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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

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 …

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 …


From a plastic model on a dresser to the real deal

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Wayne Penner�s 1958 Corvette

First offered in 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette was based on the 1952 EX-122 Motorama dream car. It was one of the vehicles from the show circuit that actually saw production with minimal, if any, styling changes.

Originally planned as an economical sports car for young adults, power came from a 150-horsepower, inline, overhead valve, six-cylinder engine, mated to a Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission. While its performance didn't set the earth on fire, the platform would also lend itself to modifications for competition use and a performance-image builder for Chevrolet.

While steel bodies were planned for later production, the fibreglass body was novel and a cost-saving measure, allowing the limited-production car to get into the marketplace quickly. Sales were slow with 300 units the first year, 3,640 in 1954 and then sinking to only 700 units in 1955. But, 1955 saw the availability of a new 195-horsepower, 265-cubic-inch V-8 engine, and sales began to rise year after year.

For Wayne Penner of Winnipeg, acquiring his 1958 Corvette is a boyhood dream come true. The plastic model he built of a '58 Corvette sat proudly on his dresser for many years, and from that time he always had the bug to own a real one. After searching for many years, he found one for sale in 2001 rural Quebec, just a few kilometres north of Montreal. Penner recalls, "I knew I wanted this year because of its distinctive deck lid spears, washboard hood, and it featured another first for any car -- dual headlamps and …

World of Wheels

Spring is in the air and ready or not here it comes. This weekend the 41st Annual Piston Ring World of Wheels car show is taking place at the RBC Convention Centre. North America's premier custom car show series, it's not one to disappoint as it's jam packed with everything one could ask for in an automotive extravaganza.

This year features an exhibit of the cars from the Fast & Furious, Bananarama yellow vehicle display, and legendary car customizer Gene Winfield. Winfield's "Chop Shop" runs all-weekend long and will show in real time what is required to chop the top, bend metal and work his magic on a vintage vehicle. At three months shy of his 88th birthday, Winfield is still a force to be reckoned with in the custom-car field and probably the nicest craftsman you could ever hope to meet.

Also featured will be a leading edge celebrity stage presented by the Pony Corral Restaurant & Bar, featuring, WWE Superstar Sheamus, Sean Whitley "Farmtruck" and Jeff Bonnett "AZN" from the series Street Outlaws. Also on deck will be Danny "The Count" Koker and Kevin Mack, stars from the History Channel's popular Counting Cars. Put all this along with the World of Wheels Pageant finals and more than 100 local and series vehicles together and it promises to be winning show.

Along with the festivities the annual addition of inductees to the Manitoba Motorsports Hall of Fame will take place. This year inductees include veteran AMA motorcycle racer Paul Germain and NHRA …

Torino a testament to '70s top-drop era

Convertible muscle car fully restored

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Ted Klatt, below, with his 1970 Torino GT convertible. Klatt spent more than a year fully restoring this rare beauty.

All-new for 1970, the Ford Falcon, Fairlane and Torino line grew considerably from the 1969 model. Riding on a 117-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 206.2-inches, it came in as one of the larger intermediate models of the day. Part of the increase in size was to accommodate Ford's larger 429-cubic-inch V-8 engines. Available in 23 different models, including station wagon and Ranchero, the Torino lineup received Motor Trend magazine's prestigious Car Of The Year award. For 1970 the Torino GT model was the only top-down convertible produced and Ford built just 3,939 of them.

Ted Klatt of Winnipeg spent 15 years working on his '66 Mustang 2+2 fastback project just to trade it off for a snowmobile and a pinball machine. With the Mustang out of the way, he looked for his next project and in 2000 found a 1970 Torino GT convertible.

"I had never seen a Torino convertible," Klatt said. "So this was something new to me."

Best described as a driver-condition car, Klatt did just that as he wheeled the Torino through four summers until finally getting it torn down for a full restoration.

With corrosion as the main problem for the body, Klatt spent three years searching for new rear quarter panels. Finding a new old-stock pair for a formal hardtop, Klatt began the slow process of removing the corroded metal and welding in the new quarter panels. Trimming them down to fit the convertible was in itself a challenge, but at more than five feet long 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 …

All dressed up and raring to go

Restored pick-up a one-of-a-kind find

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Garry Wazny bought his 1971 El Camino back in the 1980s.

FOR 1971, the Chevrolet El Camino carried a modest front restyle with new grille and single headlamps.

The majority of optional equipment remained the same as 1970 and the Super Sport package was available, along with the big-block V8 engines.

Chevrolet built a total of 41,606 El Caminos for 1971 and of those 9,502 were the SS model. Built on the same 116-inch wheelbase frame as the midsize Chevelle station wagon, the El Camino was a versatile vehicle, ready for everything from hauling light loads to making trips to the grocery store.

Garry Wazny of Cooks Creek acquired his 1971 El Camino in the early 1980s. While he wasn’t really looking for that particular model, a friend told him where there was one for sale, so he decided to take a look at it. Used as a daily driver, the truck had seen better days and was in rough shape.

Wazny passed on it, but a week later the owner called Wazny and offered the vehicle for a very low price. With the purchase behind him, Wazny was now the El Camino’s fourth owner. He put the truck into storage and over the next decade began looking for parts to rebuild the vehicle.

A friend of Wazny’s, Trevor Boyce, was the parts manager at Shaw Trucks at the time and was able to order new rear quarter panels, grille, tail lights and many of the chrome trim pieces that were still GM-stocked items. That good fortune at finding parts and the acquisition of a 1971 …

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 …