9:30am - 5:30pm EST


January's Cool Ride: Mark's 1971 Plymouth Barracuda 318

I bought the car in 1980 from the original owner near Kansas City. I was visiting relatives there and saw the car in an ad in the local newspaper. I already owned a 74 Barracuda but couldn't pass up this rarecar. I was working as a mechanic at a Chrysler / Plymouth dealership in Sioux Falls, SD at the time so I was able to go through the car and make sure it was good mechanically. The car was original with all part numbers matching. I drove the car over the next 40 years using it in parades and enjoying driving around with the top down. After 40 years everything was getting tired, so I started a complete restoration. It took about 2 years, but the car now looks like it came off the showroom floor. I've already had it in one parade and have driven it about 400 miles. It's really fun driving the car and getting all the smiles and "thumbs up" from all the car fans.

1971 Plymouth Barracuda

1971 Plymouth Barracuda

1971 Plymouth Barracuda AC

AC Upgrade Kits for Barracuda

Increasing the Value of Your Car with Functional AC

We all know that when your factory AC is working on a hot summer day, you simply enjoy the pleasures of your car more. It's a great feeling when you just spent several hours hanging out by your car during a get together, rally or car show and can literally chill driving back home. You know that having working air conditioning is valuable to you, but can having a functional AC system also increase your car's monetary value?

AC not functional  
This car was recently spotted at Mecum for sale. Think it would have sold for more with working AC?

The Reasons For Restoring Factory AC

Recently while attending the 2022 Mecum Kissimmee auction, we noticed quite a few cars that had factory AC systems still installed, but several of them were non-working. When you are getting a car ready for sale, typically you would go through the entire vehicle and make sure that leaks are addressed, interior is clean, exterior is washed and waxed, etc. You know...doing what you can to get the most value out of the vehicle. But why would you skip taking care of the AC?

The factory air-conditioning systems on cars from the 60s-early 90s were typically an option that had to be specified by the dealer or optioned by the customer when ordering. We have seen many of the early cars go for exponentially more money when optioned with AC versus not having the factory AC. When reviewing the cars and trucks at Mecum, it is usually documented on the spec sheet so buyers are aware that the vehicle has factory AC.

So back to the AC question - is it worth restoring back to fully functioning? YES! Unless it is a track car, you should always repair it and make it operational again. Remember, the AC system has a compressor, condenser, hoses, and an evaporator. Each of these are components that have a potential to fail, making the whole system inoperable. This is not like a radio not working. There are a lot of parts under the hood that require engine operation to make it all work, including the AC. But, it's an investment that provides a return as it is a selling point for most buyers. Just think how much complete aftermarket systems cost when factory AC was not included on the vehicle!

Here are a couple of other things to consider. If you are buying a classic car and the factory AC isn't working, could that possibly be an indicator of how well the owner maintained the vehicle? Could there be other issues not immediately present that may influence whether you want to buy the vehicle. Consider where the majority of classic and collectible cars are found...typically in states like California, Florida, Texas and Arizona. These states can be warm year-round and having functional AC is a definite MUST.

So, if your AC is not working or you have a buddy that has a car he/she takes to shows and shows off an engine with the AC disconnected, address the issue and get to fixing it by restoring it or upgrading to a factory system that usea 134a. It's easy and affordable to do, will increase the value of the vehicle, elevate the comfort of your ride.

A History of the Three Point Seatbelt

A History of the Three Point Seatbelt

60 years ago, the world became much safer with the invention of the three-point seatbelt. It’s still recognized today as the world’s most important traffic safety invention, saving an estimate of over one million lives in total.

Choosing to use your seatbelt can also be choosing between life and death. Reports indicate that you double your chance of surviving an accident if you take the time to buckle up. Although the history of seatbelts seems rather obvious, there was a point in time where they did more harm than good.

Here’s a little seatbelt history on how the three-point seatbelt became the modern car’s seatbelt of choice.

Fasten Your Seatbelt

Cars Pre-1959

Before 1959, the two-point seatbelt was the safety norm even though they weren’t often used. The only ones who typically buckled up were racecar drivers. When people would strap in, they’d buckle the two-point belt across their lower abdomen causing serious internal injuries in high-speed crashes.

Volvo’s Safety Standards

After the Volvo CEO Gunnar Engelau lost a relative in a car accident, the company committed to improving their safety standards. They hired Swedish engineer and inventor Nihls Bohlin, who for much of the 1950s, worked on ejector seats for Saab fighter airplanes.

Bohlin was not unfamiliar to seatbelt engineering. He worked on the more elaborate four-point harness found in fighter jets. However, he knew airplane safety measures would be unrealistic in automobiles, still having the potential to cause more harm than good.

The new safety design needed to provide an effective way to protect the driver during a crash while also staying easy to get in and out of.

A Three-Point Solution

Within one year, Bohlin created a three-point seatbelt for Volvo in 1959. The belts anchored both the upper and lower middle of the body. This caused less force to be exerted on the lower middle causing injury as the case with the two-point.

According to Bohlin, “It was just a matter of finding a solution that was simple, effective and could be put on conveniently with one hand.”

Volvo offered the design for free to car companies around the globe. In less than 10 years, the United States started requiring all new vehicles to feature the design.

A Lesson on Seatbelt History

A study of vehicle technologies between 1960 and 2012 found that seatbelts saved 329,715 lives in the USA alone – more than any other technology. Furthermore, seatbelts save approximately 11,000 American lives each year.

November's Cool Ride: Scott's 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner 383

I've had my Roadrunner about 12 yrs. It had not see any road time for about 20 yrs. before I got it. It was 8 yrs. of work (complete take down) until I was able to actually drive it on the road. Since it was a factory A/C car I had Original Air rebuild all the hoses and fittings along with various other components of the factory system. It still needs some finishing touches before it's complete but I am enjoying driving around southern California, like the one I had at 16 years old (until I sent that one to the wrecking yard, what can I say I was young.) Thanks for allowing me to keep the original factory A/C, when I open the hood it looks like 1969 just the way I wanted.

1969 Roadrunner AC

1969 Roadrunner AC

1969 Roadrunner AC

1969 Roadrunner AC

October's Cool Ride: Steven's 1970 Chevy El Camino 496

I owned the car now for almost seven years in total. I've driven it for about just over two years. In August, I completed the 2021 Hot Rod Power Tour which is an event billed as the largest traveling car show in the world. It's a five-day tour where we travel from Norwalk, Ohio to Indianapolis to St. Louis and stop in Chicago, Illinois.

Original Air components I have on the car include the condenser, compressor, drier, and evaporator.

The Wagoneer is Back

In the early 1980s, AMC decided to go all-in on an aging platform. It decided to transform its old Wagoneer into the Grand Wagoneer thus opening up an entirely new buying audience. It ended up beating the Range Rover to the market while also outlasting its rival, the Land Rover.

Decades later, the Grand Wagoneer is making a comeback. The new 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer will reach dealers in the summer of 2022. It will sport top-notch features along with a price tag that can reach six digits as well as its less costly model, the Jeep Wagoneer.

Wagoneer History

The original Wagoneer, also known as the Full-Size Jeep, debuted in 1963. It remained a popular choice among buyers for decades. Shortly after its debut, however, Jeep determined it could woo an upscale clientele. Along came the Super Wagoneer, featuring luxury gear totally foreign to most trucks. Its power steering, tilt steering, power brakes, and high-end radio tripled the average transaction price of entry-level cars.

AMC purchased Jeep in 1970, and product lines focused on Cherokee and the Jeep Wagoneer as opposed to upscale models. Even though AMC dealers urged a price increase on the Wagoneer, the truck would stay in its lane for the next decade.

More than Just a Truck

Toward the end of the 70s, AMC began pushing the idea of introducing another Wagoneer. Customers craved outdoor experiences even if it meant raising the price to account for a quieter, smoother ride. By 1982, the Limited made some serious sales while AMC piled on gear such as full interior updates and A/C.

By the 80s, the last independent American carmaker was experiencing a financial crisis. This influenced the decision to condense the full-size Jeep to a single model driving consumers to the compact unibody XJ Cherokee.

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer arrived in 1984 and it brought most of the gear that came with the Limited. Many examples were powered by an original AMC design - the 5.9-liter V8, good for 140 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, although significantly less mighty. 1986 brought the last styling update, a new grille, a Jeep logo hood ornament, and a modernized interior.

The first sales of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer were solid at an asking price of $19,000, placing it above contemporary trucks like the GMC Jimmy and Ford Bronco. Even though Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987, sales stayed the course.

The End and the Return

The truck was discontinued in 1991 mostly due to safety standards and single-digit fuel economy. The new wave of luxury SUVs was led by the Mercedes Benz M-Class and the Lincoln Navigator, shifting the focus to maximizing passenger room.

Current Chrysler owner Fiat Chrysler revived the Grand Wagoneer to sit on a platform like Ram’s 1500 pickup. Along with its less expensive, lower-trim model, it will sport the same three-row seating similar to full-size rigs from Ford, Lincoln, Chevy, and GMC.

Do you have a Grande Jeep Wagoneer or a Jeep Wagoneer? We'd love to see it. Grab a camera and submit your ride here for a chance to win some Original Air merch as well as be featured on our socials.

September's Cool Ride: Bobby's 1977 Ford F100 Ranger 302

My truck was originally purchased new by my father William Council. It was used primarily as a farm truck for many years. My brother Billy was given the truck in the nineties after my father became unable to drive.

He did some restoration to the engine, transmission, and body/paint. He sold the truck to me in December of 2009.

I have had the truck repainted, new chrome, and rebuilt the rear end. I also added a retractable tonneau cover, headers, and a bench seat from a 1996 Ford F150.

I had the factory air replaced with an Original Air compressor kit which includes the hoses and compressor. The truck is a great vehicle to drive and is really an eye-catcher on the road. I know that my father would really be proud of the vehicle today and I wish he was here to see it, as he passed in 1998.

Do you have a story you'd like to share? Submit it here for a chance to be featured!

Concours Restoration Defined

If you’re in the restoration world and value the authenticity of classics just as much as we do, you’ve probably heard the term concours restoration. You’re probably also familiar with the confusion surrounding what qualifies as a concours. We’ve come across different versions of the meaning through the years and thought we’d share what we feel is the most accurate definition.

What is a Concours Restoration?

A car qualifies as a concours restoration once its reconstruction is near original perfection. Every individual part from the bolts to the finish must be refurbished to its original state. The process is long and incredibly meticulous, infinitely more so than a sought-after restomod.

To put a concours in better perspective, we once met a guy who only worked on a few cars per year. On one of his projects, there was a small scratch on the hood. He had to repaint the entire car costing him about $25,000. If we remember correctly, he ended up selling this piece for $350,000.

What Actually Qualifies as a Concours Restoration?

The term “as close as possible” is favored in the concours d’elegance world. Not only is it next to impossible to completely restore a vehicle back to original perfection, but it can also be next to impossible to verify.

In many cars, certain vintage parts are either unavailable or difficult to come by. Finding an alternative solution that closely resembles that part can suffice in some circumstances. In most cases, collectors attempt to restore original parts back to their prime.

Concours vs. Restomod

On paper, it makes sense. A concours is a restored classic near original perfection. A restomod is a classic that features more modern, modified parts. However, sellers and auctioneers can stretch the truth and embellish certain features leading to why confusion surrounds the term.

An excellent restomod is as beautifully restored as it is modified. The objective of restomods isn’t necessarily to restore it back to perfectly correct period conditions. Instead, their goal is to reinvent a classic to fit a modern landscape.

Gasparilla Concours D’elegance

If you have any questions about a concours or a restomod, come meet us at the Gasparilla Concours D’Elegance. Between December 3rd to December 5th, we’ll have a table at the TPC Tampa Bay Golf Course. Be sure to check us out.

Do you have a concours restoration? Submit it here and tell us your story for a chance to win some Original Air merchandise as well as be featured in our socials. See you soon.

August's Cool Ride: Aaron's 1991 Chevrolet Camaro 305

I purchased my Chevrolet Camaro on August 5th, 1994 while enlisted in the Navy. It was my daily driver for years. Around 2016, I started to restore the car to its current form. After 26 years of owning the car, I have no plans to ever sell. In February 2018, I purchased and installed an Original Air AC kit to update the air conditioning system. My Camaro is now named "Raven" and she's won many car show awards.

Original Air components on the car include the condenser, hoses, compressor, switch, drier, accumulator, expansion valve, and evaporator.

How Valuable will These 80s & 90s Icons be in the Future?

The future of a rich aftermarket for 80s and 90s vehicles grows more likely with each passing day. We’re compiling a classic list of all things tubular and radical with our favorites from the 1980s and 90s that could very well earn you some serious cash in the near future.

Chevy 454 SS Pickup

Kicking off the 90s with a performance truck is exactly what Chevrolet did with the 454 SS. A single-cab C1500 with two-wheel drive and a short-box regular cab was upgraded with a 454 V8 rated at 230hp and 385lb/ft of torque. Easy to spot with the big stickers on each side of the bed, they are rarely seen on the road anymore. If you are looking for a cool, functional daily driver collectible, then this truck may be for you.

Pontiac Fiero GT

Before the Corvette C8, there was the Pontiac Fiero GT mid-engine sports car from GM. Pop-up headlights, two seats, manual transmission, and integrated stereo speakers in the driver and passenger headrests initially made it a very desirable car. The first mass-produced mid-engine sports car by an American car manufacturer, GM sold over 370K of them. The 86-88 V6 SE and GT models are desirable and fun cars to add to your collection.

Plymouth Prowler

Influenced by car designer Chip Foose, the Plymouth Prowler invoked a classic hot rod design with a modern flare. Open Indy racer-style front wheels and a high back rear end gave the car a dramatic stance but seriously lacked power with a 214hp SOHC V6. Destined to be a classic, it would perhaps be better for a swap project for a 5.7 HEMI or a modern LS.

GMC Typhoon / Syclone

Only available in black, the Syclone features a 4.3 turbocharged V6 and all-wheel drive. The complimentary Typhoon, which came in various colors and was based on the GMC Jimmy, sported the same drivetrain but also had an air-operated self-leveling rear suspension. Either is highly sought after and will continue to increase in value.

Lincoln Town Car

The ultimate luxury car for executives in the 80s, the boxy rectangular Lincoln Town Car was a plush floaty V8 powered rear-wheeled drive land yacht. Prices have been increasing lately for these cars as they are hard to find and even fewer in relatively decent condition. Make an impressive statement by valeting this ride at your favorite restaurant!

Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

In 1992, Ford decided to get into performance trucks, especially after the initial success of the aforementioned Chevy 454 SS pickup. Featuring a 5.8L 351 Windsor V8 producing 240hp, the F-150 based Lightning also focused on street performance with handling inspired by Jackie Stewart. The 93-95 trucks are naturally-aspirated while the 1999-2004 Lightnings were supercharged and produced 360-380hp. Either generation will continue to be desired collectibles.

Cadillac Eldorado Coupe

There have been twelve generations of Cadillac Eldorado Coupes, some great ones and some not so (at least on the design side). The ones we recommend getting your hands on are the tenth generation ones from 79-85. The Biarritz model had a stainless-steel roof and frameless door glass, and some of the rare ones had a V8 diesel engine. Highly collectible would be the 84-85 convertibles, of which approximately 5,500 were made.

Pontiac Grand Prix GT/GTP

The Grand Prix has been around for several generations, but the hard-to-find ones we expect to be collectible are the 91-96 GT and GTP models. Mini-quad lamps were unique to them and they even had heads-up displays. There were 1000 Richard Petty Editions for 1992 made, have you even seen one of those?

Corvette C4

The 83-96 C4 Corvettes were a major redesign over the Zora Arkus-Duntov C3 with a completely new chassis and suspension setup. Although the ZR1 is highly coveted, the other trims have continued to rise in value. Over 350K were built, but less than 500 are available for sale currently, with many available for less than $10,000.

Do you have a radical classic from the 80s or 90s? We want to see it. Grab your camera, take some photos, tell us its story and submit it here for a chance to be featured in our newsletter and socials.