Cars That You Find on the Side of the Road

I always enjoy the little surprises that pop up on the side of the road while you are traveling from point A to point B.

If you aren’t careful you can go by them and miss what could be a wonderful trip down memory lane.

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It looks to be a 1962 or 1963 VW bug.  The fact that its swing axles were popped up with positive camber says that the engine had been removed.  Probably for a rebuild or a replacement.  Many years ago I had a 1962 that was an absolute blast to drive around in.

There were a couple of other classics that didn’t look like they would be on the road any time soon.

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Ahh, cars.  What memories.  Sigh.

Posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Cars, Life and Cars, Road Trips | 2 Comments

A Village Car Show

It was a beautiful morning and the village I was in was celebrating the summer day with road races (for runners) and a parade with antique cars as part of the menagerie.

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They gathered at the village museum arriving in ones and twos.  

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The first to arrive was a bit of a rat rod based on a Ford Model A.

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It was very creative an sported the badges of many of the popular sources of aftermarket performance parts of the early hot rod era.

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Another Model A soon showed up.

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These painted wheels became part of the Model A color scheme after owners started painting their wheels on their own.  Like many options on todays cars they originated from the creativity of car owners that wanted a bit of individuality in their rides.

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Rumble seats and pin striping accented these roadsters.

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Two more pulled up.  These two owners were part of the Model A Ford Club of Cape Cod.

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The wheels were all painted an accent color.

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But there weren’t just Model A’s…

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Car people gathered and had a fine time chatting about cars. 

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Later, at one in the afternoon, when many more had gathered, the parade was kicked off and the residents of the village enjoyed a glimpse back into the history of the motor car.

Posted in Automobiles, Car Shows, Car Stuff, Cars, Life and Cars, Road Trips | 2 Comments

The Bouncing Speedo

As you may know my daily driver is a 1992 Toyota Pickup truck.  Pickup is capitalized because that was the model name that Toyota gave its mini-truck. 

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This red truck started its life as the most basic (cheap) truck that Toyota offered in the US that year.  It came with a 2.4 liter four cylinder engine (the 22RE) and had no power steering.  The only reason it has air-conditioning is that it was originally sold in Louisiana.

It didn’t have a day/night mirror in the interior.  That would have driven the cost up.  Nor did it have a right hand outside mirror or a sliding glass rear window.  The instrument cluster was dominated by the speedometer, with only “idiot” lights to let you know the status of any of the other aspects of the running condition of the vehicle. 

It didn’t even have a rear bumper, as four women who have rear-ended the truck have come to find out (hence its nick name of “Chick Magnet”).  It was a very basic pickup truck.

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Being the kind of owner that I am I could not live without adding some modifications of value to my little red daily driver.  Over time I installed a digital clock, a right side mirror, a day/night mirror, a sliding glass rear window, a meaningful radio and speakers and an instrument cluster from a 4 Runner.

Since the truck is a manual five speed it just didn’t make sense for it not to have a tachometer and it was not hard to find a used cluster from its big brother the 4 Runner that would work, fit, and provide a great deal more information such as oil pressure, voltage, coolant temperature, and the all-important tach.

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These upgrades worked just fine through the years as other restorations took place.  I had the bench seat reupholstered, rebuilt the suspension with new ball joints and tie-rod ends, then installed a set of Bilstein shocks all around.  Eventually the engine was replaced with a 2.6 liter stroker from the folks at L. C. Engineering as well as their stainless steel headers and exhaust system.

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Over time there were some odd behaviors coming from the instrument cluster and the speedometer in particular. 

Driving along there would be time when the speedometer would not seem to work at all.  The needle would be at its resting peg at zero and then, after a mile or two, it would jump up and resume its usefulness.  Very odd.

The problem did not seem to be predictable either.  Sometimes the speedometer would function just fine right from the get go and other times it would stay asleep for a few miles.  Eventually I was able to cure the problem, but not because I had a brilliant flash of insight.

I had decided to enhance the grounds between the engine block and the chassis.  I thought that it might improve the engine’s smoothness and performance, which it did.  It also made the intermittent speedometer act normal.  My grounds went from the negative terminal of the battery to the intake manifold and from the valve cover to the firewall.  These were 4 gauge and 8 gauge wires with serious terminal lugs. 

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The cure for the lazy speedometer was a nice surprise and the engine did run smoother and with a bit more power.

Over time another gremlin with the speedometer showed up.  As I drove around and would put on the turn signal the needle would dive to zero and recover.  Now this was really bizarre.  I immediately suspected the turn signal switch and scoured eBay for a reasonably priced replacement. 

Lucky me, I came across a NOS (new, old stock) replacement.  It was a good price and included free shipping.  Upon receipt there was an added bonus.  It had intermittent wiper control built in.  It was a perfect swap for the original and I now had another cool feature added to the red pickup.

Still, the needle on the speedometer would do a dive when I used the turn signals.  Not every time mind you, but most times.  Talk about frustration.

It was time to head to the local Toyota dealership and pick up a new flasher for the turn signal.  The flasher is actually a relay that clicks on and off when energized by the turn signal switch.  It is not easy to get to either.

I had to remove the bottom of the dashboard, and feel my way to the flasher.  It is mounted to a tab on the tube that supports the dash.  It not only flashes the turn signals it emits a clicking sound that it transmits through the hollow tube so that you are reminded that your signals are flashing.

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The old flasher consisted of a timed relay and a socket that actually rotate the relay contacts so that the logic was reversed.  In this photo you can see the flasher and the intermediate connector.

The new flasher dispensed with the logic changer and plugged right in to the white connector.  I put the dash back together and headed out onto the road. 

Every time I used the turn signal I braced myself for a diving needle, but it never appeared.  Voilà!  Problem solved.

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I love happy endings.

Posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Care and Feeding, Cars, Life and Cars, Modifying Cars, Servicing Cars | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Indy Car: aero kits testing

When the DW12 was announced and being tested aero kits were going to be a part of it from day one.  That proved to blow team’s budgets so the kits were not part of the series until this year.

Racer.com has an interesting write-up on the changes and their aerodynamic outcome and part of that included a photo of the new floor design.  If you take a close look at their photo you will notice that it is the Ed Carpenter Fuzzy Vodka car.  Now take a look at the driver’s name:

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Posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Cars, Racing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

STi on the Isle of Man

Well folks I am busy traveling, but I will try to provide some posts as I wander.  Here is a fantastic view, not only of some fantastic driving on a fantastic road, but the telemetry of the driver’s physical dashboard is enlightening and insightful:

Posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Cars, Great Roads, Life and Cars, Rally Cars | Tagged | 1 Comment

You Tube Bullitt on location shot-for-shot

Posted in Automobiles, Car Movies, Car Stuff | 1 Comment

What do You Do with a Porsche 912?

The other day I met a fellow named Karl with a Porsche 912 that he had had since 1966, when it was new.  For those of you out there that are not that familiar with Porsche cars of that era, the 912 was just about exactly like the 911, except that it had a four cylinder engine instead of a six.  In many ways it was like the predecessor to the 911, the 356 in terms of engine.  So it had a slick new body style compared to the 356 and had many handling improvements, too.

The one thing it didn’t have was power - and Karl became frustrated with the limitations of the four cylinder engine.

Rather than trading it in for a 911, he decided to go one better and install a Chevrolet Corvair engine, which was a six cylinder air-cooled pancake engine, in place of the four cylinder.

Nothing is straight forward with engine swaps and in the case of the Corvair six-cylinder it rotated in the opposite direction from the Porsche.  So Karl changed out the camshaft and other items so that the engine would work (rotating in the right direction) in his 912.

As time went on Karl felt that the Corvair upgrade just wasn’t enough.  He had the need for speed and the best solution for that was to upgrade to a V-8 engine.  That meant abandoning the air-cooled simplicity for a mid-engine, water cooled motor out of an Escalade.

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With all that power potential he felt that he would need more tire for grip and more tire meant bigger fenders.  Out came the metal shears and he engineered some massive fender flares.

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But just how large did the fenders need to be and how should he maintain the Porsche look?

He borrowed the lines of an existing Porsche and adapted them to his 912.

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The red car is what he used as a template for his modified version.

Karls car project

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So Karl is on his way to completing his dream Porsche and here are some photos of the project in process:

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The engine is in place and the cooling system is all plumbed in as well.

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This project is coming close to completion and we hope to be able to coax a ride out of Karl when it hits the road.

Posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Care and Feeding, Cars, Life and Cars, Modifying Cars, Sports Cars | Tagged , | 4 Comments