Archive for March, 2011

Recent Project Moving Ahead

March 26, 2011

 The reason I am once again falling behind on my ongoing series of blog posts, would be the process of starting a new business.  Unit 21 is now in my possession and the process of ordering product and setting up a working “Detail Shop” has commenced.

 My past history with the business has been successful although with what I personally consider mixed results.  By that I refer to the fact that each previous startup or expansion has been for someone elses financial benefit.  Every other Detail Business has been for someone else and ultimately, when I have gotten to the place where there was a healthy customer list, it was time to show me the door and for the owner of the business to assume control himself.

  This has caused me angst and many sleepless nights when I have thought of doing all the work for another build-up.  But after many years it has become time to do it again.  This time will ultimately be different however, since it is my shop and there is no other partner.  The plan does include a partner down the road however.  The long-term goal is to bring my brother-in-law into the business maybe next year as a minority owner.  He is not a minority, he would have less than a half ownership stake is what I am referring to when I say minority owner.

  Anyway, this gets me in further with the future goals I have in regards to the “Collector Car Hobby” and puts me a step closer.

 The shop is near the Volo Auto Museum.  This will make me accessible for collectors in the area as well as a nice retail base for the general public.  The address for anyone in the area would be:  27992 West Route 120,  Unit 21, Lakemoor, IL  60051.

  I already have the Phase 2 expansion plans ready for the next step.  Even before I actually have the place open.  Once this gets off the ground I will be back working on the blog, so I ask for your patience for a bit longer.  I promise it will be worth the wait.

  For anyone looking for a quality detail or a hand wash or any detail services come on by.  We hope to be open by the middle of April 2011.  See you soon.

Davey Boy

1967- Pontiac and Chevrolet

March 7, 2011

 For regular readers of my blog, I apologize for having to repost this article.  I will try to vary my wording so as not to repeat myself too much.  The “WordPress” site has a couple of quirks where new pages are not part of a sequence and cannot be simply placed where you want them, so I have to rewrite to try to keep the posts in a chronological order.

The GTO was by 1967 an American Icon and John DeLorean was setting his sights on going after even bigger fish.  He was developing the Banshee prototype to give Pontiac a true “sports” car similar to the Chevrolet Corvette.  Because of the stir he caused with the GTO, this did not sit well with the Executives at Chevrolet who basically shut down any challenge to their only “Ace-in the hole”.

What was offered instead was the new Camaro and Pontiac was told to develop a version of that.  The Banshee was dead as far as Pontiac was concerned, however in a rather slap of the back of the hand, it would resurface as the base for the next generation Corvette.

Because of the elimination of multi-carb setups, Pontiac decided to bore out the 389 and came up with the maximum 400 cubic inch engine allowed by GM for the GTO.  This at least made them head to head competitors with Buick and Oldsmobile as far as engine size.  So now everyone but Chevrolet had 400 motors.

The Firebird was the car Pontiac designed from the Camaro platform.  The base engine was a 6 cylinder with the 326 being the standard for V-8 engines.  The 400 from the GTO was the top engine option from the factory.  Several dealers around the country found that the newly enlarged 428 fit in the car and did some engine swaps to further upgrade the power ratio.  This was the former 421 that was used in full size vehicles at Pontiac.  As the corporate bigwigs came up with rules to keep the engineers from exploiting engine size and power ratios, the Division Heads came up with new tricks to open loopholes.

In future years the biggest loophole would be the COPO orders where engines were used in vehicles that did not show up on a dealers option sheet.  This was mostly done in response to what some of the Dodge and Plymouth Dealers were doing with regards to engines and transmissions.  More on that in future posts.

Pontiac even got their Grand Prix into the fray to some extent.  Although it was based on the full size chassis lines, it got styling cues from the intermediates with louvered tail lights similar to the GTO.  Even the front turn signals carried the louvered look.  And with its hidden headlights, the look was stunning to say the least.  Since it was a personal luxury vehicle, the name plates and exterior styling was kept relatively low-key.  The engine for the GP was a 428, which was as big as it got for 1967 at Pontiac.

Over at Chevrolet the Chevy II or Nova was now just called the Nova.  Its styling was smoothed out somewhat, but the designers still felt the time was at hand to restyle the car into a less boxy shape so the plan was just one more year for the body.  The cars narrow front end meant the top engine was a 327, which was now increased to 350 CID.

This Butternut Yellow beauty was the then “New for 1967” Chevrolet Camaro.  It was built to not only compete with the Ford Mustang, but to beat it.  The base 6 cylinder was normally optioned out for the 350 or all the way up to the Chevelle’s 396 if someone checked the proper boxes on the order sheet.  One of the “flaws” in the ordering system was that you could order the SS and the RS on the same vehicle.  This occurred quite often and gave the dealer the opportunity to put almost every available option on a lot of Camaros.  The dealers had maximum profit potential if a vehicle left the lot fully loaded.  For the dealers who wanted to really make a profit,they put the 427 from the Corvette into the Camaro to create a vehicle that was just on the edge of insanity.  Since it was the dealers doing this there was no breaking of “Corporate” rules.

The Chevelle was designated with the 138 body series when ordered as an SS396.  Chevrolet now was the only division with less than the 400 cubic inch maximum engine in their “Muscle Cars”.  All intermediates were being redesigned for the following year, so styling changes were basically just minor sheet metal reworking.  Creases were smoothed out and tail lights and grilles were restyled.

So for the people keeping track, I used the same photos, and I think I did a good job of reworking the information.  Kind of like the factory when they rework a model for a new year.

 Davey Boy

1967- Oldsmobile and Buick Divisions

March 4, 2011

 While the Pontiac Division was trying to make its mark against the General Motors flagship franchise of Chevrolet, Oldsmobile was working on capturing a piece of the Muscle Car game as well.  Their shot into the midsize Muscle Car battle was of course the 442.  They further upped the ante by producing a version with an option called the W30 motor.  This started what would become somewhat of a legend in “Muscle” circles as the lexicon would now include “W-Machines”.  Some W30’s were made in 1966 as well but there were 502 built for the 1967 model year.

The trademark thing to spot on a genuine W30 is its front fender liners which would be red in color.  All also came with “Outside Air Intake”, which is known as OAI in “Muscle” jargon.  For the 1967 model they brought the air into the hoses feeding the carburetor from around the headlights.  In the following couple years it was a rough cut hole down under the bumper area.

The W30 got less sound and body insulation and all were built in Lansing Michigan which would be a “M” in the 7th place of the VIN.  VIN means “Vehicle Identification Number” which means the serial number that is displayed on a metal tag riveted to the car.

If you find the build sheet or a window sticker with the vehicles options it should say the vehicle has the L78 engine option, to be genuine as a W30.

Here is a photo of the engine compartment.

Notice the chrome air cleaner.

The Oldsmobile Toronado continued on with a fair amount of changes to its front appearance. It was still a front wheel drive car as it would continue to be going forward.  The 425 engine was rated as 385 horsepower which was not bad for a luxury model at the time.

For those who read my post about the Pontiac Banshee prototype here is a rear view photo of the Toronado so you know what I was referring to.

The styling of vehicles may have evolved slowly but rarely did cars merely change just the tail lights for an upgrade from year to year.  Modern styling seems to keep a body design around well past the time when manufacturers need to change a vehicles personality.

 Then we come to the Buick Division of General Motors.

 The Buick GS400 got freshened as well as the rest of the intermediates at GM.  Buick was not then, nor in future years a division to build overly flashy cars.  Almost everything about the Buick Muscle Cars was understated with the exception of the future GSX model.  But that is for another day. 

 The one oddity with Buick was their futuristic air cleaner however.  Today it is called the “Star Wars” air cleaner and you can see why, but in the time when it was made, it was just a fancy way of getting air to the carb to feed the 400 cubic inch engine.

Davey Boy