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Dreams of a New Project - Or Not.

The KTM 200 XC-w is cleaned, oiled and laid up for the year - and this week we swapped ice tires onto the daily drivers.  Many long, cold and wet days lay ahead and it’ll be late April before we get a first glimpse of spring.

This can only mean one thing – it is time for a new project.  Winter in New Hampshire without a creative diversion is just too depressing to contemplate.

For good reason I’m getting a late start on securing the next hopeless vehicular case upon which to slather love, money, sweat and hollered strings of spicy curse words – assembled in orders and patterns never heard before.

The failure to lock down a project vehicle isn’t through lack of legitimate effort.  For over a year I’ve been trying to purchase a 1970 Pontiac Trans-Am.  However the seller and I have been unable to get together on a purchase price. The purchase negotiations are going nowhere and are more frustrating than UN dialogues with Iran about uranium enrichment.

In the meantime, this delicious example of numbers matching, 4 speed, Ram-Air III Pontiac awesomeness continues to molder under a leaky tarp, where I suspect that it will remain in perpetuity until it becomes a pile of red oxide flakes ringed by 4 flat tires - mockingly topped with a "WS4” emblazoned data plate.

In addition to this maddening Pontiac “sausage-block”,  we also needed to purchase some pricey lawn care equipment which has depleted funds earmarked for a project (and no, the Honda CR125R engine won’t fit the new leaf blower – I already measured.)

This year, we are thinking "out of the box," and our ideas are a blend of utility, style, creativity and fun.  I’m also leaning to the low-buck range of the spectrum.  A few concepts have begun to emerge. Truthfully all of them are pitiful rationalizations.  All we really want is to be banging gears in the `70 T/A,  slamming open the Ram-Air hood scoop as the Rochester Quadrajet wails out it's distinctive song.

Dodge M37 or W300 Powerwagon – A friend in graduate school was a passionate Powerwagon collector, and rides in his restored `57 were a memorable form of mechanical waterboarding.  With 5.38 gears, top speed was around 50 MPH.  The square cut transmission gears and military tires made an ungodly cacophony and the ride quality was like sliding down a rock pile on a cast iron toboggan.  In other words, it was totally friggin’ awesome.  Power Wagons remain surprisingly abundant and cheap in New England, many in use by local Municipalities, Airports or Forest Services.  I’m attracted to their rugged simplicity, Mil-Spec design and retro good looks.  I also understand they are slower than mud – owing to a Titanic curb weight and flathead 230 CID Chrysler six with about 11 BHP.

Vintage Station Wagon – We’re totally perplexed about the death of the wagon in the U.S. Market.  Wagons offer such a cool mix of style, utility and passenger car attributes – we don’t know why anyone would prefer a ponderous SUV unless off-road capability was truly required.  Gyrhead has owned a few wagons, including a 1965 Falcon Futura 289, 1981 Malibu 4 speed 350 HO, and a VW Passat 1.8t.  We especially loved the Malibu (and wrote an article about it which you read here)  We envision a vintage wagon, but cloned into a musclecar variant. Perhaps an Olds Vista Cruiser 442, a Greenbriar SS 454 or a Torino Cobra 429 wagon.  Yes, a 4 speed is a must.  We like this idea, but all of a sudden, classic wagons have gotten hot and prices have skyrocketed

1978-87 El Camino -The ElCo is abundant and clean examples readily available for well under $5k.  These G-Bodies easily accept any GM small or big block, and spare parts are still on the shelves at very low cost.  Ever since we sold our `87 Grand National, I’ve been intrigued by an El Camino with a GN powertrain swap, which is challenging but still a 100% bolt in.  The appeal of the “El National” is that it would be an easy 12 second car and reliable daily driver that can easily handle a run to the landfill or hauling a dirt bike.  This concept has real promise.

Of course, there’s always the option to do nothing aside from drinking beer and growing a beard.  And we can never rule that out. It's cheaper - and less cursing is involved.

© Gyrhead & Sons Restoration Parts 2012.  If you like this article, please share it freely with your friends.  Just remember to cite the source - because we really need the attention.

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