My Automotive History

My youth (as well as I can remember it) was filled with exciting vehicles. Exciting, but older, cheap, and not particularly reliable. My first car was a 1955 Jaguar XK-140 MC roadster (bought in 1964 - $650). That DOHC 3.4 liter straight 6 had a wonderful sound but the 14 quart oil sump, SU(ck) carbs and Lucas (the Prince of Darkness) electricals soon had me shopping for something else within the year. That something else turned out to be a 1963 Corvair Monza Spyder coupe (the beginnings of my air-cooled love affair (bought in summer of 1964 - $1600). The sound of that 2"+ exhaust still rings in my ears as one of the finest automotive sounds ever created. Unfortunately it met an untimely end when it was totalled by a Cadillac while legally parked. The insurance company paid me $256 for the hulk. It was now 1967 and I was shopping again. This time I found the car of my dreams - a 1958 Porsche Speedster 1500 normal (bought in 1967 - $1500). I loved that car but it had a bad habit of fouling plugs and the side curtains leaked very badly in the rain. I couldn't afford to have the engine rebuilt and arriving at my first full time job soaking wet whenever it rained convinced me it couldn't be my "daily driver." Of course I couldn't afford a second car either so the Speedster got sold ($1600). I still cry when I think about it. Having been bitten by the Porsche bug, I found a weathertight model to replace the Speedster - a 1961 356B Super 90 coupe in silver with a sunroof (bought in 1968 - $1200). Well, it needed a new floor and too much else for me to deal with so it was gone before the end of the year ($1100). With an impending marriage I needed a newer vehicle. Still not exactly a practical person with cars I settled on a 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT. As I recall, it had the slickest feeling 5 speed and an engine that seemed to wind up forever. Under the hood was the beautiful 4 cylinder, DOHC, 40DCOE Weber fed 1600cc cast aluminum Italian masterpiece. It was kind of wasted around town, but really came into its own handling wise at 80 and above. It got its engine rebuilt once before it got dumped in favor of my first NEW car. In 1970 I bought a FIAT 124 sport coupe. Here was all of the practicality I was looking for - 4 seats and great gas mileage! It was like a cheap Alfa - 4 cylinder, DOHC, Weber, 4-wheel discs all for less than $3000. After the FIAT came a succession of nondescript american iron (including 2 vans) and 2 boys. Well, now the boys are grown and I have some $$ to be impractical again!

The CMC Speedster California replicar pictured on my homepage is my most recent automotive love/project.  I purchased it late in the summer of 1994.   It was "completed" in 1986-1987 by the original owner as a project with his father.  Despite their good intentions, the construction left something to be desired.  And, at this point in its life it was showing signs of wear and tear.   The rugs had faded to a horrible green from their original brown, and the seats were falling apart.  The previous owner had opted for those "chintzy" guages labelled "Vintage Replica" and the steering wheel was a "cheapo" wood wheel missing its horn button.   The engine was a basically stock 1600 dual port with some "funky" Solex two-barrel progressive that needed repair.  On the plus side, the car was driveable and the convertible top looked almost new.  Suddenly I was 20 again; pretty good when everything else tells you that you're really 50 and counting!

In the beginning I just wanted to drive it for some time while I decided what really needed to be done.  Anyway, I still had to wait to save up some spare change so I could buy what was needed. As I mentioned, the Solex was giving me trouble and the stock engine was just too anemic for my taste. Obviously, the first order of business had to be a "real" engine (which I will describe later). After all, it is very embarassing to drive a car that looks like this but sits on the side of the road with the lid to the engine compartment raised and a body partially devoured by an obvious problem!  I don't drive the car from November to April so I had plenty of time to get the engine and put it in for the next season.

With a fresh engine installed a major expense was out of the way and I could really enjoy driving the car while it was being gradually fixed up both mechanically and cosmetically. The next order of business was the guages. This required quite a bit of work as the replacement VDO speedometer and tachometer are a smaller diameter than the originals.  I pulled all the old guages, fiberglassed over the dash, and drilled the new holes. Then I finished the dash with a black gelcoat applied by roller to give it a vinyl-like texture to match the crash pad.   Voila!  It looks great and there is nothing like having guages that work. (The homepage picture still shows the old dash)   So far the door panels and rear seat have been redone and the steering wheel replaced.  The two most pressing items to get to next are the front seats and the rugs.

The engine was built by me after being told "There's only one way to build an engine; the right way! Do it yourself!"

	displacement  1915cc (69x94)
	case:  AS41 "AE", full flowed, welded at #3 cylinder, internally deburred
	pistons/cylinders:  Cima/Mahle 94 mm
	crankshaft:  69mm counterweighted "Tru Rev"
	rods:  "Hot Rods"
	camshaft:  Engle 100
	heads:  CB 044
	rockers:  Buckpack solid shafts, 1.1:1 ratio rockers; chromalloy pushrods 
	oil pump:  full competition connected to full flow filter, stock "Doghouse" cooler
		and 4 quart extra sump
	carburetion:  dual Kadron 40 mm
	ignition:  Bosch 009 distributor with "Blue" coil and CD module
	compression ratio: 7.1
	balancing:  complete through flywheel
  
homeE-mailSite Maintained In Memory of
Coach Rick Herrmann
Brookhaven, NEW YORK
USA

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