Tag: Thomas A. DeMauro

An Award-winning 1968 Mercury Park Lane Convertible With Rare “Yacht-Deck Vinyl Panelling” – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings

An Award-winning 1968 Mercury Park Lane Convertible With Rare “Yacht-Deck Vinyl Panelling” – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings


What spurs loyalty to a specific automaker? Does it come from treasured memories of family cars, your first ride, or simply a model’s engaging, eye-catching styling? For Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, resident Robert MacDowell, his adoration of Blue Oval brands stemmed from a 1957 Ford F-100 pickup truck and a 1953 Mercury, his first and second vehicles. Both left a lasting impression on Bob, as did his early career path.

After high school graduation in 1956, Bob became an Edsel parts man in 1957, learned auto mechanics and bodywork, went for Ford training, and became a certified Ford mechanic by 1960. The Edsel dealer he worked for switched to selling Mercury, and Bob later went to an Oldsmobile dealer for short time before adding a successful stint with an HVAC company and then NAPA, from where he retired. He reports that he still does 99 percent of the work on the cars in his collection in his well-equipped home shop/garage.

The Dark Ivy Gold interior, which offers plenty of room to stretch out, is largely original down to the carpet, per the owner, except for the lower front seat upholstery that required replacement.

Bob has also long appreciated eclectic options and accessories —the 1965 390 Galaxie convertible he bought new is equipped with a three-speed manual transmission with overdrive and a 45-rpm record player—so when he laid eyes on this Sea Foam Green 1968 Mercury Park Lane convertible at Fall Carlisle in 2007, he had to have it. The seldom-seen extra-cost Colony Park Paneling (aka yacht-deck, wood-tone, or simulated walnut-tone paneling), which derived its name from the upscale Mercury station wagon that wore the same style of trim, struck a chord with him. Consequently, he purchased the car shortly after the event from a collector who kept it in a climate-controlled garage with about 30 other vehicles.

The Park Lane was in its last year of production in 1968, and its line included two-door and four-door hardtops, four-door sedans, and a convertible. Though this 123-inch wheelbase, 220.1-inch-long, and 77.9-inch-wide luxury liner wasn’t the top model amongst Mercury’s solid-roof offerings, it did serve as such in soft-top form. The Monterey, which shared the same dimensions, was the entry-level full-size convertible.

The 315-hp 390-cu.in. V-8 has never been rebuilt according to the owner. This engine and its bay are concours-quality, featuring correct parts, decals, and bolts. Even the belts, hoses, ignition wires, and battery cables brandish the right numbers and/or markings

Our example’s Marti Report reveals that just 1,111 Park Lane convertibles were built in 1968, and 876 were equipped with the standard Marauder Super 390-cu.in. engine. The 315-hp four-barrel V-8 is mated to the optional Merc-O-Matic C-6 three-speed transmission, and a 2.75:1-geared 9-inch axle resides out back. The car was ordered with options that included power steering, power front disc brakes, power windows, AM radio, Deluxe seatbelts, 8.45 x 15 white sidewall tires, and a remote-controlled driver’s side mirror.

Bob recalls that it had less than 33,000 miles on it when he bought it and was in “decent condition but still needed work.” Thus, his intention was to “bring it back to factory standards, not over restored like many do today,” and to participate in AACA events. It only took from late 2007 to 2009 to meet that objective

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The best car-related Christmas present I’ve ever received – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings


Just to get you into the spirit of the season, here’s a 1960 Chrysler ad featuring Santa.

Unlike the “Old Man” cheerfully unwrapping his can of Simoniz in A Christmas Story, my track record with scoring car stuff as holiday gifts has been notably poor, but it’s all my own fault.

For years, family members have asked what I would like for my endless projects, but I’ve always felt guilty about taking them up on their offers, since what I needed was usually too expensive for a gift (at least in my mind), so I told them not to worry about it.

Nevertheless, thinking about cars and Christmas did remind me of the best automotive-related present I’ve ever gotten—my 1967 GTO. Though I’ve discussed some of its aspects before, I have yet to delve into how I found it and what the test drive was like.

I’m sure you’ve seen the seemingly endless ads each holiday season that depict people receiving a car for Christmas by simply walking out their front door and finding the latest and greatest model, already in their driveway wearing a big red bow and ribbon. Yeah… that didn’t happen to me.

This only front ¾ photo of the GTO I have from when I first bought it.

ack in the mid-1980s, I was in college but had a decent-paying job, so I was searching for a muscle car project. Since the local newspaper classifieds were no help, the Want Ad Press offered the best opportunity for finding something remotely close to home.

The ritual went something like this, I waited for the new issue to come out each week, rifled through it, circled the ads that interested me, and called the sellers to ask them a list of prepared questions. More times than not, their answers dissuaded me from even going to look at the prospect. Then I had to wait a week and do it all over again. Of course, there was no internet back then, so all I had to begin with was a small print ad, typically with about 3 or 4 lines of text, and no photos.

By the fall of 1987, I had endured months of frustration and knew that once the winter weather arrived, everything would become even more difficult. Finally, I caught a break in December. This 1967 GTO was listed, and while most of the cars I had looked at previously were an hour or more away, this one was only about a 25-minute drive, and it passed the telephone interrogation.

When I arrived, I instantly noted the third-gen Trans Am wheels (which I didn’t like on this car), the body damage up front, and the chalky silver repaint over the original Mariner Turquoise hue. Further examination revealed body filler in both quarter panels and the driver’s door, and a rotted trunk floor.

The Goat looked like this in the 1990s when I was driving it regularly.

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A 15-Year Project Culminates in a 1967 Pontiac GTO Equipped Just How Its Owner Would Have Ordered It – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


“I think the 1967 GTO is one of the most iconic muscle cars of the ’60s,” Jake Stossel of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, asserts. Shortly after purchasing this example in August 2005, the then-28-year-old electrician began planning out his project, but he soon arrived at that fork in the road where it was time to choose between “Factory-Equipped” and “How I Really Want It.”

After negotiating with a nearby seller for two weeks, who wanted to move a 1968 GTO out of his collection of restorables instead of the ’67, Jake was certainly grateful to have snared this Goat, yet there were a few lingering issues. The Pontiac was Signet Gold, but he didn’t really like gold. It didn’t have a Cordova top, but he wanted one for it. It was fitted with the standard 335-hp 400-cu.in. engine, but he preferred the 360-hp 400 H.O. It had the Turbo 400 automatic, but he wanted a Muncie four-speed. You get the picture

Nevertheless, like most of us, Jake didn’t possess unlimited funds, so he had to settle. Or did he? Rather than be forever haunted by what could have been, he instead decided to deviate from the original equipment path and build this Pontiac how he would have ordered it in 1967

.Based on input from his wife, Lindy, he decided to paint the Goat Linden Green, his friend Matt Lamer suggested changing the black Morrokide interior to Parchment, and Jake specified a black Cordova top. The resulting trinity of contrasting hues heighten the visual appeal of an already arresting body design. And, each of those choices were readily available for 1967. Regarding the mechanical aspects of the build, Jake used factory-issued or reproduction components for the majority of the upgrades. Thus, the GTO retains a primarily stock appearance.

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Transforming a rust-infested 383 Dodge Charger into a show winner – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


John Hoffman was just 14 years old when the magnificently redesigned Charger was set loose for 1968, and he was convinced even then that someday he’d own an exquisite example of the breed. “I was in junior high school, and I thought it was the prettiest car I’d ever seen,” he remembers. “Then Bullitt was released and that sealed the deal for me. My friends liked the Mustang, but I was the Charger guy. I own that movie and still watch it once a year.

”John’s perceptions are representative of many who venerate Steve McQueen’s classic cop drama, which features one of the greatest car chases ever filmed, and has elevated the 1968 Charger to a pop culture icon. The Dodge’s allure isn’t limited to its cinematic appearance, however, as its engaging design continues to mesmerize even jaded muscle car fans.

All the Charger’s curves and creases were in just the right places. Its Coke-bottle shape, broad grille with concealed headlamps, flying-buttress roof that looked like a semi-fastback from the side but featured a recessed backlite, “racing-style” gas cap, and even the taillights conspired to create a muscular and cohesive visual presentation.

By the early 2000s, with vintage car values rising, John began getting that now-or-never feeling. The Telford, Pennsylvania, resident knew he’d better buy his ’68 before he was priced out of the market. His finances still wouldn’t allow a fully restored example, so he instead sought out one that needed work but was mostly original.

In August 2003, he spotted this Charger online, for sale in Kansas City, Missouri. It was an early build car and was desirably optioned with the 330-hp 383 V-8 with dual exhausts, TorqueFlite automatic, 3.23:1 Sure Grip rear end, air conditioning, tinted windows, driver’s-side remote-control outside mirror, cruise control, radio, center cushion with armrest between the bucket seats, power steering, and power brakes.

John noted that it still had its factory-applied F5 green paint and assembly-line-installed interior and powertrain. He says, “I liked this car because it was very original and seemed like it must have been ordered by an older buyer who didn’t mess around with it.”

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Why I need to own a 1965 Riviera before I get too old to enjoy it – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


Catching even a glimpse of certain vintage vehicles instantly turns my head and makes me stop what I’m doing. While most are muscle cars, Buick’s personal/luxury 1963-’65 Rivieras have held that power over me as well. Though I still have yet to own one, my desire for doing so actually dates back to when I was a teenager living in northern New Jersey in the 1980s.

I guess you could say that the Riviera has been my dream car of the personal/luxury genre. My order of favorites within the first generation of the E-body Buick is the inverse of their production years—I prefer the ’65, then the ’64, followed by the ’63. I’ve long imagined piloting a Riviera on extended highway trips to exciting vacation destinations and arriving at large family gatherings in style, given the Buick’s stately appearance, smooth operation, and polished demeanor, as compared to some of the muscle cars I’ve owned, which are generally louder and targeted more towards performance than luxury.

From the fertile mind of GM styling chief Bill Mitchell and through the talents of designer Ned Nickles, this exquisitely rendered reaction to the four-seat Ford Thunderbird was initially developed as the XP-715 for Cadillac (and was referred to as the LaSalle II), but the division passed on it. It was then was awarded to Buick following a competition between the other divisions. Ever since the first time I saw a Riviera up close, I’ve admired its “knife-edged” exterior appearance.

Forward-jutting fenders implied motion, a formal roof instilled elegance, and large wheel openings showed off a generously sized 15-inch wheel/tire package with effective 12-inch brake drums (aluminum in front) behind it. The body’s proportions are just about perfect to my layman’s eye, and with a 117-inch wheelbase cruciform (X-type) frame and an overall length of about 208 inches, the Riviera was sized right to offer a more nimble driving experience than Buick’s larger and heavier luxury liners.

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What to consider when reassembling your first restoration project – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


We’ve already covered 12 questions to ask yourself before tearing down your first project car. Now, once you head down that path (or if you’re already there), here are some additional tips for reassembling the object of your admiration once the paint and bodywork have been completed, and the powertrain and other individual parts have been restored. It’s an exhaustive list, because a full restoration is no small task. As always, the more planning and care you take, the better the results will be.

Whether you choose to do much of the work yourself or have the pros perform some, most, or all of the restoration tasks, your ride still requires careful reassembly. And that process can prove satisfying for first timers and repeat restorers alike.

For the teardown article, we spoke with Jamie Cooper and Joe Griffith of Super Car Restoration in Clymer, Pennsylvania, but for this one, we consulted with Brian Henderson and Joe Swezey of Super Car Workshop in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to learn more about efficient reassembly processes and to acquire some additional time- and aggravation-saving tips.Coincidentally, both shops have “Super Car” in their names and both have partners named “Joe” in their respective ownerships, but are separate entities. They are friendly with each other, and Super Car Restoration does the body and paintwork for Super Car Workshop.

Brian and Joe have been restoring award-winning first-generation Camaros and other models for nearly three decades, and though the order of assembly provided here may require slight revisions in a few areas for differently designed and/or full-frame cars, the rest of the information will still help you with your project.

Budget, Parts, and Supplies

Consult that budget, which has likely increased several times since you first developed it prior to and during teardown. Also check your parts and supplies lists to see where you’re at and what you’ll still need. Before you begin reassembly, make sure that you have everything on hand to complete at least one of the specific segments in an order that provides the fewest slowdowns or repeat work. For instance, if you are doing a body-off restoration, before rejoining the body and subframe (or full frame), depending upon your situation, you may be able to break the project down into a few large assemblies that can be built separately from one another, such as:

Front chassis: Bolt the suspension, brakes, wheels and tires, and engine and transmission onto the subframe (or full frame).

Rear chassis: Install the rear end, suspension, and wheels and tires on the frame of full-frame models. These components can be added to the underside of unitized- or semi-unitized-construction cars, but only do this if the body will be mated to the front subframe while the rear tires are on the floor and the front of the shell is held up with jack stands or another safe method. Don’t install the rear suspension and rear end on a unitized car at this point if a lift will be used later to lower the body onto the front subframe, because adding the rear end will increase the rearward weight bias of the body and will likely make it unstable on the lift.

Body shell: Install the firewall items, glass, wiring, and interior, etc. Keep in mind, however, that Brian and Joe typically load the shell with these parts before mating it with the subframe because they have the benefit of a lift for raising and lowering the body easily. If you’re trying the rejoin the body and subframe (or full frame) using jacks and jack stands, or by another approach that doesn’t include a lift, adding the weight of these items to the body can make it more cumbersome to work with, so you may choose to reinstall them after the body and subframe are bolted back together.

Seek Advice

Members, model year tech advisors, and the research library of the same club you joined and consulted when buying and/or tearing down your car can also provide assistance when you’re reassembling it. Don’t underestimate the value of the knowledge base available from this resource.  Also discussed in the teardown article, if you used a restoration shop to do any of the previous work, you should be able to request some reassembly advice

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The 1996 Grand Sport Corvette celebrates its Silver Anniversary – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


Conjuring up a special edition vehicle to trigger interest and promote higher sales within its model line is a well-established marketing tool that proves most successful when the result offers exclusivity in a captivating package. To those ends, Chevrolet ushered out the C4 Corvette era by offering the daringly hued, striped, and hashmarked Grand Sport coupe and convertible in 1996. Listed under RPO Z16, production was capped at 1,000 cars (ultimately 810 coupes and 190 convertibles) and its powertrain featured the new LT4 5.7-liter V-8 with the familiar ZF six-speed transmission

Borrowing its name from the five legendary 1963 lightweight Corvette race cars developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov, the 1996 Grand Sport wore Admiral Blue metallic paint that wasn’t offered on other Corvettes and a wide white stripe, both reminiscent of one of the ’63s that A.J. Foyt had raced. Red hashmarks on the left front fender of the C4 also paid homage to identifiers used on three of its C2 namesakes.

The coupe was also fitted with rear wheel-opening flares to contain its P315/35ZR-17 Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires, which were last seen on the then recently departed ZR-1, as were the P275/40ZR-17s up front. The five-spoke ZR-1 style aluminum wheels were painted black but maintained a bright outer lip, and they measured 17 x 9.5 in front and 17 x 11 out back. Convertibles retained the standard Corvette’s 255/45ZR-17s fore and 285/40ZR-17s aft on 17 x 8 and 17 x 9.5 wheels respectively (also with ZR-1 styling), thus no rear flares were needed. The brake calipers were painted black, and those in front sported “Corvette” callouts.

Embroidered “Grand Sport” lettering adorned the perforated-leather-upholstered power-operated Sport seats with lumbar support in the black or red/black interior. Floor mats and carpeting were also black.

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Buyer’s Guide: The 1964-1965 Ford Falcon covered the spread from fuel miser to sport coupe – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


Just because the Falcon was a low-priced economy car, that didn’t mean that it wasn’t satisfying to own. Ford referred to the redesigned 1964 and 1965 editions as its “Total Performance” compact.

That philosophy also extended to the larger models and took into account styling, handling, roadability, acceleration, braking, efficiency, and more.Sure, a buyer could’ve gone the bare-bones route in 1964 and become a fuel-savings connoisseur by driving a base Falcon two-door or four-door sedan, featuring the standard beige cloth-and-vinyl interior (more colors for 1965) with a full-width front seat, rubber floor mats, and 144-cu.in. straight-six (170-cu.in. for 1965).

Yet, with the 1964 and 1965 Falcon lineups providing avenues for boosting image, power, and comfort, why stop there?Stepping up in price, the 1964 Futura two- and four-door sedans added full carpeting, chromed horn ring on the steering wheel, courtesy lights, rear armrests and ash trays, lighter, and upgraded color-keyed upholstery choices and exterior trim.

The 1964 Futura hardtop and convertible also had the full-width front seat, but the sport coupe and sport convertible came with buckets and a console. A Thunderbird floating rearview mirror was included, and the droptop had a larger 170-cu.in. straight-six and a power top.

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After 18 years, it’s about time to jumpstart my stalled 1977 Trans Am project – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings


“Considering our choices, I think the Trans Am has the best chance of getting finished,” my son Tommy commented while we were shooting photos in the driveway for a Hemmings Daily article this past week.

He was right, given the decrepit condition of our other vintage projects. The T/A has been nestled in the garage since we moved to Western Pennsylvania in 2003. Its bodywork, paint, and graphics were completed about a year before. For those who are doing the math, that’s 19 years ago, which is embarrassing to admit to myself, let alone all who will read this. To put that fact into more painful perspective, Tommy was about a year old when this car came out of the restoration shop. He’s 20 now.

Longtime readers already know that I got the T/A (along with a pile of parts for my 1967 GTO) in the early 1990s, in trade for my 1969 Judge that needed work. The ‘Bird served as a daily driver for several years, and during that time I swapped in a four-speed. Its body was later restored at Melvin Benzaquen’s Classic Restoration Enterprises in New York State. The process was covered though a series of articles published in a now-defunct magazine I edited called High Performance Pontiac.

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The wonders of a 1969 Camaro cutaway car – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings


An imaginative presentation is essential for drawing attention to a carmaker’s offerings at auto shows, special events, or dealers.

Chevrolet’s Show and Display Department took the idea to the extreme when transforming a few early-produced 1969 Camaros into “Double- Header” cars.

Several newspaper announcements from where they were scheduled to appear around the country stated, “The variety of ways a buyer can personalize Chevrolet’s popular Camaro in 1969 is dramatized in this specially built double-engined Camaro…”

ENGINE: Replacement clear acrylic (plastic) rocker covers that Mark had vacuum formed over original parts reveal the chrome-plated valvetrain items on the 350 V-8. Cutaways show the block’s water jackets, cylinder walls, pistons, and inside the heads and manifolds. White paint with a black outline highlights the areas.

An RS/SS body; an RS/SS front-end assembly with a 350-cu.in. V-8, TH350 three-speed automatic, and a highly detailed subframe and suspension; and a standard Camaro front end with the 250-cu.in. straight-six and a Powerglide two-speed automatic were attached to three platforms.

Mechanisms and electric motors worked in concert to rotate them and synchronize the tilting upward and downward of the modified-for-show body behind each altered front clip to provide the appearance of a whole car. The two front platforms also revolved 180 degrees, to better show the extensively cut away engines and transmissions with internals that turned slowly to highlight their operation

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