Motor Mouth Blog

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New Premium Fuel Formulation Ideal for Classic Car Engines

LeMay – America’s Car Museum’s 1961 Chrysler 300G fueling up at Shell.

With over three hundred cars on display at any given time at LeMay – America’s Car Museum, it’s sometimes difficult to regularly drive them all. When they’re started and moved for an event or exhibition, it’s often only for a few minutes – not nearly enough time for the cars to reach proper operating temperature.

With modern fuel injection, that’s no big deal. But our older cars use carburetors with mechanical chokes, and short runs can result in a rich burn condition which can accumulate sticky excess fuel deposits in the engine, technically known as “gunk”.

When we took off on the first Drive Home cross-country road trip almost five years ago, we pulled three “driver” classics out of the collection and set off on a 3,200-mile winter passage to Detroit.  Our curatorial team prepared three cars with new fluids, filters, plugs and wires. One car – a 1961 Chrysler 300G – utilized a NASCAR-inspired, 413 V-8 engine with dual four-barrel carburetors connected by long ram intake manifolds.

The 1961 Chrysler 300G, 1957 Chevy Nomad and 1966 Ford Mustang on The Drive Home in 2015.

Leaving the Museum in Tacoma, we had no problems. But as we started to encounter real world conditions – cold air, rain, snow, elevation changes and stop-and-go traffic – we began to detect some issues with the big Chrysler engine.

There was a noticeable hiccup when starting out from a stoplight, and on the freeway you could hear a slight rattling sound coming from the combustion chambers. The hesitation was likely a clogged carburetor jet, and the rattling was detonation – a problem caused when the gunk built up in your engine glows red and pre-ignites the fuel mixture being drawn into the engine.

Detonation robs the engine of power, and can cause real damage over time. And sitting behind the wheel listening to it hammer away at your engine for ten days can be disconcerting, to say the least.

But an unexpected thing started to happen as we came down the eastern slope of Mt. Hood in Oregon. Little by little, the rattle seemed to be going away. Idle and throttle response were improving, too. We started to pay attention to the fuel we were using – Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium gasoline – which we were sourcing via the Station Locator on the Shell phone app.

The Drive Home’s 1957 Chevy Nomad fueling up with Shell V-Power NiTRO+.

With each tankful of Shell V-Power NiTRO+, the cars ran better. By the time we hit eastern Colorado, we were charging down on-ramps at full throttle. Idles improved. And that high-performance Chrysler 413 just hummed along like its designers intended.

Normally a chore, we were almost giddy to pull into the next Shell station to see just how much the car’s performance would increase.

Shell attributes this to V-Power’s exclusive additive package, designed to tackle gunk, wear, corrosion and now friction with the new formulation that just launched in May. The fuel’s high detergent content – seven times greater than the federally-mandated requirement – gradually cleared out our car’s carburetors, valvetrains and combustion chambers over extended and consistent use on The Drive Home. Developed with the same technological advantages that the Formula One team Scuderia Ferrari uses, the V-Power NiTRO+ seems ideally suited to our classic car engines.

Even the 1917 Crane-Simplex Model 5 received the Shell V-Power NiTRO+ treatment on The Drive Home II in 2016-17!

Now, there’s unlikely to be any scientific data coming out from Shell about the effects of V-Power on old carbureted engines. There’s just too few around. But take it from this old boy who sat behind the wheel for 3,200 miles, and then again in three different classics in three subsequent Drive Home road trips: I don’t pass a Shell station without fueling my own classic up with Shell V-Power NiTRO+. It’s cheap insurance against fuel-related problems, and it feels like a trip to the machine shop after a few tanks. Try it yourself – you’ll feel it in the seat of your pants with your classic car or motorcycle.

William Hall is an automotive journalist based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

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Bumps, bruises and teamwork deliver The Drive Home II

Mike Garland of Carlisle Events drove the Nomad when The Drive Home stopped in Pennsylvania | William Hall photos

The Drive Home II, the second-annual promotional winter road trip cooked up by LeMay-America’s Car Museum and The North American International Auto Show, rolled into Detroit’s Cobo Hall Saturday evening after a 2,100-mile journey fraught with challenges.

Three classic cars – a 1957 Chevy Nomad, a 1961 Chrysler 300G and a 1966 Ford Mustang – began the trip from Boston on December 28. Trailered behind the support vehicle was a fourth car, a 1917 Crane-Simplex Model 5, formerly the property of J.D. Rockefeller.

The itinerary took the cars south from Boston to Jamestown, Rhode Island, where the big Chrysler’s front brakes started to howl. Suspecting the rear brakes were out of adjustment causing the front shoes to overheat, the team enlisted help from a local enthusiast and his garage lift to pull the drums and check out the system. Sufficiently adjusted, they pressed on to a late-night arrival in New York City.

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The Drive Home II, Day 11: Touchdown

By William Hall. Photos by the author.

The Drive Home II, the LeMay-America’s Car Museum mid-winter classic car trek, is on the one-yard line of its 2,100-mile journey to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The final play starts in Troy, Michigan, with a sweep down Woodward Avenue to the end zone at NAIAS’s Cobo Center.

The Chrysler, dramatically sidelined by a broken rear axle three days prior, is back in the game. Readers will forgive me for building suspense in my reporting, as I had no doubt that Paul Sabatini and his crew at Lincoln of Troy would move heaven and earth to repair the proud Mopar on time for its homecoming parade. After our roadside breakdown dramas, it was a great moment to reunite with our fully restored, gleaming 300 letter car.

Click here to read the rest in Hemmings Motor News.

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The Drive Home II Arrival Update from ACM CEO David Madeira

Today we drove the final 20 miles of our 2,150 mile journey into Detroit to complete the Drive Home II. I drove the 1917 Crane Simplex which drove in the cold  4 degree weather flawlessly into the City ‘escorted’ by a CBS News helicopter in air and Michigan State police on the ground. Rod Alberts took the wheel of the Mustang for the Auto Show, Rock Jenkins the Chrysler for State Farm. Josh McManus of Rockventures/Quicken Loans braved the cold to ride shotgun for me as I piloted the Simplex into Cadillac square.

The cars showcase the Museum well and the staff did a terrific job. Tomorrow they take center stage at the North American International Auto Show.

Happy New Year!


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The Drive Home II, Days 9 & 10: Tailwinds

By William Hall. Photos by the author.

Until today, the antagonist in the narrative of The Drive Home II has been the mechanical difficulties with the three classics, and not the much-anticipated winter weather. That narrative changed when lake effect snow blew into Grand Rapids for our last push “home” to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The morning started by winching the 1917 Crane-Simplex out of its trailer in Grand Rapids for another quick pre-dawn television spot, just as snowflakes started to dance off its Rockefeller Blue hood. The young TV newswoman exclaimed, “Ooh, it’s like the car in the Titanic movie!” Little did she know, the whole tour up to this point had been like the Titanic movie.

Click here to read more in Hemmings Motor News.

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A Diary From The Road: A Smooth Landing After A Long Journey

A snowy Jan. 5 morning found the Drive Home II crew being hosted by Dawn and Mike Fisher at their impressive MFD Classic Motors in Traverse City.

MFD Classic Motors’ Dawn Fisher and Valerie
Cars and Coffee at MFD Classic Motors
Dale and David beside one of the Fisher’s cars: A 1959 Plymouth with 6,000 original miles

After coffee and fare with a good number of local car buffs, we headed south with auto journalist Steve Purdy and another new driver, Josh McManus, COO of Rock Ventures, at the wheels of the classics. I followed the cars out of Traverse City in the SUV with Derek, Valerie and Ashley, and for several hours as we rolled south over fairly icy roads to a coffee and cars event in Lansing, MI, which is very near my wife’s alma mater. Continue reading “A Diary From The Road: A Smooth Landing After A Long Journey”

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A Diary From The Road: Icy Road To Traverse City

The Drive Home II Gang started another early morning with a series of Fox 17 TV interviews at the station’s Grand Rapids studio.

After a couple of news interview segments, I took reporter Annie Szatkowski for a ride-along to our Cars and Coffee event at Lambert, Edwards & Associates, and she did an 11-minute Facebook Live segment during our trip.

When we arrived, Annie also wanted to do a segment with the 1917 Crane Simplex and our team went about unloading it to meet her live-shot deadline that was about 8 minutes away. Dale repositioned the truck and trailer for the unload; at that point we were down to about 4 minutes and the real fun began. The lock on the trailer was unexpectedly frozen so Dale grabbed a propane torch and heated it until it opened. Three minutes to go, and we discovered the back door of the trailer was frozen shut and two people had to put their shoulders to it from the inside with more pulling from the outside to pry it open. Two minutes to go and Dale is scrambling under the car to unhook the axle straps and then winch it off the trailer ramp for the shot. One minute to go and Annie tells me to get in place in front of the trailer as we’re going live. The live shot starts and the camera rolls just in time for the camera to roll – the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Continue reading “A Diary From The Road: Icy Road To Traverse City”

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The Drive Home II, Days 7 & 8: Like A Rolling Stone

By William Hall. Photos by the author.

Driving these three classic cars from the LeMay – America’s Car Museum across the eastern United States to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been like going on tour with The Rolling Stones. Early mornings, late nights and a dizzying series of media interviews are interrupted only by hours spent on the road. Each night we stand in a new hotel hallway, a pocketful of old room keys from the past week, trying to find our beds and remember what city we are in.

Morning is the most frantic time of the day. Everyone is fully caffeinated and eager to get out on the road and ahead of the curve. But fate seems to always throw interesting curveballs our way. Despite the daily obstacles, determination has set in among the crew to deliver these cars to Detroit intact, if for no other reason than to honor the folks that have taken the journey with us, both literally and figuratively.

Click here to read more in Hemmings Motor News.

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The Drive Home II, Days 5 & 6: Pennsylvania Dutch

By William Hall. Photos by the author.

The Drive Home II, the LeMay-America’s Car Museum’s classic car expedition to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, has stuck to a grueling schedule and Saturday’s early morning start upheld the pace. The team began a leg that would take them 250 miles from the Potomac to the Alleghenies and ring in the New Year in surreal elegance.

The crew left Arlington at 5:30 a.m. for the popular Katie’s Cars and Coffee event in Great Falls, Virginia. The event draws hundreds of sports, exotic, classic and antique cars each Saturday morning, with premium spots requiring pre-dawn claim staking. We unloaded the 1917 Crane-Simplex by winch, as we have been reluctant to start it since it overheated after the 15-mile jaunt from Newport to Jamestown.

Click here to read more in Hemmings Motor News.

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A Diary From The Road: A Day Of Ups And Downs

Our crew began the day with a fantastic tour of the Indianapolis Speedway and its museum in Speedway, IN. Ellen and her museum team were terrific hosts as we explored the historic cars and got a bus tour around the “brickyard” track that included a chance for the ceremonial kissing of the bricks at the finish line.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Marmon Wasp – First Indy winning car
The ceremonial kissing of the bricks for good luck
The Borg Warner Trophy on display

After that, the trip north to Grand Rapids got very interesting very fast. I was driving the Mustang up Highway 31 near Peru, IN at 60 mph following Derek in the Chrysler 300 when his rear right wheel caved outward, the axle dropped to the pavement and sparks flew backward about 30 feet until he was able to guide it toward the side of the road to safety. Continue reading “A Diary From The Road: A Day Of Ups And Downs”

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