Thursday, March 31, 2005

Country Squire - Off Market!

As the saying goes, money talks and bullshit walks. And as the other saying goes, you snooze, you lose. The Ford 1965 Country Squire 8-Passenger Stationwagon has been pulled from the market and is not for sale at this time. Clearly, I am not carved of wood. I can't just look at such an automobile and not feel a call to action.

The Best "Worst Weld" Ever

The creativity exhibited in this weld is astonishing, especially the integration of the nut that plays no part in the structural integrity of the component. Surprisingly, this masterpiece was actually being used in a working forklift. On my worst welding day, I recall this weld and think, 'I could suck more.'

Friday, March 25, 2005

The instructions for the Mercedes exhaust recommend aligning the exhaust system by propping it up on jack stands and precisely shimming with wood roofing shingles. Now, the car is already supported by four jack stands, so that means I would need another 3 jack stands? Not possible. And wood shingles haven't been sold in Los Angeles for a decade. So I made these clever little stands. A pair gently cradling a third. So enamoured with these stands, I am going to build some tall bases and additional top extensions with different saddles. Maybe even a roller top.

Organization of sockets, ratchets and extensions nearly guarantees an immediate upset stomach. After two hours of work, I am through 3/8" SAE Standard deep, shallow and swivel sockets. You find the damnedest things like an OBA socket and a PAIR of Snap-On 1/4 British Standard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

$1,000,000 Wisely Spent

Jalopnik threw down the challenge. If you had a mere $1 million dollars to spend on cars, how would you limit yourself and still have a respectable garage? This is really an exercise best left for a bar and a stack of cocktail napkins, but here is my list. Initially, I priced all the cars high for sterling examples, but then as I thought of other must-haves I went back and revised prices to more modest examples. This list, naturally, is in addition to my current fleet.

It's difficult, when dreaming, to not select a Porsche 917, an original Ferrari Testarossa, Mercedes SSK, a D-Type Jaguar, a GT40 or a Gullwing. But those are budget busters. And if having a Gullwing means I can't have an ice cream truck, I am not interested.

$4,000 1984 VW GTI

$5,000 1987 VW Scirocco 16v

$2,000 1981 VW Caddy Diesel

$8,000 1964 Oldsmobile Fiesta 88 Stationwagon

$20,000 1962 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Bubbletop 'Bellflower'-style Custom

$10,000 1972 Datsun 510 Racecar

$15,000 1965 Saab 96 Rally Car

$100,000 1910-1920 Custom Bodied Luxury Automobile (Marmon, Hispano Suiza, Lincoln, Etc)

$15,000 1984 Porsche 911 SC

$20,000 1991 Mercedes 500e

$20,000 1971 Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3

$15,000 1978 Mercedes 6.9

$30,000 1988 Mercedes W124 AMG 300 TE (Hammer-style)

$25,000 1984 Renault Turbo Le Car

$5,000 1966 Renault Dauphine

$10,000 1977 Pontiac Trans Am

$10,000 1965 Mercedes Unimog Diesel

$30,000 1932 Ford Model A chopped coupe hot rod, period correct

$12,000 1924 Ford Model T, stock

$8,000 1920s Ford Model T homemade doodlebug type desert car

$14,000 1951 Hudson Hornet with Twin H Power and Carrera Panamerica livery

$8,000 1970 Volvo 122 Stationwagon

$12,000 1960 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite Racecar

$15,000 1967 Fiat Abarth Racecar

$220,000 1969 McLaren CanAm

$50,000 1964 Plymouth altered wheelbase hemi drag racer

$30,000 1960s Slingshot top fuel dragster

$4,000 1983 Toyota pick-up 4wd

$3,000 1981 Subaru Brat

$80,000 2005 Porsche Carrera S

$36,000 2005 Ford F-250 4WD

$60,000 1969 Ferrari 365GT 2+2

$5,000 1985 VW Cabriolet

$8,000 1965 Citroen 2CV

$30,000 1948 Desoto Suburban

$3,000 1970 International Bookmobile

$3,000 1970 StepVan Ice Cream truck

$5,000 1976 Dodge Themed Custom Van

$40,000 1973 Toyota FJ55 TLC Stage II

$10,000 1950 Chevy Fleetline Bullet Back


Monday, March 21, 2005

Dragstrip for Sale!

Until this very moment, I never considered living in Georgia.

  • Compulink timing system with back-up
  • Concession stand seats 80 people
  • Single-wide mobile home in good shape
  • Old 1/2 mile dirt round track on property
  • Turn key operation, presently operating with loyal employees
  • Comes complete with all equipment to operate
  • Over 300 feet of concrete launch pad
  • 1700 feet shutdown
  • Click on link to see webpage for track -
  • Bleachers seat 1600 - 400 on pit side, 1200 on spectator side
  • Permanent block ticket booth and E.T. shack
  • Metal Halide Lighting with all wiring underground
  • All chainlink fencing and guardrails are in excellent condition
  • Property totals around 130 acres
  • 1st floor of tower is storage and pit-side concession stand
  • 2nd floor is office
  • 3rd floor is operations
  • Large concession stand on spectator side
  • 2 sets of stands on spectator side, 1 set on pit side
  • 4 return roads leading to newly paved pit road.
  • 8 staging lanes
  • New front gates and fencing
  • Owner Financing Available

The two key bullet points - single-wide mobile home and owner financing. Imagine - Hooptyrides International Corporate Headquarters on the second floor of the timing tower.

If somebody wants to buy this for me, Mister Jalopy's Titty Express nightclub and strip bar will dedicate and comp a corner booth until we go broke. A brass personalized plaque, a personal red telephone, lavish attention and an oil portrait of yourself hanging behind said booth. Perhaps with your polo mallet or a shotgun and the day's pheasants. Mister Jalopy's Titty Express will face the race track with giant plate glass windows. Between the patrons and the glass lies the wood parquet stage for the exotic dancing. Spectators will never miss a race nor a dancer. And racers, be they so bold, will get a sneaky peek as they pull the chute.

Only $2250. Per pound, a deal without parallel. Cheaper than bananas. Today I purchased and installed replacement windshield wiper blades though that will not effect asking price.

Note: Hooptyrides pays FORTY-FIVE dollars para yonke carro!

Not only have I been paying too much for batteries, it also appears that I have been paying too much for yonk cars. The punctuation on the batterys'' sign is particularly apt for me - just make sure there is some punctuation in there somewhere.

Monte 'Michoacan' Carlo

Different color junk yard body panels really speak to the adaptability of cars. And a hood mural can make up for a host of issues. I wouldn't be surprised if this hood was involved in an engine fire. This fellow clearly picked to honor both the Virgin and his home state of Michoacan. For a small additional fee, Hooptyrides can arrange a mural to be painted on the hood of the 1965 Ford Country Squire stationwagon that is currently available for the almost disturbingly low price of $2250. The mural will be similar and personally meaningful - though perhaps not quite as personally meaningful as this car appears to belong to a very proud individual.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

1965 Ford Country Squire Wagon - $2250

Stacked headlights always look cool and the muscular design of the mid-60's Ford Fullsize cars have always looked particularly sinister to me. The massive headlight bezel with the overhang eyebrow looks like trouble.

This photo was taken within minutes of arrival and it looks, well, a little more presentable now. In the spirit of full disclosure that accompanies all Hooptyride sales, this photo clearly shows the lack of hood trim on the front leading edge. Every other piece of trim, every fiberglass faux wood trim, each Country Squire logo replete with horse, every interior knob - it is all there.

The Merits:
  • Runs great. Really great. Runs and drives like it should. Backfires impressively. Commanding, even. Cars from the 50s are not really practical for daily driving unless you update the drivetrain considerably. Oh, I am sure there are plenty that disagree, but the cars of the 60s are reasonable drivers. As long as you have somebody else's gas credit card.
  • 8 Passengers! Two full bench seats for three reasonably good friends per seat and a pair of the cutest damn, perfect condition jump seats in the rear for lovers or the short legged.
  • 390 engine with short little exhaust pipes means it is loud as hell.
  • Roadworthy today! I drove this car to the Pomona Auto Swapmeet without a hitch. I was traveling at 80 and lost track of myself as I neared a very subtle sweeper. All of a sudden that effortless powersteering pencil thin steering wheel became a handful. The steering, mind you, is perfect as these cars ever are but the 80 mph weight transfer in a car really gets your attention. Naturally, there was not a serious incident, but it was a very exciting 2 seconds of sawing back and forth. Vigorously.
  • Fast.
  • As mentioned before, Bill Carroll has some excellent 1972 advice on how to get drag racing. These are the bones of serious hot rodding - big block, big trans and 9" rear end.
  • The interior is, overall, excellent. The headliner, rear seat, jump seat and rear door panels are in really fine shape. The cargo area is not embarrassing. The dashpad is nearly free of cracks and the dash looks striking as they tended to in the 60s. The front seat and front door panels (especially the driver's side) are shot. Clever upholstery would really dress it up. I had the seats in my 54 Chevy done for $250.
  • Tires are great and brakes are recent.
  • Needs a tune-up as it back fires something fierce when you let off the gas. Not helped, I am sure, by the shorty-short exhaust pipes.
  • Front discs! It stops! Unlike my 64 Chevelle.
  • Roof rack
  • Air conditioning that I bet would blow cold if you added a can of R-12. The A/C now blows at what I would describe as 'not hot.'
  • Power rear window!
  • Working AM Radio
  • Seems to be a trans oil leak, probably the pan but I haven't gotten under there yet.
  • Very very close to rust free. True, it looks rusty as fuck. But it is all surface rust. That is just desert patina. There are a couple of pinholes along the roofline and some previous fake wood areas that need a little attention before they get worse. The floors, doors and quarter panels are solid as hell. The floors have zero rust. The footwell for those adorable rear seats has the beginnings of rust, but nothing serious, nothing through. I would wire brush it, treat with POR-15 and paint it with the trunk splatter paint.
What would I do immediately, were I to keep it, were I not to have all these projects:
  • Clean the shit out of it.
  • Buy some Pep Boys seat cover for the front bench or maybe splurge and get a real nice tapestry front seat.
  • As opposed to the cardboard backed door panels like the rest of my cars, the Fords are actually steel backed. I'd remove all the fabric from the driver's door panel and leave it steel.
  • Tighten down antenna
  • Tighten down rear view mirror
  • Tune-up and oil change
  • Investigate trans oil leak, replace filter, fluid and pan gasket
  • Polish all the stainless and chrome
  • Replace bulb in emergency brake indicator, remount in dash
  • Replace windshield wipers
If I were to keep it:
  • Prepare according to Bill Carroll's drag racing step by step
  • Drag race it
  • Not paint it, but replace the wood paneling
  • Add some KC Lights on top. Big fucking light bar with aircraft landing lights.
  • Run the exhaust to the rear (would be cheap and would cut the noise)
  • Add a three gauge cluster under the dash, because it would look cool
  • Buy some floor mats (the carpet is a little dirty, but it might clean up pretty good)
  • Do that wire brush, POR-15 and splatter paint project

This spectacular wagon was sitting at the side of the road and I couldn't pass it by. It was ready for the donation lot, ready for the crusher. It really is a wonderful suburban warrior but it is not for the faint of heart. The paint is so far from shiny it can't even remember being shiny.

Driving this car, you enter into different world of heavy iron Americans. Not classic car buffs, but bare knuckle fist fighters. Every time I get in the car, I immediately want to take my shirt off and pour a can of Coors over my chest. Tomorrow morning I am going to throw an ice chest and a lawn chair in the back, get some suds and beef jerky and just, you know, live. Just wherever. There is nothing like living in Los Angeles and driving an auto of this size. Stopping wherever for a cold one. This is the official car of the freeway bag. You might want to paint that on the doors, 'Official Pace Car of the Freeway Bag Nationals' but then, since you are shirtless and the car is paintless, the chances of ending up on COPS would be very high.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The most interesting vehicle at the Pomona Auto Swap was this delightful Ford that was still in complete Monrovia United School District Mobile Speech Lab livery! The interior was replete with the fake-o wood paneling and acoustic tile roof! Nostalgic for a great many things, I miss the days of service by vehicle - when specialized trucks would arrive at school to conduct a battery of tests (my hearing was tested on a such a truck), drop off books (I checked out Saturday Night Fever from the bookmobile) or induce whiplash by a tiny, yet powerful, carnival ride mounted on the back of a 57 Chevy 2-ton truck. Luckily, I sobered up before I bought this vehicle. I would have felt bad converting it from a mobile speech lab even though I have limited use for such a vehicle. A bookmobile, however, that is something I could use.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Newest Hooptyride - Purchased while garage saling!

The big questions for the newest addition to the Hooptyrides fleet: Where are you going to keep it? Is it for sale? Is it a modest automobile? A modest automobile for sensitive poets? For aesthetes? For Americans?

The 1965 Ford Country Squire is for desert rats, for night snake hunters, for amatuer naturalists, for Gila Monsters, for dark highways and most of all, for hope. As evidenced by the faded glory in the back quarter glass, it is an automobile for Americans. It is a vehicle for traversing the great western ranges with 7 friends. The 1965 Ford Country Squire is for those that like to travel with a full bar as even Schumann undoubtedly thought impossible to contain inside a single automobile. The western canon, the full OED, the 1972 Encyclopedia Brittanica would all fit with still enough room for Jefferson's entire library from Montecello. It is possible that the 1965 Ford Country Squire could contain all knowledge to the 17th century in its vaulted luggage compartment. Indeed a car of great authenticity and rich patina, I am not partial to naming automobiles but 'surface rust' would be fitting. Yes, it is for sale. For $2250, trades accepted.

From Bill Carroll's Fooord V-8 Performance Guide, 390-428 Engines, Drag Strip Performance (copyright 1972, Hooptyrides Corporate Library):

Step I
Exhaust system and headers
Fresh air package (hood and adapter)
Gear set, 4.86:1
Distributor solid core wires
Distributor primary wire
Rest assured, Step II-IV become quite aggressive and we mention only to make the point that the 1965 Ford Country Squire, though modest in appearance, is all potential. Perhaps quibble with the addition of the Fresh Air Package and instead update with a Pertronics electronic igniton and you will have a race car, a station wagon, a patriot, an explorer and daily transport that commands attention for under $3000. Maybe a little more.

Hooptyrides - Modest Automobiles for Snobs

Did Smokey Yunick invent the mercilessly fast look of black and gold?

Rick sent me a link to the ultra-cool Trans Am Yunick Camaro as further evidence that black and gold are the universal colors of cool.

The name alone, Smokey Yunick, should be plenty of reason to read Smokey Yunick's Power Secrets . It really is the ultimate good old boy book on engine building. Like the Mixmaster Matt, Smokey was a notorious rule bender and, I think, the first person to use nitrous on an automobile engine. Smokey clearly had a vision of fast with the above Hurst Floor Shift Special but his driver parked it in a wall before he was able to drive it in the 1964 Indy 500. Not surprisingly, there is mention of issues getting used to the handling. Check out Hot Rod's Smokey page for more details. If anybody has a decent color picture of the Hurst Floor Shift Special, I'd love to see it.

Mixmaster Matt's Champion Pinewood Derby Car

Matt knows a thing or two about going fast and his Pine Wood spoiler has taken a page from the Ferrari F1 team - know the rules, make them work for you. The vintage water slide details add considerable speed. But what's that, a West Coast Chopper's decal? No way! Schnieder Racing Cams lifted the iron cross years before. Naturally, there are a pair of KC decals where the headlights would be.
It is semi horizontally drilled for aerodynamics as well as sectioned to add 1" to the wheelbase while keeping within the rules. We did this by cutting the car in thirds and reassembling in a new configuration. The longer wheelbase adds stability and allows more ballast to go rearward. The wheels are bsa legal blueprinted coned and lathe turned. They rotate on blueprinted lathe turned axles with conical tips and double machined grooves which hold graphite and reduce rolling friction by lessening contact area. A mix of lead shot and resin epoxy lives in cross drilled holes to achieve a perfect weight within a 1/100 of an ounce of the limit and a precision balance point 1" in front of the rear axle.
Stupidly, I didn't realize there was an obsessive Pinewood community of parts bin matchers and rule benders. Check out this Wall Street Journal article, but do it fast cause it is only for subscribers. The bastards let it live for a paltry 7 days. Like every article was a Pulitzer carved of gold. Wait until WSJ wants to link!

Grease Pit, with house

I have been reading Hemmings Motor News for ever and one would think that the auto sections would be the initial draw. Nope, I am a sucker for Non-Auto Related. Calliopes, popcorn wagons, machines, salesman samples, old gambling equipment, On Golden Pond-style wood Chris Crafts, teardrop trailers and, my favorite, garages that sometimes have houses attached. Homes for people that have their priorities straight.

Live, work & play here. Perfect for the car buff/hobbiest, 8 garage bays (4 heated), grease pit, 5,000 sq ft, heated buildings, meticulous 9-room cape, minutes from Interstate 91, Shelburne, MA, $465,000.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What does hot rodding look like? Part II

This waterslide decal was affixed to a garage sale cabinet and, ever since bringing it home, I have been trying to figure out how to build this hot rod. Stretch and swiss cheese the frame? Mount the engine far forward with a short automatic trans that would end just behind the firewall? What is the shortest pre-70 V-8/trans combo? A Ford Anglia body? Set the body up high on the axle to split the difference on the severe rake and try to normalize the drive shaft angle? How long until the drive shaft ended up in the car with you? Sure would be cool. I'd paint it dark barn red with a brush.

What does hot rodding look like?

Hot rodding's most boring conversation is regarding rat rod nomenclature. Big deal. Build what you like, love what you build and let them call it whatever they want. Hot rodding is no place for semiotics.

Factory muscle cars, rare options, low miles and perfect provenance have become big Barrett Jackson business. It is cool that the manufacturers were interested in stuffing big displacement engines in smaller cars but those sanitary museum pieces look like rich kids' cars. They are still rich kids' cars, the kids are just richer and older.

More than factory muscle cars, Hooptyrides is influenced by Roth, Hot Wheels, race cars and outrageous street manifestations of all of these. If Hot Wheels didn't have the redline chrome 5-spoke mag wheels, would we still be so crazy for the looks of Torque Thrust D, Ansen Slots and Hallibrands?

Check out Coop's 29 Ford. Classic 'Early Times' style - lots of chrome, full fendered, big and little mags, traditional grill frame, bar between headlights, louvered, not chopped, vinyl roof - just like they looked back in the 60s. Nothing looks fast and cool like bias ply cheater slicks. Straight from the pages of Car-Toons.

When I was in 5th grade, a 20 year old cholo rolled up and asked me if I knew where to find his sister. He was driving an early 70s Caprice Classic that had been painted Taco Bell beige with a brush and flat house paint. I wasn't able answer as I just kept staring at his car. I wanted to shout, 'Your car is painted with house paint!' or 'Do you realize your car is painted with house paint?!' or 'House paint!? What the hell did it look like before?'

For years afterwards, that Caprice Classic defined the DIY ethic and was the inspiration for my self-executed high school hair cuts. Sure, he would have liked to candy apple spray the Caprice, but he had a brush and a paint bucket. That's what I like best about Coop's car; he painted it with a brush and a can of Rust-Oleum. One morning you wake up and the car is three different colors. That night, you are cruising a black beauty. If you are fast enough, nobody is the wiser.