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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

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 …

Prized Model A pickup back in good hands

Car enthusiast likes hot rod so much, he bought it twice

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A hand-fabricated, three-piece aluminum hood and �32 Ford grille shell keep the engine cool.

When the 1928 Model A Ford arrived at dealerships in North America, it replaced the Model T that had owned the road the previous two decades.

Solid engineering, updated styling and a palatable price helped Ford sell 208,562 units in its first year of production. On the surface it didn't look like anything monumental, but as history bears, it was the new foundation the Ford Motor Company would be built upon.

When it came to trucks back then, they were generally the heavy-duty workhorses of the day and not easily suited to light-duty hauling.

At the Ford Motor Company, the solution was to simply use a short two-door car body with a small box in back to make a light-duty pickup truck.

Small, versatile and as easy to drive as any car, the Model A pickup was a popular model. Built initially as an open car, the closed-cab version wouldn't be available until later in 1928, so the early AR models have some additional value because of some unique features, such as a left-hand parking brake.

Today, there's many restored examples of the early Model A Ford. But most are sought after as the basis for building a hot rod, with the roadster at the top of the list.

For Ted Klatt of Winnipeg, his 1928 Model A Ford roadster pickup was found in 1975 around Killarney, Man. After cutting down several trees growing through the frame rails, Klatt was able to drag it out of the bush and have a good look at it. …

Time for a flashback weekend

Ford club holding 20th annual celbration

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Fabulous 50�s Ford Club members are expecting huge crowds and a sea of shining chrome on Sunday at the free car show at Garden City Shopping Centre.

There are many things that can change over 20 years, but for the Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba, keeping things the same has proven to be a winning formula.

With the club now celebrating two decades of existence, it's about to throw another party as they host their 20th annual Flashback Weekend Show.

The club kicks it off this evening with the Sock Hop Dance at Transcona Country Club. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the event features legendary local band Free Ride and 1950s and '60s music all night long from DJ Rockin' Ernie. Members of Patricia's Dance Studio and Shirley's Dance Studio will also be on hand to help you find those dance steps you may have forgotten and teach you a few new ones.

A silent auction loaded with prizes will take place throughout the evening, with proceeds in support of the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation, helping them in their work supporting children with special needs. Tickets are available from club members, and can be obtained by calling 204-453-FORD.

The club will shift gears Saturday as it hosts a cruise for all antique, classic and special-interest vehicles. Departing at 2 p.m. from Canad Inns Garden City, the cars will cruise north on Main Street and then along River Road before stopping at the Half Moon Drive In in Lockport, where prizes, games, burgers, hot dogs and fries will be on the menu.

The biggest event of the weekend takes place Sunday, as the club present's the Flashback Weekend car show. Manitoba's largest …

Club pumped about fundraiser

MSRA restores vintage gas pump to raise cash for kids

Along with vehicles, collecting is also about 'automobilia'. Things such as advertising, sales brochures, service station memorabilia and other items that made the automotive explosion of the 20th century viable, are also quite desirable among serious collectors.

Gas station signs, oil cans and gas pumps top the list when it comes to those everyday items that were often forgotten or taken for granted in the day. Today those items enjoy the limelight in collections that recognize there was much more to it than the car itself keeping the family on the road.

The Manitoba Street Rod Association was formed in Winnipeg in July 1972. Four decades later the club has grown to be one of the largest clubs in the area, with a solid trail of credits for hosting major local shows as well as regional and national rod runs. Another side of the club is its steadfast support for the community and finding ways to raise money for worthy organizations. As a fundraising tool for this year, the club went looking for what many consider the holy grail of a collection -- the gas pump.

Gasoline pumps have been around since the late 1800s in several forms and configurations. From the tall, glass models of the 1920s and '30s that draw the most attention, because of their sheer size, to the almost art deco look of the electric pumps from the postwar era, all are favourable additions to the garage display or man-cave.

Club member Don Blowatt graciously donated a gas …

Weather's been wonderful for cruisin'

Fabulous 50's Ford Club gearing up for big weekend

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The Fabulous 50�s Ford Club of Manitoba recently cruised over to the Red Top Drive Inn on St. Mary�s Road.

With some great weather over the past few weeks, getting the vehicles out for that weekly cruise has been most pleasant.

Cruisin' the Peg at the Tavern United and the Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba's Sunday Night Cruise Night at the Pony Corral Restaurant on Grant Avenue, have each week drawn hundreds of collector and special-interest vehicles. As well, since April, there have been more than 80 car-related cruises, swap meets and shows in Manitoba, with many more to come. It's safe to say that each weekend from spring to fall the cruising calendar is jammed with opportunities to get out and enjoy the weather and your favourite automotive passion.

What if you also like to spend weekends at the beach, cottage or camping with the family? This leaves precious little time to see the cars and friends, leaving you with a choice of either/or. From 2002 to 2009, the Fabulous 50's Ford Club hosted the City Lights Cruise every Wednesday evening at the Pony Corral Restaurant downtown. People were welcome to come down for that mid-week cruise and to take in some great food and often entertainment. Sadly, the city backed out as a sponsor after 2009.

These Wednesday night cruises seemed perfect and gave people a real choice. A couple of years ago the Fabulous 50's Ford Club tried a variation on that theme by putting together a few dates and places in and around the city. Wandering Wednesday's saw the club and a few friends attend at …

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 …

Dargis July 18

Classic Cruising 1965 Pontiac LeMans GTO

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Photos by Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press Darren Pallen�s redesigned 1965 GTO.

What makes a muscle car? The post-war boom in automobile production from the late '40s saw many changes in style, comfort, safety and performance. Full-size cars from that era and through the 1950s, could be had with optional performance packages, but the new wave of early 1960s intermediate models were equipped with gas-sipping six-cylinder engines, or moderate small-block V8s. Taking a cue from hot rodders, manufacturers saw the easiest way to add performance was by taking the lightest car and stuffing it with the most powerful engine. For 1964, the marketing folks at Pontiac believed they could offer a performance option in the mid-size Tempest LeMans that would meet the needs of new performance buyers.

Management at General Motors had set a limit for intermediates, of 10 horsepower per 100 pound vehicle weight, meaning the 3,300-pound LeMans could only have Pontiac's 326 cubic inch V8. Now an optional model like the GTO, could have a larger engine, as long as it was under 400 cubic inches of displacement, so the Pontiac marketing department chose the potent 389 cu. in V8. It came with either a four-barrel carburetor producing 325 horsepower or an optional tri-power carburetor equipped version, capable of 348 horsepower. Hoping for modest sale of 5,000 units in its first year, the GTO option quickly eclipsed that figure, as final production was 32,450.

For 1965, GTO got a modest redesign with stacked headlamps, updated tail-lamp panel and a new hood scoop. Power was also increased as the four-barrel 389 increased to …

Savage beauty

1964 Plymouth Savoy boasts awesome performance and awe-inspiring style

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Red vinyl and cloth upholstery for the seats and door panels was installed by John Scheels.

The 1962 Plymouth and Dodge models from Chrysler appeared with new styling and a dramatic reduction in wheelbase and overall size. To many they resembled an almost compact size in comparison to the Chevrolet and Ford models of the day. Part of that look can be directly attributed to the "Detroit Buzz" which had rumours of Chevrolet downsizing its full-size lineup to increase profits and entice buyers to remain with the full-size cars, over the new compacts and Chrysler didn't want to be left behind. Problem was, Chevrolet didn't downsize and the car-buying public's reaction resulted in weak sales figures. Financially Chrysler was in no position to immediately retool for a larger car so they did what they could to keep the cars fresh and in the showroom.

For 1964 the Plymouth line received a mild facelift, that included a larger front bumper, rectangular tail-lamps and a bevelled edge feature line on the roof of the sedans and hardtops. Hardtops also received a new roof "C" pillar that dramatically tapered into the rear fender for a sportier look. Now that sportier look came on a 1962 inspired lean and light 116-inch wheelbase that would deliver added fuel economy and performance. It was the performance edge that helped keep Chrysler in the sales hunt by offering some potent power packages.

Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, was a mantra most manufacturers subscribed to and the Big 3 ensured they had all forms of motorsports covered with the latest asphalt assault …

Signature RIDE

'65 Oldsmobile Cutlass PACKS A PUNCH

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Ken Swaffer of Winnipeg Beach with his 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass.

The mid-size Oldsmobile Cutlass started out as a compact F-85 model entry in 1961. For 1964, the F-85 and Cutlass moved into the intermediate category after a full redesign. It gained three inches in wheelbase to 115 inches and grew 11 inches in length. Gone was the aluminium block 215-cubic-inch V8, and in its place was a V6 or cast-iron Rocket V8 engine. It was the start of one of Oldsmobile's most successful lines.

For Ken Swaffer of Winnipeg Beach, the Oldsmobile was always his car.

"I've always liked Oldsmobile and my first was a '51 Olds 98 hardtop, then a '55 Sedan and a '63 Dynamic 88."

On Jan. 4, 1965, Swaffer found himself sitting in the showroom at Community Chevrolet Oldsmobile, then located at 1149 Main St., about to order his new 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass hardtop.

Advertised as, "the pocket-size Olds for $4,235," it was still a hefty full-size price.

Looking over the option list he was checking off the boxes to order his new Olds exactly how he wanted it. He chose the jetfire rocket 330-cubic-inch V8, which was equipped with 10.5:1 compression pistons, four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust rated at a healthy 315 horsepower. Backing up the V8 is a Muncie close-ratio four-speed manual transmission with floor shift, leading to a 3.23:1 ratio 12-bolt rear axle. It was a nice starting point for a performance coupe.

Swaffer considered opting for the $156 4-4-2 performance-and-handling package, with a larger 400-cubic-inch 345 horsepower V8.

In 1965, the 4-4-2 package was available …

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