Sunday, August 23, 2015

South Coast Cuda II

A few pictures from one of my last drives in the cuda before I headed back to LA. A chance to test out a new lens and grab some pretty shots for a feature in the awesome FUEL magazine from Australia.

 Long, lean, and mean!

Monday, August 10, 2015

California car life

Working in LA sure has its perks if you like cars. There's a bunch of events on all the time and badass cars all around. It's been a real pleasure to drive around the city and the hills with the evening sun casting that patented Hollywood magic lighting on everything. And blasting the freeways late at night with the windows down and the stereo at max feels straight out of a movie.

I'm lucky to know some folks with some beautiful machines over here.

My work rental. Not a bad car at all, these new mustangs. I like em.

Here's a bunch of random pics from a few local car events. Mainly Supercar Sunday and the recent Auto Enthusiast Day. I even met Jay Leno at yesterdays Supercar Sunday, love that guy, rad dude. I'd love to get the kuda into his garage for an episode!

I felt a little patriotism when I saw that fellow kiwi Mad Mike seemed to be the biggest star at Auto Enthusiast Day. That little mx5 is so rad, what a weapon, and the quad rotor sounds awesome.

Loving the Californian life. This weekend I'm off to Monterey for Pebble Beach Concours and the historics racing at Laguna Seca. I went last year and it was epic. So I should have a bunch of photos of more rad machines coming soon!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

South coast cuda

A couple of photos from the last time I had the car out. It was another fantastic drive around the beautiful South Coast of Wellington, I never get bored of it.

I'm currently in Los Angeles again, working on some top secret very exciting stuff (and greatly enjoying the epic car scene here). I'd love to bring the cuda over here and enjoy it on these awesome Southern Californian roads, but right now isn't the time. So I'll content myself with these photos and look forward to returning to NZ for more great coffee and skids.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Finished Exhaust

Finished the exhaust today, and a fun day it was. I hadn't been able to run the new exhaust I'd built as it needed the last flanges welded on where they meet the headers. I had to set the final driveline angle, line everything up, then weld the flanges on. I also needed to modify the reverse shift rod too, as it clashed with the x-pipe. Luckily I had the use of my mate Sheldon's hoist, cheers bro!

I haven't TIG welded in a while, so it was fun to do something easy and colourful like these thick flanges. With everything installed and sealed-up I took the car for a test drive round some quiet rural roads. Well, not so quiet when I was around...  the car's still real loud! It runs noticeably better without those little temporary mufflers bolted directly to the headers that I've been using until now. The car is feeling awesome, it's fast and very predictable, nice and controllable when sliding. And it does mean as skids. I'm very happy.

Friday, June 19, 2015

spooky cuda

Even though the weather was crap and the car got wet, I couldn't resist taking a few photos of the car to test a new lens. The overcast day suits the car well though, and I'm lucky to have a nice backdrop directly across the road from me, the parking lot for a small church. I'm looking forward to getting some great shots in the future with the new lens, it's a Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS II, basically the lens I've always dreamed of owning. Such a fantastic piece of gear.

Monday, June 15, 2015

F132 V-Max test renders

I've been working on the computer a lot lately, no time for the cuda apart from lazy Sunday trips to brunch. So while I'm working on some rad freelance sci-fi art stuff, I like to set rendering in the background some test shots of the F132. Here's a few of the rough first pass at the Vmax version.

Still super rough but I'm liking the different look the fenders and nose cone give the F132.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

F132 V MAX

A taste of the salt lake special version of the F132, the F132 V-max. Skinny wheels and tires, full carbon fenders, a nose cone, and low drag wings go towards making the little brick fly.

The F132. The original and still the best.

Monday, April 13, 2015


A few shots of the car from the last little photoshoot. Got a little break in the wet weather of late, so I took the car to a nearby spot with a nice industrial background.

I love the way the grey side looks from this angle. Having the rocker painted black makes the car look long and mean, ready to pounce.

It's nice to see the engine bay all cleaned up and looking smooth. A few things to finish of course, but it's looking good to me.

Loving the interior too. The black factory pieces like the passenger seat, dash pad and gauges, mixing with the black stripped interior and Sparco seat.

The day or so before Beach Hop I made a new bracket to mount the fire extinguisher on the flat of the floor. Looks much better than on an angle like before.

Now that Beach Hop is over it's back to work getting the car finished. So it's nice to have these photos to inspire me to get back into the garage. The machine is looking good!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Build Details

Time for a big update on the work done lately! I was too busy working to post the results here, but the Beach Hop crunch is over now, so here's the update as promised.

I installed a big fuel filter in the rear to complement the smaller one up front. In this shot you can also see the battery box reinforcement plate, one of the new Fox/Hotchkis shocks, rear discs etc. So nice to work with a clean underbody too.

The rear discs are a kit from Cass, aka Dr Diff, the man when it comes to Mopar differentials. This kit works with factory style tapered roller axle bearings instead of just the newer 'green' ball bearings, which apparently don't hold up to hard cornering. I also have Cass's heavy duty billet bearing adjusters, axles, and a bunch of other parts, great gear!

Brakes installed with new lines I bent up.

The front calipers were bead blasted, repainted, and rebuilt with new pistons, seals, and hardware. These are just temporary until I source some badass NASCAR brakes for the car.

Here's another shot of the trimmed bellhousing flange. Lots of ground clearance gained from this.

The finished rollbar. I had it powdercoated but the finish came out with a lot of texture and too much sheen/gloss, so I sanded it down and clearcoated it matte. Looks fantastic now.

The final steering quickener and column setup. Really happy with how this turned out. Especially as the quickener makes such a massive difference in the feel of the car.

Bolted in place awaiting the upper column section. All the grub screw lock nuts on the steering universals and adapters have been replaced with specially made half nylocks, as mechanical locking fasteners are required everywhere by the certification authorities here in NZ.

The custom handbrake handle setup. Visible behind is one of the backing plates for the driveshaft loop.

I installed a nice map pocket on the center tunnel for stowing small items. Love those hexagons.

The large gauge electrical cables for the wiring. These range from 70mm² for the primary length of the starter motor feed, to 16mm² for the alternator to battery feed. All triple crimped with the correct tool and high quality terminals. I really enjoy the wiring work! The heat shrink on these is temporary, and once everything is finalised I'll be using Raychem adhesive lined shrink on the ends, with the bulk of the cables covered in DR-25 heat shrink. Then probably all sheathed in a nylon braid.

To hold the electrical cables in place I needed some way of fastening them to the body. I remembered seeing something online once that I though was a great solution. Take a M8 washer, bend it, and tack weld it on. Then you can run a cable tie through the loop. Nice and simple, and easier, tidier and faster to use than a riv-nut and P-clip.

Here's one of the washers welded on. Just a little spot is stripped to bare metal for the weld. And if you're smooth with the welder and quick with the compressed air after, then the surrounding paint is fine.

A little bit of paint and they're done. I'm definitely a fan of this mounting/attachment method now. It's so easy to zip tie the cables and wires in place and snip the ties if another cable needs to be added or swapped out. I added a bunch of these washers around the body where I need to run wiring.

The finished trunk modules. The Pelican case is fixed down on its custom bracket, and the battery box is bolted into the reinforcement plate under the floor. The starter solenoid and alternator feed circuit breaker is also visible to the right. Love the way this all looks!

The positive feed comes out of the battery box and onto the 500A solenoid, where the switched feed goes to the 70mm² cable to the firewall junction and through to the starter. This way the starter cable is only live when the starter is being cranked, which makes things much safer. Also attached to the battery positive terminal on the solenoid is the feed from the alternator to charge the battery. This goes through the circuit breaker to protect things in case of a problem. The terminals on the breaker will be getting protective boots like the bigger cables when i find some that fit. Also just visible below the breaker is the ground for the battery negative cable. This is a M10 stainless bolt with stainless hardware that bolts through the nice solid rollbar support I welded in to provide a secure earth for the battery.

Here's the other end of those cables on the firewall. These junctions pass through the firewall, the 500A heavy duty one on the left for the starter, and the smaller one to the alternator. This side of the alternator stud also functions as the main power feed for the electrics in the car. The multi pin connector on the right is one of the Deutsch quick-disconnect connectors I'll be using in the car. They are heavy duty but lightweight alloy connectors designed for things like mining equipment and trucks. I love the Deutsch autosport Mil-spec connectors like in race cars, but they are overkill for my needs and don't come with the larger terminal sizes I need for this project anyway. 

These ones do the same job and come in a wide range of terminal size options. I have three going through the firewall to allow for quick disconnections of the whole motor loom, fans and lights loom, and a small one for the hood tach and other things on the left side of the engine bay.

Here's the little one for the hood tach next to the brake booster. The fittings disconnect with a quarter turn and are neat little pieces of engineering. Can't wait to wire them up.

However to get the car ready for Beach Hop I didn't have time for the final wiring. So I just did a temporary job to get the basics working. Half the things on this removable board are just mocked up and not wired in yet. This board sits where the heater box would normally be, behind/below the dash and above the passengers feet. The final plate will be water jet cut out of alloy along with all the mounting holes for the various modules. All the different looms coming off this board will have their own dedicated plug, so the whole thing will be quickly removable if needed to add or modify in the future. Did I mention I love wiring?

The dash and gauges needed to be rebuilt and reconditioned. Here I've masked out the needles for a fresh coat of orange paint. 

I also stripped and repainted the speedometer as the face was faded and flaking. I replicated the factory dial markings in computer software, and had them laser cut out of thin white vinyl. The other gauges needed a fair bit of work too, with some new decals in places, paint, and even the guts of a working gauge from another car swapped into the face from one of my original but broken gauges. That was fiddly!

They look great behind the freshly polished plastic lens and repainted housing. I'm looking forward to seeing how they look at night once I finish the light bar for the top. The awesome 70's dim green dash lighting that these cars came with is so cool. On a side note this dash cluster is actually from a 1970 Dodge Challenger, not a Barracuda. My car had this when I bought it. In fact the whole interior was a mish mash of different coloured parts from various other Cuda's and Challengers, none of it original to the car. I'm happy though as I think this standard dash from a 1970 Challenger (a one year only design) is the best looking of all the factory options for these cars.

I added a matching voltmeter into the ashtray, along with the switches needed for the Painless F5 fan controller. Easy access to them, but hidden easily too. 

I've been looking forward to this view for a long time. I've been in love with the 70's interior from when I first bought the car, so it's great to see it looking like new. Should look fantastic once I finish the switch panel to the left and make the hood tach!