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Race, Daily, Restore: Three Turismos

One need not be a native of Italy to figure out that Tourismo is Italian for tourism or touring. Evidently, you don’t have to be an Italian car maker to use the word to name your vehicles, either, since only one of our three candidates this week hails from that Mediterranean peninsula. The other two are purely ‘Merican cars marketed with a bit of the ol’ gusto Italiano.

  • The 1955–59 Fiat 1100 Turismo Veloce Trasformabile was a two-seat convertible roadster version of the 11oo compact sedan. The “veloce” indicated it was powered by an up-rated 54 HP, 12oocc engine. A total of 2,360 were built.
  • The 1962–64 Studebaker Grand Turismo Hawk was the swan song of Studebaker’s Hawk line. Brooks Stevens’s extensive but economical reworking of Raymond Loewy’s original Golden Hawk was designed to bring the six-year-old body shape solidly into the ‘Sixties. It could be had with engines putting out anywhere from 210 to 335 supercharged horsepower. For our proposal today, let’s assume we’re talking about the mid-line R1, with 240 HP, a 4-speed manual gearbox, 4-wheel discs, and upgraded sport suspension.
  • The 1982–87 Plymouth Turismo 2.2 was basically a renamed Horizon TC3. While Dodge L-bodies got some respectably hot turbo motors, Plymouth’s Turismo never came equipped with a huffer. The first-year version shown in our photo generated just 84 carbureted HP and 111 lb.-ft. of torque. And unfortunately, that’s the version you’re stuck with today.

Now, which of these three very different Turismos would you choose to:

  • RACE – build into some sort of dedicated racing machine (not street legal) for your choice of competition — any legitimate, sanctioned form of motorsport: road course, rally, drag, LSR, Baja, etc.;
  • DAILY – have as your sole street-registered car, for all your commuting and general transportation needs.
  • RESTORE – do a museum-quality, factory-correct, frame-off restoration, then add to your collection, but not register to drive on the street.

Your choices should be accompanied by your persuasive justification, or at the very least which choice you felt most strongly about. As always, more caveats (there are always caveats) appear after the jump.
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False Neutral #49: Moto Surfin’ Part 2


In the second part of our discussion of online motorcycle resources, we detour from where to get parts and riding gear into talking about what riding gear we have and why we like it. We go on to examine our favorite Facebook pages and groups, along with a couple of pages we’re involved with personally. Links to all the sites we discuss are included after the jump.
 
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False Neutral – Moto Surfin’ Part 2


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Race, Daily, Restore: Economy Spec Oddballs

The progression from base model to top-of-the-line is usually quite logical and linear, wherein every model adds desirable content in an additive progression. But every once in a while manufacturers (or customers) take crazy pills and concoct specialized models that are, um, not so special. Oddball, low-power, decontented editions rarely sell in large numbers, or remain in the sales catalog very long. Such is the case with the three points of today’s vehicular trilemma:

  • The Plymouth Feather Duster was only offered for 1976, the final year of Mopar RWD A-body production. The Feather Duster version was a fuel-economy special, featuring lightweight aluminum parts for a 5% weight savings over the standard model. The body was purely plain-jane, right down to the steelies and dog dish hubcaps. Power was supplied by a one-barrel 225 Slant Six and an extra-high rear axle ratio. A 3-speed automatic was optional, but the standard overdrive 4-speed gearbox was cheaper, lighter, and got better fuel economy, so let’s assume our subject car has the manual.
  • The 1980 Chevrolet Malibu Iraqi Taxi was a special, non-catalog configuration built especially as taxi cabs for Saddam Hussein (yes, that Saddam Hussein). The Canadian-built sedans were definitely utility-spec, with a 110 HP carb’d V6 backed up by a floor-shift three speed manual, commercial-duty interior fabrics, heavy-duty cooling, steelies, and instruments that read in kilometers. The Iraqis quit the deal before the full quota was met (either because of Iraqi financial issues, or because the Malibus didn’t handle the stress of desert taxi duty particularly well, depending on who is telling the story). When the deal fell through, 5,000 “Iraqibu” Malibus had been completed but not yet shipped. They were sold to Canadians looking for basic transport for C$6,500.
  • When first introduced in 1999, the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner combined the truck’s base powertrain (143 HP SOHC 2.4L, five-speed gearbox) with the raised suspension, fender flares, and larger wheels of the 4×4 version—only without the driven front wheels. The “Faux-By-Four” concept of 4WD style with 2WD mechanicals would stick around, but it only used the base four-banger that first year; from 2000 on, Desert Runners switched the larger V6. One interesting note: Though the truck shown is gray, I have it on good authority that all first-year Desert Runners were white King Cabs. The lede photo is actually a 2000 model Desert Runner. Why? I was unable to find even one veritably accurate photo of a ’99; that should indicate just how rare they are.

So, there are your three oddball, econo-spec candidates. Your task is to chose one for each of the following roles in your conceptual garage:

  • RACE – build into some sort of dedicated racing machine (not street legal) for your choice of competition — any legitimate, sanctioned form of motorsport: road course, rally, drag, LSR, Baja, etc.;
  • DAILY – have as your sole street-registered car, for all your commuting and general transportation needs.
  • RESTORE – do a museum-quality, factory-correct, frame-off restoration, then add to your collection, but not drive on the street.

Your choices should be accompanied by your persuasive justification, or at the very least which choice you felt most strongly about.

As always, more caveats (there are always caveats) appear after the jump.

IMAGE CREDITS: Imgur.com, SeeWord.com, QualityAutoAR.com.
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False Neutral #48: Moto Surfin’ Part 1


After a quick catch-up on Eric’s Mustang and Garrett’s new son, we take a moment to mark the one-year anniversary of our first episode. Eric would like to add a new daily rider this season, so we discuss the two likely candidates before delving into our topic for this week: motorcycling on the Internet. How we get motorcycle-oriented content — both professional and amateur — has changed greatly over the past couple of years. We share our current favorite and less-than-favorite motorcycle websites, vlogs, and forums. Links to all the sites we discuss are included after the jump.

We’re returning to our original 30 minute format, so this conversation has been split into two episodes.
 
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False Neutral – Moto Surfin’ Part 1


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Race, Daily, Restore: Sprinty Freshness

Sprinters are fast. Maybe they’re not the fastest over the long haul, but for the short time they run, they run faster than anybody. In motorsport, sprint races are short, but intense. Today, we have three very different cars, all of which wore the word Sprint as part of their name, either as a trim level or in the case of the GMC, the model name:

  • 1986 Alfa Romeo Sprint 1.5L
  • 1979 Triumph Dolomite Sprint 2.0L
  • 1973 GMC Sprint SP 5.7L

Whether any of these deserve the association the term implies is quite debatable, but that’s beside the point. Today, we have other things to ruminate on. Your task is to decide which of the three you would:

  • RACE – build into some sort of dedicated racing machine (not street legal) for your choice of competition — any legitimate, sanctioned form of motorsport: road course, rally, drag, LSR, Baja, etc.;
  • DAILY – have as your sole street-registered car, for all your commuting and general transportation needs.
  • RESTORE – do a museum-quality, factory-correct, frame-off restoration, then add to your collection, but not drive on the street.

Your choices should be accompanied by your persuasive justification, or at the very least which choice you felt most strongly about.

Since most of you know the ground rules by now, they’re now available after the jump.

IMAGE CREDITS: Hemmings.com, Classiccarauctions.co.uk, Wikipedia.
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False Neutral #47: Geeking Out on Two-Strokes


Despite the lede image, we only say a couple of words about the Alpha BMW
…but it was too cool a shot not to include!

 
Mark Atkinson is back as our guest this week, at his suggestion. We delve into the dying star that is the two-stroke motorcycle world, discussing everything from porting specs to our favorite two-stroke manufacturers. If you enjoy hardcore tuning and engine-building talk, you’ll be in heaven while Garrett and Mark compare notes on building big-power RZ-based twins. This episode a 100% raw, unedited track, so you get what you get this week, as it happened. Fortunately, Mark is a fantastic guest who keeps things interesting.

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False Neutral – Geeking Out on Two-Strokes

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Race, Daily, Restore: Modern Pentathletes

Five cylinder engines were once an oddity. Over the last quarter of the Twentieth century, they became fairly common, especially in European cars. Today we ponder the merits of this middle ground between fours and sixes. Your trio of candidates, in no particular order, are:

  • 1993 Volvo 850 Turbo – 2.4L Turbo I-5, 168 hp
  • 1983 Audi 100 Avant (Audi 5000 wagon to those of us in America)  – 2.1 L turbo I-5, 130 hp
  • 2000 Volkswagen New Beetle VR5 – 2.3L VR5, 170 hp [Yes, the VR5 narrow-angle vee, not the inline five offered later on. I don’t believe the VR5 was ever offered in the U.S./NA Beetle.]

Your job is to tell me which of the three you would:

  • RACE – build into some sort of dedicated racing machine (not street legal) for your choice of competition — any legitimate, sanctioned form of motorsport: road course, rally, drag, LSR, Baja, etc.;
  • DAILY – have as your sole street-registered car, for all your commuting and general transportation needs.
  • RESTORE – do a museum-quality, factory-correct, frame-off restoration, then add to your collection, but not drive on the street.

Your choices should be accompanied by your persuasive justification, or at the very least which choice you felt most strongly about.

GROUND RULES:

  1. Assume that you’re given these three vehicles outright, so there’s no acquisition cost, but the cost of race-prepping, maintaining, insuring and restoring them will be on you.
  2. Assume the cars are in “average condition” for their age; neither junk nor in flawless condition.
  3. These are your ONLY three cars. You cannot factor in any other cars you might actually own, e.g., “I’ll daily the MR2 because I have a van I can take the kids in…” Likewise, you can’t sell the restored car to buy another vehicle.
  4. You must assign one of the cars to each category. You can’t say, “I’ll race my street car,” or “I’ll drive that one for a season then restore it.”
  5. You can’t half-ass a car you don’t like, such as theoretically racing Lemons or doing a “20-footer” cosmetic restoration.

False Neutral #46: Raiders of the Lost ATV Motors

Several things happened in our workshops this week, so we update each other on our project bikes. Garrett delt with Nighthawk wiring issues and missing pieces inside the engine. Thanks to Garrett’s help, Bultakenstein might get some new parts fast-tracked. Things remain too cold in Eric’s Michigan garage, so he’s working on vintage audio equipment instead. We preview the topic for next week’s show, which brings us back around to two-strokes, tiny Wankel engines, fantasy engine layouts, and finally updating the formula for our faux-Italian tiddler to include the engine out of the Yamaha Blaster ATV.

Our question for you this week: Do you do your own work, pay to have your bikes maintained and repaired, or divide those tactics somewhere in between? Where you do draw the line?

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False Neutral – Raiders of the Lost ATV Motors

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Race, Daily, Restore: Tenth Anniversary Editions

Today, our theoretical conundrum features a trio of 10th anniversary specials: the 1988 Mazda RX-7, 1980 Datsun 280ZX, and 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. A decade in production is not all that remarkable for a model line, so the somewhat lame nature of these limited editions is probably par for the course. All of these aspired to sporty-ness and performance, though the Mazda is quite a bit less malaise-y than its two predecessors. All three were also marketed as desirable, limited-volume collectors’ editions.

Your job is to tell me which of the three you would:

  • RACE – build into some sort of dedicated racing machine (not street legal) for your choice of competition — any legitimate, sanctioned form of motorsport: road course, rally, drag, LSR, Baja, etc.;
  • DAILY – have as your sole street-registered car, for all your commuting and general transportation needs.
  • RESTORE – do a museum-quality, factory-correct, frame-off restoration, then add to your collection, but not drive on the street.

Your choices should be accompanied by your persuasive justification, or at the very least which choice you felt most strongly about.

GROUND RULES:

  1. Assume that you’re given these three vehicles outright, so there’s no acquisition cost, but the cost of race-prepping, maintaining, insuring and restoring them will be on you.
  2. Assume the cars are in “average condition” for their age; neither junk nor in flawless condition.
  3. These are your ONLY three cars. You cannot factor in any other cars you might actually own, e.g., “I’ll daily the MR2 because I have a van I can take the kids in…” Likewise, you can’t sell the restored car to buy another vehicle.
  4. You must assign one of the cars to each category. You can’t say, “I’ll race my street car,” or “I’ll drive that one for a season then restore it.”
  5. You can’t half-ass a car you don’t like, such as theoretically racing Lemons or doing a “20-footer” cosmetic restoration.

False Neutral #45: Glorious Noise


This week’s “exhausting” episode is all about the sounds motorcycles make. After I reveal the mystery bikes you hear in our intro and outro bumpers, we briefly talk about books and old magazines before Eric and I move on to what bikes we think sound the best. This week it’s imperative that you make the jump, since I’m including all the YouTube videos we discuss.

Links referenced in the podcast:

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False Neutral – Glorious Noise


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