Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Project Acquisition - '96 BMW M3

In my mind, the E36 M3 is an automotive right of passage for the grassroots enthusiast, similar to how an Alfa GTV or bugeye Sprite might have been in decades past. Perhaps it was a crime of opportunity or maybe my soul was being sucked dry by driving something as slow as a Rabbit Diesel Caddy every day but I have been lured into BMW M-cardome. The point in time arrived where an E36 M3 came around that I could actually afford, on offer from my brother, so I jumped on it. In a few short weeks, I will have a new conduit for irresponsible driving.

There were a couple caveats though; it couldn't be driven home as the rear trailing arm bushings were so bad that it corded brand new tires in 400 miles, the front end shook like it had tremors, and the interior and paint were ragged and sun-faded.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cherokee Cylinder Head Failure/Replacement

The universe has an interesting way of self regulation. This is manifests itself whenever I seem to be coming out ahead in my automotive endeavors. Case in point, I get an E36 M3 for a song and I get rewarded with cylinder head failure in my '97 Cherokee.

What started as a nearly undetectable misfire morphed into a coolant drinking, combustion-stifling dropped valve and cracked head after dragging the E36 back from Raleigh. As it turned out, the misfire was due to an intermittently sticking valve at low loads. As soon as the load was high enough to overcome the loss of compression through the valve, all cylinders ignited properly. However, if you drive in that misfire load range for a long, long time you may start to notice some other problems pop up. The valve itself was good enough to go on the wall of offerings to the Gods of Speed. There was some galling so bad on the side of the valve stem that it looked like it was made from aluminum.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beat on the Street - Lifted Wonder Wedge

One of the great side effects of living in a place devoid of tyrannical organizations like VicRoads or TUV to mandate roadworthiness is seeing vehicles like this hot, sweet angular mess.

Comprised of a Subaru XT (maybe an XT-6 given the 5 lug pattern - help me out XT fans) and a scrapyard's worth of angle iron and rectangular stock, this wedge is doing its best AMC Eagle impession.

StanceWorks Ute - Lowes is a Lifestyle?

I'm afraid that 1,200lbs of Sacrete, 4x4x10's, fence panels, and 14" Ansen Sprints is as close to 'stanced out' or 'hellaflush' as I'll I might just leave that stuff in there.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beat on die Strasse: M-B 0321 H Window Bus

Germany has lots of interesting cars I couldn't otherwise see but rarely do they park right infront of my apartment. This was an exception. I looked up from my musli one morning to see "Sonja" arrive on my street. She stopped on my block for about half an hour to load up for a scenic tour. Although the weather wasn't great, I'm sure everyone had a tremendous view through all those sky-lights. More infor at Sonja's website

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beat on die Strasse: GMC C/K with Ford Bed Hybrid

As automotive rivalries go, the Ford vs Chevy (or GMC) pick-up feud is as strong as they get. The question of which truck is better starts fist fights between drunk cousins at family reunions all over rural America. Such a heated conflict is not a good environment for parts sharing as any intermingling would suggest a weakness on one side that can be fixed with parts from the other. Your hybrid immediately becomes hated by both factions. Perhaps this GMC-Ford love child was sent to Germany for its own good. More pics, after the jump

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Beat on die Strasse: Opel Ascona 1.6 S Luxus

The Opel Ascona C is the european variant of GM's J-body platform and while Americans endured J-bodies from Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac, the continent had to be content with Opels in 2, 4, and 5 door trim. Although the front and rear treatments don't resemble its American cousins, the mid-section looks remarkably similar and I wouldn't be surprised if the doors fit onto a Cavalier. The 1.6 S sports the larger 90 horsepower motor and the Luxus badge means this pea green example is fancier than J trim, but not as swank as the Berlina or SR.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Beat on the Spanish Street: The Loneliest Lotus Elan

The FWD Lotus Elan is said to be the best handling FWD car ever. That's kind of like being the best shifting automatic transmission. It may be a great achievement, but why did you put it in a sports car? Not that anyone has enjoyed the responsive steering or balanced chassis of this Lotus recently. I first spotted it back in February parked in the same spot and missing tail lights. It took me a few months to return and get a few pictures during the day. More details and pictures after the jump.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

De Tomaso Mangusta Rally car is all I needed to see at Italian Hill Climb Chanpionships

The Mangusta was the first competition car I spotted at the Italian Hill Climb Championship in Feltre Italy. If it was the only car I saw that day, I could have left happy. Not to disparage the Pantera, Alpine A110, Cosworth Sierra, or any of the other exotica on display but the Mangusta combines incredible Italian looks with awesome American power and deadly 1960's handling in a combination rarely allowed on track. Viva Italia!

More shots from the paddock after the jump

Beat on the Italian Street: Fiat Panda 4x4 Sisley

The Fiat Panda 4x4 is a great little car that goes nearly anywhere. To give this tiny off-roader a bit more panache, Fiat teamed with the clothiers Benetton to promote their line of out-door wear oddly named "Sisley". Think of it as an Eddie Bauer edition Ford Explorer for the Italian Dolomites. The Sisley edition got cool canoe badges, a roof rack, an in-dash inclometor, canoe decorated seats, and canoe themed mud flaps. More pictures after the jump.

Now what I really need to find is the Italian version of the Ford Thunderbird Fila.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Market Place Feature: Matra Murena 4x4 Rally Car for 100 Euros

The Matra Murena is clearly a BeaterBlog worthy vehicle. It's got wedge styling cues, a plastic body, three bucket seats, Formula 1 pedigree, and it's French. Do you also require four wheel drive, turbo power, and historic racing heritage? Then I hope you can spare $130. Of course, this project will need a tremendous amount of work and parts will probably a bit difficult to find. Though, at this price, the fiberglass parts alone are worth the price of entry.

24 Hours of Barcelona Photo Gallery

A few weeks ago, I found myself in Spain with not much to do on a Sunday morning. So instead of laying on the beach I wandered over to Circuit de Catalunya to catch the final hours of the 24 Hours of Barcelona. Hit the jump for lots of pics.

Special thanks to the team of the 42 car for the invite and hospitality.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

RIP - The 'nicest' of the fleet

So, if you have a new Mini, just avoid puddles altogether. Debating over how deep they need to be to turn the inside of your motor into a metal pretzel is inconsequential. Rumor has it, it's somewhere around 4" of standing water so if you see light reflecting off of something on the ground, just go somewhere else far, far away or just get out and walk home.

The reason that I can give this sage advice is that my wife has learned this lesson for all of you. After AAA dredged the car up and brought it back to the house with the 3rd brake light on and the motor wouldn't turn over even with all the plugs laying on top of the radiator, I was fairly sure that this was a total loss. An emotional moment for my dear wife, yes, but she's just as happy driving the '97 Cherokee 5-speed so I think we're all good for now. One day another Mini will be sitting in our gravel but not for a while.

I thought about the buyback option but at nearly two grand, it would be difficult to justify even after persistent dreams about a mid-mount EcoBoost V6. Now I'm just wondering what to do with the insurance money but I have a feeling it's going into something 20x20 and in the back yard.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bosch Boxberg Classic Rally

Every year, Bosch opens its Boxberg Proving Grounds for a two day classic car rally. On Saturday, the cars tour scenic roads and on Sunday they take to the test track. Lots of pics after the jump.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beaterblog Shop Press

When I was contemplating taking my new Volkswagen brake drums to the machine shop to have the new wheel bearing races pressed in, I was reminded of a trick by friend of Beaterblog, Jon Metty. Simply make the laws of both engineering materials and food sciences work for you by roasting the drum and hot dogs on the grill while cooling bearing races and beers in the freezer. Afterwards, smash the beers...then the race into the drum.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Beat on die Strasse: Trabant Limousines

During my first trip to the former East Germany, I found a pair of modified Trabant Limousines touring some of the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall with all the other tourists. Berlin does a good business in cold war nostalgia and hipster paraphernalia. The two are often the same so it's not surprising someone spliced a couple Trabis together to tour the old DDR before arriving at the Discotheque. Judging by the sound and smell, this pair was not two-stroke powered. Understandable since the original 26 horses may not be enough to haul around a dozen or so Germans, even without clothing. More pics after the jump.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

In The Garage - Project Update

Despite having constant rain over the past few weeks, I haven't been building an ark but instead working on my various crapcan autos and other side projects in the mud and relative safety of my nearly completed garage.

The first project has been the '81 VW Rabbit Caddy, mentioned a few stories back. Per my normal operating procedure, the amount of work and money that I have put into this little tan pile has skyrocketed far past initial projections. I really only expected to throw on some brake pads, do a timing belt and some scrubbing but instead have done rear brake lines, master cylinder, front pads, rotors, calipers, rear drums, shoes, hardware, wheel bearings, starter, timing belt and tensioner, injection pump timing, and probably a whole bunch of shit that I intentionally blocked from my memory. Still on my list are some front body panels to correct some deer damage and finishing up the rear brake hardware installs. Then it's off to Maaco some some paint and pinstriping in a Subaru Brumby kinda way.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Motorsports Club Stuttgart / ADAC Racing at Hockenheim

Saturday afternoon, I dropped by Hockenheim to catch some German grassroots motorsports. The MCS and ADAC (kind of like AAA in the US, but still sanctions motorsports) put on the event, their third at Hockenheim this year.  For 10 euros entry fee, one can wander the stands, pits, and paddock all day. Lots of pictures after the jump.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Beat on the French Street: Renault 19 Cabriolet

Admittedly, I'm no expert on French automobiles so I'm using my time in Europe to educate myself on French motoring. This (I've learned) is a 1992 model and actually rather rare as the first year for the cabrio was the last year before a re-fresh that changed the front and rear styling. For a car styled by Giugiaro with a Karmann drop-top, the looks are a bit underwhelming but not objectionable.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

BeaterBlog Recommended Attraction: Musée national de l’automobile, Collection Schlumpf

Growing up in Detroit exposed me to almost zero French cars. By the time I was ten none were available new and I went years without seeing one on the road. They were like Russian cars that existed only in books. Since then, I've rode in and even driven a few but my understanding of French motoring was lacking. The Musée national de l’automobile (French National Automobile Museum) has opened my eyes.

Friday, May 31, 2013

24 Hours of Nürburgring Photo Gallery

So far this year, Spring in Germany has been a season filled with cold and rain. Perfect weather for a 24 hour endurance race around the Nordschleife's hundreds of turns. I rolled in on Monday afternoon to catch the final hours of the race and snap some pictures. What I found was a bunch of AMG SLS's and BMW Z4's trying to run down the leading Aston which they eventually did. Also on hand were another seventy or so race cars, huge piles of empty beer bottles, and thousands of weary Germans neatly tidying camp sites and taking down home made viewing platforms as the race ground down to the final minutes. Lots of pictures after the jump.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Trade - Simca 1204 Parts Car for Another Tan Ute!

I was thinking that it would be impossible to own just one Simca 1204, however, it turns out that's not the case if the same stuff is broken on both cars. Rather than have my parts car hang around here and take up space that I'd rather fill with Vauxhalls and AMCs, I traded it to someone who can appreciate it; Soggy. For those of you who don't know Soggy, he's the guy who runs the Simca 1204, Henry, in LeMons. It took a lot of coaxing for me to get rid of one of my old French Dodges but he offered me a slightly wrecked up, rusted, and non running VW Caddy Diesel. And of course I couldn't resist having two skin colored utes. Tandemonium.

After a couple of weekends, the status of the Caddy is not looking so bad. The battery is all charged up, it's got a new timing belt and tensioner, a perfectly adjusted injection pump, new air filter, and the interior was vigorously pressure washed and vacuumed about 4 times. It runs and drives but the rear brake lines are rusted off, which caused a slight incident while tow-starting it with the Roo Chaser. Basically, the car started at about 10mph the noise that it created sounded like it threw all 4 rods. For future reference, this is Rabbit Diesel clatter and can be ignored. Anyway, this caused me to hit the brakes in the Falcon which in turn required that Jon, the driver of the chase car, to swerve left and wrap the tow strap around the axle and pop the tire off of the sidewall. All of this happened while a realtor was showing a house across the street. Welcome to the 'hood.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Is this the best parts house in the world? Possibly.

Park's Auto Parts is a staple of motoring in Charleston. There are a couple dozen across the lowcountry but the original is on North Charleston's Rivers Avenue, or the 'daul lane' as the old timers call it. The minicipality of North Charleston was a byproduct of the Naval Yard on the Cooper River that was started at the turn of the century and boomed throughout the Cold War period. At some point in the 80's, someone got the idea that if the bridge over the Charleston Harbor was taken out, the Naval forces would be they pulled the base and the town crashed in spectacular fashion. However, in it's heyday, North Charleston's dual lane was the Woodward Avenue of the South with car sales, machine shops, and other outlets for men in uniform to spend their money. Park's would certainly have seen a lot of that disposable income. Luckily, they've managed to retain all of that knowledge and experience and to this day have staff that knows what they are doing (!), have a Speed Shop, and even hard to find parts in stock.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marketplace Feature - Indonesian Obscurity

I went on eBay Australia right quick to check out some old Mitsubishis when I happened up this hot mess.

It's Suzuki Marvia, an Indonesian-built retro car based on some kind of Suzuki intended for sale in Bali. I thought I knew my obscure cars but I've just been humbled. If I had to guess, I would say that it's a Suzuki LJ80 (I see a leaf spring perch poking out of the front and a big 5 lug pattern on the spare) with a bizarre, somewhat Dekotora style body draped over the top of it. It's absolutely fascinating and I can't seem to find any more information on it in a language that I can decipher.

It's really not my cup of whatever they drink in Indonensia, Milo I guess, but I've got admire that the current Aussie owner liked it enough to bring it back from Bali and it's a shame that he can't work on it any more.

Here is the ad:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Beat on the Texas Street: Pick-ups of West Texas

Chevrolet Task Force
Texas is the undisputed capitol of Truck Country. Fortunately, the dry climate of West Texas preserves what the heat and sun doesn't melt or fade.  I particularly like the patina on this late '50s Chevy.  Hit the jump for the best Dodge and Ford I could find in Marfa, Texas and a bonus Cadillac hearse/ambulance.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Beat on the Street - 1965 Rambler Classic 770

Found on the streets of downtown Charleston, SC is this beautiful Rambler Classic sedan. Slotted between the American and the Ambassador, the Classic was the middle child of the most conservative car company around at the time, making it quite a boring option in '65. In a marketing effort centered around safety, American Motors even claimed that the only race that they cared about was the human race. Certainly they sensed the collective eye roll of every car buyer in the US got back to racing in the late 60's, however, at the time AMC had a serious reputation problem that would seriously hurt their competent performers like the Rebel Machine, S/CRambler, and AMX.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stranded Dauphine

What started as either a cruel prank or some poorly thought out advertising for a used car lot ended up with a Renault Dauphine being stranded atop an abandoned service station turned buy-here-pay-here lot in North Carolina's Robeson county. I'm not sure what's more amazing; the fact that the car hasn't rusted away or the miracle that it hasn't been stolen for scrap.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Marketplace Feature - My CSX-T!

Just as quickly as it came into my life as my 30th vehicle, I realized that I have too many projects and am not really getting the things done that actually need to get done on my cars. Example: The CSX-T is now running but the Simca has no brakes and my Jeep is about to drop its ball joints. So it's last in, first out as I consolidate my collection. Also with the the new Beaterblog Dixieland Branch MegaGarage (read: two car garage in my back yard) to start construction in a couple weeks, I could use the extra scratch.

My budget for this project did climb quite a bit and I ended up spending about double the cash and five times the effort that I had originally planned. But my loss could be your new track day, or even freaky Friday drag car project. After all that, I did get a reliable and fast daily out of it for a few weeks. Now it's your turn to reap the rewards now that all of the grunt work is done.

See the listing here. I'll take anything for it, really!

Beat on the Swedish Street - Photo Gallery

Swedish beaters endure months of arctic cold, feet of snow, darkness for twenty hours a day, and roads filled with moose. To survive, every car needs an array of rally lights, studded snow tires, mud flaps, as well as engine and interior heaters. These accessories don't make you a rally dork, just grandma heading to the store for more reindeer meat. I spent a few weeks in Sweden and snapped some interesting cars I ran into.

Beat on die Strasse: Custom E36 Cabrio

I spotted this heavily customized BMW E36 cabriolet at a nearby used car lot. It appears someone went all retro 80's on this 3 series by bringing back the shark nose, E21 taillights, and mono-red paint scheme. Up close, the car is surprisingly presentable with reasonable panel gaps and paint work. Someone spent a lot of money to make this car look this way. Unfortunately, my German skills were not adequate to learn any more information. More pictures after the jump.

BeaterBlog Recommended Attraction: Meilen Werk

Meilen Werk is essentially a chain of high end German car dealerships that double as tourist attractions. The main event are the new Ferrari's, Bentley's, and Lambo's but they've also got a large classic car dealership, parts store, clothing store, two restaurants, a model shop, a car themed hotel, and conference rooms. To top it off, they offer climate controlled storage all of which is on display. The result is a lot of easily accessible, high end cars with no entry fee. Oh, and they've got a jet hanging from the ceiling. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beat on the Street - 1987 Puma GT

It's always a treat to see South American cars in the US. If you happen to ever see a Brazilian car stateside chances are it's a Puma. They are still very rare but they are one of the only Brazilian cars to be imported to the US officially, albeit in kit form.

This particular model was parked on a dealer's lot in North Charleston, SC. Some internet research tells me that this car has been for sale in the past and is an '87 model. The history of Puma is very convoluted and determining the origin of many parts on the car is beyond the scope of my VW/Puma knowledge. It appears that this car is built off of the VW Brasilia and VW Variant II (locally produced 411 models) based on what I can find. Those certainly are Brasilia taillights.

Perhaps the most interesting period in Puma's history was in the beginning when beautiful shells looking like a cross between a Mazda Cozmo, Deutch Bonnet, and Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato were being fitted with Brazilian produced DKW 3=6 running gear.

More pictures after the jump.

Spring Junkyard Sightings

Junkyard hopping offers the ideal Saturday diversion for when I don't necessarily want to break the wrenches out in my own driveway but would rather just search for future project fodder. In the case of this weekend, I was casually hunting a Ford Explorer 8.8 rear end for the Roo Chaser and some Shadow/Sundance interior parts for the Shelby. I found almost everything I needed but I got a bit distracted from the cause...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Motor City Break Up

Dear Metro-Detroit,

I know this is tough for both of us, but I need some time apart. How long has it been, nearly thirty years? That's a really long time and we've both changed. When we first met I was blown away by how ingrained the car culture is to your very nature. Every third garage in this town conceals some project, classic, or race car with a story and a club. A week doesn't go by without seeing a camouflaged prototype on the street and if you don't work in the industry, your neighbor does.

I was intoxicated by the technology, glamour, and speed this town manufactures so I became a part of it. I got an engineering degree and job. I wanted to be the guy that makes cars awesome to drive and in my small way, I've done it. Along the way I've raced three cars, explored incredible junk yards, attended some great car shows and met the most die-hard car guys in the world. Please understand that you'll always have a special place in my heart but I need to explore. You see Mo-Town, it's not you, it's me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beat on the Street - Scout Diesel with Bonus 929

While I was back in my hometown stomping grounds of Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was just leaving Cup-o-Joe coffee when I spotted this beat up ol' Scout II sitting in a repair lot. It was my ideal IH (not including Monteverdi Safari) - late model, beat all to hell, Nissan Diesel, manual transmission, and converted to pickup.

Raleigh is packed full of old cars and when downtown, you can't drive a block in the old neighborhoods without finding something awesome. Within one block of this truck, I know of a beater '54 Buick, a Ford Lotus Cortina, an M6, and a Citroen DS.

Monday, February 25, 2013

BeaterBlog Recommended Attraction: Terlingua Ranch

Every boy in Texas dreams of owning his own Ranch. When Texan, Racer, and All-American bad ass Carroll Shelby made it big he bought 220,000 acres of West Texas desert near the big bend in the Rio Grande. If the stories are true (and I really want them to be) Carroll and Co would fly in a DC-3 full of show girls for wild parties, desert races, good eating and whatever one cares to do far away from everything.  It's remote, but if you're in the neighborhood you might as well stop by.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Project Update: The Turbo Van runs

Three years after it entered my garage, the Turbo Van project rolled out under its own boosted power. It took five weeks of late night wrenching, lots of frozen fingers, air shipped parts from Texas, and a lot of help and advice from my friends to get it done before I had to vacate the premisis of my old house. Well, done on the day I had to be out. Nothing like a deadline to push a project out of the garage. Highlights and more pictures after the jump.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Triumph over good taste with a TR7 based kit car

It would be unfair to call it the mother of all bad ideas because I know I've had worse. However, if you want something unreliable that kinda-sorta looks like an F40 from a football field away, there's always the Mondial.

Though I have no need for a Triumph TR7 based Fauxrrari at this point in my life, I would love pricing and availability on Dodge Shadow based Pantera kit.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vencido en la Calle - Renault R12s of Mexico

If you like beat to hell cars, my friend, you need to go to Mexico, the land where everyone drives a vehicle like mine. It's easy to see why nothing has a straight panel on it; reckless disregard for the merging process,  ump parking, and rapidly decaying infrastructure are major contributors to automotive destruction. One thing that is not a factor is rust. Evidence of this is the fact that these Renault R12s have not yet been converted to a pile of reddish brown flakes like all of its US brethren.

Renault was active in Mexico from 1959 to 1986 with a lineup that was mostly similar to that in the US, with a few notable exceptions like the Dinalpin. After it had long abandoned North America as a whole, Renault came back in solely in Mexico starting in 1999. Now both Renaults and Nissan badged Renaults are sold South of the Border. Today it's not uncommon to see Alliances, R12s, and R16s still cutting off heavy trucks, running into things, and honking at people.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Beaterblog Recommended Attraction - Kantine Ostalgie & Fahrzuegmuseum

While cruising back from the Oschersleben race track and looking for anywhere but Aldi to buy beer, I had to do a double-take when I saw a Wartburg 353 on top of a large pole. Unfortunately, I did not have my "I brake for Commie cars" bumper sticker on my rented Opel Zafira when I did a full ABS stop into the parking lot of Kantine Ostalgie und Fahrzeugmuseum.