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Introducing Mike Holler: My old cars

mike hollerOver the past 2+ decades, I’ve owned several “old” cars. Before I get into specifics, I know that you probably have an image of what constitutes an “old” car. Some of you are envisioning something like my very first car, a ’71 Fury. Others of you consider “old” more along the lines of the recently acquired ’41 Chrysler Limo. Still, some of our Allpar readers look at our ’91 Spirit R/T and think, “That’s old!”

I suppose I gravitated toward the Pentastar products because that’s what my uncles had. Uncle Gary had his ’70 Duster 340 4-speed. Uncle Bruce cruised in his ’70 Challenger 340 4-speed. Uncle Ken owned entirely too many old Mopar muscle cars, including an AAR Cuda, 440 6-Barrel Cuda, and countless 340 Dusters. Even the “beater” cars were “old” Furys and Satellites.

I started my driving career behind the wheel of mostly A bodies, because they were cheap to buy and cheap to fix. I had many Dusters, Darts, a couple of Demons and Valiants. Mixed in the herd were a few Road Runners and Satellites, just for good measure. As times progress, so have my “old” cars. My daily driver is now an “old” 1984 Charger 2.2 with the 5-speed. My wife drives the Spirit R/T.

I shifted from the ‘70s A bodies to the ‘80s FWD cars when the “old” Dusters were no longer cheap. Now, the “old” Daytonas and Omnis are the cheap cars. Lets face it, an Omni with a 2.5 turbo is quite the screamer; sort of like the Duster with a 440 out of a New Yorker used to be. Parts for my ‘80s cars are all over the Pic-N-Pulls, and even new they are still cheap.

I have a romantic fancy for cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s because that’s what was slamming me back into my car seat as a kid. There are young folks that have the same reverence for the turbo powered cars of the ‘80s, because that’s what was tooling them to elementary school. The graduating class of 2015 will probably reminisce the Neon R/Ts and Hemi Ram pick-ups. After all, they are the vehicles that will impact their childhoods.

As a youngster I watched as my uncles would bolt on headers, bigger carbs, swap out cams and pumpkins. The fun part for me was always the test drive afterwards. I recall one Saturday when we tried 5 different carburetors on a ’68 Formula S. After each install, we’d tear up the road to see how it ran. Every one of those test drives felt the same to me…exhilarating! I couldn’t tell the best carb from the worst, but my uncles certainly could.

Once I got my license to fly I began buying and modifying “old” cars. My ’72 Satellite Sebring would smoke the tires, fish-tail, and slam me back into the seat with military authority. As I ran out of first gear at 60 miles per hour, I’d bump the Slapstick and start the stunt driving all over again as it’d fish-tail and dart toward oblivion. At 90 miles per hour the engine would redline again, and as I’d pop the shifter into high gear, there’d be a one second long chirp. At 90 miles per hour, that second would cover a football field. This orange and black Road Runner wanna-be would paint a hundred yard double patch of black rubber at near triple digit speeds!

Fifteen years later I tinkered with our ’89 Dodge Daytona ES with the 2.5 liter turbo. Stock it was a spirited joy ride, but not much more. An intercooler from a rusted Conquest and a couple of vacuum hose tweaks in the wastegate line, and it was déjà vu 340 Duster! This “old” Daytona responded to appropriate mods and paid me handsomely just as my “muscle cars” of yesteryear had.

In our youth we drive “old” cars because of financial reasons. Some of us were given a car by our parents, others acquired an old car with paper route earnings. As we grew more mature, we drove “old” cars for nostalgia reasons. These were the cars we wish we could have afforded when we still had the paper route. Our kids will be driving Shadows and Neons because they are currently cheap, but will be buying the “old” Chrysler 300s and Crossfires a decade after their college tuitions are paid off.

“Old” is a relative term. Whether it has good or bad connotations to you, whether you long for or avoid “old” cars, Allpar has made sure that your “old” car has a place here. If you’re not already a member of the forum, please feel free to browse around and see some of the glorious “old” cars nestled in the posts and threads. Find the genre that puts a smile on your “young” face and settle in for awhile. As I did, you’ll probably find it as comfortable as your “old” shoes.

Mike Holler, known on Allpar forums as mpgmike, also contributes to He has contributed many columns to Allpar:
Interiors Budget interior restoration: making the inside of your car look like new again
Red carpet treatment: Installing new carpet in an old car
Headliner repair
Porting Porting heads for performance: step by step
Head porting example, part 1 | part 2
Intake manifold porting
Exhaust manifold porting (turbo)
Poly Quad heads: porting revisited

Turbochargers Turbochargers - all you need to know (interview)
Turbocharging the slant six for power and economy • Revisiting the turbocharged slant six
Budget turbocharger rebuilding (and Turbo Rebirth)
Installing a boost gauge

Other Powder-coating for a brilliant, durable finish
Custom pistons: roll your own!
Prepping valves for performance: grinding and polishing
Old cars: an opinion
Discuss Mike’s articles! (if you are not registered for the forums, register first )

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