Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What is a Pony Car?

Believe it or not, there are many car enthusiasts that come into our classic car restoration shop in Los Angeles don’t know the difference between a pony car and a muscle car. You may have hard the terms used interchangeably and wondered if they were one and the same. In addition, many experts disagree on the definitions, making it even more difficult to know the difference. This week, we’ll discuss the definition of a pony car, while we compare the two classifications in our next blog. 

The most standard definition of a pony car was inspired by the popular 1964 Ford Mustang: an American class of highly styled car that is compact and affordable yet bears a sporty or performance-oriented image. The term was coined by Dennis Shattuck, the Editor of Car Life magazine, based on the Mustang’s iconic logo of a stallion.

From that point forward, the term was used to describe members of its ranks. The template of these cars has several criteria, including two doors, room for four passengers, a short deck, a sporty long hood and open mouth styling. In addition, for a car to be a true pony car, it needs to be American made and built with mass production parts, which results in an affordable base price. In 1965, that price was around $2,500 and under. These pony cars also offered a bevy of upgrades that made it easy to personalize each car.

While the Mustang was the original pony car, a ton of competitors followed suit over the next few years, striving to compete with its style, performance and affordable price. Some excellent examples of other pony cars include the Pontiac Firebird, Plymouth Barracuda and AMC Javelin, and today’s Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and of course, the Ford Mustang.

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image: zeroto60times.com

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Top 5 Muscle Cars to Restore

This is not a list of rarities or cars that fetch the most at auction. This is a sensible list; a list of American classics that combine reasonable purchase price, availability of parts and resell priceprojects that any muscle car enthusiast can restore and drive with pride. 

#5 - Pontiac GTO - 1971-'72

Early models can be pricey but '71-'72 versions are still in range for the average enthusiast. The body design has that mean and beefy look and a lot of body and trim parts have been reproduced. The top engine available for this model was the 455 HO V-8 rated at 335 hp. Their are a ton of GTO fans out there so reselling at the end of your restoration shouldn't be hard.

#4 - Chevrolet Corvette - 1978-'82

A lot of rebuilds start out as rust buckets on the back of a trailer. But, if your not looking to dig that deep this could be your ride. Many of these are available in drivable condition and there are a bunch of Corvette specialists selling reproduction parts and high-performance speed parts. If you want to bring in the big money you'll have to be flawless in your restoration, but a 'vette is a 'vetteinterest will always be there.

#3 - Dodge Charger - 1968-'70

Charger is one of the most desired and respected names in the world of American muscle cars. Production numbers were high so these models aren't difficult to find and every mechanical part is obtainable. Naturally the bigger the engine the higher the restoration price. But if you can afford to drop-in a 426 Street HEMI that kicks out 425 bph during chassis dyno testing, why wouldn't you splurge? Plus, the Dukes of Hazzard drove one of these. The General Lee. We're just saying.

#2 - Chevrolet Camero - 1967 - '69

They look great. They are easy to get parts for. They are fun to drive—and they can be built fast and mean thanks to a booming aftermarket for performance parts. What's not to like? The first generation Cameros came with a lot of engine options the biggest factory offer being the L78 SS396 a 396 cubic inch V8 with 375 hp.

#1 - Ford Mustang - 1964 -'68

You didn't think we would have a Top 5 list without a 'Stang on it did you? Mustangs are perfect starter projects. They tend to be affordable and literally every part is available via catalogue or website. The support clubs are great and even forums can be helpful. Early model Mustangs are among the easiest restoration projects to resell. Do a good job on this one and maybe you'll be able to dip into Shelby territory next round.

Click here for information on chassis dyno testing and other muscle car information.


Photo Credit: bluesoru.deviantart.com


 

 




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Airless Tires? A Closer Look at "Tweels"

In 2015, new technologies come and go like waves on the beach. They can be so present in our daily lives one day only to be washed away by something very similar but upgraded the next. Less often we see a technology that may represent a full paradigm shift.

Today I’d like to highlight what I predict will be a true paradigm shift in an underrated, yet extremely important piece of any muscle car restoration project—the tire.

One of the most ancient technologies known to man, the wheel, has remained relatively unaltered in recent years. On our cars, we currently use tires, modified wheels that prove to be much more useful than a standalone wheel itself. In addition, we have tires that allow you to drive when punctured, tires optimized for use in cold, slippery weather, and even tires that roll without making a sound. However, we haven’t seen a true paradigm shift in this technology since Robert Thomson used vulcanized rubber to provide a stable coat for the first pneumatic tires in 1839. Since then, we have expanded on that basic formula in automobile tire creation: a rubber outer filled with air that encapsulates the circumference of a hubcap equals a tire.

In recent years, however, there has been a monumental shift in tire technology and research. Researchers have begun foraging into the new territory of non-pneumatic tires, or tires without the current key ingredient – air pressure. Nicknamed the “tweel”, these experimental wheels use a strategic architecture of flexible polyeurethane spokes that support an outer rim while also absorbing shocks. Funded by the Department of Defense, Wisconsin researchers Resillient Technologies, LLC are currently experimenting with different types of “rims” to use with these wheels. Two major issues that are being addressed are lack of heat dissipation and noise.
Currently, tweels generate 5% more friction than a regular radial tire. This causes lots of heat buildup when rolling around—and without the air pressure inside the tire to help with dissipation, the tweels can overheat and cause structural damage. In addition, when rolling above 50 mph, the tweels apparently begin to vibrate, causing an unpleasant and loud noise.

As with any new technology, the tweel still has a few kinks to work out, and while the wheels are currently available for bikes and slower moving vehicles like the latest, the lunar rover, it’ll take more time before they are widely available for automobiles. The latest advancement we’ve seen comes from Hankook. Their i-Flex design is advertised as bringing lighter weight, greater fuel efficiency, and greater shock absorption to the ‘tweel’ market. The cherry on top? These wheels are made with 95% recyclable materials. They are also working on a new tire called the e-membrane, which is capable of physically changing its structure to be more efficient under different driving conditions (e.g. busy city traffic versus a race track).

Our final thoughts: how long before this new technology becomes outdated? With research into magnetic roads and hovering cars, will this technology serve too little too late? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Click here if you have an idea for a muscle car restoration in the works.

image: auto.howstuffworks.com
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Monday, March 30, 2015

To Kit or Not to Kit?


In a perfect muscle car restoration world, there would be no kit cars. Everything would be all original and every enthusiast would drive their dream with pride; elbow jutting out the window and sunglasses blocking the glare of a sun drenched open road.

Unfortunately for car lovers, not everyone has the cash to pull that off, and not every restoration is bound for Barrett-Jackson big bucks. When the question to kit or not to kit comes up, you simply have to do the math and determine what is realistic in your financial world and what other resources are available to you. If all original isn't affordable or tracking down the parts is downright impossible—kit it. We won't tell.

Here are a few of the most popular models for kit rebuilds:

1969 Chevy Camaro
Kits for this legendary vehicle are readily available in a variety of stages, all the way from bits and pieces to fully assembled. Please don't shell out the cash for a fully assembled kit, you will break our muscle car lov'n hearts—it’s truly not necessary.

1968 Ford "Eleanor" Mustang
If you don't like it, blame Nicolas Cage. The fact of the matter is this kit is popular all across the globe. If you have the engine and the frame, the body essentials will only run you about 8k. If you want the whole shebang, expect to spend upwards from 40k.

Early Sixties Corvettes
The early Corvettes are undeniably gorgeous and extremely popular. Deep down, we hope you don’t do this, but if you want to be a miser, kits that fit onto the frame of a Fiero or Miata are available. But come on, you'll always know that you’re sitting on an itty bitty Mazda. Realistic kits cost 20k plus, but with them comes pride.


Click through to learn more about our muscle car restoration services. 

image: stang-aholics.com

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Sell Your Muscle Car

Photo Credit: carmotorsport.net
You've waxed and wiped the beautiful fully restored muscle car in your garage hundreds of times. You've taken her to shows and gushed about her lovingly. You took her to an auto restoration ship and fixed every single thing you could. You still love her. You do! But, you've got your eye on other girls. A curvy Dodge Charger? A Barracuda in need? Don't beat yourself up, it happens to every muscle car enthusiast worth his salt. Sometimes you've just got to move on.

But, before you do you're going to need some cash to fuel your new project. It is really tough to let go of a project, so if you're going to do it, do it right. Parking it at the local supermarket with a "For Sale" sign in the window isn't going to cut it. Here are a few tips to get maximum value for your primed and cherry American muscle car.

Keep Detailed Records:

Buying a restored muscle car is an expensive venture. Make sure you have all original paperwork and a detailed history of ownership. You will also want a detailed history of the work you've put into the car. Which parts are original? Which parts are after market? Is the big V-8 under the hood stock or have you tweeked it to spike up the horsepower? If you have been organized from he start this should be easy. If not...

Build Up a Buzz:

Don't post an ad or join an auction until you have primed your audience. The internet is loaded with blogs and forums dedicated to specific muscle car makes and models. Got a Mustang to sell? Get on the forums, talk to other enthusiasts, post pictures of your ride. You'll get a better idea of what your car is worth and you might just find a buyer while you're at it.

Take the Leap:

You can go the fixed price route and advertise on Hemmings.com (hardcopy or online). Or you can go the auction route and hope for a bidding war on eBay Motors. Either way have a cost window set. What is a fair amount to charge? What is the lowest amount you'll take?

The biggest thing is to be patient. If the market isn't right, wait. People love American muscle cars. Bid your time and you'll find someone who loves that beauty in your garage just as much as you do.

Visit this link to learn more about working with an auto restoration shop.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bigfoot—A Monster Hot Rod

Whether you are a car fanatic or don't know the meaning of chassis dyno, you probably have heard of Bigfoot. It's a name synonymous with Monster Truck Rallies—rooted in redneck lore. Yet the brand name didn’t start out that way. While today Bigfoot is a brand name with many generations and models in its repertoire, back in 1979 it was Bob Chandler's concept hot rod and is considered the “original monster truck.”

Originally, Chandler, a former construction worker from St. Louis, Missouri, was simply looking for ways to reduce his many four-wheeling wreckage costs. In fact, that is where the name "Bigfoot" originated from. He asked his friend, Ron MacGruder, why he kept wrecking and MacGruder responded "It's ‘cause of your big foot!"

Chandler's first major modification was to add steering that could be controlled from either the front or rear axle. This made the truck operable in case of breakage and effectively made it a 4x4x4. He started taking Bigfoot to car shows and tractor pulls in '79, but it was a video that he made in '81 that truly started the legend and launched the modern Monster Truck format.

Chandler set up a couple of dilapidated cars in an open field and taped them being crushed by Bigfoot. While he originally made the tape as joke, when he began playing it at his shop, it started gaining attention, so much so that request after request for repeat performances rolled in, eventually leading to a Ford sponsorship and iconic status. In addition, Bigfoot's immense popularity led to the truck's appearance in the 1981 film, Take This Job and Shove It, directed by Gus Trikonis.


In 1986, Chandler built Bigfoot 5, which the Guinness Book of World Records dubbed the "World's Tallest, Wildest and Strongest Monster Truck." The later model Bigfoots boasted insane horsepower, 572 cubic inch engines that ripped off anywhere between 1200-1500 bhp. We would almost be scared to dyno run that bad boy!

Speaking of which, click here to see some of our chassis dyno tuning videos.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

4 Awesome Chase Scenes on the Silver Screen

Bullitt
If you’re into hot rod or auto restoration, you probably enjoy good car chase scenes in movies, especially when cool muscle cars are featured. While computer-generated imagery has changed the modern day chase scene—and some will say not for the better—there are plenty of amazing scenes throughout film history that will satisfy even the most discerning lover of fast cars.  

1. Bullitt (1968). This film is unrivalled when it comes to movie chase scenes. Steve McQueen’s 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback GT raised the bar for all muscle car collectors back in the day—and still inspires every hot rod or auto restoration fanatic. It’s a rush just watching McQueen racing through the steep hills of San Francisco.

2, Gone in 60 Seconds (1974). The original version of this film is a low-budget, cult classic that culminates in a 40-minute chase scene that leaves 93 wrecks in its wake.

3. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974). Peter Fonda robs grocery stores and races stock cars in this movie filled with hot pursuit. Vic Morrow stars as the sheriff on Fonda’s tail.


4. The Blues Brothers (1980). Brothers Jake and Elwood rock wayfarers, sing the blues, blast rock ‘n roll and outrun the police all while going 120 miles per hour in a 1974 Dodge Monaco.

5. The French Connection (1971). Gene Hackman received the best actor Oscar for his incredible portrayal of New York City detective, Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. The car chases through Manhattan are absolutely unforgettable—and probably contributed to the other Oscars bestowed on this film: best director, best screenplay and best film editing.

6. Two Lane Blacktop (1971). Starring James Taylor and the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, this movie is packed with quintessential muscle car chase scenes involving a custom 1955 Chevy hot rod and a 1970 Pontiac GTO racing across country.

Visit this link to learn more about hot rod or auto restoration. 

img credit: themustangsource.com