Bob’s Big Boy 49

Bob's big boy 49

In the San Fernando Valley town of Burbank, CA, there is a legendary landmark known as Bob’s Big Boy 49. As a young Burbank resident, I can remember riding to the drive in with my older brother in his ’53 Chevy, with the built 283 and ordering “Big Boy” burgers, with shakes to top off the meal and brought to you by a lovely car hop. By the way, Big Macs taste suspiciously like the old “Big Boys”. The menu hasn’t changed much since the 50’s, so if you want to sample cuisine from a bygone, motorhead era, then Bob’s is your place! Located at: 4211 West Riverside Drive; this old school drive in restaurant has been hosting an impromptu Friday night car show for the better part of two decades. It’s free to the public and anybody can bring just about anything they want, until they run out of room in the parking lot! This goes on year round and the only thing that would get in the way of it would be a zombie apocalypse or worse…rain. That is basically the only situation for cancellation. Considering the scarcity of that meteorological phenomenon in the arid climate of the “valley”, it’s a safe bet that your weekend can start with a stroll around the Bob’s parking lot.

As for rides, probably the only criteria is whether or not your car get there under it’s own steam. And I actually I have seen Jay Leno roll in, from his shop in a Stanley Steamer.  Everything from a ’32 highboy roadster with twin turbos, to a Bonneville racer on a trailer, appeared at this show. Or, oddballs like a fully restored Crosley estate, from the U.K. You can also see cars go through their entire transformation from a barely street legal, running custom without interior, to a fully fleshed out and completed project. It’s not only free and entertaining but it’s also a bit educational. Gear heads love to talk about their cars and what it took to get them to the point of personal satisfaction. Who knows, you just my pick up a few pointers or get ideas for your future project!

In my mind, this is the true essence of hot rodding or just car love in general. It’s a place where everybody can share appreciation for all thing internal combusting and cool. Pull up in your own ride and grab something to eat or go inside and dig on the retro vibe of the décor. Or, if you’re so inclined, park down the street and stroll into the parking lot and soak it in.  Everybody seems happy and appreciative of the event and the impromptu nature of it lends itself to a free and easy feel. And if your significant other complains that you’re spending too much time away doing your car thing, then bring her (or him) and the kids along and you’ve just had a very cheap family date that was loads of fun!  Yes, hot rodding and the 50’s vibe is alive and well at Bob’s and you can partake every Friday night that you can get away. And, for a change of pace you can check out “Papoo’s Hot Dog Show”, another local Burbank fixture, located across the street. Movie trivia: The Hot Dog Show was used in a scene from the 1956 movie, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. The scene was toward the end of the movie, where a couple of cops are eating at the bar (open to the outside, now closed) and they hear a call go out of a disturbance; the disturbing party being the actor Kevin McCarthy. Or if you’re coming in from the west end of the valley you can check out George  Barris’ shop on Riverside Drive and every gearhead knows what he is famous for!

So if you find yourself in the Los Angeles area, with a Friday night left to kill, you’d be hard pressed to do better than an evening at Bob’s. The price is right and the atmosphere is welcoming and cool. Good people and good rides spell “fun” for those who get the vibe. There are probably other places around, especially in SoCal, that do similar events and if driving to the wilds of Burbank, is a bit of a stretch for you, then seek them out and I’m sure ye shall find! It’s a show without all the pomp and circumstance, of a competition. Maybe “show” is not the proper term after all. It’s more like a gathering, than a show, which lends to it’s laid back vibe and feel good nature. Sadly, I moved out of the area, to East Coast about 10 years ago and I haven’t been able to partake in my weekly ritual but for those of you who have the opportunity to attend , I suggest you do so, you’ll be glad you did.

Would you turn your classic electric?

You can’t escape it, our use of fossil fuels like gasoline is bad for the environment. When it comes to new cars, for about a decade hybrids have become more and more popular. And, it’s pretty inevitable that in the next 15-20 years most new cars will be powered exclusively by batteries. Recently Volkswagen teamed up with eClassics to convert a classic Beetle from its original gas engine to an electric motor. This concept intrigued us and, having an audience of over 800,000 petrol heads in our community, we decided to ask them what they thought. And, the results may surprise you…

classic-electric

Image source: @_scl_photography

We asked our community if they would ever convert their gas-guzzling classic to a battery-powered car and the results were split pretty much 50/50. Here’s a selection of some of the best comments we got on this topic:


Yes:

In time it will be more commonplace. There are some benefits to electric cars and technology is continuously improving.

Batteries are getting affordable so this marriage just seems correct. The future can be cool as Ice.

Yes! As long as it is not my primary source of transportation!

 

And, more predictably here’s the no camp:

Not to a clasiq car, But maybe a VW bug

HELL NO!

Battery probably costs more than the car. Very efficient. No.

pontiac-clasiq

Image source: @loicpc

So, from our pretty unscientific poll, we can conclude that attitudes towards electric engines are softening. We’re pretty convinced that if we asked this question three years ago there would be a lot more hell no’s!

What do you think?

What Is A Classic Car?

What is a classic car

What is a classic car?

That term means different things to different people. Does it mean traditional hot rods; the classic rides based on cars from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s that became hot rods and customs of the 50’s? Or are they the period perfect reproductions of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s?

Do resto-mods count? Gassers? Rails? The more you ask, the more expansive the category becomes. If you look at classic cars the same way you look at “classic rock”, then there is room for expansion. When the label classic rock came about it included music from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s. As younger radio listeners grew up, a broadcast market expanded to include recycled music from the 80’s, 90’s and into this century. The comparison here reveals that “classic” is something that struck you personally, in a previous time period, that made an indelible impact on you and every time you heard your classic rock song or saw your favorite classic car, it put a smile on your face. Oh, and more than likely, either one would be very, very cool.


I just went a long way around a point to relate a very simple thing, “Classic is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder”. It’s not not as important as to how perfect a representation the car is. It’s more important as to how it impacts you, the beholder. As any classic car enthusiast understands, it all boils down to personal style. Is a ’32 high boy roadster any more valid than a Buick Grand National? One could argue no. The deuce is iconic but the Grand National was a hot rod straight from it’s birth at the factory! So in that light the only rule is, there are no rules. You can build and personalize a car to your own individual taste. It’s your vision and desire that will be on display, on the street, or at the show. Or if you’re so inclined, it might be the vision of the builder you hired.


I’m sure there are those out there that have a way more rigid and particular take on this topic than what’s being relayed here. If that makes them happy, then more power to them! They feel that a rod or custom should represent (to a tee) the era they’re going for. Or a muscle car should be numbers matching. Or that all of the original inspector’s chalk marks should be in the engine bay. Or that a Ford should be in a Ford, etc. You get the picture. You’ve heard it all before. I respect that kind of discipline and there’s no doubt that some stellar rides have come out of that approach. That being said, being the rebel that I am, I can’t get too hung up on that. There is just too much freedom and too many options out there to be hampered by restrictions, imposed by somebody else’s taste or ideals. Ultimately, you like what you like and not everyone can be pleased. I’m not a huge fan of “hot wheel” like big rims but if you do, that doesn’t make your choice invalid, it’s just your choice.


I like to think that here at Clasiq, we embrace the freer approach, while still paying respect to the more traditional or categorical approach, for building cars. For example I love the ’41 Willys and I am actually partial to all the fat fender cars of that similar era. And for as much as I love the old gassers of the 60’s, if I had a Willys, I wouldn’t go for the nose high stance and leaf spring, straight axle front end. I would be more inclined to have the nose down look, with a sleek, aggressive stance, ala street rod. Kind of like Stone, Woods and Cook out on a date as opposed to the strip. I see the value of investing in all original cars, because there are only so many of them left but I would be more “bent” toward the resto-mod concept. I like classic style coupled with  modern technology. If you think about it, that has been the essence of hot rodding ever since it’s inception; installing up-to-date improvements in an older vehicle. They did it back in the day, why not now? The bottom line is, whatever you do with your ride, it is your decision to make.You’re the one who’s going to have to be happy with it. The owner’s style and personality will come out in the final example and ultimately it will be his (or her’s) example of cool and by the way, Clasiq equals cool!  

1952 Pontiac Chieftan

1952 Pontiac Chieftan

When I turned sixteen and had that forever sought after driver’s license, I was in hot pursuit of a car of my own.  My father and I had many discussions about makes, models and styles before making a purchase.  He was leaning towards a new car but I was not convinced on that idea.

We were driving to my aunt’s house one Sunday afternoon and at the end of the driveway, there she sat with a for sale sign staring right at me.  It was a 1952 Pontiac Chieftan, 2-door hardtop that was two-toned green.  I looked at my Dad and pointed to the car, “that’s the one”, I told him.  I turned around and went back to see this beauty.

1952 Pontiac Chieftan

The car was loaded with chrome and I mean loaded!  The bumpers, side and down the center of the hood and trunk.  Five rows of chrome.  The hood ornament was none other than the Chief Pontiac.  It would light up at night to lead the way down the road!  This was a stunning car with two-toned green interior, including the dash, leather seats and a light green headliner, which was also ribbed in chrome.  Even though the seats were sized to accommodate six, tightly seated, four was good, and I will add that two were perfect especially for a date night at the drive-in!

The accent lights inside the car were a great feature for entering the car at night.  The dash board was built around this huge center mounted speaker that sounded the tube style radio.  The windshield wipers were operated by the top center knob.  They were vacuum controlled instead of being electric.  The faster you went the faster the wipers would move.

The owner came out and greeted us and I was invited to test drive this fabulous car.  The steering wheel was just a tad smaller than that found on a paddle wheel boat.  The key for the ignition was just right of the steering wheel in the dash.  To the left of the steering wheel was the starter button with the key turned I pushed the button and ignited the straight eight beast!  I was surprised at the performance of the car.  The response and handling were very good and a very smooth ride, considering it was just shy of  two tons of steel, iron and chrome!  Upon our return to the owner’s house, I learned that the car had belonged to her late husband who had worked at the local Pontiac dealership.  I had been saving what I earned at the local burger joint and when I told her what I had saved, she lowered the asking price $50.00 so that I could afford gasoline for a couple of weeks.

So, the deal was made and the car served me well.  It was stylish, strong and dependable.  This was truly a “Clasiq” Car!

Corvette – My Labor Of Love

blue corvette

It’s a labor of Love

“Intelligence is the ability to break down the problem to its simplest element.”

Apple tree mechanics, gear heads, car enthusiast…what ever you want to call them, it’s a Labor of Love.  Restoring a Classic Car is satisfying, gives that feeling of accomplishment and a sense of Pride.

Starting a Project car, or just maintaining your daily driver can be very intimidating.  Get yourself reference manuals – Specific Year Assembly Manual, Specific Repairs Manuals – and understand the problem and process.  And buy a 6 pack, or more, of patience.

Currently restoring my brothers’ 1972 Corvette. He had this Corvette since 1976.  He couldn’t maintain it for several years.  It had many electrical, vacuum and mechanical issues from age.  Tackling automotive electrical issues is intimidating.  After spending weeks of trying to trace electrical shorts, it was easier to ‘blow it up’ and start fresh. As a Design Architect for over 45 years, I learned that putting a ‘band aid’ on doesn’t really correct the problem…it just postpones the inevitable. Sure, it may take a little longer, but you don’t have to correct the problem 2, 5, or even 10 years down the road. ‘You can do it right the first time. Or waste time doing it right the second time”.    

I have owned C1, C2, and C3 Corvettes for 46 years and never regretting a day.  My daily driver is my 1975 Corvette for over 42 years.  Monthly maintenance a couple engine rebuilds has been “A Labor of Love”.

For me, restoring a Classic Corvette is meditation. There is a peace of mind, accomplishment, Pride when you are driving, and people acknowledging your achievement.

My son grew up and learned how to drive in my ’75 Corvette. He ‘caught the Corvette Bug’ from watching me and helping me work on them before he was able to drive.

I had a 1981 Corvette 4 speed that he got for his 16th birthday on the premise he would maintain and treat it right. He still has it after 20 years and an engine rebuild.  He learned early on that his accomplishments and Sense of Pride from maintaining ‘his’ Corvette was priceless.  He now has the sense of Pride by passing the ’81 down to his son.

We found a 1971 454 c.i. ‘barn Corvette’. He wanted to get it and restore it. We spent almost two years and a lot of weekends.  He discovered that satisfaction, that feeling of accomplishment and a sense of Pride.

Restoring a Classic Corvette, for us, goes far beyond the Car.  It is the Pride of a Family Tradition being handed down through 3 generations.

1950 Oldsmobile 88

My first love of cars started back in the 50’s.  My father owned a 1950 Oldsmobile 88.  The first recollection of this car started with the steering wheel horn.  The center was the world with a circle around it.  It was gold in color with a deep blue universe surrounded by stars of the same color.  I remember getting lost in thought just imagining all of the possibilities!

The hood had a rocket on the very nose and a badge just below with that same world encompassed by the circle.  The trunk also sported the same badge, centered just above the key hole and the rear corner of the trunk boasted a rocket piercing the number “88”, announcing to all that viewed it!

My father’s “88” was a two-toned black top and gray bottom.  It was a two-door hardtop, considered quite stylish back in the day.  The hardtop was something new to me because I saw there were no center posts in the car.  I considered it the next best thing to a convertible!  The windows were electric – hey, no more cranks, I was styl’n now!!

This car was equipped with the new Rocket 88, an overhead valve V8.  It was the engine that replaced the straight-eight for Oldsmobile.  Pontiac kept the straight eight for a couple of more years.  Chevrolet had the inline six cylinders.  The Oldsmobile engineers developed this Rocket 88 overhead valve engine and placed it into a current production auto they had known as the “B” style body.  It was smaller and lighter than the Oldsmobile 98.  The smaller and lighter combination was a very good match for handling and performance as well as expense.  This proved to be a great addition to the Oldsmobile line.

The designers now were forced with the task of developing a logo that would introduce the Oldsmobile 88 and Rocket 88 V8 to the world which they achieved with the legendary emblems I described being so infatuated with as a young boy.

They wanted to reach out to the post-war generation and they wanted them to envision the future!  What better way to do so than with the world and the universe powered by a Rocket 88 overhead valve V8.  So they reached for the stars and succeeded.

The Oldsmobile 88 was introduced in 1949.  It was a step into the future and proved to be a true performance vehicle.  It went out and promptly succeeded to win in competitions.  In 1949, NASCAR held 9 Grand National races and stock Rocket 88’s won 6.  In 1950 the Rocket 88 won 10 out of 19 Grand National races and set a new speed record in Daytona.  They went on to claim many outstanding achievements which propelled the Oldsmobile 88 to be awarded the “Honor of Recognition” as the 1950 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car.

Yes, this is the fine automobile that launched my desire of Clasiq Cars What ignited yours?

Summer Of ’67

The telephone rang.  The little blonde-haired boy ran to answer it.  “Hello?”   “Hello, this is long distance.”  “Do you accept the charges?”

“Hold on” the boy said, as he dropped the receiver and ran to the kitchen.  “Ma!” he shouted.  “It’s long distance!”              

The woman walked calmly to the phone, and picked up the receiver.  “Hello,” she said.  “Hello, Ma-am, I have a long-distance call from California.”  “Do you accept the charges?”  “Yes”, said the woman.  “Hello, Mom?”  “Hi, Michael, how are you?”  “I’m fine, Ma”.  “I got in from Thailand this morning, and I bought a car.  I’ll be driving home.  I should be there in about three days.”  

At this point, the little blonde-haired boy climbed up on the phone table, in an attempt to hear both sides of the conversation. “That’s great to hear, Mike.  What kind of car did you get?”  “You’ll see”.  He said.  It was August of 1967, and another young man was coming home on leave during the Vietnamese war.  “Do you want to say hello to your brother”?  “Yes, Mom, put him on”.  She handed the phone to the 9 year-old boy. “Here, Hank.  Mike wants to talk to you”.  Hank excitedly spoke into the receiver.  “Mike, is that you?”  “Yes, Hank.”   “How’s my little buddy?”  “I’m great, Mike!  I can’t wait to see you!”  “I know”. Michael said.  “I’ll see you in a couple of days”.  “I can’t wait!”  Hank said. 

Hank went to bed that night, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t sleep.  His mind was racing with the thought that his oldest brother would be coming home for a real furlough, not like last year when he had to rush home for their grandmother’s funeral, and go back to the war.  And in Hank’s mind, he tried to picture just exactly what kind of car that his brother would be bringing home.

Wasn’t it Michael who had taught him how to tell one car from another?  Wasn’t it Michael who, though he was eleven years Hank’s senior, the one who would take him along to his friend’s houses to look at their cars?

In a couple of days, morning came, and Hank could hear the sound of a car that he hadn’t ever heard before pulling into the driveway.  He ran downstairs, about as fast as he could, and ran out the front door.  “Mike!”  Hank shouted.  Slowly, Michael lurched himself out of the white sports convertible.  “Hi, Hank.” Mike said, as he hugged his little brother.  Hank turned to look at the car.  “Wow, that’s fancy. What is it?”   ‘That’s a Jaguar XK-140 roadster.” Michael said.

Mike purchased this 1955 Jaguar XK-140 roadster from a dealer in California for eight-hundred dollars.  Not a bad price at the time for a car in the condition that this Jag was in.  It was white, with a red leather interior, and a black convertible top.  This Jaguar was made in late 1954, and sold as a 1955 model.  This open two-seater was the successor to the XK-120.  It had a standard 3.4 litre, Jaguar XK double overhead camshaft inline 6 engine, which produced 190 BHP (142Kw) gross at 5500 rpm.  Jaguar’s optional motor had the ‘C” type cylinder head, brought over from the XK-120, which produced 210 BHP (157Kw) gross at 5750 rpm.

The white paint was a little faded, but there wasn’t a scratch on the car, certainly nothing that a good buff job couldn’t fix.  “Hey, Hank!”  If you help me wash it, I’ll teach you how to drive it!”

Hank just stood there, and looked into the car.  Even though he was tall for his age, he paused, and looked back at his brother.  “It’s got a stick.”  “Don’t worry, kid.”  ‘You’ll learn it.”  The next day, Hank helped his brother wash the roadster.  He scrubbed the white paint with anticipation, and went to work on the wheels.  Soon, he was losing patience, as he was getting frustrated with trying to get the dirt out of the spokes.  “What’s the matter?” Mike said.  “You have to be patient when you’re cleaning those.”  “It’s hard, Mike!”  The blonde-haired boy was clearly getting flustered.  “Go wash the front of the car, and I’ll take care of those tires.”  Mike could see the frustration in his brother’s eyes.

Hank stared at the grill of the Jaguar as he moved the sponge in a circular motion.  He saw the chrome start to gleam with each swipe.  He saw the logo at the top of the grill.  ‘Boy, this is sure one stylish car!”  Hank said.  As the car dried, Michael directed Hank to get the can of rubbing compound.  ‘We’ll have this baby shining in no time.”  Within an hour or two, they had finished the outside of the car.  “Let’s go to the car wash so we can vacuum this car out.”  Mike said.  They hopped into the roadster, and Mike fired it up with the push of a button.  The car growled like a pure Jaguar.  “Aw, Mike, this sounds so sweet!” Hank said.  Soon, Mike cruised onto the freeway, and had his car cranking at about 70 miles per hour.  Hank could feel the road as the Jag sleeked down the highway.

 This particular ’55 had a top speed of 120-125 mile per hour, and could go from 0 to 60 mph at 8.4 seconds.  Only 3,276 open two-seat roadsters were produced by British Motor Corp from 1954 to 1957.  

When they were done, Mike took his brother to a shopping center parking lot.  He put the car in neutral, and pulled on the emergency brake.  “Get over.” He urged his brother on.  Hank could feel his heart pounding as he climbed over the center shift, and into the driver’s seat.  “Pull up the seat.”  Hank pulled the seat up as far as it would go.  ‘How’s your sightline?”  He said.  “I can see over the hood.”  Hank said. “O.K., take the brake out, and put the clutch in with your left foot. Take hold of the shift.  Push it forward as left as you can feel it, and slowly let the clutch out.” 

Hank could feel the sweat  from the August heat on his brow as he carefully let the clutch out.  Suddenly, the car lurched forward, and clunk came to a halt as the engine stalled. “You gotta give it the gas at the same time that you’re letting the clutch out, you dope!”  Michael said, egging his brother on.  Hank remembered how his brother had done it, as he was watching his feet and his hand when they went to the car wash.  Certainly, he could do THIS!  Hank put the clutch in, and hit the ‘start” button.  The roadster roared to life.  Hank proceeded to shift into first gear, and slowly let the clutch out.  He could feel the car about to stall, and right at the last minute, gave it just enough gas for the car to go.  “Yeahhh!”  Hank exclaimed.  “Shift down!” Mike said.  Hank clutched, pulled the shift down, gave it a little gas as the car whined and went into second gear.  “Good job, Hank.  Shift up and to the right!”  Hank pushed the shifter forward, and felt the stick fall into place at third gear. “Let the clutch out!” Mike shouted.  ‘Good” 

Hank was feeling confident and excited when he shifted into fourth gear.  “O.K., Hank, time to slow it down.  When you feel the motor idling down, put the clutch in, and downshift, like I told you.”  Hank could feel the car start to buck as he pushed his foot on the clutch, and he pulled the stick back.  As he let the clutch out, the car clunked to a stop.

“Good enough for now!” Mike said.  There’ll be more time for this later on.’  Hank was feeling the adrenaline, as only a boy could, for he had his first taste of what it felt like to drive a real, honest to goodness sports car.  As he spent the rest of the month with his brother, they would go to the record store, and to Michael’s friend’s homes, and to the Connecticut dragway to watch men like Frank Federici racing on the quarter-mile track.

The little blonde-haired boy would never forget this summer of ’67, his favorite summer to this day.

The Z16 SS396 Chevelle

Chevelle. Specifically, the big-block Chevelle. Arguably, the most dominant car of the muscle car era, not only for their brute force and power on the streets and strips, but the sheer volumes of them produced. But many folks aren’t aware of the story behind the beginning of the big block engines put in the Chevelles, and initially, why.

To understand Chevy’s move to add big block power to their new intermediate size car in 1965, you need to jump back a year to 1964, and scoot over to Pontiac…..

In 1964, Pontiac General Manager, John DeLorean, realized the 326ci small block engine offered in the new Pontiac Tempest (327ci in the Chevelle) was never going to satisfy the “need for speed” of the younger generation of the day. While the 326 was a great little engine, the “kids” were building their own power plants and putting them in anything they could get their hands on, to go street racing. Being the visionary he was, DeLorean thought that if we give these young people a reason to buy a Pontiac now, they’ll be more likely to come back and buy more Pontiacs later. So he had an idea that he took to the GM Corporate guys for approval.

His idea was a special option package for the Tempest that would include the Pontiac 389ci big block engine with a tri-power carb setup, a 4-spd transmission (with a Hurst shifter – because the kids had to have a Hurst shifter!) heavy duty chassis, suspension and brakes, bucket seats, and various rear end gear ratios. All this go-fast equipment would be put together as an “option package” for the Tempest. All they needed to do was go to their local dealer, order a new Tempest and check the option package box for the: GTO package.

Originally, the GM Corporate guys were skeptical, but they also liked Mr. DeLorean and gave him approval to build 3000 of the cars. As the story goes, they never expected it to fly with the public, but knew John was a brilliant marketer so decided to appease him ….

As the 3000 car build was coming to an end – and they were selling as fast as they could build them! – the story is that the Pontiac dealer network across the country went crazy because people were begging to buy these cars! The Corporate guys took note and realized DeLorean might be on to something, so they let the cars continue to be ordered and built. Well, 32,450, 1964 Pontiac Tempests with the GTO option package later, Pontiac had an enormous success, and John DeLorean is still credited with beginning the muscle car era.

Over at Chevrolet, they were busy putting the first big block engine in the Corvette. The 1965 model year was under way and the car was introduced a bit late, but nonetheless, the big block, L79, solid lifter, 396 / 425hp engine came to market. But Chevy General Manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudson had another issue to deal with.

The success of the GTO at Pontiac was leaving the Chevelle in the dust in sales in the intermediate car segment. By 1965, Pontiac decided to make the GTO a stand-alone model, also changing the name of the Tempest to the Pontiac Le Mons.

Knudson had his own idea to spark some competitive sales of the Chevelle against the GTO. His idea was a group of promotional cars – 200 to be exact – with his own “option package” called Z16.

The Chevelle Z16 would include the L37 version 396ci big block with hydraulic lifters and 375hp. This would be 15 more horse power than the 360 in the 389 Pontiac GTO. The 200 cars would be built on the frames intended for Chevelle convertibles as they were boxed and stronger. They would have Muncie wide-ratio 4 speed transmissions, heavy duty suspensions and chassis. Brakes needed to be sourced from the Impala parts bin as the 396 engines were already in use in the full-size cars, but stock Chevelle brakes were not up to the 375hp task. The 11 inch drum brakes used on the Impalas would work fine though.

Chevy used 6-inch wide wheels instead of the standard 5-inch units on production Chevelles. They had Firestone develop “gold line” tires for the 200 cars. Special wheel covers were designed for the cars too. Emblem placement was different on the outside of the Z16’s as well as trunk lid trim which was only the lower half of the rear deck lid and it was painted black. Production cars had chrome and polished aluminum on the trunks. Even the tail-lights were different and sourced from the 300 Series Malibu.

Inside, special bucket seats were added and a padded dash with what looked like a dash mounted tach fixed in the center. It was actually a clock and the tach was large and next to the speedo in the dash cluster.

They chose only 3 colors for these promotional cars – Regal Red, Light Crocus Yellow and Black. There were a couple interior colors used, red, black and white and some cars had vinyl roofs installed.

It was too late in the 1965 model year to introduce a new Chevelle, but the car was slated for a complete new body style change in 1966. Knudson’s idea was to sell these cars to prominent people who were in a position to promote Chevrolet and all the new big block power options that were available in the Chevelle. They were never advertised and other than the celebrities who the Z16’s were offered to, only a select few “regular folks” were able to buy one. The most famous Z16 owner and person who probably talked about his car the most was Dan Blocker, who played “Hoss” on the Bonanza TV series. Dan was a huge performance car fan and  bought his Z16 at Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago. The fact that Chevrolet was one of the only sponsors Bonanza had didn’t hurt is ability to promote the car for Chevy. Other notable owners were AJ Foyt, Phil Hill and Briggs Cunningham.

There was a 201st car built and it was a convertible that Bunkie Knudson had assembled for himself. All the other cars were identically equipped hard-tops except for color and trims. The Knudson convertible is known to have been destroyed many years ago, but a clone or two have been reportedly built. Of the 200 promotional cars that went to mostly celebrities, there are various estimates of genuine originals that still exist. Numbers range from 65 to 74, depending on the source.

The Z16 SS396 Chevelles were heavily optioned cars – and by Chevelle standards of the day, expensive. A Z16 Chevelle would have cost nearly $4300. Back then, that was nearing Corvette money compared to the average Chevelle cost of $2800 to $3200. But the intent was never to sell the Z16 as a volume car. They were meant to introduce the lineup of Chevy big block power to the world as a stepping-stone to 1966 and beyond.

These numbers matching, documented examples have been owned by Rick Treworgy for many years and are on display at Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City Museum in Punta Gorda, FL.    

Pontiac Fiero – almost better than the Corvette

The year was 1984, Wham was still together, Apple was putting the first personal computers in peoples homes, Clara Peller was asking “where’s the beef?”, General Motors was selling their first car without an engine between the front wheels since the Corvair, and I was at home playing with my Transformers.

Fast forward eleven years and I would own one of those rear engine, plastic bodied wonders myself. The Pontiac Fiero was a decent first car. My friends liked it, my girlfriend told her friends it was a Ferrari, her parents thought it was to small for extra curricular activities (it wasn’t), it was cheap to drive, and it was fun.

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Could the Fiero have been more than it was? Absolutely! Let’s look at the facts. 1) it was a light weight, small, two seat car with the engine out back powering the wheels that should be powered on a sports car. 2) it had four wheel disc brakes and four wheel independent suspension. 3) it had speakers in the friggin headrest!  Okay it wasn’t as light as it could have been the engine was the tried and true Iron duke Four cylinder, the suspension wasn’t state of the art, and the speakers in the headrest weren’t Bose. Even so it made Car and Drivers ten best list for 1984, and was able to secure itself a position as the pace car for the Indy 500 that same year. Pontiac just didn’t quite add that extra something that would’ve, could’ve, should’ve sent the Fiero over the top, but before we light the torches and go after Pontiac we have to understand that they wanted to throw their purse at the Fiero, but GM had one rule above all other rules and that was nothing can be faster than the Corvette!

Sure it sounds stupid, but what if newly single old uncle Jerry with his combover and his Miami Vice sport coat had squeezed his beer belly behind the wheel of his brand new mid life crisisvette drove across town, picked up miss gold digger, and on his way to the mall he gets gapped by a River Phoenix wanna be in a plastic Pontiac? You see rules keep us on equal footing, and because of this one simple rule the Fiero was never what it was meant to be, nor what it could have been. An MR2 killer, the Fox bodies worst nite mare, the Corvettes badass baby brother. Sure it got better in the later years, but it never really got where it should have or where I am sure the designers envisioned it would be.

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I am happy to say that the Fiero is regaining popularity now as project cars and/or collectors. I’ve seen everything from tube chassis front engine drag Fieros to v8 swapped rear engine versions and people have really started to notice the potential in these cheap relatively easy to find sports cars. I myself have even considered buying another one, but my wife won’t let me comb my hair over, and I’m pretty sure my Miami Vice jacket no longer fits.

The Top Five Worst Parts to Replace

At Clasiq we have a few stories about how some of our renovations have gone wrong. In fact, we’re so passionate about restoring classics we even created an ultimate guide to restoring them but we all know that there is one part we simply hate repairing. We knew we wouldn’t be alone so we decided to ask our Facebook community of 775,000 users what job they love to hate when it came to repairing or restoring their classic. Here’s the top five:

5) Water Pumps.
Why? There’s so much stuff you need to move to get to it and then when you do if you don’t own a lift, anything that’s underneath it!

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Image source: @86z28_navarro

4) Next up – anything electrical!
Camaro’s seemed to get referenced a lot here and one of our survey respondents said a special mention (or is that a special place in Hell?) needs to be given to the 86 Z28.

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Image source: @86z28_navarro

3) 4 WD Front hubs
Wheels are easy right? Right? Wrong. Tons of people mentioned changing the front hubs on any classic 4 WD can be the stuff of nightmares.

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Image source: @wheelfire

2) Any part on a Dodge!
That’s right. We asked and the people spoke. There were just too many horror stories around Dodge’s that we couldn’t mention them all.

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Image source: @imgagebro

1) The nut behind the steering wheel
This surprised us too but the stand out winner of the worst part to replace was, indeed, that pesky nut behind the steering wheel.

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Image source: @mark_wht56