By Greg Riley
May 1, 2021
As I write this we expected to be at the Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elégance. The weekend weather is uncooperative. At my home base in beautiful downtown Richards, Texas we even have localized street flooding with some areas completely covered. This seems a good opportunity to sit at the computer and tell you about some of the adventures of the last few weeks and just catch up on things in general. Pull up an engine block, and pop a top.
CATCHING UP WITH GREG
I am always making parts runs to various places, and my bride Ronnie always asks if I brought her something back. Yep, sure did this time (it’s been two weeks and I think she going to let me off the couch tonight )
Projects come and go around here constantly. In fact, my greatest automotive joy is repair and restoration of things others can’t make run or look right. This sweet little ’68 Corvair 500 coupe shown below had severe drive-ability problems despite a helluva expensive professional engine overhaul. I overhauled the carburetors, and did various other tweaks, and the owner reported it has never run so good. I understood it's now found a new home in Austin.
Weekly funny, stolen from a friends FB feed.
You may have seen some of the photos we've posted of our new property, Valley View Farm. Well another friend, did and called to say her brother and future sister-in-law were looking for a place hold an outdoor wedding. The bottom line being they will be getting married at our place two weeks from today. Let's all pray for better weather!
Several nights a week I simulcast music to a couple of clubs as DJ Scotty Gibson. Tristen and Darla mentioned they were looking for someone to play at the reception, so DJ Scotty will soon be making his wedding reception debut. Maybe it will start me on an all-new career path.
I broadcast using VirtualDJ professional software, which we also use to make Tales from the Garage. Since I'm going to be playing outside I needed something with some serious power. This setup with a whopping 3,200 watts in on the way to Garage DeLuxe. I always say, go big or go-home! (he says as he leaves his Mastercharge smoking, lol)
On Palm Sunday the Richards United Methodist Church presented a tribute to our dear departed friend Billy Thomas. Billy was famous for the concerts at the Grandview Manor music hall featuring world-renowned artists. Eduardo Lopez de Casas presented a beautiful musical tribute. Scroll to the end for the full concert video.
Getting old is hell. A quote from Andy Rooney has always stuck with me, “I didn’t get old on purpose. It just happened, and if your lucky it will happen to you.” As part of that hoping to get old I’m trying hard to improve my diet.
Chickashsa Pre-War Swap Meet
A few weeks ago two of my sons and I made a quick to trip to Chickasha, Oklahoma for the pre-WWII swap meet. We say all sort of interesting things and picked up a few things for some of our projects.
I recently purchased a new riding lawnmower to mow Valley View Farm. I used the mower twice and the transaxle failed. Thanks to my Corvair Houston buddy Ed Stock for bringing his ZTR and mowing the farm while I was waiting for it to be repaired.
BURTON COTTON GIN FESTIVAL
Two weekends ago we went to the Burton Cotton Gin festival. The plan was to bring two cars for the parade and car show but circumstances intervened, and neither the cars were quite ready. We have also been working on the restoration of my son Brian's 1911 Cushman upright 4 horsepower “Corn-binder" engine, which when finished is going to be quite spectacular. I did this restoration evocative of brass-era car. There were many brass pieces on the engine which were originally painted black as this was a utilitarian industrial engine and noone cared how it looked. We’ve gone to considerable effort to bring out all of its hidden beauty.
The Cushman wasn't quite ready either, as we needed a couple of parts that proved to be very difficult to find. Apparently, you can’t just run down to AutoZone and grab a kit for a one-hundred-year-old brass Schebler carburetor. Parts for the ancient carburetor are now on the way and that should be the last big thing before we can run and show the engine.
We did take Brian’s 1917 Fairbanks Morse 1 1/2 horsepower headless. The un-restored old girl spews oil out of every pore, and also clanks and bangs, but she never misses a beat. At the festival we saw a number of old friends including Gary Buckner (who we hadn't seen in many years,) Ed and Julie Murphy, Ray Rosenbaum, his son Allen, James and Eileen Bartlett, and several other familiar faces. The Bartlett's participated in the parade in their Packard Roadster which is quite a spectacular automobile.
1917 Fairbanks-Morse aka Gritty Gerty
TEXAS AUTO WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION 2021 SPRING ROUNDUP
The day after that I headed to the Texas Auto Writers Association 2021 Spring Roundup at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The official TAWA award winners will be announced soon, but I thought I would tell you about some of my personal favorites.
I got to drive all sorts of interesting machinery from an entry-level Hyundai and Kia all the way up to the latest Rolls Royce Ghost. Numerous high-performance models were in attendance including the Lexus LC-500 convertible and the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye. My good friend and Tales From the Garage co-host Jesus Garcia and I ran around together, Unfortunately our cohort Natan Tazelaar was unable to make it from the Netherlands due to the ongoing pandemic travel limitations.
Some vehicles were to be driven on-road only others you could drive on or off the track but all were loads of fun. I drove over 15 vehicles in the space of a few hours and after a while it becomes a bit overwhelming. Some vehicles and features always stand out, and I thought it would be fun to share with you my personal favorites.
You may recall my previous tongue in cheek awards that I called the Greggies. Without further ado I present the 2021 Texas Auto Writers Association Spring Roundup Greggies.
Best interior Genesis G-80. Tongue in cheek, I said the Genesis G80 was 80% of a Rolls-Royce at 20% of the price. That is overstatement, but the point is the G80 is one hell of a car fully loaded for around $69k. This is a worthy competitor to Audi, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and other luxury marques.
Most likely to be a future classic Lexus LC-500 convertible. I think this is the sexiest sportscar since the Jaguar E-type. I predict a major future collectible.
Best muscle car in the old school tradition - 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye. 797 horsepower, 0-60 in 3.6 seconds, 10.6 second quarter-mile at 129 mph. Top-speed 203 mph, and yes I took it on the track and let 'er rip.
First car I'm buying when I finally hit that damn Powerball, 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost
Most retro paint, 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat. We used to call those '69 green Plymouth Roadrunners, "Bug-Juice Green gotchas!" This is the closest I've seen to that color in years.
Best handling, and most fun overall was the 2021 Toyota Supra. Great looking and an absolute blast on the track. It wasn't the most powerful of the day, but ultimate horsepower doesn't always equate to ultimate fun.
Biggest wow factor Fisker Karma - The Fisker Karma has been around for quite a while now, but I never get tired of looking at them. Just beautiful design from every angle.
Most underrated car on the market today all minivans - Somewhere along the way minivans got a bad rap, and I don't know why. They can haul tons of people and stuff, do moderate towing while getting reasonable fuel mileage. The old Chrysler Corp. was first to market, and Stellantis' current offering the Pacifica is still among the best of the breed.
CORVAIR SOCIETY OF AMERICA MINI CONVENTION
Speaking of Concour events, I had originally planned to attend the Amelia Island Concours d’Elégance in Amelia Island Florida. Since making those initial plans I have made significant restoration progress on my 1968 Corvair Monza convertible. Instead, I’ve decided to attend the Corvair Society of America Mini Convention in Springfield, IL instead of the Amelia event. Typically, these events are months apart, but due to COVID both were rescheduled for the same weekend.
I recently read that Hagerty insurance says the 1968 and ‘69 Corvair Monza convertibles are the among the fastest appreciating of the breed. “The most expensive second-generation production Corvair is 1968 and 1969 Monza 2 door convertible which has a number 3 average value of $18,600” It feels good to be on top of an automotive financial trend for once. Mine has a full custom big-bore 3-liter big-valve engine with four carburetors, quick steering box, rebuilt transaxle, and custom audio system.
Several things went into my decision to go to the CORSA mini convention. As much as I enjoy the Amelia event I wouldn't have the opportunity to show my personal vehicle, and my wife and boys can only attend certain portions of the event. At CORSA we can all participate in all aspects.
The craftspeople at Ahira's Upholstery realized my vision for a "one of none" custom hounds tooth interior in spectacular fashion. It exceeded my expectations in every way.
At the CORSA event I'll get to see lots of old Corvair friends, sell mountains of parts I need to be rid of, participate in the Rally, Autocross and People’s Choice car show with my own car. Additionally Corvair aircraft expert William Wynne will host a Corvair powered aircraft fly-in, and discuss adaptation a Corvair engines for aircraft. He has raised the reliability of these engines to incredible levels.
Alas Amelia will have to wait till 2022 to see me, and who knows I might be on the show field by then as I have big plans for the future. If you're going to the Amelia event there are a number of things that you don't want to miss. Here is a link to the official Amelia Concours web site. https://www.ameliaconcours.org/
CARS ‘R US
I'm again back in the rotation to evaluate new press cars, and last week started with a bang with the delivery of a 2021 Patagonia Red E450 Mercedes Fourmatic coupe. What a gorgeous and great driving automobile. I'll have a full report for you in the near future including a ride along.
This week's press car is a 2021 Kia Telluride SX AWD. It's easy to see while these are selling so extraordinarily well. Stylish, comfortable and beautiful interior, and priced competitively. I'll also have a full drive report on this vehicle for you in the next few days
TALES FROM THE GARAGE RETURNING SOON
Earlier I mentioned Tales From the Garage broadcast and I'm pleased to announce the completely re-imagined and reformatted show will be premiering shortly. We're changing many things but Natan and Jesus will remain my co-hosts, we'll have all kinds of interesting automotive news, car talk and some of the leading figures in the industry and collector car world as our guests ... And also don't forget the great music too.
It take a very long time to assemble an issue of this blog, and I've now been sitting here over eight hours, have eaten two meals in front of the computer, and like the cartoon says "that's all folks!" We'll make another try for Keels & Wheels tomorrow, but at the moment the weather report doesn't look much better.
Don't touch that dial don't go anywhere because we'll be back soon with another edition of the blog and the reformatted online radio show and podcast Tales from the Garage on GarageDlx.FM . As always thanks for letting me invade your inbox, I appreciate all of the kind words and great emails that I receive and I'll be seeing you all out and about very soon. Tribute to Bill Thomas by Eduardo Lopez de Casas immediately below.
Bill Thomas Tribute Video