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Coolest cars have to be production cars...And Cool!!

Someone posted on the internet about the coolest movie and TV cars. I had to disagree with the poster on a lot of them. The reason is he had stuff like the "Batmobile", the Monkees GTO based surfmobile, the Munsters coach, etc. These were all one-off customs built by customizers like George Barris. They were definitely cool, but there's no way "Joe Average" could ever duplicate them. On the other hand-stuff like the General Lee Charger, the Starsky & Hutch Torino, even the "California Kid" '34 Ford built by Pete Chapouris would be pretty easy to duplicate. And I think a lot of the guy's picks were just because he like the shows. Colt Seavers' '82 GMC pickup from "The Fall Guy?"  Really? An '82 GMC Pickup? The Van from "The "A" team?  An '81 GMC Van??  Those belong on a list with the Iconic Mustang and Charger from "Bullitt", the Supra from the 1st "Fast&Furious", the Badass &…

Availability and "Bang for the Buck" are factors to consider when choosing a powertrain...

While people fight with machetes for premium models, a lot of people build really cool cars from base models. And often they swap engines and transmissions. Here's some guidelines on which ones are easy to do and offer a big performance gain for minimal dollar outlay. # 1. Lets say you have a 1964-67 Chevelle, LeMans,or Olds Cutlass, or Buick Skylark. GM had a rule that no intermediate could have a standard engine over 330 cubic inches. ( The 389 Pontiacs, 396 Chevys and 400 Olds and Buicks were options. Semantics,but thats GM back then. ) If you have a LeMans with the 326 / ST300 powertrain the way to go would be get a 400 and a TH350. The reason is Pontiac engines are externally identical from a 326 to a 455, so it's literally a bolt-in swap. 400's were used in almost every model from '67-78, and make a ton more power than a 326. A 326 ( or a 350 for that matter ) isn't worth hopping up because the big-port,big valve heads needed to make serious power can't b…

I can't save people from themselves....

In the last few posts I've talked about people taking on projects that are not feasible because of the time and money it would take to do them, or that the things their attempting are beyond their mechanical ability. I'm not trying to piss on anybody's dreams, but over the years I've seen it a million times. A guy gets a "deal" on some car that needs major work. Then he realizes he's bitten off more than he can chew, both mechanically and financially. The car sits,rotting in his driveway or garage for a year or two, until he finally admits he's never going to restore it the way he wants to and usually sells it to someone else at a loss. Here's some good advice on how to avoid this problem, and I'll also tell you about a couple guys who insisted on taking on projects that would be hard for a professional shop, much less some poor slob in his garage with hand tools. Luckily I was able to talk them out of it, but they almost made a HUGE mistake. …

Sometimes it's better to just "Run What You Brung"...

Talked to some more people this week who wanted to take the path of "Most Resistance." I tried to talk some sense into them, and as usual I might as well have talked to the wall.  Masochist #1 had a 1977 Pontiac Firebird that had a 350 Chevy in it. ( GM played musical engines due to smog laws in the late '70's. From '77-79 depending on where you lived, you could get a Firebird, Formula, or Trans-Am with a 301 Pontiac, a 305 Chevy,a 350 Chevy,a 350 Olds, a 350 Pontiac, a 400 Pontiac or a 403 Olds. ) He wanted to know what it would take to put a 455 Pontiac in it. I told him it would be too expensive and too much trouble. He'd be better off financially and in terms of less grief to just hop up the 350 Chevy, that there was more speed equipment for a Small-block Chevy than anything else on the planet. "But what would it entail exactly?" he pressed. Ugh. "Okay." I said. "1st off you have to find a running or at least rebuildable 455 Ponti…

More on the path of most resistance....

Like I was saying yesterday gearheads seem to go out of their way to make their own lives difficult. I was talking to a couple people who wanted to build "Tribute" or clone cars of rare muscle. The thing I don't understand is if it's a fake anyway, then it doesn't have to be correct to the nth degree!!  Here's some examples. # 1. This guy wanted to build a Yenko Camaro clone. Simple enough, right?  Buy a '69 Camaro, swap in a Rat Motor, and get the decals / stencils from Phoenix Graphics. His lament was he couldn't find a 427 with 1968 or 69 date codes. Really?  I'd just buy a 454 out of a junkyard truck and rebuild that. If you "gotta have" a 427 you can buy a 427 crank, rods and pistons, and the proper balancer and flywheel from Summitt or GMPP very cheaply and put it in a 454 block. It's a fake anyway, so who cares if the block has '70's or 80's date codes??  # 2. This guy was building a 1962 Catalina Super Duty Tribut…

The Path of Most Resistance Revisited....

Salesmen and Sports coaches talk about taking the path of least resistance-i.e doing something the easy way instead of the hard way. For some reason auto restorers think that a project is somehow better if it was hard to do. Not true. A lot of the advice I give people is to make their restoration project cost less, and be easier to do. Here's a list of things to consider when planning a project. # 1. "Bang for the Buck". This should be obvious. You want to get as much performance and value from your money as possible. For example I had a guy ask me what kind of car / engine combo would be best for an all-out top end run at Bonneville. I suggested an '82-90 Trans-Am powered by a 454 Chevy. The reasons I suggested this are simple. Like it or not, nothing makes more power for less money than a big-block Chevy. Yes, a Chrysler Hemi or Boss-Nine Ford can make as much or more power,but at two or three times the cost. Secondly, on an all-out top-speed run, aerodynamics coun…

"Cross-Breeding" is not Blasphemy.....

I was pleased to read in a buff magazine about a guy that bought an unrestored '57 Chevy race car that had a blown 389 Pontiac in it. By blown, I mean supercharged. Apparently the car was first raced in 1962, with a Pontiac engine, and was raced clear up until the '80's always with a Pontiac engine. Refreshingly, the new owner says he's going to restore the car as it was raced, and keep the Pontiac powertrain. Very cool. Much cooler than spending umpteen thousands trying to make it "original".  Purists rage against cross-breeding as blasphemous, but that's how hot rodding started. In the '50's many people put Cadillac V8s into Studebaker Coupes and ran them at Bonneville. Tons of guys put small-block Chevys into '32-34 Fords. I remember in the '60's and '70's seeing a lot of engine swaps. Ford guys hated it, but I have seen many '53-56 Ford F100 pickups with Camaro or Chevelle front clips-( which gives modern power steering…

We should all adopt "Dominic Toretto's" attitude from "Fast&Furious.....

I get so tired of people arguing that whatever niche of hot-rodding they personally like is the "right" one, and everyone else is an idiot. I loved Vin Diesel's answer to Gal Gadot when she caught him inspecting his rivals Gran Torino. "You like that car?" "I appreciate a fine piece of machinery, no matter who builds it." We should all take that stance. I get so tired of the Concours crowd deriding an awesome car because it has the wrong kind of hose clamps, or BFG T/A radials instead of bias-ply Coker Tire Wide Oval repro tires!  Or the idiots that say no "real" musclecars were built after 1971. Really? You don't consider the 1973-74 SD-455 Trans-Am a real musclecar?  A 1974 Dodge Charger with a 440, a 4-speed, and a 3.55:1 geared Dana 60 rear end isn't a real Musclecar?  A 1987 Buick Grand National-that ran high 13s off the showroom floor isn't a musclecar? The LT1 engined 1994 Impala SS isn't a musclecar? A new, 465 hp SRT…

Some alternative bodystyles that would make cool racing tributes...

Popular Hot Rodding had a wildly popular Project Car Called "Project Talledega". It was a 1975 Chevelle Laguna done in '70's NASCAR style. Weve also seen several '71-74 Chargers done like Richard Petty's most iconic racer. I'd like to see some others that people don't usually think of. Here's my list of potentially awesome racing tributes. # 1. 1963-66 Ford Galaxie. The fastback Galaxie would look mean as hell with radiused fenderwells,huge tires and loud exhausts exiting in front of the rear wheels. And with 390 cubes under the hood it could back up the image.  # 2. 1959-66 Full-Size Pontiac. High Performance Pontiac magazine featured an article on Fireball Roberts and Smokey Yunick's Pontiacs that were the scourge of NASCAR in the early '60's. In 1961-62 Roberts won 22 races, a record that stood until Richard Petty won 27 in 1967-68. The reason the Pontiacs are a great hot rod is while most Impalas of this era are small-block powered…

More on "Restification".....

Here's my opinion on "Restification".  If you want to build a Concours show car that's correct down to the hose clamps, then do it. Except we all know that on say,- a Concours '69 Mustang that the "Autolite" battery is an Interstate or an Exide in a repro case, and the Firestone Wide Ovals are Coker Tire repros,so is it really "all original?" No, it isn't. It's restored a certain way that certain people deem acceptable or correct. If that's your bag, go for it. However for the other 90% of us that want to drive and even-gasp!-race our cars on the strip occasionally, "restification" makes a lot more sense. Here's some good examples. I've mentioned it before, but 4-speed GTOs, Firebirds and Olds 442s had Hurst shifters from the factory. Chevelles, Camaros and Novas had the awful Muncie shifters which were body-mounted and would bind up under load. Forget powershifting at six grand; try to shift one quickly above 3,5…

How to get the most "Bang for the Buck" out of your "Restification" project...

I often get asked by various people how to get the most "bang" for the buck out of a "restification"-( Restoration / Modification ) project. There's no one generic answer, as it depends on what type of project your building. Is it going to be a daily driver, a weekend cruiser, or an all-out race car?  Or a combination of the three?  You need to be really specific and honest about what you really want. I've touched on this before but it's worth re-visiting. A guy comes to my shop and wants me to build him a 350 Chevy. He says he wants "As much power as he can possibly get for "X" amount of dollars."  "I can do that." I say. "But what are you using it for?"  "Why does that matter?" He asks. Here's why. If I'm building the engine to put in a Suburban that he's going to tow 40 ft horse trailer or a 25 ft boat with I'm going to build it to make maximum low-end and mid-range torque, which is wh…

For the last time...."Fakes" don't affect the value of the "Real Deal"...

Got some gripes on the posts about "Replicars". Apparently, some people think that if I buy one of the 299,000 '69 Mustangs built, and put Edelbrock or Trick Flow "Cleveland" style heads and an Edelbrock "E-Boss" manifold on the 302, and tap Year One or Phoenix Graphics for "Boss 302" stripes, spoilers, and rear window louvers, that I have somehow diminished the value of the remaining 1,603 "Real" '69 Boss 302s out there!! Huh?  If I buy one of the 113,000 '69 Firebirds built, and make it look like a T/A, does that "Ruin" the value of the 697 "Real" ones?  If I take a beater '68 Cutlass, stuff a 455 and a Hurst Dual / Gate shifted TH400 in it and paint it silver and black, does that "compromise" the value of the 515 "real" "Hurst / Olds" models ever built? No!!!  For God's sake, get over yourselves people!  Like I said in another post-Sports car guys are smarter. If …

More cool '60's and '70's full-sizes that people overlook.....

Here's some more cool '60's and '70's full-sizes that you might not have thought of.  # 1. 1966-70 Olds Toronado. These cars still look cool today. And with 425 or 455 cubes under the hood they move pretty good too. Car Life's 1970 test car ran the 1/4 mile in 15.0 seconds flat. "George Stark" writer Thad Beaumont's killer alter ego in the Stephen King thriller "The Dark Half" drove a black '67 with a bumper sticker that read "A High Toned Son of a Bitch".  And if you live where it snows, their front-wheel drive.       # 2. 1967-69 Olds Delta 88. These have sleek fastback styling and 425 or 455 cubes under the hood. Since they were the top of the line, they also usually have good stuff like factory a/c and front disc brakes. # 3. 1970-71 Ford Thunderbird. These have racy, Nascar inspired styling, and 429 cubes under the hood with 375 hp. This was about the time that American car makers started to care about handling, so the…

Some '60's and '70's full-sizes that make cool drivers...

If you don't want to pay the king's ransom for a "traditional" muscle car-i.e. GTO, SS Chevelle, Charger, Road Runner, Mustang, etc, etc, here's some good alternatives. Every car maker had at least one, some had several really cool full-size cars that would still be fun to own and drive and be unique. Here's my list in no particular order. # 1. 1965-68 Pontiac Gran Prix. GP's had 389 or 400 cubes standard all years with 421 and 428 optional, backed by either a 4-speed or the excellent TH400. I personally like the '65-66 models best, but the fastback '67-68 models are cool too. Ray Liotta drove a '68 in "Goodfellas". There's tons of speed equipment for Pontiac V8s and any suspension or brake upgrades that fit an Impala will fit these cars. # 2. 1967-68 Chevy Impala SS. 427 models are priced in the stratosphere, but 327 models are still reasonable. 75,600 were built in '67 and another 38,200 in '68, so their not a moon rock…

If you have one of these "Oldie but goodies" by all means use it....

The last couple posts about overlooked engines caused some people to remind me of some viable ones they thought I forgot. I didn't forget them,I just dont think their plentiful enough to look for.  # 1. 289 Ford. I loves 289s. Their reliable, and offer tremendous bang for the buck. However, they've been out of production since 1968. That's 48 years. If you have a 289 V8 in the car or can buy one cheap, then by all means use it.  If your restoring a '65 Mustang to the nth degree, then a 289 is the only way to fly. For anything else-the 302 was used in millions of cars, trucks and suvs from 1968 to 2002 and is still in production and being sold as a crate motor to this day. That's all I'm saying-don't search the galaxy for a 289 while passing over hundreds of 302s!!  # 2. 396 / 402 Chevy. 396s run great.  If  you have one already in the car or your restoring an SS396 Chevelle or El Camino, Camaro or Nova to concours status, then this is the engine that you &q…

Sometimes dynamite comes in small packages.....

The trend in the buff magazines always seems to be "Bigger is Better". Everything they feature has a 500 inch monster motor. If you can afford that, by all means do it. However-there are a lot of people who don't need or want a 500+hp engine. They'd just like a little better than stock performance from their base model car. Here's my suggestions on how to do this. # 1. 318 Mopars. There are a ton of 318 powered Duster / Darts, Challenger / Barracudas, Satellites, Coronets and Chargers out there. In all it's history-the 318 was Chrysler's lowest warranty engine. Their bulletproof. '92 and later "Magmum" heads will bolt up to earlier blocks, and Edelbrock sells "Magnum" bolt pattern Performer and Performer RPM intakes. With headers and dual exhausts, maybe a mild cam and a good shift kit in the Torqueflite-you'd be amazed at how fast a 318 can run. Especially in a light car. So before you sell your sould for a big-block or a 360 …

Some "Junkyard Jewels" that people overlook.....

There are a lot of engines that could make big power for low bucks, that a lot of enthusiasts overlook. Here's a few that I think offer the most "bang" for the buck. # 1. 400C / M Ford. These were in hundreds of thousands of Ford cars and trucks from 1971-82. They were unfairly labelled as "dogs" because they were saddled with 2bbl carburation, single exhausts, a lazy cam and salt-flats gearing. However-with a 4bbl carb and intake, a decent cam and some dual exhausts-they can really rock. Anything 400 cubes is going to make serious power and torque with the proper equipment-every year someone builds one in the "Engine Masters Challenge" that makes over 500 hp.  # 2. 360 "Magnum" Chrysler. Used in millions of Dodge Trucks and SUVs as well as millions of Jeep Grand Cherokees from 1992-2003, these are plentiful in junkyards. They have roller cams from the factory, and the "magnum" heads breathe better than any factory head and many af…

Let's see some cool kit cars restored....

Back in the '70's and '80's there were a lot of companies making Kit Cars. The Daytona Spider driven by Don Johnson on "Miami Vice" was actually a 1981 Corvette with a replica Ferarri body that was built by Tom McBurny that fit the '68-82 Corvette chasiss. McBurnie and Rowley stopped making them after being sued by Ferarri. There was a company called Saxon that made Austin-Healey 3000 replicas that a lot of guys put 302 Fords and 350 Chevys into. I remember Fiberfab who had two-one was called the "Jamaican" a swoopy two door coupe that looked like a cross between a Corvette and a Jaguar XKE. The cool thing about the Jamaican was it could be built on the ubiquitous VW Beetle chassis like a lot of Kit Cars were, or it could be built front-engine on an MGA, Triumph TR4 or TR250 Chassis. Their other offering was called the Kelmark GT and it looked almost exactly like a Ferarri 246 Dino. Car Craft featured one that had a 455 Olds V8 and a Toronado tr…

Lets do some Period Correct hot rods....'60s, '70's and '80's style....

Is everyone as sick as I am of cookie-cutter cars everywhere? It's seems the trend is one of two things-the car is either bone-stock, Concours, "Just as it Left the Factory" down to the hose clamps, or ( depending on if it's a GM, Ford or Chrysler product ) it has an LS motor, a Coyote, or a 5.7 / 6.1 / 6.4 Hemi backed by an six-speed manual or an overdrive automatic, with rack&pinion steering, a DSE or Global West suspension system, 4-wheel disc brakes, and 20 inch wheels. You know what I'd like to see? Some period correct stuff-like a '55 Chevy with no front bumper, a straight front axle, radiused rear wheel wells, and a snarling 327 or 427 backed by a Muncie 4-speed or a TH400. Real badass '60's "Gasser" / Street Racer style. Or a Camaro,Corvette, Firebird, Mustang, Cougar or Challenger done in '70's Trans-Am / IROC style. Flared fenders over huge tires on Minilite wheels, front and rear spoilers,loud side-exit exhausts-Pictur…

Every car doesn't have to be a premium, fire-breathing monster....

I blame the buff magazines and TV shows like Overhaulin' for this. People think that if a car doesn't have a 500 inch big-block or a blower on it, it's not cool. Or if it's not a numbers matching 428 CJ Mustang or 440 Six-Pack Road Runner. it's not cool. Not true. For every GTO and SS Chevelle out there, there are fifty base-model Malibus and Tempest / LeMans models that would make great drivers or project cars. Ford sold 300,000 Mustangs in 1969 alone, but only 70,000 of them were Mach 1s. That leaves 230,000 others, many with 302 or 351W power under the hood, and that's just one single model year!! Pontiac built way more base-model Firebirds than they ever did Trans-Ams. See what I'm getting at?  And not everything has to have a stompin' big block. Let's say you did buy a '73 Firebird with a 350 2bbl / TH350 powertrain. If you added a factory or aftermarket 4bbl carb and intake, a set of dual exhausts behind the stock manifolds, and put a B&am…

Don't pass on a great car because of one option that it does or doesn't have...

A lot of people liked the "No Used Car Factory" post. It's just common sense. Yet I still talk to people almost every day that whine about not being able to find a decent car at a decent price. Then, they'll tell me about some screaming deal they passed on because the car had or didn't have one thing!!  UGH!!  Here's some stupid things that these people pass over great cars for. # 1. 2bbl Carburation. Back in the '60's and '70's a lot of base models and even mid-level models had V8s with 2bbl carbs as standard equipment, and the 4bbl and premium engines were optional. There's a lot of 289 and 351 Mustangs and Cougars with 2bbl carbs,a lot of 350 Camaros, Firebirds,Chevelles, and Cutlasses with 2bbls on them. And it's not just small-blocks either. I've seen 390 Mustangs, T-Birds, and Fairlanes with 2bbls, 383 and 400 Chargers, Coronets, and Satellites with 2bbls, and 400 Firebirds, LeMans and Gran Prix models with 2bbls. And again-i…

Still more "Replicars" that are way cool.....

I talked in the last post about building a copy of megabuck cars for a fraction of the price. Here's a few more that I thought of later. # 1. Baldwin-Motion Phase III Camaro. In the early '70's Joel Rosen opened Motion Performance and partnered with Baldwin Chevrolet to build some ultra badass Camaros. The Phase III models were guaranteed to run 10 second 1/4 mile times. Since they had LS6 or LS7 454s backed by a Muncie 4-speed or a TH400 with a high stall converter, 4.88:1 gears in the rear end ( a Hone overdrive behind the tranny reduced it to 3.42:1 for highway crusing ) traction bars and ultra sticky Mickey Thompson soft compound tires-it wasn't hard to back up that boast. They also had an L88 style hood scoop and two tone paint with wild stripes and graphics. Documented Motion cars are rare and bring a King's Ransom-100K on up. However to build a clone today you'd only need to find a '70-74 Camaro. ( Emissions laws caused Rosen to stop production in 19…

Building a replica of an ultra-rare car can be cool......

I've talked to a lot of people who lust after certain cars but complain they could never afford one unless they won the lottery. That's true if you "gotta have" a numbers-matching Boss 429 or something similar. But there's a lot stuff that you can build for 1/ 10th of what a "real" one would cost. I'll list them in no particular order. # 1. 1969 Pontiac Trans-Am. Only 697 T/A's were built in 1969-so a "real" one in decent shape will cost you over 100k. However, Pontiac built 113,000 Firebirds in 1969, most with V8 power. 15 grand will buy you a nice one in any state in the union. Year One,Ames Performance and NPD all offer the hood,scoops and spoilers to duplicate the bodywork. The white and blue paint job is a no-brainer. Even if you did just that to a 350 model-you'd have the look. If you went with the Edelbrock Performer RPM package-( heads, intake, cam ) on a 400-you'd have a non numbers matching RAIV. Probably for less tha…

"Day Two" modifications are ok...even if you add them 40 years later...

A lot of musclecars had what the buff magazines call "Day Two" modifications-i.e. aftermarket upgrades done immediately after buying the car. Good examples would be 4-speed Chevelle or Camaro owners installing a Hurst Competition Plus shifter in place of the awful Muncie unit. ( They were body mounted and were pratically impossible to shift above about half-throttle. GTO's,Firebirds, and Olds 442s had Hurst Shifters from the factory. Why Chevys didn't, I don't know. ) Another would be Ford guys replacing the awful Autolite 4300 4bbl with a Holley. Others would be Accel or Mallory distributors. GM cars had decent points-they'd go 6,000 rpm or so. Fords and Mopars? Theirs tended to "sign off" about 4,500 rpm and start to bounce. It was rare in the '70's to see a Mustang or Charger at the strip with a stock distributor. If you did, the guy had extra sets of points in his tooldbox! And they were usually aftermarket-like Accel. So be a little fle…

More on adding options....

Here's something that purists need to get over-If someone puts Super Bee graphics on a 383 powered '69 Coronet-it doesn't reduce the value of a numbers-matching "real" Super Bee one ounce!!  No matter how many Cobra replicas Factory Five sells-guess what? A "real" 427 Cobra is still worth $250,000!!!  I say this because I was talking to a guy who loved the DKM "Macho" T/A's, but every one he located for sale was priced very high-$25,000+. I told him that's because DKM-based out of Mecham Pontiac in Arizona-only built 2-300 cars a year from '77-79. They are rare. However-I told him-you could buy one of the 93,000 T/A's sold in 1978 alone, and buy the stencils from Phoenix Graphics to duplicate the "Macho" paint scheme. Adding Hooker Headers and dual exhausts is easy, as would be re-jetting the Q-jet carb and maybe even adding a Performer intake. ( '75-79 Pontiac factory intakes have a restrictive throttle opening w…

You can add options to a car...

The last few posts I've talked about buying an already finished car and trying to find the options you want. Like I said before the chance of you finding a car with every single thing you desire is pretty slim. However-a lot of things can be easily changed. For example-if you have or want to buy a '60's GTO or Firebird, and you just "gotta have" the hood tach, that's a pretty easy add-on. Year One, NPD and other places sell them. Another one is a vinyl top. Whether you do or don't want one-it's a pretty simple process to add or remove one. Another is wheels. If your disco-era T/A has Rally II wheels and you want "Snowflakes" or vice-versa, Year One, Wheel Vintiques, and others can help. Ditto for Chevelles,Corvettes and Camaros and the various Rally wheels Chevy offered over the years. These companies also offer Chrysler Rallyes, and Magnum 500s that were used on various Ford,GM and Mopar offerings. Other stuff takes a little more work, but …

Sometimes you gotta grab what's there.....The old saying-"You snooze,you lose....

I talked in the last post about there being no "used car factory". Even knowing that, I have had many friends and customers over the years pass over great cars at reasonable prices and then regret it later. Why people do this, I don't know. But I knew a guy who wanted a '70's Trans-Am. He passed on a 400, 4-speed, T-topped '77 Formula at a dirt-cheap price-( the owner had multiple DUIs and needed the money for a lawyer to try to stay out of jail ) because it "wasn't a T/A".  He spent more money for a hardtop '79 403 Olds / TH350 T/A that he was disappointed in, and then bitched that he should have bought the Formula. I had no sympathy for him. "Yes, you should have bought that Formula, you dummy." I know another guy who wanted a '67-69 302 Z/ 28 Camaro. He found one a '68 model-and it was numbers-matching and gorgeous. And it was the color combination he wanted, a dream come true. He didn't buy it. Why? He started haggl…

There is no "Used Car Factory" to order from....You need to lower your sights a little if you want to find a car....

There is no "Used Car Factory" to order from. If your looking for a musclecar-the chance of you finding a 40 or 50 year old car with the exact engine, transmission, axle ratio,instrumentation, interior color, etc. is almost nil. You'd have a better chance of getting struck by lightning on the golf course. So when you hear some clown whining that they can't find their dream car, and they've been looking five years, blah,blah,blah-it's because they're too picky. I've touched on this before, but's it's worth going over again. I personally know several people who passed on very cool cars in good condition at fair prices because it wasn't "Exactly what they were looking for". These idiots are why I came up with the "There's no used car factory" line. Idiot # 1. Wanted a '68-70 GTO with the 400 / 4-speed powertrain. He passed on a nice 400 / 4-speed '68 model because it didn't have the hood tach or disc brakes…

Get the damn car you want....Even if you have to pay more for it or search longer...

Like I said in the last post, I blame the buff magazines for a lot of the grief unsuspecting car enthusiasts get themselves into. Hot Rod, Car Craft, Popular Hot Rodding, Truckin', all of them do it. Every month they have at least one article, and sometimes several saying how "Easy" it is to swap engines, transmissions, install dropped spindles or convert a car from drum to disc brakes, etc, etc. If your a professional mechanic working in a state-of-the-art shop and have $20,000 worth of your own tools, and access to two post lifts,engine hoists, transmission jacks, frame jigs, welding equipment / cutting torches, alignment machines, brake lathes, etc-yeah you can do pretty much anything with a minimum of hassle. But for "Joe Average" who's not a mechanic and has only basic hand tools-have you ever tried to change a clutch in your driveway? It's a bastard, and that's if your just replacing the disc, pressure plate and throwout bearing on say-a '…

There's nothing wrong with buying an already finished car....

So many people talk about buying and building their dream car. However-90% of these people are not bodymen or mechanics by trade. The chances of "Joe Average" being able to do a frame-off restoration or even just an engine and tranny swap properly are almost nil. The buff magazines are to blame for a lot of this. They constantly talk about how "easy" it is to swap engines or transmissions. Really? How many people have actually pulled an engine out of a car, disassembled it, rebuilt it, and put it back in the car, and had it fire right up and run perfectly?  And that's if you took, say the 350 out of your Chevy truck and put it back in! Don't get me started on swtiching from a small-block to a big block, or swapping a stick for an automatic, etc. Truckin' magazine is a big offender here. They had an article on someone restoring a '55 Ford F100. The guy was doing what "restifiers" ( restore / modify ) have been doing with these trucks for ye…

Fine Lines: 1961-71 Ford Thunderbird....

1961-71 Ford Thunderbirds are great drivers and good performers. While the Pontiac Gran Prix and Chevy Monte Carlo and others blossomed in the '70's, the T-Bird was the original personal luxury / performance car. 1961-63 was the "Bullet Bird"-so nicknamed because the tailfin / taillight assembly looked like-well a bullet. Even 55 years later, they are still a good looking car. And with 390 cubes under the hood, they moved pretty good too. Steven Seagal drove one in the action flick "Hard to Kill," and Paul Walker of "Fast&Furious" fame drove one in "The Skulls". 1964 brought a complete restyling and I personally think this is the least attractive of the '60's T-Birds. This the "Thelma&Louise" style-Susan Sarandon drove one in that movie. They had 390 or 428 cubes under the hood. This style ran through '66. In 1967 they were restyled again. I think the '67-69 T-Bird is one of the best-looking cars Ford ev…