Monthly Archives: April 2012

As Seen on Craigslist – 1973 Olds Vista Cruiser

Part of me wants to nit pick and say this isn’t a “real” Vista Cruiser, because it lacks the requisite skylights.  But I think by this time, the name was just a trim package on the standard wagon.  Regardless, this specimen looks to be in fantastic shape, although the filler panels behind the bumpers are disintegrating (as to be expected on cars this age).  Even as a kid, I never really liked the kooky creases on the doors of mid-70’s Oldsmobiles, and they don’t look any better covered in fake woodgrain.  I’d gladly haul my ever-expanding family in the back of this thing, even if it does get barely double-digit fuel economy – probably why the seller wants a Geo Metro – and looks like someone tried to panel a small whale.  I might even let the kids paint flowers on the side, slap a surfboard on the roof, and go with a Brady Bunch Hawaiian theme.  Just watch out for the cursed tiki necklaces.


As Seen on Craigslist – 1965 Buick Riviera

Apparently Halloween is coming early this year.  Between the junky garage in the background, the eerie lighting, the patina on the car’s hood and front end, the busted windshield, and the angled, leering, frozen-open headlights, this ad looks more like a horror movie poster than an car for sale.  I still want it (I’m pretty sure I’m on record as saying the early Rivieras are the prettiest GM car of all time), but I’d fear for my sanity if I brought this car home.  Although, it might be fun to fix the windshield and nothing else, grow a creepy moustache, and drive slowly through neighborhoods scaring people.  Until the cops came, that is.

As Seen on Craigslist – 1966 Ford Mustang

Maybe it’s just the frustration with my stalled transmission project talking, but the siren song of this Mustang is hard for me to resist.  I love the color (particularly non-traditional on a Mustang) and the unmolested, all-original look, despite the obvious flaws – it’s a six-cylinder automatic car (low-end Mustangs had light-duty brakes, suspension, and other parts, so there’s a vast difference between this and a factory V8 car).  But I could really see myself happily cruising this all summer, putting in a little TLC (new carpet and clean up the engine) and flipping it for just about the same price next Spring.  It doesn’t help that a superior at work just bought a ’70 Mustang Boss 302 replica and is still in the honeymoon phase with it.  My vindictive side can’t wait until he takes it apart to fix the chattering clutch and doesn’t get it back together for 6 months.

Turbo 350 Transmission Project – Fits and Starts

When I last left off, I was waiting on some parts to arrive so I could prep the new transmission for installation.  Thanks to the miracle of the internet, everything showed up pretty much at once:

Clockwise from the top, that’s a pan gasket and filter, two crossmember brackets and their rubber cushions, a new vacuum modulator, two seals, and a new crossmember mount.  I lined up the new seals over the input and output shafts and, using a large socket as a drift, tapped them into place with a hammer:

I also removed the crusty old mount from the bottom of the tailshaft and installed the new one.  The remaining parts will wait until the tranny is up in the car.  Speaking of which…

At some point, I seem to recall writing that I was going to skip installing new fuel lines so I could concentrate on the fun projects like this one.  I should have known those words would come back to haunt me, as the transmission installation has turned into the single most frustrating automotive project I’ve attempted since the time I tried to fix the entire front suspension of a $700 Sunbird convertible.  I can’t get the car high enough on my jack stands to fit the transmission under the car on a floor jack, and I’m not strong enough to muscle the transmission onto the jack from under the car.  After several sweaty nights, I finally succeeded in getting the tranny on the jack under the car with the help of a piece of plywood as a kind of ramp and every “plumbing word” I could muster.  Even then, I wasn’t able to get the transmission lined up between the exhaust pipes, in front of the crossmember, and behind the engine before the whole thing went sideways and slipped off the jack.  I’ve pretty much resigned myself to removing the exhaust from the car – something from which there is likely no going back, since I will probably have to cut it out.  I was thinking about having a new exhaust installed this summer, but I wasn’t planning on having it forced on me like this.  We’ll see if I come up with any better plans in the meantime, but the next post might involve a healthy dose of air tools and a sawzall.

As Seen on Craigslist – 1972 International Harvester Truck

If I were in the market for a classic truck (and I’m decidedly not), I would probably start my search with some sort of IH product.  There’s just something right about an agricultural implement manufacturer making pickup trucks.  Who cares if it drives like a combine, it’s a tool and meant for doing work.  Thanks to a combination of draconian federal regulations and automakers’ marketing, modern trucks are more often family haulers and toys than they are work vehicles.  That’s fine, but I want something that feels like it could wear flannel unironically and have a fishing pole hanging out the back that actually sees use.  The no-nonsense styling of IH trucks fits that ideal to a tee, and the dog-dish hubcaps and bright blue paint are just shiny enough that you could drive this anywhere without shame.  I’d lose the ill-fitting cap and pretty much drive this as-is.

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