Saturday, January 30, 2010


The internet is going to be my new best friend, I think. There is so much information it's silly.
I promise this blog isn't about how it's so cold here that I can barely keep it warm enough to have functioning fingers in order to type out a blog post. And I promise not to go on and on about how the intense cold is making it even more impossible to get started on the 'Cuda.

Unfortunately, I can only post about what I've read or heard lately.
And once again, this one is courtesy Mopar Motorhead's latest post.
I had seen a few sites for Valiant-Barracuda clubs online. That was when I first learned about their history as kin. But, the first club I saw had a membership fee that I couldn't really see paying at my experience level. I mean, I sort of pushed myself at my sister and father saying, 'let's do something with that car!' With my inexperience and lack of automotive knowledge, I'm flying by the seat of my pants with this...with virtually no cash...and need all the FREE help I can find at this stage. Thankfully, there is a ton of info online, and I have access to great knowledgeable friends...and I'm counting on my dad, since he's done this before.
But, I was curious (of course) to see if the club that was referenced in his latest blog was the one I had stumbled across earlier. And it wasn't. This one's free...surprisingly. I will likely join once my hands are covered in motor oil and I have a dirty rag hanging from my back pocket (yes, this is my image of a successful mechanic). But for now, I poked around and have already found an interesting tidbit.
There is a link to decipher your car's VIN. So I was curious. I had no idea that number held so much information!
The very interesting thing I learned? Well, it's probably only interesting to me, but I feel it takes me one more step toward feeling this car is more than just a project. I am beginning to feel like this car has come into my life for a larger purpose than a simple bonding project for my sister and I. I already feel closer to my dad and we haven't even started the work, yet!
Anyway, part of the VIN number will tell where the car was made. Ours is a 2. Which means the assembly plant of our precious was 'Dodge Main, Hamtramck, MI'!
As I stated in my very first fathers family is Polish...100%. His parents 'came over on the boat' as children. I never spoke to my grandparents parents because I did not speak Polish. But I have memories of going to Hamtramck to see my great-grandparents as a very small child. It was, and judging by their website, remains a fairly Polish town.

Is it strange that I feel a closer bond with this car because it was born in the town were my great-grandparents lived? Maybe, but maybe not so much.

oh, and in case you were wondering...Mitch Ryder was born in Hamtramck. Later, while living in Detroit, he played street ball with my parents!
Perhaps our 'Cuda IS the 'devil with the blue dress on'??

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Working girl, again

Well, it's back to full-time work for me.
Still working Mon-Tues at the veterinary office. And studying my technician stuff so that I can do more than pick up poop. Today I start my second part-time job at our local Trader Joe's market. I have no idea what kind of schedule I will have, but altogether I will be back to working 40-45 hours a week. Not that I'm not grateful to have money coming in again, but it's really going to cut into my 'restoration' time.
I think if Steph and I had a better idea of what we are doing, the time wouldn't be such an issue. But I see us getting together and just looking at 'Babe' and saying, 'well, what now?'
I think (if it doesn't snow) in the next couple of weeks I am going to make time to go out and start cleaning up the interior. That is something we can at least do while the weather's kind of cold. I also want to see if I can use the shed placement and the surrounding trees to rig up a tarp, since I don't want to spend repair money on a car port. Not that we really have any specific funds set up, but anything I spend, I want to go directly into the car.
Hopefully, I'll have more pictures soon, too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I am really getting tired of Winter, this year.
It's not due to snow. We had one big storm, which was all pretty much washed away by rain a few weeks later, and then minor dustings here and there. But mostly...rain.
It's not because I love summer and the hot hot sun. Because, quite frankly, I don't.
It is simply because I want to get moving on this car! I'm tired of sitting around wondering what we should do. Being semi-unemployed the past 4 weeks, it would've been the perfect time to get out there and do some work. But, instead, it's been fridgid, and Dad has had doctors appointments like nobody's business. I'd love it if we had a garage for that car, but we don't. So we wait. For warmer weather.
I have been considering putting a little money into one of those 'car port' things. Just a little tent in the event that Steph and I are available to do some work, but then it rains. I have a serious curse. I wish it was a joke, but it's not. I live in a town about 30-40 minutes from where the car is (at Dad's house). That is also the town where Steph lives, and also other friends that I used to visit more frequently. I would say 90-95% of the time I would visit, it would rain. Whether it was predicted to or would rain. And for that reason, I believe I have talked myself into springing for a car port thing.
I sent along a little email to the CarTalk guys. For anyone who doesn't know who they are, they are brothers from Boston who know everything there is to know about cars. Well, as far as I can tell, anyway. They are hilarious. I just wanted to see if I should wait until all danger of frost and cold were gone before starting ANY of the work on our car. We'll see if they reply. Hubby thinks I should call them about the car and get on the radio.
"Hi, what's your question?"
"How do I restore this car?"
"Get someone else to do it!"

In other news, since I have none as far as actual restoration yet...
I read a blog post about a '65 Barracuda model, from Mopar Motorhead. And it made me realize...I thought Dad's Barracuda was a '67 and Mom's Mustang was a '65. But, I may have been wrong...Dad's 'Cuda may have been a '65, too. I'll have to research it. I can't really tell by looking at pictures online because all I have to go on is my memory, so I'll just have to ask Dad. Actually, maybe he'll be able to give me some photos of him at the dragstrip or even old pics of Mom's Mustang.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waiting for Spring: part1

I didn’t want to post and run with this new blog. I would love to be able to keep up with fairly regular posts until the time Steph and I actually start working on the car. We're just waitigng for Spring.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much car knowledge or words of mechanical wisdom to share in the meantime. I have been doing a little research and reading about others who have successfully restored classic cars. The more I read, the more anxious I get. It’s that good anxious feeling you get when you are eager to get down and dirty; but, also that feeling…the KNOWING…that I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

I have learned a few things.
**There are plenty of people out there restoring cars and they seem to want to impart their knowledge. And I’ll take it!
**The 1967 Barracuda was the first of the ‘second generation’ of Barracudas. It was the first year of the Barracuda that no longer shared the same sheet metal as the Valiant. Now, this means nothing to me in terms of the metal, but I actually had no idea that the Valiant was the pre-curser to the Barracuda. Most Barracuda ’clubs’ are ’Valiant-Barracuda’ clubs. They made it bigger to fit in a bigger engine…hot rod, anyone? And, starting in ‘67, they began offering the Barracuda in convertible, fastback (which is what Dad had), and notchback (which is what we’ll be working on). I am in love with the fastback. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my childhood memories of Dad’s car; but, I also like the sporty look of the fastback compared to the old lady feeling of the notchback. But, since it’s me and my sister with our “Happiness is yelling ‘BINGO’” front plate, I guess it’s perfect! (I’m certainly not complaining!!)
**And lastly I learned that the drag strip where my dad used to race is STILL running! Looking at pictures on their website, I feel all warm inside. Ubly Dragway…check it out.

What I wish I could learn: How can a girl with no automotive know-how manage to make this work? And why is it so appealing?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The backstory...

This is the beginning of a strange adventure. My younger sister and I will attempt to restore a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda that our father had bought for her a few years ago. I was not included in the original project. There’s no bad blood because of it. I am not really sure why Dad bought the car in the first place. It is my understanding that he wanted to bond with Steph, and this was something they could share. But then, our older brother got involved and 3 hot-tempered Polacks should never get involved in anything without supervision! And so, after some alterations, the car sat. Without any love. Without so much as enough respect for someone to put a tarp over it. Poor car.
So now, several years later, I have quit a job I hated and have way too much time for thinking. Of the things I think about, my ailing father and that lonely car are at the top of the list. Here’s Dad’s situation: he’s ill. Steph spends the most time with him, as she is responsible for him. Mom moved after their recent divorce and he is alone in their house. He is bound to a wheelchair due to problems with his feet and his near-blindness (he has something like 20% sight). He goes to dialysis 3 times a week and his ‘friends’ are the multitude of nurses he sees on a regular basis. These are complications due to diabetes and, apparently, his exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.
Here’s the twist of this ‘adventure’: he’s our car guru, our sage advisor, our reference book! Yes, this will be an adventure, for sure. Steph has put some sweat into this car already. Brother has apparently replaced the original engine with a much larger engine, which we are, as of now, not sure will fit under the hood. My look at the car has been limited. It is covered with snow. I can see the hood is not closed (which is how I found out about the new bigger engine). I can see the seals around the windows need replacing and it will need 4 new tires. I’ve been told the brakes need to be replaced and the shocks need new springs or something to that affect. And the best part is that it is, right now, on a slight incline, boxed in by the trees of the back yard, the shed to the right, and our dad’s new wheelchair ramp directly behind. This is not going to be easy.
Whatever work Steph has already done, she will have to tell us, because as I said, I was not originally included in the project. This time around it was my idea that she and I try to give this beauty the life it deserves. Well…to give it life, anyway. I only hope we can do it justice!
What are our qualifications? I have none; she has done some work on it.
How do we expect to fix a car with no knowledge of cars? We have dad!
I don’t know much about cars, but growing up I was exposed to the AIR of car repair. The house was littered with Chilton reference manuals, race car magazines, and even NASCAR ALBUMS! If there wasn’t a race on TV, he could LISTEN to old races on vinyl.
My memories growing up included my mother’s baby blue ‘65 Mustang with the white leather interior. Her first car. It was a thing of beauty, and my father refused to get rid of it for many years, though I don’t remember it running past my 6th or 7th birthday. And there was Dad’s own ‘67 Barracuda fastback (dark green with black interior) that we would watch him race at the local drag strip. I have two specific memories of this car. The first was going to school and bragging to the boy that I had a crush on that ‘my daddy beat your daddy at the race yesterday!’ I think it was first grade. And in direct opposition to this memory was the day he drove us to school in that car. I was mortified when he drove up the bus lane! “Busses Only, Dad!!” That may have been third grade. Once it stopped running, it became a sad pile of car that slowly started losing parts, starting with the front side panels. I believe my father stopped being happy the day he could no longer drive that car.
So, I guess it is my father’s love of cars that I have inherited; but, also my odd desire to pay homage to him and HIS love of cars that drove me to suggest that little sister and I try to get that thing running. And I have to say, as of now we have not (well, I have not) put any work into this, but I am already looking at others’ classic cars…and I want another!!
So, until the Spring thaw, this is how 'BABE the blue Barracuda' shall bide her time.
Stay tuned for the crazy adventures that are sure to come!