As much of the world plunges into the sort of deep freeze that may be the work of a clandestine global super villian, the trusty snow and ice scraper seems the perfect mid-winter Ernst Starvo Blofeld edition of Tool of the Week. Growing up in New England meant carrying one or more of these handy tools around for nearly six months out of the year, along with a childhood chock-a-block with scraping and shoveling. The archetypal Clunkbucket was in fact a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle. The heat exchangers had corroded into nothing long before the car fell for 500 bucks into the hands of this freshly licensed driver, who was more or less as old as whatever German ferrous materials the Vermont road salt had not eaten away. The car came already equipped with a scraper. This bonus snow and ice scraper served well to remove frozen crud from the outside of the window in this heatless automobile. The three-inch wide miracle of plastic injection and space age polymer technology was also very handy for scraping ice from the inside of the front windshield. Especially while driving. Heating and defrosting systems have come a long way since the rusted 1964 Bug, virtually eliminating the need for in cabin ice scraping. Snow and ice scrapers have been improved to wider and brush-equipped telescoping handle versions as shown here. Odds are good that any used car glovebox in the Northeast will contain one or more seventies-style Plexiglas models, making the vintage tools not only useful but collectible.
Archive for January, 2010
The dry climate and salt free roads of California are kind to older cars like the Starlet. The same warm California sun has detrimental effects on vinyl interiors. Throw in twenty plus years of sitting and sunbathing, and it’s a good bet that even the rich Corinthian leather in those 1981 Cordoba seats has seen better days. Drivers seats take the biggest beating. While the foam inside the Starlet seats is still mostly there, the stylish light and dark brown vinyl piping is clearly toasted. In the time between now and when our vintage Mitsubishi ECU collection is worth enough money to trade for a trip to a real upholstery shop for the madras seat cloth conversion, investing 14 bucks into a pair of seat covers was a thrifty solution to tattered bucket seats. Sliding economy replacement covers over crusty old seats takes just few minutes and is a usually tools free process. Read the rest of this entry »
Proving wrong the previously held belief that a car is on a certain path to the jaws of the crusher once out on the California junkyard ground is this 1983 Toyota Corolla. We have lost count of how many near mint condition cars, trucks, and vans seen at the self-service junkyards of California that left us scratching heads as to why they were junked in the first place. This road burner was found in as shown here condition at a central California automobile recycling center. The latest owner of this Corolla saw the gem out in the yard and made a deal with the junkyard overlords. After some cash negotiations, the Toyota motored away from the boneyard under its own power! A brake and lamp inspection was required for the Corolla to earn a California salvage title. The rear wheel drive coupe passed California smog with 237 thousand miles on the stock 4AC engine, and made the trip to the December 2009 Santa Clara meet still wearing some yellow grease pencil from its previous date with the steel-gnashing jaws of death. One of the last of the rear wheel drive Corollas lives on. The stylish and practical luggage rack crossed over from the air-cooled rear engine scene by way of an old school Volkswagen Beetle. Old Toyotas never die, they just find older luggage racks.
From the before and after division of the project car department comes this 1934 Ford BB wrecking truck. The former tow truck is shown here in before condition, after the heavy-duty Ford made the journey to South San Francisco by way of the windy rusty city of Chicago. Bob McLennan of Champion Speed Shop fame picked up the project up off eBay and had it shipped out west for future restification into a working tow and show truck. The wrecker was sitting in the previous owner’s yard for so long that most everyone has forgotten where it came from originally. What is known is that it is still a Ford, and started out as a one and one-half ton truck from the factory. Read the rest of this entry »
Driving along Vermont state highways one is likely to witness the majesty of the Green Mountains while curving down around rivers and creeks into bucolic small towns. Either that or a giant gorilla holding up a Volkswagen beetle. This particular Gorilla guards the used car lot at Pioneer Auto Sales on State Route 7 in Brandon, Vermont. While inflatable gorillas are a common site at automobile and mattress dealers alike, this ape is made of reinforced concrete. The primate has been standing at this very spot since being sculpted from an idea into bug-hoisting existence by T.J. Neil in 1987. Read the rest of this entry »
The jet age was upon us. Radio magnates, vacuum cleaner industrialists, and battery manufacturing cabals pooled their vast economic resources. Top electrical engineer Victor Wouk and Pulitzer Prize winning chemist Linus Pauling were put on the job. French automaker Renault was called in for their expertise. From this global effort sprang a compact electric automobile with a top speed of 60 miles per hour, and a range of over 60 miles on a single charge of its dozen sequential batteries. These pioneering Henney Kilowatt cars were sold in small numbers for brief time – from 1959 to 1961.
It could have been a Franco-American variant of the Previa Effect that caused vacationing top fuel drag racer Brendan Murry to drop his bicycle and snap a few shots of this maroon car, which bears close resemblance to a Renault Dauphine. While Key West, Florida seems as likely a place as any to spot a a Dauphine, this one is only partially French. The compact maroon sedan started life as an engineless Renault, but is actually a Henney Kilowatt! Somewhere south of 100 of these electric runabouts were ever sold, making the chances of seeing one parked in a driveway as likely as winning the Moldovan lottery.