Garage Therapy

Posted September 28, 2020

We’re living in some wild times, and that’s a hefty understatement. It’s an especially turbulent election year, everyone's at each other's throats and you can't leave home without covering your face. Yeah, 2020 has been full of hurdles for everyone, and that’s definitely the case here at RCN.

As I’m sure you know by now, we’ve made some adjustments to ensure that we can keep providing our dedicated readers with quality content on a regular basis — namely canceling our print publication. But we took this shift as an opportunity to refresh our look and expand our editorial focus as well. For more on that, revisit our May 20 blog titled Changing Gears, but for now, I’ll just say that I hope you’re enjoying our revamped website and our recent features, which I hope prove to our long-term kit car readership that we’re still your magazine. Our recent features on backdraft’s RT4 roadster and a striking alloy-bodied 300SL tribute from South Africa are a couple examples.

With the bulk of these changes in place, I’m looking forward to getting back to business as usual around here, but more than anything, I’m looking forward to logging off and getting back in the garage. Honestly, I'm just pumped to get home and start wrenching, but it really sounds like a proper gearhead rally cry doesn’t it? Turn off your T.V. and get out in the garage. That’s a party platform I can get behind, and I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about a few of our personal projects to let you know we practice what we preach.

To start, we’ve got a 1966 Plymouth Satellite 426 ci Hemi four-speed car that’s been in need of an engine rebuild since the early ’70s. One of our guys was lucky enough to bag the original Hemi car a couple years back, and it’s finally made its way to the top of the docket. We’ll be tackling the extraction here, but the engine will be sent to a specialist for a professional rebuild, as this is a 426 Hemi after all, and it’s been in the car for over 50 years.

On the list of things that are also yellow, John found a mysterious fiberglass beach buggy that was too cheap to pass up at just $900. There’s no plaque to identify who made the body, but the spare-tire cover up front and side vents should be easy clues for our air-cooled experts out there. John was able to get a title for the buggy and it currently sports a 1,600 cc single-port with a bus transaxle and portals. The engine spins over but the wiring harness is shot, so we might undertake a quick refurbish in 2021.

Otherwise John and I both have 1970s motorcycle projects in various stages of completion, his being a 1970 Triumph Bonneville, and mine being a pair of Ironhead Sportsters and a ’73 Electra-Glide. We’ll also be kicking off an ambitious squarebody Chevy project soon, a K30 with a two-stroke 6V53T Detroit Diesel and NV4500 swap.

The rest of our projects are barely worth mentioning, but we’re planning our own cheap truck challenge event this fall. So far it's between the staff here and a few friends to see who can build the most capable 4x4 for under $1,500. Current entries are a mice-infested 2000 Toyota 4Runner, a ’98 Chevy Cheyenne 1500 with a broken frame, a Jeep Grand Cherokee with around 300k on the clock and the most hick Toyota Landcruiser you've ever seen. Pickins are pretty slim here in the salt belt.

I’ve also sold a few project cars at home and used the profits to buy my first small British sports car. Naturally it’s a project, and we may or may not bring you updates on that and our other shoddy vehicles going forward. Maybe we’ll file it under “build culture,” let us know what you think.

Undoubtedly 2020 is a year that we’ll be glad to send off come December, but it doesn’t have to be a wasted one. Make the most of these next few months by catching up on those projects vehicles (if you haven’t already been), and build something you can enjoy with your family and friends in 2021. Obviously we’ll have our hands full through 2020 and beyond. That’s all for now though, because as I’ve stated, the garage is calling, as is my new Triumph Spitfire project car.

— Dean Larson, Editor

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