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

Genesis and Ferrari, Design in 7 Days

Genesis and Ferrari, Design in 7 Days

According to the bible, it took God just seven days to create the world as we know it.  Unfortunately, God doesn’t design cars, because the average time to develop a new car can be as long as four years.  With computers and high tech design systems, the time can be shortened, but the process is still massive, costing an automaker billions of dollars.  Even a single component can take years, as in the case of Jaguar and its 17-year development of the V12 engine.

Like God, the automotive world has its own “divine” being, controlling beauty, power, and inspiration.  Of course, I am talking about Ferrari, and when Enzo Ferrari decided it was time to replace the 275 GTB/4, he called Pininfarina studios, who gave the job to a young designer named Lionardi Fioravanti.  Like Genesis, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 was created in just seven days.

Nicknamed the Daytona, much to the disdain of Enzo, the car first appeared at the 1968 Paris Motor Show and became an instant sensation.  To describe the design intent, Pininfarina said “The whole idea was really a search for this sense of lightness and rake, a slender look.”  In 2008, Fioravanti described it as “the best I have ever done and the one I am most proud of” adding, “there isn’t much I would change.”

The Daytona was the last classic-era, front engined V12 Ferrari produced before Fiat ownership, and was aimed directly at the Lamborghini Muira.  The car was a Grand Tourer, capable of speeds of 174mph and costing $10,000 when new.  Designed to be more angular and shark-like than previous Ferraris, it still paled in comparison to the outrageous looks of the mid-engined Muira.  Performance and drivability was the Daytona’s strong suit, and the Muira’s design fell short due to a design flaw.  The Muira’s gas tank was mounted over the front wheels, making the car very light in the front when the tank was low, and very difficult to drive at speeds.

The production Daytona’s V-12 displaced 4.4-liters and, like the Ferrari 275 GTB/4, had four overhead cams.  This magnificent engine was crowned by six downdraft Weber carburetors and produced 352 horses at 7500 rpm.  In its first road test of the new car, Road and Track exclaimed, “It might as well be said right now, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona is the best sports car in the world.”  Autocar Magazine came to the same conclusion, stating “It is hard to capture in mere words all the excitement, sensation, and sheer exhilaration of this all-time great among cars.  For us it has become an important new yardstick, standing at the pinnacle of the fast car market.”

Though the designer never envisioned a convertible version, Italian coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti created an open-air prototype, and Ferrari was inundated with requests for a Daytona Spyder.  The convertible was finally introduced at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show, and designated the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.  Production began in mid 1970 and fewer than 125 were built over three years, with almost 80 percent going to America.

The 365 GTB/4 Daytona was one of the most popular cars ever produced by Ferrari.  It remains one of the most recognized, and beautiful cars ever made.  The Daytona, and the creation of the world, prove that with the right designer, it is easy to make something magnificent and unforgettable.

Photos courtesy of Google Images

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond and Car Design Review.com

Obscure Sedans of Yore

Obscure Sedans of Yore

Today we will take a look at some of the most obscure sport sedans of the past.  You may recognize some, but I bet a few will be new.  Let me know if I missed any you want to see.

Lancia Flaminia – This car was a sports saloon built until the 1970’s.  It is notable because a convertible version was the car used in the film “The Italian Job.”  When the mafia group pushes the Aston Martin off the side of the cliff, a Flaminia was used in its place due to cost.  The name Flaminia comes from the Lancia habit of naming their cars after Italian roads.  The Berline, or sedan was designed by Pininfarina, and the only version to be built throughout the entire production span.

Lancia Flaminia

Rover – British Leyland, which owned Rover was known for many of the best known British sports cars.  Rover produced some of the best, and worst sedans of the day.  Notable sedans included the P5 (a favorite of the British Government), the P6 (an icon of the 1960’s and 70’s), and the miserable SD1.  The SD1 was made famous in the Top Gear British Leyland test, where it failed to retain water and its doors fell off.  The P6 is also famous as the car in which Princess Grace Kelly was killed, in an accident in Monaco.

Rover P5

Rover P6

Iso Fidia – Iso is the company that brought us the Isetta bubblecar.  They are also famous for great sports cars like the Grifo, the Lele, and the Rivolta.  Iso cars were designed and built by the team of Bizzarrini and Giugiaro, the former being famous for the Ferrari “palace revolt” and his own sportscar named the Bizzarrini 5300 GT.  Built between 1967 and 1975, the Fidia had so much polished wood and hand stitched leather, that it cost more than a Rolls Royce.  The second car ever made was purchased by John Lennon.

Iso Fidia

Avanti – Designed by the famed design team of Raymond Loewy, this was the brainchild of Sherwood Egbert, the president of Studebaker.  He knew the end was near, and wanted a sports car that was so radical, it would save the company.  It didn’t, but it did outlast Studebaker by over 40 years.

Avanti Sedan

Borgward – This was a German company that produced cars until 1961, then again in Mexico until 1970.  Famous for their transmissions and pneumatic suspensions, the P100 Isabella model was a beautiful design.

Borgward P100

Lotus Carlton – Lotus built this car based on the Vauxhall Carlton during the 1990’s.  Once considered the fastest four door saloon in the world, the more sedate US version was sold as the Cadillac Catera.  Lotus said the car could reach 186mph, and offered it in only one color, British Racing Green.

Lotus Carlton

Panther DeVille – Cruella DeVil’s car from the movie “101 Dalmatians.”  Panther built two sedans, one was a restyled Triumph Dolomite with a Rolls Royce like interior.  This concept didn’t work when Cadillac tried it on the Cavalier/Cimarron, and it worked less here.  One other evil cartoon villain also owned a Panther DeVille, Sir Elton John.

Panther DeVille

Panther Rio

Sterling – This was a British car made by Rover and Honda.  Basically an Acura Legend sedan, it had an upgraded interior, and extensive use of wood trim.  Unfortunately, it was sold at the same time as a cheap cologne called British Sterling, that had a catchier jingle.  The cologne stayed, the car did not.

Sterling 827

Stutz – The Diplomatica was a neo-classic limited edition luxury car designed by Virgil Exner, of Chrysler fame.  It’s claim to fame is that many celebrities bought these monstrosities, including Elvis, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Kenny Rogers and Lucille Ball.   

Stutz Diplomatica

Checker – The Checker Motor Company built taxicabs for many years, but went into the consumer car business during the 1960’s.  The car in this photo is of a concept made by Ghia, with the help of Alejandro de Tomaso called the Ghia Checker Centurion.  This car is such a mystery, that no one knows if it was a design for a new taxi, a concept for Checker’s foray into the limousine market, or a possible Checker based replacement for the lost Ghia designed Chrysler Imperials.  It was never produced, and this concept is the only known example.

Ghia Checker Centurion

Wartburg – This East German car was imported in very small numbers to the US, and featured a three cylinder two stroke engine with only seven moving parts.  The model in the photo is the Wartburg Knight.

Wartburg Knight

Lagonda Rapide – Long before the current Rapide model by Aston Martin, the name was used for a sedan used by David Brown to revive the Lagonda brand.  In the 1970’s, the name was again used on the Aston Martin Lagonda sedan designed by William Towns.

Lagonda Rapide

Aston Martin Lagonda

Maserati – The Quattroporte pictured here is a Series I car first produced in 1963.  Designed by Frua and Vignale, the car was produced until 1974, when it was replaced with the Series II shown below.  The first series was a success, but the later series nearly bankrupt the company.

Maserati Quattroporte I

Maserati Quattroporte II

Maserati Quattroporte III

Maserati Quattroporte IV

De Tomaso – The Deauville was a luxury sedan made by de Tomaso, and based on the Maserati Quattroporte III.  It sported a V8 Ford Cleveland engine and had a top speed of about 150mph.  Only 244 copies were made, spawning a coupe version sold as the Longchamp.

De Tomaso Deauville

Bitter – Erich Bitter was a race car driver that also built luxury cars in Germany, and later Austria.  The SC is based on the Opel Senator, and was sold from 1979 to 1989.  Only 5 sedans were sold, mostly through Buick dealerships.  The company folded in the late 1980’s.

Bitter SC

Bitter Berlina

Monteverdi – This Swiss car manufacturer sold both boutique converted luxury cars based on everything from the Plymouth Volare to the Mercedes Benz S-Class.  Sedans from the company include the Tiara, Sierra and the High Speed 375/4.

Monteverdi High Speed 375/4

Monteverdi Sierra

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos courtesy of Google Images

20 Greatest Movie Car Chases

20 Greatest Movie Car Chases

I thought that every red-blooded male American would be familiar with great movie car chases.  I knew that in order to be an accepted gearhead, you had to know and have seen each of these movies.  I discovered I was wrong, especially when I spoke to a few of my friends.  So, for those that have no idea why Bullitt is established as the best car chase in a movie, here are some clips to watch.  WARNING – THESE CLIPS ARE UNEDITED AND MAY CONTAIN ADULT LANGUAGE.

Bad Boys II – This is my favorite, not only because of the absolute madness of the highway scene, but because the tension continues to build through the entire sequence.  Watch for some spectacular crashes, and some of the best CGI flips in any movie.  It is Michael Bay at his best.

Bullitt – This is the first modern car chase ever filmed, and it includes some icons of movie history.  First, there is Steve McQueen who is the coolest guy in the world.  He is driving a ‘68 Highland Green Mustang GT  which was the coolest car in the world.  Add to that the hills of San Francisco, and Bill Hickman in a black Dodge Charger, and you have some of the best footage ever filmed.

French Connection – This has to be the greatest car chase on film, even better than Bullitt.  Not because the sequence was better, or that the realism was better, but because it WAS real.  The entire scene was shot in one take, and preparation only included a siren mounted on the car.  No one in the neighborhood was notified, or prepared, and all those close calls are real people… not movie stuntman.  They expected to get arrested at some point in the filming, so they did it once, and went all out.  Again, this is the same producer of Bullitt and The Seven Ups, and again Bill Hickman is the driver.  Gene Hackman came back and did some second unit shots of him driving the car, and again never notified anyone.  The scene where he hits the Ford and spins off is real, and the other driver was just leaving his house for the day.  Nowhere else, and at no time again can this stuff happen, and that’s what makes this sequence so spectacular.  One secret is that this entire chase scene is timed to Santana’s Black Magic Woman.

Gone in 60 Seconds  (1974) – The original version is the one to watch.  The movie is horrible, and the acting is even worse, but the car chases make it worthwhile.  The car chase is over 40 minutes, and still ranks as the longest in movie history.  If you are a fan of cars from the 60’s and 70’s, then you will love this…especially the chase scene performed inside a Cadillac dealership.  Check out the original Eleanor in clip one below, then follow the YouTube links to clips 2 through 5.

Ronin – There are a few chase scenes in this movie, and each one is fantastic.  The driving is done on the streets of Paris, and in the tunnels, and the action is in real time.  From start to finish the BMW vs. Peugeot scenes are pretty scary, which is why I posted it below.  Also great is the Audi S8 vs. Mercedes 450SL on the back roads in France, which can be found at this link.

Matrix Reloaded – A truly great car chase.  From the Cadillac to the motorcycle, it has some of the best crash and fight sequences in a movie.  Yes, its CGI, but the stunts are amazing. At last count, this took over from the last Blues Brothers movie as having the most cars wrecked (300).

Blues Brothers – This held the title for most destroyed cars in a movie, a title that was taken over by its own sequel.  The Blues Brothers has one of the best, most fun, and light hearted chase sequences ever filmed, and one that still is legendary.  The speeds are real, and the famous Bluesmobile can be seen doing over 118 mph.  The complete destruction of the shopping mall is awesome, and has to be seen.  The drop of the Pinto wagon is from over a mile, and everything else in between is just hilarious.  A great classic.

The Seven Ups – This is a somewhat forgettable movie starring Roy Scheider.  More notable is the great chase sequence, that uses two Pontiacs, and the same Bill Hickman from Bullitt and the French Connection.  Listen for the engine noise, that is dubbed straight from Bullitt, and look for the overpass which was where Cameron Diaz crashed in Vanilla Sky.

Quantum of Solace – What more can you say…James Bond, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, and the cliffs of Italy.  Perfect, exciting, and totally awesome.

Bourne Trilogy – Each of these movies has a chase scene or two, but the best is the second movie, the Bourne Supremacy.  The fight between the Russian Lada taxi and the Mercedes Gelandewagen is amazing.  While you are there on YouTube, search for the Mini chase scene in the first movie, and the New York police car versus the Volkswagen Touareg in the last.

The Italian Job – The original version with Michael Caine is the better of the two.  It features a Lamborghini Miura being tossed off a cliff, two beautiful Jaguar E-Types, and an Aston Martin DB4.  When the Aston is destroyed, they actually used a Lancia Flaminia, so don’t get teary eyed.  It also features some great old Mini’s in a chase scene that goes everywhere, including the roof of a stadium, and the rooftop FIAT test track.  The newer version includes some great CGI work, more speed, and a good helicopter scene, but it can’t compete with the original.

Le Coup/Le Casse – This movie, translated to mean “The Burglars” includes a great chase scene.  It is scripted and performed by the legendary stuntman Remy Julienne, and is a must see for stunt fans.

Duel – I first saw this as a kid, and thought it was the best movie ever made.  Even today, it stands the test of time.  This is the first feature film by Steven Spielberg and it stars Dennis Weaver.  The entire movie is a chase, where a mystery trucker tries to kill Weaver, who is driving a red Plymouth Valiant.  I remember how much of a nightmare those Valiants were, and I can’t imagine trying to get away from a Peterbilt in one.  Every moment is epic, and tense.  It is a must watch for car chase enthusiasts, and movie buffs.  Look for the links to Part 2-8 in YouTube.

The Master Touch – Voted by many to be the second best car chase ever, this features Kirk Douglas, some old Chrysler iron, and a long chase.  In one part they throw another car upside down on the chase cars roof, and in another they destroy a Citroen DS Estate.  Another classic chase.

The Island – Another Michael Bay masterpiece using high tech CGI.  Dodge Magnum Wagons, a very cool big rig, helicopters, and an armored truck are all featured.   Just like Bad Boys II, they start throwing stuff at cars, except here it’s railroad locomotive wheels.  I especially like when the Magnum is sheared in half by a steel plate.  Michael Bay also gets honorable mention for his other work, including Transformers series.

McQ – This is a “good” movie featuring John Wayne and the stunts of Hal Needham.  The chase scene involves a souped up Plymouth sedan, a Chevy Impala, and a Cadillac Sedan Deville racing down a beach in Oregon.  Notable is the fact that there is an amazing car flip, which seriously hurt Needham, and is the first use of an air cannon in a film.

Wanted – Angelina Jolie and a Dodge Viper…perfect.  There are only two scenes that make the movie worthwhile, and both are simply awesome.  The first is when she picks up a guy in the Viper by doing a 360, scooping him up in the process.  The next is when they flip a Mustang upside down over a limo, so they can shoot a guy in the backseat through the moon roof.

The Dead Pool – If you like Bullitt, then you will love Clint Eastwood’s homage to Bullitt that included a San Francisco chase scene with an Olds 98 and a miniature radio controlled car.

Terminator  – This franchise gives us some more great CGI work.  In the second Terminator, they use a Peterbilt tractor trailer in a jump from an overpass, and in the third movie, they use a monster crane and a fire truck.  For absolute destruction, these are great movies to watch.

To Live and Die in LA – This 1985 movie is usually rated as a good chase, but there seems to be a lot of sped up film, and dolly work that makes it look too fake for my taste.  The bad acting doesn’t help either.  It is one of the first movies to have a chase scene going the wrong way against traffic on a freeway.  The movie also got in trouble with the FBI and Secret Service.  It seems the counterfeit money they used in the movie was printed on both sides, which is illegal.  It was then “stolen” and used by set people at local stores.  There was actually an investigation.

Other Notable Movies – The Driver, Death Proof, Vanishing Point, The Dark Night, Short Time, Freebie and the Bean, Executive Target, and The Rock

From Concept to Showroom

From Concept to Showroom

“The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – Eleanor Roosevelt

With the coming of the New Year there is an excitement about what the future holds.  Two events inspired me to write today’s article.  The first was a book called “Concept Cars” that I had received as a gift from my sister.  The second was being caught behind a slow moving Mazda 5 mini-van on the way to a lunch appointment.

Buick Y-Job  – Harley Earl

The book is written by John Stroud, and is a coffee table style photo book.  It covers concept cars starting with Harley Earl and the 1938 Buick Y Job and follows through up to present day.  Of all the car books I have received, this one is probably the best.  One car that stood out to me was the Mazda Hakaze.  Besides being futuristic, it has a scallop effect along the lower wings that is utterly beautiful.  It made me wonder why styling cues like that never make it into production cars.

Mazda Hakaze – Laurens van den Acker

Later in the day, while sitting behind that Mazda minivan in traffic, I noticed something interesting.  Though much more subdued, the same scallop effect was on the side of the van.  Somehow the styling of the concept had made its way to the sides of a boring little minivan.  It got me thinking…how many other concept designs are slowly creeping into the mass market?

Cadillac ELR – General Motors Advanced Design

To answer that question, all I had to do was see the new Cadillac ELR.  The ELR was the darling of the NY auto show, and is about as close to a concept as you can get.  It is loosely based on the Cadillac Cien concept, and exaggerates the lines already held standard by cars like the CTS and XTS.  It is cutting edge, sharper than the others, and looks stunning.  Cadillac has really taken the idea of developing concepts into drivable production vehicles.  It is astounding that same company that brought us the tail fin and the Dagmar bumpers can be this cutting edge, but also reassuring that Cadillac, with its history of daring design still has what it takes to create something unique and beautiful.  Cadillac is far from dead.

Kia Optima – Peter Schreyer

Other car makers are following the lead set by Cadillac.  Kia has redesigned its entire lineup with cars based on the “Tiger Nose” developed by Peter Schreyer.  Ford has introduced designs that are both cutting edge and practical.  The new Ford grille, based on the Aston Martin has transformed cars like the Fiesta and Fusion from econo-boxes into quasi sports cars.  Though it is hard to predict the future, I hope many more automakers start to deliver on the promises made by concept cars.  The days of the boring blob needs to end.  Cars will sell better if they are designed to inspire as well as to transport.  Here then are some of my favorite concept cars:

Alfa Romeo Scighera – ItalDesign/Giugiaro

This fully functional concept car of the future is named after the Milanese word for Fog.  The hood is styled after the shield on the grille, and the rear area is a 2-piece glass unit designed to show off the engine bay.  Gull wing doors and a unique headlight treatment accent beautiful lines that can only belong on an Alfa.

Cadillac Sixteen – General Motors Advanced Design

The Cadillac Sixteen was astonishing when it was first introduced.  It sports a V16 engine with 1,000 horsepower and harkens back to the Cadillac’s of the 1930’s.  The car features a power operated dual hood opening, hinged at the center spine, as well as an all glass roof.

Ferrari P4/5 – Pininfarina

Originally created as a one-off design for American collector James Glickenhaus, it is said that three examples will be built by an American company.  Based on the Ferrari 330 P3/4 race car, it reportedly cost $4 million USD to build.  Considering he has already received an offer of $40 million from a member of the Saudi royal family, it seems like a good deal.  Glickenhaus is already planning a successor to this car, called the P33.

Mazda Nagare – Laurens van den Acker

Introduced in 2006, the Nagare is an exercise in natural and organic car design.  The name Nagare means “flow” and was the predecessor of the Hakaze concept car.  Besides the fluid seamless form of the body, the car features two double-length doors that open forward and spread from the cabin like the wings of a butterfly.

Acura 2+1 – Leon Paz

This concept car sports a multi-faceted design language described as “modern baroque-fashion” and was intended on being a gateway car for the new NSX.  The car features a glass roof, see-through engine bay, as well as a “predator” styled rear end.  Built using a new family of plastics designed to be better and stronger than fiberglass, it is a collection of cool and frightening ideas.  The hood is sealed, and cannot be opened by the owner.  It is scheduled to have a single yearly maintenance visit, which will include servicing the engine (protected with nanoil, or nanosized beads) as well as replacing the interior fabric with something more fashionable.  Weird, but I still want one.

Cadillac Aera – General Motors Advanced Design

Winner of the 2010 LA Design Challenge, this “Batmobile” is the strangest car on our list.  Basically, it is Cadillac’s version of the Ariel Atom on steroids.  The frame uses a 3-D lattice mono-formed design found in the grouping of bubbles in nature and is essentially “grown” into a single part lattice structure.  It uses compressed air to serve as an engine, and the same pressurized air cells found in the airbags of the NASA Mars Rover.  Batman should drive this car.

Lexus LF LC / LF NF – Calty Design Research, Ian Cartabiano/Edward Lee

Lexus is the company that brought us the “Worst Car Ever Made,” the SC 430.  To make up for it, they also created the LF, probably one of the best hypercars ever made.  The LF was a gizmo laden space ship capable of amazing speed and the absolute best sound ever produced by an exhaust system.  Styling was never its strong suit, looking more like a villain from “Mighty Morphing Power Rangers” than a car.  Now the new version is straight from the aliens of “Independence Day.”  The new spindle grille is awesome, and the intricate flowing form is almost alien.  The inspiration was the leaf of a tree, and the result is just mind blowing.  The same group created the LF NF concept, a hyper-SUV that is as stunning as it is strange.

Mercedes Benz AMG Vision Grand Turismo – Advanced Design, Daimler AG/Polyphony

This is what a car should be, and what every designer wants to create.  Stunning from every angle, this 1,000 horsepower monster was originally designed for the video game Grand Turismo 6.  It became a real-life concept for the Los Angeles International Auto show, and left the crowd and auto pundits breathless.  The Vision recalls the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow race cars of the 1930’s with a grill like the 1952 300SL race car.  That grille is one of the best parts, and should be on every car made.  It sports individual LED lights that can create shapes and effects.  Gull wing doors, full steel wheel covers, no rear windows, and a tail section composed of 7 exhaust pipes makes this the coolest car since the Citroen GT concept.  Why can’t we have cars like this in real life?

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of Allcarcentral.com, gtaforums.com, Cadillac.com, thefabweb.com, nevseoboi.com.ua, carbodydesign.com, Houston-imports.com, cartype.com, topgear.com, autoevolution.com, lexus.com, forbes.com, diseno-art.com

 

 

 

2017 Chevy Silverado 2500HD

2017 Chevy Silverado 2500HD

A Quick Look at the All-New Chevy Silverado 2500HD for 2017

Billed as the longest lasting truck of its kind, the all new Chevy Silverado 2500HD for 2017 has some major changes and enhancements in store for diehard Chevy fans. Not only is the Chevy Silverado 2500HD boasting more torque but also a newly redesigned hood that has vents added to keep that 910 lbs –ft. cool on all those long hauls, allowing more circulation to increase the efficiency of this beautiful big and powerful motor. There are too many new and improved features to list, but some of the highlights should prove that this is one vehicle worth test driving.

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Chevy Silverado 2500HD

Choose Your Power

Both engine options are just as powerful as you’d expect from Chevrolet, but you can choose between the 6.0 Liter L96 V8 Vortec engine and the 6.6 Liter Turbo-Diesel Duramax V8 engine. Both are powerful beasts but improvements on the gas engine enable it to run on fuel that is up to 89% ethanol. What does this mean? It puts the Vortec into a class that is E85 compatible because it has the option, as mentioned above, to run on a fuel with an extremely high percentage of ethanol or standard unleaded gasoline. Both engines are then paired with Chevy’s innovative transmissions to ensure smooth sailing at max power.

The 2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD features an all-new, patented air intake system. Marked by a dramatic hood scoop, the system drives cool, dry air into the engine for sustained performance and cooler air temperatures during difficult driving conditions.

The 2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD features an all-new, patented air intake system. Marked by a dramatic hood scoop, the system drives cool, dry air into the engine for sustained performance and cooler air temperatures during difficult driving conditions.

What’s in a Transmission?

Then there is the transmission that makes the Chevy Silverado 2500HD a literal beast. The L96 is paired with the transmission that best suits all that power – the 6-speed MYD automatic transmission. One thing that should be noted is that the gasoline powered Silverado 2500HD HD for 2017 is not equipped with the newly designed hood scoop. Yes, it’s as functional as it is trendy, but that’s the way Chevy wanted it this year and they probably found that wasn’t as necessary on the gas engine as it is for the diesel powered motor.

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71. Available fall of 2015.

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71. Available fall of 2015.

Stylistic Changes of Note

While power and functional features are what endear truckers to the Silverado 2500HD, in 2017 Chevy decided to do away with three of their newer colors and simultaneously added two new ones. The colors deleted for the 2017 series were Tungsten Metallic, Autumn Bronze Metallic, and Slate Grey Metallic while the two added colors include Graphite Metallic and Pepperdust Metallic. Even the names of the two newly added color schemes are thrilling.

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Words can only do so much to describe the changes made to the 2017 Chevy Silverado 2500HD so the best thing to do would be to actually see one up close and personal. Take a spin and feel the power while checking out some new design elements and those two new color schemes. About the only ‘bad’ thing anyone has said thus far is that it takes a bit of time to learn to maneuver it but it is not bad compared to other makes of its class. All in all, it’s a great truck with a trendy new design that lacks nothing in the way of performance.

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Article Courtesy of dzhingarova

Photos courtesy of Car & Driver.com, Ford.com, vehiclephotos.vauto.com

Car Design as Art, Figoni & Falaschi

Car Design as Art, Figoni & Falaschi

I have always considered the “Golden Age” of car design to be the period of the 1920’s and 30’s.  Sure, the 1950’s were great, with the introduction of the fin, huge chrome grilles and the beginning of the rocket age look, but true custom car design was at its peak during the time of the great coachbuilders, and the most flamboyant of the lot were the French.

This was a time when you purchased a rolling chassis from an automaker like Duesenberg or Hispano Suiza, and then sent it off to a designer to create the bodywork.  Designers would build cars specifically for you, like having a haute couture dress made.  The result, were some of the most fantastic shapes to ever be placed on an automobile, and my favorite of the group was Figoni & Falaschi.

After World War I, Giuseppe Figoni started a small body repair shop in Boulogne-sur-Siene, France.  His work included modifying the coachwork of touring cars, and his business prospered.  By 1925, he was building complete bodies on rolling chassis purchased from automakers including Delahaye, Bugatti, Delage, and Panhard.  By 1935, he acquired a partner, Ovidio Falaschi, and created the Figoni & Falaschi name.  Fascinated by the emerging aircraft industry, he was influenced by the shapes of airplanes, and the wind.  Figoni’s designs gave the impression of movement, even when the cars were standing still, and had an aerodynamic quality that would not be prevalent until the 1950’s.  Figoni was fascinated with teardrop shapes, and his Delahaye 135, with its elliptical shapes and enclosed teardrop pontoon fenders created a sensation at the Paris Auto Show of 1936.

Figoni had a command of color and design that was worthy of an artist, and favored two and three tone paint designs that would accentuate the shapes.  He loved to work with designers of high fashion, creating gowns, hats, gloves, and shoes that perfectly matched the design and colors of his cars.  He was also involved in designing racing bodies, creating aerodynamic bodies for cars like the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, a car that won the 1932 Le Mans, as well as other cars.

The creations of Figoni & Falaschi were flowing masterpieces, cars that the buyer wore like fine ball gowns, and a style whose closest relative today would be the Morgan Aeromax.  Their cars were an expression of freedom and movement, with enclosed wheels, and lines that made the cars float across the ground.

Figoni was an automotive sculptor who created patented designs for disappearing soft tops and even a disappearing sunroof.  The hallmark of the brand is the Talbot-Lago T150 C, a car whose teardrop shape, flush door handles, and sloping fastback became the symbol of French coachbuilders.  These cars were from a time when car design was true art.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos courtesy of Google Images and Coachbuilt.com

Top 10 Most Innovative Cars of All Time

Top 10 Most Innovative Cars of All Time

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower – Steve Jobs

The automotive world is defined by its innovation.  Unusual, boring and popular cars are plentiful, but it is the truly innovative machines that are remembered.  This list of cars not only inspire, they were quantum shifts in the development of the automobile.  These are the cars that changed the world.

1908 – Ford Model T

The Model T was the first mass-produced automobile, making it one of the most important cars in US history.  This flimsy little car created the automotive industry, urbanized a nation, and gave mobility to the masses.  The manufacturing process that created the car was even more influential.  Almost every industry or market in the world can trace its roots back to the process refined by people like Henry Ford and Frederick Winslow Taylor.  When it finally ended production in 1927 with over 15 million cars sold, half the cars in the world were Model T’s.

1908 – Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

Dubbed “The Best car in the World” by Autocar magazine, the Silver Ghost transformed luxury motoring as well as modern warfare.  The Silver Ghost had a significant role in the Turkish wars with Laurence of Arabia, Gallipoli, the Irish Civil War, World War I, the development of India, and was still in service during World War II.  Through its combat use, the Silver Ghost ushered in the era of mechanized warfare and virtually ended the days of the horse cavalry and artillery unit.  Most examples are still on the road today, and the earliest is worth an estimated $200 million dollars.

1922 – Austin Seven

This tiny car is genesis for the modern automobile.  The Seven borrowed the driver controls from the limited production Cadillac Type 53, and mass produced it throughout the world.  It was the first “people’s car” and the first production model for many major manufacturers.  The Austin Seven and its re-bodied siblings virtually gave birth to BMW in Germany, Nissan in Japan, Holden in Australia, Rosengart in France, and Lotus and Jaguar in England.

1938 – Volkswagen Beetle

The beetle has an amazing history.  It was designed by Ferdinand Porsche based on specifications made by Adolf Hitler.  It is one of the first rear-engine cars, with one of the first air-cooled engines, designed to travel at 100kph on Germany’s new Autobahn.  The Beetle is the longest running and most manufactured car of a single design platform, worldwide.  The production lasted 65 years, ending with 21.5 million cars in 2006 for Brazil and 2003 for Mexico.  The Beetle has had books and music written for it, has become an icon and a movie star, and was an inspiration to a generation.  Its namesake the “new” Beetle is still in production to this day.

1959 – BMC Mini

The Mini is an icon of the 1960’s.  Designed as a car for the masses, it is the first to use a transverse front-wheel drive layout.  It is the genesis for all modern front-wheel drive cars and spawned the hot hatch era.  The Mini was voted “Car of the Century” and produced over 100 variants in countries all over the world.  Not only is this little people carrier a great city car, the Mini has a stellar record as a race car, rally car and movie icon.

1955 – Citroen DS

Decades ahead of its time, the DS (Goddess) is one of the most celebrated designs in automotive history.  With its quirky scarab shape, hydraulic suspension, and turning headlights this car became a European icon that has consistently topped the “Most Beautiful” and “Most Important” lists throughout the world.  Whether it is the aerodynamic styling, the mechanical innovation or the pure space ship like design, every modern car on the road can trace its roots back to this automobile.  The DS shocked the world, and sold a record breaking 12,000 examples on its first day.  The list of its innovations to the automotive world would fill a book.  It is sculpture, art…it is a Goddess.

1961 – Jaguar E-Type

The E-Type is simply “The Most Beautiful Car Ever Created.”  The car is in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and has been an inspiration for everything from cars to clothes.  It is mesmerizing as a piece of art, and merely adequate as a car.

1966 – Lamborghini Miura

Designed by Marcello Gandini, this automotive icon is the world’s first supercar.  The Miura changed the conception of what a sports car could be, and introduced the world to a new level of motoring.  With its bull inspired design, its transversely mounted V12, and its lightning quick speed, this was the genesis for cars like the Pagani, the Bugatti Veyron, McLaren and the modern Ferrari.  The Miura launched Lamborghini and ushered in a period of amazing, outrageous supercar design.

1983 – Chrysler Minivan

The Dodge Caravan and its Chrysler siblings revolutionized the modern automobile.  Not only did it create the minivan market, it helped give birth to the SUV and crossover markets.  Arriving 18 months ahead of its only competitor, the Renault Espace, this vehicle became both an icon and joke to the American family.  Owning one was at first a sign of success, and a sign of “lost youth.”  The Minivan is now as much a part of the America family as the ranch home and the suburbs.

1997 – Toyota Prius

Just as the Model T and the Chrysler Minivan changed the world, so did the Toyota Prius.  The Prius was the first mass produced full hybrid electric vehicle in the world.  It became a status symbol in America when first introduced, and remains one of the cleanest vehicles sold in the US.  Like the Model T and the Volkswagen Beetle, the Prius is a major step in the evolution of the automobile.

For more motoring info, visit www.carfinance247.co.uk

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of caranddriver.com, classics.com, cargurus.com, picsbox.biz, carbase.com, and wikipedia

Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera

Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera

 

I tried to give you consolation…When your old man had let you down. Like a fool, I fell in love with you, Turned my whole world upside down. – Eric Clapton

This past week I decided to buy a new toy.  I found a beautiful 1972 Buick Riviera Boat Tail on Craigslist, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own an iconic classic and an appreciating collector automobile.

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The Riviera is rare, with only 31,557 examples originally built, and the design was overseen by none other than Bill Mitchell (55-57 Chevy BelAir, 63 Corvette Split Window, 63-72 Buick Riviera).  .  Its flowing lines are immediately identifiable, and the boat tail design is unique in modern automotive styling.  Finding a decent one for sale is like discovering a unicorn.

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Originally I was on the fence about buying a car the size of a English Channel ferry boat, but a twist of fate forced my hand.  During a conversation with my website designer/SEO guy name Brian, I discovered that the actual car I was buying was one he and his friend owned in high school.  The seller was his best friend, and the two worked on the car, made the upgrades and know every detail about the cars history.  It is a small world, and knowing that there was that connection made me believe I could be safe in taking the chance on the car.

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The Riviera is beautiful, in a slightly ungainly way.  Mine is painted a Subaru WRX blue, and sports raised white lettered tires and Cragar SS rims.  Inside, the car is equipped with a front 60/40 split bench seat done in black with white leather inserts.  The previous owner had redone all of the body issues, added new carpets, and added a few cool chrome Edelbrock upgrades under the hood.  These upgrades made the engine shine and probably added a ton more horses to the stable.   It also has cherry bomb mufflers, and sounds like a true muscle car.  Once I started it up, I was hooked.

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The body is in excellent shape, with no rust or dent issues.  The paint is older, and pretty poorly done, with lots of orange peel and a few areas of dripping and waving.  The interior is also in good shape, with only the driver’s seat having issues, while the rest of the interior is un-molested.

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Driving the car is an experience.  The engine starts right up, and settles into a smooth idle after a few moments.  The cherry bombs on the exhaust give the car a mean growl, and every time you step on the gas, you expel a little more of the rear tire rubber.  Speed was never on the list of goals for the Riviera, but it still manages an impressive 0-60 in close to 8 seconds, which is not bad for a 19 foot long, two and a half ton behemoth.  With the upgrades to the engine, the car is now much faster, which means it is a challenge to drive.  The steering is like guiding a ship though a series of hard turns.  The steering feel is not only loose, it feels disconnected from the car.  When it does finally turn, the whole side dips and rolls like an aircraft carrier in high seas.  One major fault is the seats, which have no lateral support whatsoever.  On even the slightest turn, you often find yourself in the passenger seat.

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Of course, now that I own the car, I need to figure out what to do with her.  Originally I had grand ideas of transforming her into the ultimate Grand Tourer.  I wanted to repaint her in a dark gray metallic and have the top section, that includes the roof, boat tail and the center of the hood, sprayed a slightly lighter color.  The interior was to be a medium saddle color, and the carpeted rear shelf under the massive rear window was to be transformed into a mahogany wood floor, much like a classic yacht.  I wanted to lower her by 2 inches, enough to highlight the lines without making her into a slammed custom.  I also wanted to add larger lower profile tires and larger chrome mag rims that would suggest a more refined hot rod look.  Finally, I wanted to cut the middle section of the bumper to highlight the full grill and make it a split bumper car, and add a center body colored fin in the center of the rear window, á la the 1963 Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe.

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In reality, I probably won’t get a chance to do any of these things.  If I decide to flip the car for profit, then it would make sense to see if the blue paint can be salvaged, either with a light re-spray or a color sanding and clearcoat.  One thing I will keep are the blue LED lights under the front grille – the same lights I have on my motorcycle.

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In the interim, I have named her “Layla”, which means ”night”, or “dark beauty”.  I will continue to pilot her through the neighborhood scaring small children and wildlife, and have the time of my life playing with my new toy.

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Of course, I want to hear from you…write me a comment and let me know what you think of Layla, and share any ideas you have on how to customize her.  I am always looking for cool design tips.

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Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond, Google Images, vilinstore.net and pinterest.com