Yes, I played with cars in the 70-80’s

In the early 80’s I took a standard Pinto wagon that would barely climb a slight grade with it’s oil burning 2000cc engine, and decided to put a Grand Torino driveline under the hood.  That was a fun transformation involving fabrication and having a friend weld my motor mounts in the right place.

I completely rebuilt the 302 Ford Grand Torino motor and hopped it up a bit, the engine and auto transmission assembly needed some alignment to keep the geometry of the driveline correct to the rear u-joint, that meant simple mounting adjustments.  The radiator we ordered new was a 429 Boss because it’s small yet thick for cooling, laid crossflow to fit under the hood and some angle iron fabrication it worked quite well!  Besides several other “adjustments” we drove it around to see what we ended up with!

Well it spun the back tire/s (limited slip) quite easily which slowed its takeoff so other adjustments were needed, plus we blew out the rearend right away.  We had to raise the front end about 3” with cut V8 coils, shocks, and replaced the rearend with one from a Capri V6.  This solved those issues of free spinning the tires due to weight ratios over the back tires and the V6 rearend held together nicely.  The geometry of the front end was now off due to the higher weight and height so a correcting alignment solved that, like putting a lift kit in your truck, etc.

That was fun to drive for a few years and was pretty fast, like a mid 13 sec ¼ mi.  It pulled hills and got out on the freeway like a champ and sounded great with dual exhaust and headers! 

I owned a ’68 Firebird with an added on 400 Pontiac engine and 4 speed for a year or so, it could really get it, with tall gears it could go all of the 160mph that the speedometer had on it!  Slower in the ¼ mi, felt it was still a 13 sec car. 

An earlier car I owned was an Opel Cadet coupe with an 1100cc engine, gas was like 30 cents/gal (!) around that time so for $2 and 30+mi/gal I could go all week!  But, that engine was showing wear so I got an Opel GT that was partially wrecked and parted it out to my Cadet.  It was a 2000cc so I used the whole driveline which needed very few adjustments besides the motor mounts and radiator to complete.  I decided to play with the engine and see what we could do with the GT 4cyl just for fun.

I took it to the machine shop and had bored; the heads expanded and bought 11 to 1 compression pistons.  Also to the cam ratios up a few steps!  We tried an injector but it had issues and went back to the standard GT carb which worked fine.  It had a header and some added high performance electrical parts.

We cranked up that 4cyl and it sounded like a monster!  Starting it was like one or two cranks and the engine would explode on!  It was very cool, fun to drive, and we found it amazingly fast off the line!  In fact it pulled 14-15’s in the ¼ mi!  It scared a lot of V8’s because it was actually out ahead of most for the first 400 meters!  We painted it midnight blue and pin striped it, was very cool.  The engine finally blew one day, dang.

Another time I bought a ’65 Pontiac Tempest 326 and my friend Earl’s dad was a plane mechanic who found us an engine in FL once used by Mickey Thompson and had it shipped out to CA.  It was a 421 FX that was quite powerful!  He dropped it in the Tempest with a 4 speed and it blew the small factory rearend first day out! 

The engine was almost weird in that it would crank to 5,000+rpm in maybe less a second!  The torque began to stress wrinkle the body!  Motor mounts broke and cracked a few times.  With 50 series wide tires it would take the front completely off the ground.  It was wildly fast.  Painted burgundy and looking raked and sleek, that car was amazing, until Earl wrecked it head on with a school bus, he and his passenger were ok, but my car and his engine were destroyed.  I think he cried.

These are some fun things we dabbled in with cars.  I’ve owned a few trucks for work in construction, and a many other cars.  Nowadays they have 4 and 6cyl turbocharged little engines that can take a ¼ mi in 12-14 seconds right out of the factory, that handle like champs!  My wife Tammy had a ’65 Fastback and ’66 Coupe Mustang, both Tahoe Turquoise blue.  Want to get a ’65 Fastback again, same color.  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch

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