Thinking of my 5×6 Plymouth

I know everyone remembers the first car they ever bought. If you paid for your own, like I did, the first one usually had a few problems that came with it—to make it affordable.

My first one was a 1956 Plymouth convertible that I bought in the summer of 1963 for $165.00. And boy did it ever have some problems.


First of all it didn’t have a top but it was a convertible and it was summer so what was the big deal. And it didn’t have a heater either but cold weather was months away. It also had a dinged up rear fender but that didn’t affect how it drove.


I think what really got me was the 318 Dodge V8 that had been installed in it by one of the previous owners who was a known hot rodder. It was one of those “horses that had been rode hard and put away wet.”


Not only did it not have a top, the brackets that the top would normally be draped over were broken and since they were aluminum it took special welding to fix the broken struts. I found someone to weld them but now cannot remember who did it.

Then I ordered a brand new top from Ray Matz and he put it on for me. When that part was finished I thought I had arrived. It even had a zipper for the back window that could be zipped open and then you had the flow of air from that area even with the top up.


The next thing that needed attention was the transmission. It was a three-speed stick shift and when it was in second it would slip out of gear, so a lot of times I just went from first to third. There was also a big oil leak from the engine that dripped down into the clutch area so the clutch would slip really badly.

There was a cheap fix for that problem. I just drove the car up against a tree and slipped the clutch until all of the wet oil burned off of it and it was good for a while.

After months of this maneuver the clutch plate wears out—it then means another repair.


Eventually winter rolled around and it got pretty cold in there without a heater. I had a new girlfriend then (my wife now) and I believe a trip or two without the heater forced me into taking a trip to a junkyard to find a “new” heater core.

I think the previous owner thought it had more power without channeling the water through a heater core.


I couldn’t afford new tires so bought some retreads. That was an okay idea until one hot summer day I was driving out to the county lake and I heard a loud thumping in the back.

I stopped and opened the trunk and saw where the tread had come off and pounded a hole in the floor of the trunk. I put a big box over it for the duration of my ownership.


In the summer of 1964 I upgraded to a 1956 Chevy and wish I still had it today. I knew that Ken and Bonnie Funk had owned it so it wouldn’t be the money pit I just had.


Cardiologist to patient: “What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead for 24 hours a day.”

This little health message is taken from a cartoon, by Randy Glasbergen, on the wall where I take my annual thallium treadmill test each year. I have taken that message to heart somewhat—my limit is about 30 minutes most days.

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