Wayne Cook
December 1, 2006
Photos By: Jeff Ford, Chris Richardson

Randy Massey of Brownstown Township, Michigan, began his vintage-Ford adventure when he acquired this '57 Ford Fairlane Ranchero. He first saw the car/truck hybrid at the Detroit 2001 Autorama. A few months later, he learned the rig was going to be offered at the annual Michigan International Spring Classic Car Show and Auction held at Detroit's Novi Exposition Center. Randy made it a point to attend, and-lo and behold-he cast the winning bid and the Ranchero was his.

The car was drivable, with two-tone paint and mild customization by Troy Trepanier. When he got it home, Randy started driving it right away, but after only two weeks of cruising around town, a brake drum on the rear axle split in two. Because of the difficulty locating a new drum, the Ranchero was sidelined for a month while Randy searched for the correct part. he bought this car to attend cruises, as well as the upcoming annual Detroit Cruisin' Downriver event. More importantly, he had promised his nieces the first cruise-event ride. When the day arrived for Cruisin' Downriver, he improvised by plugging the brake line at the junction block and attended the cruise with three functioning brakes. Although it sounded a little risky, Randy figured the ride would be safe enough with the low cruise speeds.

Following photos, everybody loaded up to depart for the cruise. With the engine running, Randy dropped the car into gear. The engine stalled and wouldn't start again. Not willing to accept defeat, Randy did an underhood diagnosis and determined some ignition parts needed replacement. After a trip to an auto-parts store, new points, a condenser, a rotor, and a distributor cap were installed. The mill fired up, and they were off to enjoy the big cruise.

A few minutes later, the engine sputtered and backfired. Now they were miles from home with no tools and no idea what was wrong. Another underhood inspection revealed a spark was jumping from the sparkplug boot to the exhaust manifold. A closer look showed several fried plug wires, almost certainly causing the poor running characteristics and backfiring. Luckily, a NAPA outlet was near, and after a new set of wires was installed, "Voil, I was back in the game," said Randy, our classic-Ford hero.

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After lots of fun over most of the cruise route, the engine began overheating, forcing a hasty exit from the line. Randy isn't the sort to be discouraged, and he made the necessary repairs in time for the next cruise event.

Because of the climate where he lives, Randy can only drive his pride and joy May through October, but his rig sees a lot of action over the summer. That particular summer, he attended no less than five cruise events, beginning with Detroit Cruisin' Downriver. According to Randy, he came away from the summer event schedule with a perfect 0-5 record: He had to drop out of all five events at some point, for reasons ranging from overheating and brake failure to ignition problems and even an impending hail storm.