10 Reasons to Go Ahead and Buy That Classic Car

(ARA) – “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and…” Go on, you know it, sing along: “Chev-ro-let.” Americans have long had a love affair with cars — classic cars in particular. They’re worshipped in our culture, in movies and TV commercials, at weddings and charity benefits, at local hamburger-joint cruise-ins, family reunions and Fourth of July parades. Young men in their first tuxedos drive them with sweaty palms to Prom.

The robust health of the old car hobby is evidenced by the ever-growing participation and attendance at car shows & auctions around the country (over 6,000 collector car shows and exhibits were held in 2003). Here’s why there’s never been a better time for you to join the millions who have made their dreams of owning a piece of the past come true:1. Investment. You’ve got to put your money somewhere, and some classic cars are appreciating in value better than your average mutual fund. (Plus, you can’t go into the garage and wax your mutual fund). Take the case of a very nice, 1949 custom 4-door flathead V-8 Ford. Twenty years ago you could pick one up for about $2500. Ten years ago the same vehicle would not sell for under $6000. Today you’re lucky if you can buy one for less than $15,000.2. Opportunity. While the values of certain collector vehicles, such as muscle cars, are spiraling upwards (and out of the reach of many would-be collectors), there are certain antique cars that are downright affordable, such as the Ford Model A. While a “numbers matching” 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible can easily command $30,000+, a fully restored 1930 Model A will only set you back about $12,000 to $18,000.3. Family time. Restoring a vehicle yourself, even partially, can be a great learning experience for the whole family. The patience, craftsmanship and attention to detail can be worthy attributes for a young (and not so young) person to acquire. The plethora of manufacturers of licensed restoration parts, paint companies, tools, tires and parts make it easier today than ever to restore that dream car. Many companies have on-line manuals, DVDs and VHS tapes to help you through a particular part of the restoration process.4. Precious heritage. Pride of workmanship flourishes in this hobby, and whether you choose to do the restoration work yourself or have a professional do it, it’s a testimonial to the days when life moved at a slower pace. Each vehicle has a story to tell and this is not only a valuable, but precious, heritage. What a thrill to know that your children and grandchildren will carry on the history of the car, and your association with it.5. Creative outlet. There’s no law that says you have to have an original car. You can take a little creative license with the paint, or go wild and turn your nice quiet old car into a screaming purple lead sled with air conditioning and power steering. Either way, you’ll have plenty of people cheering you on. The street rod hobby is growing even faster than the old car hobby in general — one of the national street rod clubs, “Good Guys,” now has over 66,000 members and hosts 22 huge events around the country each year.6. New friends. The enormous number of car shows, swap meets, cruise-ins and car clubs are all chances to network with the millions of other collectors out there. Meeting new people, getting free tips and suggestions, and involving your family in a nationwide hobby are great reasons to get involved. If you have access to a computer, there are hundreds of on-line chat rooms strictly devoted to “collector car-speak.”7. Old fashioned fun. There is something about washing and waxing a car that has a soothing quality to it, not to mention the ego boost of the neighborhood crowd you’ll acquire while working on your classic. It’s fun to share your hobby with young and old alike. A Sunday drive with the oldies playing on the radio can bring back fond memories of a time that wasn’t quite so hectic. If your collector vehicle happens to be a convertible, all the better. Put that top down, grab the kids and hit the road!8. Insurance. Not a four-letter word. There are providers that specialize in low-cost collector vehicle insurance, and offer qualified owners super-affordable coverage. Classic car insurance provides all the traditional coverage that regular insurance provides, but in addition protects the vehicle on an “Agreed Amount” basis. This means the company will pay the full-insured value, with no depreciation, in the event of total loss. By contrast, if you placed your 1970 Corvette, for instance, on a regular auto policy, it might, in the event of a total loss, be depreciated to only a few thousand dollars — a very unpleasant surprise should such a claim occur.9. Fifteen minutes of fame. Many collector automotive publications seek freelance writers. Keeping a journal of your restoration process means you have the play by play should the Muse strike. Restoration aficionados are always looking to hear about a better (faster, cheaper) way of doing things. Your car could be a star not only in ink but on websites as well. American Collectors Insurance’s website, for instance, has a heavily trafficked “Classic Car of the Week” section where policyholders tell their stories and winners have pictures of their cars posted (see www.AmericanCollectors.com).10. New lease on life. Driving a classic car — whether it’s a stately, living-room size Caddy or a ’69 Mach I with a 351 Windsor — gives you a sense of being totally capable of doing anything and going anywhere. Unlimited possibilities seem to appear in the road ahead. Strangers smile and wave at you. There is an air of mystique, respect and passion. There’s no price tag on making a dream come true. Courtesy of ARA Content

Ten Tests To Try For a Cranky Engine That Won’t Start

Has this happened to you? You put your key in the ignition, turn it on, you hear the spin, but nothing starts. Maybe it coughs and snorts a time or two. Or maybe it even ran for a minute – teasing you – but then nothing!Sounds like you’ve got a problem! What do you do?1. Check the easy stuff first! Look at the gas gauge if it shows fuel in the tank. If it’s empty, hit yourself in the head for being a dolt!2. Then check the fuel line and fuel filter. It may just be a plugged fuel filter. If there is no gas in the line, it may be a lying fuel gauge.3. If you have an older vehicle that has a distributor, check the coil wire. It may be off loose or broken.4. Next check to see if there is fire to the plugs. A timing light is good for this and eliminates the accidental shocks you can get using other methods. Just hook up the timing light and see if it flashes when the engine spins. If it flashes you have fire to the plug.5. Next examine the plug wires closely. Are there any cracks in the insulation or has moisture collected on them? If either or both conditions are present, the condition can easily keep your vehicle from starting. The solution is replacement plug wires if the insulation is cracked.6. If you still haven’t found the cause at this point, it may be a more serious internal problem (Gasp!).7. The next step is to check the ignition timing with your timing light. If the ignition timing is good, you may have bad spark plugs.8. Remove one of the plugs and examine it. If it’s wet, you may have carburetor or fuel injection issues.9. If you are unable to locate the timing mark with the timing light, it may mean your valve timing is off. This is usually caused by a bad timing chain or belt and in some vehicles, bad timing gear. This varies with make and model of vehicle.10. Run a compression test. If you have compression tester, hook it up to a cylinder that is easy to access and check the compression. Run both a dry compression check and a wet compression check (See the instructions with your compression testor). If both are very low or there is no compression, you probably have timing chain/belt issues.If your problem appears to be valve timing and you are an experienced do-it-yourself mechanic, you have your next weekend project. If not, then make an appointment with the tow truck and your local mechanic to get your vehicle repaired.

Fun with the Big Boy’s Toys

What do the guys do that like tractors old and new do besides work with them or on them? A good number of them take their pride and joy to tractor pulls. Others simply go to the tractor pulls to watch and to talk to other enthusiasts about tractors and trucks.Where are tractor and truck pulls held? Most are held at your local fair grounds. Check with your fair board for dates and times. Usually they are held during the county fair but also may be scheduled for other times of the year. You can also visit the National Tractor Pullers Association for schedules of events they sanction.(http://www.ntpapull.com/)A little about National Tractor Pullers Association The National Tractor Pullers Association(NTPA) was formed in 1969 to give the sport of tractor pulling a structure and a uniform set of rules for competitors. Today they are the premier organization that sanctions truck and tractor pulls. The NTPA sets the standard for safety and competition rules that are used by both foreign and domestic pulling organizations.What kind of tractors and trucks will be competing at a tractor and truck pull? The answer is ALL KINDS!! You may see vintage tractors pulling in their class as well as the modern day monster 4-wheel drives that came in from the field on pulling day, to almost any chassis with a single engine mounted either stock or modified as well as the multi-engine machines that seem more kin to a jet plane than a farm tractor. There are even classes for garden tractors!So go on out to the fair grounds and watch the “toys” go screaming down the track with dirt flying as you listen for the MC to announce “FULL PULL”.

Seaching for New Car that is Unique? Try an Avanti!

Avanti? What is it? The Avanti Motor Corp. is located in Villa Rica, GA and is the largest independent carmaker in the United States. The company makes several models of sports cars and a sport utility vehicle.

The Avanti coupe and the Avanti Convertible come with basic features like air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM with CD player and 8 speakers, rear window defogger, dual air bags, 17 inch polished Avanti T wheels, power door locks, power trunk, window and antenna locks, keyless entry with theft deterrent system, full instrumentation, 6-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with radio controls and top-grade leather interior with burl wood accent trim. These machines are powered with a 5.7 liter fuel injected V-8 and the choice of either a 4-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. Both machines have 4 wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering.
Avanti also offers special edition packages for individuals that want to custom finish their new sports car. They offer the Lister, a convertible model, with several options that allows the buyer to choose how much he wants the factory to do on his new sports machine. The Beck 904 is a special edition that is a coupe with a variety of packages to chose from. Both the Beck 904 and the Lister have impressive performance statistics. And both offer the sports car-minded enthusiast the opportunity to build their dream machine.
The Avanti Studebaker XUV may well be the ultimate SUV. It has 134-inch wheel base with an overall length of 216 inches. It is 80 inches wide and 80 inches tall with a curb weight of 5900 lbs. This machine has a 4 wheel anti-lock braking system, dual air bags with passenger de-activation option, alerts for headlights on, key in the ignition and door ajar, fuel pump inertia shutoff switch, side intrusion door beams, and locking spare tire and wheel. It also has power sliding rear roof, in-dash CD player, cargo tie downs, tinted glass, tow hooks and cab lights. All this is standard equipment. This SUV is available with either a 6.0 liter power stroke turbo V-8 diesel and a 5-speed automatic transmission or with a 6.8 liter Triton V-8 with a 5-speed automatic transmission.
All of these exotic automobiles are handmade in the Villa Rica, GA factory. To learn more about the Avanti Motor Corporation and its line of fine automobiles, visit their website at http://www.avantimotors.com/, or contact them by phone at 770-456-0900 or 1-888-230-1475.

How Much Is That Heap Worth? Easy Steps to Valuing Your Used Car

Whether you are buying, selling or just curious what your car or truck is worth, an accurate appraisal of the true value of the vehicle is vital. If you just want general price guide, visit the online version of the Kelly Blue Book. You will find general guidelines, but the results are only as accurate as the information you input. If you want a more accurate appraisal, you need to ask yourself a few questions about the car (and be brutally honest!)

Here are some general questions to ask:
1. How does it run?
2. Does it ride and drive good on the road?
3. Does it leak fluids?
4. Do you have to add oil or other fluids between service intervals?
These are questions the owner/operator of the vehicle can answer.
Now let’s look at the car and ask a few more questions.
5. Do the tires match and do they have good tread?
6. Is the engine compartment clean or is the engine covered in oil and dirt? Open the hood and look.
7. Is the body paint shiny and new looking or does it have a dull appearance?
8. Are there dings in the body of the car?
9. When you look down low on the car body, are there rock chips in the paint?
Let’s go inside the car now.
10. How is the upholstery? Is it dirty with tears or does it look new?
11. Is the carpet clean or dirty and worn?
12. Look at the dash. Is it clean or dirty or cracked?
13. Do the dash lights work and do other accessories work (power windows, doors, etc.)?
A yes answer to one or more of the above questions lowers the value of your vehicle. If you wonder how much lower, get estimates on the needed repairs and deduct it from the price you determine is accurate.
Now lets price your car. First go to the Kelly Blue book website at http:// www.kbb.com and get the price they estimate for your vehicle and area. Now look at the local newspaper’s classified ads to see what the prices are for similar vehicles. Then look new and used car dealers to get their prices for similar vehicles in the same condition and with the same mileage range
Finally add the price from Kelly Blue Book, the high and low prices from the classified ads, and high and low prices from used car lots. Average the total and you will arrive at an accurate price of your car or truck.

Motorcycles: The Cure for Spring Fever

(ARA) – Bikers who have been cooped up inside during the long, cold winter are aching to get outside and ride as soon as the snow starts to melt. If the thought of hitting the streets for that first springtime ride has your motor revving, here is a simple checklist of 10 basics to inspect before taking your motorcycle out for the first time this year, courtesy of the experts at Big Dog Motorcycles.
1. Remove and inspect the spark plugs, and replace if necessary.
2. Clean the air cleaner element.
3. Start the engine and run until it reaches normal operating temperature, then turn it off.
4. Check the amount of oil in the oil tank.
5. Check the transmission lubricant level.
6. Check controls to be sure they are operating properly.
7. Check steering for smoothness by turning the handlebars through the full operating range.
8. Check tire pressure. Incorrect pressure will result in poor riding characteristics and can affect handling and stability.
9. Check all electrical equipment and switches, including the turn signals, headlight and horn for proper operation.
10. Check for any fuel, oil or brake fluid leaks.
Even minor mechanical problems could spoil a trip. Before you hit the open road for one of the spring rallies or for just an afternoon ride, make sure your bike is running well.
Bikers are marking their calendars for upcoming spring rallies where they can get a jump on the latest trends and newest bikes. The Heritage Motorcycle Rally is held April 14 to 18 in Charleston, S.C.; Laughlin River Run takes place April 21 to 25 in Laughlin, Nev.; Myrtle Beach Bike Week is held May 7 to 16 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and the Republic of Texas Rally is scheduled for June 3 to 6 in Austin, Texas.
If you attend any of these rallies, you’ll have a chance to see Big Dog Motorcycle’s 10,000th bike ever made. The leading designer and manufacturer of high performance, highly-styled custom cruisers, Big Dog Motorcycles is celebrating ten years of perfecting custom bikes and will be showcasing the commemorative bike at its display on Beach Street.
The bike, a misty midnight blue chopper-style Ridgeback, is nearly 9 feet long, features a 117 polished cubic inch engine, Baker 6-speed transmission, a 250 rear tire, and a custom graphics package with a patriotic theme. “There is an adrenaline rush that comes with riding a bike of this caliber, not just from the power and the thrill, but from the looks you’ll get. It has what we call ‘stoplight appeal,’” says company president, Nick Messer. The Ridgeback, introduced in 2004, was awarded the “Best New Model of the Year” at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati in January.
If you need a new bike to start the season, there are all kinds of custom options. Big Dog offers customers a myriad of choices for their custom bikes. Choose from one of six models, then add a bigger engine, custom graphics and paint, full polished motor and transmission, painted struts, accessories like a luggage rack, and more. “Each bike we turn out is truly custom,” says Messer. “Your bike will stand out even among other Big Dog Motorcycles.”
“The first Big Dog motorcycle was put together in a garage; the company’s reputation grew by word-of-mouth from one loyal customer to the next,” says Messer. “What started as one bike has grown to a six-bike arsenal of radically styled models, all with big tires and equally big engines. The passion to build cutting-edge cruisers for real-world riding will always be at our core.” The company’s network has grown to 90 dealers and 120 authorized service centers nationwide.
To see the special edition 10,000th Big Dog, head to any one of these events, or visit the company’s Web site, www.bigdogmotorcycles.com..
Courtesy of ARA Content
EDITOR’S NOTE: Big Dog Motorcycles started production in 1994 and quickly became a leading designer and manufacturer of American heavyweight custom cruiser motorcycles. The company’s entire line of six motorcycles uses high-performance V-twin 107 or 177 cubic inch engines, 6-speed transmissions, stretch tanks, wide tires, chrome components and an extensive variety of custom paint colors and graphics. The 2004 line also includes new Big Dog Motorcycles customer-designed electronics, hand controls, foot controls, mirrors, air cleaner cover, coil cover and other components. Big Dog motorcycles are distributed through 90 dealers throughout the United Sates — seven are Big Dog Motorcycles branded dealerships. Designing and manufacturing is performed at the company’s world headquarters in Wichita, Kansas. With over 300 employees, the company has enjoyed nine consecutive years of record sales and is celebrating its 10th anniversary. For more information, contact Big Dog Motorcycles at (316) 267-9121 or visit www.bigdogmotorcycles.com.

Honey, Can I Drive It to Work? Buying and Restoring a Used Tractor

If you need a tractor and want a mechanical restoration project too, an older tractor might fill the bill. Older tractors with lots of life left are readily available – and for a lot less money than a new tractor.

Some items to consider if you are buying an older used tractor (pre 1975):

1. Most older tractors have hydraulics and 3 point hitches. If it didn’t come from the manufacturer with a 3 point hitch, there are several aftermarket hitches available. But adding a 3-point can cost money. If you like to work with machines and have experience making parts, you can easily make a 3-point hitch to fit your tractor.

2. Look at the tires and wheels. Tractor and implement wheels will rust with age and weaken. Also look for wheels that have been bent or cracked and welded. Replacing tractor wheels can be expensive. Determine if there are wheel weights with the tractor. Wheel weights are used to increase traction and they add value to the tractor.

3. Check the hydraulic system for leaks in hoses and check for leaks around the cylinders. Test the up and down movement of the hydraulics. A test I have used that has always worked is to raise and lower the lift arms a few times to get used to the lift speed. Then stand on one arm and see if it still raises at the same speed.(IF you use this test, be very careful. Equipment is very unforgiving). This test is not a complete test nor is it fool-proof, but it has always been a good indication of a properly working hydraulic system.

4. Next look at the PTO (Power Take Off). This feature may vary with make and model. Some have two PTO speeds but all have at least one speed. Engage and dis-engage the PTO several times and watch the output shaft. Does it run smoothly or wiggle? Listen for any strange noises when it is running.

5. Last, but not least, DRIVE IT!! Drive it down the road (but not the highway!). Check out all the gears and speed ranges. Listen for any strange noises and strange vibrations from the tractor. Do some turns in both directions and while backing up. Also check the brakes.An older tractor can be a good investment, a good tool, and a good source of enjoyment for the mechanical enthusiast. And there’s no chance of a speeding ticket while driving to work!

Six Keys to Having Fun with Your SUV

Want to get off the main track and explore the back country in your four-wheel drive SUV? See the sights one can’t see from the paved roads and freeways? Making your own trails? See places you haven’t seen before? Take a few minutes and determine what you need, what you can do, and what you shouldn’t do.


1. Do you need a lift kit and HUGE tires? No! While such things can prove useful and some men think that size counts, they are not necessary for you to enjoy a wonderful outdoor experience with your SUV.

2. Do you need a winch? No! But you may need is a hylift jack and a shovel! You won’t be making your own trails. It’s not environmentally friendly to make your trails and in many places the attempt can get you stiff fines and/or jail time!! Not exactly the original purpose of your four-wheel drive outing!!! The hylift jack will get you out of most places where you might get stuck with the aid of the shovel and perhaps a few handy rocks or chunks of wood. You will be driving on trails that are used by others and if you get in a really bad predicament, sooner or later someone will come along and help!

3. Some other tools I have found useful are a good hand “come-a-long” and a long tow chain or tow strap. A set of tire chains are good to have along too. Yes, you have four-wheel drive and it goes almost anywhere, but if you are out in winter and get caught in an ice storm, tire chains may be the only way you can get back to civilization.

4. What kind of trails will you be traveling? Rough, steep, mountain trails? Twisting winding trails with some steep hills and maybe a few streams? Swampy terrain with lots of water and mud? All these questions need to be answered before you leave for your day or weekend of four wheelin’ fun.

5. If your answer contains a possible water hazard you may want to take some precautions. Water on the distributor can ruin your day if you have no way to get it dried out. Take the necessary tools to remove your distributor cap (usually a Phillips and a flat screwdriver will get the cap off). Take a couple of shop towels and a roll of paper towels, a can of starting fluid, and a can of WD40 and a can of compressed air. With these items you can get your ignition system dried out. Usually (at least in my experience!), it takes15-30 minutes to get a “drowned” engine going again. If you don’t have the needed items to dry it out, it may take 1-2 hours.6. On any off-road outing, always tell someone where you are going, approximately how long you will be gone, and what routes you are taking. And take your cell phone! While some areas of the country won’t have service available, it’s still a great thing to have along! Have fun and be safe!!