- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2000

When the warranty plate on the rear face of the left front door panel of your automobile reads 71DM8515E3455 and is followed by 3H26U217366 you undoubtedly know what it's telling you.
The "71D" says the car is a Ford Falcon Squire station wagon with front bucket seats, while the following "M" indicates it should be painted Corinthian white. The "85" corresponds with a crushed vinyl red interior.
Because of the "15E" we know the car was built May 15, 1963, and we know someone in the Indianapolis district must have ordered the car because the "34" says so.
The next "5" denotes a four-speed manual transmission and the final "5" dictates a 3.50-to-1 rear axle ratio.
The next four letters and numbers tells us the car is a 1963 model that was manufactured in the Lorain, Ohio, plant. Next comes the serial number followed by "U" indicating the car left the factory powered by a 170-cubic-inch, six-cylinder engine.
A running total of Falcons built that year is kept by the final set of numbers, in this case "217,366."
Nancy Selden wasn't aware of what the numbers meant when she bought her 1963 Ford Falcon Squire station wagon in the spring of 1988. It just spoke to her. "It was a good original," she said.
"It's the first car I bought by myself," she explains. All her other cars were selected by either her parents or her husband.
Even though it was 25 years old at the time, she drove it as her main car for quite a while until it was damaged when rear-ended in 1991.
"It's an interesting car," Mrs. Selden said. Even damaged she couldn't bring herself to part with it, so into the garage it went where it languished until 1998.
At the urging of a persistent neighbor, who kept encouraging her, she eventually considered bringing her Falcon back to life.
Inside the small garage there was no room for access to the engine; therefore, the car had to be moved. Unfortunately, all four tires were flat.
With the assistance of another supportive neighbor this one with a muscular Ford Expedition the reluctant Falcon was pulled from the garage.
With a chain attached to the Falcon, Mrs. Selden watched as the Expedition dragged it out of the garage.
None of the wheels turned or rolled at all until new bearing and grease were applied.
In the light of day Mrs. Selden was attracted to the bedraggled Falcon the second time as much as she was the first time she saw it. "I still like the lines of it," she said.
She had the car towed to a shop in Arlington's Clarendon neighborhood where it underwent necessary repairs. During that time both bumpers were sent off to be rechromed along with the Falcon Squire script on each side and the spears atop each front fender.
Much of the car's charm lies in the unusual combination of the sporty bucket seats and four-speed floor shifter in a practical station wagon body.
The headliner is white but everything from there on down is red: the dashboard, steering wheel, door panels, seats, console and carpet.
A spring-loaded release on the gearshift lever must be lifted before the reverse gear can be engaged. In a cursory nod to safety the Falcon came equipped with a three-spoke dished steering wheel, padded dashboard and padded sun visors.
Six stainless steel ribs on the roof protect the paint when the roof rack is being used.
The wagon end of the Falcon is made more attractive by the fact the rear side windows curve around the rear corners of the car to the edge of the tailgate.
A pair of backup lights is on the tailgate itself.
The tailgate window is manually operated by a chrome-plated window crank on the outside of the tailgate.
With the tailgate open the spare tire is accessible behind a panel on the right side of the car.
A metal rod stretching across the back of the rear seat can be swiveled over when folding the seat down. The rod then becomes a support to make the cargo floor level.
"It's an around town car," Mrs. Selden said. She often uses it in her graphic design business. Most of her hauling, however, involves her dog or gardening stuff.
In hot weather she's grateful for the front wing vents that direct fresh air into the cabin. Additional air can be drawn inside through the two under-dash vents.
As for the speedometer that indicates it is ready to record speeds up to 100 mph, Mrs. Selden said with a smile, "I don't believe that for a minute."

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