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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

Modern style with a classic V-8 engine

Owner worked long, hard hours to keep the fourth-generation Ford Mustang in the family

The Ford Motor Company introduced its new Mustang at the New York World’s Fair in April 1964, as a 1965 model. With more than 22,000 units sold on the first day, the Mustang was Ford’s most successful launch of a new vehicle since the Model A in 1928. By the end of 1965, Ford had sold nearly a half million Mustangs and the demand for more was barely slowing. The four-passenger, long- hood, short rear-deck pony car was born and has been in steady production since its inception.

Through the decades, the Mustang has undergone several transformations to reach its current sixth generation. Except for the 1974-78 second-generation models, the Mustang remains a steadfast collectible. I’m often asked what is the next big thing in collector cars, and while my crystal ball does get a bit foggy at times, I see a definite opportunity to score a future classic in the 1994-95 fourth-generation models.

The 1994 model was a definite break form the 1979 to ’93 Fox platform. A major redesign, it remained true to its roots and gave buyers the 5.0 V-8 GT until the 1996 introduction of the 4.6 modular V-8. Don’t get me wrong, the modular motor makes great power, but these early 5.0 offerings all respond to the same tuning and performance upgrades of the earlier models and aside from the electronic ignition and fuel injection, it’s the same pushrod V-8 Mustang used for 30 years. That’s what makes them different and, with just a two-year window of …

Charger an instant classic

Modern modified muscle car lives up to its 1970s namesake's legacy

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Winnipeg's Vince Proteau bought this 2013 Dodge Charger in 2014 when it only had 100 kilometres on it. He took it on memorable trips to British Columbia and Texas.

The year 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Charger. What began in 1966 as Dodge’s offering of a fastback/personal performance car, based on the intermediate Coronet, caught an immediate following with both youth and middle-age buyers. The fifth-generation Charger would continue production on the Dodge Omni L-Platform from 1982 until the end of the 1987 model year. It would again see semi-retirement, but would reappear 19 years later in 2006.

The Charger was now part of the LX full-size platform sedan. Most notably, the new Charger had acquired an extra set of doors and, as a four-door model, it gained more in market share. The styling harkened back somewhat to the original Coke-bottle styling and with several powertrain options, it did offer buyers a performance perspective that had been missing from the Dodge lineup. With several trim versions available and returning to rear-wheel-drive, it was closer to the original image of a performance car, than had been seen in decades. For 2012, the Charger received a new interior and more aggressive and aerodynamic styling that had an even greater connection to the popular 1970 model. Also on tap were new engines, including a 3.6-litre V-6 with variable valve technology and a lively 470 horsepower 6.4L V-8.

For Vince Proteau of Winnipeg, cars have always been a part of his life.

"I started out working on cars with my father and as I grew up, I would buy old police cars at auction and fix them and drive them," Proteau says. In …

Muscle car madness

The Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda is a monument of an era

The muscle car evolution had reached a fever pitch by the late 1960s.

There was a muscle car offering in every lineup, from compact to intermediate; even full-size boulevard brutes could all sport the latest in big-block V-8 power.

By 1967, the addition of the pony car Mustang, Cougar, Camaro and Firebird also gave buyers the sportiest go-fast packages available.

At Chrysler, the Plymouth Barracuda had been available with the 383 V-8 and a special-order 440 big-block V-8 through various dealerships, but the Hemi engine everyone wanted was still a factory race piece.

For 1970, the Barracuda (or ‘Cuda) performance model was all-new and available with every engine Chrysler offered, including the lowly slant-six-cylinder. Along with the 375-horsepower 440 V-8, there was a new 440+6 option that included three two-barrel Holley carburetors for a whopping 390 hp.

For those wanting more, the 426 Hemi was just a check-mark away on the option box. With performance-proven hemispherical combustion chambers, 10.2:1 compression pistons and breathing through dual Carter AFB 3084-s four-barrel carburetors, the engine produces 425 hp at 5,000 r.p.m. and 490 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 r.p.m. Another attractive thing about the new street Hemi was the hydraulic performance camshaft. With no mechanical valve settings to worry about, it simplified keeping the big engine in tune.

Selecting the pricey $871 Hemi engine option opened doors to other equipment.

Buyers chose from a floor-shift, four-speed manual or 727 TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The latter would be a column-shift unless the buyer selected the slap-stick floor-shift with centre console.

Two axle packages …

Turbocharged memories

Winnipeg man owned Shelby Charger as a high schooler, bought another many years later

The year 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Charger.

What began in 1966 as Dodge’s offering of a fastback/personal performance car, based on the intermediate Coronet, caught an immediate following with youth and middle-age buyers alike. For 1975, the Charger SE was placed squarely in the specialty car market alongside of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Ford Elite. Sharing the same two-door coupe platform as the intermediate Chrysler Cordoba, the emphasis on comfort and formal style were clearly established. Rich leather and plush velour fabrics took centre stage; its days as a performance car were clearly behind it and the Charger name would be retired after 1978.

The Charger name would resurface in 1982 on the Dodge Omni platform. With other intermediate models phased out, Dodge looked to the smaller Omni to regain the Charger’s sporty image. On the surface, it looked like a stopgap move to keep the name alive, but as Chrysler was downsizing every other model into the "K" car platform, it made sense. The L-Platform, front-wheel-drive, hatchback was a lightweight, nimble package, with just enough horsepower to keep it attractive as a performance offering. For 1983, it would become available as the Charger Four and Charger 2.2. In 1984 things got really-interesting, as a link with automotive designer Carroll Shelby brought the prominent performance name and some added horsepower through turbocharging and other performance modifications.

James Blatz of Winnipeg says his experience with the mid ‘80s Charger began in high school.

"I had a 1983 Shelby Charger in …

Love at first sight

After years of searching, Lockport man finally finds his dream Impala

Chevrolet dealer showrooms were all abuzz while unveiling a completely new model for 1958, the posh new Impala. An exclusive model marked by a distinctive badge, the Impala was more than a trim option and it differed structurally from other garden variety Chevys. It was available in only two body styles, convertible and sport coupe, the coupe had a slightly shorter roof and longer rear deck than the Bel Air hardtop.

Beginning in 1959, the Impala model had grown to include the four-door sedan, four-door hardtop and a station wagon. By 1961, the Impala had proven so popular with buyers that all the full-size Chevrolet cars could be ordered in the Impala trim. In 1961 the Super Sport or SS option package were introduced — dealer installed on any Impala model, it consisted of SS emblems on the rear fenders, deck lid, dash pad and special wheel covers with spinners. The $54 package also included some great performance upgrades such as heavy-duty springs, shocks, sintered metallic brake linings, power steering, power brakes, 7,000 r.p.m. tachometer and whitewall tires.

Under the 1961’s long flat hood there were a plethora of options. The 135 horsepower, 235.5 cubic-inch, six-cylinder was available as the base engine, with the venerable 283 V-8 two-barrel and four-barrel coming in with 170 and 230 horsepower respectively. For those with a yen for even more performance, there was the 348 cubic-inch Turbo-Thrust V-8, available in 280, 305 and 340 hp states of tune. Top of the pile was the new for …

Challenge accepted

The 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A offers a lot of bang for the buck

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Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Eric Bueckert of Winnipeg bought this Plum Crazy purple coloured Dodge Challenger T/A in June 1995.

Created in 1966 by the Sports Car Club of America, the Trans Am race series was derived from the A Production class utilizing production road cars from various manufacturers. Mustang, Camaro and Javelin were the major players in the 5.0-litre or 305-cubic-inch class.

By 1968, manufacturers noticed enthusiasts were tracking their racing success, and racing wins almost always translated into increased sales. To capitalize on the series’ popularity, Chevrolet rolled out the Camaro Z28 in 1968 and, not to be outdone, Ford countered in ’69 with their Mustang Boss 302. Also showing up in ’69 was the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, but Chrysler would make a late entry in the series with both their 1970 Plymouth AAR ’Cuda and the Dodge Challenger T/A.

Power for the street version came from their J-Code 340-cu.-in. V-8, equipped with 10.5:1 compression ratio, Edelbrock aluminium intake manifold and three Holley two-barrel carburetors. Output was underrated at 290 horsepower at 5,000 r.p.m. and 335 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 r.p.m. Today, they’ve found the 340 Six Pack produces about 350 horsepower. In actual competition, the V-8 was destroked by using a special crankshaft, bringing it down to 303 cu. in. in order to comply within the 5.0L class maximum. Transmission options included the Chrysler new-process four-speed manual with Hurst floor shift or a 727 Torqueflite automatic. Out back, the 8 3/4-in. Sure-Grip rear axle could have either 3.55:1 or optional 3.91:1 gear ratio.

The Challenger T/A came factory-equipped with a host of specialty equipment for its $4,643 …

Majestic model striking as ever

1946 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet believed to be one of 13 remaining

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Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

At 4,315 pounds, with an overall 18 feet, this 1946 Continental is a substantial vehicle, and believed to be one of only thirteen left.

The Ford Motor Company purchased the failing Lincoln Motor Company from Henry Leland in 1922 for $8 million. Henry Ford felt the Lincoln was a quality car that would give him a luxury addition to his lineup and help him regain market share from General Motors.

By the mid-1930s Henry’s son, Edsel, had control of Lincoln and developed, in conjunction with designer Eugene Turenne, the Lincoln Zephyr. Conceived to bridge the wide gap in cost between the Ford V-8 De Luxe line and the upscale Lincoln K-Series, the 1936 Zephyr was a streamlined sedan in the same price range as Cadillac’s lesser-cost cousin, the La Salle.

In 1939, Ford president Edsel Ford worked with stylist Bob Gregoire on a prototype for a one-off personal vehicle for Edsel’s use. Gregoire started with the Lincoln Zephyr frame and in just over an hour he had sketched a new stylized body, featuring a sporty-looking long hood and short rear deck.

Dubbed the Continental based on the car’s appearance to Ford’s wealthy elite friends, demand for more cars led to it becoming a hand-built production model. The smaller trunk resulted in the need to mount the spare wheel on a carrier behind the trunk. The externally mounted and covered spare had long been a staple item on European sports cars, but it would be the catalyst and beginning of the North AmSerican term, "Continental Kit."

Automobile production in America continued until the country got involved in the Second World War in 1942 and didn’t resume until 1946.

To produce …

The ultimate grocery-getter

St. Andrews man takes on the restoration of a 1972 Chevelle station wagon

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Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

The station wagon was just that: built as a custom vehicle in the early 20th century, they were modified to accommodate passengers and baggage for the trip between the train station and the hotel. These wagons allowed added room, offering patrons a more comfortable ride. By the late 1940s, manufacturers recognized growing families also had a need for these vehicles and added them as a regular production model.

Long before there were even thoughts of SUVs or minivans the best family vehicle available to new car buyers was the station wagon. The ability to haul the entire family anywhere, anytime and with most of the gear required to take in everything from hockey practice to a family campout, it flat out did it all. Available as a compact, intermediate or full-size, there was a station wagon for everyone and thanks to the optional equipment list, everyone could have their own specially equipped station wagon.

Still a strong seller into the 1970s, the loaded-with-options station wagon could often become the most expensive model on the lot. Everything was on the table from luxury to performance options, so seeing wagons equipped with big-block V-8s, air conditioning and full-power options were not out of the norm.

For Rob Sandul, of St. Andrews, building several cars over the years including a 1970 Chevelle, muscle car, he felt it was time for more of a family friendly summer cruiser and he thought about a station wagon. In August of 2009, he set his sights on a 1972 Chevelle …

Winnipeg native victorious at SEMA

Highly modified 1993 Toyota Supra catches eyes and awards

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Anthony De Guzman's 2003 Toyota Supra has landed him a number of awards.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) held its new products showcase at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. The largest automotive trade show in the world, the four-day event can best be described as "Disneyland for vehicle enthusiasts."

Featuring not only new products and a peek into future offerings, but everything that’s also readily available from manufacturers and SEMA members is on display. There’s also many show vehicles in the various product booths and presenters can compete for top honours in their respective category.

This year there were 260 vehicles entered in the Best Builder Competition. Judged by a panel of industry experts the Top 21 are chosen, then broken down into three categories including Hot Rod, Truck/Off-Road and Sport Compact. Now in its third year, this competition features the best builders in the country who come to SEMA to win the coveted title of the Ultimate Builder.

For Anthony De Guzman of Winnipeg, his first trip to SEMA in 2014 was with Performance Auto and Sound Magazine. His highly modified 1993 Toyota Supra was displayed as the 2014 PASMAG Tuner Battleground Champion. At that show he was asked to consider entering his car in an upcoming SEMA Best Builder Competition.

"I came home and started adding upgrades and building the car to the next level," De Guzman says. Rebuilt from the ground up as a feature car, De Guzman relied on the help of his car crew Garage106. "It was really a team effort and, along with my …

Charged up and ready to go

Third-generation Dodge Chargers from the early '70s were the last of a dying breed

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Photos by Larry D'Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

The year 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Charger. What began in 1966 as Dodge’s offering of a fastback/personal performance car, based on the intermediate Coronet, it caught an immediate following with both youth and middle-age buyers. Today we take a look at the third-generation Charger built from 1971 to 1974. Redesigned and completely restyled in 1971, the car bore little, if any resemblance to the earlier models. The unique body transformed the Charger into a semi-fastback coupe with high sweeping rear fenders, giving the Charger an even more pronounced "Coke bottle" silhouette. Riding on a new 115-inch wheelbase, a full two inches shorter than 1970, models included Charger, Charger 500, Charger SE, Charger R/T and a new Charger Super Bee.

For 1972 the base Charger was joined by a new Rallye model. This meant the often confusing R/T, Super Bee and 500 model designations were discontinued. Continuing for 1973, the Charger Rallye still offered buyers optional big-block power with the 400 Magnum available with both TorqueFlite automatic or four-speed manual transmissions. The top performance option 440 Magnum could still be had, but only with the automatic gearbox. For 1974 the Charger remained popular with buyers, especially the top trim level SE model. Optional concealed headlamps, upright SE hood ornament and stainless-steel wheelwell trim resulted in 30,957 being produced.

For Lawrence Palmer of Winnipeg, he drove his new 1974 Charger SE off of the lot at Pembina Dodge in the summer of 1974. Finished in Aztec Gold Metallic, with a …