Tag: Hagerty

Coming to America: Czech hot-rodders find their place in the sun – Lyn Woodward @Hagerty

Coming to America: Czech hot-rodders find their place in the sun – Lyn Woodward @Hagerty

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At 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday, in an industrial Southern California suburb a stone’s throw from Disneyland, the guttural rumble of a straight-eight thundered ever closer. Stanley Chavik arrived with the squeal of cross-ply tires, climbed out of his replica 1933 Buick Shafer 8 looking like a Viking headed to battle, then cracked a broad, gap-toothed smile. “Oh, I remember you.” Stanley’s thick Czech accent rolled over his respectable English, which he learned only four years ago. “Come in!”

Stanley hails from the Czech Republic, where his father and grandfather were both car guys. It was a pale yellow 1940s DeSoto, its bumper heavy with metal spikes for an Italian Mad Max knockoff called I Predatori Di Atlantide, that captured his attention. Stanley got hooked on American hot rods.

The internet nourished his hot-rod daydreams. He’d browse classic images from the likes of Gene Winfield, George Barris, and modern builders like Chip Foose. After opening his own welding and fabrication shop in the Czech town of Zlín in 2003, Stanley married Daisy, who applied her business savvy and determination to the venture.

European automotive regulations choked the Chaviks when it came to how they built their cars, but a ramshackle 1939 Buick he’d acquired made Stanley’s dreams manifest when he rebuilt it into a replica of a Shafer 8, inspired by Phil Shafer’s early Indy racers.

After the car’s completion, and much contemplation, the Chaviks packed up the Shafer 8, their U.S. E-2 visa for new businesses, and what money they had. The family, now three with the birth of their son, Stanley Jr., landed in California in late 2017.

Hot-Rod Chavik USA, in sunny Orange County, isn’t large—only about 2000 square feet, with three garage doors that roll skyward to the lofted ceiling. The space owns its Eastern European orderliness. Any color comes thanks to the candy-hued cars that roll in and out.

Upon arrival to the States, Stanley had to buy the cheapest tools he could afford from Home Depot. “We don’t do credit. When we have money, we buy tools,” Daisy says. Stanley does most of his shaping with a Pullmax and his hammers. “I stopped using the English wheel. I prefer a pummeling hammer,” he explains, as if the famous British machine were too delicate.

Aluminum has always been Stanley’s medium. Daisy revealed that he used to shape metal roses for the girls at school. “I like weapons, also,” Stanley interjects, slightly puffing his barreled chest lest I think he’s just a flower guy

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The wonders of the Chrysler Norseman lie shipwrecked in the Atlantic – Jeff Peek @Hagerty

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Chrysler Corp. archives

In the late-night hours of July 26, 1956, about 40 miles off the coast of Nantucket Island and nearing the end of its transatlantic journey from Italy to New York, the luxurious ocean liner SS Andrea Doria collided with another ship in heavy fog. Fifty-one people were killed, a number that would have been much higher had the Doria not remained afloat for 11 hours before it slipped below the water’s surface to its final resting place.

Considering the loss of life, less attention was given to the cargo that went down with the ship, but Chrysler Corporation quickly crafted a press release, matter-of-factly sharing the details of an “idea” car—the Norseman—that had been lost while making its way to America from Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia.

Calling the car’s pillarless design “revolutionary,” the press release acknowledged that the Norseman “must be considered a complete loss.” And then, oddly, Chrysler shared that the car was “covered by insurance.” The New York Times reported that the automaker invested $200,000 into the project, the equivalent to $2.1 million today. What Chrysler didn’t say in its press release was that it could never recoup the time and effort that went into creating the four-door hardtop sedan: 50,000 hours of research and labor, two years in design, and another 15 months to build it. All gone, thanks to the the unfortunate confluence of bad weather and certain regrettable decisions.

SS Andrea Doria

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

The SS Andrea Doria was a source of great national pride when it was launched in 1951. Named for a 16th-century Genoese admiral, it was considered the largest, fastest, and (supposedly) safest of all Italian ships when it took its maiden voyage in January 1953. The opulent 29,100-ton ship had a normal capacity of 1200 passengers and 500 crew, and it had successfully completed 50 transatlantic voyages when it left the port of Genoa on July 17, 1956—with 1706 on board—and headed west to New York City. In an odd coincidence with the more famous RMS Titanic, which sank in 1912 during what was to be Captain Edward Smith’s final turn at the helm before retirement, Cpt. Piero Calamai was taking his final tour on the Andrea Doria before moving to its sister ship, the SS Christopher Columbo.

Nine days into the journey across the Atlantic Ocean and less than 300 miles from New York, dense fog made it difficult to see beyond the bow. Regardless, Calamai maintained a speed of more than 20 knots in the heavily trafficked area while the ship’s crew became completely reliant on radar.

MS Stockholm

Meanwhile, the MS Stockholm, having recently left New York for Sweden, was fast approaching in the same shipping lane, heading east. The Stockholm, less than half the size of the Doria but designed with a reinforced ice-breaking bow, was also operating solely by radar due to the heavy fog.

Both ships were aware of the other as they drew closer, but it was later revealed that the Stockholm’s radar was set to a different range, so the Doria was actually closer to the Swedish ship than its crew realized. Nevertheless, it was Doria Cpt. Calamai’s decision to turn his ship to port—not starboard, in accordance with maritime rules—that proved fatal. With both ships turning in the same direction, the Stockholm struck the Doria at an almost 90-degree angle.

Chrysler Norseman

Chrysler Corp. Archives

Below deck was the Norseman. Designed by Chrysler’s engineering division and built by Ghia, Chrysler claimed the concept “incorporated more structural, chassis, electrical, and styling innovations than any other ‘idea’ car every designed by Chrysler.”

The automaker’s press release added:

“Although the car was intended to have as great structural strength as today’s automobiles, it had no posts or pillars to support the roof. This was accomplished by means of structural cantilever arch, which curved upward from the rear of the frame and over the passenger compartment of the car.

“Glass surrounding the passenger compartment was uninterrupted, with the exception of the two arches of steel curving upward in the rear. In addition, there was a 12-square-foot panel of glass in the rook that was power operated and slid forward, leaving the roof over the rear seat open.

“All major body panels on the car were made of aluminum, as a result of research in advanced structural techniques to reduce weight. It had a sharply sloping hoof, unswept tail fins, and a covered, smooth underbody for aerodynamic efficiency.”

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Disassembling our 1993 Jeep XJ engine – Hagerty

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Last week you saw us pull in our most recent shop addition, a 1993 Jeep XJ with a 4.0L. Davin got it all pulled out and this week he wasted no time tearing into it. Things went fairly quickly as the pieces flew off this straight-six. Davin had his detective hat on as he uncovered a little more about this engine with every bit removed. You never know what you’re going to discover.

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GN34: The fastest Ford the world never saw – Steve Saxty @Hagerty

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It was billed as Ford vs Ferrari: Round Two, with a new Detroit supercar to take on Maranello’s finest. So what happened to GN34, the secret prototype that could have wowed the world? Steve Saxty, a former Ford product designer and author of Secret Fords, takes you inside the hidden world of the canceled supercar.

The Ford GT40 might have crushed Ferrari on the track in the Sixties, but twenty years later Ferrari and Porsche were winning the sales race for highly profitable sports cars—and Ford had no answer.

Or at least, that was the perceived wisdom. Behind the scenes at Ford, a crack team of product planners and engineers were putting their heads together in response to growing numbers of buyers with money to burn on sports cars and luxury models, which were bursting with profit if you played your cards right.

Since the start of the Eighties, Ford had been pondering how it could enter the sports car market with a Ferrari rival costing Corvette money. By the end of October 1983, some of the brightest brains in the company had pulled together a strategic paper that set out the case for a world-class supercar and tackled the thorny issue of how to circumvent the company’s corporate culture that was tuned to conceptualizing and building mass market, everyday cars. At the time, even the Mustang was limping along on just four cylinders.

The Detroit product planners ran the numbers; there was money to be made and an obvious place to start looking for it. They reached out to Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations group (SVO), the performance division ultimately responsible for the turbocharged Mustang SVO. (The department’s equivalent in the U.K. was the British Special Vehicle Engineering group that created the Capri Injection and Sierra Cosworth.) SVO consisted of a 30-strong team of engineers, planners and marketers led by Mike Kranefuss, Ford’s competitions manager who had successfully campaigned the Cologne Capris against the BMW Batmobiles a few years before moving stateside.

Kranefuss was a racer through and through, unused to making road cars, but after his young team created the highly regarded Mustang SVO, it was clear that they could move far faster than Ford’s huge, but lumbering, engineering team. SVO were perfect for the job; an internationally-minded group of Ford mavericks familiar with the external resources necessary to assemble a Ferrari rival sold at a Corvette or Porsche 944 price.

Kranefuss’s 30-strong team, aided by its 46-year-old Chief Engineer Glen Lyall and abetted by 36-year-old Planning/Program Manager Ronald Muccioli leapt at the chance. “For us it was more than a job and another product, it was our dream.” SVO took on the supercar project, now dubbed GN34.

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Saving Saturn: A different kind of car collector – Eric Weiner @Hagerty

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The most interesting car collection you’ve never heard of lives in a subdivision just outside Princeton, New Jersey. Nestled between patches of bucolic farmland and aging equestrian stables, in the cool shadow of a nature preserve, the neighborhood looks like any other. Drive past too quickly and you might miss the vast horde of Saturns, fanned out in the driveway of a single house like paint swatches in a catalogue. Before that rainbow array of plastic body panels stands its caretaker, a soft-spoken 26-year-old woman named Jessieleigh Freeman.

She fiddles with a scrunchie on her wrist and purses her lips as I wander, speechless, among the coupes, sedans, and wagons. “Seventeen of them,” she says, one hand idly playing with the Saturn pendant on her choker necklace. “I’ve got one in every body style—a few doubles, even.” The skateboard she carries displays the same two words you’ll find all over her Instagram: Saving Saturn.

How did Saturn get to the point that it needed her help? At the outset, the new brand lived up to its slogan, “a different kind of car company.” It was announced as the newest addition to GM’s household in 1985, the result of a bright-eyed dream that an all-American economy car with a unique approach could best Japan’s imports. Like the United States, Saturn was indeed a Grand Experiment. Most people remember the brand’s plastic body panels, meant to stave off rust, but Saturn’s true brilliance lay in the approach it took to people. Attempting to operate outside of the way Detroit had long done business, Saturn built its first plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Employees were recruited from various GM factories, and these people were eager to join an energetic culture offering the promise of a clean slate. Having signed up with Saturn, they then benefited from an unprecedented arrangement with the UAW chapter that allowed them to sidestep the complex web of union job classifications, participate in key decision making, and earn wages based in part on quality and productivity goals. GM even instituted a profit-sharing program in place of the traditional fixed-income pension. At retail locations, Saturn pioneered no-haggle pricing that immediately attracted thousands of hopeful customers.

This concept was so appealing that demand for new Saturns outstripped the Spring Hill plant’s production capability for the first five years. The brand’s early years were by and large successful, with massive customer satisfaction and an eclectic owner demographic that seemed all-in.

Not everyone at General Motors shared that enthusiasm. The rest of the company lived on the main deck of a corporate battleship—the kind of place where a proposed update to the bathroom tile might have to pass through multiple floors of executives—and it didn’t take long for resentment to boil over. Saturn was sucking up valuable resources, and as the brand’s initial momentum waned, the goodwill that had paved the brand’s road ran dry. The original S-Series ended production in 2002, by which point the larger L-Series line was being produced under traditional UAW labor rules in a Delaware plant. Soon after came the Vue SUV, the Ion sedan, the Relay minivan, and the Sky roadster—all of which were based on other GM models, and not unique to Saturn. An attempt to sell the brand to Penske fell through, and the dealership body closed for good in October 2010. That’s the end of it.

But not for Freeman. When she talks about her cars, she speaks slowly, surveying the breadth of her collection.

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Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum Collection @Hagerty My Garage

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You can view the entire collection here at Hagerty My Garage

The museum is located in the former administration building of the Auburn Automobile Company, which operated on this property from the early 20th century until its closure in 1937. The building, along with the adjacent service and new parts building, and the L-29 building now occupied by the National Auto & Truck Museum, were together declared a National Historic Landmark in 2005. This complex was recognized as one of the nation’s best-preserved examples of an independent auto company’s facilities.[2][3] The showroom and administrative buildings were designed by architect Alvin M. Strauss in Art Deco style and were built in 1930. The Auburn Automobile Company had its genesis in a carriage manufacturer, and at its height had more than 18 acres (7.3 ha) of facilities here. After its closure, the administration building housed a business selling original and reproduction parts for a number of discontinued manufacturers, including the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg nameplates, until 1960

Well worth a visit I can assure you!

You can the visit post here

According to you: 10 of the most underrated tools – Sanjeev Mehta @Hagerty

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Last month I asked members of the Hagerty Community which was the most underrated tool in their collection. The answers covered the entire spectrum of automotive repair, so the ten examples listed here may not necessarily be suited for your particular project. But this discussion brings up the point that if you haven’t yet interacted with your fellow Hagerty readers in our Community, whatcha waitin’ for?

Join the fun on the Community and enrich our collective passion for all things related to the automobile with your knowledge. Anyway, let’s get to the answers that YOU provided us.

MAPP gas torch

Community user RedRyder_SFZ chimed in with a tool that isn’t needed regularly—but when you need one, you need it bad! These torches run on MAPP gas for its safety and ease of use compared to a conventional oxygen-acetylene setup, thereby making them great for smaller projects like breaking free rusted bolts and brazing metal together. RedRyder went further to say: “Without my gas torch, I’d go through more cutting and grinding discs than I care to think about. Sometimes after the torch gets the rusty fasteners loose, I pound my chest and exclaim ‘I … have made fire!!!’”

Braided wiring loom installation tool (DIY)

Again, this isn’t a tool for your average brake job or oil change. But when you need the finishing touches under the hood for your project car, Hagerty Community user johnman has a word for you. He made a DIY tool to run wiring into these looms: “I discovered a quarter-inch wrench worked the best on the half-inch split plastic wrap. Put the wrench into the split gap sideways, then turn 90 degrees to open the gap. As you lay the wires into the gap, pull the wrench through, and follow along with your thumb to secure the wires inside.”

Reciprocating saw

The Sawzall cutting tool is a bit of an Internet hero these days, for many reasons and likely countless applications. Which is why our CitationMan has one, and tells his friends, “I can cut anything you own in half.” Enough said—it’s gotta make the list.

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T5 Transmission Swapped into a 75 year old Ford Truck | Pt. 1

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This week Davin tackles upgrading our 1946 Ford truck’s transmission. This was a truck assembled in 4 days on the grounds of the Hershey Swap meet in 2015 and ever since the plan has been to upgrade to a T5. Well, six years later Davin finally found the time. Watch along as we take you through the process. We’ll show you what it takes to do an upgrade like this, and worse case you might learn what not to do..

The GMC Syclone was the world’s quickest pickup | Revelations with Jason Cammisa | Ep. 13 @Hagerty

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The GMC Syclone wasn’t just quick — in its day, it was among the quickest vehicles ever tested. And that success was lingering: the Turbo Truck was, by a significant margin, the quickest pickup truck in the world for a staggering 30 years. That’s nearly twice as long as the McLaren F1 held the top-speed record.

Surprise: it also handled well, keeping up with the supercars of its day.

What’s not a surprise: the Syclone, and its SUV-bodied brother, the Typhoon, were not conceived through the regular product-planning channels at General Motors: they were dreamt up by a Real Car Guy — Kim Nielsen — and pushed through using the help of outside consultants.

To get into production quickly, before the S-15 Sonoma pickup and Jimmy SUV ended their product cycle, Nielsen worked closely with ASC/McLaren and then Production Automotive Services to develop the turbo truck. And then PAS won the contract to engineer, certify, and build the SyTy (Syclone and Typhoon.)

With just a little wheelspin off the line, the Syclone blasted from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, quicker than the then-brand-new C4 Corvette ZR-1 and almost as quickly as the Ferrari F40.

30 years later, there are many fast SUVs on the market, but until the 702-hp 2021 Ram TRX, there’s never again been a pickup this quick. And certainly none this good-looking: available only in black, with black trim that includes a deep air dam and (of chief importance) integrated fog lights.

Learn everything you need to know about the GMC Syclone in this entertaining episode of Revelations with Jason Cammisa.

Will it run? Starting up a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 for the first time in 30 years @Hagerty

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Last week you saw us pull this 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 out of a pole barn it had been sitting in for nearly 30 years. Unfortunately, she didn’t start up on the first attempt, but that didn’t deter Davin as he set to work gathering a few parts to get her back up and running. So, join us as we get a little greasy and hopefully hear this classic roar again. Be sure to check out part 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB4zE…