughter's safety.

                      Originally posted by simplyconnected View Post
                      All of our members have great intentions but...
                      This is a seasoned restorer, evidenced by his parts and capabilities. He just asked for a little direction from our members who have swapped engines and transmissions.

                      I have two daughters who really prefer driving lighter, more modern cars, rather than heavy classic cars that are 'dad's pride' and guzzle gas. I'm sure the common sense part will work out somewhere between Dad and his daughter. In the mean time, it's great to see a project to restore another Squarebird convertible! I hope everything works out and the car hits the road. - Dave

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Mike, we're here to help you. This conversion has been done by our members. I am surprised you have not been offered the parts to do this conversion because stick shifts are rare.

                        Some of our members have also changed from power windows to manual. Same thing happened, some offered their parts to swap for free.

                        As said, keep your old parts because they are GOLD (especially the 'Z' bar and brackets). You will need a Brake Pedal Support Bracket, a Steering Column, Linkage (both, Linkage from the trans to the Column and Linkage from the trans to the Carb), and a driveshaft, all for the automatic. I assume you already have a Cruise-O-Matic trans.

                        You might get away with using your existing Brake Pedal Support Bracket by removing the clutch pedal, but I'm going by what the factory supplied for each. Let's face it, these parts simply bolted on the same body.

                        When I did our Galaxie, I found the body was already set up for the COM, so I removed the crossmember for the stick trans. You may need to re-route your speedo cable (I did). Other than that, add a dashpot onto your carb linkage to keep the idle up when you lift off the gas. That's it! Good luck, and I really hope your daughter drives the 'bird. It's a great car. BTW, most of the Squarebird bone yards are PACKED with common automatic parts. - Dave
                        My latest project:
                        CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                        "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                        --Lee Iacocca

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Fools!

                          Don't listen to any of these guys. Those manual transmissions were, are, and continue to be a terrible idea, and there's certainly no reason to keep a bunch of useless parts in the barn getting rusty. They'll just clutter up the place. You'll probably stub your toe on the trans one morning, stumbling around before coffee, which will just be God's way of saying "Told you so..."

                          You should find someone (me) idiotic enough to want to swap in a manual trans (me) from an automatic (me). If only I knew someone who might be foolish enough (me)...

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by cbnsingram View Post
                            I really am trying to take all of the comments in a positive way, but re-reading some of these I have to believe that a lot of the negativity comes from a certain snobbery regarding what should be done with a classic. I happen to think that if they can be driven they should be, especially by someone who is passionate about them.
                            Speaking for myself and what I've seen around here, I'd say that's absolutely not the case. Yes, I hate to see a rare 3 speed 'Bird modified to make it an automatic, but it's your car, you are free to do with it what you will. I said my piece above, you've considered it and that's it. I am encouraged that you intend to put it back after a few years, but again, it's your car, it you choose not to it's not my business, regardless of how sad it may make me.

                            One of the best things about this forum is how the hot rodders, the modifiers and the concours restorers all get along. I just joined a forum for my Dad's '57 Eldorado and they have two separate forums, one for stock and one for modified. They seem to coexist just fine, but not together. Made me appreciate this place all the more.

                            Stick around, please, all Squarebird owners are welcome here.
                            DGS (aka salguod)
                            1960 Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather
                            www.salguod.net

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