Tag: 1960’s

Lowrider Hydraulics Pioneer X-Sonic Corvette to be Restored – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Back in November, we were excited to learn that Dave Shuten, of Galpin Speed Shop, will be restoring the X-Sonic Corvette to its 1960s appearance. The X-Sonic was a groundbreaking custom car in the late-1950s that not only inspired Ed Roth to begin crafting his famous bubble tops, but also helped introduce the custom-car world to hydraulics.

The circa 1960 version of the X-Sonic, demonstrating its hydraulics and sporting tunneled 1958 Dodge headlamps, but pre-bubbletop. Photos courtesy Kustomrama.

Hydraulic suspension (and its spiritual descendent, airbags) on custom and lowrider cars is commonly known today. But where and when did hydraulics make the leap from being aircraft parts to automotive suspension pieces? The answer, of course, is in post-World War II California, where two enthusiasts—seemingly separately and unbeknownst to one another—used parts found in military surplus stores to create the first suspension systems that could be impracticably low for car shows but raised for driving

One of those men was Jim Logue, a North American Aviation employee who lived in Long Beach in 1957 and took inspiration from Citroen’s factory hydropneumatic suspension to modify his 1954 Ford. The other was Ron Aguirre, a resident of Rialto, who around the same time saw a hydraulic ram being used for dent removal and thought he might use something similar to avoid future violations for the lowness of his 1956 Corvette. Today, Logue and his Fabulous X54 have faded from popular memory, but Aguirre’s bubble-topped X-Sonic persists as the poster child for “the first” hydraulics-equipped custom car.

The X-Sonic as it appeared in 1963 with bubbletop and no headlamps.

As a successful contender on the indoor-car-show circuit of the 1960s, the X-Sonic went through a few iterations and wound up heavily modified, including the aforementioned bubble top, substitution of a Turboglide transmission for the original three-speed, and even the elimination of a conventional steering wheel in favor of an electric motor controlled by toggle switches! The bubbletop and unconventional steering marked the transition of the car from street custom to all-out show car.

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Rare Gene Winfield–Built Corvair-Powered AMT Piranha Goes Up for Sale – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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If it weren’t for automotive fabricator Gene Winfield, the Marbon-Centaur CRV might have remained a footnote in automotive history, warranting a random article every five years or so before everybody forgets it again. But Winfield—known for designing vehicles in Blade Runner and Robocop—renamed it the Piranha for model car company AMT and put one on tabletops across America in the late 1960s at the same time he tried to convince adults to get into the full-size Corvair-powered version. More than 50 years later, at 94, Winfield has lent his talents and his name to the sale of one more Piranha

.”Gene’s personally working on this car,” says Dan Melson, who will offer it (and two other Winfield cars) for sale this weekend. “I have left all artistic control to Gene

.”Marbon Chemical’s development of Cycolac, a type of ABS, in the early 1950s opened up doors for manufacturers to start introducing plastics into consumer goods. Given that Marbon existed as a division of Borg-Warner, it was only matter of time before company executives decided automobiles could benefit from a heaping helping of Cycolac.

To help sell the idea, according to auto historian Nick Whitlow, Marbon partnered with Dann Deaver, a designer and co-founder of Centaur Engineering, another division of Borg-Warner. Deaver had built some race cars in his time, so Marbon’s execs asked him to fabricate an entire car out of Cycolac, one that Marbon could demonstrate for automotive engineers around the world. The resulting Cycolac Research Vehicle (known as CRV long before Honda started using the name) debuted at the Society of Automotive Engineers convention in January 1965 and led to a series of four more prototypes—two convertibles and two gulping coupes—all powered by Corvair flat-six engines.

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1960-’61 Chrysler 300F & 300G Buyer’s Guide – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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The original “businessman’s hot rod” combined a racing pedigree with luxury trimmings

When people boasted of the performance of Chrysler-branded automobiles during the postwar years, it was usually in reference to the cars’ mechanical prowess: smooth and reliable, just like a luxury vehicle should be. Naturally, powerful acceleration was a key element, but it was intended to make premium models more capable on the road, and not meant for speed contests. The corporation’s other divisions were better equipped to manage a young buyer’s stoplight-sprint antics.

Part of that perspective changed when the division released the C-300 in 1955. Fitted with the 300-hp, 331-cu.in. “FirePower” V-8 capable of pushing it to a top speed of 130 mph, the specially trimmed hardtop coupe broke the mold while redefining the parameters of a luxury coupe. Adventurous CEOs could feel the excitement of raw power while seated in a luxurious cabin, surrounded by coachwork that spoke of edgy—yet not audacious — exclusivity. And it was exclusive: Just 1,725 were built in the first year, each costing $4,110 (or $40,095 today) without options.

More compelling was how the C-300 began to cement its legacy beyond the boulevard. Trimmed for racing, it utterly dominated the NASCAR and AAA stock car ranks, which continued a year later with the updated 300B. For 1957, the 300C set a notable production car speed record at Daytona Beach before the Chrysler division took a bow and left the business of racing to Dodge and Plymouth, prior to the AMA embargo.

Although the on-track exploits may have been put to rest, the exclusive “Letter Cars” remained in production, continuously improved both visually and mechanically. The model’s evolution took a significant leap forward when the 300F was introduced in 1960, the basic elements of which carried through to the 300G of ’61, with attributes that not only set these cars apart from their predecessors but have attracted both collectors and vintage-car driving enthusiasts alike since. If you’ve been considering the purchase of one, here are some things you should be aware of

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Even an expert Mustang restorer had the challenge of his career with Bill Goldberg’s “Lawman” Mustang – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Dreams seem to have their own mass, derived from the devotion of the dreamer. Cherish one long enough and hard enough and its gravity will draw you in. Sometimes it’s a lot of work and a long time before that trajectory becomes apparent.

Take the Lawman Mustang on these pages. You saw it last month and learned its story. How Ford used it as a morale booster for troops serving in Southeast Asia, improved road safety among returning vets, and sold a few new cars in the bargain. The way it wound up restored is a testament to how dreams can work out in unlikely ways.

Marcus Anghel, owner of Anghel Restorations in Scottsdale, Arizona, has long been a fan of the Lawman.“I followed this car for years.

I never thought I’d have the opportunity to restore it.”

As delivered to Anghel Restoration, the Lawman showed only 829 miles on the odometer, but they’d been hard miles. Not only was the engine blown and out of the car, but the wiring harness was a mess, and the car was just generally worn out.

Nor is Marcus the natural choice for such a restoration. He’s a Mustang guru, yes: A Mustang Club of America National Gold Card Judge and National Head Judge for the Shelby American Automobile Club. He’s renowned for his knowledge of 1969-’71 Boss Mustangs. Thanks to that, he has his choice of projects to take on. Typically, he restores these Mustangs back to stock—which is how his clients generally like them. People, as Marcus says, who “want them Day One, the way they were in the showroom.

”Admittedly, 21st-century circumstances being what they are, he’s had to embrace certain departures from showroom-stock for cars meant to be driven extensively. These are always hidden things, though, like a five-speed where a four-speed once resided, or a vintage radio rehabilitated with a Bluetooth receiver concealed inside.

A heavily worn drag car was a pony of a different color, as it were.

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Which one of these high-strung, small-cube muscle cars would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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Although the American muscle car was pretty much clearly defined by the mid-Sixties, automakers were quick to adapt the formula to different budgets, styles, and – in some cases – homologation rules. In other words, you didn’t have to have 400-plus cubes under the hood to go fast. In our latest edition of This or That, we’re celebrating a series of muscle cars that may have been small in terms of displacement, but offered big power and ample fun. Let’s take a closer look at four examples from 1968-’71 for you to ponder, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.

The AMX immediately came to mind for the simple reason that AMC was the one company that was quick to offer a small displacement engine that offered spritely power at a reasonable price in racy trim. First released in 1969, the base-trim, two-seat AMX included a 225-hp 290, and cost $3,245 (or $24,933 today), helping push first-year sales to 6,725 units. The 1969 base price rose to $3,297, but that didn’t hold back sales, which rose to 8,293, one of which was this example, from the Hemmings Auctions Premium Classifieds.

The 290 was one of three available engines, the upgrade being a 280-hp 343. Of course, the top engine option was the 390, which is far more prevalent in the contemporary enthusiast market (see the link below). According to the original listing of this AMX:

This 1969 AMC AMX projects all the panache of the brand’s bold experiment, with a restoration that includes some aftermarket enhancements that amplify the AMX’s uniqueness. The seller says it was an original, rust-free California car, until he brought it to Florida in 2019, and that a rotisserie-type restoration on it was completed in 2013. It wears a custom Candy Apple Red finish and is driven by a punched-out 290 engine that now displaces 308 cubic inches

By the time 1970 rolled around, manufacturers had already found ways to pull more power out of true small-block engines rather efficiently. Arguably, one of Chevrolet’s best examples was its LT1 engine, as seen in this mid-year 1970 Camaro Z28 RS. In base trim, a 307-cu.in. V-8 powered Camaro cost $3,172; however the Z28 package delivered the LT1 engine – a 350-cu.in. small-block rated for 360 hp – for the small fee of $572.95 (or $3,959 today), which bumped the sticker price to $3,744.95 (or $25,874 today). Per our published resources, Chevrolet built 8,733 Camaros in Z28 trim. According to the seller of this example:

Front sub-frame off rotisserie restoration one year ago; everything new; numbers matching engine, tranny, differential; Mulsanne blue paint; M22 rock crusher four-speed manual transmission with 4:11 gears; LT1 V-8 engine, 360 hp.

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Ford’s Mach 1 concept envisioned a competition-prepped persona with a few forward-thinking features – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings

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The fertile imaginations of automotive designers have produced awe-inspiring renderings of idea cars with thought-provoking innovations. The freedom to explore new horizons, without having to be overly concerned about current production viability which could stymie creativity, has fostered positive results like those shown here.

Ford designer Charlie McHose, who’s also known for conceiving the body enhancements for the legendary 1967 Shelby G.T. 500, made these Mustang concept drawings of what would become the Mach 1 experimental car, as FoMoCo referred to it at the time.

First shown with the frontend design above, the Mach 1’s extensive restyling for 1968 is obvious in the color photo

Because the renderings likely pushed the limits of what was feasible, even for a concept car, the actual Mach 1 built for show duty in late 1966 didn’t incorporate a number of the ideas depicted.

Nevertheless, it was still quite the attention grabber with some GT40 traits incorporated, a dramatically lowered roofline, two-seat layout, and flip-out toll windows. Mirrors were added to the fixed side windows and large quick-release gas caps were installed. The front and rear treatments were revised, but they differed somewhat from the renderings.

Additionally, the Shelby-like lamps in the grille, the power dome hood, and the lower scoop shown in the lead drawing in this article weren’t used on the Mach 1. More intriguing elements presented in the renderings are discussed in the captions below.

The professional legacy of Charlie McHose endures in the remarkable designs he created at Ford. Fortunately, we can still appreciate these works of art and what their creator had envisioned in them. Just imagine blasting out of your local Ford dealer’s lot in a Mustang with the styling and equipment depicted here.

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A 1963 Rambler American would make a cool ’60s-style hot rod. Here’s how I’d build it. – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Does a $4,500 project get the gears turning in your head? This one is in Bridgeport, Connecticut, now, wearing Tennessee license plates, but the McDowell Motors dealership badge on this 1963 Rambler American 330 indicates it was sold new in Toronto, Ontario, Canada—and probably built at the American Motors factory in Brampton, Ontario. The years and the international travel have spoiled the Frost White paint, but according to the seller’s description, the 196.5-cu.in. OHV six-cylinder and Borg-Warner three-speed automatic are rebuilt and functional, and the Rambler comes with a new old stock blue interior.

It just so happens that I had a Rambler American 330 at one time, and I loved it. Mine was a ’64, however, which was bigger, riding a 106-inch wheelbase and using panels derived from the 1963 Rambler Classic and Ambassador. The ’63s were the last of the 100-inch models, which originated with the 1950 Nash Rambler. I’ve always liked them, particularly in the 1961-’63 “breadbox” years, which were when squared-up sheetmetal was used to obscure the early ’50s roots of the chassis

Now, the odds are that this example will become some kind of semi-beater. It’s a four-door economy car, after all, and for the most part people neither restore them nor hot rod them. It will certainly make a fun driver, as it sits. The Rambler OHV six from these years was derived from the old Nash flathead (which was itself still available—my ’64 had one) and it came in 125-hp one-barrel or 138-hp two-barrel form. The downside is a steadily dwindling parts supply for those engines.

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Flashy, not fast: The 1969 American Motors Rebel Raider was a limited-run package exclusive to New York and New Jersey dealers – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings

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Regional specialty car programs lured curious potential customers into dealer showrooms by promising an exclusive offering, often at a tempting price. Even if consumers didn’t ultimately buy that particular vehicle, it still got them in the door so a savvy salesperson could seize the opportunity to sell them a different one.

These packages normally consisted of a group of options added to an existing model, as well as a catchy name announced with decals or emblems, and possibly special stripes and/or paint colors to make the creation standout further.

Some of these distinctive rides went on to become widely known beyond their geographical points of sale, while others were seemingly lost to time.In 1969, New York and New Jersey-area American Motors Rambler dealers offered the “Raider.” Based on the unit-body midsize Rebel, it featured “Electric Green, Tangerine, or Blue—You’ve Never Seen” (as stated in the ad) exterior colors, a black grille, a vinyl top, a bench-seat interior, a sports-type steering wheel, an AM radio, power steering and brakes, and other small items.

We know those colors instead as Big Bad Green, Big Bad Orange, and Big Bad Blue, and our featured Raider’s original window sticker lists “Big Bad Blue.

“Given its aggressive appearance, you may be expecting to hear that the engine was a rumbling 280-hp 343, or possibly the even-more-powerful 315-hp 390, but it was actually a 200-hp 290 two-barrel V-8 with a single exhaust. It was backed by a column-shifted Borg-Warner Shift- Command automatic transmission and a 3.15:1 axle ratio. The powertrain choice made sense to keep the price reasonable and reach a broader customer base.

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A budget-friendly rear disc upgrade for ’60s and ’70s GM cars – @Hemmings

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When GM introduced front disc brakes on many of its passenger cars in 1967, they were a huge improvement over the drum brakes that were, for the most part, barely up to the task of stopping a 3,500- to 4,000-pound hunk of steel.

Nearly 50 years later, the old discs are certainly still suitable for a stocker, or a runner of occasional errands. But if you’ve made some mods to upgrade your ride’s power output, or have enhanced its lateral acceleration, chances are you can use a rear disc-brake upgrade as well.

Besides being a much simpler design with fewer moving parts, other benefits derived from such a swap include reduced fade after heavy use and easier pad replacement versus brake shoes; plus discs are virtually unaffected by water in the event of submersion. And, for you aggressive drivers out there, the braking force is much more linear with disc brakes and easier to modulate than that of drums, which are self-energizing by design and more difficult to manage

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