Saturday, November 28, 2020

1956 Corvette "The Real McCoy" That Saved the Corvette Brand

Just about anybody in the world who knows just a little bit about cars knows that the Corvette was the first American sports car and is now the most popular, fastest, and most recognizable American sports car to date. But what a lot of people may not know is that this was not always true. In fact, by the year 1955, the Corvette almost saw extinction.

Rumors about the move to drop the Corvette flooded out of Chevrolet's top offices with very sad sales numbers to back-up what only seemed to be a good idea. Their competition, the two-seater Ford Thunderbird sold an astonishing 16,000 units in 1955 while the Corvette only sold a depressing 700 units.

Unfortunately for Ford, the same car that was taking so many sales away from the Corvette would be the inspiration for keeping the car in the product lineup. The idea behind keeping the Corvette and spending more money on a car that was obviously tanking was brought on by a few Chevrolet big wigs including former Corvette chief engineer Dave McLellan. He released a statement concurring that if the Ford Thunderbird was doing so well that there is obviously a market for a two-seater sports car, and with a solid change for the better and the right amount of marketing the Corvette should be able to become a moneymaker.

In an ironic twist, the very car that Corvette planned to piggyback off of, the Ford Thunderbird, had already made future plans to market the car differently by doing away with the two-seater style and making it a four-seater touring car thus leaving the American sports car market wide open.

"The Real McCoy" 
As wide open as the market was, the Corvette needed some changes for success, ideally in the form of performance and with a new body style. When Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus Dutov came in, he decided that one thing the Corvette needed to bring to the table to get the public's attention was documented power achievements, but to get that first they had to design a chassis that could handle future horsepower upgrades.

With a '55 chassis, Chevrolet engineers went to work. First, they ditched the boring and heavy two-speed power-glide transmission and replaced it with an up-graded four-speed. They also took the original 265 cu.-in. motor and bored it out to a 307 that sported dual Cater carbs and a now-famous "Dutov high-performance cam." 

Many other upgrades were also included. Very rare Halibrand magnesium knock-off wheels, special heavy-duty brakes with cooling scoops, heavy-duty shocks and sway bars, an upgraded high capacity fuel tank, and more were all newly implicated to help achieve what would become some of Chevrolet's most important upgrades for the ‘56 Corvette.

After all of those upgrades, top-engineers slapped a new SR Prototype body on what was now known as project Corvette #6901. The engineers called it "The Real McCoy" and decided it was ready to head to the racetrack.

Dayton Speedway Record
The first stop was at Dayton Speed Week for a two-way flying speed mile. This is where the Corvette would make its first milestone. At the time the record for the Corvettes class was 127mph. With Dutov as the driver, the 255hp Corvette sped to an average speed of 150.58mph to crush the record. This was an extremely sufficient record because it occurred just weeks before the New York Motorama where the Corvette would be on display to many potential buyers, most of which had already heard the news of the record-breaking performance.

12 Hour Sebring Race
A few months later in March, the ground-breaking Corvette made its way to the famous 12 Hour Sebring Race. This was a race that was only made for the toughest of the toughest - the fastest of the fastest. Only cars like Jaguars, Bentleys, and Aston Martins graced the racetracks for these events. But wanting to prove that the Corvette has changed and deserved respect as a truly powerful sports car, Chevrolet did not shy away.

Race drivers John Fitch and Walter Hansgen were brought on board to take on the challenging race. When the green flag dropped the race was on. But early on in the race, the Corvette experienced mechanical problems, so much so they did not think that it would finish. But in the end, not only did it finish, the Corvette finished first in its respected class and 9th over-all. This was an incredible accomplishment especially considering 60 cars entered the event, but only 24 would cross the finish line.

This was another huge milestone and Chevrolet exploited it in printing ads praising the Corvette: "A Tough, Road-Gripping Torpedo On Wheels" and "The Most Remarkable Car Made In America Today." 

Those ads were to send a message: Corvette had finally arrived as a force in the international sportscar racing circuits, and Corvette proudly called this particular Vette "The Real McCoy."

Between all of its accomplishments and Chevrolet's ad campaigns, the '56 Corvette sold 3,467 units and in '57 they nearly doubled that with 6,339 sold. One of the main reasons why the Corvette saw such selling success was because if it were to compete in its respected class at the Sebring 12 race, every part that was changed or modified had to be documented and later made available to the public. This made potential buyers very excited about the fact they could buy a Corvette and beef it up to run and look just like the “The Real McCoy”  

In any event, if it was not for the #6901 '56 PJ Prototype "Real McCoy" Corvette, and possibly the success of the Thunderbird, Chevrolet may have never gone forward with the Corvette and the automobile industry would definitely not be the same today.

Monday, November 16, 2020

First Public Look Ever At The Camaro: First Commercial In 1966


Back in 1966, the American people were introduced to a sports car that would see five decades of success. That sports car was the Camaro, and to this day has just as much power and influence in the high-performance auto motor industry as the day it first went on sale on Sept. 29, 1966.

After the Mustang was introduced in 1964, Chevrolet had to come up with a sportier, tougher two-door sports car than its current two-door sports car at the time, the Corvair. So under the code name XP-836 and then soon after named the Panther for temporary identification, Chevy went to work.

For the year 1967, Chevy decided to name the soon to be an iconic sports car, the "Camaro". This obscure word comes from the French-English dictionary meaning "friend". They added eight different engine setups including a SS 350 option and a stout 427 option. Even though the Z/28 did not come along till the next year, on the day of September 29th, 1966, the Camaro hit the road for the first time. Five decades later, this sports car is still a noticeable piece of automobile history no matter what year or model you are driving. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Covid-19 Cancels Detroit's Most Anticipated Event: Detroit Auto Show

NAIAS 2019: Detroit show gearing up for major makeover | KVAL

The Covid-19 virus has caused the cancelation of one of Detroit’s most anticipated events in modern Motor City history. Like with most cities and industries, their economies have taken a huge hit due to the pandemic. But for Detroit and the surrounding regional area, having the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and the Grand Prix cancelled is the worst thing that could happen to a city that has just started to really hit its stride. 

Detroit has suffered for many years economically, and with the new build of the Little Caesar Arena, Detroit has really started to see an up-turn. The arena gave the Red Wings a new place to play and brought the Detroit Pistons back to Detroit from their previous home at the Palace in Auburn Hills, MI.

The North American International Auto Show 

This year would have been the first year for the NAIAS to be held in June instead of in January. Last year the show experienced 35,000 fewer guests than the previous year due to a massive snowstorm. And it’s these kinds of wintery problems that the NAIAS has always experienced when trying to get and keep attendance up. 

Even with the 35,000 fewer guests, the NAIAS boosted Detroit’s and the regional economy with revenue gains of over $430 Million, the equivalent of two Super Bowls. Restaurants and hotels all reap the rewards of this extraordinary event. But as of right now, with all these businesses already hammered with the restrictions of the Covid-19 virus, the cancellation of the NAIAS will only make things worse. 

More Problems For NAIAS 

The second biggest reason for the move to June other than attendance was to bring back some of the automakers that have backed out of the event in the past few years. As attendance declined because of weather and other reasons, a lot of foreign automakers have backed out of the event - with fewer people - fewer people to promote their product to. Moving the NAIAS to June from January was supposed to be the game-changer. 

Having the event outside during the summer would allow interested consumers to take vehicles for a test drive, experience new self-driving cars in the flesh, and give more room for automakers to set up their displays. Also, adding to the fun, there was going to be off-road events at the TCF Center and Hart Plaza, rally cars were to "drift" on the rooftop of the convention center, the Motor Bella festival of Italian and British cars on Broadway, live music, and more. 

Unfortunately, if you show up to any of these places this year, you’ll find that they are either closed or turned into a temporary field hospital for Covid-19 patients

Detroit Grand Prix At Belle Isle

The Detroit Grand Prix was also cancelled. The Grand Prix was to be held May 29-31 just before the June 7-20 NAIAS was to be held making Detroit a true Motor City again. The two events put together so close at such a nice time of year should have been a great chance for Detroit to get more people down to the city than usual. Gearheads and just curious people altogether would have been able to witness a new Detroit starting to deveolp.  

Unfortunately, like with all cities around the world, the pandemic is affecting all new and exciting things and traditional things that goes on in our cities. And for a city that was finally bouncing back after decades of decline, this will put a big halt on the progress Detroit has made.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible: First Look

Rich With Words LLC

Although the Corvette is now recognized more for its speed and performance, through the years the Corvette’s heritage was mainly designed for comfortable convertible cruising. This 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible was also designed and engineered first-and-foremost around the convertible version. 

Back in 1953, the first Corvette ever available to the public was a convertible version, and that was all you were able to buy. Ever since then a hard-top and a convertible option has always been available, but this 2020 Corvette will be the first-ever convertible hard-top produced. 

Most people like the convertible hard-top version for its looks, but it also offers a few other great features. A quieter cabin, increased security, and an easy to keep clean and maintain tonneau cover are just some of the extra perks the convertible hard-top offers. Also for people who do drive their Corvette a lot, soft-top convertibles tend to need to be replaced after being exposed to the weather elements for too long. These convertible hard-tops are designed to last as long as the Corvette lasts.

The beautifully engineered 2020 Corvette Stingray convertible is still designed to fit two sets of golf clubs in the trunk plus an airline-spec carry-on and a laptop bag in the front storage compartment. For a supercar, that’s a lot of room a luxury you won’t find in other supercars. 

To make sure that the engine doesn’t suffer any circulation problems, the tonneau cover features aerodynamically shaped nacelles influenced by the housing used for jet engines. So although it looks like the engine may suffer from the convertible top being put down, Corvette ensures there is no engine power decrease.

You can activate the convertible top up or down at speeds up to 30 mph and it uses six different electric motors to get the job down in 16 seconds, a first for Corvette.

Monday, December 23, 2019

1987 Record-Breaking Oldsmobile Aerotech Streamliner

Rich With Words LLC

Like with most kids who are fascinated with cars, there is always that one car or vehicle that captures your imagination. Be it a Corvette, Lambo, Ferrari, Monster Truck, low rider or something else major awesome, there is always one that just makes you want to go fast and look cool. Mine was the 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech Streamliner

The spaceship looking, aerodynamic silver bullet as I called it, made me wonder just how cool and how much faster will cars be when I got old enough to drive. 

By the time I was seven, in 1987, my father had already worked for Buick for 20 years give-or-take, so I already knew about the advancements in turbo technology and what it could do for smaller engines. (e.i. Grand National, T-Types, etc.) But it was really the 2.0-liter Aerotech Oldsmobile that put out astonishing recording-breaking speed numbers that made me realize that with the right technology, the sky was really the limit.

Designing And Building The Oldsmobile Aerotech     
Oldsmobile and GM knew they had to have three major components to get the Aerotech vision designed, engineered, and ready to hit the track for record-breaking speeds. The first component was they needed a designer/developer. For that, they put their trust in Ed Welburn, Oldsmobile’s Assistant Chief Designer back in the ‘80s and now Vice President of GM Design North America. 

The next component they needed was a place to design and build the rendering and the finished products. They choose a basement in one of Oldsmobile studios where they knew they would be out of the prying eyes of the public and even Olds and GM employees that were not to know what was going on. 

The third component was choosing a pilot for this spaced ship looking beast, and they choose the best. Since the Aerotech Streamliner was going to be tested at a famous track near Fort Stockton, Texas, Oldsmobile decided to go with a Texas native and one of the best race car drivers of all time, four-time Indianapolis winner, A.J. Foyt.  

Structure And Stats
For the chassis, a March 84C carbon fiber kart racer that had already won an Indy 500 was chosen. For the driver, a cockpit that looked more like an F16 fighter jet cockpit was designed with digital instrument panels and HUD technology.   

For the powerplant, there were two designed. Both were based off the 2.0-liter Oldsmobile Quad-4 engine. One was boosted by a single turbocharger and pumped out 900-hp, and the other was a twin-turbocharged that pumped out 1,000-hp. 

When it came to the body style, Oldsmobile brought in more designers from the GM staff to help design an almost completely aerodynamic, closed cockpit body. Two versions were designed and built: the Long-Tail (LT) and the Short-Tail (ST). Both versions used specially designed automatic adjusting underbody sections to control the distribution of downforce from front to back.  

Major Records Broke
The first record that was broken was on August 26, 1987. Originally set by Phill Hill in 1959 in an MG Streamliner, the 2.0-liter class “World Flying-Mile Record” would get crushed by A.J. Foyt  with the Aerotech Long-Tail (LT) with a two-way average speed of 267.399 mph (431.10 km/h). During the run, at certain points, the Aerotech reached speeds of 278.357 mph. 

The next day, the second record that was broken was the Closed-Course Speed Record which was set by a Mercedes-Benz Streamliner in 1979. A.J. Foyt, again, drove the Aerotech Streamliner to a top speed of 257.123 mph (413.788 km/h) breaking the previous Closed-Course Speed Record. 

Altogether, this four-cylinder beast broke the 290 mph barrier.

The Fourth And Final Version Of The Aerotech
The fourth and final version of the Aerotech was a Long-Tail version designed and created sometimes in between ‘87 and early ‘92. The biggest changes were an engine upgrade from the turbo 2.0-liter Olds Quad-4 to a turboed-up 4.0-liter Oldsmobile Aurora V8. The Aerotech also received a set of working head and tail lights for its next adventure. 

That next adventure would come on December 7-15 1992. The Aerotech Streamliner was brought back to the same Texas track, not to just break one-or-two records, but to break 47-speed endurance records in a short span of eight days with a team of racers and mechanics working day and night. 

Funny Thing About The Project
The 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech Streamliner project was originally designed to get younger buyers interested in Oldsmobiles. Olds even used commercials with slogans in them for their campaign like “Not Your Father’s Olds”. 

Unfortunately, the campaign never really took off, and the younger generation still saw the cars as hand-me-downs or grocery-getters. But one thing is for sure, the Oldsmobile Aerotech Streamliner will go down in history as one of the most technically advanced, record-breaking vehicles of its time.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

1989 Trans Am 20th Anniversary: Stock V-6 Buick Motor

Rich With Words LLC

To honnor Pontiac's 20 great years of Trans Am success, this rare 1989 Pontiac Trans Am turbo was rewarded by being named the official pace car of the 73rd 1989 Indianapolis 500. 

The Back Bone To This Badass Trans Am
Back in the 1980s, production sports cars were considerably slower compared to the fast, technology potent sports cars that are being produced today. Thanks to the shortage of fuel and the bad economy, the '80s were a breeding ground for poorly performing Mustangs, Camaros, Trans Ams, and Corvettes. 

But in the late '80s, Buick brought some relief to the unimpressed gear heads with their 1986-'87 Grand National and Regal T-Types. The two very similar models where technically two-door sedans that came with a 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine and used a turbocharger and an intercooler to produce 235-hp and some very impressive quarter-mile time slips. In fact, for those two years, the sluggish looking grocery-getters were the fastest, most efficient American made production vehicles that ever rolled off the assembly.

Fastest Trans Am Ever Put Into Production Is Born 
In 1989, Pontiac would prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beloved Trans Am. For the anniversary edition, Pontiac would go in a different direction and for the first time would produce a Trans Am with a V-6 motor, the same V-6 motor that Buick used for the dominating Grand National and Regal T-Types. For this special anniversary edition, there would be 1,550 Turbo Trans Ams produced in different combinations of hard-tops and t-tops along with a leather or cloth interior option.

Pontiac did not offer a factory convertible Turbo Trans Am, but one was created for Jeff Beitzel the President of PAS, a custom car production company. The car is unique in that its origins were shared with other custom-made vehicles that PAS were involved with building such as the Syclone, the Typhoon, and the ASC-built GNX. The world's only rag-top Turbo Trans Am has changed hands several times and is presently owned by a wealthy Mexican oil baron who loves Pontiacs.

Performance And States
So just what kind of performance stats can this Turbo Trans Am produce? Since Pontiac used the higher-performing drivetrain from the Grand National GNX, they managed to pull 300-hp out of the 3.8 six-cylinder engine. You can expect 0-60 times of 4.6 seconds while stopping the clocks in the quarter-mile at an average of 13.4 seconds. And if you keep going with your foot on the gas past the traps, you will reach a top speed of about 158 mph. But just like the Buicks, the possibilities of much faster times and better performance is completely feasible with affordable upgrades and the correct tuning.

Completing The 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am Package
To complete the package, the Turbo Trans Am would come with a 200-4R 4-speed transmission with a lock-up converter. Four-wheel disc brakes and aluminum calipers with dual-piston and vented rotors were also installed. The Trans Am suspension includes front MacPherson struts and a limited-slip rear live axle with front and rear torque sway bars – meaning not only does it go fast in a straight line, but it also hugs the corners as good as any other American or European sports car

The sticker price for this Turbo Trans Am was around $32,000. Nowadays, depending on condition and how many miles are racked up on one, you can find them for sale anywhere from $16,000-$45,000 give or take. Finding one that is cheap and needs some work is extremely hard if not impossible. Most people keep these TAs garage kept and in great shape. 

With only 1,500 produced, the 1989 Pontiac Trans Am turbo is definitely a rare American classic, and if you're lucky enough to own one, it would be in your best interest to take care of it.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

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

Related image

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.