Thursday, June 25, 2015

How to Excel at a Muscle Car Cocktail Party

Photo Credit: myrideisme.com
By "muscle car cocktail party," we mean a bunch of dudes standing around, drinking beer and talking about horsepower. When you and your buddies are talking shop, which one of you is the trivia champ? Are you the guy who knows every spec from every model of classic American muscle cars?

Here are a handful of facts that may stump even you. Use them to show your buddies just how deep your knowledge runs. 

There was no 1983 Corvette
Like a 13th floor, it just isn't there. The third generation Corvette had a long and glorious run from 1968 to 1982. Chevy waited until 1984 to release the C4. Some thought they had a radical redesign in mind, while others thought it was due to emissions complications. In the end, for whatever the reason, all but one of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed. And no, you can't get your hands on that one, it's in the National Corvette Museum.

The Original Transformer Camaro was a '69
The modern area Camaro made a badass Bumblebee in the Hollywood blockbuster, Transformers. But it wasn't the first mad science success; that belongs to the 1969 COPO Camaro. Chevy's COPO series was meant for fleet sales, cop cars and taxi cabs. A few clever auto dealers figured out that the 9560 COPO all-aluminium ZL-1 427 V-8 could be ordered as a Camaro package, creating a light and mean muscle car that pumped out 550 horsepower during chassis dyno testing. Only 69 of the ZL-1 Camaros were made and they command as much as $400k at auction.

Too Much Engine, Not Enough Body
In the late sixties and early seventies, NASCAR insisted that manufacturers make 500 of their race vehicles available to the public. Was this safe? Probably not, but it was good for muscle car geeks everywhere. The 1969 Mustang Boss 429 was a prime example. However, there was a tiny production problem: the engine was too big for the chassis. In order to fit the king-sized engine into the engine bay, Ford had to make a variety of alterations, including relocated shock towers and a smaller brake-booster. The retrofitted Boss 429 is a rarity among muscle cars and worth a mint.

Go forth and astound with your new found knowledge! Or brush up a little more with this quiz.

Click through to learn more about chassis dyno testing and our muscle car restoration services.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

History Making Muscle Cars

Muscle cars—they all have a certain allure that has garnered attention around the world for decades. They’re depicted in movies, used in commercials and raced in venues across the globe. There are many history making muscle cars, but for this week’s post, we’re focusing on three all-time favorites that we see all the time in our auto restoration shop. While there is a blurry line for many between muscle cars and hot rods, we love both—so one of these may just fall into the hot rod category for some classic car lovers.

These are just three classics among many that had an impact on the culture and manufacture of big engine cars. Tell us your favorite history makers if you think we missed some important ones.

1. '49 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 - You have to give credit to a pioneer even if it doesn't stack up against later generations. The Rocket '88 was built in response to the post World War II hot rod craze. It took 12 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. If we had dyno tested it, we bet it would have topped out at 135 bhp. But in its day, it was a beast.

2. '68 Dodge Charger – You can ask someone who doesn't know a single thing about muscle cars to name one and there is a good chance they will say, Charger. This bad boy cut the Rocket 88's 0-60 time in half. It was the bad guy’s car in Bullittand a year later, it became the one and only General Lee. History on top of history.

3. 2013 Shelby GT500 - We started with something old and we'll finish with something new. This car is an embarrassment of riches; 662 horsepower supercharged V-8, 0-60 in 3.5s, a top speed of over 200 miles per hour. Many consider it to be the most powerful vehicle ever produced by an American automaker.

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image: mygenerallee.com


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.


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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.

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