Sunday, October 11, 2009

I loves me my old cars...

...but let's not forget that they were basically big sheet-metal boxes full of air. A '61 Chevy Impala weighed some 3700 pounds; the much smaller '02 Impala weighed 3600, and a lot of that weight was seat belts and air bags and padded dashboards. I loved my '67 Dodge Coronet, but I'd much rather tangle with a telegraph pole in my 'bitty '98 Bimmer...

Still and all, though, the best way for this to have come about doesn't involve the Fed.Gov. If folks want to buy cheap or nimble, they should be allowed to do so; people who prefer bubble-wrap-lined armored battlewagons should be allowed to buy them. Let the market decide, for heaven's sake.

(I once had an idea for a true luxury automobile: Build a car on a Checker cab type body-on-frame platform, with a pushrod small-block Chevy powerplant and a GM Turbo Hydromatic transmission, and overbuild all the interior components, from door hinges to seat bolsters, all of the highest-quality materials, and offer the car with a Lifetime Guarantee. For heaven's sake, it worked for Rolls Royce, and they perversely persisted in using their own engines, rather than using the common powerplant that motivates everything from Corvettes to ambulances... But there's no way a cheap throttle-body injected 350 would pass emissions these days, and a body-on-frame design doesn't stand up well in crash tests...)


Kristophr said...


Tam said...

That Ford is schweet!!!

BobG said...

Can you imagine the glare off that on a sunny day, or at night when somebody's high-beams hit it?

theirritablearchitect said...

"...there's no way a cheap throttle-body injected 350 would pass emissions these days..."

Well, the LS-series engines are doing some impressive stuff these days, and they only have two valves per, and are still driven by pushrods...

Not that I'd ever own one. I'll not have a GM product under my roof, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, it can be done.

Tango Juliet said...

No way I'd settle for a GM powerplant. Has to be MOPAR.

Otherwise, fine.

Anonymous said...

My 64 Vette still runs fine....thank you.

Stranger said...

When I had spare time I used to rebuild non-computer engines to meet fedregs.

At least for the MOPAR 273,318,340,360 series of small blocks the secret is a very low overlap cam - and a roller timing chain. I have just over 250K on my rebuild in the Dakota, and it still meets regs. Without a converter.

So,yes it can be done. And with a bit of extra valve lift you can still get tire lighting HP - along with stop light derby winning torque.


og said...

"Build a car on a Checker cab type body-on-frame platform, with a pushrod small-block Chevy powerplant and a GM Turbo Hydromatic transmission,"

That's how checker's came from the factory, 1964 on. You could get one with a four-on the tree (a VERY nice option, if you wanted a four speed stick and had a girlfriend who liked to sit real close)but most were THD 400's. The frame was a modified truck frame, if i recall correctly. A Marathon was designed to go 200,000 miles, and most of them did.

Babe magnet, I'm telling you.

staghounds said...

I hate to say it, because I hate regulation- I believe it stifles innovation and retards progress. Only when there's a profit in pursuing that innovation, though.

We'd probably still have seat belts as the only safety equipment if there hadn't been the mandates, it took 40 years to get them as an extra cost option.

"Ford is offering safety, but Chevrolet is selling cars."

Speaking of which, why on earth do commercial airliners seat the passengers in the less safe orientation?

Ed Foster said...

No way I will ever again by something from Government Motors, and almost every car I've owned in my life has been a GM (exceptions were an XKE and an Audi).

Used and rebuildable, sure. And if someone buys the intellectual property rights and name, proceeds without government money, and tells the unions to take a hike, then I'm back in the stable. Until then...

From an engineering point of view the GM Turbo has a lot going for it. Jaguar bought it straight from Buick, differing only in bolt hole pattern.

Rolls looked around for the best slush-pump in the world, tested them all, and bought the rights to the TH400, a TH350 on steroids.

I worked with a former Rolls engineer who told me they tore the 400 apart looking for some way to make it better, some why they could say they'd "improved" it. The only thing they could find to do was to machine smooth an area up above the rear drum.

After they did it, the tranny wouldn't shift smoothly. The area had been left rough to act as a baffle, slowing fluid return to the collector.

For reference, the Saturn Vue that saved my sorry ass two years ago, in a situation that would have wrecked me in a Volvo or Mercedes, had a ladder frame, a steel body, a 3 inch heat-treated 4140 roll cage welded to the steel body, an ABS body over the innards, and still gave me 26 miles to the gallon, with crisp, ballsy handling.

But Saturn dies this December, compliments of the United Auto Workers.

Ed Foster said...

Sorry 'bout the typos, doing three things at the same time again. Now where did I put that Ritalin?

Will said...

Ford did the same thing to the 1960 Thunderbird. Two made, although I have a memory of the number being 10. Supposedly, they kept stamping out parts until they got bad ones. The roof had to be made in two parts and welded together. That might be why they only assembled two.

EgregiousCharles said...

I'm with those who will not buy further GM products, though I love my old ones.

I think there would be a viable niche market for a car or SUV that was designed to be long lasting and easy to maintain; for example fastener varieties should be minimized (all metric or all SAE, not a mix; TORX or Phillips or hex-recess, not all three) and access to all fasters should be easy. It should come with a toolkit that covers all of them. Parts should be designed to be easy to replace, especially those that are normally replaced. E.g. my old GMs with the alternator sitting on top of the 350 V-8 rather than my friend's Ford Escape where you are expected to disassemble the suspension of one of the front wheels to replace the alternator (seriously).

To help attract the survivalist crowd (myself included), it could have a couple of odd options:

It should be capable of being run on a variety of fuels (say, gasoline, ethanol, methanol, and any mixture of the above, with a conversion kit option for CNG and LP). Another good option would be a tractor-type PTO to allow running such accessories as the generators and big compressors available for tractors. With a gear as low as the low-range granny gear on my Suburban, no reason it couldn't function as a bulky, underpowered tractor; could easily pull a single-gang plow. Anything that can move at a reasonable speed on the highway must be much more lightly built than a real tractor, but that just means you must shrink the area you're working at a pass.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Hee, Blogosphere comes full circle.

Did you watch the video response? The really long one, the detailed breakdown, was a DrStrangegun production.

Just noticed that SM used a photobucket link. Bad form! Here's the link to the youtube video response.

B.S. philosopher said...

"Rolls looked around for the best slush-pump in the world, tested them all, and bought the rights to the TH400, a TH350 on steroids. "

That's 180 degrees out. The THM400 came out in 1964. The THM350 came out in 1969. So the TH350 might be a TH400 on weak-juice, but not the other way about.

The THM350 was designed to reduce some of the parasitic HP loss from the massive THM400 so the smaller cars could have a 3 speed automatic without losing too much through the drivetrain. As such the TH350 was really a replacement for the aluminum cased 2 speed powerglide (it shares virtually identical case dimensions) from which it is an almost direct descendent, with some Buick transmission bits thrown in.

pdxr13 said...

I own that car right now, and had the previous version.

It's a 1995 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1 with the LT-1 engine. The previous car was a 1992 9C1 with an L05 TBI 350ci sbc V-8. Both are fantastic cars, with the '92 being overall a little better with a 3.42 posi-traction rear end (option G80).

I always joke to passengers that these cars put out a "seatbelt buckling field" of approximately 200 feet. Everyone in other cars seem to always be reaching up to pull their seatbelts over their laps.

I'd like to get a t-Boned/rolled 2002 Cadillac Escalade for the big cast iron HO engine (LS-series) that would drop right onto the Caprice motor mounts. I'd probably pick up 2 mpg, to 14 city and 20 towing with the later 6.2L high-tech engine.

Big sedans don't need "active suspensions" to make them safer from deadly rollover like an SUV/truck. They are intrinsically stable.

Checkers are neat-looking, but they don't have 4 wheel disk brakes or ABS like the Caprice.

I'll trade it in when a hybrid car weighs 4300 pounds and can legitimately pull a 5000 pound travel trailer over the Rocky Mountains at 12K+ feet.