Cadillac Catera: Great Idea, Awful Car.

Cadillac Catera

Cadillac Catera

I used to be a technician at a Cadillac dealer.  At the time, I was just out of school, and ready to take on the world.  Being the youthful new guy and getting paid by the hour (not by flat rate), I got all the jobs that nobody else wanted.  This period in time also coincided with what I like to call “the Cadillac Catera era”. Lucky me.

The Catera was a really great idea on paper.  It was a small car, with rear wheel drive, a DOHC V6, power everything, and it wasn’t even that bad looking. They had a firm ride, handled alright, and even had a cool winter driving mode that made driving in the snow slightly less scary. Although I don’t feel like it had any business being part of the Cadillac brand, it did have a lot of things going for it.

I was at the dealer when the Cateras started arriving on tow trucks, and I was also the guy fixing the majority of them.  Why were they on tow trucks, you ask?  Well, because the water pump and timing belt idler bearings failed.  The ball bearings would then sprinkle down onto the spinning crankshaft making the timing belt jump time, which then caused catastrophic engine failure.  Being an outsider looking in, it was pretty awesome to see.  It was especially horrific when this failure happened at highway speeds.  I would find mangled valve heads trapped in the catalytic converters, holes in pistons, and timing belt covers that looked like they were removed with a chainsaw.  I really wish I had taken pictures of some of it.

Unfortunately for the Cateras, their engines were not their only flaw.  For a reason that I still do not know, Cateras have tire issues.  The inside edges of the tires are always bald, every time.  An alignment to factory specs won’t help, so it’s no use trying.  You just have to learn to appreciate bald tires.  Once you get past the whole “driving on bald tires & catastrophic engine failure” thing, you have to think about the rear differentials, because they are weak and frequently spit parts out.  They don’t do this all the time, just most of the time.  I like to think that the differential is so disgusted with the engine that is powering it, that it logically removes itself from the Catera equation.  If the car does somehow survive the catastrophic timing belt failure, balding tires, and rear end gear shredding fiasco, there will always be dead coil pack, leaking hot water valve, and busted LED tail light issues to ruin your day.

With all of that being said, someday when I am bored and need a new challenge, I may pick up a Catera (After all, they are dirt cheap for obvious reasons).  Then I would just need to stuff an L92 in it with a t-56, and a solid rear axle.  That will solve the majority of the issues that the Catera was plagued with. The rest, I can live with.

Image borrowed from:

http://www.edmunds.com/

How To: Replace Ball Joints On An S10 Truck

Chevy S10 Trucks, S10 Blazers, GMC Jimmys, and Sonomas eat ball joints.  Being in the biz, we knew this, and we also knew that our customers could benefit from an installation video.  One thing lead to another and BAM! – A beautiful 1AAuto Ball Joint How-To Installation video was born.  With the right tools, and the right patience, this job is very doable in your driveway.

Also feel free to check out our other 1AAuto installation videos on youtube.

Let us know what you think!

MUST HAVE Books for Car Enthusiasts

Growing up, while my middle school classmates were yapping about the newest R.L. Stine books, I was deciphering the differences of a 1933 Plymouth PC vs. PD vs. PDXX.  I was not normal, and never got into the “normal kid” books.  Instead, I swooned over low production numbers throughout the pages of the “Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942″.   The classic designs, unmatched style, and the rawness of old cars was the only interesting thing that I could find in books.  Needless to say, many years have passed and I still never read any “normal” books, but I have managed to acquire quite an automotive library.  Old books, new books, automotive design books, tuning books, service manuals, and enough car magazines to fill the Grand Canyon twice.   With all of that, I bequeath to you “Jeremy’s official list of must-have book’s for your Gearhead hangout.” (Notice I capitalized “Gearhead” this time because I feel it is something to be proud of, and deserves that big first letter.)

In no particular order:

1) “Standard Catalog of American Cars” 1804-1942 AND 1946-1975 (These are great to reference, and win / lose bets.)

2) “The Hemi in the Barn” by Tom Cotter (This book is amazing, you must read it.)

3) “The Cobra in the Barn” by Tom Cotter (This book is equally amazing, you also must read it.)

4) “Classic Customs and Lead Sleds” by Bo Bertilsson (Filled with the most beautiful lead sleds you will ever see.)

5) “Maximum Boost” by Corky Bell (This will change your life.  If you like forced induction, eternal happiness will be found within.)

6) “Street Rodder’s Chassis & Suspension Handbook” (Someday I will build one, and you will too.  This might prevent us from screwing up.)

What are your favorites?

Images from:

Standard Catalog of American Cars
The Hemi in the Barn
The Cobra in the Barn
Chassis and Suspension Handbook
Classic Customs and Lead Sleds
Maximum Boost

How Much Money Would It Take?

1964 Impala Convertible. $1,000,000 Fine Sir.

Every car has a price, but the owners “value” is often far different than the price that reality says it’s worth, especially with car enthusiasts.  Maybe we’re crazy, and yes, we are dreamers, but how do you put a price tag on something that you have thousands of hours of work into?  Just the thought of selling my cars makes me want to sob hysterically.  Well, today’s the day in the wonderful world of imagination. A nice young fellow walks up to you with a blank check, and says “I want to buy your car, and it will go to a good home.  How much do you need to get for it?”  How do you respond?

Me? I know my 1964 Chevy Impala is probably only worth a few grand in reality, but 2010 is our 13th anniversary together and I would really like to drive it one of these days.  Thus, the “how much money would it take” to pry it away from me, would likely be in the $15,000 range.  I have a solid $10,000 in sentimental value whether you understand it or not. :)

So How Much Money Would it Take To Get Your Car?

Favorite Car of Your Birth Year.

If you had unlimited funding, and were forced to own a car from the year that you were born, what would it be?  For me, the year is 1982.  As you may or may not remember, this was a black hole of automotive design, horsepower, handling, and overall driving excitement.  Luckily, one manufacturer didn’t care what the other guys were doing, and stuck to what they do best, building fantastic sports cars.  That company’s name is Porsche.  The model that I would procure is the 930, and I would obviously need it with the twin turbo ~300 horsepower engine.

Oddly enough, I found the exact one I want on eBay today!

Item # 190396041589


So which car would you buy?

Ford GT For Sale in a Front Yard Near You!

Mixed in with the lawn gnomes, pink flamingos, and dog statues, you typically find Ford Escorts, Tempos, and Taurus’s for sale in front yards. That is sooo pre-Y2K. This guy is bringing the front yard used car lot game to a whole new level. “djsheijkdfj” on the VWVortex message board spotted this 2005 Ford GT recently and I just had to show it off to the Nutt’s And Bolt’s Blog readers.  It is very much out of it’s element, and its beautiful red paint, gigantic brakes, and supercharged engine need a happy new leaf-free home.  Is it ok to sell this car this way? You decide.

Has anybody else seen any strange methods of selling exotic / rare cars?

Top 5 cars that you MUST own at some point in life.


I am a big dreamer, so I often dream about the cars that I MUST own at some point in life. I do imaginary ground up builds in my head, with awesome engines, transmissions, brakes, paint, and everything in between. The stuff I dream about is usually strange stuff that nobody else wants, but that’s the fun of it, you can build it your crazy way.

So here are MY MUST have’s, in no particular order:

1964 Chevy Impala Convertible
- Aluminum block 409 cubic inch engine, fuel injected, with twin turbo’s and a giant intercooler hiding behind the grille.
- 6-speed manual transmission
- 4 wheel, 6 piston Brembo disc brakes
- Stock looking wheels, dog dish hubcaps, with white wall tires
- Dark green paint? Maybe Black? I am undecided at this point.
- Coil over suspension, very very low to the ground.

1939 Graham Sharknose Supercharged Convertible
- Supercharged factory engine
- 100% bone stock. It’s a work of art, I can’t possibly modify a car that they only produced 1 of!

1989 Dodge Ram 50 Extended Cab
- Painted all black with black 18 inch wheels, and 5% tinted windows
- 4G63 turbocharged Mitsubishi Eclipse engine
- Evo VIII turbocharger, custom intake & exhaust manifolds
- 6 speed T-56 transmission
- Lowered 4 inches with coil overs and 4-linked rear suspension
- Ice cold A/C

1936 Lincoln Zephyr 2 Door Coupe (2 door sedan pictured)
- Factory V12 engine with a new centrifugal supercharger for a little fun
- Lowered about 6 inches
- Stock wheels, wide white wall tires
- Again, it is a work of art as is, why mess with perfection?

This specific pictured 1963 Chevy Corvette Split Window Coupe
- On the whole, I typically don’t like Corvettes. That being said, I want this Corvette. It also has a very interesting history that my dad is a part of. It is one-of-a-kind and I am not rich, so the chances of me owning it are anywhere from slim to none. If anybody has more pictures of it, I would love to see it. It has been 12-15 years since I have seen it in person.
- It has a 427 Big Block with enough horsepower to blow the windows out of a garage door (That’s a fact).
- Mako Shark nose
- Clean body work, great engine, unique 1963 body….. it just doesn’t get better for me as far as corvettes go.

So those are my top 5 that I HAVE to own at some point. The good news is that I actually own 2 of them right now. The bad news is that neither are anything like my dream depicts them.

Now its your turn. What cars are on your top 5 list? Keep in mind that this is a dream, so go big!

Images borrowed from:
(Graham) http://www.remarkablecars.com
(Zephyr) http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3052/2479224114_8ac03af780.jpg?v=0
(Impala) http://www.rides-mag.com/online/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/64-impala-001.jpg

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