LeMons Ranchero: Stripero y Swapero

Tim Odell June 23, 2016 All Things Hoon

The day’s work is over, but I find myself circling the subject, simultaneously admiring its new condition and brainstorming the next billion steps in the project. If my neighbors weren’t already familiar with my project car antics they might’ve called the cops to report a grimy weirdo with a beer just standing there in the driveway staring.

Finally. Finally I’m tearing into both the new and old Rancheros. I ended last Saturday with a sore back and hands full of cuts and bruises and couldn’t have been happier. When your dopamine levels scale with how much change you can effect in a day, low-end project cars at the best.

Case in point: interior out, floors scraped, two yellowjacket nests removed, front end pulled to less-crumpled and entire front steering and suspension removed came from one full afternoon with just one guy (this guy (thumbs)) working. Hit the jump for amusing details.

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LeMons Ranchero: Shopping for Steering and Shifting

Since its acquisition in March, the new Ranchero’s sat in my driveway, a monument to lack of progress. It waited in line behind the final fixes and sale of the Wagoneer and the conclusion of a T-Ball season I was conscripted into coaching. With all that out of the way, it’s Ranchero Time, baby!

Click through for the first few acquisitions for the new car.

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Hoss Approved: 1969 Fiberfab Bonanza

Tim Odell June 16, 2016 For Sale

1969 fiberfab bonanza kit car for saleRaise your hand if you’d heard of a Fiberfab Bonanza before today. Yeah, me neither. The gist: a VW Type III pan, Corvair drivetrain and fiberglass kit from Fiberfab (in their original German guise). The front end is a pretty clear Saab Sonnet knockoff, and the drooping rear is driving me crazy. I swear I remember that shape from some high-end GT from last year’s Monterey Historics, but can’t place it.

Anyway, this one runs and drives, but still needs both mechanical and interior love. Rather than expend more energy on that Corvair pancake, I’d look into the feasibility of a Subaru EJ. That newer 2.5L would certainly constitute “situation or event that creates a sudden increase in wealth” when it comes to horsepower.

1969 Fiberfab Bonanza for sale – $1,625 w/reseve unmet – eBay Motors

Overambitious, Incarnate: “500hp” Half-Built Maserati Biturbo

Tim Odell June 16, 2016 For Sale

1987 maserati biturbo for saleIt’s one thing to attempt to revive a complicated, poorly engineered car; it’s another thing entirely to revive a half-finished show car project built from a complicated, poorly engineered car. Such is our subject today: a 1987 Maserati Biturbo Si that, some time ago, was capable of 500hp and a 3.7s 0-60 time courtesy of ported/polished heads, bigger turbos, a new ECU and a raft of typical performance add-ons. To complement those audacious performance numbers, the exterior’s been treated with a widebody aero kit and the interior sports both leopard and alligator skin surfaces.

Those glory days are gone, because as it sits, the interior (particularly the dash) is partially disassembled, looking like it’s in the middle of a complete re-wire. Thankfully, it looks to be a pretty straightforward generic aftermarket fusebox and harness labeled in English. Honestly, at this point the best thing would be to get it mechanically sorted and functional without worrying about fixing up the early-90s aesthetics. Remove all the badges and leave people wondering how they just got dusted by a suped-up Scirocco.

1987 Maserati Biturbo hopeless project for sale – $3995 – eBay Motors

This Willys CJ2a is Tragically Complete and Original

Tim Odell June 14, 2016 For Sale

1946 willys cj2a for saleTragically? Yes, tragically. You see, the problem with an all-original CJ2a is that it’s an absolutely miserable vehicle to spend time in. The ride’s brutal and the running gear leaves you maxed out on a major suburban boulevard. Luckily, they’re a simple enough platform that any number of drivetrain and suspension bits can be swapped in to great effect.

But you can’t do that to this one. I won’t let you. Nor will armies (heh…) of the Jeep faithful. You see, this is one of not-that-many-left CJ2as that’s not massively rusted or modified as to be unrecognizable. It runs on the original flathead and still has a PTO winch. Unfortunately, it also still has the gas tank under the driver’s seat and no seatbelts or roll protection of any kind. Those last two team up for a halfway decent argument in favor of the old “thrown free” school of crash safety.

So anyway, here’s this Jeep that’s in great shape for what it is, but you can never do anything but further restore it to factory condition, lest everyone hate you. $4k.

1946 Willys CJ2A for sale – eBay Motors

Pile of 912 Shaped Rust Sets New Record for Seller Optimism

Beverly Hills Car Club has a reputation for stocking classics and exotics in “ambitious” project condition, to put it lightly. This latest listing for a 1967 Porsche 912 raises the bar in terms of optimistic seller description and pricing at $3,950 obo. We sometimes jokingly ask if a car’s spent the last decade at the bottom of a lake, but this really looks like it might have. Actually, it looks like it rolled down a hill into a lake, where it sat for a decade. Look, if you’re selling what’s left of a car as a parts donor, just identify it as such. Or save us all the trouble; break it down into its constituent parts and list each one on eBay.

Instead, we’ve got a…

Porsche 912 Short Wheel Base Coupe with matching numbers with a dark blue exterior and black interior. Complete with the engine and transmission and carburetors. The engine alone as you can see from recent ebay listings for around $3,500. Great value. Will make a strong parts car.

Um, no. Surveying the commendably complete photoset, it looks like one might salvage the wheels, a few pieces of glass, parts of the seats and the shifter handle. I refuse to believe the engine and trans aren’t seized solid and the carbs wouldn’t disintegrate upon cleaning.

Maybe I’m way off base and there’s nearly $4k worth of parts to be pulled from this literal heap? Maybe our resident Porsche guy can weigh in.

1967 Porsche 912 for sale – eBay Motors

Two Gals at the Same Time: $15,000, OBO

Tim Odell June 9, 2016 For Sale

1966 ford galaxie convertible for sale

Convertibles only make sense if they’re very small or very large. If not a Miata, S2000, all the British ones, etc., then chopping the top massively compromises the sportiness of the car it’s based on. If we’re not carving corners, then we might as cruise (or blast in a straight line) in comfort with a few friends onboard. If you’re going big, then you need a proper big block. Thus: these full-size ’66 Ford Galaxies are a most optimal choice.

Now, when talking about a big-block powered full-size cruising machine, there’s one last choice to make: stick shift or auto? On one hand, manuals are always better and more fun. On the other, sometimes you just want to cruise, and it’s not like you’re nailing heel-toe downshifts on your way into The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. (Note: if you take a stick-shift full-size classic convertible through The Corkscrew, but better damn-well send us pictures or video). Regardless, there’s no need to chose here, as you get one of each!

1966 ford galaxie convertible for sale

Things get interesting as we get to the condition on these. Forgive the cliche, but these are in pretty impressive “barn [ok, not a barn] find” original shape. If you’re interested in a proper restoration of either, the legit “Q code” VINs and numbers matching parts will matter to someone later on. Keeping the cliche train coming, these really do look like the kinds of vehicles one could make money on if they don’t need too much metal work. I’d probably spruce one up as much as possible, then sell it to fund the build of the other.

Two 1966 Ford Galaxie Convertibles for sale – Sacramento Craigslist

Chevy Monza Spyder: How Bad Could it Be?

Tim Odell June 7, 2016 For Sale

1980 chevy monza spyder for sale You can always tell someone’s age by their reaction to the GM H-Platform vehicles. Baby Boomers experienced them in real-time, buying new Vegas that scared them away from GM products for decades. Older Gen-Xers experienced them as hand-me-downs or purchased used by parents still determined to Buy American. I’m young enough to have no personal connection to Vega/Monza/et al, but was raised by stacks of Motor Trend that taught me that if it’s rear-wheel-drive, manual and a V8 it must be pretty good. Rationally I know this Monza is terrible, but on some level I want it proven to me. Will the wheel come off in my hands? Will the doors fail to seal?

Today’s example has has appears to be somewhat hotrodded, despite keeping the 307 onboard. For the effort, dropping in a 350 in any condition would’ve been a better starting point. That said, the carb, intake, cam and headers could all be swapped over to a better motor easily. It’s got a four speed, refreshed suspension, brake upgrades off an S10 and a 2.93:1 limited slip rearend. It’s a decent setup that’s probably quick enough to be fun to drive.

You know how “rat rod” type builds are supposedly all about using whatever parts are easily available, prioritizing performance over looks? This is the ultimate rat rod: a car that no one respects, but could easily be built to shame “cooler” vehicles. Embrace the terribleness; add horsepower; achieve greatness.

1980 Chevy Monza Spyder for sale – eBay Motors

Truck Hunt 2016: 2001 GMC Yukon XL (aka Suburban 2500)

2001 GMC Yukon XL suburban exterior

At my day job, I lead early-stage technology development projects. I earn my pay by wrangling a crew of innovator-type engineers to take something from a pile of cool ideas to a mature, workable product that will go into people’s brains. My job is to strike the balance of risk: are the small sample sets of data we’ve collected to date enough to say something’s good enough, or should we take an extra month to fully prove it out? Basically, which “might-be” problems aren’t, and which could blow up on us later.

And it’s that part of my brain that’s working over the weekend as I’m attempting to assess a 15 year old luxo-truck. This truck gives every indication it can do the job, but am I going to look back at the little issues I’m seeing as the signs I should’ve avoided it, or just typical roughness that comes with age?

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Truck Hunt 2016: Time for a New(er) Tow Rig

1991 ford f350 crew cab2001 gmc suburban

2001 ford excursion1991 suburban


The Wagoneer’s gone, which means my backup commuting vehicle is either my bike or my wife’s patience. Secondarily, we’re down to the miniscule towing capacity of the Mazda5. It’s time to start shopping for a new truck or SUV to do Truck Stuff. The plan was never to reduce the number of cars in the fleet, but fill the Wagoneer’s slot with a vehicle better suited to our real needs. Ok, wants. But like, really well rationalized wants.

The Wants:

  1. Ability to tow a LeMons car (or two?) in an enclosed trailer with tools and spare parts on board
  2. Ability to take the family camping at the end of a rutted dirt road 1000 miles away in summer or winter (thus: 4×4 and AC-equipped)
  3. Ability to work and haul dirty stuff around without causing too much stress about “ruining it”
  4. Ability to do all of the above with reasonable durability and ease of maintenance
  5. Cost less than $8k, but preferably more like $5k

With those in mind, here’s what’s on the shopping list…

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