We have all heard the fable of the lucky collector who finds a vintage car in some old ladies barn. My story is as close as you can get. The attached photo's are of my 78 New Yorker Brougham 2 door coupe. It had been sitting in my neighbor's garage for 15 years. It has 44,000 original miles (verified) and was all original including the factory 440 4bbl. The elderly lady who owned the property had become a recluse after her husband died . On rare occasion, the garage door would be open allowing a glimpse of a large taillight and fender. However, the remainder of the car was not visible.
A few years later, the widow too passed away and her sister charged with custodial duties came to the property to clear out the years of clutter. I introduced myself and offered to help by keeping the lawn mowed and carrying things out to the curb. While I was there, she told me about the car and said that she had to sell it. While I was certainly interested, my expectations were not very high. For years I assumed it was a big four door Mercury with body damage and a 100,000+ miles. Needless to say I was shocked to discover it was a 2 door New Yorker Brougham. With fender skirts no less!
Her low asking price was also beyond my expectations which only reinforced my skepticism. However, seeing is believing. As the pictures demonstrate, the red leather interior is impeccable as the day it rolled out of the showroom. With a new battery and a few drops of gas, the engine quickly sprang to life. No smoke, no knocks only a slightly rough idle which I attributed to bad gas. I quickly wrote the owner a check for her full asking price. To further my surprise, almost every system on the car functioned perfectly including the 8 Track Stereo. The only non-functional items were the air conditioning (not a surprise) and the gas gauge. I honestly felt like I was driving it out of a museum when I took it for a quick test drive.
A few hours of actual road driving revealed that the front breaks were frozen and needed to be completely replaced. The rough idle that I originally attributed to bad gas turned out to be the ThermoQuad carburetor which was shot from years of sitting. I gave the car to my trusted and capable mechanic who replaced the entire front disk break system. Rather than rebuild the overcomplicated ThermoQuad, I had it replaced with an Edelbrock 1406. The Lean Burn ignition system also went in favor of a Chrysler factory electronic system (orange box). The AC received some serious attention including a new compressor. The maintenance cost was a bit more than I had anticipated. However, I considerted it a good investment given the low miles and condition of the car. Besides, I wanted it to be completely reliable and fun to drive.
There have since been a few minor repairs such as the windshield wiper armature, and power window regulator due to deterioration of the associated plastic pieces. Again, all of these things are expected given the amount of time it had been sitting.
The car is an absolute blast to drive. I frequently get thumbs up gestures from other drivers (including one biker). The Edelbrock carb made a huge difference in performance and fuel economy. I am not sure what I am going to do with the vehicle next. I think the front and rear suspension could use a refresh to reduce some of the body roll. After that, perhaps a stroker motor and some new paint. Everyone tells me I should enter it in shows which I may do if I find one close by. Until then, I will enjoy driving my boat on cool evenings with the windows down listening to Jethro Tull on the 8 Track.