I pulled into the grocery store parking lot the other day and as I parked, I unwillingly came nose to nose with something quite questionable. Initially I thought that somebody had parked a chromed-out version of the Merrill-Lynch bull in the parking lot. However, upon further inspection I realized it was just a new Acura with it’s giant bumper and chrome grille. I thought about moving my truck because I didn’t want to leave it to stare into the Acura’s bulbous nose, but I didn’t want my truck to develop an ego either. Maybe I am being too harsh on the Acura. Should I embrace these futuristic beasts for being outside the box, or hate it for being 90% grille & bumper and 10% “rest of the car”?
Over the weekend I came across a vehicle that was clearly built for ultimate world domination. It is so tough and burly looking that it would likely make Chuck Norris nervous. I would imagine it was built for delivering mail or something very mundane, but I guarantee that somewhere in it’s exhausted memory, it has some great stories to tell. It would be impossible to own a vehicle like this and not test its limits (of which there likely aren’t any).
If I were to buy this as an early birthday present to myself, and it wasn’t irreplaceable, I would take it through mud, lots of it. Not shallow mud, the really nasty deep stuff, at high speeds. When I am done driving the beast, I would want to have a mud line near my elbows at a minimum. I want to get home, and have somebody think that the skunk ape just broke into the house. If I can’t find any mud, I would want to cruise up to a drive-up window with a top hat on like everything is 100% ordinary, and order a delicious iced coffee. Then cruise away leaving the drive-up window people wondering if they just had a really messed up dream.
Over the weekend I went to one of my favorite junkyards. It’s smaller than some of the others around but I feel like the guys that work there are friendlier than average, and 99% of the time, I can find what I need. So it is definitely my number 1 pick for yards…. This time around, I stumbled onto a late 70’s / early 80’s Corvette that had clearly reached the end of the road. It was rotted, crashed, crushed, parted out, beaten, and then disrespectfully smashed. Cars like that are sad to see because you know at some point, a person brought it home from the dealer and loved every single inch of it. They cruised the streets and showed it off to their friends , and now, all that’s left is rust and memories. You had a good run at it Blue Corvette, a real good run…
There are so many cars out there with a cult following these days, that I often find myself wondering if all the weird cars in the automotive world have a place to “belong”. Do people really like these oddball cars? Or do they get stuck with them and learn to love them? I have very strong affection for a many of the ugliest, most backwards, slowest, and terribly designed cars in existence. I bet I’m not alone.
For today we have a 1983 Cadillac Seville. These had amazing oil leaks V8 engines that sat way too far forward in the engine compartment because they were front wheel drive. The weight distribution felt like it was 98% on the front wheels and 2% over the rears. Luckily the power steering pumps could power a small city so turning those overloaded front wheels was easily done with your finger tip. The interior was chock full of switches, hundreds of them. Switches in the dash for everything imaginable, switches on the sides of the seats, the doors, the roof, the glove box, and if I recall correctly, the sun visors had switches as well. Nobody knows what all those switches did, but if you wanted to turn anything from off to on, you could do it successfully in this car. Cigarette lighters? Yeap, there were enough of them for you and 80 of your closest friends to have a smoke. As a kid, I enjoyed putting dimes in the lighter holes, sadly, the US didn’t mint enough dimes to stuff into every lighter hole in these cars. The trunk; “Hey GM designers, what the heck went on there?”
My opinion: If it were rear wheel drive, I would love it because of its weird looks, and gangster soul. However, being front wheel drive with the worst weight distribution in history, I am leaning on the hate meter for this one.
When building or restoring a car, you absolutely HAVE to take pictures.
Here are my top 7 reasons why:
1) Without pictures, nobody will ever believe that you did any of the work (unless it’s terrible, then they will believe you 100%).
2) You will never remember how things originally went together. That extra bag of bolts needs a home!
3) You can hold the photo up against your car and say “look guys, before and after”.
4)It can remind you where you came from, and how you got to where you are.
5) You can look back and laugh at the horrific work you did toward the beginning of the project. Remember when you couldn’t weld?
6) You can post them on the internet and show off all of your work to the world.
7) You don’t realize it at the time of the photograph, but there is always weird stuff going on in the background. It is fun to look for!
If you are saying to yourself “This guy is right, I don’t have any pictures of my cars…”, grab a handful of camera right now and go take some pictures. I promise you that you will appreciate it down the road. Just imagine how cool it would be to see all the cars that your parents had throughout the years.
Got before and after pictures? I want to see them! Post them up or Send them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the weekend I went on an automotive tour of sorts, and in the process I saw a painting of a car that was mind blowing. It was a painting by Tim Frederick of Arnie Beswick’s “Funny Farmer” 63 Tempest. Looking at it made me want to rip the exhaust off my 389, fire it up, and watch flames explode out the open manifolds. It made me reevaluate art as a whole, and made me wonder what other outstanding automotive art work was out there. Whether it is photographic, painting, pastels, photoshop, or something I don’t even know about, I want to see it.
Show us your wonderous, glorious, mind blowing, and breathtaking automotive art at once!!
My friend and co-worker Scott Young and I have had a competition going on for about 12 years now. Every once in a while it comes up in conversation and puts the look of shock on people’s faces. Our competition is “who has owned the most vehicles”. We have defined “ownership” as having the vehicle’s title officially in that person’s name. In Massachusetts, getting a title can be a huge hassle, so we agreed this would be a great way to prove ownership. Now, we have been legally driving for about 12 years now, and the amount (and kind) of vehicles that we have owned could really make you question what is wrong with us. Some of these vehicles were great deals, and some were huge mistakes, but they were all great learning experiences.
1) 1964 Chevy Impala Convertible straight 6, 3 speed on the column:
I bought this car when I was 15, and started a body-off restoration to it. I have driven it 10 miles in 12 years. I still have it, because it is a lifelong project. Someday I might drive it a few more miles.
I spent about 1 million hours making this truck look discretely custom, super clean, and straight. Regretfully, I got bored with it and sold it for a mere $800. It is now in a junkard, completely destroyed. I visited her often to make sure she was ok, then one day she was gone.
3) 1995 Chevy S10 Truck:
It was ok for basic transportation, but terribly slow with it’s 2.2L & automatic transmission. I bet I drove it for a solid 4 months before selling it.
4) 1994 Chevy S10 Extended Cab Truck:
I liked this truck a lot. I lowered it, put a big stereo in it and tried to make it loud enough to set off car alarms. Gosh, I was a real jerk back then, I’m sorry about that.
5) 1994 Dodge Intrepid:
Awesomely big and comfortable car, but it ate up timing belts, water pumps and transmissions like nobody’s business. If it was a rear wheel drive car with a manual transmission, I would probably still have it. Unfortunately, it was just way too stressful to own. It was the only car I purposely did damage to. I still have nightmares about the timing belt I broke in a snowstorm, that was the absolute worst.
6) 1996 Saab 900 SE:
A fairly fun car to drive with the turbocharged engine, but replacing the clutch cables on a regular basis was getting annoying. It was also not a cheap car to fix when it needed parts.
7) 1990 Mitsubishi Mightymax:
This was my first truck that I did the turbocharged eclipse 4G63 engine swap to. I finished the engine swap and thought about driving it on the road legally. However, after realizing that it was going to take 10 years of bodywork to get the panels straight, I stripped it to a shell, and junked it. No regrets.
8 ) 1990 Plymouth Laser Fwd turbo:
For $300, I pulled this out of a back yard and drove it home with a bad turbo, running on 3 cylinders. I cleaned it up, replaced the turbo and the burned valve, and drove it for several thousand miles. Sold it to another 1A Auto employee that continued to drive it for many thousands of miles. It is rumored to be a full time drag car these days.
9) 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse AWD turbo:
This car was abandoned in a parking lot, and I had watched it sit there for about 2 years untouched. I hunted down the former owner, and bought it for $500. I threw a different ECU in it and planned on keeping it for many wonderful years. Unfortunately, I got pulled over a lot, and decided that it needed to go. It was also bought by the same 1A Employee that bought my Plymouth Laser. It was then sold to another friend of mine that is currently swapping a stroker motor into it.
This was the slower, 4 door, replacement car for the Eclipse. I bought it with an automatic transmission, and swapped it to a 5 speed manual transmission because automatics are awful. It starts everyday and always gets me where I’m going. I like it.
11) 1996 Chevy S10 Truck:
I got an absolutely spectacular deal on this and I knew the entire history of it. I drove it about 500 miles and sold it for a nice profit.
12) 1991 Chevy Camaro RS 305:
This car was received in trade for some work on our very own Rob Conlon’s 1975 Corvette. It really is a clean car, but the clearcoat just doesn’t want to stay on the roof for any period of time. I recently sold this one to a good home. It is in good hands.
This is my current truck that I put a turbocharged Eclipse 4G63 engine into. It is the cleanest truck that I have ever owned and the free price tag was just right. I thoroughly enjoy this truck and I hope I don’t come up with any reason to get rid of it. It is really quite fun to drive, and it doesn’t scream out “arrest me” while I drive through town.
14) 1988 Honda Hawk GT 650:
This is my motorcycle that I completely customized and ride in the summertime. It has 1964 impala tail lights, viper yellow paint, and a huge list of modifications. I like working on it more than I like riding it. I’m a car guy at heart.
This was a good deal like many of the vehicles that I have owned. Its fun in the sun, and makes me feel more important than everybody else on the road. I’m going to sell it soon because I don’t belong in this car, and I could use the driveway space.
1) 1980 Toyota Celica:
This car was the best off-roading vehicle that either of us have owned. It was rear wheel drive, had a manual transmission, and the reliability of a Toyota. If he didn’t total it, I have no doubt that it would be a full time race car right now. Gosh that car was fun.
2) 1986 Chevy K5 Blazer:
3 speed manual transmission, V8 and an unimaginable amount of rot. It was truly amazing that the body stayed in 1 piece, because there wasn’t a solid piece of metal on it. On the other hand, it was quite a reliable truck, I don’t believe it ever let him down.
A true piece of American history. This car was no less than 200 feet long, and the 14 additional speakers could deafen people from a 1/4 mile away. With it’s red racing stripes over the hood, it raced its way to the junkyard under its own power in 1st gear with no brakes. It was truly hilarious in every way, shape, AND form.
4) 1988 Chevy Camaro T-Top 2.8L (Z28 look-alike):
Scott got this Camaro for free because it had an engine fire, was disassembled, and left out in the weather for several years. As crazy as it sounds, the car was in great shape other than the engine. We put over 1 trillion hours of work into this car at the time, and it hated us in return. The injectors constantly had what appeared to be chocolate brownie stuck in them on the fuel side. The car had a new tank, new fuel lines and a dozen fuel filters. To our knowledge, the brownie fairy wasn’t filling his injectors in the middle of the night, so we were baffled. We both learned immensely from that car, and although it was a major headache at the time, I am glad he had it. I am also glad it is long gone.
5) 1988 Chevy K5 Blazer:
This truck was a value that could not be beat. It had new everything, looked great, but kids were scared to ride in it. So Scott bought it for about a 1/10 of what it was worth, and began customizing. It got a monster truck size lift kit, big tires, a light bar, soft top roof, vinyl floor covering, and a loud flowmaster exhaust. With all of these things combined, getting a legal inspection sticker became impossible. It was sadly sold, and the regret is still deep in Scott’s heart.
6) 1986 Mustang GT 5.0L:
This was free to Scott if we helped a friend move to a new house. The car had been sitting long enough to begin to sink into the PAVED driveway. After siphoning a few mouth fulls of bad gas out of the tank, we got her running again and drove her to her new home…. hidden at a friends house. Seriously, if Scott brought another junk car home, he may have been kicked out of the house. This was a decent car and quickly flipped for a decent profit.
7) 1964 Thunderbird 390:
Thunderbirds seem to always end up in Scott’s hands, nobody can explain it, because he doesn’t really even like Fords. Anywho, he bought this from my family, he did some work to it, and drove it a bit. Then he re-sold it to a friend that sadly parted it out. This was truly disappointing, because it was a very original car.
8 ) 1995 Ford Windstar Van (The Teal Serpent):
A free van can’t be passed up sometimes, even if it is teal green and was rumored to have a pair of blown head gaskets. After quickly learning that “head gasket in a bottle” doesn’t actually work as shown on TV, he replaced them the “right” way. It was then that he learned that the radiator was the actual problem that caused the head gaskets to blow from overheating. It was a learning experience for all parties involved. Good van, too bad it was so darn ugly.
9) 1998 Geo tracker:
This was passed down through Scott’s family until his sister released the pistons from the engine while driving down the highway. The carnage was immense, and fun to look at if it isn’t yours. Scott bought it off his sister and tossed an engine in it so that he had a reliable 4 wheel drive beater.
10) 1963 Ford Thunderbird:
People call Scott and myself all the time with automotive bargains, and this was one of those. It is a beautiful looking and driving T-bird that had been sitting in a friend’s driveway for a few years because the “family thing” happened. It is now in Scott’s capable hands and he drives it regularly to car shows and to get ice cream.
11) 1991 Honda Hawk GT 650:
Yes, Scott and I have the same bike… pretty much. After riding his bike, I knew I needed one too. I can’t say enough great things about Honda Hawk’s. They have a V-Twin, a single sided swing arm, and a short wheelbase to carve corners with. Both of our bikes are unbelievable fun to ride and extremely unique.
12) 1985 Pontiac Fiero GT:
While trying to sell “The Teal Serpent”, I nonchalantly put a sign on Scott’s windshield that said “may trade for Fiero” because he is a Fiero Fanatic. We laughed at the thought of a Fiero owner wanting a teal van in trade, but apparently it was nothing to laugh about. A guy left his business card on the windshield saying that he would sell his 1 owner 85 GT 4 speed V6 for “cheap money” if Scott was interested. Well, Scott sold the van, and bought that guy’s Fiero. It is currently in the middle of a fastback conversion. Hopefully we can get it done soon!
13) 1951 Dodge B Series Truck:
This was a good deal from a friend & fellow 1AAuto employee. It was sitting in her parents yard, and Scott was pretty sure he could do something with it. That is still yet to be determined.
14) 1992 Chevy Lumina:
The high class Geo Tracker was rear ended and totaled, so a replacement was needed fast. A few phone calls later, a $1, one-owner Lumina arrives. It had issues, but they are sorted out, and now he is riding in style. Temp gauge, oil gauge, voltage gauge? Who needs em!? Not this Chevy Lumina.
So as you can see, we have both had quite a few vehicles. This is not counting the ones that we have owned and not titled in our names. You can assume there have been 40-50% more if we included those, but that just wouldn’t be fair.
How does your collection compare? Do you have us beat?