Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dad's 1970 Challenger R/T

The Woodward Dream Cruise can really get one motivated to start a car project, or in many cases, finish them. My parents have been regulars at the Dream Cruise for almost as many years as I have. This year, after leaving the show, my mom decided to really start pushing my dad to finish up the Challenger I formerly owned. I've noticed my dad getting a little more serious over the past year or two, I figured it was just a matter of time before he finally said "Ok, let's get it down."

I am reposting an old entry, this time with the latest changes and direction we are heading. Stay tuned, as I'm told after the start of the year, this project will find it's feet. While my Camaro has plenty of finishing touches, many of which will take a good two years to finish, I already view it as a done project, with little more than upkeep and upgrads down the road. I'm anxious for a new project, though with what's left with my Camaro, a new project is a ways off for me. My dad's Challenger will fill that need, and the finished product will be one of the most badass Challenger R/T's on the road!

Below is the initial entry, this time with updates.

As some of you know, I owned a 1970 Challenger R/T a few years back. I picked it up for $6,000, running/driving with a solid body out of Arizona. I put about another $6,000 into the car, and then life changed. With the auto industry in a downward spiral back in 2006, I lost my job. Fortunately, after several attempts, I convinced my dad to buy my Challenger, as opposed to selling it outright. Every project car needs a solid game plan, and those plans get modified as time passes, and plenty of time has passed since I bought the car back in 2001, and it sat parked ever since fall of that same year. I'm lucky in respect that I'll still get to do a large portion of the work on my dad's Challenger, as well as almost all of the planning. The following is what has come from 10 years of planning.

Engine: My plans for the engine have varied greatly, and while most recently I had been leaning towards simply rebuilding the stock 383, I just wasn't satisfied with that. Honestly, I think my dad would appreciate something with a bit more punch as well. While the question remains as to whether we'll reuse the 383 block, we will go with either a stroker kit or crate engine from Muscle Motors Racing out of Lansing, Michigan. The end result will be a 500 cubic inch low deck that will pass as the original 383, a sleeper engine if you will. The engine will make in the ballpark of 550 hp and 600 ft/lbs of torque, all while keeping it's street manners.

Transmision: The 4 speed will be pulled out, and a complete 5 speed kit from an aftermarket company, bolt in ready, with everything we need will go in it's place. This follows the plan for best streetability possible, and allows for a little deeper rear gear, without sacrificing gas mileage. While gas mileage isn't the ultimate goal, I'd like the car to get 13-14 mpg highway.

Exhaust: A set of full length headers, flowmaster mufflers, and either factory dual exhaust tips, or a similiar aftermarket design.

Fuel: We were going to transplant my 750 Race Demon onto the Challenger, but the "GO BIGGER" approach with the engine will leave the 750 insufficient, so probably an 850 Holley will find it's way on top. A mechanical pump, new lines, regulator, and filter will round out the package.

Rear End: The car has an 8 3/4 rear, which should be plenty stout for our build. A gear swap, from the somewhat lethargic 3.23's to maybe a 3.55 or 3.73, new axles/bearings, and either a posi rebuild or new posi and we should be good to go.

Suspension/Steering: The rear suspension was completed while I still owned the car. I started out with custom leaf springs built by Eaton Spring in Detroit. They based the springs on a 440 spring, de-arched them, and I believe removed a leaf or two. This accomplishes about a 2 inch drop, which turned out perfect. I also installed poly bushings and Koni Shocks to complete the rear.

The front suspension is another story. I had pondered several different options and have finally concluded, there is really only one choice. Reilly Motorsports makes a complete bolt in front clip that includes tubular k-member, tubular a-arms, spindles, coil over shocks, sway bar, engine mounts, and rack and pinion steering. After much research, and talk with a few companies, I have concluded that sticking with the torsion bars would make it difficult to lower the front to the proper height to match the rear without sacrificing ride quality, and would require costly drop spindles. Also, header clearance is always a concern, and factor in the torsion bars, running exhaust would be a nightmare. Lastly, perhaps most importantly, your steering options are very limited for Mopars if you wish to stick with a steering box, so this upgrade to rack and pinion solves that concern. Lastly, this should drop a good 100-150 lbs off the front end, and when combined with the aluminum heads, should make the car much more nimble, and a great handling ride.

The package sells for $4,000, which isn't really that bad when you consider the alternative. Add up the price of tubular control arms, sway bar, torsion bars, new steering box, drop spindles, and you are probably going to be in the $2,500-$3,000 range, and be no where near the handling.

Brakes: 4 wheel disc brakes by Wilwood will be responsible for bringing the Mopar to a stop. I happen to like the feel of my Wilwood manual master cylinder, with stock front discs and rear drums. So, I would think a new set of biggers discs combined with larger clamping calipers would be plenty of stopping power, and not "junk up" the engine bay with a huge brake booster, or some other hydraulic assist setup.

Interior: The interior will remain mostly stock. The only exception will likely be the stereo, shifter, and front seats/seat belts.

Body/Paint: The body/paint is hard to plan out until we dig into it and see just how solid, or full of bondo it is. I will say I haven't seen anything to lead me to believe there is a lot of bondo in the car. The body will remain mostly stock, with perhaps a few exceptions such as welding up and smoothing some seams, getting rid of the wheel well trim, and maybe the emblems on the side of the car. I tend to like the clean/smooth look of not having a bunch of trim/emblems breaking up the body. One other addition may be a rear spoiler that came on the TA's, as I think it finishes off the rear of the car.

Electrical: The wiring kit is installed, and most things are wired up. It makes sense to move the battery to the trunk, to lighten the front and help traction. The interior gauges may need sent out, and a few repaired, as they weren't funcioning the last time the car ran. A new alternator, and mini-starter should be in the plans. An MSD box and MSD distributor will provide the spark.

Cooling: An auminum radiator, electric fans, and aluminum pump will round out the cooling.

Wheels/tires: To compliment the killer suspension, we need something better than the 14 inch factory magnum wheels fitted with dry rot tires. I'm not a big fan of these over the top rims/tires. In fact, I think they look downright stupid in most cases. I've kept an eye on what people are using, what I like, and what I cringe at. I have concluded that either 17-18 inches all the way around would look nice, with perhaps a 17 front/18 rear stagger, squeezing the biggest rim and tire that will fit.

First step, I hope to convince my dad to order up the whole front suspension clip,complete with brakes. This would allow us to knock out all of the front end work, leaving just the powertrain to deal with for the mechanics, and then the body/interior.

I'd really love to have this car completed for my parents by the time my mom retires, as dad is already there. I think they would really enjoy being able to take the Challenger on vacations, car shows around the country, and even just a long road trip. Stay tuned, as I'll be sure to report back on any progress once it starts.

Metro Detroit Car Shows & Cruises - September 2011

While I often view Woodward's Dream Cruise as the end of summer/cruise season, September has plenty to offer in Metro Detroit and throughout Michigan. Below is a listing of most of the upcoming shows.

Milan Mopar Day - September 3, 2011

All years, all Mopar makes of cas and trucks. Swap meet, car show, and drag racing. Gates open at 10 am, time trials at 11 am, with eliminations starting at 2 pm.

Frankenmuth Auto Fest - September 9, 10, 11, 2011

This is an awesome show! Though I haven't attended since my college days, over a decade ago, this is a top notch car show year after year. The setting couldn't be any more perfect, located in the downtown park, you drive across a wooden bridge to enter the show area. Parking is all on the grass throughout the park.

Greenfield Village Old Car Festival - September 10 & 11, 2011 (Open until 9 pm Saturday)

America's Longest Running Antique Car Show

This Old Car Festival weekend, take in the spectacle as the streets and grounds of Greenfield Village are filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of hundreds of authentic vehicles from the 1890s through 1932. Enjoy a self-guided tour through this fabulous expositions and talk to proud owners about their treasured vehicles. Watch drivers engage in games of skill, see a Model T assembled in just minutes, attend fascinating presentations, and sit back and enjoy our experts sharing "car talks" while vintage vehicles pass by.

In this 61st year of the Old Car Festival, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500 race.The history of American automobile racing is completely intertwined with the history of the American automobile industry. This will be an opportunity to see, and hear examples of early race cars.

Old Car Festival is free to members and free with Greenfield Village admission.

Downtown Tecumseh Classic Car and Bike Show - September 15, 2011

This car show takes place in the parking lot of United Bank and Trust, located at 205 E. Chicago Blvd. The show goes from 6pm-8pm, admission is free, and the first 200 registered get dash plaques.

NSRA Street Rod Nationals - September 16, 17, and 18, 2011

I've never made it to this event, though I have attended NSRA shows down south, and was very impressed. Back in the day, the shows I attended were only open to street rods believe. Now, the show is open to all vehicles from 1981 and older. These are the types of shows I'd like to attend more of in the future with my Camaro. Car shows at sprawling fairgrounds where you can set a canopy with chairs, bring a cooler, and have a semi-comfortable place to chill when you get tired of walking. This year, we have a wedding to attend, so we won't be making this show for sure.

Westland All American Cruise - September 24, 2011

With no additional information at this time, I'd be skeptical about this show. That said, it is being promoted by the same company who put on this year's Hines Drive cruise, which I heard from a friend was among his favorite shows he's attended. So if interested,I'd recommend contacting Don Nicholson either via email or at 734-658-5296.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Harper Ave Cruise - August 31, 2011

Harper Ave Cruise - August 31, 2011
This is one cruise that has completely slipped under my radar. It has apparently been going on now for 17 years. Breaking with tradition of weekend cruises, the Harper Ave cruise is always on a Wednesday from 5pm-9pm. The cruise travels Harper Ave from Old 8 mile to Bayside St. While I'm off this Wednesday, I'm not sure if I'll make it to the cruise, and I'm sticking to my guns with the Camaro remaining parked. I would like to go and check it out, and take some pictures. We'll see if that happens, as I wouldn't mind one last hurrah at a car show/cruise.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2011 Woodward Dream Cruise Pictures

The 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise will be one to remember. First and foremost, because the turnout was great! The majority of the cars cruising were either classics, or destined to be classics in the future. Traffic didn't seem quite as congested as years passed, even though turnout seemed higher than ever. I hit the cruise Friday evening, then returned early Saturday morning for a full least until the storm hit.

The storm was unlike anything I had experienced first hand while stuck outdoors. Listening to the advice of my mom and wife, my wife and I took our 9 month old daughter to my Camaro, parked within the show area. The only thing is, we didn't make it to the car before the storm hit hard.

I had been watching the radar on my phone, and for the most part, the storm was dying down as it approached, and seemed to be approaching at a snail's pace. By the time that last bit of red on the radar was about to hit, we headed to my car, even though things seemed calm aside from a light rain. As we were about half way to my Camaro, Mother Nature unleashed her full fury upon us, and the three of us took shelter in the men's restroom near the ballpark. My parents, along with my neighbors, had remained with the chairs, still watching the cruise, expecting little more than a light rain. What actually hit was a torrential downpour, lightning, and winds that were likely 60-70 mph.

After the worst had passed, my concerned mom called, crying. Seems that multiple 40-50 foot trees had fallen throughout the park, one of which was lying across the path we walked. Somebody up above was looking out for us today, as this monster of a tree would have taken us out had we been just a few seconds later. I've included a few post-storm pictures at the end.

As for the show, as I said, it was the best show in years, and my internal clock is already counting down until next year. As for how my Camaro did, that's for another entry, as I have plenty of concerns to sort out in the off season, and I have decided that for me, the off season started with the conclusion of Woodward. Now, enjoy the pictures, and stay tuned for more wrenching and modifications over the coming months.


Shined and ready to show, one last time for the year.


This orange looked sweet on the Firebird.


This Lingenfelter Camaro took some old styling from the 69 Camaro, and applied them to the new Camaro. After some careful review, I determined I liked it, other than the chin spoiler in the front, which was a bit much.


I'm by no means a big Thunderbird fan, but this car was extremely nice!


The Bird's engine.


The original Boss.


A 1948 Desoto. I had a nice chat with the old guy who owned it, and also mentioned the 1951 that sits nearby me.


A coworker's Cutlass.


Couple of Classic Fords.


Pair of Mopars.


Always loved this generation. Sexiest Vettes ever built in my opinion.


Karmann Ghia drag car. I always liked the styling of these.



Another Ghia.


Nice Olds.


Nice Cuda.


I love this rod, even though the flames look outta the late 80's/early 90's.


Surfs up.


Just when you thought you've seen it all at Woodward, here comes a monster of a street rod, powered by a Caterpillar engine.



I didn't realize Plymouth ever built trucks.





Here is the monster of a tree that fell across the path we walked, probably just seconds after we passed by.



I can't remember the last cruise where it DIDN'T rain. While we were among the last to leave the show area, the storm didn't dampen our spirits, as we all had a fun time and look forward to next year. As we headed out, cruisers and spectators were already returning to the street/sidewalks to get a few more hours in.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Steve McQueen - Bullitt Car Chase Scene

Steve McQueen - Bullitt

Without a doubt, the best car chase ever to hit the big screen. This scene had been tucked away in the back of my mind, nearly forgot, until a coworker brought up the scene. While I own the DVD, I have not watched the scene in quite a few years. I had forgot just how damn good it is! If you've never seen it before, pop up some popcorn, dim the lights, and sit back for one of the most enjoyable car movie clips ever.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vinsetta Garage to become Restaurant

The historic Vinsetta Garage is set to make a come back. The days of classic cars rolling into the shop in preparation of the Woodward Dream Cruise, or cruise season in general, are long gone however. Back in December 2010 I reported that Vinsetta Garage had closed it's doors. Now, the garage is set to get a new life as a restaurant. The exterior will be preserved, maintaining the look of a classic garage. The interior however will be gutted, and turned into a restaurant. The food looks to tie into the type of atmosphere, and allow the place to become a destination restaurant.

While I was sad to see the historic garage close, and those neon lights turned off, I'm glad to heard that those vintage neons will be humming again soon, and gives a place a well deserved second life.

Crain's Detroit Business reports Vinsetta Garage to become restaurant

Dodge Ram Burnout - Crash

"Did I pop a tire? Is that what happened?"

No dude, you simply lack the skills to drive and hit a tree. I can't wait to hear you explain to your dad how you wrecked his truck.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mike Harrah and his Detroit Diesel V24 topped with 12 Blowers and 8 Nitrous Bottles.

This engine/semi truck project was featured in Hot Rod September 2011. Words can't even begin to express how over the top this engine is. It goes above and beyond anything I'd ever dream up. Dyno results proved the monster made 3,424 hp, and I'm sure enough torque to tow a small town.

2011 Woodward Dream Cruise - August 20, 2011

Just a friendly reminder, the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise takes place this coming Saturday, August 20, 2011. Unofficially, Dream Cruise week is already under way, with the number of cruising classics increasing each day leading up to Saturday. I may be able to make it up there Friday night, though won't know until later in the week. Saturday is a given, I will be there for sure, bright and early at the crack of dawn! Stay tuned for my complete coverage with pictures from this year's cruise.

2011 Woodward Dream Cruise

New Autolite Spark Plugs Are Installed.

I finished installing the new Autolite plugs yesterday, and had hoped that they would be the solution to my ongoing engine miss problem. While there is still a noticeable engine miss present on the highway, these plugs did seem to improve drivability. The biggest difference is the new plugs reach significantly further into the combustion chamber. I was lucky in the sense that the plug length proved to be the same as the Accel shorty plugs they replaced. I've never had a plug that was so difficult to gap. I had to use an old school spark plug gap gauge in order to set the gap, and it got all bent to hell in the process. These electrodes are seriously stiff, and took many attempts to increase the gap to .055 as recommended by MSD. I was skeptical of opening the gap that far, considering these plugs are labeled as "race plugs" and came gapped .020. I was half tempted to install them as is and see how they worked.

As far as the miss, I'm calling it quits for this season. Woodward Avenue is less than a week away, and effectively signals the end of cruise season to me. I will still likely hit a few cruises here and there, but with my wife back teaching this week, I don't anticipate hitting more than a couple. One in particular I'd like to make is in Blissfield, MI, down near where I grew up. It's a once a month cruise on the first (I think) Thursday of each month, and goes through October. I feel that my car is up to par for such a trip, which will be a little over an hour. I would venture to guess that with my engine tuned better than ever, I'll probably knock down better than my previous best of 6 mpg highway, maybe even hit 7 mpg!

Looking ahead to this winter, I plan on keeping my car here this year, as opposed to storing it at my parents and allowing me to park my daily driver in the garage during the snow season. I have chosen this route in order to finish up the many little things I have left to do on the car, and hopefully, finish the upgrades needed in order to take it to the race track. As for the interior, I need to install sound mat, carpet, dash cluster, headliner, and a stereo system, all of which will be relatively inexpensive. Outside the car, my wish list to complete by next year includes custom headers, possibly new mufflers, and tail pipes over the axle. The exhaust system is almost a necessity, as the headers are already taking their toll on a few spark plug boots, and I'm sure the heat is also doing a good job cooking my power steering fluid due to the closeness to the steering box. So, as you can see, the exhaust is torward the top of my list.

Next, I plan on buying a new Victor Jr intake, as I fear my gasket matching from over a decade ago may in fact be causing an insufficient seal to the heads, possibly causing the engine miss. I would also like to replace my 750 Race Demon with a Holley rated at 850-900 cfm, as I'm a bit under carbed for what I built.

I may upgrade the fuel system a bit, while sticking with a mechanical pump, possibly a new gas tank with sump, and pressure regulator complete with gauge. With some many attempts on solving this engine miss, I'm no longer confident that the fuel pump that doesn't require a pressure regulator could also be causing my issues via too much or too little fuel pressure. Until I can absolutely rule everything out, I'll consider anything that could cause the problem.

With all the above taken car of, all that's left is a Ford 9 inch rear end, drive shaft, and safety equipment, such as 5 point harnesses (possibly race seats), window net, and to install the kill switch for the battery. I may also rewire the car, which is hardly intimidating having already done it once. I'm a little concerned over a few electrical gremlins and for $180, it would put my mind at ease rewiring things.

That is about it. If I can accomplish everything on that list above, I think I would be ready to race come next season. Obviously, all those fixes don't come cheap, with the most expensive being the Ford 9 inch, which will set me back about $3,000. That said, aside from the 9 inch, and the new carb, the rest of the list is relatively inexpensive, just a lot of "nickel and dime" stuff, in the form of $200 and less. I will say this much, I will only tackle one project at a time, as there is no way in hell I'm going to have it off the road come early next spring. I want to be able to take it out for a drive on that first nice 50 degree day we get, even if it's in February.

Not to sound like the cruise season is over, as we got the Grand-daddy of them all come next Saturday. I had thumbed through the latest Jeg's issue early tonight, cover to cover, trying to list everything I would possibly need to go racing, and start mapping out this year's off season fixes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Correct spark plugs for AFR Big Block Chevy heads.

I've been battling this mystery miss with this engine since my Camaro hit the road last fall. While I've managed to tune the carb many times, often getting better results each time, I have never been able to rid myself of the annoying miss. That all should change in a few days.

Dumbfounded, I questioned what is left to try? In my mind, the spark plugs were one of the few, if not THE only variable left that could be causing the problem. I turned to the net, to see just what was recommended for my AFR heads. The first site that came up was from AFR's FAQ page for big block Chevy heads. Considering I've been battling this miss since last year, it should come as no surprise that one of the last variables I'm down to appears to be the solution.

The first line regarding spark plugs states "All AFR BBC heads accept spark plugs with a flat gasket seat and washer (not the tapered seat style) and a .750 long reach." Having bought a second set off the shorty Accel plugs, I didn't even have to remove one from the engine to confirm my suspicions, as the Accel plugs were in fact tapered.

Without a proper seat, these plugs likely have been causing numerous problems. A lean condition, the occasional backfire at idle, caused by an exhaust leak, not from the headers, but from the plugs, something I hadn't considered. The engine miss going down the road is almost without a doubt caused by these incorrect plugs. During my couple test drives today, with everything else seemingly spot on, I had already raised an eyebrow at the only took me a year!

I called the local parts store, though doubted they would have the plugs in stock, since they are a race plug. I wanted to pull the guy through the phone when he asked "what year car is it for?" I had already gave him the part number I was inquiring about, and when he found it, they would have to come from the warehouse and it would be on Saturday. Saturday would be fine, though I figured I may as well order a set of header gaskets, since I've removed the passenger side header just enough to remove the plug a few times now. I'm pressing my luck, and the last thing I want to listen to is a header leak ticking away.

I logged into Jeg's, found the Autolite AR-3935 plugs that AFR recommended, a set of AFR header gaskets, and checked out. The parts will likely get here on Saturday, and by the end of the weekend or early next week, my car should be running better than ever, and engine miss free!

50 horsepower in hiding, idle nailed down, cooling awesome, throttle response amazing!

This morning was unusually cool, compared to the heat wave we've been battling most of this summer. I took advantage of the 70 degree temps and headed to the garage. My plan? To try and hunt down the demon causing my engine miss. Having picked up yet another carb rebuild kit, as it was cheaper than piecing together the few parts I needed, swapping jets was first on the list.

I went two jet sizes smaller on both the primaries and secondaries. I fired up the engine to make sure it was leak free, then adjusted the idle down a bit, as the rpm's were getting out of hand. Next, I adjusted the idle mixture screws, as the engine still seemed a bit rich, judging by my burning eyes. Lastly, I gave the distributor a slight twist, advancing the timing an unknown amount from the 32 degrees I had it at. At that point, I took her for a spin around the neighborhood followed up by a short cruise on the freeway to downtown Detroit.

The engine miss was still there, though I could tell that overall, the tune was much better than before. As I pulled into the garage and shut off the engine, the engine wasn't ready to die just yet, and sputtered a bit. As I said, my timing advance was a shot in the dark, and it appeared to be a bit too much, and when combined with the idle that was still too high, it created a run-on situation.

Next up, I got out the timing light to nail down total advance in timing that wasn't guess work. The guessed total advance was 40 degrees, just a tad higher than what I was shooting for. I backed the timing down to 38 degrees, which comes in immediately due to how I have set up the MSD pro billet distributor. I then backed down the idle a bit more, and leaned all four idle mixture screw about an 1/8th turn more. This seemed to smooth things out and lower the idle in both drive and park to more acceptable idles. I also adjusted the electric fan thermostat so that the fans come on when the thermostat opens at about 195 degrees. This will prevent an un-needed pull on the alternator from 4 fans running when they weren't needed. I was off for another road test!

I think this tune-up pretty much nailed it! It feels like I found an extra 50 hp with this tune. The throttle response is unbelievable, off idle, as well as from a roll. The idle characteristics are much more well behaved, jumping between about 800-1,000 rpm's, and negating the need to two-foot it at stop lights. The backfires at idle were non-existant, and aside from one "cough" through the carb after I jumped on the throttle a few times, my issues seem solved. I think the carb cough may be attributed to the float levels, which may need to be raised just a hair.

As for the engine miss? Well, it still seems to be there, though it is nowhere near as rough as it was. The engine seems to be running smoother than it has ever ran before. As for the engine miss that is still present, I'm really beginning to feel at this point it may be the Accel spark plugs. Searching the net, I haven't found too many people who have had too many nice things to say about them, other than their shorty design allows the much needed clearance some of us need. I did read that AC Delco's rapid fire plugs are slightly shorter than stock plugs, and I think Bosch and NGK also may make shorty plugs worth giving a shot. In their defense, the fact that I've had some serious tuning issues may have attributed to fouling out a plug or two, and have lead to an early demise. Last time I bought new plugs I bought 135 degree Taylor wires, which allowed some additional clearance, and perhaps enough to allow me to go back to standard plugs. At the time, I wanted to try everything possible to gain as much clearance as possible.

Next up, I think I'll run down the valve lash one last time, and she'll be good to go for the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise. So ready, that I may even cruise a bit this year, that's how confident I am with this tune. After a lot of headaches, burning eyes, or numerous attempts, this engine is finally getting to the streetable level I had envisioned with this build. Who said 700 hp can't be streetable? Toss on my 250 hp nitrous kit and I'm knocking on nearly 1,000 hp, probably 9 second car, which I'm growing comfortable with the thought of driving a couple hours away. Life is good.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A car that'll make a grown man giggle like a school girl

Last Friday, after hitting a local car cruise, I stopped by an old friend's house. This friend and I go way back, all the way to high school. Though he was a few grades ahead of me, he had a passion for cars (and trucks) which would inevitably cause us to become not only good friends, but also lear us into careers, and later former careers for both of us, in the auto industry working with the Big 3. While neither one of us miss the industry, we are both still passionate about everything hot rod.

My friend had yet to ride in my Camaro since my latest reincarnation of it. Without hesitation, I told him "hop in," and we hit the road. With camera or camera phone in hand, my friend made a couple of short 7-10 second videos. The one that makes me laugh the most however, is the video where he laughs uncontrollably after a tire squealing launch.

I'm sure the same reaction could have been recorded back in the 1990's when we took one of many "test drives" in his 1969 Dodge D100 pickup, packing a stroked 383 (I think to a 426) with tunnel ram jumping out of the engine bay. I'm not sure of the engine specs all were, but without a doubt it was a good 450-500 hp engine, and the fastest thing I ever rode in at that time. The difference with that ride, is the young man giggling like a school girl would have been me.

I still have that passion, and the rediculously amount of horses my car is producing still makes me giggle, laugh, smile, and even swear now and then. As this engine was neary completion, I began to question whether or not I went too far this time around, whether or not it would still be enjoyable. With my 80 mile cruise around Metro Detroit a few nights ago, I can say without a doubt, I did it right, and next time, I'll probably go bigger, go blower, or go turbo. Either way, I'm sure I'll push things a little further, and smile a little larger.

Unfortunately, the format doesn't seem to allow me to easily load the video onto my blog, so you'll have to visit it where it was posted on my wall on Facebook below. Make sure you "like" the page after you stop in. The video with "the laugh" is the 10 second video a little ways down the page.

Facebook Motor City Muscle

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Cruisin' Woodward

I wasn't going to let the weather and poor turnout at the Mount Clemens show rain on my parade. As I walked the show, I had already decided, after leaving I would take 16 mile west until I hit Woodward.

I wouldn't say that all my fixes this morning were in haste, as it did seem more streetable, even if it was also running rougher and missing perhaps even more than before. I know, that hardly makes sense eh? On the freeway, the engine temp stayed around 190 for most of my 30 mile trip up there, and slowly crept up to about 205 as I got close to Mount Clemens. I attribute this to the rpm's, and think a water pump underdrive pulley may be necessary.

As I left the show, I headed towards Woodward, a 20 mile or so trip in mostly 45 mph zones with frequent stop lights. This trip, along with my trek down Woodward to downtown, amounted to about 80 miles including my trip up. It was arguably my most enjoyable outing this year. Not for the car show, simply because it put my mind at ease in regards to whether this 700 hp engine would survive extreme situations. Granted, it was only about 80 degrees out, I was very happy to see that engine temps in slow traffic, and even bumper to bumper dead stop traffic, stayed right at 190 degrees, and that's with a 195 thermostat! As I have stated before, my charging problems were resolved with my new alternator, so that's no longer an issue.

A more recent concern was what seemed to be a slipping transmission when going into 2nd gear. I was able to test out various situations during my cruising, and concluded, the apparent slippage I believe is due to my 4,200 stall 10 inch convertor. When the rpm's are above 3,000 rpm's, it still hits 2nd hard, squawking the tires. So I believe that concern is a mute point. When in doubt, take it to the race track, and see if it holds up! LOL Perhaps next year.

It's amazing how much you forget when your car stays parked for nearly a pieces. Many of my issues have honestly been due to knowledge I've simply forget. Slowly, it's coming back to me, including the more obvious stuff, like the vent lever in the kick panel I discovered tonight, which was a relief considering I was sweatin' my ass off on this trip. I'm also finally getting over reaching down to turn on my stereo, which I have yet to install.

As for my engine miss? First I'm going to read a few plugs, and likely lean it back out at least the 3 jet sizes, if not more. Secondly, a change I had forgot I even made, is I'm going to swap the stock power valves back in. The idea popped in my head while cruising, I had gone with a significantly lower set of power valves when I thought they were causing my overly rich engine idle...which proved to be a bad needle and seat. I'm thinking now that perhaps those power valves are actually what are causing my engine miss traveling down the road. The only way to tell will be to swap the old ones back in and see what happens.

The only other idea in my head is possibly the timing. At 32 degrees, it may be a little bit low. Back at CMU during my college days, I found that my last engine build made the most power at 32 degrees total advance, so that is what I went with this time. Searching the net, it seems that everybody with builds close to mine is closer to 37-40 degrees timing. I need to go down in jet size regardless, but perhaps before even doing that I'll bump that timing up and see what happens. I'd really like to get this miss resolved before the end of cruise season, and before I head up to Woodward in a few weeks.

With Woodward Dream Cruise quickly approaching, to me, it signals the end of the cruise season. Having decided to keep my Camaro up here this winter, I hope to be able to tackle many of these nagging issues, finish up some interior work, and maybe even get a Ford 9 inch under it. . Where did the summer go?

Downtown Mount Clemens Car Show

I hit the garage first thing this morning, in hopes of riding my ride of the annoying constant miss while driving. I had three seperate issues in which I believed were causing the problem, and I went 0-3, perhaps even making the miss worse, though drivability did seem improved. I first ran a new ground for my MSD box, to the block instead of the engine, as I was skeptical whether the location on the frame was a sufficient ground. Of course, out of the hundreds of bolts I have, only one had the correct thread, and it proved to be too long, requiring me to stack washers in order to tighten it down. (a temporary fix).

Next up, I thought that the engine may be running a bit lean and decided to bump the jets up 3 sizes, front and rear. This move would soon prove to be wrong, only due to issue number three, which wasn't on my list, but was discovered. Upon last carb rebuild I had neglected to reinstall plugs on the side vacuum ports on the carb. I fired up the engine, and sure enough, both ports were sucking vacuum. This immediately made me realize that my lean speculation was likely caused by these vacuum leaks, and not from the jets. Of course, after digging through the tool box I could only locate one plug. It's a good thing I keep all the extra gaskets and old parts whenever I rebuild a carb, as the vacuum plugs were found with all the old parts.

When I started the engine, it seemed more responsive, a better idle, and I was hopeful my problems were solved. I did immediately notice thanks to my burning eyes that the engine seems way too rich now, just as I feared after located those uncapped ports. I decided to give it a shot just the same and call it a day, I need to pick up a few more sets of fuel bowl gaskets any way, as I used my last set for this jet swap.

I waited out the storm for a few hours, then figured I'd hit the road during the clearing. I arrived at the show to a somewhat disappointing 50 or so cars. According the the DJ, it sounded like most cars left during that first storm. I was hoping that since the skies started to clear, people would come back, but I was wrong. After an hour or so at the show, I figured I'd take the scenic route home, heading west over to Woodward, which I'll talk about in a minute. As for the engine miss, it's still there, but I have a few other ideas up my sleeve.


I waited until the first storm passed, then rolled the dice and headed to the show. Seems most attendees got an early start today, and called it quits when that first storm hit.


A nice 57 Chevy.


Good looking GTO.


One wicked ass Mopar, complete with chute out back.


One has to wonder, if not for Back to the Future, would very many people even know what a Delorean is? Would it be nearly as cool as most of us feel it is?


Sweet Street Rod with some very tasteful pinstriping along the running boards and fenders.

2011 Mount Clemens Car Show

Metro Detroit Car Shows & Cruises - August 2011

Downtown Mount Clemens Car Show - August 6, 2011 2pm-10pm
This show is hosting it's 20th anniversary this year! Sponsored by Bud Light, I have attended this downtown cruise a few times in the past, and can attest, it'll be a huge turnout, in a very cool setting throughout downtown Mount Clemens. The show is free, with $5 VIP parking available. There is a kids fun zone with inflatable slide, moonwalk, Thomas the Train, face painting, and magic acts. Eric the DJ will cover the tunes, awards will be handed out at 5:30pm, and a flame thrower competition will be held at night. I would say that this will be the biggest/best show in the region today, and am tentatively planning on making it to the show myself.

Saline, Michigan Downtown Car Show - August 6, 2011 9am-3pm
Downtown Saline, Michigan will be hosting a downtown car show. Registration will be $15 the day of the event, with the first 25 registered receiving a free t-shirt. Door prizes will be given out throughout the day, and a silent auction will also take place, benefiting the Saline Area Social Services. All makes and models are welcome, with awards being selected by participants. Last year's show had 120 cars. A live band will also be present for entertainment.

Sears Outlet Auto Show - August 6, 2011 10am-5pm
Located at 9860 Telegraph Rd in Taylor, MI, just south of I94. The show starts at 10 am and goes until 5 pm. I actually think this one will be the show I make this weekend, as will the cruise the night before located at Southfield Rd/Dix-Toledo at another Sears store.

Gratiot Cruise Clinton Township - August 7, 2011
Not to be left out, Clinton Township host their own Gratiot Cruise. I may or may not hit this show up, but it sounds like a nice event leading up to the Dream Cruise.

Troy Traffic Jam - August 7, 2011
This will be the 4th year for the City of Troy car show. Held at the Columbia center, the show runs from 10am-3pm. In addition to the cars, musical entertainment and food will be available on site. The Suburban Collection will have some of their newest cars on display at the show. Hundreds of vehicles are expected, registration will run you $20 and goodie bag, prizes, and dash plaque. All proceeds will benefit the Troy Historical Society.

31st Annual Mopar Nationals National Raceway Trail Columbus, OH - August 12-14, 2011
If I am still off work, this is the car show I'd really like to hit for a day or two. While not exactly in the Motor City, it's close enough on my map to be noteworthy. Plus, the fact that the P.O. Box for registration is in Dearborn, MI has to count for something. (Registration for the Mopar Nationals is in Ford country? Odd)

Cars and Coffee Detroit - August 13, 2011
This show is hosted at Motor City Casino, literally just around the corner from me maybe 1/2 mile away. This show has been happening once a month since June, and I'm just now finding out about it. The show runs from 8am-11am, all makes/models of cars, including motorcycles, are welcome. Coffee and donuts will be provided free of charge. The lot to park in is located at Brooklyn and Spruce, The Soundboard parking lot.

Cruisin' in the Motor City - August 13, 2011
In the heart of Detroit, the Motor City looks to start taking part in the events surrounding and leading up to the Woodward Dream Cruise. The first annual Cruisin' in the Motor City will take place on John R between Kirby and Warren, just a hop, skip, and smokey burnout from where I live. Unfortunately, I may be back to work by then, and the website doesn't list hours for the event. Cars from the Motorsports Hall of Fame will be on display in front of the Detroit Science Center, special "artistic" vehicles will be on display in front of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and vehicles designed or engineered by African Americans in front of the Charles H. Wright Museum.

Rockin' Rods in Rochester - August 14, 2011
Hosted in downtown Rochest, this Sunday show sounds like a winner. The show starts at 9am and wraps up at 5pm. In addition to the car show, the event has live music, automotive art, food/refreshments, 50/50 raffle, posters, t-shirts, and pin stripe art by The Mavens.

Back to the Bricks Flint - August 16-20, 2011
This is Flints answer to Woodward, and a show that I've been told by friends has grown to become an amazing show! I've heard many gripes about the size, congestion, too many mini vans, etc when it comes to Woodward's Dream Cruise. For a few of my friends, Flint's Back to the Bricks show has been the answer/alternative they were looking for. While I'm not sure I'll ever pry myself away from Woodward to check it out, it sounds like I would enjoy it every bit as much as Woodward.

Woodward Dream Cruise - August 20, 2011
The Woodward Dream Cruise...what can I say that hasn't been said? This is THE car show, the largest in the world, the granddaddy of them all. Stretching from 8 mile to Pontiac, some 16 miles long, with cars lining both sides and every available lot along the way. I've heard numbers as high as 40,000 classic cars and over a million spectators, both numbers that I feel are actually UNDER estimates. This is a show not to be missed, and one that I have attended every year except for the first show, even during an 8 year stretch when my Camaro was collecting dust in a garage, awaiting to be rebuilt. I'll be there again this year, with Camaro and camera.

Cruisin' Hines Drive - August 28, 2011
Hines Drive is a cool place to cruise, classic car or not. The fact that it will be shut down for classic cars is the icing on the cake! As long as Hines Drive isn't flooded due to a light shower, this could prove to be a great end of the season cruise!

Harper Ave Cruise - August 31, 2011
This is one cruise that has completely slipped under my radar. It has apparently been going on now for 17 years. Breaking with tradition of weekend cruises, the Harper Ave cruise is always on a Wednesday. The cruise travels Harper Ave from Old 8 mile to Bayside St.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Sears Allen Park Cruise Night

Took a cruise on down to the Sears in Allen Park. 10 years ago, this was THE show on Friday nights. I'm glad to see it's still going strong, though it seemed noticably smaller than I remember, with about 150-200 cars. Still, it's a nice cruise, and close by.


My ride. Seemed to be running a little warm after about 20 mintues on the freeway. I think I need to bleed the air out of the cooling system.


Sweet Mopar.


Another classic Mopar.


A very nice Chevelle, but I would have liked a little more chrome as opposed to painted trim/bumpers.


Remember the scene from Anchor Man where Baxter gets booted off the bridge? That's what I'd love to do with each and every one of these dolls I come across at car shows and cruise nights.


Classic race car look.


A Chrysler 300, very nice!


Classic Cadillac. This is what I'd love to road trip across the country in.


Niced Vette.


Deep Green 69 Camaro with a 502 Big Block.


Nice street rod.


The white walls just don't look right on this beauty.


Classic Ford.


Not really a Rat Rod, though not really a Street Rod either. I would call this 100% Hot Rod to the core.


We'll finish off with another Mopar, this one with a blower motor and making plenty of noise.