Super Piston Slap: No Free Stuff For You!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Every “How To” automotive series pushes the aftermarket hard for free stuff, even under-the-radar journos like Zach Bowman and Regular Car Reviews find themselves with free/discounted goodies. I’ve done product reviews in TTAC’s past, so this isn’t a Baruthian hit piece on journalistic greed. Heck, Bowman generously donated his pre-sponsorship clutch for TTAC’s Ford Sierra (more on that much later) and Mr. Regular seems like a righteous enough dude.

So instead, think of my work as the alternative to PowerBlock TV. What work is this, you may ask?

For the last 16 years, I’ve foolishly idiotically spent a metric ton of cash to resto-mod my Fox Body 1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino, because it’s the car that got me hooked on cars and it’s the ideal restomod for my bizarre tastes.

Bye-bye rusty, crusty 5.0-liter V8 making a pathetic 130 horsepower. Bye bye to my savings, too.

One reason this project costs so much is I’m not doing the heavy lifting: Classic Cars of Houston accepted the challenge even though it’s far from their usual fare of pre-war icons and ’50-’60s classics.

Maybe I should promote Exide for its explodey batteries, circa 1993. Luckily replacement Mustang sheetmetal from Late Model Restoration lowered repair costs … a little.

Classic Cars of Houston did a fine job soda blasting, but I doubt Coca-Cola would give me a single red cent. (Kidding!)

Fresh chocolate underhood, grey paint on the chassis, and several years sitting on Classic Cars of Houston’s rotisserie (while more valuable projects rolled by) gave me time to refill the coffers for things like this lovely small-block Ford V8.

LSX-FTW wasn’t a thing when I started, and a free Ford Racing crate motor isn’t hug worthy. No off-the-shelf combo works for an overweight automatic Fox Body: peep the bespoke 331 CID stroker with Dart heads and a custom, torque rich cam. Then again, maybe Dart has a well-funded PR department?

I hate aftermarket suspensions: they lack compliance in their thin-walled polyurethane bushings. And since Houston roads suck, no way I’d take a vendor freebie. Like gourmet lobster mac-n-cheese, I threw more cash at Classic Cars of Houston for a classy riff on a poor man’s modification: the infamous (?) boxed lower control arms via flat sheetmetal stock trick.

See that long-since-out-of-production GT-40 tubular intake? They don’t come cheap and nobody’s donating one to my, um, autoblogging charity. Would anyone choose an off-the-shelf cast intake over this tubular beauty, even if it was free?

Will a wicked-bad 5.0 Mustang cold air intake kit sway me over a bespoke creation utilizing the Continental’s Ram Air intake below the headlights? Lincoln’s obscure factory engineering is why I stick to my guns, cost be damned.

Koni discontinued their Mustang SVO dampers, and I never asked for the famous autojourno discount of its factory rebuild services. Ditto for the Continental-turned-SVO control arms, rebuilt only by Rare Parts in Stockton, CA. The front coil springs came from another Fox project (thanks, Coil Spring Specialties) and the ginormous sway bar was pulled from in a junked Thunderbird Turbo (thanks, forgotten junkyard now owned by LKQ).

Note that factory Continental/SVO K-member (in gray). There’s no fancy tube-intensive aftermarket replacement for this Continental. NVH control above all else, I’d reject a free kit from Griggs Racing.

Even without a kick-back, I’ll thank eBay Motors for allowing one to buy NOS Koni rear dampers (intended for a 1980 Thunderbird) and the 7.5-inch differential girdle. And to Summit Racing for its SVT Cobra-esque 1-inch rear sway bar.

And how could I forget my local to O’Reilly Auto Parts! The rest of the suspension/brakes came from their inventory!

(Necessary aside: I’d never accept a free Ford 8.8-inch axle assembly from an aftermarket vendor. I reckon the factory 7.5-inch has less parasitic drag. My Mustang SVO limited-slip differential was proudly bought as a poor-ish college student. I won’t run racing slicks. The factory rear discs made popular by the Lincoln Versailles seals the Restomod deal.)

Perhaps I should’ve asked Maximum Motorsports for a discount on its brilliantly engineered Fox Mustang strut tower brace. They did work with Zach Bowman on the Ecoboost Fox Body. Perhaps they have a full refund policy in exchange for MAD SEO BENEFITZ???

But this terrible pimpatorial restoration update merely scratched the surface and overlooks the blizzard of NOS parts bought on eBay Motors for cheap. Seriously eBay, it’s time for a Gift Card!

So riddle me this, Best and Brightest: how can I get free stuff to complete the restoration?

I’m thinking:

[Images: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • DougD DougD on Sep 29, 2016

    This is just all kinds of crazy, which is why it's so cool. Hats off to Sajeev for thinking outside the box, or maybe in this case inside the Fox Box, or whatever. I was wondering about the control arms too, but it'll either work (which I suspect it will) or it won't and he just buys another set from forgotten junkyard. Too bad we can't borrow the Roadkill crew to shoot an episode on this, not only is it interesting but the vehicle will actually be useful at the end of the show.

  • Hoon Goon Hoon Goon on Sep 29, 2016

    I enjoy your dedication to your favorite brand. I also enjoy knowing that I am not the only one pushing the limits of my wallet to make it happen. There are much wiser ways to spend or invest money, but blowing your wad on the next parts is as good as life gets for an obsessed car guy. Old people can't do this stuff, so do it while you can. Keep following that dream.

  • Dartdude Having the queen of nothing as the head of Dodge is a recipe for disaster. She hasn't done anything with Chrysler for 4 years, May as well fold up Chrysler and Dodge.
  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
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