Greatest American Engines

Ford flathead V8

Ford FlatheadFord’s Model T revolutionized the way American’s drove, and the Ford flathead V8 changed just how fast we were able to get there. Although the Ford “flatty” was not the first V8 or even the first mass-produced V8 it was the first one that was readily affordable to the general population. At last, an average family was able to afford a car that could go 60 mph! Model Ts were only able to do about 40 mph.

The Ford flathead got its name since the valves are seated in the block and the head is a perfectly flat “lid” that would simply bolt onto the deck. Ford’s flathead configuration gave up a lot by the way of valve efficiency but easily made up for it in its simple design and cost. Introduced in 1932, Ford kept it in production in the U.S. until 1953 and was found in German trucks until 1973.

Duesenberg straight eight

duesenberg straight 8The Duesenberg J was probably the greatest American classic car ever manufactured. These regal, two-tone locomotives of lacquer and chrome were the pinnacle of the automotive world when new. Unfortunately, they were built at the beginning of the Great Depression and priced at $15,000, the cars were about 5 times what a doctor would make in a year.

The 6.9-liter engine was made in 3 versions from 1928 until 1937. The naturally aspirated model put out an impressive 265 hp. Duesenberg also made 36 supercharged cars that had a whopping 320 hp each and could reach speeds of over 125 mph. The SSJ was the ultimate version of the car and put out nearly 400 hp. Only two were ever made: one was for Gary Cooper, and the other for Clark Gable.  Continue reading “Greatest American Engines”

Ford Bronco Lovers

Thinking About Restoring A Ford Bronco, You Better Hurry

1977 Ford BroncoIt isn’t surprising that a vehicle that was originally developed as a workhorse, the majority of first-generation Broncos were put out to pasture long ago. Very few still remain in original condition and most of the survivors come with performance and/or vocational modifications. It’s a phenomenon that parallels with vintage muscle cars, which were commonly modified soon after purchase. Just like the muscle cars, the highest values for vintage Broncos will be going to those in original condition.

Smart buyers that are seeking a to own a classic Bronco to do some serious off-road driving should focus their energy primarily on those that have already had modifications. These are typically less expensive than the stock-condition vehicles in similar condition and, depending on the upgrades, a modified Bronco will probably save considerable money because much of the work has already been completed.

Many Broncos that would otherwise be stock are often found to have upsized off-road tires and it is very common for them to have had the rear fender cut away to be fitted with fender flares.  Without question “un-cut” Broncos are more desirable today because of their relative scarcity. A Bronco that has been flared will be cheaper to buy, but you won’t get as much on the resale, either. Continue reading “Ford Bronco Lovers”

American Muscle Cars

How did muscle-car madness start?

Everyone seems to have a list of the best American muscle cars of all time and it is something that many people are passionate about.  I am going to jump in with my list of the top 5 muscle cars of all time.

Many enthusiasts feel that muscle cars got their start with the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. Others feel that the genre really ran from 1965 to about 1970 before losing out to high gas prices, more stringent exhaust emissions regulations and increasing costs of insurance.

What defines a muscle car? Although there isn’t an official definition, most experts can agree that it’s a smaller, 2-door, 4+ passenger car that is powered by a high-displacement engine typically found in a larger, full-size sedan.

Some purists will argue that pony cars, such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, aren’t really muscle cars at all but I love them and I think they deserve a place in this list.

Car makers engineered muscle cars for straight-line speed, that inspired the occasional Saturday night drag race between traffic lights. Muscle cars were neither built nor sold in huge numbers but they were good bait and lured car buyers onto car lots where they would purchase more ordinary models. Here’s our list in model-year order.

1967 Pontiac GTO

1967-Pontiac-GTO

Ignoring General Motors’ ban against putting large engines — anything over 330 cubic inches — into small cars, Pontiac place a 389-cubic-inch V-8 into its Tempest as an option called the GTO in 1964, according to MotorTrend.com.  The response was so tremendous that the car won over GM executives and paved the way for a stable of Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac muscle cars.

Because of its historic significance, the 1965 model could represent GTO on my list, but 1967 was the first full model year of availability with ram air through a functional hood scoop on the GTO. It was a 400-cubic-inch V-8, delivering 360 horsepower. Continue reading “American Muscle Cars”