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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

Superlative summer cruiser

Classic Mercury Park Lane convertible rolls effortlessly down the road

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Bruce Anderson with his rare 1967 Mercury Park Lane convertible.

Introduced in 1939, Mercury was a mid-price model offered between the low-cost Ford and luxurious Lincoln. For the Ford Motor Company, Mercury was a long time coming and helped dealers compete against classy offerings from Oldsmobile, DeSoto and Buick. It was the first vehicle created in Ford's new styling studio, under the watchful eye of both Edsel Ford and senior stylist Bob Gregoire. Mercury continued to lead in styling and innovation throughout the '50s and '60s.

With the influx of intermediate and sports models in the 1960s, full-size convertibles took on more of a chic-luxury stance in the marketplace and production numbers declined. Mid-price cars saw the biggest drop in demand as more models tailored to the personal luxury segment pulled younger buyers from the full-size market.

Mercury continued to offer convertibles in both the Monterey and Park Lane series. Riding on a 123-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 218.5-inches, and weighing in at nearly 4,200 pounds, the Mercury was a big car -- with a big car ride. Along for the ride was an additional element of styling and optional extras not found on other models. Today, these cars have dwindled in number and are seldom seen on the road.

Bruce Anderson was considering buying a convertible and started looking in earnest about four years ago. The Winnipegger saw a couple of cars advertised locally online on Jim's Classic Corner. Once in contact with owner Jim Higham, Anderson learned both cars had already been sold, but Higham told him, "he had …

RARE filly

K-Code equipped 1965 Mustang convertible one of only 270 produced

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The small block V8 of Terry Shwaykosky�s 1966 Mustang GT Convertable.

The Ford Mustang set the automotive world on fire when it was introduced at the New York World's Fair in 1964. Posting astounding sales numbers of more than 419,000 units in the first year of production, it was an instant sales success. Available as a hardtop or convertible model, with either six-cylinder or V-8 power and a base price under $2,500, Ford's Mustang had a broad appeal and an even broader list of available options.

For 1965 a Fastback model was offered, as was the addition of two new option packages. A deluxe Pony interior package added galloping horse seat inserts, upgraded instrument panel, simulated walnut panel trim and additional brightwork. The GT package added much-needed upgrades in performance and handling. The GT package included a 289 cubic-inch V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor making 225 horsepower at 4,800 r.p.m. Models equipped with the K-Code Challenger V-8 option were delivered with a true high-performance 289 V-8 with a 10.5:1 compression ratio, performance camshaft with solid valve lifters and a four-barrel carburetor that made 271 hp. The latter engine option required the addition of a special handling package with heavy-duty suspension and upsized 14-inch wheels and tires. The K-Code engine, along with some other added options, gave the buyer a nicely balanced and powerful street car. An interesting note is that when ordered with the K-Code option, the standard warranty of 24 months or 24,000 miles was dropped to only 90 days or 4,000 miles.

For Terry Shwaykosky of Winnipeg, the early Mustang had …

Maximum Mopar: 1970 Plymouth AAR 'Cuda one of only 2,724 produced

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Rhonda Reyher (inset) with her rare 1970 Plymouth AAR 'Cuda. Originally a North Carolina car, it was restored to factory condition.

One of the greatest things about the muscle car era is the sheer number of available models and performance options that were offered. From the late '60s through to the early '70s buyers could choose from an assortment of full-size, intermediate, compact and pony cars upgraded and decked out with a variety of go-fast goodies.

The 1970 Plymouth Barracuda lineup featured versions ranging from a base model to the upscale performance 'Cuda. At the top of the lineup was an exclusive one-off model called the AAR 'Cuda.

These rare machines were produced to replicate the cars driven by Dan Gurney's All-American Racers Team, who were campaigning Barracudas in the Sports Car Club of America's popular competition series, as well as the Trans Am racing circuit. Power came from a J-Code 340 cubic-inch V-8, equipped with 10.5:1 compression ratio, Edelbrock aluminium intake manifold and three Holley two-barrel carburetors. Output was rated at 290 horsepower at 5,000 r.p.m. and 335 lb/ft of torque at 3,400 r.p.m. Transmission options included the Chrysler New-Process four-speed manual with Hurst floor shift or a 727 Torqueflite automatic. The 8 3/4-inch Sure-Grip rear axle could have either the 3.55:1 or optional 3.91:1 gear ratio.

The AAR also used a unique exhaust system, incorporating dual exhaust running through the mufflers to a J-bend exit pipe and chrome tip that sat just ahead of the rear wheel. The rear leaf spring package on the AAR sat the rear of the car up an additional 1 3/4-inches to ensure exhaust clearance.

Visually the AAR …

CLASSICS need the correct DINO JUICE

Oil is critical for vintage cars to protect flat tappets and camshafts

Here we are in the 21st Century and we still rely on motor oil to lubricate our internal combustion engines for several reasons. That thin film of lubricant between the surfaces of moving parts carries anti-corrosion additives and detergents that clean and suspend carbon and other combustion related particles, until the oil filter can remove them.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) continues to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the automobile manufacturers to bring products to the consumer that meet their needs. The API represents the oil and gas producers and works to establish product standards and compliance with government regulations. The EPA wants the oil producers to be as environmentally friendly as oil producers can be and the manufacturers want lubrication products that meet the minimum requirements for their vehicles. The dilemma is this three-headed hydra tends to look more towards a blending of their own agendas and frequently forgets that the consumer can be a diverse group often with several different needs.

For owners of classic and collector vehicles, all we need is good old-fashioned oil, but it seems there's a problem with it. The zinc manganese and or phosphates contained in the oil to reduce high-pressure friction between the camshaft and tappets create problems for the EPA and the manufacturers. The zinc dialkyldithiophosphates (ZDDP) additives in the oil reduce the effectiveness and eventually cause damage to catalytic converters and introduce minute amounts of pollutants into our atmosphere. In the past seven months of researching this topic I …

Take street racing to the track

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larry d�argis / winnipeg free press Rose Lavallee-Dourn�s 1923 Ford Model T features considerably more horsepower than the 20 ponies Henry Ford originally offered.

Performance vehicles of today can be had as easily as signing on the dotted line at many of the local car dealerships.

Cobras, Hellcats, Z06s and others are all available for all takers. Then there is the homebuilt hot rods we see. Loaded with performance parts and features, they can and often do make some serious horsepower.

With summer comes cruising, car shows and other motorsport activities. Unfortunately, it also brings out street racers.

While getting out to the shows and events can be some of the most enjoyable days of the season, street racing continues to pose a deadly threat not only to the participants but to innocent bystanders.

Laws enacted against street racing, including Bill C-19, amending the federal Criminal Code and a tougher Manitoba Highway Traffic Act, have resulted in several convictions. In light of the continued vigilance on street racing by the Winnipeg Police Service, it still hasn't stopped the illegal activity.

In the Winnipeg area, automotive racing is a growing sport and all of the racing facilities and racers who use them have long been very open to newcomers as participants or spectators.

Founded in 1993, the Drag Racers Association of Manitoba's (DRAM) focus has been to promote drag racing in Manitoba and provide a fun, safe environment for racers. Over the years, the safe environment has become much more important to the club as factory muscle and sports cars are much more powerful today.

As well, Manitoba roads are busier and new generations of drivers hit the road with the typical …

Quality and style

'32 Ford roadster done once, and done right

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photos by DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Lorne Kines (below) has rolled up more than 6,800 kilometres on his 1932 Ford Roadster. It took top honours at the Fabulous �50s Ford Club Flashback Weekend last September in Winnipeg.

You often hear the phrase, "Do it once, and do it right."

The Ford Motor Co. took that approach with the introduction of its new 1932 Ford. Henry Ford and his son Edsel came up with V8 power and offered it to the motoring public in a simple and cleanly designed car, that has stood the test of time.

Today the Deuce is one of the most sought-after cars for everything from a factory restoration to the most modern street rod builds imaginable. The fact the '32 was a one-year-only design from Ford, they've become increasingly difficult to find and often need a great deal of metal fabrication to bring the body back into restorable condition.

Enter the aftermarket. There are several companies producing the '32 Ford bodies in both fiberglass and real steel, ready to be built with only final preparation and paint required. One company, Dearborn Deuce, in Branford, Conn., began producing a Deuce roadster body like no other in 2004.

The Dearborn Deuce convertible is an all-steel roadster body redesigned around an amazing, fully disappearing top assembly. In order to package a top such as this, the original '32 design wasn't a starting point, so a new body was designed around a hide-away top.

Several body design changes were made in order to package this top mechanism in a '32 roadster, keeping them as subtle as possible, to preserve the original look of the standard vintage '32 roadster body.

For Lorne Kines of Winnipeg, owning a '32 Ford three-window coupe in the …

Get off couch and into cruising

It's a pleasurable hobby whether you build or buy your ride

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A complete �64 Chevy Impala SS project car

SO you want to enter the collector car hobby. For most, cruising down the road in that special machine remains a dream, but it doesn't have to be.

As a car guy, my best recommendation is you simply find something you like that has been recently restored. That way, you get to write the cheque, take the keys and cruise happily down the road to the local cruise spot. No bruised knuckles, no sleepless nights and no additional bills to pay for parts and labour.

On the other hand, if you like a challenge and have some free time, there is another way. For example, if you're savvy at taking things apart and putting them back together without having parts left over and the item still actually functions as intended, you may have the mechanical inclination to actually pull it off.

Another benefit is that it's a project the whole family and friends can take part in. You're going to spend hundreds of hours dismantling refurbishing, rebuilding and reassembling that dream machine. Quality time with family doing something productive and learning as you go can only be viewed as a positive life experience.

The starting point is finding something you want. Whether you buy it or build it, you're going to have to live with it, so really do some searching here.

If the household is down to two people, the two-seat sports car you dreamt about in high school may be perfect, but it just doesn't cut it as a Sunday family cruiser. Full-size …

Prize discovery defies belief

Winnipegger has exact same name of car's original owner

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Wayne Penner�s 1967 Corvette comes with a black interior, an am/fm radio, side exhaust, power steering, heavy-duty brakes and posi-traction rear axle.

THE introduction of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray was a real shaker in the automotive world.

Equipped with four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, it was equal or ahead of everything else in the sports car world. Couple that with new and improved V8 engines and optional fuel injection, all wrapped in a futuristic fibreglass body, and the Corvette was now a game-changer. Available in either a new split-window coupe or open convertible, it was a hit with sports car buyers.

For 1964, styling was cleaned up a bit and the split-window coupe was gone, replaced with a wrap-around design. It left the '63 model as a stand-alone. 1965 saw the introduction of a few additional refinements and functional side louvers. In 1966, another round of style changes included a new grille and the introduction of the new Mark IV big-block V8. Handling with the added weight of the larger engine wasn't as crisp, but the straight-line performance took a definite leap, bringing the Corvette solidly into the sports/musclecar category.

For Winnipegger Wayne Penner, the Corvette has been a lifelong pursuit. After purchasing a 1958 Corvette survivor car, Penner started looking for what many have called the holy grail of Corvettes, a 1967 model. It was a search that would take him years, as he had a specific car in mind.

"It had to be a big-block, it had to have side pipes," says Penner.

His eureka moment came in the form of an online search in 2006 when he found a …

Beach Boys' buggy

This 409 clone is definitely 'real fine'

She's real fine my 409, my 4...0...9.

The line comes from the Beach Boys song 409, released in '62 and letting everyone know about Chevy's newest high-performance powerplant.

Introduced in October 1957 as a 348-cubic-inch engine intended for Chevy trucks, it had the low-end torque needed for pulling heavy loads. But by the late '50s General Motors realized the additional cubic inches and torque from the 348 was also needed to pull the weight of the ever-growing full-size Chevrolet.

The 348 responded well to increases in compression and carburetion to the point that it kept Chevrolet competitive in the market. But in late 1961 an increase in bore and stroke to yield 409 cubic inches really got the ball rolling. Again, increases in compression and a move to dual four-barrel carburetors yielded 425 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m., making the Chevy a viable street machine and successful weekend racer.

By 1964 there was a new player in town called the mid-sized LeMans GTO, which had less weight and almost as much performance potential. The full-sized cars were losing some of their performance image. But, hook a full-size Impala Super Sport up with the 425 horsepower 409 V8 and fading quietly into the woodwork wasn't an option.

There were 8,684 Chevrolets built in 1964 with the 409 V8, so finding one today can be a bit of a challenge. But since less than 10 per cent of them found their way into the Impala Super Sport convertible, finding a needle in a haystack starts to look like …

Classic cool

Original vehicle designs making a comeback among hotrod enthusiasts

Billed by publicists as the most stunning Ford yet, 1937 saw several new styling features and design changes. Ford had engineered the ability to stamp large sheet-metal panels, giving buyers a solid steel roof.

Previously, the roof incorporated a wood-and-material centre section that always aged faster than the car itself, leading to leaks and road noise. With this problem section eliminated, the Ford had a solid and quiet ride.

Another design feature was the headlamps. Instead of being mounted on a bar or in a pod on the radiator shell or atop the fenders, the headlamps were incorporated into the catwalk area of the front fenders, flanking the grille.

The design stylists put forward was a standout effort to prove streamlining didn't have to mean ugly. As time has passed, the almond- or teardrop-shaped headlamp placement that graced the '37 and many later models has proven to be a design favoured by collectors and hot-rodders alike.

Today, the hotrod Ford has seen many incarnations. Everything from primered rat rods to fiberglass recreations have seen the show arena. At one time, only the basic body would be saved and the car totally reconstructed with aftermarket pieces purchased from a catalogue. The essence of the original car became lost to individual creativity. Not to knock personalization, which is what hot-rodding is about, but of late, many of those original designs have been making a comeback.

Ron Baxter's interest in building cars goes back to the 1960s. A member of the Road Gents car club, he saw his …