Transporting your collector car – How to select the right transporter to bring your collector-car home
This article shared courtesy of Hemmings Daily, the worlds leading Classic Car resource.
It’s not necessary to develop an ulcer over worrying about who’s going to haul your car and whether it’ll arrive at its destination in one piece, provided you’ve done your homework and contracted with a reputable transporter schooled in the fine art of hauling classic cars across the country.
One of the first things you’ll find out about transportation companies: There are a lot of them. Many of them carry your normal, everyday cars for people relocating across the country, while many focus specifically on collector cars. There is also a wide spectrum of transporters, from guys with dually trucks and one-car open flatbed trailers, to the big names in the industry with their enclosed, double-decker trailers.
Determining Your Needs
First decide what kind of transportation you need, and be realistic about it. Enclosed transporters cost more than open transporters, for example. But you don’t need an enclosed trailer for the project car that’s just headed across the state to a resto shop; vice versa, you don’t want an open trailer for the finely restored #1 car you just spent six figures to purchase.
Once you’ve settled on a budget, figure out how long you can wait for your car to go from Point A to Point B. The reality of transporting cars across the country means that the transporter has to move more than one car at a time. That means multiple stops and thus a longer wait. A more expensive transporter might carry fewer cars and cut the travel time, while less expensive transporters tend to take longer.
Prepping for Transport
On your end, you should not let the car on the trailer without a pre-shipping inspection done by yourself or a trusted representative. Nor should you let the driver leave after dropping your car off without a post-shipping inspection. Pictures before and after to back up the inspections are advisable, as well. Without at least the two inspection reports, any claims of damage against the carrier will be difficult, if not impossible, to prove.
If the car is running, charge the battery and leave about a quarter tank of gas. Let the driver know if the car leaks any fluids and if it requires any unusual operating instructions.
Also, try to minimize the amount of stuff riding along with the car. If anything must ride with the car, secure it in the trunk and include an itemized list with the pre- and post-shipping inspections.
Finally, you should feel secure shipping with your chosen company. Any uneasy feelings usually mean there’s something you’ve overlooked for the sake of thrift or expediency. You’ll likely only use the company’s services once or just a handful of times, and saving a hundred dollars or a couple of days of transit time isn’t worth the sleep you’ll lose worrying about the car.
Questions to Ask
How much does it cost?
“It depends,” is the short answer. Fuel prices, distance and door-to-door services can all add to the price.
Does the company specialize in collector cars?
If they do, they know not to handle your collector car like cattle headed off to market.
Does the company have a U.S. Department of Transportation number?
Federal regulations require a USDOT number for interstate commerce, and 25 of the 50 states require all commercial vehicles to obtain a USDOT number.
Does the company have comprehensive insurance that covers its cargo as well as its truck and trailer?
Have the company mail or fax you a copy of its insurance policy. $100,000 liability on transported vehicles is common.
What is the company’s policy on deposits?
Is it non-refundable and when does the company require the deposit?
What is the company’s payment policy?
Strictly cash, do they accept money orders, do they accept checks or do they take credit cards? Do not ship with a company that demands payment in full before the car is dropped off.
Where does the company drop off and pick up cars?
Most trucks and trailers can’t fit down or turn around on narrow residential streets, so they’ll need a big parking lot for loading and unloading.
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Written by Daniel Strohl
Aug 15th, 2012 at 8am
Posted in featured posts,Hemmings Getting Started Guide
Tagged with how to choose a car transporter, transport, transporting collector cars
Precision Restorations works with their clients to find the best, affordable transportation and has worked with several companies that have proven track records of providing quality transportation alternatives to get your vehicle from there to here.
To obtain an estimate, visit transportreviews.com and go to the home page where the calculator is located on the right. Simply type in your state (in the origin section) and then “Missouri” (in the destination state) to get approximate transportation costs.
If you would like our assistance, please call our Client Services Manager John at (314) 652-196
And then there was the Continental. Henry Ford bought Lincoln out of bankruptcy in 1922, stating that his wife liked limousines and he did not care for her riding in a Cadillac. Henry Ford’s second company, which we had been forced out of (1902), had been renamed Cadillac and was now owned by General Motors (1909). Needless to say Henry felt he had a score to settle. Lincoln, one of the few competitors in Cadillac’s market, had suffered greatly and entered bankruptcy and was being liquidated. Ford bought the company and promptly turned operations over to his son Edsel where he began to show his talent for design.
The Lincoln Continental was always a vehicle of prestige and refinement, even through the rougher years of Continental production. The Continental nameplate would appear, disappear and then reappear again throughout the years based on what Lincoln felt the buying public was ready for. It didn’t start out that way though, it started as a one off custom from a Zephyr, commissioned by Edsel Ford. Edsel had spent some time overseas as Ford began to expand worldwide and had experienced vehicles that were dramatically different than what was being offered in the states.
When Edsel returned he immediately felt the need to incorporate an upscale European influence into a vehicle and the smooth looking Zephyr was just the automobile he wanted to build from.The Zephyr was shortened three inches, the hood and fenders were lengthened 7 inches, the trunk was squared off and a spare mounted externally to the rear, the hard top was also gone to be replaced with a convertible roof.
Edsel wanted this “Continental” feel to his vehicle and it didn’t take long to find out just how much others wanted the same. Intended as a one off for personal use in 1938 Edsel Ford ordered it into limited production in 1939 for a 1940 model year vehicle after many in his circle indicated they wanted one as well. Frank Lloyd Wright even sated it was the most beautiful automobile ever made. The first Continental was a “Zephyr Continental”, for model year 1941 Zephyr was dropped and Continental became a standalone name plate for Lincoln. With polished aluminum heads sitting atop a V-12, the only V-12 in production in the United States, the vehicle was stopped with power hydraulic brakes, just introduced on Fords in 1938. This generation Continental survived until 1948, none were produced during the war of course.
While plans were written for a ’49 model as well as some concept vehicles in the early fifties but these plans were never followed through with.Ford toured a Continental – X concept vehicle in 1952 but had troubles finding that same vogue style that Edsel Ford had in the original.
Continental would make a return a few years later. In 1956 and 1957 Ford chose to release this newest Continental as a standalone brand. The Continental name had not been forgotten by the public, or the dealers, and a great deal of pressure was one to bring back the line. This model Continental, in my opinion, is among the most beautiful cars ever produced with long flowing lines, low ride height, smooth roof lines, this was the epitome of success. This car represented the upper class, people like Frank Sinatra and Elvis drove these vehicles but Ford was not able to overcome the cost factor, Ford lost money on every Continental produced these two short years, despite being among the highest priced vehicles in the world and in 1958 another generation was introduced.
While the country went through a recession Ford launched a new Continental III in 1958, in 1959 it would be called the Continental Mark III. This latest model contained a lot of firsts for American automakers, 1958 and ’59 Continentals were, and still are, the largest cars ever build on a uni-body frame structure. These cars were also the roomiest Lincoln had ever produced, and the first Continental not built by hand and shared the same platform, without modifications, of the production Lincolns. While still struggling with their identity in 1959 Continental again became part of the Lincoln division, interestingly Ford maintained the Continental badge until 1960. While these models did sell more than the Mark II models they still did not make money and Lincoln was left looking for answers.
When Lincoln introduced the 1961 Continental they had everything riding on it, eliminating all other Lincoln models all focus was on now the fourth generation Continental. This generation Continental also has the distinction of being the last four door convertible car manufactured by an American company.
This time around Continental proved to be a huge success, not just in styling features but the car made money. Lincoln had also returned the focus they had shown to the vehicle during the first two generations. While not hand built like generations 1 and 2 it was meticulously inspected and test driven before delivery, not just by one or two employees but by the entire team, each with their own task. The engine and transmission were even dyno tested for thirty minutes to ensure the quality that the Continental name had become synonymous with. This model literally changed the way of design during the sixties.
Realizing how successful the fourth generation Continentals were, Cadillac and other manufacturers jumped on the band wagon and by 1965 Cadillac had lost its fins, Chrysler had hired one of the original design engineers from Lincoln and the Imperial went through changes of continental proportions.
Continental finally put itself on equal footing with Cadillac with this model and had become a desirable car that more than just those with extreme wealth could enjoy. While still retaining a uni-body structure it was touted as being the most solid car built, it had to be with those short B-pillar posts. The rear suicide doors were designed out of necessity, not necessarily aesthetics. The engineers kept hitting their feet when entering or exiting the car due to changes in dimensions and decided that a rear hinged door would work better for the application.
Elwood Engel is the designer responsible for this Continental, the one that most likely saved the Lincoln division. Elwood learned his crafted at the GM school for design under Harley Earl.
Shortly after the Continental launch, changes at the helm within Ford Motor Company forced Elwood to change manufacturers and he joined Chrysler, designing the Imperial that held such a close visual relationship with the Continental, pictured above. Engel oversaw production and design all during the muscle car years with Chrysler and can certainly be given credit for a lot of fun we have had over the years.
Until the last few decades Continental was the flag ship vehicle of Lincoln. Redesigned for 1970 the Continental was, for the first time, based on a Ford chassis,( LTD and Marquis) it was also a body on frame vehicle again to keep costs down. This also marked the first year for hide away, or hidden, headlamps. During this generation of Continental we also saw the revival of the Town Car, which at the time was called the Continental Town Car and was to be the flag ship vehicle while a base Continental was now entry level.
With more stringent safety regulations and the oil crisis, 1980 was a year of change and innovation. The Continental went through another facelift and with the addition of a new overdrive transmission and a downsized engine fuel economy improved dramatically leaping Continental ahead of the competition. In 1981 Continental was dropped and Town Car became a standalone brand within the Lincoln division.
Don’t be too upset though because in 1982 Continental was brought back. This time Continental was unrelated to the mark series, now on its sixth version, this time Continental was strictly a four door midsized sedan. Based on a stretched Fox chassis, think Mustang, Continental was again a uni-body car. Receiving a mild facelift in 1984 no major changes were noted until Continental was reinvented yet again.
Continental went through a major change in 1988 when designers based the vehicle off of an extended length Taurus/Sable frame work. With a curvy body and less weight the vehicle was well received and sold well. This version, the eighth version, also saw the incorporation of air suspension for improved ride control and variable assist steering was also offered. This is also the first generation where no v-8 was offered, other than the original Continentals which were equipped with v-12 engines. Front wheel drive was also added, another first for Lincoln.
The Continental received a refresh in 1994 and was again completely redesigned in 1995. This was to be the last, for now at least, of Continental. Lincoln redesigned a slightly larger car, took styling cues from the Mark VIII platform and once again installed a V-8 ( and a powerful one at that ) under the hood, still front wheel drive the vehicle performed wonderfully but lagging sales eventually lead to Lincoln dropping it in 2002.
At least for the moment there are no clear intentions to revive the Continental name plate. Although there have been some very nice concepts that have toured the auto show circuit in the last ten years Ford seems to have dropped the brand entirely for alpha and numeric considerations like MKS and MKX.
We have discussed the different ways air flow as well as ignition will affect the way your engine will perform and how these systems work in conjunction with whatever you choose for a fuel delivery system for your project. Now that those items have been addressed we can look deeper into the various carburetion and injection options available for you. While there are several manufacturers of aftermarket injection systems we will concentrate on those offered by Edelbrock and Holley. These are two well respected, well known companies and, as I stated in the previous post, while other companies may offer systems that would work with your car you need to proceed with caution. If you experience issues with installation, or even problems down the road with operation you need a resource you can count on to help resolve these concerns. Another thing to consider is if the other company developed their system or if they have created a system based on a conglomeration of other systems to form the one. You can research it if you wish but Holley and Edelbrock have developed their systems on their own, from the ground up and have continually improved their products for reliability and performance purposes. They were also innovators in this field, they realized early on the increase in performance and efficiency their customers could realize through fuel injection and, while they do compete with each other, they do have a certain amount of respect for what each has done. Obviously the choice is, and should always be, yours. I just want to help provide information that will aid in making an informed decision based on your needs.
So you have taken the time to think about how you plan to use your vehicle when you’re finished, maybe it will be a daily driver, maybe you’re looking for something you may want to road race on the weekends at the local track , maybe your interest is in how fast you can go a ¼ mile at a time. One of the greatest advantages you have with a fuel injection system is the ability to make easy, quick adjustments to the tuning aspect of fuel delivery. Back in the day I became very adept at switching the jets out on my Holley carburetors so that before leaving the track I could get on the highway and expect a little better fuel economy. While this was, and still is, as relatively easy task it can become a real drag and will eventually cause sealing issues with your carburetor, believe me, I know. With the fuel injection systems now, throttle body or port, adjustments are simple and quick, break out the controller and set the fuel trim where you want it. The added bonus is that the adjustment is nearly limitless, unlike having to choose between one size jet or another, very minor adjustments can be made to get the results you desire. Many electronic ignition systems allow this same type of tuning to your ignition timing as well, through a combination of timing and fuel trim adjustments you can expect a totally different level of performance between the track and the road with nothing more than a few minutes of your time adjusting the tune to your engine. Many systems have the option to store settings that will allow you to make quick adjustments with only a few clicks. We sure have come a long way.
Carburetors are, in essence, a very basic piece of equipment. That is not to say that to have them work correctly is not an engineering feat or requires a certain amount of knowledge to tune them correctly. A carburetor works off of vacuum, as the engine sucks air through the throat, or venture, of the carburetor fuel is siphoned from the float bowl, through the jets and mixed into the air and delivered through the manifold. Along with choices in the size of the jets great care is taken by manufacturers to design an effective venturi for the fuel to mix with the air creating an “atmosphere” of fuel and air inside the manifold. In order for fuel to combust effectively it must be atomized and easily vaporized once it enters the combustion chamber. Builders have used various methods through the years to improve the atomization of the fuel like doing work on heads and intake manifolds to match the ports to reduce the turbulence encountered when entering the combustion chamber, swirling the intake and combustion chambers to create better mixing of the fuel and the air. High rise intake manifolds improve this action by creating more of a tunnel for the air and fuel to swirl and mix.
Carburetors also use a very basic cylinder and plunger, called an accelerator pump, to start the engine and start the flow of air through the venturi. After the engine is running the engine will still get a squirt of fuel on acceleration, hence, one of the inefficiencies of a carburetor. At idle the carburetor uses air bleeds inside the carburetor to properly mix the air and maintain idle, this adjustment is one of the most critical to performance. Adjusting the air/fuel mixture screws not only help the carburetor maintain idle it also keeps the system at the ready for acceleration. One of the greatest draw backs of a carburetor is that on deceleration you still have a considerable amount of fuel flowing through the carburetor into the engine. This is one of the primary contributors to lower fuel economy and higher emissions.
NASCAR still uses carburetors, there are rules designed to keep the power, and therefore the speed, down. Use of restriction plates on the intake manifold reduce the overall volume of air allowed into the cylinders and, as a result, only so much fuel can be mixed to maintain the 14:1 air/fuel ratio. We discussed air intake systems in the previous blog and we mentioned the use of high rise manifolds earlier in this post but we haven’t discussed the different types of manifold openings that allow the air into the engine. Many factory manifolds will have individual portals that perform the same function as the restrictor plates used in NASCAR. Reducing the amount of air and fuel will reduce the power but the manufacturers used it to reduce emissions while still providing some degree of performance. You will see these independent ports on two barrel as well as four barrel intakes. Based on your choice there are aftermarket intake manifolds that will still have these individual ported openings, a complete full opening to match the carburetor and some will have a split port. Some of these split port style intake manifolds will be of a dual plane design which aid in providing equal amounts of mixture to each cylinder, a concern manufacturers, both factory and aftermarket, have been working with for years. The choice of your intake manifold is just as important as your choice of fuel delivery system, carburetors as well as Throttle Body/Central Fuel injection systems are capable of using the same manifold which is where your decision on how much fuel you will require to obtain the power you desire will determine which T.B.I./C.F.I. system or carburetor you need to equip your engine with.
You may have heard of the various Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) systems such as throttle body, Central Fuel Injection and port injection but you may still be confused on how each one would benefit you and your driving experience. The first, and still one of the most popular injection systems is a Throttle Body Injection (TBI) system. Sometimes called a Central Fuel Injection (CFI) system this system is essentially what started the modern drive to fuel injection. In the early eighties the car manufacturers were beginning to work on electronic fuel injection systems, mechanical systems had been used before, even some ’57 Chevy’s were fuel injected as well as many early Corvettes, Ford and even Chrysler had all experimented with fuel injection but they knew, collectively, that the best way to operate a fuel injection system would be electronically. Stuart Hilborn, who passsed away this last December, was among the first, if not the first, to introduce a viable fuel injection system to be used on performance engines. His systems quickly gained popularity with the hot rod classes even before Detroit began to tinker with the viability of injection. Written by Daniel Strohl, there is a very nicely written eulogy of Mr. Hilborn on the Hemmings website blog that celebrates his life, accomplishments and contributions to the automotive world. Check it out here. Rochester worked closely with Chevrolet and succeeded in developing the systems used on early Corvettes and other Chevy models. There is a very good outline posted on the ebscohost website, that outlines the operation of these early Rochester systems and can be read here. The mechanical systems worked reasonably well but were difficult to tune correctly and, due to the complexity of the designs, were prone to failures that were difficult to diagnose and repair. Yeah, I know, sounds a lot like the modern electronic fuel systems, complex and difficult to repair at times but the initial mechanical systems pioneered what we have now and taught all of us some lessons about their use and what fuel injection was capable of. Much like the initial Lunar launches that used huge computers for operating systems that could now easily fit into most smart phones the early injection systems were at a technological threshold where the science had not yet been developed to take it beyond what it was designed for. We do have the car industry, and I will also credit the EPA and their ridiculous restrictions, to thank for the personal computers we use today. Had it not been for the automotive industry putting computers into cars and outside of the cozy climate controlled environment they were used too we would be far behind in the development of lap tops and home computers. Not many years ago Computers were confined to climate controlled areas that used highly filtered air and were rather finicky, Car manufacturers needed ways to control air/fuel systems and started putting small computers on cars that operated in cold climates, warm climates, wet, rough, you name it, it was a foreign land for computers. Thanks to the automotive industry we were able to reduce the overall size of computer operating systems and took them out of their protected environment, exposing them to dust, different climates and rough handling.
The TBI systems that started the movement to fuel injected vehicles and the early computer systems the manufacturers developed did have issues, I can tell you from experience that in the eighties no one could fix anything. The engineers developed operating systems that had very little diagnostic capabilities and when something did fail the engineers didn’t know how to fix them. Technicians working on these early systems were frustrated and the manufacturers listened and steadily improved diagnostic methods, programmed more diagnostic routines into the system and eventually produced pretty reliable systems. In the meantime the aftermarket companies, Edelbrock and Holley, began working on their systems and in many ways set an example for the manufacturers. These early systems from Holley and Edelbrock far exceeded the performance of systems the manufacturers developed. the manufacturers, however, weren’t concentrating on performance as they were attempting to meet heightened emission regulations. The advantage of a TBI or a CFI, whatever you are most comfortable calling it, is that in most cases it can be bolted directly in place of your carburetor. You will still have some modifications to include the components that are needed to operate the system, oxygen sensors, air density and altitude sensors but when you get to the bare bones of the system it can easily be added to an engine that you would like to maintain a stock appearance on. With most systems the factory air cleaner can be used with little or no alteration. The TBI systems can range from a throttle body with a single injector all the way to four individual injectors. Flow of fuel in any injection system is controlled by two things, injector pulse width, the amount of time the injector is “on”, and the size of the nozzle on the injector. Matching the size of the injector to the needs of the engine and availability of air is important, another reason why using a reputable company such as Holley or Edelbrock is important. These two companies will assist you in making sure the system you choose will meet your needs, what you need is not always the most expensive, it isn’t an upsell they are seeking, they want you to have what you need based on your driving habits, what the vehicle will be used for and what your performance expectations are. Having a high flowing system designed for an engine that is to be raced will not work on a street car, having a higher volume system on an engine that is primarily being converted for fuel efficiency is also a poor choice.
The same considerations are true for port fuel injected vehicles. Port fuel injection systems are nothing particularly new and the applications offered by the aftermarket seems to grow daily. While there are several differences between port injection and CFI the primary difference is that with port injection each cylinder is equipped with its own injector. The injector, placed in the intake manifold at each cylinder port, atomizes the fuel closer to the combustion chamber so that air/fuel mixture can be micro managed for optimum performance from each cylinder. The type of injection system and the choices you are faced with are the same as a TBI/CFI system, fuel trim and the size of the nozzle still determine performance. The intake manifold is also much different than that of a carbureted or TBI system, typically these intake manifolds will have an “air box” so that a large volume of air can be stored to prevent an over enrichment situation on hard acceleration. Air is controlled through a throttle body, actuated by the accelerator cable, this is another item that needs to be matched to expected performance. When operating a fuel injection system the driver only controls the air going into the engine, the days when we “mashed on the gas” are over when we convert. When we push down on the accelerator pedal on a fuel injected vehicle we allow air into the engine, the electronics of the injection system read throttle angle, how fast we pushed down on the throttle, what speed we are doing, engine temperature, what our altitude is relative to sea level ( to measure the amount of oxygen in the air being ingested), and how dense the air is (hot humid air is less dense than cool dry air), all of these, along with readings obtained by the oxygen sensors, provide the input for the fuel injectors to deliver the proper amount of fuel based on the air entering the intake and combustion chambers.
Whatever you choose, take the time to research your options, just like any other component of your vehicle, if a wrong decision is made it can, in most cases, be corrected but corrections take time and money and really put a damper on your excitement level. Look at your car as whole and then break down the individual systems so that they will work together. Any project provides you with the opportunity to “engineer” the perfect vehicle for you, take advantage of that freedom, use the experts as a sounding board and get their input before incorporating the change, this goes for steering, suspension, powertrain options, etc., the options are limitless and there is no need to feel disappointed in your accomplishment when everything is done and your cruising down the road, launching off the line for that quarter mile run or entering the curve at your local road race event.
I was speaking with a customer the other day about modifications on his engine and I brought up the possibilities of adding a throttle body injection system. He laughed as he told me absolutely not, “I know how to work on a carburetor and I know how to start a carbureted car”. Fair enough and certainly a respectable response. There are some very distinct differences between an engine that is fuel injected and one that is carbureted. That may sound like a “duh” statement but how much thought have you really put in to making the decision on how you will deliver fuel to your engine. All engines require three things to run, when you take away all the electronics and the processor and the shielded circuits from the new “modern” vehicles the engine will still need just three basic things to operate and run; air, fuel and ignition.
You engine runs more on air than it does fuel, you need the fuel, don’t get me wrong, but air is a major contributing factor to engine performance. For many years aftermarket performance air filters, such as K&N filters, have been very popular with performance minded individual. These filters provide very good filtration but allow considerably more air flow than the factory filter. Even if you do not want to invest in a K&N Filtration system, buy a quality air filter for your car, dust and debris destroy and engine and many aftermarket air filters do not have the same micron rating as the factory filter, in addition, many aftermarket filters are not built as strong and will be sucked into the air cleaner housing allowing huge amounts of unfiltered air into the engine without your knowledge. The new car offerings from several manufacturers are trying to reach customers performance and economy expectations by adding turbo chargers on smaller engines. Top Fuel dragsters and Funny cars use blowers, a large number of race cars use superchargers (blowers) and turbochargers when looking for increased raw horsepower from their engines. Air is important and the more you can get into the engine the more power you can make. The recommended air/fuel ratio for a complete efficient combustion of the fuel is 14.7:1. That number does vary slightly based on the quality and the type of fuel, 14.7:1 for normal pump gas, 6.4:1 for alcohol and 14.5:1 for diesel fuel. Normal pump gas will add to that variable when taking quality of fuel and octane rating into account. To sum it up though, you need between 13 and 14 times as much air as you do fuel to run an engine efficiently. We aren’t using “efficiently” in this discussion as a reference to fuel economy, we are using it as a measure of how well the engine is performing to burn the fuel completely. More air, more fuel, bigger boom. Try this, break out your old oxy-acetylene cutting torch and fire it up, get a good weld flame and throttle the oxygen lever, gets super hot doesn’t it. Leaning the engine out, using more air than necessary, will make for a hot fire in the combustion chamber but, just like the cutting torch, you will begin to cause damage to the valves and pistons due to the excessive heat. Run the mixture too rich and the fire cools and the engine makes less power and begins to become polluted with unburned fuel which, ultimately, creates soot and carbon build up that robs power even after the correction to air/fuel mixture has been made. Adding a turbo charger or blower compresses air into the cylinder, making the air more dense, with a 14.7:1 air/fuel ratio you will still have complete combustion but you will also probably end up with an engine “ping” or spark knock. Now, there are several other factors that may contribute to the spark knock, like ignition or valve timing, but we aren’t going into that realm in this post. When compressing the air into the combustion chamber you raise the peak pressure of the cylinder which creates the knock. Mixing a little more fuel in will still provide for complete combustion but will be a slightly cooler explosion reducing the occurrence of spark knock.
Many fuels have been used over the years to power various types of engines, water being among them ( think steam locomotive). We are talking about volatile fuels though, Nitro-methane, alcohol, gasoline. There are several variations of fuels used to power internal combustion engines (I.C.E.). The engines are built for the specific fuel they will be using to power the unit. Delivery is important, hence the purpose of this post, when relative to the power the builder is expecting to achieve from the engine and each method has its own pros and cons. While we have briefly explained the importance of air, fuel delivery is somewhat more complex. The amount of fuel that needs to be delivered can be affected by the size of the fuel lines, the pressure and flow of the pump and by the design of the engine as well. A Top Fuel dragster uses 4-5 gallons of fuel for each ¼ mile pass and over 10 gallons total during a run when factoring in the burn out at the beginning of the race to the breakdown at the end. Delivery of that much fuel is akin to pouring a bucket of fuel into the engine. I’m not all together sure I could empty a 5 gallon bucket of fuel, controlled, in less than five seconds, that is a huge achievement in fuel control. Looking at another area of performance, F1 cars are limited to 100kg of fuel per race, approx. 36 gallons. The engineers for the engines in these cars have a huge task, how to meter the fuel delivery for optimum performance and to achieve the economy needed to complete the race. Climate, altitude, track surface and the amount of cautions all play into the equation. Weight is also a critical factor in these vehicles, more weight equals a slower car that will require more fuel to provide the desired performance. Weight is a factor in nearly every automobile racing event and measuring the fuel to “just enough” is crucial when races are won or lost by fractions of a second. Manufacturers also look at how the fuel will be metered to balance the same variables that F1 is looking at to balance power and economy. This is obvious when you look at the amount of light weight components used in cars, lighter weight equals, in this case, better fuel economy which helps manufacturers reach the C.A.F.E. standards sets by the Government. We may not like it but all those temporary spare, space saving, spares are used for that reason, a large number of new cars don’t even have a spare tire and have been replaced with 12 volt compressors and can of fix-a-flat. Thinner sheet metal, more plastic materials, cheaper window regulators, all factor into the weight calculations used when trying to reach a myriad of Government standards. Next time you are annoyed by how cheap the materials used in you new modern car seems to be, write your representative in Washington, he/she has had as much to do with it as the manufacturer of your car. Weight and performance become part of the equation when choosing your method of fuel delivery and needs to be balanced, again, to meet the needs of the vehicle and your desired performance level.
Ignition systems seems fairly straight forward, make a spark and the fuel/air mixture explodes creating the energy and opposing force to push the piston down in the cylinder. Seems simple but we still have to look at the same things we did before. Air, fuel and ignition are all related and each has to be balanced with the other to reach the desired effects. The earliest systems were magneto type and produced a very high voltage spark, typically higher than what a modern distributor type ignition system does. Magneto type ignitions are similar to those found in many lawn mower or outboard boat engines now. The primary difference, other than exceptionally high spark output, 20,000 volts in some cases, is that a magneto does not require a battery or outside power source to operate. An automotive magneto, instead, uses a distributor (not so in small engines and outboards) similar to what we are familiar with but has a generator built into it using the magnets to build the energy for the spark, hence the name “magneto”. As automobile electrical systems evolved so did their ignition systems, with the use of more sophisticated batteries and the addition of better generator/alternator charging systems the complexity of the magneto was traded for a simpler distributor design using breaker points, and a condenser, much like the magneto, but uses and ignition coil to supply the spark and the engine mounted charging system components to provide the energy to charge the coil. This system worked well and produced very little feedback, that would interfere with electrical accessories, such as radios. To increase performance distributors were equipped with two sets of ignition points, this improved the performance of the breaker points at higher engine speeds to guarantee a hot spark. Obviously we have evolved from there and use hall effect style switches to electronically communicate with the engine control systems to provide spark. Early electronic ignition systems used essentially the same type distributor we had become used to and installed the hall effect and pick up in place of the points. Current model vehicles typically use either a crankshaft or camshaft position sensor to communicate with the engine controls for proper spark timing and use multiple coils to provide spark more directly to the spark plug.
Now, you may have more questions now than you did before this post, I understand that. In the next post we will look at the distinct differences between carburetors and the different fuel injection systems but you, the hobbyist, enthusiast or just someone who wants better performance, or fuel economy from their classic car need to consider all the variables outlined here. It all may seem confusing but only when you have taken the time to ensure that all of the systems work together can you realize your goal. For instance, it personally makes no sense at all to upgrade your engine to a fuel injection system only to use a breaker point ignition system, you are not going to achieve the precise spark control necessary to operate with the efficiency expected from an injected vehicle and therefore will be disappointed with the results. Often times, that is where you will find the negative on many products, from someone that really did not do their research and make sure that all the components work together. Due to circumstances of their own making all of a sudden the product sucks and the individual fails to understand, or won’t admit, that they failed, not the product. This is also not the area to go cheap, spending the extra few dollars necessary to purchase quality components from reputable vendors and reputable companies, such as Edelbrock, Holley, MSD, Mallory, K&N and Moroso, just to name a few will decrease the possibility of a premature part failure. Also, buying from a reputable company gives you a resource to talk to when you do have difficulties. There is a huge amount of quality aftermarket equipment available on Amazon and Ebay, and I’m not here to bash them, but if you run into a problem you are less likely to receive professional assistance from those vendors. What you are trying to do is make life easier on yourself and others that may drive your car, not more difficult. A few vendors we may recommend to source some of the items you may need to achieve your performance goals are Old Dog Street Rods, Jeg’s and Summit Racing.
Look forward to the conclusion of this post in the next few weeks, in the mean time check out a few of these links that will help you understand the fuel injection systems, air induction systems and ignition systems available for your classic car, muscle car, street or rat rod.
The fabled six pack. Even die hard Mopar enthusiasts will agree, the 440 six-pack is as much of a legend for Chrysler as the Hemi. Chrysler was doing pretty good in the late sixties, even their budget line valiant and dart vehicles were difficult to keep in stock on dealer lots. Things were going very well for Chrysler and its car lines in 1969, very well. Still the engineers felt they had to do something to earn their pay, what they come up with was essentially and aftermarket add on for the 440 Magnum. The largest cubic engine that Chrysler ever produced performed well with a four barrel carburetor, was strong and virtually bullet proof in its performance but with the proper equipment it would become a monster. Engineering began looking at previous tri-power set ups, such as those offered by Pontiac in years prior, and worked with Edelbrock and Holley to make a match made in heaven for Mopar enthusiasts, and a Hell on earth for the competition.
A custom aluminum high rise intake was developed by the engineers at Chrysler and the engineers at Edelbrock and Working with Holley a trio of carburetors were mounted with the center carburetor being the “feed” carburetor for the engine. When the accelerator was fully depressed the fore and aft carburetors would open, similar to secondary plates in a four barrel, and allowed over 1200 C.F.M. of air, mixed with the proper ratio of fuel, to enter the engine.
The roar heard from the engine was unlike any other Chrysler engine to date, or since, under full power. This set up brought the overall horsepower rating of the 440 engine to 390, with a whopping 490 pound feet of torque this engine could pull the largest of the B bodied cars in the Chrysler stable. Mid-year 1969 the engine was offered, in limited vehicles packages. Only the Road Runner and Super Bee would see options for the 440 6 barrel and it was the Bee that deserves accolades for being the first car to sport the 440 six pack stickers. The engine was a huge success, leaving the first models as stripped down bad ass racers that owned the tracks where they were raced. These weren’t luxury cars, with pinned fiberglass hoods, steel wheels with chrome lug nuts clad in meaty Goodyear G70-15 tires these cars were built to go fast, even if you were just going to the grocery store.
The 440 six pack was slightly different than the other 440 engines up to this point. The engineering team chrome flashed the valve guides to increase wear resistance and improve high speeds performance, to follow this pattern of a higher revving engine Hemi valve springs were used and the camshaft was milled slightly different. Molly rings were used to seal the combustion chamber and ignition came from a dual point distributor. This was truly an engine designed for performance, real, hot rod performance. Prior to these revisions the base 440 did well enough, it built nice horsepower for the racers and torque numbers made the engine a very popular choice for trucks and motor homes. This engine though, the 440 six pack, this was built to be loud and intimidating and had all the right stuff to back it up. With numbers near the performance of the Hemi, and at about a third of the price, sales shot through the roof, far exceeding anyone’s expectations, even Edelbrock could not keep up with the demand. Due to limitations in production, partially based on the ability for Edelbrock to manufacture the intake manifold in large enough numbers, production was limited to 3,384 units. This should, in no way, reflect poorly on Edelbrock, no one knew that demand was going to be so high for something offered mid-year.
As the model year ended Chrysler definitely knew they were onto something and when the ’70 model year vehicles were introduced the 440 six pack was featured prominently in numerous vehicles, one being the Coronet R/T. Engineering had also packed a few new things in the engine as well and, as a result, brought about the first engine that Mopar had built that was balanced externally. With the newer, heavier connecting rods for the engine the crankshaft had to be balanced externally. The intake manifold was now cast iron rather than aluminum. Aside from this and a better performing heat control valve in the right exhaust manifiold, the engine was virtually unchanged. Sadly, Chrysler only offered the 440 six pack for one more year and by 1972 this particular configuration of the 440 had passed on leaving us with a continued decline in engine performance that would last for another couple of decades.
Precision Restorations is very pleased to be a part of the build on a 1970 Coronet R/T currently in our shop. Along with the famed 440 Six pack this client is fortunate enough to have one of only a few teamed with a four speed and built here in St. Louis.
This Coronet R/T also has the Dana rear end that will harness all the power from the engine and put it on the ground. With the only upgrade to this vehicle being an electronic ignition system this will be a factory fresh restoration when complete.
The owner of this Coronet R/T plans to drive this car but also plans to do with it what it was intended to do, race. Thanks to our friends at allpar.com, a site directed towards all things Mopar, we have some numbers that reflect the ability of this car. Many of you may be familiar with Ronnie Sox, if you aren’t you need to be.
Ronnie was the factory driver for Chrysler for a number of years along with owning his own race team. Mr. Sox is a tremendous character and a highly revered driver. Having been granted the opportunity to test these 440 six pack cars he was able to put down a sub 13 second run with a 12.98 in a ’69 Roadrunner. Following that up with a run in a 1970 Roadrunner he set a time of 13.46 in the quarter mile.
I feel comfortable that this Coronet R/T can match these times consistently, especially with an engine putting out over 400 horsepower and over 500 pound feet of torque on a stock rebuild. Our only wish from this customer is loads of videos and photos when he launches this beauty down the track.
Look for additional posts on this car and what this customer has done to preserve and restore this car in future posts.
As we bid farewell to the 1961 Fleetwood Series 75 that recently acquired new pearl coat white paint, a light mechanical restoration as well as some interior work, we thought it might be worthwhile to feature not only the car but provide you with some history of Fleetwood and what its name meant to Cadillac. The blog continues but first enjoy some before and after pics of what turned out to be an absolutely beautiful vehicle with a perfect pearled white finish.
Most of us are familiar with the Fleetwood series Limousines from Cadillac and the Fleetwood Brougham but do we really know the history. Lawrence Fisher, of “Fisher Body” has everything to do with Fleetwood. Like Fisher Body, Fleetwood was a carriage manufacturer, they built high end carriages designed to transport the affluent and were recognized as leaders in their field long before the automobile, or horseless carriage, came around.
The Fleetwood Body Company we are familiar with was founded by Harry Ulrich in the nineteenth century in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. While Harry may have founded and organized the name in the United States, Fleetwood has its true heritage in Europe. Henry Fleetwood of Lancaster England actually started the lineage of carriages that became so popular in England and well renowned during the 17th and 18th centuries. With their illustrious history of building high end carriages the Fleetwood Body Company applied their art to automobiles and developed that same reputation for elegance and sophistication as they had for their carriages. Destined to be part of Cadillac, Fleetwood was bought by Fisher Body in 1925, four years before General Motors bought all the remaining stock in Fisher Body.
The marriage between Cadillac and Fleetwood Body Company all started with the acquisition of Fischer Bodies by General Motors. In 1916 Lawrence Fisher joined his brothers, who had found Fisher Body in 1908, and was instrumental in bringing the Fisher Body name under the GM umbrella in 1919. Having established himself within General Motors, then President of GM, Alfred Sloan, appointed Lawrence to Cadillac General manager in 1925. Larry, as he was known, immediately started to work adding custom bodies which would be exclusive to Cadillac. Seeing the opportunity available, Fisher Body was able to purchase The Fleetwood Body Company, which General Motors eventually acquired when they bought the remaining shares of Fisher Body four years later in 1929. Fleetwood bodies were an option on all Cadillac vehicles from 1927 through 1934.
By 1938 Cadillac had made the Fleetwood name more exclusive and only offered Fleetwood bodies on Cadillac Series 75 or 90, even the inaugural year of the Cadillac Sixty Special could not be obtained with a Fleetwood body. Fisher supplied the first body for the Sixty Special in 1938, designed with the assistance of Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell it was still manufactured in the Fleetwood plant but still retained the Fisher name. Fleetwood had become a very exclusive market.
In 1947 the name Fleetwood first appeared, as a badge, on the deck lid of the Cadillac Sixty Special.
It showed up again in 1952 on the rear of the Series 75.
When The Series 70 Eldorado Brougham was released in 1957 it joined only two other models worthy of the Fleetwood distinction, the Sixty Special and the Series 75, no badges indicating that the vehicles were a Fleetwood body were placed on the vehicles.
The 1957 Brougham was the first Brougham to be paired with a Fleetwood body in twenty years. Fleetwood remained a stealth brand with no discs or moldings or crests celebrating the Fleetwood Body Company that had developed such a reputation with 300 years worth of high quality luxury coach building. That was the case until 1959 when production for the Brougham was moved from the Fleetwood plant in Detroit to Turin, Italy at Pininafarina. Although production was relocated Fleetwood was still handling the design and final details, because of this the Brougham received Fleetwood discs and moldings on the door sills.
Brougham production ceased in 1961 and in 1963 the Biarritz became the latest Cadillac to receive a Fleetwood body.
Biarritz also marked the return of a convertible for Fleetwood designers since the demise of the Series 90 in 1941.
For nearly ten years Fleetwood would enjoy the exclusive status they had acquired with names such as Eldorado, Sixty Special and Series 75 being designated as sub-series vehicles of the Fleetwood line. Further integration in the 70’s brought the introduction of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham and the Fleetwood Limousine that would replace the Sixty Special and the 75 series before Fleetwood became a completely separate series of vehicles in 1985.
While the new front wheel drive C-body was being rolled out by General Motors in 1985 with a chassis that carried de Ville, the Electra for Buick and the Ninety-Eight for Oldsmobile, the Fleetwood remained a rear wheel drive vehicle and was known simply as the Fleetwood Brougham for ’85 and ’86.
Few other differences, aside from trim, can be found between the Fleetwood and the de Ville of this period. At the time de Ville was available with an optional d’Elegance package that quickly was turned into the Fleetwood package then morphed again into Fleetwood d’Elegance in 1987
without a coupe until 1989.
The Sixty Special returned in 1987 and used a stretched version of the C-body and the Series 75, brought together again with Cadillac in 1985, used a slightly longer 134 inch wheel base versus the Sixty Specials 116” wheelbase.
Cadillac had begun to lose footing with their fans though and began to see reviews that were less than impressive when compared to the German manufacturers that were becoming very successful in their marketing efforts in the United States. Complaints of being under powered, the ride being harsh and poor handling prompted even more action from Cadillac and engine power increased steadily into the 90’s. After several years without a rear wheel drive coupe Fleetwood left the front wheel drive line up again in 1993 as the replacement for the ’92 model Brougham, this would also be the last year that the Sixty Special.
For its last year Cadillac equipped this series better than any other vehicle in their line up. Just as in models before, the Sixty Special was to be of the highest in luxury and driver comfort and convenience, for this reason there were options on this Sixty Special that were not available on any other vehicle in this class for Cadillac. Memory seating and an easy entry/exit system that moved the seat rearward when pushing the exit button when leaving the vehicle, and of course fender skirts that provided a more formal appearance than the deVille was capable of with full open wheel houses.
The end was upon the Fleetwood name but as a swan song was switched back to a rearwheel drive vehicle in 1993 using a slightly modified version of the D-body in which it had used with the Brougham a few years earlier.
The Fleetwood was the longest production car made, at 225 inches, until production ceased on December 13th, 1996. Despite using Corvette LT1 derived engines in 1994 and the use of Fleetwood Commercial chassis on funeral coaches and limousines the Seville and the de Ville sold strong and the Fleetwood was officially retired form production to make room for more Suburban and Tahoe offerings from GM.
As we celebrate Fleetwood and recognize its demise it seems only fitting to carry away the name in the commercial vehicles it produced, namely ambulances and hearses.
Of course we can’t forget one of the most famous converted ambulances from Ghost Busters.
It had been a good run, Fleetwood had prepared its own standard in which it would be carried to its final resting place.
The Brush “Runabout”
Alanson Brush and his “Brush Runabout” are credited with the first mass produced vehicle with a shock absorber. You may see little importance to this small hydraulic miracle, many car owners still don’t understand what importance a shock absorber has in controlling their ride, improving overall handling and improving brake effectiveness. You see, springs have been around for ages, leaf springs can be traced to the Egyptians and Siege machines used in Europe. Coil springs have also been widely used and, along with leaf springs, heavily used with auto manufacturers, namely Daimler-Benz used coil springs on many of their earliest vehicles. These systems may seem archaic now,(the “Runabout” used Hickory wood for its front axle), but provided the comfort clients of the turn of the twentieth century wanted. I am most happy that of all the suspension systems that may have carried over from the carriage manufacturers of the day the leather strap used on many personal and livery units were not deemed effective.
Early suspension, transverse mounted leaf spring
With great thought to price as well as ride comfort most manufacturers used leaf type springs for their suspension. With the release of the Model T in 1908 the world saw one of the first innovations of automobile suspensions from Ford. To save weight and maintain the ride he expected, Ford used only one spring per axle and mounted them transversely. This design became very popular with many manufacturers although it was sometime later before shock absorbers would become important. With the “Runabout” Alanson Brush incorporated the shock absorber with the coil spring, much like a suspension that another man named McPherson is associated with. Alanson had worked with Oldsmobile and Cadillac before leaving to form his own car company in 1904, during this time he tried several different designs of his own and not until his brother wrecked his recently completed “Alanson Crestmobile” did he realize how important the shock absorber was to improved handling for the driver. While Brush motors enjoyed some relative success Alanson’s financial backer had other interests, absorbed by the U.S. Motor company in 1910 the “Runabout” disappeared in 1912 with the collapse of the company.
What sets the Brush automobile apart is the use of a hydraulic shock with a coil spring front suspension. There had been other types of shock absorbers, in 1897 A. Gimming used a rubber block just like what we see on many cars now, although the importance of this type of mount now is not the same as it was when introduced. Shocks are all about controlling the suspension and its rebound. A spring absorbs energy and releases energy, when going over a bump the spring absorbs the energy and then releases it by pushing back with equal or greater force. Obviously without some sort of damper this cycle will continue and the vehicle will continue to bounce after hitting a bump, a shock absorber does exactly that, absorbs some of the energy from the spring and controls the release of the energy as well.
Straight/solid Axle front suspensi0n
There are two primary types of front suspension and several variants of each. The most widely used on early vehicles was a straight axle, typically supported by leaf springs, either one or two, to support the vehicle, cargo and passenger weight. These were very simple, straight forward suspensions that were rugged but really provided little ride control, even if the customers weren’t aware of it at the time.
King Pins of the automotive world
Straight axles use a king pin or a ball joint to attach the spindle and u-bolts to attach the springs, springs were mounted in much the same fashion as today’s leaf spring vehicles, with pivots or slides that allow the spring to work as the overall length of the spring changes while the vehicle travels. Leaf springs are popular even today due to their load carrying ability and the simplicity in which they work. This type of suspension is still used today, particularly on heavy vehicles, you can find solid axle front suspensions on nearly every over the road truck. This is also still a very popular set up for hot rods, using axles set up with a “drop” helps a builder lower his ride with little effort and with the use of either a mono leaf or coil springs and shocks can achieve a decent ride, if spring rate is chosen correctly. Another type of spring used in conjunction with a straight axle is a torsion bar, torsion bars absorb the energy through a long rod attached to the axle and the frame, this set up is designed so that the twist in the rod supports the vehicle and the rod then twists during operation to absorb the energy. The biggest difficulty encountered with straight axle suspensions isn’t poor ride quality but actually poor handling. When driving over rough surfaces or imperfections in the road (pot holes), the suspension has a tendency to skip as one side reacting to the roughness begins to create a loss of control on the opposite side of the vehicle. Not being able to isolate the action of one front wheel lead to the adaptation of independent front suspensions.
Independent Front suspension
More complex with more moving components independent suspensions greatly improved the handling experienced by those driving a solid axle car. The most common independent front suspension is one using upper and lower control arms to attach the spindle to the car and a coil spring and shock placed between or above the control arms. While many use coil springs there are numerous variants of the design, short arm/long arm systems have unequal length arms that keep the tire perpendicular to the road even over the harshest of bumps.
Torsion bar suspension
Torsion bar style suspensions are also used by many manufacturers with the control arm type suspensions.
McPherson Strut suspension
McPherson style front suspensions use a shock absorber and coil spring combination that attaches to the spindle in place of the upper control arm. This system was revolutionary in helping the designers to engineer lower hood lines and add more room for front wheel drive transaxles without sacrificing ride and handling.
Sway bar, Anti-roll bar
While the springs (leaf, coil or torsion bar) support the vehicle and the shock absorbers control the energy stored and released by the springs, sway bars, or anti-roll bars control the vehicle. Using either a solid bar or a tube, the sway bar is attached to the frame and pivots inside of busings while the ends of the bar are attached, with links, to the lower control arm. Going back to our high school geometry we see how the pressure of the vehicle will cause the sway bar to apply equal force, like a torsion bar, to the opposite side of the vehicle. When getting onto and exit ramp and turning right the body will want to lean left. As the body begins to apply it’s weight the sway bar, or anti-roll bar, transfers the energy and raises the right side of the vehicle to maintain control. Different diameter bars are used based on the application, a heavier, thicker bar will be found on a track vehicle where handling is going to be tantamount to winning the race and passenger cars will have a slightly smaller bar to improve handling without sacrificing ride and drive quality.
Vehicle suspensions are in constant movement, unless, of course, you’re stopped. Control arms pivot up and down, springs compress and expand, shocks are moving and all of this has to happen in such a way as to provide a better ride, better traction and better handling. Each of these components have to be mounted so they can move freely and still create some isolation between what the suspension is doing and the consumer driving the vehicle. In order to dampen the activity bushings are used in nearly every pivot point of the suspension. The most popular type of bushings are the standard rubber bushings they have used for years which provide for a great ride and a great deal of insulation from the roughness the vehicle may be traversing through at the time. While there are other types, another popular material for bushings is polyurethane. Polyurethane bushings are not as soft as a rubber bushing so more road feel will be transmitted through to the driver, however, being of a more dense material the polyurethane bushings provide for a better handling vehicle and control the changes a vehicle is thrust into easier. Polyurethane bushings, as well as other bushings made of material other than rubber, will typically be found in cars geared more towards performance.
Among all the various components found on a suspension one of the most critical is the common ball joint. Ball joints provide the connection between the vehicle and the tire/wheel. The wheel mounts on a spindle and the spindle is attached to the control arms with this part. For such a small component, built with a ball and socket design, it takes the absolute blunt force of the vehicle. When choosing replacement parts choose a quality piece that is serviceable with grease fittings. The ball joint allows the suspension to pivot up and down while maintaining proper tire angle and also allows the front wheel to turn left or right. This, again, is a very crucial piece of a vehicles front suspension and needs to be inspected, along with the rest of the suspension, for wear or damage regularly, a worn ball joint will lead to, eventually, the spindle coming loose from the control arm creating a loss of control.
As with Ball joints, always choose the best product to meet your needs. Determine how you plan to drive your vehicle and what you plan to use it for and then purchase quality parts, not necessarily the most expensive, but the highest quality. Most of these components are not difficult to service and replace but it isn’t easy work either, don’t waste your time and your money on a product that doesn’t have a good service life. As what some consider hobbyists we may enjoy working on our cars and trucks but mostly it is for improvement, not to re-do work that has already been done.
This is just a basic outline, we are often stuck with whatever suspension system our vehicle has but there are always ways to improve handling, ride and even vehicle stance. Coil springs can be cut to adjust ride height and custom made springs are available so that you don’t have to cut. Leaf springs can be mounted above or under the axle typically to change ride height and leafs can be added or removed based on what you expect from your suspension. Leaf springs can also be re-arched or built custom, based on your preference. Torsion bar type suspensions are the easiest to adjust ride height but, like other types of suspensions, the vehicle requires an alignment to ensure proper handling and to control tire wear. The most important thing to consider is the quality of the components you use. Research what you want to do, research the parts and search related forums online to discover the pitfalls of what you have planned. I also recommend that you keep in mind that anytime you make changes to ride height you also change the geometry of the vehicle and by changing this you are changing how weight is distributed and will affect handling and braking performance, possibly with adverse results. The result you want is a safe vehicle that handles well, rides nice and maybe, with changes in ride height, has a more aggressive stance.
For more information and explore all your options check out our partner Heidts Hot Rod and Muscle Car parts
Another source for quality parts, stock or performance is Jegs
So, you thought Congress could not agree on anything. I get it, no matter what side of the isle you are on it seems Congress has difficulty performing, not this time though. The Senate recently passed S.Res.493 – A resolution designating July 11, 2014, as “Collector Car Appreciation Day” and recognizing that the collection and restoration of historic and classic cars is an important part of preserving the technological achievements and cultural heritage of the United States. Now, how they plan to reward you faithful enthusiasts for maintaining and preserving our automotive history is still unknown. I can guess that reduced taxes will not be part of a package to reward you for you efforts. What we can do is take advantage of this and move forward knowing we have preserved history. We all know what we do and why we like cars, some are more involved in preservation while many of us just want a more unique, personalized ride.
As we drive through the streets of nearly every city I find disappointment when I see buildings that were so rich in architecture being leveled for the next store, office building or parking lot. While some of these decisions for new buildings are based on brand imaging often times the owner or the contractor just deem the buildings too expensive to refurbish or renovate. Each time another building comes down it is another reminder of our loss of history. It is the same with cars and trucks as well as things such as farm implements.
You, the collector, the enthusiast, the gear head, or whatever distinction you prefer, provide a window into the past, not only of the automobile you drive but also of the culture of the time. The design, the dimensions, interiors and the accessories all speak about the era in which the vehicle was made. While the general public takes things like disc brakes and power steering for granted, many of the cars we, the car buffs, drive and enjoy were lacking that technology. What you have done is show that with small modifications a classic car can be modified to provide as good, if not better, handling and braking than modern vehicles, and look better doing it.
When we drive our classic cars we enjoy the attention received but what the casual observer does not recognize is that our classic cars are as well appointed as any new car you can buy. We install the heated seats, the sound systems, power window and lock mechanisms. We have every modern convenience at our finger tip, and we chose what we wanted, without having to choose thousands of dollars of things we didn’t want. As individuals, the car enthusiast extends his personality through his vehicle and takes pride in his or her automobile of choice, what works for one doesn’t have to be the mold for another. That Camaro or Mustang may be cool with a big engine swelling the engine bay but, as a lover of cars, we will still find inside of us a great deal of respect to that factory spec. restored Vega, it is about preservation after all.
As an enthusiast you are responsible for saving numerous vehicles from a scrap yard death, through your efforts, hard work and sweat we are able to enjoy vehicles that would otherwise not exist in society today and Precision Restorations wants to thank you for your efforts, keep up the good work.
To give a brief update, the 1971 Ford Torino GT convertible that we showed you in November when we cut the top off of the donor car is starting to go back together. We ran tests on the new, stock rebuilt engine and the numbers were impressive. Watch here
Touted as the largest classic car show in the world it is now entering its 37th year and for the last thirty years it has been hosted by the community of Västerås/Sweden. What is even more amazing is that this show is an American Car show! Maybe we here in the United States take our history as a car culture for granted. Held July 3 – 5, 2014, this show in Västerås is reported to attract over 20,000 vehicles from the fully restored to street rods and customs. Cruisers, Corvettes, Mustangs and Camaros abound in the air strip where the meet is held. It is said that the event maintains a carnival atmosphere and the venue accommodates the huge crowds without too much overcrowding. Last years event was attended by people from over 40 different countries. While most European countries were well represented as well as the United States, Canada, Mexico and Russia were also represented. Even groups from Israel, Turkey and Morocco were in Sweden to enjoy this event.
So… anyone following us here in the states, if you would like to enjoy the largest American Car show in the world, you still have enough time to book the flight. For our followers overseas, I hope you are all able to attend, we look forward to any updates and photos that anyone going may share with us.
Meanwhile, enjoy some pics from previous year shows and check out all the details here. http://bigmeet.com.s161614.gridserver.com/eng/
Evolution of a Restoration Pt.4
In the third part to this series we discussed some of the metal work involved with replacing floor pans and sheet metal. What comes next? We need to prep the bare metal, if you choose to use replacement panels I would recommend that they be cleaned entirely of the coating they were shipped with. What we recommend, and do, is coat the vehicle with an “etching” primer.
Self – etching primer is used to seal bare metals and used as a rust inhibitor. Made up of a base consisting of acid, often phosphoric, and zinc it is designed to impregnate the surface molecules of the metal. While this treatment does not reverse the effects of rust it does have the ability to neutralize it and prevent further deterioration.
After coating the metal surfaces of the floor and the quarters we will grind down the welds on the quarter panel. While we have all seen panels overlapped and held on by nothing more than tack welds you will be disappointed in a few years when those repairs come back to haunt you. There are times when you will have to overlap metal panels, that is how much of a car is designed but not for quarter panels and most sheet metal rust repair panels. Once you have inspected the panel to ensure there is no damage that will affect the installation set the replacement panel into place over the old metal and position it to where it should go for the best fit, make a few alignment marks. Using sheet metal vice-grips clamp the replacement quarter panel into place around the wheel well, over the original sheet metal. Using you alignment marks position and secure the panel. Don’t think that everything looks better two feet away, step back and look at the positioning of the panel, how the character lines match up, how the leading and trailing panels fore and aft of the wheel look, this is one of the last opportunities you will have to make adjustments and it has to be right. If the lower half of the quarters are rotted away, measure curb height to make sure you have it placed correctly. There are many resources on the internet that can provide you that information on most cars, most importantly make sure it is right. Once you feel it is aligned correctly outline the panel with a scribe or a fine tipped marker. Step back and look it over again before removing the replacement panel, if all looks good remove the panel. You should now have a perfect outline of your replacement panel on your old sheet metal, cut it out. There are a few very effective ways to cut this out. A high speed cutting tool is simple to use but takes time and can become hard to control, electric or air powered shears work very well and then there is plasma.
First, doing any kind of work with a Plasma cutter requires proper eye protection. As with most repairs eye protection is required but when using Plasma cutters, TIG welders, MIG welders or when doing any type of welding you must protect your eye with the proper shields and goggles as necessary.
Plasma Cutters use an inert gas, (a gas that does not experience chemical reactions, such as oxidation, when used in certain applications) like Argon, as a shielding gas which is rapidly fed through the nozzle where an electric arc is created. This arc heats the gas and the metal to a sufficient temperature where the gas essentially passes through the metal and creates very clean precise cuts.
After the panel has been cut out align your replacement panel within the opening, we recommend, and use, a TIG welder to weld the panel onto the car. Start off with a few small tack welds to hold the panel in place and then join the body with the new panel by completing a full weld around the circumference of the panel.
After the panel has been welded completely, with clean welds that have very few pin holes, apply a coat of etching primer. After the etching primer is dry grind the welds down flat, when done your quarter should look like one piece of metal again.
There are different types of panels, patch panels and replacement panels are not the same. There are both types of quarter panels available, a replacement panel will require removal of more of the stock sheet metal and require more precise alignment as replacement of these panels will affect door alignment. Be sure you know what you are doing before welding these panels on so that you don’t find yourself in a bind later when doing panel alignment.
There will still be filler required, not to fill any waves or dents but a glaze coating of filler will be use to fill any imperfections in the weld and make the merge with the body complete. Very aggressive sand paper of a 36 or 40 grit will be used during the initial sanding and the final sand will be done with a 80 or 100 grit paper. Depending on the shape of the panel you may have to hand sand portions where you filled but any areas that would allow you to use a block to sand, do. Block sanding provides a straighter repair than your flexible, soft hand. Continue to sand until the surface is straight and smooth with no distinct edge to the filler. When satisfied that your repair is straight and will be invisible to the naked eye once painted apply a sanding primer.
As we continue through the project each panel is going to be coated with etching primer after all the paint, or coatings, are removed and before any additional metal work or repair is completed.
Next time we will discuss sanding primers, block sanding, sealer and paint.
Thanks to our clients and the highly skilled craftsmen employed at Precision Restoration we have continued to grow in our market and are now looking to expand. Precision Restoration is seeking a qualified individual that is highly skilled in metal fabrication and body work to join our team. If you are a person with an appreciation for details, know your craft and can execute your skills we are interested in talking to you. All the information to contact us is here.
If you have had time to review our blog on front suspension you will recognize some of the same components in this post. The rear suspension historically has been similar to a straight axle suspension using either leaf springs or coil springs. Independent and coil spring rear suspensions are much more prevalent now than in the early days of motoring. In fact it wasn’t until the late thirties that coil springs were even used on rear suspensions, Buick has that distinction, you can read more about a 1938 Buick we just completed by clicking here. Prior to that rear suspensions equipped with coil springs were mainly found at the track, where, even then, research was done prior to production. Just like front suspensions we have many choices now when building our dream cars. Independent, leaf spring, coil spring and 4 link style to name a few.
For the purposes of this blog we will concentrate only on rear wheel drive vehicles, while there are some unique aspects of the rear suspension on front wheel drive vehicles, most classic and collectible cars tend to be rear wheel drive. What is so different about the rear suspension? The rear suspension is tasked with the duty of controlling the torque fed to the rear wheels, it also has to work with the vehicle for control and handling as well as ride. Installing the “right” rear suspension may be your ticket to better handling but which one is right for you and your vehicle. While we may be limited, at times, to which rear suspension we use there are several different companies that provide quality bolt on kits, or kits with very little modification needed, in different configurations for many popular models that the enthusiast may want to check into before getting the cutting torch out. For the purist, changing suspension systems in such a way is not a desirable option but when you have an incomplete car, or something that you don’t feel you want to restore to factory original, changing the style of the rear suspension of your classic or muscle car may be just the ticket to make it do what you want it to do.
As stated above, a rear suspension is not all that different from a front suspension except for its role in controlling the torque fed to the rear wheels. The two come together while driving, both the front and the rear suspension work to provide positive handling and a comfortable ride. The choices may be unlimited it seems but ride and handling are two things that need to be considered when beginning this project. A stiff suspension may provide excellent handling but as a daily driver the rough ride may take its toll on you, a happy medium can be easily reached but you need to know a few things, such as vehicle weight and how that weight is dispersed. For these very reasons I highly recommend you review your options and look at the kits being produced by companies such as our partner, Heidts Hot Rod and Muscle Car parts. Another area where there is a little more freedom for modification is adjusting the vehicles wheel base. Not a popular modification, relocating spring shackles on a leaf spring suspension, or moving the pin location for the axle housing can greatly affect vehicle performance. Shortening, or lengthening, the wheel base will make for a quicker handling or smoother riding vehicle but, more importantly, it will change the weight distribution of the vehicle and also changes the way the weight is transferred on acceleration. Making this change, easier on some cars than others, can greatly improve traction on a hard launch, or provide tighter handling. As with anything do not make drastic changes like this without properly researching different packages and looking at several options before deciding on one that will meet your needs and expectations. Years ago Chrysler offered a complete chassis manual through, then, Direct Connection, now known as Mopar Performance.
This manual, along with the one they offered for their engine line up was a bible for all things Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth when it came to performance and the engineering involved. Dealing directly with the geometry that someone has already taken the time to do for you is considerably easier and will provide for a more positive experience.
Changing wheel base or the type of rear suspension, leaf spring to four link for example, will dramatically change handling and weight transfer. If you plan on your classic or muscle car to be a door slammer and looking at how to put that power down the driveline and control it, you need to consider what the right type of suspension is right for you. Equally, if looking for a road racer that can straighten out the curves ahead there are options to consider as well. To maintain a quality ride and still retain traction leaf spring style suspensions are a great option and, with fewer moving parts and fewer bushings, they are easier to maintain. Solid, live axles also provide more durability than and independent differential as the axle shaft is splined directly into the ring gear versus having constant velocity or universal joints to allow the axle to travel independent of the third member, or differential. For an owner that likes to feel the way a vehicle handles on a tight winding road then going as far as an independent rear differential style suspension may be the right choice for you. Four link systems are also very effective in controlling classic and muscle cars with live, solid axles on those curvy driving roads.
A leaf spring suspension is very much like what we briefly discussed in the post prior to this dealing with front suspensions.
While many older cars used a transverse mounted rear leaf spring most modern cars using a leaf spring type, or Hotchkiss, suspension use leafs at each side. Here is why this set up is so well suited for straight line full bodied drag cars, or door slammers. Leaf springs are comprised of multiple layers of springs, this provides the opportunity for the owner to fine tune his ride based on what his intentions are. Adding or removing springs changes the overall dynamics of the weight shift on hard acceleration. Too stiff and the weight transfer will not be effective, too soft and handling will be affected. Obviously the ability for you classic car to handle you and your luggage can be affected with the addition, or subtraction, of leaf springs. This goes back, again, to thinking about what you intend to use your car for. Leaf springs do have some disadvantages, wheel hop being the most predominant. Others complain that road racing is not very conducive to leaf springs, this concern is as much the fault of the solid axle as it the springs but that is only my opinion. The thing we need to remember is that the shock absorbers not only control ride but also help maintain contact with the road, leveling out the rebound of leaf springs is different than controlling rebound on coil springs. Research your options and you can build a very nice leaf spring suspension that will provide a very nice ride and good handling with very little expense.
Coil spring type suspensions come in several different configurations, four link, link coil and swing arm (or ladder bar) to name a few. Most coil spring suspensions will use one of these styles but others, independent type suspensions in particular, may use control arms and be set up similar to what a front suspension would be. Independent suspensions use a fixed differential and drive axles similar to front wheel drive vehicles. Coil spring suspensions are easily tuned and using a coil over shock style, as found on many custom built chassis’, make ride, handling and weight transfer nearly infinite in adjustment. The same premise used for leaf spring suspensions comes in to play here, by choosing springs with a lighter, or heavier spring weight the owner has options to meet his handling, ride and traction needs. Independent or coil spring suspensions can be adapted to vehicles that were previously leaf spring style suspensions but we would strongly recommend using a kit, similar to those offered, again, by Heidts Hot Rod and Muscle Car parts.
Coil springs provide for a very smooth ride and incorporating an independent rear differential greatly enhances not only the ride but also handling. Independent differentials allow the wheels to travel “independent” from each other ensuring that the tires remain in contact with the road surface. The major drawback of coil spring, and especially coil spring suspensions with independent differentials, is price. With more moving parts maintenance needs are also increased over leaf spring style suspensions.
Coil spring suspensions typically use control arms but not in the same sense as a control arm on the front suspension. Some will call these radius arms or lateral arms and will have two that attach the lower portion of the axle housing and then two other rods attached to the upper portion. The purpose of these rods, or control arms, is to maintain pinion angle on the differential. A swing arm style is similar to many motorcycles with one pivot point and the spring sandwiched between the body and the axle. A four link or coil and link suspension maintains consist pinion angle when driving over rough surfaces and with more attaching points the differential is considerably more solid than a swing arm. Independent rear differentials have the “pumpkin” mounted solid making it part of the sprung weight, this becomes an advantage as the weight working with the springs is greatly reduced and focus can be made on handling.
Sway bars serve the same purpose on the rear as they do on the front. Often the rear may be of a different diameter, based on the weight of the vehicle and the distribution of that weight. Increasing the diameter of the sway bar will provide great control of body sway through those turns whether at the track or just getting on and off the highway on those long sweeping clover leafs. As we are all aware, most classic and muscle cars are larger and quite hefty, controlling this weight is what the suspension is designed to do and a quality sway bar, front and rear, should be a part of any suspension.
If you choose to use a solid axle differential another piece that you might find nice is a panhard rod/bar. Used frequently in ladder bar style suspensions, this bar is mounted transversely and attaches to the frame and the axle, this same component greatly improves the handling of a solid axle front suspension as well. This rod controls the lateral, side to side, movement of the axle, improving performance on turns, or in the case of front solid axle suspensions, wheel lift.
Ultimately it all boils down to you and what decisions you make and how those decisions coincide with your wishes. Ability also comes into the equation we are trying to solve. If your shop is properly equipped and you are skilled as a welder, great, but much of the work required when doing these suspension modifications will require good quality welds. Before welding these components in you really need to spend the time mocking up the components in place to ensure proper alignment and positioning, not only on the frame but also correct pinion angle. Just like cutting a board, measure twice, cut once, make sure everything is where it should be before you begin to tack it into place. Some kits are very user friendly and are bolt on. This certainly provides a great deal more flexibility when setting it up but when you have everything set I would still recommend welding the system into place, bolts loosen and unless you are going to check the torque regularly you are going to have problems.
Price has been mentioned a few times, obviously the more elaborate you go the more expense you will incur. Doing a pro-street set up will require a large amount of modifications, converting a mono-leaf to a parallel leaf spring style, not so much. If you question anything about your ability to do it yourself, hire a professional. These are not the type of modifications that you want to take chances on.
Look forward to upcoming posts on steering, driveline, fuel and ignition systems before the evolution series continues.
Chevrolet Performance is hosting the Car Craft Magazine Summer Nationals in St. Paul, Mn. this weekend. Click here for all the details.
If you happen to be near Lake Bluff, Il. then stop in Knauz Autopark Friday night, the 18th, for their annual cruise. Who knows, you might get to meet Elvis. He is scheduled to perform. Click here for details. T.C.B.
Also this weekend is the 18th annual Gathering of the Eagles Car show at the Air show in Willoughby, Oh.. Partnered with the air show presented by the United States Aviation Museum, this should be a really terrific event, even if Elvis won’t be there. Click here to go to the Aviation Museum for all the details.
This Friday and Saturday Gonzales, La. is having their annual Swamp Pop Music Festival and Saturday, among all the activities is a massive car show. If you are in the area click here to get all the details. Look over the rest of the event to see all the live entertainment, looks like a good time on the Bayou.
If you are in the mood to take a drive during this fine weekend of temperatures in the low eighties there are some great shows at some great destinations just for you.
Sunday July 20th Owensville Threshers Association will have a car show. Held in Rosebud, Mo. This will be the 52nd such event and coincides with their threshing show held this weekend. Beyond the cars that will be there this is a great opportunity to see large antique steam operated farm equipment both on display and providing demonstrations throughout the weekend.
Saturday July 19th Affton Father’s Club car show is being held at Affton High School, 8309 Mackenzie Road. This looks to be a great event with drawings and attendance prizes every hour.
Saturday July 19th Grease Gears and Grooves Bike & Car Show 10am till 6pm. Held at Sunset Ford’s old lot at Gravois and Lindbergh in SUNSET HILLS, MO. This is a great event with live entertainment and all proceeds go to benefit Children’s Miracle Network and Bikers Against Child Abuse.
If you have a local event that you would like for us to send out to our followers please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, have a great weekend.