How to Conserve a Soft Convertible Car Top

Posted by Steve White on Sep 18, 2014

Taking care of a soft top can seem like a hard task, but it’s all about sticking to a good cleaning routine. For classic cars and restoration projects, focus on keeping off dirt and debris while also protecting against any future damage.

Here’s how to care for your classic car’s soft top:

1. Start with a thorough but gentle clean. Use a wash designed for the right type of material (vinyl or cloth).

2. Add a sealing protectant after the soft top has been cleaned and fully dried. The protectant will keep off soil, bird droppings, grease and various other elements, while protecting the fabric’s color from fading.

3. Re-apply the protectant annually. Hose down and vacuum the top as needed.

4. Gentle cleaning with water typically works well enough—older soft tops may not stand up well to harsh chemicals.

5. Whenever you wash the top, make sure it dries completely. Park it outside to dry in open air.

6.  Brush off rain and snow. Precipitation may be slightly acidic and dirtier than you think.

Make cleaning and caring for your soft top convertible part of your regular classic car restoration routine. A little effort toward conserving the look and quality of a soft top will pay off by improving the overall appearance of your beloved ride.

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Classic Car Sales Tips: Making it through the Test Drive

Posted by Steve White on Sep 11, 2014

When you go to a dealership, you expect to have a test drive for any car you’re interested in. You wouldn’t buy a car without checking it out first. The same is true for classic cars, although it might make you nervous to think about handing your keys over to a stranger. Even so, if you decline a request for a test drive, you’re probably going to have a difficult time selling your car. These classic car sales tips will offer you a few suggestions that can help you make through a test drive with your nerves perfectly intact.

Tip #1: Accompany the driver – You might want to go with a potential buyer just to put your mind at ease. This also gives you an opportunity to point out the things you love about your car.

Tip #2: Write down the driver’s information – If the driver asks to go alone, take a copy of his license if you can. At the very least, write down his name and license number.

Tip #3: Pre-plan your route – It’s best if the driver gets to experience handling the car in different situations. Take him through town, and hit the highway if you can. A well-rounded test drive usually results in a quicker sale.

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Which Muscle Cars do Collectors Love the Most?

Posted by Steve White on Sep 04, 2014

There’s just something about a muscle car that really piques the interest of a lot of collectors. These cars have risen to a level of popularity in recent years that most classic cars never see. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular models.

1968 Plymouth Road Runner

When the Road Runner entered the scene in ’68, it did so with a surprisingly low sticker price. As you can imagine, it quickly became a popular car for young people to buy, and Plymouth sold more than 80,000 of these future collector cars in 1969 alone. The hardtop model remains a favorite, although ragtop seems to be the one that’s the most sought-after today.

1968/69 Dodge Charger

You probably remember watching television as the Dukes of Hazzard used their Dodge Charger to outrun the law when you were younger. While it’s true that the popular show probably made the Charger famous, it stands to mention that it’s a muscle car that does more than just amazing jumps. It handles well, and it’s certainly a sight to behold.

There are plenty more models of muscle cars, and maybe you’re an owner of one of these pieces of American history. Tell us your story!

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A History of the Shelby Inspired Mustang GT/CS (California Special)

Posted by OCO on Sep 03, 2014

The original Mustang GT/CS, also known as the California Special, got its start in 1968. This limited-edition vehicle was promoted under the slogan “California Made it Happen,” and although it was only produced in California, it was sold in other markets throughout the Western U.S. With only a few thousand of these vehicles being produced, the California Special is a gem that is sought after by many classic car collectors.

While Lee Grey, a Southern California Ford district sales manager, receives credit for creating the Mustang GT/CS, his inspiration came from a Carroll Shelby design. As every Mustang enthusiast knows, Carrol Shelby’s association with Ford in general and Mustang in particular is nothing short of legendary.

In 1967, Grey attended a Ford Preview event in the hopes that he might find something unique that would spark Mustang sales in Los Angeles. At this event, he noticed a prototype of the Shelby GT-500 that was named “Little Red.” Impressed by the supercharged 428 coupe with a C-6 automatic transmission, Lee became inspired to use elements of Shelby’s design to market a “California Only Mustang.” With the help of Shelby Automotive, the necessary parts were designed and engineered, and the Mustang GT/CS was born.

Ford initially planned to create 5,000 of these vehicles in a 5.5 month stretch from February to August 1968. However, only 4,188 were produced, and this number included 251 cars that were later remarketed in Denver as the “High Country Special ‘68.” The California Special sports the qualities of both a Mustang coupe and a Shelby GT, making it one of the most appreciated classic Mustangs.

The California Special featured a variety of specifications that made the model stand apart from the competition both functionally and in appearance. Most models were produced with C-4 automatic transmission and a small block 289 two barrel carburetor. Features included Lucas or Marchal fog lights, side scoops, a rear spoiler deck lid, and a taillight panel that offered 1965 Thunderbird taillights. Stripes were painted along the side to include the “GT/CS” logo, and a rear stripe was found on the deck lid. While stripes were only available in a few colors, the vehicle was produced in all standard colors for Mustang in 1968.

California Special Facts

As one of the most prized Mustangs ever made, there are a variety of misconceptions reported about the vehicle that have been accepted as facts. Many car enthusiasts believe that the GT/CS utilized functional Shelby side scoops. In fact, the fiberglass scoops used in the GT/CS were modeled after Shelby scoops, but they were non-functional and closed. They had a unique part number and differed from Shelby scoops, which worked to channel air toward the rear brakes in order to keep temperatures down.

It is also important to note that most of the GT/CS models were not GTs. Like any other Ford Mustang, a GT/CS had the option of being ordered with our without GT equipment. Additionally, despite rumors that have circulated about the production of a convertible GT/CS, all 1968 models were made as coupes.

The California Special has some identifiable features that set this model apart from the Shelby GT350 and GT500. First, the GT/CS came equipped with a unique pop-off gas cap similar to those found on Shelby models but without the Cobra or GT emblem. The depiction of a running horse in a rectangular corral was used instead. While the California Special’s tail lights are the same as those found on the 68 Shelbys, the GT/CS featured a unique tail section comprised of quarter panel extensions, a fiberglass trunk lid, and an integral spoiler.

2007 Revival

In 2007, Ford Motors revived the name “California Special” from the original version in order to introduce a new GT/CS Mustang. The new model offered some of the same appearance features as the classic version, including side scoops and body striping. The new GT/CS was only made available with the GT Premium Platform, so it received all available GT performance enhancements. Both coupe and convertible options were offered, and the model was so popular that it extended through 2014, with a brief absence in 2010.

Despite the modern revival of the California Special, the classic 1968 model reigns as one of the most popular editions to the Mustang family. The Shelby-inspired design reminiscent of the GT350 and GT500 put Lee Grey on the map as a prominent automotive designer. The California Special also gave the country a glimpse at what a California design aesthetic could do for the popular Mustang, and it has made a lasting impression on classic car collectors.


Article by Matt Robertson

Matt is managing partner at Leland-West Insurance. As an avid classic car nut, Matt has been known to work for parts:) You can reach him at matt at LelandWest dot com.

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Is it Possible to Restore a Classic Car on a Budget?

Posted by Steve White on Aug 28, 2014

Many of us don’t have thousands of dollars lying around for the purpose of investing in a costly restoration project. However, if you love classic cars, you don’t want that to stop you from restoring a car of your very own. With the right knowledge, there are ways you can do a restoration car on a budget.

Take Your Time

The best part of classic car restoration is the journey! Take your time and exercise your patience when you’re working on a restoration project. If you move slowly, you’ll be more likely to find a better deal when you’re looking for a car and parts.

Shop Around for Parts

In the “good old days” shopping for car parts meant visiting area shops and paying the price they asked. However, the Internet allows you to order parts from around the world, even if they take a while to get to you. Ask questions and get the best prices you can.

Work with a Buddy

To really save money on your restoration project, you’ll have to do most of the work yourself. Enlisting the help of a friend who’s done this type of work before will give you a great way to save money. You’ll probably enjoy the project even more too.

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