Springtime Wrenching on the ACC Fleet

Early May is typically when Portland’s gray gloom comes to an end each year, and with sunny skies likely just around the corner, we spent some time this week getting ACC’s fleet of cars ready for the season.

First up – the ’63 Dodge 440. This car is basically turn-key ready, minus a set of collector plates that we still need to source. However, one little issue it’s had since we got it in January is an inoperative fuel gauge. The problem seemed pretty minor at first, although the more I drove the car, the more serious it became. How do you know when you’re going to run out of gas in a car that makes 700 hp? How much fuel it uses is entirely dependent on your right foot. Guesstimate wrong and you’re in for a roadside hike. And filling the tank every time you want to use the car gets pretty old.

The Dodge is really clean both inside and out (aside from about a pound of rubber coating the chassis from our PIR burnout day), so getting underneath and tinkering around the tank is pretty straightforward and not too messy. ACC Data Analyst and ex-Ford tech Chad Tyson and I hunted down the gauge problem yesterday morning – grounding out the fuel gauge wire at the sending unit moves the gauge from “E” all the way past full. Solution? We need a new replacement sending unit. Once that’s installed, and once our set of slicks on matching TorqThrust wheels arrive from the car’s seller in Delaware, we’ll be ready to take it out to PIR to make some quarter-mile passes. We’ll keep you posted.

ACC also has a restored 1964 Chevy Nova wagon. Publisher Martin has been working on its restoration for several years now. It’s white over blue with bucket seats out of an SS and a floor-shifted 4-speed with Hurst linkage. Sure, it may be a “one of none” wagon with those options, but there’s no denying the fact that wagons from this era are cool – in fact, this car turns more heads than the old ’63 Corvette Split Window we used to own.

We wanted to add a tach and original SS-style gauge cluster to this car. All the parts are available from aftermarket sources, so we got to work and ordered up what we needed. Installation wasn’t what I’d call a snap, since we didn’t have the proper wiring harness to just plug it all in. But a local shop that specializes in American muscle was up to the task, making the bits of harness we needed. The car is currently getting its temperature gauge checked out and its reverse lights hooked up – something we didn’t originally think about when shifting from a column-mounted 3-speed to a floor-mounted 4-speed. After all that is taken care of, and some body panel fit details are corrected, it too will be ready for the road. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that the original 283-ci V8 isn’t going to be left stock for long. Solid lifter cam, anyone?