Our Cars: Should I repaint the Lincoln?

Tanshanomi April 24, 2014 Project Cars


As I pointed out recently, my ’92 Lincoln Town Car is getting pretty ratty. I’ve been waffling on whether to plan on simply retiring the old girl at some point and continue driving it into the ground, or begin pumping some resto-mod funds into it. I still genuinely enjoy driving the Town Cow, but a newer replacement would offer better gas mileage…and a big ol’ Easy Button to press. Either way, it’s time to stop being a cheapskate; one way or another, additional four-wheel transportation expenses are on my horizon.

The Town Cow’s most egregious issue is the horrid appearance. Call me shallow, but driving around in something that looks like a refugee from the police tow lot is depressing, and saps my enthusiasm for making other improvements. I saw a Maaco commercial on TV a few nights ago, and the idea of giving the Lincoln a new exterior finish has been tickling my pituitary pleasure center ever since.

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Free Shop Supply Samples For The Win!

Tanshanomi April 21, 2014 Wrenching Tips


As every crack dealer and supermarket aisle chef knows, giving away free samples is a great way to introduce your product to customers who wouldn’t otherwise know of or try your product. The tactic works, however, only if your product is really good (or tragically addictive, but that’s another discussion). Two additions to my garage that I discovered through the-first-hit-is-free tactics that I am now überloyal to are Fluid Film and Worx hand cleaner.

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Two-Wheel Tuesday: Honda CL125S – A New Addition To The Garage


Last week I bought a Honda CL125S, the same model as the first motorcycle model I ever owned. 

The CL125 was the faux-scrambler version of the long-lived CB125 street bike. It was only made two years, 1973 and 1974. Other than the very cool looking high pipe and the bits and brackets that accommodate it, the CL is almost identical to a CB of the same year. But that comparatively rare exhaust makes all the difference to me.

I bought my first one on July 31, 1980, from a kid I worked with at the local hardware store. I had just turned 17. I paid $275 for it, as I recall, including a beat-up open-face helmet. It was actually a ’73 in Hawaiian Blue, but the tank was so rusty inside that I needed a new one. The local Honda dealer had a ’74 Candy Ruby Red tank in stock, so I bought that and mine then looked just like this one (only with flat-black spraybombed side covers to hide the original blue). I traded it in the next spring on a new (left-over) ’79 Triumph T140E Bonneville. And I don’t think I’ve seen a CL125S in the flesh since.

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Craigslist: Toyota Supra Mk II P-Types


In yesterday’s Hooniverse Asks post, Robert pondered What’s the Coolest Japanese Sports Coupe of the ’80s/’90s? My response in the comments was the 1982-’86 A60-platform Toyota Celica Supra Mk II “P-Type”, and from the number of upvotes my comment got, many of you are fans of this car, too.

The  second-gen A60 was the last Supra to be a sub-brand of the Celica line. It was available in two styles; the “L-type” luxury model and the more racy “P-” (performance) Type. Powertrain was identical, but the two versions were differentiated by the P’s wider rims and tires, aggressive (for the time) fiberglass fender flairs and front air dam, and standard limited slip differential.

That post prompted me to see what sort of P-Type offerings were to be had in the great Project Car Purgatory that is Craigslist. What I discovered is that these cars are still well thought of, in as much as their asking prices indicate, and all these cars are more than a quarter-century old, with commensurate wear and tear on them.

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A Half-Dozen Great, Cheap Vehicles for The Noobie Wrench


A couple of days ago, Jeff received an E-mail from Hooniverse reader “John”, who says he “never had a mechanic-savvy family member to teach me as a teenager, so now I find myself learning the ropes all by my lonesome.” He wrote seeking recommendations for a cheap and easy project car to fiddle around with and learn the basics on. John is in college and doesn’t have a bucket of extra cash to spend, but he doesn’t want to attempt to wrench on his daily driver and wind up without reliable transport. He’s currently considering “an old Datsun Z, an old VW bug, or an ’80s-to-early-’90s Japanese four-banger….”

When Jeff asked for input from the Hooniverse staff, I replied that I’d read an article on this very subject in either Auto Restorer or Cars & Parts about 10 years ago. The author of that article said that everybody thinks that old Beetles make good beginner restoration candidates, but in reality they are a horrid choice. They inevitably have extensive corrosion, flimsy sheetmetal, a lot of weak components that can break easily during dis-assembly or are difficult to re-assemble, and Beetles rarely run properly once you get them back together unless you know which things need to be adjusted and tweaked just-so.

Jeff’s reply back to me was succinct: “So write the article.” That is how, despite being perhaps the least qualified of the Hooniverse staff to erudiate on auto restoration or modification, I find myself suggesting six vehicles that I think are suitable project cars for the neophyte hobbyist. I’m thinking of truly starving-college-student budgetary restrictions: in a quick survey of La Liste de Craig, I was able to find multiple ads offering of each these vehicles—complete and in (claimed) running condition—for $1000-1200. … Continue Reading

V.I.S.I.T.: Forlorn Toyota 4×4 Pickup Waits For Love That Won’t Come

Tanshanomi February 28, 2014 All Things Hoon


On a weekend getaway to central Kansas last summer, I found this derelict Toyota pickup sitting across the street from the Midland Railroad Hotel in the little town of Wilson (It’s the Czech capital of Kansas! No, really!)

As sad, worn and rusted as it looked, it still reminded how much I love that old body style, especially in raised 4×4 guise. The be-tubed front end and stock steel wheels are perfect. My slightly deficient truck-spotting skills only allow me to narrow it down to a ’78-’81 model. (Can anybody pinpoint the year based on the rest of the photos?)

It looked as though it hadn’t been driven in a while. Hit the jump to see the telltale clue why.

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Boos Adjustable Wrench: The right wrong tool.

Tanshanomi February 26, 2014 All Things Hoon


My father was not a car guy by a long shot. His favorite car saying is “I know where the ignition key and the gas nozzle go, that’s all I need to know.” But he came from a line of watchmakers, so he definitely taught me a few things about taking things apart and putting them back together…properly. And his favorite saying about tools is “Always use the right tool. And an adjustable wrench is always the wrong tool.”

I also inherited something—literally—from my father-in-law: these two Boos adjustable wrenches that I found in his basement tool boxes after my mother-in-law sold their house after his death. These goofy-but-interesting wrenches were one man’s attempt to do the ubiquitous Crescent wrench one better. The Boos wrench adjusts by turning the threaded handle, similarly to a vernier micrometer. Whether or not they’re a success, I can’t say. But they sure are oddly attractive.

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Used Car Review: 2007 Ford Escape XLT


Through circumstances too unimportant to go into, I’ve come to have a family member’s 2007 Ford Escape at my disposal for several weeks. So, I’ve recently been giving the Town Cow a rest and — for the most part — enjoying my time behind the wheel of Ford’s mini-ute.

The Escape is not a model most car enthusiasts would get excited about, and I initially was not expecting much. To this particular Escape’s advantage, it is a fully-optioned XLT, with the 3.0L V6, all-wheel drive, sunroof and leather seats. The extra options do help it feel slightly upscale, although it’s still not what you’d call luxurious.

This was the final model year prior to the Escape’s 2008 refresh, and outside this one contrasts its Orange Crush Pearl paint with the first generation’s rubbery-looking gray body cladding. It is starting to look dated, but it is not unattractive.

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V.I.S.I.T.: DIY Hypermiler Shames Craig Vetter

While driving across Kansas in the summer of 2012, we passed this eco-streamliner of questionable construction, wearing “Vetter Fuel Challenger” and homemade “136 MPG” declarations on its flimsy flanks. Since it’s impossible to know what motorcycle is underneath the duct-taped bodywork, I can’t say much more about this, but there are three more images after the jump. I just hope he hasn’t been guillotined by that piece at his throat.
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Two-Wheel Tuesday: Adaptation

Tanshanomi February 4, 2014 Two-Wheel Tuesday


Every one of us has dreamed up a cool swap at least once or twice or fifty times. Engine swap, suspension swap, perhaps just swapping some car’s cool bucket seats into yours: customizing is swapping. After all, unless you’re  a bona fide OEM, you can’t make a vehicle from molten metal and steel sheet. Even if you’re casting your own crankcases, you’re still utilizing production parts to some extent. So we select the good stuff we want from different models to create that recombinant mutant we call a hot rod: Mustang II suspension under a ’32 highboy, or a SHO motor in an Austin-Healey.

Sometimes, all the parts simply bolt up, thanks to corporate parts-raiding, industry standardization, or just serendipitous fortune. But the vast majority of the time, things from different vehicles don’t work together so perfectly. Bolt centers are spaced on differently. Shaft diameters are different. Gears don’t line up. Things don’t fit.

The solution might be to have one of the parts massaged to fit the other: a shaft turned, a flywheel re-drilled. But quite often, you need a go-between: a single, newly fabricated part that can speak the native languages of two parts that can’t interface directly. You need an adapter.

On my never-ending ongoing Bultakenstein project, there were a few hiccups mating the Suzuki GS650 front end to the Bultaco frame. But figuring out how to overcome those obstacles is the fun part. Or at least the creative and rewarding part.

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