Thorium: The Fuel that Aims to Serve You a Lifetime Without Refueling

Hot Rod Restoration Cadillac car Thorium: The Fuel that Aims to Serve
It’s a romantic thought really — a car that’d be by your side forever.
A car for which MPG might stand for Miles per Gram. A car with a Thorium engine. The coolest part is that recent science suggests this wondrous technology is very real and scientists have already begun working on making it a mass produced reality. Of course, at Braun’s, we’re interested mainly due to the implications a technology like this has on future muscle car and hot rod restoration.
Laser Power Systems (LPS), based in Connecticut, USA, is working on a clean method of automotive propulsion with the naturally occurring element Thorium as the fuel source. Thorium, named after Thor, the Norse God of thunder, is one of the most dense elements known to man. Due to its high density, it is capable of producing massive amounts of heat. LPS has been experimenting with traces of Thorium, using it to create a laser that heats water, creating steam that powers a mini turbine.
Just one gram of the substance produces more energy than 7,396 gallons of gasoline — and 8 grams is enough to drive for a full century. Two of the world’s leading renewable energy experts Nobel Physicist Carlo Rubbia and United Nations Chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, herald Thorium as the safest and most efficient source of energy that has been discovered thus far.
The idea of using a Thorium engine is not novel, it has been studied as a potential fuel for years and in 2008, Loren Kulesus designed the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept car pictured above. LPS is now developing the technology so it can be mass produced.
The current model of a Thorium engine is only 500lbs, making it very plausible for use in the current build of a car. You’re probably wondering by now if this engine could possibly be installed into a classic hot rod so you could apply these benefits to your favorite car. Well, we don’t know about that yet but we here at Braun’s will definitely be keeping tabs on this technology as it progresses.
As we pointed out in our article about autonomous driving, the not-so-distant future holds major changes for the way we view auto restoration. As we attempt to stay ahead of the curve, you can count on Braun’s Automotive to be prepared for the paradigm shift!
For what it’s worth, it seems Hollywood has the correct formula. Thor + Cars = Winning

industrytap Google

For the Bat-Faithful: Ben Affleck’s New Batmobile

It’s no secret that Ben Affleck is arguably the most ridiculed choice for a role in a batman film since Heath Ledger’s Joker.  In spite of this, Affleck remains the new Batman and we expect there will be many changes to come. Including his new mobile machine of escape and destruction.

In the latest film, The Dark Knight Rises, we saw not the Batmobile, per se, but the Tumbler — Batman’s 6 wheeled monster truck/car/tank combination of military prowess. A 2.5 ton beast of auto engineering. For scale, each of the four rear wheels is about 200 lbs. If you’re not familiar with the names Chris Corbould and Andy Smith, car fans, you should Google their work.

Auto Restoration Bat-mobile from the new batman movie

Packed with a 5.7 litre Chevy V8 engine, this thing hauls. Not to mention it’s jumping ability. The Tumbler is reported as able to jump about 60 to 70 feet (hence the rooftop escape scene).

So that’s the old news. With such an amazing work of art and auto restoration, it seems difficult to imagine anything that could be more bad ass and bat-worthy. Well, this is the difficult task that has been set for the General Motors Advanced Design Studio, in North Hollywood, CA. Yes, it seems engineering for the next movie has been ramped up to the level of truly professional engineering. These are the same guys who worked with Michael Bay on Transformers 4 — creating the new Bumblebee Camaro.

Sparse rumors suggest that the new Batmobile will be using an “old Cadillac” as reference for the body type. This makes our inner muscle car restoration professional as giddy as a child of ’96 receiving a Nintendo 64 for Christmas — yes, we were very excited. An insider source known as ‘Dr. Detroit’ claims the rig will “Definitely not have a military look like the Tumbler from [Chris] Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight Trilogy.’

Although the Tumbler was badass and incredibly fun to watch, this is great news for us gearheads with an appreciation for classic hot rods. The return to the classic Batmobile is overdue, in our opinion.

For the comic book aficionados, this website chronicles the history of the Batmobile as depicted by the comics. One of these may resemble what we’re looking forward to in the new movie…now quickly, figure out which ones are most reminiscent of an old model Cadillac.

Auto Restoration Old Ben Affleck's New Batmobile

Muscle Car of the Week: 1967 Firebird!

The iconic Firebird is one of the most popular and sought after muscle cars for restoration. We see both the hard top and convertible versions all the time in our shop here in Los Angeles, and take our word for it, either one is fun to work on!

Originally built based on specs from the Banshee concept car, and drawing inspiration from other pony cars like the Camaro and GTO, the first generation Firebird from 1967 definitely came into its own in a big way.

A big standout was the ‘coke bottle’ body shape. Like the Chevy’s Camaro, that was also famous for this design, the Firebird was sleek and sporty. However, a split front grille and slit taillights distinguished it from its competitors and created a unique look that consumers loved. Evidence of this lies in the fact that Pontiac pushed out over 80,000 units in under 6 months!

Additionally, Pontiac offered five different engine sizes that varied in power when put on the chassis dyno tester. The best performer of these was the Firebird 400, a 400 cubic inch V8 that pumped out 350 horsepower. This may not seem so great by today’s standards, but in ’67 it was top of the line.

Image Source: http://www.highperformancepontiac.com/

Muscle Car of the Week: 1973 Camaro!

Most auto restoration junkies are fans of power, performance, and style. Perhaps this explains why few other muscle cars have left a legacy as big as Chevy’s Camaro– it delivers all three in droves. This week we’re going to be taking a look at the second generation ’73 model, which is arguably one of the best years for the brand.

There were numerous small changes that combined to put the ’73 Camaro over the top. For the first time in the line’s history they offered air conditioning and power windows as a standard option. They added a nice new steering wheel, and they also offered a plethora of tire selections. The biggest change though, and what we’re recommending for a muscle car restoration, was the the addition of the new Type LT model.

The Type LT was the whole package. It offered the power of Chevy’s 350 cubic inch V-8 engine and the style to match all of the leading luxury cars of the day. For people that wanted more power, an upgrade to the Z28 350 CID engine was available. This bad-larry got around 245 horsepower on the chassis dyno tester.

The 1973 Camaro sold around 96,000 units, a 30% increase from the previous year’s totals.

Nowadays, you can get a fully restored ’73 Camaro for anything between $15K and $35K depending on the options.

Muscle Car of the Week: 1966 Nova!!

This week we’re looking at a classic option for muscle car restoration, the 1966 Chevy Nova!

The ’66 Nova officially launched the second generation of the model, and with it came some pretty nice upgrades. Under the hood Chevy introduced the now iconic Turbo Fire V8. It had a 327 cubic inch diameter and delivered 350 horsepower on the chassis dyno tester. Unlike other engines options offered by Chevy in that year, the Turbo Fire was only available with a four speed standard tranny. The automatic versions weren’t offered. It was because of this, in fact, that the Nova was finally considered to be a muscle car in ’66.

The Nova had technically been around since 1962 but the second generation was redesigned from scratch in order to compete with popular muscle cars like the Mustang and the Falcon. Chevy added, a sharp new front grille, a semi-fastback roof line, and “humped” fenders. These new upgrades combined to make this a prime choice for an auto restoration enthusiast nowadays.

The original ticket price on the Nova was right around $2500 in 1966. Today online we see them getting from $20K-$60K for a fully restored SS Model.

Classic Car of the Week: 1963 Ford Galaxie!

This week we’re taking a a look at a car that’s not necessarily considered a muscle car refurbishment project, but is instead referred to by some as a ‘classic restoration’; the 1963 Ford Galaxie!

We have some first had experience with this model. We did an auto restoration on one not too long ago, in fact. While we were working on it, we were impressed with not only the appearance of the finished product but also the performance we were able to get out of the engine.

The entire Galaxie line is beautiful, particularly the 1963 version. There were a few different models available including a two door hardtop, a four door hard top, and a convertible that featured a sleeker and sportier roof line than in previous years.

Under the hood, almost every engine option that Ford offered was available. The most powerful choice being the 427 ‘high performance’ dual four-barrel that delivered a whopping 425 horse power on the chassis dyno tuner!

The original asking price for the ’63 Galaxie was

Muscle Car of the Week: 1961 Impala!

Whether you’re into hot rod, classic, or muscle car restoration, chances are you’re probably a fan of the Impala. And rightly so. How could any self proclaimed ‘car junkie’ not be excited about the car that many experts labeled “the original muscle car”?!

1961 was the fourth production year for the Impala. By this time it was already a staple for Chevy. However, what made this version a standout was the introduction of the SS (Super Sport) optional upgrade package. This really set the tone for the future of performance minded manufacturing that lead to the entire ‘muscle car’ craze. It was so revolutionary, in fact, that the Beach Boys were inspired to write a song about it called ‘409’!

For a measly $53 you could up the ante on your ’61 Impala and get the SS upgrade. This came with, among other things, ‘super sport’ trim on the in and outside, a stronger chassis, a padded instrument panel, and the slick ‘narrow band’ white walled tires that Chevy was famous for.

There were also some beefy engine upgrades offered, the best of which was the legendary 409. It was unparalleled at the time, kicking out 360 horsepower and 409 pounds of torque in chassis dyno testing!

Unfortunately for auto restoration buffs, there were only 142 of these iconic 409 SS Impalas produced, which makes finding one at your local junkyard a pretty big long shot.

in ’61 the asking price for the SS model was around $3,000. Today, we’ve seen fully restored 409’s asking all the way up to $200,000 online! Talk about a good return on investment!

Muscle Car of the Week: 1984 Grand National!

Today’s muscle car restoration pick of the week is the 1984 Buick Grand National.

In ’84, Buick decided give all it’s Grand Nationals a ‘tiny’ V-6 3.8 liter stock engine. While this may sound less than impressive to most hot rod restoration buffs, in reality it was a relative beast in its day! This little guy delivered 200 horsepower and 300 lbs of torque on the chassis dynamometer tuner. It also let Buick compete on the drag strip against much lighter competitors, Camaro and Corvette, and still hold its own. It did the quarter mile in 15.9 seconds while the Corvette barely edged it out at 15.1.

If power’s not your thing (not sure why you’d be reading this blog!), then the appearance of the Grand National is still sure to impress. Buick decided to bring back the solid black paint job in 1984. Their motto was basically, ‘if it can be painted, make it black!’, and it turned out to be a great decision. They flew off the shelves and actually sold out their whole production run that year.

Another cool thing about the ’84 Grand National was that this was the year they introduced a special T-Top design. This upgrade was only added to around 400 of them, so if you’re lucky enough to come across one these in your auto restoration search you should hop on it instantly! It’s a rare find for sure.

In 1984 the Grand National was going for around $1200 and today at auction we’ve seen them get up to $30K fully restored.

Muscle Car of the Week: 1970 Dodge Challenger!

Today we’re examining a car that’s probably on many muscle car restoration wish lists, the 1970 Dodge Challenger.

In 1970 Dodge made an effort to ‘challenge’ (pun INTENDED!!) the Ford Mustang’s reign over the pony car market by introducing it’s own. The Challenger did in fact live up to it’s name. It outsold every other pony car in it’s flagship year except for the Mustang and the Camaro. It even out performed it’s ‘sister’ model, the Barracuda. (Both the Challenger and the Barracuda had the same Class-E body type)

Most experts and auto restoration aficionados believe that the major contributor to the Challenger’s success was the plethora of options that Dodge made available to buyers. They offered nearly every engine in Chrysler’s inventory, excluding only the puny 198-slant six.

The most powerful engine upgrade for the Challenger in 1970 was, of course, the Hemi. This 426 cubic inch beast could get 425 horsepower on the chassis dyno tester! Other upgrades included two powerful 440 cubic inch V8s, the “Magnum” and the “Six Pack” that pumped out 375 and 390 horsepower respectively.

All of these features combined to make the ’70 Challenger immensely popular. The total production run that year was over 83,000 units. With that many produced, it’s one of the easier cars to find if you’re looking for a restoration project.

That said, fully restored Challengers are still fetching a pretty penny in online auctions. Recently we saw one with a $175K asking price!

Muscle Car of the Week: 1965 Barracuda!

Today we’re gonna take a gander at a great muscle car rebuild option – the 1965 Plymouth Barracuda.

This iconic pony car was introduced a year earlier in what was essentially a souped up Valiant frame. In all honesty not much changed in ’65 except for a slightly adjusted front grille and some beefier standard engine options under the hood. These two reasons alone, however, make a good argument for you to choose it as your auto restoration project.

With the enormous success of Ford’s Mustang model that came out at the same time Plymouth wanted to make the Barracuda a bit sportier to keep up. The newly adjusted grille, combined with the sleek fastback body design was a big hit for them. Sales increased by 175% in just a year!

To further compete with the mustang Plymouth also added more power to the Barracuda in ’65. The tiny 170 inch-er was replace with a 225 inch slant six which delivered a decent 145 horsepower during chassis dyno testing. For the upgraded Formula S model, Plymouth offered a 4-barrel 273 inch V8 which kicked out 235 horsepower. Additional options for the Formula S were suspension upgrades, larger wheels and tires, special emblems and a tachometer.

In ’65 the Barracuda went for around $3,000 depending on the options. Today, we’ve seen fully restored ones go for around $25K-$30K at auction.