Thursday, December 21, 2006

100% unadulterated horsepower

This is what I quite possibly love most about muscle cars. Don't get me wrong, the styling is some of the best in history in my eyes, but even it is trumped by the power factor, power to the 10th degree. It's that very power that has been responsible for my less than splendor driving record back in the day. I never racked up more than 5 or 6 points before they began dropping off, though as luck would have it, every time my record was completely clean, I'd tack on a couple of tickets. I wasn't always guilty, so at the time I didn't see much reason to try and fight them in court.

Posslibly the most entertaining was the two I got during Woodward's Dream Cruise on two seperate years. The first was simply a $90 fine, labeled on the ticket as "an exhibition of power." I was coming to a complete stop, powerbraking the car, and once the white smoke was pouring off the tires like a 5 alarm fire I'd ease off the brake, feathering the throttle until the hot, sticky tires finally found adhesiveness to the street. I told the girl with me at the time that I wasn't gonna stop doing burnouts until I got pulled over, which was after I did a good half dozen or so. The crowd took up a collection as the officer wrote the ticket, paying for more than half of the fine.

Then next time I wasn't as lucky, as I was tagged with a careless driving, though a court battle got it dropped to an illegal lane change, which greatly reduced the points and prevented my classic car insurance policy from dropping me. During that exhibition of power I had a touch over 500hp on tap, and almost equal amounts of torque. I may have left the scene with a ticket in hand, but it didn't break the smile on my face.

There is just something about trying to control something that is out of control, something that possesses more power than a vehicle could possibly ever need. That same desire drove me to park the car, as it still sits in a rolling state, in order to build something more radical. Now, equipped with a 12 point roll cage, the beast awaits it's engine that will make an estimated 650-700hp on the engine alone. The 250hp nitrous kit will be on tap for when it's needed. Insane? Perhaps, yet it's the desire to push the envelope a little bit further that keeps us gearheads striving for more power.

Here are just a few clips I found on youtube the other day that got my blood pressure pumping, sent goose bumps up my arms, chills up my spine, giggling like a school girl, and cussing like a school boy....fuck yeah baby, that's what I'm talking about! Enjoy.

Got Torque?

You asked for a morning wake up call?

Scotty, give me warp speed!

Special on Donuts!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who killed the electric car?

Personally, I've never been a big fan of movies that try and convince us that there is an "inconvenient truth," one in which tell of a doomsday soon to come, or some conspiracy put into motion by the big money corporations. In reality, most of these theorists gather facts that only show one side of the story, such was the case with "Who killed the electric car." While I have yet to see it (don't know if I could stomach it), I have heard and read all about it.

I had done by own bit of research on this car awhile ago, long before this movie ever came out. What I found across the internet and on forums was that very few owners of EV1's were actually happy with their cars. Many had been left stranded due to dead batteries at one point or another, and most agreed, the car was simply impracticle. GM sold just 800 of these cars, and they were never in great demand by the general public, but hindsite is 20/20 you know. Toyota, some 6 years later, would deliver just 342 electric vehicles to customers. They too agreed, they couldn't give the things away, the public simply wasn't buying into a fully electric car. Even Toyota came to bat defending GM, saying the movie was misleading and one sided. Interesting that the filmaker of the movie owns an electric RAV4-EV, was part of a protest outside of Toyota, though when given free Toyota key chains and bottled water, they gave Toyota a free pass from being portrayed as a bad guy in the film and all footage was cut from the film.

Electric car killer?

I was talking to somebody the other day in regards to when we were back in elementary school. Back when the weekly publications distributed in our classroom talked of global warming and how we would run out of oil by....well, right about now. In addition, there was the gas crisis back in the 1970's, while I was either too young to remember, or perhaps not even born yet. This country quickly believed that doomsday was in the very near future and began shifting over to buy smaller, more economical cars. During this period, due to the American automakers inability to act quickly enough, a trend to buy imported cars was beginning.

After the realization that we weren't really about to run out of oil, the performance cars began to return in the 80's, as did the rise in popularity among SUV's and full sized trucks. Even though gas prices has continually rose over the years, people still paid the price. Only during quick, drastic rises in the price of gasoline do sales of such bohemoth vehicles take a hurting.

Another interesting argument is among the "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" crowd. Well, last I checked, we aren't at war with Canada or Mexico, our top two suppliers for crude oil. In fact, I believe most would be surprised to hear where out oil in this country actually does come from. Here are the top 15 as of October 2006, for TOTAL oil imports, not just crude oil.

1. Canada
2. Mexico
3. Saudi Arabia
4. Venezuela
5. Nigeria
6. Algeria
7. Angola
8. Iraq
9. Russia
10. Virgin Islands
11. Ecuador
12. Kuwait
13. Brazil
14. United Kingdom
15. Norway

Energy information administration

A bit surprised? So was I the first time I read it. Take it for what it's worth, but that's just my two cents, just another one sided conspiracy film telling their version of the truth.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nostalgic junkyards

Up near Mount Pleasant, Michigan, about 20 miles to the west, sits a junkyard that has been there forever. I heard about the place from a teacher at CMU while attending college some years ago. One day, I decided to go scope the place out. It sat on an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Ran by an old guy, apparently borderline crazy (aren't they always?), he normally didn't let anybody just wander the yard. He asked what I was looking for, I made reference to a few parts, and he said I could go look around. He then added "Goddamn it, you better not have any tools on you with plans to steal shit!" I assured him, I was just there to look.

What I found was amazing! It was like a time machine for the auto industry. Acres upon acres as far as the eye could see spread amongst the woods and rolling hills. Obviously most were likely beyond repair after decades of sitting in the damp Michigan soil year after year. Yet what you see is breath taking. Cars dating back all the way to the 1930's with the bulk of the collection being 1950's cars, tapering off by the 1960's. I saw almost everything imaginable. Even three late 1960's Dodge pickups like my friend had, a truck I had never seen anywhere else. Not only that, all three were the same teal green color.

The day I went over there I had an appointment with a teacher over a paper I was writing, as my scheduled time slot approached, I realize I wasn't gonna make it. I'd deal with that later, as I was gonna spend a few more hours enjoying this small piece of heaven. I later explained to the teacher, who was well aware of how big of a gearhead I was, and she totally understood. I'm not sure I even made it back to the junkyard, though I'd love to venture back some day with a camera. For some reason I think the crazy guy who runs the place wouldn't be too appreciative if he saw me taking pictures.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Starting from ground zero

She's been lonely too long

Today I ventured out to the garage to work on the Camaro. As I sat there looking at it, first thing I did was place the cowl induction hood back on the car. I realize it was just mental, but with the hood in place the car just looks more complete, as opposed to the basket case that it currently is. I then took the duster and dusted it off then added some tire black to shine them up a bit. There, it almost didn't look like a car that has been sitting for 5 years now.

Fully stocked

Ground zero, that was where I'd be starting as I gazed into the interior. From the years of sitting, welding in of the roll cage, and remaining sound deadening insulation on the floor pans they were looking like they needed some tlc. I got out the angle grinder with wire wheel installed and went to town on the floor pans, stripping off all the insulation still glued in place, the loose paint, as well as the seam sealer. The removal process went quite smoothly, as they really weren't in bad shape.

Heart of the beast, a 454 bored .030 over

Upon completion, I re-seam sealed all the welds along the floor pans, then added a fresh coat of rustoleum to everything. Next on the agenda I think I will cut out some metal atop the transmission tunnel, as it's seen quite a bit of abuse over the years. First, it looks like swiss cheese from all the holes from the factory column and shifter, then later the aftermarket B&M shifter, then the plate I tacked on top of the tunnel to keep it from flexing during shifts. So possibly tomorrow or sometime this weekend I need to pick up some sheet metal to weld back in after I'm done cutting. In addition, there are numerous holes in the firewall from who knows what from factory. I know at least one is for the throttle linkage, which I have replaced with a cable, another for the speedo cable, hole for the fuse block to pass through, and a handful of others which I'm sorta baffled by. I'll weld up the ones I'm unsure of, as it's easy to make new holes if need be.

Shop dogs

I have to admit, my garage is good to go. I have everything arranged the way I want it making the most use of the space I have. I have a few cabinets in the basement I plan on relocating to the garage as soon as I get some insulation up and some sort of paneling or drywall, I haven't decided yet. I got a kickin' stereo system that sounds just right at MAX volume. My fully stocked fridge keeps me from making runs to the house for beverages. My air compressor is good to go, and I have all the tools to get the job done. Never in all my years of wrenching on cars have I had a better, more comfortable set up.

Finished floor pans

Perhaps most importantly though, I finally feel it. That urgency to get out there and work on it. In the past, I thought I had that desire, yet it didn't last. Once out in the garage, or perhaps the day after, I had already lost interest. Honestly, this may sound a bit cheesy, but I have to thank the show on Speed on cable tv known as "Pinks." While I don't have the desire to race my car for pink slips, as I have no desire of taking a chance at losing it, it's just the raw nature of the show. The crudeness of some of the vehicles, the go fast at all costs mentality that I find so appealing. Watching top fuel racing still is fun, yet you can't look at them in the same way you look at your hot rod in the garage. The shows like Overhaulin' never really got my interest either. Watching a show on restoring cars, or even the restomods just didn't click for me, I found them rather boring. Pinks on the other hand, a lot of these cars are running engines on par with what I had. They are doing the smokey burnouts like I used to do. I can damn near smell the burning rubber and all so recognizable fumes coming from who knows what. It's the thump of the engines as they await the host to drop his arms, signaling the start of the race.

I guess in addition to this, a little bit of other influence may have been when I was out cruising in the Formula the other day and witnessed multiple classics out on what was an unusual 60+ degree day in November. At one point I was sitting next to a 1970 Vette, shortly after a 1970 Chevelle with a big block passed us going the other way. It had me longing for my ride, missing it like I haven't missed it in a long time.

So even though I sit unemployed, unable to purchase many of the major components to get my car on the road by summer, there is still plenty to do. Remember, the car is essentially a shell right now. After I finish up this little bit of wiring, I'm going to start installing the electrical and get at least the front and tail sections all wired up. I need to come up with some sort of dash for my main gauges as well, since the roll cage goes right through where the original was and a cross bar behind the dash makes it impossible to reuse. After that, I'm gonna find some plush carpet that matches the color of the car, like I had before, add some sound deadening mat, then install the carpet and seats. I had pondered aftermarket seats, and I may still install a set later down the road, though for now I'm going to install the originals including the rear seat. I may create some sort of carpeted back board in case I later decide to omit the rear seat, but my feeling is that the added weight being over the rear tires is likely more of a benefit for traction than a factor that would slow me down.

After that, I think I still have a full set of pioneer speakers and JVC CD player to install. All interior trim and panels are around here somewhere, as is the headliner...I think. I think the rear glass may be at my parents, the front glass I broke upon removal. If I can at least get the interior in order by spring, at least then I can sit in the car, look out the window, and feel that much closer to completion. I could tough it out with the rearend as long as I didn't install tires that hook, and the transmission only has a few 1,000 miles on it, as does the convertor. So that leaves a beefed up drive shaft and rebuilt engine, the engine which will set me back at least $5,000, which is why next summer will likely come and pass without it seeing the street. So be it though, as long as I stick to it and venture out to the garage on a more regular basis and can see progress, it would be a huge step in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

When in doubt, peel out!

While out walking my dogs the other day, my neighbor and I came upon a school. As we struck up a conversation with somebody out front, up rolls a late 80's S10 pickup. The truck, driven by a guy in his late 40's at least, comes to a stop, sat there a second or two, then white smoke starts pouring off his passenger side tire. The thing that cracked me up most was that he didn't seem to putting on this show for anybody in particular, he simply stopped, layed down some smoke and rubber, then was on his merry way. I was left wishing I had brought my camera that day, as it's not often you see a spectacle like that.

I thought back to the days in which I would have done that. For no reason whatsoever, I'd simply burn a few thousand miles off my tires. I too was victim of having a "one wheel peel" car for my first car. It's one of the things where you almost feel like you're peeling away with your tail between your legs, as your one wheeler can't measure up to those with true posi's. That being said, all three of my cars today have a posi unit in them and one wheel peels are a thing of the past.

The whole exhibit brought back memory of a website that I believed I had saved. After looking through my bookmarks I found it and am passing it on for your reading enjoyment. Now, if you stumbled upon this site while googling something car related, as I see most of you do, you will totally relate to most every instance on this list.

When in doubt, peel out!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rick Wagoner admits, killing $1 billion EV1 program was his worst decision

Not exactly along the line of "Motor City Muscle," yet relevent just the same, as new technology often points in the direction the auto industry is headed in the near future.

GM plans to unveil a concept at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit that they hope will help restore some faith in GM's future. Many were upset that GM killed the EV1, this after the company was apparently at the forefront of developing new technology in search for a gasoline alternative. In the mean time, other foreign auto makers more than caught up, bringing several hybrid vehicles to market.

Later this month, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Rick Wagoner will announce the new direction and focus on new technology as part of the planned turn around. Without giving many details, he stated that the new technology would have an extended driving range on battery alone, in addition to having a gasoline or diesel powered engine to power the car when the batter was low.
Ultimately, they still view hydrogen fuel cells as the answer to our dependence upon oil, though that connection will be built through use of electricity.

GM may revive electric car

Friday, September 29, 2006

Motor City gets a tune up as IRL and Le Mans come in 2007

After a 5 year absence, Grand Prix racing will return to Belle Isle.

Detroit Grand Prix coming back to Belle Isle

While not a big fan (or really a fan of any sort) of open wheel racing, I am way more excited to hear that the American Le Mans series will be joining the fray as well. While I don't follow this series either, it is much more up my alley, as at least they still look like cars and not jets with wheels on them. That being said, watching just about ANY motorsport live is great entertainment. I am looking forward to next year when myself and my gearhead friends catch some much overdue racing return to Detroit.

Monday, September 18, 2006

My perspective on the Big 3

It's a rough time for the auto industry, an especially rough time for the Big 3 (or 2.5 if you prefer). Let me start by saying that for the better half of my life I have had a passion for the automotive industry. By my early teenage years I was already picking up car magazines, intrigued by power and performance. When I was 15 my grandpa bought me one final gift prior to him unexpectedly passing of a heartattack at age 60. My gift was a 1989 Firebird with 305 engine and 5 speed, 10,000 miles, practically a new car. Little did I realize the impact that car would have, sometimes I wonder if it was for the worse.

Between that car and my friends 1969 Dodge pickup, I grew an even stronger passion towards cars. I continued to desire to learn more. By the time I signed up for college I knew I wanted to enter the auto industry, 11 years later I am seriously questioning that decision. I found out recently that I will be losing my job, either in a few weeks or a few months, I will be let go sooner or later. During my time in the industry I have been a designer, at all three of my employers over that 6.5 years I've learned that your work load is like a roller coaster. It's normal to sometimes go through long spells, sometimes lasting weeks, without any work to do whatsoever. When you do have work, you're often neck deep in it. It's discouraging to say the least. While it sounds pleasant to some, sitting around with nothing to do, the novelty wears of fast and some days you just about loose your mind staring at that computer screen.

I'd be lying if I said that passion hasn't died down some. Even putting myself under the microscope, I've had two muscle cars that have both sat for 5 years now, both of which were running prior to that. I have made significant progress on one of them, but for the past two years I haven't done a thing to it. I now even have my own garage, with my Camaro in it, and yet the most I have done is more disassembly of it, no progress really.

I work as a supplier to Ford, so perhaps you can understand my disgust. Among the Big 3, I probably rank Ford #3 in my popularity contest. I've been a GM fan all my life, own a 1970 Mopar, and like most all of both companies products these days. As for Ford, I never liked too many cars from their muscle car era, never understood the boxy Mustang GT fad of the 80's-90's, but thought the LX was kickass. Today, the GT is sweet....but I'd rather have a Vette (make mine a Z06 please). I'll give the F150 credit, it is probably the best truck out there. My dad has a last generation F150 and has had zero problems or complaints. Then there is the Mustang, where upon Ford hit a home run. Just like back in 1964 where upon the Mustang created a whole new battle, the next generation has began, as a new Camaro and Challenger are on their way, each with it's own twist on nostalgia. Yet aside from the F150 and Mustang, it's hard to get excited over many of Ford's other products. The Fusion is a cool little car, but based upon a Mazda design. The Ford there anything more bland than that car on the market today? It is even horrible by 1980's standards.

It's just very discouraging watching a company with so much history, with it's family ties, apparently lacking any sort of direction. It's like the other two companies, GM and Chrysler, both saw a shift to coming back to cars. They both forseen the rising gas prices and demand for better fuel economy, yet Ford still banked on their trucks and SUV's. Then there is their recent decision to kill the V8 off in their Lincoln brand. Who came up with this idea? When people think Lincoln and Cadillac, they think luxury, they think V8, they think power, king of the road status. You take away the V8 from this line and you have pretty much watered the brand down to just another rebadged Ford.

Sales over at GM and Chrysler both are taking a major hit right now as well. Yet in my eyes, both companies are offering lots of very exciting product. Both are heading in the direction of rear wheel drive, with V8's available in most of their midsize and up cars. Ford's refusal to head in this direction will have them playing catch up over the next 5-10 years. Pontiac is rumored to be heading in the direction where all of their vehicles will be rear wheel drive after 5 years, bringing back the "Pontiac Excitement" that has been lacking over the years.

I suppose I'm a bit of a sucker for American styling. While we went through a dry spell for many years, where there were very few models I cared for, I think those days are behind us. I think that GM and Chrysler are both once again producing the best looking cars I've seen in my life, rivaling those from the 1960's even, surpassing most in terms of power. If Ford could use the magic they put into the Mustang and apply it to the rest of the line up, they'd be right there too. It doesn't have to be nostalgic, just make it "American." The new Charger/300C/Magnum share very few body lines with their ancestors, and yet they all scream American styling. They look bold, powerful, and intimidating coming down the road. Their drivers look proud, having rediscovered a passion that they had forgot existed from driving a car. Yet there is very little nostalgic about any of them (aside from the hemi), and yet I think 20-30 years from now they will be the classics of the day. They have the staying power, the V8, the rear wheel drive, and all the makings of a fun car.

The Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice enters a market that the Brits (and most recently Mazda) have dominated for years, the two seat roadster at an affordable price, another classic years down the road. The GTO, while rather bland styling wise, at least has all the makings of a great/fun car. Lutz worked with what he had and did probably the best he could. Hopefully Pontiac gets a next generation version that builds upon the first, taking it to the next level.

As I come to this fork in the road, I'm not sure where my career path will take me. I'm not even sure where I'd like it to take me any more. As I head to my interview later this afternoon, I'm not even sure what to tell the recruiter I'm looking for. I suppose more than a job description, I'd like to tell her that I would like to rediscover the passion I once had. That drive that made what I was working on fun, not just another daily task. I'd like to be part of something special, though I'm afraid that maybe that job was outsourced over seas.

Here's a good article/insight on the industry/Detroit:

Business as usual is dead in Detroit

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

2006 Woodward Dream Cruise

Ok, so I'm a tad bit late reporting on the 2006 Woodward Dream Cruise, but better late than never right? Once again neither of my classics were running for the event, nor did I take up my 1989 Formula this year. I simply rode up with my neighbors, walked for a few hours, then sat and watched for a few more. This year we settled in down around 9 mile in Ferndale, which isn't normally my first choice, but that's where we resided out of convenience. For one, this was Mustang Alley on 9 mile. I believe I have seen enough Mustangs to last me until next Dream Cruise. Normally I like to reside in what I consider the core of it all, up around 12 mile or so near the McDonald's restaurant. There is always next year, just as there is always next year to try and have my Camaro back on the road, kickin' ass and taking names. Until then, here are some pictures along with my Flickr link where I have a good 100 or so uploaded, enjoy!

Click here for more 2006 Woodward pictures

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Official 2009 Camaro press release

Interesting that this will be the first Camaro to utilize independent rear suspension, putting a leg up on the Mustang, while joining the Challenger as an IRS car. It will be interesting to see what impact it will have, as many of you may recall, the last generation Camaro/Firebird with a solid straight axle actually out handled the Mustang Cobra equipped with IRS. Additionally, an IRS setup usually is not as effective for straight line acceleration. I recall reading more than a few articles that noted wheel hop with IRS on the GTO and CTS-V. I would hope that for the Camaro crowd they will have this issue resolved, as most off us who like to lay rubber don't care to blow out the IRS in the process. I don't know about you guys, but I've been saving over a month now, awaiting this day. Now, I must find out how in the hell I'm going to insure it living in the city of Detroit.

On a side note, something rather amusing, I sent a letter to one of the big shots at GM some years back when I heard the announcement that they were going to kill the F-body platform. I informed them that the only chance they had of ever selling me a new car was through that of an F-body, as the Vette will always be more than I'm willing to spend, as I'd rather own 2-3 muscle cars at that price. I went on to state that they were failing to realize the importance of the F-body and what it means to the shrinking group that was still purchasing them. The Camaro and Firebird had always had a cult following, it had alway been the arch nemisis to the Mustang, to take that away was taking away the only reason I had ever been a Chevy fan. What was left was a bunch of front wheel drive cars in which I would never purchase.

As years passed, new and more exciting products came to market, though not only from GM. The revised Mustang was a grand slam, a car that I'd be willing to have my Chevy orange blood swapped out via a transfusion for Ford blue. In the mean time, Cadillac brought out its rear wheel drive Cadillac line up, which if I were into luxury cars, I would perhaps seriously consider, yet that wasn't my meat and potatos. I was a muscle car fan after all. More cars would follow, but the SSR to me was a waste of a niche vehicle. It ranks right there with the Ford Thunderbird as a "could've been." Had neither of them been priced so high, weighed WAY too much, and been so underpowered initially, they would have both sold much better. The GTO was another could've been. It's interior styling and powertrain were among the best GM had ever seen, yet the styling just didn't scream GTO, it said "Corporate Pontiac," and didn't differentiate itself from the Grand Prix enough. Then came the Solstice and Sky, possible the coolest little roadsters I've ever seen. Convincing enough that I would even ponder buying one, yet still, I wanted that muscle car.

Over on the Chrysler front, they were pumping out cool products as well. The Viper has always been cool, but like the Vette, a car I'd likely never spend the money to buy. The Magnum/300C/Charger were all sweet, but 4 doors? No thanks, not quite yet. When they brought forth the Challenger concept last January, I was blown away. At the time, I felt I would sell my 1970 Challenger to buy a new Challenger, yet I could say the same for my Camaro, I'd hold onto my 1969 as opposed to the new one. Time changes one's perspective, and in all honesty, I wouldn't sell either of my classics for the new versions (are you kidding me? I'm a collector now, if I don't intend to keep it forever, I won't buy it!). The more magazine covers both cars graced, the more the Camaro grew on me. The more info that came out, the more I leaned towards the Camaro. The Challenger is said to come in at 4,000+ lbs. That's not nimble enough to be a muscle car as far as I'm concerned. It's gonna need that 425 hp hemi to motivate if from a stop. My 1970 Challenger weighs in at 3,600 lbs, and I consider that quite porkly for a pony car. Now no official weight has been announced for the Camaro, and they have already said they will need to trim some weight off the Austrialian version, but they hope to get it in the 3,600 lbs range. Still more than I'd like to see, but I'll take the 400 lbs less with 400 hp or so any day.

In addition, the more I considered the styling of both, I realized I like them both for different reasons. Though from my perspective, owning both vintage versions, the Challenger is just too much like the 1970 I already own. The Camaro however, it has sharp edge styling mixed with nostalgic lines. There is no mistaking the new Camaro for my 1969 counterpart. For this reason I look at it this way, if you used to own a 1970 Challenger and want to relive what it used to be, then the Challenger is for you. If you want to relive your 1969 Camaro you used to own, then you buy a 1969 Camaro, as the new Camaro has some serious modern influence kickin'. Anyways, below is the official announcement per Automotive News.

New Camaro coming in early 2009, Wagoner says
Sports car to come in 'many shapes and sizes'

Richard Truett | Dale Jewett | Automotive News / August 10, 2006 - 9:41am / UPDATED: 8/10/2006 12:49 P.M.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- General Motors has big plans for the reborn Camaro coming in early 2009.

GM will put the Camaro sports car into production in late 2008, and put it on sale in early 2009, CEO Rick Wagoner said today. The production Camaro will closely resemble the concept car unveiled in January at the Detroit auto show, he said.

Rick Wagoner said the sports coupe will be available with a variety engines and transmissions and hinted that a convertible version might also be in the works.

"It will come in many shapes and sizes," Wagoner said.

The car will be engineered by GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia but built in North America, Wagoner said today at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich.

GM will announce the car's production site later, Wagoner said. He made no comment on the potential for a Pontiac Firebird version of the car.

Growing segment

Despite rising gasoline prices, the Camaro gives GM an entry in the growing muscle-car revival that includes cars such as Ford's Mustang-based Shelby GT500, and the Dodge Challenger that is scheduled to reach showrooms in 2008 with a Hemi engine.

Wagoner did not offer many technical details, but he did say the new Camaro would have an independent rear suspension system to improve handling. That is a feature that Mustang fans clamored for, but did not get.

High-performance variants of the Camaro will likely be powered by a version of GM's classic small block V-8 engine, such as the one used in the outgoing Pontiac GTO, which developed 400 horsepower.

The 2009 Camaro will share some styling cues with the 1969 model, but GM does not view it as retro car, Wagoner said. The goal with the new car's styling was to appeal to those who like the '69 model, and also younger buyers.

GM first showed a concept version of the Camaro at the Detroit auto show in January. Since then, GM said, the company has been flooded with requests to build the car and has been offered deposits from enthusiasts.

It took GM about eight months to make a business case for the Camaro. Wagoner said today he agreed with GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz' assessment that GM could sell 100,000 Camaros per year. Ford Motor Co. sold 100,995 Mustangs through July this year.

GM was widely expected to approve the car for production, and in April one Detroit-area GM dealer even started advertising the car for sale.

You may e-mail Richard Truett at

You may e-mail Dale Jewett at

Monday, August 07, 2006

2008 Camaro unofficially official

Pending an announcement this Thursday, the Camaro will in fact be going into production.

Camaro to roar back by 2008

Just as I said I would, I've been putting money aside for the launch of both the Challenger and the Camaro. I am leaning towards the Camaro, since it's sharp edge styling screams modern muscle with just enough flashes of retro. The Challenger on the other hand, well, it looks like the 1970 Challenger in which I already own. The Camaro is said to have 3 engines available, a V6 and two V8's. I would assume that the V8's will likely be the 5.3 and 6.0 engines. With a possible LS7 427 cubic inch option available a few years down the road, and who knows, maybe even the rumored supercharged version the Corvette will supposedly get, sporting a supercharged 650 hp.

While the article questions how many will line up to buy a Camaro with gas prices at $3.15 a gallon, I think they are forgetting something. These cars have NEVER been gas guzzlers. My 18 year old Formula knocks down 22 mpg (though usually 20 mpg the way I drive), my dad's 1995 Formula knocked down 27 mpg prior to his 4.10 gear installation, even then, it still gets around 23 mpg. I read an article somewhere that stated the new Camaro will approach 30 mpg. I'm sorry, but if it can knock down nearly 30 mpg, and still make around 400 hp, I wouldn't think too many would hesitate in buying one. In fact, I would venture to say their key market will likely be that of my parent's generation. Folks in their mid 50's, with kids moved out, now not needed that SUV or full size pickup and having grown tired of the poor gas mileage.

I was a bit spoiled while driving my mom's Aurora these passed couple weeks, as it knocks down 25 mpg even at speeds averaging around 80-85 mph. I tell ya what, those few mpg make a huge difference, as I didn't have to refill the tank mid week like I do with my car. All in all, great to see that in a few years all the Big 3 will have their pony cars resurrected and back doing battle. It's been 30 years since the trio has played with one another.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The disadvantage of an 18 year old daily driver

I suppose the fact that problems are popping up with more frequency with an 18 year old car should be expected. Even with it's relatively low miles (115,000), time takes it's toll on parts almost as much as miles do. The other day Old Blue left me stranded once again. It appears that my recent repare made over lunch, replacing the ignition module, may have not been the source of my problems after all...even though it started up shortly after the repair. It seems it was gonna be one of them gremlins that would have to be hunted down and killed.

So sitting stranded, I called upon my parent to garner up a friend's trailer to haul it back to his place. In the past, I have also replaced a mass air flow sensor, O2 sensor, and mass air flow relay, all trouble codes that were tripped. Yet looking back, I truly wonder whether or not they were faulty or not. I have also replaced the fuel pump, fuel filter, air filter, and gave the car a couple tune-ups already. Toss in a blown head gasket and oil pump pickup that fell off the pump for good measure. I've also replaced the front struts with Koni struts, the rubber bushing for the front sway bar (as they were dry rotted), and two rear sway bar links (as I snapped them on two occasions taking corners hard). Yet even with all those repairs, seldom has it left me stranded. Twice over the passed two years, one of which after a lunch time fix, it got me home and worked flawlessly for about another month or two....actually, those two time stranded in need of towing happened over the past couple months. I now think both incidents were likely related to my current troubles.

Having got my car back down in Adrian, I had my friend look at it, whom happens to be the best mechanic I know. He began trouble shooting and before long found the problem. 6 out of the 8 fuel injectors were bad, one of which was shorting out by apparently grounding on the intake manifold, causing the no-start situation. I ordered up a set of Accel fuel injectors along with an adjustable fuel pressure regulator. I've read mixed reports that boosting the fuel pressure aids these engines. Some claim as high as 15 hp gains, yet in reality I'd be shocked to see a 5 hp gain. Since replacing the injectors requires removing the intake system to gain access to the fuel injectors/rail, I figured I may as well replace other items that could fail, such as the fuel pressure regulator and EGR valve, as both would require tearing the top half of the engine off once again.

These are definitely the times it would be nice to have either my Challenger or Camaro on the road, capable of getting at least 15 mpg, so that I had an alternative means to get to work. Sure, it may not give the car enough oomph to live up to the muscle car heritage, but it would be a cool ride that could sport 300 hp or so and be used as a back up when called upon.

I've began putting money aside for purchase of a new Camaro or Challenger, a 2009 model or so. That being said, I may try and keep this engine in my Formula going as long as I can. Then once getting a new car, build an alternate drivetrain to drop into the Formula so it would become a second dependable/economical/powerful daily driver. As it is, plans for the Camaro are so over the top I'd have to refinance the house to drive it to work for a week, and the Challenger probably wouldn't end up too far behind in terms of it's gas guzzling skills.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The smokey burnout

Man, it had been a long time. I hadn't even really thought about it to be honest, until last week. I'll drop the hammer quite often in my Formula, take off from a light breaking the tires loose almost daily, but I couldn't recall the last time I put it to the floor from a dead stop and let the tires do their thing. Perhaps the fact that my transmission mount was busted for nearly a month played a small role in it, as your transmission bouncing off the tunnel is like nails screaching down a chalk board to a car guy. I cringed every time I heard it clank off the tunnel. Yet the lack of burnout on my gearhead portfolio seriously predated that.

As one officer called it on a ticket I received a few years ago....ok, like 7 or 8 years ago, what I was looking for was "An exhibition of power." (I need to have that ticket framed). So yesterday, I had to get it outta my system. I was heading towards a freeway to go to some shopping. I spotted a WSU cop car parked just a short distance away, but figured they wouldn't come after me, as trees blocked the show I was about to put on. I got on the ramp, came to a complete stop, then just mashed the pedal to the floor. Smiling ear to ear I thought to myself "114,000 miles, and she's still got the power kickin'." I will have to venture down and check out the nice patches I left, as they give one a sense of pride. Perhaps that mid day burnout is what triggered something in me, that desire to get back working on my Camaro. All I know is that it was fun. haha

I've rediscovered the Car Guy in me

I'm not sure what triggered it, but last night I found myself deeply involved in working on my Camaro. I suppose it could have been one of many things. Maybe it was the announcement that Dodge is bringing back the Challenger, announced just a few days prior. Maybe it was seeing muscle cars cruising downriver last weekend, as I was down there running errands. Possibly it was the mounting stack of car magazines that I simply haven't had time to read that has me feeling guilty. Whatever it was, I'm glad its back, I'm glad I once again feel like working on it.

Last night I found myself grinding, wire wheeling, and welding on it. First real chance I've had to test out my welder. After some inspection, it seems I didn't do so bad when I installed them over 10 years ago. Some of the welds aren't exactly pretty, but they are hardly gonna fall out while driving down the road. I'll likely clean up the welds, touch on the areas that I missed, and call it good.

After a few hours of working on the car, it was getting to be around 9 pm or so, and I figured it was time to dig into that huge stack of magazines and toss back some Stroh's in the process. I came upon an editorial by David Freiberger in regards to "Cars we let get away." He claimed we've all been there, sold a car that we later wished we had back. He went on to list his top 10 cars he regretted parting with. Well, sorry, but I'm not in that bunch. My first car, a 1989 Firebird with a 305/5speed, it got totaled when a lady failed to stop at a stop sign, t-boned her at 55 mph. So that one didn't really get away, it was sent to the grave. My replacement, a 1969 Camaro (maybe an SS, not sure if its a clone or not), well I've had it for 10 years now. It was the first car I really dug into beyond bolt on stuff I did to my Firebird. A few years later I would get my parents well maintained, very reliable 1990 2 door Buick Regal. Two years ago I donated this car to charity. All I have to say is, what a car! It had the 3800 engine and didn't use a drop of oil. The odometer quit at 71,000 miles, but my best estimates put the mileage in the 250,000-300,000 mile range. After that car, I resorted back to my roots, purchasing another 1989 Firebird, only this time it was the Formula. Sucks that I had to give up the 5 speed, since they never put them behind the 350, but I'll take the bigger engine any day. So in a since, I replaced the one that got away. As for the Regal, well, like most car guys, there was a part of me that missed seeing it go. It had never let me down, was still dependable, but the body was looking a bit rough. I once had visions of fixing it up, adding a supercharger to the engine, painting in a menacing black, and adding some rims. You know, a modern day version of the Grand National. Though I was sad to see it go, it doesn't make the list of cars I wish I had back.

Over the years I also picked up a legit 1970 Challenger R/T with 383 and 4 speed pistol grip. While it has remained parked, just like my Camaro, for around 4 or 5 years, I have refrained from selling it. Even warded off a few attempts by my parents to sell it (it's parked in their garage), and even turned down trades by them, for their 1995 Pontiac Formula, which in all honesty was VERY tempting. In the end though, it would kind of feel like leaving a soldier behind, or turning your back on your child. I simply can't do it. I started the project, and damn it, some day I will finish it. So as you can see, I don't fall into the category of "Man, I wish I had that car back." As I sit here pondering, planning to set aside $100 a week until a new Camaro is available, and if that doesn't happen, then I'm picking me up a new Challenger. Yet at the same time, have no intentions of selling any of my cars I got. 4 cars for one guy, that's not that bad is it? :)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Dodge Challenger gets the greenlight

From today's Free Press here in Detroit.

The Dodge Challenger concept appeared at the auto show in January. (DaimlerChrysler)

Dodge rumble returns

June 30, 2006



Muscle car fans, a classic ride silenced since 1974 will roar back to life this weekend.

Chrysler Group is preparing to announce before the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Saturday that it will build the Dodge Challenger, bringing to market as soon as next year a sports coupe to compete against the Ford Mustang.

Chrysler officials haven't announced details, but people familiar with the plans confirmed that the two-door, four-seat concept Challenger unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show will go into production.

Chrysler built the Challenger for only a few years, 1970-74, but the car made a lasting impression.

The concept version's styling borrowed heavily from the classic 1970 Challenger muscle car, with twin hood scoops and a pistol-grip shifter. The concept is powered by a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 producing 425 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission.

"Every NASCAR fan in the country will be drooling over that car," said Erich Merkle, an auto analyst with IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids.

This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me, Dodge beating Chevy to the punch. As I stated on here recently, all signs point to an announcement by Chevy in the very near future. Hot Rod magazine even reported in a caption in this months issue that it was a go, though nothing official has been released. A quote from Bob Lutz in regards to the Challenger having 25 hp more than the Camaro concept stated "If the Dodge Challenger's 25 horsepower advantage over the Camaro becomes a problem, I would just reply that we have a certified 100 more on tap from the Z06 engine, should the need arise."

Now conisidering the Challenger will likely tip the scales at over 4,000 lbs, where as the Camaro will likely be around the 3,500-3,600 it has been at for years, I don't foresee 25 hp being an issue. That being said, I feel it would be a damn shame if they did not drop a ZO6 in and offer a specialty vehicle. Possibly reserving it for the Z28's only, once again making a unique engine only available in Z28's like the 302 from back in the day. Offer the base engine in the SS versions, and create an RS version that is something more than cheap ass looking ground effects.

The muscle car wars are back, only this time they get 3x the gas mileage while putting up as much or more in terms of power. I think it's about time I start setting aside some money for a down payment on a Camaro.

Here is another article that was in The Detroit News.

Muscle car is reborn

Dodge Challenger is back

Josee Valcourt / The Detroit News

Chrysler is crashing the muscle-car party with plans to build a production version of the Dodge Challenger coupe that debuted as a retro-styled concept car in January at the Detroit auto show.

The automaker plans to herald the return of the Challenger at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona, Fla., on Saturday, according to people familiar with the plans.

The Challenger concept, a rear-wheel drive coupe, drew raves from enthusiasts for its old-school looks and growling 425-horsepower V-8 engine.

"It's a pure retro car," said Csaba Csere, editor in chief of Car and Driver magazine. "It's a dead ringer for the original 1970 Challenger."

Chrysler plans to build the Dodge Challenger off the same basic chassis as its rear-drive Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. Both of those vehicles are built in Brampton, Ontario.

That will save both money and time. The Challenger could go into production by 2008, said one person familiar with the plans.

The Challenger is returning into what may be a new golden age for American muscle cars. The Ford Mustang has become a smash hit since a redesign last year that paid homage to classic versions of the pony car in the 1960s.

General Motors Corp. is widely expected to resurrect the Chevrolet Camaro -- which went out of production in 2002 -- in the next few years.

A striking concept version of the Camaro arguably drew even more attention and praise than the Challenger at the Detroit auto show this year.

Nostalgic made-in-Detroit sports cars are coming back at time when the flagging domestic auto industry could use a little of the old magic.

Chrysler designers drew inspiration from a 1970 Challenger parked in the studio as they created the concept version. Designers hewed closely to the original version but filed off some of the rough edges and added bigger wheels and a more refined interior. The concept sits on a 116-inch wheelbase, six inches longer than the original. And it's two inches wider, making it appear more squat and tough.

"The historical significance of the Challenger takes it back to the days when the Big Three dominated the highways," said Erich Merkle, an analyst with IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, who has closely followed the Challenger program. "The design represents a place where Japanese competitors can't follow."

Chrysler's top sales and marketing executive, Joe Eberhardt, has said in the past that a production version of the Challenger could be priced slightly higher than the Ford Mustang, which has a starting price of between $19,000 and $26,000 depending on engine choice and other options.

"One of the keys for Challenger will be pricing," Csere said. "It can't be priced too much higher than the Mustang or they won't be able to reach the sales volumes they need."

Merkle said he expects that the Challenger will only be offered with a V-8 engine, unlike the Mustang, which comes with both a V-6 and a V-8 option. He believes Dodge will sell about 30,000 to 35,000 Challengers beginning in late 2008.

"Essentially it will be a specialty vehicle," he said.

Detroit News Business Editor Mark Truby contributed to this report. You can reach Josee Valcourt at (313) 222-2575 or

Monday, June 26, 2006

Formula running much better

Buttoned up most all of my needed repairs, in addition to an oil change. I had ordered up some 8mm Taylor wires, new plugs, MSD cap/rotor, and new transmission mount. I'm not sure what it is, but for some reason I take great pride in making my own spark plug wires. The tune up went fairly smoothly, but I'd still like to kill the person who designed all the bullshit on the passenger side making it a real pain in the ass to get to the front #2 plug. The emissions equipment on my car is about to go, by winter I'll likely yank a lot of the stuff out, most notable the air pump and all the lines. I look at it this way, the car is nearly 20 years old. The number of 20 year old cars on the road is relatively small, so while everybody with newer cars have cars that pollute less, I'll take their added cleanliness and credit it to myself, allowing me to pollute a little more in an effort to make at home repairs much easier on myself. Yeah, that's how I roll! lol

Recently I found I had snapped my transmission mount in half, so I ordered up a performance polyurethane replacement. The job was pretty straight forward, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the repair also fixed an exhaust leak that came about recently. I was aware until crawling under the car for the repair that the exhaust hanger was attached to the tail housing of the transmission. So killed two birds with one stone this time around.

I am still skeptical that there is some sort of fuel issues with the car, possibly the injectors, or maybe the fuel pump going already, though it's not even a year old. Another possibility is a vacuum leak I suppose. As high as oil consumption is getting (thus the need to swap plugs after about 10,000 miles), I really need to pick up that extra engine I have and get started on the bottom end this upcoming winter. I may scale it back a touch, as initially I was gonna shoot for 400-450 hp, but now I'm thinking something in the range of 350 would be fine, as I really want to bump the mpg up a touch to go with the increased performance.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Planned Formula repairs

This weekend I will be doing some much needed repair/maintenance work on my Formula. In addition to an oil change I will be installing new plugs, wires, cap/rotor, and transmission mount. After being left stranded for the first time with this car a few weeks ago it appears that my lunch time fix here at work resolved that issue, a failed ignition module. Even after the repair however the car still appears to have some sort of issues, whether they are ignition or fuel related, I don't know for sure yet. I do know this though, it's getting quite thirsty for oil, using about 1 quart every 1,000 miles. So my tune up about 10,000 miles ago has probably run it's life and the plugs are likely getting quite fouled out.

It's probably been 3 weeks now since I determined what that "clunk" was coming from. I knew before even looking, but just to 100% sure I jacked the car up. Sure enough, the transmission mount was split in half and the transmission was slamming off the top of the tunnel during hard acceleration. I can't imagine my driving style had any impact on it's failure. To date, in relation to rubber components and suspension parts I have snapped two stabilizer links while taking off ramps at good speed and now tore a transmission mount.

I really need to start preparing a block for rebuild for this car, as it's oil consumption seems to be more than just a set of dry rotted valve stem seals or worn valve guides. I suppose this would be a good time to pick up a compression tester and verify it's the pistons/rings while I pull all the plugs, but that would just make too much sense.

I got a pretty good idea as to the type of engine I'd like to build up. I'd shoot for the 400-450 hp range and try to maintain around 25 mpg. In all honesty, with the right components I think it's a very doable goal.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dodge Challenger decision to possibly come by October

Automotive News is reporting that a decision may come about as early as this October as to whether or not the Challenger will be built. As I stated earlier, the Camaro nearly has the greenlight, so one would expect Dodge would enter the ballroom ready to dance, arriving slightly late to the party, yet fashionably late, just like the 1970 Challenger was.

Challenger decision may come by Oct.
Bradford Wernle

Automotive News / June 19, 2006 - 6:00 am

DETROIT -- The Chrysler group may decide whether to make the Challenger muscle car as early as the end of the third quarter, CEO Tom LaSorda says.

LaSorda on Friday said Chrysler has been flooded with positive responses to the Challenger concept, shown at the Detroit auto show in January.

"You have to look at the investment, the cost of the program and the margins you can make," he told Automotive News at Chrysler's Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters. "With something like this, you chase the business case and not the volume."

Chrysler officials have said the Challenger will likely be a lower-volume car with a V-8 engine. It would be built on the same platform as the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger cars. John Wolkonowicz, an analyst for Global Insight, predicts Chrysler will make 20,000 to 30,000 and sell them in the low-$30,000 range.

You may e-mail Bradford Wernle at

In addition, there was a first drive review on ESPN's site.

Dodge Challenger concept first drive

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

2008 Camaro very near production

I spoke with a friend last night at the Detroit Tigers baseball game. This guy works within the ranks at GM and informed me that he believes there is about a 99% chance that the Camaro will go into production. It would be built at the Oshawa, Ontario plant, which recently accepted a change to work rules in hopes that it would lead to $800 million in investment by GM. There are currently weekly meetings taking place between GM here in Warren and Australia, since it will basically be a Holden design upon the Zeta platform. I was told that the CTS, a Buick, Impalla, and possibly a Pontiac (GTO or maybe a Firebird) will all be built upon the platform as well. News to me was that the Monte Carlo will in fact be killed, while the Cadillac CTS will be getting a 2 door coupe model.

The Camaro is currently the hottest item on the agenda over at GM, with hopes of rushing it into production for the 2008 model year. If that happens, I think I'm going to have to start figuring out how I am going to afford a new Camaro. I could hold off one year, thus completing my trifecta of F-bodies, with a 1969, 1989, and 2009 all 20 years apart, which would be kinda sweet. I've always said I'd probably never buy a brand new car, yet a new Camaro would instill such a passion that I think I could be swayed to drop the coinage. I assume that they would likely come out with either a COPO, ZL1, or some other derivative that would have a slightly detuned version of the LS7 with 505 hp, which is what I would simply have to have. So, up for sale could very well be a fully restored 1970 Challenger R/T in order to make way for that new Camaro.

It's kind of ironic, as when I first saw both the concept Camaro and concept Challenger, I awarded the Challenger the winner, hands down. Yet the more I saw each in the magazines I realized something, the Challenger was nothing more than a 1970 Challenger, which I already had. All of the modernization that did to that Challenger I could do to mine, yet I would have one that would continue to appreciate. The Camaro on the other hand, there is no denying it is a modern car with just the right amount of retro styling to show it's heritage. That's when I realized, why would I want a copy of what I had, like I felt the Challenger was? Not to mention, much like my 1970 Challenger, parked next to my Camaro that Challenger looks like somewhat of a boat. Mine weighs in at 3600 lbs, I've read that the new one would tip the scales at over 4,000 lbs. My 1969 Camaro, complete with big block/TH400, weighed in at 3,400 lbs (3,250 when I ran a small block and TH350), I figure a new Camaro would be on par with my 1970 Challenger, coming in around 3,600 lbs or so. Those 400 or so lbs make quite a difference in terms of performance and handling.

While the demand may be minimal, I would gladly order up a new Camaro with manual locks, windows, and seats just to drop a few more lbs off the car. I could car less if it hurt resale value, because in all honesty, it probably wouldn't. There would be a small niche of buyers out there that would search far and wide for the lightest most stripped down versoin of the car available if it ever came time to sell.

Must like back in 1964, Ford beat GM to the punch with the Mustang. Just like 1964 GM is rushing around to launch it's own pony car, a resurrected Camaro. Then, just like when 1970 was approaching, will Mopar step up a few years later with it's own pony car, a new Challenger? There is definitely a Mopar clan out there salivating over a new Challenger, as old Mopars are some of the most valuable collector cars out there at the moment. The second coming of the Muscle Car era is coming, the key difference is this time around they are knocking down close to 30 mpg instead of 10 mpg and are producing more power than even the best years of the 1960's.

ps...make these babies easy to work on so us gearheads can tune them for more power!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Long term car projects

Back in college I always wondered how car restoration projects took people so long. I would constantly read in magazines about projects that took 5-10 years, sometimes even longer. Me, well my Camaro saw a complete ground up restoration while I was in college. From start to finish it took about 5-6 months. That entailed removing every bolt, stripping the body to bare metal, rewiring the car, rebuilding the engine, the transmission, and basically every other component on the car. We're talking the whole 9 yards.

Now here I am, some years later, out of college with a full time job, a house, and much different responsibilities. I find both of my cars in non-running condition, both torn apart to the point where finishing either one seems far down the road. Here I am, both cars having sat for about 5 years with only moderate progress. In my defense, my life did take somewhat of a detour when I moved to Detroit. Living in an apartment building, 9 floors up with nothing but a parking garage throws a serious wrench in restoring cars. I found both of my cars now back down at my parents house, mostly just collecting dust...aside from the occasional weekend when I ventured down to work on them, well, I should say the Challenger at that point.

For the first time in my life I was living the true big city life. Well, as close to big city life as is offered in Michigan. For all of its downfalls, I have always seen something magic in Detroit. My feelings for the city and the region could be best explained by driving up I-75 south of Detroit. Passing through the River Rouge complex, giving you a glimpse of what built Detroit, what built Industrial America, then as you crest the overpass, then you see the city of Detroit, Windsor, and "The Bridge," all of which were the result of industrialism. Detroit has a crudeness, a blue collar attitude about it that most gearheads would truly understand and respect.

So anyways, my situation changed when I bought a house in Detroit and built a new garage. With this house came the added expenses, lacking were the funds to get back to work on the car(s), so still they sat. It took me nearly a year before I had anything beyond an extension chord out to my garage for power. Things are rolling along now however, with it completely powered up, a gas line out there awaiting a furnace by winter, an extra pipe to run cable out there, a work bench, air compressor, my tools, and recently purchased welder complete with gas setup. So the shop itself is ready to go. Yet the house still commands priority. Today I worked on painting the trim on the garage, one or two more weekends and it will be complete. Once that is done it will be time to start on my rear deck, as I've gone without one since shortly after I moved in, when I tore down the death trap the previous owner had built. A deck wouldn't be such a priority if it wasn't for the fact that my house is raised about 3 foot above the ground, so currently I have one helluva drop off making the read exits unusable.

I have find time now and then to make small amounts of progress on my Camaro, which is now where my focus will remain. I have removed the steering column, the steering box, and front brake system, complete with master cylinder and lines. I plan on replacing all components, upgrading each one. For the steering, I will be replacing the box with a rack and pinion setup which will be both more precise as well as much lighter. The brakes will be a 4 pistons setup, likely manual, for much better stopping power. Before, my brakes could be downright scarey once the vacuum canister ran out of reserve, as it was time to put some serious muscle into the pedal at that point and start praying. I also began grinding down my welds from many years ago when I installed new floor pans. I want to retouch on them, por-15 the intior, then should be good to go. I'm not sure whether or not next summer would be a realistic goal for it to be back on the road or not, but it is the most realistic game plan I have had in many years. I need to start setting target dates to have certain portions of the project completed by. Those timelines are usually a waste anyways, as the dates will come and pass and the work won't be completed. I'll just play it by ear and hope for the best. In the mean time, don't expect a whole bunch of activity until fall rolls around, when upon this blog should really come to life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Full review of concept Camaro

Nothing real surprising from the review, the only question left is "Will GM build it?" Ironically, at the North American Autoshow this past January, I was initially more impressed with the concept Challenger. After the awe-factor resided though I realized something, the Challenger is cool in much the same way that Ford's GT is cool. It screams nostalgia, yet is hardly ground breaking in design. In fact, the Challenger is essentially a copy of my 1970 Challenger. The Camaro on the other hand took the classic lines of my 1969 Camaro, the meshed them with cutting edge lines a la Cadillac styling. The more I have seen the two in magazines, the more I have realized that I do in fact like the Camaro much better. So much so that it may be the first car I'd be willing to lay the cash down to buy new.

Auto news
MARK PHELAN: Exclusive Camaro test drive
GM needs this car to pump up excitement, sales
May 16, 2006
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Build it.
That's all I can say after 40 minutes driving the ravishing Chevrolet Camaro concept car around General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford.
The head-turning new sport coupe can't hit the road soon enough. GM has not officially decided it will build the Camaro, but the legendary car's powerful appeal, the adrenaline shot it will give Chevrolet and conversations with a number of GM executives are enough to convince me only a catastrophe will keep this car off the road.
You don't spend this much time nailing every detail -- from the growling rumble of the exhaust to the light and easy feel of the clutch pedal -- if you're not serious about a car.
And the Camaro is serious fun. Its unique design may set the tone for other Chevrolet cars, boost sales and add excitement to GM's most important brand.
The sensuous and threatening-looking coupe will be a welcome addition to Chevrolet showrooms. That was apparent even in the handle-with-care driving mandated by the fact that this is a show car, built for looks not speed.
Despite that, the Camaro felt very polished. The power steering is direct and responsive; the brakes are firm with good pedal feel, and the six-speed manual transmission was more precise than some production cars.
"We spent a lot of time on the sound of the exhaust," GM concept car engineer Kris Hess said as the Camaro's 400-horsepower V8 burbled to life on the test track in Oakland County for my drive. "We have a lot of performance fans on the team that did this car."
The concept's classic wasp-waisted shape, flared fenders and eager forward-leaning grille made the Camaro a hit when it debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
Camaro was introduced in 1966 as the answer to the Ford Mustang and went through several generations before production ended in 2002.
"We set out to capture the essence of the Camaro," said Tom Peters, who led the design team that created the concept in Studio X, a secret den below the design building at GM's technical center in Warren. The concept's styling borrows elements from the classic 1969 Camaro, the 2005 Corvette and the YF22 jet fighter's rounded cockpit.
Crowds packed Chevrolet's stand to admire the Camaro at the show, but almost nobody got close enough to see that the concept's interior is equally appealing and well executed.
The big, chrome-rimmed speedometer and tachometer perfectly complement round brushed-metal dials for climate and audio controls. Door and dash insets the color of burnished copper match the faces of four small rectangular gauges -- fuel, battery, oil and water -- set in the center console just ahead of a round aluminum shifter knob.
Even if everything goes flawlessly, the Camaro isn't likely to hit the streets before 2009, and the production model will not be identical to the concept.
There's no magic or sleight of hand involved in making the case for the Camaro.
The concept uses GM's new Zeta global architecture for rear-wheel-drive cars, which goes into production in Australia this summer and should form the basis for several big, powerful sedans and coupes in North America.
The Camaro's engine, transmission, brakes and most other major components are off-the-shelf technology, ready to run today, but ready to mate high-horsepower performance with 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway, GM said.
GM executives have told workers in at least two North American assembly plants -- Oshawa, Ontario, and Wilmington, Del. -- that they're in the running to build the Camaro.
So the decision to build it comes down to a few questions: Will people buy it? How can GM build it profitably? What will it cost?
GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told Automotive News that GM won't build the Camaro unless it can sell 100,000 a year.
To reach that goal, Chevy will have to offer a less-expensive V6 model in addition to the V8, said Jim Hall, vice president for industry analysis at the Southfield office of consultant AutoPacific.
Even then, it's unlikely Camaro could beat the popular Ford Mustang's $19,115 base price, he said.
The Zeta family of cars features an independent rear suspension, a more-expensive layout than the Mustang's trusty old live axle.
Nobody at GM will touch the price question, but it's clear Chevrolet doesn't need -- and probably couldn't sell -- another high-priced, low-volume image car. The Corvette fills that role beautifully.
Chevrolet accounts for around 60% of GM's annual sales in North America. Adding a couple of exciting and profitable cars to Chevy's lineup would go a long way toward curing what ails GM.
The stylish 2008 Malibu sedan -- unrecognizably different from today's mundane model -- set to debut next year may be the first of those cars. The Camaro could be the second.
Build it.

Contact MARK PHELAN at 313-222-6731 or

Monday, May 15, 2006

Writers test drive Concept Camaro

I wonder if we should inform this "auto critic" that the 69 Camaro has square gauges, not oval like the 67 & 68 Camaros.

Phelan to GM: Build the Camaro
May 15, 2006
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Mark Phelan was the first writer to drive the Chevrolet Camaro concept vehicle this morning at General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds.Here are his early impressions:It sounds even better than it looks and it looks exactly like a 21st century Camaro should.The 400 horsepower V8 has the bubbling note of authority a muscle car needs and the interior was an ingenious combination of comfortable modern materials and design touches, like the round aluminum shift knob and big circular speedometer and tachometer, that harken back to the classic 69 Camaro. GM hasn’t said if it will build the Chevy Camaro yet, but barring a catastrophe they will and it can’t get this sharply styled sports coupe on the market soon enough.Come back to Tuesday's Free Press for the full review.

Next Generation Camaro

Monday, May 01, 2006

Maintenance on old blue

This past weekend I had to change the water pump on my Formula. I headed on down to the Murray's in Mexicantown to pick up a new one. None of that remanufactured shit for me, I don't care if it comes with a lifetime warranty. Most lifetime warranty auto parts come with that warranty for a reason, since it's not as durable as a new part, they figure they should offer a lifetime warranty to help sell the product. I'm sure they realize that many people would eventually forget all about that warranty after a few years and get suckered into buying another reman part, to save money. Well, to my surprise, they were out of both new and reman water pumps. Yeah, that's right, the most plentiful engine in existence and my closest auto parts store didn't have one in stock. So off I was to the Autozone further up the road. I walked out with a brand new heavy duty water pump with roller bearings.

I have to say, the water pump change was pretty straight forward and way easier than I expected. At first glance I assumed I'd have to remove some of the other accessories to gain access. To my surprise, removal of the air intake hose was all that was needed. It took longer to get the bolts loose from the pulley than it did to actually remove it.

After the water pump was changed, I then decided to inspect why the hell the thing was running rough once again. Didn't take much inspection to find a few plug wires had found a quaint little resting space atop the manifolds and cooked themselves. I had a set of Taylor high performance 8 mm wires lying around that were in like new condition, so I cleaned them up and installed them. Problem fixed, as the miss was now gone.

I have some other maintenance I've been putting off on that car for awhile now. For one, the headlight motor on one side burned out months ago. I'm simply reluctant to drop $200 or so for a new one. I figure I'll first see whether or not it can be rebuilt first. I've also developed an exhaust leak where the intermediate pipe meets up to the y-pipe behind the cats. That will be a quick and easy fix....once I find the correct gasket and clamp. I think I'd be better off heading on up to the muffler garage a block or two away once the parts are off, as the auto parts stores would likely send me off with the wrong thing. While loud ass exhaust is the norm in my hood, I don't wanna be "that" neighbor quite yet, so I'll hold off on removing the exhaust and traveling to the parts store with open headers. Who am I kidding, I think I've already been labeled "that" guy.

As for the Camaro, well I haven't made a whole ton of progress, but I have removed the front brakes and steering. I have decided that the next big purchase will be a bolt-in rack and pinion setup for it. This will both lighten the front end as well as make the car handle better, not that it was bad by any means. The car is slammed to the ground, 1.5 inches of clearance to the oil pan, (yeah, that is somewhat of concern, especially when all sides are no ground off the drain plug from scraping) so the center of gravity is right on the money. I will address both the oil pan and ride height when the time comes. First off, there is no reason I should be running an oil pan that hangs below my crossmember. I'm lucky I haven't ripped the thing open on a pot hole by now. Secondly, the ride height is where it is because I bought the 2 inch drop springs, most you could get, for a small block chevy. Well once I switched over to a big block chevy, the added weight made it more like a 4.5-5 inch drop. In all honesty, it looks badass sitting that low, but for at the drag strip you obviously are hurting your launch. I suppose some adjustable drag shocks and springs are on the list as well. While I'd like some tubular a-arms, I simply can not justify dropping $800 on them. I'll have enough (like $2,000 or so) in the steering and braking.

I got my welder a few weeks ago, went with the Lincoln 140a unit. I still need to get a tank and cart, then that will be good to go. I'm not envisioning a whole lot of project this summer, simply because the house projects are going to have to take precedence. However, once fall rolls around this year, I will be more than set. Hopefully have the garage insulated and a heater or furnace installed by then. Tv is on the list as well as one of the last major items to finish the garage off.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Rediscovering the drive

Today marked the first day I have worked on my Camaro in my own garage with it in it's most complete state. It is now already to a level that I have furnished better than the garage down at my parent's place. Spending most of the day out there I found that I am rediscovering that drive that I haven't felt in a very long time. That drive that used to take me down to my parents most weekends in order to work on my cars. I think most of it had to do with having a comfortable work environment, as well as the convenience of having my own garage, not driving 1.5 hours like I was before.

Today I removed the remaining compenents from my brake system, including my line lock. I placed all the parts in the trunk for now, though they will likely get tossed in with the other parts I hang on to, though will likely NEVER use ever again.

Here are a few detailed shots, just to give you an idea of what the roll cage I had installed consists of. It is either a 10 or 12 point cage, depending on who you talk to. I've seen kits sold that also are sold as either or, so I'm not sure if it is technically a 12 point or not. Anyways, here are a few pictures. I should be updating this blog more often now, as I will likely be working on the car much more regularly.


Rear window



Door opening

Dash cross bar

Engine bay

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Torque vs Horsepower

I got into an email "discussion" with a friend the other day. It's one of those discussions that you are never going to win without concrete proof, in this case, a ride in a car. The topic was in regards to Chevy's continued use of larger displacement naturally aspirated engines vs Ford's modular supercharged design. My argument came down to the low end torque created by an engine and how it is so much more useful than the peak torque and peak horsepower you read about in car reviews.

I'll admit, it took awhile to convince even me that the Chevy 454 was anything more than a heavy boat anchor. In my early years of hotrodding, when I heard "454" I immediately had visions of the emissions years with low horsepower/torque ratings. Aside from the initial two years of the engine, my theory was fairly correct. As my knowledge grew however, I realized something of much greater significance, "horsepower potential." Maybe I'm a little bit old school in my line of thought, but I still envision "bigger is always better" when it comes to engine displacement. The bigger the bore, the bigger the torque.

My early years consisted of only small block Chevy knowledge. Then the day came when I purchased a 454. It was a 1974 emissions engine with all the emissions crap still on it. A later tear down would prove that it was completely stock aside from an aftermarket camshaft, a Comp cams piece with relative low lift, somewhere around .484 lift@.050. That engine replaced a small block that....well....kinda blew up so to speak. That particular engine made around 400 hp and ran a best of 13.1 at the track, though never made it back the following season with a new cam and heads that were ported more and flowed better, I assume I was well into the 12's that following year. The big block I got I did little to initially. I swapped on my 750 Edelbrock carb, installed headers, MSD ignition, and that's about it. Still ran the heavy ass EGR intake even with some of the emissions stuff just capped off. That engine ran a best of 13.3 in the 1/4 mile. That was my first taste of the raw torque a big block makes. I was sold, as with very little work these big blocks could be made into real stump pullers.

My Challenger, while it wasn't a real speed demon, probably is about a high 13-low 14 second car, yet I see the potential to making it faster. While it displaces only 383 cubic inches, which is smaller than some small blocks out there. It's advantage is that it shares the same size bore, 4.25 inches, as a 454 big block chevy. Combine that with the short stroke it has and you have a relatively high revving engine with good low end torque.

I love how people try to compare a small displacement engine with a blower on top to a larger displacement naturally aspirated engine as if it is apples to apples. Newsflash, for $3,000 or so you can get a blower kit for most any new tech engine. With the larger displacement engine with good flowing heads, the increase in power from the boost should be exponentially greater than their smaller displacement competition. So it's not comparing apples to apples if you ask me.

Now not to say that I won't build another small block sometime down the road. A big block for my daily driver isn't exactly practical given my 30 mile or so commute to work. I wouldn't write off my 69 Camaro one day seeing another small block either, in an effort to run some sort of top speed racing or closed course racing such as the Pony Express ran out west. In those scenarios a high revving small block is the more ideal choice. If I just wanna go fast in a straight line, the big block will ALWAYS be the one to win my heart over.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

2006 Autorama pictures

I posted a bunch of pictures from this year's Autorama on my Flickr page. They are within the "Cars" folder. I also have a folder titled "My Cars" which include my cars obviously. I will try to add more pictures as well as the progress as my projects begin to take shape. I'll add a link in the tool bar.

Car Pictures

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

2010 Camaro one step closer to reality

The Camaro is now one step closer to making a come back pending a vote by the CAW approving flexible manufacturing.

Camaro on verge of revival

CAW vote this week is next step toward GM's 2010 goal

March 7, 2006



Just weeks after it thrilled crowds at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Chevrolet Camaro will take a giant step closer to production if workers at General Motors' plants in Oshawa, Ontario, approve a new flexible manufacturing system this week.

GM hopes to have the Camaro and other members of its new rear-wheel-drive family of cars in production by 2010. The automaker wants to reignite enthusiasm in Chevrolet by cashing in on Camaro's heritage of affordable style and performance.

"The Camaro program is on a very good track," said a knowledgeable GM person, who requested anonymity because the company has not publicly announced it will build the car. "Things are looking good."

The stunning V8 Camaro concept was the undisputed hit of the auto show, drawing praise for its combination of futuristic design touches and retro cues that recall the legendary muscle car. It was a mainstay of Chevrolet's lineup from 1967 until it went out of production in 2002, a victim of slow sales.

GM is betting that plenty of life remains in the public's appetite for muscle cars, given the popularity of the new Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger.

Karl Scheffy, 52, a store owner from Macungie, Pa., who is cofounder and president of the American Camaro Association, recalled Monday that "as soon as I saw that thing roll down the line" at the auto show, "I said, 'Oh, my word.' "

GM will invest $710 million to build the Camaro and other members of a new family of high-performance rear-wheel-drive cars in Oshawa if the Canadian Auto Workers agree to the deal. The CAW local told its members that GM plants in the United States are also in the running to build the cars.

GM currently has two car assembly plants with about 5,600 workers in Oshawa. One plant is scheduled to close in 2008, and the second could close in 2009 without the new labor agreement.

"The plant will become a flexible manufacturing facility to build a number of models from the new rear-wheel-drive platform, including the Camaro," if the deal goes through, said a CAW person who requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing.

The flexible manufacturing system would allow the plant to build a wide variety of models, probably including two- and four-door models for Pontiac, Chevrolet and Buick.

The cars all come from GM's new global Zeta family of models. Engineers and designers are developing Zeta rear-wheel-drive sedans and coupes at the company's Australian tech center. The first of the cars, the Holden Commodore, goes on sale later this year in Australia.

Although the two-door Camaro would give Chevrolet a competitor for sport coupes like the Ford Mustang and Nissan 350Z, GM expects to sell larger numbers of several new sedans that reportedly will come from the Zeta family.

Those cars would give Buick, Pontiac and possibly Chevrolet prestige models that can compete on power and style with the Chrysler 300, which took the country by storm when it went on sale in 2004.

The program has not been officially approved by GM's board of directors, but that irreversible step isn't due until the company must begin paying suppliers for the equipment to build the new cars, probably sometime in 2007.

Neither the CAW nor GM will say anything about how many of the new cars Oshawa will be able to build, but the workers are voting on a proposal that includes provisions for a possible third shift in 2010. A third shift would be necessary only if demand for the cars were very strong.

Building the Camaro and other new cars would save more than 3,000 jobs in Oshawa, which was among the plants targeted for closure in GM's recent reorganization plan.

Contact MARK PHELAN at 313-222-6731 or Free Press business writer Michael Ellis contributed to this report.

Camaro on verge of revival

Sunday, March 05, 2006

2006 Detroit Autorama

I've been looking forward to this show for awhile now, it usually is the kick in the ass that gets me back wrenching on my cars, at least until the warm weather breaks out and summer arrives. This year wasn't the same, I can't really put a finger on what it was, but I think I've just come to the realization that I've seem most of it before. The high dollar engines aren't that impressive anymore, as more and more people seem to be installing them without blinking an eye. Hemi's are no longer a rarity amongst the Mopar crowd. Over in Chevyland, 502 cubic inches seems to be more of the standard than the long time king of the hill 454. I even managed to see the 502 EFI Ram Jet in a Chevelle Wagon. At first I thought that was the $17,000 engine, but later relized that was the ZL1 crate engine I was thinking of. This 502 was only a $10,000 engine....chump change.

I have to admit, looking through my pictures, there really was a lot of cool shit there. In fact, I'm enjoying the show more so the second time around looking through the pictures. I have to say that with each year the cars at the show get better and better. As recent as 5 years ago I spotted many cars that had real shitty paint jobs on them. So bad that they looked like a few $100 Maaco job. The standard seems to have been raised, as the quality any more is on par with what you would see in a museum, in fact, often exceeding museum paint jobs, as if a musuem is going for an original look, they would spend countless hours blocking, sanding, and wet sanding the car because thats not how there were original. As for original, you can shove that right up your ass. I have about 0 tolerance for all stock, all original rides. I mean come on, what's the point? Are you trying to prove you are a preservationist by keeping it just the way it rolled off the assembly line? Come on, documenting where the paint dots/marks were from factory so that you can put them in the appropriate places during restoration? Yeah, have fun with that, I'd rather be sending stone chips down the 1/4 panels of a fresh paint job. Within days my fresh paint job had stone chips because it rides so low. Within a week or two I had stress cracks in the pillars from stressing the body from the horsepower. When I dropped the big block in, those stress cracks found their way to all four pillars. Screw it, I was having fun. Since then I've had the car cut up and a full 12 point roll cage installed. That made some people sick, can't believe I cut such a nice car up. Well, it was either that or twist the car up even more when I built a more powerful engine.

Ok, so maybe Autorama did light a fire under my ass. Maybe my blood is warming up and the desire is growing. Today, the garage begins to get wired up. In following weeks I should have the garage in shape for the work to begin. I've been dragging my feet on this blog for awhile, that's because I simply haven't done any work. Well that's about to change.

It can't go without saying that my view of the concept Camaro from the North American Auto Show has changed significantly. Before I had said that the Challenger concept was top notch, that it invoked the type of passion that would get me to sell my original to replace it with the new version. Well, while I still totally dig the Challenger, I'm starting to give the nod to the Camaro. Why the change of heart? Well, after seeing it on the cover of most every car magazine these past few months, as well as seeing it in a color other than the silver they had at the show, it's grown on me. Yesterday they had the red version of the car at the Detroit Autorama. They did a great job capturing the body lines of the classic 69, though giving the car an updated appearance. At first I didn't like the Cadillac edginess they added, but now I find it fuckin' awesome! The Challenger is basically a 1970 Challenger that was refined. While still sweet looking, you're only gonna appeal to the crowd that liked the old cars. The Camaro on the other hand has razor edge body lines that will appeal to a larger crowd. I can only hope they have the cajones to build this baby, as it could possibly be enough to do something I said I'd never do, buy a brand new car of the lot.