Hate your Automatic Transmission? Swap it to a Manual!

Each day of the week, you shift your car from “P” into “D”, feel the thud of your tired automatic, and cringe at the thought of letting a car shift for you.  When you originally bought the car, you thought the automatic would suffice, but you’re an automotive enthusiast for god sakes, and driving an automatic just isn’t the same as ripping through gears at an rpm of your own choosing.   I too was once in your shoes, and I have shared in your daily suffering.  Don’t worry, you are not alone.

It began when I noticed an ominous amount of written warnings from the local law enforcement accumulating on my refrigerator.  Obviously not my fault though; it was due to my car being far too enjoyable to drive, and thus not allowing anything but spirited driving.  Bottom line: I needed something slow(er) and boring looking, which is where my story really begins.

I hunted around a bit and found myself oddly attracted to the fine lines of a 2000 Mitsubishi Galant.  I can’t explain it, so don’t bother asking, or making fun of me.  The only downfall was that they all came with automatic transmissions.  Ah well I thought, and I bought it anyway. I knew that if it got too boring to drive, I would find a way to get a manual transmission into it.  Well, that boring point came on quicker than expected, and before long transmission parts started arriving at my door.  It turned out that “3G” 2000-05 Mitsubishi Eclipse’s were built on the same platform as “8G” Galants and did come with manual transmissions.

Flash forward a couple of months.  I had run through the 5 speed transmission swap in my head about 1 million times and double checked that I had every part that I would possibly need.   I didn’t want to have the car non-driveable for more than a day. (I also had a bet with a friend that I couldn’t allow myself to lose.)

That special Saturday finally arrived, and as crazy as it sounds, the swap was as easy as removing all the old stuff and bolting in the new stuff.  It was smooth, and trouble free, likely due to my obsessive planning.  By the end of my 8 hour non-stop wrench-fest, the swap was complete.  Overall, I couldn’t be happier with it.  Not only did my love for my daily driver improve 10x over, but I gained 5 mpg!  Did I win the bet you ask? Well, I claimed that I could perform the swap in 4 hours, and my friend said 1 full weekend.  8 hours solidified the tie. Ah well.

How-to: Replace an S10 Truck or Blazer Door Handle

For those of you that like to handle your own automotive work, or if you want to try it out for the first time, 1AAuto is here to help.  In our videos we guide you through the entire process of replacing a part.  In this case, we show how to replace an S10 Truck Door Handle (which is the same as a Chevy Blazer & GMC Jimmy).  With this video, you also get the door panel removal, so if you want to replace your speakers, or anything else behind the door panel, you are half way there!  If S10′s aren’t your thing, we have 40+ other how-to videos that may be of assistance, and we are adding more every day! You can see them all on our 1AAuto Youtube Channel.

Let us know what you think!

Under Construction: 1972 Chevy Nova

About 10-12 years ago, my friend Jason had wanted a car that he could drive fast and frighten people with. After some car-hunting with his muscle car fanatic friends, he ended up with a non-running 1972 Chevy Nova. It’s engine was junk, but the body was all one color and it still had a little bit of shine to it. So he picked it up for a good price, and started wrenching. He built himself a reliable 350(ish) horsepower small block Chevy to put in it, a TH350 transmission, and a Posi rear end. He then drove the car like he hated it, making sure to leave two rubber stripes on the pavement at every opportunity.  Over time, priorities in life changed, and his once potent, transmission eating, hell-ride ended up in a derelict state for several years in his parents driveway.  Typical automotive tale right?

Fast forward a few years, and he bought a house of his own. The Nova was transported gingerly from the forgotten driveway to it’s new home in a heated garage with all the equipment to bring it back to life.  The bubbling vinyl roof was removed immediately so that we could view the holes that we knew were hiding underneath. We also knew that the quarter panels had been replaced by the previous owner, but we didn’t realize that the right side was doubled up. Yes, a new quarter panel welded right over the original, both of them rotted and packed full of body filler.  The trunk lid and floors were both rotted, the fiberglass cowl hood was cracked, the lower tail panel was not attached, and the front fenders were fixed poorly from a previous accident.

Here is the simplified to-do list:
1) Replace both doors
2) Replace both quarter panels
3) Replace trunk drop downs
4) Fix the hole in the trunk floor that was meant for a fuel cell.
5) Replace the roof skin
6) Replace both front fenders
7) Replace both outer rear wheel houses
8 ) Replace portions of the inner rear wheel houses
9) Make inner and outer rocker panels and install them
10) Fix the 10,000 holes in the firewall, and straight it out
11) Replace tail pan (the metal that holds the tail lights)
12) Replace the rear section of the trunk where the tail pan attaches
13) Replace trunk lid
14) Fix rot holes in rear deck lid area
15) Fix rotted front body mounts
16) Fix hacked floors that I hastily installed one night when I was young and stupid.
17) Clean the underbody
18 ) Replace front subframe
19) Make custom subframe connectors that look like part of the body
20) Fix the rotted SS hood, and use it because it is cool
21) Make custom gauge cluster or convince Jason to use the stock one with supplemental aftermarket gauges.
22) Slam it to the pavement
23) Make new brake lines that are the proper size.
24) Install the all aluminum 6.2L
25) Do a celebration burnout
26) Do another celebration burnout
27) Finally race it against my truck since we made a bet about 9 years ago that I could build a 4 cylinder truck faster than his Nova.

Most sane people would have junked the car long ago, but when you have a personal connection to a specific vehicle, you can’t just give up on it. You put in the work and bring it back to make it better than ever before, and that is precisely what we are doing. It will be straighter, lower, louder, faster, and better engineered. It will be done right, with no exceptions. It it will be powered by an all aluminum, fuel injected 6.2L Escalade engine (L92 I believe?), backed by a built TH400, dropped several inches to tuck the tires, and have a body-filler FREE body.  If things work out right, it may even have some forced induction, but that is still an unknown at this time.

Disclaimer:  Making this post allows me to be accountable for work getting done or not getting done on his car.  If you fail to see updates on a regular basis, please kick me, and we will pick up the pace.  Ideally we want it to move under its own power in 2010.

Future: The Dynosphere Takes the Streets?

People were more creative in the 1930′s, this video makes that quite apparent.  This guy decided that 4 wheels was not the proper way to transport people, and 1 giant wobbling wheel would be waaaaay better.  I am not going to say he was wrong, but maybe just a little too advanced for his era.  If I’m not in a flying car by 2020, I am definitely going on search for a dynosphere.  It’s the only logical thing to do if I am travelling down a beach or through a desert.  Who’s with me?

To Do List: Shoehorn Viper Engine into a Cuda.

While flipping through some of last year’s local cruise night pictures, I came across a car that deserves to be swooned over by people other than myself.  Under the hood of a 1970-74 Plymouth Cuda, you expect to find a hopped up 340, 440, or maybe the 426 (since apparently everybody has one these days), but this one is unique.   It has an injected Dodge Viper engine lurking under the hood with all the accessories in place.  I see the car quite frequently at all the local cruise nights and I can’t help but admire it every time.  My absolute favorite part about it is that it clearly gets driven regularly.   It’s spotless, but not spotless enough to be mistaken for a trailer queen.  If I knew who the owner was I would give him a high-five for building such an awesome looking car, but sadly I don’t.  The best I can do is post pictures up for the world to be jealous of.  So, here you go world.  Well done Mr. CudaViper owner, very well done.

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Weekly Rotting Car: 1933 Plymouth PC

Sad Looking 1933 Plymouth PC

Sad Looking 1933 Plymouth PC

Sometimes you look back in life and realize that you let some awesome cars slip right through your hands.  This is a story about one of those cars, and I think about it all too often.  It began about 15 years ago when my parents bought a “drivable” 1933 Plymouth PC 4 Door Sedan.  Unknown to my parents at the time of purchase, this was an extremely rare car.

Back in 1933, cars didn’t have fancy model names like “Zephyr” or “El Camino”, they just had model numbers.  Boring, I know.   Even with its brand new fancy-pants one-year-only straight 6 engine, it didn’t have a chance of survival.  The great depression was hurting the country worse than ever, and Plymouth had decided to remake the 1932 bodies (for all intents and purposes) and call it a 1933 PC model.  Much to Plymouth’s surprise, the few customers that they still had were less than impressed with this grand idea.  The Plymouth PC was built for a mere 3 months before they ended production early and switched to the longer wheelbase PCXX and PD models.  That’s right, the customers hated the PC and wanted something different, so Plymouth gave them a longer vehicle.  At least it wasn’t a 1932 model anymore, right? Several years later, WWII began, and cars were being crushed and melted left and right to make war vehicles.  Naturally, the cheapest, crappiest cars out there were the first ones on the chopping block.  (Almost sounds like the Cash For Clunkers program!)  For reasons unknown, my parents Plymouth had survived all these years against all of these unimaginable odds.

Ok, enough of the history lesson,  let’s get back to when the vehicle arrived in the driveway, shall we?  My dad is the best technician I have ever met by leaps and bounds, and he was doing a little nitpicking of the new 4 wheeled acquisition.  A grind here, and hammer there, and pretty soon a frame-off restoration was in full swing.  In his defense, the “drivable” car was built of 80% body filler, 13% rivets, and 7% original sheet metal. The lack of solid body was bad enough that it had to be redone by somebody with more time, the right tools, and more work space.  So off it went to a body guy.  Weeks passed and a fair amount of money exchanged hands.  Frequent phone calls from the body guy assured my parents that everything was going great.  New metal was going on, and it was going to be straight as an arrow when they got it back. Yippy!

A month had passed since we last saw the car, and out of the blue my dad received a phone call from the a storage unit owner looking for rent money.  “What the?”  Well, the body guy had put the Plymouth body and misc parts into a rented storage unit, and took off with the cash.  Nice guy right?  He had never even touched the car, which was truly crushing.

Weeks turned into months, and months turned to years.  The sour taste for this once loved vehicle never left their mouths, which understandably left this ultra rare pile of auto parts sitting dormant in the yard for many years.

At about 18 years old, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I decided I would take charge of the project and teach myself how to do nice bodywork because I couldn’t stand to see it rot.  Hundreds upon hundreds of hours went into that car.  Cutting rot, welding 300+ rivet holes in the roof, fitting the suicide doors, assembling, building a new firewall, removing the doors again, reassembling….. and on and on it went.  Within a summer, it was finally running again.  It was far from drivable, but it did run.

Going Back Together Again!

Going Back Together Again!

Then, the big move happened.  The house was sold and all the rolling stock had to move from the old house to the new.  “Temporarily” the car went to my brothers house.  Temporary then turned into permanently, and before long, the car was parted out and sold piece by piece.  Yes, it was all gone as quick as that, and I am still sickened from it.  Unfortunately, I lacked time to finish it, and space to work on it.  I already had too many cars and had to make choices.  Looking back I would have done things a lot differently, it’s too bad I can’t get it back because I would have loved to finish it.  Hopefully this Plymouth’s parts have helped bring others back to life again. That is what I tell myself at least.

If you happen to know the whereabouts of any of the major parts from this car, I would love to hear from you and see your own Plymouth project!

What kinds of cars you have you let slip away? Leave me comments!

Got a Jeep? We show you how to take it apart!

This week we had a Jeep Grand Cherokee to play with, so naturally, we took it all apart for your entertainment!  We made several how-to videos to show you how to replace the tail lights, the parking lights, the corner lights, and the rear hatch supports.  You can check out all of our videos on our youtube channel.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for the latest and greatest how-to videos!

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