Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd. — April 2006

Columnist — Allen Wright

Driving Rain: Automotive Reflections on a Rainy Day

Here it is, mid-March in Southern California. It has been raining and cold for the last week and there has been little progress on the restoration project other than sorting screws. Sorting screws is kind of fun as you can picture the restoration moving forward.

All the parts from the 1962 Fury are marked in one way or another to assist in putting the whole thing back together. There are Ziploc bags a-plenty as well as tags on parts with notes.

My back-up plan is the service manual or Jerry from Pasadena that has an original 1962 Plymouth Fury.

Recently we went to the Chevrolet test drive course at El Toro Marine Base. The deal here was you got to drive most of the GM products including the Corvette. They had three Corvettes: two convertibles and a hardtop. Each had a professional driver with you.

The beginning of the course was an acceleration test and you could hammer the Corvette. It was very impressive. Next were some S turns where the passenger/professional driver encouraged you to stay on the gas.

If I was going to sell all the old cars and have just one car I would probably get a Corvette. What they can do is amazing.

Speaking of amazing, it is hard to believe that on the way to El Toro I noticed that my bride's brake lights were not working. Not one but both were out!

Her VW Cabrio is a true piece of German engineering. Once you figure out what Hans, Franz, and Brčnhilda were thinking about you can pretty well fix anything. In an earlier project, I tore into fixing her electric windows and, after a couple of hours, had actually fixed the problem — thanks to a U.S. Cutter key.

The light bulb list in the VW owner's manual had bulb numbers that were VW specific, it appeared. I tore into the trunk to find a snap-out bulb holder. It was a little hard to get to but when I got there, it was obvious the bulb that was burned out: 12VP21W37R(E1) 0216W9MOSRAM7506 Germany (from this point on I will call this the German bulb).

I opened up the other side and it was the same story with a similar burned-out German bulb.

The thought of going down to Kragen and finding a German bulb flashed through my mind. Then I thought about my bulb collection. Matching up the burned out bulb with a similar bulb it was obvious that an 1156 would probably do the job. The bulb itself was a little bigger but, if it worked, who really cares?

Not only did the GE 1156 work but it seemed much brighter than the German bulb. So the cross-reference for 12VP21W37R(E1) 0216W9MOSRAM7506 Germany is GE 1156. A little too much German engineering.

Back to El Toro Marine Base and test driving. Other than hammering the Corvette, I really wanted to drive a Silverado. Ever since the L.A. Auto Show I have been thinking about a new pickup or van.

The way I use a personal vehicle is to buy new, over-maintain it, and see how many miles it will go. The Ford van got almost 200,000 miles. The Chevy van got almost 160,000 miles and the Dodge van I currently have has 140,000 miles. It is time to start thinking about a new truck.

Believe it or not, this writer has never owned a pickup truck. I have borrowed many to move stuff. I have rented U-Hauls to move engines. I have had motorcycles, vans, boats, trailers, and a bunch of cars but never a pickup.

Like most other guys I got caught up in the Dodge Hemi fever. Those Hemi commercials Dodge put out were aimed right at me. I tow car trailers. I like a lot of room to store stuff. And it's a Hemi with 345 horsepower!

I have driven two of them and the extra horsepower is probably needed by me.

The Chevy Silverado with the Vortex puts out about 330 horsepower and, to me, I will probably never miss the 15 horsepower. But the funny thing was I really didn't end up liking the Silverado 4x4 with the Vortec. It had plenty of power and a gorgeous interior but it was pretty glitzy for a pickup truck.

Probably the hottest machine I ever owned was a 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442. Four-speed, 400 horsepower, dual exhaust — what a monster! It gave the GTO and Chevelle guys the jitters. However, there were guys that bought Dodges and Plymouths that, with a little tuning, could wipe out the GM and Ford guys every time.

The Dodge and Plymouth guys in the '60s weren't many in number but they were smart. They realized the horsepower-to-weight ratio of the B-Bodies. That was their secret. In 1962 the Dodge Polara 413 Max Wedge actually became the first production stock car with a factory-optional engine to break the quarter mile 12 second barrier. Many a GTO, Chevelle, Sting Ray, Comet, and Galaxy 500 427 got a lesson from the Mopar gang at the dragstrip and Daytona.

One of the reasons that I am kind of stuck on restoring Plymouth Super Stocks is that someone will end up with these cars someday. That someone will, hopefully, keep the flame burning of the wonderful times we had in the '60s with the muscle cars.

It is still raining outside on a Friday night. I guess I will head for the garage for some stainless buffing or sorting parts. And I can think about my upcoming truck hunt or my upcoming unsupervised (without the wife) trip to Las Vegas. In the meantime, stay warm and dry.

Originally published in the April/May 2006 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright 2006 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.