- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2003

With three young daughters, Ray and Dot Montgomery back in the 1960s did what many other parents had done before them — they bought a station wagon.

The wagon of choice was a 1966 Chrysler that the dealer turned loose for an even $3,000. The car soon became a valued member of the family. Through good weather and bad the car performed every task it was asked to do.

“We sat behind that dash for 202,000 miles,” Mr. Montgomery says. “All three girls — Judy, Kathy and Beth — learned to drive in that car.”

After 26 years the wagon was still in good condition but Mr. Montgomery offered it for sale to determine if anyone was interested. Even with all those miles and all those years, an airline pilot paid the asking price and snatched it away.

Mr. Montgomery regretfully let it go in August 1992.

Seller’s remorse set in, he says, “The first time I bought a sheet of plywood and had no way to take it home.”

However, the wagon was gone and there was no turning back.

Almost two years later, July 1994, Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery traveled to an antique-auto gathering in Carlisle, Pa. While he combed through the booths of the vendors offering a myriad of parts, she strolled through the corridors of old cars for sale.

She was the one who brought to his attention the 1966 Chrysler New Yorker four-door hardtop sedan she found on the field.

“It has the same dashboard as our old Chrysler,” she told him.

Sure enough, she had found a sedan version of their beloved Chrysler wagon. A quick inspection revealed the mostly original Chrysler to be in remarkably good condition. The green car became the property of the Montgomerys that day and he drove it home.

“This car has every accessory except high-speed floor mats,” Mr. Montgomery jokes.

Among other goodies it is equipped with:

• Autopilot.

• AM/FM radio.

• Power brakes.

• Rear speakers.

• Power antenna.

• Power steering.

• Power windows.

• Air conditioning.

• Safeguard sentinel lights.

The 2-ton Chrysler comfortably rolls on a 124-inch wheelbase. “It’s a big boat,” Mr. Montgomery affirms.

The interior upholstery is all black, from the headliner to the carpeting. The front bucket seats are black, as is the fold-down armrest between the seats.

The Chrysler has a feature that seems to be lost on many modern cars — wing vent windows. The car also is equipped with right and left exterior mirrors, rear fender skirts and an antenna on the right rear fender.

Atop each front fender, incorporated into the chrome trim, is a light that flashes in unison with the signal indicator.

Standard equipment under the hood on all of the 20,642 Chrysler New Yorkers built that year was a 440-cubic-inch V-8 engine that develops 350 horsepower.

That mighty engine has never failed Mr. Montgomery, including trips to Mopar events as far away as Rochester, N.Y., Tallahassee, Fla., and Long Island, N.Y.

That trip to a car show on Long Island is etched into Mr. Montgomery’s memory. It was the summer of 1999 when he slipped behind the three-spoke steering wheel and, with his wife at his side, steered the Chrysler north on Interstate 95 toward New York. Before long the rains came and the electric windshield wipers worked until they didn’t.

The two garages to which he appealed for help said it would be hours before they could tend to his malady.

Taking matters into his own hands Mr. Montgomery went to a store that sold clothesline. With that product he tied one end on the left wiper and one on the right, running the line around the ends of the windshield and through the vent windows, framed in stainless steel, and on across the dashboard.

With his wife at the helm and Mr. Montgomery tugging on the clothesline — first left, then right — he kept the wipers moving until they arrived at the Long Island show — on time.

“It’s been fun,” Mr. Montgomery says of the almost 10 years he has owned the Chrysler. Unlike a lot of frail antique cars, he says, ” I don’t mind getting out on the highway in this car.”


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