Nine Years With Dolores / Time Stands Still

See below: Before? Or After? (hint: it doesn’t matter)

I should start by saying, I don’t really name my vehicles. Dolores came with the name, and since the previous owner is a friend and he’s actually buying it back from me after nine years for the same price I paid in 2007*, I’ll respect the name in this case. I do believe that all vehicles have a personality, and certainly this one is not aggressive, angry, loud, mean, or generally cantankerous in any way. It’s a lot like a nice old lady... perhaps named Dolores. In an Easter dress.


*Incidentally, the amount we agreed on back in ‘07 turned out to be the same precise amount on the dealer receipt from ‘72, found in the glove box: $3,200 even. It’s all the more amusing to me because the negotiation was so casual, and really more of a formality. We both agreed then, and now, that the truck has a certain value and it’s very much done depreciating.

The details: It’s a 1972 Ford F100 LWB 2WD, 302 V8, 3-speed manual, column shift. Base model, no power anything, AM radio... that’s about it. The story goes, that this truck came into a scrap yard with the oil drained out of it, battery removed, slated for the crusher. Someone thought better of it and plucked it out of the yard, giving it a second chance. I guess it started life in Arizona, spending most of its life with a small camper in back. It made its way to the Great Wet Northeast and spent some time in a field, where it gained most of its rust. It was from that field, presumably, where it was plucked and sent in for scrap, a fate which I am glad it was spared.


While I have the original build sheet (?), bill of sale, warranty card and owner’s manual, I don’t know much about the rest of its life beyond the above, or how many owners it may have had along the way. Not many I think. It has all of 113,022 miles as it sits today, up from 95,394 in January of 2007. That’s a whopping 17,628 miles in 9 years, or just under 2/3 of an oil change interval on average. Mind you, I changed it anyway every spring.

This was by far, hands-down, the least expensive vehicle in terms of ongoing costs that I will probably ever personally own (plus the aforementioned lack of depreciation):

Registration: $20/year
Insurance: ~$95/year.
Points & Condenser: <$10, probably bought 2 sets total
Tune-up (once): Cap, Rotor, Plugs Wires, ~$65
Brake lines (after terrifying on-road failure... story for another time): $300
Radiator, Hoses: $150
Carb Rebuild: $110
Steering Coupler: $25 (?)
Oil Changes: ~$25/year


I’m sure I’m missing a few bits here and there, but this is 9 years of near-flawless performance, no, let’s call it “operation.” Performance has at least some suggestion of sporting, or some excitement in its intentions. This is a cruiser. It’s comfortable, it’s surprisingly smooth and quiet, but God help you, Dolores is not in a rush. That’s where the personality comes in, I think if you picture trying to rush an old lady in the grocery store, that’s about the reaction you get when you push this truck. The 302 has a nice deep sound at idle, but the 3-speed transmission and the restrictive early 70's regulations just starting to come into play, this thing probably puts down less power than my 13 year old AWD family-hauling wagon. And that’s just fine.

I made a few cosmetic improvements, like the seat upholstery - although that also added quite a bit to the comfort - but the seat cover was a gift, and there so few other things to do that it’s not worth mentioning. I broke a piece of linkage that connected the carburetor to the throttle pedal arm once, and I pulled in to the nearest auto parts store. When I described what I was looking for, the guys all kind of smiled, then groaned, then disappeared “out back” for a few minutes, returning with a small, dusty container. They handed it to me and said, “take whatever you need, no charge.” I found the right piece, thanked them, and went on my way. I took a spare, too, just in case.


This truck strikes a fantastic balance of being relatively common so that parts are dirt cheap (or free as I found), yet old enough that everyone, literally everyone, loves to see it around. From a woman who owns a local boutique, to every crusty old redneck I meet at the gas station, to high school kids walking by, they all smile and say “Nice truck! What year is it? Are you going to paint it?” or some combination thereof. And yet it’s not like a mint 1965 Corvette or something, it’s not even shiny; it’s worth a few grand, that’s it. So people don’t look at it and say “nice truck,” while saying in their head, “geez I guess he’s got some serious money,” which is nice. Plus it’s a truck. So I can, and do, actually use it for things like hauling firewood, trash, furniture, and bikes. Which makes it easy to justify ownership of a classic vehicle in a household with two kids under 4 and no free time, let alone spare cash. It’s simple, it’s cheap, it’s cool, it’s functional. Perfect!


I loved working on it, because everything is so simple and access was never a problem. I drilled and tapped a bolt hole into the timing cover housing for the water pump while standing INSIDE the engine bay with a drill. One thing about all that space, though, was the fan being 8" from the radiator did not make for the most efficient cooling at a standstill. You could watch the temp creep up a little at stoplight in July. Just stay moving, you’ll be fine.


So why am I selling it? Am I trying to make this month’s diaper payment? Not enough time to enjoy it properly? Not enough space in the garage? We don’t have a garage, so that’s not it. And the kids are working their way out of diapers. Spoiler alert: I already announced it loud and clear on Oppo a few weeks ago, I bought a new shiny old, somewhat rusty thing to replace it. The 1961 F100 4WD is basically the precise truck I have always really wanted, and I’ll probably never sell it. I’ve got a lot of details to attend to on that one, partly by nature of it being used so little over the years. The kids love it, and my son pretty much has a permanent grin on his face when he rides in it. I’ll post more about that truck another time.


But anyway, I’ll miss “Dolores” although I’m sure I’ll see it driving around, and I could always borrow it if I wanted to; that is, until the next owner inevitably sells it so someone else. But that’s ok. I’m just glad it wasn’t melted down and turned into an anonymous refrigerator. Because Dolores was never all that great at staying cool, anyway.

I hope you enjoyed the before/after pics, and reading a bit about a neat old truck. I hope it looks the same in another 9 years. As you can see, time stands still for a 40+ year old truck in the right hands.


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