Archive for the ‘Hot Rods’ Category

Motor Oil not Blood

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Some of us get bitten by the bug at an early age , when we see our first cool car or hear the sound of that rumbling exhaust note. Once bitten by that bug it stays with you for life.

I pulled my first car out of weeds higher than the cars roof line and I can still remember that Camaro’s  nose sticking out from behind all that grass. It wasn’t much of a car with all the rust and rot that years of neglect can do to metal, but it was still worth buying. I remember my dad telling me that the owner should have paid me to take it. That was the beginning of my love affair with American muscle cars.

There is something about all those cool cars from the sixties and seventies that I just can’t move past, even with all the advancements of today’s automobiles . The simplicity of the engines, all the metal and chrome, the chirp of the wheels when pulling second gear. All the things that pulled at me back then still tug at me today, but the one thing that is lacking in today’s cars is nostalgia. The feelings and memories of being a kid race thru my mind every time I see an old car.

Describing the feelings that you get while restoring a broken down, rusty old car are  damn near impossible to put in words. It’s similar in a way to falling for your first girlfriend. You want to be around her all the time. Take care of her. Show her off. Sit and listen to her. Tell everyone about her. That crazy feeling inside that makes you forget everything around you except when you’ll spend your next moments in her company.

There is something that is very gratifying about wrenching and building your own car instead of buying one already done. You put your mark on it. It becomes a part of your personality. You sit in the drivers seat and everything slows down. You know it sounds silly but its not the same as just driving your Jeep or Toyota. Those are transportation and this is your piece of rolling art that you crafted so carefully just the way you dreamed it would be. All those bloody knuckles, cold afternoons in your garage changing parts, searching junkyards and the internet for that hard to locate steering wheel cap. That’s what makes old cars so special.

There has never been a period in my life when I went  any length of time without an old car in my garage. Selling one off is like ending a relationship. As soon as its gone your out there looking for another to replace her. Even today as I write this, I just recently put the finishing touches on the latest build. Old car with new technology. They call it a resto-mod. I guess it had to be called something. Great idea these resto-mods, putting today’s bigger brakes, overdrive transmissions and fuel injected ls3 computer driven engines that spit out 400-500 hp and average 15-20 miles a gallon into yesterdays classic body’s.  All of which were unheard of when these cars were driven off the assembly line but now possible because of an enormous demand for restoring these cars.

 

First day

First day

original 307 engine

original 307 engine

beautiful seats!!

beautiful seats!!

6

pulling engine and installing new front end

15

new lsx376 Chevy 470 hp 450lb

that new car smell!!

front end

front end

low and mean

low and mean

Rust and grime, dust and time

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Time takes it’s toll on old cars. Dirt and road grime build up over the years as does rust which is always the biggest demon when restoring an old car. There’s only two ways to deal with rust and that’s cut it out or sand it off.

Although no one wants rust and grime, its pretty cool to see the changes that take place when cleaning up the parts that are in need. Scraping off dirt and old oil to reveal the part beneath it to later prime and paint. It is too damn expensive to pay for new parts when old ones are still good but only need cleaning or paint. Paying someone to do the work is also an option but again do you want to spend money on things like that when you still need new wheels and tires? Save the money for the good stuff. Check out the picture on the left. Rust removed and ready for paint, while the picture on the right shows the parts primed, painted and ready to be put back into the cars chassis.

     

 

Picking through the extra parts that came with the car, I found it wasn’t worth cleaning, repairing and recovering the cars original bucket seats. In hind sight, I should have inspected the extra parts more carefully because half of them weren’t worth taking. One call to a local Auto Recyclers netted me new set of buckets and a center console for $140.00.Perfect leather seats from a Mini Cooper which is a definite upgrade from the ’72 Chevelle bucket seats. The console with its cup holders and armrest/storage compartment adds a touch of today’s cockpit conveniences.

Restoring a car takes a lot of patience and time but its also very Zen in that it’s quiet time you spend detailing and thinking usually by yourself and in the end you feel good about the  results and that you accomplished something rewarding.

 

My new girlfriend

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Last week my new girlfriend greeted me happily as my wife looked on affectionately. A black beauty for sure but no threat to the wife as she is quite comfortable with the new addition to our household. The first day of hopefully a long lasting relationship between myself and my (soon to be, hopefully completed) 1972 Chevelle.

Yes I am heading back to the days of my youth, to again restore a prized possession. Purchasing this new canvas to create a modern day ride with nostalgic looks, I shall undertake a long and meaningful journey to bring this fair maiden back to life. As of now she runs, and hiccups a lot, but fear not I shall prevail.

I would like to share my quest with all who care to watch this car transform into something some would call a “one off’ ”    creation. Modern day technology in a ride from the past. What better than yesterdays muscle car looks with today’s comforts and safety. Not one for today’s models, I set out to build what “I ” would want in a car. Stay tuned.

 

Mild Hogs

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Hey, that's just not a safe riding style....

For those of you who never saw the movie “Wild Hogs”, you should if you want a good start to understanding why men ride motorcycles.

I can remember being a child and what my first impressions of motorcycling were. The thing I most remember is my moms cousins and their “motorcycle garage” behind their house. Back in the sixties cut up choppers were the thing to have and at any given time you would see a large variety of them at their garage.

As a child, you can not help to feel awe at the sight of tattooed men with all that iron and noise around them.  Even at this age I still find myself in awe, at times, when I am surrounded by motorcycles. It’s like being in the wild west without the guns.

But even though I have always had a love of motorcycles, it wasn’t until I reached forty or so that I truly appreciated what it does to enhance my life.

Having a motorcycle in itself doesn’t necessarily bring excitement and adventure. It is with whom and what you do with it, that makes motorcycling a great thing. Nothing else exemplifies this more than owning and riding a Harley Davidson. It is like belonging to a club with out walls and rules. It’s a fraternity with out the hazing.

The absolute best reason for riding is the people you meet and become friends with. Someone tagged it “male bonding” but I think that’s a load of commercial crap. Yeah we all get along, but I always think of bonding like a bunch of men sitting around singing Kum Ba Yah. That just isn’t happening. What happens is that the motorcycle becomes the common denominator that brings together men of all backgrounds. Doctors, lawyers, chefs, Realtors, electricians and so on, just wanting to do one thing. Experience life through simple transportation and being able to share that with someone else who can understand it.

A lot of people always ask me why we get together to take a trip and ride for hundreds of miles a day.  They think its boring because you have no one to talk to, like you would in a car. They can’t understand what reason we would have to go to Ohio, for instance. What could possibly be a reason to ride there. This is the one thing people don’t really understand about motorcycling unless they ride one. The trips aren’t about the ride itself but the friendships that come from them. The best part of the ride is always at night when you pull into a new town, and go out for a steak, some drinks, and laugh your ass off about the events that took place that day. There aren’t any phone calls from work, no bills to pay today, no kids to drive to soccer, nothing but you and that bike and your friends.

I just spent the better part of four days on a ride that rolled up 1200 miles. On that trip I got to spend time with my uncle, that I probably would never have done with out our motorcycles. We were all drenched in rain that was so heavy, we had to dry our boots on the heaters in the hotel rooms. I smelled the aroma of at least 12 different things that I would have missed if I were in a car. I got to act like a college kid again, when we all did shots of Vodka in a small cafe in State College Pa. I experienced roller coaster excitement on rte 322, where roads were cut out of the sides of mountains that were so steep that trucks had to ride their brakes just not to crash.

There’s a saying bikers have, “Ride to Live, Live to Ride.” which just about sums it all up. At no point in my life have I ever felt as alive or as free as I do when I ride.

So here’s to my friends “The Mild Hogs” and to another safe and successful trip…

The Regular Guy

Pick a car, any car….

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Since I was a young boy I liked cars. I have some very vivid memories of my life that are tied to cars. This isn’t so uncommon among Regular Guys and I know this because I have witnessed many men in my life who adored cars.

I understand the love affair we have with cars. There is something that draws us to them. They become an extension of our personality. I don’t know too many people, men and women alike, who don’t believe that a car is a status symbol.

Most men can’t wait to get behind the wheel of a car. How many of us had our fathers put us in the drivers seat in an empty parking lot to show us how to operate the gas and brake. Was that one of the best experiences I ever shared with my father? You know damn well it was.It’s like an unwritten code among fathers that they have to pass their love for cars onto their sons. I can recall asking my father how he drives the car. I watched for years until that day when I could finally see out the windshield with out propping up on the dash pad. That was the day I would sit behind the wheel and give it a go. Turns out, driving that car was  just as easy as he made it look.

I don’t have a son, but I did my best to pass that moment on to my daughter. And it made her day!  She couldn’t stop talking about how she rolled the car and hit the brake so hard we all jerked forward. It took her a few times but she finally figured out that the brakes are very sensitive. Probably a memory, not so unlike mine, that she will remember forever.

Most of today’s cars just don’t impress me much. Growing up right after the Muscle Car days spoiled me. Seeing all that Detroit steel rolling down the street, cruising the boulevard, made me appreciate all the different body styles and models from the big three cars companies. Even though I favored Chevy’s, I still admired some of the classic lines that separated each car company from the other. All that chrome and power, was hard not to like.

If someone five years ago asked me to pick any car I wanted, I would have had a hard time doing so. Everything looked and sounded the same. All that old Detroit metal was now Japanese molded plastic. Honda’s, Nissan’s, and Toyota’s were everywhere and Detroit’s finest were no longer a reliable option. All that chrome that was once the envy of every foreign car company was now just a piece of history. America’s cars were now just also ran’s in an industry where they were once leaders. So I couldn’t pick a car that stood out in my mind as one that would be a part of my personality. Heck I still haven’t gotten the Muscle Car thing out of my blood so how can I drive a plastic shoebox.

Today there is a glimmer of hope for all of us Regular Guys. The big three have pulled up their pants, put on their thinking caps and came up with some old fashioned Detroit muscle. Don’t kid yourself, its the same guys who wanted or owned these cars back in the sixties and seventies that are buying them today. Just check out the Challenger, Mustang and now the new Camaro.  For years my friends and I would say that Detroit should take the old body styles and use todays technologies to build some exciting cars. All those old body styles that went by the wayside when we had to become more aerodynamic. I hated those stupid wind tunnel commercials because I knew the great looking body styles were going to disappear. Bringing back the old body style idea wasn’t so far off after all. And now, they’re back baby and even better than before. Just as fast and three times as safe and comfortable.

So today if someone asks me to pick a car, any car….I would have a tough time deciding. Not like five years ago, but now, because I have some really great cars to pick from.

The Regular Guy

What is keeping you off Ebay???

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Did you ever hear the saying “one mans junk is another mans treasure”? Never has that saying been truer than it is today. Just take a visit to Ebay and you will quickly understand how so many things one man doesn’t want becomes treasured by another. If you are a Regular Guy you should be using Ebay “all the time”. If you aren’t using Ebay then you eitherlogoebay_x45 have a boatload of junk in your closets or a garage that doesn’t fit a car but houses memories from years gone by.

I myself, used to collect comics and Batman memorabilia. I myself, now do not want to collect comics and Batman memorabilia. I found Ebay some 10 years ago and I was hooked faster than you can hit the send button on a closing auction.Things that I never figured someone would want not only sold but commanded big money. There is no other way that I know of that you can reach millions of potential buyers with so little effort. The hardest thing about posting items is taking the pictures and organizing them for use on your listing. Once you become knowledgeable with how things work, you just have to keep a folder on your desktop with all your Ebay items needed to start your new money making machine.

Funny thing about Ebay is that so many people are intimidated by the whole process. I have friends that are just so afraid that their identities are going to be stolen away and never returned. I try to explain to them that there isn’t much more risk by using Ebay than just surfing the web. Not only are they missing out on selling things that would lighten there load, but they also miss out on all the great deals on things they use everyday around the house. Take for instance electric razors, electric toothbrushes and cameras. Computer parts and old muscle cars parts are floating around the world wide web just waiting to be plucked from your screen to your mailbox at savings that sometimes are more than 50% off regular price. Not to mention the savings when shipping is included.

For all you Regular Guys who haven’t given Ebay a try, get off your ass and start making and saving greenbacks now. Don’t let this great venue pass you by because you are wasting dollars by spending them in retail stores. Maybe the best part of all about buying online is that you can do it 24/7 right from your easy chair. No trips to all the electronic stores to shop for the best price, just do your research first and click and pay later.

In closing I would offer you this example of one of my findings and dealings on Ebay. I needed new tires for

check out my rims!!!

my motorcycle, and also wanted to swap out my spoke rims for solid mag wheels. I found a set of solid Fat Boy rims with tires on Ebay and purchased them for $500. I then proceeded to list my tires, spoke rims and also the tires from the Fat Boy rims I purchased. I bought new tires online at a savings of 35% off my local Harley dealers prices for the same tires. I sold my items on Ebay for close to $600. So for about $100,which is roughly the cost of one new tire, I swapped the rims for ones I wanted and had new tires that I needed installed on the bike. If I were to buy the tires and rims at Harley Davidson, it would have cost me close to $1700 installed. If I didn’t use Ebay I wouldn’t have had the best opportunity to sell my used tires and spoke rims to recoup the money. That, my fellow Regular Guys, is proof enough why you should be using Ebay. Happy hunting!!!

Just one mans opinion…

The Regular Guy

Atlantic City Collector Car Auction

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

By the looks and sound of it,  I guess the economy has affected the Collector Car circuit. As I do each year, yesterday my good friend Willie and I attended the Collector Car Auction in Atlantic City, and not to my surprise, a lot of cars just passed over the block in vain.  If you needed to sell your car then you better not have had a reserve price on it because you were taking it back home with you. I watched about fifty cars roll through and none of them sold with a reserve tag. As a matter of fact, most just rolled past and went back to the corral to be looked at once more. The few that sold were reserve removed or no reserve cars.

1969camaross

1969 Camaro SS

We did however, see a1969 SS Camaro that was fitted with ( I believe) an L78  Big Block, one 0f only 311 made, sell for $135,000. Now I can really appreciate the ’69 Camaro, especially after owning three of them. I did in fact own two 1969  Z-28 ‘s, one whose sale provided the funds to purchase my home and the second, sold some 10 years ago, brought me $12,500. At the time I was elated with the amount I received since I had $6500 into it. That guy worked me for three days before finally giving in and handing over the funds. I bet he either sold it for a big gain or is sitting on a pretty good investment as I write this. I have often been tempted to call him to ask him what he did with the car. It was a nice one too! It had all the good options like deluxe interior, wood grain dash, wood wheel, tilt steering, power brakes and steering. heavy sway bars and the cowl hood. The car was pretty cool and I miss that ride.

Funny thing about cars like that. I have bought, built and/or  sold eight cars since high school. Always the Chevy guy, I favored Camaros and Chevelles. They rewarded me for all my efforts every time I sold them. That’s the thing with these cars. You have to use your head when you buy one. I always look at it as if I were going to build one. If the price to buy one is about the same as the cost to build one, well hey, you gotta choose the buy option. Building one these days is a costly and usually, a long endeavor and can easily run you more than you might get in return at the time you choose to sell it.

Getting back to the auction, I saw quite a few cars sell for less than they would cost to build. And I also saw some  offers turned down at prices I just can not fathom. I have driven these Muscle Cars since my days in high school and they still drive and handle the same now as they did some 3o years earlier. That is why I can not believe that people are turning down tens of thousands of dollars for these same cars. How much money do they think they are worth? And why would anyone pay that much for a car that doesn’t compare in quality, modern techno advances and the speed of today’s cars. Yes, I did say speed. Today’s cars run as fast or faster and are sooooo smooth riding compared to yester years models. So why then do we still ogle and drool over the older models? We do it because it reminds us of our youth. It reminds us of a simpler time in our life. It reminds us of hanging out with our buddies and talking cars. It makes us feel good. That is why every time I sell one of my cars I always buy another one within a couple of years.  Yeah I guess I can see why some guys are willing to spend so much on these rides. I bet a lot of them couldn’t afford one when we were younger or later in life, their families came first and now they have the extra cash to overspend on a dream from their childhood.

I am one of the lucky ones. I owned my dream car not once but twice in my life and I would love to have one more shot at a third. This time I want to build it myself like I did with my first Z-28 over twenty years ago. This time I will build it with today’s improved drive trains, brakes and suspensions. After all that is what Chrysler has done so successfully with the Challenger. Man that car is really cool. I almost like it as much as the older version. If it were a ‘Cuda I would be very tempted to own one and give up my dream of building a third.

So where is the market going with these cars? I guess if the economy stays like this we will see a lot more cars at very affordable prices. Its like anything else that people collect. You have to get in at the right time and sell when you DON”T have to sell. It’s a neat way to have your cake and eat it, but you just have to do it the right way!

The Regular Guy

Go Fast

Monday, January 19th, 2009

vette-3My dad had some cool cars. In my early years I can’t remember much detail but I do know now that the cars he owned then are pretty hot items now.  like I said I can’t remember details but the first one I know was a Covair. Back then they were a hot item. Now they are really rare and highly collectible. Those cars were labeled death traps by Ralph Nader because the rear engines didn’t hold up too well to impact from behind in an accident. They only made them for a few years but he did have one.

The second one didn’t last too long either. I think it was a 1963 maybe 1964 Chevy Impala.  That Aquamarine Blue color with Blue interior. Probably a 327 engine, definitely bucket seats. That car was stolen one night which I assume didn’t make him too happy. I think the next one was a Pontiac Grand Prix. Not too shabby with that big 400 cu engine.  The last one I recall would be the 1972 Buick Rivera. He called it the Batmobile because of that rear window. I just saw one in a Jason Statham movie last week that was a Rust color and hopped up. Made me want to search eBay for one and do it up with the new tech stuff available today.

Me being the Regular Guy that I am,  began my love affair with cars real early.  My very first impressionable car was a 1969 Camaro. I knew right away I wanted one of those. I remember the striped hood and the sound that it made as it passed me. It was probably a Z/28 as I would find out later. Lucky guy that I am, I found, owned and restored two of them. It was quite a thing to get my hands on the car I always wanted, not once but twice.  Those two cars were unlike any other ones I have owned. The engines were pretty amazing. Little 302 engine could really push some ponies. They were said to have 290 horses but felt more like 350 or so. Not too good on low rpms but get them up high and they revved forever. Such a cool sound from that engine. I loved those cars, but they always needed fine tuning and were pretty shitty on gas. They did look good though and they did real well on resale. Made good profits on both, but wish I still had that second one today. Sold it for 12 grand in the late 90’s but could have gotten a hell of a lot more if I held it just a few years more.  Still the great memories live on.

Don’t tell me the Regular Guy doesn’t love his cars. Just look at how advertisers sell cars. Very sexy ads I would say, especially the foreign models. Growing up everyone of my friends had great rides. I bet they wish they had them back now. Lets see, ’70 Roadrunner, ’70 454 SS Chevelle, ’64 Vette, ’69 SS 396 Chevelle, ’70 Nova, and even the later model Trans Ams were sweet.  A Lot of Muscle Cars back then that sold for $2500 in primo condition. We used to think that was so much money. I guess it was when you were in High School and earning a couple of bucks washing pots and pans at Perkins.

Today I still have that love of fast cars, especially the old Muscle Cars. I drive a ’73 Vette now that isn’t quite my favorite but is a really clean and smooth running example. Always did like my Chevy’s though.  I can’t seem to break the habit and reach out for another brand.  I might be tempted though as some of the old body styles of the lesser models are starting to look real attractive at lower prices. The thing is guys like Chip Foose are taking cars that I never would have looked at, like the Ford Fairlane and turning them into great looking rides. Time to trade in that Vette and build something unique to me. You gotta admit that those old rides look and run really good with today’s modern engines, wheels, brakes, air conditioning and such added to them. The great styles and body lines with today’s technology is a can’t miss deal.

Let me hear about some of your past and present rides. Later!

The Regular Guy