The Truth About Cars » restomod http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:58:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » restomod http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: What Would Ed Lister Do? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/piston-slap-what-would-ed-lister-do/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/piston-slap-what-would-ed-lister-do/#comments Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:34:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=637417 TTAC commentator NoGoYo writes: Sajeev, I’m faced with a problem that’s hard to solve: the problem of being 21 years old and stuck with a grandma car. I drive a 1995 Buick Skylark coupe with the GM 60 degree V6 (3.1 liter) and a four speed automatic transmission. It handles rather decently for a pedestrian […]

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TTAC commentator NoGoYo writes:

Sajeev,

I’m faced with a problem that’s hard to solve: the problem of being 21 years old and stuck with a grandma car. I drive a 1995 Buick Skylark coupe with the GM 60 degree V6 (3.1 liter) and a four speed automatic transmission. It handles rather decently for a pedestrian GM product, but as you would expect from a lower-RPM pushrod V6 hooked to a 4-speed slushbox, it has about as much power as Queen Elizabeth II.

I tried to sell my car and upgrade to something more speed freak 21-year-old friendly, but gave up after not even getting close to a sale. My question is…should I sell the car at a rock bottom price just to get a more lively set of wheels, or invest a couple of bucks trying to make the old Buick a bit less of a snoozer?

Sajeev answers:

Were you expecting a level-headed discussion on the merits of Hot-Rodding a potential Sleeper Skylark versus Not-Rodding a better vehicle? From a TTAC writer with two resto-mod Fox Body Lincoln-Mercury vehicles? Here’s the thing…

You didn’t mention a budget, so I’ll assume you’re a typical broke 21-year-old (no hate, we were all there) with far more time than money. And you own a seriously cool car (stay with me here) with a star crossed history. The 1992+ Skylark was such a radical design that it deserved better, but it was a product of a fundamentally flawed General Motors. And, OMG SON will you peep that interior???

Who wouldn’t want to beat the living snot out of some poor soul in a Civic/GTI/ST Ford/FR-S or get the jump on a careless driver in a Mustang/Corvette/Ferrari in a car this…well, this unbelievably, obscurely radical looking?

You think I’m nuts for saying you could shock a Ferrari?  Hear me out…

Just like my precious Fox Bodies, the GM N-body accepts a host of superior parts from other GM products, some will be easier than others.  Assuming you are good with wrenches and actually want to be a Hot-Rodder, let’s see what we can Google:

  • Suspension: Performance springs, shocks and sway bars (Addco and from an FE3 Oldsmobile) will be easy to find.  This thread has even more fun stuff, and this shows the independent rear suspension available on 1997+ versions.  There’s a good chance the IRS bolts-in with minor modifications, from N-body to N-body. I also really, really like this thread.
  • Brakes: Camaro front calipers sound like a nice upgrade from the forums.  And the IRS swap nets you rear disc brakes too, supposedly.
  • Wheels/Tires: Larger wheels from W-bodies look like a no-brainer.  Who knows, maybe the big, common and cheap 17×8″ wheels from a 1994-present Mustang fit.
  • Powertrain: A manual transmission swap and an upgrade to a better 60-degree V6 (3.4L, 3.5L or the big bore 3.9L, way-hey!) makes perfect sense when the right donor car(s) show up.
  • Education: Learn how to drive your Frankenstein-d machine at a drag strip and a road course. Talent makes up for a premium car badge: believe that!

But wait Sanjeev…how the heck can you get the jump on a Ferrari? You gone crazy?

Maybe this link will inspire you. Or this video:

Click here to view the embedded video.

You are driving the future, so make YOUR future a better one. Can you do an all-wheel drive, fully independently sprung, turbocharged LS4-FTW in your Skylark?  In time, I think you can.  What are you gonna be driving when you’re thirty…and is it gonna top this?

Ain’t nothing gonna top this, son!  I can see it, and it’s been done before.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: One of “Those People…” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/piston-slap-one-of-those-people/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/piston-slap-one-of-those-people/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 10:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485139 TTAC Commentator MNM4EVER writes: A mechanic friend of mine has a 1993 LX 5.0 w/AOD in slightly rough condition he is looking to get rid of. I can pick it up now, complete but not running, for $1800. If I do not buy it, he plans to get it running but otherwise not fix it […]

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TTAC Commentator MNM4EVER writes:

A mechanic friend of mine has a 1993 LX 5.0 w/AOD in slightly rough condition he is looking to get rid of. I can pick it up now, complete but not running, for $1800. If I do not buy it, he plans to get it running but otherwise not fix it up and sell it for $3k or so.

My goal for my potential Mustang is to resto-mod it… 4.6L Cobra motor, track suspension, Cobra disc brakes all around, restore the interior but replace the seats, maybe even swap in a later 94-2004 dash, etc. Since I am looking to replace much of the major components of the car, a rough project car is a definite option for me.

But this rough car needs a lot of other things replaced too… all of the exterior moldings are weathered and degrading thanks to sitting in the Florida sun, the interior is trashed all around, paint is very bad, the body has dings and cracked plastic bumpers, surface rust has set in on many places and a little rust appears on the hatch edges, etc. I am guessing I would need to strip it completely and spend around $2k on bodywork to get it fixed, but then it would be showroom new. But the idea of replacing all those moldings and interior parts scares me… sh!t adds up fast.

So my long drawn out question: Is this a good buy at $1800? Or should I keep looking for a closer to mint Mustang for $5-7k that only needs minor restoration and mechanical upgrades as I see fit?

Sajeev answers:

So basically NOTHING on this Fox Mustang is up to your standards.  Honestly, it’s a horrible example of Fox-aliciousness for anyone at $1800. Even if it had a T-5 (stick), this is a $1000 Fox as it sits…on a good day. $1800 if it was complete and fully assembled? Somewhat likely.

You are one of “those people” that demands a nice car and will pay big money to make it right. For you people (what do you mean YOU people?) there’s no substitute for buying the cleanest, most pristine example you can afford. $5000 or more for a clean Fox Mustang isn’t unreasonable, and that’s right for you.

Once more: buy the cleanest, most pristine example you can afford.

And when you do, you better not put the later model dash in there…that’s just wrong for the rest of the body and a complete waste of a nice car.

MNM4EVER writes:

Well, since I consider you the expert on Fox bodies (too bad 5.0 Mustangs are lamesauce and Fox Lincolns/Cougars/Granadas/etc. rule – SM) , I figured there was no one better to help with my decision. I have been considering picking up a 90-93 Mustang hatch, preferably an LX 5.0 with a stick. I don’t want a convertible, I don’t like the GT look, and I don’t want a notchback. I remember back in the day the notch was considered super rare and therefore more desirable, but today it seems like they are everywhere. I know they are lighter, I don’t care, I like the hatchback look.

This will be a long term project/driver, and will definitely get upgraded suspension and brakes, wheels, seats, and I want 300-350hp. The dilemma is that nice LX 5.0 hatches are hard to find, especially in the condition I want it. I want a nice clean interior, I don’t want a beat on drag car or a rusted banged up body, in the end I want this car to be better than new and bodywork is very expensive. I can do most mechanical and all interior work myself, but I can’t paint or fix rust and dents. Down here in Florida it seems to be easier to find mint condition 4-cyl Mustangs, many owned by elderly people with low miles, and definitely never beat on. And since they are not V8s, they are CHEAP, much less than the V8s I see for sale.

So how hard is it to do an engine and trans swap into a 4-cyl Fox body and build it up the way I want it, compared to starting with a 5.0 platform? I don’t know how many differences there are in the chassis between them. I know even 5.0 cars need chassis bracing, I am going to change out the suspension and brakes anyway, etc. And no, I don’t want to turbo the 4-cyl, I want a V8 this time. To compare, I found a pretty nice all original LX 5.0 hatch with an auto and 68k miles for $7k, but I also found a just as nice, newer 4cyl LX hatch with 48k miles for $3k.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Sajeev concludes:

When it comes to Fox bodies, always remember the first rule of modification: chassis bracing uber alles. That means subframe connectors (get the ones that bolt to the seat bottoms, weld to the subframes) a G-load brace for the front subframe and a 3-point strut tower brace.  Not much extra weight, and it changes the car for the better. You will notice the difference behind the wheel in a matter of FEET, not miles.

If you only want less than 400hp (at the wheels), stick with the stock small block Ford (SBF) and upgrade the heads/cam/intake to make that up. For a street car, I’d recommend a power adder (Whipplecharger) and the appropriate camshaft to make it sing. And apparently Mr. John Kasse is finally making a set of heads that will put the 5.0 V8 a little closer to your garden variety LSX motor.** If you buy your parts wisely, the SBF will be a good fit for your needs and not be a huge money pit. If you plan on paying someone for the motor work, save yourself the expense of a non-SBF motor swap and build a good SBF that will drop right in with zero drama.

Now about the 4-cyl to 5.0 swap: it’s a huge pain in the butt because the wiring harness must be changed (alternator, interior stuff, etc.). Not fun. But if you have the two Mustangs side-by-side and a long weekend ahead of you, you can do it.  And be miserable…in the short term.

Good luck in your hunt.  But take heed to my parting shot, son:

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

**Obviously the all-aluminum LSX-FTW swap is the ideal answer, but sometimes its cheaper (parts and labor) to accomplish almost the same thing with the factory correct engine block.  I am always torn between a 5.0 or an LS in a Fox Body, in cases where less than 400 horses is needed on a reasonable budget. The stock SBF is still a good motor in certain applications, and I am pretty sure this is one of those cases. This ain’t no wheezy four-banger or a gutless V6. And the SBF sounds better than any LSX, so there’s that.

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Piston Slap: 4DSC goes to Infiniti and Beyond? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/piston-slap-4dsc-goes-to-infiniti-and-beyond/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/piston-slap-4dsc-goes-to-infiniti-and-beyond/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 12:14:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422788   T.J. writes: Hey guys, The day I knew was coming but hoped would never arrive is here.  I have to decide whether its time to replace my trusty ride, a 1996 Infiniti I30 with estimated 235k miles (odo was broken years ago, repaired, and reset to a mileage amount we now think is low.  […]

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T.J. writes:

Hey guys,

The day I knew was coming but hoped would never arrive is here.  I have to decide whether its time to replace my trusty ride, a 1996 Infiniti I30 with estimated 235k miles (odo was broken years ago, repaired, and reset to a mileage amount we now think is low.  actual miles is probably around 250-260k).  The issue is an oil leak.

It’s now leaking at the rate of about 5 quarts every 3000 miles.  I’ve been content to keep topping off the oil, but now the leak is causing other problems; specfically, the a/c and alternator belt will not stay on because the pulley is soaked in oil.  Fixing the leak would be over $1000, and this would the third or so leak that we’ve plugged, only to have another pop up, so I’m convinced that if I was to fix it, a new engine is the way to go.  I have an estimate from my mechanic (a very reasonable, trustworthy independent shop) for $2200 or so ($850 for a used local engine with 90k miles, $200 in other parts, and 13 hours labor).

That estimate will probably go up to around $3k (my guess) as I told him I’d also want to replace the transmission (original, never been rebuilt), and engine mounts (needed to be replaced years ago).  The book says to remove the engine from the bottom, so since all those pieces are coming out anyway, he said there wouldn’t be additional labor, only parts.  I’ve sunk almost $2k into this car this year for new shocks, a new harmonic balancer, and 3 new tires less than 3 weeks ago.  A/C was replaced only 1-2 years ago, radiator, I’d say roughly 50-60k miles ago.  Nonessential functions are a mess, though.  Cruise control and radio don’t work (I have a 45 minute highway commute, so those aren’t luxuries), and I can’t use the trunk due to being rear-ended by an uninsured driver, which caused about $1200 in damage to my rear bumper and trunk lid, which has never been repaired.  I have more than enough saved to do this repair, and at my current savings rate, it would take me about 3-4 months to recoup the $3k.  I’m now driving about 15k miles a year.  If I was to replace the car, I would not be getting rid of it.  Due to its condition, its worthless to anyone else except me.  Plus, this is the only car I’ve ever had.  I’m almost 28, and I’ve had this car since I got my license at 16 and put almost all the mileage on it (it had 42k miles when we got it), so it feels like a high school sweetheart I ended up marrying.

My plan if I was to replace it now would be to park it until I had sufficient funds in a few years to get it fixed up and running again.  If I do replace it, I’d likely be waiting for a couple more months and driving an extra family car my parents are willing to loan me till then (I recently started a new job and probably won’t be off new hire probation for 2-3 more months and do not want to be buying a car till then).  Thanks for the advice.

Sajeev Answers:

Since you will keep this car forever (I LOVE HEARING THAT!) do not fix this motor, instead grab a low mile motor from an auto recycler, put fresh gaskets on it, and install. The extra cost incurred is totally worth it, as you’ll get a ton of extra life.

This is also a good time to consider LS4-FTW, but that’s because I haven’t said that in a long, long time.

Restomodding is the name of this game: I was in your shoes when I was 23, with a similar car…a fairly undesirable Fox Body Mercury Cougar XR-7.  Now, almost 12 years later, the Cougar is a bit of a cult classic, and everyone seems (pretends?) to love mine.  Sure, it isn’t a daily driver anymore, but it was at one point and I saved a ton of money driving it.  I call it “my soldier” as it always stood behind me and always impresses bystanders. Hell, I drove it for weeks while waiting for my new 2011 Ford Ranger to arrive, even though it needs a lot of work. It never did me wrong, and I love it for that reason.

Screwball Restomods are insane amounts of fun.  And since the Infiniti I30 is just a Maxima in nice threads, you can do the same. My Cougar woke up quickly with 5.0 Mustang parts, among other items from the Ford parts bin.  Your Infiniti can be a real 4DSC with a lot of Maxima.org forum searching and patience from both yourself and your mechanic: suspension upgrades, 5-speed stick, etc. It’s all in the palm of your hands. Ask stupid questions with respect.  Read the posts of smart people on the forum. Absorb everything.

Buy a newer vehicle whenever you need it…but keep it cheap.  You, by your own admission, are married the Infiniti. So don’t let any schmuck stop you from keeping your I30.

Listen to the madman typing behind the scenes on this webpage, you will NEVER regret this.

 Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

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Piston Slap: The Shroud of Torino? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/piston-slap-the-shroud-of-torino/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/piston-slap-the-shroud-of-torino/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 16:24:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406100   Jeramy writes: Here’s my dilemma: Bought a 1983 5.0 Cougar for my wife as her “weekend” car, but the TBI was problematic and the seats were terribly uncomfortable. Dumped the Cougar, and bought a loaded 1985 F-150 with 5.0 and power everything, then sprayed it in Mustang Redfire Metallic red, but she wanted something […]

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The Torino in Question.

 

Jeramy writes:

Here’s my dilemma: Bought a 1983 5.0 Cougar for my wife as her “weekend” car, but the TBI was problematic and the seats were terribly uncomfortable. Dumped the Cougar, and bought a loaded 1985 F-150 with 5.0 and power everything, then sprayed it in Mustang Redfire Metallic red, but she wanted something more “sporty.”

So I traded the pickup for a 1971 Torino coupe with a 351W and 3 speed auto (pictured here).

I’ve since upgraded it to power steering, but she still insists it’s hard to drive. I do have most of the parts to convert it to power disc brakes (it has manual drums), but I get the feeling that no matter what I do, it’s still going handle like a 40-year-old car. It gets driven less than 300 miles a year. I already have two other project cars in pieces, an ’83 CJ7 and a 1970 Torino Cobra, plus two reliable daily drivers. On the one hand, I’m tempted to just drive the ’71 Torino through the summer myself, except for the gas mileage. I don’t think I could realistically sell it for more than $5000, especially in the weak collector-car market, and to be honest I’ve been reluctant to sell it because I can use it as reference for reassembling my Cobra. On the other hand, it’s literally become a shelf in the garage.

My wife would love a new Mustang or maybe a Miata, and given my history in picking vehicles for her, it’s way past time to let her decide on the next one. So the question is, what do I do with the ’71 Torino?

Sajeev answers:

Funny you mentioned 1983 Fox Bodies and their trouble prone (EEC-III) EFI system, I just spent a few hours in the brutal heat removing that particular electro-vacuum nightmare from my 1983 Lincoln Continental.  Not that anyone really cares, just know that I understand where you’re coming from.

I know chronically single men (like yours truly) are pretty frickin’ oblivious to the dynamics of a healthy marriage, but weekend toy or not, did you really put your wife into three different project cars of dubious appeal?  Certainly appealing to me and you…but you catch my drift.

Having an assembled reference point for your Cobra project is good, especially since now is not the time to sell any classic machine, especially an especially not-unique, especially not-muscular Torino. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you can get $5000 for it, unless the interior is factory fresh and you find the right buyer. Speaking of…

Holy Cyclone, Batman!

You can make a 1971 Torino drive very much like a new car. That I do know.  Because, along with all of my brother’s insane vehicular exploits elsewhere on TTAC, he has a restomod 1970 Mercury Cyclone GT.  Yes, the purists are freaking out over that pedestrian Montego grille, but the change was out of respect to our parent’s former 1970 Montego in the same color.  Which explains how and why the Cyclone is a resto-mod of passion: nobody in their right mind would buy it for anywhere near the money in it.  Which is commonplace in the restomod business, unless it’s a C2/Midyear Corvette with a heavy dose of LS1-FTW.

You can do a Heidts front and rear suspension, EFI Windsor V8 swap, late model gearbox, big wheels/brakes and modern HVAC/Stereo/sound insulation to make a Torino a rather awesome daily driver, but you better not.  Sit on it and hope the economy gets better in the next coupla years.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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