Taking it Back to 1984 with “Fat Charlie”

Recently I had the pleasure of working on an absolutely beautiful 1984 Chevy Caprice.  I know, I know, “absolutely beautiful” and “Caprice” probably shouldn’t ever be used in the same sentence.  However, I assure you that this car is an exception to the rule.  This big fella, nicknamed “fat Charlie” by its owner, was clearly babied from the start, and always well taken care of.  He was parked indoors, and only driven when necessary which kept the mileage down around 2800 miles per year.  Yes, you did read that correctly, Charlie has just over 70K miles on it today.

When Charlie arrived in my driveway under the cover of darkness (don’t ask), he had a saggy headliner, stripped out windshield wiper arm, a leaky muffler, and a directional that only wanted to make left turns.  All were easy fixes that I thoroughly enjoyed doing.  Every nut and bolt was removed without a fight, and I took special care on everything I removed because I didn’t want to damage any of the original interior trim that was in perfect condition.  Overboard? Yea, maybe, but I love cars.

Several days later, Charlie had officially passed the state inspection, and I got to take the big guy for a truly enjoyable jaunt down the road.  It basically feels like a brand new 1984 car.  There is plenty of room for you and 16 of your closest friends, it has power everything, and the floats like a Cadillac down the bumpiest of roads.  I even got thumbs up from multiple people!  Going forward, Charlie will be kept in the family of the original owner, and driven and enjoyed daily for the foreseeable future.  Maaaybe Charlie will even make it to some local cruise nights?  We’ll see. 🙂

Any other 1980’s B-Body fans out there?

When Early 1900′s Puck Clutch Technology Is FTW!

In the early 1900’s automotive engineers were trying some crazy stuff.  That is one of the reasons that I love older cars so much.  These guys didn’t really have a “norm” to start with, so they attempted to create it.  Cars in general were in their infancy and each manufacturer was completely different than the next.

The other day I spotted an engine that still had an old clutch assembly attached.  It was something that I had never seen before so I snapped off a few quick pics.  Judging by the planetary gears on the back of the clutch, it was probably from a tractor or some piece of farm equipment, but it was cool looking & genius design nonetheless.   It vaguely resembled a modern puck clutch with it’s multi-pad design.  From what I am told, you could swap those friction pads out without pulling the transmission.  Now that is a good idea!  Just imagine how much cheaper clutch jobs would be if the transmission didn’t need to come out.  Even if clutches didn’t last as long, it could be a 30K mile service that is 1 hour of labor, and likely ~ $50 in friction material.  What am I missing here?  Why was this design lost in history?  Why doesn’t somebody reinvent this for ultimate profit?  What the heck?

Exedy? You listening?

Rusty Yet Appealing: 1933 Chevy Edition

What would you guys and gals value this car at?

Each weekend I find myself at car shows, junkyards, swap meets, and generally surrounded by the car culture.  This past weekend I was at a swap meet that we call “Amherst”, but it’s actually called “Cruising To Amherst”.  I have been going there on the last Sunday of every month for as long as I can remember, and it is always a great time.  There is never a lack of bizarre cars for sale or interesting people people to watch.  I usually bump in to old friends, co workers, and sometimes even cars and parts that I used to own!

This month was no exception for interesting people and cars.  One of my favorites was a 1933 (I think?) Chevy that appeared to have been freshly pulled out of a barn.  The body itself wasn’t that bad, but the running boards on the sides were almost completely rotted away.  I don’t really know how that’s possible, but hey, whatever.  The frame was cover in grease from looooong ago so it wasn’t too bad looking in the grand scheme of New England cars.  I was afraid to ask what the price tag was, because I’m often left flabbergasted, and I wasn’t mentally prepared for that type of risk so early in the morning.  If I had to put a number on it, I think $1500 is probably a fair estimate of value for a car like this.

Pro’s:
– It was a complete car
– You won’t need to hunt down little odds and ends that nickle and dime you to death.
– You may be able to get free delivery if your local?
– Cool looking car
– The metal is fairly straight

Con’s:
– Quite Rusty
– Needs lots of time and money invested to restore it
– 4 Doors, not as desirable as the coupe
– Your significant other will not like this in the yard / garage / property.  You may be kicked out of the house.

1A Auto Blog Readers:  What would you guys and gals value this car at?

Must Have Automotive Apps?

Ok, I have accidentally smashed almost every cell phone that I have ever owned.  I certainly don’t try to, but I’m constantly rolling around under cars, sandblasting, painting, washing, burning, and hammering things.   My environment is just not conducive to cellular phone usage.  Recently my service contract was up, and I had to make a decision.  Do I stay in my simple world without internet on my phone? OR Do I wake up to modern technology and get a phone that has internet, cool apps, and a variety of other gadgets?  I weighed out all the options and questioned some friends on phone durability.  I then jumped into the wide world of modern technology with a new Blackberry Bold. Wow!  Some of my friends tried to convince me to go with the Droid, which does look like an awesome phone, but I decided that it never stood a chance at surviving my automotive lifestyle.  I knew that I could get an Otterbox case for the Blackberry, and one of my friends has put his to the test with a 40 foot drop onto pavement, without damage.  So, mine shooould survive for a while as well.

This brings me to the point of this blog.  What apps does an automotive enthusiast like myself need for their Blackberry?  I know the flashlight is useful, but I don’t even know what else to look for!?  I realize that I could hop on Google and get recommendations from people I don’t know.  I would rather get the info from the absolutely awesome readers of the 1A Auto Blog.

What are the MUST HAVE Automotive apps?

Full disclosure: The Apple I-Phone pictured above was owned by a co-worker and was hit with a poorly (?) guided golf ball from about 50 yards.  The phone was resting “safely” in a golf cart cup holder with a pair of sunglasses keeping it company.  Then it happened, DRIVE! > POW! > SMASH! > CYA!  Just imagine those odds!

Defining Perfection: The Neighborhood Truck

Seeing cars and trucks used for their intended purposes does wonderful things for me.  I like seeing trucks hauling heavy stuff, Mustangs and Camaros being brutally launched at the drag strip, and pricey exotics ripping at the corners of a road course.  It’s refreshing.  When I went to the SEMA show a few years ago, I remember being absolutely flabbergasted that people in Nevada still drive around old cars daily.  Not as show cars, but as regular vehicles.  Ah…. The beautiful thing about the dry climates…..  rust isn’t desperately clawing at the bottom of your car trying to pull it back into the earth.   As long as the engine stays spinning, and the seats don’t turn into dust, you should be able to drive your 75 Malibu as long as you want.  I love this.  These old cars that are driven daily and used for a purpose often lack some of the pinache’ that show cars have, but they have features that can’t be bought or built, it’s called character.

In my neighborhood, there is an old 58-59 Chevy truck that looks like it gets used for typical yard work, and “around town” type things.  It has more character than any other car in town, and it’s tough to pinpoint why.  It just looks sooo right from every angle.  If I ever were lucky enough to own this truck, I don’t think I would change a thing about it. It is perfection.

What’s in your neighborhood?

Automotive Tales: ’63 Split Window Edition

Much like a human, the story of where a car has been can seriously effect the car’s soul.  Cars have souls? Yeap, they sure do, but it isn’t James Brown kind of soul though. It’s much different than that.  When you know where a car has been and all of the amazing tales that go with it, it can instantly change a cars value, the way that you drive it, and its appeal to others.  As a car enthusiast, I love hearing these automotive saga’s, because it can turn a very ordinary car into something special.  Whether embellished or not, this is one of those tales.

When I was quite a bit younger, my dad and I went to car shows and often met up with a friend of his named Mike that had a 63 split window Corvette with a Mako Shark nose and a built 427 big block.  The story with his car was an interesting one that landed it near the top of my automotive “Do Want!” list.

The story goes……..that the car was sitting behind a local dealer in the 1970’s after a bad accident.  The nose was completely destroyed, it was missing tons of parts, and the engine had vanished.  For months it sat in the snow and rain, looking more and more sad each day.  Driving by it frequently, Mike made it well known to his wife that he really wanted that car VERY badly.  Sure enough, his apparently awesome wife inquired about the car, bought it, and gave the sad looking pile of Corvette parts to him as a birthday present (Best b-day present ever? Probably.)  He was thrilled, as any guy should be that just received a split window vette.  The only downfall was that now he had to reassemble the puzzle pieces back together again.  He started with a Mako Shark nose, and began flaring the fenders and straightening out the body, eventually painting it a lighter shade of blue.  He then had my dad build a 427 engine for it.  The problem was that they were afraid the engine was going to get stolen before they got a chance to install it in the car.  So what did they do?  Well, they chained it to the house for a while.  Time passes and the high compression engine was built with the meanest parts available at the time.  Before tossing it into the car, they decided to fire it up on the engine stand. Being car guys, they wanted to hear it with the garage door closed for a few second so that they can really “feel” the power.  As they expected, the engine fired up. Unfortunately for them, it immediately blew all the windows out of the garage door.  Oops.  Lesson learned.

My dad still claims that it is one of the most scary fast cars that he has ever been in.  He said that when you bury your foot into the floor it felt like it was going to pull the front wheels off the ground.   The picture above was probably taken around 1994, which was the last time I saw this car.  If you know of it’s whereabouts, I would absolutely LOVE to see it again and / or more pictures of it.  The soul of that car runs deep, and that is what makes it extra awesome in my mind.

Got automotive stories of your own?  Share em with us!

Widebody Wednesday: 2010 Camaro Edition

I am declaring today as Widebody Wednesday because I was hit in the face with some sweet looking 2010 Camaro widebody pictures and figured that the 1A Auto Blog readers would enjoy them as well.  This car is a work in progress being built by Extreme Dimensions in conjunction with Real Auto Works, and it looks like something I would thoroughly enjoy cruising around in.  The laid out air ride suspension compliments the custom widebody kit perfectly in my opinion, and makes it look different from every other Camaro on the street. Although I may change a little thing here or there, I’m going to have to give this one two high 5’s.  As Facebook might say: “Jeremy Like This!”

Pictures borrowed from:

http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?5012975-2010-Camaro-widebody