Archive for the ‘Muscle car’ Category

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Yesterday, on a Facebook page devoted to traditional custom cars (we know it’s traditional because they spell it with. “K”), someone posted some photos of several vintage Cadillac customs. Following suit, I posted one of our long gone ’56 convert, a car that really initiated me into the world of “customs”. The car gave me confidence in my abilities and sense of style, I was and still am, proud of it.

Several people then “shared” the photo to their pages, which is flattering. Since I’m a bit of an attention seeker, of course I followed links their pages to see them, and read comments.

Predictably, some of the comments were less than complimentary. “I don’t like the tires”, to “Painted chrome sucks”, and so forth.  Of course my feeling were a little hurt, and I thought, “Really?”  It was the 80’s, and the car was sort of cutting edge at the time.

Several witty and cutting replies came to mind, from “…and the horse you rode in on.”,  to “Let’s see YOUR car”, to some even less refined. I paused for a second before hitting “Return”, which is NOT my usual habit. I must be getting more mature.

This pause made me wonder Why it is that people feel free to express every negative feeling they have in this way? It’s not just the cloak of anonimity of the web, I’ve heard it all in person at car shows and events as well. People seem to think if it’s out in public, their myopic viewpoint needs to be heard, especially in the example of a custom car, by the owner/builder. My wife always cringes when I let these dopes have it car shows, saying it brings me down to their level.

I guess she’s right. From now on, this kind of unconstructive criticism I’ll let slide. It doesn’t matter, I do things for me, not someone else.

And besides, they couldn’t do it anyway…

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On what may have one of happiest days of my life, the Starcraft motor home left our driveway in a shower of sparks and cloud of debris for it’s new home in Climax. (Yes, Climax, MI, the town.). Fitting, since I was so glad to see it go. I did manage to salvage engine and trans, traded for a set of beautiful Dayto knock off wire wheels, the complete stainless exhaust system which can be altered easily to fit under the GMC, and a couple hundred feet of automotive wiring.

It was not a profitable venture.

Once that was gone, and cash in my pocket, I moved the Riviera into the shop, after a day of cleaning. Initial trials look like the engine will fit after notching the crossmember, modifying both exhaust manifolds, moving the AC compressor without swapping the Vortec intake for an LS. Which saves a bunch of work and cash. The oil pan needs to be sectioned (or replaced) for ground clearance, but either way that’s easy.

What wasn’t easy was removing the cars front fenders. I have new respect for the guys on the assembly line who hung these things on moving cars. What a job. After the passenger side, the drivers came off easily. Happily all of the fasteners came out easily, thanks to its former life spent Oklahoma.

Now that the sheet metal is off I can get the motor and trans mounts made, the steering modified and connected, and the crossmember notch boxed in. Then it can lie dormant while work on the T’Bird.

It’ll be busy winter!

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They say it’s not what you know, but WHO you know, and I know some interesting people! The past couple of years I’ve been involved as a mentor in the Gilmore Car Museums “Gilmore Garage Works” program for local young people. It’s a chance for kids to get involved with the old car hobby, learn some life skills, and see a side of life they might not otherwise have a chance to be part of.

Plus, I get to hang out with my friends, make “road trips”, and otherwise goof-off on a chilly winter day.

Yesterday was one of those days, when I got invited to tag along as the Garage Works gang loaded up on the short bus, and headed for Ionia Michigan, to visit Dennis and Matt Lesky at “Ionia Hot Rod Shop”.

Dennis and Matt, as usual, had a couple of very cool, traditional hot rod builds going on for us to see. Dennis showed us the Brookville ’32 roadster they’re building with their trademark oval and rectangular tubing inner bracing, a killer ’32 RPU lakes style modified, and Dennis’s own ’32 RPU project. As always, their philosophy of keeping it simple, using imagination and craftsmanship as opposed to simply ordering bits from a catalogue, is an inspiration for both the young people, and us grizzled old veterans.

In addition, they have a reason to sweep up the shop, and take a break from the usual day-to-day “grind”!

The short bus arrives at Ionia Hot Rod Shop

The short bus arrives at Ionia Hot Rod Shop

Dennis, holding court.

Dennis, holding court.

Matt explains to ChoptopJimmy the finer points of Lakes Modified style.

Matt explains to ChoptopJimmy the finer points of Lakes Modified style.

Matt's "mistake".  Don't toss that trunk mount panel away, I'm stealing that idea...

Matt’s “mistake”. Don’t toss that trunk mount panel away, I’m stealing that idea…

Can a Dodge radiator shell work on a Ford?  We think so...

Can a Dodge radiator shell work on a Ford? We think so…

Dennis shows us the right way to set up a '32 frame.  Buzz-box welding on the shop floor?  I don't think so!

Dennis shows us the right way to set up a ’32 frame. Buzz-box welding on the shop floor? I don’t think so!

As an added bonus, Matt and Dennis then took us just down the road to another Ionia shop, “Wing’s Auto Art”, where their specialty is (extremely) high-end muscle car restoration. The shop is home to some of the country’s best muscle cars, with several in-progress builds for us to see. Pontiac’s were well represented, with three early 70’s Trans Am’s, a 68 Firebird, and ’68 GTO in various stages of build. In addition, the shop itself was worth a visit, itself a testament to good planning and vision. Thanks to Nyle Wing, owner, for allowing us to stop by!

Now, THAT's a  nice garage.

Now, THAT’s a nice garage.

Nyle Wing tells us how he gets it done, with a 442 as background.

Nyle Wing tells us how he gets it done, with a 442 as background.

'73 TA SD.  This what 60K gets.  A car needing a frame off restoration.  These guys are the place to bring a project like this.

’73 TA SD. This what 60K gets. A car needing a frame off restoration. These guys are the place to bring a project like this.

If you think "Fast and Loud", with contrived drama, ridiculous deadlines, and cheesy commentary is how the real world works, think again.  13 months, thousands of hours labor and serious skills is how the real world works.

If you think “Fast and Loud”, with contrived drama, ridiculous deadlines, and cheesy commentary is how the real world works, think again. 13 months, thousands of hours labor and serious skills is how the real world works.

It was a GREAT day, thanks Dennis, Matt, and Nyle, for opening your shops, and sharing your time with a bunch of kids and old duffers! Now, I think I need to go out and clean up the shop…