You may remember back in June when a GM rep was spotted driving a CTS-V coupe locally and I posted it up for your entertainment. Well, these days, the world is moving faster than ever before, and if you aren’t first, you’re last. According to my calendar it is still 2010, yet, Hennessey has already got a 2011 CTS-V running 11’s at 120+ in the quarter mile. If you have crazy money to spend, this sure looks like a heck of a lot of fun. I’m sure the dealer that sold it would be thrilled to see this video. “Cya Warranty!”
I recently decided that I hated the stock brakes on my 1989 Dodge Ram 50. In the 4 + years that I have owned the truck, they have never been quite right. Rather than putting time, effort, and money into the stock brakes, I decided to do a little bit of an upgrade. A good friend of mine gave me four super low mileage calipers and rotors from a early 2000’s Dodge Viper, so I really had no choice with what to do with them. One way or another, I was going to get them onto my truck.
I began the swap by purchasing a 2008 Dodge Viper master cylinder and designed a way to mate it to my truck’s brake booster. Then I had my brother in law build the adapter with his absolutely amazing machining skills. While he was working hard, I provided the moral support, entertaining banter, a delicious meal, and beverages. After a few hours and some serious mathematics, the adapter was complete.
I then started working on the front brake setup, and it was not looking good. The front Viper rotors were going to hit the tie rod ends. There was no way that the Viper rotors were going to work. So, the research ensued. I measured the night away and decided what the perfect size rotor would be. It turns out that 14″ Cadillac CTS-V rotors were what I need. Overkill much? A short time passed and I was the proud owner of cross drilled and slotted CTS-V rotors. They were massive, so massive that I began questioning my own sanity. Ah well, too late. I began fitting them on the truck and all was looking well. I just needed to bore out the center of the rotor and redrill the mounting holes. Back up to my brother in laws I went…. Food, drink, entertaining banter, and machining happened. Viola! The rotors were now a bolt on affair.
Next up was caliper brackets. There were a bit on the tricky side to make, luckily I was good in geometry class, and I had a brother in law that wasn’t sick of me yet. You know how it goes, food, banter, drink, caliper brackets = done.
The rear brakes were a little tricky because I needed to hook the emergency brake cables into the Viper calipers. Amazingly, with a little drilling and reworking of caliper brackets, it all fell into place. It was as if this was all meant to be. With more braking, I knew I needed more rubber on the road, so I also upgraded my wheels and tires to 18″ Cadillac Escalade wheels with 255/45/18 inch Z rated tires.
Naturally, the obvious question comes next…. Do they actually work? You bet they do. I can now stop fast enough to make my tongue stick out. I’m not sure if I can stop as well as a Viper (maybe better? gasp!), but this big brake upgrade has vastly exceeded all of my expectations. The feel of the pedal is at least 4000x better, and the added weight on each corner actually makes the truck feel more stable. I can’t explain it, it just is what it is. Accept it.
Every so often, I type “Barn find” into eBay Motors just to see what kind of coolness pops up. The search always yields hundreds of cars, trucks, and motorcycles that I dream of owning. I want to be the guy that finds these things. If there is some kind of Indiana Jones sort-of adventure involved that is even better. I will run from crazy underground traps, and solve ancient riddles if it gets me a sweet old car. Heck, I may even do it for a couple of seized engines. It’s every gearhead’s dream.
On eBay there are guys that pull ’60’s Vette’s, Yenko’s, Packards, and everything in between out of fields and barns. How they find this stuff? I have no clue! One of my favorite eBay finds recently was a 1933 Pierce Arrow. It was apparently sitting under a tree in California for the last 50 years. Luckily for car enthusiasts, cars don’t rust into the earth so fast in California, so this is an easy save for any restorer. Check the pictures out and tell me how mad you are that you didn’t find it first!
Got a barn “find” story with pictures? Tell me your story. I absolutely love reading about this kind of stuff. If your story is good I’ll post it up here!
Item Number 190431606807
Having good friends at a variety of car dealers is really cool, especially today. This morning, a new CTS-V Coupe was stopping by a local dealer, and a good friend of mine snapped a pic for me because he knows that I would sell his soul for it. Without further adieu, here it is. Just sit back and appreciate it’s beauty, because nothing else needs to be said.
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:
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.
What’s your opinion?
Image from http://www.carversation.com
Can you believe that brand new from GM this bare cylinder head was only slightly over $200? Over the weekend, I spent a fair amount of time staring at a 6.2L L92 engine out of a Cadillac Escalade, along with all of it’s wonderful aluminum parts. It made me want to build one for myself really badly. The weight savings, the easy power, the plentiful parts. There is no downside to this?! At $200 per bare head, you could build a complete set of these awesome flowing, 70cc combustion chamber, aluminum cylinder heads for like $800 (maybe cheaper if you are savvy). These L92 heads, when combined with the right intake manifold, will allow you to effortlessly make 500+ hp without any power adders. Just bolt it together and enjoy your tire smoke. After years of dealing with cast iron SBC and BBC cylinder heads, blocks, and intake manifolds, I don’t think I can go back. I feel obligated to grab new technology by the horns and do a dance with it. Who’s with me on this?