Rip Van Disco: A 13-mile barn-find pace car awakens

Rip Van Disco: A 13-mile barn-find pace car awakens | Hemmings Blog: Classic and collectible cars and parts.

Photos courtesy Corvette Mike of New England

Many, many 1978 Indianapolis 500 pace car replica Corvettes were mothballed with hopes of the cars turning into super collectibles, so finding a low-mileage example today isn’t hard. In fact, there are seven for sale in the December issue of Hemmings Motor News. One, formerly on display at the Corvette museum in Bowling Green, has just 116 miles on the clock. Another is advertised as having been driven just 700 miles. If you want a car you could actually drive, there’s a 1978 Indy Corvette with 22,900 miles.

Unfortunately, the demand predicted for these cars back in the Disco Age has yet to arrive. If you like ‘Vettes, you wouldn’t kick a 1978 pace car out of your garage, but as Corvettes go, these are considered lackluster performers and too many were built for them to ever be considered rare.

According to the Corvette Black Book, the original plan was to make 300 of the black and silver ‘Vettes. Mike Yager’s Corvette Bible claims 2,500. Had Chevrolet stuck to either of those figures, Indy Pace ‘Vettes would probably be more collectible today. But for Chevrolet, the profits these cars were raking in must’ve been as irresistible as coke at Studio 54. The Indy cars received a lot of hype, so demand went through the roof and Chevrolet cranked out 6,502 copies – more than one for each dealer.

With a base price of $13,653 compared to the standard Corvette base price of $9,446, the Pace Cars were expensive and profitable because they were loaded with “mandatory options.” Power windows, power locks, removable roof panels, rear window defogger, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping column, AM-FM radio with 8-track (or CB radio at extra cost) – all were included. Even this probably doesn’t help the value of these cars as luxury tends to be the exact opposite of what Corvette collectors crave today: radio delete, heater delete, oversized fuel tanks (when they were available), manual transmissions. You get the drift – racing-related stuff on a Corvette is hot. Stuff that you would normally associate with a Caprice Classic is not.

Anyway, receiving almost as much press as these cars received when new is a barn-find pace car offered for sale by Hemmings advertiser Corvette Mike. The car has been all over the Internet due to the fact that it has only 13 miles on the odometer. It’s even covered in an authentic layer of scurvy storage grime.

The pace car’s bonafides include a CB radio, Gymkhana suspension and the 220hp L82 350, all of which are cool. The fact that it’s an automatic makes it a little less so. Check it out for yourself over at Corvette Mike’s.


Parking-Lot Spotlight 1955 Chevy Belair

Note: Updated to correct mis-Identification of this parking-lot find.  It is in fact a 1955.  The main details that denote the difference is the placement of the Chevy and BelAir badging and grile.

So I’m lucky. I live in a place where there is not prone to any type of natural disasters, we don’t much rain and it only snow when it’s a cold day, you know where.

It’s also a place were you don’t have to put way your collectible set of wheels, you can drive the year would and a lot of folks do.

Here is my latest parking-lot find.

It is a 1955 Chevy, 2 door Belair.  Yeah, I know it’s a couple years before the super wonderful 1957’s came out, but I like these shoe box cars, with their very clean lines especially the 2 door version and I particularly like the lines of the BelAir convertible.  It reminds me of the clean lines for my 1966 Chevy Impala convertible.

Love the red and white.  Fantastic chrome.

Wheel aren’t ordinal but I think that are great for this car.

Look at the stance! It’s just great.

You gotta love that hood ornament!!


All Belair came standard with a 6 cylinder with about 353,00 produced, not counting convertibles.

The 6 was an overhead value, cast iron power plant with a displacement of 235.5.  With a 3 9/16 x 3 15/16 and a compression ratio of 7.5:1
these cars knocked out a whopping 115 hp.  The would breath through a Rochester one barrel Model 7007200 carb or a Carter one-barrel Model
2101S (for the Powerglide auto transmission) and a Rochester one-barrel Model 7007181 for the standard shift.

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Auto Factoids for Week of Oct 16 2011

There is the latest auto history timeline.

The El Camino was debuted 0n 10/16/58.  They are highly collectible especially the 69-70 where their fronts are really a Chevelle.

1958 Chevelle


1970 El Camino - This is the Super Sport.


10/18/48 – Citroen shows off the 2CV –  between 1948 and 1990 the French car maker produced  3,872,583 2CV


It's French don't ya know!



1929 Model A




No laughing if you own one of these collectible Honda.



Car Production Numbers. They Made How Many? 1911

1911 oh… that was a great year!  Well I don’t actually have any proof of that, but there sure were a lot of new car makes that year.  Here the list:

Alpena; ArBenz; Atterbury; Carhartt, Case, Chevrolet; Colby, Crow-Elkhart, Dalton, Gaylord, Havers, Hupp-Yeats; King; Lenox; Mighty Michigan; Motorette; Nyberg: Penn; Rayfield; R.C.H.; Roader; Rogers; S.G.V.; Standard Electric (yes electric); Stutz; Stuyvesant; Virginian; W.F.S.

So who were the leaders for that year?

Ford out-paced all with 69,762 Cars.

Second up was Studebaker/EMF with 26,827.

1911 can't use just '11 any longer - someone might think this was a 2011 Studebaker

Willys-Overland up next with 18,745 and Maxwell about 2,000 less at 16,000.

One of the 16,000 Maxwells

Buick came in at fifth with 13,389, beating out Cadillac with 10,071 cars.

Hudson and Chalmers finish up the list with 6,486 and 6,250 respectively.

The 1911 Chalmers - look at that stance!!!!

1911 Milestones:

–  International Motor Company was formed (MACK)

– Buick sets a speed record, running 20 miles in just over 13 minutes.

– First Indianapolis 500 was held and won by Ray Harroun in a six-cylinder Marmon Wasp – 6 hours, 42 minutes and 8 seconds of drive time.

The Marmon Wasp

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Automakers World War II Efforts- Crosley

As you know the US government asked and eventually forced the auto industry to contribute to the war effort.  This series is to highlight some of the major contributions and first up is Crosley.

Crosley produced cars from the 1930’s until the 1950’s interesting before Powell Crosley produced cars, he was the owner of Cincinnati Reds.  There first car was what we would call a subcompact these days was a convertible.

1939 Crosley Convertible

For the war effort Crosley supplied its power plant the four-cylinder CoBra.  CoBra was short for  Copper Brazed and often refered to as the “The Might Tin” it was used aboard PT boats and B-17 Flying Fortress bombers mainly to power generators, refrigeration compressors, etc., and were widely praised for their successes in the war effort. The engine was made from sheet metal rather than cast iron like most other engines.

CoBra Block - the thin walls reduced hot spots.

Crosley CoBra this one was set up for vehicle use

Crosley stayed in business after WWII and eventually closed up in 1952.  There last attempt to save the company was to production a utility vehicle called the  Farm-O-Road which was used on farm and ranches.

1950 Farm-O-Road Utility

Their last car was in 1952:

Last year of production for Crosley


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Vacuum – Tune it up!

Checking the vacuum on your old car is an important part of a thorough, but most of the average guys don’t bother, or don’t have the gauge.  Most often if you do have the gauge, you might not be exactly sure what the reading might be.  For the recorded I’ve never had a car where the readings were stable.  Normally you’ll get a fluctuating reading that move around.  Below are a few ‘ranges’ and what they may indicate.

Standard Vacuum Gauge

These are for V8’s only:

–  A good reading will be between 15 and 22 in. hg (a steady needle).  Closing the throttle you should see a 5 notch drop and reopening it should settle back previous span (15-20).

– If you get a reading where the needle has a swing 4-5 in. hg ethier side of normal, you are looking at a possible simple carb adjustment.

–  If the reading is higher than normal you need look at replacing your air filter or check to ensure your choke is not stuck.

–  Low reading would be fairly steady reading around 5 hg will have you looking for a vacuum leak on the intake/carb area.  Look for poor connections at the carb or any “T” or “Y” or straight though connection.  Baring that look for cracked hose.  You know I hate vacuum leaks.  I recently restored a 1984 corvette with the Crossfire injection set up.  Rather than chase down a single spot, I just replaced them all.  That was a lot of vacuum hose and tucked in some stuff spots.  But you are working on something bit older, like my 1970 Mustang, replace it all, it’s going to go back sooner or later, especially with the kind of temps we have out here in the Southwest.

–  If you get a reading that between 8 and 14 you are looking at a timing issue at the least to leaking piston rings at the worse.  Do a compression check for the leak and use your timing light before you tear it apart.

–  If the needle is swinging (unsteady) between 14 and 19 hg that indicates valve guide problems.  That going to be a valve guide problem.

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Auto Factoids for Week of Oct 9 2011

O.K.  These are back, enjoy.


10/12/1950  Kaiser-Frazer Built their 500, oooth car.

There ya go...the 500, 000 th


On 10/13/ in 1902 Packard Motor Car Co. was formed from the Ohio Automobile Co.  Of interest: In September, 1900, the Ohio Automobile Company was founded as the manufacturer, while the cars were always sold as Packards. Since these automobiles quickly gained an excellent reputation, and there were more automobile makers that produced — or at least planned to — under the label “Ohio”, the name was changed soon: On October 13, 1902, it became the Packard Motor Car Company.


1902 Packard Model F


An Ohio


The very next day 63 years later Oldsmobile debuts the Toronado (10/14/1965).

1965 Toronado I want one of these


On 10/15/1945 Oldsmobile began creating producing per war cars.

And  1924 on the 15th of October, one of my hero’s was born.  The proud Poppa  of the Mustang and savior of Chrysler Lee Iococca was born in Allentown, PA.


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C6 07 Corvette – Fuel Gauge – Video

Here is the follow-up for the Fuel Gauge issue I had with my Corvette.

I had previously added a can of Techron Fuel System Cleaner.  This was the first treated tank.  Today the Vette need filling up and I recorded the incident.

In the second video please excuse the legs shot.

This first is the status as I pulled in to gas up.

[vodpod id=Video.15524740&w=425&h=350&]

Here you can clearly see the flop and the service notice.


[vodpod id=Video.15524738&w=425&h=350&]
Fuel Issue Vid1, posted with vodpod

After about 20 miles, the gauge when to 3/4 full and a few minutes later it when to full.

After I got home I put in another can of fuel system cleaner.  We’ll see how that works.

Thanks for reading.