The inspiration for Chris...
The inspiration for Chris Duarte's new album, 396, comes from his '68 Camaro SS, with is a real 375-horse 396 big-block. As hot as the Camaro is, the CD is even hotter. Time for some bolt-ons, Chris?
Rant Of The Month
Let's see some race gas and methanol builds. It's getting old seeing all the horsepower being squeezed out of pump gas. It would be awesome seeing a supercharged methanol engine on a dyno. It would just be something different. Nitrous motors would be the coolest to see built. I am just saying every issue has "650hp on pump gas" on the front cover. You have made it easy to make pump gas power. Now let's see something exotic. Maybe throw in some foreign stuff. (NOT JAPANESE!) I have not yet seen a diesel built. If I pissed someone off, good. That means I have someone's attention.Keith GentryGrant, LA
You have our attention. Check out Mike Racke's twin-turbo biodiesel '70 Chevelle on page 32. Is that different enough for you?
Being A Mentor
I just got my latest issue of PHR in the mail. As always, the first thing I read is Bangin' Gears (really). I must say when I start reading it, there were many things I could relate to in my own childhood. I'm sure there are many other people who are going to relate also.
You hit it right on the head about our generation viewing cars as an art form, and some people just not getting it. Kids today think a Honda with a huge muffler (that sounds like a bad lawn mower) is the cat's meow. They have no idea what they missed. I have memories of my dad sticking a 360 in a'68 Ford pickup, and teaching me how to speed shift. My first car was a '74 Olds Cutlass Supreme; I took the rocket 350 out and stuck a 454 in it. Now that was fun.
I'm fortunate that I have a 15-year-old son who enjoys cars as much as myself. I guess it helps that we are doing a father/son restoration on a '72 Camaro RS. He loves going to the local cruise night and bigger car shows. We also go to the local dragway, and we always try to bring one of his friends who has never been to the drags before. It really is surprising how many kids don't even know what a dragway looks like. That is a shame.
Kevin, you're doing a great service to your son and his friends by being a muscle car mentor to them. Keep up the good work, and enjoy the story on Bill Trovato's 401ci Olds on page 72.
"Kids today think a Honda with a huge muffler is the cat's meow. They have no idea what they missed."
I've read your rag off and on for over 25 years. The latest issue [April '09] was the best in a long time. The makeover tips for the Laguna were right on target. They can be applied to any car, and anybody can afford them. I hope this will encourage people to build their cars rather than pay someone else. I'm also looking forward to seeing what folks send in for their muscle car projects. Keep up the good work!
The work on the Laguna continues in this issue on page 60, with a bolt-on rear suspension from Global West. Also, we're starting to get lots of mail for the reader project car issue in August. You won't want to miss that.
"The makeover tips for the Laguna were right on target. They can be applied to any car, and anybody can afford them."
1969 All Over Again
Enjoyed your Bangin' Gears 1969 [editorial]. I was born in '62, and have similar memories. On one family vacation around that time, I can remember crowding into my aunt and uncle's Vista Cruiser and vividly remember going by a big glass building in Lansing, Michigan, proudly displaying the name OLDSMOBILE. One of my great-uncles retired from there. He pulled his Airstream trailer with a 455 '68 Delta 88. I ended up with a '68 442 for a drag car.
Another vivid memory is around Christmas of 1969. My dad brought home our brand-new '70 LeSabre with the high-compression 350 engine with factory dual exhaust. Wow, did those exhaust vapors look cool coming out the back on a frigid December day in North Dakota. The body has been put out to pasture, but the engine is still alive and well in an orange '63 Dodge Town Wagon that I named the PT Bruzr. I just celebrated a 30-year anniversary with my four-speed '70 Chevelle SS396 that I bought in January of 1979, at the ripe old age of 16. Forty years later, history seems to be repeating itself with Detroit's unbelievably hot cars, but again with a black cloud looming on the horizon. If I plan things right again, I might be able to buy a nice six-speed '09 Challenger R/T-in 2018.
Hey Dave, sounds like 1969 (or 1970 in your case) is only as far away as your garage. Thanks for sharing those memories.
I enjoyed the article about the '69 Boss 429 Mustang ["Total Performance," April '09]. Those are always nice to see. There were a couple of inaccuracies in the article. 1) To the best of my knowledge, Kar Kraft in Brighton, Michigan, did not engineer the 429 installation. That was handled by Ford Engineering and the pilot plant. 2) In the truest sense, final assembly did not occur at Kar Kraft, but at Dearborn Assembly. You're probably asking yourself, who is this Bruce Guertin, and how would he know these tidbits of information? Well, I worked at Deaborn Assembly from January 2, 1968 until September 7, 1970. My job was in the inspection department. Specifically, I was the afternoon shift manual shift roll test driver during that time. At the end of the final line, the cars were driven off the line, across an aisle, to the front-end alignment station. There, the wheel toe-in was set, and the windshield wipers were installed. Beyond this point, there were four roller chassis dyno-like stations where the cars were "driven" to check things like speedo accuracy, steering function, transmission operation, electrical items, and look for leaks (the 429 had lots of leaks).
There were three roller stations for the auto trans cars, and one for the stick-shift cars. Stick shift is where I worked. Approximately 17 cars per hour were manual shift, and I was expected to drive them all. This meant I got to drive Boss 302s, 429s, and 428 CJs with, and without the Drag Pak. This was an exciting place for a 20-year-old Z-28 owner to work. Originally, all Boss 429s came down the line with a 428 installed (all 428s should have had these shock towers. Plug changes would have been a lot easier). We then "test drove" them, and they went to Kar Kraft where the engines were changed out, and the cars returned to Dearborn Assembly. Back at the assembly plant, we "test drove" them again, the Boss 429 fender sticker and window stickers were applied, and they went on the rail cars.
After a short period of time, the 428s were no longer installed, and the engine-less cars were rolled off the final line, and shipped to Kar Kraft. We got them back for testing in the usual manner when the new engines were installed just like before. I had the misfortune to wreck a Boss 429 coming off the rollers one day in a fit of teenage brain fade. It was a black one, and I hit a white Mustang broadside after I touched the brake and jumped the car off the rollers. There's lots more I can tell you about, like melted grilles, tail lights, and how one car had all its paint "blown off" in the car wash area.
Bruce GuertinAuburndale, FL
We really enjoyed your letter, Bruce, and thanks for the clarification from someone who was actually there.
"I had the misfortune to wreck a Boss 429 coming off the rollers one day in a fit of teenage brain fade."
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