Which cars are on your bucket list?

Anyone who has been bitten by the car bug has a bucket list of cars they would love to own. That could be one car, or it could be a whole fleet of cars. I, myself, am in the latter group. I am a huge fan of Pontiacs and with Pontiac going away, it just strengthened that desire even more.

Pontiac GTO classic car

I also like certain models of every American and European automaker. And yes, even a handful of Japanese cars. What cars are on your bucket list? Is it “the” car that made you drool when you were in high school? Or maybe it was from your favorite movie? Or the car your dad had when you were growing up?

Tell us! Which cars are on your bucket list?

Will we be passing the torch or will the fire burn?

Will we be passing the torch or will the fire burn out with the next generation? Of course, I am talking about the collector car hobby and the passion for classic cars.

There are a couple schools of thought. One is that the fire will burn out because kids are not into cars, especially old ones. To a lot of younger people, a car is nothing more than something that gets them from place to place. And if that can be done by bike, bus, cab, or a parent, they don’t feel the need to have a car. With this mentality, old cars would seem to be the furthest thing from their minds!

The other thought is that the hobby is going to stay strong for several reasons:

1. Rat rods, low-budget customs and Rockabilly
It is very acceptable to have an old car that is unfinished and still show it off at car shows. In fact, patina is very desirable. The younger generation car owners have embraced the Rockabilly lifestyle. The best part is that it doesn’t take a year’s salary to get started in the hobby and these kids are having fun.

2. New cars are future hot rods.
In ten years, the Mustang GT, Challenger SRT8, and Camaro SS will be very affordable. You will be able to buy a car with more than 400 horsepower that gets more than 20 mpg for under $10,000.

3. Restomods
The popularity of restomods increases every year. Having a cool old car that has new technology built in, so it has the drivability and reliability of a new corvette really appeals to a lot of people, especially the younger generations.

4. Availability of old cars
There are a lot of old cars on the market. This could be a restoration project, restomod, survivor, hot rod, you name it. As new generations come into the hobby, they will have plenty to choose from based on their budget.

If you are in the collector car hobby, share your passion with the younger generations. Your kids, grandkids, and their friends. Take them for rides in the car. Take them to a car show with you. Have them help you work on the car. Let them drive your car (you with them of course). You are not sharing your car, you are sharing the passion!

Spring Start Up

Bring your ride up to speed after the winter.

Even though we have Sprung Ahead, the late winter weather in the northern climates is keeping enthusiasts indoors, classic and collector vehicles are still tucked away until the end of the Salt Season. Now is the time to dust off the classic and get ready for driving tours, car shows and cruise ins, and do the mechanical checks to ensure that you can have a good time in a few weeks.

My first task when putting a car/bike on the road after a period of inactivity is to make sure it will stop before I make it go. A quick trip through the braking system each spring can save a load of hassle later in the year when you want to enjoy the ride.

    • If you have drum brakes take the drums off if possible, clean and lubricate the mechanisms and inspect the linings for rivets showing through or other component failure such as coming loose from the shoe, broken springs or clips. Make sure the brakes are adjusted properly to avoid long pedal throws and unequal braking across the axle.

 

    • If you have disc brakes check pad thickness, for uneven or excessive wear, that the pistons push back freely and easily; check the disc for grooves or gouges on the friction surface.

 

    • Check the brake fluid level and look at the color/clarity of the fluid, discoloration or cloudiness indicates contamination that hamper the effectiveness of the braking system: if the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir is contaminated flush the system completely and replace the fluid with fresh.

 

    • If the brake fluid is clear and the proper color, bleeding the brakes is always a good idea after sitting over the winter. Usually contaminated fluid will collect near the wheel cylinder/caliper and can readily be bled out to assure better braking performance.

 

    • Inspect the flexible brake hoses, check for cracking, fluid leaks, corrosion etc… The internal passage of these flexible hoses will fail and restrict the flow of the brake fluid out of the caliper/wheel cylinder, effectively keeping the brake applied or dragging. If you find abnormally heavy brake dust and excessive friction material wear, the cause may be a collapsed flexible brake line.

 

    • Inspect the solid steel lines while you are under the car, look for corrosion which can indicate leaking fluid, check all the junctions.

 

While bleeding the brakes, go ahead and bleed the clutch, if your vehicle is so equipped; it is easier to get all the bleed and brake fluid equipment out only once. Standard and hi-temperature brake fluids absorb moisture, try to keep all hydraulic fluids tightly capped and sealed, do not leave the container sitting open especially in humid conditions.

Drum-Brakes

In the collector car world much of the discussion revolves around fuel; in the past it was about octane levels and who had the cleanest fuel at the pump, today’s discussion centers on the amount of alcohol in the gas and the damage it causes. Alcohol in fuel, much like in brake fluid, absorbs water and leads to oxidization of the components throughout the fuel system wreaking havoc on the older components. During periods of inactivity the gasoline and alcohol separate, the water laden alcohol lies against the metallic surfaces and oxidizes the material, etching the surface and creating tiny pieces of debris that move through the system and create issues that cause poor performance.

SU-Bowl-with-fuel-residue

Today’s gasoline starts to break down chemically within thirty days, with many collector vehicles it may take quite a bit longer to run through a full load of fuel. Even with the addition of a fuel stabilizer and alcohol counter-acting agents the various chemicals within the system create a gelatinous solution that joins forces with the bits of debris and will clog fuel lines, filters, pumps, jets, capillaries and injectors. When the fuel evaporates dried flakes are left behind in the system adding to the gelatinous ooze that restricts flow; internal components become encrusted in a varnish like substance that will clean off with brushes, steel wool and solvent.

Installing a clear in-line fuel filter between the tank and the pump will capture bits of debris, rust and congealed petro chemicals before they reach the critical and expensive components such as fuel pumps, fuel injectors and carburetors.

SU-Carb-corroded-components

The corrosive nature of the alcohol universally damages the fuel system from the gas cap to the point of induction, including the rubber fuel lines. The rubber fuel lines harden, lose their flexibility and will fail causing fuel leaks, air leaks, poor running or the greatest fear amongst us, FIRE! Carefully inspect hoses and look for cracking at the junctions, or the ends where clamped around a metal line; if the hose is stiff or it is cracked on the ends replace it with an ethanol resistant component. The damage from the corrosive nature of the fuel can be widespread, inspect fuel line clamps and replace if corroded.

SU-Carb-filter-with-flakes

If you encounter difficulty starting, due to lack of fuel, work backwards from the jet or injector to find where the flow of fuel stops; frequently we find the fuel has congealed in the carburetor float chambers and is clogging the capillaries that feed fuel to the jets. Clean the chamber with shop towels and solvent removing the ooze in the bottom of the float bowl, pour carburetor cleaner into the bowl and allow it to soak through the chemical residue and oxidization in the passages that feed the jets, in some applications a thin wire can be used to help clear the passages in the carburetor. Most pumps work with a diaphragm action, the alcohol will deteriorate the rubber diaphragm and the pump will need service or replacement. If the fuel line between the tank and the pump is clogged the pump can fail. We have been successful using a hand operated brake bleed vacuum pump to clear clogged fuel pumps, using a low pressure suction on the outlet side often will pull the contaminated fuel from the pump and allow proper operation. Metal canister fuel filters can be the source of the clog, capturing debris and contamination is their job, regularly replacing it is a good practice. Fuel lines can be easily cleared with compressed air forced through the line, we usually back flush the lines to clear clogs; be aware that filters and pumps can be damaged by reversing the flow, work around these components when performing these tasks. Check the Cap on the tank, oxidation can hinder the operation especially of older ventilated gas caps and not allow the fuel to be drawn out of the tank through the fuel line.

More solutions to the fuel problem are becoming available; the most straightforward answer seems to be to buy gas with no ethanol; the Historic Vehicle Association offers a list and map of gas stations offering ethanol free fuel. Many fuel distributors offer ethanol free fuels, a little research in your local area can highlight where to get fuel that will perform better in your classic car or bike.

With both the brake fluid and the gasoline if you should spill some on the paint or finish of the vehicle wipe it off immediately and wash the area with plenty of water, the alcohol will remove wax from the finish and start etching into the paint very quickly, use appropriate fender covers and have a supply of towels handy in case of spills. Know where to find the fire extinguisher.

Other good maintenance procedures for spring include:

  1. Lubricating the chassis and suspension
  2. Oil and filter change, check the transmission fluid level
  3. Set the tire pressures and torque the wheels
  4. Check the lights, horn and other electrical items
  5. Check the charge in your onboard fire extinguisher

 

See you on the Road, in a Classic.

The Build – Painting the 1965 Chevy Malibu

Our experienced staff of collector car specialists at American Modern have sanded and primed the body of the 1965 Chevy Malibu, and now begin to paint her blue and silver.

The Build team is getting ready to paint the blue, including the body, jams, windshield surround, the dash, and anything else that’s going to be blue on the inside of the car. As you can see from the fluid up-and-down motion from Rob Baker, it is very important to stay at one frequency when painting the body of the vehicle.

Proper-paint-motion

Rob back tapes the line so the paint doesn’t bleed. The tape separates the silver from the underside of the body and the door jams from the blue on the top. The tape will provide a better view of what it will look like with a stripe and provide a gauge for the different colors.

1965-Chevy-Malibu-frame-primer

Now that Rick Drewry, Rick Hardbarger and Rob Baker have cut in the blue and masked it off, they are preparing to paint the silver and cut in the jams. After that, they’ll be ready for the clear coat.

Ami-G-painted-dash

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible

The story of the genesis of the Pontiac GTO is well known, and several of the players went on to become quite famous in their own right. The brainchild of Russell Gee, an engine specialist, Bill Collins, a chassis engineer, and Chief Engineer John Z. DeLorean, they basically figured out a way to keep a performance image for Pontiac despite the GM ban on factory supported racing. All the pieces were there – a great 389 V8 from the full-sized Catalina, a sporty Tempest platform, and permission from Pete Estes to proceed on a limited basis. Even the name screamed performance, a moniker boldly chosen by DeLorean himself. His team skirted the GM powertrain directives by making the GTO package merely an option for the Tempest, and the results speak for themselves. By 1966, Pontiac sold 96,946 GTOs, and Pontiac ruled the new muscle car segment.

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible1

1968 saw a major redesign of the A body platform, creating a more fastback profile and featuring the first of the unique Endura bumpers. With sales success by all of the GM divisions with muscle cars in ’68, Pontiac first began to plan a budget GTO muscle car for 1969. Fortunately for us, those plans changed to create “The Judge” as a full on street rocket. The name was inspired by the huge popularity of Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In” television show, and the “Here comes the Judge” skit popularized by the popular song and dance entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. The Judge became the ultimate powerful street machine that fueled the new performance image for Pontiac. Jim Wanger’s innovative marketing appealed to a hip, young audience, and the GTO Judge was the king of the street and the strip.

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible2

In 1970, the styling of the Judge was cutting edge, with four rounded headlamps horizontally inset into the Endura bumper without bezels. Of the 40,149 GTO’s sold, 3,197 were Judge models, and just 168 of those were convertibles. The options list for The Judge continued to grow, but for 1970, rear anti-roll bars and variable ratio power steering became standard equipment. For the 1970 production year, the Ram Air III, 400 ci engines were the largest available, and with 366 bhp, the ’70 Ram Air III cars were every bit as fast as the 1971 455 ci powered cars. Today, the ’69 and ’70 Judges are far more desirable to collectors, due to GM’s lowering of the compression ratios on all their cars in 1971 in preparation for the unleaded fuels mandated in the US.

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible engine

In many ways, the 1970 GTO Judge represents the last of the true muscle car era, while incorporating some of the luxury features that the buying public was obviously demanding. Soon, emission controls and the oil embargos would limit the demand for true performance cars, and as insurance companies began to surcharge the owners of performance cars, buyer demand shifted from brute power to a more luxurious style of vehicle. As quickly as it arrived, the muscle car era was on its way out.

1970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible interior

GTOs are fast, powerful, and fun. In particular, the 4-speed convertible Judge models lead the way in value appreciation among all muscle cars. Their wild paint schemes and aggressive styling represent the best of the era, and owning a great Judge convertible should be on every car guy’s bucket list.