Saturday, June 11, 2011

'76 Mercury Monarch

I frequently get plagued by another question: What car should I get that is supremely light, but can fit and handle a huge, throbbing V8? I keep thinking Mustang, Maverick, Falcon, Hemi Dart, and things like that, but then I am plagued with a counter thought: I love big, full-sized full-framed sedans, coupes, and personal luxury cars. We'll cover that issue later.

I was reading the current issue of Car Craft magazine the other day when it found its way to my door, and was automatically drawn to a heading on the cover. It said, "10-sec. Turbo Maverick $5000," and I was intrigued, especially since I own a Maverick. This guy took a cheap Maverick project car he bought and dropped an '83 F-150-sourced 300 straight six with some light modding, but no rebuilding, and added a machined turbo from an old semi and drag radials. This thing does wheel stands and burns down the 1/4 mile in around 10.5 seconds! I forget the power rating off the top of my head, but this is with a mostly factory (other than valve-train upgrades, intake porting, and some oiling upgrades) truck six cylinder with a junkyard turbo from a detroit diesel! I think the motor cost the guy under $2,000!

This got me thinkin'. Why not a Granada, no, a Mercury Monarch.
You know, I was gonna say burgundy with a cowl hood that would have a matte black single racing stripe that would be as wide as the cowl and extend from the grille to the edge of the trunk to match the F-150, but I kinda like the black. And that would match seeing as all my other ideas were mostly black too. I would diffinitely have a set of road tires and a set of drag radials for road or track use. But I digress...

Imagine, if you will, a '76 Monarch fresh from a grove in SW MN. Restore/modify the interior to be black awesome with kickin' gauges, killer stereo, and a roll bar. Add a beefy replacement frame for race cars installed front and back, and drop in an automatic overdrive transmission with manual shifting gears, stall converter, and a 4.11:1 rear gear ratio with a limited slip differential, and you're ready for a motor to lift the front end up.

From this point, the engine could go one of three ways, as I see it.
Option A: 351 Windsor-based 418 stroker V8 with optional twin-screw supercharger.
Option B: 4.6/5.4 Modular DOHC Ford V8 with optional twin-screw supercharger.
Option C: 300 straight six with turbo as stated above.

Option C really intrigues me. Not only is it cheap and effective, but it should get fairly decent mileage compared to a similarly powerful V8, AND many of the base vehicles for my ideas come with the 300 six already, so I would be a third of the way to big power by just buying the vehicle! This would be really intriguing and fun to try on something. I vote doing it on the van, personally, but it'd also be great on this car while I drive it daily and slowly build up the V8 to go in it later.

I wonder if I could put a straight six in my Crown Vic. Hmmm...


I have another "well aged" idea. Stubby Dodge (or in my slight reality, Ford) panel van, add cool interior like in the '70s and '80s and an awesome paint scheme, install fat tires with cool rims and fender flares, and drop in a kickin' V8.
If I could do this, I found a cheap, fairly decent bodied '88 Ford E-150 with a 300 straight six cylinder and a 3-speed automatic trans. I would put in a table, couch/bed with storage underneath, a mini fridge, and a dual zone kickin' stereo inside with a front and rear sunroof and a design on the roof around them made from hung rope lights. I would do the entire van in blue with black striping. The roof would be matte black while the sides of the body are a performance, metallic blue with porthole windows in the upper rear section of the sides. I'd have a matte black stripe come from a few inches behind the front door and arc up and circle around the porthole. The roof would have blue racing stripes that curve towards the sides in back to line up with the one on the side at the portholes too. Both stripes sets would start out as a strobe effect and gradually get solid towards the rear of the van. I'd also duplicate the stripes inside the interior, but they would tie into the front panels too inside. I'd add a spoiler on the back; nothing ricer, just a little stand-off kind along with a visor in front for more awesomeness enhancement.

I'd add some kind of cool rim and raised white letter tires (I've seen cool looks for this look with Coopers) and moderate fender flares and running boards for emphasis. I'd beef up the rear suspension too like the F-150 from the other day, so I could haul things with it too. I'd be fine maintaining the stock 4.9L EFI six cylinder, but I'd not be opposed to infusing performance with a stroked 351 Windsor based 418 V8 either. Beefed up overdrive automatic trans with a mild stall converter, and I could get into some serious trouble with this thing.
I could score the base vehicle for $200 if he still has it, but my mom won't let me park it in her driveway, so that spoils the idea quite a bit. Anybody want to loan my driveway space?

'71 LTD

I was thinking yesterday about how I had a sad love affair with a car when I was in high school.

On my way to driver's ed classes there was an amazing '72 Ford LTD hardtop (no B-pillar) sedan that had straight pipes that stopped at the axle, an aftermarket radio, a 400 c.i. V8, slotted aluminum slotted mag wheels, and a killer stance. $800. This I did not have, but that car was epic in my 16-year-old mind.

about 6 months later, I saw a really clean '71 LTD hardtop sedan in the town where I went to high school for sale for $400. It wasn't as epic as the other one, but it could be with a little money input. I, once again, didn't have the money for it. Sadness ensued.
November, after I graduated from high school, I was working (shortly) for a company selling aerial farm photography door-to-door, and traded a picture for a '72 Mercury Monterey that resided in the guy's grove. $80 that I still didn't have, but could find a way to make up for. When I got home, I told my dad about the trade. He kindly reminded me I was unwise to have done that, and after a lot of mental debate and anguish, I never retreived it. I couldn't afford to transport it.

I still want something along the lines of that first '72 with the aluminum slots, but I need the money... still. Someday I'll get out of school and get a job that will give me the one thing that always makes these projects so elusive to my garage. Someday...

Friday, June 10, 2011

MGM Vicrauder Cobra

Recently I've had a mental block as far as answering one question: If I could only get one car, what would I get that could satisfy my needs (being fun, fast, torquey, cool, drivable both near and far, and ballsy - I'd want to be able to use it as a daily driver and still drive it on a track) while still being practical (safe, drivable in all weather conditions, people friendly, comfortable, ability to haul my crap, good in the city, and dare I say, mileage?) and something I wouldn't have to sell if I get married and have kids? What could rocket down the strip, rock the curves in road racing, and still pick up kids from places (in the future) without making me look like an idiotic fool in any of those situations? ..... Nothing comes to mind. Enter the platform vehicle: '98-'03 Mercury Grand Marquis.
Yes, a Grand Marquis. And I picked the cloth-iest roof-ed "old man blue"-est picture I could find too. Let me finish.

This car may appeal to the old men of our society who drive it into things at a blistering 20 MPH frequently, especially when in reverse or while getting out of the car, but this is one of the last nods at how things should be, but will most likely not return to in a long time. This car has a full frame with rear wheel drive, a live axle, and coil springs for better handling. If you get an '03+ it even has the shock mounts farther out on the axle for less wheel hops on uneven bumps. And it gets better; the drive train is a modern 4.6L SOHC V8 that is found in most '94-ish to '09 V8 Mustangs as well as a whole host of police cars. taxis, pickups, vans, and SUVs. Add to that a wide band automatic overdrive and you have a decent starting point. Personally, I would get one with no cloth on the roof and a moon roof too, just for fun.

I say starting point because to fit the criteria, it needs a big overhaul. For starters, I would swap in a police frame because it is fully boxed and more sturdy for the driving I like to and want to do. from the outside in, I would remove the door trim, weld over any holes that uncovers (which it will), swap the back bumper for that of a Crown Vic, and if it fits with the older headlights, the front bumper with that of a Marauder because of the epic fog lights. I would black out the taillights and panel leaving it a little light on tint around the center of the taillights while also leaving the chrome strip untouched. The front lights I would try to fog and possibly black out the background pieces like they do for the Marauders. I would also tint the windows good and dark and paint the entire car black with the option of a flat black stripe on the hood or side and grille.

Moving inside, I would install the complete black interior from a Marauder, and I would paint the trim panels two-tone to match the paint scheme outside. I would have top beef up the stereo and add gauges, but that would be hard to describe where, and I don't quite know what yet.

Under the car, I would add stiffer lowering springs all around with fairly stiff shocks and a set of Marauder rims unless I find something cooler. The exhaust would be dualed out with the H-pipe like the police version, but it would have Flowmaster 40 or 44 series mufflers along with high-flow cats and headers. I'd try to find a way to smooth out the transition over the axle because stock it's really tight and has to have poor flow. I would have chrome turn-down exhaust tips in the factory location fairly in conspicuous, like a cop car, so It is more of a sleeper, but for the moments I want to show them my car means business, I'll install electronic cutouts right after the cats with turn-downs, for safety, so I can rev that thing like an unholy terror.

Mechanically, I'd use a 5.4 block from a truck and rebuild it into a GT500-type motor. I'm still looking for a stroker kit, but I may have to consult with someone about making my own one of those. I would add that to a set of DOHC, 4 valve (per cylinder) heads from cars such as a Continental, Marauder, Navigator, Aviator, Mark VIII, Mustang Mach 1, SVT, GT500, or Cobra Jet. Then I would get an aftermarket twin screw supercharger with intercooled intake manifold. Now I haven't done any research on which one is the most efficient and adds the most boost, but they're around 2-5 grand anyway, which I don't have, so why research now on what will be obsolete parts when I can afford to do this? Same goes for cams. I would follow this whole thing up with a rebuilt version of the police transmission with all the extra cooling gear and the J Mod shift kit. I'd also upgrade to the police brakes with vented, slotted, and drilled rotors, and an upgraded limited slip differential in back too.

If I don't break something within 6 months of rolling this out of my garage, I must be too old by the time I've built this car because I'm not driving it right.

'80s F-150

Once again, I've been a bit too lenient on my "Car of the WEEK" schedule. I need to catch up. I'm going to do a few ideas and then get back to the two I listed and never wrote on back in October.

OK, so I had this idea a while ago when I was trying to barter with a junkyard owner for an old '83-ish F-100 stepside that had a 300 straight six, a 4-speed manual, and 2 wheel drive. He also said he had, as I remember, an early '70s Lincoln 460 with 10:1 compression pistons. With this my mind raced. I thought I should rebuild the 460 with bored out cylinders (for some reason it never occurred to me that this would negate the fact it already had 10:1 pistons) and turn it into a twin turbo truck with a 6-speed stick and the rear suspension of an F-350 for hauling other awesome cars on trailers behind it. I figured it would be an amazing pull vehicle with the ability to haul down the drag strip too. The deal for the truck fell through, and I still haven't had a pickup that ran well enough for daily use, and that kind of bugs me. I figure that trucks are built with such a modular design that it shouldn't be that hard to restore one. That truck could look so cool too.

(Not the truck in question, but food for thought.)
If I had my way, I would build up one of these in a burgundy with a blacked out cowl hood (not a big one, but just enough to get noticed), a chrome two-upright roll bar in the box, a black interior, a turbo net tailgate (because the stock ones are too old looking), and a pair of drag radials under those massive rear fenders mounted on Centerline Warrior wheels.
That would be pretty awesome. Then I need an equally awesome race car to tow behind this...