Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Men Behind The Mustang: Where Are They Now?

mustang history 50 yeras designer shelby iacoccoa frey oros

The big five-oh of happened for the Mustang.  It’s hard to believe that America’s most popular pony car first rolled of the assembly line fifty years ago.  It’s common for people to be fascinated with movie stars.  Everyone wants to see what the kid from Christmas story looks like now and what not.  What about us car guys?  What do we get to see?  Ladies and Gentlemen: I now present to you (in no particular order), “The Men Behind the Mustang”, today.

Lee Iaccoca
The Father of the Mustang

lee iacocca mustang history 50 yeras designer shelby iacoccoa frey oros

Lee Iacocca is known for overseeing the development of the first Mustang.  It was this man that revealed the 1964½ Mustang at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.  Today, Iacocca continues to be a legendary name in Mustang culture.  In 2009, for the 45th anniversary of the Mustang, the legacy continued with an exclusive, hand-built production of just 45 Iacocca Mustangs.  Iacocca currently spends most of his time with the Lee Iacocca Foundation, the Iacocca Institute, and other “philanthropic endeavors.” 

Iacocca recently wrote a book entitled “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” after noticing that this nation is lacking strong men such as Iacocca.  You know you’re a badass when you have earned the right to say (in regards to writing this book), “I can’t sit on the sidelines while this nation needs me.”  For more information about this great man, Lee Iacocca, please click here.

Donald Frey
The Product Manager

donald frey mustang history 50 yeras designer shelby iacoccoa frey oros

Donald Frey worked with Lee Iacocca to make the Mustang a reality.  At the time, Frey was Ford’s assistant general manager and chief engineer.  In 1962, Frey had come up with the initial design for the 1962 Prototype Mustang, which was a two-seater, mid-engine, roadster.  After, he oversaw the design and engineering work for what would become the Mustang as we know it.

Frey would meet in secret to discuss the Mustang.  Since Henry Ford II was not in support of the Mustang, when he finally approved the project, Ford said that he would fire Frey if the Mustang was not successful.  I guess we can see that “success” of the Mustang is an understatement.  Donald N. Frey passed away in 2010 at the age of 86.

Joe Oros
The Chief Designer

joe oros mustang history 50 yeras designer shelby iacoccoa frey oros

Joe Oros was a man who designed many cars for Ford Motor Company included MotorTrend’s Car of the Year in 1958: the Thunderbird.  Of course, he also went on to work on the Mustang.  Oros wanted the Mustang to be appealing to woman, but wanted men to want it as well.  It’s ironic that the 2015 Mustangs are all about European styling, when Oros actually wanted the original Mustang to be based off of European styling as well.

After his time with Ford, Oros continued his artistic endeavors at home.  Two years ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with his daughter, Janet.  She told me that when she was little, she met all of the famous names covered in this article.  She also told me that Oros had developed very bad Alzheimer’s, and was placed in an assisted living facility.  Sadly, Joe Oros had passed away later that year (2012).

Carroll Shelby
The Power Adder

carroll shelby mustang history 50 yeras designer iacoccoa frey oros

It’s really hard to think of Mustang and not think of the man known as Carroll Shelby.  When Iacocca was president of Ford in 1962, Shelby pitched the idea of the now famous Shelby Cobra.  With Shelby creating these high performance Cobras that continued to win races, Ford requested Shelby to create some high performance Mustangs.  The rest became history.

He took the existing, growingly popular Mustang platform, and went to work.  The product?  The Shelby GT350, and the Shelby GT500.  We have all seen them, and love them.  Shelby continued to work with Ford to create arguably one of the best modern day muscle cars: the 2013 Shelby GT500 which set quite a few automotive records.  Unfortunately, Mr. Shelby passed away on May 10, 2012.

And More
The Automotive Dream Team

There are many other names that are synonymous to the original Mustang.  If it were not for all of these people, the famous American icon would not be where it is today.

John Najjar (1918 – 2011) – Co-designer of Mustang prototype
Philip T. Clark (1935–1968) – Co-designer of Mustang prototype
Daniel Sexton Gurney (born April 13, 1931) – Test driver of Mustang 1 prototype

These are just seven people.  With the aid of more, the car originally unwanted by Henry Ford II became America’s most popular muscle car.  We have seen 50 years of the Mustang.  Even through hard time, government regulations, and more, the Mustang lived on every year.  The car will continue to live on, and continue to win over the admiration of many.  Regardless of styling, technology, and the names associated with it, it’s still a Mustang, and will always be one.

mustang history 50 yeras designer shelby iacoccoa frey oros 1964 2015

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wax Daddy Bead X - The Last Quick Detailer You'll Need

random automotive auto wax daddy formula 113 car detail spray wax bead x

When it comes to detailing cars, there are TONS of products that you can choose from.  Of course you have some of the big ones like Mothers, Meguiars, and stuff like that.  There are even more products then just the ones you can find at Walmart.  There are a bunch of little guys in the market that should be the big guys.

I wipe down my car every day before I drive it.  Yes, this may be overkill, but that’s what I do.  So very frequently, I will find myself needing a good quick detailer.  In 2010, I was walking around a car show after I finished setting up my car.  There was this vendor selling a purple-liquid product named “Bead X”.  He said he swore by this product so much, he gave me his personal bottle and told me to wipe down my car.

I had just clayed and waxed it, so I didn’t notice anything extreme.  I decided I would take a chance and buy a spray bottle of it.  From the next time I used it on, that’s all I have used as a quick detailer.

random automotive auto wax daddy formula 113 car detail spray wax bead x
So what is Bead X?  Bead X is the “super water repellent”, and “the quickest way to maintain that just waxed look.”  At least that is what it says on the bottle.  You know what?  The bottle is correct.  This spray detailer is made by the “Wax Daddy” (aka “the godfather of car care”) and Formula 113 (which now seems to be One Better Car Care Products).  It is a purple spray detailer that is really darn good.

As I said, I wipe down my car before I drive it.  I use this spray to remove surface dust (sand, and pollen), and occasional road muck spin off and bid poop.  A very light spray does quite a bit.  The bottle claims that two ounces takes care of an entire car.  While I have not measured, those claims are probably true.  I use a very light mist per area, and wipe it down with a microfiber towel.  The product contains no alcohol or abrasives.

After the application, my car is not only smooth to the touch, but if it rains, the water beads up just like it would if touching wax.  I can’t confirm how long it stays that way since I apply it almost every day.

I have used Bead X as my go to quick detailer for four years now.  I use it on plastic, paint/metal, glass, and chrome, and it is safe for it all.

At one point, the original spray bottle that this stuff came in leaked.  I emailed the company and mentioned the issue.  I was sent a new bottle right away without even asking.  Since then, I have moved on to the gallon jugs, and I refill a cheap spray bottle I found at a dollar store.

This product is a little pricey.  When I purchased it from the vendor at the car show, I think I paid $10 for a 32 ounce bottle.  The price on their website is $21 for that same bottle, and $40 for their gallon.  Their prices have gone up since I ordered last.  However, to stretch the life of this product out, I dilute it with filtered tap water like crazy!  Even after diluting it so much, it STILL works like a charm.

The website looks like it’s from the 90s, the product pictures are old, and the email address to order is an AOL email address, but don’t let all that fool you.  The product is top of the line.

As I have mentioned, there are tons of quick detailers out there.  Out of all of them, I highly recommend Bead X which is made in the good ol’ USA (New York).  I would love to give you more detail about the company and product, but the Wax Daddy was impartial to an interview.  Regardless, this product should be the last quick detailer you will ever need.

random automotive auto wax daddy formula 113 car detail spray wax bead x

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rotting In Style - 1963 Formula Vee Formcar Racecar

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida 

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you get something else thrown at you.  Sitting abandoned and rotting, I’ve seen muscle cars, classic cars, trucks, foreign cars, and more, but even after all that, now I see a racecar.  Sitting in the location known as “The Gabel Collection”, I have for you a 1963 Formula Vee Formcar Racecar.

I’ll start off my saying that despite its dirty and grungy appearance, the owner told me this car does run.  However, we couldn’t verify that because the ignition had been previously taken out.  It still looks like it’s in decent shape.  Unlike others in the collection, this car was mostly covered with tarp.

Most of the parts on this car came from the Volkswagen beetle including the 1200cc engine, four speed gear box, and modified suspension parts.  I was shocked to learn that this car makes only 40 horsepower.  That’s it!  However, it does weight only 1040 pounds.  With that engine and a driver, it’s still enough to get the car up to around 120 miles per hour.

The construction of this car is very simple like you would expect in a racecar.  It has a tubular metal frame, fiberglass body, and doesn’t have anything it doesn’t need. 

For the Formula Vee races, traction control and any type of limited slip differential was not allowed.  As for tires, the only rubber allowed were special tires made for the races by Dunlop.  No other tire could be used for the official races.

Before left to sit in its current state, the owner said he used to race this car.  It would have been cool to hear this thing fire up so I can image what it would have sounded like buzzing down the track, but seeing it will have to suffice.  Even though now, we see it rotting in style.

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida

1963 formula vee formcar volkswagen abandoned racecar florida

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rotting In Style - 1960s MG Midget Graveyard!

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

It’s more or less considered “common” to find a graveyard of old American cars rusting away in the United States.  It’s not too common, however, to come across a small graveyard of British cars in the US, especially not all the same ones.  Well, that is what I stumbled upon in the Central Florida car conglomerate known as The Gabel Collection.  Not one, not two, not even three, but four MG Midgets deep in hiding.

I know at first you may think that I am showing you pictures of piles of leaves, but there are four cars under the dead foliage.  The Midgets here are mid to late 1960s models, and while I am not entirely sure, I believe they are MkIIs.

This would mean that these cars all came with 1,098cc engines under the hood making a “blimey-fast” 59 horsepower.  That’s it.  That is obviously not much, even for this car which weights only about 1,620 pounds.  However, it was enough to make the cars run and drive at one point.  That is not the case for them now.

These cars do not run.  They have all had the unfortunate title of “parts cars” placed upon them.  As far as I can see though, there are not many usable parts left.  Most of the panels are rusted straight through, the chrome is corroded, and I doubt many mechanical parts are functioning. 

However, the interiors (depending on the car) are in okay shape (compared to the outsides), and are generally intact.  A serious collector would have no problem picking off many usable parts off these cars like the glass, interior trim, and other little odds and ends.

These cars have been rotting away in place for about ten years.  They are being picked away piece by piece by the owner.  As much as I would love to see these cars on the road again, I don’t even think one complete car could be made from all four.  I could wrong, and deep inside, I hope that I am.

For now, they will continue to sit until there is nothing left for a person, or Mother Nature to remove from them.  Cheers to the British automotive history, and hello decomposition.

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

1960s mg midget mkii central florida gabel collection rotting in style

Monday, March 3, 2014

Rotting In Style - 1970s Dodge D400

1970 dodge d400 turck rotting in style central florida the gabel collection

It’s more or less common to see cars and maybe a pickup truck or van rotting in someone’s yard, but it’s not too frequent that you come along a full sized truck sinking into the ground amongst various other automobiles.  Odds aside, that is exactly what we have here sitting in the back of “The Gabel Collection” in central Florida.

What we have here is an early 1970s Dodge D400.  Let me first start off by saying that this is not like looking up a Mustang or even a Gremlin online: there is not much information.  Just by looking at the front end of this truck, I guessed it was early to mid 70s, but to be sure, I decided to do an image search on Google for a Dodge D400.  What I ended up finding was that a lot of these trucks (of this generation) are still quite common and used daily in South American countries, especially Brazil.

Sweptline has a great write up on these trucks.  As far as I could find, it is the most information in one place on the internet about these trucks.  The D400 is apparently the smallest of the D Series trucks that Dodge offered from the 1960s through the 1970s.  The D800 is the largest.

The D400 came standard with a 225 cubic inch two valve straight six engine.  There was also an optional 318 cubic inch V8.  I am not sure which one this particular truck has.

What I can say this truck has plenty of though, is grunge.  There are completely rusted out sections, the paint is covered in various green life forms, it’s buried under leaves and branches, and the passenger window has met up with the running board somehow.  The back of the truck (and interior) is packed with various car parts for cars in the Gabel Collection.  However, that wasn’t always the case.

Once upon a time, the previous owner was going through a nasty divorce.  Instead of hiring movers, the owner bought this used truck, packed it up with all his stuff, and moved across country.  He was only 300 miles from his destination when the passenger front tire blew out.  He replaced it, drove to his destination, and it’s been parked there ever since.  To this day, that tire remains the newest thing on the truck with only 300 miles on it.

While I love the artistic nature of abandoned things, it always pains me to see once good vehicles lying around.  Perhaps this one may be better off with its brothers down in South America, or maybe it will get another chance here.  For now, it’s just rotting in style.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rotting In Style - 1934 Austin 7

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

You really never know what you’re going to come across on your day to day travels, and you never know what you’re going to learn.  When I first stumbled upon The Gabel Collection, I never thought that tucked away in the back yard, all by itself, I would find a 1934 Austin 7.  More specifically, I didn’t think I would find what’s left of one.

This Austin 7, also known as the “Baby Austin”, was made in the UK by the Austin Motor Company.  Baby it was indeed.  This car only had a wheelbase of six feet and three inches.  It was designed to be an economy car, so for that reason, it had a 747cc engine that made a neck-breaking 10.5 horsepower!  That was enough to eventually power the car up to its top speed of about 50mph, and allowed it to get an impressive 40 miles per gallon.

This particular car however has no engine or transmission.  As a matter of fact, it doesn’t have much of anything: no roof, no interior, not much floor paneling left, and it’s missing a bunch of other things that I’m sure an Austin 7 expert could point out easily.

Even through the car doesn’t have an interior, it allows us to see the old school wooden skeleton of the car.  The last license plate is still on the car from 1956, and it has what the owner says is the original key.  A closer look at the key shows that it is a GM key.  Perhaps it is an original copy of the original key.

The current owner found this car in shed.  Funny how most American Muscle cars are called “barn finds”, but this little British car is small enough to be called a “shed find”.  Anyway, the owner of the shed didn’t own the car.  The car’s owner left it there, said he would be back, and never came back.  The shed owner found out the car owner had died., and the shed owner wanted his shed back.  Now, the current owner has the car after purchasing it off the shed owner.  Did you follow all that?

The current owner had plans to resort the car with a different engine.  However, this car and its frame are so small, the only thing he found that could fit under the hood, would be the original engine.  An original engine for the car proved to cost too much to make this restore feasible.  For now, this car sits rotting in style as a rusty shell of its former glory.

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

1934 austin 7 central florida abandoned british car

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rotting In Style - 1972 Lotus Europa Special

As I have mentioned previously, I love American muscle cars, but when I see something on the side of the road that looks abandoned, I start to like it no matter what it is.  Enter this beauty: a 1972 Lotus Europa, a shadow of its former glory.  That line sounded really good, but this car isn’t as bad as others that I’ve seen.

The paint on this Lotus from The Gabel Collection is rough and bubbling in some sections, it’s dirty, it has a flakey dash, and its tires are low on air.  Aside from that, this car is in pretty good shape.  Mechanically, I have been told that this car will run just fine.  This car has two gas tanks, and two gas caps which point up.  The car did have a car cover over it, but since it has been sitting for a while, water (rain) may have found its way into the tanks due to the placement of the caps, and the car sitting.  The owner told me it would be a fifteen to twenty minute process to get the water out of the tanks, but I decided to skip that step to save time.

This Europa happens to be a “Europa Special” which features a “Big Valve” version of the 1558cc engine that pumps out 126 horsepower over the standard model’s 105.  This may not seem like a lot, but this car weighs only about 1,600 pounds!  That’s nothing!  Numbers like that meant in its day, this car was able to go from zero to sixty in about 6.6 seconds.  For a car in 1972, that’s a good number. 

The owner told me this is a very minimalistic car.  Everything is fiberglass, there is just about no rear window, and everything is super light.  When the hood was opened, I made a comment about the hood prop, which seemed to be a pole that was wedged between the intake manifold/header and the base of the hood.  The owner joked that Lotus didn’t give a way to prop the hood “because it might have actually weighed something.”

I really like the look of this car.  The shape slightly reminds me of the old Ford GT-40s and the Ford GTs.  The GT-40 got its name because it was only 40 inches tall.  This Lotus is 42 inches tall.  With me being 6’2” (74 inches tall), it was a bit of a challenge to get myself in the car.  When I finally managed to wedge myself into the driver seat, the owner mentioned to me in a calm, but assuring voice, “I have to warn you: you just did the easy part.”

Once inside, I realized that the interior was in really good shape.  It was just dirty more then anything.  The dashboard was probably the worst part.  It was very flakey.  Aside from that, a little bit of polish and vacuum would have restored most of it.  Getting out wasn’t too bad.  Just a little wiggling and some lost balance, and I was back on my feet.

I really like this car.  I’ve seen pictures of this model car, and I thought the back end of them was pretty ugly.  In person, it looks pretty nice.  While I have never really been a big fan of Lotus, this 1972 Europa catches my interest.  There were many cars in The Gabel Collection, but this one seems to be one of my favorites. 

Maybe one day when the tanks are water free, and the tires are all aired up, the owner will give me a call, and I’ll be able to go for a ride.


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