Most of us in the car hobby are foragers, looking for just the right parts and pieces to make our restorations work. For us the five Rs include the familiar Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but, in true car-guy parlance, you also have to add Rod and Restore.
Of all man-made products, the automobile is the most recycled. What doesn't get used as reclaimed, rebuilt or replacement parts are remanufactured into new products.
Finding these parts can take some hunting, but what we need can often be found at local swap meets. For Winnipeg and its environs, the Manitoba Classic & Antique Auto Club's Annual Red River Valley Swap Meet not only signals the start of the car season, but is a great place to start the hunt and meet up with old friends.
This year marks the swap meet's 16th year, but it really goes back much farther than that. Founded in 1960, the MCAAC has always had a swap contingent within its membership. That informal trading of items has over the years has helped put many a project vehicle on the road, so it was a natural extension to offer that opportunity to others as well.
Swap-meet organizer Gord Brunette, who has been with the club for more than 30 years, recalls previous sites for the event.
"We've been at the Red River Exhibition Park for the past 16 years but, before Sunday shopping reached widespread popularity, we had many years at the Polo Park Shopping Centre," he said.
Another traditional aspect of the swap …
Wheeling into your local cruise night in your antique, classic or special-interest vehicle can be a thrill. Meeting up with club members, friends or making new acquaintances is one of the most positive aspects of the hobby.
While conversations drift to the different array of vehicles, and often cover paint finishes, wheel and tire combinations and engine options, there's one special component that largely goes unnoticed.
There aren't any products out there to really dress it up, it's far from pretty and it resides underneath the vehicle, far from the eyes of onlookers who are bedazzled with chrome and sparkly paint. Yet, without this one part, your vehicle can't even turn a tire to make it out of the driveway. It's the driveshaft!
The driveshaft, or propeller shaft, connects the torque and power generated by the engine and transmission to the drive wheels. While there are different set-ups for front-wheel, rear-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, the driveshaft is basically comprised of a large hollow metal tube that has a slip yoke on one end and a universal joint on the other that attaches to the differential.
Your average classic is a rear-wheel drive vehicle with the simplest form of driveshaft that has been used in automobile manufacturing for more than a century. The universal joint is a coupling that employs a rigid rod that can twist in any direction through a pair of hinges that are located close together, oriented at 90 degrees to each other and connected by a cross shaft. This allows …
The Ford Motor Co. hit the ground running following the Second World War. With no civilian automobile production since the shortened 1942 model sales, buyers were clamouring for new vehicles.
To get the new cars to the public, Ford did what most other manufacturers did and offered warmed-over 1942 models with some engineering and styling improvements. The plan worked and sales soared.
North of the border, however, Ford Motor Co. of Canada's marketing plan was a bit different. Beginning in 1946, the Canadian Mercury division marketed two models riding on 118-inch and 114-inch wheelbases. The latter was simply a Ford body and chassis with many Mercury styling cues, including a modified grille and tail lights, but it gave the mid-price Mercury and luxury Lincoln dealers a low-priced car for their showrooms.
Offered in both DeLuxe and Super DeLuxe versions, it included two- and four-door sedans and the popular business coupe and club coupe models. Prices ranged from $1,166 for the business coupe to $1,291 for the four-door sedan.
At $1,334, the club coupe had a lot going for it. Built on a 114-inch wheelbase with seating for at least five passengers and ample room in its long trunk, it was both stylish and functional. V-8-powered, as all Fords and Mercurys were for '46, the coupe relied on its tried-and-true 239-cubic-inch "flathead" engine that produced 93 horsepower at 3,600 r.p.m.
The Mercury 114 was built only in Canada from 1946 to 1948, so it now offers a unique platform in a low-production vehicle for restorers and …
When we think of Jeep, we usually recall the general-purpose, four-wheel-drive vehicle developed for the military in the 1940s.
But over the decades we've seen the Jeep evolve and, thanks to modern brakes, steering and powertrains, it's now quite civilized. The new JK model, introduced in 2007, expanded on this trend.
With a healthy aftermarket industry dedicated to supplying custom and modified parts, the Jeep CJ, TJ and YK models could be personalized for everything from a sharp driver to an all-out, off-road contender.
Glenn Owen has been building custom Jeeps for customers for more than two decades from his Jeep Doctor shop on Manahan Avenue in Winnipeg. Modifications can run from mild to wild, depending on customer preferences.
In 2010, Owen took a 2008 Jeep JK Rubicon four-door model and ran it through the shop, giving it the full treatment.
Starting with a completely clean and rust-free body, it was sandblasted and painted with Porsche Red epoxy box liner. Body components were painted separately and assembled to ensure complete paint coverage of all surfaces. To further aid in corrosion protection, all hinges and fasteners used in its assembly are made of stainless steel.
Beyond finishing the regular doors, Owen wanted to create more of an off-road feel. So he opened up the roof and installed Body Armor tube doors and Dirty Dog netting and straps. Up front, there's a Ramsey 8,500-lb. electric winch for emergency pullouts along with IPF Sport SS 900 and 968XS road lights.
After a one-inch body lift, the wheel wells were reworked …
Commercial vehicles have been around as long as the automobile itself. Pick-ups, flat-decks and walk-in vans have all served various types of small businesses for decades.
One service vehicle that proved to be a great work tool was the sedan delivery. Basically a station wagon without windows and rear seating, they afforded a large open interior space that could accommodate larger items. They also kept their contents out of the elements and, with softer spring rates than a truck, provided a smoother ride.
Light service commercial vehicles are nothing new to Jim and John Tennant at Piston Ring Service. Growing up in the business, started in 1953 by their father, James Tennant Sr., they've seen many such vehicles come and go over the years as part of Piston Ring's delivery fleet.
James A. Tennant Sr., a machinist by trade, started out with a small 240-sq.-ft. machine shop at 127 Garry Street. Sixty years later, Piston Ring Service meets the needs of automotive installers and individual vehicle-owners alike, with more than 45 corporate and franchise automotive outlets, a 200,000-sq.-ft. warehouse and fast delivery from a parts library exceeding five million.
The Ford Falcon sedan delivery would have been similar to what Piston Ring used back in the day, so when a 1965 model became available at last year's Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach, Florida, it was a must have for the Tennants' collection.
Originally purchased by Yellowstone National Park, it saw service there from 1965 to 1989. White with a black interior, it was sold …
Often overlooked on classic and collector vehicles is a lighting upgrade. Whether you're undertaking a full restoration or just want to keep your Sunday cruiser ready for the road, lighting is an important safety feature. Original sealed-beam headlamps were used by most manufacturers well into the 1970s. They're great for that numbers-matching trailer queen that doesn't see the dark of night, but if you drive the vehicle to cruises, rod runs and shows, you need to see and be seen.
Those vintage sealed beams your vehicle was equipped with at the factory are no longer manufactured and any replacement headlamp you purchase today is a halogen sealed-beam unit. This step alone puts you ahead of the 1970s technology, but there are other options. To get a better understanding of what is available, I stopped in at Piston Ring Service's Wall Street location and had their marketing representative, Adrien Poirier, shed some light on the subject.
Newer vehicles use a composite headlamp, generally made of plastic, that utilizes a replaceable halogen bulb. While the supplied bulbs are adequate, the replaceable bulb feature allows you to choose several optional bulbs. Many offer choices in brightness, colour, contrast and beam focus, so you can tailor your headlamps to your driving style. These premium headlamp bulbs are generally sold in pairs and offer buyers good, better, and best options with the price reflecting the choice of quality.
The human eye recognizes bright, white light the easiest, so look for bulbs that offer an increase over the original …
What makes a muscle car?
Full-size cars equipped with optional performance packages had been available since the late 1940s, and performance steadily increased through the 1950s. But when a new wave of early-1960s intermediate models came equipped with only small-block engines, marketing gurus at Pontiac saw a chance to tap a new market.
Hot-rodders had known for years that an easy way to boost performance was to take the lightest car available and stuff it with the most powerful engine that would fit. So, for 1964, those marketing folks thought they could offer a performance option in the mid-size Tempest LeMans that would meet the needs of new performance buyers. Still bound by GM's 400-cubic-inch engine limit on intermediate models, Pontiac chose the potent 389-cu.-in. V8. There was even a tri-power carburetor version capable of 348 horsepower.
The new model ran like a scalded cat and, in a case of marketing one-upsmanship, Pontiac called the new performance option GTO after the successful debut of the Ferrari GTO. While it was a bit hard for North American buyers to get their tongues around Gran Turismo Omologato, the first test-drive grabbed them by the seat-of-the-pants and convinced them the GTO was the one they wanted.
For 1966, Pontiac presented a completely restyled Tempest/Le Mans intermediate car and the GTO became a separate series. It bore distinctive trim and a new mesh grill with rectangular headlamps, recessed rear window and fluted taillamps. To further distance itself from the bread-and-butter models, the GTO bore a unique hood scoop …
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 …
The Dodge Charger received a complete restyle in 1971, transforming it into a semi-fastback coupe with high, sweeping rear fenders that gave it an even more pronounced "Coke bottle" silhouette.
Riding on a new 115-inch wheelbase, a full two-inches shorter than 1970, models included the base Charger, Charger 500, Charger R/T and a new Charger Super Bee. For 1972, the base Charger was joined by a new Rallye model, and the R/T, Super Bee and 500 designations were discontinued.
Still, the Charger Rallye continued to offer optional big-block power in 1973 with the 400 Magnum available with both Torqueflite automatic or four-speed manual transmissions. The top-performance option, the 440 Magnum, could still be had, but only with the automatic gearbox.
In 2001, the idea of restoring a car was a totally new venture for Ray Howes of Winnipeg. "Building plastic models was as close as I had come in the past, but in 2001 I purchased a '73 Charger as a project car," he said.
The Charger was a bit of a rust-bucket, but it was an original 400 four-speed car that had been fitted with a 1977 vintage 440 V8, Howes thought he could bring it back, but quickly found that a lack of quality replacement panels available on the market was going to make it a very expensive and time-consuming restoration.
A couple of years later, Howes found another Charger Rallye on eBay. The sale fell through, but the same seller offered Howes another Charger. Described as having no rust and …
This Sunday marks the beginning of the 42nd Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. For decades, Barrett-Jackson has attracted high-quality collector vehicles to the auction block and offered them to an ever-growing multitude of buyers at "No Reserve." With over 1,200 consignment slots filled, buyers and spectators alike will be welcome to view many long-standing classics and newer marques change hands, with some reaching record prices.
Armchair aficionados unable to make the trek south will again be treated to 39 hours of live high-definition television coverage of the Barrett-Jackson auction on the Speed Channel, beginning on Tuesday Jan. 15 (check local listings for showtimes). Long heralded as being the Super Bowl for car enthusiasts, Barrett-Jackson opens its doors to hundreds of thousands of spectators and collectors from all around the world to participate in this weeklong, world-class automotive lifestyle event that also offers one of the world's largest automobilia auctions and related displays.
In the muscle-car category, original Hemi-powered cars will continue to draw strong money along with Boss Mustangs, COPO Camaros and limited-production Corvettes. With the recent passing of automotive legend Carroll Shelby, anything that bears his name will see an immediate increase in value. This year, Barrett-Jackson will honour Carroll Shelby by auctioning off nearly 30 Shelby automobiles at "No Reserve." The list ranges from a stellar 1965 GT 350 previously owned by Ford, to a 2012 GT 500 50th Anniversary Super Snake, to the rarest Shelby Mustang in existence, the "Green Hornet" experimental coupe. Collectors from …