The Last Flight of the New Yorker Part Six

by John Desranleau


The 11 Street Mechanics

Setting: A Saturday Morning in Early May Jacques, James and I headed to the Corral to work on and wash the New Yorker hoping that after we were done it would magically turn into a new car!

There is nothing more important to a young man than to tend to his car. Washing is the first ingredient to make your car bond to your persona-- to get acquainted with all the surface of the sheet metal and bright work. You get sort of the feel of the shape of what the guys designing the sculpture of this machine felt.

As all fifties car, the New Yorker was sculptured with smooth rounded curves, not one square corner to be found anywhere on it’s outer skin.
Should I say: Voluptuous and Sexual best describes it.
Each one of us wore my father’s Tuscan hip high boots and applying tons of soapy suds and stream of water hoping to see that "New car finish" resurface again. Squirting each other and getting tagged from a soapy sponge for a brief moment we felt that we were in suburbia. The aroma of car wax lingered in the fresh spring air. Fantastic spray cleaner was a brand new product that year and we used it to clean the dash board area. To this day when I smell the fragrance of Fantastic I recall the first time I used it which was this day.

The Car’s radio was tuned to a New York Top 40 station, it’s a Saturday, Pop Music was at it’s best, Cokes are plentiful so were the butts.

Three guys paying homage to their new prize.

Jacques gunk/cleaned the entire Engine – till it looked ""sparkling"" new. It was the first time I studied it massive size and stature, what was most impressive were the top of the cylinder heads. Crowning the block was the Hemispherical combustion chambers valve covers with the “Chrysler Fire Power” Embossed in Red lettering, this truly was saying a statement that “Power” is produced here!

This engine looked like it was juiced with extra dosage of steroids. The entire engine looked like it was formed from a solid block of aluminum alloy. The top had the appearance like a broad shoulder Muscle Man = Massively proportion and immensely strong looking.

In between the two large valve covers sat this humongous four chambered nozzle piece of equipment that would have looked proper on a Saturn V moon rocket as one of its main fuel supply pumps.
I ask Jacques what was that? That my boy! Is the Hemi’s Lungs, an AFB Carter 4 Barrel Carburetor designed to gulp "High Octane fuel" at a furious pace.

There were Heavy Plug Wires that looked like they could be used as Electros in a 1950’s B movie going right through the cylinders head.

Then there was the power brake booster unit hanging on the firewall that was beyond heavy duty looking. It had a large ribbed diaphragm that went in and out each time the brakes were applied and asked for assistance.

Unlike other engine bays that I had seen, this one was free of hanging wires/ hoses that looked like a tangled up spaghetti mess. You can see that it was very well thought out and purposely designed.
Everything under the hood looked Over- Engineered. Real eye candy for a kid that appreciated Form- Follows- Function philosophy. Nothing like my fathers chicken ribbed Chevy engine that suddenly was deranked to puny status.

Jacques had James and I going to Strauss the auto store on South Orange Ave getting various doodad’s Pine Air Fresher – Oil/Filter, Champion Spark Plugs and the most important item was a can of STP oil treatment which came with a red and white Decal with the leaning STP emblem on it. We ran back to the lot with all the parts but most important to us, was that we had an STP sticker! Jacques proudly stuck it on the back side glass – Now we were certified.

We talked and hyped all the adventures we were going to experience with this new escape machine, no more walking the antagonizing sidewalks of South Orange Ave for us, we were going to fly! – Just like most of the flybys going to and from downtown to their safe places west of the city.

After all the parts that we bought were installed, the big test on our skills was about to be graded! Jacques jumped into the cockpit and turned on the ignition and hit START button from the command console.

Like the song “Feels Like The First Time” it was climactic to hear an engine that you had worked on come to life!

Jacques jumped out and shouted “It’s Alive” “It’s Alive” in a quivering voice grabbing me and saying “Look at It” “ Just Look at It!”

I could hear huge volumes of air being sucked through the big AFB carburetor (the air cleaner/silencer was off). Man! This thing takes heavy gulps of air like an inlet of a Jet Aircraft that’s idling on a runway waiting for take off……..

Jacques then looked at me in a prosperous way, like a Magician, just about to pull off a sensational trick. I hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was up too! He then stuck his hand under the hood, stared at me as he grabbed the throttle linkage and yanked it fully back. Whaaaaummmmmmmmh the big heavy body of the New Yorker rocked and swayed up and down like it was just probed with a hot branding iron, the sound emanating sounded liked King Kong himself! The twin back pipes exploded with thunderous blasts and spewed out hot exhaust that bounced off the back wall of the garage and I could feel the thrush of hot air rush by me behind my head!

Holy Crows!

Definitely powerfully sounding!!!!! The Engine lived up to its Name Fire Power! The ground rumbled under my feet.

Gazing at the Hemi I was Awe Struck ----- Wow! ---- This beast wants to be set free.

Jacques coolly Click Flicked his Zippo Lighter, producing a torch like six inch flame lighting his newly hanging Winston from his lips and taking a long drag and letting out a small puff of smoke, then that devilish grin appeared,,,,,, He was happy.

This made us all smile with pride “We did it”

We broke a small Glass coke bottle to christen the New King.

So that ended the first acquaintance when boy meets car, a passion that stay with you forever…….. keeping you forever young in that aspect. After that day my Mattey Mattel Hot Wheel car collection was given to my younger siblings.

The Boys had their New Big Bad TOY now.

The Outfitting

Just like a ship that gets christened and slides down the slip, there was still a lot of outfitting to be done.

For the next several weeks Jacques poured in every one of his Tuscan pay checks into his dream machine. 1st was the interior. It was discovered that the floorboards were in bad shape. My father always believed in industrial strength when having to redo something, so he got several sheet of stainless steel 1/8” thick star plates that was used for truck dock platforms. Jacques and he fabricated new flooring from this bullet proof material. Nothing except maybe a Mack Truck had better flooring.

Next all new carpets were professional installed. I insisted that seat belts be installed at this time.

Then came the reupholstering of the seats. Jacques had great taste in the selection of material and looks. The seats were decked out in white leatherette with blue iridescent seating area which had silver threads as accent in the blue material. The seats really looked rich when it came back from the shop. My mother was employed upholstering the door side panels - Jacques again picked the material.
Together the interior really fitted the name New Yorker with Class.

New transparent crystal blue mats that had French lions in the center finished the opus look. Stepping into it the first time it surely smelled like a new Car.

It had the type of feel to it that went along with the popular song “Crystal Blue Persuasion” By Tommy James & The Shondells

Jacques covered the steering wheel with a blue turquoise wrapping and finished it off with a suicide knob that had scantly dressed women on it.

New Mufflers and Tail Pipes

Now AAMCO Transmission performed the surgery in rebuilding the Torque Flight Transmission

New Firestone tires were fitted on each wheel.

It was ready now for its street debut and trials.

Next Chapter ---- The Night Prowl

The Last Flight of the New Yorker Part Seven

John Desranlesu is a Car Show Photographer. You can view his work at:


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