Wednesday, April 16, 2008

460s and 4 Barrels Forever!

There is nothing, I repeat nothing, like the power and sound of a big, 4bbl carburetted, pushrod, American, cast iron V8 engine. Most newer cars have engines with more horsepower than sense; big numbers from V6, fuel injected, multi valved, aluminum, overhead cam, hemi head, front drive, fuel efficient, massaged and complex powerplants.

But they have no soul.

My friend Steve left town for love, and that is a story in and of itself. Suffice to say his house is still unsold and furniture and appliances remain as well. Also left behind, due to a small mechanical malfunction (stuck open sunroof), is his 1978 Lincoln Mark V. I go to the house occasionally to check the place out, air it out a bit and start the Mark to keep it up and going.

She is a big girl. 230 inches long (19 ft), 4600 lbs dry, more when the 25 gal gas tank is full (think of it... more than $80 to fill the tank now), 120 inches between the wheels and a hood long enough to land a small plane. All cream yellow, inside and out. A big Cartier clock and speedometer suffice for gauges.

Since it was a nice, sunny and breezy day, I decided that the old Mark needed some exercise. She was a bit reluctant to start, having sat for a few weeks, but when the carb was full, she lit off and burbled to a low growl, content to lazily turn forever. Since the sunroof is 1/2 out, I tucked in the headliner so I could see out the back, tucked Puggles in the seat and off we went.

Like a locomotive, the big 460 Cubic Inch (no liters here, but if you insist 7.5 liters) propels the beast with grace and force-of-nature-like power. No high pitched whine or whirring, no fan noise, just a low grumbling, rumbling power that tells you 210 smog choked horses and 357 ft/lbs of torque are working for you right off the bat. Newer engines make that power in their upper range when they are furiously working, chains, cams and valves whirring. A 460 is just being lazy.

After making sure she was up and running well by touring the subdivision streets, we ventured into traffic, dwarfing many of the plastic disposable Toyotas and holding her own against the SUV crowd. Gracefully accelerating up the fairly clear avenue, the old girl showed she still could command the road. People moved out of the way, in case the massive hood, formal Rolls like grille and patrician hood ornament would sweep them out of the way in a roar of yellow power. A few glanced at us, not having seen a big old Lincoln like this in a while.

The big lady enjoyed her outing, never missing a beat. Now snug in her garage, she awaits another romp and eventually, her return as Queen of the Boulevard.

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