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 VW Bug = Engine in the Front (You can also find some bus models that are water pumpers.)
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.
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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.
Want to Know Who Drives Volkswagens THIS Old – ME. That’s Who.
What’s the scoop with a person who drives Volkswagens that are museum-quality, one-of-a-kind, and polished to a mirror shine?
Crazy? Maybe – no argument there, but maybe not in relation to the driving thing.
The whole time Airkooled Kustoms was building Miss Mabel, the 1959 VW Ragtop Beetle that took People’s Choice at the 2015 Ultimate VW Build-Off in Las Vegas, I kept picturing what it would be like to drive her.
I probably wasn’t alone in that – but for the others who harbored such fantasies, it’ll never be more than that. For me, it’s nearing the time when I’ll take delivery of that saucy and sinister babe on wheels.
First, the guys will raise her up just a smidge. You know, so that hitting a penny on the road doesn’t constitute a crash.
There are also a few other minor adjustments and some repair work to the paint in a few places. She did well on the show circuit, but transport and proximity to people are minor hazards to be expected.
As long as the weather’s fine…
As long as it’s only to putter around town…
As long as it’s daylight…
As long as I’ve got driving slippers… (yeah, picture Mr. Rogers doing the switcheroo)
Then I’ll drive her. With a big smile.
Does the Thought Terrify You?
If the whole idea of driving your restored classic car feels about as wreckless as wandering the streets holding onto a Picasso by the edges of the canvas, that’s understandable. But maybe it’s the best possible way to enjoy your ride.
Here’s a piece that may sway you into the driver’s seat.
Drive Your Fucking Classic Car
It was a good day for an apocalypse.
It was just a few hairs short of 100 degrees; the sun was bright as a nuclear bomb; the sky was greasy with tomorrow’s rain. The entirety of Long Island smelled like it was sweating. The news was all tanks in Turkey and guns in Orlando and killer fucking viruses carried by bugs we already hated even before they took up new hobbies.
It had been bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way down from Connecticut and was still choked now between closely planted streetlights. My Evo coughed up blood at a stoplight; it had always been unenthusiastic with air conditioning, but since the engine swap, running the A/C had become a wasting disease.
A kid in a Subaru listlessly gave me the finger. I returned it, but without enthusiasm. Keeping up the Mitsu-Subie rivalry seemed pointless in light of the looming end of the world.
We—my lover and I—were in my Evo X on our way to take a look at a BMW, a 1991 E34 M5 that seemed like it might be worth a three-hour detour. A lifetime of checking out used cars had given me a certain set of expectations about where cars like it were usually found. A chain-link girdled lot grid-locked with imports, maybe. In a cracked driveway, backed against the recycling bin like the old family appliance it was, perhaps. Behind townhouse garage doors, resting peacefully in a bed feathered with repair receipts.
That was not where this BMW was located.
This one was kept at a place called Deluxe Car Storage & Sales Gallery. A brisk black fence protected an empty parking lot; the cars were hidden within the warehouse. The Evo was breathing hard from its run down from Connecticut, so I removed its bridle and let it lay on the asphalt out front while we went to find our salesman.
Inside, a seating area was populated only with leather chairs and big screen TVs. A glass wall allowed visitors to see what they were waiting for: one of the dozens of luxury cars parked in the dim vast space on the other side. I found myself peering through the glass at what I thought was a ’64 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta. It peered back at me. I died for beauty, it whispered through the glass.
“Do you want to look around while I pull the BMW out?” our salesman asked. Steve. I’m pretty sure his name was Steve. If it was not Steve, he was so overwhelmingly Steve-like that Steve will do fine for the duration. It took me a moment to realize why he was offering the look-see: not to lure me into purchasing the XKE or the Carrera I could see from where I stood, but simply to admire.
I wound through the luxury automobiles as fluorescents came to life overhead. Here was a Chevelle, frowning pensively at me. There was a 280 SL, ears perked, waiting for a walk that never came. Here a passel of new Porsches looking clannish together. There was an assortment of Lamborghinis. One Lambo for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a funeral, four for a birth. Here was a pair of newer Ferraris, each tethered to this mortal coil by extension cords leading from wall to battery.
It was all very… stationary.
Steve pointed out the matching number princesses and the low mileage princes, but I couldn’t quite work up a froth over them. A low mileage sports car is like an attorney who’s never gone to trial. They were pretty, but this was a wax museum.
What’s a car without a driver? An art installation. Until you turn the key, it’s all theory, really.
There’s a phrase that’s been used to justify more vehicular comas than any other: “daily driver.” I’ll be at a gas station kicking some mud off the bottom of my ‘73 Camaro after doing a bit of non-asphalt exploration and here’s some guy telling me he likes the Camaro, he’s got a ’69 himself.
“Oh yeah?” says I, “where’s it at?”
“In the garage,” replies the guy. “I’m in my daily driver.”
Daily driver in this case means something like a Toyota Solara, which is a car I have to Google every time I hear the name because I can’t remember what it looks like even while I’m looking at it.
My daily driver is my boosted Evo or my boosted 370Z. The ’73 Camaro, according to the State of Virginia and my tax paperwork, is my “business vehicle.” I’ve put 50,000 miles on the Evo in the last two years, 8,000 on the Nissan since I picked it up this spring, and 15,000 on the Camaro in the last three years.
The Camaro’s been to the track, the Evo was on a dirt oval, and the Nissan’s first skidplate is crumpled and hanging in a library in Tennessee with my name signed on the corner. I’ve been informed by countless souls that I have devalued all of them.
I reckon that really depends what currency you’re figuring their value in.
Who did I buy them for? Me, or the body that’s gonna sit in them after me? Life’s fucking short and anyhow, the world’s going to end soon, so I might as well put the miles on them.
I just had to Google Toyota Solara again.
It turned out Steve doesn’t even really have a daily driver.
I asked him about it the next day; we’d returned for the BMW. Steve told me he was a Porsche man, but he has a root beer Honda Element. It wasn’t in the lot though; he usually traveled, he said ruefully, via train and bicycle. His Porsches remained garaged. I was outraged on his behalf—this was like finding a pastry chef on a low-fat diet—but he assured me it was practical.
It was a good word for this place, the Deluxe Car Storage facility. It was practical to store your investments here where they would not devalue in this market.
My cells were slowly dying as I hurtled toward my expiration date, and none of these cars had moved since yesterday. Were they cars or were they assets? Did it matter that Corvette there had 425 horsepower at 6400 rpm if it never moved? Did it matter if it ran perfectly because it had low mileage if the engine never got to turn over? Was it thrilling enough to know its potential?
I googled “root beer Honda Element,” and then I asked Steve’s cohort if he wanted to go tear up Long Island in my Evo while my lover and Steve finished up the BMW’s paperwork. We did; it was fun; I can’t go back to Long Island now, but I’m not sorry. That car was built for making a mess in third gear.
We returned to find Steve checking his watch beside a Lamborghini. He needed to make sure he made his train back. I asked him about the Lambo and he told me the guy wanted him to sell it, but every time the dude took it out on a drive, he was killing its value. What a waste.
Really, it depends on your definition of waste.
I feel bad that I can’t fact-check if Steve’s name is really Steve. Look, Steve, I know you gave me your card, but I put it in the console with 50,000 miles worth of gas receipts and they all busted out under the seats when I was digging in there for toll change in New Jersey.
Here’s the thing about Steve: he’s an artist.
I learned this on the second day while I was poking around all the theoretical horsepower in the building. Steve had gone to school for art and had a proper studio and had spent years in New York City. When he hadn’t made it big with his art, he’d fallen back into detailing and selling cars.
I asked to see his art, and he pulled it up on his phone.
He was good. Pretty damn good, actually. It was a bit of a mind-fuck, really, to be looking at Steve, and seeing him both as Steve, perfectly fine car salesman, but to know now that there was also Steve, much better painter. He was standing there with all that unused potential in him, and instead of screaming through life with paint smeared on his arms as he drove his Porsches out of Long Island at 2 in the morning, he was plugged into the wall of a luxury car storage facility next to all the other assets that never got to do what they were made for, either.
There’s nothing much sadder than a beautiful car that no one gets to see, a rare engine that no one gets to hear, a sick piece of art that never gets painted, because you’re saving it for a day when there’s no chance of rain on the weather report.
I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
I’d rather drive my cars to death. Future generations might not have my ’73 Camaro to admire, but they’ll at least have the stories that came from the previous generation flogging the hell out of it.
Are we a generation of doers, or are we merely marking time in hopes that the next generation will be? The currency is time, and it spends whether or not you bought anything with it.
Sometimes I feel like nobody learned anything from Ferris Bueller.
Drive your fucking classics, people.
Maggie Stiefvater is a novelist, musician, car enthusiast and occasional rally driver based in Virginia.
We’re less than a day away from the charity car show at Airkooled Kustoms in Hazel Green, Alabama. The shop’s in ship-shape and ready for campers to show up tonight, and a horde of volks to show up tomorrow. The krew worked hard to get it all looking good, cleaned up, and detailed.
Some were on detail detail today, in fact! The Dubs (and newcomer 1960 Porsche) are shined and sparkling. The weather’s going to be great.
What’s Up for this Year’s Charity Car Show?
We’ve got “Innocent Monday” from Nashville coming to jam on the shop’s porch. Crossing Paths Animal Rescue is our charity this year, and will benefit from donations and the 50/50 Engine Blow. We’ve got Tech Talks scheduled throughout the day.
Chupper Time Catering from Huntsville will join us – you will NOT go hungry. Mmmm mmmmm. You might even get a taste of Spook’s legendary Meatloaf of Death, too.
Want to win one of Snoopy’s exclusive LDDT trophies? This is the only show where you can get one… if the people vote for YOUR ride.
We Love Our Sponsors
We are grateful to our event sponsors, which this year include:
– Ed’s Foreign Car Parts in Gadsden, AL
– FinishMasters of Huntsville, AL
– O’Reilly’s of Hazel Green, AL
– Michael Case
Come on out! Gates open at 8:00 tomorrow, Saturday 10/15/16 and the show gears up at 10:00. Admission is free, and your donations are most appreciated as we help Crossing Paths Animal Rescue to rescue homeless pets in Alabama and help them find forever homes up north.
Parking for show cars is at 458 Guy Wilson Road, Hazel Green, AL 35750. For attendees (non-Dubs), parking has been graciously provided by Hazel Green Baptist Church, which is right around the corner – less than a block away.
Get even more details about the show right here on the event page. You can also pre-register your Dub or Porsche.
Sure, you can pack your Dub with go-fast goodies. But while we get the question about how fast can a VW Bug go a LOT, it’s a whole different matter when you’re looking at classics versus modern cars.
It’s all connected. Every modification you make impacts everything else in your build. A faster engine means you need a stronger transmission. Then you’re going to need to upgrade your suspension and brakes… Well, you get the idea.
One of the faster Beetles we’ve built in the last couple of years is Mojoe. Have you checked it out?
If speed’s your thing – and you’ve got Dub Fever – you’ll want to check out this guide to speedy VWs:
Change your life with a fast VW by CAR Magazine
► We take a look at three great fast used Volkswagens ► VW’s finest hot hatches, estates and coupes ► Andrew Chapple, owner of VolksWizard, acts as our guide
> Is this a good idea? ‘Oh yeah. The Mk5 Golf GTI Edition 30 was the first Anniversary model to use an engine that wasn’t shared with the standard GTI – a detuned 232bhp version of the strengthened 266bhp lump used in the Golf R and Audi S3. Coupled with the standard Mk5 Golf GTI chassis this produced a genuinely rapid and agile hot hatch with all the refinement and quality expected of the VW brand.’
> How much? ‘A decade ago the Edition 30, limited to 1500 in the UK, weighed in at £22,795. Today a meticulously maintained low-mileage model will nudge £18,000. That’s depreciation with a ‘d’ tiny enough to make a Leon Cupra driver cry.’
>What’s going to break? ‘The TFSI engine has a good reputation for reliability but coil packs can fail and the cam follower that drives the high-pressure DFI fuel pump can wear and needs periodic replacement. Oil consumption is not unusual but shouldn’t be confused with the dipsomaniac chain-driven 2.0 TFSI Audi engine used in the A4/A5. All Mk5s are prone to front-wing rust, DSG automatic models can suffer mechatronic module and clutch pack failures, and always check the air-conditioning.’
> Crippling running costs? ‘Edition 30 owners may be immune from depreciation, but money will need to be spent on cambelt changes which are due every five years or 60,000 miles – budget £400 when the recommended water pump change is included. Servicing is barely any different from more mundane Golfs although tyre life is understandably shorter.’
> Is this a good idea? ‘Sure – with 261bhp and no awd system to haul, it’s quick, with an adept ride and scalpel-sharp handling.’
> How much? ‘Early well-maintained models come in at £14k – small money for big performance – through to £25k for two-year-old low-mileage minters.’
> What’s going to break? ‘The drivetrain is much the same as the Edition 30 (left) so the same cautions apply. Check the drop-on-open windows work correctly, the ACC adaptive suspension is fault-free and the optional 19in alloys aren’t cracked.’
> Crippling running costs? ‘Tyres and fuel will eat into your savings, but this is an R for GTI servicing costs.’
So, how fast can a VW Bug go? Speed is not usually the primary reason Dub lovers start restoration projects. The originals weren’t all that fast – and especially not compared with today’s cars. If you’re considering a restoration, you’re going to have some important decisions to make – and some of them will be impacted by whether you’ve got a need for speed, or if you’re happier going low and slow.
Either way, there’s a lot that can be done to a brand new, very old Dub that’s restored at Airkooled Kustoms. It’s all about your priorities. We never say “can’t” – but your wallet might!
How long can Cuba’s classic cars last? Spook says Cuba’s classic cars will last as long as there are people who love them and do what it takes to keep them on the road. That’s how long.
The ingenuity in the face of their lack of supplies and parts is pretty much MacGuyver these cars to keep them rolling reaches genius level. It’s phenomenal what the Cuban drivers have been able to do with basically no resources. They’ve adapted other technology and machinery to be able to keep these classic cars alive.
As Wayne and Garth would say, “We’re not worthy!”
A good life lesson on doing what needs to be done.
How Those Classic American Cars Survived The Embargo : NPR
Cuba’s cars are impossible to ignore. It’s like seeing a celebrity and trying not to stare. David Gilkey/NPR
Cuba’s cars are impossible to ignore. It’s like seeing a celebrity and trying not to stare.
The Car Talk Guys Weigh In On “How Long Can Cuba’s Classic Cars Last?
Car Talk‘s Ray Magliozzi is in Cuba. He talks to Robert Siegel about the old American cars he’s seeing on the streets of Havana.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
About a year ago, I went to Cuba for the first time, and I took some time to appreciate the famously still operating 1950s American cars on the streets of Havana. I was impressed. But what do I know? Now a real authority is spending the week in Cuba, and he took some time out from his astute observations and perhaps a few mojitos to tell us what he thinks of the classic cars of Cuba. I’m joined now by Car Talks’ Ray Magliozzi. Ray, how you doing?
RAY MAGLIOZZI: (Laughter) Hi, Robert. How are you doing? You left out the Cohibas (laughter) – mojitos, Cohibas and the cars (laughter).
SIEGEL: It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. First, what exactly are you doing in Havana?
MAGLIOZZI: What are we doing?
SIEGEL: Is there – I mean…
MAGLIOZZI: Besides drinking mojitos, having Cuban coffee…
SIEGEL: Apart from the Cohibas, mojitos and drinking the mojitos and looking at the cars…
MAGLIOZZI: Is there a goal? Is there an intended purpose?
SIEGEL: (Laughter) Well, not to put too fine a point on it – yes.
MAGLIOZZI: Robert, we’re being journalists for goodness sakes, and we’re trying to ascertain how these cars stay on the roads.
Let’s Get Down to Business and Answer the Question!
SIEGEL: So tell me. As I observed, you probably saw some exceptional cars driving around in Havana. What do you think? What is this – does it make you feel young again?
MAGLIOZZI: Well, exactly that. I mean, I obviously haven’t seen cars of this vintage since I was a little kid.
SIEGEL: What do you think about the maintenance of these cars – think you could have kept as much of these cars on the road as you see in Havana?
MAGLIOZZI: No. I’ve been constantly impressed by the cleverness and the sheer determination of the people who keep these cars going. It’s amazing. So lots of the cars that we’ve taken as taxis, for example, do not have the original engines. But, you know, it’s funny. Stuff I read about Cuba before I came suggested that it didn’t really make much a difference how they put these cars together because most of the roads were dirt roads. Nobody went over 20 miles an hour, and the cars were just a curiosity and a conveyance that was not to be relied upon. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. These cars, you know, driving 50, 60 miles an hour (laughter). I was very happy that they put as much effort into maintaining the brakes on these cars as they had the engines and the transmissions because, you know, with no seatbelts and metal dashboards, it could be over in an instant (laughter)…
MAGLIOZZI: …If you know to mean.
SIEGEL: Yes, I know what you mean. And somehow they had to do this – getting parts. I mean, you can have a new engine under the hood. But you know, the dashboard should still look like the dashboard, and all of the appurtenance of the car should look appropriate. So…
Cuba – Where a Late Model Dates from the 50’s
MAGLIOZZI: Well, interestingly, I rode in a taxi yesterday that had had also a complete dashboard transplant. It was a late-model GM – late-model (laughter) 50…
SIEGEL: Oh, ’58?
MAGLIOZZI: ’58 Oldsmobile had gotten a whole new instrument panel, and he said he got it from the states. So he must’ve had a relative bring this thing in, so it was something that was customized to fit into that hole that had existed for the original instrumentation. So it had a new ammeter and a new oil pressure gauge and all that, and they all worked. I have yet to see a car, however, that has a speedometer that works.
SIEGEL: (Laughter) I see. I see. Are there any pollution controls in these cars?
MAGLIOZZI: Are you kidding?
MAGLIOZZI: The only thing that’s kept us from keeling over is the paucity of cars on the road.
Do Cubans Love Their Classic Cars?
SIEGEL: So tell me, I mean, Ray, which do you think is more the case? Do you think that Cubans hungry for a post-embargo era can’t wait to get a hold of some 2016 model Hyundais and Nissans or that this shtick has really become part of Havana’s culture, that people want to drive around in 60-year-old Chevrolets?
MAGLIOZZI: Oh, I think people would lunge at the newer cars in a minute if they could afford them. I don’t think there’s any question about that. You know, I mean, while this is fun and it’s been done obviously out of necessity, I think if newer cars were to come in – first of all, it would change the Cuban economy tremendously, so there’s going to be a lot that’s going to happen. But I think that – there’s no doubt in my mind that the average Cuban, if he had a chance, would love to drive a new car.
SIEGEL: Well, Ray, thanks for sharing the fruits of your journalistic investigation with us.
MAGLIOZZI: Robert, it was my pleasure.
SIEGEL: (Laughter) OK. That’s Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk talking with us from Havana.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
How Much Is a Vintage Porsche at Airkooled Kustoms?
While you’ve probably only ever seen and drooled over our vintage Volkswagens here at the shop, you might not know that we also restore vintage Porsches as well. After all, they’re Airkooled, too.
What will we say if you ask, “How much is a vintage Porsche?”
Bring us a check for $125,000. To start.
What’s the draw for vintage Porsches? Spook says they’re as pretty on the inside as they are on the outside… and it carves corners like a bat out of hell.
A restoration would turn loose our full-on OCD as we upgrade your Porsche from factory specs to new tech. That wouldn’t include computers, of course – so anti-lock brakes are still out. But you would get modern running equipment, electronics, suspension, and braking.
Basically, we’d take your 40-50+-year-old car, bring it up to modern standards, and give you the keys to a car that’s a blast to drive and a stunning beauty to behold.
Here’s a cool article about a 914 you might like.
Modified 1972 Porsche 914 – Flaxen Flye
Lee Jacob’s 1972 Porsche 914 The 914 was always a driver’s car. Low curb weight, engine in the middle of the chassis, and the center of gravity of an ant, it corners like nothing else on the road. Of course, like any other car, it has its shortcomings. Besides being known as the “poor man’s Porsche,” it was notoriously underpowered unless you got your hands on one of the 914/6s that made their way to these shores.
2016 Buick® Sedan Photos
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1972 Porsche 914 – Flaxen Flyer
What you see before you is not a 914/6. A closer look at the fenders front and rear will reveal that. The sixes had squarish wheel flares front and rear while this ’72 914 has had only its hindquarters widened at the rear by Custom Auto Body in Phoenix, Ariz.
Like a base runner on second, these fenders are all about the steel. You can’t tell right away, since like the rest of the car they have been sprayed a Glasurit 21 line toner yellow, the yellow from which all other yellows are derived.
With this burly body, the anemic 1.8-liter powerplant couldn’t be left in the engine bay, so Beck’s Independent Porsche in Scottsdale tore that out and dropped the ’82 3.0 liter SC CIS motor in its place. A Rich Johnson motor mount ensures proper fitment of the motor, mounting it an inch lower so that cutting into the rear trunk is not required. The conversion does however force the elimination of the drip pan and the trunk latch.
A 3-liter motor, stock at 204 hp, would represent a significant power gain, but with Viton seals and O-rings, new valve guides and 9.3: 1 compression, the motor is putting out nearly twice that of a stock 914. According to owner Lee Jacob, it dynoed at 240 hp at sea level in Arizona before the he found it and brought it back to Colorado. Jacob is a Boulder native who bought his first 914 in 1990.
“I sold a 944 and my first 914 in order to acquire muscle cars,” he says. “But living in the Colorado Rockies and driving the canyons reignited my interest in sports cars. This yellow beauty demanded my attention. One drive and that was enough to know this car belonged in the mountains.”
So, it was with great enthusiasm that this reporter found the keys handed to him. I’ve always had a special affinity for the 914; it was my first car right out of high school. Of course, having owned a Honda Hurricane right before the Porsche sort of made the car’s “raw power” seem even more meager, but knowing that Jacob’s version was powered by Porsche and not VW made the idea of reliving my first vehicle a lot more enticing.
I settled into the custom hand-stitched leather and suede interior. My left foot pushed straight forward to the clutch as I eased the 901 transmission with a strengthened intermediate shaft down and to the left for first gear, the clutch had a familiar tension to it. I moved from first into second as we pulled out of Red Rocks parking lot and embarked on the 15-mile journey across town toward the necessary “second location.”
The highway entrance contained a sharp right-hander, followed by a left. The combination of Bilstein and Koni Sport adjustables, Weltmeister springs, and of course the mid-engine weight distribution, kept body roll nearly imperceptible through this chicane as I eagerly rode the ass of quickly oncoming traffic.
Throttling down through the barrage of sweepers that make up 285 west of Denver finally allowed the 3.0-liter flat six to start breathing and get into its powerband, while the Comple custom wheels wrapped in Dunlop Sport 9000s did a stupendous job of gripping the road.
Jacob didn’t bat an eye as I rowed through the gears, the only drawback to the experience being the slight doughiness of said shifts. As we weaved through traffic on a straight section of the highway, the speedo soared as we approached our destination. The final highway interchange ended up being a sweeper that called for a downshift and a subsequent passing of multiple cars before squeezing into the exit lane.
By this time I could see my passenger was getting a little nervous, so I got on the Wilwood Billet Superlite brakes (with a 23mm brake cylinder and Wilwood hats drilled for a 911). This brake combination quickly got us down to more civil speeds, at which point the flaxen flyer got even more attention at a stoplight. One lady in a minivan nearly broke her neck looking at the rear fenders.
What had started out as a nervous experience with the competition clutch turned into a thrilling rendezvous between machine and man after only a few minutes of spirited driving-sort of like hooking up with an old girlfriend.
Comparing Jacob’s modified 914 to an older stock version, or to my old girlfriend for that matter, might be sacrilege, but the mere fact that he let me behind the helm is worthy of praise.
1972 Porsche 914
Layout Longitudinal mid engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 1982 3.0 Liter SC CIS 81-83 U.S. Specs, 9.3:1 Compression, stock cams and standard crank, balanced, Viton seals and O-rings, new valves and guides, C.I.S. (K-Jetronic), Original 914/6 oil cooler midships, external oil cooler under cowl with electric fan (thermostat on oil temp)
Transmission 901 five-speed, side shift, strengthened intermediate shaft
Suspension Weltmeister SP-180 springs, Bilstein dampers front, Koni dampers rear
Brakes Wilwood Superlite four-piston calipers with Wilwood rotors, 23mm brake cylinder, Wilwood hats (drilled for 911)
You’d be surprised how often the question comes up about do Volkswagens float. So, here’s a quick little video showing a dude who thought nothing of driving his Beetle right off a pier.
Surprised by the results? While we wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, this Beetle’s not the only VW model known to survive a swim. Check out the Schwimmwagen, which was designed to float and roll.
Want one? Wouldn’t take much imagination to turn a Thing into its aquatic cousin. Just a year and a boatload of money, and you’d get the keys to a brand new, very old amphibious Volkswagen. You’d turn heads at the beach in a whole new way.
What Are the Best Classic Cars? The Ones You Fell in Love with First
People often ask us what are the best classic cars to restore – and probably they’re looking for an objective, dollars and cents kind of answer. Some restorations actually turn into smart investments. Just pay attention to some of the outrageous Barrett-Jackson auctions to see jaw-dropping price tags on restored classics.
But there’s another way to gauge what the best classic cars are – and it’s a much softer science, not an economic fact, necessarily.
We call them heritage cars.
Mojoe and LB are just a couple of the heritage builds we’ve done.
This is the ride that captured a piece of your heart as a kid. It’s the car you watched your dad work on (and maybe you even got to help turn a wrench now and then). It’s the bus your mom drove to get your siblings and you to school, Scouts, and piano lessons. It’s the first car you ever bought – and never forgot.
We thought you’d enjoy this piece by Craig Fitzgerald at BestRides.com about how Tony Dow of Leave It To Beaver got his car back… and what he plans to do as a heritage build.
If you ask a heritage car’s owner, “What are the best classic cars?” you’ll get a one-word answer: MINE.
GEE, WALLY: ACTOR TONY DOW GETS HIS 1962 CORVAIR SPYDER BACK
Tony Dow is a director and a sculptor, but if you know anything about him, it’s probably his role as Wally Cleaver in the popular 1950s television series Leave It To Beaver. During the show’s run, he purchased a 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Spyder and sold it several years later. This week, he was reunited with the car, which he hopes to restore to its original specification.
Leave It To Beaver launched on CBS on October 4, 1957, where it ran for its first season. After the first season, it moved to ABC, where it would be broadcast until June 20, 1963. The show ended around the time that Jerry Mathers — who played the title character Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver — was headed off to high school. It achieved consistent ratings its entire run, but really hit its stride in syndication in the early 1980s.
Why the Best Classic Cars Are the Ones We Loved First
The Corvair in question was Dow’s first car, purchased during the show’s original run. He drove the car for four years, until soon after the show ended. At that point, he sold the car to Alan Dadisman, who built props for Universal.
More than 50 years passed without a word about the car’s whereabouts, until the phone rang recently. “[H]e and his wife, Lauren, received a call recently from a stranger who identified himself as Marty Tryon,” reads a piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The caller…explained that a dear friend had recently passed away and had asked Marty to track down Dow, the Spyder’s former owner, and give him the Corvair. Dadisman thought the actor might like to have his first car back.”
Dow remembered that it was Alan Dadisman’s first car, too. “Who keeps a car for 51 years, then goes to the effort to try to find its former owner to give it back,” Dow asked.
Sometimes the Best Classic Cars Have Been Forgotten for a While
The car hadn’t moved for seven years when Dow went to look at it, because Dadisman had been ill for quite some time. Nevertheless, aside from the 1980s-era dark blue repaint, updated wheels and 180-hp turbocharged engine, he was thrilled with its condition.
When it launched for the 1960 model year, the Corvair was a domestic competitor to popular cars coming from Europe. Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the Corvair had a horizontally opposed, rear-mounted engine, but that’s where the similarities ended. The Corvair’s engine was a six-cylinder to the VW’s four, and it provided a number of body configurations, including a coupe, a sedan, a convertible, a pickup, a van and even a small motorhome.
For 1962, Chevrolet began to honestly market the Corvair as a performance car. Monza-trimmed cars hinted at the sportiness in earlier years, but the Spyder took it to another level with a turbocharger.
Forced induction was foreign to the American car buyer circa 1962, except for low-production cars like the Studebaker Lark R2, which provided a belt-driven Paxton SN-60 supercharger. GM jumped into turbocharging with both feet in 1962, though, delivering not only the 152-hp Corvair Spyder, but the 215-hp Oldsmobile Jetfire, supplemented by the addition of “Turbo Rocket Fluid.” (Not making that up. See below.)
Having the opportunity to build heritage cars is one of the best perks of working at Airkooled Kustoms. We know that the best classic cars are the ones that have an emotional tug on the owner’s heart – and that for our clients, these builds are about much more than just vintage steel.
If there’s a classic car that’s been haunting your memory for a while and nudging you to start a build, maybe now’s the time.
Do Classic Cars Need Seat Belts? Yes, unless you’re currently being attacked by a zombie.
In fact, if you’re asking, “Do classic cars need seat belts?” then you could be actually asking of two questions. One, do states require seatbelts even if the car was manufactured without them? Or, two, are they needed.
No, and yes. No, the state won’t make you install them in a restoration if your car rolled off the factory line without seatbelts. Yes, you need them – unless you plan on driving during the Zombie Apocalypse and want to make sure you can bail quickly… but you could even do quick-release belts then.
If your idea of fun is barreling down non-road roads, we’ve got two pieces of advice for you.
You definitely need seat belts.
You might consider a VW Baja Bug.
Usually our shop is known for high-end kustom restorations… like Miss Mabel, or Bumblebee, or Paz Ghia.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t roll around in the dirt like the best of them, too. Plus, an off-road VW Baja Bug would be blissfully free from the fear of a visit from the Dent Fairy.
In fact, a Baja Bug would be fun to build. If you’ve got one in mind and the build plan is kool enough, we’d do it. Rough and tumble, a strong suspension, and everything you’d need to go off road… and make it back – we can do that.
So, yeah, the whole Do Classic Cars Need Seat Belts question is a YES for safety.
Here’s a great little piece about VW Baja Bugs from The Garage at Jalopnik. Buckle up and enjoy.
Here’s why I love cars: They’re gender-neutral, colorblind, politically centered metal and fiberglass boxes of excitement, individuality, and freedom. One car that absolutely embodies everything I’ve mentioned is called the VW Baja Bug. Here are a few reasons why you need to drop everything and buy one.
I’ll start this love letter off with a full, total and long disclosure: I have not driven this car, but I got damn close. Let me explain. I heard D-list internet celebrity and Jalopnik veteran Raphael Orlove needed help with his small but eclectic collection of cars, namely his Volkswagen Baja Bug, and I volunteered to take some time out of my busy schedule of binge-watching Netflix and commenting on political Facebook posts to help him. I’m such a hero.
When I got there, the Bug’s battery was dead and The Raph (That’s what I call him, now that we’re best friends) said that the car was on a tow truck the night before, because she wasn’t running right. After sacrificing the battery in my S-Class, we got the Bug running, and before I could ask to drive it, some random guy beats me to the punch.
Yes, a man off the street asked to drive a complete stranger’s car, with jumper cables still attached, in the pouring rain, with a bad alternator, arguably running on three and a half of its 4 scooter-sized cylinders, and leaving his increasingly worried-looking dog Pepper in the questionable care of said stranger – which is probably as good a time as any to transition into my first point:
5. You Will Get An Insane Amount Of Attention
A VW Baja Bug isn’t a car as it is a lifestyle choice. Why would someone, of relatively sound mind and body, choose a car with an exposed engine, no mufflers or emissions equipment of any kind, and a body half-comprised of cracked fiberglass and rusted-through thinning steel, when they could get a Toyota Corolla for the same price? It’s the kind of question that perplexes people and they can’t help but stare and engage with the owner because of it. I was with the Raph-meister (That’s what I call him, now that we’re best friends) for a few hours on a weekend, and it seemed like every 5 or 10 minutes, someone would stop and do a double take when they saw the bug, and unlike Doug DeMuro’s dudebro-magnet Ferrari, everyone wanted a piece of the Bug.
Young couples looked at the car with an approving gaze, chuckling as they walked past, likely breaking the ice on their awkward first date. Elderly women came by and talked about how their husbands used to have one “just like this” decades ago, when net neutrality was a concept that applied only to tennis. Taxi drivers held up traffic to see if the car would start (Spoiler alert: It didn’t), and a heroic freelance automotive “consultant” came by and offered help, if’n we were so inclined as to pay him. (Spoiler alert: We didn’t). It’s was by far the shittiest and most unkempt car on the street, but I honestly don’t think a Lamborghini Veneno could’ve gotten more attention that this little slice of honest simplicity. And speaking of simplicity…
4. You Can Fix It With A Hammer
If you’ve been paying attention to James May’s Cars Of The People, you’ll have learned that the VW Beetle was designed to be extremely utilitarian, and that if damaged, its simple mechanical wizardry could be set straight on the side of a remote German town, in the 1930s. The Baja Bug takes this to a new level, by removing the things you don’t need, like a bonnet. The car barely has doors (which, by the way, close with a satisfying German thunk), and the rats nest of wiring is so simple and crude that any idiot with a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie would be able to completely overhaul the electrical system.
There are no radiators to speak of, no coolant to leak onto the ground, one tiny carburetor sitting below a slightly less tiny meshed air cleaner, and cylinders that you could individually rebuild. The entire drivetrain comes out with just 4 bolts, and you could perform nearly every bit of the car’s maintenance in a parking lot or side street. The only vehicles that are arguably simpler have pedals.
3. The Worse It Looks, The Better It Is
Immediately after returning to the lap of luxury that I call my Mercedes, I took to eBay to see what Baja Bugs I could find, and I came upon an issue: They were all too nice. I didn’t want a pristine example of a throwaway car, because that would negate the entire point. Raph-a-doodle-do (That’s what I call him, now that we’re best friends) straight up rolled his car into a ditch, putting some nasty welts into his primered bodywork, cracking some fiberglass. One of his headlights made a break for it during a rally stage, and was mended with some wood screws that were fastened into the brittle fiberglass overfenders, with the chrome surrounds left to rust slowly. The front wheels were blue, and the rear wheels were a shade of yellow reserved for dentists’ waiting rooms and IRS office bathrooms, made almost indistinguishable by the amount of dirt on them.
The interior had the build quality and feel of an out-of commission amusement park ride that was turned on one last time. The well-worn seats were from an unidentified 80’s car of some sort, and the dashboard was adorned with the gifts of owners past. The accelerator pedal was missing, leaving behind simply the lever and caster, so your foot could literally roll off the accelerator pedal if you weren’t careful. The vinyl and cardboard door cards were caved in, and the yet-fruitless search for flight MH370 had nothing on the search for one of the car’s 4 gears, through the world’s sloppiest shifter.
But all of that makes the car. It’s underpowered and loud, but it’s supposed to be. Every non-structural rust hole is a admirable battle scar. Every temporary fix-turned-permanent added character and personality. This wasn’t a car, but its own entity. It wore its age with pride, dents and all – a tall order, and not something any car could pull off. This car is a tribute to a simpler era, wearing completely different clothes than it did when it left the showroom, but having way more cool stories to tell.
2. It’s The Best SUV
The regular VW Beetle can be quite low. Not so with the Baja Bug. As I went to disconnect the battery from my car and bring it down the street to give some much-needed life support to the Bug, I found Rapharino (That’s what I call him, now that we’re best friends) just hanging out underneath the car, with his feet in the New York City street, obviously and/or obliviously unconcerned with the cars whizzing past. This car had crazy ground clearance. It also had meaty tires and had its engine in the back, which allows you to do this on a dirt track quite easily:
Even thought its engine produced a paltry 50-something horsepower on a good day (not too many of those), the chassis had a ton of pedigree and it was set up to kick some serious ass and have an even seriouser amount of fun. If you fold the backseat and clear out the frunk, you have ample room for storage, and it can seat 5 ’30s-era Germans with ease, or 2 modern-day Americans in relative discomfort. Even if you can’t fit something inside, strap it to the roof, or drag it behind you, it’s so damn frugal that you could make extra trips without having it put a dent in your wallet, and you’d be smiling the entire way. It’s the all-terrain vehicle that you never knew you needed, costing a little bit less than most new 4-wheelers, which brings me to my final point:
1. It’s Seriously Cheap
If you’re looking for thrill of ownership, no car beats this for the dollar, as you can buy these modified, personalized playthings for next to nothing. For around the same price as a used Corolla, you’ll have instant friends and onlookers wherever you go. It’ll sound like a pissed off WRX, and you could slide it around in the dirt. Dents make the car look better, and you could fix it with duct tape and silly string. They made millions of Beetles, and you could convert one into a backyard-destroying Baja Bug by yourself. This car will most likely outlive you, leaving only your legacy behind.