Monday, April 16, 2012

Sweet '49 F-5 Rat Rod

This is way better than any version of a rat rod pickup I've ever come up with! I'm always hesitant to cut off major sections of the body, but this guy makes it look just sick! Personally, I would've stuck with the flat head V8, but that's just me.

This dude knows how to build a truck!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Best Movie Muscle Cars

I saw a video today, and it got me thinking about what would be the best movie muscle car.
Here's the video:

Now granted, this video doesn't point to either one being better, but I don't think it's a fair fight either. Let me explain.

The majority of this race is held on dirt and gravel. The spongier, heavier General Lee will do better on this because its loose suspension will adapt quicker, and the extra weight will help it dig in for better grip. Also, powersliding is key.

The Trans Am is nearly a decade newer and was built tighter with sway bars to minimize body roll and suspension travel, mastering windy roads. The tire choice also plays a decent role in this rivalry. If there were more highway in this race, the Trans Am would've come out on top.

This made me wonder what would be the best movie muscle car for all-around performance. I need to put some limitations on this though. We'll say classic muscle car '64-'85 in a movie from '64-'90.

Now I've been thinking about this for a couple days, and I had a hard time coming up with anything that could beat my choice. I think that the '72 Trans Am from "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (with Jeff Bridges and Clint Eastwood, 1974) wins the best movie car title. It has the good handling you get with a 2nd gen T/A, great looks, and a 455 V8 pushing you through the turns (a little sideways never hurts). Granted, his off-road excursion ripped a good deal of the plastic or rubber body cladding off, but that didn't really affect the car at all. That car is pretty amazing, and therefore is my pick.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Housing

So, our table at lunch is known by its members for having crazy, random conversations about nothing. Today after everyone else left to pursue other homework, Billy and I realized the best, most economical solution for my housing for school next year.

That's right, a van! To give a little background, the college has an age limit for students who live on campus, and I will reach that limit at about week three this fall semester. Therefore, I need to pursue alternate housing options. Enter van! This is a fairly sustainable solution that is cheap and mobile, so I can take my home to other places! (Yes, Chris's van-living model from had quite a bit of inspiring power... This also fits well with the tiny house concept that has continually been intriguing me more and more.)

The van model is stunningly simple. All I would need is a van (obviously), a sleeper sofa, table and chair (both optional), some insulation, and a heating apparatus. The majority of this is fairly understandable (the couch to sleep on, the insulation because I live in Wisconsin, table and chair as work area), but the main thing I would need to setup is the heater. We decided the best way would be to have a car battery that powered an electric motor that turned a big alternator. This would not only recharge the battery running it but would also power an inverter which could power my computer, recharge my phone, and run a space heater. I might try to add some lights onto that too, if we haven't already used all the power... That's pretty much all you need in the van!

Then we come to daily living needs. Seeing as I'm using this as a mobile dorm room, I am largely basing this on the school. I would park on the side street (I'd need a parking permit: $60) so I would be off their property, but otherwise, I would use the school for everything else. I'd use their bathrooms, locker rooms for showers, piggy-back off the campus wifi, and get the biggest meal plan available so I have more than enough meals to eat there every day (they also have microwaves in case I need a leftover reheated).

I'm starting to think a mini-fridge wouldn't be the worst thing to add to my van, assuming the power capacity is there. Billy also said I should get Netflix streaming, but I think that could be easily cut from the budget.

That should be everything! We thought about this concept for almost a half hour, and we only came up with two possible issues. The first is that I might get ticketed or possibly towed, but that could be alleviated by being more sneaky and moving from night to night, and the second is fairly inevitable and obvious: it's a four-wheeled, 2 ton chastity belt. I'm thinking about naming it "the abstinence-mobile" or maybe "the lonely wanderer." Not sure. I'm sure I'll think up something...

Teenage Stick Shifts

So I was on Youtube tonight, and I ran across the ever-present "teaching (insert normally bad driver here) to drive a stick" video, which got me thinking...

You always see some guy video taping his girlfriend "learning" how to drive stick. I think when I have kids, if I have a daughter, I'm going to teach her all the ins and outs of driving stick along with performance/stunt maneuvers. Then when some jerk thinks he's going to get a funny video of her driving a stick (because she'll keep up the ruse that she doesn't know), She'll kill it a couple of time and then bust out some awesome J-turns, powerslides, burnouts, and donuts. That would achieve three things: be awesome, make for an epic Youtube viral video, and show the punk kid to have some respect for the females. Have fun buying tires, you prick!

I think I'd teach the same things to my future son too. Only slower, taking many more weeks to show him the awesomeness of driving. In his car. Which would have a wheezy, dead V8.

That's just my thoughts...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Third Gen Torino (or Eight Gen Fairlane)

Hey everybody! Long time, no see. I should really change this to "Car of the Month"...

Today we look at the awesomeness that was the Ford Torino. The Torino was introduced in '68 as a higher trim line of the Fairlane, and had much of the same basic infrastructure as older Fairlanes (unit body construction, RWD, V8 and I6 options, and a fast, fun, but classy look. In 1970, a redesign came not only for the car but also the name. The Torino was the main car while the Fairlane was the subset base trim until it was completely dropped in '71. In '72, champagne fell from the sky, the angels sang, God smiled down from Heaven, and Ford engineers decided to make the Torino a good old body on frame design and threw in a 429 and a top-loader 4-speed with a four-link rear suspension and front and rear sway bars. The ride was smoother than Ron Burgundy's pick-up lines, and the car's looks would stop a blind man in his tracks. If there was a better car on the market in '72, Ford didn't make it, and I don't care.

Clint Eastwood named a movie after a '72 Torino, for Pete's sake!

With the zenith of the Torino being reached in '72, the downward spiral that followed was inevitable. In '73, the first of three major blows to all vehicle designs hit - the 5mph front impact regulation bumpers. This require that all front bumpers should withstand a a 5mph impact without damaging the car. The second blow came in '74 when they decided that the rear bumpers should have a similar guideline. The result was the loss of beautiful, body sculpted bumpers that add to and accent fascia designs. These were replaced by large, rectangular slabs or chrome plated metal mounted on springs with a soft plastic sheet that would crumple and bounce back covering the gaps between the bumpers and the body. Beautiful designs from all American auto companies were replaced with mutated, law-abiding versions. The Torino still had some panache, but it had lost some of its style in the regulation process. Luckily, the TV show Starsky & Hutch helped to add to the relevance of the Torino and immortalize the '74-6 body style in the minds of car, TV, and movie enthusiasts throughout history as the "Big Red Tomato" or the "Zebra 3".

The third blow to the Torino was the gas crisis. Ford had been gradually de-tuning their engines since as early as 1970 to try and make them get better fuel economy, but after the gas crisis of '74, they stopped putting in as many big, pavement pounding V8s and marketed the Torino as more of a personal luxury car. The Torino traded the 429 for the 460 (2-door models only) and lost the 351 Cobra Jet and the 4-speed after '74. In '75, the only remaining engine choices were 2 variations of the 351 2V (with less power than before), the emissions friendly 400 1V, and the 460 2V. No manual transmissions were available after '74. Ultimately, the Torino was cancelled at the end of '76, being replaced by the LTD II with its newer, sleeker, boxy lines.

I realize I don't normally do vehicle histories, but I really like Torino's. Especially because they are like an extension to the Fairlane line, which I also love and I used to own one. Since this took so long, I'll do the short version for how I would build mine, when I get it in the future after I land a job making tons of money.

I used to say, up until about two weeks ago, that I'd buy a '72 formal roof, paint it matte black with sweet rims and a kickin' stance, and redo the chrome in black chrome or powder coated dark grey. Something like this:

But recently I came across a guy who made a simple survivor '74 look drop-dead gorgeous with a simple wash and some nice rims.

So this has got me thinking...
What if I did the same general idea but instead of black, I use a dark, dark, almost black, metallic red with the black chrome (not the powder coating). The American Racing Torque Thrust II's really make this car look awesome. Especially if it's in black chrome. I think I'd get the '74-6 model and install the sleek, classic early '70s interior from the '72 model. Plus the back quarter windows roll down on the '72, and they discontinued that feature in '73 for cost savings. I've also seen one with the '72 front end on the '74 body. an idea that makes me wonder...

The drivetrain would be my usual deal. Stroked V8 (351 Cleavland), manual valve body automatic (I'm not sure which one they put in the late '80s F-250s and bigger, but I'd use that one because it was built to tow, then I'd add a reverse shift pattern), and posi-traction.

Another thought, if I did the black one, I was thinking about doing it with a bare-bones interior and a roll bar giving it a seriously menacing, visceral, and badass feel. The red version would be a bit more classy, so it'd have a full interior complete with sound deadening (for the ladies). This car would be quite nice in either version. It'll be awesome if I ever get it...