Thursday, May 16, 2013

Grand Marauder

I've been thinking about getting a new car (well, "new." New to me, at least; do I look like I'm made of money?), and even though I find other cool cars that would be fun and in my price range, I keep gravitating back to a '98-02 Grand Marquis.

Grandma never drove a car this cool!
I used to have a Crown Vic Police Interceptor a few years ago, and I loved that car.  That car would withstand anything (even a fire hydrant and a PT Cruiser to the driver's door!!)!  It had a nearly perfect suspension balance between soft on city streets or over big bumps at speed and tight around fast, tight corners.  Granted, there were some things that needed to be addressed in that car to make it better (like rust, well-worn transmission clutches, burning out ignition parts every 3 weeks, and a serious lack of torque for the size and application of that car), but the car was still tons of fun to drive around.  I want to get another one, but a Grand Marquis would be less heavily worn and would have more creature comforts than the cop car.  But then again....

What happens when a Police Vic, a Grand Marquis, and a Mustang have a 3-way?

I drove a Marauder a few weeks ago, and that looked cool, drove great, and was a blast of ass-hanging fun around corners!  Sadly, I can't really afford to buy one at this point, but it got me thinking.  I should get the Grand Marquis I want and modify it to be the Marauder Police Interceptor I would've wanted them to make back in the day; the car that the Marauder would've been, had they made it from '98-02.

This is technically a '97, but you get the idea
So, assuming I start with a Grand Marquis, the biggest issue would be the lack of the fully-boxed, heavy duty frame.  I would probably have to find one of those from a junkyard and swap it in.  I wouldn't worry about getting that until I have enough cash to get a bigger engine or redo the body.  I want to do the body (and frame) in a black powder coat to make it look good and have a durable finish that would be hard to damage with daily use.
You know, the kind of wear and tear that happens in normal, everyday driving scenarios....
Since I don't have a lot of cash to do it all right, right now, I would get it all ready for a paint and body makeover by getting the interior and any extra electronics put in, so I don't have to cut holes through the powder coating to run wires.  I'm talking to a guy who is parting out a Marauder, and I'll probably get the shifter and column shift delete covers from him.  Then I'll hopefully get the stereo installed.  Eventually, I want to put in a CB with a hidden antenna and some hidden police lights.  Another thing I would put in fairly soon after buying the car would be a trunk-mounted gun safe under the rear dash.  I would keep my work and concealed carry guns in there along with any other items I get certified for for work.
It's meant for a wall, but it'll hold more guns than the car version.
I would get the suspension setup second.  I would get the heavy-duty lowering springs to drop the front 1.2 inches and the back 1 inch.  I'm hoping these springs will not sag when I load my drums in the back, but I'm not sure if that will actually work.  I'll probably install a trailer hitch, just to be on the safe side.  You never know what you might have to haul...  I'm also going to do the J-mod shift kit.  I found a rebuild kit from TCI Transmissions that would make it into their Street Fighter model with a manual valvebody, but I'm curious how the J-mod would act before I go for the full-on street/strip trans.  I really hate it when my transmissions don't shift when I want them to, and this would hopefully remedy that issue in this car.  Maybe I'll be able to install a trans brake too for awesome launches and easier starts on brake stands!

Can you say daily driver?

I would leave the motor fairly stock for now because I would be driving this to work fairly often.  I don't want to kill the gas mileage just yet, but I might chip it or see if I could score some underdrive pulleys, ported/polished Continental heads, bigger MAF/air intake, and definitely exhaust.  Oh!  I almost forgot to mention some 18"x9/10" Cobra/Bullitt/Torque Thrust II wheels with the black spokes and the chrome rings.  But that's how I'd look to get it started out, until I can do the full frame off makeover.

This car is soooo right...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Subaru Forester for Haulin'

So how would I make a Forester my own?
Now quite so flashy...
As with any car, I would start with the body, chassis, and suspension so it could handle what I would force it to do.  I would love to find a way to put in a roll cage that wouldn't get in the way of my gear hauling or using the seats.  I would most likely also add subframe connectors and strut tower braces.  Then I'd find a good set of coilovers to drop it down 1-2 inches and some sway bars to complement them so it handles well.

Not sure if I'd go quite this low, but I'd get pretty close.
I'd paint the car black and tint the windows so it looked super stealthy.  I think it'd be really cool to put a matte black stripe across the back of the roof, down the back of the quarter window, and up to the front of the car, riding along the side on top of the fender flares.  Shaved door handles are definitely on the table as an option for the back doors, but the fronts stay stock.  I also really love the color scheme for the rims in the previous picture, but I'd want them to be in the style of the following picture.

I'm curious where he got the fog light covers too.
Then for the fun part, I'd love to get one of the 3.0L H6 engines and bore it out to take the pistons from the 2.5L H4.  If my logical math is correct (and they can put those pistons in that engine), with a little porting of the combustion chamber, that engine should have a displacement of 3.8L.  Talk about a boxer!  As though that weren't enough, the 3.0L is a DOHC engine, so it'll make more power than whatever wimpy SOHC engine I'd probably wind up having to buy with the car.  If I really wanted it to pack a punch, I'd try to find a way to mount a small blower on it.  I like the roots or twin screw superchargers better than the turbos that most people put on 4-bangers because they're belt driven and have less lag than the air driven centrifugal superchargers like the ones Subaru puts on the STi's.  I'd want that on a manual trans for the fun, the duability, and because the automatics of that era had a tendency to fail.

This car would really be able to haul once I'm done with it, and if I'm lucky, it won't cost to much to make it haul our video equipment at the same time!  It would certainly be a blast to drive to the shoots though!

Gear Haulers

You may not know this, but my friends and I have this tendency to make videos.  With this comes a large need to transport video gear.  Some of this gear is very large.  For this reason, I've been thinking about vehicles with large cargo areas.  I am going to layout my pros and cons of the different vehicles I've been thinking about recently.

#1.  The '92-'96 Buick Roadmaster.

What a beast!
 This car is great because it has a full frame, tons of cargo room, a V8, and it's rear wheel drive!   That being said it has a V8, and it HUGE!!!  Gas mileage would be nice, so I decided to give it the boot.

#2.  The '00-'03 Ford Taurus Wagon

Can you believe there's no good pics of cool looking Taurus wagons?!?
I know, right?!

Having used many Tauri in the past (and driving one as my current and previous vehicle), I know these things will last pretty well and have decent space in the back.  They even get decent mileage, on the highway.  Given the following options, I've decided that this isn't quite as capable, although it may have more cargo room.

#3. The '83-'92 Ford Ranger

This pic is ripper from a Craigslist ad, so please forgive its four panel nature.
I like the ground clearance and the 4x4 capability of the Ranger.  I really want to get one with the flatbed and rig up a harness for someone to be tied to the bed and shoot off the back.  However, the bed is small and uncovered, and I don't think it would fit the things I want to haul all that well.  This would definitely be an awesome secondary rig for shooting on the road though!

#4.  The '84-01 Jeep Cherokee 2-door

I used to drive a 4-door that looked just like this with slightly different rims.
This Jeep is simultaneously high off the ground and low to it as well.  This would be another great vehicle to sit in the back and shoot from while driving (actually, all of these would be good for that).  The only problem I have with this vehicle is that the cargo area is kind of small for what you'd be expecting.  Before you complain about the fact it's a 2-door, let me explain my choice.  The 2-door is the same size as the 4, but it has different doors.  Since the back seat is useless anyways and the front doors were a little short, I decided this would be a better option to get as a second Jeep (whenever that happens) compared to a 4-door like I used to drive.  This brings us to...

#5.  The '93-'98 Jeep Grand Cherokee

This just screams, "Make me muddy!"
This is a slightly larger form of the previous Jeep, but it still has the same straight 6 engine as the regular Cherokee, so it gets decent mileage.  I've driven my sister-in-law's Grand Cherokee, and I like the way it drove on my, albeit short, test run.  Having dealt with that Grand Cherokee and loading sound equipment into the two second generation Grand Cherokees my brother has owned, I am slightly hesitant that the cargo area is similar to the smaller Cherokee; it looks bigger than it really is.  Since I don't want to buy a trailer, I move to another vehicle.

#6.  The '95-'03 Subaru Impreza wagon

If cars were girls, this would be a cheap whore.
These Imprezas are dang good lookin', have all wheel drive, and have peppy motors.  Then they made them into wagons, and the world was a better place to live in.  As much as I would love to have one of these to move my stuff in, I think it falls into the same category as the Jeeps.  I drove an '02 sedan while I had the Jeep, and they felt about the same size on the road.  Even the wheelbase felt very close to the same size.  My Jeep definitely had more torque than the Impreza's little 2.0L though.  If this doesn't work, why not go bigger?

#7.  The Subaru Legacy Outback

The slightly classier escort.
These mid-to-full-size wagons are quite roomy inside, and they have the same engine and all wheel drive system as the Impreza!  Since I can't seem to be happy with what I've found with any of these, I'll tell you why this doesn't make the cut.  These cars seem to be similarly sized to the Ford Taurus wagon, so I think the space is good but not great.  Thus, all my thoughts and efforts have culminated in the last vehicle of this overly long post!

#8.  The Subaru Forester

Certainly not the prettiest car in the group...
This Franken-crossover has the best of all of these cars.  It has the engine and all wheel drive of the other Subies, the higher roofline that's reminiscent of the Jeeps, and the low floor of the Taurus, which should give it the capacity of the Roadmaster.  This car seems to be about the same size classification of the Outback/Legacy, and its fold down second row seats make for a large area to put all kinds of stuff.  I really think this is a good call for moving video shooting equipment, unless you want to buy a trailer... which I don't.

I will proceed to make an entire post on how I would make this car super awesome and probably no longer advantageous to using for video equipment hauling anymore.

Full-Size Drift!

With all this talk about drifting fun cars in my previous post, I thought I'd share an even more interesting concept: a drift ex-police Crown Vic!

This one's even the same color as the one I had!
I think I've been fairly open on this blog telling you about my love of these big cruisers.  I love how they are big and sturdy, have a full frame, live axle with torquey gears, solid and easy to work on V8, and are cheap to buy and fix.  All of these things are reasons it would make a great drift car!  The curb weight is only 200 lbs more than a new Mustang too!  The interior can be completely stripped out of the car with 4 tools and 2 hours giving you the ability to add a roll cage over a weekend of committed welding.  Plus, the engine can be upgraded completely from the junkyard with Navigator heads and cams and a used supercharger from the Lincoln Super Coupe in the previous post.  I would swap in a stick too, just for good measure.

It even looks menacing standing still!
It's also really easy to get enough to start a fleet!
Now before you think I've completely lost it, be advised that people have already done this idea.  I'm just saying it would be a cheap way to get into the sport.

Or also this:

In my previous post, I also suggested an alternate form of fun with the Mustang: Autocross.  This would take even less work to the Crown Vic to make it a viable option, especially if you're only in it for the enjoyment.

And the groceries flew everywhere.
Personally, I would choose an older model for the higher likelihood of achieving the wonderful sleeper look.  I would get an '80s Grand Marquis in the most hideous of colors...

Hideous: check!
... Then I'd beef up the motor and convert it to a nice floor shifter so I could select the gears better in my automatic.  I'd also stiffen the suspension a bit to minimize body roll, and I'd add electronic exhaust cut-outs to make it loud once I hit the start line.  The key with this car is to keep everything looking completely stock.  It would be the most heinous sleeper out there!

The Grand Marquis in its natural habitat.
Weekday work-goer; weekend Autocrosser.  Life should be so good...

Monday, January 7, 2013


This is just a crazy picture I came across while I was putting together the last post, and I couldn't keep it to myself.  It appears to be a '78 Mustang hatchback 4x4!  Cool idea, but why?  I wonder if it roll back onto its wheels if it rolls over backwards...

"Too much time on my hands..."

Fox Body 'Stang (Part 2)

So I talked about a sweet pro-touring Mustang last time, but I realize there are a lot of other purposes for which someone would want one of these Mustangs.  I've got a sweet spot in my soul for drag racing, but oddly enough, this car would not be my first choice for that (see post "Fairlane Wagons").  No, my first thought for this car was another form of racing I would love to get into: Drifting.

(Not a Mustang)
(Also not a Mustang)
(Neither are these)
Drifting is awesome!  It's fun, exhilarating, adrenaline inducing, and requires a lot of skill to do right.  (Videos people make about drifting may also suggest its sexy, but that's most likely to get more people like me to go watch them.)  Maybe I've driven too many rear wheel drive cars on gravel back roads, but I think there is no other feeling quite like kicking a car sideways through a turn.  Sadly, I don't have the proper skills to keep it out and do a sustained drift, but I'd love to learn!  There are a handful of races that should be on my bucket list by now (but I haven't updated it): Drag racing my Fairlane idea (and also in Hot Rod Drag Week), Drifting (in any capacity), driving the Baja 1000 with my brother (not decided on vehicle at this point, maybe a stock Raptor for the awesomeness, sponsorship, and fun of competing in a stock truck), Road racing in my Fiero GT or my GT500 KR clone ideas, and the racing I'll talk about later in this post.

(This is a Mustang)
(So is this)
People drift these cars already, so I'm not crazy!  Vaughn Gittin Jr. drives a new Mustang in Formula Drift, but check out this race team!

Sorry about their lack of taste in thumbnails and in painting their cars...

I would love to drift a Mustang that would be very similar to the one in my last post, other than the fact that I'll have to not care what the body looks like when I'm done racing.  I could live with a simpler engine too, like, say, a 351W or 347 stroker... possibly with a twin screw blower.  Also, the body style would be something I could live with changing.  It doesn't have to be a hatchback for racing.  It could be a notch or even a convertible, if it helps for weight.

(Convertible '84 Mustang with '05 GT rims)
(Convertible '86 Mustang with new-style Magnum 500 rims)
The other option for racing a Mustang like this that really intrigues me is Autocross.  For those of you who don't know, autocross is like a mini road race that people set up in parking lots or other open spaces with cones.  It's a very short, very tight, and very intense timed road race that is usually done within 2 minutes.  It's all about speed, braking, and handling your car with precision skills.  This seems to be the easiest to get into since it doesn't require loads of horsepower because you don't get going as fast.  It's more of a suspension and torque game.  Brakes help too.

('92 Mustang running an autocross)
For this type of racing, I would elect a different route than I usually go (or most people for that matter).  I would harvest a 3.0L DOHC V6 from an early 2000s Taurus and put a supercharger on it.  Then I'd mate it to a built AOD transmission (elaborate for name which stands for automatic overdrive. they had to think more when naming its replacement) with a reverse manual valve body and a slapstick.  In a car that light, I really think that motor will make more than enough power to sling you through the turns of an autocross course.

Now in case this feels a bit too mainstream for you, I have two alternate bodies for this build.  There is the Mercury version of the Mustang, the Mercury Capri,...
('80 Mercury Capri in full road race attire)
... or there's the classic Lincoln Mark VII LSC, a.k.a. the Lincoln Super Coupe (Yes, that's what LSC stands for).

('89 Lincoln Super Coupe)
The Lincoln Super Coupe could be partially to blame for this whole idea (along with my recently removed '00 Taurus with the 3.0L DOHC V6) because this car came with a 3.8L supercharged V6.  Ford was hoping this car could be a fuel saving, power equal replacement to the V8 muscle cars of the late '80s, but we're Americans, and I'm pretty sure there's a constitutional amendment saying we have the right to own big V8s.  Right?  I think I remember reading that somewhere...  Needless to say, the Mark VIII came with a 4.6L DOHC V8 instead of a meager little 6.  But the concept of this car would still work in some arenas, like autocross.  You may ask, "Why not just get an LSC to race?"  Because it's almost 1000 pounds heavier, that's why, and in my pursuit of fun and tire smoke, heavyweights are only allowed in big packages.  I may aspire to drive a Torino, Grand Marquis, and a pickup, but my racers are a fox body, a Fiero GT, and a 700+hp GT500KR clone.  Plus, the Grand Marquis should put out close to four figures for horsepower, so it can be a little heavy.

(This is a Mustang)