Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dad and his Challenger R/T

My dad just gave me a call, as he sits home recovering from a recent surgery. He called to inform me that the Challenger he bought from this guy recently was actually an R/T. He stated this sarcastically, as I was the guy he bought it from, and I knew it was a real R/T before I had ever bought it. He had just received his latest Mopar Muscle Magazine in the mail, one of his Christmas presents I got him this year. In fact, all his presents this year revolved around the Mopar he purchased from me.

For many who get into cars, they often have their dad to thank. Yet for me, it was the other way around, I got my dad interested. When I turned 16 (back in 1992), my first car I got was a 1989 Pontiac Firebird, equipped with a 305 and 5 speed transmission. The car was a blast, and my dad often borrowed it to run to town. At the time, my dad drove like an 84 1/2 Ford Escort with a 4 cylinder and 5 speed transmission, a far cry from anything sporty. My car instilled a desire for him to own something sporty, and two years later he put in an order for a 1995 Pontiac Formula. Equipped with the LT1 and a 6 speed manual, it would run circles around my car, with it's extra 100 hp and gobs of torque. My dad loved his car, but he loved it just as it was and found no need to change a thing.

Dad's 1995 Pontiac Formula

After returning from college my freshman year, I got insurance on my Firebird which I had stored at home while away at college. I had done some minor modifications over the winter months, such as an aftermarket ignition system, bypass of the emissions air pump, new plugs, wires, cap/rotar, PROM, as well as some fuel system modifications. I was anxious to try out how the car performed. I was seriously impressed, as was my dad, but the fun was short lived. While out for a drive in the country, a driver failed to stop for a stop sign. I t-boned the Ford LTD and that was the end for that car.


I became a gearhead about the time I first got behind the wheel. Stock was never good enough, I needed louder, faster, better handling, and more power. So even though I first got my feet wet with a fuel injected car, I wanted to take a step back, back to a time when cars were simpler. When cars were built so you had room to work on them, and an aftermarket full of performance parts spanned decades, as opposed to years. I soon had my heart set on the 1969 Camaro, and within a few weeks of searching, drove one home. The car no more than was parked in the garage and I was on the phone with Summit Racing Equipment. For whatever reason, perhaps my dad felt threatened by the potential of not having the fastest car in the house, but he too began ordering up parts.

My replacement, my 1969 Camaro at Camarofest in Ann Arbor

It was never really a competition, as our cars were very comparable for many years acceleration-wise. After I got my Camaro, my dad ordered rims/tires, 4.10 gears, a stud girdle for the rear end, a hurst (or perhaps B & M) shifter, cold air K & N intake, voltage booster, air foil, and probably a few other bolt-ons I'm forgetting. He was doing a good job of putting up a good fight, though a few years down the road I would put a good whoopin' on him when we lined up at the dragstrip for the first time. I got that video around here somewhere. I had moved on from small blocks to a big block by this time, packing 513 hp, I pulled him by a car length off the line and continued pulling away the rest of the 1/4. I was running 11.70's while he was in my rear view mirror running high 13's. :)

Back to the phone call, this is the first time my dad has called me in regards to the car in which he seemed to possess an interest in it. He has always dug old cars, and he really thought my Challenger R/T was sharp when I bought it, against both he and my moms advise. In fact, I believe there was some sort of threat that I wouldn't be storing it in their garage come winter, a threat that was erased when I dropped it off to them early that fall and told them to drive it around and have fun. I hope that the magazines, along with the books, light a fire under him to continue the project I started on the car. He now fully admits that I was right about the car's value, that prices are soaring towards $100,000 at an unbelievable rate.

My dad was actually aware of many of the parts, specifically body parts, that are now available for the car. He even inquired about the rear suspension, questioning why it sat so low. He was unaware that the front simply needed to be lowered to match, then it would look right. The car is gonna have one wicked stance when it's all said and done. Here is a comparison of how low it sits next to my Formula.

Look at the rear bumper and tail light heights compared to each other.

This isn't the first Mopar my dad has owned. He bought a brand new 1973 Charger SE with a 400 big block and automatic transmission. He loved this car, as it was his first car he bought new, and only car with some power he had prior to his 1995 Formula.

His 1970 Challenger R/T, awaiting it's full restoration.

Life sometimes comes full circle, as I bought another 1989 Pontiac Firebird a few years back. This time I searched for a Formula model, the lightest/fastest model offered.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Greetings. SuperSport asked me if I’d be interested in contributing to his Automotive blog (mainly because he isn’t getting ANY work done on his cars and won’t for many years to come) so here is my first post. Let me start off by saying I’m a Ford fan at heart, but I have love in my heart for all musclecars. I’m actually a pretty big Mopar fan and my next musclecar will be a 1970 Coronet (I dig that crazy front end).

Anyway, I’m in the process of building a 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura (See Supersports post on my car in January 2007). An overly-square 1978 Fairmont Futura with that crazy quarter window you ask? Well when I graduated high school my dad bought me a 1978 Fairmont Futura with a 302, 5 speed, and suspension from a mustang GT. I loved that car. It was that car that made me really fall in love with wrenching on my car. I was working at Super Shops at the time and probably gave back 75% of my pay check due to the employee discount. That’s where my attraction for the Fairmont began, but that’s a story for another time.

Back to 2008, or 2002 when I got the car (Man has it been off the road that many years already?). I bought it because being the original Fox body car (it came out a year before the Fox body Mustangs which appeared in 1979) every suspension/drivetrain part will interchange with a Mustang up to 1994. Also it’s a fairly light car. Consumers Guide has it listed as 2580 lbs with the 2.3 liter 4 banger (A great little engine I might add). I’ll be honest, that number seems WAY too low, but I’d say it’s probably in the 2800lb range. From a hot rodders standpoint the Fox chassis is ideal because it is one of the easiest and cheapest to work on due to the healthy mustang aftermarket and huge following.

But the main reason for the Fairmont was because I wanted a cheap car to learn how to do various things like build a rollcage, spray a paint job, and mini-tub a car. I figured who would miss a 1978 Fairmont? I bought the car in Florida for $1100 and spent $500 shipping it to Michigan (today I’d spend probably $3000 getting a car in similar condition). But as time went on I decided that this was not going to be a “learning experiment”. I have spent a lot of time redoing some of those failed learning experiments and redoing things I decided I could do better a better way. Let me translate that for you, I love the car.

Anyway, I just completed a 2 year process of mini-tubbing the car. No it was not so much work that it took me 2 years to complete it, I’m just pretty busy and the Fairmont ends up taking a backseat to a lot of other projects. Plus I was in a bad motorcycle accident last April and have not done much work for the past year. But I’ll stop with the excuses. I’m charged up and plan to make significant progress on the car this year.

New Author added

Per my friend's request, I have added him on as an author. His name is Wes and I have featured his car in the past. He is the guy building the Prostreet 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura, which I recently mentioned has made significant progress since last featured. He hopes to give frequent updates and pictures following his project until it hits the streets.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

1985 Pontiac Trans Am goes home

Here is the finished product. Deep black with a mirror finish, I can't wait to see the car in person. Future restoration/modifications include some upholstery work and as well as new rims/tires.

Monday, January 21, 2008

2008 North American International Auto Show Coverage

This year's North American International Auto Show was different. Different in a way that probably goes to show what direction the auto industry is headed, and that is one that is much greener, and much more efficient.

Nearly every auto maker had their version of environmentally friendly, higher mileage vehicles. Many were exhibiting what seems to be the next big hybrid version, plug-in cars. Whether or not the typically smaller, more efficient cars are your cup of tea is up to you. I can say this however, as opposed to past years where hybrids looked, well, a bit funky...or perhaps just plain ugly would be a better term, this year seemed to be one in which style entered the fray.

While these cars are environmentally friendly, they didn't sacrifice their styling. Perhaps one of the first to shake this stereotype was first displayed last year, Chevy's Volt. This was the first hybrid in which my first impression was "Damn, I'd drive that!" Many more followed the lead this year.

As you may have picked up on by now, I'm not a big fan of import cars...period. Doesn't matter to me if they are Japanese, or Europes most high dollar exotics, they don't do much for me. Several hundred thousand dollar Ferraris? No thanks, give me the hundred thousand dollar 2009 ZR1, which should be the Vette that is able to outperform the best in the world.

Well, before I go off on a tangent, let's get looking at the cars. Here are several dozen from the show, with a link at the end to all of the 185 or so pictures I took, enjoy!

Here is the Storm Trooper Avenger by Dodge, which I gotta say, looked pretty wicked in my book.

The Dodge Calibur. I'll admit, I didn't care much for this car when it first came out, but it grew on me. Now they have the SRT-4 version that bumps up the power. Reminds me of the penny racer toys from back in the day.

The Dodge Viper SRT-10: Doesn't really need an intro, does it?

The Hyundai Genesis concept. It's cars like these that are slowly changing my opinion on foreign styling. Anybody else see the last generation Mustang styling in the grill and headlights?

The Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500KR, one badass pony!

Here is the 2009 Dodge Ram. Though not as apparent in the photo, there really were a lot of styling changes to the truck. While I like the revised front end, the rest of the body just seemed a little watered down from the current model.

The Chrysler Eco Voyager. Another sharp little hybrid car. I can't help but recall many years ago when my friend Jody sketched up a car and said "This is what cars of the future will look like," as this is it. Bubbly, arched countour, and that's about it.

The Ford Verve. Not that I'm a big Ford Focus fan or anything, but I was still disappointed with last year's display of the new Ford Focus. To me, it looked too much like the current Ford Focus. As soon as I saw this Ford Verve, I thought THIS is what the new Ford Focus should look like. Hopefully Ford has this car on the fast track to production.

The Ford Explorer Concept. Another homerun for Ford! I love the styling, as well as the Star Trek looking interior. You can't see it, but there was a bubble like thing on the dash that looked like something off the USS Enterprise. "Beam me up Scotty!"

The 2009 Ford F150. Much like the Dodge Ram, it just looks a bit watered down to me. I like the current version better. The Dodge front end looks better too, this one just looks too damn busy or something, and the grill is way too big compared to the headlights.

The Lincoln MKT. I think they were trying to build off the boxiness of the Chysler 300C, which looks both sexy and luxurious. This however does not, as the ass end looks fat and the front end too square, boxiness to the extreme!

The Lincoln MKS. I liked this Lincoln MUCH better!

Concepts like this one at the Mazda display always baffle me. There is cutting edge design, and then there is this, which I simply refer to as "retarded."

The Saturn Flextreme. Another bubbly/arched designed hybrid, one that doesn't do much for me.

The Buick Riviera Concept. Designed in China, quite possibly the best looking Buick ever!

The Pontiac G8. Think of it as the next generation GTO, though this time it has 4 doors. I talked to one of the lead designers from Australia about this car at last year's Detroit Autorama. He said that this car is amazing and blows the GTO away. Personally, I love it, but am glad they didn't try slapping "GTO" on the side of it.

The 2009 Corvette ZR1. The best of show in my opinion. The car that knows no limits, built to go against the best supercars the world has to offer, and all the while looking like a million bucks. It screams American, yet some how still emits European characteristics. With 620+ hp, this has already been labeled the fastest Chevy ever built.

The clear bubble on the hood allows you to see the intercooler on the engine below.

Here is the heart of the beast!

The Chevy Volt. While the car debuted as a concept last year, it is now headed for production. This, in my opinion, was the first hybrid to be designed in a stylish manner. Looks more sports car than green machine doesn't it?

The Dodge Caravan R/T...for that lead foot soccer momma! Viper red, big rims/tires, dual exhaust, hood scoop. Ok, can I ask why?

Nissan GT-R. Have to hand it to them, their 480 hp twin turbo V6 looks damn fine to me!

The Fisker Karma. Said to be the first luxuirous hybrid, a title I can't argue with. Priced at $80,000-$100,000 depending upon the options, it's set to come out next year.

The Cadillac CTS-V. Built to take on the best sedans in Europe, it's 550 hp should more than make it's point, Cadillac is back to reclaim their crown.

The Cadillac CTS Coupe Concept. A two door CTS with gorgeous body lines, all the right proportions, and Cadillac attitude? Even better.

Lexus Concept. Not sure what this concept was labled, but it looked sharp none the less. I especially like the tail end.

Chevy's 2009 Camaro. Still salivating over this baby!

Smart Fortwo...arguable. Say what they want in terms of safety, but put this car up against even your average size family car in an accident and you can guess who my money will be on.

Dodge's ZEO, yet another electric Hybrid that I would gladly slide behind the wheel of.

Isn't the Hummer fad over yet? They seem to keep shrinking it smaller and smaller, this one is much closer to Jeep proportions, believe it or not.

One wild ass Jeep roadster type concept. While perhaps not all that practical, it sure looks like it would be fun to hit the sand dunes on the west side of the state doesn't it?

Chevy Malibu Hybrid. Based upon the already popular new Malibu, this is the green version.

Here are the rest of my photos: 2008 North American International Auto Show