Tuesday, October 13, 2009

She will rise from the ashes in 2010

2010 looks to be the year my Camaro will once again see the road. Hard to believe it has been nearly a decade since I pulled her off the road. The plan was to have a 12 point roll cage installed, rebuild the engine, and be good to go in a few years...tops! Well, a few years quickly turn into nearly 10. A new garage, destined for my Camaro, soon becomes a parking spot for my fiancee (soon to be wife). In other words, the realities of life took over, and the Camaro became a much lower priority.

Now, with my fiancee with a full time teaching position, and myself just getting my 2 year anniversary raise, we are setting much better off. At the end of each month, I will now have extra money, money in which I can begin to purchase the parts I need. Yesterday, I ordered up a new set of tail lights. I cracked my old set when removing the battery kill switch. I went with the RS tail lights this time, as I've always liked the look of them.

I have assembled a complete list of "gotta have its" to get the Camaro back on the road. In order to fast track the reassembly, I have had to put a few things on hold, such as a beefier rearend able to handle all the new found power. I'll hold off on a sticky set of tires, and other than a few tire smoke shows, I should be able to milk another year outta my 12 bolt. The steering will be upgraded with an AGR box, and the brakes with an undetermined kit that will increase the stopping power. Aside from a front windshield, most all other parts needed are engine related. A good number of the engine parts I will hold off on until getting the engine to my machine shop, likely early next spring. If all goes as planned, a June-July appearance should be obtainable. I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed, by this time around, it's more than just a pipe dream.

Expect a greater number of posts in the coming months. Many will simply be updates on what parts I've ordered. By spring, expect more pictures and actual progress on putting the car back together. I have yet to decide whether I will assemble the car down at my parents house, as it currently resides at my grandma's next door to them. Or, the other option is trailering the car back up here and assembling it here. There are options with both locations, and I'm sure it'll end up being a partial assembly at one location, and the finishing touches at the other. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Test Drive: 2009 Challenger R/T

Yesterday, my fiancee and I took a trip up to the local Dodge dealership. The lease on her Dakota is about up, and we wanted to look at our options. Personally, I've been pushing for a Challenger, though she's always been a truck drivin' girl and I knew the deck was seriously stacked against me. Regardless, I was deadset on at least taking one out for a spin, to see what these new modern muscle cars were all about.

I let Melissa drive first, as it was after all her who was looking for a vehicle. After we went for a nice cruise, including an 80 mph trek on the freeway, it was my turn behind the wheel. As for my long time followers, you know my history. For those who don't, a quick run down of my automotive portfolio is as follows:

Learned to drive with a 1989 Pontiac Firebird w/305 - 5 speed. Next up was a 1969 Camaro w/350 350 auto w/manual valve body. This car later turned into a 454 powered car with a 400 auto w/manual valve body. This car pushed 513 hp and was good for 11.7's in the 1/4 mile. I also bought a 1970 Challenger w/383 and 4 speed pistol grip, while not nearly as fast as my Camaro, and a suspension so shot it was scary to take corners at even the posted speeds, it was still fun as hell to drive. I graduated from CMU's Industrial Tech program, concentrating on automotive design, working in the auto industry for 6.5 years, 2 of which was a stint at Ford Motor Company. So, needless to say, I have the credentials.

First off, let me just say that they did do a damn fine job with the Challenger! The exterior screams muscle car era in a way that the new Camaro and Mustang do not. That being said, it looks like a seriously overweight muscle car when compared to it's other two compadres. Tipping the scales at 4,100 lbs, it's a good 500 lbs heavier than the original. Behind the wheel, I could feel the extra heft. The car rode great, handles nicely, and has good acceleration, yet it lacks that seat of the pants/pin me back in the seat power that I have come to expect. On the freeway, punching the throttle quickly propelled the car to 100+ mph. Yet the acceleration occurred almost unnoticably, and without reaction on my part. While I didn't get an opportunity to really through the car around corners, I could tell that the extra weight would come into play while doing so.

I realize that the Camaro's weight isn't far off at 3,900 lbs, and imagine it's road manners would be much the same. I guess the best way to describe it is "The pony cars have turned into draft horses." While the Mustangs weight still hovers around 3,300 lbs, the Camaro and Challenger have turned into Chevelles and Coronets. This isn't all bad I suppose, as they were still muscle cars, and the new generations will STILL always be muscle cars. I guess what bothers me most is when the modern magazines write of the new Challenger and Camaro expecting sports car handling. Reality is, that was really never the intention of the muscle car, dating back 4 decades. Decent performance with massive power for straight line performance was the name of the game, and in all honesty, still is.

I enjoyed my drive in the Challenger R/T, and it's a helluva boulevard bruiser. If the new Camaro handles and drives much the same however, well, I think my focus will be getting my Camaro back on the road and then restoring my Formula, as I can get more of what I'm personally looking for out of both vehicles.