When a hobbyist opens the hood of his or her vintage vehicle, the alternator generally isn’t what’s admired most. In fact, short of a charging system issue that forces action, the belt-driven voltage generator is so reliable that it can operate inconspicuously for years without maintenance. Nothing underhood is truly maintenance-free, however, and our Pontiac’s alternator proved just that. It wasn’t a charging issue that drew our attention. Instead, a persistent chatter at idle speed indicated something was amiss. A cursory check revealed that an internal bearing was beginning to fail, and without swift action it could leave us stranded.
Our ’76 Firebird was originally equipped with a 10SI (or System Integrated)-series alternator developed and produced by GM’s Delco-Remy division in a variety of sizes and output ratings. While remanufactured 10SI alternators are typically stocked at local parts stores, we find originality important and decided to completely disassemble our Firebird’s original 80-amp unit and replace its shaft bushings. That then afforded us the opportunity to replace the internal electronics, essentially resulting in a complete alternator rebuild. Follow along to see how we did it.
The history of the muscle cars covertly produced from the Central Office Production Order
COPO was Chevrolet’s special-order system used by dealers to build high-performance models in the 1960s despite a corporate racing ban. The COPO program was originally designated for fleet vehicles such as taxicabs, but at the peak of the muscle car wars, it was used to build the ultimate high-performance Chevy muscle cars.
Author, Matt Avery, a Chevy muscle car expert, combed the archives and found the owners and people involved in the COPO program, providing the culture with a compelling story and outright resource for COPO cars. The COPO muscle car and racing programs produced an extraordinary period of automotive history, and Avery captures all these facets in a very entertaining book.
So what was the first GM concept car to get an XP designation?
From at least the mid-1940s to the early 1970s, General Motors used a system of XP labels to designate its concept cars and other design studies – a system that, at first glance, seems rather rational, but on deeper inspection was poorly or haphazardly implemented, to the point that we’re not even sure which was the first project to warrant a GM XP label.
Most automakers – at least in their early years, that is – follow pretty regular naming conventions. Henry Ford (on his third attempt to start a car company) started with the Model A in 1903 and made it all the way through to the Model T with just a few gaps here and there. Ferdinand Porsche’s Typ system was fairly well organized. So one would expect something similar from a company as complex from the outset as General Motors.
General Motors knew the electric automotive age was coming when it showed its Impact electric concept car in 1990. It was another step in the history of trying to promote a successful electric car, a quest going back to the infancy of the automobile.
While electrics and steam did enjoy brief popularity early in the 20th century, gasoline soon took over. The electric’s short driving range limited it largely to urban driving, and range is still an electric’s limitation.