All posts by Paul Daniel

Family, Faith, and Speed....... My wife works for a major healthcare provider. She's the brains of the operation since she has a Masters in Nursing. Our daughter takes after one of her grandmothers with her passion for music. Really great kid! Even loves aviation, one of my passions, and is looking at a possible career in it. I'm heavily involved in a variety of volunteer rolls at the Catholic Church we attend. I love speed!!! I'm a pilot, car guy, and ride a Suzuki Hayabusa. 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, 0-100 in 5 although I'll have to take Suzuki's word on that. I love going for rides with friends and enjoy the twisties where my bike really shines. I've been in the cockpits of a DC-8, DC-9, 767, 747, MD-80, and Embraer 190. I spend a week each year volunteering at the EAA flyin in Oshkosh. Love the Thunderbirds (autographed one of my F-16's) and the Blue Angels. Love the roar as they make passes.

Car Spot: 1997 Dodge Viper GTS

Built when Dodge was in total fun mode …

Bob Lutz is one of my all-time favorite car guys. He brought so much to the automotive world in fun cars like this week’s spot, the Dodge Viper.

Looking to create a modern-day Cobra, the first prototype was tested in January 1989 and went on sale in January 1992 as the RT/10 Roadster. This car was all business when it came to performance. The heart of the beast was a V10 based on Chrysler’s LA V8 and designed with the help of Lamborghini, which was then owned by Chrysler Corp. The engine weighed just 712 lbs. and was rated at 400 hp. The SR I version could accelerate from 0–62 mph in 4.2 seconds, 100 mph in 9.2 seconds, and ran the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds, hitting 113.8 mph. It’s maximum speed was nearly 165 mph. Viper had large tires that allowed the car to average close to one lateral g in corners. However, with no driver aids like traction control the car proved tricky to drive at high speeds, particularly for the unskilled driver. All this fun only set a very enthusiastic owner back $52,000.

The first Vipers were bare-bones performance cars. They had no exterior-mounted door handles or key cylinders and no air conditioning. The roof was made from canvas, and the windows were made from vinyl using zippers to open and close, much like a Jeep Wrangler.

Viper did have some creature comforts, like manually-adjustable leather-trimmed sport bucket seats with lumbar support, an AM/FM stereo, a cassette player with clock and a high-fidelity sound system, and interior carpeting. Aluminum alloy wheels, and a lightweight fiberglass roof was optional on later models. An adjustable performance suspension was also an option for most Vipers.

The car was an immediate hit giving the Dodge brand some much-needed juice among enthusiasts and the automotive press. Its popularity overshadowed the recent failure of Lee Iacocca’s pet car, the TC, which had cost five times as much to develop.

RELATED SPOT: Read about Lido’s Italian Folly.

In 1996 Dodge introduced the Viper GTS, a new coupé version of the Viper RT/10. Dubbed the “double bubble”, the roof featured slightly raised sections that looked like bubbles to accommodate the usage of helmets and taking major design cues from the Shelby Daytona designed by Peter Brock. More than 90% of the GTS was new compared with the RT/10. It came with the same 8.0 L; 487.6 cu in V10, but power was upped to 450 hp/490 lb.-ft. of torque. This was also the first Viper to be equipped with airbags and also included air conditioning, power windows, and power door locks standard. That year it also was chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500.

All this fun came to an end when the Fiat Chrysler group announced the Viper would end production in 2017 due to flagging sales. Also contributing to the axing was that the car was unable to comply with federal safety regulations, requiring side curtain airbags.

What are these worth now? Somewhere around $100K like this one that I saw at a dealership in Southcentral Wisconsin. This Viper looked to be ignored for quite some time as yup, those spots you see all over it are bird shit. What a way to treat an automotive icon, especially if you expect to get top dollar for it.

It’s so sad as next year there will be no V8s available in Dodge cars and trucks thanks to our government which has managed to suck all the fun out of performance vehicles by insisting on electric cars. I’m not happy at all with EVs.

RELATED POST: See why this rush to electric vehicles to so ill-conceived.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history about it. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

Car Spot: 69 Dodge Charger Resto Mod

A ’60s era muscle car gets a second chance …

So which side of the convo are you on?

Should a car be restored to factory specs or brought back to life as a restomod? I can go either way. This week’s car spot, a 1969 Dodge Charger, is a Resto Mod. I found this at the same car show in Oconto, Wis., where I spotted the earlier Corvair Greenbriar.

Charger was introduced by Dodge in 1966 positioned as an upscale, upsized pony car. It had an uncanny resemblance to American Motors’ Marlin, which debuted one year earlier, just not the extreme fastback.  The Marlin however was positioned as a personal car, an emerging market niche at the time.

This is a second-gen Charger which I think looks way cooler. Redesigned for 1968, and Dodge thought they’d only sell 35,000 units but the public loved the redesign and 96,100 Chargers were produced. The second-gen is based on the Chrysler B platform and saw various cosmetic changes to the exterior and interior including an undivided grill, rounded taillights, and hidden headlights.

RELATED SPOT: See this Charger’s great uncle

Available engines were a 225 cu in, 1bbl I6, although why somebody would order that on this car is beyond me; a 318 cu in, 2bbl LA V8; a 383 cu in, 2bbl B V8; a 383 cu in, 4bbl B V8; a 426 cu in, 2×4bbl Hemi V8; and a 440 cu in, 4bbl RB V8.

So what’s something like this worth? I found a bunch of them for anywhere from $90-100K, more than an original restored one with a 383, but that’s way less than the higher horsepower ones, like the 440s. They go for around a buck 50.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another one of my car spots along with some history behind the find. Have a great weekend.

#Dodge Charger

#69 Dodge Charger

#Dodge Charger R/T

Car Spot: A Camaro with some extra zip

Better than factory and more fun …

The Chevy Camaro was second on the scene in the pony car era debuting on Sept. 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year a bit after the Ford Mustang. Four distinct generations of the Camaro have been developed before production ended for the first time in 2002. Chevy brought it back as a concept car that evolved into the current fifth-generation Camaro starting in 2009. What I love about it is that it’s pretty much a blank canvas when it comes to performance mods. This week’s car spot is. a great example, a 2022 Callaway Camaro SC750 I saw near our daughter’s apartment in Monona, WI.

The Callaway Camaro begins life as a ZL1.

Started by former race car driver Reeves Callaway in 1977, Callaway Cars, the company has evolved into a revered specialist manufacturer. It all started when Callaway installed a turbo compression and other components into a BMW 320i. Car & Driver magazine tested the modified BMW and the next thing he knew that PR gave him his start.

For those that can’t handle this power, Callaway makes one with a little bit less, the 630.

Callaway started by making turbo kits for cars made by Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen. In 1986 he added the Corvette. In 2017, Callaway took the already powerful ZL1 and raised the power from 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque to 750 horsepower and 739 lb.-ft. of torque, removed the standard blower and replaced it with a Gen III Magnuson TVS 2300 with a triple row intercooler. Callaway also added a high-flow intake system and high-performance exhaust which gave it extra horsepower. 

Bet is sounds amazing. Something EVs will never have.

What made the big difference was Callaway’s GenThree Supercharger system matched to the proprietary TripleCooled intercooler setup. It produces more horsepower and torque than any other mass-produced muscle car. With a top speed of 198 mph and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, it’s no wonder the SC750 is one of the fastest Camaros on the market today doing 0-60 in just 3.3 seconds. That beats the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye by .3 seconds.

So what will all this fun cost an adrenalin junkie? I’m one!

At a reasonable $81,830 that includes the engine upgrades, all kinds of suspension upgrades and either a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic. By comparison a Redeye is slightly less at $76,430, but that price is going to go way up with the end of the line coming soon for Dodge’s V8 engines.

It’s sad really. Remember back in the late ’60s and early ’70s? It was the golden age for pony cars. The Ford Mustang started it all, the Camero, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda, and AMC Javelin all followed.

Next year Dodge and Chevy are scheduled to end production of the Challenger and Camero. Why? Because of this push for EVs. I am not a fan!

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another spot along with some history. Have a great weekend.

#Chevrolet

#Camaro

#Chevrolet Camaro

#Callaway Camaro

Car Spot: 71 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible

This is one sweet ride

The cool thing about an auction is that you will probably see a special car that you’ve never heard of before. Such is the case of a 71 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible that came up for sale a couple of weeks ago at the Mecum auction in Chicago this week’s car spot. Blogging partner Mark Savage was at the event and grabbed these pictures.

Like just about every collector car, it has a story, this one with a little bit of mystery. It was owned by Helen Voorhees Brach. If you’re 30 or under, you probably won’t recognize the name, but if you’re older, you have eaten the candy that her father Emil J. Brach founded in 1904.

Images: Wikitree

Emil Brach is your classic rags-to-riches story. He took $1,000 and on the corner of North Avenue and Towne Street in Chicago opened Brach’s Palace of Sweets. He undersold the competition and parlay that into four factories with a fifth one in the works in 1923 producing 2.23 million pounds of candy in 127 varieties. Name not ringing a bell? Have you ever eaten candy corn or jelly beans? Chances are they were made by Brach’s.

The family company was sold in 1966 for $136 million, around $1.24 billion in today’s dollars. Helen’s husband, Frank, died in 1970 leaving Helen’s share of the Brach inheritance equated to nearly $149 million in today’s dollars. Helen spent her time socializing with friends, and loved the color pink, all her Caddys and Roll-Royces were pink. In 1973 the story gets interesting when she met a young guy through her show horse connections, Richard Bailey, He had a history of scamming the high-income show horse set and did the same with Brach.

On February 17, 1977, Brach headed to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, and never returned. There have been investigations and books written about her disappearance. Bailey was not convicted of Brach’s murder but sentenced to thirty years for defrauding her. In May 1984 she was officially declared dead. In 2019, the case was still considered open and unsolved, with no one ever facing state murder charges for her death. A Who Done It for sure.

OK, back to the car. A super-clean 71 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible with just 16,000 miles with an automatic transmission, off-white leather interior with coordinating Magenta piping, and finished in the specialty color known as Brach Candy Purple. Some lucky bidder took this car home, along with a hell of a story for $99,000.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history of the vehicle. Have a great weekend.

Car Spot: 67 Chevy El Camino

Following Ford into a hot market …

Ford has caught Chevy napping more than once in automotive history. Every car person knows about the Mustang, but did you know about the El Camino, the subject of this week’s car spot.

It was legendary designer Harley J. Earl, who had suggested Chevy make a coupé pick-up in 1952, but Ford beat them to it with its Ranchero. Chevy introduced the El Camino in 1959 and it was based on the 119-inch wheelbase two-door Chevrolet Brookwood station wagon.

Chevy knew it had to play catchup to Ford and went in a different direction when it came to styling making it look like Chevrolet’s high-end Bel Air on the outside with two-tone paint, and a Chevrolet Biscayne interior. It was an immediate hit outselling its Ford counterpart in the first year. Its starting price was $2,500.

After just two years Chevy took a break from production because sales had dipped and it was retooling the El Camino to fit the Chevrolet Chevelle platform. Chevrolet came back with another hit and won the overall battle with Ford for five additional generations being made from 1964.

El Caminos from 1968 to 1973 are considered the best-looking models and are cult classics among many car enthusiasts. The El Camino’s production had to be shifted to Mexico in 1985 due to low sales, and Chevrolet wanting to reduce production costs. Chevy pulled the plug in 1987 when pickups, like its S-10, became more popular. Chevy actually toyed with the idea of bringing it back in 1995 with a concept El Camino built on the full-size Caprice station wagon platform but plans to produce it got scrapped. Bet that would have looked cool.

What caught my eye on this ’67 was the badging on the front saying it had a 396 V8. I’m thinking this is an SS and the markings weren’t put back on the car after its restoration. But although the 396 engine was available to buy, there was no official 1967 El Camino Super Sport option or badging. A true El Camino SS didn’t appear until 1968.

So, what’s it worth? Values range from around $15,000 to $40,000, averaging at about $25,000. But if it’s an SS model, or one really close like this one, prices can shoot up to well above $50,000.

Note the yellow Chevy SSR passing on the left. I did a car spot on a red one I saw not far from there.

There’s also a story about where I found this spot. It was spied a couple months ago at a really cool service station on Pine Island, Fla., which was hit by hurricane Ian just recently. I’ve found some other spots there as well, a Dodge Magnum and Cadillac Allante. Like others in that area, his shop was hit and is in the long process of rebuilding. This car had Massachusetts plates, so I hope it made it back home before Ian hit.

Thanks for stopping by. Check back next Friday when I’ll have another car spot along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.

Car Spot: AMC Pacer

Another swing for the fence car from America’s smallest automaker.

When you’re up against big car companies with big budgets and big lineups you have to do things differently as was the case for American Motors in the 70s. They were all about different in that time period first with the Gremlin in 1970 and then with the Pacer in 1975. This week’s car spot focuses on a 78 Pacer Wagon Mark spotted at the Mecum auction in Chicago this past weekend.

Introduced as America’s First Wide Small Car, it was also ahead of its time with its cab-forward design while all the other cars were the traditional three-box designs. Developed to offer the interior room and feel of a big car but in a much smaller, aerodynamic, and distinctive exterior package. That it was. The automotive press loved it and so did I owning a 75, Autumn Red Metalic with a white interior. It had a massive amount of glass which led to one of its nicknames, the fishbowl. And I added even more glass with an aftermarket sunroof, which leaked, and my friends called mine the Astrodome.

RELATED Post: Read about the Racer Pacer.

One of the complaints consumers had was the lack of space in the back seat when adults rode along so a wagon version was added in 1977. It also gave the Pacer a more traditional design and more cargo space. Popular Mechanics described the newly added 1977 Station Wagon body style as a “styling coup”, and said: “Who needs the coupe!”

The car was introduced with a choice of two inline sixes that were fuel efficient but because of the Pacer’s weight, 3,425 pounds for the coupe, 74 more for the wagon, its 304 V8 was added to the lineup boosting horsepower but decreased mpg. It was during this time period that the Pacer became positioned as a luxury car. This 78 is a great example. A D/L level Pacer that was loaded with leather seats, power steering, brakes, locks, and windows, a Sony CD player, tinted windows, the 304 V8, custom wheels, and woodgrain. Not really wood:). It sold for $8,250, about average for a Pacer like this in good condition. However in 2020 at Mecum’s auction in Indianapolis a 77 sold for a crazy amount of money, $25,300! There is/was a Pacer wagon I found on Hemmings where the guy was asking for 30k that had been converted to electric. Yikes, can you imagine the weight of that one?

RELATED Post: My promo model Pacer.

Larger hood to fit in AMC’s 304 V8

By 1980 the public had grown tired of the Pacer’s unique styling and poor gas millage and AMC ended production. 280,000 Pacers were built in Kenosha and more at VAM in Mexico. This swing for the fence might have been the beginning of the end for AMC. Developing the Pacer cost the company a ton of money as did the new Matador coupe and neither car saved the company. Renault bought a controlling interest in AMC in 79 and that was it for building its own passenger cars. Was the Pacer ugly? Maybe but one thing is for sure like the other Dick Teague-inspired designs is that they were unique and had character unlike many of the other cars coming out of Detroit at the time. Yup, I’m an AMC homeboy and proud of it!

AMC’s unique door handles used on all vehicles and the rear liftgate on Jeep CJ’s and Wranglers.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.

Car Spot: A monster SJ Jeep

This one has some serious attitude

“We Both Always Say That We Want Something No One Else Has and This Is Definitely That.”

That’s exactly what Dalton Lovejoy and Maddie Heater accomplished with this week’s car spot a jacked up, heavily modified 1979 Jeep Cherokee Chief. I was driving back from Madison, WI and spotted this at a dealership in Jefferson. A whole ton of reactions went through me when I first spotted it. I love SJ Jeeps like this one but not sure about all the other modifications they did and they did a lot!

Let’s see, where should I start? Making modifications like this are nothing new for this pair. They’ve done a lot of them but nothing like this. It was Maddie who chose the beach theme. Loving the ruggedness of a Jeep and the droptop factor of the Bronco, she decided to cut off the top to get the best of both worlds.

Underneath is a full custom cut frame carrying over the tropical theme. Instead of using the AMC 360 V8 that would have been standard on this Cherokee Chief in 1979 they dropped in a LS motor.

Inside are custom seat belts from Seatbelt Planet and all the accent colors along with a custom sound system and iPad dash, so they can hear the music over that loud motor.

What’s something like, I have no idea but it has to be well into six figures. I’m sure the custom truck guys will love something like this, the Jeep guys, maybe not so much. I couldn’t find it listed for sale on the dealer’s website. Maybe it’s just meant as an attention grabber. It got mine for sure and is the most unusual car spot I’ve had to date. I’m thinking back and a 1979 Jeep Cherokee Chief was the first Jeep I drove 43 years ago. I’m wondering if maybe it came back as this.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history of the vehicle and have a great weekend.

Car Spot: Land Rover Series IIA

A distant cousin to Jeep

At one time the name Land Rover meant luxurious automobiles and the folks in England just loved them. But then came along World War II and all manufacturing shifted to supporting the war. When it ended, the rebuilding efforts did not include passenger cars, they called on tough 4×4 vehicles that could help out. This week’s car spot, a 1969 Land Rover Series 2A was a big part of that. The LR was part of the Cars and Guitars Event held this past June in Green Bay and hosted by the Automotive Gallery. A great place BTW. My friend Darrel Burnett runs it so say HI for me.

Inventor Maurice Wilks wasn’t even close to working on something like that. He had spent part of the war years working in top secret on a jet engine and had developed a gas turbine that had potential for use in passenger and commercial vehicles. But that’s not the country needed and faced with working on a a turbine, which could of been pretty cool, or closing up shop, shifted to satisfy the government’s demands for utilitarian practical vehicles which could be exported in quantity.

Having nothing like that and running around his farm in a MB Jeep, he used that vehicle as a template. Then came the Series I Land Rover which featured the ruggedness that were essential for a military vehicle and an expedition vehicle. One that was used in the African bush and the Australian outback, places where a vehicle failure could put the occupants in danger of their lives. Why this is such a British thing is beyond me.

This Series II is the vehicle’s evolution and was made in 88″ SWB (Short Wheelbase) and 109″ LWB (Long Wheelbase versions). The early examples of the Short Wheelbase came with the same 2 liter four cylinder engine as the Series I until the stock of those engines ran out in the summer of 1958. After that the new 2.25 liter four cylinder OHV engine was fitted, and all Long Wheelbase 109″ Series II were fitted with that engine from the beginning of production.

Even though I’m a Jeep guy I love the ruggedness of this Rover and the attitude the owner has with all the graphics. They could go off-roading with me anytime. These were the 4X4’s that people actually took off road unlike to ones made now. After all, who’s going to take a 100K plus vehicle off-roading? Dependability is also an issue, it sucks, but hey, you’re driving a Land Rover, right? Just like the celebs.

RELATED VIDEO: Mark Savage reviews the 2022 Land Rover Defender 90

One in decent shape is a solid investment with prices trending up. I found several for sale from as low as $28,000 all the way up to near $50,000.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with a little bit of history. Have a great weekend.

Car Spot: Chevy Corvair Greenbrier

One of America’s 1st minivans?

Chevy had big plans for the Corvair when it debuted in 1960. The lineup included everything needed to sell a lot of vehicles. Besides the cars which came as a sedan, coupe, convertible, and wagon, there were also several trucks like the Greenbrier, which were added in 1961, the subject of this week’s car spot, er truck spot.

I spotted this example at a recent air and car show event I was at in Oconto, WI

Like the passenger cars, Chevy followed in VW’s footsteps, ie the Transporter, placing the driver controls ahead of the front axle providing impressive cargo and passenger carrying space within a compact car footprint. The Greenbrier wasn’t alone in the marketplace competing against Ford’s Falcon based forward-control Econoline and Dodge’s similarly Valiant-affiliated A100 van which arrived in 1964.

Related Story: Read about a priceless Corvair

The Greenbrier found its niche as a camper-van. The low floor gave 1.5 inches more inside height than the 10-inch-taller Econoline, and the side doors were taller and wider. Field & Stream magazine loved it, and in a review wrote: “My test vehicle remained rigid and rattle-free over the worst roads.”

That’s a lot for what was a big, open box stuffed with all manner of aftermarket plywood furnishings including a kitchen sink. What the media wasn’t high on was the vehicle’s 80-hp engine, but in 1964 it received a bore and stroke increase that boosted displacement from 145 cubic inches to 164.

This is where the engine breathed.

Base output increased 15 hp to 95, with the still naturally aspirated but higher compression Turbo-Air engine producing 110 hp, nearly double the output of VW’s by then upgraded 1500 engine (52 hp), and comfortably ahead of the Econoline’s 105. Car and Driver‘s Barry Brown went so far as to build himself a sleeper performance van: “I am satisfied as I have never been with any other automobile — it is a business tool, family car, and sports car all at the same time.” Wow, that’s saying a lot.

While total Corvair sales totaled almost two million the van didn’t prove as popular as the cars and sold around 50,000 units. It was a hit out of the gate selling 15,806 it’s first year and just 1,528 its last year, 1965. Like the passenger versions it’s very affordable. I found many listed in great shape for around 10 grand.

Love the decal on the window, Nader Vader.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots with a little bit of history and have a great weekend.

Car Spot: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

One of the fastest SUVs on the planet

OK, I’ll admit, I’m partial to this week’s car spot because I’m a Jeep guy and love going fast. A 6.4-liter V-8 pumps out 475 horsepower while a roudy exhaust note tells you that it’s an SRT. So what Jeep did was take a standard Grand Cherokee, plop in a bigger engine, give it more aggressive bodywork, a sport-tuned suspension, and upgraded brakes.

This bad boy was parked right next to one of its older brothers.

Car and Driver ripped one to 60 mph in only 4.4 seconds, just 0.2 second slower than a Dodge Challenger T/A 392. While its smaller relative was quicker in other acceleration tests, the Jeep matched the coupe’s hearty exhaust note and responsive throttle around town.

The SRT can haul more than just ass, 7,700 pounds of fun can be pulled behind. While the SRT excels in straight-line speed, it also corners surprisingly well given its size. Its powerful Brembo brakes also helped it stop from 70 mph in 168 feet, which equaled it’s more powerful brother, the Trackhawk which I drove up at Road America and it’s a total blast but came with a 100K price tag.

RELATED Video: Hop in and go for a ride with me in the Wrangler 392 Unlimited.

This Jeeps market remains strong. MSRP for the 2021 was $72,000. While Jeep did manufacture the WK edition a short time into the new model year, I don’t believe the SRT option was available. They are holding their value too. Expect to pay north of $50,000 for one in good condition. Get while the getting is good because with all this nonsense about V-8’s being bad for the environment, vehicles like this are going the the way of the dodo bird. So sad. Too bad too that the SRT brand is no more.

Note the spoiler on the back window. This guy is serious.

This Jeep checks all the boxes for me. It’s a Jeep, looks cool, has a big V8, makes a lot of noise, and can go off-roading! What more is there?

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history behind it. Have a great weekend.