Classic Cars You Should Buy If You REALLY Want to Show Someone You Love Them
Topping the list of classic cars you should buy… the one that got away. Maybe you’ve been looking wistfully in your life’s rearview mirror, wishing for just one more glimpse of THAT car. You know, the one you bought with your paper route money. The one you learned how to drive in. The one that got you to the chapel on-time.
While classic cars are becoming increasingly valuable money-wise, it’s the emotional tug, the nostalgia that’s always been the driving force behind most restorations. It makes sense. After all, classic car restorations are EXPENSIVE – like, “That’s in DOLLARS?”expensive.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
And here at Airkooled Kustoms, what the heart wants most of the time is the flawless re-creation of early Porsches and Volkswagens that have haunted our clients for years – decades in some cases. Want to see some examples?
A tribute build in memory of Kaden, a little guy who left this world WAY too soon. Kaden and his dad Gerald had been planning to restore this sweet ’68 Beetle together. After he passed, his family decided to do it in his honor.
We’ve seen the pics of the original ride this understated beauty was built to mimic, as one very happy pair of newlyweds drove her away from their wedding. Oh, the original met an untimely demise after being rolled a few times. This one’s likely to live a much more charmed life.
This one, I (PP) got to see first-hand, in situ, about half a century ago. It was originally our grandfather’s Bug, but it also made the rounds with a couple of uncles before Matt bought it and got it restored (after lugging it around the country for a decade). Check out this video, and you’ll be drooling, too.
Screw Flowers… THIS Is How You Win Hearts
Of course, you could just go the way our client Ron went, and substitute a sweet high-end restoration in place of buying your sweetheart roses. Bumble Bee was featured in Issue #14 of Aircooled Classics. After all, nothing says luvin’ like a brand new, very old car!
Here’s another story from LittleThings.com:
Dad Collapses In Son’s Arms When He Hands Him Keys To Classic Car 50 Years After It’s Destroyed
Over the course of our lives, our parents sacrifice everything so we can be happy. They give us a home, put food on the table, send us to school, and teach us all the most valuable lessons you can learn to become a well-rounded adult.
At some point in our adult lives, many of us feel the need to give back to them in some way, to thank them for all these sacrifices, big and small.
For most, this means raising our own children the way our parents raised us. But for others, it’s also giving them as many material pleasures as our wallets can handle. We want to give them things not just because we can, but because we know it will make them happier than we can ever imagine.
Michael Green had this in mind when he dragged his father, Charlie, to the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly. He’s heard the same story countless times: As a 16-year-old, Charlie lost the classic car he loved, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air.
It’s been 50 years since that car was destroyed, but Charlie hasn’t fallen out of love with it. In fact, he was so moved by the story of his car, that he cried seeing one just like it in the parking lot.
Little did he know it was already his: His son had bought it for his father, and it would only be a matter of time before he saw it in his own garage.
Now watch the clip to see the moment the tearful dad realizes the car he sees is actually for him!
THIS Clue about Where to Find Classic Cars Will Send You Hiking
If you’re looking for one of your own, you might want to take this bit of advice on where to find classic cars that are hiding in plain sight. OK, maybe not exactly plain sight. Maybe hidden deep in the woods. Or, maybe covered by a pile of junk in a dilapidated barn. Maybe even tucked away in some forgotten corner of a junkyard.
Or… on the Samba!
I asked Spook about this middle-of-the-woods scenario, and he tipped his hat to these guys. What they did wasn’t easy. If you’re thinking about doing something similar, here’s a few pointers:
Be prepared to crawl around underneath the vehicle… somehow. You’ll come away with a new appreciation of a glorious invention – the shop lift.
Be careful! If you jack up your found ride on soft, unlevel ground, it’s not going to stay up.
Bring your bug repellant.
FINDING the find might be the easy part!
If you decide to work on it in situ, you’re going to have to lug a bunch o’ stuff with you if you want to drive it out of the woods. A jack, a full set of basic tools, and acetylene torches to wrestle those rusted nuts and bolts off (heavy and flammable, so be careful!).
“I would have done the same as a young guy. I’m pulling 50 now (as opposed to pushing it!). I like to be warm, dry, and not have bugs crawling up my neck. I don’t camp.” So now you have the final word on getting him out to the woods in a rescue for your find!
Probably a LOT easier to just tow it out – and then to the shop. But where’s the adventure in that?!
Watch Air-Cooled VW Enthusiasts Fix up an Abandoned Panel Van in the Woods
For many vintage car enthusiasts, the barn find is their Holy Grail. They dream of one day stumbling onto a rare classic that’s been stored for so may years, the original owner most likely forgot it was there. Then, they can begin the process of bringing their find back to life and restoring it to its former glory.
What about a forest find, though? Cars left in the woods don’t get nearly the same protection from the elements, but still. Sometimes they can still be restored. After all, that’s exactly what happened here.
Florian George, an air-cooled Volkswagen enthusiast who works for AirMapp—a website and social network for fans of air-cooled VWs—heard someone had abandoned a 1955 Volkswagen Type II panel van in the woods near his house. After finding the owner and buying the van, he originally planned to pull it out with a tractor.
But then he got a crazy idea. What if he and his friends could fix up the van enough for it to drive out under its own power? Surprisingly, it actually worked. Check out the video below to see the story of how they got it done.
Yep. What other kind of answer would you expect? I’ll tell you what other kind… one that’s all science-y, yo.
You might think you can tell an air-cooled engine by its placement:
Water-Cooled = Engine in the Front
Air-Cooled = Engine in the Back
But you’d be wrong! (Although if you go looking at the early air-cooled Volkswagens and Porsches we build at Airkooled Kustoms, engine’s in the back.)
So, what gives?
Air-cooled engines use a combination of controlled air flow, oil, and fuel to help keep the engine within optimum operating temperatures. The Boxter motor is well designed for air cooling. They’re typically lightweight, made from aluminum, magnesium, and other lightweight elements. There’s directed air flow controlled by air speed, and that’s what keeps the cylinders well within operating specs. The heads are aluminum, the piston jugs are steel, and the connecting rod and the lower rotating assembly are all high-tempered steel. Even the gasoline helps to keep the heads cool.
Water-Cooled Vs. Air-Cooled
Water pumpers feature a water jacket surrounding the cylinders to help control the temperatures. Water becomes the heat sync. The actual engine case heads and jugs are the actual heat syncs with the fan directing airflow around critical areas to remove the heat.
Air-cooled rides never have a radiator. With the majority of models, the engine is in the rear, although there are some vehicles, including diesels, that have the engine in the front… but they’re still air-cooled. Most of those are 2-cycle engines, which means you have to add oil to the gasoline to help with lubrication – they’re dirty and smelly, but have a good power to weight ratio output.
Want to see some examples? This bit by CarThrottle.com will help.
6 Cars That Make Us Love Air-Cooled Engines
Be it a 12bhp flat-twin or a fire-breathing turbocharged monster, air-cooling definitely had its place in the automotive community
The technology is now obsolete in road car design, but these cars used simple airflow to keep their engines cool. Initially found in budget civilian vehicles for the masses due to its ease of use and lack of maintenance required, air-cooled engines managed to nestle their way into some serious machinery up until relatively recently.
You’ll only find this rudimentary tech in bike-engined vehicles nowadays, so let’s take a nostalgic look at some of the past automotive highlights of air-cooling.
Despite the unfortunate origins within Hitler’s Reich, the Volkswagen Beetle is one of the greatest-selling cars of all time. Translating as ‘The People’s Car’, Hitler himself told the engineers and designers that the car had to be air-cooled, as not every German could afford a garage. Antifreeze for coolant was also rare and expensive in the 1930s.
The original design was manufactured from 1937 until 2003 when the last manufacturing plant in Mexico shut down. Using a simple flat-four engine pioneered by one Ferdinand Porsche, the Beetle ranged from 1.1 to 1.6-litre form, with the aim being to transport five people at 100kmh while using no more than seven litres of fuel for the respective 100km. Without the Beetle, it’s safe to say that a couple of other cars on this list wouldn’t have come close to existing, so this popular bug deserves some serious respect.
The 935 was Porsche’s endurance racing entrant in the late 1970s, using the 930 911 Turbo as a base. It utilized are rather large turbocharger and mechanical fuel injection to create unprecedented levels of turbo lag but with the ability to produce up to 833bhp.
Porsche kept with the air-cooled flat-six engine in the 935 up until 1978, when water cooling was introduced to increase the reliability of the small but powerful engines. This sad move occurred due to head gasket failures on the 1977 cars which had switched the single turbocharger for a twin-turbo setup, resulting in too much stress across the engine block.
Citroen 2CV 4×4 Sahara
The Citroen 2CV is the definition of ‘simple but effective’ and they also pose potentially the cheapest route into motorsport through racing championships dedicated to the plucky French legend. The most interesting of the vast fleet of 2CV variations comes in the shape of the 4×4 Sahara. Intended for the French colonies in Northern Africa, the Sahara came with four-wheel drive as well as two engines – one in the front and another crammed in the rear, both driving their respective axles.
Separate transmissions allowed both axles to be driven at any time, creating traction and drive if one axle began to slip. Using two 12bhp air-cooled flat-twin engines, the Sahara quickly became a favourite with off-roading enthusiasts. Outright performance was never going to be great, as with just one engine running the 2CV Sahara had a top speed of just 40mph. Fire up that second engine however and the lightweight utility vehicle was capable of 65mph.
Tatra decided at some point it was a good idea to air cool a V8, making the 700 the quirkiest car on this list. Produced in 3.5 and 4.4-litre form, the rear-mounted OHV V8 somehow made it into this Czech luxury vehicle.
Although Tatras in general were never built in big numbers, the saloon cars like the 700 were driven by the local industrial bosses and dignitaries as a sign of prestige and power. It’s safe to say that the 700 wasn’t successful in the slightest, and production ended in 1999 after beginning in 1996 due to poor export performance to the rest of Europe. But name me another company that had the guts to build a rear-engined, air-cooled V8 saloon?
Porsche 911 993 GT2
Named after the racing series that these homologation specials were required for, the 993 GT2 was the last air-cooled 911 ever manufactured by Porsche. With widened wheel arches and a massive rear wing featuring those stunning integral air intakes, the first ever GT2 paved the way for the most extreme road-going cars within the 911 range.
Producing 438bhp and 432lb ft of torque from its air-cooled engine, the 993 quickly became known as a widowmaker due to being rear-wheel drive and having a low kerb weight of 1295kg. The 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged flat six was capable of propelling the GT2 from 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds and topping out at 187mph – seriously impressive figures from a mid-90s car. Only 57 were ever built making for seven figure values in today’s Porsche-crazy market.
A car that dominated the Eastern Block countries during the Cold War, the Trabant 601 (otherwise known simply as ‘The Trabant’) was built to counteract the West German-built Volkswagen Beetle. Although it was manufactured to be cheap and reliable, it came with independent suspension all around and lightweight composite bodywork.
Due to a lack of R&D funds, Trabant had to stick with a two-stroke air-cooled engine which came from before the Second World War, putting it at a great disadvantage to its four-stroke Volkswagen rival. The 595cc block was capable of producing around 25bhp and when coupled to a four-speed transmission could achieve 67mph with a serious run-up. Despite this, over two million cars were built, so it can’t have been all bad!
Do you have a favourite air-cooled vehicle? Do you maybe even daily something that harks back to these simpler days? Comment below with your air-cooled experiences.
Ask THESE Germans Why Air Cooled Porsche Engines Are Music to the Ears
Forget Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Why? Air cooled Porsche engines sound even better – at least to those who find that deep rev and rumble more pleasing to the ears than just about any other sound (well, excluding the sound of frying bacon).
If you’ve been eyeballing classic Porsches – or storing one in your garage, barn, or dreams – the engine sound alone should be enough to nudge you toward starting that restoration you’ve been pondering.
A little motor music here for your listening enjoyment.
Listen to Three Glorious Minutes of Air-Cooled Porsche 911 Sounds
While the sound alone isn’t worth the rapidly-rising cost of one these days, you have to admit the owners have a point—their cars do sound amazing. If you need any evidence of that, go ahead and spend the next few minutes watching the above video.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
With the sound off, it’s a decent video of a guy driving his 911 around town. But with the sound on, you get three full minutes of air-cooled Porsche 911 exhaust note goodness.
What Does a Car Painter Do at SEMA? Drool, Schmooze, and Absorb
Anyone who knows Spook well enough to walk a car show’s grounds with him knows that you’ll get his no-nonsense take on what he sees there. So, what do car painters like him and his son Thomas do while exploring a show the calibre of SEMA?
Drool over the amount of passion the smaller builders brought to the show with their high attention to detail.
Schmooze with suppliers of the fine products we use in the shop, starting with our hosts 3M, but also including Axalta, Griot’s Garage, Mother’s, Meguiars, and several others. It’s always good to meet our partners face-to-face, and we’re proud of the quality they put into their products as they help us make kool stuff.
Absorb the interesting styling trends, while mostly for the newer market, and contemplating what might work in our cars. This was even kooler when we’d see new technologies given a klassic feel.
Here’s Spook’s Take on SEMA 2016
Most days we walked about 18K steps as we explored the acres and acres of exhibits that made up SEMA’s 50th annual show in Las Vegas. This, with Spook’s broken toe (and still-healing broken ribs).
We took LOTS of pictures of SEMA 2016 – hundreds of them. Check them out and let us know what catches your eye.
It can take a bit to digest THAT much input – and we got Spook to give us the lowdown on the top five trends he noticed at this year’s show. Here they are.
SEMA 2016 Trend #1: MUSTANGS, Like, Everywhere
It seemed like everyone got the memo: Build a Mustang for the show this year. Ford had a huge presence at the show, and everywhere you looked, there were Mustangs. OK, there were also some Jeeps, Ford trucks, and a hefty helping of mid-90’s Porsches… but mostly, there were Mustangs. He’s not much of a Mustang guy, but he did appreciate seeing so many variations of the same car.
SEMA 2016 Trend #2: I Like Big Trucks and I Cannot Lie… But WOW
When Spook’s 6′ 3″ frame is dwarfed by a truck’s body, it might be too big. The engineering is beautiful, and who wouldn’t want to own the whole road by driving a gargantuan vehicle on it? Spook’s ’97 OBS F250 looked like a Matchbox compared with these behemoths.
SEMA 2016 Trend #3: New, New, New
We saw a FEW classic Dubs, but not many. In fact, there weren’t many classic cars at all – a few, and some of them were jaw-droppingly gorgeous – and they seemed to draw more crowds than the herd drew. Might be an indicator exhibitors should pay attention to next year… build something more interesting, and people will flock to it.
SEMA 2016 Trend #4: Here a Wrap, There a Wrap, Everywhere a Wrap, Wrap
Combine this trend with the last one (maybe half of those Mustangs were wrapped), and you’ll understand a correlation he made between wrapped Mustangs and booth bunnies (also everywhere)…
Once you’ve seen half a dozen, you’ve seen them all. Different shapes, sizes, and colors – some with more meat on the rolling edge than others… but overall, not particularly interesting.
What does a car painter do when he sees wraps? Usually, he kind of makes ‘that’ face – you know, with the one eyebrow up. You see, wraps ARE kind of cool because your options are virtually unlimited. You can fake a paint job and come up with practically any look you can imagine.
But, it’s a wrap. He’s a paint guy. ‘Nuff said.
SEMA 2016 Trend #5: Paint, Sort Of
It wasn’t ALL wraps at SEMA, of course. Some builders went with paint finishes. A few even did it well, like this Caddy with the L-O-N-G straight panels and near-flawless paint.
All the work that went into building cars worthy of this magnificent event was easy to see. Innovation, brilliant engineering, creative design – it was all there. So it was puzzling to see many vehicles with a fit and finish that was lacking. Orange peel, incomplete polish processes (hologramming), and lack of attention to detail kind of drove him nuts.
No doubt there’s a major crunch time right before completing a build and getting it out to the show. While the builders did a spectacular job on the builds, many shorted themselves when it came time to do paint and polish. Because of this, many of the cars felt somehow incomplete, rushed, and lacking… in the one element that takes up so much of the build’s overall appearance.
SEMA 2016 – A Feast for the Eyes
So much to see, so many cool peeps to meet – a great trip out to Vegas that we’ll definitely do again.