Project Car SOTU 2016: 2002 Ford Excursion


If you want to call me an idiot for buying this vehicle I won’t blame you, but I’m secretly hoping to be validated about five years from now. Daisy still loves it for a new reason every day: great A/C, tons of interior room, a half-dozen always-on 12V outlets, and an infinitum of little storage bins for stuff. Did I mention it appears to have about $2500 worth of Banks exhaust tuner stuff on it? That said, we’ve got both minor and potentially-not-so-minor issues to work through in the short term.

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Project Car SOTU 2016: 1962 Ford Ranchero… er, Rancheros actually


To be quite honest, progress has been minimal. To date, the activity’s been mostly shopping and disassembly, with little to indicate progress towards this thing becoming a race car. I’m typing this on a plane on my way to a multi-week work trip overseas, which definitely isn’t helping things.

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This Early Mustang Just Keeps Chugging Along

Typically the lowest-spec examples of a car don’t make it to advanced old age in original condition, if at all. They’re un-special enough to give to new drivers or get stripped of their original drivetrain in favor of something more extreme. And yet, here’s this first-generation Mustang parked at a boat launch ramp in California’s sierra foothills. Fifty-ish years old, and it’s still rocking a straight six, three speed and 13″ wheels. That paint looks original and faded/polished down into the primer.

Let’s all take a minute to appreciate the persistence of an unremarkable that dodged a thousand bullets to last this long.

Truck Hunt 2016: Wherein We Buy An Excursion and Break All the Rules

2002 excursion powerstrokeThree hundred eleven thousand miles, lifted, tuned, and salvage-titled, for sale in notoriously sketchy part of Sacramento for almost exactly what I sold my Wagoneer for. In short, this thing is everything I was trying not to buy this time around.

“I kinda really like it” she said with a self-conscious grimace, sitting back in our car after the test drive. “Like, I kinda want to buy it”. I’d been working hard to channel my grandfather, a guy who loved cars but could never allow himself (or my dad or uncle) to buy something truly awesome or ridiculous. Ray definitely wouldn’t have approved of this rig, and I was mentally prepared to just write the whole thing off as just too much. Here we were, having driven two Suburbans and our third* Excursion and my wonderful wife is ready to spend too much money on a truck that’s too tired, too modified and too tall.

(*For those keeping track, there’s a boring one I’m not even bothering to write up)

“The rear seat slides like it’s supposed to, the AC works great and the kid’s obviously doing his best to keep it up”. She did have a point there. Despite all the ridiculousness, the young-enough-to-make-me-feel-old-at-33 owner had recovered the worn driver’s seat, replaced the crapped out CD changer deck and was using it daily as a tow rig in his job at a boat repair shop.

Against a background of peer pressure nudging to “just get the diesel” and with a tailwind of spousal enthusiasm, I texted the guy an offer.

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Evil Genius Cage Class: Learn to Build a Cage the Right Way

I burned all of last weekend building a cage on someone else’s car and paid for the privilege to do so. Our instructor was John Pagel, the evil genius of , but he might sometimes go by Tom Sawyer as well. Nine of us met up at the Bay Area wrenching co-op Rack Hack Shop to learn John’s methods for building a cage and use his professional-grade tools to do so. The bulk of the attendees focused on Jeff’s Willys Aero (future) LeMons car while myself, Jeff and Gene teamed up on to put a spec cage in a 2007 Yaris. Owner Ian was cool enough to volunteer his car for a “haircut at the barber college” discounted cage.

Not unlike many of our readers, most of us could weld passably and could probably flail our way to completing a mail-order you-weld-it kit cage or slap one together with “hobby” grade bending and notching equipment. Of course, it’d take us two months and the results would be iffy at best. John walked us through his methods for where to start and how to measure for bends and notches that demystify the process…

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Truck Hunt 2016: An Excursion in the Barest of Bones

Tim Odell June 30, 2016 Used Car Reviews

I wondered if the 2001 Yukon’s luxury bits would its (or my wallet’s) undoing and while appreciating the rugged simplicity of the 1991 Suburban found its condition appalling. With that setup, this 2000 Excursion comes bursting through the wall like a cross between Goldilocks and the Kool-Aide man: utility-grade interior, but impeccable condition.

Unfortunately, we aren’t ending it here with me buying this one, but I think we’re a lot closer. I think I want an Excursion, just not this Excursion.

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Truck Hunt 2016: The Perfect Suburban that Wasn’t

Every type of old/classic car has the “bad year(s)” and “good year(s)” to get. With Toyota 4x4s, it’s 1985 for the solid axle and EFI. With Box Body 3/4 ton Suburbans, it’s 1991 for the combination of solid axle and 4L80E overdrive transmission. While Box Body ‘Burbs lie thick on the ground in rust-free California, examples of just one specific year are harder to find. Which means if one pops up with a cheap-and-dropping price tag, it’s hard to resist making a case to The Missus to burn the better part of a day driving two hours each way for a test drive.

I want to believe if I’d called and asked the right series of questions that maybe I’d have skipped the trip, but in reality I would’ve found a way to rationalize the trip no matter what. Anyway, hit the jump for what I thought I was getting versus what I got.

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LeMons Ranchero: Stripero y Swapero

Tim Odell June 23, 2016 All Things Hoon

The day’s work is over, but I find myself circling the subject, simultaneously admiring its new condition and brainstorming the next billion steps in the project. If my neighbors weren’t already familiar with my project car antics they might’ve called the cops to report a grimy weirdo with a beer just standing there in the driveway staring.

Finally. Finally I’m tearing into both the new and old Rancheros. I ended last Saturday with a sore back and hands full of cuts and bruises and couldn’t have been happier. When your dopamine levels scale with how much change you can effect in a day, low-end project cars at the best.

Case in point: interior out, floors scraped, two yellowjacket nests removed, front end pulled to less-crumpled and entire front steering and suspension removed came from one full afternoon with just one guy (this guy (thumbs)) working. Hit the jump for amusing details.

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LeMons Ranchero: Shopping for Steering and Shifting

Since its acquisition in March, the new Ranchero’s sat in my driveway, a monument to lack of progress. It waited in line behind the final fixes and sale of the Wagoneer and the conclusion of a T-Ball season I was conscripted into coaching. With all that out of the way, it’s Ranchero Time, baby!

Click through for the first few acquisitions for the new car.

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Hoss Approved: 1969 Fiberfab Bonanza

Tim Odell June 16, 2016 For Sale

1969 fiberfab bonanza kit car for saleRaise your hand if you’d heard of a Fiberfab Bonanza before today. Yeah, me neither. The gist: a VW Type III pan, Corvair drivetrain and fiberglass kit from Fiberfab (in their original German guise). The front end is a pretty clear knockoff, and the drooping rear is driving me crazy. I swear I remember that shape from some high-end GT from last year’s Monterey Historics, but can’t place it.

Anyway, this one runs and drives, but still needs both mechanical and interior love. Rather than expend more energy on that Corvair pancake, I’d look into the feasibility of a Subaru EJ. That newer 2.5L would certainly constitute “situation or event that creates a sudden increase in wealth” when it comes to horsepower.


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