Behind the Wheel: Falcon owner still making memories with first car

By: Jennifer Sigouin | C&G Newspapers | Published October 30, 2019

 Rick Schanz, of West Bloomfield, still has his first car, a 1960  Ford Falcon, which he  bought when he turned 16.

Rick Schanz, of West Bloomfield, still has his first car, a 1960 Ford Falcon, which he bought when he turned 16.

Photo by Sean Work

Photo by Sean Work

Photo by Sean Work

Photo by Sean Work

In 1980, Rick Schanz, of West Bloomfield, bought his first car — a 1960 Ford Falcon — and he’s still driving it today, nearly 40 years later. 

“I bought it with money I saved from mowing lawns and doing a paper route,” Schanz said in an email interview. “The car was first owned by the proverbial ‘little old lady’ who drove it back and forth to church, who sold it to my Grandpa Jack, who finally sold it to me for $475 when I turned 16 years old, because he had to hang up the keys due to old age.”

Schanz, who grew up in Cleveland, said his love of cars started with his Matchbox and Hot Wheels collections as a kid. He also learned early on just how special a first car could be. 

“I always overheard my dad and his poker buddies reminiscing about and pining for their first cars, saying, ‘I wish I still had that Studebaker’ or ‘my ’57 Chevy,’ and I set in my mind then that I would never be one of those guys. I was gonna keep my car forever,” he said. 

After Schanz purchased the Falcon, he got started on its restoration, repairing and cleaning the car’s original parts, piece by piece. As a high school junior, he also “enlisted a friend from the vocational body shop school” to paint the car, which was “severely faded.”

“We made a homemade spray booth in his home garage,” Schanz recalled, adding that his high school girlfriend’s dad, who worked for a German automotive paint supplier, found a match for the original color and gave him a discount on paint. 

“The fresh paint brought the car back to its original finish and created an eye-catching daily driver that I drove everywhere,” he said. 

As Schanz moved on from his high school years, he hung on to the Falcon and kept it in good shape. He noted that the car was protected in a rented garage each winter, and it spent six years in storage while he traveled the world and lived in New York City. Schanz, who owns a sports and event marketing company, moved to metro Detroit in 1995, and the Falcon came with him. 

“When I settled in the Motor City, I took the car off the blocks, changed the fluids, dipped the fuel tank and replaced hoses, and the Falcon was ready to roll,” he said. 

And in true Motor City fashion, Schanz now enjoys showing off the car in some of the area’s most well-known auto events, including the Baker’s of Milford weekly Sunday night cruises, the Multi-Lakes Car Cruise in Commerce Township and, of course, the Woodward Dream Cruise. 

“I enjoy the looks on most everyone’s face as I drive by or as they stop by (and) tell me the story about their Falcon experiences, and I’m proud to share the many memories I’ve had and am still making as part of my ‘first-car story,’” he said. 

Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at or at (586) 498-1052, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.