EDMONTON - Girls putting together their school year book for 1959-60 wrote of Jim Reed: "A mechanic by choice, he'll give your old Ford a limousine voice."
They must have been psychic. Reed left school and became a mechanic - and 50 years later he's still with the same Ford company.
On May 15, 1962, Reed began working as an apprentice mechanic for Shirley Ford, which in 1971 became Westown Ford and in 1984, Freedom Ford.
"I grew up on a farm and always tinkered around with machinery," says Reed, whose workmates joined him Tuesday for a slice of anniversary cake. "I talked about cars all the time in my school days."
It was Peter Pocklington who bought the company in 1971 and made it one of the most successful in Canada.
"Peter was a shrewd businessman," says Reed. "But he was good to staff. He drove a Thunderbird and later bought a Rolls-Royce. He told me many times if he was going to go broke, he wasn't going broke driving a Maverick."
Reed met his wife Joyce in 1963 when the Shirley Ford dealership was based on Whyte Avenue.
"Joyce worked in stock control in the parts department before computers came along," he says. "She'd sit at a big desk covered in stock cards."
The couple married in 1964, raised three daughters, all of whom received Ford cars when they left school.
"All they could talk about when they were 10 or 11 was horses," says Reed. "So we moved from the city to a quarter section near New Sarepta. I still grow hay for horse customers. Joyce drives the tractor and bales the hay."
Reed now works on pre-delivery inspection of new vehicles and says today's vehicles are "bulletproof" compared with bygone days.
"Everything is diagnostic and if I find anything not quite right, I turn it over to specialty guys," he says.
"In the old days, a brand-new car might clock 80,000 or 90,000 miles. Nowadays a car is hardly broken in with that kind of mileage."
Bob Bentley, Freedom Ford president, says of Reed: "He's a very skilled worker and good at talking with anyone."
The mechanic, who drives a Ford Explorer, has owned and enjoyed a 1985 and then a 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis.
"When the 1990 had 538,000 kilometres on the clock, I sold it to a kid for $1," he says.
Reed has no plans to retire. "I'll quit when I'm old," he says. "I'll know when I get there. I've seen colleagues retire and in two years they have aged tremendously."
Age has privileges. When his vehicle needs an oil change, he now takes it to a lube shop.