After the flood of 1993, Pat Cornish’s mother-in-law wanted to get rid of the 1977 Ford LTD her late husband had driven. Pat took it off her hands, and has been tinkering with it ever since.
“I like to call it a poor man’s fixer-upper,” he says. “I haven’t put a lot of money into it, but I have given it a lot of time.”
Over the years, Cornish has added a new intake manifold, dual exhausts, a Holley carburetor, a speaker system and an AM/FM cassette player. He also replaced the car’s original steering wheel with a sleeker model. (“You can’t take the kid out of me, so I had to put in a cool steering wheel,” he says.)
He also wanted the mufflers on the car to sound just right. A local muffler shop tried on multiple sets for him while he listened to judge if it was the sound he was looking for. He finally found one that produced the right rumble, and now he says he enjoys driving around without the radio playing just to listen to his machine.
Though he loves working on his car now, it wasn’t until his mid-20s that he discovered a passion for autos. Before then, Cornish says, he wasn’t always knowledgeable about how cars worked. One time when he took his first car, a 1951 Chevy, in to get filled up with gas, the attendant at the station measured his oil and delivered some surprising news.
“He pulled out the dipstick and said, ‘Sir, you don’t have any oil at all,’ ” Cornish says. “I was young, and I didn’t know anything.”
Cornish retired from the post office in 2003 and still works part time, but he says his car provides him with a good hobby to fill his spare time. Though he’s done making major changes, he still enjoys touching up the paint once in a while or making small tweaks. He recently put up particle board in the car’s trunk to give it more space, for example.
“My wife will come out and see me working on it, and she’ll ask, ‘Why?’ ” he says. “I do it because it’s relaxing. It’s almost like a therapy.”
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