Archive for April, 2010

Use It or Lose It – 1979 Alfetta GT Goes on the Snowball Rally

April 28, 2010

Occasionally, I feel the need to prove my old cars are not just there to decorate the garage, reduce the values of surrounding homes, or give my wrenches a purpose in life. Those times, I pack up some tools, some clothes, grab my co-driver, and hit the road. Most recently, that was the Snowball Rally, this past weekend. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s a several-hundred mile drive through eastern California back roads, up to Lake Tahoe and back.

The ride of choice for this weekend was my trusty ’79 Alfetta GT (when’s the last time you heard “trusty” and “alfetta” in the same sentence?). This car has served me well as a weekend driver and on road trips to Palm Springs and Seattle/Vancouver. With its new seats and hatch strut, it was all dressed up for a long-distance trip. While not as fast as some of the cars on the tour, it was only truly lacking power once we got above 5000 feet or so.

1979 Alfetta GT goes up to 8900 Feet



A Not-So-Cheap Repair – New Upholstery

April 19, 2010

Your correspondent has been gearing up for a long drive in the Alfetta, and part of that effort has been to attend to the disintegrating seats. Suffering from many years of sun and heat, they were actually remarkably intact, particularly (oddly enough) the driver’s seat. However, the passenger seat covering was falling apart, and the back seat seams were splitting every time something was set on them. Have a look at our worst offender:

Alfetta passenger seat


Cutest Car Yet? 1962 Volvo 544

April 18, 2010

Without looking, this could be the oldest car featured yet on this blog. Older cars in the $3Kish price range are normally projects, undrivable, or both, and aren’t usually as usable on today’s roads. But getting into the early 60s, with the advent of disc brakes, more modern suspensions, and unibody construction becoming more and more common. Most cars by this point, even with more modest 4-cylinder engines found in cars like Volvos, are powerful enough to keep up with modern traffic.

Starting in 1962, Volvo started putting its B18 1.8 liter, 5 main bearing engine in the 544. Cars were additionally upgraded to a modern 12-volt electrical system. Larger taillights also add to the safety of 1960s cars. US-market cars mostly got twin carburetor engines with 90hp, and performance upgrades are readily available, even today, to push these engines up to 200hp and beyond. Listed in Springfield, MO, this “CUTE” 1962 544 is priced at $3500.

1962 Volvo 544 left