Monday, August 30, 2010

BARN FINDS: 1970 Mustang Mach 1, 4-speed

Barn find of the day.  This 1970 Mustang Mach 1 was found covered in dirt and surrounded by clutter unworthy of its company on a dead end road somewhere in Alabama. 40,970 Mach 1s were built in 1970. This  one appears to have original Medium Lime Metallic paint under the dust and dirt. A 351-cubic inch engine and 4 barrel carburetor look original and match the wear of the 103k miles on the odometer. The four-speed transmission speaks volumes about this green machine's original purpose. Go fast and look good doing it.
Hood scoop, add stripes and hood pins. That equals a muscle car!

Barn find dreams are made of 4-speeds and good original seats like these.

Original 1970 Mustang Mach 1 deep dish hubcaps.

Somebody needs to oil the hinges.

Barn fresh rear seats in 1970 Mach 1.

In 1970 the Mach 1s had only 2 headlights, instead of 4 like the 1969 models.

Call it a Fastback or SportsRoof, its a Mach 1 in a barn!

351-cubic inch engine, 4 barrel carb in this 1970 Mach 1

Showing 3k on the odometer, I'm guessing it's 103k.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CARS IN YARDS: 1969, 1970 Dodge Coronets not R/Ts or Super Bees

Muscle car alert! I broke the law when I spotted this pair of Dodge Coronets, 1969 and 1970 models, taunting me from a yard in north Alabama. R/T and Super Bee emblems were nowhere to be found after my improper u-turn. These cars appeared to be run-of-the-mill Coronets, but still worthy of a u-turn. You rarely see rough, 2-door Mopars from this era parked in yards, let alone, out in the open. The white 1969 Coronet with tattered black vinyl top wore its Magnum 500 wheels. The mostly red 1970 Coronet sported slot mags. The engine in the '70 may be gone, judging by the looks of the lifted front end.

Between 1965 and 1971, anyone could order the second generation 426-cubic inch Hemi engine in their Chrysler, Dodge or Plymouth grocery-getter/drag racer. Mopar's Hemi legend was built around their 'elephant' engine that roared down drag strips. The legend has been retold by racers who proudly boast they raced against those Hemi-powered cars. Win or lose, people remember racing these cars. Now, non-Hemi V8 and 6-cylinder Mopars, such as Coronets and Belvederes from this era command big bucks on looks alone. 

After my first glance, visions of black, fiberglass hoods emblazoned with "SIX PACK" decals danced in my head. 426-cubic inch Hemi engines with pistol grip 4-speeds, turned these mortal Mopars into boulevard bruisers during my momentary dream state. I regained my focused and knocked on the door. "Would you like me to haul those two, old, junk cars out of your yard?," I thought to myself. My opening line went unused. No one was home. My Mopar daydream would have to suffice for now.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

WHAT'S IN MY GARAGE? Firebirds, Trans Ams and more

Pontiac heaven? No, just Tommy Simmons' garage.
Garage envy? Your fellow gear head has a cool collection of cars, tools and stacks of NOS parts safely tucked into your dream hot rod garage. Want to take a peek inside those giant, garage mahals and intriguing old barns but don't have the nerve to ask. We've got the scoop on real man caves - the garage.

Tommy Simmons, 48, of Pleasant Grove, Alabama has a garage, make that an airplane hangar, any gear head would crave. Lots of space, more than a handful of vintage cars and a built-in lift to work on his vehicles like a pro. Simmons got bit by the car bug early in life. "I have a picture somewhere of me in diapers at 3-years old sitting on the 283-cubic inch engine in my dads '55 Chevy with a wrench in my hand," Simmons says proudly.

Floor pans for a 1967 Firebird are sitting on top of Simmons' 1987 Pontiac Trans Am GTA.

Simmons has owned more than 30 muscle or pony cars from the golden years of Detroit. "I have never owned a foreign car and as you can see, I'm pretty Pontiac heavy. My first car was a 1967 GTO that once belonged to my granddad." Chevy fans get ready to groan. Simmons held on to all of his Pontiacs but parted with his 1957 Chevrolet 4-door. (left, rear of top photo) "I sold the '57 to buy my oldest something newer to drive."

Current cars in garage
1967 Firebird convertible - Project from Illinois, found it online on Performance Years site in 2001. "It has a 400-cubic inch engine with a 400 tranny." Simmons also has new trunk and floor pans to replace the rusty ones.
1987 Trans Am GTA - “The red GTA was bought around 2000. A shop had told the owner it needed an engine and a wiring harness. I tuned it and replaced the missing and blown fuses and it ran fine. All three of my kids and one son-in-law have used that car at one time or another and it shows."
1979 Trans Am - "The black '79 was a 301 powered, one-option car when I bought it in 1997. I have found and installed every option you can think of since then, including WS6 suspension, 400-cubic inch engine and a 4-speed. I don't know why but I just love that car."
1981 Trans Am Special Edition - It's the red car on right in back of top photo. "I bought it for parts but it was so straight and I had so many parts stored, I decided to build it. This was THE ONE we all dream about, the one we FINISH. The car still had the nice, factory Recaro interior, so I went all in. I built a stroker 455 engine (now 472-cu. inches), super strong tranny, rare 12-bolt rear from a '70 Formula. I added a '73 Formula Firebird front clip, then painted it Dodge Viper Red. I finished it in the summer of '05. 3 days later it was stolen from my driveway in the middle of the night. I didn't see it again until 2007. I'm really just now making myself work on it any." 
1996 Trans Am - its all one color now.
1996 Trans Am - The black '96 (above), originally bought by Simmons' daughter, was totaled in an accident in Montgomery in '08.  "My son and I used parts from three Firebirds, of different colors, to make what it is now."
1978 Trans Am - "The burgundy Bird, (left, front in top photo) actually belongs to one of my brothers. It's really a 1980 base Firebird but we used some of my stash to turn into a '78 T/A."

You can't have too many Trans Ams.

You know your serious about your garage when you put a bathroom in it.

Garage facts
Simmons found his garage inspiration at a gas station. "I actually bought my building out of that little, free ad magazine in convenience stores. The building is made by American Steel Span and was intended to be an airplane hangar." The building is 40'x50' and it took Simmons almost two years to build, doing almost all of the work himself.

A look at Simmons' American Steel Span garage under construction.
Cool stuff
The surfboard on the back wall isn't real. "Its a display piece from a beer company." What airplane hangar would be complete without airplanes? "Me and my brothers were pretty heavy into the remote control airplanes in the early '90s. As my basement empties into my shop, things get hung wherever they can go."

Why so many cars? 
Simmons would buy junk cars with blown engines that someone wanted out of their yard. "I fixed them and drove them as cheap transportation, then pushed them into the back of my yard when they needed more than I could afford to do to them," says Simmons. "My three children came along, and most of the cars  turned into school clothes, household needs, or whatever was needed. Dad's toys had to go when momma's babies needed something." By the looks of it, Simmons has plenty of toys since his children have grown up. "Most of what I still have, has been bought since the kids got older or was in too bad a shape to sell."

Got a cool garage? 
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

READERS RIDE: Homebuilt trike a junkyard motorcycle that's more car than bike

Call it a homebuilt trike or a recipe for a wild ride. One part Buick, one part Chevrolet Camaro, add some Toyota for good measure, then stick a Harley-Davidson fork in it. 

At first glance the 231 cubic inch Buick V6 with Holley valve covers looks right at home on Charles and Beverly Pilkington's trike. A closer look reveals homespun ingenuity and the evolution of parts that were added to meet needs as they developed. I didn't stop at their house to look at the trike, it just happened. 
Open air fun with a car's engine and transmission.

My wife, friends and family will attest that I will knock on anyone's door to talk about cars. On a recent Friday in north Alabama a black 1957 Chevy caught my eye (photos coming soon). I made a quick u-turn and ended up staring at this fierce looking trike guarding the front door of the house. I've dealt with some mean dogs on the way to doorsteps before. I never faced an owner that spawned a diabolical trike. 

Knock, knock
I knocked and a lady answered the door, her western drawl was friendly but she sounded a bit skeptical of my intentions. I assured Beverly I wasn't crazy, that I just wanted to photograph her cool cars and that trike. She told me that every time they take the trike out for a spin it draws a crowd. She filled me in on the details.

Trike specs
: 231 cubic inch Buick V6
: Buick 3-speed automatic
Rear end
: 1999 Camaro with drum brakes
Master cylinder
: 1979 Toyota
Fork assembly
: 1974 Harley-Davidson FLH 3 inch overstock
Gas tank
: boat
Rear wheels
: 20-inch diameter

Homebuilt parts
  • Frame
  • Custom Fat boy gas tank - for looks only. Real gas tank from a boat at rear of  trike.
  • Rear seat built in shop, front seat bought at Sam's.
  • Side steps added after melting shoes on exhaust
Test drive?
After taking photos Beverly asked me to come back for a ride on the trike when Charles was home. She promised me it would be a ride to remember. That big burly trike is scary sitting still. Is my life insurance up to date?

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Junkyard crawling in Wisconsin: The forgotten junkyard!

Dream of finding a ‘lost’ junkyard? John B. of northern Wisconsin sent junkyardlife these scenes from a forgotten junkyard near Rhinelander, Wisconsin. “About 50 years ago, they closed this yard up, and hauled everything away, or so I thought,” John said. A dozen cars of 1920s and 1930s vintage are scattered in the woods. Ironically, the cars sit on land that belongs to the Nature Conservancy. “I don’t think they would acknowledge having a junkyard on their property.”
Bring a chainsaw
“I believe the cars could be had for little or nothing if the owner's (whoever they may be) even know they exist,” says John. Removing the one or two larger hulks would be a monumental challenge because Mother Nature has reclaimed them for herself. “The cars are going to have to be hand carried out because the trees have grown up through the cars.” 

“I wish I could have ‘rediscovered’ it sooner,” says John, a former truck driver who has been everywhere and seen his fair share of junkyards. Unfortunately, rust belt roads wreaked havoc on these ancient automobile shells long before they landed in this forgotten junkyard. “Most of these hulks are now paper thin or worse but they are still fun to look at,” says John. 

Thanks for the photos John! We like to look at automotive history that has escaped recycling too.

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