Jim’s Blog: Ready for a Classic Car Summer?

It’s a busy time here at ACC HQ. We’re finalizing the July/August issue — our 16th edition — this week, and now that June is finally here, car show season has fired up, too. That means time’s run out on all the old car procrastinating I’ve been doing.

I always try to keep my own old stuff ready to go, with batteries charged and fuel in their tanks. And even though I only have two old cars, keeping them ready is not always simple. Factor in a regular work schedule, house stuff, and an active two-year-old little girl and you get what I mean. But the sun is out and the time is now, so I’ve been dropping the excuses and working on my own stuff over the past few weeks, as well as sorting out a couple of things with ACC’s Viper.

First, the Viper. We bought the car with just over 1,700 miles on the clock, and it’s now showing just under 2,900. We’ve been driving it everywhere, including Cars and Coffee Portland about a week ago, where it fit in nicely with two other GTS coupes and an RT/10. ACC Associate Editor Chad Tyson and I just got back from a 600-mile round trip in the car and it was a fantastic drive. You can read more about it and the Kee Collection of old Mopars we went to see in the July/August issue of ACC.

While this car is 14 years old now, it’s still new in every respect. That’s both a blessing and a small problem. The battery, which is mounted behind the rear wheel, is starting to act up when the car is hot, so it’s probably time for a replacement. On top of that, the tires are original and tend to go where they want on the highway. So this week, between proofing pages of ACC, I’m planning on taking it over to our Viper tech for a battery and tire check. 

My ’72 Chevy truck has been living under a carport at my Dad’s place ever since we painted it, and since my daughter spends quite a bit of time hanging around with her Grandpa, she sees it every couple of days. Last week, she finally had enough of seeing it without riding in it, and she pestered me about driving it until she got her way. So I’ve been commuting in it for about a week now, which is no big deal since all it really needed was a good wash job. Katie helped me do that on Friday so we could take it to Cars and Coffee Portland on Saturday morning. Later in the day I attacked a leaky thermostat housing on the truck’s old 350. I ended up replacing it with a formerly leaky O-ring style unit I pulled from my Caprice and fixed. Didn’t even spill any coolant. And I only burned myself once.

I took my own advice regarding prepping for good weather with my ’66 Caprice and had its old Harrison 3-core radiator professionally rodded out about a month ago. The end product looks just like new and cools well — 180 degrees all the time — which is a good thing in a triple-black car with a big-block and headers. Of course, something always has to go wonky with a project like that, and for me, it was a fiberglass hood that wouldn’t shut thanks to a slighly-taller-than-it-used-to-be radiator. A couple of explatives later, I got out my cutting wheel and made part of the hood understructure into fiberglass dust. Now the hood shut lines are better than ever. All that car needs now is a set of new plugs and maybe a quick carb rebuild, and I should be ready for the Beaches Cruisein at PIR — which starts up for the summer today.

Have you had to take on any unexpected last-minute projects on your cars in preparation for summer? Tell us about them in the comments section below!