This Totally Rules!
Who: Mike McNessor (driver) Kim Sterrit (codriver)
Where: Albany, N.Y.
What: Propane-fueled '61 Impala with a 348, T10 four-speed, and 3.55:1 Posi rear. It finished 59th out of 70 in the '04 LaCarrera Panamericana road race. The Imp is rebuilt and street legal for competition in the Carrera's historic division, which means it's stone stock with the exception of a new wiring harness, an HEI distributor, an internally regulated alternator, a 10-point 'cage, junkyard bucket seats out of a Neon, 409 Impala springs front and rear, headers, and a dual 2.5-inch exhaust (sans mufflers). Retention of manual steering, manual drum brakes, skinny cheapo whitewalls, and questionable handling qualities makes for hours of driving excitement on Mexico's soaring mountain roads. It runs on propane, which has 104 octane.
Why: Who needs to ask why? This thing is as cool as it gets, and he's out there beating on it and going fast.
Top Down At Redline
Who: Ed West
Where: San Francisco, CA
What: '68 Chevy Chevelle SS396
Why: This guy bought the car when he was 18 in 1986, and it still only has 75,000 miles on it. JH Restoration in Riverside, California, rebuilt it for him, including paint by Doug Starbuck at Starside Design and a 396 by Dougan's Racing Engines. It's pretty stock except for 15x7 and 15x8.5 Stockton Wheels TQs and Diamond Back Classics redlines.
With An AMC Four-Door, How Much Punishment Can You Ask For?
Who: Ron Hallock, NAMDRA officer
Where: Carol Stream, IL
What: '69 AMC Ambassador SST sedan
Why: It runs low 13s on street rubber-13.13 at 104.75 mph to be exact. It has a 401 with Speed-Pro slugs, home ported heads, a "clearance sale" 238-at-0.050 Crower cam, Hedman 151/48-inch headers, and an 850 Holley atop a Torker intake. The TorqueFlite is loaded with a 3,200- stall converter, and the gears are 3.54:1 in a Model 20 rear with Twin Grip. The suspension has Prothane bushings and disc brakes from a '79 Spirit.
Five Boats For 6 Grand
Musclecar prices are insane, but there are plenty of opportunities for car crafting without laying out big bucks. While we all love musclecars, lots of enjoyment can be had from bigger cars with the same engines that are available for a fraction of the cost. Sure, they make better cruisers than drag cars, but many of us without the money, time, or skills to build an 8-second supercar actually prefer that. We just want a ride with style and a big-block rumble that we can hop up a little, take to the local cruise night, and drive around town to see and be seen.
I personally own five land yachts, four with big-blocks: two '70s Olds clamshell wagons, a '72 boat-tail Riv (shown), a '66 Toronado (don't mock the front-drive until you've felt the neck-snap from that 425), and a '78 Toronado (it's an ugly beater but you can't beat the cheesy Barcalounger seats for comfort in a driver, or the 403-weighted front-drive for traction in the rain and snow). I picked up all five of these over several years for a total of $6K, barely more than half the price of the least expensive real musclecar you can find.
My cars might not be everyone's idea of the perfect ride, but these are just examples. Car crafting is supposed to be about regular guys with regular cars. As musclecars gradually move out of the reach of regular guys, perhaps we should start looking beyond them to cars we can actually afford.Jim Cohen, Bethesda, MD
Send stuff to car craft:
mail: 6420 Wilshire Blvd.,
CA 90048 fax: 323/782-2223
wire transfer: call to get our Swiss bank account number
messenger pigeon: aim for Glad's bike
Send Your Tire Fire
Got rubber? Prove it. Make yourself a target for the local fuzz like these guys by sharing your burnout shots with the readers of Car Craft. We need photos or digital images of at least 300 dpi and about 4x5 in size. Just set the digital camera to "large" and let fly. E-mail the mayhem to CarCraft@primedia.com. You can also mail photos to Car Craft Burnout!!, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Who: Joe Palmer
Where: Somewhere in Jersey
What: '71 Plymouth Road Runner 440+6
Why: He says he restored the thing at home in just six years, and who wouldn't want a Sassy Grass Green '71 V-code car? During the restoration he bought an N.O.S. cassette player, and it was loaded with a "Sounds of Chrysler" tape with Henry Mancini tunes.
Waiting For The Summer Nats
Here are some anxious members of the Minnesota Street Machine Association (msma.net) with their cars on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds waiting for the '05 Car Craft Summer Cruise. It was a weekend in the middle of January with a temperature of 9 degrees F. Were we a little early?Jim Thoren, MSMA vice president
Warning: Mouse Motor
Who: Patrick Chalupiak
Where: Rochester, PA, home of loud bogging noises
What: '81 Olds Cutlass Supreme
Why: It was the only Oldsmobile Readers' Ride we had in stock, so send in your pure Olds-powered beasts as soon as you get irate and discover there's a 327 Chevy in this one. With all the basic bolt-ons, a TH350, and 4.11s in the Ford 9-inch, he's G-Tech tested it into the low 13s . . . on a legal racetrack, of course.
Send In The Fords
Who: Pamela & Steve Sullivan, plus a bun in the oven
Where: Salem, OR
What: '65 Ford Mustang. They're the second owners and drive the thing everywhere, which is why the little 289 is currently getting rebuilt.
Why: Because this was the only Ford we had in the Readers' Rides archives that had a big enough photo to use. We need more! Make sure that your digital images are about 4x5 in size at at 300dpi when you e-mail them to us.
CarCraft.com Reader Poll
How Bling Can You Go?
You can now buy whitewalls for 20-inch wheels. It's got to stop. Doesn't it? There's no denying that big-inch wheels are the single hottest trend in street machines, but how far are you willing to go? Click onto CarCraft.com now to vote on which wheel size is the maximum you'd ever want on your musclecar.
When You Can't Get A Date, Get A Hobby
My hobby besides cars is building 11/46-scale (G.I. Joe-size) dragsters. I've built several and have attached a few pics of them here. I have a modern Top Fuel car and a slingshot or two. All the smoke in the pics is from a smoke bomb and all the people are G.I. Joes. The other props are all handmade. The cars are built from scratch using copper plumbing pipe, sheet aluminum, and anything else I can find.Tim Hare, Evil Genius, Dayton, OH
When Is It No Longer Legit?
I saw the 10-second "pure Pontiac" Tempest in your April issue-the one with the aftermarket block, heads, crank, rods, pistons, cam, carb, and gaskets. Let me guess, the thermostat housing and timing-chain cover are both "pure Pontiac," right? Great engine in an awesome car, but come on. I recently read in Hot Car Rodding (one of the Primedia mags anyway) that the engine in a Top Fueler isn't really a Mopar because all the parts have been beefed up and modified, so if that's the case how is this bad boy a pure Pontiac?L. Baker, Via e-mail
Like it's a bad thing that you can build an entire Pontiac with aftermarket parts? Maybe it's not "pure," but it's a victory for musclecar guys everywhere.
Reminder: Readers' Rides Live On Carcraft.Com
Last month we announced the new section on CarCraft.com for readers' videos. Don't forget to send your under-10Mb movies to us via CarCraft.com. We'd like to see dyno runs, dragstrip passes, first firings, and any other gearhead fun that makes us forget our miserable lives spent welded to our desks.