Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sleepers...

Last Friday's car pr0n, the Lincoln Versailles, brought up an interesting comment from Jim:
That Lincoln can be tweaked into a credible car, just with some modern suspension bits, and dropping in a new crate engine and computer.

Makes it into quite the sleeper.
And it took me back...

You see, for a (short) period in the 1990s I owned a 1983 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. In the span of eight months, I was in two bad car wrecks (both requiring a trip to the hospital), neither of which were my fault. After my van got totaled, I went out looking for the biggest, heaviest chunk of V8-powered Detroit iron I could find. It came down to a mid-70s Lincoln and the DeVille, and the DeVille won.


The Caddy was in good shape, body-wise, but mechanically it was a mess. It lasted about four months before everything started falling apart: alternator, radiator, water pump, exhaust... I wound up parking it on the property where I would build my house and getting my second Dodge pickup (I just realized that the Caddy was my first V8, and that I've owned naught but 8-cylinder-powered vehicles since 1997...). I was offered chump change for the Caddy (literally, I think it was $100 on trade-in); so I decided to keep it.

The idea was to find a big block motor, either a Chevy 454, Buick 455, or one of the Cadillac 502s (although that would have necessitated a transmission overhaul as well), drop it into the DeVille and have a real sleeper. A strong Hurst transmission, a big block V8, perhaps a supercharger, and it'd be a good possibility of owning a Cadillac that could do wheelies... The body was in good enough shape that it could take a fresh coat of paint and a new landau roof and look pretty new.

Alas, it became a rodent and bee condo just sitting there, and eventually got towed away for scrap (I think I made more money junking it than trading it in, because there was so much metal in the Caddy). I still giggle at the thought of a 1983 Cadillac Coupe DeVille with a 400+ horsepower big block V8...

A friend of mine growing up had a sleeper. 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass S, tan with the black vinyl roof. Whitewall tires, plain jane hubcaps; this car looked like the little coupe your granny drove to church on Sunday. Except that under the hood was a Rocket 350 V8 coupled to a Hurst dual-gate shifter. We were trying to find out where the Olds topped out one night. The 120 MPH speedometer? Insufficient.

One night he asked me to drive, a combination of cold meds and vodka shots (we were young, dumb, and invincible; fortunately I had to work in the morning and had the sense not to drink). The transmission was sticking, so he advised me to take it out on the highway and "rev it out". I hit I95 and mashed the gas pedal to the floor; the Olds obliged by achieving low earth orbit. At about 90 MPH I heard it shift, so I took my foot off the gas. My buddy looked over at me and asked what I was doing. I replied that it had shifted, so we were all set. He then reminded me that it shifted from 1st gear into 2nd, and that there was another gear to go...

Ah, to be young and invincible again - and to have hair...

That is all.

9 comments:

0007 said...

Wife had a '67 Chev II four door sedan that we bought from down south. The owner had shoehorned the drive train from a '69 Impala SS into it and aadded a Hurst "His-Hers" shifter. I changed the carb(bigger Holly) and manifold(Edelbrock), and added headers and pipes. Boy-howdee did she love that car.

Chris in TX said...

I've always wanted to mix a gigantic late '70's/early '80's land yacht, a humorously powerful crate motor, and a long-travel offroad suspension. Oh, and a sawzall for the doors and the non-structural parts of the roof.

PA State Cop said...

Hurst 442 Olds. My dream car with the 350 and bang shifters.

Dave H said...

Chris: A friend of mine wanted to convert a Trailways bus for off-roading and enter it in the Baja 500. I saw a photo of something close to that once, a tour bus modified to drive resort visitors in the Canadian Rockies out onto a glacier.

Grog said...

Jay, you may know of this truck already, it was a good sleeper when the owner first started racing it, but word got around quickly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQvcMruyBtM

Anonymous said...

Ah being young, dumb and invincible. Good memories Jay. Keep 'em coming.

Old NFO said...

Oh those sleepers ARE out there... :-)

Sevesteen said...

I remember a magazine article about a Hemi Cordoba--basically a drop-in, since the Mopar B bodies had few changes beneath the skin over decades.

Recently Motor Trend put a 430 hp aluminum 6.2l LS3 V8 in a 90's Nissan 240SS--California emissions legal, and the engine is lighter than the 4 it replaced...

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/oneyear/coupe/1412_1993_nissan_240sx_project_update_3/

Will said...

Around '74, I had a buddy who swapped a Ford 289 v8 into his Pinto. Started out with the oem 4cyl rear axle, which was way too low in gearing for it. Good for an eighth mile drag, maybe. Looked stock!

His other project was a cheap go-kart with the B&S 5hp? motor, that he did a frame stretch behind the seat. Needed the room for a Kawasaki 400cc vertical twin bike engine. Gearing on the countershaft sprocket and the axle was the same. Running it down the street behind a car, it was clocked at 90mph in third gear, before a combo of traffic, lack of good brakes, and a smidgin of sanity intruded.
We ran it on a dirt track. Great fun, as you could pitch it sideways in second gear at 50mph and drift forever. Needed front fenders, as the outside tire was always pointed at the driver and spitting half the track in your face.