Monday, December 23, 2019

1987 Record-Breaking Oldsmobile Aerotech Streamliner

1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech Streamliner

'87 Recording-Breaking Oldsmobile Aerotech

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 on 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.  

Oldsmobile Aerotech Streamliner

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. 

290 MPH Oldsmobile

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 sometime 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 V6 Buick Motor

20th Anniversary 1989 Trans Am

1989 Trans Am 20th Anniversary

To honor 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 were 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 V6 motor, the same V6 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.

Rare 1989 Pontiac Trans Am

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-liter 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 are 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 well 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 T/As 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

Buick Grand National

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

1992 Camaro RS  one-off

Rare '92 Camaro RS 

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.

1992 Camaro Highway Patrol (B4C-RS) package

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 and Z28 packages with low out-put engines.

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 ax. The 602 production numbers were supposed to be a throwback to the amount of Z28s that was 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.

Although I have searched, I have yet to find a confirmed 1992 25th Annerverey (B4C RS) Camaro. My assumption is they are either in a museum somewhere or two different owners are driving around a Camaro with no real knowledge of what they are driving.

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

I guess we'll never know.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

1968 COPO Camaro Z28 Convertible: The Rarest Camaro Built

package (B4C-RS)

Rarest Camaro Every Built

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?

eCOPO Camaro

eCOPO Camaro

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

Detroit Drag/Connie Kalitta

Detroit Dragway

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 the 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, but now it's just history.

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.

Detroit Dragway Classic

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 over 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 broken 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 as 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 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.

Detroit Dragway History