How To Start A Classic Car That’s Been Sitting (Part One)

You’ve made the deal, towed the car home, and all your buddies are stoked about the new project. Before you slap a battery in it and get to cranking, there are some seriously important steps to take prior to the first fire up! We’re going to use my 1961 Falcon as our guinea pig  since she has sat untouched for at least 18 years. Let’s look under the hood:

What stands out here? A lot of things, actually. First and foremost, we get it: she’s ugly. After dealing with the elephant in the room, take a look at the fluids. Does it even have any? What color is the oil? The coolant?

In our case, the oil looked relatively dirty as expected, but normal considering its circumstances. Had the oil looked like thick chocolate milk, we’d be in some trouble. This would indicate that coolant has mixed with the oil which is not a good sign. Coolant mixing with the oil could be the result of a bad head gasket, or even worse- a cracked cylinder head or block.

Speaking of which, after popping off the radiator cap, I realized that there was no coolant! Not the best news. Did the engine overheat at some point? Is there simply a bad gasket that let the coolant leak out? There are plenty of possible reasons as to why there’s no coolant, some being simple and others being a major headache.

Looking at the spark plug wires, you’ll notice that it isn’t a matching set. Why would someone do this? Again, it could be something simple, or something major. Maybe an under hood fire? (Bingo)

I noticed quite a bit of melted plastic on the carburetor, indicating that something got torched under here! I’m assuming this is why the car was parked for so long.

Check back for part two when we start digging.