Losses and Lessons: Give me a brake!

VEHICLE COVERED: 1956 Mercury Montclair

The owner of an award-winning Montclair had just left a show when he touched his brakes and the pedal went to the floor. Despite the immediate feeling of panic, he was able to get off the road without hitting anything or ending up in a ditch. While the story ended well, it could have been much worse.

DAMAGE/LOSS: There was no damage to the vehicle or driver, other than giving him quite a scare. The brakes obviously needed work, but instead of simply rebuilding the original drum brake system, the Montclair owner decided to install disc brakes – even though he might receive lower judges’ scores at future car shows.

LESSON: There is no substitute for safety. Periodically check your vehicle for fluid leaks, examine your brake hoses for cracks, and check your brake fluid level. You may also consider upgrading to modern brakes, although with many cars from the 1950s and later, simply overhauling the original brakes with new lines, hoses, cylinders and shoes is more than enough to ensure the right things happen when you push the pedal.

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