Have You Driven A Mazda Lately? (Craigslist)

Sometime in the mid 80’s Ford chose to improvise rather than adapt or overcome. Instead of predicting the market shift or adapting while it was Ford sat around and watched the Japanese gobble up their cash. They decided that to beat the Japanese at their own game they would be the Japanese at their own game. Continue reading

1994 Chevrolet S-10 Custom Truck

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Kustom Kar scene in Southern California was in its heyday. Guys like Sam Barris, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Von Dutch, and Gene Winfield were customizing and modifying cars in extreme new ways. With chopped roofs, shaved trim and smoothed sheet metal work, these customized cars came to be known as “lead sleds.” A favorite vehicle of choice in the scene was the 1949-1951 Mercury coupe.

What these builders would do is combine parts from different cars in order to make a truly unique creation. For example, a Kustom Kar might use a Ford grille and headlight trim rings, a Lincoln bumper, Cadillac taillights, and side mirrors from a Buick. Smooth chrome hubcaps and “lake pipe” side exhausts are other design elements common with these cars.

This is what a proper kustom build looks like. 1951 Kaiser

While the idea of building a “parts bin” hot rod has been around for decades, you don’t really see this happening with modern cars.

Perhaps there is just too much plastic or the labor involved is too intense, but people don’t really swap mirrors, door handles, taillights, and other parts on cars these days. That’s what makes this truck so interesting.

This truck appeared for sale on our local craigslist about two months ago. As you can tell, it looks very different from a conventional S-10 pickup. There has been a ton of body work done to this truck, with every panel modified in some way.

According to the listing, this truck has the HID headlights from a 2011 GMC Sierra with a custom front grille. The front bumper and hood are from a Ford Ranger Edge pickup. The side view mirrors are from a Suzuki Hayabusa sport bike!

Moving to the rear of the truck, the bed is also highly customized. A fleetside bed was turned into a dually-style bed, and taillights from a Chevrolet Colorado pickup were swapped over. The tailgate and rollpan have all been shaved and smoothed into one big seamless piece. The whole thing is riding on a set of 20-inch IROC style wheels, similar to what would have come on a third-gen Camaro but larger than the O.E. size.

Finally, we move to the interior which features the seats, dashboard, and center console from an Acura Integra. The listing states that the gauges are hooked up and that it has working air conditioning with a brand new compressor.

I’ve got to say that looking at the pictures of this truck confuses my brain. The headlights and bed make it look like a full-size truck, but it’s not. The cab and the taillights are both from a compact pickup, and the interior doesn’t look like it would be in a truck at all.

I’m really kind of wondering what kind of person would build this truck. It must be someone with access to a lot of late-model parts, who maybe works at an auto salvage or recycling center?

The idea of combining parts from Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, and Acura into one vehicle sounds like it just wouldn’t work at all, but somehow this person has pulled it off. In Phoenix, there is no shortage of lifted and Pre-runner/baja style trucks that never ever leave the pavement. This truck is truly original, and it doesn’t look like everything else out there.


1988 Dodge Caravan SRT-4 Engine Swap

Though it may be hard to imagine a time when minivans were ever considered cool, that was certainly the case in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In the era before SUVs and Crossovers, minivans were the hottest thing on the market. Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and his friend Hal Sperlich had imagined a vehicle that would hold seven passengers, have removable seats for extra cargo space, and get better gas mileage than a full-size van. Their dream became a reality in 1983, and the new Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Horizon minivans sold like hotcakes with sales topping 200,000 units in the first year alone. For the next 25 years, no one sold more minivans in America than Chrysler.

But somewhere along the way, minivans became uncool. The SUV boom of the 2000s and the Crossover Craze yielded vehicles that offered much of the same functionality without the “soccer mom” stigma of a sliding door.

At a recent car show in Scottsdale, I saw a first-generation Dodge Caravan that really caught my eye. For starters, this was a car show that featured primarily European exotic and high-end supercars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis. A 1988 Caravan with peeling paint definitely didn’t fit in with this crowd.

But as you might have guessed, this is no ordinary Caravan. This one has seen the original 2.5L 4-cylinder engine swapped out with a much more modern 2.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder from a 2004 Dodge SRT-4. Whereas the original engine made 100 horsepower, the new one puts out 230 horsepower in stock trim – but this one’s not stock.

With an AGP Zeta dual ball-bearing turbocharger, an air-to-water intercooler, upgraded fuel injectors, a MegaSquirt fuel management system, and a 3.5″ exhaust with Magnaflow muffler, this beast is putting down 305 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque at the wheels! Wow!

A spec sheet on the vehicle says it has run 12.6 in the quarter mile @ 111 mph on E85, 25 lbs of boost, and slicks. With a fast reaction time, that puts it on par with a base model C6 Corvette – for a lot less dough. It’s also been converted to 4-wheel disc brakes, with the front brakes and suspension from a 1995 Grand Caravan and the rear disc brakes from a 1993 Dodge Daytona R/T.

Part of why I love this van is because it pulls off the “sleeper” look quite well. The peeling paint and OEM-style wheels do not give any indication that this vehicle is actually quite fast, and the “Turbo” and “SRT” badges may be dismissed as purely ironic – until the turbo spools up and it blows your doors off.

The other reason why I love this van is that a long time ago, our family had a blue 1994 Caravan which I remember fondly. This was the era before dual sliding doors, power liftgates, and fold-flat seating. These old vans are super primitive by today’s standards, but the boxy design reminds me of my childhood.

I didn’t get to talk to the owner, but if you are reading this Mr. Caravan Owner, congrats on the awesome build.

2016 Ford Shelby GT-H Mustang

2016-ford-shelby-hertz-gth-mustang-frontWhen you hear the words “rental car,” what comes to mind? Perhaps a gutless econobox with a hard plastic interior that you rented at the airport in some other city? Well folks, this is no ordinary rental car. It’s a 2016 Shelby GT-H, and it’s a fresh take on an old idea: a race car that you can rent for a day. Continue reading

1989-1991 Chrysler TC by Maserati

The 1980s were a wild time for the Chrysler Corporation. After narrowly avoiding bankruptcy and getting a bailout from Uncle Sam in 1979, Chrysler was looking to regain its footing in the market and return to financial stability. Lee Iacocca took over as CEO and pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in the history of American business, but the road to recovery was undeniably a rocky one. We’ll get to the TC in a moment, but first, some background information is necessary.

In 1981, Chrysler revived the “Imperial” brand as a personal luxury coupe to try and compete with Lincoln. Based on the much cheaper Cordoba, the Imperial was expensive and produced a pathetic 140 horsepower from its 318 cubic inch V8 engine. While technically advanced, it was a commercial flop and Chrysler threw in the towel after just 3 years and 12,385 units produced. Continue reading

Just Hop On The 101

While digging around the comment areas of various Facebook groups I have determined that the driver was likely not drunk, just trying to show off, with some of the other cars being ‘spotters’ and not civilian traffic. While it’s still incredibly dangerous it’s somewhat relieving to know that at least few precautions were taken. I’m not sure the benefit/risk ratio would have made it worth my while though.

2003 Chevrolet AstroLanche Custom Van

astrolanche1Have you ever dreamed of having the comfort of a full-size van with the cargo capacity of a short-bed truck? Have we got the vehicle for you! Meet the Chevrolet AstroLanche.

This amazing vehicle began life as a run-of-the-mill 2003 Chevrolet Astro Van. At some point, it was converted to have a shortened pickup bed, similar to the Hummer H3T.

astrolanche2The bed uses the Astro van’s “Dutch doors” as a tailgate, while the rear hatch has been moved forward to just behind the second row of seats. Below the rear glass, there appears to be nothing separating the bed from the passenger area – which is great for hauling lumber or perhaps a full-size ladder.

For all the custom work that has gone into this truck-van hybrid, I think my favorite thing about it has to be the name “AstroLanche.”