I grew up in Hunterdon County, NJ. My first car was a 1985 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Couple that I spent more time under and with the hood up then I did driving it. I will never forget the first Christmas I owned the car where my Dad gave me an entire set of Williams hand tools and a book on Thunderbird repair. And most importantly the following statement, “When it breaks, don’t come asking me for money, learn to do it yourself”. My first impression, what a d***! Later in life I look back and have a great appreciation not only for the lesson learned but also my knowledge of cars. For that Thunderbird alone, I replaced four clutches (the third and last one only lasted four thousand miles because I taught myself how to high-speed down shift), struts, brakes, a transmission and finally the engine because I tweaked the air-cooled turbo a little too much and while racing a '78 Firebird, once I hit 138 MPH on Route 78, I blew a rod practically through the block (but I won $50.00!)! So off to the pick and pull for an engine that came out of a Merkur XR4Ti (remember those odd looking vehicles with the double whale tail?).
Anyway, on to “Filed Finds”; there was a farm / field not far from me between Flemington and Stockton, NJ called Manchur’s. A long dirt driveway greeted the trespasser with multiple “DO NOT ENTER!” signs but I was a cocky young kid that pretended signs did not exist in my world and the risk was worth the reward. Old Man Manchur was a lanky fellow with a long flowing white beard probably at that time in his 80’s. He owned three Jack Russel’s, also referred to as his “guard dogs”. One thinks, how the hell can a Jack Russel be all that intimidating, more on that in a moment. My first visit was greeted by Old Man Manchur with his three “guard dogs” and he himself existing the front-door of his farm house with a shot gun loosely held in the clutch of his right arm. Since I did not want to be attacked by the three, cute little Russel’s or shot at, I rolled down my window about half way and yelled, “Don’t shoot, I heard you have a fascinating collection of cars”. He called the lethal beasts off and I parted with the protection of my trusty T-bird.
Old Man Manchur had a massive field that he populated each row with the car manufacturer’s models. There were literally thousands of vehicles ranging from early 1900’s milk trucks to mid-70’s muscle cars, every possible vehicle you can think of, Manchur had it! He offered to take me on a tour so I jumped in a Model A that he referred to as his “tour car” and we drove aisle after aisle for hours while he described his rarest and most valuable collections. I was enamored by the experience!
After the tour, Manchur and I sat on his dilapidated porch and talked about cars and he wanted to know my interest because in his mind, kids of that time period were spoiled and did not have a care for understanding our country’s history and what it meant to “fix it yourself” . I told him my story and he asked if he could meet my Dad to thank him for providing hope in this world. Oh and about the “attack” dogs, friendliest little guys you would ever meet until Old Man Manchur told them to sick balls (yes, I know it is just like the movie Stand By Me - but I swear this was the real deal) and they started growling, lifting their lips exposing their fangs and drooling all over the floor like mini-Cujo’s!
I am curious, does anyone remember Manchur’s farm? I think I can find my way back there to see if those cars are still laying in that field and tempted to do so to relive those glorious late teenage years walking down memory lane!