Thursday, August 31, 2006

Of Cornhuskers and Fabuliners

"I love the mileage and the pick-up, but she just doesn't ride and have the class of the "Boxes'." Thus continually lamented my friend Steve about his pearl white 1996 Lincoln Town Car, aka "The Fabuliner". Steve should know, he is an expert on these machines, the Queens of the Ford Motor Company.

Ironic trivia note: both American luxury makes, the Lincoln and the Cadillac were the brainchild of the same man, Henry Martyn Leland. He started Cadillac which was later bought by GM and then after that started Lincoln, subsequently bought by Ford. Lovers of cushy road boats should bow in his honor.

Lincoln was redesigned and downsized (from Aircraft Carrier to Ocean Liner) in 1980. Totally boxy, they have a sleek elegance that is timeless. Although hailed at the time, the 1990 redesign was just not the same, although the updated mechanics made for a better handling, more economical auto.

Steve has driven Lincolns since I met him. First big 70's Carriers, then 80's and then his venture into the 90s. When he bought a '96 for a short time a few years ago, I said to a mutual friend "kind of new for him, isn't it??" His all white 89 Lincoln had some issues so he sold it and bought a '94 that drove him nuts. He got rid of it and got another '96.... it just wasn't right.

Every time he worked on my Queen Mary, (1988 Lincoln Town Car Signature, Cabernet over Cabernet, velour interior, 95,000 miles)I could see the seductive lines of the box catching his eye. It was a matter of time.

A failed road trip to Dallas with his partner Mark failed to procure a suitable box. Then I got a call... look on Ebay.... look at # 2020... whatever it was. There was a pristine looking 1989 Lincoln Town Car, suitably boxy, 48K miles, clean, runs and not too far in Omaha, NE. "Can you go up Wednesday and look at it with me, if I buy it, I'll need a driver."

Off to Omaha we went on a sunny and pleasant Wed PM. I snuck away from the towers early and we got a good start. The trip up was totally uneventful, since it was mostly through Missouri River bottom land and Iowa, it was not especially scenic. Steve pointed out a couple of waste water plants he used to service, for those in to that sort of thing.

Omaha is quite spread out and like most larger cities, has its major roads under construction. We finally found the place where the car was at; it was actually closer to Gretna, NE a small town just to the SW of Omaha.

Jack, the owner of the place, specializes in 60's low mileage cars, mostly Buicks and such. Quite a talker, with gas for blood and beer for nourishment; quite the "good ol' boy". Nice, but yap yap yap... and he is always right and knows everything. We did not let on that we bat for the other team. He wore on my nerves after a while. We had to tour the whole place, hear all the dirt and detailed specifications on all the cars, thus waiting over an hour to see the Lincoln Steve had come for.

The car was nice, but not the pristine show stopper it was described. Several flaws, some odd paint, some clear coat wearing off, in dire need of a tune up, and the typical corrosion in the coil and balky rear window. Steve had to admit it was a nice one for the most part and was clean. But not worth the price. But Jack had others wanting the car, so negotiation was out of the question.

Thus it came to pass that Steve came home with a new Fabuliner. But not without drama.

We were much later getting out of Omaha than planned, thanks to yap-o-matic Jack. A quick stop at a truck stop (fine dining) we headed out. It was smooth until we stopped for gas at Platte City, MO as my chase car (Mark's Kia) was needing gas. Steve topped off the new Fabuliner to see about his gas mileage (of course a Queen Mary/Fabuliner rarely passes any station) and the damn thing would not start. The rather corroded coil was not being co-operative. We got her going and were back on the road. Being almost midnight and on the edge of Kansas City, we could see home looming ahead.

All was fine until about 10 miles from Steve's, she died again while on the road.The load going up a hill was too much. This time it was not as easy. The coil was arcing and the car would not go. Luckily, Steve had some wires with clips and the corroded coil wire was bypassed enough to limp us home.

So, a new Fabuliner is in the garage at Steve's. I wonder how long he'll keep this one??

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