Friday, November 30, 2012

Took the Camaro out for one last ride

I pulled my battery out today, as it has been giving me fits the last two years.  It just didn't seem to want to hold qucia charge, sometimes requiring a jump start to get home from a car show.  I knew my alternator was good, as it is a 170 amp unit and keeps the voltmeter around 15 volts.  Still, the voltmeter would occasionally drop down a few volts, which I always thought may have been a ground problem.

I tried to fire up the beast a few days ago, to show a new neighbor.  I was rewarded with a click-click-click...nothing.  I put my charger on the car, and the next day I checked the battery, 10.5 volts.  So, today I removed the battery and took it into Sears, knowing the 3 year warranty was still in effect.  The battery was bad, and I walked out with a new one.

The car fired right up, and me being me, well, that wasn't enough.  The roads were dry, and other than being in the low 40's, it wasn't a bad day out.  So I figured I may as well take her out one last time.  I've said it before, I'll say it again, I will say it until I'm blue in the face....she is one fast sonofabitch!  Seriously, a quick blip of the throttle, I mean I'm talking 1/4 throttle, maybe 1/3, and she lights up the tires.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a spot without traffic to really put on a smoke show, so a few "dust offs" of the tires was all I was going to get.  Still, it left me hungry, anxious for next season, and most importantly, anxious to get a Ford 9" under her and some sticky tires.  I wanna feel what 2 wheels in the air feels like.  :)

Walter P. Chrysler Museum - Closing Soon

Sadly, it was reported today that due to financial troubles, the Walter P. Chrysler Museum will be closing by years end.  Chrysler is going to buy the collection of 67 vehicles, and the museum will be open in the future for special events as well as private events.  I will try my hardest to make one last visit prior to the closing.

Walter P. Chrysler Museum

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum had 35,000 visitors last year. It has run out of money. (John M. Galloway / Special to The Detroit News)

Chrysler Group LLC is purchasing the holdings of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum to protect the company's patrimony, but says the classic car collection will no longer be open to the public — except for special occasions.

The museum, which has run out of money, will merge with the Chrysler Foundation at the end of the year. After that, the company will purchase the 67 vehicles and displays housed in the museum, which is located next to Chrysler's world headquarters in Auburn Hills.
Chrysler already owns the building.

"Chrysler will continue to share its automobile heritage housed at the Museum with the public during special exhibitions. The existing Museum facilities will also be used to meet Chrysler Group needs," said Brian Glowiak, president of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation.
"We are very thankful for the generosity of our many members, friends, volunteers and employees and very proud of the Museum's legacy as an educational and cultural institution."
Approximately 35,000 people visited the museum last year, though that figure includes special events and facility rentals.

"Over time, the revenue just has not been there to sustain its operations," said Chrysler spokesman Kevin Frazier, who added that the automaker is keen to preserve this important part of its history.
Opened in October 1999, the Chrysler museum was the first in this country to be located at an automaker's headquarters.

The Chrysler Foundation said it would use the proceeds of Chrysler's purchase to fund a variety of charitable community activities and organizations.
(313) 222-2443

From The Detroit News

1979 Chevrolet Caprice

I came across this 1979 Caprice while out and about today.  This car was as mint as it gets.  It appeared all original, and as if it just rolled off the assembly line.  I am more of a mid 1980's Caprice fan, though there was no denying this car was a 10 out of 10!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7...IT'S COMING!!!!

While I'm not sure I'll ever be able to justify buying a new Corvette, it IS without a doubt, the top American Sports car in our history.  I can't help but get excited when another model is about to debut.

2013 North American International Auto Show - January 14-27, 2013

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI is just around the corner. This should be an exciting year at the show.  The automakers are once again healthy.  Most automakers who pulled out of the show have returned.  Alternative fuel/Electric vehicles are here in full force, for better or for worse, they will be heavily displayed at this year's show.  While I expect some technologies to rise to the top, others will disappear into an abyss.  Yet it goes without saying, for anybody into cars, it's an exciting show to attend. The following schedule is from the official website, listed below.

Press Preview - January 14-15, 2013

Industry Preview - January 16-17, 2013

Charity Preview - January 18, 2013

Public Show - January 19-27, 2013

North American International Auto Show

Chevy & NASCAR show off the 2014 Chevy SS

Chevrolet opened a new chapter in its storied racing history with the unveiling of its eagerly anticipated 2013 NASCAR Chevrolet SS race car.

We knew it was coming. We even had a pretty good idea as to what it would look like. Well, here is the NASCAR version, which as history how shown us, is unlikely to resemble the production version much beyond the stick on front fascia. Swaying too far from the car above would be a damn shame.  The lines are actually pretty nice, and the wheel well flares, almost certain to be on the chopping block, give the car a muscular look.  A NASCAR inspired rear spoiler would also help connect the two, but again, will likely be replaced with something less tasteful.  A cowl hood, or some sort of scoop is a given.  The late GTO made the mistake of being too bland, adding the hood scoop and other items as the car had one foot in the grave already.

Prodding aside, I'm glad that Chevy will be re-entering the V8 rear wheel drive sedan segment. Though possessing 2 extra doors than I would prefer, it puts the 4 door up against the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300. Based on the sharp looking/short lived Pontiac G8, it will likely have an almost instant cult following, with plenty of aftermarket support.

Reading the article below, provided by the Detroit Free Press, I can't help but notice a couple of inaccuracies that scream out to me.  First, it can't go without mention, Jim Campbell of GM suggests this will be a halo car for all other models.  Funny, as I was under the impression that a halo car is something at the top of the food chain, the best of the best, such as Chevrolet's long running halo car, the Corvette.  Everything else simply has a spot on the king's least in my opinion.  As for the inaccuracies, how about "Chevrolet’s SS badge has an alternately illustrious and wretched history." Wretched?  Sorry, but even during the relatively dismal 1980's, cars that adorned the SS badging were amongst the best cars offered at the time.  Perhaps a few lackluster years throughout the 1970's, but hey, it was par for the course in the 1970's.  Nothing "wretched" comes to mind when I hear "SS."  Chevelle as Chevy's first muscle car?  I guess one could say that, as I guess the 1964 Chevelle was the beginning of something new.  That said, I guess it's a label I've never hear before.

Campbell goes on to say the styling will be "very distinct" compared to the Caprice underpinnings for which it shares.  I would expect so, considering the wheelbase and dimensions will differ from the Caprice.  I would expect it to be different from both the Caprice AND Camaro, regardless of what frame and suspension resides underneath.

Here is the article as it appeared in the Detroit Free Press:

Chevrolet unveiled a new race car today that provides the first clear look at the 2014 SS sport sedan that goes on sale late next year.

Featuring a rear-wheel-drive platform and the latest version of Chevy’s legendary small-block V8, the SS aims to tighten the connection between the Chevrolets racing in NASCAR and the street cars the brand’s customers drive.

“It’s the first rear-wheel-drive sport sedan in Chevrolet showrooms in many years,” said Jim Campbell, Chevy vice president for motor sports and performance cars. “The SS will increase the relevance of what we race to what we sell. The production car will be a halo for all the other models in our lineup.”

The car will debut in February at Speedweeks, NASCAR’s season-opening races in Daytona.

“It should generate additional sales,” said Jim Hall, managing director of 2953 Analytics. “The SS badge can be good for Chevrolet’s image, as long as they use it on appropriate vehicles.” Chevrolet’s SS badge has an alternately illustrious and wretched history. Short for Super Sport, the initials adorned legends like the 1957 Corvette SS race car prototype and the Chevelle SS that was Chevy’s first muscle car. It also suffered its share of indignities when marketers used it to jack up the price of vehicles with no serious performance credentials.

The 2014 SS sport sedan will ride on the second generation of the architecture that underpins the Chevrolet Camaro, Caprice police car and the Australian Holden Commodore.

The sport sedan’s styling will be “very distinct” from the police car, Campbell said.

Contact Mark Phelan at or 313-222-6731.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bob Drake Reproduction 1940 Ford Coupe

Photo courtesy of Ford Media

Bob Drake, long time restoration expert, now is offering a 1940 Ford Coupe steel body.

Hemmings Daily: Reproduction 1940 Ford coupe bodies receive official Ford licensing

Actually, while searching for Bob Drake's car, I realized that another builder, Dennis Carpenter, also began producing steel 1940 Ford coupes a few months back.

Dennis Carpenter 1940 Ford Coupe

Fiberglass, Re-pops, and Chinese bodies - Still Hot Rods

Last outing to the grocery store I made my typical trek down the magazine isle.  It's quickly becoming pointless, as I have subscribed to about 7 car magazines, leaving very few on the shelf to thumb through.  One particular street rod cover caught my attention, and got my thinking, as they covered the building up of a brand new reproduction 55 Chevy.

I can't say whether the body they were using as the basis was made here or overseas, but it had me questioning my very own stance on what is and isn't acceptable to me when it comes to this hobby.  As nice as glass hot rods are these days, it's still not the same as a steel car.  That said, I have long accepted that they ARE real hot rods, just of a different flavor.

To take it a step further, what about these "American" muscle cars being stamped and assembled overseas?  Initially, while excited that many of the most popular muscle cars were now being reproduced, my stomach turned when I thought about them being made in China.

Then, it hit me.  It's not so much where it was built as it is HOW it was built.  I have never been a fan of all original, numbers matching, decals and paint marks, 100% restored to how a car rolled off the assembly line.  While there is no denying such a restoration takes skill, it doesn't develop a uniqueness to stand out in a crowd, a personality applied by it's owner, it's simply exactly the same it was 40-50 years ago.

While I would prefer a Camaro, Mustang, or other American classic be reproduced here.  The simple fact that they are being built and assembled by individuals building cars how they want them, they are simply hot rods...of a different flavor.

Me?  My dream kit/reproduction car would be a mid 60's Corvette being built by Downs Bodies, right here on the west side of Michigan.  I know it's not a REAL Vette, but who cares?  It looks cool, would be built my way, and I really don't care if it can't score a victory in the judging lanes.  That ain't my cup of tea any way.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

'69 Camaro Fan Install

Upon returning home from working on my dad's Challenger, I figured I may as well finish the day working on my Camaro.  I went ahead and installed my flex fan, with 2 inch spacer.  It's advertised to be good up to 10,000 rpm's, so I should be good to go.  The snow hasn't quite fallen yet, so I'm thinking a test run may be in order.







'70 Challenger R/T Project Update

Here are some photos from today's work.  I stripped the underside more, and have about 3/4 of it complete.  I also started on stripping the unibody frame rails.  The frame rot was a little more than I expected, though easily patched with some sheet metal and a welder.  I will likely take my welder next trip, and perhaps get started on the repair.  I also removed the steering column, seats, carpet, side markers, and wheel well trim.  My dad recently installed the decklid for a trial fit, and it seems to fit well.  The dirty work is nearly complete, and its almost time to start figuring out what parts to order next.














Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another trip to Mom and Dad's

This weekend I will be making another trip down to mom and dad's to work on the Challenger.  Having removed the k-member and front suspension already, I will continue stripping the underbody and engine bay.  A few more trips and I will have run out of things to do without more parts.  I have a furlough coming up next month, so hopefully I will find a few days to make it down and get some serious progress made.  Still have hopes of having the car mechanically ready come next summer.  Sure would be nice to take it down the road and test her out.  The car has been off the road since 2001, when I also parked my Camaro.  Hopefully, my recently parked Formula won't have to sit and wait as long as these two did.  I learn a little bit from each project, what I would do differently, time frame, and budget.  I have a fairly well thought out plan for the Formula, though haven't decided if I'll jump in neck deep, or attempt to keep it drivable once I start on it.  Look for Challenger updates in the coming week.

Detroit Locker and Flex

I got my shipment from Summit Racing about a week ago.  Included was my Flex Fan, spacer, and Detroit Locker.  I hope to piece together a 9 inch rear by next summer, so I can hopefully make a trip to the drag strip and see what she runs!  Next purchase for the rear will likely be the ring/pinion and install kit, followed by the center section, then the rear with axles.  With Christmas coming up, hopefully I can get some of it from Mrs Clause...aka Wife.

The goods.

The Detroit Locker is a no holds barred unit that essentially turns into a spool during straight line acceleration.  Can't wait to put it to the test at the track, and no longer have to worry about grenading my posi or snapping an axle.




The 17" Flex Fan in red, good to 10,000 rpm's. I may add an electric fan later on, but only as a pusher.  After my quadruple failure, I'm not chancing electric fans as my primary source of cooling again.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Saturday, I once again headed down to my parents to work on dad's Challenger again.  Thankfully, I will be able to make another trip down in a couple of weeks.  While still mostly in the cleaning of the undercarriage stage, I did some more disassebly of the front end.  Between taking breaks from working on stripping the floor pans bare, I removed front end components, hoping to have the k-member removed by days end, though doubtful that would happen, having never dealt with torsion bars before.  I wasn't sure I had the tools or know how to remove the k-member without hitting the internet.


First, I removed the bolts attaching the a-arms as well as the shocks, as both were the few components attaching the k-member to the car.  I was very thankful to have brought my Craftsman impact with, as it made removal of the stubborn bolts much easier.


Aside from some finishing touches, the driver side pan is about 90% stripped from the rear seat to the firewall.  From the rear seat to the tail, I had already previously por-15'd it and it's good to go.


This is a picture of practically the ONLY significant rust I've come across thus far.  Sadly, it's in the frame, but thankfully, it's going to be a very easy fix.  Nothing some plate steel and a welder can't make quick repair of.


Here is the opposite side of the frame, which likely led to the rust on the other side.  The brake line bracket was torn from the frame at some point, thus allowing garbage to enter the frame and sit, trapping moisture.  Both the top and bottom of the frame is solid, but the sides were soft in about a 2 square inch area.  These stamped frame rails and unibody construction Chryler used leaves one appreciate Chevy's subframe design that much more.


Driver side a-arm dropped.


Passenger side a-arm dropped.


After removing the 4 k-member bolts, I slowly began lowering the k-member on the jack...still unsure how the torsion bars would react, or how I would remove them.


Driver side frame rail stripped.  I'm pretty sure those drilled holes are a sure tell sign of some sort of repair in the past.  Considering the car also had a back half repair, which was actually repaired quite well, I'm shocked that the car didn't have a salvaged title.  That said, I'm thankful it didn't, as none of the repairs or items left to fix "better" change the fact that it's a real R/T car.  When it's all said and done, only the best mechanics will know the extent past repairs.


After looking at the torsion bars closely, it looked like the hex ends would simply pull out.  A few taps with a steel mallet and the k-member was removed.


Now, to figure out if I can remove the torsion bars.


Taking a break from the car, I removed the transmission, pressure plate, clutch, flywheel, and bellhousing from the engine.  We may in fact rebuild and reuse the 4 speed, as retro-fitting a 5 speed may be significantly more costly than we initially believed.


Here is the car with the whole front suspension removed, with the torsion bars still protruding.



After inspecting the other end of the torsion bars, I found that only a retainer clip held them in place.  After removing the clips, the torsion bars pulled straight out.  From this view you can see the stripped front end, as well as the upper transmission crossmember which needs a patch or two due to holes created for who knows what.  While still in the stripping/removing parts phase, soon, progress in the other direction will be under way.

We have decided to go the route of the Reilly Motorsports front suspension.  It is a complete bolt-in k-member with tubular control arms, coil over springs (no torsion bars), rack and pinion power steering, and Wilwood disc brakes.  The complete package will provide with streetrod suspension for this pony.