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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This Early Mustang Just Keeps Chugging Along

1966 Mustang

Typically the lowest-spec examples of a car don’t make it to advanced old age in original condition, if at all. They’re un-special enough to give to new drivers or get stripped of their original drivetrain in favor of something more extreme. And yet, here’s this first-generation Mustang parked at a boat launch ramp in California’s sierra foothills. Fifty-ish years old, and it’s still rocking a straight six, three speed and 13″ wheels. That paint looks original and faded/polished down into the primer.

Let’s all take a minute to appreciate the persistence of an unremarkable that dodged a thousand bullets to last this long.

Truck Hunt 2016: Wherein We Buy An Excursion and Break All the Rules

2002 excursion powerstrokeThree hundred eleven thousand miles, lifted, tuned, and salvage-titled, for sale in notoriously sketchy part of Sacramento for almost exactly what I sold my Wagoneer for. In short, this thing is everything I was trying not to buy this time around.

“I kinda really like it” she said with a self-conscious grimace, sitting back in our car after the test drive. “Like, I kinda want to buy it”. I’d been working hard to channel my grandfather, a guy who loved cars but could never allow himself (or my dad or uncle) to buy something truly awesome or ridiculous. Ray definitely wouldn’t have approved of this rig, and I was mentally prepared to just write the whole thing off as just too much. Here we were, having driven two Suburbans and our third* Excursion and my wonderful wife is ready to spend too much money on a truck that’s too tired, too modified and too tall.

(*For those keeping track, there’s a boring one I’m not even bothering to write up)

“The rear seat slides like it’s supposed to, the AC works great and the kid’s obviously doing his best to keep it up”. She did have a point there. Despite all the ridiculousness, the young-enough-to-make-me-feel-old-at-33 owner had recovered the worn driver’s seat, replaced the crapped out CD changer deck and was using it daily as a tow rig in his job at a boat repair shop.

Against a background of peer pressure nudging to “just get the diesel” and with a tailwind of spousal enthusiasm, I texted the guy an offer.

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Evil Genius Cage Class: Learn to Build a Cage the Right Way

evil genius roll cage building classI burned all of last weekend building a cage on someone else’s car and paid for the privilege to do so. Our instructor was John Pagel, the evil genius of Evil Genius Racing, but he might sometimes go by Tom Sawyer as well. Nine of us met up at the Bay Area wrenching co-op Rack Hack Shop to learn John’s methods for building a cage and use his professional-grade tools to do so. The bulk of the attendees focused on Jeff’s Willys Aero (future) LeMons car while myself, Jeff and Gene teamed up on to put a Rally America spec cage in a 2007 Yaris. Owner Ian was cool enough to volunteer his car for a “haircut at the barber college” discounted cage.

Not unlike many of our readers, most of us could weld passably and could probably flail our way to completing a mail-order you-weld-it kit cage or slap one together with “hobby” grade bending and notching equipment. Of course, it’d take us two months and the results would be iffy at best. John walked us through his methods for where to start and how to measure for bends and notches that demystify the process…

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