Saturday, December 17, 2011

'Tis the Season to Bring a Tow Dolly - 5 Winter Beaters for Under $1500

Now the the snow has fallen in Metro Detroit, it's time for some to put away the cars that you actually enjoy and bring out the vehicles of which you have feelings of borderline hatred or ambivalence. But wait, winter beaters can be fun. There is something to be said for having a car that you can hoon the hell out of because deep down you know will die of salt poisoning, if nothing else happens to it first. It's like that "Live Like You Were Dyin'" song that recommends that you ride bulls and jump out of airplanes when you know your number is up.

We will cap this list at $1,500 which is a little higher than the normal beater budget, but let's assume you need this car to last more than 2 winters. There is a craigslist ad linked to each car, so go find yours.

Sampson Engineering Magnesium Wheels?

In order to investigate an ever-worsening high frequency shimmy coming from the front end of the Falcon, I squeezed it into the garage and threw it up jack stands for a quick arch-joint clamp of some ball joints and the like.

In taking off the wheels, which I thought to be cheap aluminum alloy kidney bean Halibrand ripoffs, I knocked off some well established brake dust clumps to reveal that I have genuine Australian magnesium Halibrand ripoffs! It's tough to find any concrete information on these wheels as they seem to have been produced over a short timeframe in a very regional market. Most of the information that I was able to glean on these wheels came from the casting itself - Sampson Engineering - South Australia - 14x7.

If anyone has any more information on Sampson Engineering Wheels, sound off below!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In The Garage: 1991 Mazda Miata

The first snow has fallen so its time to add a convertible to my fleet. Like my last three vehicle purchases, this one doesn't run and hasn't for at least a year. Full plan inside.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Marketplace Feature: 1971 Honda N600 micro car

If you're looking for a cheap classic micro car project this winter, look no more. Its complete, ugly and needs a lot more than TLC but the price isn't bad. If the body and interior are too far gone you can always gut it and transplant a modern Honda motorcycle powertrain. Of course, if you're over 5'6" tall you'll never fit in it.
Detroit Craiglist

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Genuine BMW Accessories - Forklift Repositioning Adapter

A rare factory optional accessory available for all E30 BMWs is the bumper mounted forklift repositioning adapter, turning your Bavarian cruiser into somewhat of a homemade airport Tug. Consisting of a 2' long section of rusty steel 2"x4" box stock, a large screwdriver, and the BMW tow eye, this unique piece of automotive history is intended to be used in industrial and garage applications. More specifically - the movement of broken down vintage Toyota forklifts haphazardly placed around the shop and in the way of project car movement. The limitation of the forklift mover is not the adaptation equipment itself but the loss of grip at the rear tires of the car from excessive downward force at the front end, resulting in a 0.5MPH burnout across the work floor.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Latch-Key Kids 24 Hours of LeMons Autobahn Race Report

This past weekend, a reconstituted Latch-Key Kids Motorsports finished 13th at the 24 Hours of LeMons Show Room Schlock Shoot Out at Autobahn. Our Chia Neon reliably finished its 8th event and was fast and fun all weekend. Full Race report inside.

Before They Were Beaters: Concept Aerostar

Sometimes concept cars look far more handsome than the eventual product. Although the production Aerostar bears a resemblance to the concept much of the execution feels clumsy. Kind of like how some people look acceptable when you leave the party but appear less so the next morning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DB Tech Energy Polarizer - The Trinket That Ended The Closest Relationship In Australian Racing

Peter Brock, a name completely synonymous with road racing in Australia, maintained a 19 year relationship with GM's Australian subsidiary, Holden, until an abrupt end in 1987. Following the release of a product developed between he and his personal doctor, Eric Dowker, Holden refused to acknowledge the claimed benefits of the product - a very expensive version of a late night infomercial magnetic miracle bracelet for cars just mounted to the firewall - and withdrew funding from Peter Brock and the Holder Dealer Team at 5:30PM on a Friday evening.

 More info and cheesy 80's video below.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marketplace Feature - My Truck

I hate to plug my own vehicles, folks, but my truck is for sale to whoever can come up with most of the money in a reasonable time frame or offer a realistic (or extremely interesting) trade. So far, the good people of craigslist have offered me an S-10 Crew Cab - not the worst thing but I definitely do not want it - and a brand new Yamaha Raptor 700 two-stroke quad. I'm not ready to snap my back in half on the dunes so I won't be taking Raptor man up on his trade. He is surely only offering it up to me since he probably had a brush with death on it this summer.

The truth is, I just don't use it enough to warrant keeping it around. I've got something light duty that will haul a couple dirtbikes and furniture and I just don't need an F-250 that I use like an Escort wagon. Anyways, here it is. I'm asking $7,550 but I'm quite flexible. I have put a lot of new parts into it and it's been well cared for. Here's even a picture of me washing it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tell 'em He's Dreamin' - '84 300Z for $20K, Reserve Not Met!

 I was floating some worthless carburetors out on the Bay of E to build up my Paypay account when I can across this: a 1984 Datsun 300Z Turbo 50th Anniversary with a starting price of twenty large. What insanity! I can see putting a feeler out there for maybe 50% over what you think the car is worth, but an asking price 10 times the value of the car? That's just insulting to all other malaise era Japanese cars, especially if the pop-ups don't pop up and the paint is chipped.

Though not worth $20k yet, the 50th Anniversary Edition was a special car that included every option in the Z31 books. In keeping with the early 80's Datsun the-future-is-now techno mentality, the 50th Anniversary Edition had electronically adjustable shocks and seats with Bodysonic Stereo speakers in them. It also had an otherwordly dash display including a mysterious non-linear digital tachometer.

I'm a big proponent of old Japanese cars but if eBay user steelow_roaddawggz is able to sell this car at that price, you can count my assessment of the Japanese collector car market dead wrong.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roo Chasin' Adventure - Los Angelos to Detroit in 48 Hours

As seen in previous posts, I purchased a 1984 Ford XE Falcon utility - the Roo Chaser - sight unseen from a guy in Devore, CA. This was always one of my dream cars and now that I had it, I was not prepared to risk shipping damage by a bargain basement freight broker or pay $1,800 bucks to get it back to Ann Arbor by a trusted individual. The thought of the car sitting in freight lots, surrounded by paint-huffing vagrants around the country made me a little nervous. 

My driving partner was Andrew, a guy who puts my diagnostic and ghetto rigging abilities (which I'm pretty proud of) to shame. Andrew is well qualified to have on a trip like this - he's got a V8 RX-7 and a nearly 600HP Duramax truck, enough said. All in all, the trip was done in 48 hours, door to door. Each of the other 10 hours were spent either eating, sleeping, contemplating, or fixing the car. The total budget for the trip: about $800.
To say the least, the trip was an epic. In the end, I'm very, very glad I made the trip for several reasons. It was an insanely fun experience that you don't often get the opportunity to do after college. Also, it forced me to deal with most of the car's issues in a very short time - I now know this car extremely well.
Andrew was kind enough to document the entire trip with very detail notes. Below is the story from his perspective, with my italicized interjections.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Aquisition - XD Ford Falcon Ute - The 'Roo Chasaaa'

Yes, I bought the Jalopnik 'Nice Price or Crack Pipe' Falcon ute featured on Jalopnik. After a bit of negotiation, NP all the way.

For a long time, I've been debating the purpose of having my Powerstroke F-250 when I only use it to Ranger capabilities. An Aussie ute could even be marketed as a money saving venture given the price delta between the F-250 and the negotiated price of the Falcon - plus I needed to add another Aussie Ford to the stable. Therefore, my F-250 is on craigslist and the ute will soon be in my driveway, but only after a week long road trip to retrieve it. Scheduled to start over the Labor day weekend, this trip will entail flying out to Ontario (the warm one) and driving the 2,218 miles back to the D while doing the world's longest continuous burnout.

Expect a detailed account of the trip in September, provided I make it back by then.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Risky PR - Outback Australia in Auto Marketing

If you've been follow the happenings on the fringe of the auto industry lately, you've probably heard about Mercedes-Benz of Australia's trek into Outback Australia along the Canning Stock Trail in a fleet of six new Galandewagens. Well, if you didn't get to the end of the article, five of the broke due to rear shock failure (I don't know how that makes a G-Wagen undrivable but I digress...) and had to have parts air lifted to the scene.

Well as it turns out, this isn't the first time a trek into the Outback has ended in less-than-stellar PR for a company attempting to score some points with the motoring public. Toyota, of all companies, decided to pull the same stunt in the early 80's using untested cars directly off of the assembly line, all piloted by members of the domestic automotive press. I can't say that a trek across marked yet unsealed Northern Territory roads is the same as a drive across livestock trails but nevertheless it is a challenge for either vehicle. In the case of the Toyota, resulted in several burned up differentials, crashed cars, and suppliers with their tails tucked between their legs.

The article detailing the adventure and marketing lesson below came from an annual publication called Australian Motoring Year; a hardcover book put out by some of the top Australian journalists. It's really an awesome read and gives great insight into the highly competitive and home grown nature of the Australian auto industry in 1984. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beat on the Irish Street: Benz E-Class-amino

Turning your old beater into a home brew el Camino is just about always a great idea. The usual recipe involves an old station wagon, a Sawzall, a lot of diamond plate and a case or two of your favorite brew. Starting off with a Mercedes Benz E300 (W210) sedan is an unusual step and I think its safe to assume this guy's Mercedes Benz Club membership has been revoked.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Waterford Hills Vintage Racing Photos

Last weekend vintage race cars took to the narrow 1.4 miles of Waterford Hills. Vintage racing has typically been more about cool old aluminum and fiberglass than it is about racing but with all the old school hotness on track, it doesn't matter.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beat on the Street - Fabergé Beaters in Russia

Friend of Beaterblog and fellow fan of Russian cars, Jordan, has provided a wealth of pictures from a recent trip to Russia. To give a bit of background information, Jordan has owned many interesting vehicles (e.g. Range Rover Classic, Diesel S-Class Benz, and many E30s and Subarus) all disguised as very nice cars. This kind of under cover beater ownership makes him well qualified for photographing cars behind the Iron Curtain. Thanks to Jordan for the write-up below:

I recently went to Russia for the first time. I never dreamed I would be able to visit but fortunes aligned so with visa in hand I landed in St. Petersburg anxious to start 10 days of car-spotting and sightseeing.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marketplace Feature: Fiat Siata Spring

A tiny, rear engine, Italian car is one way to earn massive credibility around the BeaterBlog water cooler and this car fits the bill. I only wish it was any other Fiat 850 and not the odd looking Siata re-bodied Spring model. 1960's nostalgic styling hasn't aged well especially compared to its svelte standard coupe and sedan cousins. The price seems a bit high for a car that may not have been running in my lifetime and won't be worth much more with all forty horsepower present. On the plus side, it looks pretty well complete and if you pass up this one you may never get another chance. I'll wait for the next one.

Detroit Craiglist

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beater Barn Find: 1957 Volvo PV444

Who would have thought that one of the 12,000 or so Volvos sold in the US in 1957 would still remain in Traverse City, Michigan? This example sitting behind a body shop was complete except for the motor, which will probably be replaced with some sort of Big 3 small block, fitting for a 2/3rd scale '48 Ford.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In the Garage - E30 not charging? Check this first...

Shortly after putting the motor in the E30 and driving it home, I noticed my lights going dim, then really bright, then dim, then off. I switched off the ignition and the charge light was off on re-key. I had recognized this symptom and did exactly what I had done in the past - order a voltage regulator - durrh. The price is wrong, Bob...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Marketplace Feature - French Engined Vacation Equipment

We don't really dive into boats and RVs all that often at Beaterblog but being it's nearly the 4th of July weekend and everyone will be either traveling to the UP or casting off into the nearest body of water here in Michigan, we might as well feature stuff that isn't seaworthy alongside stuff that isn't roadworthy.

The stars in the craigslist galaxy have aligned producing two French engined boats and a French engined Winnebago for the Beaterblog reader's vacationing pleasure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beat on the Street - Lyra Odyssey

When you have a Lyra Odyssey, this 273cc single thumper equipped French microcar, you can park wherever you damn well please in the city of Strasbourg. And scowl at people taking pictures of it.

With a factor of safety of over 100% on the speedometer, the Lyra is capable of a brisk 45kph at the top end while getting about 94 miles per gallon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beaterblog Product Review - HF 20lb. Capacity Sand Blast Kit

After many evenings of applying paint stripper and diligently peeling off three layers of color and chemically disposing of my fingerprints, I decided that maybe sandblasting the engine bay of the Javelin was the method of choice to finish this stage of the paint preparation process. Naturally, I went to Harbor Freight to view their selection of shard wielding equipment for the job. I gravitated towards the 'Entry Level' models. It should have been a red flag that the marked price was $29.99 and I ended up paying a clearance price of $10.00 even.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Obsolete but Available - 10 Old Cars You Can Still Buy New

Believe it or not, sometimes the never-ending drama of driving older vehicles causes me to start wondering what owning a car with zero miles is like. This typically causes me to start looking at cars that I can't have. But after a while of searching, I always conclude that I would miss most of what comes with driving older cars. In countries where running water isn't a given, I wouldn't have this conundrum as many cars on the verge of being called vintage are still available new! Here are just ten of the many cars out there that beat the retro crazy by patiently waiting.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Beater Barn Find: Greek Citroen Junkyard

Friend of Beaterblog, Chris, has provided a find as unique as a mono-posted steering wheel - a Greek Citroen junkyard containing the quintessential DS but also the less recognizable models like the Axel, Visa, GS, and BX.

In this photo, a DS21 is guarded by an Axel on the right and two GS models on the left.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Beaterblog Product Review - 1 Ton Foldable Shop Crane

My progress in the garage was coming along at an unbearably slow pace as I was fighting with all three of the now inoperable forklifts to try to get one working well enough to drop a motor in the E30. No dice. Even the best of my prospects, the 8,000 lb Hyster, was sucking down batteries like both poles were bolted directly to the body - come to think of it, maybe they were. Long story short, the frustration was too much to take and I drove to Harbor Freight with a coupon and a gift card.

Harbor Freight has models of both a one ton and two ton capacity. Obviously, I didn't plan on moving entire vehicles with an engine hoist and I'm part Swabian so I got the 1 ton model. Little did I know that the two ton had some secret advantages.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Springtime Garage Update

As it appears that Michigan's 9 month long winter has finally died, it's time to get the projects rolling again. Here is a brief overview of where everything stands in my garage, in order of priority.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Artist's Rendition of the New El Camino

Rumors have been flying around that eventually the Holden Commodore Ute will make it's way Stateside and if everyone is doing their civic duty by commenting on this Jalopnik post, these rumors - or dreams - could come true.

I feel, however, that although the Aussies did invent the ute, the tastes in car-truck hybrids evolved in slightly different directions and the El Camino became an American icon complete with it's own stereotypes. So what if the new El Camino was of American content instead? If there was a 0.00% chance that the Holden would be barge delivered to our shores, does GM in the US have any chance of making a good replacement? My cousin Corey sends his prediction.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beater Race Report: Thunderdrome w/Video

I got the 2011 racing season underway at the Thunderdrome in Dorais park last weekend. Me and my bone stock Honda Spree were ready to battle Road-Rash style for top honors in the Amateur Scooter Class. Unfortunately, all the other machines were capable of speeds well in excess of the Spree's mighty 28 mph leaving us at the back of the pack. Nonetheless, a good time was had and plenty of hot small displacement machinery was on display. Full report with photos and Video after the jump.

Monday, May 2, 2011

MGBGT 347 Update 5/2/11

Lots of progress and finally some pictures not taken from my cell phone, well most of them. This has been a prolonged project and some components have been in place long enough for a layer of dust/painting products/pollen/metal filings/who knows to collect, so you'll have to excuse the lack of cleaning. I'm waiting on the engine block to arrive which should be ready between May 9 and 13, in the mean time I'm finishing little details and trying to kill turkeys.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Found Business Card - Frankie's Back!

Need a cab to run you to and from the Check-N-Go or to your next craigslist purchase of a Ranchero? For all of your ride needs exclusively South of the Mason-Dixon, look no further than this guy.

Friend of Beaterblog, Steve, managed to find this business card in Raleigh, NC. This is not an endorsement but why would you not ride with a guy with a trucker cap, black cowboy boots, and a business card like that?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Latch-Key Kids 24 Hours of LeMons Gingerman Race Report

Chia Neon finishes fourth overall at the 24 Hours of LeMons Campaign to prevent Gingervitis. After a hard fought two days of racing the Latch-key Kids stretched their streak of top five finishes to seven. Full race report after the jump.

Beater Road Test: Delorean

Friend of Beaterblog and Waterford hot-shoe Merritt Scott Collins shares her thoughts on the most '80s car of them all:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Latch-Key Kids prep for 24 Hours of LeMons Gingerman

After six unsuccessful attempts at the 24 Hours of LeMons the Chia Neon is getting ready for lucky number seven at Gingerman April 16-17. Ray Ayala, Jahan Assadi, Dan Kwolek (pictured), Luke Keller, Ed Hessell and myself will be driving our astro turf covered rust bucket against four dozen of the crappiest cars ever assembled.

Monday, March 28, 2011

MGBGT 302 Update 3/11

*******Murdered Out**************
Lots of progress since the last post and I apologize for the delayed posting of it. First of all I need to mention that the title, MGBGT 302, is incorrect. In fact I'm sorry to say that the 302 is just not going to work. By that I mean its just not enough cubes, so I'm stroking it to 347 ci!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Project Update: Turbo Van

I hope many winter projects take longer than expected, because mine is going on two winters and has a long way to go. When I'm asked how the van is progressing I'm a bit embarrassed at my unwillingness to brave my frozen garage. Well after a few trips to the junk yard and a couple Sundays turning wrenches, I've made some solid progress. No, its not running yet.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Marketplace Feature - Series III V8

Parked next to a coastline every bit as dramatic and perilous as the typical service history of a V8 engined Land Rover is this Series III that, according to the whitewash artwork on the windshield, has the heart of a Leyland P76. The P76 should have several Beaterblog posts all it's own but for the purpose of this one, it's essentially the all-Australian equivalent of a car something like an AMC Hornet or Studebaker Lark - the domestic oddball answer to the very generic question of four-door sedan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beater Past: Merkur XR4Ti

Of all the cars I've owned, I miss my Merkurs the most. Through high school and college I had a pair of odd European Fords that weren't Mercuries and its pronounced mare-coor for your information. For me it was my first car I bought instead of being handed down.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Catastrophy Strikes - BMW Throws Connecting Rod onto Sidewalk!

As I was driving out to Parts Galore off 8 Mile in Detroit to meet Dave and Chris, the slight knock that the E30 had obtained the week before became noticeably louder - basically going from a light tap to door knocker-like. Being 20 miles from home and 20 miles from Parts Galore, I turned it around. With lots of luck and a little bit of Rotella, I limped nearly 20 miles on the shoulder of I-94 at 30mph to less than a half mile from home!

70's Car Enthusiast Enclave on Brunswick Street

Fitzroy, Melbourne's first suburb, is an eclectic area full of vintage clothing shops, steam punk mustaches, and independent coffee shops. Is it any surprise that there is a back alley filled with 70's Australian Iron? A malaise era vehicle is the perfect compliment to any collection of antique XXS T-shirts. A fixed gear Peugeot would fit nicely in the back of a panel van too.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beat on the Street: Truck Stop Edition

While cars are occasionally used as signs, this is the first semi tractor I've seen crucified. This Kenworth is perched about three stories above the Yucca, Arizona desert. Closer inspection revealed the frame is only a few bars welded together just well enough to make it look like a big-rig and I don't recommend standing underneath it. Why someone raised it on high was not easily discerned. Perhaps the other trucks placed randomly about are part of some abandoned desert junkyard. Fear of snakes and scorpions kept me from venturing too far but no signs or entrance is visible from the road.

Beater Junkyard Find: Ford Windstar Holocaust

Covered in a coat of new snow, these family haulers await execution by crushing. Ford's recent recall of nearly every Windstar ever made means they're filling local junkyards. Since I need old Caravan parts, I can't help but feel like old Mopar boxes are being squeezed out of scrap yard real-estate by Fords with inferior rear suspensions. Of course if all the Windstars are recalled and scrapped nooone will be searching the pick-a-part for them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Deplorable Working Conditions at Beaterblog Ann Arbor Regional HQ

I'm not complaining but saying that my luck with cars this month has been bad is like saying that putting Ben-Gay on your inner thighs is uncomfortable. Automotive casualties this month have included major and unpredicatble Diesel fuel system maladies with the F-250 and profile gasket obliteration on the E30, causing coolant to spray out of the block in SuperSoaker 50-esque fashion. Both of these problems have left me with only one reliable car - Simca - which has no rear brakes and potato-skin-bald tires, therefore can't be driven in the snow.

So when it comes to fixing the cars, I figured I would have paid my dues and would have an easy time repairing them. Wrong, dead wrong.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beater Barn Find: A herd of grazing Series 1s

Seen here is a herd, pack, gaggle, or whatever they're called of Series 1 Land Rovers - each in a different configuration from pick-up to open top.

Just like barn cats, Australian farm-use vehicles constantly venture over the brink of death, returning once again after a goober of weldment or swath of bailing twine brings them back over the edge for another week or two.

Given this kind of quick and dirty fix history, a restoration would be challenging at best, given all the un-fixing that likely needs to be done.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Beat on the Street - 1991 Geo Prizm GSi

While driving home from the airport this afternoon, I spotted this - the Holy Grail of Geos - the 1991 Prizm GSi. I caught up and followed it into a parking lot to get these low-grade images.

What makes a GSi so special? Why not settle for the LSi?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beat on the Street - 1969 KE10 Toyota Corolla 1200

Assembled side-by-side with Ramblers, early Australian Corollas were screwed together from completely knocked down (CKD) kits by an outfit called AMI in Melbourne. AMI started out with the help of Standard cars in the late twenties, later building AMCs, Toyotas, Mercedes, and Triumphs local to the Australian market. After 22 years of Toyota production, Toyota bought out AMI, essentially making a baby-NUMMI that continues to produce cars and CKD kits for the entire South Pacific market.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

T-Topz' Limo is For Sale and on Jalopnik!

Friend of Beaterblog, T-Topz bought this car about five years ago in it's pure velour on white condition. I can't describe it's current form better than T-Topz' brother, Mini-Topz. Here it is, now featured on Jalopnik and for sale here!

I've had many-a-ride to and from the bar in the thing...Crack Pipe!