We start off this month’s column with some breaking news—the AVs are coming to Portland. That’s right autonomous vehicles will soon be driving on Portland streets. The mayor of wonderfully weird Portland has sent out an open invitation to all of the AV experimenters. They are invited to come and practice on Portland streets. We are to understand that their travels will be on only selected streets but it is as yet unclear on exactly where that might take place.This will be called the Smart Autonomous Vehicle Initiative.
So, heads up Gearheads guess you might want to keep an eye out.
In fact more and more people are learning they need to keep an eye out for Tesla cars as well, as more and more of them continue to crash, some fatal the lawsuits continue. In fact the latest is the class action suit against Tesla Model S and Model X. This one involves safety defects and enhanced autopilot AP 2.0. they are saying that owners have become essentially beta testers of half-baked programming. Numerous crashes have insued.
Here is an interesting factoid about Tesla. They are said to be the biggest player in the AV and EV fields. However they are currently losing somewhere around $16,000 per vehicle on every sale. They expect that to change drastically soon.
So there is a little something more for all of you Gearheads to chew on. And remember that SEMA continues the battle with the RPM bill. I expect the RPM bill is the 1st of many more major battles to come as regards the rest of our cars.
This year has certainly been an interesting one for me. Interesting doesn’t mean all good or all bad… just different. I’m the oldest of all my cousins born in the younger generation of our family. My Mom has several sisters and brothers spanning several generations. My first cousin Linda (our Mom are sisters) was born in March 1950, I was born in August 1949, so I was just almost seven months older.
Her brother Jerry, whom we refer to each other as, “… my brother from another mother,” haven’t always been “buds” but we have grown closer in the last 15 years. He and his lovely wife Donna live in Phoenix, AZ. He and his wife publish “Roddin’ & Racin’” in Arizona and have for the last 26 plus years. They are single handedly responsible for the paper you are reading right now. Jerry bugged me for years to start a paper here in Oregon.
I’ll bet that most people have a cell phone… and as a result of cell phones being in common use these days with “free,” no charge long distance calling it’s a lot easier to stay in daily contact with our friends and relatives even went they aren’t living near us. Technologies are amazing, aren’t they?
Recently Jerry called me (we talk all the time) but didn’t sound like his usual upbeat self. The moment I answered and he responded, I instinctively responded, “What’s wrong?” His response was a shock. His sister Linda, my cousin, had been a passenger with her son-in-law in his car that was hit, head on, by a drunk driver. He had minor injuries, she had much more serious injuries, including broken bones and they were transported to a local hospital where treatments were administered but Linda’s internal injuries were so serious that she passed away within a few hours. Totally shocking and sad. RIP Linda, you’re home with God.
My low back has been giving me a lot of trouble… for years actually but now with the dreaded Arthritis setting in, it’s really been bothering me. An MRI reviewed by the best local area Orthopedic Surgeon revealed all kinds of bad going on. Obviously, I knew it, ‘cause I could hardly walk some days and the pain was increasing. Doctor Keenen is sought after for his expertise in back surgery so getting on the surgery schedule can be a challenge. As such I called his office to try and schedule my surgery and lucked out that he had a cancellation the following Monday. Linda’s Memorial was the week before surgery and after I got back on Friday I had planned to actually spend the weekend, Saturday and Sunday working on the 66 Biscayne. I had a lot I wanted to do before surgery because I knew I’d be out for a while and wouldn’t be able to work on any projects. Saturday morning, after a restless nights’ sleep I found that I couldn’t walk. My legs were so painful that I could barely get out of bed. I tried some stretching exercises which also caused pain and it only helped a little. I was down and couldn’t do anything, either day. I went upstairs to my office to work on the R&R NW but couldn’t walk down the stairs after doing a little work. This really isn’t going the way I envisioned it.
The beauty of “spinal decompression” surgery is that after the surgery, all that constant pain is gone! Of course, there is surgical pain, and in my case bone spur, calcification removal, (arthritis) so I wasn’t pain free but better for sure. They let me out after one night in the place of no sleep. Thanks goodness. They say they want to keep you overnight just to make sure us old people (my description) come out of the anesthetic fully and that everything is working. What that means I found out is that if you can’t tinkle… the word wasn’t scary before but it is NOW, CATHETER, and I’ll not bore you with the details because it ain’t pretty, but if you don’t know what I’m talking about I can only hope you never find out. My rules are don’t lift over five pounds, no stretching, bending, or twisting. Best thing for me is walking, with a cane, but hey at least I’m walking.
I visited my General Practitioner a few days after getting released because I was having some issues. Of course, there they always ask you a bunch of questions that you never ever thought you’d be having a conversation about… with anyone… but hey getting old ain’t for sissys. I didn’t know that a BM would be cause for a celebration but it surely was. The Doc and I got a big laugh out of that. His comment was, “Did you ever think you would be celebrating a BM?” No. No I didn’t but there is a first time for everything, and there was drinking and dancing and everything. Sorry if that’s TMI. I guess I’m just a sharer.
By the late sixties, his time had passed. I feel fortunate to have watched one of his last Feature wins (’69?) over arch nemesis Al Pombo and Everett Edlund. Once on the grid during driver introductions, I saw him lean out of his Modified, cup his hands around his mouth and hiss: “Booooo Pombo!” And sadly, I witnessed his final qualifying attempt (1972) in which his throttle stuck and he augered into the wall, ending his driving career. The colorful career of Marshall Sargent and his purple #7 was over…but man, what a ride!
Sargent was born in Arkansas in 1931 and relocated to Salinas (CA) while still a boy. He ran his first race on a converted baseball diamond at Fort Ord. By the time he joined the hardtop ranks at San Jose Speedway, he’d notched several wins in the Monterey area. Al “The Mombo Man” Pombo was a top contender and a natural rivalry developed between the two. Over the next twenty years each would amass over five hundred Feature victories, Sargent claimed his total was closer to one thousand. “My best season was eighteen Main Events at San Jose,” he told scribe Dusty Frazer in an ’81 interview. “That same year I won eleven out of sixteen races at Clovis and 16 out of 27 races at Fresno.” Sargent indeed was State of California Modified Champion in 1960 and won that year’s most prestigious race; The Johnny Key Classic. He captured the “Key Race” again in ’63 on his way to a second San Jose Speedway title.
Sargent also achieved success when he ventured outside his home state. In 1959 he drove a Lola sports car to a class win in the Daytona 12-hour and finished sixth in the Atlanta 500 driving relief for Tommy Pistone. In 1963 Sargent was one of the first Americans to be invited to race his Modified in Australia during the off season. He had a huge impact there, even convincing the Aussies to race counter clockwise! Down under a small crowd for a weekend event was 15,000; one night he drew 55,000! “That had to be the ultimate feeling for me in my racing career,” Sargent told Frazer. “It was as big a thrill as if I had won the Indy 500.” There had been other offers to go big-time including an invitation from Elmer George to try out the HOW Special at Indianapolis but it was never the right offer. In most cases he was asked to leave his wife and three sons in California and that simply wasn’t an option.
Promoter Bob Barkhimer whose relationship with Sargent dates back to Salinas days, considered him one of the best drivers to ever emerge from Northern California. “He was in the mold of A.J. Foyt,” noted Barkhimer, “Burley, muscular, brave, loud, intimidating to the other drivers and smart. Marshall would have gobbled up A.J. in a Modified on one of the area tracks, Fresno, San Jose, both on and off the track.” The promoter also revealed decades after the fact that he used to pay Sargent today’s equivalent of over a $1,000 a week to “spice up the races with some added showmanship”. The agreement was that he couldn’t purposely crash a car, lose a race or start a fist fight but other than that, anything went.
A move Sargent was famous for was jumping out of his race car on a red flag and berating the Starter. Sometimes he’d grab a flag and break it and the crowd would go wild! If they booed him (which about 50% did) he’d take out his comb and slowly comb his hair. This for some reason really got the crowd excited! Barkhimer related one story about a race which Sargent clearly lost. He yelled so long and loud that the winner finally said: “Maybe you’re right, I didn’t win. Let’s pool first and second and split (the prize money).” At that point Sargent finally relented and smiled from ear to ear.
In 1967 the veteran experienced a near fatal accident at San Jose during qualifying and was sidelined for the next two seasons. The freakishly similar accident in ’72 forced him out of the cockpit for good at age thirty seven. Sargent spent the last twenty years of his life supporting his son’s racing efforts. A special Sprint Car race entitled “The Pombo/Sargent Classic” was established in 1986 to commemorate the duo’s epic battles and that annual event continues to this day.
I love hearing stories of vehicles that have been with a family for decades. The tales of multiple generations enjoying road trips and vacations, along with thousands of miles of cruising are golden. The story of the beautiful 1938 Oldsmobile you see gracing these pages is just such a tale.
Way back in 1938 Grover Stanton and his two sisters Ruby and Garnet traveled to Lansing, Michigan to take delivery of their brand new 1938 Oldsmobile Model F-38 4 door Touring Sedan. The sedan was driven cross country with Ruby doing all the driving while Grover rode shot gun, and Garnet handled all the navigation duties seated in between them. The 38 was enjoyed for decades, and then inherited by their cousin Willetta Pense of Scio, Oregon. Willetta immediately signed the Olds over to her son Bruce. Bruce enjoyed the sedan during the early 1960s until it quick working one day…as a result, it was parked.
The idle sedan sat outside for a short time, but was then moved inside the family’s barn where it would reside for several more decades. Barn storage can often preserve a vehicle very well, but in the case of this barn the 38 Olds was subjected to high water levels from the nearby Crab Tree Creek whose waters ran around and underneath it. Besides the wet conditions the Olds played host to squirrels, rats, mice, and hoards of yellow jackets, hornets, and spiders.
Flash forward to 2012 when family member Geoffrey Landis became the newes care taker of the family heirloom. Geoffrey wanted to see the 38 returned to its former glory, and got busy disassembling it. It took nearly a year to carefully take the Olds apart and bag all the components. Once Geoffrey took the sedan to the point where he no longer had the tools and expertise to finish the restoration, he turned to MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration to complete the build.
The team at MetalWorks sat down and discussed a direction for the restoration, and Geoffrey’s plans for the car once restored. Well the time for the Olds sitting idle was over, Geoffrey wanted to drive it. So with keeping an overall stock external appearance, the 38 was treated to many modern upgrades to assure trouble free enjoyment. The long list of upgrades includes a 430hp GM Performance LS3 engine, suspension by HEIDTS, and 4 wheel disc brakes by Wilwood. The restoration process was a long battle, but the 38 turned out gorgeous, and is a perfect blend of classic and modern.
To see the sedan’s full restoration, check
out its build gallery of MetalWorks’ website:
Oh, yes, they are coming fast- but not driving fast. When they hit the roads, you can imagine that they will all be putting along at the same speed. But more on that later. I would like to report that the RPM Bill is coming along right nicely. We currently have over one hundred b-partisan legislators onboard. If you are not familiar with this Bill, it is all about the GearHeads vs. the EPA. Go over to SEMA.com and get educated.
In earlier columns, I have been reporting on EVs and AVs, and providing conjecture as to how all of this may come down upon us. And coming, it is. I am trying hard to keep track of all the new info as it comes down the pipeline, that is becoming overwhelming to track it all. I have already related how there are literally hundreds of corporations jumping into this, feet first. This is without a d doubt the greatest change of this century, so far.
Swatch: Wants to build the batteries.
Uber: Hired a NASA expert for the Airbus A-3 VTOL. Vertical Takeoff Landing Vehicles. Yep, this one flies.
GM in Mexico: Now we are talking about “Giant Motors” in Mexico City who has partnered with Binbo, the largest bread producer in the world. They bought Hostess Twinkies. Now they will be building EVs.
GM: Now a few things about General Motors here in the US. They are building and testing AVs in San Francisco, Scottsdale, and their own proving grounds. They have since expanded in metro Detroit. Their Bolt factory is currently in mass production of the AVs.
BMW: Working with Autonomous Transport Robots and trains to deliver parts between plants.
Mercedes: Jumping big time in EVs. They are pulling their diesel cars from production.
Samsung: Acquired Harman, a huge supplier of in car digital systems.
Verizon Communications Inc.: Acquired Fleetmatics Group, a global provider of fleet and mobile workforces’ management solutions.
Apple Inc: Setting a gadget ship date of 2019 for their EV cars.
Ford: Has invested one billion into their company, Argo Al, founded by Google and Uber leaders.
Pal-V: Is now selling the Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport, commercial flying cars.
Dubai: Passenger carrying drones will be whisking people around the big city later this year.
Hang on GearHeads. There is plenty more to follow.
I wanted to tell you and show you a little about another project I’ve been working on for some time now. I do this to show you I’m not goofing off and ignoring the 55 Chevy, but in fact trying to make progress on this other project.
It’s foolish of me perhaps, trying to work on two projects at the same time but originally there really was method in my madness. A little reasoning: I wanted to learn more about body panel repair, sheet metal welding, panel replacement, etc. etc. before I embarked on that process on the 55.
I tend to cruise craigslist a lot so one of those times I ran across a 66 Biscayne for sale and I’ve always like those for some reason… I don’t know why. It was in need of most everything but the price was decent and it looked straight so with the help of my brother, Randy, we trucked to Tacoma to get it. I already had an engine/trans, it didn’t, so I thought we could do what was needed, fix it up quickly and make it roadworthy, learn some things and practice on it and then start on the 55.
As it turns out and we didn’t realize it until we had already drug it home that it was rusty due to the fact that the window channels collect and hold crud, water/moisture and more. Like I said the body was straight and the rust was hidden. We discovered the problems while taking it apart in preparation for body work and paint prep.
This discovery necessitated the purchase of a parts car. A greater amount of disassembly and the project snowballed into a monster of a project. Someone said recently I should have cut my loses but you know me, I didn’t. I pushed on and I’m still pushing. The car is coming along ok but taking way more time than I originally thought.
The big block has a new cam, lifters, timing chain and gears, upgraded oil pump, water pump, A/C pulleys, and so on. I acquired all the factory A/C components to allow for that upgrade. The TH400 was rebuilt and prepped by A-1 Transmission in Vancouver, Washington. The 10 bolt has been removed and a rebuilt 12 bolt with a Yukon Gear Dura-grip, 342 ratio, Dutchman axles, new bearings/seals were added and rear drum brakes were rebuilt. Power disc brakes were added in front.
At some point in the process I decided to mostly clone it into an L-72, sorta. It doesn’t have a 427 but a 454. As mentioned it has a TH400 not a 4 speed and I don’t know for sure but I don’t think that there was ever an L-72, built with factory air but this one has it.
It has new stock reproduction Biscayne seats and it will be painted back to the original Mist Blue color. Since the quarters were wavy I decided to replace them and it’s a good learning experience.
Hopefully one day in the not too distant future I’ll be able to take it out for a little cruise. I look forward to that.
She’s all history now! They were rockin’ at the State Fair Grounds back on February 18th & 19th at the Americraft Center, Saluting the Salem Roadster Show for 2017. One hundred entry’s, plus a few extra past winners, of Custom Cars, Classic Stockers in Trucks and Cars plus a handful of Super Show Bikes were displayed. Several thousand classic car enthusiasts were treated to some of the Best of the Best show cars from all over the West Coast. From Canada to Central California and all over the Pacific Northwest, the only vehicles invited by co-show producers Bob Symons and Greg Roach are the top trophy winning cars from pervious show car events. Greg and Bob’s special winning cars this year in memory to the late Doug Gatchet’s 1956 Nomad and his 1964 El Camino was Greg’s choice and for Bob, he selected Lee Dixon’s 1968 GTO. They were all three delicious super show class rides. Like past Salem Roaster shows, every car, bike and truck are winners and the proud owners of these fantastic show dream machines are rewarded with a beautiful Salem Roadster Show Winning Jacket.
We at R&R NW Publication would like to thank Bob and Greg for another fantastic show, we would also like to thank both of you and your scores of happy volunteers that help and assist the running of your classy very professional Salem Roadster Show. We would also like to recognize and thank Bob and Greg for the Thousands of Dollars your Salem Roadster Show has raised and donated to a host of local, regional, and national charitys. Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Cancer Program through KDCCP, The National Red Cross and the Roberts Charter High School Foundation plus several more out-reach charity programs have benefited over the past eleven years. In our eyes this is what makes your Salem Roadster Show one of the best shows ever.