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My 1950s Collection


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Hi everyone,

What you see is a '55 Montclair, '57 Oldsmobile & '58 Impala

However, I am relatively new to classic car maintenance. I have a mechanic look after these but I would like to now get more involved and well read regarding at home maintenance. This would include preservation best practices, paint care, interior care etc. For example, is a ceramic coat on these cars a good idea? What about on the chrome? They are stored in a heated garage year long. I am mechanically inclined but time is my limiting factor so I prefer not to take on large tasks that leaves the cars disassembled and unable to enjoy at a moment's notice!

I welcome any and all tips or directions to valuable resources. Thank you!!!











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You probably need to find a more personable mechanic. One who will let you get in and do things as well sit at the bench and share a cup of coffee while you just discuss things.


Nice collection of iconic cars. The devotion to a livelihood that can afford them usually excludes the spare time to have a lifetime of continuity working on cars. I think the situation is common today. You have 50 years of catch up. This weekend try to get in a couple of hours doing what a 14 year old would be able to do. You will surprise yourself.

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Being the way they are stored and cared for,  I don't think anything special will be required for waxes.  Just a good easy to use wax,  will suffice.   The reason for all the extra duty finishes is for cars stored outside that are exposed to the elements.  The fact you heat the garage will prevent sweating so that is one of your worst enemies in storage (moisture). I run a dehumidifier in my garage in the summer as well and it makes a world of difference as well. 

I got a big one and it does a good job.  it was under $300 at the hardware store.  


Great looking cars,  anyone of them would be welcome in my Garage. 

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Get the owner's manual and factory repair manual and go by that. Maintain them by the book. Carefully wash, polish and wax. You can build up several coats of wax, but after the 4th coat you reach the point of diminishing returns. The paint will last forever if kept clean and waxed.

There are lots of things that can be done to make a nice car drive like a dream. Often neglected, front end alignment and new shock absorbers make a big difference. There may be things on your cars that aren't working right that can be fixed for a little money and effort.

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From a maintenance perspective, my suggestions would be to 1) obtain and read the owner’s manual for each car, 2) obtain and read the original shop manual for each car, and 3) obtain a Motor Manual for the period and read the pertinent parts for your car(s). 

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Lovely cars!   


My main thought may be an obvious point, but I'll offer it just in case: Make sure that you drive each of them every few weeks.  Old cars are like people, they need to be regularly exercised to keep everything working right.  Nothing keeps old cars on the road like regularly taking them out on the road.  :)    

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Iconic models-

Enjoy each one at least once each month, even if for only 10 or 15 miles, but hopefully more when possible -

maybe attend a Cruise Night or a Cars & Coffee -

meet other enthusiasts -

and share your treasures with the public, as well as the cognoscenti 


My '58 Bel-air white convertible and '54 Mercury convertible were both amazing cars to own and drive.

While I never had a '57 Olds 98 convertible, a customer on my newspaper route did, and I likely drooled over it !

My '54 Caddy convertible seems a darned good alternative, among our others

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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On 6/30/2022 at 11:09 PM, 1935Packard said:

...Make sure that you drive each of them every few weeks.  

For my cars, driving them every few months is enough

to keep them working properly.  And people in cold climates

may go longer than that over the wintertime.  I try to go 

through a tank of gas in each car every year.  If gas gets

too old, it will go bad and gum up the system.


Myron, you may know that ethanol in gasoline is bad,

particularly for older cars.  Buy non-ethanol gas if it's

available.  Otherwise, I use an ethanol treatment which

comes in a bottle;  add a small amount to the tank every

time you get gas.  It keeps the ethanol from breaking down

into acid, and this has worked well for me.


You probably already have these insured at an "agreed value"

with one of the reliable companies that specialize in antique-car

insurance.  Don't insure them with a regular carrier, because

they won't likely give you enough for proper repairs if you have

a claim. 


You have many happy hobby years ahead of you!


Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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On 7/3/2022 at 4:48 PM, John_S_in_Penna said:

And now that you've posed a question, please

stay with this topic, interacting regularly.


Some newcomers wait a while to respond or never

reply, losing much of the good this forum potentially

offers them.


I have been reading every bit! Haven't had the time to properly respond yet but I definitely intend on continued engagement but perhaps not non stop ;) 

At the moment I'm trying to procure the proper owner manuals. 


I believe these cars are painted with just a single stage. Is superficial polishing a concern in this case (to remove swirls)? A ceramic coat can last a couple decades without needing to wax with the way these are driven and stored. I suppose I could ceramic coat them without polishing but it will essentially "lock in" the current condition of the paint. 

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2 hours ago, MyronGanes said:

...I believe these cars are painted with just a single stage. Is superficial polishing a concern in this case (to remove swirls)? 

Polishing should be no problem.  I was advised to use

a polish, not a wax, because wax builds up.


Meguiar's makes a variety of well regarded products for cars.

Others can tell you more, as to which they like.

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Set a goal of driving each one about 15 miles per week when possible. The main reason being to always maintain their highest value. Cars that don't get used regularly tent to gather deferred issues that may drop off the ToDo list. If value ever becomes important for some reason those items come right to the surface quickly.


15 miles is a good number. My wife will tell you, if I go out to move a car one car width I am gone for at least half an hour. I'm not starting a cold car and filling my exhaust system with H2O combustion byproducts. And I get the ride.

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I really like the Mercury!

My advice is (other than driving them as much as you can), ... do the following....

(1) Watch, maintain, and keep a log of tire pressures for all three cars, by checking tire pressures every 30-45 days ....... So If you've got a "leaker" you will see it.  You can then address that leak.

(2) Be really careful about keeping tires past 7-8+ years of age.  Sometimes the tires look so good but they aren't.  On the other hand everybody in the old car hobby has had an old car with tires that are 7-20 years old, and all seems fine, out on the big road.  But I'd say, especially if you can afford it, simply replace all tires, (& tubes?), every 7-8 years, tops.  That's the # 1 safety tip I can give you;  Watch the tires!  You can own old cars, for years, have old tires, on all of them, and never have a flat, or a problem,,, or,,, you can suddenly have too many flats, & some being under dangerous circumstances.  I'd also have your mechanic inspect the tires, for "retained" nails, screws, metal objects,, at least once a year.  It takes just a few extra minutes,when the car is up on a lift to do that or when rotating the tires.

(3) Make a list of everything you want your mechanic to watch, or change out, at a certain time frame, like ... coolant, power steering fluid, motor oil, differential fluid, filters, wiper blades, starter, generator, battery, full safety check once a year(?), tire rotation/ inspection, check all lites, etc, etc, etc... and so with with this "program", your biggest "chore" simply becomes managing ( keeping track of ) what you are paying your mechanic to do.  This can be just as rewarding, as you doing anything, or everything, by yourself! ... And with three cars, as nice as these, that are now all 64-67 years old, a very important job too!...

(4) Regarding cosmetics.  Sure there's always tons of stuff you can do there.  However, since all 3 cars are truly in such great shape cosmetically they probably won't really require too much work considering they "live" in a heated garage.

(5) Happy & Safe motoring!

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Myron, it seems you are concerned about the condition of the paint and preserving/protecting it. I have been temped by ceramic coating as well. I wanted to do so on my Trans Am 1. because I just get tired of waxing it, and 2. just because. I also wanted to do my wifes new mustang, for both reasons above and she uses it as a sometimes daily driver. The ceramic promises to be a very good coating, just spray and maintain slightly and the paint will stay nice and shiny. But I suspect you have already checked into it. A couple of things I have found from looking into it, casually. I dont think that its diy friendly unless you want to really take your time and give it your best. If you have a pro do the job they should take paint correction into account when they do the job. I know a guy with a 68 mustang (red) that had it done and his car-the paint- looks beautiful. They did the correction and buffed out scratches and swirl marks. They took about a week to do the car and the cost was over $1k!  But, like you mentioned, with his weekend use it should last several years. 

I used a semi-ceramic spray coating on the mustang. I think it was meguires but not 100% sure. It went on like a spray wax shine n go. Easy to do and the result was very good. Havent washed the car yet so I dont know how it holds up. 

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Take your cars to AACA or marque club shows (there are several active Chevrolet, Olds and Ford clubs). No need to get your car judged unless you want. The payoff is meeting other owners with similar interests as well as picking up a lot of tips.



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If you want to tinker with old cars, buy one that needs work, set up a small shop and go in every once in a while and work with the mechanic getting your hands dirty.


 The greatest pleasure that I have is repairing old cars.


Ps, I doubt that you have an old set of grungy dungarees, so get some and dig in to the grease!

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