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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Destination Terror, 1974

Some just can't let go of a good idea...

I wrote about auto-pilot cars in "Destination Terror, 1956" back in 2009. Who would have thought I would find another equally dangerous rendition of our future, but 18 years newer?

A bubble top, a magnetic road, remote control, and a card game behind the wheel control pod thingy.  The future is bright for them, as they hurdle toward pending doom.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cuban Wings


IMG_3545, originally uploaded by kashoff.

I sometimes think these old American cars on the streets of Havana Cuba will never die. Mechanics are managing to keep them all alive with a blend of ingenuity available parts. Sometimes these cars end up with carburetors of Soviet trucks, and hydraulic brakes are pumped full of home-brew brake fluid.

Nothing short of amazing that they are on the road after five decades of US Embargo.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Till The Wheels Fall Off, Literally


Guest writer on Chevy59.com today: Neil Ostrander talks about the important steps in assuring that your Used Car buy is a good one.  Check it out HERE.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

307 Chevy - The Forgotten Small Block

Resoring and fitting a 307 chev to a lancruiser
Photo courtesy of Dive Shop Dave

What's the first Small Block Chevy size that pops into your head? Most people would say "350" since there seem to be more of them in the U.S. than residents of Texas. The 400 "mighty mouse" continues to be sought after, even though one hasn't been made since the early 1980s. Some will say the "302," known for its high-end power and legendary status as the heart of the original Z/28. Others are enamored with the 283 as a staple of Chevrolet during the Jet Age, or the 327 which powered the first Camaros to popularity. We still hear about thousands of 305-powered Z/28s from the 1980s still plying the streets of America, an engine that is hard to kill. There are also the lesser known sizes - 262, 265, 267, and hybrids like the 383 or the 377. Which one are we missing here?

The 307, aka "wheezer," "boat anchor" "emissions motor."

When I was in high school, the 307 was a joke. Anyone who was anyone had a 350, and 307s were for those not savvy enough to swap engines. But as it turns out, the lowly 307 was a decent engine when cared for (or not). I have personal experience with this, and I'd own another in an instant if it was put on my porch.

Think of the 307 as a "factory hybrid," which used the bore of the 283 and the crankshaft of the 327. It was an emissions-worthy replacement for the 283. It never made more than 200 hp in stock form, but it did have one thing going for it:

Bulletprooficity

The 307 was one of those unusual engines that was built heavy down low and light up top. It had light pistons and a huge journal size that could withstand a lot of basic abuse. A dirt track racer I know used countless 307s in his race cars because of their bulletproofiness. I drove a 1970 GMC with a clapped out 307; it started every day and probably shouldn't have. I drove a `72 Chevelle wagon with one - employing minimal maintenance - until the odometer read 175,000 miles; a traffic accident totaled the car, which means we would never get to know just how many miles it would go.

When I was in high school this engine was called a "boat anchor" because it didn't make the same kind of power as a 327 or a 350. Now, as the supplies of those motors are to dry up, opportunists are taking a second look at this smaller small block.  The future of the 307 depends on a few things:
  1. Nostalgia - Who would have thought in the 1970s that the 392 Hemi would be anything but a boat anchor engine? They're big, they're heavy, and not at all efficient. But they look awesome. And how about Caddy 472s and 500s? Those engines are filled with mountains of torque and 70s good looks. They make a commanding appearance under a hood now after living out of the limelight for nearly 20 years. In recent years a fair share of these unique engines have found their way between the frame rails of countless street rods and customs because of their overwhelming appearance. The day will come when the original Small Block Chevy - any old school SBC, and in the family to which the 307 belongs - will be a nice "nostalgic" addition to the new crop of customs that are built in the 21st century. The 400s, 350s and 327s will get used up first, followed by the 283s, and then by the 307s when the supplies of all the more popular engines dry up. Mark my words.
  2. Emissions - There may come a time when the 307 - plus cousins 267 and 305 - will be in demand for emissions reasons. These engines may not make the same kind of power, but they also use less fuel and put out less smog when built correctly. They have longer strokes and smaller bores, which make for less emissions and more torque than horsepower (not necessarily a bad thing when hauling a trailer). All the 307s I've driven have been fairly good on gas, considering the type of vehicles they were hauling around.
  3. Parts Availability - Ever try to find pistons for a 262? They're darn hard to find. Today most of the aftermarket parts for Small Block Chevys are for 400s, 350s, 327s, 305s, and 283s. The orphan engines like the 262 and 267 are either left out or have parts prices that are higher than the engines that have more demand. 307s are one of those engines that could go either way. As the other SBCs from the past get used up or harder to find, the 307 may be easier to outfit with parts because there will be more people using it. Right now the avid 307 enthusiast can get "rebuilder" pistons but nothing high performance unless extra money is thrown to a custom job.
Yep.  Bulletprooficity.  My word, my experience, and probably what will keep the 307 alive for another generation.