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Project Update: Hellcrate motor into a ’68 Charger

Last December I wrote about a project that my friends at were undertaking. The project was to drop the 707-horsepower Hellcat crate motor into a recently restored 1968 Dodge Charger. While the Charger already had big 440 under its hood, dropping in Chrysler’s latest is a lot more than just a quick and dirty engine swap. The owner of the car and Ace wanted to this right. An obscene amount of power in a chassis that was never designed for it is a recipe for disaster. 

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Mystery Car – HINT!

Kamil Kaluski July 31, 2018 Mystery Car

It’s been five days and I can’t take it anymore. I’m crawling out of my skin here. The group of people who have identified so many vehicles from such minuscule hints seem to be stumped again. There were a few honest shots at what the vehicle was but none hit the target. I even gave a clue that the vehicle was American. 

So here you go, a second picture of Friday’s Mystery Car. And really, I had another picture but the detail was so vague that it would only further frustrate y’all. Get to your googling machines! I cannot make this any simpler!

Roger Sets the Bar High on Velocity’s “Chasing Classic Cars”

Roger Barr, ace mechanic on Velocity’s “Chasing Classic Cars”

This article was written by my friend Bill Griffith for another outlet and is posted here with permission. Bill is a freelance automotive journalist in the Boston area. You should follow him on Twitter . -KK

PORTLAND, CT—You know him as “Roger,” the sometimes funny, sometimes curmudgeonly (and often both) 82-year-old ace mechanic on Velocity’s “Chasing Classic Cars.”

He plays off show centerpiece Wayne Carini so well that you are immediately drawn into the nitty, gritty of the mechanical fixes. How well? So well that Roger rates an Emmy as Best
Supporting Character in a continuing series.

What’s a normal daily scene at Carini’s F40 Motor Sports is the stuff that makes the TV series, in its 13th season, an enduring part of auto enthusiasts’ viewing. 

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Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski July 27, 2018 Mystery Car

Well, I am very disappointed and rather perplexed. How did anyone not get this. When the Mastery Car is fragment of a taillight an obscure one-off it gets identified within minutes. But here was a vehicle as common as a dog, an iconic American vehicle sold and known the world over, and no one could identify it. Last week’s Mastery Car even had a damn television show named after it, for eff’s sake. How did you miss it? 

Again, I am disappointed. But despite there being no clear winner, there still is The Person of the Moment! award. And that person is… me! For stumping you with something so simple. Bow to me!

Today we once again keep it simple. It’s so simple I expect more than just a make and model. Please don’t let me down again. 

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Redusernab Asks: Did you drive a million miles?

After driving Matt Farah’s #MillionMileLexus yesterday I started thinking, which is never a good thing. I asked myself if I have driven a million miles in my life. I got my driver’s license in 1994 but I’d be lying if I wasn’t driving much earlier than that… in Mexico, of course. Even so, in my 24 years of driving I would need to average over 40,000 miles per year. 

I kept calculating and looking over the past twenty years of my life. For that part of my life I lived in northern New Jersey and downtown Boston. While I always drive, the distances I cover are not great. When I worked in Manhattan and downtown Boston I used to take the train or bike to work. My longest car-commuting distance was a round-trip of about 40 miles and I did that for about two years. I accumulated the most miles, almost a 1000 per week, when I worked in NYC but spent my weekends in Boston. 

Adding it up I think I might be somewhere around a half a million mark in my lifetime of driving. I might, might, be at a million if I add up my lifetime of flights and distance covered as a passenger. And this is what makes the Million Mile Lexus even more remarkable. It started life in 1996 and by 2018 has 981,201 miles on it. That’s an average of 44,600 miles per year. 

Today we are asking – have you driven a million miles?

Driving Matt Farah’s #MillionMileLexus

There used to be a time when a 100,000 mile vehicle was past its useful life. 100,000 miles meant that the oil rings wore away and the transmission was one gear short of a picnic basket. 100,000 miles meant that the floor boards were as solid as paper. 100,000 miles meant that your malaise mobile was maybe worth its weight in scrap.

Over the decades Toyota automobiles grew in popularity. They gained a reputation for reliability and longevity despite seriously lacking resistance to rust. When Toyota launched the Lexus brand in 1989 they claimed to be relentlessly pursuing perfection – whatever that was.

Today I drove Matt Farah’s Million Mile Lexus. Like the town bicycle, the 1996 Lexus LS 400 is getting pass around between people with the single goal of accumulating miles. Due to time constraints I was only able to add two humble miles to the odometer that as of this writing reads 981,199.

Can a vehicle that is capable of traveling ten times further than many others be considered at least a technical perfection?

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Star 266 goes off-roading

Star was a Polish truck maker in the communist era. The state-owned company made several versions of was then a rather heavy duty truck. Like most trucks, many models shared cabs but frames varied in strength, length, and capacities. Star, named after the city of Starachowice where truck were made since World War II, made several models. Some of most popular were the 200-models, used throughout Poland for variety if services. It’s not uncommon to see one even today. 

The 266 model was the heavy duty military version. In production since the 1970s, the 3.5-ton 6×6 truck so good that it was used by several countries and saw combat in Afghanistan. In 1988 two teams even entered the grueling Paris-Dakar rally with the 266. Further, despite MAN having taken over Star, there is exists a company that overhauls and modernizes the classic Star 266. This video made by an off-roading company in southwestern Poland shows some off-road capabilities of this aged rig. 

 

Mystery Car

Kamil Kaluski July 23, 2018 Mystery Car

It’s funny how some parts of some cars look exactly alike. They could be of different brands and models, and look very different from afar, but up-close it’s much harder to tell what vehicle they’re attached to. Last week’s piece of clearly American trim has confused some of you – heck, it even made me double check my source. But in the end,  came up with the right answer – Dodge Royal Monaco.

Congratulations, Mr. , you are this week’s… The Person of the Moment!!

Now before you high-five and chest-bump each other, you have to solve today’s (one workday late, sorry) Mystery Car. Rules are the same as always; make and model, with extra bonus for years. Cheerio, you clever Googlers! 

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Review: 2019 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec

Some years ago Hyundai launched a quirky little vehicle called the Veloster. Its claim to fame was its asymmetrical design. The driver’s side had coupe-like single door and passenger’s side had a sedan-like two door design, while the whole vehicle was a small hatchback. There was also a sporty turbo version but it never really developed a cult following. Unfortunately, the Veloster was rather forgettable until it quietly went away in 2017.

Then, at this year’s North American International Auto Show (a.k.a. Detroit) Hyundai double downed on the Veloster with an all-new 2019 model. And then they pulled a Steve Jobs’ “one more thing” and showed the 275hp Veloster N. Whaaaatttt?

I was intrigued if a bit skeptical. When introduced, the original Veloster was interesting; it was different, edgy. But this new Veloster looks almost exactly the same as the old one. And because it looks like the old one, it can no longer be different or edgy but rather more of the same. And then I got to drive it.

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OEM vs Aftermarket: TYC Taillights

My Toyota 4Runner is a 2010 model year vehicle, the first year for the fifth generation model. Yes, it’s getting old now but with less than 60,000 miles, it’s still very solid. And it’s not even that outdated. The 4Runner received a facelift for the 2014 model year but it did not change mechanically. The facelift consisted of different headlights, grill, bumper design, and taillights. Toyota also removed just about all chrome trim, which made the 4Runner visually lighter. It will remain rather unchanged for 2019, too. 

I wasn’t in love with the angry 2014 facelift at first but it has grown on me. It has grown on my so much that I no longer really like the appearance of the 2010-’13 models. So I decided to do something about it. One of the things I like on the ’14+ 4Runner are its darker, slimmer taillights. They also have the benefit of brighter and longer-lasting LED brake and taillight bulbs.

After ensuring that the ’14 taillight is a plug-and-play with my older vehicle, I went shopping. An OEM taillight assembly is about $180 for each light. Yea, I like these new lights but I don’t like them enough to blow almost $400 on them. On Amazon I found taillights made by TYC for about $100 each. Reviews on Amazon and on a 4Runner message board seemed good. How bad could they really be?

Two mouse clicks and my new non-OEM taillights were on their way.

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