Monday, May 12, 2014

Monte Carlo Time

I wrote that my brother picked up a 1971 Monte Carlo at our local swap meet. So he's had the car a little over a week and so far so good.  He dropped a battery in it and re-installed the wiring harness under the hood.  He reconnected all the ignition wires, installed a new coil and points and she started up!  He also performed a very quick primer job to get rid of the grandma green (and other various colors).  Now calories are being spent researching and planning where to go from here....and installing an aluminum intake and 4 barrel Holley which was already sitting in his garage.

grandma green gone

Monday, May 5, 2014

Swap Meet Sunday!

Yesterday my brother and I had a difficult decision to make.  Should we go to Caffeine & Carburetors show, the Spring Swap Meet held by the Connecticut Street Rod Association or a VW/Audi specific car show? I personally was leaning towards Caffeine & Carburetors since my brother didn't attended the first event.  I also like the C&C event since it gives me an opportunity to photograph some interesting subjects. The VW show was appealing because it would give me a chance to do some research on parts (especially wheel/tire and suspension combinations) for my GTI.   However, we ended up going to the swap meet. 

Why the swap meet? As I mentioned, the swap meet wasn't my preferred choice. We always go and look around and end up complaining about the ridiculous asking prices on the project cars and parts. We end up buying something stupid in an effort to justify the admission fee. So why did we go? Maybe because it was the closest of all three events? But more realistically, I think we enjoy to possibility of  finding something. Car shows are spectator events.  Swap meets are a participatory event. So how did this event go?

 First and foremost the event was massive. We had to park in an overflow lot that was up on top of a huge sand pit. Here's a view from the truck:

As soon as we hopped out of the truck we were greeted with this spectacle in the parking lot:
Good omen?

The meet featured the same junk for sale.  If you were in the market for a chainsaw or snow blower you were int he right place. The project cars for sale were outrageously over priced or rusted beyond reasonable repair.  There was a cool AMC AMX and a rusty V8 4 speed Barracuda that were showed some promise. This patina-licous truck caught my eye but was already sold by time we reached it:
In the second the last row of the meet we found this:
Full Monte

A 1971 Chevy Monte Carlo that at first glance it looked like every other rough project here. However, upon further inspection we realized the following: 1) It was basically rust free! The body was straight and it already had new quarter panels installed (and done really well). 2) It had a complete small block Chevy drive drain. 3) And despite the multi-color and stripped appearance the car was fairly complete including a trunk full of trim and hardware.  My brother has always had a soft spot for '71 Monte Carlo's.  How does a person develop such a specific preference for a car, especially when the object of affection is somewhat atypical? It stems from the fact that his first car was an '83 Monte Carlo and his birth year is 1971. So he traded info with the owner and plans to complete a deal later in the yesterday evening the Monte was sitting in his driveway and he was taking inventory of all the parts in the trunk.

So stay tuned for developments with the Monte.

Friday, May 2, 2014


I've written about my daily commute but so far I've only made passing comments about my daily 2011 Mk6 VW GTI.  About 4 years ago my office was consolidated with our corporate head quarters which meant my morning commute stretched from 35 miles to roughly 65 miles (in each direction).  At the time I was driving a 2003 Jaguar X-Type Sport.  I went with the 'practical' 4 door, 6 cylinder, AWD sedan in a moment of weakness when I traded in my Mustang GT shortly before my first son was born. It even had an automatic transmission which ended up being the worst thing about that car.  It was sloppy, unresponsive and apparently un-serviceable. However, the blacked out baby Jag looked good and the AWD was phenomenal for New England..but as I racked up the miles the car showed its age.

An Accord or Camry  would have provided years of problem free commuting....but I needed something a little more interesting....hence the Jag.   When the time approached to replace the Ford Mondeo based Jaguar I knew I wanted something practical AND fun.  It had to get acceptable fuel economy, allow me to bring my boys to soccer practice (coaching gear in tow) and still make me smile when I matted the pedal on a curvy road. The automatic in the Jaguar really left a bad taste in my mouth so I swore to go back to a manual transmission....even in the face of daily NYC bound gridlock.

I did some research at the time and my choice became clear....the best bang for the buck was the then fairly new MK6 GTI.  I've always been a VW guy.  Prior to this GTI my wife and I have owned 2 Foxes, 2 Corrado G60's (which were fantastic!) and a MK4 GTI.

My United Grey GTI has been perfect.  In three years I've logged over 90,000 miles with nothing but basic maintenance.  What I love about the car is how it does everything well.  Scenic road trips into New Hampshire and Vermont or romps into mid-town Manhattan or Boston.  I've had the hatch stuffed to the gills with luggage, illegal fireworks, and just about everything available from Home Depot.

There have been days in which I have left my home at 4:00 AM with the car loaded with luggage to drop friends off at JFK airport. After the drop off, I escaped New York before the morning congestion became a factor and slipped up the Merritt Parkway on my way to the office as the sun rose.  As I parked the car and walked into the office I just smiled as I considered how many other sub-30k cars on the market could have made that mundane morning enjoyable.

More to come soon on the GTI as I have been planning a series of 'improvements' to reward my hot hatch for it's faithful services as it approaches the 100k mile mark.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Belated New York Auto Show Wrap-up

Better late than never.  Here is my recap of the New York Auto Show. Why is this review so late? Because nothing newsworthy took place this year in New York!

The event coincided with the 50th birthday of the Mustang (which I already covered) but the debut of the 50th anniversary edition of the new Mustang was somewhat underwhelming. The limited edition Mustang will be available in two colors, white or blue, and has chrome accents, louvered-style rear side glass, and other retro-themed touches......not exactly earth shattering.

Chevrolet debuted the convertible version of the new Corvette Z06. Very nice....but nothing we couldn't have created in Photoshop with a high degree of accuracy. This also held true for the debut of the drop top variant of the BMW M4.

Chrysler showed of a slightly evolved Challenger and a redesigned Charger.  While the notion of a re-skinned Charger seemed exciting when you realized that aesthetically its just a really big Dart the buzz quickly faded. The Charger's new look instantly triggered a hot debate pertaining to the product's direction.

For something that was exciting to see. Alfa Romeo showed off the beatuful 4C as the brand's reintroduction to America. However, the return of Alfa to the US is becoming an exercise in 'I'll believe it when I see it.'  Alfa failed to do it last year (as originally planned/announced)  and the 4C returns in the midst of rumors of Alfa reneging on its Mazda Miata partnership, announcing an all rear-drive strategy, and struggling sales in Europe.

Don't get me wrong, the autoshow did feature debuts that were significant to the industry.  Such as new versions of the Camry, Outback, Sonata and Murano.....but who cares.

As a side note, the Beijing Auto Show took place at the same time as the New York event.  The Beijing show seemed to feature the awesomeness (and weirdness) the New York show was missing. For instance, Audi showed off a neat TT Off-Road Concept and BMW wowed with their BMW Vision Future Luxury concept.

While VW showed off the production version of the MK7 Golf R in New York they premiered the Golf R 400 Concept at the Beijing show, and here’s why it’s awesome: Powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged EA888 engine tweaked to produce 395 horsepower, it can reach 62 mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 174 mph. Here’s why it’s double awesome: It’s going to be built!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

How does Ford mark Earth announcing that the 2015 Mustang will be a hybrid.  It will burn gas and rubber!  

Ford has announced that the 2015 Mustang GT will feature a standard electronic line-lock feature!  I love how the announcement and video released explain the practical aspect of line-lock for all the drag racers out there who need to heat up their tires for maximum traction at the drag strip.  Just like your buddy who swears he subscribes to Playboy for the articles......there is obviously an ulterior motive behind Ford's new feature.

Ford identified a marketing gimmick which will provide tons of press coverage and is inexpensive to package. Its not aimed at the science of drag racing, it aimed at the inner hoonigan in all of us. I guarantee you'll see more 2015 Mustangs doing brake-stands at your local cruise night than at the drag strip. I'm not even considering how many "Mustang line lock' videos that are going to flood YouTube! So what do I think about Ford's shady marketing move.....well done Ford!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mustang Turns 50!

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Mustang debut at the 1964 World's Fair in New York!  Ford is doing its best to mark the occasion and is taking advantage of the fact that it coincides with the  New York Auto Show.....meaning the automotive media is already focused on New York.

Mustang display at the 1964 World's Fair
Ford has also placed a 2015 Mustang convertible on the observation deck of the Empire State Building to recreate one of many publicity stunts carried out half a century ago.

According to a statement released by Ford, the only way to get a car to the deck is to use the elevator of the 80-plus-year-old building. “No portable crane can reach the 86th floor observatory, and the spire towering above the relatively narrow deck makes helicopter delivery impossible," the statement says.

Since the building's elevator can't fit an entire Mustang, the car had to be cut into six elevator-friendly pieces. A team of workers then rebuilt the car on the building's observation deck; though, as the video below shows, the team did at least one practice run beforehand.

What is amazing is the amount of promotion Ford did back in 1964 to ensure the Mustang was a success (maybe the Edsel debacle was still fresh in everyone's mind).  I recently spoke to a friend who remembers when Ford loaned him a new Mustang for him to review and write about. He didn't work for Motor Trend or any other major trade magazine......he was a writer for his college paper. 

GM has even chimed in with a very fun press release:

So happy birthday Mustang.  We've had a few close calls (Ford Probe) but are happy you are here and looking forward to what the future holds.

How it all began:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Caffeine and Carburetors

Yesterday was the first Caffeine & Carburetors event of 2014.   Caffeine & Carburetors is a gathering of automotive enthusiasts that meets in New Canaan, Connecticut about six times a year.  The home base for the event is  Zumbach’s Gourmet Coffee. Doug Zumbach began hosting these gatherings in 1995. These Sundays start around 8 am to gather and enjoy a cup of coffee followed by a leisurely drive through the countryside.

This event is definitely gaining popularity. Between the buzz leading up to the event and being blessed with a sunny, crisp Spring day after a long cold winter over 700 cars turned out for a great automotive exhibition.  The town of New Canaan also did a great job to embrace and support the event.

So what makes Caffeine & Carburetors so special (compared to other shows and cruise nights)?  First of all the focus is enjoying the cars (i.e. driving). There are no sponsorships or awards. Furthermore, while C&C does have an an emphasis on foreign sports cars, everything in the automotive world is represented.   So you will come across everything from a Model A or 1920's Rolls Royce to the latest Ferrari or Lamborghini.

The remaining events for 2014 are scheduled for :
  • May 4
  • June 15
  • September 7
  • October 5
  • November 2

Here are just a few photos I took from the event:

Dyson Porsche IMSA 962 (The first customer Porsche 962, chassis number 962-101)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Comet was Sold!!!!!

Here's a very brief update.  The 1962 Comet has been sold!  I almost traded it for a 1967 Pontiac LeMans convertible project car but decided to sell it outright to free up space in the shop (and some cash) so I can finally start digging into the 1969 Mustang!

Loaded up and ready to go....

On her way....

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Hoff's KITT

The Hoff's (David Hasselhoff) personal KITT is going across the auction block! Need I say more!

Here are the detail:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Comet is for Sale!

So I spent the weekend cleaning out the Comet and finishing a couple odds and ends it needed to make it drive-able.  I photographed it and listed it on Craigslist, the H.A.M.B, Grassroots Motorsports and Comet Central. So here are the details....

For sale in a '62 Comet project car. Car could be used for parts, restoration or with a little work could be a neat rat rod cruiser (it has loads of patina).

This Comet is a 4 door and was originally equipped with a 170 cid six cylinder engine. The engine has been upgraded with a 200 cid from 1967. The car has an automatic transmission and starts and moves. Car needs some mechanical work to be a driver. Namely, the brake line to the rear of the car needs to be replaced and the exhaust manifold is cracked (and very noisy).

The body has rust issues in the lower portions of the body panels (see photos). The leading edge of the hood is also badly rusted. The radiator support has rust and there is blistering on the rear frame rails behind the rear leaf spring mount.

Car also has a set of American Racing Outlaw II's in it which are hard to come by in the correct 4 lug bolt pattern . Rims are in great shape except one has minor curb rash. Tires are very good. Buyer can also have the original 13 inch steel wheels that came with the car (tires bad) if you want the traditional look.

Bill of Sale only! Window sticker shows that car appears to have last been registered in New York in 2003. Asking price is $1400

Please email me questions or set up a time to come take a look.

If it doesn't sell locally I will list it on eBay in a week or two.