Wet Okole Seat Covers

Wet Okole Seat Covers

“Wet Ass” would seem like a strange name for a new car accessory business, but when the owner of Wet Okole became frustrated with what his wet dogs were doing to his car interior, he thought Okole, the Hawaiian translation would be perfect.  With that out of the way, he set out to create the best seat covers available on the market.  The result is Wet Okole, a custom fitted neoprene cover designed to be waterproof, durable and stylish.

Established in Hawaii, before expanding into the mainland, Wet Okole seats are made from the same material used in wetsuits.

Seat Covers arrive

According to the manufacturer:  Wet Okole covers bottom and back are bonded to half inch thick foam for added comfort and protection. Our boxing neoprene is laminated with nylon on both sides, making it twice as strong. No rubber touches your seat material which is especially important with leather or vinyl seats.

We offer color combinations to match virtually all car interiors. They are easy to install and use high quality quick connect fasteners and Velcro.

Before installation, the seats were destroyed

Our car seat covers are 100% waterproof and fit your seats like a glove. They are hand tailored to fit the seats on each make and model, so you can expect a perfect fit. You will not see wrinkling, looseness or bunching. They will accommodate to the specific features of your seats including head rests, arm rests, switches for power adjustment and lumbar support, and seat-mounted air bags. We manufacture all of our products in the USA using the finest materials.

DO NOT risk yourself or your family with flammable, un-safe, imitation, copycat neoprene seat covers. For the ultimate in protection; while driving in comfort. There is no substitute!  From optional rear pockets, seat heaters, sunglasses pouches, Gun Totes, lumbar support to euro-style piping and sewn in dog leashes. Made for you, for your vehicle in the colors of your choice.

Installed – What a difference!

We are so confident in the quality of our car seat covers that we will repair our products for you and even offer free installation (SoCal/Hawaii). Ask the competition if they will do that! There is a reason Wet Okole continues to be the leader in the industry.

A little aloha, with A LOT of Protection

The extras included with the kit – to keep the seats looking new

I was offered a set of Wet Okole seat covers for my 2007 Mazda Miata.  After checking the website, I ordered a set of front seats, trimmed in black and burnt orange neoprene.  I was offered a selection of options, like map and glasses pouches, rear pockets and even a sewn in dog leash (a great idea), but selected only the base two color without the contrasting trim.  After a short wait, they were in my hands waiting to be installed.

My first impression of the seats was that they were of superior quality.  Everything from the boxing, packaging, directions, marketing material and extras, to the covers themselves was impressive.  The seats are padded, something I did not expect.  The neoprene was different from what I anticipated, and did not have the plastic feeling, instead the feel was softer, much richer than I expected.  These were not the standard covers you put on as a last ditch effort to hide bad upholstery…these were as good as the original upholstery, and I can see people choosing this material over the original in many cases.  They looked more expensive and more factory than many factory seats.  Included in the box was a tool to assist with installation, and bottles of concentrated shampoo, odor eliminator and UV protectant.  It had everything I needed to enjoy these seat covers for the full life of the car.

Another example on a Mazda Miata NC

Installation was slightly more complicated than I expected, but it was by choice.  My Miata is a small car, and I wanted to take extra care to perform a professional install.  I decided to loosen the seats, basically by loosening 4 bolts.  This allowed me enough room to reach into the back, and underneath to install the seats as professionally as I could.  In a matter of minutes, the seats were in, and looked amazing.  It does take some pulling of the material to fit properly, but the web straps provided pulled the covers tight over the originals.  In less than 15 minutes, both sides were done.

The result was really amazing.  Not only are these the best quality seat covers I have ever owned, the fit on the factory seats is excellent.  My Miata has a strange head rest as part of the seat, yet the covers fit perfectly.  In fact, the seats have side impact air bags, which I was not aware of, and the seat covers have an open seam down the side hidden by Velcro to accommodate.  Even the area around the seat belt at the top of the seat is accommodated.  In all, the covers are perfectly measured.  There is no wrinkling, no bunching up of the material, no sliding around when you sit on them.  They are almost as if I had the originals reupholstered.

My overall impression of the seats is that they are absolutely the best covers on the market.  On a scale of 1 to 5, they get a full 5 stars.  Over the period of a week, sitting on them was more comfortable than the originals due in part to the padding, and the look has transformed my car.  In addition, where the leather original seats would scrape and become ripped due to my dog, these seats show no sign of wear after she gets out.  For my convertible, they are the perfect solution.

Wet Okole seat covers custom fit for Jeep

Wet Okole has been amazing during this whole process.  They provided me with outstanding quality seats, custom fit to my specific car, that will last years and provide me with protection and style.  I highly recommend you get a set.

Photos Courtesy of Chris Raymond and Wet Okole.  Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Batmobile for Sale!

Batmobile for Sale!

World’s Only Jet Powered Street-Legal Batmobile For Sale on eBay!

Bowling Green, OH – October 29, 2019 – Just in time for Halloween, the world’s only jet powered street-legal Batmobile replica created by Genius Garage founder Casey Putsch is up for sale on ebay.  This vehicle is widely accepted as the best representation of the fictitious Gotham city crime fighter’s vehicle and is not merely a functioning prop.

 

Casey Putsch’s library of opinionated and insightful automotive commentary on YouTube can be found  HERE and on Instagram @caseyputsch HERE

This vehicle was created as a one-off functioning machine and authentically represents what was depicted in fiction; a fully-functioning vehicle powered by a military surplus turbo shaft engine that idles at 20,000 rpm. The power plant drives the rear wheels through a semi-automatic 4 speed transmission with reverse and makes approximately 400 shaft horsepower. The vehicle weighs similar to a Corvette and features fully independent suspension on air bags. The vehicle has the same basic controls as a conventional automobile, with the difference simply being in the operation of the turbine engine. Acceptable fuel is Jet A or Kerosene with an adjustment being possible for Diesel. The chassis is a semi monocoque and tubular space frame made out of steel with a composite body and canopy.

Accessories include replica Browning .30 caliber machine guns set up with oxy-propane powered sim-fire blanks, rear and side view cameras with monitor, centrally mounted iPad information center, digital and analog gauges. Flamethrower tank and plumbing is installed, but actuator, ignition, and nozzle have been removed.

This vehicle has functioned perfectly since it was built with no issues of any kind relating to the engine or hot start conditions. One failure of the original weak igniter box occurred and was promptly remedied with updated dual igniter boxes that have functioned perfectly since.

Currently the vehicle is titled and registered for street usage as a modified vehicle. It is sold AS-IS with no warranties or guarantees of any kind. This vehicle IS NOT available for display, events, rental, or public visitation.

About the Genius Garage:  

Founded in 2014 by automotive designer and race car driver Casey Putsch, the Genius Garage was established as a college internship program to bridge the gap from academia to industry.  The Genius Garage’s goal is to provide college engineering students with their “dream shot” to careers in the automotive and aerospace industries. The programs are set up to best cultivate and develop the student’s real-world hands on experience and problem solving by restoring and racing vintage race cars and building a BD5 microjet, restoring a Long EZ aircraft and a full-scale (38-foot) flying replica of a Pterosaur.  The Genius Garage race cars currently include an IMSA GTO tube frame Corvette, a C3 widebody Greenwood Corvette IMSA racer and a ‘90’s carbon fiber monocoque Nissan prototype race car, all of which are the complete responsibility of students in their engineering and preparation.  Click HERE for the Genius Garage Web site and HERE for several videos on the garage and student overviews.   

Article Courtesy of Gibson Communications LLC.  Video and photo courtesy of Casey Putsch.

 

 

GMC vs. Ford: Battle of the Pickup Trucks

GMC vs. Ford: Battle of the Pickup Trucks

GMC vs. Ford: Battle of the Pickup Trucks

Looking for a new pickup truck? You’ll undoubtedly consider buying a Ford. Their F-Series continues to dominate the market, currently the most popular pickup on the road—but Ford isn’t and shouldn’t be your only option when it comes to buying a new truck.

GMC is a formidable contender in the battle of the pickup trucks, offering all kinds of features that might make you rethink buying a Ford. Even though the Ford F-Series continues to be a favorite with consumers, it doesn’t mean GMC isn’t giving them a run for their money. Watch these two manufacturers go head-to-head in our Battle of the Pickup Trucks.

Style

Choosing your next pickup truck often comes down the style over substance. Some people prefer their truck to have a certain look rather than certain features. When it comes to style, both Ford and GMC can get by on their looks. The Ford F-Series features a minimal, no-fuss exterior that doesn’t bring too much attention to itself, but a GMC pickup truck likely walks away as the winner. Their trucks feature hard, bold lines that really catch the eye, suggesting a more rugged, outdoorsy look. If you compare the two side-by-side, you’ll notice the difference right away.

As we mentioned earlier, the Ford F-Series is booming in popularity, so you’re bound to see plenty of F-150s and F-250s on the road. If you want to stand out amid the crowd, go with a GMC.

Safety Features

Of course, safety should also play a role in the decision-making process. Both trucks get stellar safety ratings, and they come with all the latest features like a backup camera, brake assist, and electronic stability control, but the GMC might just have the Ford F-Series beat. GMC trucks are known as some of the safest on the road, earning raves from customers and industry pros alike. That doesn’t mean the Ford F-Series isn’t safe, but if you’re really a stickler for safety, GMC is the safer bet.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is always top-of-mind when choosing a new vehicle. You don’t want to get stuck paying a fortune at the pump for the next 10 years because you chose the wrong make/model. While both manufacturers get decent fuel economy ratings, Ford tends to come out on top. The Ford F-Series clocks in at around 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while GMC comes in at 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. While this might seem negligible at first, you will save a pretty penny at the pump if you get behind the wheel of a Ford.

Going Off-Road and Towing Power

They don’t call it “Built Ford Tough” for nothing. Ford easily beats GMC when it comes to hauling and towing power. The Ford F-Series can tow around 13,200 pounds, while GMC trucks usually haul around 12,500 pounds. That’s a difference of nearly a thousand pounds, so the choice is clear if you want to be able to tow as much as physically possible. However, if you’re like most drivers on the road, you probably won’t find yourself hauling items that weigh over ten thousand pounds anytime soon.

If you’re not too serious about towing, you can get by with the GMC without regretting your decision, but choosing a pickup truck usually means you like to haul, or at least like to have the option. In that case, go with a Ford. This will also come in handy if you like towing equipment off-road. Just get a lift kit, and you’ll be ready to tow like there’s no tomorrow. You can find Ford lift kits online to make all your towing dreams come true.

Interior

Lots of truck owners tend to overlook the interior, but that’s where you’re going to spend all your time, so finding a truck with a polished interior will be more than worth it. The GMC interior is more spacious than Ford’s. It features a clean, comfortable environment that will make you feel right at home. You’ll love being on the road for hours, days, or even weeks at a time. It might even start to feel more like a living room than a driver’s seat.

While Ford has a fine interior as well, you can really spread out and relax behind the wheel of a GMC. If you love going off-road, you’ll feel more comfortable in a GMC. There tends to be less of a shake, and the seats give you lasting support, so you can handle all those bumps and turns with ease. You’ll just need to buy a lift kit for your new off-road truck, and you’ll be good to go.

Overall Value

While Ford will save you some money at the pump thanks to its fuel efficiency rating, a GMC pickup truck costs less to begin with. For example, you can get a GMC Sierra for around $566 a month for 60 months, while a Ford will cost around $596 per month for 60 months. Of course, these prices tend to fluctuate, especially if you’re buying used. If you really want to save money, GMC is the winner, even if it means paying a little extra for gas.

A basic Ford model is also pretty bare bones. So, if you’re hoping to add all kinds of sweet features and upgrades to your Ford, you’ll likely have to pay more than $600 a month, while the GMC basic model tends to be a better value.

Choosing Between the Two

Both Ford and GMC deliver quality trucks. Most of these differences are fairly minor, so you’ll be in great hands either way. If you want to save money and feel safe behind the wheel, GMC is the better choice, but if you’re passionate about hauling and you want more fuel efficiency, Ford is the way to go. Choosing between the two all depends on how you plan on using your truck. Do your research and grab one of these beauties today!

Article courtesy of superliftsuspensions.  Photographs courtesy of shutterstock.

 

 

Audrain’s Concours & Motor Week – Finale

Audrain’s Concours & Motor Week – Finale

Last Sunday marked the end of the weeklong Motor Show in Newport, Rhode Island.  Audrain’s Car Museum, and the Concours team put on a massive series of spectacular events, highlighted by a special concert by musician John Legend, gala dinners at Doris Duke’s Rough Point, and the final day Coucours on the lawn at the Vanderbilt “cottage” The Breakers.

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If you are unfamiliar with the location, Newport is home to some of the most impressive “Gilded Age” mansions in the US, if not the world.  The best of the group is said to be The Breakers, which has a massive lawn leading to the ocean.  On Sunday, that lawn was lined with classic, antique and specialty vehicles from the likes of Bugatti to BMW.

This was the first time Audrain’s put on the weeklong event, and I believe the first time since 2012 that any Concours was held in the area.  “Our expectations for this debut event were high, but the reception exceeded them in almost every way”, said Concours Chairman Donald Osborne. “The cars, the people, the stories and the setting all came together to become the living expression of the event’s theme, ‘History, Luxury, Sport’- the essence of Newport. We are thrilled with the outcome.”

With 40 prominent judges from four countries and 98 cars from across the USA, the inaugural Concours featured 13 classes of vehicles from 1899 to 1970 plus the first of its kind ‘30 Under 30’ class. The brainchild of Jay Leno, Chairman of the Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week, the 30 Under 30 class featured car owners under thirty years old who have spent less than $30,000 on their car. Carter Kramer’s 1976 BMW 2002 took home 1st in Class

On to the rest of the winners:  In the top spot, winning both the “Best in Show” and “Most Elegant” awards was Joseph & Margie Cassini’s 1927 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S Fleetwood.  Shown at the 1926 New York Auto Salon, the Tipo 8A S Roadster was commissioned by film star, Rudolph Valentino, and adds the Audrain’s Best of Show trophy to its extensive collection which includes two Best of Class trophies from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Other class winners included a 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost owned by Rick Brown carrying a body built for Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a rare 1931 Ballot RH3 sports car owned by Michael Howe, a charismatic 1968 Oldsmobile 442 convertible owned by Robert Fisette and James Utaski’s spectacular 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, which also won the coveted ‘Excellence in Design’ trophy, chosen and presented by Michael Simcoe, VP of Global Design GM.

Among the other special awards given were the ‘Chairman’s Choice’ prize to Stephen and Kim Bruno’s 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Pinin Farina cabriolet, an elegant Paris Show car and Nürburgring racer, The ‘Sporting Choice’ award given to the dramatic 1939 Type 57 Aravis Roadster of Peter and Merle Mullin and the ‘Founder’s Choice’ trophy won by Rob Kauffman’s 1901 Panhard et Levassor Type B1, which was a participant in the 1902 Vanderbilt Cup race. The ‘People’s Choice’, chosen by the nearly 2,000 attendees, was a very original 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL ‘Gullwing’ owned by Robert and Renee Torre. A true time capsule, it captivated the enthusiastic crowd.

The next Audrain’s Newport Concours d’Elegance will be held on Sunday, October 4th as a part of the 2020 Concours & Motor Week running beginning October 1st.

A Day of Classics – Audrain’s Concours

A Day of Classics – Audrain’s Concours

Today was the first day of Audrain’s Concours and Motor Week in Newport RI. What a beautiful day…and what an amazing event. When I arrived, Bellevue Ave was completely blocked off and jammed with ultra collectible classic cars…from Mercedes to Bugatti to Duesenberg…everything was there. There were so many venues, and so many activities it was hard to get to all of them. Chateau sur-Mer had a Porsche concours…Lamborghini, Bentley and Rolls Royce were at the Redwood Library and Anthanaeum and a gathering of GM Concept cars on loan from the GM Museum at Audrain’s Car Museum. Finally, at the international Tennis Hall of Fame, called “Concours Village” was a selection of Aston Martin, Koeniggsig and classic Maserati’s. This week is amazing.

The Inaugural Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019

The Inaugural Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019

Love of Beauty is taste; the creation of beauty is art – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The waning days of summer in Newport, Rhode Island are a special time for any automotive enthusiast.  They are a time when beauty and art combine into a single glorious event: The Newport Concours d’Elegance.  This year, the event has been reborn as the Inaugural Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019.

The Inaugural Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019, a four-day car extravaganza hosted by Newport, Rhode Island’s Audrain Automobile Museum is set to be the East Coast’s first true motor week.  The event, set for October 3 -6, 2019, will be a celebration of all-things automotive, luxury, sport and history. The chairman of this year’s Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019 is entertainment super star and automotive enthusiast Jay Leno, while Concours d’Elegance Chairman for 2019 is one of the premier automotive experts in the world and TV personality, Donald Osborne.
Featuring a world-class collection of over a billion dollars-worth of vintage and modern cars, the event offers ticket holders unparalleled access to some of the rarest automobiles in existence, including 12 vehicles on loan from General Motors’ Heritage Division, from a ’38 Buick Y-Job to a ’54 Corsair Concept to a 2003 Cadillac Sixteen.  VIP ticketholders will get a closer look at Koenigsegg’s newest hypercar, the Jesko, a Bugatti Chiron Sport Glass Roof and a Porsche 356 Outlaw, customized by Rod Emory of Emory Motorsports.  On Sunday, the Concours d’Elegance will also feature a first-ever 30 Under 30 category to give enthusiasts age 30 years and younger the opportunity to showcase cars that have been built with $30,000 or less.  Jay Leno and other car experts will serve as the judges.
Event sponsors Aston Martin, Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Richard Mille and Porsche, among others, will also be on site throughout the 4-day celebration.
Vehicles participating in the Oct. 6 Concours d’Elegance will also have the opportunity to participate in the Tour d’Elegance.  The Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, will be an integral part of the celebration.  The Tour will start on the west end of the Pell Bridge and feature a staged participant photo on the bridge with a vintage aircraft fly-over.  The Tour d’Elegance will then make its way along the scenic and historic Ocean Drive, making a stop for coffee and photos at Ft. Adams and conclude with a display of the participating cars on Bellevue Avenue.
Fine automobiles may be the focus, but Audrain’s Newport Concours and Motor Week will have it all.  From fine dining pop-ups and exhibitions; to shopping, tennis, golf and sailing; to exclusive parties hosted in the Gatsbyesque mansions that populate America’s original luxury capital.   Audrain’s Newport Concours and Motor Week will be held October 3rd – 6th 2019 and tickets are on sale now!  For more information, check out the Audrain’s Newport Concours website.
Article and photographs courtesy of Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019

 

 

 

Braking Bar

Braking Bar

Accidents.  Some are minor, and some are deadly but all of them are expensive.  In the US, nearly one third of all motor accidents are the result of rear-end collisions according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration…the safety guys.  Most of those accidents were caused by distracted driving (texting, reading, eating) and most of the rest are due to speeding.  Texting alone causes 3,000 teens to die each year in car crashes, and rear end collisions happen about 1.7 million times a year on US roadways.

Enter Braking Bar.  Braking Bar was created by a Stanford graduate named Roland Hence.  Hence developed an ingenious and elegant solution based on some very important data.  Mercedes-Benz had been doing studies on rear-end crashes, and concluded that 90% could be avoided if the following driver simply had 1 more second to react.  In other words, drivers do not react quickly enough to normal brake lights.  Think about that for a moment.

What is Braking Bar and how is it a solution to the problem of rear-end crashes?  Braking Bar calls itself an adaptive brake light, designed to get distracted drivers’ attentions faster under urgent braking.  Normally, during braking, your brake lights illuminate normally, but in cases where you brake forcefully Braking Bar adapts by either illuminating very brightly or flashing. Extensive studies show that this technology causes following vehicles to stop up to 19 ft shorter, and thus reduces collision-speeds by up to 22 mph.  Though some vehicles offer adaptive brake lights on their cars, most aftermarket products are expensive and require wiring during installation.  Braking Bar uses an accelerometer, an adhesive, and a battery pack.  There are no wires to connect.

Braking Bar is 3x as visible as your ordinary brake lights, and makes drivers react up to 50% faster…especially when they’re distracted.  As you drive, the built-in motion sensor checks your braking force over 100 times per second. Then, the next time it senses that you’re braking hard – approximately 70% of your maximum braking force depending on your car – it activates the LEDs.  The LEDs have two operating modes: STEADY and PULSE. In STEADY mode, the LEDs output the maximum legal illumination. In PULSE mode, the LEDs also pulsate. Both modes are designed to get maximum attention. The system also has a brightness setting to accommodate window tints as dark as 35% VLT.  The battery has a 4 year lifespan.

I wanted to try Braking Bar, and Frontlane, Inc. was nice enough to send me one.  It arrived quickly, and was ready to use right out of the box.  I was immediately impressed with the design.  Braking Bar looks sleek; almost factory installed and would be perfect for any type of vehicle.  The back opens up to a series of switches that can select intensity, and mode, and the entire unit simply sticks to the rear window with a strong adhesive tape.  It is ingenious.  When I tested the lights, I was shocked to see how bright they really are.  A few minutes for installation on the glass, and I was done.  I have had it on my vehicle for two weeks, and I am truly impressed with the quality and design.  In fact, I can see myself purchasing another for my other cars.  I strongly recommend they create a motorcycle version, as this product can really save lives.

Perfect for any vehicle, but especially SUV’s and trucks.  With its non-permanent installation, it would also be perfect for older cars without a third brake light and classic cars with smaller tail lights.  Since it is adhesive, there is no risk to the long term value of the car.  Braking Bar is an elegant solution to a serious problem.  I highly recommend it.

www.brakingbar.com

Most Beautiful Cars:  The Citroen DS

Most Beautiful Cars: The Citroen DS

It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it. – Voltaire

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Lately, I’ve been reading some lists of “Beautiful Cars” that force me to believe the beholder was blind.  One website, Edmunds lists the 1973 Pontiac Grand Am and the 1985 Chevrolet Camaro in the 100 Most Beautiful Cars of All Time.  Voting in those plastic nightmares tells me they have no clue about design or beauty, and just had too many cars in the list.  It is just silly.  So, I have decided to take a stab at my own list, and showcase what I feel are the “Most Beautiful Cars Ever Made.”  Each post will highlight one car, in no particular order.

First in my list is the incomparable Citroen DS, a car that took the world by storm in 1955.  In a time where France was still rebuilding from the disaster of WWII, and a time of sever austerity in Europe, this space ship was a complete shock to the automotive world.  Built in secret over a period of 18 years as a replacement to the Citroen Traction Avant, the new DS was so amazing a design that it sold 743 copies in the first 15 minutes of its debut.  Imagine the frenzy.  By the end of the day a record breaking 12,000 examples were sold.

Image result for citroen ds convertible

The DS, pronounced “Day-ess,” French for Goddess, was styled by Italian sculptor and industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni and the French aeronautical engineer André Lefèbvre.  Its futuristic aerodynamic body design and innovative technology was so shocking and revolutionary to the public, that some were even scared of the car.  Contemplate this for a moment.  The year was 1955, and most of the cars were pre-war designs, with upright radiator shells, pontoon fenders, crank starters, hardwood dashboards, and in America: tail fins.  Along came the DS with a shape that was aerodynamic, beautiful, and appeared to float over through the streets like a time traveler from another dimension.  This was a car whose scarab, teardrop shape was like nothing else on the roads.  The bright colors, and open airy interior was so different from the dark, heavy, industrial cars of the day that it changed the definition of what a motorcar could be.

The DS was literally a space ship for the masses.  Not only did it change the way cars were perceived; it changed the way cars were built.  The technology included a hydro pneumatic self-leveling suspension, front power disc brakes, variable ground clearance, and a semi-automatic transmission with no clutch pedal.  The hydraulic assisted brakes were operated not by a pedal, but by a small mushroom shaped button, with which the slightest of pressure could bring the massive car to a very abrupt halt.

The list of innovations continues with a fiberglass roof, inboard front brakes along with independent suspension, different front and rear track widths to reduce the under steer typical of front engine, front wheel drive cars.  The DS has an engine designed to slide under the floor in a crash, headlights that swivel when you steer, space frame construction, tolerances within microns, the first plastic dashboard, use of aluminum in the bonnet and fenders, crumple zones, rollover protection, and a even a collapsible steering wheel.

The DS used a suspension system of compressed nitrogen gas, was auto self leveling, and even had a self centering one spoke steering wheel.  The engine was a hemispherical head engine, though with only about 100hp due to French Tax Horsepower system.  It was a car that could drive on three wheels, climb a wall of ice, start in 40 below weather, and provide the best “magic carpet” ride quality ever built into a car.  The suspension and quality of ride made the DS unique in the automotive world.  The driver could travel from asphalt to gravel to snow, and only identify the changes by the different color of the surface.  Nothing was allowed to disrupt the perfection of the ride comfort.

The DS was also utterly French, and a symbol of French ingenuity and design.  It was beautifully sculpted with an aerodynamic body that still looks fresh in 2012.   The car is sheik and stylish, yet strangely conservative, wildly eccentric yet also very practical.  It is quirky and beautiful in every way.  The complete devotion to aerodynamics is evident in the teardrop shape.  The wheelbase was extended on the design mock up to make the car more appealing to the eye.  In fact, it exactly matches the wheelbase of a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, a length of 10’ 3 inches.

To appreciate the aerodynamic shape of the DS, one only has to look at the Saab 96.  Both have the same teardrop shape, but the Saab is not executed in the same clean, sculptured lines.  The Citroen seems light and airy compared to the bulkiness of the Saab.  Even in the 1960’s with the Jaguar MkII Saloons, the effect of the wind cheating aerodynamic shape remained heavy and complicated.  In fact, the shape of the DS defines the car.  One important point that is often unnoticed deals with the front of the vehicle.  Most cars use the front face to identify and reinforce the brand.  Grilles, badges, hood ornament, and names are plastered all over.  The DS is blank and clean.  It survived in the market place purely by virtue of its shape.

The Citroen DS has been chosen as one of the most beautiful cars ever made by many critics, generally is recognized as one of the most influential of all auto designs, and was voted THE most beautiful car of all time by Classic & Sports Car magazine.  The DS was awarded “Product of the Century” ahead of the Boeing 747, lunar landing module, and even the Apple Macintosh computer.  For me, the scarab shaped car is still relevant almost 60 years since its introduction, and one of my top ten cars of all time.

Image result for citroen ds

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of ukadapta.blogspot.com, sv.wikipedia.org, carpr0n.tumblr.com, mannamaker.com, barcelonaphotoblog.com, carprestige.pl, conceptcarz.com, ebay.com

Reference: The Citroen DS, Design Icon by Malcolm Bobbit from Veloce Publishing

Most Beautiful Cars:  Lamborghini Countach

Most Beautiful Cars: Lamborghini Countach

When all think alike, then no one is thinking – Walter Lippman

Every vehicle that made my list of Most Beautiful Cars was a milestone in the development of the automobile.  Each of them changed the way cars were designed, and advanced automotive technology in a way that no other cars had done before.  In the process they became icons of the automotive world, cars that shook the public’s concept of what a car could be.  Today’s selection took that to a whole new level, and was essentially a paradigm shift for automotive designers.  Some believe the Bugatti Veyron is a “Concorde” moment, where car design took a quantum leap forward.  Today’s car is just as important.  It is an SR71 Spy Plane in a world of Cessnas.  It is the Lamborghini Countach.

At first sight, the natural reaction is to catch your breath and just try to comprehend the angles and wedge shape.  The Countach is a collection of trapezoidal panels and air scoops, squatting so low to the ground that it is almost unrecognizable as an automobile.  If someone told you it was a grounded stealth drone, you could accept its shape more readily.  Even the name is astonishment.  Countach roughly translates to “holy shit!”

The Countach was such a radical and fundamental shift that it remained an icon from 1974 until its demise in 1990.  This is an amazing feat in a world where supercar fashion changed almost daily.  Born as a violent slash across the drawing pad of Marcello Gandini for Bertone, it was the successor to his other creation, the legendary Miura.  In fact, Gandini penned not only the Miura, but also the iconic wedge shape of the Lancia Stratos, as well as the Pantera, the Dino, the Lamborghini Diablo and what we know in the US as the Renault Le Car.

The original design was as clean and subtle as it was radical and angular.  The LP400 originally had a coke-bottle shape, and was devoid of the scoops and vents of later models.  Almost immediately the car morphed into a jet fighter, with a huge stabilizer wing sprouting from the rear deck, and more ducts and air boxes than a F117.  US models also developed a “moustache” front wing, which allowed it to comply with the height restrictions of the new federal mandates.

By the time the Countach was retired from service, it looked more like a Transformer than a motorcar, with obscene bulges and deep cuts in the duct work.  What began as an icon, ended life as a synonym for cocaine.

The Countach was THE car to own for those that could afford it, and for every boy who had a poster on his bedroom wall.  There was nothing that epitomized the excess, the power or the avant garde nature of the supercar better than the Lamborghini Countach.  Its shape and overall zeitgeist will never be improved upon.  Just as important was the sound bellowing from the Lamborghini V12, which only improved with age.

How was the Countach when compared to other cars?  In a word, it was atrocious.  The Countach was great at being an icon, but rather dismal at being a car.  The interior was cramped and hot, with no ventilation and a roll down window barely big enough for your hand.  The clutch was unbearably heavy, there was no place for your feet, no rearward visibility, and the US front wing meant the car would gain flight at high speeds.  It was fast in a straight line, but otherwise drove like one of Ferruccio’s tractors.  The car was so abysmal; the only way to reverse a Countach properly is to leave the car by sitting on the sill with the door up.  To drive a Lamborghini Countach is to kill a dream.

Fortunately, most of us never get the chance to truly experience a Lamborghini Countach.  We will never have our dreams crushed.   The first time I saw one in person was in Boston.  I was crossing the street near the Copley Plaza hotel, and heard this evil V12 screaming.  When I turned, I saw lime green fog lights, and then a second later it passed by my knees.  It was a black 5000QV, and I remember the huge wing passing me like a shark fin.  That experience stayed with me to this day.

My next encounter was with a LP400S, owed by a dealer in Weymouth.  Through a friend I was able to take a ride, and snap some photos.  My memory is mainly of the sound of the V12, the fact that I literally could not move inside the cockpit, and that it seemed like everything in the world stopped when you drove by.

The Lamborghini Countach is still an icon.  Sure, it lost some of its luster by being associated with the 1980’s, yuppies and power ties, but not even the new Reventon can compare with its radical design.  The Lamborghini Countach is still the ultimate supercar.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of netcarshow.com, autowallpapers.net, conceptcarz.com, finallyhip.com, covercars.com, boldride.com, militarytuners.com, Jamie Wynder

Most Beautiful Cars: Jaguar E-Type

Most Beautiful Cars: Jaguar E-Type

The most beautiful car ever made – Enzo Ferrari

There you have it, from the man whose company has created more incredibly beautiful car designs than anyone on the planet.  The Jaguar E-Type (XKE in the US) is probably THE most beautiful design ever for a production car.  It is a car so striking that it was included as a permanent part of the collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  Almost without exception, every list of great and beautiful cars includes an E-Type.  More text and photographs have been devoted to this car than any other in history.

Dubbed “The Greatest Crumpet Catcher Known to Man” by Henry Manney, the E-Type remains an icon of the swinging sixties, the British invasion, and the domination Britain had over the sports car market.  Styled by Malcolm Sayer, a newcomer to the Jaguar team and a self-proclaimed aerodynamicist, in partner with Sir William Lyons, the chief at Jaguar, it was the first design not created by Sir William himself.  Lyons was known to style the cars in the garden of his home, spending hours watching the how the light reflected off the curves, all while local children watched from atop the garden walls.  The E-type was the perfect blend of Sayers understanding of aerodynamics and Lyons’ mastery of light and shape.

When the E-Type was introduced at the 1961 Geneva Auto Show, it was an instant hit, and well on its way as an icon of a generation.  It was the choice of celebrities, royalty, and the ultra rich, who combined style and class with a penchant for caddish behavior.  The super chic of the time, Bridgette Bardot, Steve McQueen, Mick and Bianca, and George Best all chose the E-Type, and even Frank Sinatra barked “I want that car, and I want it now” the moment he saw it.

When it was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in 1961, Jaguar took 500 orders.  It looked like nothing else on the display floor, and at £2097 for the roadster and £2196 for the fixed head coupe, the car was considerably cheaper than its competitors Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche.  In fact, it was priced lower than the car it replaced, the XK150.

The E-Type was beautiful and exciting, but was far from perfect.  The claimed 150mph top speed was basically a myth until 1963, the car drank enough oil to fill a supertanker and the ungodly Moss gearbox lacked synchromesh on the first gear, and originally intended for use in pre-war trucks.  Add to that the lack of space, the poor braking, the wicked Lucas electrics dubbed “The Prince of Darkness” and you end up with something like a first wife…pretty, but impossible to live with.  One of the few good items on the car was the independent rear suspension which was designed by Bob Knight in only 27 days on a bet with founder Sir William Lyons, which endured until the 1990’s.  Even the engine had faults, being a carryover from 1949 and a testament to Sir William’s frugality.

The original Series I was the purest of the line.  It was surprisingly rare, with only 2160 cars produced in 1961, another 6266 in 1962, and 4065 in 1963.  Over the years the car evolved to have a more powerful engine, better seating, and better electrics.  In 1966 the introduction of the 2+2 radically changed the E-Type body.  While the roadster stayed the same, the FHC featured a longer wheelbase by 9 inches, longer doors and a taller windscreen, designed to accommodate two children in the additional rear seats.  It was offered with an automatic gearbox for the first time and sold surprisingly well, though it was criticized by many for its odd proportions.

In 1967 the E-Type was reworked, this time to comply with the growing US regulations for cars.  The new Series 1 ½ meant the headlamps were moved forward 2.5 inches, and the Perspex headlamp cover were gone.  Minor changes continued though the Series II and up into the 1970’s.  Jaguar had intended on replacing the E-Type with the XJ27, or as we know it, the XJ-S.  However, due to financial difficulties, it was decided to rework the E-Type, extending its life with the addition of a new V12 engine.  This new E-Type, dubbed the XJ25 was finally launched as the Series III.

The new Series III featured a wider stance with 1 inch flared wheel arches, a larger air intake and chrome XJ6 grille, better brakes and steering and a commitment to the 2+2 wheelbase length.  The 2-seater Jaguar Coupe was dead.

By 1972 the end was near for the beloved E-Type.  By this time Malcolm Sayer had suffered a fatal heart attack, and Sir William Lyons finally retired.  Strikes and US mandates on safety had turned the car into an aging icon, a once beautiful actress who had finally lost her looks.  By 1974, production had basically ceased, but unsold Jaguars in dealerships prevented Jaguar from announcing the official end of the line until February 1975.  It was replaced by the XJ-S, the final car to be designed by Malcolm Sayer in cooperation with Sir William.  The end of an era had come to Jaguar.

The Jaguar E-Type, in all her forms was a breakthrough in automotive design.  It possessed a shape that was instantly recognizable, even among non-car people.  Its curvaceous body was unlike any production car before or since, and remains an icon of an era.  Coveted as a work of art, the E-Type is a true symbol of what put the “Great” into Great Britain.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of profeng.com, carbase.com, nextcar.com.au, netcarshow.com, tomorrowstarted.com, pinterest.com, seriouswheels.com, deviantart.com, diamondcars.de, classicandperformancecar.com, and Google Images.

 

Most Beautiful Cars:  Lamborghini Miura

Most Beautiful Cars: Lamborghini Miura

‘Every impatient, rich man wanted one’ – Giampaolo Dallara

No list of the most beautiful cars can be complete without the first to be called a “Supercar,” The Lamborghini Miura.

Created at night, in secret and against the orders of the boss; the Miura is exactly what she was envisioned to be, the perfect anti-Ferrari “race car for the road.”  Three young employees, GianPaolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani, and Bob Wallace wanted to show the “old man” that the future of the company was not large grand touring cars, but instead cutting edge sports cars.  It was the Miura that truly gave birth to “The House of the Raging Bull.”

Inspired by the Ford GT40, the car was designed around a transversely mounted mid engine layout, which was a departure for Lamborghini.  The Bizzarrini designed V12 engine produced 385 horses, and was merged with the transmission and differential.  When the rolling chassis was introduced at the 1966 Turin Salon, it caused such a sensation that people actually placed orders despite it having no body.

The design for the missing body was given to Bertone, who promptly assigned 25 year old newcomer Marcello Gandini to the project.  Gandini had been brought in to replace Giorgetto Giugiaro who was leaving for Ghia.  Giugiaro, who was only 19 days older than the young Gandini had actually had prevented him from being hired earlier, and refused to work with the new stylist.  Once he was gone, it cleared the road for Gandini and the Miura became his first project.

The prototype for the car was called the P400.  The actual body design was finished just days before it was debuted at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show.  So late, in fact that the engine could not be installed, and the front clamshell had to remain locked throughout the entire show.  That lack of planning continued, when it was discovered after the debut that no one had bothered to check if the new V12 could even fit in the new body.

The Miura was essentially a clamshell front and rear aluminum body built around a compact passenger cell.  The shape created by Gandini is impossibly beautiful.  Low and incredibly wide, a look where every bulge, line and curve is absolute perfection.  The effect is stunning, right down to the eyelashes; a design cue that hid small vents for the brakes.  In the front, the long expanse of hood is broken by two sets of grillwork that allows air to pass through the radiators.  The right grill also served to hide the fuel filler.

The pop up headlamps were rumored to be inspired by the Bertone Corvair Testudo concept car.  In the back, a set of six louvers over the engine bay were inspired by the 1963 Corvair Monza GT.  These “industry first” louvers were the only thing between the world and that magnificent sounding V12, and would remain a design cue for years to come, gracing cars from Modena to Detroit.

Attention to detail in the design was paramount.  When it was decided that car would be named for a fighting bull, the Miura was given horns; small functional side louvers were added to the doors, in an upward sweep.  When the doors were opened, the horns were exposed.

The fighting bull theme is the inspiration and logo for Lamborghini.  Named for the Spanish fighting bulls of Don Eduardo Miura of Seville, the car and the company have a strong bullfighting connection.  After the birth of the Miura, almost every Lamborghini car name is bull related.  The Miura bulls remain the fiercest breed in bullfighting and were the subject of many stories, including Earnest Hemingway’s 1932 book “Death in the Afternoon.”

Long before pictures of the Countach graced every boy’s bedroom, this car was the sexiest thing in the decade of free love and bohemian hipness.  In its day, it was as radical as a spaceship, and even today a sighting will create an instant crowd.  Owned by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Shah of Iran and Elton John, the car was excruciatingly expensive, incredibly rare and nearly impossible to maintain.  It is, as one writer said: “Ultimately great at being iconic, but not very good at being a car.”  For me, it is beyond “bellissimo.”

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of: carart.us, lotusspiritturbo.com, netcarshow.com, caranddriver.com, boldride.com

Most Beautiful Cars:  Jaguar XK120

Most Beautiful Cars: Jaguar XK120

“The car is the closest thing we will ever create to something that is alive.” – Sir William Lyons

Very few cars are appreciated as classics in their own time.  From the moment Jaguar unveiled the XK120 at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948, the press and the public understood that it was a milestone.  The XK120 was the fastest and the most beautiful car offered by any manufacturer at any price.

The XK120 was more about the engine than the body.  Jaguar was a new company, having just one production car under its belt, the SS100.  The company had just survived WWII, and had changed its name from SS Cars (for Swallow Sidecar) to Jaguar due to the connotations of the German SS.  During the war the order was given by head Sir William Lyons to create an engine on their own, something they could use to power a new line of sedans the company was developing.  Prior to this, they had purchased engines from outside suppliers, and the need to develop in-house was critical to the company’s future.

Jaguar and Sir William were intent on producing a sport saloon with 100mph performance with a price of less than 1,000 pounds.  This was a very tall order at a time where the average car could barely crack 75mph, and just reaching 60 would take 30 seconds or more.  Lyons also required the car to be fuel efficient, at a time when gas rationing was common.  Work began on a new engine, dubbed the XK.  It was designed as a cross flow head, dual overhead cam layout with four cylinders, but was eventually upgraded to a six cylinder for better performance.  The end result was a seven bearing straight six, displacing 3,442 cc (210 cu in.) with a long stroke that provided good low end torque and high RPM power cast with aluminum heads.  This engine would continue to be used in Jaguar models straight through to the 1980’s.

The new engine was to be mated to the new sport sedan, but Lyons decided it needed more “field experience” before large scale production.  His solution was to develop a limited production sports car with an entirely new body.  The design called for a wood and metal frame with hand formed aluminum body panels.

Based on the BMW 328 Mille Miglia, the car was to be a low slung sports roadster.  Sir William himself, though not an engineer, had a heavy hand in the styling.  Taking the shape of the BMW, Lyons made the form longer, lower and more curvaceous, with a dramatic beltline dip below the doors.  Lyons would shape the car in the garden of his home and study how the light reflected off the curves, all while local children would watch from atop the garden walls.  Lyons had a masterful understanding of light and curves, and the new sports car was a testament to his abilities as both an artist and designer.

The new design was named XK for the engine, and 120 for its top speed.  It was basically the Bugatti Veyron of its day.  On its debut, the car astounded the audience.  It upstaged every other car at the show, including Jaguar’s own Mark V sedan.  In fact, the other manufacturers were so put off, they were openly skeptical that Sir William could really offer such a car for such a low price.

The critics of the time were ecstatic, and so amazed at the 120mph top speed that they were willing to overlook its faults, one of which that anyone over 5’9” would not be able to fit comfortably behind the wheel, and the others being a sad excuse for brakes and a tragic Moss transmission.  Jaguar performed many demonstrations of the cars speed, achieving 126mph and higher.  At a time when only a V12 Ferrari could reach such speeds, the 1,000 pound XK120 was more than a bargain.

The reaction to the car was so great that Sir William was forced to increase production plans.  Originally intended for 200 cars, the body was hastily redesigned for large scale production in steel.  Much of the production (85%) was bound for the United States, going to upscale wealthy owners like Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart.  The popularity of the car, enhanced by a favorable exchange rate, eventually created a demand for a fixed head coupe (FHC) version in 1951.  The coupe, with its sweeping circle of a roofline was dramatic, and included many more niceties required in a luxury car.

The XK120 eventually evolved into the XK140, which addressed some of the concerns with comfort and functionality.  This eventually morphed into the XK150, which lost some of its stunning curves but improved performance.  Finally the line was replaced by the equally stunning E-Type.  Overall production numbers for the XK120 was 12,061 including 240 of the original roadsters, which was far more than the original 200 planned by Sir William Lyons.

The Jaguar XK120 remains one of the most beautiful cars of all time.  The styling is still unique and instantly recognizable.  It possessed the beauty of the classic pre-war European coach built era cars with the speed of the fastest race cars of the time.  The XK120 was the epitome of grace…simple elegance and the refinement of movement.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of ambientlife.net, automobilewiki.com, boldrides.com, Bridgetownblog.wordpress.com, dreamgarage.com, supercars.net

10 Of the Most Beautiful Supercars

10 Of the Most Beautiful Supercars

10 Of the Most Beautiful Supercars

Being the envy of your peers is standard issue if you can manage to get hold of a supercar.  With supercharged engines, luxury interiors, striking bodywork and incredible engine power, these big boys’ toys only exist in most drivers’ dreams. The kind of money you’d need to splash out on one of these beauties is eye-watering.  Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti – they’re all car companies which are synonymous with high-quality, flashy vehicles. And according to this list by Autoweb, they don’t disappoint with their top-of-the-range rides.  Some of the more unusual looking supercars include the Koenigsegg Agera R, a ridiculously powerful ride with 1099 break horse power.  With a top speed of 260mph and powered by a twin-turbo 5.0 litre V8 engine, the Agera R means business.  It’s also one of the most expensive cars on the market.  For most of us, the most attainable supercar would be the cheapest – the Lamborghini Aventador. At £253,000, it’s still a pretty cool price for an amazing car.

Most Beautiful Cars:  Ferrari 250

Most Beautiful Cars: Ferrari 250

Most Beautiful Cars:  Ferrari 250

“Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines”  “I don’t sell cars; I sell engines.  The cars I throw in for free since something has to hold the engines in.” – Enzo Ferrari

When I decided to create this list, I started with some simple rules.  First was to disqualify all pre-war cars, as most were custom built boutique examples created by specialty coachbuilders.  I wanted prêt-à-porter, or off the rack designs.   Second was to group together certain body styles, showcasing only the best design of the group.  Cars like the Gordon Keeble, which looks like a Lancia Flaminia GT would be judged as a set, with the best one winning.  Finally, the car design had to be more than beautiful; it also needed to be something of a revolution in the automotive world.  The Panhard 24CT is pretty, but not special and therefore would not make the cut.

Today’s selection is very special.  It is a model that encompassed no less than 22 different body styles during its lifetime, some of which are universally acclaimed as the most beautiful designs ever.  Each of these bodies was built for one purpose; to be a jewelry box for an exquisite 12 cylinder engine called the Colombo Tipo 125 V12.  Nearly every variant of the 250 carried this engine, whose lightness and amazing power brought Ferrari a staggering amount of racing victories.  All of this amazing beauty was delivered in less of a span than cars like the Citroen DS.

Designed by Gioacchino Colombo, a former Alfa Romeo designer, the span of the 125 engine would start with the first Ferrari road car in 1947 and continue until 1966.  It was Ferrari’s first “home grown” engine, and was originally inspired by the American Packard V12 engine.  During its lifetime, variants of the Colombo engine were used in the 250 series, as well as Ferrari icons like the 365 California, 365 Daytona, 375MM Ingrid Bergman, 400 Superamerica, the 512 Berlinetta Boxer and the 512 Testarossa.

250 S – The 250 series actually began with the series 225, with race cars preceding the road cars by three years.  Most 250 road cars share two wheelbases, either the 94.5 inch short, or the 102.4 long wheel base.  The first in the series was the 250S, an experimental Berlinetta prototype, which won Ferrari the 1952 Mille Miglia, was used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana.

250 MM – With the 1952 win, the next in the series was aptly named the MM, or Mille Miglia.  With coupe bodywork created by Pinin Farina, and the open Barchetta version created by Carrozzeria Vignale, the designs featured recessed headlamps and side vents that became a staple of Ferrari for the 1950’s.

250 Monza – The series continued with the 250 Monza built in 1954.  This car was a hybrid between the 750 Monza and the 250 chassis, with coachwork by Pininfarina for the Barchetta, and Carrozzeria Scaglietti for the coupes, including a one-off 500 Mondial.

250 Testa Rossa – The next car would be the unforgettable 250 Testa Rossa, or the “red head.”  The Testa Rossa was one of the most successful racing cars in Ferrari history, winning Le Mans three times, Sebring 4 times and Buenos Aires twice. Named for the red valve covers, the original had bodywork by Scaglietti.  It was called the “Pontoon” TR, due to the front fender shape which allowed air ducting across the front brakes and out through the open area behind the wheels.   In all, 34 Testa Rossas were built from 1956 to 1961.  One example of this car recently sold at auction for 16.4 million dollars.

250 TR – This was a more aerodynamic version of the Test Rossa, designed by Pininfarina.  Only two factory cars and 19 customer cars were built.  With a more powerful engine, this model inspired the F430 road car.

250 GTO – In 1962 Ferrari created the “Gran Turismo Omologata” which means Grand Touring Homologated…sexy eh?  This is the car that summed up the philosophy of Ferrari best, the ultimate of performance and styling.  It was the first Ferrari to use wind tunnel technology, with a voluptuous body capable of speeds in excess of 180mph.  With an original $18,000 US price, buyers had to be personally approved by Enzo Ferrari himself.  39 cars were created, all of which are still accounted for today.  Recently, a pastel green GTO built for Sir Stirling Moss sold for a record $35 US million, making it one of the most expensive cars in the world.  Not bad for a car that never included a heater, speedometer or odometer.

250 P – In 1963 Ferrari unleashed the 250 P, essentially a 250 LM minus a roof.  With styling designed in the wind tunnel, it followed the same lines as the Ford GT, its main competitor.  This mid-engine supercar eventually evolved into the 330 P and the 412 P, and was meant to be a track car for the super wealthy.

250 LM – This Le Mans racer was designed by Pininfarina, to be used in FIA racing.  Enzo had promised to build 100 copies, so it would qualify as a production car, but only 35 were made.  Only one was never raced, a luxury model that even had electric windows.  Beaten by the Ford GT, the LM marked the end of Ferrari participation in the GT class of 1965 World Sports Car Championship.

250 Export/Europa – These models were the only member of the series to use the Lampredi engine that replaces the Colombo.  Ferrari never created a standard body design for the car, and models were styled by Vignale, Pininfarina, and Scaglietti.  The Export/Europa was not the prettiest Ferrari in the stable, but was a solid grand tourer.

250 Boano/Ellena – With tail fins and styling by Pininfarina, this was the first real production car with standardized body design.  Mario Boano started the production of the car, but demand grew quickly.  When he moved to Fiat, it was handed over to his son Ezio Ellena who revised the design as a separate model.  A total of 65 Boano cars were built, followed by 40 Ellenas.

250 GT Berlinetta “Tour de France” – Created after Ferrari GT cars took the top three places in the 1957 Tour De France automobile race (not the bicycle race), this car sported a modified Tipo engine.  It was so successful that Ferrari continued to win the event an unprecedented nine years in a row.  Bodied by Scaglietti, Pininfarina and Zagato, no two cars were the same.

250 GT Cabriolet Pininfarina Series I – Ferrari’s first production cabriolet was designed in a special workshop at Pininfarina.  Though the standard body was never really standard, the all shared similar details, and all sported the Colombo Tipo V12.  This model is generally considered the 9th Greatest Ferrari of all Time.

250 GT California Spyder LWB – Motivated by an American to create an open top model that pays homage to Ferrari’s best market, the Scaglietti designed California Spyder is generally considered one of the Greatest Ferraris of all Time.

250 GT Coupe Pininfarina – This was a car designed to stabilize Ferrari finances.  With 335 examples created, it was a simple GT coupe with clean lines, a notchback roofline and a panoramic rear window.  Though it had a standard body design, each model was still bespoke for each customer by Batista “Pinin” Farina himself.

250 GT Cabriolet Pininfarina Series II – The most expensive car in the GT range, it was a high volume car with 212 examples produced.

250 GT Berlinetta SWB – Sergio Pininfarina called this car “The first of our three quantum leaps in design with Ferrari.”  Originally designed for the 24 hours of Le Mans, it was the natural continuation of the Tour de France model.  The wheelbase was shortened for better handling and less weight, and the car became an integral part of the Ferrari legend.  This is also the model that Count Giovanni Volpi and Giotto Bizzarrini used to create the Kammback styled “Breadvan.”   This car is generally accepted as the 5th Greatest Ferrari of all Time.

250 GT Spider California SWB – One of the most famous of all Ferraris, it is known to no car people as the “Ferris Bueller” car, and to gearheads as the “James Coburn California Spider.”  Rated as one of the Greatest Ferraris of all time, the Coburn car recently sold for a record $11 million US dollars.

250 GT/E – In 1963 you could walk into a Ferrari showroom and choose between a GT California, a Pininfarina Cabriolet, a SWB Berlinetta or a GT/E all for the same price.  For about $1,000 dollars more you could even get a 250 GTO.  With this in mind, more people chose the GT/E than all the others, due to its 4-seat configuration, and its engineering simplicity.  This was the car Enzo himself drove, and it marked the transfer of power from Batista Pininfarina to his son Sergio.

250 GT Lusso – Beauty and elegance personified.  This is the ultimate Pininfarina design with expert Scaglietti coachwork.  Unparalleled in the automotive world, this voluptuous design was the choice of Eric Clapton, Steve McQueen, James Garner and James Coburn.  It also was my favorite Lesney “Matchbox” model of all time.  Introduced in 1962 as the GTL, it personified the fastback shape of 1960’s grand touring cars, and was the last of the 250 line for Ferrari.  Of all the beautiful Ferraris, this will always be my favorite.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of Uk.cars.yahoo.com, supercars.net, archdezart.com, autoblog.com, bestautophoto.com, bewall.com.

 

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

Style and luxury are usually sold at a premium.  In the world of classic cars, that doesn’t always need to be the case.  A simple search on sites like Hemmings and eBay will unearth a wealth of cars that will make heads turn, but also not put you in the poor house…if you are lucky.

To find the right car, you should avoid cars that are too obvious.  An old Rolls Royce or Bentley can be found for cheap money, but buying one means you will end up dirt broke and depressed.  Plus, unless you get the exact “correct” example, you will look like a fool who blew his life savings on a desperate attempt to get attention.   What you want is something a little more subtle.  You want a car that you would see pulling up to a Kennedy family picnic, or something driven by a lesser known DuPont.   I recommend a nice Mercedes Benz sedan.

Mercedes Benz has a reputation much like Porsche.  It is the chosen car of the well heeled, as well as the douche.  For this reason, you have to be careful about which car you choose as your own.  First, since most of us are not Rockefellers, I recommend you avoid the expensive models.  Second, unless you are a cast member of “The Jersey Shore” I recommend staying away from almost all late 1980’s and 90’s models as well as any flashy coupes.  That brings me to what I think could be the best value on the classic car market, the 200/300-series.

The 200/300-series cars are a collection of mid-range sedans offered by Mercedes.  I would be more specific, but it takes a PhD to figure out the Mercedes model line.  For this discussion, I am speaking of the sedans carrying the 200, 230, 250 280, and 300 badges…sometimes including the 330.  These are also known as the W108, 109, 114, 115, 123, and who knows what else.  Never mind…anything cheap and boxy with a Mercedes badge is good enough.

For less than $6,000.00 you can find some amazing examples of Mercedes style and class.  Given the right condition and color, and you could have the perfect classic luxury car.  These models never seem to age, probably because the basic design and style was already pre-aged from new.  They were boxy, clean and carried just the right amount of chrome.  Interiors are well appointed, usually leather and seem modern even by today’s standards.  It is a car you can drive to the country club, or the supermarket with the same sense of satisfaction and dignity.  These are the cars driven by professors, lecturers, judges and the wives of wealthy industrialists.  Their natural habitat is that huge house in that beautiful neighborhood that you always dream of moving into.

To most, a classic car is a pastel colored, chrome speckled, fin encrusted monstrosity.  Muscle cars and Chevy Bel Airs need not be the only choices.  There is not a single car show in my area that is not home to hundreds of cheap little Corvettes and ugly “rods.”  The true aficionado looks for something different, something with a little culture.  A nicely preserved Mercedes sedan is a car that would look great at a local show, but also not seem ridiculous as an everyday driver.  However, before you buy, make sure you do your homework.

Like any old car, a Mercedes can be a handful.  Though pre-1986 models seem to be the best quality, there were still issues to watch out for.  A check of Mercedes forums will keep you updated on what to look for, like electrical harness issues and transmission problems.  Finding a good example is worth the effort because trying to restore one can be a sentence to automotive hell.  The saying “There is nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes” is something to remember at all costs.  If there are problems, then there is a 50/50 shot that it will be cheap and easily repairable.  Of course, on the other hand, it could mean you bought a disposable car.  That is the risk with classics, and a Mercedes is no different.  Treated well, a Mercedes can be as reliable as a purebred Shepherd…treated badly, and it can rip your face off.  Look for a dealer-maintained no rust, documented history car.  Start with super wealthy Greenwich Ct families with large heated garages that were anal about maintenance.  Otherwise, look on eBay and Hemmings, roll the dice and live dangerously.

With some luck, you will end up with a car that represents quality, culture, style, and discriminating taste for all to see.  It can be a car that you can enjoy for years and re-sell without depreciation if it is maintained, or even make a profit if the value raises.  Classic Mercedes Benz sedans are becoming more collectable as the years pass, and finding the right one could be an excellent investment.  For the price of a used Buick Century you can have all the best that Stuttgart can offer.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of eBay, benztuning.com

Dodge Caravan: A Car That Changed The World

Dodge Caravan: A Car That Changed The World

Today I went to a local car show to check out some beautiful cars.  There were about 20 vehicles on the lot, mostly from the 60’s on up with an occasional old hot rod thrown in the mix.  Lots of people were milling around, looking at all the shiny paint and the chromed out engines while taking pictures of the more elaborate custom jobs.  About halfway through, I noticed a small sad looking little van sitting in the corner.  As I got closer I realized that someone had brought a 1984 Dodge Caravan to the show with the intent of showing it off.  The minivan was in very good original condition and the owner had cleaned the interior and opened the side door.  There was nothing special, and no chrome engine on this car, it was just a plain, basic mild mannered car was quietly sitting in a corner of the lot waiting to be discovered.

I almost walked by without noticing, but it just drew me in with its serenity.  I was struck by how a car that was universally acclaimed as changing the automotive industry could be so invisible.  Forbes magazine had named the Caravan as one of the “Ten Cars That Changed the World” and yet here it was sitting like a wallflower at a high school prom.  This Dodge Caravan was a piece of history but it couldn’t draw more that a handful of polite visitors.  I couldn’t help but go over and speak to the owner, who had bought the car new and said that it still drove well.  He wasn’t surprised that it didn’t get a lot of attention, especially sitting next to lime green imports and orange muscle cars, but he was glad he had brought the car, stating that “It was important in its day”.  To me, that was a huge understatement, since “its day” was now and since minivans of all types are still huge hits in the marketplace.

The Dodge Caravan and its siblings were introduced in 1984 just months ahead of the Renault Espace, making it the first of its kind.  It was the brainchild of Lee Iaccoca and Hal Sperlich and has since outsold every other type of minivan.  The first Caravan produced is sitting in the Henry Ford Museum, and another is at the National Museum of American History.  Combining all the aspects of both a car and a truck it offered seating for seven, easy entry and lots of space thanks to removable seats.  Built on the Chrysler S platform, the same platform used for everything from the Aries and Reliant K to a stretch limousine a few years later; the Caravan was a simple family wagon that was safe, economical and small enough to fit into a garage.

At this car show were collections of tuner cars and muscle cars in almost every color, with a few nice antiques thrown in the mix.  The little Caravan was like the housewife at a party of supermodels.  The difference was that this particular housewife had changed the world.

Photos courtesy of Chrysler, netcarshow.com and autoindex.com

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Bridgestone Drive & Learn

Bridgestone Drive & Learn

You get the best out of others when you get the best out of yourself – Harvey S. Firestone

Tires are important.  I didn’t fully understand that until I spent some time with the people of Bridgestone.  They showed me some cool technology in the tires they produce, and gave me a chance to try them out on the track.  It was not only a learning experience; it was a hell of a lot of fun.

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Bridgestone is the largest tire and rubber manufacturer in the world, and also owners of the Firestone brand.  This past week I was invited to attend the Bridgestone Drive and Learn day at Gillette stadium in Foxboro, MA.  The event is held in 22 cities throughout the US and usually attended by tire dealers.  How they got my name is suspect, but I wasn’t going to pass up a day at the track.  Basically, the event is held to give the product people a chance to introduce the new tires being offered, explain the new technology and demonstrate the benefits.  The day starts with a few videos highlighting the new Dueler, Potenza and Ecopia line of tires.  Then the fun begins.

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A team of 8 professional drivers take us out onto an autocross style track.  Driving new BMW 328i sedans, we are given a chance to attack the track driving on each of the new tires.  The drivers are not your average wheelmen, and the introductions reminded me of one of Richard Hammond’s Top Gear Challenge races…champion after champion.  The list and their qualifications are impressive.

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Brian ColeProgram Manager for Driver’s Edge and a former Skip Barber School instructor. 

Jeff BarkerDriving coach for Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), the Ferrari Owners club, Porsche Owners club, test driver for BMW and Viper, and NASCAR Super Truck series driver. 

Dominic CiceroWinner of the Elf-Winfield Driving championship, winner of the TelMex Grand Prix in Mexico City, stunt driver for the Leverage and Grimm TV series, and driver for Elf Oils and Renault who competed at tracks like Monza, Monaco, Daytona and the American Le Mans. 

Pierre Kleinubing5 time champion of the SPEED Touring Car series, former Brazil Touring Car Champion and driver in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car series.

Andre SerraDriving coach, Kart racing champ and Grand Am Continental Tire Sports Car driver

Mark WeberLegend of the SCCA Sports Car Club of America who has competed in over 500 races as well as being an acclaimed motorsports photojournalist.

Burt FrisselleGrand Am Rolex Sports Car series driver (Daytona prototype class).

Toby GrahouecSports Car Club of America SCCA National Champion, Grand Am Koni Challenge champion, US Touring Car champion and All American Ice Hockey Hall of Famer. 

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The driving was fun and pretty challenging.  We were placed in a car with a set of the new tires, and given a few laps around the track.  Once done, we switched to another car with a different set of tires and repeated the process.  All in all we drove on 5 different types of tires, from the economical Ecopia line, right up to the ultimate Potenza S-04 Pole Position Ultra performance tire.  The difference was amazing.  All had an excellent feel and ride quality, but the more high performance the tire, the more we could molest the new BMW’s.  The ultra high performance tire was the most fun.  It had amazing braking and cornering capabilities, no feel of skip on spin on the tire, and returned a feeling of being really connected with the road.  Even the fuel efficient Ecopia tires had an excellent feel to them.  Though they were less forgiving of my driving faults, they were quiet and gave an excellent ride, all while saving serious money.

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To cap off the day, we were then broken up into 4 teams and challenged to a Le Mans style race.  Each team is setup in relay race style.  The first guy runs to the car, buckles in and does the fastest lap he can.  Once back, he is given a specific area to park (within some cones) and then runs to tag the next guy in line.  Points are lost for hitting a cone, not buckling up, or parking outside the boundaries.  It was a lot of fun, even though my team came in second.

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So, what about the tires?  Bridgestone is on the cutting edge of tire technology.  The company is focusing on green tires made from things like soy and even dandelions, as well as compounds and polymers that work on a molecular level.  The average design process has been reduced from 1-2 years to a month, so they can keep on that edge.  Recently, the company even introduced an air-free concept tire made from thermoplastic resin which is entirely 100% recyclable.  Current tires are also designed for excellent wet traction using a silica compound and futuristic stuff like 3D sipes and Particle Z.

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Fuel efficiency is improved using something called NanoPro Tech which controls the interactions between the polymer, filler materials and other rubber chemicals at the molecular level.  Fuel saver sidewalls help reduce rolling resistance, and computer optimized components put all the right materials in the right design to make the most fuel efficient tire possible.  Add all this technology to improvements made in ride comfort, wear life, tire noise and even ride comfort and you have an amazing lineup of tires.

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So, what did I learn?  First, I learned that in spite of my enthusiasm for cars and racing, I am slower than your average tire dealer.  Second, I learned that the right set of tires can compensate for a lot of simple mistakes in my driving.  Better tires allow for slower reaction times, and can mean the difference between avoiding a crash or becoming part of one.  Third, I learned that when you get an invitation to a track day, never pass it up.

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Article and Photos Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Worst Cars from the 1970’s

Worst Cars from the 1970’s

**I am re-posting this article as part of a special request made from one of my avid readers, and biggest fan.  Flyaway something or other.  Mr. Fly is presently living somewhere in a facility where the world confines internet trolls, and is especially enraptured with my opinions on this subject.  Not only does he agree with my findings, but has squealed with delight at the prospect of seeing my concrete facts posted for all to see.  So, this one is for you Mr. Fly.  Please take special note of the Ford Pinto section…and the bright colors that you love so much.  Best of Luck!

Every auto writer loves to make fun of bad cars, and the thought of creating a list of the worst makes me absolutely giddy.  This list is “The Worst Cars Sold in the US during the 1970’s,” a time of muscle cars, “Nimitz” class family sedans, and quick rusting steel.

Ford Pinto – The mother of all bad cars.  This car is an abomination, with an exploding gas tank that killed thousands Hundreds of millions of people, and maimed even more 37 billion.  Ford actually had a radio spot that claimed, “Pinto leaves you with that warm feeling,” can you believe it?  A better “saddle” tank was used in the Capri, but the bean counters decided a human life (worth $200,725 dollars) and the lawsuits were cheaper than spending $5.08 per car to fix the problem.  When the Pinto was hit, the doors would crumble, trapping owners inside the burning car.  Even though Ford tested the Pinto 40 17, 624 times in secret, with it exploding every time, they still refused to fix it.  The Ford Pinto is the most reprehensible decision in the history of American engineering.  Facts stating otherwise are purely just fact.  The Pinto is the worst car known to man. 

Ford Mustang II – Based on the Pinto, the Mustang II was Ford’s answer to the oil crisis of 1973.  The standard car had 88hp, and the high-end version had 105hp, not swift by any definition.  Shorter, and smaller than the old Mustang, it looked overly styled, bulky and was an embarrassment to the Mustang name.  (It should be noted that this car is no where near as bad and reprehensible as the Ford Pinto, which killed 425 million people.)

Ford Maverick/Mercury Comet – Ford was cute with this one…giving you paint options like Anti-Establish Mint, Freudian Gilt, Thanks Vermillion, Dresden Blue (Remember how pretty Dresden was after we got through with it?) and the luxury version was (I am not lying) targeted as an alternative to BMW, Mercedes and Audi (More crack please!).  (Also, not as bad as the reprehensible Ford Pinto…a car that maimed most of the Eastern US)

Lincoln Versailles – A very thinly disguised Granada…everyone hated it, and it turned out to be the Lincoln equivalent of the Cimarron.  (Hint – underneath, this car is actually that serial killer Ford Pinto)

Ford Fairmont/Mercury Zephyr – This was the car that chased poor E.T. until he dropped, and the base models were trash.  Doors were the width of pennies, felt about as heavy, and the dash looked like it was made in grade school.  Cheap was taken to a completely new level with the Fairmont.  (I still like it though…unlike the Ford Pinto which not only murdered million and millions by drowning, but almost collapsed the economy through its vial devious unregulated activities)

AMC Gremlin – This car was fugly, and the cute comments asking, “Where’s the rest of your car” were really saying, “God, you are one stupid idiot for buying that piece of crap.”  Yes, it was a tiny subcompact with a V6 option, but it makes no difference.  The car was named after a small gnome that destroys equipment.  It was introduced on April Fool’s Day, and the original design was drawn on a Northwest Orient airsickness bag.  Because they ran out of money, they actually cut the back of the design off, and had carpeting as an option.  AMC had to be an insane asylum, where no one took their meds… there is no other explanation.  (P.S. – The Ford Pinto was responsible for WWII)

AMC Hornet – Three years and one million man-hours of design, and this is the best they could develop.  My father drove one courtesy of the US Air Force, and I remember it as being cheap, ugly and one of the oldest feeling new cars I ever drove, like driving a coffee grinder.  Even in the show room, these cars looked used.  (At least it is not a Pinto, which secretly caused the extinction of the Great Auk)

AMV Matador Coupe – This car is so ugly, they should have had an option to tint other people’s windows.  It was too fat, the hood was too long, and the wheels were lost under all that overhanging sheet metal.  Only when it was setup for NASCAR did the car finally look normal.  The Matador Coupe was the ultimate in bad taste.  (Did you know that the Ford Pinto was actually an attempt by The Bilderberg Group to destroy the middle class?)

Notable – AMC Pacer – The Pacer is ugly and memorable, like that banjo playing kid from Deliverance, but I am not going to be like everyone else and call it the worst car ever made.  Sure, during the summer the terrarium glass made everything in the car melt into a viscous pool on the floor, including the passengers.  Yes, the heavy doors did not match (one was 4 inches longer) and they would eventually sag like an old woman’s chest; but the car was unique, and credit should be given to AMC for having the sack to take a chance.  (Fun Fact – Saddam Hussein owned 11 Ford Pintos)

Plymouth Arrow – Just when I thought there was nothing bad enough from Chrysler to get on the list, I stumble on the Arrow, a car whose rear suspension was taken from an earlier model: the ox cart.  Also known as the Arrow Jet, and Fire Arrow, the car was a collection of sad parts, bad names and gaudy decals designed to decay in less time than it took to go from 0-60. (Ran out of things to say about the horrific Ford Pinto – Enter your own quip here…)

Plymouth Cricket – Yes, like the insect, this car would make annoying noises until you killed it.  (In a study conducted in 2010, most Americans would rather live under ISIL rule than be forced to drive a Ford Pinto)

Plymouth Sapporo – A hideous car that never sold well and looked like a Japanese import, raised on American Big Macs.

Dodge Omni / Plymouth TC3 – This was one horrible car.  Chrysler came out with a Shelby version that was only slightly better, but I can never forgive them for the de Thomaso “red tomato” edition, not to mention what they later did to the Maserati name.  Chrysler did more to ruin Italian heritage than Mussolini and Sacco & Vanzetti combined.  (Ford Pintos are the product of the devil, and Ford Motor Company…in that order)

Downsized GM cars – Almost everything from the “downsize” era at GM was ugly, with the exception of Cadillac.  Straight lines, poor quality, no power, and bad paint jobs helped make GM what they are today…bankrupt.  Great models like the Cutlass were trashed by boxy replacements that fell apart in the showrooms.  If I ever meet the people responsible for this period in car design, I shall beat them severely.  (Wow, never realized this article was so long…Ford Pinto sucks!)

Chevy Monza   – Why did GM do this to us?  This car was a hideous joke, with a fat tail and a terrible design.  Anyone who bought this car deserved the pain it caused, and the fact that Oldsmobile called it a Starfire was an insult to a great line of cars.

Chevy Vega – If this car was built by anyone else, it would have been great, but instead it was brought to us by GM.  Everything, except the look was cheap and worthless.

Chevy Chevette – I knew someone that owned one, and I loved to drive it.  It was small, cheap and durable with almost nothing inside.  It was like a four-door motorcycle, and I loved the fact that you could reach everything from the driver’s seat, including the rear hatch.

Foreign Cars – I was one of those people who never made the switch from American to Japanese cars.  When the imports first arrived, they were not pleasant, and I remember aiming my land yacht at more than a few of them.  Cars like the Honda Z600, and the little Subaru were targets, which needed to be destroyed, and later models like the Nissan B210 Honeybee and the 200SX were just silly.  Mazda didn’t help things with their GLC (Goofy Losers Car), Cosmo, or the 808 Mizer and its 50hp engine.

European cars were even worse, and buyers were brought to tears by the crap being sold on our shores.  Italy was the worst of the lot, sending us the Fiat X 1/9 and Strada, and the miserable Lancia.  France was second for the Renault 12 and LeCar, the Citroen 2CV (imported before 1970, but bad enough to make the list), CX Diesel, and the Mehari (a summer sun car made from plastic that eroded in sunlight).  Third were British cars like the Triumph Stag and MG Midget, which made Anglophiles across the country hide in their homes in fear of retaliation.  Even Germany, who gave us the beautiful Audi Fox, let us down with the VW Thing, a car that reminded us of Nazis.  It took many years of counseling for us to heal from this abuse, but we will never let it happen again…hear that Chrysler?  Never again.

The 1970’s were a time of great cars and hideous trash.  I am sure there are a few atrocities I have missed, but I think everyone will agree that these are the worst offenders.

In conclusion, it is my sincere hope that Mr. Fly and all his internet troll friends now understand my hatred for the little Ford Pinto, a car that not only caused Global Warming, but has devalued the American dollar to a point where the only rational outcome is for all of us to use twigs for bartering.  

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Article courtesy of Mr. Flyaway and his special friends at the home

Photos courtesy of Google Images

Exchange and Mart – Affordable Classics Online

Exchange and Mart – Affordable Classics Online

Classic cars represent something of an anomaly in the automotive industry, and not just because of their unique design features and fascinating history. Classic cars also offer motorists and collectors a unique opportunity to purchase a vehicle that acquires value over time, which is extremely rare when you consider the pace of technological advancement within the marketplace. Typically, standard vehicles begin to lose their value from the moment that they are purchased, as the costs of ownership, long term wear and market shifts drive down any potential resale price.

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Interestingly, there are several online resources that can provide you with access to a range of classic vehicles, with http://www.exchangeandmart.co.uk/ being one of the most prominent. Buying classic cars from this type of resource may help you to maximize your initial investment, as the vehicles in question are likely to be more affordable and open to negotiation. Here are some great classic cars that were found on the website during a recent search:

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The Alvis TE21 Drophead Coupe Convertible 1965: Finished in stunning Mason black and boasting a contrasting cream hide, this stunning 1965 model was recently available online for a list price of £74,950. A convertible, it was shown to be in excellent condition despite its long and diverse service history. Well presented, picturesque and an absolute pleasure to drive, it represents an outstanding investment opportunity whether you are looking to make a statement or a considerable profit through resale.

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The Rolls Royce Shadow 4DR 1968:  Despite being a 1968 model, this Rolls Royce Shadow boasts just 107,000 thousand miles on the clock and is listed in outstanding condition. Supported by a full service history and comprehensive paper trial, this automatic car offers both style and reliability to classic vehicle enthusiasts. It was available for a bargain price of just £7,250, which is at the lower end of the average for high quality cars of this type.

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Jaguar S-Type 1966:  This stunning example is presented in metallic red with red leather.  A charming old Jaguar produced in the year when England won the World Cup.  Walnut dashboard and original leather together with that wonderful smell takes you back to 1966.  Smartly priced at £10,995.

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The Riley 1.5 Litre Saloon 1949: A genuine throwback one of the older cars listed on the Exchange and Mart website, the Riley 1.4 Litre Saloon comes equipped with full leather interior and a surprisingly short service history. Available at £7,750 and with just 46,000 thousand miles on the clock, this manual transmission vehicle is a must for serious collections or those with a penchant for nostalgia. With the classic cream over conker brown color scheme, it is a vehicle that allows the owner to express a distinct individual style.

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Rolls Royce Cloud series 1 Saloon 1959: Rolls-Royce is the best represented classic brand on the Exchange and Mart website, with several models available to consumers. The Silver Cloud Series 1 saloon comes in a classic black with superior tan interior and automatic transmission. It has 96,000 miles on the clock and a full service history behind it, which should peace of mind for any potential buyer.

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The Bottom Line – These cars are just a select few from those on the website, but they showcase the potential for finding affordable classic cars online. The online medium certainly provides an interesting option for consumers and classic car enthusiasts in the modern age, regardless of whether you are buying for recreational or investment purposes.

Lost America

Lost America

This past Friday, I was admitted to the hospital because of a blocked artery in my heart.  After testing, they found a 90% blockage, performed an angioplasty, and then implanted a stent.  The process was tough to deal with, and the recovery may take a week or more.  So, in honor of my battered body, I decided now would be a great time to highlight some photos of useless dead junk, that still looked beautiful.  It’s a metaphor.

These photographs are part of the website and collection of Troy Paiva.  His site, called “Lost America” is full of abandoned places, junk machines, and moonlit landscapes all photographed in striking colors.  The effect is haunting, beautiful, and very eerie.  I absolutely love it.

A photographer since 1989, Paiva’s photographs are amazing, filmed using colored lighting in which time itself is altered.  The effect is unusual, leaving the subject still and dead, but the background alive and surreal.  Much of his work was filmed in the American Southwest, and many of the abandoned buildings have since been destroyed, reinforcing the ghostly effect.

His works are available on his website, and in his two books, “Lost America” 2003, and “Night Vision” 2008.  In addition, his photography has been featured in galleries from New York to San Francisco, and seen in books and magazines across the country.

I first learned of him through a friend’s website, and was amazed at the pictures.  I had spent a lot of time in the southwest, traveling by motorcycle and RV, and visiting all sorts of beautiful abandoned places.  The machines he captures, from aircraft to cars, from ocean liners to trains are all familiar, but now have a dreamlike quality.  They are frozen in time, in the most bizarre poses, forgotten by everyone except the artist.

Each photo conveys a sense of the memories embedded in the item, and the happiness that they once provided.  His shots of a water park in California are sad, but remind me of childhood places I once loved.   His shots of cold war installations, abandoned, are exactly as they were when people walked away.  It transports the viewer back to the past, and to the intensity of the time.  The stark colors give you an eerie feeling of spying, the buildings seem post apocalyptic, and the effect is something akin to a Kubrick movie.

I have been looking for an opportunity to highlight his work for a long time, and am very happy to recommend his website to everyone.  Please take the time to view each of the galleries, buy the book, and purchase a print or two.  I am sure it will be like nothing you have ever seen before.  Thanks again to Troy Paiva, and Lost America.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond
Photographs courtesy of Lost America