Curbside Classic just reprinted a really good article on the 1967 Chrysler Newport, which was the base model full-size sedan in their lineup, and also the best-selling model they offered for seven years. The Newport is the platform they built the 300 cars on, their halo high-performance models—my father-in-law’s convertible being one of that group.

Date posted: February 16, 2023 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

(Image: David Tracy)

One of the authors over at the Autopian, my favorite car site, bought a car sight unseen from a field in Australia, then flew there and spent five weeks rebuilding it out of rusty parts with a group of local car nuts. The goal was to then drive it 400 miles to a car meetup. When I say that I was skeptical of his ability to succeed, I’m not kidding; in the previous installment of the story, things were looking grim—the third engine they’d sourced was garbage, so they dragged one out of a chicken barn and threw it in the car. He posted the final chapter of the story, and it is as inspiring and awesome as I was hoping it would be. They got it running, passed the inspection, drove all 400 miles to the show, and then drove back home.

Something I learned: in Australia, they market and sell a brand of starting fluid called “Start Ya Bastard”. I sense an import opportunity and the promise of big dollars here…

Date posted: December 25, 2022 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

I was down in DC three weeks ago for a work thing, and because I had to hump a bunch of video gear from the office to my old CEO’s house as well as meet up with a bunch of folks for lunch, I drove the Accord. We were eating at a restaurant I’d never been to before, so Siri took me in and dropped me at an empty parking spot right out in front of the place. I went in, lunch was had, and we left two hours and five minutes later—just enough expired time for the Accord to collect a $50 ticket. The ink was still warm when I pulled it from the wiper blade. Last week I went online to pay it, grumbling, and found a cryptic message that said I owed $0. Puzzled, I waited for the official paperwork to arrive. Yesterday I got two (?!?) letters from the DC government that confirmed things: the officer hadn’t turned in his paperwork on time, so by law I owed nothing. That was a nice gift.

* * *

We got the CR-V back from the body shop yesterday, looking like a half-brand-new vehicle. The list of stuff they replaced was long, but the visible stuff included a new bumper, bumper surround, front fender, and weatherstripping; the rear hatch opens and closes again, and the spare tire hangs straight. It’s good to have our old girl on the road again, even with 150K on the clock, and I hope we can keep her going for another 50. Now I need to bust out the buffer to shine up the sheet metal that wasn’t sanded and repainted so that it matches correctly.

Date posted: November 4, 2022 | Filed under cars, honda | Leave a Comment »

Look at what popped up on this morning: a 1966 Chrysler 300 convertible the same color as Bob’s. From what the commentariat says, it’s in rough shape (it’s in Louisiana) and probably worth nothing more than parts. This one is red over white with a white top, and features a 383 with air conditioning. I’d prefer having A/C, but the white upholstery and top look pretty lousy to me.

Date posted: September 13, 2022 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

So my MotorTrend Online subscription lapsed about a year ago, and I’ve held off on renewing it for reasons I can’t really explain. Dirt Every Day was always one of my favored shows on that channel: two guys cutting and welding and building crazy vehicles to take on crazy adventures. Turns out they’ve ended the show—no idea if they’ve cancelled it or if the hosts have hung up the towel. There are some other shows on the channel I like—it’s the best place to see the old episodes of Top Gear, but I’ll have to reassess whether or not I’ll renew it now.

Date posted: August 25, 2022 | Filed under cars, entertainment, shortlinks | 1 Comment »

I’ve run across this site in the past, and meant to link to it: Rambler Lore is a collection of information about Nash/AMC Ramblers and the upkeep of a small fleet of them; the author has driven them for 20+ years and does all his own mechanical/engineerig/fabrication. This is the kind of thing I’d love to be able to retire and do with my free time.

Date posted: August 17, 2022 | Filed under cars, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

File this one under Direct-To-My-Pleasure-Center: a guy produced a 25-minute video about the AMC Pacer for his senior college project, and it was received very well. He decided to expand that out into a documentary about American Motors Corporation, and started the research and production several years ago. He’s self-financing but has an agreement with Maryland Public Television to distribute it. There’s a GoFundMe set up to help with the costs; I threw $50 at it this morning.

Date posted: July 19, 2022 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

With the parade preparations basically monopolizing my time last weekend, I neglected to mention the update from Lexington Park, where we visited with Jen’s Dad and continued helping him get his affairs in order. While Jen focused on paperwork, I hooked the boat tank up to the Chrysler and primed the carburetor with fuel. I should back up here and mention how difficult it was to find the correct fitting for the carburetor fuel inlet; between three different stores, five websites, and two handfuls of brass and nylon parts, I still didn’t get the proper size or thread combination correct. Instead, I hooked the hose up to the lower section of the existing steel fuel line and called it done.

When I primed the carb it leaked out through the gasket, so I torqued the screws down good and tested it until it stopped seeping. This seems to have flooded the carb, because I couldn’t get it to start for love or money, even after letting it sit for four hours. So we’re back to square one there.


I went back outside to the porch ceiling, which I’d powerwashed a few weeks ago, and scraped the remainder of the flaking paint off before hitting it with two coats of white exterior latex. The door surround got two coats as well, which brightens up the front of the house immensely. Then I threw almost all of the breakers in the house until I found the one that killed the outlet on the porch. That plug was flopping loose, which made me nervous. As I unscrewed it, it disintegrated in my hands. Five minutes and a new plug from my electrical stash, and it’s good as new.

Date posted: July 7, 2022 | Filed under cars, family | Leave a Comment »

Gas is still $5 a gallon, but that didn’t stop me from taking the Scout over the bridge to Chestertown to pick up a day’s work on the schoolbus. The forecast for the weekend was a beautiful 81˚ so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Brian has gotten a ton of work done since I saw it last—we put the battery box in all the way back in April—as Robbi and Matthew make firm travel plans for the fall. I pulled into the driveway to find a completely painted bus with scenes of kids and animals reading books from the headlights to the rear bumper.

The roof tent had also come in, and they’d put a platform down, screwed it into place, and hooked up the electrical system for the motor lifts. Inside, Brian had roughed in cabinets around the sink area and opposite the aisle for the locker fronts. Instead of using the locker cubbies they asked him to seal the doors and use the locker fronts as two swinging doors to conceal a set of sliding drawers.

We got to work trying to diagnose a faulty electrical motor on the roof tent, then moved inside to work out cabinetry. I cleaned, painted and installed a floor baffle for the heating hoses directly under the kids’ seats, and when that was done we set up an assembly line to cut and build the shelves and drawers. By 5:30 we had those in place and then installed a shelf cubby over the captain’s chair on the passenger side, which will be mirrored on the driver’s side over the kids’ seats.

I hit the road for home at about 7, driving into a beautiful setting sun over the Bay, feeling very fortunate for the ability to work with my hands and make visible progress on a project with a clear end goal.

On Sunday we packed the CR-V and headed down to Bob’s house to continue sorting things out. After eating lunch I headed out into the garage to continue working on the Chrysler. When I was there last, there was no spark at the plugs and I didn’t know why. I’d bought a $9 tool to test it conclusively, and my suspicions were correct. The next point of failure were the points and condenser inside the distributor, so I swapped those out with some new parts in about 10 minutes. With Bob behind the wheel, we tested for spark again, and there was success!

I squirted some gas down the carb and had him fire it off, and it caught and turned over for a few seconds until the gas evaporated. A couple more tries, some more gas, and she caught and ran—loudly and choppily, but she ran! The smile on Bob’s face was huge.

The next steps are to buy a boat tank—basically a small jerry can designed for a motorboat with a built in float and pump—and hook that directly to the carburetor. That will take care of providing fuel. If I can keep her running from the carb, we can test the transmission to see if she’ll pull out of the garage, and I can pull the drums off the rear wheels to diagnose the brake system. I’m sure that will be a leaky nightmare.
I’ve already cleaned the front seats off with 50/50 water and vinegar to kill the mildew growing there, but the back seats need extra love and attention. Getting it out into the driveway will also let us wash off 40 years of dust and grime and really assess the condition of the paint. There are a thousand little dings and chips from being a shelf in the garage for years, so I know it’s not going to be perfect, but I bet we can cut and buff a shine back into the paint with some work. I also want to use some engine degreaser and the pressure washer to shine up the engine bay.

If I’m completely honest, a part of me didn’t believe I would be able to pull this off; I’m mechanically adept but this project is a lot more than I’ve ever attempted, and there were many places I could have screwed it up. I like to think I’ve learned to be patient and careful as I’ve gotten older, and that approach paid off with every obstacle the car threw at me. The next couple of months will prove out the theory, I guess.

I had Monday off, so we all enjoyed sleeping in. Jen took care of some work in the morning while I pressure washed the front stairs and fooled around in the garage, and in the early afternoon we drove out to Frederick to spend a little family time together. We got some lunch at the Tasting Room, which was about ten steps up from where we took Bob for dinner (the Cracker Barrel was the only place open without a half an hour wait) where we sipped fancy coctails and ate a delicious late lunch.

From there we walked through the town, stopping in various stores for Finn to shop through. I found a cheap Django Reinhart LP at the used record store and Finn found some inexpensive jewelry. We stopped and met several dogs who all put Hazel to shame for their calm and relaxed natures. She was our alarm clock, so at about the four hour mark we headed for home. We all spent the evening quietly doing our own things, enjoying the cool breeze, happy to be together.

Date posted: June 21, 2022 | Filed under cars, family, friends | Leave a Comment »

Driver's Seat

I intended this to be a 360˚ photo you could pan around in, but apparently Flickr’s support of 360˚ photos took a shit and died. And their forum posts around the problem all date back to 2016. yay technology.

Date posted: June 20, 2022 | Filed under cars, photo | Leave a Comment »