Archive for May, 2009

The Whale Series: Chryslers, Part 1

May 21, 2009

Either out of some sense of nostalgia, because I’m that much closer to being an old man, or because this is just completely different from what I’ve owned & driven, I have to come out of the closet on this: I have a strange and growing fascination with floaty-boaty older American cars from the 60s and early 70s. I’m sure part of it is the amazing amount of torque I imagine these things have, plus the fact you can pile 5 of your friends in, plus luggage, and go somewhere in reasonable comfort, if not with the greatest amount of control! There’s also a certain carefree appeal to driving a large and powerful car with an automatic when you’re used to darting through traffic & working the gears in small 4-cylinder cars.

1968 Chrysler Town and Country wagon


Smokey Says, Only You Can Stop Fluid Leaks #2

May 21, 2009

Here’s another installment in this apparently all-too-necessary series, mostly based on experiences with my new-to-me Lancia Beta. While replacing my fuel pump, I noticed a pretty intense fuel smell in my car, and had problems with some oily goop dripping out from under the passenger compartment. I also had issues with the fuel getting to the electric fuel pump, and then from there to the engine. After finishing replacing the pump, I pulled up the carpeting in the car, and guess what, the metal fuel lines run inside the passenger compartment, under the carpet, next to the cotton-fiber-and-tar matting that acts as insulation and sound-proofing material. Apparently the matting had absorbed moisture at some point in in the car’s 30 years, which resulted in rusty fuel lines… or maybe the moisture was in the fuel lines from the long years of storage, since there was a plastic coating around them. In any event, the fuel lines from tank to pump and pump to engine were perforated and leaking as much fuel as they could into the matting.

Lancia Beta stripped interior


1962 Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood

May 20, 2009

I’ve always had a fascination for this most European of American cars, and it sounds like any classic with a flat 6 and decent horsepower with independent suspension would be a fun drive. Wait, did I just describe a Porsche?

While the later (1965 to 1969) Corvairs got the more elegant design, particular in the front and rear treatments, the lighter greenhouse of the earlier cars works in their favor. With my preference for oddball cars, I’ve gone one further and found a 1962 Lakewood, the station wagon version of the early Corvair, near Seattle in Federal Way. Being an American car, I’d imagine many parts are readily available and reasonable (I didn’t have to go far to find references to Clark’s Corvairs, among others), and some parts might even be shared with other Chevys of the same vintage.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood front