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Hot Rod & Classic Car Blog

How to Properly Store a Classic Car

posted Sep 19, 2020, 10:26 AM by Pete Kianka   [ updated Sep 19, 2020, 10:35 AM by Blog Admin ]

Customers ask us all the time, "What is the best way to store a classic car?"  There are many important things to consider when storing any vehicle for more than a few weeks. Older cars, classic and custom cars, require special consideration. Simply parking a car in a garage for a long period of time can cause some issues when you finally go drive the vehicle in the spring or on that nice sunny day in the winter.

First off, cars don't like to sit. Seals tend to dry out, batteries get weak, tires get flat-spotted, fuel gums up when sitting for too long.  The #1 best practice is to keep a car in motion as often as possible.  When in storage, the way to do this is to start the engine up periodically, check fluids, check tire pressures, move the car around if possible. Ideally these practices should be performed monthly at a minimum.

Ferrari in storage
Moisture and condensation play a large part in long term, slow deterioration of vehicles when they sit. This is true for both vehicle interiors as well as the engine, transmission, radiators, differential(s) and exhaust systems.  Condensation has a tendency to build up inside of the engine and the exhaust system when sitting for a long time and if the engine is not run, this can cause long term damage. Even if there are no drive miles on engine oil, the oil can be broken down by moisture build up and condensation that drains down into the oil pan.  It's a good idea to have fresh oil run through the engine before storing a car for a while and changing it again when pulling it out of storage.  When the exhaust systems get moisture inside of them from condensation, they will rust out from the inside unless the engine is run frequently. Engines should be run for 20 mins or more to heat up enough to dry the moisture from within the exhaust system otherwise moisture will remain.

Keeping vehicles covered and sealed up is important as well.  Dust settles on paint and interior over the long term and so can bugs, cob-webs and critter droppings. I can't tell you how many cars we come across that have had the wiring chewed up by mice (they love the insulation) or a food stash or feces inside or under the hood of cars. To reduce the chance of this, cars need to be run frequently, moved around, closed up and covered.

Brakes and tires take a beating when vehicles sit as well. Brake rotors and other parts tend to build up surface rust which easily dissipates if the car is driven often. But sitting for a while, rust on brake rotors can cause pitting or "frozen" brake in extreme cases.  Tires can quickly become "flat-spotted" from sitting as well.  In only a few months flat spots can develop and can permanently damage tires when left for too long.

Classic Car Storage

Batteries tend to weaken over time when sitting as well.  For very long term storage, batteries should be disconnected or removed from the vehicle. Not only do they drain over time, but it's best to remove a battery to prevent the chance of acid drainage onto parts of the vehicle or a short circuit if rodents or moisture ends up in the vehicle somehow. For shorter term storage, keeping a battery connected with a "trickle-charger" (slow charger) or simply disconnecting it is recommended.

To summarize best vehicle storage practices:
  • Run engines at least monthly to keep fluids cycled through the engine and cooling system
  • Run engine or drive the vehicle at least 20 minutes to ensure the exhaust system gets hot enough to burn all condensation out
  • Change engine oil before and after storing vehicles for a long time
  • Move/drive cars around at lease monthly to prevent tires from developing flat-spots
  • Dust cars off at least monthly to prevent damage to paint
  • Cover cars and keep all doors and windows closed to prevent bugs and critters from entering
  • Disconnect batteries or use a trickle charger - or remove batteries for very long term storage

Pro-Speed Autoworks offers professionally managed vehicle storage for classic, custom, antique and exotic vehicles.  We can store and maintain your vehicle for you in a clean, secure and climate-controlled facility.  We specialize in classic cars and are familiar with the nuances of antiques and custom vehicles.  Contact us to discuss storage options and let us keep your dream car fresh and ready to drive for years to come.  We are happy to discuss all standard and custom options and invite you to tour the storage facility at your convenience.

PRO-SPEED builds, services, upgrades and restores the hot rods and classic cars of your dreams.

Please visit the PRO-SPEED Auto Storage Website & Facebook Page to learn more & check out some of the projects currently underway.  

Contact us today about your project - - 571.250.5908

Engine Swaps & Replacement Options for your Classic Car or Truck

posted Jan 12, 2020, 6:22 PM by Blog Admin   [ updated Jan 12, 2020, 6:25 PM ]

When it comes to classic cars or trucks, there are many options available for engine installations.  There are also many reasons for engine replacements which we'll cover in this article. Whether your engine is tired and worn out, you want more power or long for the smooth power and reliability or a modern engine, you have many choices.  If you're considering a new or rebuilt engine for your project, read on.

Engine Rebuild
Engine Rebuilds - A basic engine rebuild is a good option if you an original or mostly original classic car or truck.  If you are not concerned with adding more power and mainly looking to freshen up the engine, a rebuild is for you. Even with a stock rebuild, it's possible to add a mild camshaft or four barrel intake and carburetor upgrade for an economical way to boost power but maintain originality and reliability. Rebuilds are usually the lowest cost option however they can take a few weeks depending on how busy the machine shop is.  If your vehicle has numbers matching drivetrain components, do a little research (or check with us) on the collectibility of your car. In some cases, it's very important to keep a car original to maintain it's value. In the end, it's your car to do what you prefer - but it doesn't hurt to research the car so you don't inadvertently lower the car's value.

Crate Engine

Crate Engines - Crate motors are a very common and popular option. They typically cost a little more than a rebuild, but can be completed more quickly and usually offer many horsepower upgrade options. Care should be taken when evaluating crate engine options as some engines comes with more parts than others. We've seen some that come with everything right down to carb, intake, distributor, water pump, oil pan, plugs and wires. There are others that are closer to a long block (block and heads and not much more).  There are also many engine builder choices when it comes to crate engine packages. There are large companies line Blueprint Engines and GM Performance, and smaller shops like VortecPro and Creb Engineering. There are excellent options and warranties from each but the smaller guys will usually customize something for your needs.  Most crate engine suppliers will clearly lay out the warranty options and horsepower ratings - many of them come already broken in and with a dyno sheet.

Modern Engine Swaps - For those looking to truly modernize the powertrain of their classic car or truck, a modern engine swap is the answer.  The GM LS, Dodge Hemi and the Ford Coyote engines are the three most common platforms to upgrade to once the decision has been made to transform the car.  This is the most expense option and is a big commitment because like most engine swaps, there are many other changes that must occur to support the modern engine. You must consider the transmission, physical mounting of the engine, wiring, engine/powertrain control module programming, headers and exhaust system fitment, radiator and coolant hose routing and fuel injection configuration.  Most swaps like this wind up using the modern EFI that comes with the engine but carburetors and 3rd party EFI kits can be used as well. Plan for a much larger budget with a swap like this.  The end result?  A smooth running, lighter, more reliable engine that always starts (hot or cold) that doesn't leak any oil.  It's the ultimate modernization option you can choose for your classic vehicle.

Coyote Mustang SwapNo matter which engine replacement or swap options you choose, keep in mind that most of the time you are not simply yanking out one engine and dropping in another.  Labor effort is high with any engine swap, even with the most basic, you will likely want to clean and paint or replace all engine hardware, brackets, pulleys, hoses, wires, water pump, fuel lines, etc.  With the engine out of the car it's a great time to clean and/or paint the engine bay firewall, inner fenders and subframe areas.  The other thing to consider is the rest of the car - is the power of a new engine going to overload the transmission, differential or suspension? Always make sure to work those items into the plan if your engine swap will add a lot more torque and horsepower than it previously had.

Consider consulting with a specialist for advice when researching engine swap options for your classic car or classic truck.  Pro-Speed Autoworks specializes in engine swaps, conversions, rebuilds, upgrades and power adders.  Call or email us for more information.

PRO-SPEED builds, services, upgrades and restores the hot rods and classic cars of your dreams.

Please visit the PRO-SPEED Autoworks Website & Facebook Page to learn more & check out some of the projects currently underway.  

Contact us today about your project - - 571.250.5908

EFI versus Carburetors for Classic Cars & Hot Rods

posted Sep 2, 2019, 2:13 PM by Pete Kianka   [ updated Jan 12, 2020, 5:51 PM by Blog Admin ]

EFI vs CarburetorsA very popular upgrade classic car owners are considering these days is ditching the carburetor for EFI, or Electronic Fuel Injection.  There are many good reasons to do so, however carburetors do still have their place.  Let's start by discussing the problem with carbs and why to consider EFI in the first place. 

Carburetors are an old technology mechanical fuel system - although tried and true - they are not without their issues in the modern world.  For decades, carburetors worked just fine.  With most carbureted vehicles off the road these for long periods of time between drives AND the heat they can experience during modern traffic patterns, they aren't always optimal.  EFI by contrast is a modern technology typically electronically controlled by a computer and is generally very reliable and consistent.  

Holley 4150 CarburetorBasic carb operation works by a mechanical fuel pump filling the float bowls on a carburetor at a rate of about 5-6 PSI. The float bowls of the carb are what actually feed the engine when it demands fuel by opening up the needle from the seat to fill up the bowl, then through a power valve, accelerator pump and squirt nozzle into the venturi or the carburetor and into the engine's intake manifold. This worked fine for years - and still works fine for many race engines - but there are problems with carbs for use in today's world.  First off, the gasoline is not the same as it used to be. Most fuel has 10% or more Ethanol mixed into it which is not good for rubber, plastic or soft aluminum parts that most carburetors are made of.  Second, depending where you live, there is generally much more traffic on the road then there was in the "old day" which means engines are going to run hotter due to sitting in traffic more with not much air flow.  Gasoline can boil at as low as 100 degrees and has a max high boiling point of 400 degrees.  Underhood temps can easily get up to 250 or more degrees when sitting in traffic which can cause a condition called Vapor Lock. When fuel begins to boil, there are air pockets in the fuel supply in the line to the float bowl or at the extreme end, the fuel in the float bowl boils away before it can be refilled. Sometimes an electric fuel pump helps with this issue as it provides constant pressure to the bowl even when fuel starts boiling.

EFI by contrast uses an electric fuel pump with a much higher pressure (typically around 60 PSI) and fuel injectors that only fire when the computer tells them too. The trick is how the computer knows when to fire the injectors and how to adjust the air fuel mixture based on feedback it receives from the engine sensors.  EFI uses a coolant temp sensor, an oxygen sensor in the exhaust, a throttle position sensor, and sometimes a knock sensor, intake air temp sensor and mass air flow sensor. This all depends on the particular EFI system in use. Whiel semi complicated to wire up and install, the results can be increased reliability and consistency in starting, idles, cold starts, hot starts and no vapor lock. Unlike a carburetor, the EFI computer is constantly testing the air/fuel mixture and making enhancements and corrections (known as self-tuning) - carbs must be manually tuned, driven and tuned again if needed for changes in weather and altitude.

Edelbrock Pro-Flow EFIThere are a few different brands and types of EFI systems available to retrofit onto classic car engines - several options to install them as well.  The top brands offering EFI now are Holley and its Sniper system, FiTech, and Edelbrock.  There are others as well but we'll just focus on these for now.  Holley and FiTech offer what's known as Carburetor Replacement systems or Throttle Body EFI, where Edelbrock offers "multi-port" EFI which includes an intake manifold with fuel rails that incorporate an injector for each cylinder. All companies promise simple installation, and this is generally true for all but the wiring portion, which can can get tricky. The other gotcha the big vendors don't focus on is the need to find a good initial tune. Yes they self tune, but you have to start somewhere. They all ask for a few bits of information such as the engine size, cam specs, etc then start with a base tune from there. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.  EFI is not a fixit tool for a poor running engine.  You should do your best to get an engine running well before installing EFI. If there are vacuum leaks, weak cylinders, ignition issues causing the engine to run poorly, adding EFI will only make this worse.

Holley Sniper EFIEFI installations require an electric fuel pump and a return line back to the tank.  The most desirable way to install this is by using a fuel tank that has an internal pump and return fitting.  Sometimes called "EFI Tanks" they are available for some cars by Aeromotive and TANKS, Inc.  There are ways to retrofit an electric pump and a return line into a stock tank but this is challenging for more DIYers (and some repair shops). Inline pumps are available and a good alternative sometimes but a return line must still be tapped into the tank somehow - there are some universal return line kits available now that tap into the fuel filler neck hose.  Some companies offer the concept of a surge tank that is essentially a small fuel tank that is fed by the car's mechanical fuel pump, has its own electric fuel pump that feeds the EFI unit and also has a return line built in.  It's simple to install for the DIYer but it does have some major drawbacks. First off, a 1/3 gallor or raw fuel in in a tank under the hood.  Just another firebomb exposed to extreme heat and available to be crushed in the event of a collision.  Second, there are multiples points of failure when using these tanks as the mechanical pump is still in play - not to mention vapor lock can still be an issue.

FiTech EFIModern EFI systems offer many advantages and promise fixes for many traditional carburetor "problems" like consistent starts, idle and vapor lock.  However, it's important to be sure an engine is running well before installing EFI.  It's also important to know that EFI, while self tuning, is not a magic bullet out of the box.  It can take significant tuning effort sometimes to get EFI running correctly and reliably.  Some say the EFI retrofit technology is not quite there yet - do your research or consult with us to find out more before you make a decision to go EFI.

PRO-SPEED builds, services, upgrades and restores the hot rods and classic cars of your dreams.

Please visit the PRO-SPEED Autoworks Website & Facebook Page to learn more & check out some of the Restomod projects currently underway.  

Contact us today about your restomod project - - 571.250.5908

Brake Upgrades for Classic Cars & Restomods

posted Feb 25, 2019, 6:59 AM by Blog Admin   [ updated Feb 26, 2019, 10:24 AM ]

Brake Upgrades for Classic Cars & Restomods are one of the more common upgrades we (PRO-SPEED) perform on a regular basis.  There is good reason for this... brakes on old cars are terrible!  Back in the 1960s and 70s, muscle cars were meant to go fast in a straight line. Drag racing was very popular and racing culture drove (pardon the pun) the design of many vehicles back then.  Unfortunately, little regard was given to simple safety items - like the ability to stop safely!  There are many ways to upgrade the brakes on classic cars and musclecars which we'll go into in this blog article.

Wilwood Rear Disc Brakes
For starters, many 60s and early 70s cars had drum brakes, front and rear. Some had them only on the rear.  Drum brakes are not all that bad, and many cars and trucks still have them on the rear. They don't work that well on the front of most vehicles though.  They do grab pretty well the first or second time brakes are applied, but they are very susceptible to brake-fade (loss of grip due to overheating).  They also tend to go out of adjustment often which can cause the brakes to pull left or right when they are on the front.  Disc brakes on the front of older cars are a far superior solution as they self adjust as they wear, they don't generally fade and the clamping force is much higher that that of drum brakes.  Upgrading to disc brakes on the rear of most cars is also a nice upgrade but is not as large of boost as swapping front drums for discs.  Rear brakes only tend to do about 20-25% of vehicle braking.

When looking at disc brake upgrades, there are many options and they vary by the car.  Some classic cars had disc brake available as an
Wilwood Front Disc Brakes
option or were standard on higher end performance base models.  When this is the case, there are usually complete stock style disc brake kits that can be purchased for a reasonable price.  Some cars never came with them, this is where you need to look into other aftermarket options.  Wilwood, SSBC, CPP, Baer and many others make kits for the most popular musclecars out there.  Wilwood for instance offers a full line of disc brake conversion kits which come in multiple levels of performance.  Pay attention to rotor and caliper size, larger brakes do stop better but as they get bigger, you need to check and be sure they'll fit inside your wheels.  A lot of the kits we install, we wind up doing a wheel upgrade as well because the client wants the most stopping power they can get. There are many systems that will fit inside of 14 and 15 inch wheels though.  Rear disc brake conversions are popular now too. Not only do they add stopping power but they looks great on a car with open style wheels.  Rear wheel drive musclecars getting a disc brake upgrade must have the rear axles removed to install the brake mounting brackets, so plan on doing axle seals and possibly bearings while there. 

Brake Hydra Boost

Master Cylinders & Power Boosters - You will almost always need to replace the master cylinder when doing a disc brake conversion to accommodate for the change in bias.  An adjustable proportioning valve is highly recommended as well to fine tune the amount of brake bias applied to front versus rear. This needs to be plumbed in to the brake hard lines and is usually no simple task for DIYers.  Some kits will come complete with everything you need, including a master cylinder and power brake booster (if converting to power brakes), some don't.  Adding a power booster to your new disc brake conversion is highly recommended.  Standard brake boosters use engine vacuum to provide the boost to the brake system.  These typically work fine for most street cars with stock engines. When you get into oversized engines with not much room under the hood -- or engines built with big camshafts that don't make much vacuum, you'll need to consider other options.  If there is a low vacuum situation, this can sometimes be cured using a vacuum pump and reserve tank.  If other cases, consider the ultimate power booster, the Hydra-Boost.  Hydra-Boost taps into power steering pump hydraulics to provide brake boost and they work extremely well.  These boosters were originally invented for diesel trucks because those engines don't make any vacuum.  Hydra-Boost has become a very popular option for hot-rodders over the part several years and we really love the results you get from them.

Master Cyl with Vacuum Booster
When you are planning to upgrade your classic car or musclecar, one of the most important things to consider is upgrading the braking 
system.  This is a key essential when building any restomod.  As stated, there are several options to accomplish this.  Disc brake conversions are available for the front and rear, stock style and performance options, or add power brakes using vacuum or hydra boosters.  You should not skimp on cost when it comes to an effective brake upgrade and you should seriously consider having this work done by a professional shop that is experienced with brake conversions on older cars. It's not the same as brake jobs on modern vehicles and it's not DIY friendly.  In terms of importance, it's right up there with suspension upgrades and improvements, if you can't stop the car safely, nothing else really matters.  Consider the population of vehicles on the roads these days (especially in Northern Virginia), do you really want to be driving a high-powered muscle car that can't stop effectively in an urgent situation?

Restomods - What are they and how are they different from Restorations?

posted Jan 4, 2019, 7:38 PM by Blog Admin   [ updated Mar 16, 2020, 11:52 AM by Pete Kianka ]

Restomods - if you're an enthusiast of classic cars and hot rods, it's a term you've likely heard thrown around a lot.  The most simple definition is a classic car or truck restored and modified to include modern technology. The purpose is for the vehicle to be faster, more reliable, handle better, stop better, be safer, have modern conveniences - you know, all those things you want that muscle car to have but didn't come with from the factory back in the 60s or 70s.  The dream for many hot rod enthusiasts is to own the perfect "driver", the classic car that has the look and sound of an old-school muscle car but drives, stops and handles more like a modern car.  It's difficult to achieve that with older technology. 

Update: Check out what our friends over at the Restomod Academy have to say about them in their article on the topic: What is a Restomod - A Complete Guide

Think of it like renovating an old house, if you are going to trouble of reviving an old car, do you really want to outfit it with old technology? Would you put old fashioned single pane windows in your old house?  How about an old computer, would you rebuild one and put the same amount of memory and hard disk space in it as when it was new?  Nope.  Unless you're seriously concerned about preserving the originality of an older car, there is almost no reason not to upgrade an old drum brake system to power disc brakes - or add a few modern conveniences (cup holders and phone chargers anyone?)  Of course there are always exceptions where it doesn't make sense to go restomod - such as rare models or collectible cars that are worth more preserved in their original gear.

mustang fastback restomod - pro-speed
Restomod upgrades for classic cars come in all shapes and sizes. It could be simple things like upgrading the stereo with a retro looking unit that has bluetooth phone and streaming music features or simply switching out the old worn lap seat belts for a set of three point shoulder belts (a very common job for us).  Other popular options to consider are drum to disc brake upgrades, manual to power brake upgrades, air conditioning systems, power steering upgrades, suspension upgrades, engine and transmission upgrades, interior enhancements, heat and sound deadening upgrades, LED lighting upgrades, instrument panel upgrades and wheel and tire upgrades.

Other more advanced upgrades can involve swapping to a more modern engine or transmission.  Some of today's muscle car engines make much more power than those from the old days and they do it more reliably and more cleanly (less emissions and less oil leaks.)  A transmission swap could mean changing from a manual to automatic (or vice versa) or adding overdrive in the form of extra gears for much better highway cruising and fuel mileage.  Chassis stiffening using frame connectors and torque boxes definitely make an older car feel safer and more modern.  Swapping out carburetors for Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) is a popular enhancement to bring cold and hot start up reliability, consistent idle quality and improved throttle response to your older ride.

Wilwood Rear Disc Brake Upgrade
For those worried about originality and maintaining the vehicle's value, there are a few simple answers.  If you have the storage space, keep the original parts that come off the car. For example, if you have a collectible car with an manual transmission but you drive it a lot and really wanted an automatic, go for it. Just hang on to the old transmission in case you ever need to sell the car or have it appraised. Same goes for original engines, axles, brakes, carburetors, etc.  The other thing to consider is that the values of Restomods is at an all time high and climbing according to publicly available auction data.  

Consider this, restoring a 1968 Camaro with a six cylinder back to factory spec could cost you four or five times what the car is worth, but dropping an LS or Small Block (V8) engine with a modern transmission, suspension and brakes in the car and now you have a ride that is worth something a lot closer to what you have to spend to get it there.  And you now have a car that is much safer and more enjoyable to drive - a win win!

No matter how you plan to restore or upgrade your classic car or hot rod, it's important consider upgrades and improvements. Call it a restomod, call it upgraded, either way it's best to consider all of the aforementioned options during the process.  The best feeling in the world is to drive a very nicely enhanced and restored classic car that is safer, more powerful, better handling and has more modern features that the days of that car's past.  Feel free to reach out to us and discuss any of these options and the best way to get there with your classic car or restoration project.
EFI Fuel Injection Upgrade

PRO-SPEED builds, services, upgrades and restores the hot rods and classic cars of your dreams.

Please visit the PRO-SPEED Autoworks Website & Facebook Page to learn more & check out some of the Restomod projects currently underway.  

Contact us today about your restomod project - - 571.250.5908

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