Archive for the “Automotive” Category

Mostly ramblings about my cars, or other auto related observations I’ve made.

For nearly 15 years it was the one thing I took care of the most. I treated it like it was the most valuable thing I had (which it was). I cherished it, I cared for it; I made sure it was the one thing in my life that would last. The next 10 years however, I hardly ever touched it. Today I’m reminded of the terrible things that can happen due to neglect over time.

I’m speaking of my 1971 Mach I Mustang. In 1986 it was pretty much “done” with new bodywork, paint, new engine and transmission, was all cleaned up, and became my every day driver. I would wash it and wax it on weekends. I would enter it in car shows, sometimes taking home a trophy.

No it wasn’t a show car, nearly but not quite. There were still small details I’d never bothered with, like the interior door panels or concourse correct things. It was my baby, specially modified in just the right areas to be -my- ride, personalized to -me- and nobody else. For years upon years I continued to take care of her.

Even when I moved into a new house, the first thing I did was make sure I had a garage to keep her in. The everyday driving habits tapered off after 10 years and found me driving a 1987 Jeep Cherokee Sport. She (the Mach I) lay silently in the garage, waiting for her turn to come again. Eventually it did, as I would still try to make a car show here and there or take her out for just a drive. But then one day the engine started making expensive noises, so she got parked until I could rebuild an engine for her.

In 2001 she got that new engine. A fresh rebuild I had done myself. New everything and even some special go-fast parts to make her purr. Once again she was a live horse in my stable ready to ride anytime I was ready. Sadly, she became an outdoor horse not long after that because I now owned a 1973 DeTomaso Pantera.
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So it got me wondering….

Wondering what all falls under the GM brand name? How much will
shutting down Pontiac really accomplish?

This list doesn’t necessarily count all versions or sub-models of GM
products available, but it’s an impressive list.

84 models just in this list, and this doesn’t count their overseas
operations in Australia, Britain or the orient. Many of these simply
have different branding on the same basic design, but that list would be
limited. And it seems to me they’ve all become so expensive that there
really isn’t a big difference between buying a Cadillac and a Chevy
anymore. I imagine you still pay a little more, but even many of the
bottom of the line cars are as much as I paid for my first house.

84 models (not counting sub-models). I wonder how many of each they
make in a year (I’m not going to look that up), average it across all
models. How many new drivers are introduced each year? How many
drivers retire (too old or die (old or young)) each year? How many
older cars are retired each year (scrapped or otherwise unusable)? Does
the production of just this one manufacturer supply enough to cover all
those conditions? Oh yea… probably so, but I don’t know for certain.
Now multiple this by: Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Nissan……. I
think you get the idea.

To me, rail against unions as I might in some circles… this smacks of
corporate and shareholder greed more than anything else…. too many
models, too much diversity, too much dilution of product lines, and
over-saturating the market. I don’t know how to fix it, but I tell you
what I think….. if GM ends up in Bankruptcy, I see a few gems in here
that a third party could probably pick up, and if trimmed right and
managed right… could become a strong brand on it’s own. Same story
for Chrysler. What I mean by trimming, is removing some models from a
lineup, not nuking the entire brand.

Here is the list:
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Last year, while going to work one day, I noticed a local hotel was hosting a Studebaker convention, of sorts.  I don’t know the details, I just know the parking lot was full of cars and trucks from almost all years of Studebakers.  While I spent some time walking through the parking lot, I found a few models and years that piqued my interest.  Later, I did some web searching and found the following years and models that I’d be interesting in owning:

  • 1962 GT Hawk
  • 1956 Sky Hawk
  • 1953 Commander Starliner
  • 1955 Speedster

Amazing enough, some of the early 50’s design, comes through in the later early 60’s design.  I can’t say for sure which model I really like best.  Of the four above, I could only pick a favorite if they were all parked next to each other.  I think the ’62 GT Hawk would probably be my first choice and then it would go down from there.

I’d want to of course drop a modern fuel-efficient, high horsepower V8 into it .  Maybe some interior upgrades for instrumentation, and a good coat of paint.  The thing that really turns me on about these, is that the bodylines and styling bring back memories of the early spy days, the James Bond, The Saint, and even Get Smart days.  And even most recently, in Pixar’s film The Incredibles, it harkens to the early car Mr. Incredible drives at the beginning of the movie.

I really think this could be a head turner, if I could only find one.

Asa Jay

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Finally, a day that was nice all the way through getting off work and going home.  I pulled the Pantera out of the garage and did some detailing.  I vacuumed the floors, dusted the upholstery and quick-shined the paint.  A little air in the tires, check the oil and water, and she was ready for a quick test drive.

Seems like it’s been almost a year now since the last time I had the Pantera out of the garage.  I drove it today and it felt good, just rumbling along the freeway doing the speed limit.  As I drove I began thinking of all the things I need or wish to do to the car.

The entire suspension needs to be overhauled.  New bushings, possibly even new a-arms.  New shocks and springs.  I have a dual-sucker fan I need to install behind the radiator too.  Get the water tanks reconditioned or buy new ones.  Pull the ZF (that’s the transmission) and overhaul it.  Get some new seat belts installed.  Bigger things I’d like to do are install dropped floor pans, a four-point roll cage with five-point seat belts, upgrade the brakes, new wheels and tires and I’ve got a small rear spoiler to install.  The bodywork and paint are in almost-desperate need of attention, but overall she’s pretty straight and looks good at car shows just the way she is.

I’ve thought about autocrossing the Pantera, but I simply can’t until I get some of the mechanical work done.  Then eventually I wish to build another engine for it.  It currently has the stock original 1973 351C engine.  The ’73 model year was a pretty de-tuned version of the Cleveland.  I need to fix that up some, get some more horsepower back into the car.  I’ll probably work on those specs a little while later.  I can’t really see starting until I’m out of school.

I did find out about the Spokane Italian Car Club today.  I should be getting more information on them soon.  I think it will be kind of neat to hang out with other Italian car enthusiasts.  I’m anxious to see what they do.  Let’s hope this summer presents plenty of opportunities to have fun.

Asa Jay

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Last night, in my Research and Writing class, we participated in a “description” exercise. Our instructor started us out with the generic term “car” and we built on it from there. She actually started going down the path of a Ford Mustang, and we just kind of started filling in more details. However, my friend Keith and I found it rather funny, how we started to describe -my- car, the 1971 Mach I Mustang I’ve owned for 20 years. So I thought I’d continue the exercise here.

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton