Tuesday, October 8, 2013

HRCC Donates $89,000 to the Progeria Research Foundation

Once again, the generosity and support of the automotive enthusiast community was on display September 21st, 2013, as YEARONE and the Hot Rodders Children’s Charity held the 8th Annual Chip Foose Edition Braselton Bash. Hundreds of cars and spectators shook off the rainy weather to participate in the Bash, which is the final event of a week-long schedule of activities that included the 2013 Drivin’ It Home Tour and the 2013 HRCC Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament. Click Here for a report on all the action at the 2013 Foose Edition Braselton Bash.

After all the activities were completed, the HRCC was proud and elated to present the Progeria Research Foundation a check for $87,200.13. These funds will help support research into treating and ultimately curing Progeria, a rapid-aging disease that afflicts children across the globe. With this latest donation, the HRCC has made donations to the PRF totaling more than $1,000,000.

On behalf of the HRCC, YEARONE, and everyone involved in the efforts to improve the lives of children everywhere, we say Thank You for your Support!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

More Than Skin Deep

Article by Andy Bolig

It’s amazing. If you try and describe the 1964 Corvette to someone, most times, you’ll find yourself describing what it DOESN’T have, more than what it does. The 1964 Corvette had a lot going for it. It’s securely a member of the midyear body style, which has proven itself as a timeless classic. It stood as a sizeable performance car with engine choices that ranged from 250 horsepower all the way up to 375 horses, thanks to the Rochester fuel injection unit. Zora was still committed to making Corvette’s mark in performance arenas (whether the corporate suits knew it or not) and every red-blooded American boy dreamed of pulling into the high school parking lot with one. There were a bevy of options available to enthusiasts who were willing to shell out the coin to make it the car of their dreams.
Heavy-duty brakes and sintered metallic brake linings were available for $629.50 and $53.80, respectively. An off-road exhaust was available for $37.70, for those moments where the sound of a racing engine was more coveted than the conversation inside the cockpit, and if driving for longer periods of time without fuel stops was beneficial, there was a 36-gallon fuel tank available for another $202.30. A positraction rear differential would set you back another $43.50, but it was money well spent as you were leaving the crowded high school parking lot. On the safety and styling front, tinted glass was available for $16.15 (all windows) or $10.80 (windshield only). For a little more glimmer, you could get a set of five knock-off wheels for another $322.80. You could look cool, and keep cool, with the optional air conditioning for another $421.80 and the driving chores could be made easier with power steering ($75.35), power windows ($59.20), power brakes ($43.05) and a Powerglide transmission for another $199.10. Of course, many enthusiasts opted to do their own shifting, as 19,034 of them elected to spend the lesser amount ($188.30) on the four-speed transmission. With all of that going for it, why does the highly-capable ’64 Corvette get known more for what it doesn’t offer, than what it does?
For starters, it doesn’t have the famous rear split-window that the older sibling ’63 does. That thin strip of fiberglass tucked in between two sheets of clear glass has become an iconic, and highly sought-after, birthmark of the first year midyear. But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, the first father of Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov himself, disliked the feature so much that heated debates filtered their way up to the head of Chevrolet, where it was decided to be a one-year-only styling cue. Zora conceded, stating that it was an unnecessary blind spot to the driver’s rear view and a solid sheet of glass was a much better use of the rear view mirror. Interestingly, many owners of ’63 Corvettes agreed, and when the ’64 Corvettes showed up on showroom floors, many of them cut out the small stretch of fiberglass and replaced it with a one-piece rear glass from a ’64! Another way we define a ’64 for what it is, by what it isn’t, is the lack of the shiny (but phony) grilles that rested openly atop the previous year’s model. While the chrome is gone, the indentations would remain for this year, before all traces of their existence would be wiped out the following year. Speaking of 1965, another item that the ’64 missed by one year was disc brakes. Those new-for-’65 stoppers were a great addition to Corvette and worked so well that the same basic design would carry over into the next generation of Corvettes and continue until 1982. As good as they were, they didn’t help the ’64 Corvette one bit. All that being said, one would be remiss if they were to overlook this year in Corvette production.
The Corvette’s new body style was clearly taking a firm hold with 22,229 units produced (13,925 convertibles and 8,304 coupes), which was more than 1963 and only slightly less than 1965 numbers. Performance was still available in both carbureted and fuel injected forms, and there were transmissions for both console-rowers and “set it and forget it” types. Maybe that’s why Danny Williams of Strafford, Missouri, loves his ’64 so much. Maybe it’s because the car’s enthusiast-based drivability isn’t muddied up with baubles that don’t increase its enjoyability to the driver, only its value to someone else. And that’s not why Danny bought this particular car. Danny’s Corvette has several features that help to keep the fun levels high. Items like the positraction differential, coupled with the four-speed, can surely make waste of those bias-ply whitewalls and when you couple that with the highest-rated carbureted engine option (the 365hp L76) the fun is sure to continue. The off-road exhaust on Danny’s ride also lets the world know that this minimalistic midyear means business. Suit-wearing enthusiasts will likely note items like the tinted windshield, the AM/FM radio and the silver leather lining that envelops those on the inside of Danny’s pride and joy.

Coating the entire package in a Tuxedo Black wrapper gives both a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde persona to Danny’s Corvette. It has plenty to offer those who enjoy performance driving and even considers those who enjoy the touring side of burning up the miles.

With so much to offer in a tastefully styled package, it’s a wonder why anyone would want to try and describe it for what it doesn’t have.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Nostalgist's Choice

The 1970 Pontiac Firebird had a new body for the new decade.
Coming straight down the road, the new Firebird’s front treatment had a stronger family resemblance to its big sister — the beefy, reputable GTO. For the next decade, the ’70 body served the Firebird well as a platform for luxury and performance upgrades and took its ultimate form as the Trans Am.
In 1971, Pontiac blessed the Trans Am with the 455 cubic inch V-8. Nearly 40 years later, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering looked upon the ’71 Trans Am the way a sculptor looks upon a model and built the time machine to take us back to 1971, but with modern luxury and technology. The Lingenfelter T/A is a muscular, custom-built, 655-horsepower performance vehicle that evokes memories of the ’71 Trans Am.
“I have gasoline in my blood, and so do all the people who work with me,” Ken Lingenfelter says.
Lingenfelter’s personal car collection is legendary in the Detroit area, and the assortment runs the gamut — classic muscle cars, exotic sports cars, and the rarest Corvettes. From the moment Ken proposed the L T/A, the whole LPE team’s hearts were in it. He bought this museum-quality ’71 Trans Am specifically to model for the L T/A project. The car is a 55,000-mile original with Lucerne Blue paint, and the interior has been restored to original specs with correct white vinyl upholstery and loop carpeting.
Back in 1964, John DeLorean had assigned the division design team to come up with a Pontiac answer to the Corvette. The team conceived the XP-798 mockup and a running pair of XP-833s — a coupe and a roadster. The XP-798 had been named the Banshee, and after it had completed its life as a show car, Pontiac chassis engineer Bill Collins rescued the “Banshee” nameplates and applied them to the XP-833s. When General Motors’ decision makers shot down the Banshee, Pontiac’s leadership campaigned to get in on the new F-body. At first, the Chevrolet F-body car was called the Panther, and Pontiac wanted to call theirs the Banshee. The Panther became the Camaro. Someone at Pontiac learned that a Banshee was essentially the Grim Reaper in Irish folklore, so Pontiac renamed their F-body the Firebird.
DeLorean insisted that the Firebird would not be a Camaro with Pontiac emblems tacked onto it, so the ’67 Firebird shared nothing under the skin with a Camaro. Through its first several years, Pontiac did not conceive or market the Firebird’s various permutations as different models of the same car, but rather, they were indeed different cars from each other. The base Firebird carried Pontiac’s advanced overhead-cam, inline six, and moving up to the Sprint, the six became a 215hp, four-barrel performer. The Firebird 326 carried the base 326ci Tempest V-8 with two-barrel carburetion and 250 horsepower, and it became the 326-H.O. when the carburetor grew to four barrels and a bump in compression took the engine to 285 horsepower. At the top of the heap was the Firebird 400, and with Ram Air intake, the unit was capable of 360 horsepower.
The new 1970 body was the platform for a new arrangement of cars at the top end. The Formula 400 was identifiable at a distance because the twin hood scoops escort the car down the road at the leading edge of the hood. The Formula 400 carried the 400ci V-8, and, in four-barrel form, the unit pumped out 265 horsepower. Pontiac’s ad men said the Formula 400 was “built for drivers,” and they said the new Trans Am was “our ultimate.”
In 1971, the “ultimate” carried an oddity under the hood. The Trans Am engine grew from 400ci to 455ci, but the horsepower did not grow. The Trans Am 400 had been capable of 335 horsepower in 1970, but in 1971, the 455 was rated at the same 335 horsepower. In big 1970 Bonnevilles, the Pontiac 455 had 10.75:1 compression had knocked out 370 horsepower. Pontiac had lowered the 455 compression ratio to 8.4:1 in 1971 — thus, 355 horsepower.
Back in 1967, the Firebird 400 had a throttle-stop for the express purpose of making sure the Firebird did not outperform the GTO. Dealership service departments and the public at-large quickly learned to remove the throttle stops. Certainly, some of the same thinking may have been at work in 1971.
The Trans Am may have been the “ultimate” Firebird, but it was not the ultimate Pontiac. That honor stayed with the GTO as long as the Trans Am equaled but did not exceed the GTO. The auto insurance industry was pressuring the car companies to tone down the horsepower war, and even the GTO 455-H.O. dropped to 335 horsepower in 1971.
The 1971 Trans Am is still quick, lithe, and ready, and 335 horsepower is a lot of engine in a 3,600-pound car. The Trans Am’s look visually communicates the power-to-weight ratio, and it definitely spoke to Ken Lingenfelter when it was time to create the L T/A.
“We chose the ’71 Trans Am for its overall, pure muscle image,” Lingenfelter says. “I like this car for its heritage, color, and nostalgia. The design team studied the car closely to develop the L T/A’s hood, interior, wheels, side scoops, and spoiler. Our company has a lot of heritage with General Motors products — Corvettes, Camaros, and Firebirds. We became masters at turbocharging and supercharging Corvettes.
“When GM brought back the Camaro for 2010, it was great for us, and we were chomping at the bit to get started. We were really looking forward to doing a Firebird because we had once built Lingenfelter Firebirds in conjunction with Hurst and GM. When Pontiac went away, we were pretty disappointed because we thought it would continue the heritage we’d had.
“After some thought and talking with some people, we decided to do one of our own. The goal was to build a show car for SEMA and just have some fun with it. We hired a company that does a lot of projects for GM and basically had them build the functioning concept car for us. The goal was to bring back the days of the old Super Duty cars.”
The car companies may have considered these cars ephemeral when new, but 40 years later, this one has come back to life and played a part in a new creation. In Russian lore, a bird rises from fire and represents eternal life. His name was Zhar-Ptitsa — the Firebird. Pontiac may be gone, but the Firebird has come back to life as the L T/A.