American Cars

Monocoque construction is something the Americans seem to have ignored through the sixties and seventies and most of the eighties. Cars continued to be built the "Good Old American Way" on a good old "frame". From having rustproofed many American cars it seems to me that the real American car making giant (which no-one has ever heard of!) is "Fisher Bodies" because all of the American cars of any period of the sixties and seventies are just variations on a theme built by Fisher Bodies! These cars are very simply and very solidly built and are generally extremely well designed to keep corrosion at bay. Most of the box sections underneath are three sided so there is no question of festering damp corroding the box sections because everything dries out very quickly. There are no complicated spot-welded seams. Panels are meaty and thick and welding is always very "butch" and agricultural but effective. Cavities are well ventilated prairie-like expanses of space where any moisture is going to dry off very quickly. All this will surprise some people who may have childhood memories of the few yanks they saw being terrible old rust buckets. I can explain this seeming anomaly. North America is a continent with extreme variations of climate. Cars which live in the Sunbelt for instance, particularly in places like Arizona just never rust! California is so full of old cars that they don’t know what to do with them - so they flog them to us!. If you live in Canada on the other hand, your chief pre-occupation will be how to stop your car rusting to pieces.

"Feast or Famine" Cars in the US come off the production line with no protection on them whatsoever. In many cases the only thing protecting the steel underneath is a very thin coat of primer! If you live in the Sunbelt this is of no concern to you at all. If however you live where winters are severe and summers are wet, when you order your new car, you specify "Winter Protection" . American anti-corrosion protection is really superb. Many people will remember Ziebart from the 70's. This was a typical American anti-corrosion system (although the materials were made over here under license and suffered somewhat in the translation I fear, as did the control over franchisees). Whereas we were undersealing our cars with horrible, nasty, cheap bitumen, the Americans, since the ‘40s were using a beautiful, highly formulated "hot melt" with no bitumen in it whatsoever. This was sprayed on at 80 degrees C! I have seen forty year old American cars with this protection on them and there is not the slightest sign of deterioration of the coating and not a speck of rust underneath and even wheelarches usually show little sign of damage (although the coating always looks very grey and shabby.) The ideal situation, of course, is to live in California and have a vehicle with a proper American anti-corrosion treatment.

Now if you live in soggy old England and you import a car from the American Sunbelt, the 64.000 dollar question is "does it have "Winter protection"! If it does not you had better get on the phone to me right away! Even if it does - it is still a must to have your treasured vehicle properly "Before ‘n’ Aftered".

It should be noted of course that the traditional American types of rustproofing were really only suitable for new cars. Car designers nowadays have learnt an awful lot about how to make monocoque bodies that do not rust (unlike the cars of the 60's and 70's). They are therefore able to offer 6 year anti-corrosion warranties. With the Classic Cars that I rustproof, there is usually quite a lot of rust already present and there is in my opinion only one rustproofing material that will kill existing rust and that is Waxoyl. The traditional American "Hot Melt" types are just not penetrative enough and will not "wet" the surface enough to work on rust. (See "Why Waxoyl")

 

 

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