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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

Potent pony

Vintage Mustang updated with modern gear

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Brad MacDonald restored this 1966 Ford Mustang coupe utliizing many modern parts.

The first generation Ford Mustang was among the most successful cars to ever hit the market. Offered as a two-door coupe, convertible and fastback, it was a sporty looking car available with a multitude of options that could take it from grocery getter to formidable street machine. Over the years, fastback and convertible models have stolen the limelight and represent the highest prices in the collector car world. Lately, however, the coupe model has come into its own.

More affordable and still in great supply, the Mustang coupe can be outfitted however the owner prefers. Even the six-cylinder equipped models can be converted to V-8 power, opening the door to countless possibilities when it comes to building these coupes into fire-breathing pro touring cars.

Brad MacDonald of Winnipeg liked the idea of pairing a vintage Mustang coupe with modern running gear and suspension. Following consideration and consultation with others, he began looking for a suitable platform to build his creation.

Turning to eBay, over a five month period MacDonald bid on several Mustang coupes and lost, until 2011 when he was finally the winning bidder on a white Mustang in Washington. Equipped with a 200 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine, it was rust-free and had been previously restored. With the car back in Winnipeg, MacDonald went to work stripping it down and getting it ready for a total pro-touring conversion. "I had never restored a car before, so this was new ground for me and all I had to fall back on was the abilities …

Stargazing: Oldsmobile Starfire shines bright

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Larry Brown of Stony Mountain with his 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire Holiday hardtop.

The personal-luxury market arrived in the late 1950s when Ford's four-seat Thunderbird appeared in 1958. Billed as a personal car for buyers, with its aircraft-inspired centre console, high-performance engine and special power options, these features became a standard bill-of-fare for other manufacturers to follow.

For 1961, Oldsmobile introduced the Starfire to bolster its coverage in the personal luxury category. With a late January 1961 release date and the fact that it was offered as a convertible only, it still managed to produce a very reasonable 7,800 sales. The top-of-the-line Starfire was well received and while it probably cut into the posh Ninety-Eight models sales, Oldsmobile expanded the series in 1962, adding a sporty two-door Holiday hardtop.

This proved to be the market punch Oldsmobile was looking for. Convertible sales stayed at a respectable 7,149 production figure and the Holiday hardtop took off with sales of 34,839. Well equipped with sports console, tachometer, Hydra-Matic three-speed automatic transmission and console shifter, power steering, power brakes, leather upholstery, dual exhaust with fiberglass-packed mufflers and a model specific brushed aluminum side trim, this boulevard cruiser was a real looker.

Under the hood, was the Starfire Ultra High Compression, 394-cubic-inch V-8. Equipped with 10.5:1 compression, and a Rochester four-barrel carburetor, it produced 345 horsepower at 4,600 r.p.m. and 440 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 r.p.m. While it may not have been a stoplight terror, performance was very respectable, given its 4,400-pound curb weight. Priced at more than $4,000 before optional extras and riding on a 123-inch wheelbase, the …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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