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’58 Ford Retractable goes up in flames north of Boston, and the owner’s blaming corn-based fuel

’58 Ford Retractable goes up in flames north of Boston, and the owner’s blaming corn-based fuel

Over the weekend, the indispensable Boston news site Universal Hub posted this photo of a 1958 Ford Retractable engulfed in flame on Rt. 93 in Stoneham, 20 minutes north of the city. The owner responded to the story and he’s got a lot to say about what caused it.

“I am the owner of that once beautiful ’58 Ford Retractable Hardtop,” writes commenter Fire Man ’58.


“A little background,” he writes. “A few years ago our U.S. Government, the EPA mandated all gasolines be oxygenated. In other words, a gallon of gas is cut 10% with [Ethanol]. Good news for corn farmers bad news for older cars and small engines.”

The owner continues: “For newer computer controlled cars, no problem. For classic and antiques big problems. The gasahol attacks and destroys rubber parts and gaskets, fuel lines, carburetors and fuel pumps. The alcohol attracts moisture and causes rust in fuel tanks and fuel systems. Another “benefit” of the new gas is a gallon of gas is only 90% gasoline. It is more expensive and uses more energy to produce, costing more at the pump than real gas and oh yes, your new car gets LESS MPG. More money at the pump and lower gas mileage. There is much more to be said but I’ll let it rest for now. I always have a fire extinguisher at my right hand under the front seat.”

Unfortunately, the fire extinguisher wasn’t enough to keep this gorgeous ’58 from bursting into flames. No word yet on whether there’s been any official word on what caused the fire.

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21 thoughts on “’58 Ford Retractable goes up in flames north of Boston, and the owner’s blaming corn-based fuel

  1. 75Duster

    This fire brought to you by the EPA (when they aren’t watching porn on the internet).

  2. Dutch

    I’ve been using “corn gas” for many years with NO problems. Lawn mowers, weed eaters, old cars that sit a lot, and all my daily drivers. Zero problems. The stuff just runs. The ’66 F-100 that gets 500 miles a year uses it just fine with no issues.

    1. Greg D

      The fuel line in my dad’s 61 Ford literally closed shut from the ethanol in the gas, but his cars sit for more than half the year.

  3. turboted

    owner is a idiot plain and simple ethanol does eat rubber but its not a overnight or in a month deal it takes YEARS and if you are a responsible owner you check your fuel/brake/cooling lines periodically and from the looks of it it it looks like the fire started in the dash possibly wireing

  4. James Boos

    We’ve got classic cars, classic fire trucks, lawn mowers, weed eaters, etc. No problems. If that were the problem then why is the owner not inspecting their stuff after it sits for the winter?

    Sucks to lose your car, but don’t throw out an excuse just because you like it.

  5. 440 6pac

    The fire might have been caused by the crap gas we have today. But the flames are mostly in the passenger compartment and not the engine compartment. Kinda makes me wander where the fire really started.

  6. The arrow1100

    Very sad to see it destroyed !
    but I don’t think it was just E 15 gas !
    The new “non zinc” motor oil will wreck old motors but not cause it to burst into flames !
    Now bad wiring in that ” hard top convertable ” that is a question ?
    Still sad to see it in flames

  7. Scott Liggett

    Using 60 year old NOS rubber fuel lines, fuel pump parts, and other stuff that restorers prize along with E10 may be the problem. But when you drive a 60 year old car, you have to open the hood more often than your 2011 Honda Accord. Fact of life of owning an old car.

    Too bad for his loss.

  8. mike Armstrong

    You guys sticking up for ethanol gas must have stock in oil and corn. I service small engines and I can tell you that stuff makes a mess. If it’s so harmless, why is it that many manufactures (including car manufactures) will not warranty fuel related problems? Stihl and others make a ethanol free fuel for small engines to overcome those issues.

    As for the Ford guy, I’m sure he checked the oil and tires regularly. Not sure many of us climb under our cars to check fuel lines and brake lines with any sort of regularity. You expect those things to work without a lot of attention. Sure, a float could go bad. Would you take your carburetor apart to check it before anything seems wrong? How about your fuel injectors, do you pull them out and look at them just because they might clog?

    If you don’t take a look at these things, why should you expect the Ford guy to do it?

  9. Bill McGuire

    It’s easy to early ’50s cars with E20-compatible fuel system materials, and no points are deducted.

    If the guy is as smart as he claims he is, he would know that.

  10. Anthony

    Ive had problems with rubber fuel line in my old cars and my mower getting gummy and decomposing. Maybe its a combination of climate and the new fuel. Too bad about the Ford,its a shame.

  11. captnfrank

    Replacement parts are made for E-10 and don’t deteriorate,knowing that I would have rebuilt the whole fuel system if that was my 58,Sorry for your loss

  12. Keith Hayes

    On Mother’s Day while driving to New Hampshire we witnessed this classic engulfed in flames owned by an elderly couple… All I could think was that this nice day was their first day out in the nice weather and now the car is a total loss… Our show was looking to find the owner and help them out please spread the word if you are a classic car owner and wish to help by spreading the word, and getting the owner of this car in touch with me. Being a mechanic since 1983 I can tell you that since the introduction of corn based ethanol I have witnessed fuel system problems from anything older than the mid 80’s, and some people are unaware of the changes that need to be made to their cars, boats, and simple lawn equipment before a disaster like this happens.

  13. john t

    Not being a smartarse, but buy a bigger fire extinguisher… if your dinky underdash jobbie isn’t enough to put out a dash or engine bay fire theres no point having it….

  14. Scooterz82

    Too bad about the car. There are plenty of products of available that are compatable with the crap gas, it’s more important to me to have as much trouble free fun with my toys as I can than originality.

  15. authorized user

    Too bad he didn’t invest in a bottle of LUCAS Safeguard ethanol stabilizer.

    This is an additive for E-10, E-15, and E-85 that should prevent the corrosion that sank this car.

    16 oz treats up to 80 gallons of pump gasoline.


    It turner my in tank weed eater filter to something that looked like gum. But it took 4 years! I found it because it ate up the fuel lines first. Again it took 4 years.

  17. Bill Morton

    My 2 1/2 year old fuel lines leaked from this new fuel. It eats away and dries out the rubber much faster than regular unleaded fuels. We can upgrade to Teflon lines at a much greater cost, but if you are unaware that this new fuel does this to rubber at a much faster rate then stuff like this can happen. I was at a cruise night when I found the drip from my lines and was able to replace that piece of line so I could make it back home. When I got there I checked all my lines and had to replace them all. I’m a full time auto tech at a dealership and have had many classic muscle cars in my life. If I am not at work fixing them, then I am probable somewhere else fixing something else.

  18. zmike

    OK.. as a practical matter, Ethanol did not cause the fire. The damage caused by the corrosive nature of that crap did. I would like to think that the owner of the vehicle would have checked the fuel system, front to rear on a regular basis. Unfortunately I know of too many guys that own vehicles like that , and are NOT car guys.. That being said, Ethanol is crap. Pure & simple. Corrosive, a net loss energy source, and kills fuel mileage. Every vehicle I own gets better mileage on 100% gasoline. The havoc it creates on small engines is well documented. If the stuff is so good, why are there several products available specifically to counteract the effects of alcohol in the fuel system.


    ethanol has been in most gasoline for more than twenty years……and now its a problem???? wow sounds like trying to pass the buck off on the gas and not taking basic care of your vehicles fuel system. stop blaming everyone but your selves….that’s whats wrong with America today…..its everyone fault but your own. man up and take responsibility please. to bad for the car though.

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