Put on your party hats folks, because multiple sources are saying that GM is bringing the mini truck back (*applause*). They say it will be smaller than the Colorado / Canyon, and closer to size of the S10’s. Apparently they remembered that in the 1980’s, the small truck segment was selling 1 million trucks annually, which is vastly more than today’s measly couple hundred thousand. In celebration of mini trucks, lets reflect on some of the all time greats.
Each day, I like to see what is going on in the automotive world, so I like to check out a few different auto blogs. One of my personal favorites is Jalopnik.com(no surprise there). For those of you unfamiliar, it is a combination of different writing styles and automotive related topics that are truly entertaining, for my strange sense of humor at least. The way that they write is just the way I like it, a perfect symphony of facts, pictures, and sarcasm. Now, I realize that this glorious Nutt’s and Bolt’s Automotive Blog isn’t at Jalop traffic levels yet, but I do often wonder if any of the writers over there check us out. I am one of their biggest fans, so I would be honored if they stopped by here every once in a while.
If you do any Automotive Blogging (and I know some of you do), drop a “Ello Gov’na” in the comment box!
Sometime in 2001 while my head was apparently buried in the sand like an ostrich, Ford came out with the” Forty-Nine” concept. It was a way of tipping their hat to the great success of the 1949 Ford. Apparently in 1949, Ford had 1.3 million orders for the newly redesigned cars before they even arrived at the dealers. Yeah, that’s pretty decent and all, but we aren’t here for sales numbers, we are here to talk about this cool “Forty-Nine” Concept.
For me, I wish I had seen this car in 2001 before the 02-05 Thunderbirds came out. The “Forty-Nine” is a great looking car from every angle (especially the convertible), but it strongly hints at the 02-05 Thunderbird, which forces me to give it a major attitude and a healthy dose of mean muggin’. We all know that very few people actually like the 02-05 Thunderbird because of its high price, “blah” suspension, mid 1990’s interior, automatic transmission, and “meh” horsepower numbers. I have to assume that if this “Forty-Nine” actually did go into production, it would likely have been a Thunderbird on all the same levels. A heaping bucket full of “blah”, with a complementary side of “meh”. No thank you.
But let’s be more positive now, because nobody likes a negative Nancy…
Fact: This “Forty-Nine” car concept is great looking. Look at how straight the body is, and how clean all the edges of the glass are. I wish my cars had the kind of smooooooth that Ford brought to 2001 with this car (A+ on that). The wheels are little dated now, but in 2001 they were probably the hottest thing on the block. The roof is clear, which is great for a multitude reasons that I won’t dive into. Other than the intake pipe decal, the engine bay is a work of art that looks delicious. With the engine bay that nice, who cares what the rest of the car looks like? The interior overall is pretty nice looking. It really brings a simple, sporty, and classic look to the table. Well done on that.
Now, build this car with a new supercharged 5.0L and a 6-speed manual transmission, loud exhaust, and new wheels, and it will be eternally great. I’ll take mine 4 inches lower too.
In my “Automotive Confessions” post, I had mentioned that the VW world does some very strange things with their cars. Some – unbelievably awesome, some – unbelievably not awesome. This particular VW Wabbit was spotted for sale on eBay, and it falls into the “unknown” category of awesomeness. Sure, it has nearly the maximum amount of camber possible without grinding the inner rims into the ground. Sure, it has a weird mural on the hood of a dude forcing a phone upon another dude. Sure, it has “WAT” spray painted on the passenger door. You can’t make this stuff up. What I am trying to say is: “If a slammed, trophy grabbing, 1983 Volkwagen Rabbit is your thing, you better bid fast! You only have a few days left. Read More
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.
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.
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.)