In Episode 16 of Road Muscle Radio, Mark “Catfish” Groves and Brett Hatfield talk about Dodge wanting everybody to love muscle…a place to get your brand new 1967 – 1969 Firebird…five old car models to turn into EV’s…and cool gadgets that could be useful for your classic. Well…mostly useful. Then in Segment 2, Erik Radzins from The Fuel House in Bonner Springs, Kansas, joins us for an update on what the Fuel House has cooking, and how to become a member of Kansas City’s first “automotive country club.” Oooooh yeah, suck it, golf.
DODGE MUSCLE CAR BRAND WANTS TO BE ‘SUPER INCLUSIVE,’ SAYS EXECUTIVE
Dodge makes up roughly 3 percent of new vehicle sales in the US market. But according to Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA Passenger cars, that’s fine.
“The customer base has been absolutely amazing,” said Kuniskis in an interview with MC&T, pointing out that the brand’s portfolio is largely based on horsepower. “The variants of Dodge’s vehicles are largely based on power and not ‘this one has leather and this one doesn’t.’ That has been very important for our growth,” he added.
Dodge’s focus straight-line speed and performance is a conscious decision on their part.
“What our customers want and the reason we went into the (drag racing) space is because seven times the amount of customers ‘identify’ with drag racing, compared to road course racing,” said Kuniskis. “It doesn’t mean they’ve ever been to a drag strip in their life. And it’s not because they’ve even been in a fast car. It’s because they’ve all been at a stop light, and all tried to race their buddy next to them.”
Dodge currently offers some of the quickest and fastest cars in the world when it comes to sheer straight-line speed. While it’s not a 9-second car like the Demon, the Dodge Challenger Super Stock muscle car can achieve a quarter-mile time of just 10.5 seconds. Meanwhile, the new 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye is the fastest sedan in the world with a top speed of 203 miles per hour. Still, many vehicles in the Dodge muscle car portfolio largely look the same. Despite some criticism, Kuniskis claims it’s all part of the plan.
“I want you to mistake a $30,000 Challenger for a $90,000 Redeye… you don’t only have a Hemi 5.7, you have a Challenger. You are part of this team,” he said. “It’s very important for everyone to feel part of that thing,” he said.
“I want the brand to be super inclusive. If you can afford a $30,000 car, I want you part of this family. I want you coming in and having you feel like something cool that’s bigger than your car. And your purchase is part of this lifestyle known as Dodge.”
“I’ve been waiting for a mid-engine Corvette since I was 15 I think… I love performance cars,” he said. “I’d love to drive a mid-engine Corvette. I’d love to drive a GT500. I don’t care who builds them.”
Super inclusive? Sure. Count me in.
Brand New Muscle Car Cranks Out New Build 1st Gen Pontiac Firebirds
Detroit’s escalating power wars have produced some impressive vehicles in recent years. Now, Dodge’s Hellcat engine looks to be dropped into just about every model in the company’s lineup and the Mustang is getting a new Mach 1 edition for model year 2021.
There’s still something about the old classics that modern sports cars just can’t quite keep up with. And one of the best things about the modern era is that a handful of companies have popped up to produce impressive recreations of vintage muscle cars. We talked about an article listing a few of them, in Episode 14.
One I didn’t see on the list, but in this article from hotcars.com, is the 1st gen Pontiac Firebird on offer from a company called Brand New Muscle Cars.
Brand New Muscle Car’s slogan reads “Building Yesterday’s Dream Cars TODAY!” They recently released an officially licensed version of the Eleanor Shelby Mustang from the Nicolas Cage Gone in 60 Seconds remake. Now, they’re making new old Firebirds.
The listing for the 1967, 1968, or 1969 Firebird options is fairly extensive and includes the options to go “Custom – Anything you want, contact us!”
The cars start with either a brand-new replacement body or an original that’s been restored and they’re available in any color, with all the details imaginable. Engine choices include a 326ci V8, 350ci V8, and 400ci, too, while both an automatic and a manual gearbox can be purchased.
The Firebird can be optioned as a coupe or convertible, while restomod options include air conditioning, fuel injection, and power accessories. Purchase the classic Ram Air and Trans Am packages and any fan of Pontiac’s legendary pony car can have just what they want—all with a starting price of $149,995.
The Five Best Classic Cars to Convert to Electric Vehicles
Converting a classic car to full battery-electric drive is either the best idea or the worst. There’s an argument to be made that without the original powertrain, a classic is no longer the car it was, but merely one that looks like it. On the other hand, installing an electric drivetrain could help keep some classics on the road and out of the museum, or worse, the scrapyard.
One the bright side:
- A good off-the-shelf electric drive system will almost always be a significant pep upgradefor an old daily driver, thanks the instant-on torque.
- An electric classic won’t smoke or leak oil.
- If it’s charged up, it should start up every time.
- A reduction in pollutants and hydrocarbons, over, saaaaaay…a 440 with a six pack.
So, what are the best candidates for this change? Here’s a short list of cars Automobilemag.com says are tops:.
1. Post-Bugeye Austin-Healey Sprite (1962-71)/MG Midget (1962-79)LL 13 PHOTOS
The article cites a Mark 1 Austin-Healey Sprite where the owner replaced the 43-horsepower, 52-lb-ft, 948-cc dual-carb inline four-cylinder engine with a 20-kWh, 50-cell battery pack. The battery pack weighs 75 lb more than the iron-block Austin engine in the erstwhile 1,440-pound car, but the FrogE’s electric propulsion put it just over 123 horsepower and 108 pound-feet of torque.
The writer suggest that instead of such an iconic moden,why not convert a “Square Sprite” and its badge-engineered MG mate, the Midget? According to SpridgetMania, BMC produced 305,177 Spridgets, including the Mark 2 and newer Healey Sprites from 1962 to ’71, and MG Midgets from 1962 to ’79. I have no doubt the survival rate for Spridgets is much lower than for Bugeyes, and there may be even fewer left despite six times as many having been built, but that’s the point. And the Spridgets are a bit heavier and considerably more modern, with roll-up windows in place of side-curtains, so they’d make even better daily commuters as EVs.
2. 1966-67 Dodge ChargerE ALL 13 PHOTOS
Chrysler Corporation designed the first-generation Dodge Charger to be its first production turbine-powered model. Chrysler Corporation’s great turbine experiment of 1964 didn’t work out quite as expected, and so it kept the design and instead dropped in V-8s, from the base 318-cubic-inch engine up to a 426 Hemi.
Even full-size cars of the ’60s were lighter than many modern counterparts, and the first-gen Charger came in under two tons in base trim. With a big, modern battery pack tucked below the hood—and room for more under the rear hatch—the Charger could make for a relatively long-range freeway cruiser.
3. 1972-82 Fiat X1/9, 1982-89 Bertone X1/9 13 PHOTOS
It’s another lightweight, coming in at 1,933 pounds for the 1974 model and 2,110 pounds for the 1989 model. By the time they came to the U.S. in any numbers in the mid-’70s, they were subject to choking emissions controls and oversized 5-mph bumpers. Perhaps in the spirit of my Spridget suggestion, some enterprising EV converter should start with the Malcolm Bricklin-imported, post-Fiat Bertone X1/9s
They got a lot of ugly on them, so why not electrify? Not too many enthusiasts will shed a tear. And maybe it’ll keep running long enough to get to the car show.
4. 1965-69 Chevrolet CorvairHOTOS
General Motors built a prototype, the Electrovair I, in 1964, though that car apparently hasn’t survived. Living today in the GM Heritage Center in Michigan is Electrovair II, a 1966 Chevy Corvair four-door hardtop with solid-state controls behind the rear seat, where a flat six normally would live. The Heritage Center says Electrovair II’s silver-zinc battery and electric motor combo makes 115-horsepower, has a 40-to-80-mile range, and takes six hours to fully recharge. Lithium-ion and modern technology certainly can improve on that.
5. 1974-78 Ford Mustang II Mach I
To avoid nuclear war with Stang devotees for the 60’s/early-70’s models, the article suggests using the Pinto-based Mustang II. Think about it- Ford had already ruined the Mustang to cave into the gas crisis, so why not add more torque and less exhaust? The smaller, lighter bodyshell of the Mustang II makes electrification that much easier, and it doesn’t screw with the gaining-popularity-by-leaps-and-bounds foxbody.
Do you have thoughts about what would be cool to turn into a plug-in car? Send us your ideas at email@example.com.
The coolest car gadgets for 2020
By Chris TeagueMay 20, 2020
Digitaltrends.com listed several gadgets they thought were cool. I picked my favorite five.
Fobo Tire Plus ($160)
Rather than using a handheld pressure gauge to ensure your tires are properly inflated, the Fobo Tire Plus system uses a series of Bluetooth gauges that relay this information directly to your smartphone. Fobo will alert you when your tire pressure is getting too low directly on your phone. Really useful if you’re into putting your performance to the test on the regular basis.
Garmin Dash Cam 56 ($200)
A dashcam is an exceptional tool for determining fault after a car accident, and the Garmin Dash Cam 56 is our top pick. The device captures images in crystal-clear 1080p video, saves video on impact, and will record your GPS location to show when and where accidents occurred. It keeps you safe, it’s compact, and it even responds to voice commands. It’s your lawyer’s big stick when you need it.
This is so unnecessary. AND SO COOL. The Nanopresso is a coffee maker tailor-made for use on the road. It doesn’t need power to work, and it’s compatible with Nespresso capsules. It’s magic. That makes coffee. Win.
Arsvita Audio Cassette Bluetooth Adapter ($23)
Is your ride so minty it’s still got that p.o.s. cassette deck rockin’ those Jensen triaxials? Kick your music up past 1989 with this cassette adapert. It’s a cassette with electronics in it. You shove it in, then stream all of your favorite playlists directly from your smartphone. No cords. Only issue is it has to be charged, so you have roughly eight hours of playback before you gotta recharge itIt even allows for hands-free calling via a built-in microphone.
Vanmass Wireless Car Charger ($30)
The Vanmass Car Charger is part phone mount, part wireless charger. The device supports phones ranging between 4 and 6.5 inches in size, meaning it’s compatible with most smartphones currently on the market. The flexible arm and gravity-sensing splint also allow for the utmost adjustability, ensuring you can properly position and mount your phone from your dashboard, an air vent, or your windshield. The two-year warranty doesn’t hurt, either.
Aaaaand and extra, for our Cannonball friends…
Lanmodo Night Vision System ($500)
Even the best drivers can struggle to see at night, regardless of weather conditions, so it’s great to have a little help. The Lanmodo Night Vision System operates in 1080p and offers a bright view of the road ahead — up to 984 feet, to be exact. It sits securely on the vehicle’s dash and can be purchased with a rearview camera for older vehicles without an equipped camera.
We’re back with Road Muscle Radio. Find us on the web at Roadmuscleradio.com, on twitter at RoadMuscleRadio, and on facebook. If you know somebody we should talk to, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll see about having them for an interview.
Erik Radzins is the Director of Communications and Calibrations at Accesible Technologies, plus he’s the owner at EFI Tuning Specialist aka House of Boost LLC in Lenexa, aaaaand one of the owners of The Fuel House. Yeah, plenty of spare time, this guy. But you know the story- you’re out for a cruise, you’ve seen this old, empty place like, a million times, and suddenly- you realize what you want to do with it. You share the vision with some like-minded buds. You throw caution- and money- to the wind, kiss any free time good-bye for the next few years, and create an ever-growing, crazy cool, country club for car- and motorcyle- enthusiasts.
Erik, welcome back to Road Muscle Radio!
- It’s been forever and a day since we had you on, so give us the quick tour history of how you found a 100 year old empty mill in Bonner Springs, and turned it into a gears and grease lover’s paradise.
- So you’ve got a coffee shop now- with arcade games! Fill us in on that.
- How does getting a membership to the club work, and what are the bennies?
We’re speaking with Erik Radzins, co-owner of The Fuel House in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Visit thefuelhouse.com to see this crazy cool place.
- Tell us about your event coming up August 8th, aaaand pretty much every 2nd Saturday in the summer months.
- Congrats on behind the Chamber Business of the Year for 2019 in Bonner Springs. In terms of onsite amenities, what are the upcoming plans for the Fuel House?
- You also SELL cars and motorcycles for people. COMMISSION FREE. How does that work?
Love cars and motorcycles? Like hanging out with other people who share that feel? Would rather spend an afternoon with a 9mm socket than a 9 iron? It’s a country club for automotive junkies, classy but cool, that’ll life your car AND your spirits. Check out thefuelhouse.com for details, and all the contact info. Erik, thanks for joining us again on Road Muscle Radio.