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.