News & Articles


1949 Cushman Scooter

1949 Cushman Scooter

Meet Ron Balduzzi, of Lakeland, NY, the proud owner of this 1949 Cushman Scooter, a classic run about he bought at an Carlisle, PA., automotive event. In the background is Ron’s 1948 Ford F1 pickup, a truck you may have read about in the past. This one’s a sleeper of sorts, no Flathead V-8 in this truck; it has 4.67-liter 300 HP V-8 donated by a Lincoln. The Cushman has a 4-HP single cylinder engine that’s just fine for covering a lot of ground at auto shows and cruise-ins, Ron said. You can see that the Cushman is a little rugged, that’s okay too and that’s the way it’s going to remain, he said.


1958 Ford Thunderbird

The interior of the Thunderbird is glamorous to say the least. The instrument panel is like a jewelry box, chrome, the T-Bird insignia, bright colors, and design unlike any American-made car in 1958.

1958 Ford Thunderbird
Owner: John Fiscoe, Clay, NY

Cost new:

$4760

Cost of Ford Fairlane sedan in ’58:

$2383

Engine:

352 C.I., 300 HP, V-8

Transmission:

Three speed Cruise-O-Matic

Nickname:

‘Square Bird’

Color:

Colonial White/Gulfstream Blue interior

Years manufactured:

1958-1960

1958 production:

37,892, includes 35,758 coupes

Wheelbase:

113 inches

Length:

205 inches

1958 average family income:

$5100

Average house:

$12,750

Gallon of gas:

$0.25

John Fiscoe, of Clay, NY, with his 1958 Ford Thunderbird in Colonial White, with Gulfstream Blue interior.

One thing that’s hard to believe about John Fiscoe’s 1958 T-Bird is that it has 107,000 miles on the odometer. Look at this car, it’s pretty nice, a car that had a 20-year hiatus, but otherwise was driven again until two years ago when John bought it.

His attention was drawn to the car by a cousin who saw it advertised, and alerted John. The car was owned by a family in Long Meadow, MA. The mother of the family selling the car was the niece of the original owners who lived in Chicopee, MA.

John said the car was purchased during September 1958, for $4760, by the Chicopee, MA., couple who owned it until 2005 but during that time the car was put into storage for as much as 20 years, and during 2005 it was transferred to the niece who owned it until 2018.

The niece sold the car because there was a new grandchild in the family and a baby seat wouldn’t fit in the rear of the Thunderbird.

As John said, “Baby stays, T-Bird goes.”

John said he wasn’t looking for a Thunderbird, but when his cousin told him about it, the idea of owning such a car was so compelling that he and his cousin made the trip to see it. John’s last collector car was a ’53 Ford Customline two-door hardtop that had a manual three-speed transmission. John said he’d become weary of shifting the Ford and was anxious to get a car with an automatic transmission.

The unmistakable back of the ’58 T-Bird. This design was basically unchanged through the 1960 model year.
The Thunderbird, like many cars of the era, was laden with chrome. Notice the heavy chrome anchoring the roof where it meets the middle of the car, and the chrome hash marks on the lower part of the front doors.

The ’58 Thunderbird was the first year of the second generation T-Bird. The first generation, ’55-’57, were two-seat cars that were popular. At the time, however, Chevrolet was well into production of the first generation Corvette and it became obvious that Ford and Chevy were taking different paths in terms of performance, so Ford made a corporate decision to make the T-Bird larger, and with seating for four. The strategy worked because Ford sold 37,892 T-Birds, immediately dubbed the ‘Square Birds,’ in 1958. To put a cherry on top of the cake, the ’58 T-Bird won Motor Trend magazine’s annual car of the year award.

The ‘Square Birds’ had a three year run through 1960, when the third generation was introduced, a radically different designed car that brought new attention to Thunderbird. The third generation also had a three-year run when Ford doubled down and introduced another all-new design in 1964. From that point on Thunderbird design evolved and continued until 1997 when slow sales spelled the end.

But, Ford revived the two-seat Thunderbird for 2002 and production continued until July 1, 2005, when Ford brought the curtain down on the T-Bird for the final time. All told, from 1955 until 2005, Ford manufactured 4.4 million Thunderbirds. Will the T-Bird ever be returned? It’s possible but not probable since Ford is phasing out passenger cars with exception of the Mustang, in favor of trucks and SUVs. By 2022 Ford will have eliminated the Taurus, Fiesta and Fusion.

John said so far the old Bird has been trouble free, although he carefully maintains his ride. “Cars like this require attention and you have to expect to invest to keep the car the way it was back in the day,” he said.

Kenn Peters
Kenn4mail@gmail.com

This car was driven by the original owners for many years, then put into storage for up to 20 years, and then gifted to a niece of the original owners. She sold it to John Fiscoe in 2018. The door panels are two-tone and in like-new condition. Most ’58 through ’60 Thunderbirds had two-tone interiors with the exception of cars that had black interiors.
The Thunderbird grille and hood scoop, along with the quad headlights, set off by the turquoise and chrome Thunderbird in the middle, made it very clear that this car was something special.

1971 Volkswagen Microbus

Michael Zepp, of Central Square, NY, with his 1971 VW Microbus. This is not an authentic VW paint combination, but Michael said he plans on having the bus repainted another color.

1971 Volkswagen Microbus
Owner: Michael Zepp, Central Square, NY

Engine:

4 cylinder, 1200 cc, air cooled, 36 HP

Transmission:

4-speed manual

Safari windows, apparently were designed to allow cool air into the unairconditioned cabin. Michael said he tried it once while driving and, as we all know, it’s not the best thing to do.

Michael Zepp, of Central Square, NY, is a far-flung guy, given his status as an E5 in the Navy, assigned to a U.S., base in Naples, Italy. So it’s no wonder that having been exposed to cars we don’t see much around here, his taste in vehicles runs to the unusual.

Four years ago he bought his 1971 VW Microbus, and he’s awaiting delivery, from Naples, Italy, of a 1985 Fiat 126, a car that at first glance looks something like a VW Golf from the same era, except the Fiat is 121 inches long, while the VW is 146 inches long. The Fiat is an all original car that was owned by a man he works with at the Naval base. Once in the U.S., he plans on driving the two-cylinder car to car shows.

As a 16-year-old he and his stepdad went halves on a Chevrolet Corvair panel van, a truck that’s still sitting in the family garage waiting for the day when it will get some badly needed attention.

At some point, maybe in the not too distant future, Michael is going to treat the Microbus to a new exterior finish, and most likely some other improvements it needs.

The feisty little engine in the Microbus performs well although it “overheats here and there,” he said. But that doesn’t seem to bother him since it’s part of the bus’s quirky charm.

Kenn Peters
Kenn4mail@gmail.com

If you’re a true VW Microbus aficionado, you’ll notice something about this photo. Remember, this is a 1971 Bus, but it has split Safari windows. VW stopped producing the split window in 1967 for United States sales. But, VW buses were also manufactured in Brazil, and there, they came off the assembly line with Safari windows for many more years. This Microbus was manufactured in Brazil.
Not a lot going on with this instrument panel, just a speedometer, center, and gas gauge, left. Look carefully and you’ll see the word gasoline is spelled ‘GASOLINA,’ and the speedometer is in 20-km increments up to 120. For those of you trying to figure it out right now, 120 kilometers is 74.565 miles per hour.

Here’s a third seat that works, it’s wide and has good leg room. Vehicles with a third row have been around since the early 1900s when manufacturers turned out ‘depot hacks,’ what we now call SUVs, to take people between railway stations and hotels. In the 1960s third row seats were popular in station wagons, but in many cases the third row faced rearward.
The air cooled 1200 cc engine, making 36 horsepower, not fast, but reliable and apparently has enough power to move this bus along nicely on the highway.

Ford 1923 Model T

Michael Schoeberlein, of Baldwinsville, NY, with his 1923 Ford Model T, a $640 car because it has a steel top.

1923 Ford Model T
Owner: Michael Schoeberlein, Baldwinsville, NY

Cost new:

$640 while other Ford models were half that.

Why so much more:

Because it’s what was called an ‘enclosed car,’ with a steel roof, while other models were ‘open’ cars

Engine:

4-cylinder, 22 HP

Transmission:

Two-speed planetary gear

What is a planetary (planet) gear:

A gear assembly that rotates around a so-called ‘sun’ gear

This is the Ford’s 4-cylinder, 22.5 horsepower engine. The drivetrain has no fuel pump, water pump or oil pump.

This is an original 1923 New York State purple with white license plate. Also, notice the leather strap with a cover that fits over the handle of the crank so it doesn’t swing back and forth while the car is underway. The cover and strap were standard equipment.
This gate located on the driver’s side of the car behind the front door is for carrying anything that will fit.

For every few dozen people or so who want shiny paint and loud exhausts, there’s a guy like Michael Schoeberlein, who looks back to a simpler time when owning a car was an exciting experience. Michael owns a 1923 Ford Model T, nicknamed a ‘doctor’s coupe’ because it was expensive but practical for doctors who in those days made house calls in all kinds of weather.

What made the doctor’s coupe practical was a steel top at a time when most cars were cabriolets or four-door touring cars, some with no windows, or very often with plastic side windows.

The doctor’s coupe was expensive by Ford standards, $640 while most Fords were half that price. It was jokingly said that only doctors could afford the exorbitant price, Michael said.

Michael has owned this Model T for 33 years, and in that time he’s “gone through” the car and continues to do maintenance, but he’s remained opposed to new paint or other work to improve the old Ford’s appearance.

“This is an historical preservation,” he said, and for all purposes the car is now as it was 97 years ago. A close inspection reveals it has a couple of options that were ahead of their time, such as a spotlight that’s installed through the windshield with the control on the inside. There’s also a vacuum-powered windshield wiper. Most cars of that era didn’t have a power wiper, instead a wiper that was operated by hand from the inside. Michael said these are authentic Ford options.

Another option on the car is the so-called ‘fat-man’ steering wheel, an accessory that today is pretty much standard equipment, known as a tilt-wheel. And there’s one more gem in the car, a Stewart-manufactured speedometer. The speedometer doesn’t have a needle that climbs as speed increases, it simply has numbers that roll by in a small opening as the speed changes.


The vacuum operated windshield wiper is at the top of the windshield. Power operated wipers weren’t common until the ‘30s, and until then wipers were operated by a handle inside the cabin.
This is the optional speedometer, located on the passenger side of the dashboard. The miles per hour are displayed at the top, the odometer reading bottom left, and the trip mileage at lower right.

Until 1929 Fords didn’t have speedometers because adding such an instrument would raise the price of the car. Clearly it’s an afterthought for the ’23 car because it’s located on the right side of the dashboard. A luxury touch is a heater that draws heat from the manifold and sends it directly into the cabin through a vent on the floor.

Michael found the Model T in a barn where it had been for 50 years, and while it was fairly well preserved it required a lot of attention. “The motor had to come apart” he said, so it could be rebuilt to make sure it could make full use of its 22.5 horsepower. Michael said he knew what he was getting into because he bought his first Model T in 1968, and he presently owns a 1915 Model T Speedster, a car he plans to drive in a hill climb.

Michael’s car is black, although now it’s flat black from age, but what people may not know is black wasn’t available on Model Ts from 1908 through 1913. The colors, depending on the model, were gray, red, blue and green. Black became available for 1914. Another thing people may not know is that there were 20 letter-model Fords, such as Model A, Model B, and so on.

You might think that driving such a primitive car isn’t exciting, but it is because of the skill and coordination it requires. There are three pedals on the floor, one is the clutch that also engages low and high gears, one is the brake, and one is for reverse. The throttle is a lever on the right side of the steering column, opposite a lever on the left that advances and retards the spark. While the driver is thinking about all of that, bring the handbrake into the equation while moving and it puts the transmission into neutral. Owners insist driving the Model T isn’t complicated but back-in-the-day many people couldn’t master the process.

Kenn Peters
Kenn4mail@gmail.com

This is the handle the driver uses to direct the spotlight when it’s turned on. The original purpose of spotlights was to illuminate house numbers.
This is the engine’s temperature reading. If you look carefully you may see the red mercury on the bottom in the vertical line.
This is the Ford’s 4-cylinder, 22.5 horsepower engine. The drivetrain has no fuel pump, water pump or oil pump.
This is the original Ford accessory spotlight, mounted on the bottom of the windshield. The control inside the cabin is in front of the driver.

1957 Chevy Cameo Carrier Pickup

Dean Russell, of Parish, NY, with his 1957 Chevy Cameo Carrier pickup.
Interior of ’57 Cameo Carrier, finished in authentic two-tone just as it came from the factory.

1957 Chevrolet Cameo Carrier Pickup
Owner: Dean Russell, Parish, NY

Cameo production 1957:

2,572

Production:

’55-’58: 10,261

Base price:

About $3,000

Price Chevy ‘Stepside’ pickups:

$1,400

Color:

Matador Red/India Ivory

Engine:

283 C.I.,185-HP V-8

Transmission:

HydraMatic 4-speed

Truck bed:

Fiberglass

283 V-8 engine:

Became available for ‘57


All Cameos had a contrasting stripe on the bed. That color was carried onto the ‘B’ pillar, in this case, Matador Red and India Ivory.
This is the driver’s door panel. Notice that it has an authentic pattern and material for that year.

Chevrolet Cameo Carrier pickups are something you don’t see very often. For starters, there were only 10,261 manufactured during the model years 1955 through 1958, when the last Cameos came off the assembly line in mid-season because of poor sales.

Part of the reason was price, the MSRP for Cameo trucks was hundreds of dollars more than Fords, Dodges and lesser model Chevys, all of which were considered to be working trucks. The Cameo Carrier, was more elegant, the truck bed is made of Fiberglass, the bumpers are chrome, the bed’s sides are slab (Fleetside) straight, the interior is two-tone and decidedly upscale for trucks of the era, and as Dean Russell, of Parish, NY, the owner of this truck, said, these trucks were for people who were wealthy.

Dean, restored this Cameo Carrier to a condition that is no doubt better than when it was showroom new, a project that he relished. And, by the way, this restoration is 12 years old, although it doesn’t look like it’s 12 hours old. Dean said he “has a few more” Cameos around,” two ‘58s, two ‘57s, one ’56, and two ‘55s. But, that’s not the half of it, all told he has 28 collector cars, so his attention is drawn in many directions when it comes to working on a car, or even choosing one to drive.

With the exception of the 1955 Cameo, which was only available in Bombay Ivory with Commercial Red ‘B’ pillars, the final three years of Cameo production included the choice of several two-tone paint combinations that also were available on Chevy’s sedans and wagons.

What also distinguishes the ’55 Cameos is that the beds are painted ‘Commercial Red.’ Less expensive Stepside Chevy trucks were almost always one color, although some were delivered with cab tops and ‘B’ pillars painted India Ivory.

Kenn Peters
Kenn4mail@gmail.com


Chevy dressed up the Cameo model with chrome grille and chrome bumpers. Most Chevy trucks in ’55 through ’58 had painted bumpers and grilles.
In chrome script Chevrolet put the word HydraMatic on both sides of the Cameo truck, over the classic Chevy V, that signified the truck’s engine is a V-8. In this case it’s the 283 V-8 producing 185 horsepower, an engine that became an iconic powerplant for Chevy cars and trucks. Chevy used the stylized ‘V’ on trucks and cars for 1956 through 1958.
A closer look at the side of the bed with its contrasting color outlined in chrome. Also notice the full-wheel hubcaps, something you almost never saw on a mid-‘50s pickup.
Because Chevy went all out to doll-up the Cameo, it also included the name ‘Chevrolet,’ followed by ‘3124’ on both sides of the truck. The less expensive Chevy trucks’ numeral identification was the 3100 series, so it was only fitting that the most expensive truck carry a higher number.

Sometimes half n’ half is best - 1981 Camaro

981 Camaro, with 1976 Camaro front clip, owned by Roger Rawson, Cortland, NY.
Here’s the proof. This is the original 1981 rear of the Camaro.

1981 Camaro

Owner:

Roger Rawson, Cortland, NY

Cost new:

$6,780

1981 production:

126,139

1976 production:

182,959

This car manufactured with:

6 cylinder engine

Power in car:

350 C.I., crate engine

Engine enhancements

Engine bored out, flattop pistons, double roller timing chain, aluminum head with roller rockers, Edelbrock intake and Edelbrock headers.

Paint:

Brian Eastman, Eastman Auto Repair, Cortland.

Engine work:

Don Brown, friend of Roger Rawson, and as he said, “The best mechanic I know.”


Roger Rawson, with his 1981 Camaro, a car he built over three years in the mid- to late-1990s.
With the exception of an aftermarket steering wheel the Camaro is all 1981 inside.

If you’ve ever spotted this Camaro and identified it as a 1976, you were half right. It you really know Camaros and looked in the mirror as it passed, you might have thought, wait, something’s different about that car. Right again.

This Camaro is in reality a 1981. Indeed, the rear of the car is all 1981, but the front clip is a 1976. The story of how this happened is as different as the car.

The car is owned by Roger Rawson, of Cortland, NY, a guy who loves Camaros and knows his way around them. Roger has a friend who owned a 1981 Camaro, but it was stored in the back of his property, on a trailer in the weeds. Time and the elements hadn’t been kind to the Camaro. To say it was rough is an understatement.

Roger’s friend, who will remain nameless, had a plan for the car but his plan fell through along with a relationship that involved the Camaro. Long story short, he didn’t need the Camaro anymore, so his friend, Roger, without ever having seen the car, said, I’ll buy it.

“I paid $400 for it, and I said to him, ‘bring it over.’ When the car was dropped in Roger’s driveway he knew he was in for a challenge.

“It was in bad shape, but I was looking for a project and I was going to do whatever came along,” Roger said. The pieces sort of fell together after he studied for car for a while. “I had a 1976 front clip which I thought I would use because the front of the 1981 Camaros aren’t good looking,” he said.

On the other hand, the “rear of the 1976 Camaro sucked,” Roger noted, but he loves the look of the rear end of the 1981 car. Bingo! A little figuring and the ’76 front fit nicely on the ’81 rear, almost as the two halves were designed together.

Roger was no stranger to this kind of work because he had done similar work before. But as it turned out, “This was the last car I did all myself,” he said. Roger was injured and his injuries have slowed him down a bit. The Camaro was treated to a 350 cubic inch crate engine backed up by an automatic transmission, a combination that happily develops around 410 horsepower.

ike all hobby car owners, Roger is always tinkering and updating something even though he’s owned the car since 1994. Recently the car was sent out for installation of a new headliner.

Kenn Peters
Kenn4mail@gmail.com


The Camaro’s interior from the driver’s side. You can’t see the headliner, but a new vinyl headliner was recently installed in the Camaro.
Another view of the 1976 Camaro front clip on a 1981 car. Roger said the two halves went together easily.

Volunteers


Dennis Connor, president of the Central New York Car Club Association, credits the late Dick Spring for the concept of an umbrella organization over the numerous car clubs in the area. As Spring saw it, allowing the clubs to speak with one voice would result in achieving common goals and objectives.

“He felt that if the car clubs got together they would have more strength and be able to accomplish many things,” Connor said.

Spring was right, because the CNYCCA catapulted itself into a leading role during the first Syracuse Nationals in 2000, staged by the Right Coast Association, of Brewerton, and the same holds true for every show since. Unfortunately, the 2020 Syracuse Nationals was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the show will return for 2021, supported as always by the car club association and its hundreds of members.

“The role the car clubs play is very important to the show,” said Rob O’Connor, director of the Syracuse Nationals. “They (the clubs) have put great systems in place.”

While there are dozens of car clubs in Central New York, there was no organizational mechanism that would allow them to work as one until the CNYCCA was chartered. After it became a clearing house of sorts, for the various clubs it moved smoothly and gained strength for several years until 2000, and then things exploded when the governing body agreed to a request from Syracuse Nationals’ founder, the late Bob O’Connor, to volunteer its services during the first show.

“Bob contacted me with his idea and then I reached out to the clubs within the organization. We talked to the clubs’ members and they agreed we’d participate,” Connor said. “We agreed to help with a security patrol, plus other duties.”

“We had five clubs that jumped in right away, and during the first show we worked the gates, we were roving ambassadors on the grounds, we were a source of information for visitors, we helped out at the camp grounds,” Connor said, where hundreds of camper trailers and motor homes from all over the country set up housekeeping for a week,.

The beauty of the arrangement over the years was that no cash has ever changed hands, he said. In other words, the organization’s members are strictly volunteers, never asking for pay for doing a job that they love.

Anyone who’s been a member of a car club knows that charity donations are a big part of what clubs work for and toward, annually. And the Syracuse Nationals, although it’s not a car club, fell into step doing its part to raise as much money as possible for charity.

For many years the even has raised between $65,000 and $75,000 during each show and has unselfishly donated every cent to charity. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Syracuse, is the recipient of the largest amount of money, but each participating car club also receives funds to donate to chosen charities. All told, the annual three-day extravaganza is responsible for $1.5 million in donations so far.

In the interest of full disclosure, much of the money is raised by an annual ‘panel jam’ that has been held in the State Fair’s Horticulture Building. The event, formerly organized by Art Schilling, of Myrtle Beach, SC, brings together up to 70 air brush and pinstripe artists who create works of art on metal panels for three daily auctions.

Money given to the various clubs to be used for charitable donations was the idea of Bob O’Connor, his way of giving back to the clubs for a valuable service rendered.

For the first few years the Nationals relied on the CNYCCA to handle security as well as several other tasks ranging from working the State Fair’s parking lots, to handling traffic through the various gates on the grounds, and patrolling the former ‘infield’ camping area.

But as the show grew exponentially it became clear that professional security would take over where the volunteers left off, freeing them to handle a few dozen other tasks. “Initially they (volunteers) were security and customer relations, but as the show increased in size the security task became too large, so they’ve concentrated on what they do well, customer relations and being ambassadors at the show and during the months leading up to the show,” Rob O’Connor said.

O’Connor added that as he sees it the volunteers have what they do down to a science and they’re comfortable in their role, a rare combination for an organization as large as the Right Coast Association’s Syracuse Nationals. “I would be hesitant to add more or change anything,” he added.

“To sum it up the volunteers are an important part of what makes the show a success every year,” O’Connor said.

“We’ve got it down pretty well,” Dennis Connor noted. “Little things come along, but rarely do we have a big problem.”

Kenn Peters
Kenn4mail@gmail.com


ESM Car Build

As the car would have appeared from the factory, with a black stripe. The car is finished in Ford Magnetic Metallic.
The heart of the matter, the Bloss Machine-built Ford big block V-8 producing 408 horsepower.

East Syracuse-Minoa High School
Raffle Car Build

1969 Ford Mustang Mach I

Restoration:

East Syracuse-Minoa High School auto technology students

Car donated:

Joe Tassone

Engine:

Ford V-8, 408 HP, 460 LB-FT torque

Engine work:

Bloss Machine, Kirkville, NY

Transmission:

4-speed manual, donated by Syracuse Auto Gear, Syracuse, NY

Paint work:

Donated by East Syracuse Chevrolet

Materials:

Saves Auto Body Supply, Syracuse, NY

Color:

Magnetic Metallic

Car will be raffled:

July 19, 2020

Raffle tickets:

$10/1, $25/3; $100/15

Checks payable to:

ESM Spartan Garage Booster Club

Mail to:

East Syracuse Minoa C.H.S.

Attn:

Ryan J. Beckley
6400 Fremont Road
East Syracuse, NY 13057


Interior of 1969 Mustang Mach I, that will be raffled on July 19, 2020. The car was restored by the Auto Technology class at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School.
The transmission is a four-speed Muncie built by Syracuse Auto Gear. Even though the Muncie is a General Motors product, Beckley was able to mate it to the Ford 408-HP 465-LB-FT engine.

For the past two decades the auto technology class at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School, has annually built a car to be raffled off at the end of the school year. The money from the raffle always goes toward the purchase of a car and parts for the next year, plus the numerous expenses associated with making an old car like new.

This year’s car is a high performance 1969 Mustang Mach I, a highly sought after car among Mustang and muscle car fans.

The Mach I made its debut in late 1968 as a 1969 model. While Mustang production cooled after red-hot sales of the mid-60s, Ford still sold 299,824 Mustangs during that model year, and of that number 71,958 carried Mach I badges.

The Mach I could be purchased in various configurations but the so-called ‘sports roof’ was the only body design. Exterior styling of the car included a matte black hood with hood pins, a hood scoop, a chrome pop-open gas cap, a ‘deluxe’ interior, a rear deck spoiler and rear window louvers, although many buyers didn’t order the louvered window.

Several engines were available all the way from two 351 cubic-inch V-8s, up to a 428 cubic-inch 7-liter V-8.

The ESM raffle car is powered by a Ford 408-horsepower V-8 built by Bloss Machine, in Kirkville, NY, and it’s backed up by a four-speed manual transmission. The interesting thing about the engine and transmission combination is the transmission, which is a Muncie, a General Motors product built by Syracuse Auto Gear, which also produces parts for the transmissions.

Ryan Beckley, the auto tech teacher and chair of the department at ESM until recently, said it was tricky getting the GM transmission mated to Ford power, but with a little engineering know-how the task was successfully completed. Beckley, by the way, resigned his position at ESM to become director of the Auto Technology Department at Onondaga Community College.

Beckley said the car has an interesting history; the car was sold new in California and remained there for several years. According to Beckley, and he doesn’t vouch for the worthiness of this tidbit, apparently the wife of the man who owned the car wasn’t pleased with either him, or the car, or both, but anyway she “took a baseball bat to the car” and inflicted a good deal of body damage.


Ryan Beckley, until recently, chairman of the Auto Technology Department at ESM and director of the annual car building project. Beckley has resigned to become director of the Auto Technology Department at Onondaga Community College.
Authentic Ford wheels are correct for the car.

“There were some dents but we took the car to East Syracuse Chevy where the body work was done and the paint was applied,” he said.

As he has always done, Beckley got the entire student body involved by allowing it to decide the color of the car. The kids overwhelmingly asked for a muted gray, so Beckley drove to Ford dealers in the area looking for a gray color. Sure enough, a new gray by Ford is Magnetic Metallic, so that’s the color, close to what the car was.

East Syracuse Chevy returned the car to ESM in October 2019, leaving plenty of time to get the car into showroom shape. “We were way ahead of schedule,” Beckley said. “The senior class was very ambitious. I was thinking we would have the car done by the end of March or by mid-April.”

But then came the coronavirus pandemic and schools closed on March 16, kids weren’t coming to school and the Mach I wasn’t finished. Beckley had no choice but to take the car out of the school building and move it to his property where the work was completed.

“On March 16 the back seat was in, there were no door panels, no dash. When school closed we thought it would be for a week or two,” he said. But very quickly it became evident schools weren’t likely to open for the remainder of the school year. “I didn’t bring the car here until the beginning of June, the car was maybe 85 percent done,” he added.

Beckley invited a few students to join him to complete the car. He said two members of the junior class worked on the car “for four or five days.” Their work helped a lot, the car was buttoned up pretty well with the exception of some minor things that were changed as time went on.

Over the years ESM car has been advertised in Hemmings Motor News, which has worldwide distribution, and the car is put on display during the three-day Syracuse Nationals. The Nationals annual event is cancelled this year because of the pandemic, which was a blow to the ESM program, because as Beckley said, “the number one thing we do to generate ticket sales is display the car at the Syracuse Nationals, and second is Hemmings.”

Thankfully ticket sales have gone well, Beckley said, in part because the car is desirable and in part because it was advertised the right way and the data base of people eager to buy a raffle ticket grows each year. While a ’69 Mach I appears on the market every now-and-then, it’s not often a Mach I fresh out of restoration with parts and equipment correct to the car, is offered for sale.

Kenn Peters
Kenn4mail@gmail.com


The students and Beckley decided to add a modern safety touch to the Mustang, LED sequential taillights.
The Mach I from the factory had a wooden steering wheel, as shown here.




Sponsors

The Largest Car Show in the Northeast!