We turn our own wrenches because we want to modify our machines. If you want something done right, after all.
But how often do we apply that mentality to the rest of our lives? I love talking business and cars with gearheads like us. [Read more…]
We are nothing without the support of our friends, families, and partners.
We shop with our minds, but we buy with our hearts.
1.07 BEGINS WITH A VIPER GTS | It was Build Day for issue 1.06 and I woke up to half a dozen emails from someone I didn’t recognize, all with “Viper” in the subject line. Justin Mohney of Detective Coating asked Josh Renzo, said Viper owner and one of his customers, to pass along pictures of his work for his interview in issue 1.06. Josh happily obliged.
I thanked him, also explained my trouble with “Year of the Snake,” and asked if he’d be up for an interview in the next issue. His response? “Sure. What do you need from me?”
I’m excited to announce that, not only did he come through in a pinch with pictures we could use in Justin’s story, he was on top of the questions like a boss. Barely four days after 1.06 dropped,the first story is ready for 1.07. [Read more…]
2013 “Year of the Snake.” It’s playing out more like “Year of the Flake.” Despite having multiple Mustang Cobra and Dodge Viper owners respond interested in being interviewed for this project, none have actually followed through. Fortunately, people like Jake Scholz (GBXM #2) and Patrick Wyman (GBXM #3) fully step up to the plate and share their stories with us. Ask any gearhead to list three cars named after snakes and I guarantee you one of those three – if not the first – mentioned will be the Shelby Cobra.
The stuff of legends, Carroll Shelby’s Cobras were so ground-breakingly innovative, their place in the pantheon of all-time greatest cars is everlasting. Our collective respect and admiration for these weapons grade roadsters has a potentially limiting side effect, however. We tend to think less of replicas.
IT’S KINDA LIKE JAMES BOND
Those who know the Bond franchise know Sean Connery is the definitive 007. Like the original Cobra, many were unsure of Connery’s ability to do the job. Even Ian Fleming, creator of the Bond novels, doubted Connery in the beginning. But it wasn’t long before Fleming began adapting his stories to better suit the actor who would go on to become a cultural icon.
In recent years, some Bond purists have spoken out against Daniel Craig being the new Bond. Did you notice he’s blonde? Like Sean Connery, the original Shelby Cobra set the standard against which all others are measured. It will always be the best, but if I might be a little controversial, just as Daniel Craig brings a modern edginess to the role, resulting in a better Bond, I think these modern Replicas stand to be better than the original Cobra.
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT
- getting started with a kit car build
- overcoming obstacles along the way (other than money)
- the first thing you need to figure out when you start building a Cobra
- the real vs replica debate (and why it’s stupid)
- good sources of information on these cars
83 people have taken advantage of our free, lifetime subscription offer. The plan was to start charging US$15/yr for subscriptions to Gearbox Magazine on the first of April, but I ran out of time and didn’t get the paywall configured in time. Since I have a birthday coming up later this month, I have just 3 things on my wish list:
- my 5 month old daughter to call me “daddy” for the first time
- my beater truck to get a new paint job
- my life’s work – this magazine – to have a total of 100 subscribers
So free subscriptions will go on until we get 100 subscribers! Tell your friends! It’s as easy as entering your email address in the little box at the top of the screen. You’ll only get (1) email a month from us – the absolute latest issues of Gearbox Magazine! Thanks!
What makes a vehicle sexy? We can associate automotive sexiness with the outward appearance; sensuous curves leading us on, from pert, composite high beams, along a slender belt line, to a taut and toned rear end. It’s easy to be superficial, to allow ourselves to get caught up in the carnality of exterior sheetmetal. There’s more to it than that, though.
Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac. What you see before you is the thinking gearhead’s definition of sexy. On the surface, it only hints at the sexiness beneath its pedestrian panels. Today, Jake Sholz tells us a little bit about his Cobra-powered Crown Vic. It might look like a middle aged housewife in sweatpants and running shoes, but this lady knows what she wants, and her 500+ horsepower will leave you a hot mess in nothing flat.
INTRODUCTIONS & BACKSTORY
Jacob Sholz lives in New Jersey and works as a mechanical engineer at a small consulting firm specializing in thermal process engineering and air pollution control. He bought the car with a 2003 Mercury Marauder motor (aluminum 4.6L V8) already swapped in and most of the turbo system installed. At just 12psi, it put 517hp to the rear wheels.
The previous owner was a law enforcement officer who built it up with the help of a local shop. When you spend your days (and/or nights) behind the wheel, you get pretty good at knowing what you like. This LEO PO was no exception. He told Jake he liked the ride of the Crown Vic, but missed the power of the old Caprices. This car was his attempt at bringing the two together; peanut butter and chocolate, you might say. Like most of us, too many projects combined with too little time led to burnout, and the car went up for sale.
“That being said it was not the best job. Soon after I got it, I started working on fixing a few electrical issues, some poor wiring, and mismatched piping/connections/vacuum lines, and a few assorted leaks and questionable parts. After several months, the engine went boom. It suffered a catastrophic failure when a rod broke (and put a hole in both sides of the block). I then spent the next year acquiring parts and installing an ’03 Cobra motor topped with the Marauder intake piped to twin, rear-mounted turbos.”
DILIGENCE. PRESSING ON REGARDLESS.
Talk about a heart-breaker. Here’s Jake, buying a nearly complete project Panther off a cop, only to have it grenade on him shortly after ironing out the wrinkles. Being less than versed on Panthers and modular Fords, I asked to tell me why it took a whole year to get the car back together; are parts to find or fund (or both?)
“After the motor went, (which I attribute to a combination of too much power on stock, powdered metal rods and, potentially, a failing turbo that may have allowed some oil into the air intake piping), I had to source a place to store and work on the car. Working in a gravel driveway in the winter wasn’t an option, so I managed to find a room in an old cold storage warehouse where I could keep the car and work on it for a reasonable price. Then I went about getting parts.”
He went on, “I found an ’03 Cobra short block with low miles, and took a road trip to Ohio to retrieve that. Had my heads milled and the valves/guides checked by a local shop, ordered gaskets and miscellaneous parts, then swapped the motors. That all took 6-8 months working full-time and working on my car over the weekends.” It didn’t help that a couple months prior, Jake landed a new job and an hour plus away from his newly acquired work space. And since he could only “play cars” on weekends, he’d work for a month or two until he needed a part, order it, and wait for it to arrive before he’d move on, until he discovered something else was needed.
A DOUBLE DOSE OF PIMPING
While the motor was out, Jake did a few upgrades beyond the Cobra short block (with ARP hardware and new bearings). “I replaced the head bolts with ARP studs, installed MLS head gaskets, a 180°F thermostat, all new seals, some new timing components, fixed some fuel lines, had my injectors cleaned and flow-matched, and installed custom-built 9.5″ 3000rpm stall converter. I also replaced/rebuilt both turbos.”
Even living an hour away, this didn’t seem like the sort of thing that would take a full year. Jake hadn’t really presented any of the usual, damning mechanical gremlins which typify extended downtime. Yet. “I got everything assembled, topped off all the fluids, started the car, and had low oil pressure at idle when warm. Low enough after a short break in (<10mi/16km and 30 minutes total run time) I decided to pull the motor, as I wanted to protect my new investment (and couldn’t afford to break it).”
“Once the motor was out (again), I replaced the oil pump with a Melling high flow, billet, geared unit, along with a self-modified pickup tube. I also checked the main and rod bearings to make sure they were okay, and measured the bearing clearances. Turned out the shop that I purchased the short block from had replaced the bearings, but made the clearances slightly over spec. I re-assembled everything, put the motor back in, and switched to a slightly heavier synthetic oil. All this helped, and since I knew where the oil pressure was going, I wasn’t as worried to see 5psi at warm idle (which is higher than it had been before), considering the pressure built fine with rpm.”
“Sounds pretty expensive,” I said. “As to expense, as I have learned, Ford modular V8s are expensive. Most every aspect is expensive, especially making power. That is when compared to a carburetted motor or a Chevy LS motor. (I am now pretty well convinced that the Chevy LS platform is the cheapest way to make reliable power, but then again it’s a Chevy… not a Ford.)” I like this guy.
WHY BUY A MODIFIED CROWN VIC, THOUGH?
“I bought the car a few months after I graduated college and got a job. I had been saving a little money to find something fun to drive and work on, on occasion. Several of my friends had fun cars, which didn’t help. My first car was a Lincoln Mark VIII – by choice. I really like comfortable cars with space, and fun/quick cars. In high school, I couldn’t get past the fact I could get a 2 door with more horsepower than a Mustang, a better ride, and more amenities for half the cost. Granted, it wasn’t as ‘fast,’, but it moved well enough to keep me happy, and I still enjoy driving the car.”
“I was familiar with the Ford mod motors from owning a Mark VIII, and sleepers have always been something that appealed to me. I found the Crown Vic at a good price, and it fit the bill as comfortable, with a nice ride, and plenty of space for my 6’1″ 210lb self. That and it was rather quick. Plus a Crown Vic is something no one would ever expect to be as fast as it is (can you say sleeper?). Oh yeah, and hearing a blow off valve on a Crown Vic and seeing all the confused onlookers brings a sinister grin to my face every time.”
UPS & DOWNS
Jakes Mark VIII comments reminded me of the house I pass a couple times a week on my way home from work which always has three or four Mark VIIIs parked in the driveway. They’re all white. One is always covered. I keep meaning to stop and knock on his door. Anyway, we know why Jake bought the Panther, why he went for Cobra power, and how he’s overcome some serious obstacles. The difference between success and failure is often tenacity. I asked what matters most to him about his experience thus far with the old Panther.
“The biggest thing for me with this car was swapping the motor. I’ll admit I’m pretty mechanically inclined, but the most difficult thing I had done to a car up to that point was swapping out front end parts (control arms, struts, shocks, tie rod ends, etc.), and basic stuff like plugs and oil changes. Swapping the motor, assembling the parts of my new motor, and getting it all back in and working was (and still is) a big accomplishment for me. I even had a few friends tell me I was getting in over my head (including my father), but once they saw that I was determined, they ended up jumping in to give me a hand on several occasions.”
“Getting the car back up and running would not have happened anywhere near as fast – or as well – without a good bit of help and encouragement from several friends (and of course a good supply of beer to help them stick around). Swapping the motor was a BIG project for me, and took me months, but I did a lot of homework and reading and discussing, and in the end I got it done. I get a decent sense of accomplishment from that.”
As well you should, mate. As well you should.
As is my style, I asked Jake what’s next for he and his mean machine. “Since getting the motor back in and everything up and running, I’ve only put 200 or so miles on the car. I keep fixing little things here and there trying to get it ready for a dyno tune. That’s the next big goal; to get the quirks ironed out and get the car tuned by spring. The old motor was 10.1:1 compression. The new motor is 8.55:1, plus I have a slightly better cooling system, lower thermostat, and that awesome 3k stall converter and slightly different turbos, so the car really needs a good tune before I feel comfortable getting into it all the way. So next milestone goals are: tune car by spring, and get to the track over spring/summer to see what it can do.”
Once the Vic is tuned, Jake just plans to drive and enjoy it. So long as the weather is nice and the roads aren’t a mess, he’s hoping this Panther spends more time prowling the streets than not. As he puts it, “I see no sense in having this car – especially since I put so much time and effort into it – and not enjoying it as much as I can.”
I’ve got a calendar reminder set for early April (figure Spring should reach Jersey by then), when I’ll be checking back in with Jake. Will he get all the wrinkles ironed out? Will he make more horsepower than before? You know his car will only get sexier as time goes by. You’ll have to subscribe if you don’t want to risk missing the answers to those questions! Until next time, keep going fast with class and press on regardless.
It’s not a typo. Hundreds, if not thousands, of auto writers across the web are quasi-objectively ranking makes and models they’ve never owned or never will, people and places they’ve never met or will never visit. It’s that time of year. Partly because it’s tradition. Partly because it’s an easy way for people with day jobs or holiday potlucks and parties to phone in easy content. Partly because it’s a fact that, because our brains are hardwired to compare and evaluate external stimuli, we are unconsciously drawn to Top 10-type lists. We are psychological fish in a barrel.
Car of the year, regardless whose professional opinion it might be, is meaningless to just about everyone not in the automotive media. Maybe there’s an oblivious consumer out there incapable of thinking for himself who depends on those lists because he otherwise lives under a rock, but for the rest of us, these awards are pretty much meaningless.
That’s why I’m doing Care of the Year. Towards the end of 2012, I got to thinking – we should highlight the stories which mean the most to us. Below, you’ll find links to stories that stood out to me as I was looking back at 2012. Most of them aren’t stories we ran here on Gearbox, either. Since I didn’t get this idea until late in the year, it’s a bit on the thin side, I’ll admit, but you gotta start somewhere, right?
ANTONY INGRAM, CARTHROTTLE – WHY 400BHP DOESN’T CUT IN THE UK
It’s not just a UK thing. Gearheads the world over get so caught up in
keeping up with beating the Joneses, we easily build our machines into monsters we can’t responsibly maximize on a daily basis. You’ve heard the phrase, “BECAUSE RACECAR?” Think a little bit about BECAUSE TRAFFIC. How much power can you thoroughly enjoy on your way to work?
ALEX KERSTEN, CARTHROTTLE – HOW TO PLAN THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP
It’s not just an American thing, either. The road beckons Wheeled freedom in pursuit of adventure and unforgettable experiences is alive and well worldwide. Sure, our British brothers and sisters might not be able to hit Route 66, Sunset Strip, or the PCH in a classic muscle car, but they can load up a ropey, £150, 1999 1.9D Renault Trafic, and hit France, Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. Isn’t that the spirit?
JEFF GLUCKER, HOONIVERSE – THE DATSUN DRIVE
Speaking of road trips, here’s a neat one. Jeff Glucker of Hooniverse, lives in Huntington Beach, California. He delivered an absolutely gorgeous 1972 Datsun Z to a friend in Boston, Massachusetts. That’s 3,000 miles (4800km) in a 40 year old sports car bought off Craigslist. intro | car | route | prep | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Part Ford Mustang review, part commentary on the elusiveness of Hot Wheels; this is a glimpse into the mind of a new, gearhead father. Having recently joined the ranks of Car Guy Dad Club myself, I understand. It’s a glittering, ethereal state of mind in which nothing is as it was, and yet, become even moreso.
YOUR TOP 5 GEARBOX MAGAZINE STORIES OF 2012
- THE CARS OF OUR FATHERS – I asked my dad to tell me about every car he ever owned.
- WHY BILL CASWELL RULES – A guy who followed his dreams and got lucky. Love him or hate him, he’s got the right attitude.
- COMPOUND TURBO: PAUL VOLK MADE IT HAPPEN – From early 2011, this one is evergreen.
- WRC FACTORY TOUR – Our 4th day in the UK was EPIC. 100+ pictures from inside what used to be RalliArt.
- BRENT’S 1982 CORVETTE – Still popular, more than 2 years later! Super sharp LS1-swapped Corvette.
THANKS FOR MAKING 2012 GREAT.
Since it’s Christmas/New Year’s time, my daily driven Pajero needs an engine overhaul, and I want to get a jump on the first issue of our new magazine format, I’m going to sit the rest of the year out. 2013 is the Year of the Snake, and there’s another article scheduled for later this week to tell you all about it, but this is my last story of the year.
Until next year, keep going fast with class and press on regardless.
Here at GBXM, we want the whole world to know the best automotive stories are those of regular folks like you doing big things on small budgets. We leave the big name, celebrity-style stories to the 10,000 other automotive publications on the web. For the most part, we try to find new people with new stories, but we’re going to start following up on past stories more often. [Read more…]
The 10th edition of the Sports Car Spring Rally took place in April 2012. As part of the tradition; it was held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, at the Novotel. A wide variety of cars were present as usual, varying quite a bit in value as well as in age. It was all about the cars that weekend, and the price of the cars or brand was insignificant.
One of the guys in my mastermind group is crazy into hot rods and customs. How crazy? I can’t say for sure just yet, but I happen to know he gets out to a lot of events, like the LA Roadster Show. In talking with him the other day, I found out he’s got a lot of pictures and stories to share from this event very soon. [Read more…]
500 miles from home, in an arid valley on the outskirts of Death Valley, with only the Joshua Trees and insects to keep me company, I found myself in a different state of mind. It was one of those rare moments of zen. Enlightened, I quickly grabbed the notebook from my backpack and began frantically scribbling the words you’re about to read.
Earlier this month, we showed you what the Essen Motorshow 2006 looked like. Today, we’ll skip some years (four, to be exact), and take a look how the event has evolved. To give a few hints: more classic cars, less bikes, more Opel, more Irmscher, more US classics, and less European classics… [Read more…]
It’s time for the second part in the series;Back to the Past, where we do reports on meetings/events held in the past. Today, we’ll check out a Hummer in Gulf trim, Golf R32s, yellow Lamborghinis, fast Opels, a lot of girls, and a mix of old timers, modern (tuned) cars, and some bikes. Yes, we’re taking you back to the Essen Motorshow. In 2006 to be exact. [Read more…]
Do you consider new car reviews “news?” We don’t. Don’t get us wrong, as car guys (and gals), we get a kick out of seeing the latest sheetmetal and plastic to get iPod connectivity, touchscreen navigation, and OnStar, but there’s so much going on in the automotive world that’s more important, namely, what are the gearheads up to? [Read more…]