CFlo’s State of the Fleet Address
Here at the DT
offices double-wide in the sky, it seems everyone has some sort of cool project car, wacky daily driver, or cheap performance machine. I think I might be the most deranged though, because at any given moment I need more than two full hands of fingers to count all the different project cars and needy old machinery sucking my time and attention. And I haven’t lost any fingers…yet. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources to write about everything I work on. This is where you come in!
This is where I provide a list of everything that’s been going on recently, and pose the questions to you, the DT reader. Which of these projects would you most like to read about? If we were to make a DT video series, which project (if any) is cool enough to be in the first episode? Other ideas? Tell us those too!
The ’93 BMW M5 could get one more project car article installment, since I did a bunch of cosmetic restoration after the main mechanical jobs were done. Sadly – well, no – happily for me the black-on-black E34 is off with its new owner in Atlanta after getting auctioned off at that other car site. The selling experience was positive, and the car went to a dad who has been forced to drive minivans for too many years. Perfect candidate for owning a depreciated German sports sedan! Just prior to shipping it away, I ended up buying back the 3-piece AC Schnitzer 17″ wheels from the new owner – more on those later. The only spares I had laying around in 5×120 were for an E36, so wrong offset and hub diameter. After a next-day shipment of wheel spacers and some lathe modification the M5 had something on which to roll away. We’re looking forward to seeing what wheels the new owner settles on!
No sooner than I had sold the M5 and gained a parking spot, DT Editor-in-Chief Vince asked if I wanted to “borrow” the Roadmaster. A few days turned into a few weeks, and he proposed that I could become the next custodian of this fine couch on wheels. Who am I to say no? My kick-off post with the car in January was fun to write, and former owners Vince and Kaibeezy wrote a few pieces about it over the previous years too. At this point the Roadmonster is the DT village bicycle. It has some needs, but nothing major. Epic road trip writeups are for sure in the pipeline for this thing though!
This is my personal Volvo 242 that I’ve owned for about 9 years now. No, it’s not the former Daily Turismo Project Car (the original one), which was a white 1983 242 DL. This is a beige ’81 – big difference buddy! While our friend Alex took the ’83 into slam city with an extremely low suspension drop, custom wheels, and a Volvo 3.0L Whiteblock inline six swap, I’ve kept my beigey beast a bit closer to its original form. In place of the wheezy old K-Jetronic powered tractor engine though is a ~10 year newer Redblock, a B230FT to be exact. With a turbo, multi-port EFI, and wasted spark ignition it’s really almost modern feeling. I’ve done tons of little upgrades over the years and just haven’t ever written about it here on DT. Brakes and suspension work are next.
My wife’s 1973 BMW 2002; Schmetterling is German for butterfly. SCHMETTERLING! Aside from being named after a meme, this little Golf yellow roundie has been the un-project car. We have a grand time zooming around to various cars & coffee type meets in this thing, and the occasional fun Friday commute. It handles exteremely well for a 45-year-old thanks to numerous suspension upgrades from the previous owner. Sadly, the differential decided to kill itself a while back, and in the process of diagnosing and fixing that, I ended up rebuilding the whole driveline aft of the trans. And the shifter mechanism. While you’re in there. Eventually this will get a modern standalone EFI retrofit and a turbo added to the original M10 4-cylinder, at which time it will become a full-blown project mess.
A true survivor that found me – I swear this thing sought me out independently of its human owners. It’s a largely original 1975 Volvo 245DL in this lovely minty shade of Berkshire Green enamel. 1975 was the first model year of my favorite model the 240, and it also happens to be the newest model year for any gasoline car that is smog exempt in all of California. Nice, eh? Grennie still has a pushrod B20 engine, with a 4-speed + OD trans, manual steering, and no AC. It was rescued by a Volvo-flipping friend form a red dirt field in Cortez, Colorado and brought back to the San Francisco Bay Area where it had previously spent most of its existence. Now in LA, it needs a bit of mechanical refreshing, a deep clean, and interior refresh. But it’s a sweet little driver already.
The Bavarian Brougham
I’ve written about our Black Iron Racing E36 Lemons car with the 5.3L LM7 V8 swap several times already here on DT, detailing the engine swap and fuel cell install. Judge Phil (aka Murilee Martin, above) loves this thing; he proposed the Brougham theme in the first place. Since the last article and several lackluster race finishes, we’ve sorted out all of the brake wear and handling issues it had, plus retrofitted an electric power steering column from a Toyota Prius (no joke). We managed to take 4th place in last fall’s Button Turrible race at Buttonwillow Raceway Park after 14 hours of fierce on-track battles with various Miatas and the Model T GT. Next up: fuel system mods and a completely new theme. Time for some updates?
Urban Dictionary says that a Viccup is “what occurs when you’ve been drinking too much or have overeaten (or both) and have a momentary hiccup with a slight vomit aftertaste.” Fitting, but I say it’s a Crown Vic chassis with a pickup body on it. We started this project in the DT / Black Iron Racing HQ shop after a few too many beers and viewing of an episode of Hot Rod Garage on YouTube, where they made it look enticingly easy. Too easy! A few days later and we’d bought Dave Coleman’s wife’s former stunt car – a 2008 P71 Police Interceptor – and then quickly located a suitable body donor, a rust-free 1964 Ford F250 for about $1000. The two are slowly mating… and I need to introduce them (it?) to the DT readers!
This is the black & tan 1993 Miata that we picked up a few years back after our original $600 beater was totaled. This one’s a bit rough around the edges but mechanically solid – it has been the most faithful and reliable driver training tool we could’ve hoped for. My wife has been running at Laguna Seca a few times per year, and we try to bring it along on Lemons race weekends, driving in the open test session the Friday before the race. I’ve done a roll bar installation, some minor brake and clutch upgrades, and just recently a super budget-friendly racing seat and harness install. This may not be the most exciting topic but could be quite relevant to your own projects; scholars maintain that the Miata is a perennial favorite of DT readers across the globe.
A 1994 FZJ80 Toyota Land Cruiser, and the workhorse of our fleet. It tows the Miata or a Baja Bug or any manner of Volvo 240, and moves big stuff around in back since I don’t have a pickup (yet…see the Viccup above). Deferred maintenance jobs from the previous owner have been mostly addressed, but I did have to rebuild the front axle and replace the whole exhaust system. Recently the focus has been on interior niceties, replacing the tired old leather power seats with older but much better manual cloth seats, and some cool modern upgrades to make it more livable. This is naturally our main camping / four-wheeling vehicle. An offroady bumper build is in the cards, and it needs rock sliders badly, since the original running boards are now as wavy as potato chips.
The Wedge Triumphant
Accidental project car! Don’t you love surfing around on craigslist, waking up in a stupor only to find that you’ve just bought a neglected old non-runner for $500 and now need a place to put it? Well I have a very good reason for doing this – the 1980 Triumph TR7 seen above belonged to my grandfather – my dad’s dad, a Stearman biplane pilot born in Chicago, WWII pilot training instructor, machinist, gunsmith, cold war aerospace employee and all-around cool dude. In the early ’90s he needed a project to keep his hands busy, and settled on a TR7 since it was the cheapest/best unloved British roadster available in San Diego at the time. He could never get it to pass CA smog tests reliably, and then when he passed, my dad inherited this headache and sold it (understandably). I wasn’t in a position to take it at the time, but lo and behold, it turns up in a towing yard in the Inland Empire last August! Through old photos I was able to verify it as the same car, and had it delivered to our shop sight unseen and DOA. Spoiler alert: it’s already running again but the project is far from over. The plan is to get it streetable and keep it in the family for good this time.
It Should Have Never Been Born
Another Volvo 240? But of course. This one is an ’84 wagon, originally built in the Volvo factory with a VW diesel inline six, the D24. That was a 75 horsepower gutless wonder, but it did have character and chooched along for over 200k miles. I found the car in Olympia, WA and drove it back to Los Angeles with good buddy Alex (who bought our old white 242). The reason? Well, it’s a mid-model 240 and it’s smog exempt, being a pre 1998 diesel in CA. That means it can have whatever drivetrain IT wants. I just so happened to have a complete 4.6L 3-valve V8 from a 2005 Mustang GT in my garage, with twin GT2860RS turbos already mounted on it. You can see where this is going. Engine test fitting will commence soon, but I went and threw a wrench in the plan by buying the DTM5’s AC Schnitzer wheels back from the new owner of that car, and now have to figure out how to get them to fit this blue wagon. Many nights of head-scratching and test fitting of E36 parts to follow…
This was my first “real” motorcycle, a classic 1964 Honda Superhawk I found for about $600 after reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, wondering what manner of bike Robert Pirsig rode, and then finding the cheapest possible example of that bike. It was a total disaster, with rust everywhere and a wheezy old worn out engine that wasn’t even correct for the model. Over the years I located a proper 305cc mill, rebuilt that, tore the bike down, proceeded to paint and powdercoat and zinc plate everything…then decided to retrofit the smallest possible turbocharger, from an Indian market Tata Nano diesel. It’s a neverending tale, but it’s been fun along the way.
The Mini Enduro
A 1971 Yamaha JT-1 Mini Enduro is the perfect starter bike, and in fact my three brothers and I all learned to ride on this very two-smoker. It has ring-a-dinged happily for over four decades but I’ve done some small fixes recently. Namely forks replaced, seat rebuilt, and new tires that were still available from a Yamaha dealer online. Now it’s having starting issues, and my leg is getting tired!
The DT Motocompo
It seems everyone knows about the little fold-up Honda trunk bike these days, but back in the ’90s when I first crossed paths with this, no one (including me) had any clue what it was. We knew it was cool – a fold up 50cc motorcycle! – but that’s about it. Unfortunately this one has led a life way too hard for its intended purposes, and is now blown apart getting a functional restoration. New (to me) parts were imported from Japan, and it’s about time to get it all back together. Meep meep – I’m looking forward to making people laugh in Lemons paddocks again with the sound of its ridiculous horn.
This little guy needs a purpose in life. It has a mild 1641cc engine, it runs and drives better than it ever has, but I don’t have a real use for it. I’ve been thinking about a vintage rally tribute build. Not a Baja Bug because there are too many of those already, but something that would look equally at home spitting gravel from the rear tires as it would in some hipster’s Instagram account. Desert fire roads would be great fun at high speed. Problem is, it will need lots of bodywork to get it looking respectable again, and better brakes than the old 4-wheel drums.
So that’s it. Manageable… not! Posing the question again: what do you want to see more of? I’m working on all of it, but I’d rather put effort into content that would be most entertaining or informative for you – the DT commentariat.