Sunday, July 28, 2019

Buick Grand National: The First Muscle Car Since The Mid-70s

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Rich With Words LLC

The Death Of High-Output Muscle Cars
In the late '70s and all of the '80s, American auto companies were being forced to come up with more fuel-efficient economy-friendly cars.


So what did this mean? 


This meant the Muscle Car era was over. Even cars like the high profile Corvette was suffering. For the most part, sports car styling was still very appealing, but their lack of performance issues was a big problem for consumers. 


Buick Was Ready To Change The Automotive Company
The Grand Nationals were produced between '84-'87 and had the same body type as the Regal. The GN was upgraded with a sportier interior, a high-performance turbo V-6, suspension upgrades, and exterior styling upgrades. 


The '84 and '85 Grand National was not quite the performer that the '86-'87 Grand National was. Due to a lack of an intercooler, the ‘84-’85 did not produce as much power, but they still came with a V-6 3.8-liter with a turbo that produced 200 horses, which was more horsepower than the Camaro was producing at the time.


'86-'87 Grand National: The Real Performer

The '84-'85 Grand National was the launchpad that got the Grand National's name out there and paved the way for the '86 and '87 Grand National. Buick added an intercooler upgrade to the already stout turbo set-up making it capable of producing 235 horsepower and 355 lb-ft torque. This was impressive for a V-6 full-bodied car from the '80s, and even more impressive was the gains it was able to produce after a few minor affordable bolt-ons. 


Image result for 87 grand nationals engine


A 13-second pass in the quarter-mile was very common for these V-6 legends. This may not seem very fast by today's standards, but in the '80s, Camaros, and Mustangs were lucky to break into the 14-second range unless you were willing to dump a boatload of money into them. 


From 1986 to the early 1990s, the Grand National took no shame in leaving Corvettes, Camaros, Firebirds and Mustangs in their dust. Stock GM TPI and Ford 5.0 motors just did not hold a candle to what the Grand National brought to the table.




My First Personal Experience

Before my senior year of High School, before my dad and I built my first muscle car ('71 Buick Skylark 455) for my senior year, my dad owned an '87 Grand National. I got the joy of taking it to school a few times. With its grocery-getter body style, it was not too hard to lure the Camaros and Mustangs to the local drag race spot. 


The Grand National was running in the low 13's and the guys who drove the TPI's and 5.0's of our school had never even seen a 1/4 time-slip. But most of them guaranteed me that their cars were 12 and 11-second rides. Needless to say, that day they all got a rude awakening when a proven 13-second quarter mile car left them literally many car lengths behind. This left most of my friends dumb-founded. A quiet V-6 with interior room to fit five passengers comfortably beating up on their cool looking V-8 sports car. That day a lot of people found out what the meaning of a true sleeper was.   


The Buick Grand National Gave Hope
In the 1980s, the Grand National was just what the auto industry needed: a car that could promote good performance, reasonable gas mileage, and style and comfort. Not only did it bring those great things to the auto industry, but it also brought hope back to car enthusiasts. It brought the hope that soon the beloved Corvettes, Camaros, Mopars, and Mustangs would eventually bring back the power that they were once known for but in a more efficient technology-driven form.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

1992 Camaro RS That Never Made It Into Production


When car enthusiasts, even die-hard Camaro fans, think of the 1992 25th Anniversary Heritage Camaro RS, they will probably think of the ordinary RS Camaro that came with racing stripes and unique 25th Anniversary emblems. The sad thing is they'll probably never know what it was supposed to be.

What was the 1992 25th Anniversary Heritage Camaro RS supposed to be?

The fastest Camaro that Chevrolet put into production.


The true 25th Anniversary Camaro was going to be a police package (B4C-RS) Camaro that would be produced in high volume for the public. But the idea was squashed when the economy started to take a turn for the worst prompting Chevrolet to stay focused on more affordable fuel-efficient cars. So the trend of the slow 1980s sports cars continued on into 1992 with the Camaro RS V6 package that only produced 140-hp.

Two prototype RS Camaros were built with the (B4C RS) package. Chevrolet was on board to produce 602 of these Camaros before the project received the axe. The 602 production numbers were supposed to be a throwback to the amount of Z28s that were built back in 1967, the first year Chevrolet produced the Camaro.

Special Features the V8 RS Camaro Would Have Received:
  • A specialized L98 Engine
  • Trick Cam
  • A specialized intake system for better flow
  • One-off tube headers
  • Three-inch exhaust
  • Corvette ported aluminum heads
  • A ZF6 Corvette 6-speed transmission
  • A modified suspension for a softer ride and better handling
  • Modified fronts seats to better hold the occupants
  • 245/50ZR16 tires on black diamond cut rims

This combination was good enough to produce 300+ horsepower rocketing the Camaro down the quarter-mile at a consistent 13.50s at 104mph. This may not seem like much now, but in the early 90s, that would have been faster than any Corvette, Firebird or Mustang that was coming off the assembly line at the time.

Other problems the Camaro RS police package encounter were the sticker prices. At $29,000, that would have made the Camaro a much more expensive ride than its competitors. So Chevrolet decided the best thing to do was to produce the Camaro, but take off all of the extras except for the heritage strips and the 25th Anniversary emblems.

With only two being built, these Camaros would be a couple of the rarest Camaros out there today. But, unfortunately, since they were never put into production and they were only considered as prototypes, they may be rare, but they are not considered very valuable.

If they were put into production, would they have been one of the most collectable Camaros of all time?

I guess we'll never know.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

1968 COPO Camaro Z28 Convertible: The Rarest Camaro Built















Rich With Words LLC


1968 COPO Camaro Z28 Convertible

This 1968 Z28 convertible was a signal ordered (1-of-1) COPO Camaro built specially for Chevrolet’s General Manager Elliott "Pete" Estes.

1967 was the first year Camaro made its debut in the auto industry market. In '67, Chevrolet only built RS and SS Camaros for driving purposes and built Z28 Camaros for the SCCA Racing Circuit. The Z28s were not cars you could buy at the dealership or drive legally on the streets.


Vince Piggins, Chevrolet's Manager of Product Performance at the time was ready to change that for '68, but the only way he could get the Z28 into regular production as a street-legal car was to get Estes approval.


So Piggins plan was to give Estes a Z28 to drive with hopes he would fall in love with it. The only problem was Z28s were only designed as hard-tops and Estes only drove convertibles. Piggins knew if he gave Estes a hardtop to drive, he would park the Camaro in a company garage where it would sit until someone else moved it.


Piggins decided to fix that problem by rolling the dice and building Estes a convertible 1968 Camaro Z28, the only 1968 Z28 convertible that would ever be built. The gamble paid off. Estes drove the Camaro as a daily driver and loved it, in fact, he loved it so much he gave the go-ahead for a full line of regular production Z28s for 1968.


Where is the 1-of-1 1968 Z28 Convertible Now?
After Estes sold the Camaro in December of '67, this beautiful rare Camaro was not really known to the public as it spent more than 20 years being sold back-and-forth to front office GM employees. But in 1991, the Camaro made it to a public auction and at that time became the highest selling muscle car of all-time with the hammer dropping at $172,000.


Unfortunately for the buyer, Al Maynard, when the purchase was made, he realized all of the Z28 special parts had been removed and the Camaro was put back to RS trim. But Maynard had a plan for that, he bought another Camaro equipped with everything that originally came with the Z28 back in '68 and put the car back to its original being.


Maynard said, "This is the Pete Estes car! It has all the original sheet metal with absolutely nothing out of place. Everything is date coded correctly, and every piece is absolutely correct. It is the only one in the world." This Camaro is truly a gem and in today's standard, if a Camaro like this rolled across the Barrett-Jackson Auction block it could possibly fetch about a million maybe more.





Special Parts:
  • Folding Rear Seat
  • Auxiliary Console-Mounted Instruments
  • Auxiliary Lighting
  • Power Windows
  • Remote Outside Mirrors
  • Custom Seat Belts
  • Positraction
  • 1969 Prototype Fiberglass Hood
  • Cross Ram Air Hood
  • Coated Factory Headers
  • Performance Suspension Package
  • Four-Wheel Disc Brakes
  • Blue Light Stereo Radio

It’s always a good thing when a piece of car history ends up in the hands of someone who knows what it is and appreciates it the way it should be appreciated. Hopefully this COPO 1968 Camaro Z28 convertible sticks around for many generations to come.

Rich With Words

Friday, March 15, 2019

eCOPO Camaro: The Future Of Drag Racing?


Rich With Words LLC

You won’t see this at the drag strip every day, an all-electric eCOPO Camaro beating its original record-breaking quarter-mile times of low 10’s by dipping into the 9’s. It’s an eerie sight to see, a COPO Camaro that usually sounds like a monster do a smokey burnout, a front wheels-up launch, and a 9-second pass without barely making a sound.


The eCOPO Camaro was hitting 10.14’s (give or take) regularly with 80-percent juice being fed to it. No one knows how much juice was being fed to the Camaro when it made its groundbreaking 9-second pass, but whatever the case, the eCOPO stopped the clocks at 9.837-seconds and cross the traps at 134 mph.  


The eCOPO Camaro was debuted at the 2018 SEMA show last October. The Camaro uses the same body structure and body design as the standard COPO Camaro that Chevrolet offers to private drag racers and drag racing teams for the NHRA Eliminator class. This electric setup Camaro even uses the same three-speed automatic transmission and solid rear-axle as its sibling COPO.


The setup the eCOPO uses is two electric motors drawing power from four 200-volt modules that are evenly placed throughout the car for even weight distribution. The setup is said to produce an estimated 780 horsepower and 780 pound-feet of torque.




If there is ever an electric drag racing class that comes about, the eCOPO uses an 800-volt charging system for quick turnaround times for round-after-round drag racing. And it is possible, if you look at Indy car racing, they have a very successful Formula E all-electric circuit that runs all year and visits a lot of the famous raceways throughout the US and world.


So is this the future of drag racing? There could possibly be a competitive class or classes that come about in the near future. But let’s face it, the power, the sound, and the thrill of hearing a combustion engine roar through the quarter-mile just won’t ever go away.   

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Detroit Dragway - Gone But Not Forgotten


Flashback Friday: Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! At <b>Detroit Dragway</b>!

Rich With Words LLC

Detroit Dragway was located in the then not so populated Brownstown Township of Michigan just outside of Detroit. This legendary dragstrip opened in 1959 and closed its gates in 1998.


The shutdown was mainly due to two reasons. The first reason was Detroit Dragway needed a renovation, but the proposal to do so was turned down by Township residents in 1994. The extra traffic congestion and noise pollution were not what the now populated upscale Brownstown Township wanted. The other reason for closing down was a lack of business due to a much nicer updated track [Milan Dragway] only about an hour away.


Although Milan Dragway did not in no way have the history that Detroit Dragway had, it did, however, have much-needed safety regulations and creature comforts to attract more racers and spectators on a weekly basis.


Sunday, Sunday, Sunday


"Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at Detroit Dragway", that used to be the catchphrase broadcasted across the radio waves when main events were being promoted. Although by time I was old enough to go racing with my Dad the real history and charm of the track had already passed on and big NHRA names were no longer showing up, the tracks legendary stories, records and photos prove that there's no doubt the big time drag racers would always show for the big events.


In 1959 and 1960, Detroit Dragway hosted the U.S. Nationals for the first time putting them on the map and paving the way to host many more great racing events. Big names like "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Connie Kalitta (a hometown hero), Shirley Muldowney, the Sox & Martin team, the Ramchargers team and much more would come to compete and put on a show.


<b>Detroit Dragway</b>


Detroit Dragway: A Dragstrip with a Purpose


One great thing that Detroit Dragway did for the surrounding cities was it gave illegal street racers a place to race legally. Growing up in Michigan, I witnessed and joined in on the street racing fun. Telegraph Rd. among many other Detroit highway roads were a hub for street racers, and Detroit Dragway was a place to go close by and legally race.


Another service Detroit Dragway provided was a place for promotion. “The Big Three” seen the dragstrip as a great place to promote their products. What better place to put their new performance vehicles on display than a racetrack that is right next to the then biggest automobile manufacturing city in the world (The Motor City).


Nothing Stays The Same Forever

Things have changed through the years. Detroit may still be nicknamed “The Motor City”, but it definitely is not the biggest automobile manufacturing city in the world anymore, and by most accounts, it is still broke and struggling.


Street cruising/racing on Telegraph, Outer Dr., and Grand River disappeared in the late ’70s and early ’80s but made a huge comeback in the late '90s and early 2000s. But after a police task force was formed to rid the city of the dangerous pastime and a few heavy hitting raids cost many of us big fines, suspended driver’s licenses and all-around big headaches, we mostly stick to drag racing legally and safely now. Although there may be some strays out looking for that kind of trouble still, there's not even enough of them for the Detroit Police Department to keep the street racing task force up and running.


<b>Detroit Dragway</b>


White Knuckle Racing
I did get to race at Detroit Dragway a few times before it was shut down. I was always hearing these stories about a big dip at the end of the track after the finish line, and I'm here to tell you it was there. I don't know if I would say it was dangerous, but it was an eye-opener when you crossed the finish line (hence the need for renovation).


Racing at Detroit Dragway was fun. There was a slight feeling of danger and fear when racing at that track, almost like you were crossing your fingers in hopes that you made it down the track and back to the pits safely. Milan Dragway doesn't really give you that feeling, but that's because the track is up to code and their safety team is 110% awesome.


Nowadays, Milan is where racers from the southeast side of Michigan and beyond go to do their drag racing. I recommend it to anyone, it's a nice facility and a nice place to race. And I can tell you from experience that the price of emissions is a small price to pay opposed to being caught in an underground drag racing sting.


Gone But Not Forgotten

The once famous Detroit Dragway located at Sibley and Dix in Brownstown Charter Township is now a warehouse facility. Most who live with-in the surrounding high-class bossie neighborhoods don't even know what kind of history was bulldozed down to keep their neighborhoods quiet.


But for those of us who do remember "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday" being shouted out on the oldies rock station, we knew what it meant. We knew that loud and fast cars would be lining up at the gates, then finding their spots in the pits, and eventually funneling into the staging lanes to wait for their chance to compete for a trophy win, bragging rights and a payout at the Detroit Dragway quarter-mile.  


DETROIT DRAGWAY – Just another part of drag racing history gone but not forgotten.


first trip to <b>detroit dragway</b> was in 1961 when my cousin took me i ...


 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

2019 Daytona 500 Gets A Pace Truck: The First Time Ever For The 500

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Rich With Words LLC

For the first time in the 61 year history of the Daytona 500, there will be a truck leading the pack. A bright blue 2019 Chevrolet Silverado pace truck will be driven by none other than a legend to the sport, Dale Earnhardt Jr.


Earnhardt Jr. has won the Daytona 500 twice, once in 2004 and again in 2014. He also won two Daytonas in July making it a total of four wins for him on the famous race track. Jr. completed his racing Daytona days with 13 top 5 finishes and 19 top 10 finishes with a total of 36 Daytona starts altogether.


“I’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of success at Daytona over the years, and now I can’t wait to get out on that track in a Silverado,” says Earnhardt Jr. “Away from the track I’ve driven Chevy trucks all my life, and I’m excited to have this unique experience of pacing the Daytona 500 with the Silverado.”


This new Silverado pacing The Great American Race marks the 12th time that Chevrolet will take the pace car honors at Daytona. The Camaro took pace car duties 7 times and the Corvette 5 times.


The Silverado has a 6.2-liter V8 that pumps out 420 horsepower and cranks 460 lbs.-ft. of torque, the type of power the veteran race car driver can surely handle.


“Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the perfect choice to pace the race because of his enthusiasm for the sport, his long history with Chevrolet and his love of trucks,” says Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It’ll be exciting to have Dale lead the field to green in the strongest, most advanced Silverado ever.”


The Daytona 500 will be held on February 17th, and as always will be one more Great American Race.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2020 Detroit North American Auto Show Moves To June To Skip The Cold

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It's been no surprise that in the last few years and counting the Detroit North American Auto Show has been failing to achieve attendance goals. And when attendance is down, car automakers drop out.

As of right now, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi have already dropped out of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. That’s really not that big of a surprise considering automakers like Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Jaguar, and high-end exotic and luxury brands like Bentley have been absent from the prestigious Motor City auto show for years now.  

Guilty As Charged
I love cars and worked in some way shape or form for the auto industries for many years. I try to make it every January, but I've skipped a few times just because of the cold. It always seems to be the week of the auto show that the weather temps drop to a bitter cold making it extremely miserable walking to Cobo Hall where the auto show is held.

Walking down the side streets with towering building on both sides of you turns the streets into a wind tunnel, a wind tunnel that sometimes feels like sub-below temps blowing you from side-to-side. So you have to bundle up to get to the auto show, then you have to coat check everything, and it really just becomes a big hassle when you can stay at home and watch Auto Week.

What’s New For The 2020 North American Auto Show in June?
  • Plenty of courted off space for outdoor exhibits for automakers. 
  • Live Music Venue.
  • Outdoor conference room for world-class speakers. 
  • A mini test drive track for interested car shoppers.
  • Outdoor food court with food trucks from some of the best culinary hotspots in Detroit.
  • Fun and games. 
  • And much more. 

Image result for 2020 Detroit North American Auto Show

Image result for 2020 Detroit North American Auto Show

Image result for 2020 Detroit North American Auto Show

This exciting indoor-outdoor event that will be held right after the Belle Isle Grand Prix will really help the Motor City seem like the Motor City again.

"The potential to create a month-long automotive festival in Detroit starting with the Detroit Grand Prix, going through our show and concluding with the nationally-celebrated fireworks on the river, will provide an unmatched festival-like experience for all attendees," Detroit Auto Show executive director Rod Alberts said in a press release. "June provides us with exciting new opportunities that January just didn't afford."

The first annual “No Holds Barred” Motor City Showdown legal drag race in September at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport was a huge success. This further lead Detroit into making more changes to really make the Motor City the Motor City again and just a great city all around.  

Detroit is really becoming a great place to visit. There is plenty of great places to eat, visit, shop, listen to music, and drink. A far cry from what it used to be three decades ago.