5 Tips & Tricks for Muscle Car Performance

hot rod restorationWhether you’re a muscle car fanatic or don’t yet know the meaning of chassis dyno tuning, if you’re in the market for a muscle car or recently bought your dream vehicle, the tips below will help maximize performance of your favorite muscle car .

Be Prepared

This goes for any car owner—there should be a fire extinguisher in all garages or hot rod restoration shops and it should be easily accessible. You don’t want to lose your entire investment because of a fire.

Avoid Short Circuits

Dead battery too soon? If so, you may have a short circuit. Test it out by disconnecting one of the battery cables and connecting the clip from the test light. Then touch the test end to the battery terminal. The test light will illuminate if there is current flow. Disconnect main circuits until the light goes out to find the faulty circuit.

Tee Up

An excellent way to block dangerous disconnected fuel lines is with a wooden golf tee. Press it into the end of the line and you’re solid. The tee’s wedged end will do the job for an array of hose diameters.

Be Matchy-Matchy

Ensure that your oil pump pick up tube and screen match your oil pan. Ideally, it should be approximately three-eighths of an inch above the pan’s bottom.

Get the Right Lube

It’s important to properly lubricate threads, especially since they are essential for determining friction. While many use standard motor oil for lubricating threads, when specially formulated, low-friction lubricants are used for specific tasks, the required torque can be decreased up to 30 percent. Note that if the recommended tightening specifications are based on the use of a special lubricant, that type should be used. While engine oil can be good for hydraulic-bearing, it is not a good lubricant for extreme pressure. Be sure to use a specialized thread lubricant when necessary.

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5 Reasons the ’57 Chevy is an Icon

hot rod restorationWhen it comes to classic cars, the 1957 Chevrolet is an icon of pop culture. Walk into any auto hot rod restoration shop and you’re bound to see one getting worked on or just on display. Regardless of whether it’s a coupe, sedan or convertible, the ’57 Chevy is a model that is revered by all the classic car aficionados.

Why is this car such an icon? Read on for five reasons we think it has turned heads for decades.

1. The ’57 Chevy Has Style

The ’57 Chevy is characterized by sleek tailfins, beautiful chrome bumpers and recessed grilles. The two spears on the hood and the side and fin make it extremely recognizable and unique. What many aren’t aware of—except for the hardcore classic car experts—is that the ’57 Chevy’s hood and cowl were dropped one and a half inches, making it seem lower and wider. The stainless steel, excessive chrome and two-tone colors represent the 50s very accurately.

2. Everyone Had One

The ’57 Chevy was extremely popular, making it one of the biggest sellers that year and way beyond. It is widely considered the best known and best ranked car of its decade.

3. The ’57 Chevy Had its Own Postage Stamp

The ’57 Chevy was pictured on a 33 cent first-class stamp in 1999.

4. The Car is Fast

In 1957, Chevrolet won 49 NASCAR Grand National races. That is the most any car has ever won in the history of NASCAR. The ’57 Chevy’s lightweight size made it a favorite among drag racers as well.

5. There is a Song About It

The song “I’ve got a rock and roll heart,” was one of Eric Clapton’s many popular hits. The lyrics feature the iconic car in its hook: “I get off on ’57 Chevys…” Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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4 Affordable Muscle Cars

classic cars los angelesYou don’t have to be a millionaire to own a muscle car. There are plenty of cool models that we see on the road, at car shows and at the auto restoration shop that will set your heart aflutter. Look for models older than 1972 and you’ll find some affordable options with plenty of horsepower and character.

1. 1973 Pontiac GTO and 1973–75 Pontiac Grand Am.

These babies have tons of style but won’t break the bank. In 1973, all of GM’s mid-size A-cars were designed with bigger, heavier colonnade-style bodies. Most were built with 230-hp, 400-cubic-inch (6.6 liter) V-8 engines, with optional 250-hp 455. You can easily get your hands on one of these
classics for between $12k and $17k.

2. 1971–75 Ford Maverick Grabber.

While it may not look like your typical muscle car, this vehicle is easy on the eye and boasts by a 210-gross-horsepower, two-barrel 302-cubic-inch (4.9 liter) V-8. We’ve seen them pass through the auto restoration shop with price tags lower than $12k.

3. 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 WS6.

While most late 70s Trans Ams will put your wallet in a quandary, the Formula from 1979 received less hype—yet 1979 is the only year this car was offered with the 220-hp true Pontiac 400 (6.6 liter) V-8. In addition, it boasts a WS6 handling package with four-wheel disc brakes and those coveted
snowflake alloy wheels as well. Only 24,851 Formulas were manufactured that year, though not all featured 400 and WS6. Still, you can find one with a price tag of around $16k and lower.

4. 1970–71 Ford Torino GT.

Built on the same mid-size chassis as its predecessors, these Torinos have nicer interiors and most come with 250-hp, 351-cubic-inch (5.8 liter) V-8. You can find these for anywhere between $12k and $19k.

Visit this link for information about the best auto restoration shop in Los Angeles.

4 Awesome Chase Scenes on the Silver Screen

Muscle CarIf you’re into hot rod or auto restoration, you probably enjoy good car chase scenes in movies, especially when cool muscle cars are featured. While computer-generated imagery has changed the modern day chase scene—and some will say not for the better—there are plenty of amazing scenes throughout film history that will satisfy even the most discerning lover of fast cars.  
 

1. Bullitt (1968). This film is unrivalled when it comes to movie chase scenes. Steve McQueen’s 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback GT raised the bar for all muscle car collectors back in the day—and still inspires every hot rod or auto restoration fanatic. It’s a rush just watching McQueen racing through the steep hills of San Francisco.

2, Gone in 60 Seconds (1974). The original version of this film is a low-budget, cult classic that culminates in a 40-minute chase scene that leaves 93 wrecks in its wake.

3. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974). Peter Fonda robs grocery stores and races stock cars in this movie filled with hot pursuit. Vic Morrow stars as the sheriff on Fonda’s tail.

4. The Blues Brothers (1980). Brothers Jake and Elwood rock wayfarers, sing the blues, blast rock ‘n roll and outrun the police all while going 120 miles per hour in a 1974 Dodge Monaco.

5. The French Connection (1971). Gene Hackman received the best actor Oscar for his incredible portrayal of New York City detective, Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. The car chases through Manhattan are absolutely unforgettable—and probably contributed to the other Oscars bestowed on this film: best director, best screenplay and best film editing.

6. Two Lane Blacktop (1971). Starring James Taylor and the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, this movie is packed with quintessential muscle car chase scenes involving a custom 1955 Chevy hot rod and a 1970 Pontiac GTO racing across country.

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The Basics of Chassis Dyno Shop Testing

Muscle Car

Over the past 10 years, chassis dyno shop testing has grown nationwide, giving the public the opportunity to evaluate engine performance and compare the results with other vehicles. It’s an exciting prospect for car enthusiasts everywhere, but it helps to understand the process a bit.

It’s important to understand that the type of dyno in your car and the method of chassis dyno testing significantly affects your results, check out some dyno shops. The basic types of chassis dyno can be divided into three groups: water-brake or hydraulic dynos, electric dynos and inertia dynos. An inertia dyno is perfect for full-throttle acceleration runs—and that’s pretty much it, though the more modern load-bearing hydraulic and electric dynos can do constant speed pulls, step tests and part-throttle testing in such a sophisticated modern way that full road-load simulations can be conducted right on the dyno.

One of the most widely used forms of chassis dyno testing is the inertia dynos—many car enthusiasts wonder how this method of testing works. Here are the basics—inertia dynos only works when the car is accelerating. It evaluates horsepower by analyzing the dyno drum’s acceleration rate with specialized computer software and an accelerometer, and uses heavy roller drums of known mass rotating on bearings that they are mounted on.

The car is positioned on the dyno with the drive wheels sitting on the rollers, placed in gear and then accelerated at wide-open throttle. As you can imagine, it takes some time and force for the tires to accelerate the weighted rollers. The software monitors roller velocity and acceleration time, while estimating the power of the rear wheels. The software then measures the power and gear-compensated engine torque against engine rpm.

There is a lot more to this growing mode of testing, but this should give you a basic understanding for when you are ready to compare your engine to your buddy’s.

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Your Next Car May Drive Itself

Interested in a self driving car? We hope so because your next car will probably drive itself. The technology is already here, with Google’s Driverless cars! While that may sound exciting, it will probably be several years before autonomous cars available in major markets.

“Why so long?” you ask. Well, that’s a simple question with a complicated answer so we’ve documented a few reasons that cover some of the major points brought up in this debate.

First, consider the ethics that need to be hashed out and the subsequent laws that would have to be in place based on this ethical code before making these cars legally operable. Legal liability. Who is going to be responsible for a car that ‘T-boned another car by itself’? Yeah, right. The chances of an alibi like that holding in court? Unlikely it seems… but who knows! If the car is totally autonomous, the point is that they drive themselves…

Right? Well, that’s just it. Currently, these cars aren’t completely autonomous. There will still need to be some user involvement in the driving process. Essentially, it’ll be easier to deal with things like sitting in highway traffic. But other instances, like switching lanes, may still require some human interaction. So unfortunately, no snoozing on the way to work for you, but hopefully one day we’ll get there.

How will regular cars fare with autonomous cars on the road? That’s a great question—we’re not sure. But apparently the ominous, constantly progressive ‘they’ may be working on aftermarket systems that one can integrate into an older car (e.g. some classic muscle like a ’68 mustang) — giving it wi-fi capability and whatever it needs to communicate with autonomous systems. Talk about some serious auto restoration procedures. We’re certainly interested in that topic.

So these are just a few of the reasons it’ll take a few years to get our hands on these cars, but it’s all for the best. Hopefully by then, Brauns Automotive will be experts at aftermarket wi-fi system installation so we can continue to serve our customers with the best and most badass muscle car restoration services available.
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Muscle Car of the Week—The 1964 Mustang Convertible

los angeles classic carsAs experts in restoration in Los Angeles classic cars, you can take our word for this—the ’64 Mustang Convertible is one of the most sought after restoration projects around. This week, we’re taking an in-depth look at the specs on this baby. We bet that by the time you’re done reading this short post, you’ll understand what all the hype is about.

The Innovators

The Mustang was the brain child of two executives working at Ford during the early 1960s: the renowned Lee Iacocca and Donald Frey. They wanted to offer Americans a sporty yet affordable car to compete with the huge inflow of European models in the market—and it’s safe to say that they exceeded everyone’s expectations. The original price tag on the Mustang was $2,320, and on the very first day that it was available, Ford sold 22,000 of them. By the end of ’64, they sold over 400,000 Mustangs! (Not all were convertibles, but you get the picture) As a result of this demand, they manufactured a ton of cars, which means that they shouldn’t be too hard to find if you want to take one on as an car restoration project.

The Original

The 1964 Mustang is the original muscle car. While it’s not quite as powerful as some of our other auto restoration choices, it was definitely no slouch. It came standard with a 170 cubic inch six cylinder engine that produced 120 horsepower. However, you could upgrade to a 289 cubic inch V-8, or, for even higher performance, a 289 cubic inch 4-bbl V8 with their “Cruise-O-Matic” automatic transmission and 271 horsepower.

Parts for these pony cars are readily available at almost every junkyard in the country. The good news is that once you restore one, you can get up to $40,000 for it!

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Airless Tires? A Closer Look at “Tweels”

auto restoration projects

In 2015, new technologies come and go like waves on the beach. They can be so present in our daily lives one day only to be washed away by something very similar but upgraded the next. Less often we see a technology that may represent a full paradigm shift.

 
Today I’d like to highlight what I predict will be a true paradigm shift in an underrated, yet extremely important piece of muscle car auto restoration projects—the tire.
 
One of the most ancient technologies known to man, the wheel, has remained relatively unaltered in recent years. On our cars, we currently use tires, modified wheels that prove to be much more useful than a standalone wheel itself. In addition, we have tires that allow you to drive when punctured, tires optimized for use in cold, slippery weather, and even tires that roll without making a sound. However, we haven’t seen a true paradigm shift in this technology since Robert Thomson used vulcanized rubber to provide a stable coat for the first pneumatic tires in 1839. Since then, we have expanded on that basic formula in automobile tire creation: a rubber outer filled with air that encapsulates the circumference of a hubcap equals a tire.
 
In recent years, however, there has been a monumental shift in tire technology and research. Researchers have begun foraging into the new territory of non-pneumatic tires, or tires without the current key ingredient – air pressure. Nicknamed the “tweel”, these experimental wheels use a strategic architecture of flexible polyeurethane spokes that support an outer rim while also absorbing shocks. Funded by the Department of Defense, Wisconsin researchers Resillient Technologies, LLC are currently experimenting with different types of “rims” to use with these wheels. Two major issues that are being addressed are lack of heat dissipation and noise.
Currently, tweels generate 5% more friction than a regular radial tire. This causes lots of heat buildup when rolling around—and without the air pressure inside the tire to help with dissipation, the tweels can overheat and cause structural damage. In addition, when rolling above 50 mph, the tweels apparently begin to vibrate, causing an unpleasant and loud noise.
 
As with any new technology, the tweel still has a few kinks to work out, and while the wheels are currently available for bikes and slower moving vehicles like the latest, the lunar rover, it’ll take more time before they are widely available for automobiles. The latest advancement we’ve seen comes from Hankook. Their i-Flex design is advertised as bringing lighter weight, greater fuel efficiency, and greater shock absorption to the ‘tweel’ market. The cherry on top? These wheels are made with 95% recyclable materials. They are also working on a new tire called the e-membrane, which is capable of physically changing its structure to be more efficient under different driving conditions (e.g. busy city traffic versus a race track).
 

Our final thoughts: how long before this new technology becomes outdated? With research into magnetic roads and hovering cars, will this technology serve too little too late? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Click here if you have an idea for a muscle car restoration in the works.

image: auto.howstuffworks.com

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Last Ride

A 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible is part of some great auto restoration projects. This car exudes class and is rife with American history — the one pictured above is particularly special. It is known to be the last car owned by the late Martin Luther King, Jr. and currently resides at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

According to an Indiana news article, the car had been lent to King by a wealthy Civil Rights patron named Cornelia Crenshaw. This is the same car that King used the day of his assassination, April 4, 1968. Crenshaw later went broke due to a loss of her wealth in a court hearing against the city of Memphis and could not afford to fix a blown head gasket. Thus she left the beautiful piece of history for over 20 years in the lot behind Haye’s Auto Shop in Memphis, TN where the owner of Haye’s held onto it even after she had passed away. Unfortunately the car was neglected in the back lot where it began to rust and eventually became interwoven into a den of plant life that had taken root in and around it.

The car was discovered in 2002 by Rich Fortner, the owner of Al’s Auto Body Experts, in St. John, Indiana and has since performed one of the most interesting and important auto restoration jobs in recent history. He restored the car for use by the National Civil Rights Museum in their 40th anniversary celebration, that occurred on April 4, 2008.

We’ve found more images of what is said to be the same Lincoln Continental after it’s most recent auto restoration. The photographer claims that this is the verified authentic car owned and driven by Dr. King. He claims to have taken these pictures 2 days after it’s restoration was complete.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. day to all and may we not forget our history. Google

First Looks at Dodge’s “Hellcat” Equipped 2015 Challenger

auto restoration Brauns Automotive 2015 Dodge Challenger

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT is rumored for release at the ongoing 2014 Detroit Auto Show (January 13-26, 2014). The upgraded Challenger will contain a Supercharged Hemi V-8 engine in the SRT model. This all aluminum Hemi v-8, dubbed the “Hellcat”, is a 6.2 liter engine that is supposed to be far more powerful than the 6.4 liter version.

From an auto restoration standpoint, things get interesting when you check out the physical specs of the new engine. Despite popular belief, the Hellcat is not just a modified version of the 6.4 liter Hemi V-8. It’s reported as structurally different to the point of using different motor mounts, heads and few interchangeable parts. It is believed that this will be the engine to usher in a new generation of Hemi’s that would be smaller, incorporate efficiency upgrades, be lighter weight but all the while producing more power. Engineering at it’s finest. We’re excited for the future!

The price tag on the Hellcat equipped version of the new Challenger hasn’t been officially released but we can speculate that this will be considered a special model meaning it’s price should fall well above even the Challenger SRT 392’s starting price of $46k.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the new Hemi’s in the arena as we may consider using them in future hot rod restoration projects. Google