building originally housed the (Ted' s) Far Rockaway Ford
dealership back in the 1940s, 50s, and through to the 1970s.
George Smith & Sons Auto Parts-- for decades a local
business icon in the village of Far Rockaway -- occupies
the two storefronts once belonging to the local Ford dealer.
This historical photograph dates back to about 1979/80.
Photo Credit New York City Municipal Archives.
The green T-Bird I had been given was a total
wreck! Not one salvageable part - it was even missing the engine
and most of the front grille. As it turned out, the car had been
sold a few months prior to a gentleman who experienced a major
accident on the New York State Throughway when he misjudged distances
and hit into a concrete overpass pillar. Naturally the insurance
company had declared the car a total loss. And this was the vehicle
my boss expected me to trade in for a new one?
Being young and stupid (naive?) and still in
shock - I stood casually by while my manager explained (in a rapid-fire
dialogue) that when the Far Rockaway dealer saw what I had in
tow, he would surely understand my need for a replacement vehicle
- and by what I already possessed (a damaged luxury vehicle) he
would understand my dire need for a replacement and he would also
feel confident that I was a serious Thunderbird buyer. I drove
the tow trick and its strange cargo to my Rockaway home.
That wrecked current-model car probably received more attention
than had it been complete, in shape, and sitting on all four wheels.
Every place I stopped, people ran to look a the totally smashed
car - usually asking "was anyone hurt? " Damn! In the
condition that car was in, somebody should have been killed!!
That same evening, I drove the tow-truck up to
Central Avenue, to the Ford dealership. I parked the wreck out
of sight ~ I entered the showroom. Reluctantly, a salesperson
arose from his desk to greet me. "A wasted up!" That
is "dealerspeak" for any apparent "waste-of-time"
I presented the "Monaco Edition 1963 Thunderbird" brochure
to the salesman — that was my invitation to view the special
car. The custom liner was one of three Ford Motor vehicles on
the showroom floor. The salesman opened the car door for me -
said "enjoyyourself!" and then abandoned me to return
to his paper work. I felt the faux-leather upholstery, played
with the swing-away steering wheel, examined the plush and inviting
interior appointments. I exited the car and approached the salesman.
"How much?" "Figure around five grand" he
said. "I have a trade-in "I said. "What do you
have? " asked he. "I have a 1963 Thunderbird coupe with
two-thousand miles on it. " Surprise registered on the salesman's
face. "Now, why would you want to trade in a '63 T-Bird for
another '63 T-Bird? " he asked. "Because mine has a
few dents on it" I replied.
Then the salesman asked if he could see my car.
I accompanied him outside to where it was hanging. I cannot begin
to capture in words the expression on the man's face when he saw
my trade-in. He muttered "My God" about five times and
then hurried back inside to speak to his manager. He actually
left me standing all alone out on the street.
The salesman accompanied by his manager joined
me on the curb about ten minutes later. The manager took over
the sale. "I'll give you $1,000 on a trade "he said.
"In fact, I'II give you $1,200 right now if you do me the
favor of getting that pile of junk off the street and away from
my store. " Obviously seeing the top-of-the-line of Ford's
wares in that condition and parked in front of his place - not
good for business?
I moved the tow-truck. Then came a problem I had not anticipated.
Like I said, I was young and foolish. They escorted me into the
manager's office. Contracts were drawn. I agreed to a price of
$4,500 for the new car less the $ 1,200 for my "damaged"
vehicle - about $3,300 for the replacement. I produced my registration,
signed it over to Far Rockaway Ford ~ then the problem. It turned
out that because I was a minor, the dealer was hesitant to enter
into a binding contract with me. Everything was put "on hold."
They wanted to speak with my father. I no longer lived with either
of my parents. I drove the tow truck (and the wreck) back to my