Why I Don’t Play the Lottery…

I bet you’re thinking that there’s going to be some drug content here.  You’re wrong!  Sick sexual fetish stuff?  Strike two!  A ridiculous amount of tropical vacations?  Sorry folks, we’re playing baseball rules and in the words of the great Kenny Powers, “You’re fuckin’ out!”

The real reason?  Wrecked vehicles.  I’m flat broke most of the time, work as many hours as I physically can, and I still somehow manage to accumulate ridiculous and expensive projects.  The tornado is forever changing, the Money $hot is sitting stagnant waiting for primer, and I still have that Austin Healey Bugeye waiting to be American-ized.  There’s a pair of ’60 Pontiacs, a bunch of Henry steel from the “T” era, and about a half-dozen pre-1967 Chevy pickups.  And I wonder why I’m broke…

“I’ll tell ya what I’d do, man.  Two chicks at the same time, man”.

That quote is from Lawrence, the dude next door in the movie Office Space.  It’s what he’d do if he had a million dollars.  Not a bad idea, but not near complicated enough for me.  What would I do?  I’d put a small block Chevy in a Ferrari.  It would have to be a red Testarossa with a tan interior from the late eighties.  Don’t get me wrong, it’d be the right small block.  I’m thinking something with bigger cubes based on an aftermarket block.  Aluminum heads, dual-plane hi-rise to save a little torque, and a single, Holley-based, Quickfuel double-pumper up top.  The valve covers would be a nice, tall, cast aluminum design, powdercoated orange to match the engine.  Hey, it’s a Ferrari, it deserves only the best.  Also, the intake would have to have an oil filler tube, as I refuse to carry a funnel in this thing, and I know it’s going to be a pain in the ass to top up…

Then there’s the matter of the exhaust.  Headers are a must, and I’m talking those wild, twisty, turny, knotted ones that only the coolest European race cars have.  Mufflers?  Bottles, obviously.  I’m thinking Purple Hornies.  I want people blocks away to know that someone started a 1985 Chevy half-ton, when really it’s a Ferrari.  Sure,  I could just do a V8 swap and a Ferrari kit on a Fiero, but I’ve got a million bucks!

Now, the big question:  what will I do with the V12?  Who cares.  For starters, Painless don’t make a swap harness for a goofy 4.9L V12.  Sure, part of my million could be spent on getting said harness made, but to what gain?  I’m certainly never going to use it, and do I really want to try and sell a Ferrari engine on Kijiji?  I had enough trouble selling a lawn tractor on there!  Nope, that thing can sit in the driveway, in the back of the 1985 Chevy half-ton that I took my mockup engine out of.  Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to preserve it with what’s left of a blue tarp.  Ever try and buy something out of someone’s driveway that’s not for sale?  Well, I’ll be that guy, only the Ferrari version.

If I Were John Milner…

I think I was out in the sun too long yesterday, but it opened up a whole new part of my mind, a part that asks the question “what if?”  Being as I’ve spent most of my life as a “rattle-can hotrodder”, I’ve only ever really been able to improve on the designs of others.  This unfortunately limits me to common classic pickups and post-war cars.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s a BIG variety to choose from, but I wonder what it would be like to be John Milner, a real hotrodder (even though fictitious).

John Milner had the fastest car in the valley.  A hot little ’32 Ford five-window painted bright yellow, it could take out the best of them.  Sure, Bob Falfa “had” him in that nasty ’55 Chevy, but he never stayed on his wheels long enough to finish the race, leaving Milner comfortably sitting on the throne, or wearing the crown, or holding the belt.  Whatever champion analogy you’re most comfortable with…  Being the fastest in the valley, certainly he could have any girl he wanted, right?  Well, maybe not…  In the movie, he had a young girl named Carol pawned off on him.  John was the old guy at the party, kind of like Wooderson in Dazed and Confused.

Paul Le Mat won a Golden Globe for his performance in American Graffiti.  I don’t know much about the seventies, but from what I can tell, there was a lot of sex and drugs and rock and roll.  “New Star of the Year” award winner in that era for his portrayal as a sixties bad ass?  I’m sure he was living the life!  That being said, living the life isn’t easy on the human body…  Anyone I know who’s met Paul Le Mat in person said he looks rough, and it’s understandable, as I’d look rough too…

Here’s how I would’ve done it: the scene is set in 1974.  I’ve played the part of Milner, and knocked boots with that chick who played Debbie so hard that the Velcro let go from her wig.  Can I say Velcro?  How about non-descript hook-and-loop fastening system?  Anyways, I’ve got it all god dammit.  Bell bottoms?  Check.  Pirate shirt?  Check.  Maintainable cocaine habit?  Check.  Bitchin’ Camaro?  Double-check!  Why double?  Why not?  I’m John Milner for fuck sakes, I can do what I want, and I want to keep one Z28 minty, you know, so it appreciates in value.  Women want me, men want to be me, and my neighbours want me to crash and burn during one of my sweet one-wheel burnouts so they no longer have to listen to Steely Dan cranked up to eleven.  Then, they get their wish.

Fast-Forward a decade.  The entire Star Wars trilogy has been released, and George Lucas will not return my calls…  The third-gen Camaro has been released, and I’m currently between places, living in my not-so-minty collectible 1974 Z28, after crashing the driver during one of my one-wheelers…  Salvaged that Steely Dan eight-track, though!  No longer do I answer to John, however, as no one remembers who that is.  Women no longer want me, men no longer want to be me, and my stripper “girlfriend” WILL NOT give me her real name, or move into the Z28 with me…  Who needs Goldie Stardust anyways?  I’ve got a bigger plan.

You know how some people go religious, and change their name to get away from their former self?  I did just that, except I changed my name so I could get to the front of the line of the hottest club with no cover, and crush a little ass once inside.  Move over world, Han Solo Skywalker is here!  If I couldn’t ride on the coattails of my own movie, certainly my old pal George wouldn’t mind me riding on the coattails of his most recent achievement, right?  I went so far as to start carrying one of those windproof torch lighters and glow-in-the-dark novelty condoms, because lets face it, the ladies dug a fella with a light saber!

Sadly, money, fame, sex, drugs, rock and roll and a not-so-bitchin’ Camaro can only get you so far.  Luckily, one of my glowing novelty light saber condoms broke, and I ended up knocking up Goldie on one of our many motel room reunions.  I may not have been able to raise the boy, or pay child support for that matter, but I was more than willing to move into  his basement in the early 2000’s, and I’m still there today as an active father figure.  I quote Darth Vader a lot now, though he tells me being a terrible father doesn’t give me the right to that quote.  Oh well…  His old lady is knocked up now.  I hope it’s a boy and they name him Luke.   That Vader shit coming from Grandpa is going to be gold!

And the credits roll…  Not bad hey?  Man, I was born far too young…  I would’ve killed it living that life!  Did Paul Le Mat live that life?  How the hell should I know?  Google is your friend, try it.  Why does he look old today?  Probably because he’s over seventy, dude’s earned it!  Seriously, though, I’d like to thank George Lucas and Lucasfilm for giving me the inspiration to this, Paul Le Mat for kicking the ass out of that role, Steely Dan for rocking as hard as anyone in the seventies could, and anyone else I forgot to mention.  Velcro?  Those responsible for Dazed and Confused?  Chevrolet, Ford, Durex, Jägermeister, Everybody!  It’s been seven weeks, and this is my triumphant return to writing!  If I mentioned you, it ain’t slander, it’s a compliment.

 

Cars… I don’t do them…

Tonight, while I was leaving after my eleventh hour of work, a truck pulled in.  I hate that.  I just know it’s a customer with some “oh hey, glad I caught you” bullshit that could easily wait until business hours tomorrow.  It’s 8:30pm and raining…  Seriously, get bent.  Alas, it wasn’t that at all.  It was two strangers, in fact, and they just pulled in because they dug the look of Fast Orange.  Wanna know what two strangers were doing in town on a rainy night?  They were across the street looking at new Dodge trucks, yet took the time to drive over and talk to me about my old orange bowtie beater.  I like that.

That brings me to my point:  I don’t do cars anymore.  I’m in the middle of a gasser build that I’m going to go WAY over budget on, and that I know I’ll never drive.  I work all the time, and when I eventually move and change jobs, I’ll still be working all the time.  There’s no room for a car in the life of an entry-level working man.  Old trucks are bad ass, because they’re still old, they’re still cool, and you can still use them as a truck.  Not only that, everyone can relate to them.  Everyone has a story of dad’s old truck, grandpa’s old truck, or the piece of shit that work let them use that starred in every funny story about being stranded with only a pack of smokes and a deck of cards.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the distracted guy from tonight.  He had a generic red Dodge that I didn’t ask one question about, and I noticed he never went back to the dealership when he finished talking to me.

Mother (Fucking) Nature

It’s been a while since I posted on here.  Honestly, the hardest part is the pictures.  I’m not generally a phone princess, so I never take a lot of pictures.  If I don’t have a picture, I don’t sit down to upload it and write.  I literally took this photo out my back door just so I had an excuse to sit here and do what I do.  I may do that more, so get ready to be very familiar with the back of Fast Orange and my patio.

I was supposed to go to a hot rod/motorcycle barbecue tonight.  It was about forty miles away, but about five minutes after I walked out the back door, it started raining as hard as it could, with some hail mixed in.  The pants came off and that was it, or so I thought.  Amazingly, as quickly as it came, it went.  Pants on!  I had some truck stuff to do out in the yard, but everything was wet and the mosquitoes had awoken like savages.  Pants off again!

Isn’t it funny in this scene how the weather can change plans? A 600 car event can get cut down to 150 with a red spot on the radar.  I’m pretty positive the barbecue was cancelled,  but even if it was still a go, I certainly wasn’t going to be one-of-five people forty miles from home standing in a camp shelter bitching about the weather and bumming the community can of Deep Woods Off…  Next time, I guess. Good thing I bought beer last week.

 

The Son of the Father

This is the story of a guy who comes into my work.  I’m not big on real names, so we’ll call him Junior, hence the title.  Anyways, this guy is something else.  He’s constantly working on small engines, mostly Briggs and Stratton, and all of them are so old that the parts I order for him come in dirty, NOS, faded boxes or waxed envelopes.  He’s about seven feet tall, has hair that sticks out everywhere from under his leather ball cap, and always…  ALWAYS has a cigarette twisted off in his mouth.

Now, the tragic part.  Years ago, he got in a car accident and ended up crawling home in the winter.  He nearly froze to death, but thanks to universal health care and a little luck, he survived.  He limps kind of funny now, and he may have lost some toes, but he’s alive.  I think he was pretty messed up when he crashed, and the damage from that certainly shows through today.  Luckily, he had a good job at the time, and they wrote him out a big severance/disability/insurance cheque after the accident.  He should have been set for life.  Should have…

Sadly, that cheque was written right around the time that video lottery terminals were being installed in every bar.  Like some, he was hooked.  I can remember his brand new pickup spending hours every day in front of the local saloon, him inside with a plate full of food, a cold beer on top of the machine, and a cigarette in his mouth (it was legal then).   He had a large collection of Doberman dogs, an old Harley, and lived in a grain bin out at his farm due to a town dog bylaw… Like I said, tragic.

I’m not sure there’s a happy ending here, but there are a few happy facts: First, he still has the same truck, and I believe the Harley.  Second, I haven’t seen the dogs in a couple years, but they looked old, so they were likely lost to natural causes.  Also, I think he lives in a house again.  Third, he’s always happy.  Even when nothing is going his way, he’s happy.  He laughs until he falls into coughing convulsions.  He either says “yes” or “no” when I quote him a price, he never chisels.  He could care less how long it takes for an item to show up, as long as he knows that it’s on it’s way.  Why do I like people like Junior?  Because he’s real.  He’s lived life in such a way that it almost killed him twice, and he now knows what it takes to get back up again.  He also knows that he can party right to rock bottom, and get back up again at any tim, and dammit I respect that.

How Can You Afford That Rock-N-Roll Lifestyle?

As I sit here at my desk, half asleep after my second hour of unpaid overtime, I start to think.  I love hot rodding, but do I really love it enough to keep on doing what I do to fund it?  Not necessarily.  Don’t lose your mind, I haven’t quit yet.  As a matter of fact, I don’t ever plan on it, I just have to change it up a bit.

It’s funny how much cool shit I’ve walked away from in order to do what I do.  In the mid-2000’s, I was going to work on a cruise ship.  It was something like four months on and a month off or something odd like that.  All I owned was the Corvette at that time, and Fast Orange as a beater.  Rather than go on an adventure, I built Fast Orange.  It’s been a great truck, honestly, and I don’t regret building it in the least.  Actually, shortly after it was finished, I moved to Moose Jaw.  I do regret that.

Around that cruise ship time, I also planned on moving to the Okanagan in BC.  That one I would have actually gone through with, but at that point in time there were no jobs there.  I think construction is kind of booming in Kelowna right now, but it’s likely not far from a bust once again, as they don’t have the population to sustain constant building.  I was actually offered a job in BC at that time, but Revelstoke isn’t exactly the hotbed of hot rodding…  Easy pass.

As I sit here today, at the same desk I’ve sat at since 2010 or something like that, I realize it’s time for a change of venue.  You see, I only live here for the shop space.  It’s not actually “my” shop, but rather a work building that I occupy 900sqft of.  The agreement has always been that I get paid $11.00 an hour, and get the space for free.  Lately, the space has been getting smaller and smaller, and minimum wage has bumped up almost to my agreed wage.  What used to be decent money is now an entry-level wage, and what used to be 900sqft is now about 500sqft.  Bodywork used to be okay, but the powers that be are now getting tired of the dust.  Sounds like a lot of problems, hey?  Don’t worry, I have a solution.

Winnipeg!  I know what you’re thinking…  Making Winnipeg the goal this early in the game is like making the fat girl at the bar the goal at 9:00pm, but hear me out.  Regina and Saskatoon are expensive.  For someone like myself, unskilled and uneducated, I could never afford to live there on my own, let alone continue building cars.  Winnipeg is expensive, too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s set up far better for a guy like me.  I’ve been watching their news very close lately, and Winnipeg has a laundry list of social problems.  I won’t get into the problems in detail, but they also have a laundry list of social programs.  This is where I come in, a capitalist neck-deep in social problems.

If I wanted to move to Regina or Saskatoon, I’d have to go on welfare, and get put into public housing.  I just simply couldn’t afford to pay the rent on minimum wage.  Sounds ridiculous, but it’s the reality.  Winnipeg, at three times the size, has reached a “critical mass” of sorts, where it is self-supporting.  They have programs for fuck-ups such as myself that offer a hand up, not just a hand out.  Why wouldn’t a guy like me take them up on an offer like that?

Can you imagine this blog once I’m in Winnipeg?  If you thought that city was dirty before, just wait until I’m there…  I still have to get the Money Shot into paint and the fuck out of that borrowed shop space full of misery, and also have to figure out the laws involving old vehicles.  I know they’re tougher on pre-war stuff, but really, I’ve never been pre-war.  I’m hardly post-war.  In fact, I’m more disco/new wave, like Blondie.  If all else fails, I can soon sell a bunch of stuff, and replace it with a no-safety-necessary Manitoba beater.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a fun beater…

Nothing…

Not a god damned thing!  Nobody got laid, not a single photo was taken, and nothing eventful happened.  Our usual spot mixed the drinks too strong for us to keep our eyes on the prize, a cougar’s friends ruined the night of two people, and we couldn’t get 3:00am pizza.  Stay tuned, it’s time for a change of venue and wardrobe for everyone involved.  I promise you this, it will be awesome.  Or it won’t.  I’ve been wrong before.

Oh, there was a car show and roller derby that day as well.  Everything was happening, yet nothing happened.  Go figure.

Heavyweight Champion of the Dragstrip

Photo Credit: Dodge.com

A lot of people have been asking me about the new Dodge Demon, and I’ve gotta say, I’ve got a few different opinions on the car…  I’m not sure if I should refer to it as the Challenger Demon, as it’s the same car, but for the sake of space, I’ll just call it the Demon.  Before I get started, a disclaimer:  I will never own one.  I could never afford it, and even if I could, I just dig old stuff more.  Now that I’ve cleared that up, I can give you my honest, third-party opinion from the sidelines.  I’m nothing but an honest enthusiast who’s done a little research at this point.

What’s it all about, you ask?  Well, the only engine available in the Demon is a supercharged 6.2L Hemi V8 making 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque.  That’s intense for a production passenger car.  The Hellcat was absolutely ridiculous, so ridiculous that the faint-of-heart might tell you that it’s overpowered at 707 horsepower.  That’s 133 horsepower less than the Demon, and it scared people.  Not only does the Demon have more horsepower, but it also weighs 215 pounds less than the Hellcat.  How is the same car with a different hood and wheels that much lighter, you ask?  First off, they tweaked the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) hardware, so it’s likely louder both inside and out.  Although the car will be louder, the music won’t be, as the Demon only has two speakers, one in each door.  Don’t worry, the passengers won’t mind the quieter music, as there are no seats for the passengers to sit in.  No seats, you ask?  That’s right!  Seats are heavy, and they enable heavy people to sit in them, so they’re all gone except for the driver.  That being said, I’ve heard for two dollars, the seats, hardware, and seatbelts can be included.  That’s only a dollar a seat, but it adds over 100 pounds to the car.  The carpet is left out, as well, and the trunk is down to the bare steel.  The sway bar is tubular instead of solid, and the brakes and wheels are lighter.  Sure, handling and braking may suffer, but this is Dodge we’re talking about.  Remember the Hemi Darts and Challengers with tiny drum brakes and archaic front ends?  Same guys.  Some things never change.

As you can tell, it’s got a lot of good going on.  It goes 0-60 in 2.3 seconds, covers the quarter-mile in 9.6 seconds, and carries the front wheels almost three feet.  That’s right, it’s a brand new car that can pull wheelies on warranty.  It also pulls a respectable 1.8G on the skidpad, which is pretty good for a car that’s had handling parts compromised for weight savings.  Did it do that on the tires it comes with?  I highly doubt it, as this unit ships from the factory with massive street-legal drag radials out back.  Honestly, this thing is ridiculously well-prepared for a production car.  A big stall converter?  Check!  Two-step ignition?  Check!  Factory-equipped trans brake?  Check!  It’s all drag car, yet it’s already been banned by the NHRA.  Why?  It’s so fast out of the box, that it requires a roll cage.  Honestly, I don’t know why Dodge didn’t build the car around one.  Maybe it’s against government regulations?  It certainly wasn’t due to excess weight, as even on a diet, the Demon weighs in right around 4300 pounds.  Personally, I consider 3000 pounds a heavy drag car, but I guess when you throw enough horsepower at something, anything is possible.

Time Flies… Not Unlike Bits of Dry Tire

These pictures are dated 2005, twelve years ago.  They’re so old that a pedophile wouldn’t even look twice at them.  It’s really no wonder that I forgot they ever existed.  It’s also no wonder it took me an hour to find them on an old hard drive, but here they are.  I guess it doesn’t help that everyone involved back when they were taken was drunk…

I don’t have a picture of the truck, and it’s been wrecked for years, so I’ll describe it in all of it’s glory.  It was a 1973 GMC Sierra of some sort.  Obviously, it had mags.  The rear ones were 15×8 chromed-steel Champ 500-ish wheels with holes and rivets, but they were peeling, so we painted them black.  Good description, hey?  The rear tires were big, fat, white-lettered Firestone boots.  Up front, it had stock 1970’s Buick wheels that kind of looked like Magnum 500’s, and low-profile tires.  It was two-tone tan and white, and as rusty as one might expect.  It was deluxe enough that it had trim to separate the colors, and it had 1970’s prismatic stickers on the bedsides that said “350”.  Under the hood was the most glorious thing ever, a “High Torque” 350.  I’m not positive, but I think what “High Torque” meant was that it came with an iron dual-plane intake, shitty heads with big chambers, small runners, small valves, and a tiny camshaft that wouldn’t make power past about 4500rpm.  General Motors were so proud of their substandard performance parts that they even had the audacity to put a “High Torque” sticker on the air cleaner.  I guess “Low Horsepower” or “High Fuel Consumption” aren’t exactly selling features.

Inside, a minty, tan vinyl bench seat was equipped with only lap belts (as was the style of the time) and I think it had either an eight-track player or a CB radio mounted under the dash.  Regardless of what it was, it didn’t work, nor did the in-dash radio.  Rather than listen to the wind whistle through the rotten old weatherstrip, we decided it would be more fun to listen to all that torque.  Armed with one blue glasspack, one red one, and an old swingset for tubing, we built the best dual exhaust system that no money could buy.  I think the big chrome tips were made from an old semi exhaust stack that we cut up, but don’t quote me on that.  How did it sound? Rappy.  Very, very rappy.

With the air cleaner lid flipped, and free-flowing swingset duals, we decided to run it down the quarter-mile via GTECH.  How fast was it?  I’d like to say it ran an eighteen-second quarter…  We were hardly speeding.  The second run started with a big, dirty neutral drop.  Think of it as a poor man’s stall converter.  The result?  About one second slower.  I wonder if the Street Outlaws guys got their start this way?

So what’s with the burnout?  Well, at about 3:00am, people in small towns like to tear the tires off of trucks.  It’s a thing.  This was a solid three-minute burnout.  It started as a greasy one-wheeler, when all of a sudden BANG, it caught posi and jumped sideways.  It was the worst sound ever, and a few days later the twelve-bolt failed on the highway.  It didn’t fail bad, though.  Nothing a stick welder couldn’t fix.  It always caught posi after that.

Hit Rock Bottom, Then Grab a Shovel

As I sit here feeling like absolute shit due to sick customers who won’t stay home when snot is running out of them, I figured I may as well write something.  I should be working on the Money Shot, but instead I’m all fucked up on pain killers and a cheap bottle of wine that I had lying around the house.  Is this the proper cure for the common cold?  No.  Why not buy something real to cure myself?  Well, long story short, I’m broke.  Why am I broke?  The Money Shot, of course!

See that picture?  It’s the floor drain in the shop, but it’s supposed to be a bottomless pit.  Get it?  Symbolism.  Anyways, problem number one: It’s a car.  I don’t drive cars.  My winter beater is a car because I can’t afford a truck, and my summer daily driver is a car because I’m trying to sell it, and I’m hoping someone wants to test drive it and take it home.  Problem number two:  It’s a tri-five GM.  One might think that they’re cheap to build, as they’re ridiculously common and popular, but one might also be wrong.  Demand necessitates supply, and necessity leads to price increases, even gouging.  If everyone wants it, why give it away, right?  Problem number three:  It’s Uninsurable.  People can feed me all the “tri-five GM” and “appraised value” crap they want, but the fact of the matter is no one is going to touch it.  It looks like a race car, so it’s automatically a high risk. Also, it’s a Pontiac, sharing technically no value with the much more desirable Chevrolets of the same era.  Sure, they’ll collect the premiums, but good luck when it comes time to pay the deductible.

So rather than go to the shop tonight, I’m going to sit here mad at SGI, the Canadian Dollar, and all the rich people driving the price of these cars through the roof.  As I do all that, however, I’m also creating a detailed budget list of all the parts I still need to complete the car.  I offered it for sale as a project a couple weeks back, and couldn’t get shit for it.  It might just be the cheap wine and pills talking, but I’m going to finish this green fucker to my own liking.  It’s going to be loud, shiny, and offensive.  Will I fall in love with it, even though it’s a car?  Will I sell it and recover my investment?  Will I ever race the Gonzo Henry J?  Stay tuned, something cool might happen!