Project Car SOTU: The Ranchero 2.0

Hey folks. It’s been a while. Might as well get back in the swing of things with a project car update.

When you last saw, we’d done a little work on the rearend of the New Ranchero (Ranchero Nuevo? Two-chero? New-chero?) and were getting ready to do the cage.

To fast forward through it all: DIYed the cage using Evil Genius’ tools, the engine build, transmission rebuild, a million other details, raced at Sonoma in March with some degree of success, did nothing for a few months, fixed what broke at Sonoma, raced last weekend at Thunderhill and won the Index of Effluency!

Unsurprisingly, we still have a pile of things to fix…

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What Happened to you, Engine?

corroded rocker shafts

In an effort to simplify transmission options and have a broader torque curve, we’re upgrading from a 200ci straight six to a 250ci unit. The basic engineering’s the same, but the 250 has a longer stroke and uses the same bellhousing as small block V8. There’s not a lot of love for the 250; for the effort to swap it, you might as well drop in a V8.

I was able to pick up a pair of them for a few hundred bucks, giving me a spare or a power plant should we resurrect the Crunchero. We tore into both to figure out who’s the starter and who’s backup, and hoo boy, was that an easy decision. Check out the surfaces on this motor.

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LeMons Ranchero Update: Get Your Rear End in Order

1962 Ranchero project car

Long ago, I emphasized the importance of finding a “runner” for a first project car. If it can’t  move and function like a car should, it’s impossible to know what other systems need work without taking things apart. Case in point: Everything but the shafts and housing of our rear end was junk.

Thankfully, Ford 8″ axles (and their 9″ older brothers) are completely modular: the differential drops out and the bearings, seals and brake hardware are all easily swapped. The ability to swap a diff without rebuilding the whole thing saves countless hours and dollars.

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LeMons Ranchero Update: Everything Out!

The term “rolling shell” gets thrown around a lot these days. Ok, maybe it doesn’t. Point is, we’ve got the Ranchero about as stripped as it can get. Motor and transmission: Out! Interior: Out! Steering column and pedals: Out! Glass: Out! Wiring: Out! Front suspension: Out, but now back In!

In our two previous LeMons builds, we’d taken a different approach, particularly for wiring: minimal removal. We’d pick up connections at their factory locations and reroute or patch in switches as necessary. Dead-end connections were zip-tied in place. This made more sense with the ’82 BMW 633csi Uberbird, where a single stupid wire being disconnected could prevent the alternator from charging the car (true). On Ranchero 1.0, we adopted that strategy to preserve the fuel gauge and ignition wiring, but also because I still had visions of keeping the car street-able. This time around, we’re betting it’ll be easier to run completely new circuits and find a few more aftermarket gauges.

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Put The Faster Farms Belvedere on the Jegs Cover

faster farms belvedere #43

Typically we ignore PR spam about contests, but this time it’s special: Fellow LeMons racers Faster Farms Plymouth are in the running to have their ’66 Plymouth Belvedere plastered across the cover of an upcoming Jegs catalog. You can help prevent yet another Mustang, Camaro or other generic muscle car from rising to the top. As is often the case these days, the voting takes place on Facebook (sorry, Luddites).

Follow this link to end up on a page with the Belvedere on top and cast your vote! Smear that cover with effluence!

[Image swiped from an ancient Murilee Martin post on Jalopnik]

Opportunists: Assemble! 1970 Toyota Corona Wagon MUST SELL SOON!

1970 toyota corona mk2 wagon for saleI’ve never been in a position to prey on the desperation of a seller in order to score a deal (it’s usually closer to the reverse). Were you located remotely near the SF Bay Area and shopping for a classic Toyota wagon, this is your week! This 1970 Corona wagon needs a new home by next weekend, but the seller dangles a carrot of a better price if sold this week. This suggests a lack of understanding of how firesales work, but let’s move on…

We’re looking at a 1970 Corona Mk II with an 18R engine from a truck and four speed manual providing motivation. The paint’s a faded red and the interior “may need work”, but the mechanicals appear all up-to-date. The seller’s had it for five years, and the overall condition seems to match that of a driver/light project.

1970 toyota corona mk2 wagon for sale

I’m no Corona expert, so I have no clue how rare this configuration in this condition actually is. We still see a lot of non-rusted 70s Toyotas out here, but it seems like the $1200 examples are non-running projects 80% covered in primer. Knocking a bit off the $4800 ask, seems like this would be the better option.

1970 Toyota Corona for sale – SF Bay Craigslist


A Near-Perfect Corvair only Costs Nine Grand

Tim Odell August 16, 2016 For Sale

1966 chevy corvair for sale

Legend has it that GM scrambled to launch the Camaro, having failed to anticipate how much of a success the Mustang would be. The lack of a dedicated long-running design study mean the Camaro actually borrowed a lot of its shape from the second generation Corvair. For me, the second generation Corvair is really the better looking, especially black or blue. Alas, too many have automatics or need tons of body work. And yet, here we have this ’66 Corsa: 140 HP engine, four speed manual, clean black paint and a decent interior. Hell, it even has AC that blows cold. The paint’s not original and there might be 25% too many shiny chrome bits installed, but for somewhere between the $5k current bit and $9k Buy-It-Now, that’s still a bargain.

1966 Chevrolet Corvair – eBay Motors

Project Car SOTU 2016: The Falcon


Using cheap pliers from a cheap tool kit to tighten an alternator pulley nut at 11:00pm atop the SFO long-term parking garage in business attire isn’t particularly enjoyable, but it’s voluntary misery like that that us car idiots wear like a badge of honor.

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Project Car SOTU 2016: 2002 Ford Excursion


If you want to call me an idiot for buying this vehicle I won’t blame you, but I’m secretly hoping to be validated about five years from now. Daisy still loves it for a new reason every day: great A/C, tons of interior room, a half-dozen always-on 12V outlets, and an infinitum of little storage bins for stuff. Did I mention it appears to have about $2500 worth of Banks exhaust plus tuner stuff on it? That said, we’ve got both minor and potentially-not-so-minor issues to work through in the short term.

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Project Car SOTU 2016: 1962 Ford Ranchero… er, Rancheros actually


To be quite honest, progress has been minimal. To date, the activity’s been mostly shopping and disassembly, with little to indicate progress towards this thing becoming a race car. I’m typing this on a plane on my way to a multi-week work trip overseas, which definitely isn’t helping things.

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