A Girl and Her Inline 6: I’m Keeping my Baby

The first week of my second trip back to Eddyville has been quite successful.  The back end is out of Mavis, which means the differential with its axle, springs, shocks, gas tank and all the various tubes and pipes that entails.  Still, everything takes longer than you think it’s going to.  Something as simple as pulling the filler neck out of the gas tank through the trunk took over an hour and we had to consult the experts.

Thank God for our new Maverick/Comet forum friends!  Inevitably someone has gone up against the same challenge and has that little tip that does the trick.  Even if the advice is to spray it down with a lubricant, have a couple beers and then bang the shit out if it.  Pop and I did cause a bit of stir when we started asking about souping up our Inline 6, which I’m happy to report we are indeed keeping (no 302 switch out for us).


A girl and her Inline 6.

I must say though, for a bunch of macho dudes in a male dominant field, these forum guys can bitch fight with the best of them.  So, Crazy Larry from the 302/V8 crowd got into it with gregmaverick of the Inline 6 sanction over advice for Pop and me.

Crazy Larry: A car like that needs a V-8 swap. If you just want to get the car running, keep the 200 completely stock. It’s a complete waste of money trying to soup up a 200 I-6.

gregmaverick:  Sixes are way cool (posts some pics of his ‘killer 6 banger’ as Pop called it.)

Crazy Larry:  Maybe in an alternate universe. The sixes of the Ford Maverick era are no comparison to the sixes of today. They make good boat anchors, but are otherwise a big waste of time & money.

Dang Crazy Larry, you CRAZY!

gregmaverick: Larry, perhaps you have no time or no money…???

Crazy Larry: Whether I do or not is irrelevant. The fact is that spending the same amount of money on a V-8 will yield much greater performance as it would on a I-6 from the 1970s. You can argue all you want but it won’t change physics. At the end of the day, it ends up being a huge waste of time and money to hop up one of those sixes, which is something that most people who are new to these old cars do not need.

Pop and I had been interjecting with questions and such, but at this point, we sort of ‘crept away’ and let these two go at it.

gregmaverick: Gee Larry – we’re up to the challenge. “Laws of Physics”? Which ones?  I’m curious to hear your explanation in terms of Newton, thermodynamics, and bore/stroke ratio.  Perhaps you need to go back to the library and re-do your homework…?

Ooooooo-eeeeee! He did NOT!

Crazy Larry: You’re hilarious. Like I said; put the same amount of money into a V-8 as the Ford I-6 from the ’70s, and the v-8 will stomp all over it (not to mention that it will sound a heck of a lot better too).   And if Newton’s theories, or thermodynamics were on your side in this debate, there never would have been any reason to create the V-8.

gregmaverick: Well Larry, I don’t know what to tell you…except, you still haven’t answered the questions. Perhaps it’s a little too technical for you. We’ll just let it go at that.

And it goes on and on.  The forum admin tells them to ‘give it a break’ but they keep at it.  Rapture chimes in and I adore him.

Rapture: i mean wouldnt they have to upgrade their brakes, rear end, transmission, radiator, and a bunch of other small things to put in a v8? i feel that would eventually put the cost way higher for them. of course they are not going to get the same horsepower as a v8 from the inline but beefing it up for a more fun driver doesnt sound bad to me, doesnt sound like they are throwing away money necessarily. do the upgrades and enjoy, but thats just my opinionated suggestion.

It was like watching an online fight between a Trumpy and, well, everyone else, but much less maddening.  There is no lack of strong opinions in the car world.  On one of our many excursions to Harbor Freight, the ‘Bed, Bath & Beyond’ of the automotive enthusiast, we were tracked like prey by ‘Jeff’ and his V8 hard on.  When I explained our project and Mavis’s cute Inline 6 he immediately turned up his nose.  Out came the pics of his high horse power, Chevy LS crate engine and his Ford insults.  We couldn’t shake this guy, popping up around every corner to tell us what saw blade we should buy and where to get it.  After he explained that he’s been off work with a bad back, I asked him, “So this is what you do?  Hang out in Harbor Freight bugging people?”  I couldn’t help myself, by the time he was telling Pop how to hang paint tarps I was done.

This isn’t Pop’s first rodeo and the Ford Inline 6 is an incredibly strong engine, so as I said, regardless of the arguments, we’re keeping the 6.  I’m not racing this fucking thing (although you never know), but I do want a little zip.  Besides, Pop’s got his 350 V8 we can cause trouble in.  We took the Bird out the day after I got here.  Pop says, “Go tell Ma we’re going hot rodding.”  Warning, I’ve taught myself a little iMovie and I’m working on mastering the cheesy video.

As well as being a stupid good time, this little act was an exercise in differentials and how the rear axle isn’t one big tube going from one wheel to the other.  Each side is it’s own section and they can turn at different speeds.  This explains that when you ‘lay down some rubber,’ one wheel bites while the other burns it up!  How do you think you can take a tight turn and not have the outside tire skip and skid to keep up with the other?  It’s like when iceskaters do their little whip line.  The inside one basically turns in a circle while the outside gal is skating her ass off to keep up.

We made some pretty big purchases this round too.  I’m switching out the 3 leaf for 4 leaf springs.  Seeing that part of the old spring fell off as we removed it, I figured I should.  Needed new u-bolts and shackles for those and pinion seal and u-joints for the differential. We found an original front grill and fender splash guards on eBay that I grabbed and also picked up some smaller fun stuff like window handle knobs and a dome light cover.  All these little things add up so believe me I’m saving everything I can possibly save regardless of the work.  I’ve spent 3 days on the gas tank already.  I really really want to do this thing right, and as you know, I love me some physical labor, so I scraped the outside of the tank of road crap, rust protected it and painted it.  Pop and I cleaned and sealed the tank with a special 5 step process and that’s that.


Gas tank before: Covered in tar, dirt, old undercoating and shame.


Gas tank after: Cleaned, sealed, fast-etched (rust protected) and painted.  Proud as a peacock.

I’ve added the tank to the Before and After section of this blog…it’s just the beginning.  I love tracking this kind of stuff.  I’ve also started in with my spreadsheets for listing parts needed, bought, costs, timing, etc.  All told, we’ve figured that this little car project will cost about $10K and take 2 years.  I’ve been told it’s more realistic to double both of those numbers, but I’d like to finish the car before I turn 50!  I personally think that Pop is slow playing this whole thing to savor it, which I get cuz we’re having a blast, regardless of what Crazy Larry thinks.

Root for the Underdog

Holy crap we found it.  Found the car that will take up all of my free time and a lot of mind space for quite possibly the entire year to come.  I can’t believe it’s happened this fast and also can’t believe that neither Pop nor I found it.  My brother Mathew did.

Momma and Pop were visiting Mat last month and I was on the phone with them all discussing the Plymouth Duster we had decided to pass up.  It felt like I needed to nail down the type of car I really wanted and intensify the search based on that.  When Pop asked which car I was really feeling serious about, the one that really got me excited about the project, I had to admit that I truly dug the Ford Maverick.

The Maverick is a smaller car, has a beautiful little shape to it and was one of the very first cars that caught my eye when I started looking.  Now, I say I had to ‘admit’ that the Maverick was the one because the Maverick has gotten shit over the years for not being, I don’t know, cool enough.  People write that it is a cheap car, a poser, a pseudo muscle car, etc.  Five years after the Mustang came out, which was based on the Falcon’s platform, Ford introduced the Maverick, which also shared the Falcon’s engine and running gear.  It was not only more affordable than the Mustang, but was also meant to be Ford’s competitor to the crazy popular Volkswagen Beetle and other foreign cars that were getting bought up.  At the time, the 6 cylinder 200 and 250 engines had more than enough power for a subcompact ‘economy’ car and they marketed the thing as ‘The Simple Machine’.  Mavericks made before 1973 didn’t even have a glove compartment as that was apparently an added expense for an unnecessary luxury.


Ford Maverick, “The Simple Machine.”  I’ve read articles where it’s been referred to as “The Simple Machine for the Simpleton,” which I think is just rude!

The Grabber trim package was introduced later in 1970 and with its 302 V8, exterior graphics and spoiler, was definitely vying for the attention of the muscle car crowd.  But still, there are those that won’t give this little underdog any respect…and that’s another reason why I love it.  I’ve always rooted for the underdog.

So when Mat drove home from visiting with the P’s that night and caught a glimpse of what looked like a Maverick on the side of the road for sale, he couldn’t believe it.  Not an hour after telling him that I wanted a Mav, he found a Mav.  He texted, “Totally hooked a u-turn on Rt. 14…I was like, holy shit, a Maverick!”  He pointed his brights on her and sent me what would be the first peek at my baby.


The next morning the P’s took it for a test-drive in the rain.  Momma Face Timed with me which was hilarious.  God I wish I had video.  Pop’s driving, it’s loud, raining hard and Momma is about as steady with the camera as an old drunk.  As she discovers things (she’s as excited as we are) she’s yelling over the noise, “Jan!  The windshield wipers work!  Ooooh!  Look at this, there’s a shelf where the glovebox would be!!  The interior is decent.  Can you see this??  We couldn’t figure out the seatbelts!! Can you hear me?  Where do I have this thing pointed?!!!”  This is when I tell her about the option to turn the camera lens around rather than the camera itself.  “Oh, I had no idea!  Woody!!  Be careful!  How far are you planning to go?  Can you see?!?  I can’t believe this rain!!”  I love that woman.

The 1972 Maverick has a 200 cu. in. engine with an inline 6.  This means that it is a 6 cylinder and they line up in a row, rather than 3 on both sides of the engine tilting outward (hence the V in a V6 or V8.)  It’s got a manual transmission with ‘3 on the tree’ which means the gear shift is on the steering column.  It’s currently silver, but based on the VIN it came out of the factory a bright yellow. Pop and I negotiated with the seller and I ended up buying it for $3,500.

I am so unbelievably excited!  Although I feel like a mother whose newborn has been whisked away before having a chance to hold it.  I look at the pics every day and I’ve had a couple video ‘visits’.  Here’s a general overview from Pop:

The Mav is currently parked in Mat’s garage in Cary, IL.  The plan is to drive Mike’s truck out there mid October, trailer the car and haul her down to KY where I’ll spend a few weeks.  I’m really really looking forward to seeing my Mat.  He is one of the kindest people I know and a great brother, father and friend.  He’s empathetic and emotional, loving and caring.  Mat has followed in Pop’s footsteps and drives a truck for a living.  He works his fucking ass off and still seems to find time to help anyone in need.  But I’ll tell you, in recent years, Mat has been given the shit end of the stick more often than not.  He has been tested past the point where many would have given up.  He is a single parent, trying to raise an incredibly troubled son while his other son lives miles away.

So to Mathew I say…You are a fighter.  You continue to get up every morning and face the long work days and weekend overtime as well as the ongoing, physically and mentally exhausting, heartbreakingly sad battle at home.  I am very proud of you.  Thank you for finding this little car for me.  I truly believe it was a sign that it was you who found it.  You are now a permanent part of this journey with me (especially because you’ve already committed to helping us with brakes.)

I promise you little brother, the underdog will have its day.  I love you and I’ll see you soon.


One of my favorite pics.  Mathew with Hudson…always taking care.

Image Isn’t Everything

I’m a 70’s child, which apparently makes me a member of Generation X.  I’ve never liked being defined or labeled by others but less so by my own self.  For someone who’s not shy about making a fool of herself to get a laugh among friends and is sometimes too fast to express an opinion with in-laws, a public show of any sort of affiliation, belief system, or political leaning was not my thing.  I don’t know that I ever felt educated or confident enough about one particular subject to defend myself when challenged about what I was projecting. But why did I feel that I would become a target of an interrogation based on what my fucking t-shirt said?  Because I thought people cared more than they really did.  As a kid, I hated going to school after Momma cut my bangs too short. She would say, “Not everyone is waiting to see what Janet Chambers looks like today!”  I remember being at once comforted, but then like, “wait…why not?”

What a relief to grow up and find out that you are not the center of the universe.

So when it comes to choosing a car to fix up with Pop, I feel a complete freedom to find something that is just right, that ‘speaks’ to me and makes me happy.  It is true that for some, a car can be one of the most obvious, outwardly ways of defining yourself.  Old dudes do it with their little penis cars.  City kids with their high pitched mufflers on their way to go Tokyo drifting or whatever and old hippies living in their VWs for instance.  Country folk have their Chevy pickups with gun racks and Calvin & Hobbes praying to an American flag at half mast (or peeing on a Ford logo, both very strong statements.)

Me, I just want to ‘ride, ride like the wind, to be free again’ so I am embracing the time frame I was born in and am looking for a late 60’s early 70’s car. Looked at Ford Falcons and Fairlanes but wanted something less boxy, which pushed me more towards the muscle cars that I love.  Looked at GTOs and Chevelles but these were bigger cars than I wanted, heavy cars over 3,000 pounds.  Camaros were easy to find as project cars, but pricier than I wanted.


Momma and me coming home from the hospital in the Ford Falcon in 1970.  No seat belts, no baby seat, right up front where I can see my four day old life pass me by in an instant.  That’s how we rolled.

I’m looking at Chevy Novas and late 60’s Firebirds.  I like the power of a V8 but Pop thinks we could also have fun souping up a slant 6.  This has me looking at Dodge and Plymouth.  The slant 6 was standard on the first Dodge Darts and then the Demon was introduced in 1971.  It had a pointier front end which was one of the things I took issue with on the Bird so that is out.  The Demon was Dodge’s response to the popular Plymouth Duster.  Now, this is a car I like the look of.  The ’72 Duster had a V8 but was only a tad over 3K pounds and shorter.  Short I like because I still need to get this thing up my steep driveway when all is said and done.

I saw this Duster in my neighborhood.  It had been sitting on the street so long it had a parking ticket.  I left a message on the car asking the owner if they would consider selling it, but have heard nothing.  It does look pretty ‘done’ though.


I found a ’75 Duster on Craig’s List and Mike and I went to check it out.  I was VERY excited and kept seeing ‘signs’ along the way there that I was sure were guiding me to the car of my dreams.  We passed Chambers road, my maiden name, and another street named Kentucky, where I would be working on the car with Pop.  I saw a feather hanging from a dream catcher on someone’s review mirror, which the Navajo shaman I had recently visited said I would.  (I know, just go with it.)  I took a lot of pics of the car to talk over with Pop later and got a chance to test drive it.

Sounds a bit rough, but my heart still pounded when I revved it.  Came with lots of extra parts, solid body I thought, in my price range…it was looking good.  Talked to Pop later and it was a no go.  Too much rust, liner gone, extensive body work, etc.  Shit!  Throughout the coming weeks, I would send him links to cars and get responses from him:

1972 Ford Maverick:  “I’m afraid that one is just too rough. That would be a body off restoration which is more than we really want to handle.”

1971 Chevy Chevelle:  “Basically the same engine, trans and body style as the Bird and much rougher shape. 3k would be out of the question.”

1968 Chevy Chevelle: “That is rough. Body work on that order I am afraid is beyond us.”

1972 Chevy Nova: “That car is basically done. Very masculine, fast and a 4 door.”

1969 Mercury Cougar: “We really don’t want a fabric type roof although the Bird started out that  way. I don’t think you would be happy with a cougar as they were a pretty big car and parts would  be difficult to find.”

Getting closer but neither of the following led to anything:

1975 Plymouth Duster: “I’m impressed with the slant six and all the chrome. I can’t tell but looks like a lot of rust in the quarters, fenders and door bottoms. Also I can’t tell if that is a white vinyl top or not, if it’s in good condition I suppose that’s okay.”

Another Duster: “I like the red 1975 the best. Although it says it’s a V6 I don’t find they made one with a V6, it’s probably a slant six which would make it even a better deal.”

I’ll continue looking online but Pop says we’ll probably find our car sitting by the side of the road in a little town somewhere.  He and Momma travel a lot in their camper and are always on the look out.  Besides, Pop’s leery about the online sales world.  He has discovered that he was now officially the ‘target’ of target marketing.





So the search continues.  The right car will come along at the right time, I know that.  I’m having a blast looking.

And by the way, I’m currently wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt, can’t stand Donald Trump, am a pro-choice female business owner who prays to Mother Earth but I don’t have any tattoos.  A permanent symbol of personal expression forever imprinted on my body?  Not quite there yet.