Thursday, February 11, 2010

Toys of a different sort.

For as far back as I can remember, I've been helping my dad rebuild classic cars. When I was little dad had a 1940 Chevrolet Business Coupe. It was colonial yellow, had a custom rear seat for us kids, and had a 350 Chevy that went like heck. It was a fairly common thing to spend weekends taking trips places in that car. It was great.

While bikes really are where my passion lies, I love working on cars with my father. I started working at what was then my grandfather's repair shop when I was 12. It is largely what I credit for building a lot of my mechanical aptitude and taught me a lot about things like work ethic and how to treat customers right. Although I also learned that that was not the work I wanted to do for my vocation, it turned me on to what is a whole different kind of fun.

Much like a lot of us swap around bikes in our personal collections, my dad goes through cars. It's largely for a lot of the same reasons as well. You get a bit bored with a thing, maybe you're looking for a different ride or handling feel, or maybe it's just not the right color anymore. He does tend to keep the older cars quite a bit longer than modern stuff, (to which my mother jokingly refers to as the car of the month club!) After 20 some years he finally sold that yellow car. It was time.

Since then he's had a few rather nice cars. On of my favorites has always been a 1963 Mercury Comet. It's a bonnie red little convertible with red upholstery and a white top. Dad bought this car pretty much done, and we have driven it for about 5 years now just as we got it. It does have some issues though. The motor really needed to be rebuilt, it smokes a bit and uses some oil, and the tranny is just about mush. That needed attention even more than the motor. After much discusion we decided this was the winter to put in a new drive train.

This week marked the start of the rebuild. Dad purchased a 302 V8 out of a 1977 Ford F150. The engine was stripped down to the component parts, and the were all prepped back to original bare metal. The engine came with ford flat top pistons, which combined with a set of 1969 302 GT heads should have it running at about 10.5/1 compression. It'll be plenty snotty, but with a very mild cam it should be a very smooth running engine.

We also had a friend of his put a rather nice automatic over drive transmission together. This should allow the car to shift more positively than stock, while the overdrive should put final drive mileage to about 24 mpg. Believe it or not that's about what our 1967 Mustang GT averages. That's 6 mpg better than my old minivan!

Last night we spent a while starting to port and polish the intakes on the heads. This is basically sanding the metal smooth around all of the air paths to make the air flow smoother and more easily into the combustion chambers. It is kind of fun really, and to look at the starting point compared to the smooth shiny end result is rather impressive.

So here you go, a shot of the humble beginnings of a fun project. I'll update with more photos as the rebuild goes along.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

That's cool! I like old cars too. I used to have a '69 Firebird with a 400 big block. I would love to get a 60's 'stang someday.