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Old 08-06-2003, 01:00 PM
yessong yessong is offline
Join Date: Aug 6 2003
Posts: 4
Default What to look for

Hi all - at this time I drive a '65 bird but am considering swapping to a "Square Bird" - just wondering what I should look-out for when searching for the right car.

Just a note - only looking at hard tops anywhere from 58-60.

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Old 08-06-2003, 01:46 PM
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Alexander Alexander is offline
Join Date: Oct 30 2002
Posts: 3,337
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Default RE: What to look for

The first thing to look for in these cars is rust. Though they were galvanized in the lower portion, in wetter saltier climates they did rust. Look in the front fenders behind the wheels, around the rear wheel opening, front floorboards, trunk and especially the rocker panels under the doors. Lift up the carpet and the trunk mat to look for rust. You can repair all these areas with available patch panels. The panels need to be worked by a good bodyman to get a good fit. There are repair panels for the outer rocker panel, but if the inner rocker panels are rusted, custom pieces must be formed and this is an expensive fix. Remember these are unibody cars.

These cars are now 40+ years old. Look at the engine compartment and interior to see that the car is original. Read some books on Squarebirds first to familiarize yourself what is and is not original. Look at the data plate to see if the car has been repainted or had an interior or engine exchanged. All the soft interior parts, carpet and dash is reproduced. On original dash will inevitably sag and have all the underlying foam turned to dust. Don't expect to find an original dash that is not warped.

Look at the mileage of the car. Clues to the true mileage of the car are wear on the brake pedal and in the roll pin hole on the column shift. Cars over 100,000 miles almost always have a sloppy column shift. Reproduction brake pedals have been around for years. The column collar and shift lever has been available in past two years, which can solve the sloppy shift.

The transmission is the weak point of the car. the casings were prone to cracking resulting in a loss of reverse gear. Drive the car. D1 is the ordinary Drive position. You should feel the car shift through all three gears. In D2, the car starts in second and then shifts to third.

The rear quarter windows were a weak point. As the lubrication in the channels solidified with age, they would mistrack and wear out the guide tracks. They would over-travel, resulting in the door window overlapping the rear quarter. This often caused the door window to crack. Check the "bug marks" on the windows; they should all have an oval with "FoMoCo" in them with "AS2" for non-tinted plus "Sun-X" for tinted. You can buy cut glass and put on original "bug-marks" with a inexpensive special decal/glass etching kit. It is very important to inspect the windshield to look for scratchs and cracks. A very scratched windshield makes for difficult night driving. The reproduction windhields lack the curve going from the cowl to the roof that the originals have. Original windshields in good condition run about $600.

Check the chrome on the car. All the exterior emblems, including the gunsights and trunk lock cover are reproduced. They are reasonably priced. What is expensive to rechrome is the ribbed sail panel on the bottom of the roof. This will run you about $300 per side for a plating job that makes it look like new. The side windows are part pot metal, part stainless steel. The stainless will look good forever. To rechrome any of the pot metal on the windows, you need to remove all the rivets, remove the glass and then reinsert the glass with the proper thickness gasket material and then re-rivet them when you get it back from the platers. These are not just pop rivets, they are brass rivets that you need to insert and flatten the end with a punch and hammer.

Check that all the lights and horn work. The horns were prone to short due to exposure to the elements on the 1958 an 1959, that is why they were moved to inside of the engine compartment in 1960. The Squarebird wiring harnesses were also prone to shorts, fortunately the wiring is fairly simple and some of it is being now reproduced.

The Alexander
1959 Hardtop
1960 Golde Top
1959 Hard Top
1960 Golde Top
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Old 08-06-2003, 03:48 PM
tarps3 tarps3 is offline
Join Date: Jul 21 2003
Posts: 837
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Default RE: What to look for

Here's a good website for some general information about the Squarebirds:

an excerpt from this site says this:

Probably the weakest spot on these cars is the coil spring front suspension. Fatigue and wear of the components can become apparent with a simple road test. A quick stop from under ten miles per hour with both hands firmly planted on the wheel, can detect shift
and vibrations and can reveal possible loose parts in the front end related to steering or braking.

I can attest to this.
I replaced virtually all of my front end components from the bushings to the coil springs and everything in between. Not cheap but definitely worth it.

'60 hardtop
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