I have a small limousine service in Fort Mill, SC, USA, near Charlotte, NC. I constantly receive calls from brides wanting an antique or classic car. As a result, I have been searching, albeit not agressively, for such a vehicle.
In early Dec of 06, as an ex-Sports Car Club of America Showroom Stock road-racer, I was invited by a friend to a meeting of the Walter Mitty Sports Car Driving & Bench Racing Society featuring the former Director of Ford Racing, Mr. Michael Kranefuss. Sounded like a neat luncheon, so I cleared my calendar.
The luncheon event was hosted by Tom Cotter, author of The Cobra in the Barn, http://www.speedtvbooks.com/Store/ProductDetails_32541.ncm, at his business, Auto Barn http://www.autobarnclassiccars.com in Kannapolis, NC. This is a former Pillowtex/Fieldcrest-Cannon Mills warehouse/manufacturing facility being converted into alternative uses.
At the beginning of the meeting, Tom read the contents of an email from Matt Mercer, a policeman, in Boston, MA, USA who had found his “Cobra in the Barn”, a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible. This email also mentioned a 1960 Rolls Royce in the same building. Tom requested that anyone with interest in the car should see him after the meeting. I was the first one to speak to him and got dibs on the car info.
After a couple of weeks, Tom sent the contact information and I immediately called Mr. Mercer, who emailed photos of the car. I then talked to the lawyer representing the estate owners of the car and decided to fly to Boston the following week-end, January 7th, and have a 1st hand look. Based on the emailed pics, my plan was to verbally commit to purchase if the car was close to expectations.
These are the first pictures I received:
Rented a sedan on arrival and drove to the car’s location in Milton, MA, where I met the lawyer. The car met expectations! After a perfunctory examination, I agreed to the purchase. After several hours of crawling around and under the car, removing,inflating, & reinstalling the original tires, I flew home, somewhat dazed at my good fortune.
Back in Charlotte, I was fortunate to locate the President of the NC Catawba Region, AACA, who owns a dually Chevy pickup and a very nice enclosed trailer which he uses to haul his treasured 1949 Pontiac. http://webpages.charter.net/mrshoestock. I arranged for him to meet me in Boston to bring the car back to Charlotte.
After doing the necessary work at my bank, I caught a flight back to Boston January 14th. The lawyer and I drove to the car and we began the moving and loading. The right rear brakes were locked, so we wound up using a jack as the 4th wheel to avoid damaging the axle. After working for over an hour in the drizzling rain, we finally got the Rolls in the trailer and strapped down for the 900 mile trip to Charlotte. Nineteen hours later, we had breakfast and put the car in a locked garage in Charlotte.
What I have:
The car only has 11000 miles, so Mr. Greeley drove the car infrequently. He died in the early 1980’s and his son, Horace, inherited the car. Apparently, the son had a number of personal problems and issues about the time of his father’s death (his wife developed MS, he almost died in a horrific traffic accident), so the car found its way to the garage in 1982 never to be moved until January of 07. The garage was partially heated until the recent death of the wife, so the paint and rubber is in terrific shape.
Problem No 1: No title papers, the state of MA didn’t start issuing titles until 1972, but the lawyer has issued a bill of sale. The people at the local Div MotorVehicles aren’t helpful. Oh well, the car needs to be running before we get too concerned about the title issues.
Problem No 2: There are no keys available. I have removed the glovebox lock, took it to a locksmith who fabricated a key which works the door and trunk locks, turns the ignition & glovebox, but won’t lock the glovebox or engage the starter.
Problem No 3: The interior has a light amount of mildew throughout the interior. There is no significant damage to any of the surfaces. I will use Gliptone’s Cleaner which contains quartenary ammonia in a dilute form, followed by their leather cleaner and conditioner to restore the leather. I may need to redye some portions of the front seat. The headliner has some staining and a tiny hole, but replacement will be the last thing done.
Problem No 4: The left rear door latch doesn’t function and the R front door won’t latch every time it’s closed. I’ve tied a cord to the grab handle and pulled it thru the R door just to keep the rear door from flopping around.
First assignment was to get it up on jack stands, remove the tires, take an air hose, blow off all the crud and debris. Since I abhor working on dirty cars, I pressure washed everything, top to bottom, front to rear. Got a little too close to some of the fabric covered wires under the bonnet and can now see the rubber covering. The shock absorbers are debris free, there is no grease and most of the grit has been removed from the underbody.
Have removed the front & rear brake cylinders and adjusters. The cylinders only need to be scuff honed and rebuilt, the adjusters need to be cleaned and greased. The dual master cylinders need to be pulled and reworked. I have a hose company who will fabricate replacement hoses for the 5 brake lines.
The gas tank has been drained, flushed, and pressure washed to prep for painting. Interior front fender splash sheilds have been removed and pressure washed for painting.
Tomorrow, I’ll pull the plugs and dump some Marvel Mystery Oil in the cylinders prior to hand cranking the engine. Here are more photos so you can appreciate the work to be done...