Motor Cars: Beauty and the Beast 

Over sixty years of active motoring, one has observed with interest the changing styles followed by manufacturers in search of popularity and volume sales. From a British perspective it was always Ford of England that initiated a radical departure from the established norm, risking the derision of critics but, more often than not, capturing the imagination of a public always eager to be seen in something radically new. This pattern of progress continued virtually unchanged for five decades until it was overwhelmed by the Asian dominance of the new millennium. 

In the 1950s, the new look in motor cars was ushered in by the Ford Prefect and Anglia saloons. The innovation may have had antecedents in the USA, where the evolution of private vehicles had continued while suspended in Britain during World War II, but, if so, it was reproduced without the ostentation and glittering chrome so characteristic of American cars of that era. At any rate, it proved immediately popular in Britain, and other motor manufacturers rushed to follow the new style, hoping at the same time to add some distinctive feature of their own. 

The three-box style had a long life. It was amenable to great variation in detail and was readily adapted to two boxes in estate car or station wagon varieties. The influence of wind tunnel testing led to more streamlined shapes reputed to reduce air resistance and improve performance and fuel economy. Streamlines proved to be as aesthetically pleasing on cars as they were on aircraft and Ford continued to lead the way in an evolution that culminated in the universally popular KA model of the 1990s. 

From there, there was nowhere to go. As far as is humanly possible, perfection had been achieved. The Ford KA inspired numerous copies from other manufacturers but all, in striving for a unique feature, degraded the beauty of the original. Many people, tired of constant pressure to buy something new, might have liked the KA to become a standard product in perpetuity. But the industry had now passed through Japan to South Korea and China, countries eager to promote worldwide sales of newly manufactured products. 

Making something different from perfection means making something less pleasing to the eye and the Asian manufacturers have certainly succeeded in that quest. Yet so dominant is their global stance that the residual industry in the West has felt compelled to copy the Eastern degradation. It is an old English saying that after the Lord Mayor's coach comes the corporation cart. In motor styling, the Lord Mayor's coach has passed, and we are still waiting for the corporation cart.


Smart Tips For Buying Used Cars And Avoiding Lemons 

Not all of us afford a shiny new car. For many Americans, buying a used car is their only chance to get a ride. However, there are many sharks in the water and you should avoid being scammed. Check the following tips for buying a used car: 

1. Analyze how much you can afford spending for a car. Be realistic about how much you can afford for buying a car and insuring it. Do not forget to research your state's minimum coverage requirements. If you're taking out a loan to pay for your car, your car payment shouldn't be more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you're sticking to a tight budget, you may want to spend even less. 

2. Make a list with used car models that interest you. You need to spend a lot of time researching for used car. If you find a good deal, make sure to spend some hours identifying the car's weak points and if the model was recalled by manufacturer. Also check for typical repair costs and maintenance costs. Keep in mind that used cars usually require periodic maintenance and parts replacement. 

3. Look for local used car auctions and sales. Finding used cars in your area is pretty advantageous. First of all, it gives you the opportunity to inspect the car and notice if there are important defects. 

4. Use the internet to help you detect the car models you want. There are many websites and forums you can use to track local used cars marketplaces or even talk with owners of used cars. They can tell you more about the car and its history. 

5. Get a vehicle history report before buying. You should always ask for a history report from the owner or the dealership. In this way you will know if the car has a bad history. If so, you should better choose another vehicle. 

6. Inspect the car closely, preferably with your mechanic nearby. Bring your own specialist when inspecting the car. Look for the following signs:  

• Paint overspray
• Stickers that show higher mileage than on the odometer
• Work orders for repairs that show higher mileage than on the odometer
• A hood or trunk that doesn't close right
• Shimmy in the steering wheel when driving
• Unevenly worn tire thread
• Car is out of alignment
• Title brands noted on the title, such as "salvage," "junk," "flood," or "rebuilt"
• Silt or rust in crevices, the trunk, under carpeting
• Electrical glitches
• Musty smell, mold or mildew


Is a Classic Car Right For You?

A vintage or classic car can bring you great joy, but it may also be painfully expensive. The truth is vintage car ownership can sometimes be an illusion because not everyone is suited to the hobby, financially or otherwise. The good news is that by using these tips with caution you could soon be at the wheel of the car of your dreams. Some of which may be as old as the car you're about to buy. 

Ask yourself if you can really afford a vintage or classic, remembering that if something breaks it could end up costing a small fortune in repairs. This is especially true of rare or exotic vehicles. Parts may be hard to find, thus the car could be out of service for a lengthy period. Can you handle repairs on your own? Got the talent and experience for restoration? Great... but if not, be prepared to dig deep. 

Always have a "reserve" set aside for unexpected repair costs. A friend who restores and sells collector cars suggests a minimum of at least $3000. More if the car is a rare exotic. But then, if you're buying a Bugatti or a Deusenberg, you probably don't need our advice. 

Will your vintage or classic be an "everyday driver?" Daily use puts a strain on old parts and systems. Not that a collector car can't be driven regularly but it had better be dependable; something that starts on demand, can be readily repaired, has parts that are easy to find. Along with a driver who can afford the price of breakdowns. 

If you are planning to drive your vintage beauty on public roads keep in mind that it was built for a different time; slower traffic, less highway congestion, more tolerant drivers. Those old drum brakes may not be adequate for a panic stop in modern traffic so learn to adapt. Non-power steering will require muscle. Earlier power steering systems are slow and sloppy. Turn signals, if they exist, might be invisible to traffic accustomed to big, bright blinkers. 

It may be necessary to arrange special insurance for a collectible. Be aware that older cars do not have the anti-theft devices or the serial number database of newer cars. Hot-wiring an older car is child's play. 

And finally, though this may seem repetitive, get your financial ducks in order before you begin. Falling in love with a car and making a commitment without sufficient planning is, if you'll forgive a cliché, a recipe for disaster. 

If you've done it right, as suggested above, you can have the fun of searching for that dream car. And that, indeed, can be a lot of fun. Just be cautious, be prepared to pull back and wait if necessary, perhaps even accept a little less than what you'd planned.


Where Are Classic Car Parts These Days?

Looking to restore a classic car? Remember riding in those big roomy 1950's, 60's and 70's Pontiac's, Ford's, Buick's and Mercury's? You know, those big American cars? Remember back when you didn't even have to wear a seatbelt when you were a kid? You could lay in the back seat on a long trip and have plenty of room to stretch when the road seemed endless. Are we there yet? 

Remember when your father drove into a gas station bay to fill up and the attendant not only put the gas in, he washed the windows, checked the oil and air and always had a lollipop for the kids. Can we have some of those days back? We want our roomy, steel, big engined cars back! We want to hit the road with some power! Oh yes, and let's have those old fashioned gas prices back too! 

Ah the memories of being 4 years old and sitting in the back seat of my dad's 1967 red Pontiac Catalina convertible, feeling the wind all over me while I tried to keep a super sized jawbreaker in my mouth. Don't want to get sticky goo all over the new seats! What about the sounds cars made as they passed yours? The whooshing sound that you tried to determine if it was you passing them or them passing you? What else does a kid think about when they are a passive passenger in the back? 

The freedom of contemplation, where is that now? Today, kid's in cars have mini TV's, Playstations, private headphones for music; entertainment at its' most technical while on the road. Bring the good old days back. Restore a classic car and live a little freer. Visit us at Sunman Classic Ford Supply and take a walk down memory lane. 

Know of any classic cars parked behind a barn, left in a field, or in your grandma's garage? Drop us a line and tell us what you know. We're always looking for classic Ford's, Mercury's and Lincoln's, along with Chevrolet, Pontiac and others, to save for the future enthusiast. 

Cynthia Arrington is owner of Sunman Classic Ford Supply, a company that is dedicated to the preservation of classic Ford, Mercury and Lincoln automobiles. 

We travel and search the southwestern states rescuing classic autos from the car crushers. We make these cars and parts available to antique and classic car restorers and enthusiasts. Remember, an antique or classic vehicle crushed is an antique or classic vehicle gone forever! 



The Top 3 Ways to Look For A Classic Car Online 

It's annoying, I know, but it certainly is effective. The time and energy doing the research might seem annoying but it's always worth it in the end. Imagine being 3 clicks from the find of your life. That's the way the classic car market works online. I must admit to being a little bit of a classic car enthusiast myself. Furthermore, I must admit to being a diligent researcher. So, when I'm looking to either buy or examine the collection of classic cars for sale, it's not too tough. So, I'm going to give you a couple of hints of where to start looking (hint, it's not the mighty Google. Though, Google is fantastic for a whole bunch of reasons- a high stock price not being last on the list!). 

1)Forums. This tip is generally only known to people in the know. There are a ton of forums (basically online community discussion boards) for just about any hobby that you can think of. This certainly includes classic cars. There are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of classic car forums that you can find. And the best part is that a lot of these forums allow the forum members to post live links. The links can either link back to their own sites or interesting listings that they've found. Face it: if you search for 'classic car' on Google, a few sites will pop up in the top 10. And, from what I've seen, they don't change much over time. But a forum allows a much greater user base to post links to places on the internet that probably aren't the same as the top 10 listings. 

2)Use Ebay. But not to shop. For research. Here's trick. You don't have to buy everything you see on Ebay. You can simply search eBay for Classic Car and then look at the listings. Then, do a little extra effort. Visit the dealer's website. Look at their selection. It could lead you deeper into the world of classic cars that you'd ever imagine. eBay is way more than a shopper's paradise: it's a researcher's secret weapon. 

3)Learn how the pros buy classic cars online. Without the right knowledge, points #1 and #2 are almost worthless. Learn the ins and outs of classic car buying so you can score the best deal for you money. 

Tim Jeffries is author of “Classic Car [] Buying 101.” Grab your copy at [].


Classic Car History - 1963-67 Corvette Sting Ray 

Specs for 1963-67 Corvette Sting Ray 

Engine: OHV 90 degree V-8, 327 cid, 396 cid, 427 cid 

Construction: Cast-iron block and heads, single cam, pushrods 

Compression ratio: 11:1 

Induction: Rochester fuel injection or one/two Carter four barrel carbs 

Maximum Power: 250-375 bhp (327 cid) 390-435 (427 cid) 

Top Speed: 152 mph 

0-60 mph: 5.4 sec, 427 cid 

Transmission: Four-speed, all syncromesh manual, optional three-speed manual, or Powerglide automatic 

Body/Chassis: Steel ladder frame with two door convertible or coupe fiberglass body 

Wheels: Five bolt steel (knock off aluminum optional) 6in. x 15in. 

Tires: 6.7 in. x 15 in. Firestone Super Sport 170 

Brakes: Drums to 1965, then four wheel discs 

Front Suspension: Double wishbone, coil springs, anti-roll bar 

Rear Suspension: Semi-trailing arms, half shafts and transverse links with transverse leaf spring 

Wheelbase: 98 inches 

Length: 175.3 inches 

Height:49.8 inches 

Weight: 3150 lbs 

Quarter Mile Performance: 12.8 @112 

Fuel Mileage: 9-16 mpg. 

Production: 118,964 including 1963-67 

Price: $4240 for 1967 Convertible 

The 1963-1967 Corvette Sting Ray 

The second generation Corvette was the 1963-1967 Sting Ray, not to be confused with the third generation 1968-82 Stingray (1 word). The styling was the expression of many of the styling ideas of new GM styling chief Bill Mitchell. The interior implemented a dual cockpit similar to earlier Corvettes, but updated for the Sting Ray. Starting in 1963 the first hard top coupe was offered, featuring the a two piece rear window design. Bill Mitchell intended for it to form a visual connection with the central raised sections on the hood. The feature was dropped in 1964 because it limited rear visibility. However the 1963 Sting Ray coupe is now the most sought after model of second generation Corvettes. 

Like all Corvettes, the Sting Ray's body is constructed of fiberglass panels mounted on a steel ladder frame. Another new feature was the hidden twin pop-up headlights, which not only added style they aided in aerodynamic efficiency. Other styling cues of the Sting Ray include optional side mounted exhaust, a power bulge on the hood (this was wider for the Corvettes that had the big block engine), and absence of a trunk lid (access is from behind the seats). Additionally the Corvette's convertible top folds away completely when not in use and is stored beneath a flush fitting fiberglass panel behind the driver. There was also an optional hard top. The different year model Sting Ray's can often be differentiated by their side vent designs , for instance the 1967 had 5 side vents, the 1965 and 1966 models had triple side vents, the 1963-64 had horizontal double vents. 

Sting Rays came in three engine sizes, the 327 cid, the 396 cid and the 427 cid. Horsepower varied between 250 and 435 hp. The 396 engine was only offered in 1965, and dropped in 1966 in favor of the 427. The 1967 L88 427 cid V8 marked the pinnacle of performance for the second generation Corvette. The V8 engines drive the rear wheels through a four-speed manual or a three speed automatic transmission. The Sting Ray also had an alloy clutch housing and alloy-cased gearbox to help with weight reduction and weight distribution. The 1963 Sting Ray was the first Corvette to have an independent suspension. The 1965 was the first to have 4 wheel disc brakes. 

The 63 Corvette also had a racing option, the Z-06. The Z-06 was created by Zora Arkus-Duntoz as a purpose built racer. The Z-06 option consisted of a fuel-injected 327 cid V8, 36.5 gallon fuel tank, heavy-duty brakes, heavy-duty suspension, and knock-off wheels. The heavy-duty brakes consisted of drums with sintered metallic linings, power assisted and backed by a dual circuit master cylinder. "Elephant ear" scoops rammed fresh air to the drums and cooling fans spun with the hub. 

For 1967, there were four versions of the 427 available. The first version, the L36, cost just $200 more and featured a single four barrel carb, 10.25:1 compression and hydraulic lifters. It was rated at a stout 390 bhp. Next up was the L68 for $305 which featured triple two-barrel Holley carbs (a first for Corvette) and was good for 400 bhp. At the top was the L71 with triple two-barrel Holley carbs, solid lifters, special performance cams, and 11:1 compression which was conservatively rated at 435 bhp. Extremely rare (only 20 were built) was the top of the line L88 for $948 more. The L88 featured new aluminum heads, 12.5:1 compression, and a single Holley four barrel carb rated at 850 cfm that sat on an aluminum intake manifold with a special raised plenum chamber. In addition, you got a transistor ignition and Positraction differential but didn't get a fan shroud, heater, nor defroster. Chevrolet was reluctant about revealing the engine's true potential and officially rated at only 430 bhp, but most experts believed that it in fact developed close to 600 bhp! In all, 9,707 big-blocks were built, meaning that 42.31% of all 1967 Corvettes were 427s. Transmission choices were relatively simple. With the L36 and L68, buyers could choose between the wide-ratio ($184) or close-ratio ($184) four-speed manuals, or Powerglide automatic transmission ($194). The L71 came only with the close-ratio four-speed. Rear end gear ratios ranged from 3.08 to 4.11. Other options included side-mounted exhausts at $132, cast aluminum bolt-on wheels at $263 and detachable hardtop for the convertible for $232. 

Stats by year: 


Production: 21,314 

Coupe: 10,594 

Z06 Coupe: 199 

Convertible: 10,919 

327 V8 250 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm. 

L75 327 V8 300 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 

L76 327 V8 340 bhp @ 6000 rpm, 344 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. 

L84 327 ("fuelie") V8 360 bhp @ 6000 rpm, 352 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. 

327/370: 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.9 seconds. 


Production: 22,229 

Coupe: 8,304 

Convertible: 13,925 

327 V8 250 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm. 

L75 327 V8 300 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 

L79 327 V8 350 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 

L76 327 V8 365 bhp @ 6200 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 

L84 327 ("fuelie") V8 375 bhp @ 6200 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm. 



Production: 23,652 

Coupe: 8,186 

Convertible: 15,376 

327 V8 250 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm. 

L75 327 V8 300 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 

L79 327 V8 350 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 

L76 327 V8 365 bhp @ 6200 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 

L84 327 ("fuelie") V8 375 bhp @ 6200 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm. 

L78 396 V8 425 bhp @ 6400 rpm, 415 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. 

396/425: 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.1 seconds @ 103 mph. 


Production: 27,720 

Coupe: 9,958 

Convertible: 17,762 

L79 327 V8 300 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 

L36 427 V8 390 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 

L72 427 V8 425 bhp. 

427/425: 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14 seconds. 


Production: 22,940 

Coupe: 14,436 

Convertible: 8,504 

L79 327 V8 300 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 360 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 

L36 427 V8 390 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 

L68 427 V8 400 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. 

L71 427 V8 435 bhp @ 5800 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. 

L88 427 V8 430 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. 

L88: 1/4 mile in 12.8 seconds @ 112mph. 

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