Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slab Siders

flush xBSo, I believe (hold your breath) I have chosen my next (and hopefully last car for a long long time) car. Scion xB, the first generation model sold from 2004-2006. You know the one...my kids and I call it the "lunchbox" car. I feel like I'm cheating on all those other awesome cars out there, some that have been "car of the week" or even some who made it past the 7 day barrier, cars like the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi EVO, Ford Mustang, BMW M3/3series, Mini Cooper S, many an old hot rod and the old faithful of sorts, the Honda Civic. Why the xB? Well, I'm a father of 4 now, yes, 4 kids. I commute 50 miles per day roundtrip, so mpg, reliability and affordability are top priorities, not boost pressure, hp/tq ratings or big meats. The other things the "B" has, besides those slab sides is character, style, and cool factor, oh and 4 doors, good head room and superb "style per gallon" rating... It turns heads, even in stock form. I've driven 2 and it puts a smile on my face, and those were stock versions. It reminds me of a 60's vw bus I road in years ago. Just RAD!!!
So, I know what you're thinking..."ya right Hecht, you can't commit to 1 car! This is just your car of the week again. Who you kiddin'?". Well, one of the other reasons is I have a good buddy in the neighborhood who is really into cars and he owns one. Having friends with cars helps you have focus and something in common. I'm looking toward you MooreRod to help a brotha stay focused on the Box. So, look out for http://www.slabsiders.com/ in the future. We just picked up that domain name today. It will be dedicated to boxy cars like the xB, Cube, Ford Flex, and others. We'll see where that goes. Hopefully it will be as rad as these quirky cool cars are.
So, D-Day is sometime in March 2010 where my situation will be such that I can pick up a sweet used 1st Gen xB of my own to modify and enjoy! Until then, it will be "wheels of the week", "modification of the week", "color of the week" and so on. Don't worry, this shouldn't cramp my car style. I'll still post cool cars I dig and car shows and events I attend. Like next week, planning another Bonneville Salt Flats day trip. World of Speed is next week!
For now, enjoy these sweet "Slab Siders" and see you on the Salt!

Orange xB lookin' sick!
xB on wide steelies

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Car of the Week" Hot Rod Ramblings

Many of you hot rodders and car nuts are able to stick with one car for years. I don't know how you guys do it? I have what what is called "The Car of the Week" syndrome. Sometimes its as simple as seeing a cool car on the road, then I get on the laptop and start google searching. I look at the classified ads for used examples, forums to see what people are doing to them, and pictures to find inspirational examples. I thought I'd ramble a bit about a few of those cars to give you an idea of how all over the hot rod map I am. There is a goal to this madness, and that is trying to decide on what my next car will be.
This week's "car of the week" is the first gen' Scion xB. That's right. Did I not mention that my car passion has no boundaries? Did you read my Pro-Touring meets Hellaflush story? Just a glimpse into my funky car taste. So, Scion xB...check out this woody xB. I'd build a Box a few ways, old school hot rod is definitely one. It would have to have wide steelies and white walls. Probably not the wood though. But the xB has so much style and character. Plus, it gets awesome gas mileage (35+mpg). One of the requirements for my next car is a big aftermarket. The xB has tons.
The other way I'd wanna build a box is seen by this example. Check that nasty demon camber in the rear. I know, I know, its front wheel drive and yet it has wider wheels and tires in the rear than in the front. WHO CARES! IT LOOKS RAD! The tires are stretched over the wheels and its almost riding on the tires. I don't even know how to explain why I think this car is sooo cool! The closest I can come is that its the modern equivalent of the 60's VW Bus. So fun to drive, so much style and uniqueness. And its practical, roomy and affordable.

One of my other recurring cars of the week is the Ford Falcon slash Mercury Comet slash Ford Fairlane/Galaxie. K, so that's more than one car. ha ha But, they all have the same basic look. So much potential and so many ways to build those Ford products. You've got the gasser look, pro-touring, muscle car, low kustom, NASCAR inspired road racer, pro-street and many more. Parts are fairly easy to find, affordable too. If I had my choice, I'd love to do a 1964 Comet Cyclone because my dad had one. There's a couple pics in my garage of poppi's '64 Cyclone in black with chrome Cragars!
One of my favorite cars at Bonneville Speedweek 2009 was Nick Hoesing's 2 door Galaxie. I hope to bring you a full feature (hint, hint Nick! ha ha). Check out this teaser pic from the salt. This Galaxie hooked me bad and I spent a few hours searching Craigslist across the country. Nick's ride is perfect! Low, clean and cool! It has such style. Nick, if you're reading this, we need to hook that feature up man!

The other car type I drool over is 20's-30's Ford hot rods. They are basically the all-time hot rod. These models were the first ever hot rods and custom cars. They have so much character and style, its crazy! There's just something about these rods that gets me goin'. There's the new Factory Five Racing '33 Hot Rod, all the Brookville metal bodies and chassis' and so many more. These old rods are another with so many modification options: Gasser, 50's-60's dragsters, El Mirage adn Bonneville land speed racers, street rods, traditional rods and so on.
I think my favorite body style would have to be a chop top coupe, 3 or 5 window, it doesn't matter. Coupes are just so cool looking. The body lines are just...perfect. It's hard to explain.
My second favorite body style is the sedan. Being a family guy, to have a rod like that with a backseat would be a winner for sure. Plus, a chopped sedan rod just looks so clean. Check out these pics I found while searching the net. On a side note, for me, there's no better look than a traditional wire wheel or painted steelie with wide white walls.

The other car of the week is not a car but a truck. I'm a huge sucker for the 1948-59 Ford 1/2 ton short bed pickup and the early-mid 60's Chevy C10 pickup. One of the great things about these pickups is they are not uber rare. You can find good project pickups all over the place for cheap. Parts a-plenty too! The body lines of these pick ups are gorgeous too. I love the "stand up" or "straight up" cabs with the big fenders of the old Fords. Those big grilles just say "I'm automotive art on wheels!". The other thing I love about old cars is the metal dashboards. I hate how today's cars are so boring inside and out. A metal dashboard continues the beautiful designs of the 50's and 60's, designs inspired by the aerospace developments of the day.
One other detail of these old pickups is the wood slat beds. Wood has gotta be the best and most stylish material. You can beat it up and replace it. Restain it when it gets weathered.
60's Chevy pickups with their slab sided beds that run smooth with the cab when slammed down low is one of my favorite looks. Match the ride height with a sweet revving 283/327cu in small block Chevy motor and killer wheels and you have one great hot rod. I also really dig the idea of painting a "shop logo" on the door of these old pickups. Shop Truck hot rods are a great concept!

I'll finish off this rambling blog with one more car of the week. The 2002-07 Subaru Impreza WRX and 2003-06 Mitsubishi Evolution. These are modern "rod" of sorts. Their roots are in the World Rally Championship series, doing 4 wheel drifts, jumps and crazy scandinavian flicks. As a daily driver, there aren't many cars that can do it all. They are 4 door sedan's in compact car size with an all wheel drive and a turbocharged and intercooled 4 cylinder powertrain. In factory trim they come with 227-300hp/tq. They are great in the snow (good since I live in Utah), very practical for car seats in the back and have huge aftermarket support.
The "offset is everything", aggressive fitment scene has brought some style that I personally dig. One of the coolest features of the WRX and EVO are the rally spec fender flares and intercooler cooling hood scoop/vents. They get decent mileage too. My buddy just picked up a modified 2007 WRX pumping 360hp and while on a road trip going 70-75mph averaged 27+mpg. These cars are amazing grip cars, meaning they can be setup to kill it on track days on road courses and cone dodgers at autocross events. Enjoy these pics of some of my favorite hellaflush Subaru's and EVO's. Oh ya, you can even get the WRX in wagon form!
So, I've probably just made my decision process that much harder by reminding myself how much I dig the various vehicles noted here. But, I failed to mention some of my other faves like the Mustang, Nissan 240sx/Silvia, Honda Civic, the 50's lead sleds and even the classic aircooled Type 1's (Beetles) and Type 3's (Squarebacks, Fastbacks and Notchbacks). Stay tuned for those ramblings. In the meantime, post up your favorite cars that I should look at. You can tell I'm open to it all. I'm looking for other car crazy opinions and suggestions. Comment below, let's hear your hot rod ramblings!