Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Last Ride

A 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible. This car exudes class and is rife with American history -- the one pictured above is particularly special. It is known to be the last car owned by the late Martin Luther King, Jr. and currently resides at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

According to an Indiana news article, the car had been lent to King by a wealthy Civil Rights patron named Cornelia Crenshaw. This is the same car that King used the day of his assassination, April 4, 1968. Crenshaw later went broke due to a loss of her wealth in a court hearing against the city of Memphis and could not afford to fix a blown head gasket. Thus she left the beautiful piece of history for over 20 years in the lot behind Haye's Auto Shop in Memphis, TN where the owner of Haye's held onto it even after she had passed away. Unfortunately the car was neglected in the back lot where it began to rust and eventually became interwoven into a den of plant life that had taken root in and around it.

The car was discovered in 2002 by Rich Fortner, the owner of Al's Auto Body Experts, in St. John, Indiana and has since performed one of the most interesting and important auto restoration jobs in recent history. He restored the car for use by the National Civil Rights Museum in their 40th anniversary celebration, that occurred on April 4, 2008.

We've found more images of what is said to be the same Lincoln Continental after it's most recent auto restoration. The photographer claims that this is the verified authentic car owned and driven by Dr. King. He claims to have taken these pictures 2 days after it's restoration was complete.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. day to all and may we not forget our history. Google

Friday, January 10, 2014

First Looks at Dodge's "Hellcat" Equipped 2015 Challenger

Brauns Automotive 2015 Dodge Challenger
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT is rumored for release at the ongoing 2014 Detroit Auto Show (January 13-26, 2014). The upgraded Challenger will contain a Supercharged Hemi V-8 engine in the SRT model. This all aluminum Hemi v-8, dubbed the "Hellcat", is a 6.2 liter engine that is supposed to be far more powerful than the 6.4 liter version.

From an auto restoration standpoint, things get interesting when you check out the physical specs of the new engine. Despite popular belief, the Hellcat is not just a modified version of the 6.4 liter Hemi V-8. It's reported as structurally different to the point of using different motor mounts, heads and few interchangeable parts. It is believed that this will be the engine to usher in a new generation of Hemi's that would be smaller, incorporate efficiency upgrades, be lighter weight but all the while producing more power. Engineering at it's finest. We're excited for the future!

The price tag on the Hellcat equipped version of the new Challenger hasn't been officially released but we can speculate that this will be considered a special model meaning it's price should fall well above even the Challenger SRT 392's starting price of $46k.

We'll be keeping an eye on the new Hemi's in the arena as we may consider using them in future hot rod restoration projects. Google

Thursday, January 2, 2014

1964 Pontiac GTO

The 1964 Pontiac GTO is the very essence of what American muscle cars are all about.  It dominated the market throughout the 1960s and 1970s and was considered to be one of the first mass-produced muscle cars. The GTO blazed the trail for countless future hot rod restoration projects. To this day, it continues to be one of the most influential vehicles ever developed.

Packing a 325 horsepower 389 cubic inch V8, the GTO is a force to be reckoned with. Its three-speed Hurst manual floor shifter, dual exhausts, and sport suspension all gave the GTO unrivaled performance during its heyday. It is so powerful, in fact, that some people simply couldn’t handle it.  According to Pontiac, "To be perfectly honest, the GTO is not everyone's cup of tea. … Its suspension is firm, tuned more to the open road than to wafting gently over bumpy city streets. Its dual exhausts won't win any prizes for whispering. And, unless you order it with our lazy 3.08 low-ratio rear axle, its gas economy won't be anything to write home about."

The 1964 GTO was so popular, in fact, that GM sold 6 times as many cars as predicted within the first six months. Demand far exceeded production capacity, which further added to the mystique of the vehicle.  This demand came from a combination of low retail price and rave reviews in magazines.  According to Car and Driver, the GTO was “virtually as good as the Ferrari GTO”.  This is where Los Angeles car restoration shops like Brauns really shine. There are countless variations of the GTO on the market as hot rod enthusiasts have had decades to improve and upgrade their vehicles. Also, its legacy still lives on today with the recently released GTO models. This is one vehicle that has stood the test of time, and for good reason.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Fastback

Arguably the most legendary hot rod of all time, the 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Fastback is a true American classic. Considered the holy grail of hot rods to auto restoration car enthusiasts, this rare and mythical machine lives up to its reputation with a 355hp V8 engine.

Run chassis dyno testing on this timeless vehicle and you will see why it's revered as the ultimate hot rod restoration project. Shelby added a custom fiberglass hood, nose, and intakes, giving this classic ride its distinctive look. The car featured numerous powerful upgrades from its stock counterpart, including improved carburetors, manifolds, transmission, and braking system.

The Shelby had a four speed manual transmission that powered it into the history books—race after race. Because of its popularity, it is exceedingly hard to find a well maintained one for sale. That is where Los Angeles auto restoration shops like Braun's really shine. Their skilled mechanics have taken countless weathered classic cars and turned them into truly show-stopping hot rods. The shop is a perfect example of hot rod restoration at its finest.

The GT500 is also the only car to have the distinction of having its own credit in a movie. It is listed as "Eleanor" in the movie Gone in 60 Seconds (The original, not the remake). This movie essentially solidified the Mustang's prominence in American pop culture with its groundbreaking chase scenes.

A recently auctioned 967 Shelby GT500 commanded a whopping $1.3 million price tag when all was said and done. Under the hood of this one of a kind Shelby is a 427 cubic-inch V8 from none other than the Ford GT40 racecar. This car is the pinnacle of hot rod restoration—no detail on the vehicle was overlooked.















Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Speed and Style: 2014 BMW M4 Coupe

Even though the M-series offers incredible upgrades to stock BMWs, for some people this is simply not enough. By taking their vehicle to an auto restoration shop, they can fine-tune the performance to maximize both speed and style. One car we will definitely see modified in the coming months is the 2014 BMW M4 coupe.

Utility and performance are perfectly blended in the latest coupe from BMW's storied M-series racing division. Replacing the traditional V8 that we have come to expect from the M series with a newly twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, BMW’s latest flagship coupe cranks out a whopping 420 horsepower. This monstrous engine of the 2014 BMW M4 goes from 0-60 in four seconds all while comfortably seating four people.


The M4 is two full inches wider than the 435i coupe. This width gives it unprecedented handling, as well as custom designed body panels like the carbon-fiber roof.  Measuring in as Bimmer’s widest coupe to date, it still weighs less than its predecessor – a first for BMW. Also new this year is an electromechanical steering system, replacing traditional hydraulics. If you are like many car enthusiasts, you may be wondering what the difference is between the new M3 and M4. This year, BMW has gone with a new naming convention – all even numbered models are sedans, and odd numbers are coupes (with some exceptions).

It’s true - a muscle car restoration shop like Braun’s Automotive can help maximize the potential of your hot rod. Starting with an amazingly powerful car like BMW’s new 4 series gives these companies the ability to create some truly great vehicles. Expect these third party manufacturers to release their own variations of the M4 as 2014 rolls through.

Image courtesy worldcarwallpaper.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Airless Tires? A Closer Look at "Tweels"


In 2013, new technologies seem to come and go like waves on beach shores. 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!
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Friday, November 15, 2013

There’s Something About Muscle Cars

There’s a reason why muscle car restoration is so popular in Los Angeles and across the country. Whether it’s the machine strength, sleek lines or ultra powerful engines that characterize these vehicles, muscle car enthusiasts just cannot get enough of these high performance automobiles.

If you walk into any auto restoration shop, you’re sure to see several muscle cars getting worked on. Even though newer models and modified versions of the same vehicles are available, muscle cars are in demand. They are popular items among collectors due to their nostalgia factor, but are also in demand among younger drivers, including teenagers who just started driving.

Many American-made muscle cars are available today as collectors' items and worth thousands of dollars—and their market value continues to grow every year, which is why muscle car restoration in Los Angeles is growing in demand. Muscle cars are also popular in Australia, as well as the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. These countries were highly influenced by original American muscle cars, prompting car manufacturers to release popular variants during the height of their popularity.

If you walk into any auto restoration shop, you will see a wide array of vintage muscle cars, but there are some classics that have a rising value and seem to be a favorite among the collector community. Some of these include the Boss 429 Mustang, which was released in the late 1960s and available into the early 1970s. The 450-horsepower V-8 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 is another hot item, as is the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD455. Other favorites include the 455-cubic inch V-8 engine Oldsmobile 442 W-30, the aerodynamic Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi, the great looking Ford Mustang GT500KR and the hand-assembled Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. And muscle car enthusiasts will tell you—there’s just something about each and every one of these cars.


image credit: lacar.com