A friend gave me his June 2010 issue with the bright red 1969 Impala on the cover, and it warmed my heart!
Being a drag-race fan in the 1960s, I wanted to order a class car for pure stock and stock eliminator classes that could be driven daily. When Chevy offered the first three-speed automatic small-block in 1969, I jumped on it.
My choice was dictated by the fact that the car was only 39 pounds heavy for the drag class at the time. (I figured the numbers in January of '69, got my best price and ordered my car on my 25 th birthday.) Since this was also going to be the tow car for my 1957 Chevy NHRA stocker, I wanted the large trunk for my spares and tools. (We flat towed then.)
I agree with everything in your article—well researched and accurate. The only thing I'd add would be the new-for-'69 TH350 transmission. Another thing common in this era was a problem with soft cams from GM. I replaced mine with a Lunati with matching lifters—bulletproof. Concerning mileage, on premium fuel, I think we got 18-19 on the highway, which was okay for the time.
Thanks for letting me have my nostalgia moment; those were the best of times.
Whitesboro, New York
Jeff Koch is mistaken when he says the voice disappeared when the 280ZX died (July 2010 HMN). I had a 1984 300ZX Turbo Anniversary Edition, and Tokyo Rose was alive and well: "Lights are on," "Fuel is low," "Parking brake is on," "Right door open," "Left door open," etc.
The "Tokyo By Night" dash would burn out around 40,000 miles and cost north of $2,000 to replace. Aside from that, it was a pretty nice car.
I was surprised that the article on the
Pontiac "half a V-8" four-cylinder Tempest engine didn't mention its infamous tendency to chew up timing chains.
Many a time in the late '60s I would pull up to a stop light and hear a Tempest in the intersection making horrible thrashing, chattering noises from a chain that was about to let go.
As a young mechanic back then, I replaced several of the chains—two on the same Tempest wagon belonging to the owner of the shop where I worked. The chain had two tensioning shoes and a spring, but they were flimsy compared to today's more rugged and hydraulically dampened four-cylinder chains.
The chain "snatch," caused by the big vibrating four-banger's pulsating power flow at idle, often broke the tension spring, and the chain started to self-destruct after that.
I'm a long-time Hemmings subscriber, and despite a rigorous workout schedule and a good diet, I can't keep the years from piling up. Consequently, it's time to ask Hemmings to pay homage to one of the most important GM cars ever made—the 1965 Oldsmobile Starfire convertible.
Yes, it was the last of the Starfire convertibles. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, it was in a vague niche between a muscle car and a luxury car. But this rare beauty had many things going for it.
The total Starfire production run in 1965 was 25,260 (23,024 coupes and 2,236 convertibles), making the '65 ragtop the rarest of all the Starfires.
There were a total of 122 cars made with the four-speed transmission, according to Helen Jones Earley, although she stated that she was unable to tell us how many of the four-speeds were allocated to each type, since fire destroyed all of the records.
Other important facts about the '65 Stars that are well documented include the following: first year of the 425-cu.in. engine; first year of the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission (still in use in many race cars); first year of curved side glass for convertibles; first year of the glass rear window for the convertibles; and only year that the exhaust ports exited the sides.
Therefore, I hope that one day you will see fit to highlight the '65 Star ragtop in your magazine, either in your "Classic Car Profile" or the "Hemmings
Stock Exchange-American Collectibles" (although value might be difficult to ascertain since there are so few show-worthy examples available today).
Separately, there are at least two beautiful examples of the '65 Star convertible here in North Carolina—mine (metallic blue with a white top and silver blue interior) and one owned by a friend in the Wilmington area (dark green with a white top and black interior)—just in case you'd like some pictures of this rare twosome.
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Thanks for a great column in the August issue ("Between the Lines"). Back in the 1980s, even though I was married with two kids, I bought a Harley Electra Glide and rode it for 20 years.
That counts for a little, I think. Then after selling that off, I restored a '48 Dodge D24 sedan, which I still have, and which runs great, and three years ago put most of my 401(k) into restoring a '58 Edsel Citation, which definitely runs great, and I have much fun with it.
But you touched on deep thoughts in your column. I love to watch all the nature shows, especially the ones about how the earth was made, how old it is, all the millions and billions of years that have gone by, and how our existence is so ridiculously tiny and brief.
I even have an automotive analogy which you may find interesting. Imagine an engine running at 3,000 RPM. Imagine further that every time the engine makes one revolution, one year goes by. Then before you could say "one-Mississippi" the number of years in your or anyone else's lifetime would have elapsed.
But the engine would have to run nonstop for 15 days before it would tally up the years since the last dinosaur roamed the earth. Double that to about a month for when the first dinosaurs appeared. Just think of it. The engine running nonstop, every minute, hour, day, etc., with each turn of the engine marking one year.
It's humbling to say the least.
Send questions, comments and criticisms to: HMN Backfire, 222 Main Street
Bennington, Vermont 05201
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