’58 Rambler in great shape, up for sale
IRVING — Wanna buy a time machine? There’s one for sale on Versailles Road.
She sits in Irene and Earl Blakely’s garage, with her original paint job of navy and light blue trim. A Silver Creek woman owned her for a little over three decades and never took her out of the garage in winter. Already in solid condition, the Blakelys have steadily put work into her ever since, and she’s ready to transport you to the era of poodle skirts, Elvis Presley and drive-through movies.
She’s a fully drivable 1958 Rambler Custom sedan with just 88,460 miles on it. Snap it up quick, because an Ohio outfit has its eyes on her.
“We bought it when she had a fender bender with it,” said Irene Blakely, speaking of prior owner Madelia Muller. “She didn’t want to see her car go to the junkpile.”
Age forced Muller to sell the car to the Blakelys, who knew her through Irene’s sister Anna Frederickson. They figured they would fix the fender and give Muller another ride or two in it, but sadly, she died in October 1993, aged 92.
“This was her car and no one else’s,” Irene Blakely said. “Our generation can remember her driving it. She never drove in the winter.”
“She never looked over the steering wheel,” Frederickson laughed. “She was too short.”
Frederickson met Muller in Trinity Lutheran Church. Muller usually had Easter dinner with the minister — but one year, the minister went out of town, leaving her no place to go.
“I said to Madelia’s cousin, ‘Would she like to go to Easter dinner at my house’?” Frederickson said. “Before Madelia could even answer, she said, ‘Yes, she’d love to.'”
A close friendship developed after that meal. “If she lost a contact lens she’d call me,” Frederickson said. “It could be 11 at night, she’d call and say ‘Are you up?’ I’d go over and find her lens.”
“People might remember her working in that old drug store, O’Connell’s Rexal, and walking up Oak Hill,” Irene Blakely said.
After they bought Muller’s Rambler, the Blakleys found themselves stymied over the years by a lack of parts. The Rambler was made by the American Motors Corporation, which went out of business in 1987, so new parts weren’t available. Junkyards would have to be scoured for old parts. The Blakelys asked around and had varying degrees of success until a friend started finding items on the Internet for them.
The final touch came just last fall, and finally made it road-ready again: a completely rebuilt braking system. But the Blakelys are now in their 80s and don’t feel safe driving it anymore. “He can’t lift his foot up to work the clutch,” Irene Blakely said of her husband.
Motorcar Portfolio, a dealership of classic used cars based in Canton, Ohio, wants to purchase the car. “But I want to see it stay in the area, it belongs here,” Irene Blakely said.
Whoever buys it really will step back in time once they sit in the driver’s seat.
Not only is there no CD or cassette player, there’s no radio — Muller didn’t buy that option. There’s heat available, but no air conditioning. The steering wheel is huge and completely unpadded. An analog clock, which still functions perfectly, sits on the dashboard on the passenger’s side.
But underneath the hood, the 6-cylinder engine and all the other parts are dirty, but in fine condition. Another interesting point: All of the seats fold down completely, so the passenger compartment can be turned into a double bed.
Irene Blakely said she hopes someone sees this article and develops an interest in purchasing the Rambler. But she has one stipulation.
“I don’t want to see a hot-rodder get it,” she said.