Monday, November 24, 2008

I Want It: 1971 Corolla 2-Door Wagon

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of wagons. I'm also a big fan of pre-boring Toyotas. Additionally, compact RWD cars are a staple for gearheads the world over. More so when they're cheap.

So here we have the Quadruple Threat: a 1971 (Pre Smog!) Toyota Corolla wagon.

With a manual transmission, mildly hopped-up engine (probably making 85ish HP) and the beloved 2-door wagon body style, it'd be the perfect mix of economy sporty feel and character that I've been looking for in a commuter mule. At $2500 (asking price), it's a killer bargain.

Not sure about those SAAB wheels, though. Yeah...that's the excuse I'll use for not picking it up.

Here's the Current Craigslist Link

Friday, October 31, 2008

Project Proposal: Diesel Disco Vette

As my screen name might suggest, I have some experience with the world of science and research. Funny thing about research: you can't sell it. Well, not in the traditional sense. With a normal good or service, the buyer pays upon delivery of the good or service. In the case of research, it's really the opposite. They pay you...and you get back to them with a report or something eventually.

And so is launched what might be an ongoing series I call "Project Proposal". Essentially, I'm selling you on my cockamamie schemes. Not like I think someone's going to fund me with a Project Car Hell Grant, but more because my wife wants me to stop sending her this stuff on IM while we're both at work.

That we go...

My current (and for the foreseeable future) commute is a 45 mile (one way) dash against traffic from northeast LA to sprawltastic Santa Clarita, CA (ever been to Magic Mountain?). The '06 WRXagon is a fine steed, but I'd really love something more optimized for commuting, you know?

Thus I propose one of many Super Commuter Projects: the Diesel Disco Vette.

The C3 Corvette served as an unfortunate bridge for GM's premier sports car. Form the 425HP ZR-2 of 1970, it fell to the Malaise-o-riffic high 100s HP by the late 70s, the years most associated with the car in this author's mind.

With little in the way of prestige to be lost, I propose to swap a 6.2 or 6.5L GM diesel into a pre-smog (gotta love Kali-fuorneeya) C3 vette. As Saint Wiki will tell you, the Detroit Diesel engines were designed for economy, not power. Knowing these engines can return mid-20 MPG in the Blazers or military CUCVs of the day, I've no doubt it could deliver mid-30s MPG in something as light and pointy as a Vette.

...and it can all be had at bargain prices! Here's a project-special C3 with a (reserve no met) price of a little over 3 grand. It'll probably go for about 5, but I've seen rougher examples go for much less. Complete reman GM diesels can be had for a little more here. Thrown an NV4500 manual in there, and I figure you're cruising in oil-burning style for around 15 grand.

Oh, and then there's that whole biodiesel thing...

I could think of nothing better than to show up at a Corvette meet with a clattering, smoke-belching C3 with a matte green paint job, smelling of french-fries.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Supra-Powered Ranchero, Why Must You Tempt Me So?

I'm talking about this guy. Here's a screenshot if the ad goes down.

I've got a soft-spot for truck-cars (El Caminos and Rancheros, et al, and the 60-65 Ranchero holds a special place in my heart.

Unfortunately, that generation has some of the worst front suspensions ever fitted to an automobile. To add insult to injury, the majority (particularly the early years) come with an undesirable I-6 + two speed auto or three-on-the-tree combo. (V8 and 4 on the floor only for Mr. Mad Science).

...and so I'm intrigued by this '63 with the 2.8L 5M-GE I-6 from an '83 Supra. It even comes with the Toyota's 5-speed transmission, addressing the typical highway insufficiency of older cars' non-overdrive transmissions.

At 150ish HP, the 2.8L 5M-GE isn't going to be King of the Strip, but&mdash lets be honest here&mdash the 260, 289 and 302 V8s of old didn't put out much more that 150HP anyway. Not sure about the 300ZX seats...but we're already in 80s Japanese Invasion territory, so why not expand to the interior as well?

I guess the final attractor is the price: $3000, while not on-a-whim money, is a pretty decent price for what could be a pretty cool car.

Assuming you've got $3k in your girlfriend's savings account lying around, it really comes down to whether you can stand the black-on-yellow bumblebee paintjob (or stand to repaint it).

This thing's been on Craigslist for a few months now...any takers?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Maximum Wagon Day!

Today (what's left of it) was Maximum Wagon Day on my #1 time-waster, Jalopnik.

...and I'd like to take credit for it for having sent in the tip about the ailing site.

The Wife and I are proud owners of two wagons, an '06 Subaru WRX and the aforementioned '67 Ford Country Sedan. I've been a long-time favorite of wagons, whose virtue I have expounded upon in the past and will expound upon in the future. You may even see a semi long-format essay thing on this site about how wagons are superior to "Crossovers" and most SUVs in every single way.

In the meanwhile, I'll hand it over to Jalopnik for all your wagon-loving desires.

Credit to Nate Beaty the picture.

The San Fernando Valley Illegal Soap Box Federation

The Pack (7)

The San Fernando Valley Illegal Soapbox Federation is a collection of handy individuals who love gravity but show much ambivalence towards their own personal safety.

They meet on the second Sunday of every month, at roughly 6am in a random parking lot. Yes, 6am. Don't worry too much, because thus far everywhere they've met contains a coffee dispensary. Where will they meet next month? You'll have to check their website to find out.

August 2007's Home Invasion was the first race I attended: two gentle curves followed by a long downhill, followed by a 90 degree right turn. My brother and I parked ourselves on the inside of the curve, wondering just what we were in store for. Nothing could've prepared us for what came next. When it comes to describing incredible events in detail, sometimes I'm good with words, other times I'm good with embedding video:
(please turn up your volume)

Needless to say, from that day forward I was hooked.

Following races will be covered in detail in the future, but for now the reader can go into more detail in our flickr sets.

HooptyRides HQ

We received the unique opportunity to tour Hooptyrides HQ, home of Mr Jalopy. If you don't know who that is, follow the link, do some reading and come back.

Basically, this was as close to a real-life Wonka factory as it gets. Secret location? Check. Eccentric Recluse? Check. Oompa-loompas? Ummm...not really, but he does have one helper-guy helping him out. I was hoping all the other visitors would be eliminated in one way or another, leaving only Daisy and I to inherit the place. No such luck.

Mr Jalopy has managed to acquire crazy-old-hotrodder-guy-who-just-died quantities of junk. While the quantity is certainly impressive it's the quality of his junk that sets Mr Jalopy apart.

A wall of metal containers:

A glass case full of Gauges:

A great collection of large-size jackstands:

He's in the process of Frankensteining two fluid-coupling dynos together, the detailed workings of which he was happy to lecture:

Don't think that just because Mr Jalopy is such a ravenous collector that he's incapable of vetting his possessions (for a price, that is):

There is one problem with the crowd that assembled for the event...they almost all fit the same description. I was trying to describe someone to Daisy on the way home, and it went a little something like this:
"You remember, the guy with the kinda shaggy beard?"
"He had glasses"
"Not helping"

Case in point:

A look around that picture shows the assortment of scruffy-faced gentlemen (and a few not-so scruffy ladies) that were in attendance.

Your reward for reading or scrolling all the way to the end is a set of links to pictures of the event. (The last one's mine)

The Wagon

One of the cool things about LA is the abundance of cars. This is a problem, to be sure, but it's also awesome, as you can find some sweet old cars for dirt cheap. A personal favorite is the craigslist cheap car search.

This search netted us a great find: a 1967 Ford Country Sedan (click to make bigger):

Here it is with the rest of the fleet:

Here's the rear. You'll note the Ford-exclusive tailgate that opens like a tailgate or a giant hinged door:

It's got a 390 with a 4 barrel, and seating for 10. One of the things that sold us on it is the old-school Cragar wheels:

A closeup on the aged-to-perfection center cap:

Yes, those are the front drum brakes. I'd also like to add that when we took it home there was no fluid in the master cylinder for the rear drums. The brake pedal was really more of a suggestion.

So far, maintenance has consisted of:
-Adding brake fluid (see above) and bleeding rear brakes
-A few quarts of oil
-Removing an odd piece of chrome trim that was rubbing on the tailgate. This of course required the entire rear bumper to be unbolted, which was an exercise in frustration because the bumper is held on with bolts that lock in place in little square holes, which easily strip when loaded with the torque required to break loose nuts that have been in place for 40 years.
-Replacing the rear wheel bearings. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find a shop that'll press wheel bearings off of axleshafts. Also, the parts Pep Boys supplied were wrong. UnderCar for the win!

Modifications have consisted of adding a 3 gauge cluster for oil pressure, water temp and volts. Apparently Ford engineers in the 60s assumed issues regarding oil pressure and water temp would be so rare, we only need idiot lights to alert us to the problem. There will be pictures when they're properly installed and wired up.

Hello World

I'm enough of a geek to know it's best to open with that. More and better content to come.