The Chevrolet 327-cubic-inch V8 originated with the small-block family of engines that first appeared in 1955 with a 265 cubic inch powerplant. Following with a 283 cubic inch version that appeared in 1957, the mighty 327-inch small block made its debut in 1962. Although the 327 was eventually superseded by the 350 across the entire Chevrolet product line, the intermediate displacement 327 was used in just about every Chevy on the market between 1962 and 1969, including the Malibu, Impala, El Camino, Chevelle, Chevy II and Corvette.
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It appears the old adage that “hindsight is 20/20” is quite true when examining the overall effects of the 2009 governmental subsidy program for new car buyers known most commonly as “Cash for Clunkers.” Even though the current administration has maintained for the last several years that the program delivered real economic benefits to the U.S. auto industry, the Brookings Institution research group and think tank recently issued a report saying the complete opposite. The Brookings group now flatly states that the $2.85 billion program originally intended to help clean up auto exhaust fumes contributing to global warming actually wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and that the destruction of thousands of used cars only served to shift the purchase of new vehicles forward by a few months.
When President Obama asked Congress for more money to extend the then-popular Cash for Clunkers program in July of 2009, he said the program had “Given consumers a much needed break, provided the American auto industry an important boost, and is achieving environmental benefits well beyond what was originally anticipated. The program has proven to be a successful part of our economic recovery and will help lessen our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the quality of the air we breathe.”
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With so many high profile car auctions featured in the news and on television these days, it’s not surprising that large numbers of vintage vehicle enthusiasts have been showing up at the auto auctions held in their own areas of the country. The big televised auctions like Barrett-Jackson have made the general public more familiar with the auction format and seem to have also provided auto fanatics with the incentive needed to get out and try their own luck at some of the smaller local government and public auctions too.
Although large numbers of bargain hunters looking for deals will increase the competition, many classic cars and light trucks still cross the auction block at reasonable prices that leave room for upgrades and restoration projects. Purchasing a car at auction does not guarantee a bargain price, but it does present the opportunity to score a decent car at good price if you can understand and abide by the basic rules, terms and conditions that govern a particular auction. Although many auto auctions are open to the public, some do require a dealer’s license. However, if you’re patient, persistent and know your used car values, you can sometimes get a very good deal and have a bit of fun in the process too.
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It was a sad day for the fans of all makes of classic and muscle cars when they heard the news that the Pontiac brand was going away as part of the government’s restructured plan for GM back in 2008. At the time, the Pontiac brand was signaling some signs of a resurgence and a return to the days of it’s “We build excitement” motto. There were indications of new updates to existing vehicles like the GTO, the G8 and even rumors of a new Trans Am in the works. A new concept G8 Sport Truck similar to the old El Camino was seen at car shows and Pontiac seemed like it had a bright future ahead of it with a planned shift to an entirely rear-driven platform shared with the Cadillac ATS.
Although signs that Pontiac was on its way to once again becoming a performance brand were out there, some observers pointed out that at the same time, GM was revitalizing the Saturn line at Pontiac’s expense. The Saturn Aura received more sophisticated components than the G6 that spawned it and the Saturn Sky got higher-tech suspension upgrades before the Pontiac version of the same car (Solstice) did. Once the plans to terminate Saturn, Hummer and Saab were laid on the table, it seemed there was no reason that the Pontiac brand would not move forward with a lineup of powerful new, rear-wheel drive models. However, when GM applied for the federal bailout, the government stepped in, and then the brand was gone. Amid much rumor and speculation, the move to end Pontiac left a lot of enthusiasts wondering exactly why it was necessary to kill off the historic and once very profitable brand.
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When fall rolls around, many car enthusiasts and especially those in the northern climes, begin thinking about putting their classic rides away for the winter. If you live in an area where it snows, sleets or hails in the colder months, retiring a restored vehicle for the season makes perfect sense. However, there are a number of things to do to prepare your car for hibernation before you lock the doors and walk away for a few months. If you want to be able to start the engine and drive the car again next spring, you’ll need to prep it properly in order to avoid the hassles of a dead battery, flat tires, contaminated fuel and maybe even a family of rodents living under the hood.
Before you store your car, it is a good idea to tend to any minor repairs and maintenance issues so that your car is in tip-top shape when you pull it out of storage later. You will obviously need to thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the car, but changing the oil is probably the first thing to do, as you don’t want the car to sit for months with contaminated oil in the crankcase. You will also want to get the steering and suspension components fully lubricated because a lube job will help keep your suspension from drying out while the car’s in storage.
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As the number of new events, shows, businesses, and displays focused on classic cars continues to grow, it seems we learn about another new enterprise dedicated to vintage cars every week. Of course, the venues that spotlight GM-brand vehicles are always of particular interest to us, and although we documented over 40 historical vehicle venues in our “Classic Car History Lesson” posted on this blog a few months ago, we were pleased to recently learn of yet another new automotive museum in the Mid-West that we definitely need to add to the list.
The Pontiac Oakland Museum is located in the appropriately named town of Pontiac, Illinois. Although Pontiac, Michigan is more well-known and many people would assume it to be a more obvious choice of location for a Pontiac museum, members of the new museum’s advisory committee stated that the city of Pontiac, Michigan “offered nothing nor seemed to care about a Pontiac car museum,” while the residents of lesser-known Pontiac, Illinois welcomed the prospect of a car museum in their town and offered real estate concessions and other benefits to bring the proposed museum to the Land of Lincoln due to the expected boost in tourism it would bring. The Pontiac, Illinois location also made sense as a home for a classic car museum because the town lies right along the historic Route 66 pathway.
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No automotive restoration project can move forward without access to the parts needed to get the job done. Time, money, space, skill and tools are all important too, but the ability to get the parts you need can make or break any restoration project, especially when working on older classic cars that are no longer supported by original factory replacement parts. Granted, a lot of restorations are undertaken as long-term projects where a good deal of time will be spent massaging and refurbishing used parts. However, project cars are notorious for surprises and the smallest and seemingly simplest restoration task can often turn into frustrating and time-consuming work, especially if you don’t have all of the parts you need to get the job done correctly.
Finding the parts needed to complete the restoration of an older car can be very challenging, more so if you are trying to utilize original factory equipment only. The older the car, the more difficult it will be to locate original parts, as many cars that are a few decades old now are just not supported by the factories anymore. This is especially true for classic GM brand cars, as the manufacturer quit making a full inventory of parts available for its older model cars back in 1982. Read more ›
Back in June, this blog featured a post titled “Classic Car History Lessons” wherein we looked at some of the different car museums, manufacturer displays and other historical vehicle venues that would make sensible road trip destinations for fans of classic automobiles. Our list of viable venues included nine different stops in the state of California alone, with the most famous and familiar being the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. In contrast, there is another great car museum in Southern California, but it is one that has remained largely unknown, even among die-hard car fans. The Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar, California has been open since founder J.B. Nethercutt and his wife Dorothy first opened their doors to the public in 1977. Although the facility has been open for over three decades, it has remained relatively obscure throughout the years. However, any trace of obscurity will quickly disappear once you visit the facility in person.
Most first-time visitors to the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar, California are surprised when they find that “California’s other car museum” located just north of Los Angeles in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains is in a building that is an architectural throwback to the splendor and majesty of the roaring 20’s complete with massive marble columns, wood paneling, crystal chandeliers and mirrored walls. The museum is home to over 200 restored vehicles and at least 30 finished cars are on full display at a time. The facility also has an additional 50 or so vehicles undergoing restoration at any given moment. Read more ›
Even if you have already invested a lot of time and money into the exterior and interior appearance of your classic Chevelle, you might not have given much thought to those areas in between where the door sill plates reside. Door sill step plates are not exactly exterior items and they are not visible when you sit inside your car with the doors closed, but a set of shiny new sills are a great welcoming feature when entering your car and they are also a very easy upgrade you can do on your own at home. Although the sill/step plates are often out of sight, old worn out sills will degrade the overall condition of your car’s appearance. A shiny new pair of door sill step plates will help seal your car properly and also make you feel a bit better every time you get into your car.
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