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?