Classic Car Restoration Issues

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When looking for auto body services that are niche—such as classic car restoration—you don’t want to trust your baby to just anyone. You (and your ride) deserve a specialist. Every auto body shop has preferred projects, and it’s often reflected in the passion of the owner. Don’t trust a classic car to the skills of a shop that specializes in new cars, has never performed a complex restoration, or that doesn’t have the connections to get the right vintage parts.

Easily one of the toughest parts of restoring a classic car is simply finding the goods. Your car doesn’t even need to be particularly rare in order to make this a challenge. For example, restoring an 80s Ford Bronco can be a nightmare when it comes to finding something as seemingly simple as a seatbelt replacement. Scouring sites like BroncoGraveyard is enough to drive an owner mad, a quality shop has insider information to get that part like new for a surprisingly low cost.

Restoration is a big and dirty job. Are you sure you have the right professionals in your corner?

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Securing the Value of a Classic Car

Revamping a classic car isn’t like trying out a new recipe. It’s not so easy to “start over” if you (or your body shop) messes up. This is a one-shot deal. It’s your job to secure the value and protection of a classic car by choosing a body shop that specializes in vintage cars and—preferably—has worked on a very similar model before. Ask for before and after photos, the experience of each technician who will be working on the car, check out their repair gallery, and honest assessments of results you can expect. At a renowned shop, the owners are happy to provide this information because they’re proud of the work.

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Surprisingly, one sign of a good repair shop is when they say a certain result won’t be perfect. Sometimes no amount of money is going to get you flawless results. However, you should expect very, very good results that are often perfect to the untrained eye. If a shop says they can’t do something, they should be able to refer you to someone else nearby that can.

Showing Off the Goods

Once your baby is primped, pampered and primed, it’s time to take it on the road. For many classic car owners, one of the biggest thrills is participating in car shows—and there are plenty of them, get-togethers and cruise nights in spades. Coming up in September is Soda Row Cruise Night in Jordan, the Les Schwab Car Show in Oden, and the Golden Living Car Show in Taylorsville to name just a few.

oldtimer-2663114_1920.pngThere’s a space and community for every make, model, and era. Nothing compares to a leisurely desert cruise or meeting up with others who share your love for all things classic. For your oldie but goodie, depend on a local classic repair shop who will keep you, and your machine, looking good.

 

Car Evolution: (Part 2) From Vintage to Now

 

bmw-158703_1280The Evolution:

radiator-emblem-3248652_1920Soon after the Brass Car Era, (pre 1930) when any bicycle maker could try his hand at creating a horseless carriage, the US entered what we commonly call, the Vintage Car Era. What spurred the vintage car era in a more serious direction was the relatively short period between 1919 and 1930, which coincides with the First World War when the true potential of motorized vehicles and improved roadways became clear to citizens and government alike.

Thus began the vintage car era, 1930ish to 1948, which coincides with the Second World War. So when you are looking at what appears to be a vintage car it might be a Pre-War, War or Post-War car—in reference to World War II.

Visually Distinct Features:

When you think of a vintage car you think of a well-defined automobile, its headlamps stick out, it has quite a small radiator and beaded wheels. What most people don’t realize is that many vintage cars had radios. But with a few exceptions, it was all about being as comfortable as possible.

Some vintage cars evolved into brands we’d recognize today and others died out with time.

One example of Design that Stood the Test of Time:

oldtimer-3398320_1920In 1921 Citroen created the B2, which had a top speed of 45mph. This 3-speed car had a spring suspension and shock absorbers.

Fast forward to the 1955 2CV there is something familiar in the shape, in the headlights for instance, (though it seems to be taking inspiration from the Mini a bit, as well as the VW Beetle). The 55 2CV has four-wheel drive and a fourth gear. It is even suitable for off-road traveling. The main difference, though it would be hard to pick a specific feature, is that it no longer looks like a “boneshaker.”

But the Deux Chevaux (2CV) remained stripped down compared to other cars of its era. Citroen was ahead of its time in predicting what the average car buyer would value, and while the seats were barely more than metal and canvas, the car could carry 2 farmers and a basket of eggs across a plowed field without breaking anything. Sure the windows didn’t roll down, but it went 100 km on 3 liters of fuel, and that kept it popular for over 55 years.

A Vintage Car that Went the Way of the Dinosaur:

5ec518a39eaf726e41a7be0e3d7361c5A vintage car design that wouldn’t survive, the 1927 Pedroso. It might seem like a car from the future with ignition timing straight from the dash, the seats close to the ground and so on.

The trouble is that when you create a car for racing, parts become expensive very quickly. You also want something unique, not something that can be easily manufactured. Ultimately, the reason for Pedroso’s failure is that it remained a shed-built car; it didn’t go into mass production, so it’s vintage but actually so rare as to not be popular with collectors.

Other Differences between Vintage and Now:

It seems that as cars evolved they have become much more structural and possibly less defined. Terminology has also changed; in the U.K. we speak of “bodywork” rather than “chassis.” (In the US we call it a “frame” & “body” if it’s a truck or old car, or unibody as the case may be.) For more on car-component terms see our post from Monday.

Headlamps and wheel-wells moved from distinct items affixed to the body/frame closer and closer to the body itself and then incorporated completely inside the main body of the vehicle.

The partial convertible, or Coupe DeVille, with its open-top front seat and enclosed rear has given way to cars being only convertible (hard or soft top) or not convertible at all.

mercedes-benz-3204364_1920The regal “Estate Car,” gave way to the station wagon, which lost it’s spot to the much-maligned minivan, which lost it’s market to the citified version of an SUV.

What might surprise us the most when viewing old photos is the clothes drivers and passengers wore in different eras. Brass era drivers wore what might be thought of as “flying suits.” Vintage era drivers wore their Sunday best. Nowadays they just wear their usual clothes.

Cars as a category have become less special as they became integrated with our everyday life, even though we actually became more dependent on them.

What period of car development are we in now? Well since the 1980s all cars have just been described as modern. But you can divide modern cars up into 20th Century modern and early 21st modern if you so wished.

This doesn’t mean that a 20th Century modern car is fundamentally different from an early 21st Century car. Some things may have changed; the transmission, for instance, the number of speeds and so on. But we are no longer in the time of strong evolution as far the automobile is concerned.

Car Evolution: (Part 1) Clearing Up Clunker Terminology

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Car Era Overview:

Confused about the proper term for that cool old car you saw/bought/wish to own? Well don’t be embarrassed, it’s not straightforward. Some states have official designations since they’re doling out license plates. There’s a number a car clubs and organizations who’ve categorized and labeled cars for judging. At the end of the day, it’s still open to interpretation.

Still, it’s a good idea to get some sort of conformity of definition, so we at the Kicker Blog are happy to add our two cents. We’ll give some reasoning for our groupings in the post that follows, but our chief concern was the simplest, time-based distinctions we could find. (We used style and technological comparisons as a second factor and we acknowledge that there will be inevitable overlap.)

Let’s start with a quick recap of common terms and their real definitions:

auto-3154173_1920Antique – Somewhere between 30 and 50 years of age things begin to be considered antique. (BTW: Most of our writers fall into this category.) With vehicles, it starts between 30 and 45, because in the grand scheme of old things, cars haven’t been around that long. This classification is extremely age driven, though if a car is not in good condition it doesn’t qualify for special plates in most municipalities. If a car is heavily modified or updated it is no longer considered antique.

vehicle-2132360_1920Classic – this is the most abused term we’ll discuss. Consider the oxymoron—instant classic. We all know what it means, but come on. The opposite side of the spectrum is organizations like the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA), who have a list of cars they deem to be classic (most of which are older than 1948). If it’s not on their list it’s not classic as far as they’re concerned and in the world of classic cars that carries weight.

For now, just notice that the category of “classic cars” isn’t synonymous with “antique cars” but they overlap. As with the term antique, making a lot of changes or upgrades to a car erodes its status as a classic.

antique-1868726_1920Vintage – is a term that largely applies to items originally manufactured (roughly the time of WII) before 1948, so this also overlaps the term antique. However, when applied to cars not all vintage cars are considered antiques, and not all antique cars manufactured before 1930 are considered vintage. Sorry! At least you can make some updates to your vintage car without destroying the value.

Milestone – As you might guess, this is a handy term applied to cars that changed how designers and/or consumers thought about cars, so they’re important, and collectible, despite not fitting in with other cars of their exact era. (e.g. ’55 Chevy or early Mustangs).

ifa-1665443_1920Collector – This term applies to cars purely because they are desirable to collectors, not necessarily because they are old. Rarity can be a much bigger factor. Typically cars that were the bread-and-butter seller for their manufacturer will never be collectible. There’s just too many of them out there. Think limited edition like the 2006 Ford GT, which was designed in homage to earlier GT’s and allowed collectors to pick up a modern version of an unattainable classic.

Brass Cars – Not unlike the term Milestone earlier, this handy term can be applied to early “horseless carriages” that don’t qualify as “Vintage.”

Modern (“20th Century” or “21st Century”) – Starting about 1980 when car mass-production refined to a point that nearly all design uniqueness disappeared. Cars are designed to attract specific, well established market-place groups.

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Here’s OUR best classification of Car Eras:

Brass Era – 1919 to 1930

Pre 1919 cars, often hand-made, small number manufacturing runs (by modern standards), featuring prominent brass fittings and radiators, and remarkable lack of a formal braking system. Definitely a Luxury Item. Powered by Pioneer Gas, Steam, or Electricity. (Brass Car is a US term, within the British Empire cars made during between 1896 to 1915 would be known as Edwardian cars.) These cars were used by world leaders, dignitaries, and military generals as well as wealthy business magnets. (e.g. 1905 Jackson Model C, 1903 Stanley “Steamer” Rocket)

Vintage Era – 1930 to 1948

Can be further divided into Pre-War, War, and Post War in relation to WWII. Distinguished by separate headlamps, small radiators, and beaded wheels. (e.g. 1919 Ford Model T, 1921 Hudson Super Six phaeton.) This era car is built to be accessible to the masses, but the focus is pure transportation. It’s assumed that consumers desires are fairly uniform—luxury, mobility, and novelty.

Classic Era – 1948 to 1980

This era began a wide variety of features to focus on the interests of population groups. Some brands focused on luxury, while others on ease of repair and durability, and still others focusing on load capacity. The true sports car was born and soon evolved into many varieties from two-door coups to muscle cars.

What sets these cars apart from the era before is that manufacturers no longer assume what one car buyer wants will work for the next. What sets it apart from the next era of the automobile is a devotion to car design and style as an expression of its owner, as long as certain basic needs are met.

20th Century Modern – 1980 to 1999

As with other modern era items ‘function over form’ is the litmus test of design quality. This era is also set apart by massive improvements in safety features, which also increase the price tag of cars even as automation and cheaper components have reduced the manufacturing cost. Safety and fuel economy are now key features. Toward the end of this era, the dominance of uni-body construction and cab-forward design will cause nearly all cars to look like every other car of the same class (All sedans will look like a Ford Taurus/Toyota Camry, etc.)

21st Century Modern – 2000 to current

In reaction to the homogeneity of the early modern era, cars made in this era incorporate some classic car stylings. The cost of vehicles has continued to climb, and car ownership per capita has begun to fall. It’s likely that new forms of rideshare and transportation will continue the decline of cars. Cars continue to be owned by the general consumer and marketed to defined groups of people based upon needs, like family size or the fuel economy.

Sources Include:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/is-my-car-vintage-classic—or-just-old/article11938943/

https://www.carsdirect.com/classic-cars/classic-car-classifications-antique-vintage-and-classic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_frame

 

Fun Local Finds

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When you start looking around at cool vehicles you run into a many fun, unexpected things.

2018-06-02 14.11.20Take this couple, who’ve modified their trike to accommodate the special needs of their best friend.

 

Or this surprise, free classic car show that happens every first Thursday all summer at Lisa’s (a local diner).

 

2018-06-07 16.03.17I came before a lot of the cars had arrived. I look forward to going back and interviewing some of the owners.

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So get out and think cars folks. It’s a fun hobby and a great group of creative people who believe in the romance of the road.

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Focus on Mustangs: (part 2) Chrome and Trim

 

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The picture above has zero chrome…

 

by Jessica Mehta

Much like the magpie, there’s just something we love about shiny things. Modding your Pony with custom parts like the right chrome piece or trim can make a big statement with a relatively small investment. However much chrome you like – or don’t – is a fully personal preference. You can go all out or just add a little touch here and there. No matter how much you like to indulge, one thing is certain – chrome keeps all eyes on your ride.

The Surprising Places

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Chrome rims are a staple. However, there are seemingly endless possibilities that will add a surprising dash of shine. Chrome mirror covers and door handles are one option that isn’t seen often. Remember that sometimes less is more. These little touches are just enough to make people double take without completely blinding those you share the road with on a sunny day.

A chrome gas cap is another option. If you’re not quite sure you’re ready to commit to a big piece, slowly adding these touches are a great way to transition. The other great aspect of smaller pieces is price. It’s very easy to find small chrome pieces for under $100. That’s a nice price tag to test out if you and chrome are a perfect match.

Step It Up

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So, chrome’s for you? Or maybe you knew it all along. Almost every part of your stang can be modified with chrome or stainless steel. Upgrading Mustang accessories like door sills is a great way to add a bigger slice of shine into your life. Car show regulars might also be interested in decking out what’s under the hood. Investing in a stainless steel firewall is no longer just for hot rodders. You can opt to replace the entire firewall in steel or choose a false firewall cover to give the same look for a fraction of the price.

Is it Back in Style?

Chrome and steel is a personal preference. Timeless things never go out of style. There will always be people who adore a ride dripping in chrome and others who don’t want to change the factory design of a vehicle. The good news is that chrome isn’t a trend. There’s no worry about whether the style will be “out” in a year or two.

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Does it Last?

Replacing parts with chrome or steel can actually help extend the life of that particular part. Chrome is durable, long-lasting, scratch resistant, and easy to buff if a scrape does happen. Unlike a traditional paint job, a minor scratch is usually not noticeable to the naked eye. This is particularly helpful on parts that are prone to damage like exterior handles and side mirrors that don’t fare well in busy parking lots.

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Focus on Mustangs: (part 1) Choosing a Convertible or Hardtop

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by Jessica Mehta

The wind in your hair, sun shining down, and a favorite song blaring on the radio – what’s better than that? Of course, for others it’s the worry of a sudden downpour and forgetting to put the top up that is always at the forefront of their mind. Choosing a convertible or hardtop Pony has been a tough decision ever since the first convertible was released just a few months after the “1964 ½ Mustang” was born. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to pick one over the other – like every other important decision in life, it’s all up to you.

The Pros…and Cons

Depending on what year of Mustang you’re looking at, you might get to choose between a soft top and hardtop convertible. Ford Mustang parts vary in price, but overall a hard top convertible will be more expensive to repair or replace than a soft top. On the other hand, some people prefer the looks and “sturdiness” of a hard top convertible regardless of price.

It’s also important to consider where you live – particularly the weather. If it’s raining most of the year or exceptionally cold, a convertible might not be the best bet. However, practicality and Mustangs don’t always go hand in hand, which can be a great thing for adventurous spirits. There is a price difference between “regular” Mustangs and convertibles. Do you think the difference is worth those sunny days with the top down?Mehta_Mustang convertable

Dwindling Selection

Another very important consideration is just what model of Mustang you’re interested in. Not all models come with a convertible option. For example, there’s no Mach 1 Mustang convertible. Many Pony experts are well-versed on which come with a topless option, but for “new to the herd” fans this can be a surprise. What’s more important? Having a specific model that may not have a convertible option or having a convertible? This can drastically narrow down the possibilities.

Increase the Pony’s Life Expectancy

Knowing how to properly maintain a convertible top, and other key Mustang accessories, can increase a part’s lifespan and save you money. Older models may have a plastic rearview window, which doesn’t fare well in sunlight. Invest in a little cleaning and protecting materials like a vinyl window cleaner, convertible top cleaner and protectant, and take the time to cover the Pony every time it is parked. For quick trips around town, try to park in the shade even if the extra walk is inconvenient.

The Little Details

Weighed the pros and cons? Checked the average sunny days in your area? There are still a couple of things to consider. Test drive a convertible, preferably for at least a few miles on the highway, to see if owning a convertible is what you imagine. It might be heaven on earth – or it might make you quickly change your mind. Go on a test drive with an open mind and zero expectations to see what’s the best fit for you.

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