Despite the fact that the seat upholstery looks like a set of vinyl 1970’s patio chairs that have been in the sun too long, this seems like a pretty good deal. Quality Mopar muscle cars usually command a premium, and if this car is as straight as it looks, $10k is worth it. I would of course prefer a manual transmission, but the offbeat color scheme, attractive fastback profile, and cool electroluminescent lighting make up for it. I’m also pretty sure that these cars had hidden, flip-up headlights behind that electric shaver grille, so either I’m mistaken and it was an option this car lacks, or these are locked in the open position. Either way, the full-length console and small V8 would make for a very comfortable cruiser with a little attitude.
Monthly Archives: June 2011
Massillon, Ohio hosts an annual “Cruise-on-in and Dance Party” on Father’s Day weekend. Scheduling conflicts and weather have prohibited me from attending in the past, but I made it this year with my oldest daughter for a little father-daughter bonding. We arrived around 11:30, about a half hour after the official start. I was worried that there wouldn’t be much to see that early, but it was actually pretty full; there were cars lining both sides of the street for about 6 city blocks, plus some scattered down side streets. Like most car shows, there were an abundance of Camaros, a crappy cover band butchering Van Morrison and Fleetwood Mac, and greasy fair food. Here are some of the highlights:
This is the V12 engine in a mid-70’s Jaguar E-Type. Anybody care to guess how many linear feet of vacuum hose is in there?
This old Ford truck was absolutely spotless.
I’m still a sucker for ’83-’88 Monte Carlo SS’s, and I’ve always wanted a blue one.
Just around the corner from the Monte was its NASCAR stablemate, a 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2. A similar aero front end to the SS, but the same base V8 as the regular Grand Prix. It also has this…
giant bubble-back rear glass, for decreased drag.
Late 70’s Pontiac Bonneville, just waiting to be donked.
Studebaker Hawk. Not something you see everyday.
A local Jeep club showed up, and parked about 10 Wranglers like this.
An old GMC heavy duty truck. Overheard from a passerby as I was taking this picture: “What’s so special about that thing? The fact that it still runs?” Why yes, that is part of it. Call me when your Ram is still hauling stuff in 60 years.
Lastly, this Beetle was my daughter’s favorite. It was in extremely good condition.
I understand the appeal of the “rat rod,” the car that hasn’t been polished to infinity but is instead built to be driven and enjoyed, warts and all. I wouldn’t add fake patina to a car like some people do, but I can get behind the idea of finding an old car and making it road worthy and faster while leaving the body and interior in as-found condition.
That said, I’m not sure what to make of this… creation. It’s titled as a 1960 Chevy, which makes sense since the doors and cowl look like an Impala of that vintage. But it’s clearly been narrowed to accommodate a front clip that looks like it came off an old Willys Jeepster. The rearend looks like it might have come from a mid-60’s Ford, while the low-rideresque whitewalls on wire wheels are incongruous to the point of absurdity. The 427 is certainly a good thing, but I wouldn’t want to be seen near this thing, let alone drive it long enough to find out how little attention was paid to the brakes and steering. Good luck finding somebody weird enough to spend $4k on it.
It’s been a while since my last update, but I picked up the car from the alignment shop on the 3rd and have put some miles on it since by driving it to work a few times. The car rides and drives great, although there are a few nagging issues. The passenger side wheel bearing was a little noisy and the wheel had a wobble to it when I checked, so I took it apart last night to investigate; the culprit appears to have been a loose castle nut, but I repacked the bearings just to be safe.
The second, and more annoying, issue is that the steering wheel won’t recenter after a turn. As far as I can tell, this is most likely due to the fact that everything in the suspension and steering system is new and tight, and that it will work better once everything breaks in a little. I think this is true because I re-greased everything last week and made a slight adjustment to the steering gear and now the wheel at least thinks about returning. I’ll hit it again with the grease gun after driving it a few more days and we’ll see if that fixes it. If not, it’s possible that something is binding in the steering column or the junkyard gear box, and I really don’t want to have to tear either one of those apart.
The third issue relates to the phantom creaking/grating noise that has plagued the car during low-speed turns and bumps for as long as I’ve owned it. I assumed that replacing everything under the car would cure it, but it’s still there. I’ve now come to the conclusion that it’s the result of something in the body rubbing (perhaps where the inner and outer fender meet the front clip). Once I’m actually able to consistently replicate the noise, I’ll be able to diagnose it.
Overall, I’m very happy with the way things turned out. Part of me misses the old, floaty, one-fingered steering, because that felt more authentically old-fashioned. But once I get everything dialed in, the brakes properly mated, and can power through a curvy road without fear of ending up in a ditch, I won’t miss it at all.
Now that the car is back on the road, I took some glamour shots. Feel free to use them as your desktop background or frame them in your living room.
Favored by West Coast rappers and hot rodders alike, the ’63 and ’64 full-size Chevys have pretty much universal appeal. This particular car is slightly less desirable, being a two-door post hardtop (as opposed to an open coupe, without a B-pillar, or a convertible) and a Bel Air (as opposed to the higher-ranking Impala), but its a resale red V8 car that looks like it’s in good shape. So it’s a bit puzzling as to why the seller would be so excited about the fact that the “Speedo and gas gauge WORK!!” Also, while I’m sure he or she means to say that the 327 is “crisp,” when I read “crispy,” I assume there has been a horrible engine fire.
Anyway, those are minor gaffes, and the car seems pretty well sorted and the price isn’t astronomical. Take a magnet with you to check for bondo, lose the ugly rims, and crank up the Eazy-E.
I freely admit that many of the immediately post-war cars look alike to me. From 1946-1953 or so, I just don’t know enough about the different models to tell them apart or really care that much about them, honestly. That said, I know what I like, and I like this car. Lose the visor but keep the whitewalls, and I’d have no problem driving this, even if $9k is a bit steep for my blood. The black paint and gray interior suit the low-key nature of the styling, and if you slapped a four-speed in it I bet it would make a nice little sleeper. You might need to buy a fedora, though.
When I last left off, I was waiting for the correct center link to deliver. A busy holiday weekend (and a mini heat wave) left me with little energy to spend in the garage, so I didn’t get anything started until Tuesday when the correct center link arrived via UPS. For this step, I enlisted the lovely and talented Mrs. Magicboltbox to help me bleed the air from the brake lines. I began at the right rear wheel and moved around the car, alternately loosening and tightening the bleeder screws while
ordering politely requesting the missus to pump, hold, and release the brake pedal. I stopped halfway through to tighten a fitting that started to leak under pressure, and continued until no more air bubbles appeared in the coffee can of fluid. As an added benefit, I also got a fair amount of nasty old brown fluid out of the lines.
The following night, I returned to the garage to install the new (correct) center link. It went considerably smoother than the first time, and I torqued all the fasteners and got ready to grease all the lube points. While jockeying around on my creeper to get the correct angle on one of the inner tie rods, I turned abruptly and smacked the just-installed center link with my forehead. A bit dazed and more than a bit embarrassed (even though I was alone), I shook it off and finished the job. It wasn’t until I got out from under the car and mopped the sweat from my brow that I realized I was bleeding. I took a quick break to wash up and apply a Looney Tunes band-aid before returning to mount the wheels and remove all the tools, broken parts, and detritus from under the car. I suppose no project is complete without an injury of some sort, but only I would manage to cut my forehead during a mundane lube job after surviving the use of air tools, a propane torch, and a sledgehammer.
Anyway, I lowered the car off the stands and took stock:
It’s low, but not too low. It’s also pretty even from front to back; while I would like a little more rake in the front, I’m very glad it doesn’t drag the tail like many lowered cars do. At this point, I topped off the fluids and hooked up the battery, only to find that the brake lights were stuck on. A few minutes spent adjusting the brake pedal clevis and the brake light switch fixed that issue.
It was nearly 1AM at this point, so I decided it was best that I head for bed rather than risk waking up the house by starting the car for the first time in 7 months. So I got up early this morning and put the key in the ignition. It cranked for maybe 10 seconds while I pumped the gas, but no fire. I gave the starter a break for a few seconds and twisted the key again, and it fired right up. While the engine warmed up, I refilled the power steering fluid, overfilling it and causing it to spray all over the inner fender when I turned the wheel back and forth to get rid of any air in the system. I added a half-quart of transmission fluid, pumped the brakes, and eased out of the garage. I didn’t have time to run around the block, but the steering felt tight without any hard or dead spots, and the brakes felt solid. There’s a little too much pedal travel, so there might still be an air bubble somewhere, but if that’s the worst bug to work out I’ll be happy. I’ll be dropping it off for an alignment after work tonight and will hopefully be able to drive it a little this weekend. Not bad for four months of work, right?