Friday, February 27, 2015


Everything but the same old cars

Archive for December, 2009

JDM Astro Van and Resurrected Corolla

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 19 - 2009


The resurrection of old Corollas and return of a Chevrolet Astro to the United States from Japan is proof that the end of 2009 is at hand, or that the last Santa Clara gathering of this year is now in the past. The Datsun crew by way of Ratsun Forum showed up with an eclectic mix of rear-drive classics with modern horsepower underhood. The Chevrolet Astro van featured above was purchased in and imported from Japan, making it the first JDM Chevy we’ve ever seen. The single bosozoku-style exhaust is a prototype of a future victory dual outlet version. Captain’s chairs came with the van on its way back to the USA. Paul and crew of Astro van fame joined a collection of Mitsu-Chrysler Starquests, and a resurrected Corolla brought back to the road from the floor of a junkyard. Happy New Year to Anthony for rolling in from the Modesto area in the Corolla that only days before was hood up and ready to meet its end. The usual last Thursday of the month gathering of imports schedule to returns in 2010. There’s just enough time over the winter to get that 1988 Mitsubishi Van ready to show off.

Forgotten Chevy Truck

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 16 - 2009

forgotten_chevy_leadThere is no finer automobile for around the ranch work than a solid full size pickup truck. This 1963 Chevrolet C20 truck had evidently finished the job. What job? The old Chevy is the sort of truck that Hoss Cartwright would drive into town for some dynamite to blow those stumps out in the west field, if he didn’t ride a horse on TV. The patina on this Chevy could only result as a combination between years of actual work, and judging by the date on the California black plate tags, ten or so years of stationary sunbathing in a big valley north of Los Angeles. Even with half of its wheels buried in Southern California soil, this full-size pickup truck of over four decades ago seemed far more compact than modern Potemkin-class pickup trucks. A new battery, fresh gas, can of carburetor cleaner, some air in the tires, and the retired Chevrolet could be ready for more service.

Country Squire Wooden Wagon

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 15 - 2009

country_squire_wood06The seventies were the absolute zenith of American station wagon manufacture. The flagships of the Ford station wagon fleet featured acres of simulated wood paneling – usually a shade lighter than the millions of sheets of actual dark brown wood paneling used to convert the basements of American split-level homes into rumpus or bar rooms. This fake wood paneling trend began with actual wood. 1950 was the first year of production for these most deluxe of Ford wagons, known as the Country Squire until the last monster lumbered off the assembly line in 1991. The 1951 version shown here at the 2009 Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic in San Francisco features genuine wood paneling. Owner Fernando Robleto picked up the Country Squire complete with wood and decided to leave the car in as found condition. A few replacement parts later along with a cooler full of beverages and the Squire was pressed back into intended service. “I was ready to start sanding it, and I thought – don’t touch it”, said Robleto of the well aged station wagon, made in part with the renewable resource known as wood.

Driving a Legend: 1934 Ford Pickup

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 8 - 2009

bobs_truck_lead2 The Champion Speed Shop 1934 Ford pickup truck is a running legend of hot rod history. Champion Speed Shop founder Jim “The Smiling Irishman” McLennan built the truck for his son Bob McLennan, who now owns and frequently operates the supercharged Chevy powered truck. Not so long ago an opportunity arose to drive this piece of history from South San Francisco to Bakersfield and back again. The mission was clear. Get the truck to Bakersfield for use as a tow vehicle for the Champion Speed Shop top fuel dragster at Dragfest. What’s it like to drive a 1934 Ford truck with a 400 horsepower blown small block Chevy under the bonnet? Soulful, fast, and hot. Read the rest of this entry »

Tool of the Week: Duct Tape

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 4 - 2009

duct_tapeFrom the what can’t it fix division of Tool of the Week comes the ongoing miracle of duct tape. This sturdy and versatile tape is indispensable weapon in the Clunkbucket Arsenal of Tools, rivaling even bailing wire in its utility. The water repelling adhesive tape was originally made of cotton duck in green for the military. Duck tape was used to help keep ammo cases waterproof, and was also found effective for holding jeeps together. A post-war heating and ventilation construction boom had tape factories making lots of duck tape to hold metal duct work together. Green became silver. Duck became duct. Duct tape is now available in many colors.

Black duct tape has in fact held together the seven pieces of the original three-piece front air dam of the Starion for many years now. Not the same duct tape. Research has proven that a well placed strip of duct tape lined up with the painted black stripe on the lower part of the air dam is good for about three to six months of stock appearing durability. A roll of black duct tape now rides with the Starion at all times. Be advised. Going up on two wheels to get to the drive-in window before they run out of Shamrock Shakes may markedly decrease the effectiveness of duct tape on low-mounted front air dams.

Austin Bantam Not Once But Twice

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 3 - 2009

bantam_coupe_leadTaking the castaways of the automotive world and transforming them into race cars through ingenuity and steel tubing is nothing new in America. This sixties-built dragster was at one time a thirties-built Austin. Opportunity Washington’s Duke Cornell first constructed this Bantam bodied drag coupe 1961. Duke claims he ran 10-second quarters at the drag strip with alarming regularity using an injected small block Chevrolet for power. That’s Duke himself in the cockpit out on in the staging lanes at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion during the post-race celebration of nitromethane known as the Cacklefest. Duke built the car the first time on a twentysomething year-olds racing budget. After racing for a number of years he sold the car for the usual reasons. Duke recently unearthed what was left of his original coupe and brought it back to better than original condition for display at Famoso in Bakersfield. Now, if only they would let him run down the track a few more times.

Where Porsches Get Recycled

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 2 - 2009

porsche_heaven_lead2No matter how fancy or expensive a car is in the beginning, the good majority of the production run will almost always end up as junk. This is a good thing. Those that continue to drive any sort of aging classic will need parts, so the wheels don’t fly off and the engine won’t catch fire. For these and many more reasons the automobiles is one of the most recycled consumer products on the planet. Some of these parts are more desirable than others. Self-service junkyards are not often stocked with rows of Porsches, so when we spied a lineup of partially dismantled 928 and 944 shells while driving about in the Starion we had to stop and investigate. Where do Porsches go to get recycled into other Porsches? Parts Heaven of course. The guys in the showroom were cool enough to give us a walk through of the collected results of being in the Porsche parts business since 1984. We now know who to call when it comes time to get a front engine rear-drive German progenitor of the Mitsubishi specialty sports coupe.

More: Parts Heaven in Hayward, California

Crosley Car and the Mighty Tin

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On December - 1 - 2009

crosley_leadFrom the cars you don’t see parked on public roads everyday department comes this 1949 Crosley car in red. The Crosely was manufactured by the Crosley Corporation, which to this day makes appliances and portable traveling turntables. 1949 was a pivotal year for the runabout, as the brazed aluminum and steel engine block that served with valor in World War II was upgraded to cast iron for durability. Peacetime engine coolant formulation combined with poor owner maintenance waged war on the coatings inside the The Mighty Tin’s cooling water jackets. The corrosive brew ate away at the bonds that held the the engine block together. The lightweight engine that worked so well buzzing along at a constant RPM to power generators for the war effort lost the battle against demands imposed by civilian automotive use. This particular Crosley was seen on the same block as one of the largest American road tankers cars ever built. The Crosley had a for sale sign in the window for over ten times the asking price of the Newport. Crosley scuttled the Mighty Tin engine for an iron block version in 1949, but it was ultimately too late for an automobile built with wartime thrift in mind to appeal to a public hurtling into the interstate highway age at turnpike speeds.

More: The Crosley Automobile Club

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Replace Window Regulator

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