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Everything but the same old cars

Archive for April, 2010

Surf Punk Toyota Hilux Truck

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 27 - 2010

surf-punk-hilux-leadOne of the great mysteries of modern motoring is why anyone would need a pickup truck the size of an Iowa or Yamato class battleship to carry around a circular saw and 20-foot extension cord. Marketing powers tell us that we desire a truck so heavy-duty that a guy with a bucket loader can drop boulders into the bed with such force that the pickup truck will bounce off the ground and still drive away. So awesome is this process of boulder loading that time slows down into epic slow motion, just like when Steve Austin started hurling boulders at Maskatron with his bionic arm in the Six Million Dollar Man. The reality for most of us is what we really need right now is a Toyota Hilux. This world famous compact pickup truck sprang from the Stout, was later known as Toyota Truck, and in turn begat the Tacoma. This particular Toyota Truck looks like it has been in full surf mode with ongoing punk rock involvement since 1977. Better still is the Hilux by any other name looks as if it has plenty of tasty waves and discordant yet anthemic hooks left in its future. Onward, Hilux. Find that perfect wave not once but twice.

Kit Car Bonanza!

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 26 - 2010

aha-kit-car-leadWe know what you’re thinking. Ferraris? Porches? WTF? There is no cause for alarm. Not one of the cars shown here is an actual Ferrari or a Porsche, they only sort of look that way. These automobiles are the handiwork of the Association of Handcrafted Automobiles – or AHA. This gathering of fiberglass craftsmanship and Fieros as Ferraris took place at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California this last Saturday. While some may not like what most commonly associate with a Kit Car, there is one key point to remember. The essential difference between a Kit Car and a Handcrafted Automobile seems that a Kit Car comes in many pieces and is rarely finished. These Kit Cars can be seen languishing in backyards poking through sun-torn tarps, or for sale in pieces and five gallon buckets full of parts on the internets. Handcrafted Automobiles as shown here were mostly driven into and away from the show. They may have started as kits, but were finished as cars. A great number of the cars at the show from companies like Superformance are finished and turnkey from the get go. But don’t worry. We can almost guarantee the only time an actual Ferrari will appear on the pixels of this fine publication is when someone puts us behind the wheel of a Ferrari 250 GT Breadvan Drogo for a week.

For more on Replicars visit the Association of Handcrafted Automobiles.

Kit Car and Replicar Handcrafted Automobile Photo Bonanza Gallery

Spring Fling Upholds Mopar Greatness

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 23 - 2010

spring-fling-lead1Being number one is not necessarily the best. Just ask any Mopar fan. Number three is far better. Maybe existing as the underdog of the American big three had the Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth collective working that much harder to come up with something groundbreaking and innovative. Perhaps being a little smaller allowed for more free thinking and resulting nimble action. Whatever the case, the number three American automaker produced some of the most enduring American cars and trucks of all time. What does Mopar stand for? That depends on who you’re talking to. Each spring and fall Van Nuys is the place for almost a full week of Chrysler Performance West Mopar hosted celebration. The 2010 Spring Fling proved once again that for a growing number of die-hard fans, it is Mopar or no car. Read the rest of this entry »

Marcos GT made of Wood

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 22 - 2010

marcos-gt-1967In honor of Earth Day we present a car made largely of wood and glue. The 1967 Marcos GT is comprised of a sandwich of plywood and fiberglass that forms its gorgeous monocoque body. The resulting lightweight sports car is underpinned by conventional metal suspension bits, and what we can only assume is a powertrain that employs sophisticated metallurgy instead of Douglas Fir or Mahogany. This is not the first time the British have used wood in the construction of high-performance machines. The World War II de Havilland Mosquito twin-engine bomber was made by skilled craftsman using Ecuadorean balsa wood and Canadian birch along with a then new technological breakthrough called plywood, all bonded together with milk-derived Casein glues. This Timber Terror was so fast that it went out on bombing missions unarmed, as no enemy aircraft were fast enough to catch the Mosquito in the early part of the war.

Constructing airplanes during a war from materials derived from trees and milk was good thinking on the part of a resource strapped Britain. As history would have it, Marcos co-founder Frank Costin worked building Mosquito Bombers during the war, and brought with him the skills required to make automobiles in the same manner. The lessons learned during conflict carried over to the early peacetime Marcos GT cars, which tipped the scales just over 1000 pounds. Sadly, the Marcos GT wood and fiberglass construction formula was abandoned in the late sixties in favor of steel tubing in order to speed up production and allow for more powerful engines. Since wood and glass are renewable and recyclable resources, constructing lightweight sports cars of wood laminates made from toothpick trimmings and fiberglass spun from RC Cola bottle glass cullet may be an idea whose time has come again.

Tool of the Week: Digital Scale

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 19 - 2010

digital-scaleFrom the turbocharged G54B-4G54 Astron engine department of Tool of the Week comes the digital scale, shown here in the process of measuring more Astron connecting rods than we have engine blocks to put them in. As yet another Mitsubishi engine buildup is in the near future, a small investment in an inexpensive digital scale seemed a good way to figure out was going on with two sets of connecting rods. One set of rods appeared to have been worked and balanced, and was also bushed for floating piston pins that held on a set of beat forged pistons. The other set of rods was stock except for being resized in preparation for a rebuild. Both sets of rods were fitted with ARP rod bolts. The digital scale was used to get a general idea of mass, and produced surprisingly repeatable results despite its low price. Actual connecting balancing requires a fixture that measures the mass at one end or the other, and is either made or sold separately. What the digital scale revealed was that the worked and bushed set of rods were all within one gram of each other, scaling in at around 805 grams each. Bonus! The factory connecting rods were as far as 18 grams apart, with the heaviest one scaling in at 843 grams. Quick math made for a 128 gram total weight difference between the two sets of rods. For under 20 bucks, the digital scale helped determine which set of connecting rods to haul into the machine shop, along with a crankshaft and yet another engine block.

Seventies Elitism in Fiberglass

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 13 - 2010

lotus-elite-leadMade largely of fiberglass. Engine in front with drive wheels out back. Not just one, but two flip-up fuel fill caps. Styling that hatches theories of Richard Teague getting a call from MI5 with a request to report to Norwich, UK in secret with the original plans for his 1968 AMC AMX GT concept. This is the Lotus Elite in all its 1974 splendor. Only about 2600 or so fiberglass-bodied Elites were made over the four year production run. This one belongs to one Dag Midtskog, who picked up the car in less than elite condition from a pal who had already parted the Lotus of a few spares for his own Elite. What Dag got was a transmissionless Elite missing more than a few parts. He’s spent the last five years locating a set of factory aluminum wheels, trim bits, missing glass, and a new-to-him transmission that’s currently bolted up to the original engine with only 38K miles of use. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaker Points Ignition Upgrade

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 12 - 2010

pertronix-citroen-01 Along with technological miracles of the ’60′s and ’70s such as urethane skateboard wheels and mood rings came the advent of transistorized electronic ignition. With no moving parts to wear out, this modern advancement relegated breaker points ignition to the trash bin of automotive technological history. Breaker points cause the ignition dwell to change as they wear out, requiring near constant adjustment and frequent replacement. Ditching the points distributor and upgrading to an electronic ignition usually involves one or more trips to the boneyard, some creative rewiring, and with removal and replacement of the distributor. Enter the Pertronix Ignitor. This simple Hall Effect device replaces the breaker points with a solid state transistorized upgrade in the same space the old mechanical points sat – with no distributor modifications required. Better still is Pertronix has Ignitor breaker points replacements for everything from Volkswagen Bugs to a 1969 Citro├źn DS Safari Wagon. Read the rest of this entry »

Tool of the Week: Telescoping Magnet

Posted by Mike Bumbeck On April - 9 - 2010

magnet-pickupFrom the Large Hadron Collider department of Tool of the Week comes the Telescoping Magnet, or magnetic pickup tool. Regardless of automobile make or model, there is always at least one fastener in a difficult if not ridiculous location. Getting to that bugger often requires ingenuity in action. After putting a box end wrench into a vice and using a sledge hammer to bend it into a crows foot, pegging the swear-o-meter, twisting a screwdriver into a 73-degree angle with a set of vice-grips, and cursing whoever or whatever company was responsible for putting the fastener in such a ludicrous location, you finally crack that nut or bolt loose.

Celebrating in this moment triumph and victory, you forget that as hard as it was to get to the fastener, it will be equally if not nearly impossible to fish the damn thing back out of there. This realization is particularly sinking after dropping the nut or bolt. Enter the miracle of the Telescoping Magnet pickup tool! The telescoping section of this Tool of the Week is much like the telescoping antenna on old radios, or the fully electronic telescoping antenna on the Starion. The difference is a small and powerful magnet is affixed the end of the telescoping section instead of the usual Jack-in-the-Box or Mooneyes antenna ball. Just set the tool to the right length, and go fishing. The bonus useful warning of the week is that no matter how supergenius of an idea it seems at first, never use the Telescoping Magnet pickup tool to fish a smart phone out of an unreachable place or anywhere near a computer. Powerful magnets do all sorts of undesirable things to data stored on magnetic media.

Tool of the Week: Fiat SST

Posted by Mike Bumbeck
Sep-3-2010 I 1 COMMENT

Replace Window Regulator

Posted by Mike Bumbeck
Aug-28-2010 I 1 COMMENT

Five Tips for DIY Automobile Repair

Posted by Mike Bumbeck
Jul-21-2010 I 8 COMMENTS