Dear Tom and Ray:
My terminally ill father has just given me his 1961 Lincoln Continental. The car is in a storage unit in Michigan, and although it was mostly restored about eight or nine years ago, it now needs some repairs (I have a list of what it needs) to make it roadworthy. I'd like to fix it up and drive it to the East Coast, and give my father his final ride in it. My problem is that I'm living overseas, and I need to find a mechanic I can wire money to so that when it's ready, I can fly to Michigan, pick it up and drive right out to the East Coast. Do you have any idea about how to find a mechanic who can help me, who would be reputable and who wouldn't take advantage of an absentee customer? Many thanks. -- Annie
RAY: We were right there with you until you mentioned the word "reputable," Annie.
TOM: Actually, your ideal candidate would be both reputable and have some experience with ancient Continentals.
RAY: So start by calling dentists' offices near where the car is stored. Ask if they treat any mechanics with few to no teeth. That's the age group you're interested in, Annie.
TOM: Actually, we have a couple of genuine ideas for you. One is to start with the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club. You can find it on the Web at www.lcoc.org. It has a network of members who all love and restore old Lincolns. If you post a request on its website, and hook up with the regional club in Michigan, it may be able to help you find someone near the car who specializes in old Lincolns.
RAY: The second option would be to search the Mechanics Files (www.cartalk.com/mechanics). That's a database of mechanics who have been personally recommended by readers of our column or listeners to our radio show. You search it by entering your ZIP code.
TOM: You won't necessarily find a Continental specialist that way, but you should be able to find some highly recommended mechanics in the area. Then you can call a few of them and ask if they know anybody who'd be good for your dad's car.
RAY: You might get lucky. One of the guys you reach might want to do the work. But more likely, he'll know another guy in the area who loves working on older cars.
TOM: We wish you a lot of luck, Annie. It's a wonderful, sweet thing you're doing for your dad. My kids wouldn't be nearly as nice if I stuck them with one of my old heaps.