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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

Classic Camaro

This Tuxedo Black bow-tie goes as good as it looks

The first generation Camaro was introduced in 1967 and proved to be a formidable sales challenger to the Ford Mustang. For 1969 the Camaro enjoyed not only a restyle, but also an extended sales period, thanks to tooling and production delays that led to the late arrival of the new 1970 model. Today the '69 Camaro is the one to have among collectors and enthusiasts alike. A versatile platform that not only has an abundant reproduction parts supply, allowing showroom condition restorations, but also aftermarket manufacturers that can furnish you with everything needed to turn the Camaro into a true pro-touring machine.

For Darryl Dixon of Winnipeg, his journey began in 2005 with a hunt for a 1970 Challenger project car. Unable to locate a suitable candidate he decided to have a look at a 1969 Camaro Z28 that his workmate Chris had stored in his garage for many years. "I had always liked the '69 Camaro, so I had a look at the car," says Dixon. The original engine was long gone and the car came with a replacement small-block Chevy V8 and automatic overdrive transmission, but it also had a 1969 vintage, 427 cubic inch big-block V8 as part of the deal. It's the 427 that Dixon wanted as the engine for his project, so the other engine and transmission were sold. Dixon said, "At first glance the body looked really good, but as I got working on the car I …

Deuces WILD

FROM NEBRASKA WITH LOVE: Restored 1965 Chevy II Nova is the fruit of Winnipegger's years-long labour

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Photos by DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The exterior of Marcel Himbeault�s 1962 Chevy II Nova was de-chromed and the grille blacked out to help solidify the 1960s race vibe.

Chevrolet introduced the compact Nova in 1962 as its weapon to combat the popularity and runaway sales of the Ford Falcon. No-nonsense and conventional in design, the simple styling and unitized body with front sub-frame, made it lightweight and fuel-efficient.

By 1964, the Chevy II had received a few refinements, including the addition of a 283-cubic-inch V8 engine, and 1965 brought mild restyling with the addition of a new grille. The full Super Sport, (SS) optional package was available and the engine options grew to include two 327 cubic inch V8s, making the Chevy II a lively performer.

In 2006, while watching the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction on television, Marcel Himbeault of Winnipeg decided it was time to start looking for a hobby car of his own. "I looked for quite a while for a '64 Fairlane to build as a Thunderbolt clone, but could never find anything to use as a good starting point," Himbeault said.

Still wanting to take on something from the early 1960s drag race era, he widened his search to include other makes and models. In 2011, he spotted a 1965 Chevy II Nova two-door listed on Ebay. The car ended up being listed three times and never sold, but Himbeault kept the owner's information and emailed him.

"The economy was still bad at the time, but I took the truck and car trailer and made the trip to Holdredge, Nebraska to take a look at it," Himbeault said.

An original Nebraska car, powered by a 300-horsepower 327-cubic-inch V8 engine …

Catch the AUCTION ACTION

Barrett-Jackson sale a great show

Saturday, Jan. 10 marks the start of the 44th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Vehicle Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. This year's auction runs a full eight days to accommodate a huge line-up of vehicles and includes the much-awaited offering of some 140 vehicles from the Ron Pratte Collection.

Pratte, a longtime collector from Arizona, has amassed an iconic collection of vehicles over the years. While there are muscle cars, including a stunning array of Shelby and Boss Mustangs, his collection included custom-builds ranging from Boyd Coddington's Chezoom to Blastolene's B-702 custom roadster and George Barris's Beverly Hillbillies truck, to name a few. Everything from hotrods to historical vehicles, such as the 1953 Buick Roadmaster, certified as the last car millionaire Howard Hughes drove, to the 1950 General Motors Futureliner bus used in their "Parade of Progress" promotional tours.

There's the famed Carroll Shelby Super Snake Cobra. An 800-horsepower twin-supercharged roadster that is the last of the breed. Custom show cars abound, including the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special. These vehicles and more are expected to bring in bids of several million dollars each, making this Barrett-Jackson auction one of the richest in history.

To keep things in some perspective, Barrett-Jackson will continue to have many desirable collectible vehicles for auction, with prices that can be as low as a few thousand dollars. Just don't expect t hose to appear on television during prime time. This year, television coverage of Barrett-Jackson will be via the Discovery Channel. Chris Jacobs of Overhaulin' fame will host the week, backed …

Lincoln the presidents' choice

Custom Continentals have long history with world's most powerful man

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larry d�argis / winnipeg free press The 1962 Lincoln Continental limousine is on display at the Auto Collections Museum at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.

When the conversation turns to limousines used to ferry movie stars, dignitaries and royalty, the usual marques come to the forefront, such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Cadillac and Mercedes. The discussion usually gets around to, and focuses on, the Lincoln limousines used during the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s.

Hess & Eisenhardt began supplying the United States with limousines in 1942 with The Phoenix, an H-Series seven-passenger Lincoln Continental limousine. It was originally supplied to U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt and later was utilized by president Harry S. Truman.

While there were other Lincolns used for presidential transport, in earlier and later administrations, none equal the timeless design of the 1961 Continental. Clean, with sharp-edged styling, the 1961 Lincoln was one of the few automobiles ever awarded a medal for excellence by the Industrial Design Institute.

President John F. Kennedy had a real soft spot for these design-setting Lincolns, especially the convertibles, and the White House garage was known to house several Lincoln limousines as well as a pair of convertibles for impromptu and possibly clandestine outings.

While the Hess & Eisenhardt prepared Lincoln SS-100X was the car most used, and unfortunately bears the infamy of being the vehicle in which Kennedy was riding in when assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963, there were other noted Lincoln limousines used during his administration.

The 1962 Lincoln Continental 297X was Jacqueline Kennedy's personal transport. Called the "bubble- top" it featured a full Plexiglass rear roof section. The clear top afforded the first lady and …

More than a car...

El Camino stays in the family, gets full-body makeover

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Farion installed a fire-breathing 396 cubic-inch V-8.

General Motors, Chevrolet Division introduced the El Camino in late 1958 as a new 1959 model. Positioned as a sales competitor against the Ford Ranchero that came to market in 1957, the all-new El Camino offered the same versatility of a car-like ride, styling and the ability to do some light hauling when the occasion arose. In Spanish El Camino means, 'the path'; it was Chevrolet's first coupe pickup since 1941 and a replacement for the super-styled 1955-1957 Cameo half-ton pickup truck. Advertised as, "More than a car... More than a truck," the El Camino had a six-foot box and a respectable load capacity of 1,150-pounds. Based on the Biscayne station wagon, the El Camino could be ordered in everything from 'Plain Jane' to full Bel Air trim levels. The 1960 model would continue more or less the same, but Chevrolet stumbled for four years until the El Camino would resurface again.

Introduced in 1964 as a mid-size model between the Impala and the Chevy II, the new Chevrolet Chevelle was to become the new platform for the El Camino. Restyled in 1966, the Chevelle line grew in both overall size and added new big-block engine options, making it even more attractive from a performance standpoint. For 1968 the Chevelle got a total restyle with a new wedge-shaped body, upgraded chassis and components.

This is where the El Camino really began to shine. It held its own as everything from a commercial light-duty pickup, to a boulevard cruiser able to take on …

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 …

Wild horses

1966 Mustang coupe gets full makeover

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Larry Tanchuk purchased this 1966 Mustang in 1999.

Despite only minor trim restyling changes between the car's introduction in 1964 and through 1966, the Mustang continued to sell like proverbial hotcakes. Ford's one and only entry into the pony-car market proved a winner, and the car was so well received, they didn't dare change it, at least from an appearance standpoint.

Available as a convertible, hardtop or fastback model, they fit just about everyone's fancy and became most people's dream car. Any changes that did occur were upgrades to suspension, brakes and optional equipment that largely went unnoticed by most buyers. Based on the compact Ford Falcon platform, the Mustang was growing up and steadily earning a reputation as a performance car. When equipped with the right brakes, suspension and powertrain, the lightweight Mustang could be a real mover.

Today, the early Mustangs are still plentiful, in restored or original condition, and when paired with modern technology they can be built into everything from a street cruiser to a serious track car.

For Larry Tanchuk of Winnipeg, he purchased his 1966 Mustang coupe as a candidate for a father-son project in 1999. The 289-cubic-inch V-8, automatic-equipped car was originally sold in Saskatchewan and had received a previous restoration sometime in the 1980s. After driving the car basically as is for a year, Tanchuk decided it was time to get down to business and started dismantling the car for a full restoration.

With the car in pieces, it was time to get into removing any rusted panels from the body. As usual, …

Super-rare SUPER BEE A REAL GEM

Local Chrysler fan loves classic muscle car

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141024 Winnipeg - DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Pat Fletcher - 1969 Dodge Super Bee

Stepping back in time to 1969, the muscle-car era was at the height of its popularity.

The choices available from all of the Big Three manufacturers included everything from compact to intermediate and even full-size models, so buyers could opt for whatever turned their crank.

At Chrysler, the popularity of the Plymouth Road Runner in 1968 was an over-the-top success story. Based on the mid-size Satellite, it sold several thousand more units than expected.

Over in the Dodge camp, the Coronet lineup was based on the same B-body platform, and in an effort to attract buyers, the Super Bee model was born. The problem for Dodge was the Super Bee had to compete with the posher Coronet R/T and the other stand-alone B-body offering, the unique and already popular Dodge Charger. What resulted was Super Bee sales were significantly lower than the Road Runner. Today, lower sales figures simply mean a rarer model car when it comes to collectibility, and the Super Bee certainly fits the bill.

For Pat Fletcher of Winnipeg, performance is spelled M-O-P-A-R. Right from the 1960s, Fletcher has been a Chrysler enthusiast and has built and owned some of the most coveted muscle-car models ever produced. Just over two years ago, Fletcher had acquired an original rust-free '69 Super Bee from its initial owner in California.

"I had plans to turn it into a real killer car," says Fletcher. Unfortunately, a few weeks later Fletcher would fall victim to a debilitating stroke that left him in a wheelchair with a …

THE FAST and the famous

Movie-star car Integra A RARE BEAUTY, INDEED

When looking for classic, antique and collectible vehicles, people often overlook the special-interest category. Unique in its own right, special-interest vehicles fall into a desirable category for two reasons: they are easily identifiable, or they represent a special time in history. Movie cars, especially, have always held a bit of both. The green Mustang from the movie Bullitt or the "stripped tomato" Torino from the Starsky & Hutch television drama are a couple that come to mind.

Looking at the new millennium, the 2001 debut of The Fast and the Furious brought a whole new dimension to how we viewed car movies. While the movie borrows its title from a 1955 movie starring John Ireland and Dorothy Malone, the new F&F brought computer generated graphics and a slick modern take on the street-racing scene in Southern California.

Filmed mostly in the areas of Long Beach Terminal Island, Prairie Avenue, the Los Angeles produce district, Hemet, and at Northern Air Force Base in San Bernardino, actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker starred in the action adventure film depicting a gritty look at rival Los Angeles teams who use street racing as a means of establishing status.

Admittedly, it wasn't every car guy's cup of tea, but it did have enough nuts and bolts realism to hold their attention. The thought of making modifications to produce power in smaller packages was always a winning formula with the hot rod set, and through the movie, the cars took on a personality of their own.

The 1996 Acura …

Paint settles on Project Starliner

Students, staff at Kildonan East were just super

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Front Row, from left, Keith Bernado, Ashley Weber, Ryan Klatt, Jordan Young, Tyler Dudar, Michel Jennings, Jacob Hatch, Bryce Goralchuck, Johnver Villavicencio. Back row, from left, Paul Asselstine, Jessie Postumas, Jacob Organisciok, Sam Andum, Darryl Merrit, Noah Kryschuk, Spencer Taylor, Jory Rose, Tyler Ferchuk, Austin Scullard, Jesse Pearase, Elijah Langevin, Dan Labossiere.

Our real-time restoration of a 1961 Ford Starliner has come a long way since I hauled it home from Claresholm, Alta., in 2003.

Nearing the end of a frame-off, rotisserie-body restoration by the autobody students at Kildonan East Collegiate, it's been a shop training aid many of the students have had a hand in.

Last week at Kildonan East, the senior class and instructors said goodbye to Project Starliner. From the start in 2005, everyone knew this was going to be a long and slow process. We hoped the car would offer an opportunity for the students to be involved in a full restoration and allow them to take part in some real panel fabrication usually only seen in professional restoration shops.

Then there was the commitment from the instructors, Paul Asselstine, John Kelly and Dan Labossiere. The autobody repair and refinishing program at Kildonan East covers the metal repair and painting procedures on automotive vehicles. Students are afforded the opportunity to develop skills that will enhance their ability to make autobody repairs to vehicles and to seek employment in autobody, welding related fields, estimating, parts management and the automotive industry as a whole. Over the years, the car has seen dozens of metal panels welded in and probably as many removed and redone until it was felt the car was where it should be with contour and fit.

While this was happening, in the power mechanics shop recently retired instructor Murray Malcolmson led the students through the installation of all-new front suspension …

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