Thursday, January 30, 2014

Camaro update: 1/30/2014

Just placed an order with Summit Racing. I have my Wilwood brake proportioning valve/distribution block, TH400 rebuild book, and 5 point racing harness on the way. I also talked to my engine shop today, my engine should be assembled and ready by next week. Also gave Coan Converters a call regarding sending them my torque converter. I hope to have that shipped withing the next few weeks. I will make a trip to National Parts Depot soon to pick up my correct big block chevy frame engine mounts as well as some carpet. I've really been dragging my feet this month, aside from getting the engine inspected and taken to the shop. I need to pick up the pace if I still want to have the car ready early this year. I've got the bug, that's for sure, so my procrastination has not been due to lack of motivation.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tim's Ride - 1967 Ford Fairlane S 427 Stroker

Tim, from Tico Race Engines, picked up this wicked 1967 Ford Fairlane 427 a few years ago.  The 427 is stroked to a 451, topped off with 2 4 barrels, and backed by a 4 speed top loader.  With some monster meats out back, this car has some serious attitude.  Tim's plan is to turn it into a pro-touring style car and hit the road, perhaps the Hot Rod Power Tour.  I wasn't a fan of too many 1960's Fords, but I also dug these Fairlanes.

Camaro Engine Update - 1-23-2014

Today, I loaded up my engine and took it to Tico Race Engines, in Moscow, MI.  I am happy to say, we discovered no major damage.  I actually discovered the source of metal in the oil myself upon tear down at their shop.  As I removed the timing cover, I inspected the back side, and saw 3 equally placed grooves where the double roller timing chain was interfering with the factory stock cover.  The front main bearing had some obvious debris get in it, but the journal was fine, as were all the others and the rod bearings.  That said, the rods weren't as tight in the caps as a stock set would be, so both rod and main bearings will be replaced.

Other than a wash, aftermarket timing cover, new gaskets and oil pump are in order as well.  After that, it should be good to go.  Thankfully, the minimal damages will still permit me to get my car back on the road, and thankfully, it appears I should make the track this year.  The engine will be done sooner than later, as I was told it should be ready for pickup within a couple of weeks.  Hey, I can't argue with that!

Engine lifted.

Engine cradle installed.

In the truck and ready to go.

Cylinder heads off, no trouble.

Shortblock ready to come apart.

You can see the groves in this photo.  Look at the three small indentations in the inner radius and you can see where the chain was hitting.

Roller lifters all looked good, as did the cam lobes. The valve lash all checked out prior to disassembly so I didn't suspect any valvetrain issues.

Disassembled shortblock.

Factory GM forged steel nitrated crank.  Seems to be handling around 700 hp without a problem.

Pan and pump. The pump looks like it may have taken a little abuse, perhaps even from running 20w 50 oil.  My builder told me that that heavy oil is sometimes rough on the pumps, and its cheap insurance to simply replace it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 North American International Auto Show Coverage

This year's North American International Auto Show was better than ever!  The atmosphere was positive, the displays were extravagant, and the vehicles were impressive.  I got there at 9 am, when the doors opened, and was able to beat the crowds and get a lot of good photos.  I am biased, I will admit.  While I'm much more open minded to foreign and innovative cars than I once was, the cookie cutter/plain jane cars don't make the cut in my book.  If it catches my eye, or needs made fun of, it makes the cut.

While waiting for the doors to open, here were a few of the cars on display in the main concourse outside of the show. Is it me, or does the Maserati, Ferrari, and Aston Martin all seem to have very similar styling?  Has the world's exotics started to become cookie cutter themselves?

A sharp Maserati convertible.

A Ferrari convertible.  Is it just me, or does a Ferrari just have to be Ferrari red to look right?

An Aston Martin convertible.

A Maserati, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and a Camaro RS convertible....V6?  Just a bit out of it's element don't you think? 

Once inside the show, I started with the Mercedes display inside the entrance, and worked my way around the show.

I have to say, Mercedes has a new face, as this car is a serious break from their current styling I'm use to seeing.

Even the rear of the Mercedes seems vastly different.  I'm not sure about the front yet, but I like the rear styling and wrap around tail lights.

The El Miraj by Cadillac.  GM made a smart move this year by moving Cadillac away from all the other GM products.  Not that GM products aren't worthy, it's simply that Cadillac has returned to best-of-the-best, and has earned the right to stand on it's own two feet.  While this El Miraj is a concept, it has been speculated that this is the future of Cadillac.  If so, the future for the brand looks even better.

Long, sleek, low, muscular.  This car nails it.

Cadillac's plug-in hybrid.  Arguably, the best looking hybrid out there.

Another Mercedes with a face lift.

The Cadillac ATS Couple. Better looking than any car in it's class if you ask me.

The new Escalade.

The Acura TLX.  Foreign cars have come a long way, and this TLX is a fine example of that.  I love the color!

The 1962 Mustang concept, normally on display at The Henry Ford Museum.

A few years later, the new Ford Mustang.

50 years later, the NEW Ford Mustang.  While originally not a fan, the styling has grown on me a bit. I still feel that they toned down the styling too much, in an effort to gain more global appeal.  Considering the diet they put it on, the Camaro and Challenger have their work cut out for their next generations.

The new Mustang convertible.

Ford's display, recreating an assembly plant in the middle of the show, was by far the most over the top.

The new F150 could change trucks forever!  With enough aluminum utilized to drop 700 lbs off the curb weight, it has put itself at a serious advantage in mpg, towing, and power/weight ratio. Combine this with their eco-boost turbo 6, and they are without a doubt thinking outside the box. The only question is durability, and if Ford did their homework, the rest of the competition will be playing catch up over the next few years.  

There is no mistaking the F150 for any other truck.  Obviously new, but easily recognizable as a Ford.

Fords display, stretching the width of their portion of the show.

No excitement here, but the new Ford Transit is hoping to take control of the commercial industry and contractors segment.  Styling obviously isn't the goal here, usability is.

An MKZ hybrid, which gets 45 mpg!  I truly love the styling of this car, but question their choice to go with front wheel drive.  It's one of the main reasons I don't look at the Lincoln brand on par with Cadillac, or any other luxury brand for that matter.  It's not that they are bad looking cars, it's simply they don't meet the criteria in my eyes.  It just seems more Mercury than Lincoln I guess.

I will say this, the MKZ has one of the best looking rears out there.

Again, I see Ford Edge, with a Lincoln face and rear.

This 1932 Lincoln KB Dietrich Coupe was the sharpest Lincoln at the show, and represents a time when Lincoln was at the front of the pack when it came to luxury. It was also packing a V12 under the hood!

Until seeing the MKS, I wasn't even aware that Lincoln made a car this big, and was shocked to learn it's been in production since 2009.  Still front wheel or all wheel drive, it comes up short.

Volvo has a new face as well.  It seems a lot of auto makers are going with the swept back headlights, thus continuing today's cookie cutter styling for today's daily drivers.

My God, they still make the Miata?  Who knew?  Making 168 hp, the power plant seems seriously outdated, especially when there are 4 cylinders making close to 300 hp.  This is the segment where I think the Kia GT4 Stinger concept can come in and reign supreme.

This Volvo concept knocks it outta the park!  I've never been much of a fan of Volvo, but this wagon/crossover looks sharp.  The ride hight is a little elevated, I'm guessing that all wheel drive would likely be an option, and its just all around good looking.  Dare I say tough?

Wagons continue to live on, but I'd love to see a wagon with three rows and deserving of "The Family Truckster" label.  Something Clark Griswold would be proud of.  Today's products are more of a sport wagon I suppose.

Some times, a brand just needs a new owner it seems.  These current Jags are some of the best looking ever built.  

Arguable THE best looking Jag ever.

Even the rear looks awesome.

Buick has come a long way in recent years, though it still fights the "old man" label with every new model.  This Regal is perhaps the lone exception in my opinion.  This is one Buick that looks sharp.  I would even say sporty!

The new GMC Sierra. Somewhat surprisingly, nothing too ground breaking like the Ford F150. I'm sure there are a few people over at GM a bit nervous about that new F150.


The GMC Canyon.  Perhaps Gm's card up their sleeve.  This truck returns to a segment abandoned by GM, Ford, and Dodge just a few years ago.  The mid-size pickup.  The wild card with this one will be the 2.8 liter Duramax I4, due out in 2016.

The GMC Denali HD.  My question, is there really a need for a "professional grade" luxury edition of this GMC truck?

I remember the old Suburbans from the 1980's we used in high school for events.  Man, to look at the suburbans now!  It's really amazing how for they have come.  At the same time, I can't imagine too many schools out there able to afford the sticker price these days.

Give Nissan credit, this concept is very unique.  The photo doesn't do the color justice, and it was a burning orange to the 10th degree.

Nissan's other concepts on display.  I think I like it.  It's simple, yet bold, even intimidating.  

I like the race themed one above better.  I am curious what it would look like in a solid color though.

The new Camaro SS convertible.  Sharp! I'd still take one of these over a Challenger or Mustang, but for the price (and what they weigh), I think I'd rather stick with my classics, and even my 89 Formula. Maybe some day, 10 years from now, I'll pick up a low mileage used one.

I've kind of bagged on the Z28, and am still curious how it will fit in between the base Corvette and Z06, especially with it's $75K price tag.  That said, man, this thing looks downright nasty in person!  I'm not even sure the Vette looks as intimidating as this car in person. If I had an extra $75K lying around, I'd be much more likely to at least consider, having seen it's bad self.

A wolf in sheeps clothing, for lack of a better term.  This car has so much potential, but in my opinion, comes up WAAAAY short in the styling department.  In much the same way the modern GTO was bland, the Chevrolet SS follows it's lead.  I'm sure it a blast to drive, but for $40K+, I expect more.

The rear is even worse than the front.  I hope when it gets restyled, and production to the states in a few years, they get it right.  While the Pontiac G8, which the SS is based upon, has 2 doors too many, the styling was tons better than the GTO it replaced.  In fact, Chevy would have been better continuing production of the G8 and simply making it a Chevy in my opinion.  I hope they get this one right.

The pace car SS.

Camaro row.

The C7.R.  Man, has the Corvette ever grown up over the last 15 years.

The Z06, seemingly the ZR1 replacement, is basically the the same as the C7.R.  Built upon the same chassis, the difference between race and street has become nearly one in the same.

A Corvette cut-away.

The Corvette is the best looking Vette since the C2 in my opinion.

The Colorado, which is the Canyon's sibling.  It will be interesting how these two do, and whether or not there is a sustainable segment for them.  As stated, the secret to their success could be that diesel engine in 2016.

The Dodge Challenger, with shaker hood.  Still a good looking car, and arguably the most classic styling of the modern pony cars.

Happy Birthday Dodge.

I still love the Charger, and hope we see another generation of it.

You still can't beat the styling of the original though.  It makes the new Challengers look like fat pigs. Hopefully I can get my dad to start spending money on his again this year, as I'd love to see that car done.

Good looking two tone Challenger.

I actually like most of the styling of this Lexus, but that front grill, man, that's a bit much.  I can't help but see somebody with their mouth wide open.  Other than that, a very sharp car.

Another Lexus.

The Lexus LFA.  Good job Lexus!

The model at the Viper display was telling the crowd about this car and asked "Who likes the paint on this car?"  Only one person raised their hand, and she went on to talk about the matte black with something added to make the body lines stand out.  I hate matte black on new cars.  It's dumb.  It doesn't look right.  I for one would be pissed off to pay 6 figures for a car that looks like it was spray bombed. There is a reason only one person raised their hand.

This truck is a beast.

This seems to be Dodge's answer to the Ford Transit.

I still just don't see the appeal of these cars, other than they are obviously fun to drive.  This is the new 2015, yet it looks the same for the last 10 years to me.  I know a few people who own one, and they absolutely love them.  It's almost a cult following for these cars.

And that wing....good lord.

This toned down Subaru is much better looking in my opinion.

This Infinity concept was kind of cool.

The paint on this Infinity Q50 was amazing, almost a chrome-like finish to it.  I'm assuming it's some sort of candy paint.  The car itself was actually good looking as well.

The rear is a little funky.  Strangest arrangement for quad exhaust tips I think I've seen.

Possibly another game changer in the truck segment.  For the first time, Dodge...I mean Ram, will offer a diesel in their 1500 series.  Expected to get 28 mpg highway, while offering more torque than the HEMI, this could help diesels gain popularity.

One of the few new cars at the Chrysler display was the 200.  Not a bad looking car, but nothing too over the top either.

Scion Shitbox.  Seriously, who drives cars these small?  There has to be something wrong in their head.

The only Scion that I like, the FR-S.  This car, and 2700 lbs, rear wheel drive, and 200 hp just sounds fun.  The lone shortcoming seems to be power, with only 200 hp.  Offer up a 300 hp version and when combined with the 2700 lb curb weight, the fun factor goes way up!  Where Scion comes up short, Kia seems poised to fix that.

At the Toyota display.  Again, who would drive this?  Most Americans would be able to fit about one ass cheek on the seat.

Toyota did have one sharp ass sports car concept on display.  This thing looked wicked!

See through hood, a la ZR1.

Thank you Toyota, as I'm not sure I had ever sat behind an 8,000 hp engine in a Top Fuel Funny Car.

Porsche is one of those brands that has stood the test of time.  With very little restyling over the past 40 or so years, their styling still looks fresh, and sexy as hell.  There are very few cars that can pull it off, but Porsche has proven, it can. This particular car is the Targa.

Here is the 911 Turbo, also awesome.

4 doors and SUV's still shouldn't be Porsche though.

10-15 years ago, VW was on top of the world.  Now, I'm surprised they are even still around.  I realize that their global sales worldwide are on part with GM.  Here in the states however, their sales in recent years have to have dropped significantly, as you simply don't see them on the road like you once did.

Here is the Kia Stinger GT4, a potential game changer in the sports/muscle car market.  2700 lbs, 300 hp, rear wheel drive, and expected to be priced around $20k.  I'm going to write about this car on it's own later, as well as a mention of GM's Code 130R from a few years ago.  This car has huge potential, will shake the market up, and I hope they build it.

Mini still seems to be successful, though their popularity likely has peaked.

BMW is another brand that has a corporate face.  It seems to work for them, but all their cars simply look the same to me. This is either their 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 series...I don't know.

Bentley.  Another high dollar brand that doesn't do much for me.  At least the quality seems on par with the price, so you seemingly get what you pay for.

An Audi S8.  This car was a monster!  Initially, I thought it was a small limo version of an Audi. New for 2014, and prices start at $112,500.

This was a really cool Audi that I believe was a concept.  I guess it would fall under a crossover.

Audi R8.

A Michigan built Falcon F7 was on display in the basement.  To date, they have built and sold 6 of these cars, with 7 and 8 currently under construction.  Hopefully, I can find the time this summer to tour their facility, as they are building an amazing car.

Almost reminds me of a top fuel funny car.

The Equus Bass 770.  I picked up a brochure on these cars and got some more info on them.  I plan on writing on it soon.

2014 North American International Auto Show