Category Archives: News

Car Culture-Muscle Bikes!

No, I’m not talking about fitness machines. When muscle cars and hot rods gained in popularity in the mid sixties, those of us kids that couldn’t drive were stuck watching these cool rides cruise down the streets, filled with envy. Well, it didn’t take long for the Schwinn bicycle company to cash in on our craving! Schwinn designers had always been hip with their brand.

Evel Knievel bicycle1970’s Evel Knievel bicycle personally signed for a lucky kid named Wyatt. These bikes were produced by the AMF Corporation which, for a time, owned Harley Davidson.

In the early sixties they had produced bicycles with the names ‘Corvette’, ‘Jaguar’, and ‘Racer’. In 1968, the innovation of Schwinn designer Al Fritz’s ‘Stingray’ was taken to a new level with the ‘Krate’ series: Apple Krate, Orange Krate, Pea Picker, Cotton Picker, Lemon Peeler, and Grey Ghost. Their design came right from the drag strip. The bikes featured a fat, slick rear tire with raised white letters. They had a smaller rim and front tire, copying the dragster look, and featured highrise handlebars and a stick shift, just like what was in our big brother’s car. Add a Schwinn-approved rear view mirror and speedometer, and we were ready to cruise with the best of them!

1999 Dyno GT “Mooneyes” Cruiser

1999 Dyno GT “Mooneyes” Cruiser with factory mooneyes wheel discs.

It didn’t take long before other manufacturers copied Schwinn’s success. The Raleigh Bicycle Company of England did it best with their ‘chopper’. The Iverson Company produced a muscle bike designed by customizer George Barris – yes, the same guy who designed and built the ‘Batmobile’. The Huffy Company produced a bicycle with a high sissy bar like Peter Fonda in ‘Easy Rider’. They also got rid of the handlebars and actually replaced them with a steering wheel. Sears produced many muscle bikes that had a very cool appeal, including bikes inspired by motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. The popularity of muscle bikes declined after 1973, when Ralph Nader banned the ‘stick shift’ because many young men were singing soprano after crashes involving the shifter. Once the cool was gone, so was the popularity!

Restored 1969 Schwinn custom “Grape Krate.”

Restored 1969 Schwinn custom “Grape Krate.”

Bicycle Motocross arrived in the late 1970’s. Many of these cool bikes were stripped of their nonessential parts and converted into bicycles that could be ridden off road. Few of these vintage bikes remain today. A resurgence of the muscle bike has occurred in the last few years. Companies like Nirve and GT Dyno have produced cool, full-size bikes with automotive themes.

2004 Electra Rat Fink’ bicycle

This ‘2004 Electra Rat Fink’ bicycle pays homage to the genius of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s “Rat Fink.”

1964 Sears Spaceliner

1964 “Sears Spaceliner”. Built by the Murphy Company for Sears, this deluxe model came with a chrome frame and springer forks. Notice the influence of the 60’s space-race in the design of this bike.

Car Culture-Tip of the Month

Strange Daze! Some weird things start happening this time of year. Soon ghosts and goblins will be knocking on our doors exclaiming “Trick or Treat!”

Strangely, some weird stuff shows up in the cars and trucks we are working on. Vehicle lights are one of the goblins I’m referring to. One little demon haunts Hyundai vehicles with four and five speed automatic transaxles. A short in the taillight circuit will back feed into the reverse light range sensor circuit.

The TCM is programmed to go into failsafe neutral when a signal of Reverse and Drive are detected simultaneously. Because there aren’t any codes, we’ve seen a few of these cars come into our shop with the owner expecting they’ll need a transmission!

Ford trucks can be pretty spooky also. If the truck originally used a factory incandescent bulb in the taillight, and that bulb is replaced with the newer, light-emitting-diode (LED) bulb, the PCM thinks the brakes are being applied. This causes the the torque converter
to cycle on and off.

If you want to keep the ghost and goblins out of your life, and your vehicle… follow these guide lines in transmission diagnosis:

  • Fluid Level
  • Battery Voltage (12.4V minimum)
  • Battery ground
  • Battery cables and terminal ends
  • Body grounds
  • Interior light function
  • Exterior light function
  • Instrument cluster gauge function
  • Instrument cluster warning lamp function
  • Diagnostic trouble codes stored in all modules
  • Range/inhibitor switch function (check for start in each detent)
  • Any aftermarket accessories installed (interior and exterior)
  • Manufacturer and any aftermarket technical bulletins or recalls





Ford 5R55W transmissions hold 10 quarts of oil. A service dropping the pan and replacing the filter will require about 4 quarts. Always check levels a second time!




Why do witches use brooms to fly on? Because vacuum cleaner cords aren’t long enough.

Why don’t skeletons like parties? They have no body to dance with.

What is a vampire’s favorite mode of transportation? A blood vessel

What kinds of streets do zombies like the best? Dead ends

What kinds of dogs do vampires like the best? Bloodhounds

Car Culture-Born of a Cartoon

A sidecar is a one-wheeled device attached to the side of a motorcycle, scooter or bicycle, creating a three-wheel vehicle.

A sidecar was first seen in a cartoon by George Moore in the January 7, 1903, issue of the British newspaper “Motor Cycling”. three weeks later, a provisional patent was granted in England. Graham Brothers of En eld, Middlesex, partnered with Jonathan A. Kahn and the production of sidecars was born.

Sidecars have been manufactured consistently since the early twentieth century. Sidecars were quite popular up to the rest half of that century because they provided a cheap alternative to passenger cars. Sidecars have not only been used by the general public, but armed forces and police departments all over the world have incorporated their use.

Sidecar manufacturers have designed some sidecars that allow the third wheel to have driven power, giving them better traction. Depending on the country and driving laws, sidecars can be mounted on either the le or right side. In the U.S., sidecars are mounted on the right side. Sidecars have been involved in racing for years as well.

The lucky guy in the car is referred to as the monkey! Although sidecars have become much less common since the mid 1950’s, a number of manufacturers worldwide continue to produce sidecars, including royal En eld, Ural, and the new Indian Motorcycle Company.


Spare Some Change? We Take Plastic!

Carl C. Magee of Oklahoma City, OK is credited with inventing the parking meter in May of 1935. Mr. Magee was with the traffic committee of the Oklahoma City “Chamber of Commerce”. It was his job to find a solution to downtown parking problems. Th e parking meter solved the problem of cars parked all day on the streets, but it also brought revenue to the city. Additionally, it assured parking turn-over so there would always be parking spaces for customers.

Donald Duncan, famous for the Duncan YoYo, was the owner of a toy company. He redesigned the parking meter to the fashion we see today. He began his parking meter business in 1937. His meters are used in over 50 countries, and the company remains a leader in the parking control industry.

There has been a 35-year parking coma during which the federal government, cities, and environmentalists forgot the importance of parking. Parking is a significant influence on how cities work and what form of travel they decide on. Th e main underlying idea is manage the supply of parking and you will reduce the demand for driving!

Murphy Auto Museum

Duncan Model 60, circa 1956 on display at Leon’s Car Corner at the Murphy Auto Museum

Today’s parking meters are more like small computers; they even take credit cards! With an estimated 105,000,000 parking spaces in the United States alone, it’s easy to see why the parking meter is an invention that will be around for a very long time.

What if parking
meters charged based on car value like automotive registration?

Leon’s Transmissions “Car Corner” at the Murphy Auto Museum

Some parking facts:

  1.  Th e average automobile sits parked 95% of the time.
  2.  Although business owners believe they benefit from free parking, curbside parking meters increase parking turnover so there are always new spaces, and new customers.
  3. At free parking spaces, 40-60 percent of vehicles overstay the posted time limits.

Stuck on you!

Probably one of the most recognizable logos is the STP insignia. Any kid who grew up in the late 60’s had a STP sticker stuck on their notebook or bicycle seat. Th e STP sticker was born out of a marketing phenomenon called “Contingency Sponsorship”. Common in all forms of automobile racing, this is a form of sponsorship whereby race teams place a sticker/decal on their vehicle from companies in exchange for awards for winning or meeting certain performance goals. These awards can be money or free equipment.

Today, racing stickers are called decals, however in the late 50’s a decal was a thin fi lm with a printed image. You would drop the decal in water and slide the image off the paper backing, being careful to eliminate bubbles from the surface it was applied to. A glue backing would dry and bond the decal to its surface.

In the early 60’s the sticker was born. The sticker was a thin sheet of vinyl with a printed logo that had a selfadhesive backing. They were much easier to apply than a water-slide decal.

As creative as times were in the 60’s, just like album covers, racing stickers evolved. They became colorful and used creative artwork. They were something that you just did not want to put on the fender of a racecar. They were free advertising that ended up on book covers, lockers and pickup truck rear windows. Back then, there was a gas station on every corner. Kids would ride up and stop the poor mechanic who was busy turning wrenches, and ask if he had any stickers. Usually the guy would stop what he was doing, wipe off his hands, go to his tool box and pull out some sort of automotive product sticker. Yes, they actually gave them out for “free.”

Today, many a man cave, tool box, or refrigerator door are adorned with classic stickers and decals. Original vintage racing stickers can be found on eBay; some going for as much as $50.00 each. Perhaps you will recognize some of these. Th e modern era contingency decals definitely lack the creativity that was put into the stickers of the past. Th e enthusiasm, however, remains. Drive by any school and you’ll see kids with automotive stickers, and other products, all over their notebooks.

Who’ll stop the rain?

With the heavy rains this season, some of you may have noticed a flood (no pun intended) of late 90’s, early 2000 Volkswagen Passat, Jetta, & Golf transmission problems. Be careful in your diagnosis! Many of these cars have problems beyond just the transmission.

Computer on passenger floorboard

Computer on passenger floorboard

The transmission computer is located in a recess on the passenger side floor board. The problem results from either a clogged sunroof vent or debris in the pollen filter on the firewall. This causes water to leak under the carpet, collecting in the recess holding the computer.
At Leon’s we have seen cars come in with the computers completely underwater. If you replace a computer, we recommend you drill 2 small holes in the floor to serve as a drain. Also, be sure to check the possible causes for continued water leaks and make sure the necessary repairs are made so your new computer does not suffer the same fate! Once the computer is replaced, you can continue with the transmission diagnosis. Or better yet, call your local Leon’s Transmission to come and check the vehicle at no charge… leaving you with more time to check other money-making jobs at your shop.

Pollen filter

Pollen filter

Debris in sunroof vent

Debris in sunroof vent

So many codes…so little time!

1993-2005 Ford Taurus models with the AX4S & AX4N Transmissions, check engine lights are pretty common in these vehicles, but when you see these codes don’t freak out!

P0743 TCC System Electrical Fault
P0750 Shift Solenoid “A” Fault
P0755 Shift Solenoid “B” Fault
P0760 Shift Solenoid “C” Fault
P1760 Pressure Control Solenoid “A” Short
P1760 Pressure Control Solenoid “A” Short
P1000 OBDII Systems Check Incomplete
P1451 EVAP System Vent Control Valve Fault
P0135 HO2S11 Heater Circuit Fault
P0141 HO2S12 Heater Circuit Fault
P0155 HO2S21 Heater Circuit Fault
P0161 HO2S22 Heater Circuit Fault

In the central junction fuse box fuse #37 (Transmission Position Switch) will be blown. 15AMP fuse.

The reason for these codes and the blown fuse are: The main connector to the transmission is either loose or is leaking transmission fluid through the connector causing the short and blown fuse. Make sure to check the main connector (grey). 1st take it off and see the connector is not leaking transmission fluid through the pins, and then check for tight ness and proper connectivity. If the connector is leaking through the pins, clean the connector and the male side with the pins with electrical cleaner.

Next, dry both sides, then use dielectric grease on the connector side and reconnect the main transmission connector. Don’t forget to replace the fuse in #37 15AMP fuse. The road test time to confirm that this is the main problem should be 5-10 miles. Remember that all these sensors run off the same 12 volt system and that’s why these codes are present. In some instances this could require replacing just the connector, and in other cases, the transmission could use an overhaul.
If you have any questions, call your local LEONS TRANSMISSION SERVICES representative.

Car Culture – Out to Lunch

Think back! What was the best thing about starting the new school year? For many, it was getting a new lunch box! Each year kids put a lot of thought into what box they would get. Just as what car we drive defines us, a lunch box made the statement of what one was about. It had to tell the dudes to “back off,” and the girls to “take notice.” Being the‘Hot Wheel’ and ‘Matchbox’ car gear-head generation that we were, many naturally picked a lunch box with a car on it.

Let’s take a step back. The first lunch boxes came about in the late 1800’s and were used by blue-collar workers to protect their food from the rigors of the workplace.

The golden age of lunch boxes came about in the 1950’s. The first character-licensed lunch box was Mickey Mouse in 1935. Sales of that box skyrocketed! Aladdin Industries was looking for a way to increase sales of their plain steel lunch kits, as they were called then. They came out with ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ and ‘Roy Rogers’ boxes in the 50’s, and the craze was born. Aladdin later added the thermos, complete with additional graphics, making the lunch boxes even more desirable for kids and moms.

With new T.V. shows and new fads coming along each year, the addition of new themes and images on lunch boxes would assure kids would have to get a new one each year. As a result, 120 million lunch boxes were sold between 1950 and 1970. In 1962, Aladdin embossed the front and back of the lunch boxes giving them a 3D e effect. All good things come to an end, and so it was with the metal lunch box. In the late 1970’s cost cutting saw the lunch boxes made out of plastic. Florida actually banned metal lunch boxes, fearing kids would use them as school yard weapons. 1987 saw the last mass-produced metal lunch box, graced with the image of Rambo.

So why are we talking about lunch boxes in a car magazine? Well, just look at all these cool lunch boxes! Many believe the cars are just as much the “stars” as the actors; you be the judge. Bon appétit!

Leon’s Transmissions Sponsors Cruisin’ for a Cure at the OC Fairground

As a family owned and operated business for close to 60 years, Leon’s Transmissions is committed to more than just excellent work on cars – we are also honored to be a trusted member of our supportive and passionate Southern California community. We actively support numerous nonprofit organizations with in-kind and monetary contributions, and we are thrilled to sponsor the annual Cruisin’ for a Cure at the OC Fairground on September 28th.

Like thousands & thousands of families throughout the world, prostate cancer has effected our family in severe ways over multiple generations; our support of this event is not only great fun but an important way that we help to underwrite research to combat this brutal disease.

Cruisin’ for a Cure (a 501c3 nonprofit) was started in 2000 by Debbie Baker whose husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The event is the world’s largest one-day charity car show with over 3,500 vehicles on display and over 200 vendors and exhibitors. The logistics, marketing, and organization of the show is all handled by volunteers dedicated to our cause of saving men from prostate cancer.

Unlike many other automotive fundraising events, none of the proceeds goes to a car club, promoter, or to administrative overhead. Our support, and your support by way of ticket purchases, goes directly to prostate cancer research.

We hope to see you there! As extra incentive, Leon’s Transmission will be offering a whole bunch of great door prizes and fun giveaways throughout the event – more details on that soon.

Tickets and more information

Click Here

Interested in showing your classic car?

Click Here

Tip of the Month – May 2019

“Misdiagnosis of the year award!”

Each year we see a few common mistakes repair facilities make in transmission repair. This year one in particular stands out over the others.

The problem is with the Chrysler/Mercedes 722.6 transmission. Here is the scenario. The customer comes in complaining of a transmission leak. You raise the car and look, and it appears it is just a pan leaking. But look close! The problem is the harness plug on the passenger side front of the transmission.

The part Resembles a trailer wiring plug. Replace it with Chrysler part #68021352AA/ Mercedes#A2035400253. Be careful not to over-tighten the 7mm bolt in the harness installation. The harness plug is plastic and will crack. We use a little silicone around the 2 o-rings on the outside of plug going into the transmission case. We also put a little silicone on the o-ring on the male end of the plug that goes into your replaced harness. Since there is no way to know 100% if the pan is leaking, you can either recommend a transmission service at the same time, involving replacing the pan gasket, or tell the customer to return for a check-up in a few days to be sure the leak is gone.






If you have any questions, call your local LEONS TRANSMISSION SERVICES representative.

The Funny Side

  • What happens if you get scared half-to-death twice?
  • What if birds were tickled by feathers?
  • What’s the speed of dark?
  • If Barbie is so popular, why does she have to buy her friends?