The old car hobby in the 21st century is allot like old Route 66. When it was the Main Street of countless towns between Chicago and Santa Monica this iconic highway was a fun filled nightmare with dangerous curves, heavy traffic, minuscule shoulders, and a staggering array of sites and attractions to be seen along the way. Today it and the attractions along the way, real as well as recreated can simply be enjoyed.
The old car hobby is in a similar state. Put simply you can have your cake and eat it to. You can drive Route 66 and pretend its 1950 or jump into the modern world and its conveniences by joining the interstate. Now, you can drive your old car but with the safety and comfort of the modern era without sacrificing originality.
Street rods leave me cold though there is appreciation for the craftsmanship that is entailed in creating one. My preference is for original cars, time capsules if you will. However, I am quick to realize their limitations, many of which lead people to street rod or turn their car into trailer queens that see little time on the street outside of parades.
With that in mind imagine my excitement as I was thumbing through the latest issue of Cars & Parts and discovered the editorial staff has recognized this and is providing alternatives that make sense. The article of note pertained to taking a stock ’56 Ford and adding disc brakes, updated shocks, and a dual master cylinder.
For a number of years I have wondered what it would be like to blend the best of the new with the best of the old. It would seem others have been thinking along those lines as well.
The old drum brakes of the 1940s and 1950s worked quite well. However, as the editorial in this issue of Cars & Parts notes the stopping distance of a disc brake equipped car is far less and suffers less from fade under pressure.
Now, most of my old car driving is back and forth to work and around town in light traffic. So, the original brakes are fine and dandy.
If, however, I were to drive the vehicle as a modern car, on trips, into major cities, and deal with the traffic of the modern highway on a daily basis wouldn’t it make sense to update the brakes? Wouldn’t it be better in the sense of safety and preservation of the vehicle to make this change, especially if it could be accomplished with simple, bolt on modification?
If I were limited to but one type of vehicle it would be the Advance Design Chevrolet trucks of the 1948 to 1955 period. Over the years I have had many and they are probably some of the best trucks ever built, that is if the year was 1955 or you use them around town, for hauling, camping or hunting. What happens if you want to keep the truck original and use it as daily transportation?
Now you have problems, many of which lead to severe modification and street rodding. In the modern era we have wonderful options that transforms street rodding of original trucks into unnecessary destruction of an heirloom.
You can update the rear end from the stump pulling 4:11 and still keep the torque tube. You can keep the original 216.5 but update it with full pressure oiling and insert bearings.
Here in the sunny southwest vacuum wipers are adequate with the exception of when the hard monsoon rains blow in. Updating to electric wipers is now a bolt on option.
Hats off to Cars & Parts. It is my sincere hope that through their efforts more old cars will be driven and enjoyed instead of personalized and customized via the torch.
Okay, with that endorsement (yes, I write for this magazine and have a link in the upper left corner of the blog) here is one more plug. The car featured in this post is an early front wheel drive racer and is a teaser for a forthcoming article I am writing for Cars & Parts that will profile the evolution of front wheel drive.