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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

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 …

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 …


Barrett-Jackson sale a great show

Saturday, Jan. 10 marks the start of the 44th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Vehicle Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. This year's auction runs a full eight days to accommodate a huge line-up of vehicles and includes the much-awaited offering of some 140 vehicles from the Ron Pratte Collection.

Pratte, a longtime collector from Arizona, has amassed an iconic collection of vehicles over the years. While there are muscle cars, including a stunning array of Shelby and Boss Mustangs, his collection included custom-builds ranging from Boyd Coddington's Chezoom to Blastolene's B-702 custom roadster and George Barris's Beverly Hillbillies truck, to name a few. Everything from hotrods to historical vehicles, such as the 1953 Buick Roadmaster, certified as the last car millionaire Howard Hughes drove, to the 1950 General Motors Futureliner bus used in their "Parade of Progress" promotional tours.

There's the famed Carroll Shelby Super Snake Cobra. An 800-horsepower twin-supercharged roadster that is the last of the breed. Custom show cars abound, including the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special. These vehicles and more are expected to bring in bids of several million dollars each, making this Barrett-Jackson auction one of the richest in history.

To keep things in some perspective, Barrett-Jackson will continue to have many desirable collectible vehicles for auction, with prices that can be as low as a few thousand dollars. Just don't expect t hose to appear on television during prime time. This year, television coverage of Barrett-Jackson will be via the Discovery Channel. Chris Jacobs of Overhaulin' fame will host the week, backed …

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 …

Lincoln the presidents' choice

Custom Continentals have long history with world's most powerful man

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larry d�argis / winnipeg free press The 1962 Lincoln Continental limousine is on display at the Auto Collections Museum at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.

When the conversation turns to limousines used to ferry movie stars, dignitaries and royalty, the usual marques come to the forefront, such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Cadillac and Mercedes. The discussion usually gets around to, and focuses on, the Lincoln limousines used during the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s.

Hess & Eisenhardt began supplying the United States with limousines in 1942 with The Phoenix, an H-Series seven-passenger Lincoln Continental limousine. It was originally supplied to U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt and later was utilized by president Harry S. Truman.

While there were other Lincolns used for presidential transport, in earlier and later administrations, none equal the timeless design of the 1961 Continental. Clean, with sharp-edged styling, the 1961 Lincoln was one of the few automobiles ever awarded a medal for excellence by the Industrial Design Institute.

President John F. Kennedy had a real soft spot for these design-setting Lincolns, especially the convertibles, and the White House garage was known to house several Lincoln limousines as well as a pair of convertibles for impromptu and possibly clandestine outings.

While the Hess & Eisenhardt prepared Lincoln SS-100X was the car most used, and unfortunately bears the infamy of being the vehicle in which Kennedy was riding in when assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963, there were other noted Lincoln limousines used during his administration.

The 1962 Lincoln Continental 297X was Jacqueline Kennedy's personal transport. Called the "bubble- top" it featured a full Plexiglass rear roof section. The clear top afforded the first lady and …

More than a car...

El Camino stays in the family, gets full-body makeover

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Farion installed a fire-breathing 396 cubic-inch V-8.

General Motors, Chevrolet Division introduced the El Camino in late 1958 as a new 1959 model. Positioned as a sales competitor against the Ford Ranchero that came to market in 1957, the all-new El Camino offered the same versatility of a car-like ride, styling and the ability to do some light hauling when the occasion arose. In Spanish El Camino means, 'the path'; it was Chevrolet's first coupe pickup since 1941 and a replacement for the super-styled 1955-1957 Cameo half-ton pickup truck. Advertised as, "More than a car... More than a truck," the El Camino had a six-foot box and a respectable load capacity of 1,150-pounds. Based on the Biscayne station wagon, the El Camino could be ordered in everything from 'Plain Jane' to full Bel Air trim levels. The 1960 model would continue more or less the same, but Chevrolet stumbled for four years until the El Camino would resurface again.

Introduced in 1964 as a mid-size model between the Impala and the Chevy II, the new Chevrolet Chevelle was to become the new platform for the El Camino. Restyled in 1966, the Chevelle line grew in both overall size and added new big-block engine options, making it even more attractive from a performance standpoint. For 1968 the Chevelle got a total restyle with a new wedge-shaped body, upgraded chassis and components.

This is where the El Camino really began to shine. It held its own as everything from a commercial light-duty pickup, to a boulevard cruiser able to take on …

Wild horses

1966 Mustang coupe gets full makeover

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Larry Tanchuk purchased this 1966 Mustang in 1999.

Despite only minor trim restyling changes between the car's introduction in 1964 and through 1966, the Mustang continued to sell like proverbial hotcakes. Ford's one and only entry into the pony-car market proved a winner, and the car was so well received, they didn't dare change it, at least from an appearance standpoint.

Available as a convertible, hardtop or fastback model, they fit just about everyone's fancy and became most people's dream car. Any changes that did occur were upgrades to suspension, brakes and optional equipment that largely went unnoticed by most buyers. Based on the compact Ford Falcon platform, the Mustang was growing up and steadily earning a reputation as a performance car. When equipped with the right brakes, suspension and powertrain, the lightweight Mustang could be a real mover.

Today, the early Mustangs are still plentiful, in restored or original condition, and when paired with modern technology they can be built into everything from a street cruiser to a serious track car.

For Larry Tanchuk of Winnipeg, he purchased his 1966 Mustang coupe as a candidate for a father-son project in 1999. The 289-cubic-inch V-8, automatic-equipped car was originally sold in Saskatchewan and had received a previous restoration sometime in the 1980s. After driving the car basically as is for a year, Tanchuk decided it was time to get down to business and started dismantling the car for a full restoration.

With the car in pieces, it was time to get into removing any rusted panels from the body. As usual, …