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Sunday, December 23, 2012

1968 Citroen Mehari

One of the most fun things I did as part of my apprenticeship was to island hop the French Caribbean Islands repairing Citroen's that belonged to the resorts and the government. Among the DS19, DS21's and some 2CV sedans and delivery trucks was the French version of the dune buggy the Mehari. The Mehari is a type of fast running Dromedary camel. The Citroen Mehari may be faster on some terrains than the camel, in the Sahara the camel may have a slight advantage. Built on the of the 2CV platform, the steel body was replaced by a very toy like flexible polyester body. The soft long travel of the 2CV suspension, served well to absorb bumps, ruts and rocks that were the off road expectations for the cars use. These cars were replacing WW II surrey topped Jeeps and some Minimokes that went into service in the Islands. Built from 1968 to 1998 the basic vehicle did not change at all. Part of my job for Citroen was to go down to the Docks and unpack the cars from their 4 high stack get them running and drive them back to the Distributor where we would finish putting them together. It also meant driving them with windshield folded and no doors or seat belts through Miami. My whole 4 years of apprenticeship presented a different scope of what I was expected to do. In 1968 armed with a drivers license I was given responsibility by all my teachers to operate on my own in Guadeloupe (including surrounding islands), Martinique, Saint Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy, A tough job for a 16 year old to balance hormonal needs with the responsibility of operating a business. It was great experience flying, and sometimes sailing from island to island staying at resorts and staying out of trouble.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

1963 Studebaker Avanti R3.

In the late 50's Studebaker had been doing everything they could to stay in the Big Four Sales Club. GM, Ford, Chrysler and Studebaker were the  American power house world wide, the automotive Giants. By the late 50's Studebaker was looking for a miracle. They hoped that would come in Raymond Lowery's next revolutionary design. His last design the, 1954 President Speedster was evolutionary and way ahead of its time, with its low profile and and low drag shape. So in 1960 Studebaker turned once again to the genius of Raymond Lowery to set the world on fire. In one short year the Avanti went from concept to prototype and then production for 1962.

The Studebaker V8 was initially  was introduced in 1951 as a 232 cubic inch displacement with 120 horse power, It eventually displaced 304 cid and in the R3 Supercharged configuration it eventually exceeded 330 hp as installed in the Hawk GT and the Avanti. The R3 was fr all intents and purpose a factory race car. very few R3's made it to public hands, this seems to be one of them. The Andy Granatelli Land speed record Avanti was a modified R3 and with a special Supercharger was referred as the R5. That car was clocked at Bonneville just short of its 200 mile per hour goal due to poor traction not lack of power But 197 MPH in a "production" car was rather impressive in the early 60's.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1963 Ford Falcon Sprint V8 Convertible

Before there was a Mustang, if you wanted a sporty small car there was a great choice in the Falcon Sprint. With Fords legendary 260 V8 and later the 289 available in either a Coupe or a Convertible. There were the usual option choices and it shows you how people though of this car by the number of 4 speed cars sold. In case you do not know the 64 Mustangs underpinnings came from the Falcon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2013 Hyundai Sonata In Detail

Published on Jul 25, 2012 by Miguel Caparros Many of you are not aware that Hyundai first came to the US market in 1986 with a model named the Exel. It was not. The only car worse was the Yugo. Both the Yugo and the Hyundai were aimed at the bottom of the market, first time buyers, people with little or no credit, buyers that for the first time wanted to buy a new car instead of a 7 year old used car. Some think that they would have been better off with the used car. With a price of $4,995 and not looking cheap while on the showroom floor, the cars were flying out the door, The closest Made In the USA car was the Chevrolet Chevette at $5,645. The unfortunate thing was that the brand became synonymous as a poor persons car. Lets face it, no matter how inexpensive the labor was then in Korea, to build a product and send it 1/2 way around the globe and sell it for $600.00 less than the least expensive North American car, something has to give. That is enough on the history. In 2009 Hyundai opened up the wallet and hired key European BMW people to turn the image of reliable but boring, to the cars that are now at the top of style and reliability. What should make the competition even more nervous is the fact that with Hyundai's growth, they are attracting top designers such as Chris Chapman. Chris has been in the industry for 22 years and after leaving BMW, now stands to lead Hyundai's design center in Irvine, California to bold new heights. The Sonata was the first product of the reformatted Hyundai line up. The new Sonata SE $23,345 MSRP does not have to make any apologies. This is now a world class car, the direction that Hyundai is taking has served notice that even Mercedes better pay attention. We had the Sonata for a 5 day weekend that found us driving to Florida to visit friends and family. The 198 HP engine felt a little soft on take off but it came alive the higher it revved. The 6-speed automatic transmission gives you the option of manual shifting when you are enjoying your favorite twisty road, The SE Sonata comes with everything you need. Here is the equipment list for the SE 198-hp 2.4L GDI 4-cylinder engine 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control System (TCS) and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA) Daytime running lights Power door locks, windows and outside mirrors Remote keyless entry and alarm Six airbags - includes driver and front passenger, front seat side-mounted and front and rear curtain airbags Tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise control functions Blue Link® telematics system Bluetooth® hands-free phone system Pod® / USB and MP3 auxiliary input jacks Advanced trip computer with custom settings On the highway the tall 6th gear gave relaxed cruising by providing relaxed engine RPM's. The slippery shape contributed to low wind noise and fantastic gas mileage. One leg of I 75 for 200 miles we averaged 40 mpg! The 1500 mile trip including cruising South Beach and dealing with Atlanta traffic returned and average of 33 mpg Category: Autos & Vehicles License: Standard YouTube License

1956 Studebaker SkyHawk

Studebaker buyers were different. Early on to appease their customers Studebaker added features such as the over head valve V8 in 1947, padded dash, seat belts, at the same time they took a very aero look to their cars including a very spacy bullet nose. In 1953 they stunned the automotive world with Studebaker Commander Coupe. Maybe too shocking for the average buyer. The low and wide cars were a generation ahead of the rest of the industry  The low swooping nose with twin snorkels was unlike anything else, the roof line was a  good 8 inches lower than everyone else. The performance abilities of the Lowey designed car was amazing for a, first 239 CID engine and got more so when they opened it up to 289 cid..The big cast iron block was wide and heavy but extremely durable As they found out when they made the Paxton Supercharger an option.

The Hawk series was an interesting departure of the ultimate coupe the 1955 President Coupe ( See the Video ). The stand up Mercedes grill of the Hawk is due to Studebakers marketing partnership with Mercedes Benz, with the hope that they could sell more cars. The Hawk line was almost a complete separate brand. Starting with Golden Hawk - Sky Hawk - Power Hawk - Flight Hawk - Silver Hawk  - Hawk - GT Hawk and the Packard Hawk that was powered by a completely different 352 CID V8.

The Studebaker Sky Hawk was a pillarless two-door hardtop coupe for the 1956 model year only. The Sky Hawk was considered part of the Studebaker President series. One of four models of Hawks available that year, the Sky Hawk was positioned between the flagship Golden Hawk and Power Hawk pillared coupe. Sky Hawks differed from Golden Hawks in that they had less chrome trim and lacked the Golden Hawk's fins. They also had slightly less luxurious interiors, and were powered by the President's 289 cubic inch V-8 with 210 HP standard and 225 horsepower optional instead of the Packard 352 of the Golden Hawk. Only 3,050 were produced that year. The Sky Hawk was discontinued for the 1957 model year. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

1958 Corvette, Chevrolets 56 T bird That Hauled Ass.

By Miguel Caparros

Before you send me a nasty note please read this. I was never much of a TBird fan. I was much more of a Corvette kind of guy.. I bought a basket case 58 Corvette, much like the one in this video. I hot rodded it with factory parts, Duntov cam and lifters ported fuelly heads,M22 tans etc. I replaced every bushing and bearing, Put in big sway bars front and rear, New hand rubbed paint polished all the stainless steel parts and rechromed all the rest of the shiny bits. All new proper interior. Those of you that know the cars I build understand it was with out compromise to quality. The interior was the last thing done and when the car came back from the upholstery shop  I reached in to push the seat back and found that was as far as it went. I wormed my way in and I was miserable.The steering was to close even with it all the way forward the back of the seats was bolt upright and my size 12 EE's were not happy either.  I could drive it but I could not live with it.  Fast forward to 7 years ago when my friend Rick asked me to help him with a 1956 T Bird survivor with 54,000 original miles. We spent 2 years doing a preservation to keep as much of the original car but still make it so it could serve as a standard and win shows.

The first time I got in to drive it I flashed back to the 58 Corvette, another car I do not fit in. When I stopped and thought about it, the things that it had in common were the styling touches even thought they are completely different, The 58 Corvette had more chrome and polished stainless that any Corvette before or after. The 56 Tbird was the same it had more than the 55 or the 57. Hopefully this will give you some insight into my twisted mind. If you want to see the video of the 56 Tbird here is the link. The 1956 T bird

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Morgan Three Wheeler

Story Photos and Video by Miguel Caparros

The company was founded in 1910 by Harry Frederick Stanley Morgan, generally known as "HFS" and was run by him until he died in 1959. Then Peter Morgan, son of H.F.S., ran the company until a few years before his death in 2003. The company is currently run by Charles Morgan, the son of Peter Morgan. 

 The Three-Wheeler. One of the first mass market vehicles at the start of the 20th Century, this Morgan Three-wheeler was by far the best and most successful of what was a separate category of motor vehicle, the "Cyclecar". Morgan's simple and well designed and brilliantly engineered vehicle was the one to have. 

This was a car that is completely , and screams British! Who needs weather protection in Europe's wettest climate.  At first there was not much in the way of a transmission, the three speed transmission driving the one rear wheel of this 1932 example was known as the "Cats Whiskers".

Thursday, August 30, 2012


For Immediate Release
Douglas Freedman
Founder and Chairman

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, August 27, 2012.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, the avenues of the picturesque seaside town of Carmel-by-theSea reverberated with the roar of powerful engines, as an unparalleled group of historic racing cars from the legendary Trans-Am Series drove into the display area of the 2012 Carmel-by-theSea Concours on the Avenue. The sixteen cars, accompanied by a California Highway Patrol escort, represented most of the teams and brands that competed in the classic era of the series from 1966 to 1972.

The Trans-Am cars were just one of the highlights of the 6th edition of the Concours on the Avenue, which has quickly established itself as a must-do event in the crowded “Monterey Week” calendar, noted for its welcoming and inclusive atmosphere and extraordinary vehicles. Thousands of spectator guests and local residents enjoyed almost 200 entries this year, arrayed on the tree-lined avenues of the charming village. The Concours on the Avenue marked the passing of Carroll Shelby with a brilliant class of thirteen genuine Cobras, spanning the full range of models from the 289’s to the 427’s.

Michael G. Tillson, Chief Judge at the event, stated “2012 has been, without a doubt, the best year ever for the Concours on the Avenue- the Trans Am class was over the top.” He went on to praise the talents of the more than 50 judges who serve at the Concours. “Their knowledge is astonishing, and they get it right and do it on time, with very tough choices in the class awards.”

There was, however, apparently no challenge for the judges in their unanimous choice for Best in Show; Larry and Juana Carter’s stunning dark blue 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 ‘NART’ Spyder.  It was the epitome of the guiding principle of the Concours on the Avenue- ‘Authenticity and Originality Matter’. While the Ferrari was judged best of the best, it was emblematic of the depth of quality in the display. Fifteen major awards, provided by sponsor Tiffany & Co and presented by the announcing team of Ed Justice, Jr., Michael T. Lynch and Donald Osborne, went to cars as varied as a rare Lloyd 2-cylinder van done in period PanAm airlines livery, to a beautiful Ferrari 250 GTL Lusso and the Duesenberg-powered ‘Wonder Bread Special’ 1934 Indy Car.

The show is especially appealing to family audiences, thanks to its location in the heart of vibrant Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is an event in which the entire town shares, with many of the shops, galleries and restaurants also participating in the show with imaginative automotive-related window displays. Some of the vignettes also competed for prizes in the ‘Concours in the Windows’ contest. Tillson summed up his experience at this year’s event by saying, “The directors and volunteers do a heroic job to put this magical show on each year and I couldn’t be prouder to be associated with this event.”

With the spectacular background of the historic village, The Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue delivers ‘Sophistication with a dash of fun’ to both the hard core motoring enthusiast as well as the rest of the family. Guided by the principle ‘Authenticity and Originality Matter’, it gathers together the finest examples of a wide variety of vintage and historic sports, GT, racing, luxury and family vehicles, and displays them on the avenues of Carmel-by-the-Sea in a unique show which is open at no cost to spectator guests. A major beneficiary of the Concours on the Avenue is The Carmel Foundation, in support of the work the Foundation does for the senior
community of the Monterey Peninsula.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Triumph TR6

Story Photos And Videos By Miguel Caparros

British stylist had two possibilities when designing the exterior of a car, absolutely gorgeous, like the Jaguar XKE of 1962, or at the other extreme is the Bristol 403, one ugly mother . It seemed that they rarely hit in between from the 1950's to the 70's.

The Triumph TR2 & 3 of the early  50's were not beauties yet they sold well and had a good following. When Triumph was getting ready to replace the TR3 they decided to go to one of the Italian Houses for a body design (the Italians seem incapable of designing an ugly car).  For 1961 They made some mechanical updates but kept most of the mechanical's from the TR3. Micheloti designed for the TR4, a stunning body that still looks good today.
Included in the design was a state of the art soft top and the first iconic 2 piece removable hard top that looked like a coupe when on, the rear section could stay attached and the section over the seats removed for open air driving. The TR4 went through gradual upgrades over the 7 years to the mechanics. These included an Independent rear suspension, and an upgrade from the 2.2 liter 4 cylinder engine to the the more modern 2.5 liter 6 that is silky smooth and has a wonderful sound. That final incarnation was known as the TR 250 in the US and the TR5 in the rest of the world.
Not wanting to mess with success, British Leyland, who now owned Triumph, Contracted Micheloti for a refresh of the original 1961 design, working with Triumphs stylist. A more radical transformation with simple sheet metal changes has never been so successful, The result is the car you see here. The TR6 continued until 1976 when it was replaced by a completely new car that eventually outsold the 90,0000 units of the TR6 but history has not been so kind to the TR7.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


1954 Ferrari 750 Monza Headlines Select Offering of Italian Illuminati
Posted By Miguel Caparros
Walworth, Wis., Aug. 2, 2012 - Mecum Auctions will present its 4th annual Monterey Daytime Auction, Aug. 16-18, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf course, featuring some of finest machines Ferrari has ever produced headlined by a 1954 750 Monza Spyder Scaglietti. 
By turns part of the Engelbert Stieger, Brando Wang, Walter Burani and Roberto Crippa collections,S/N 0462MD (Lot S97) has been campaigned extensively for many years at the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco, the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge, the Monterey Historic Races and the Mille Miglia rally. This great Ferrari sports racer has been maintained for years by GTO Engineering in the UK and displays a charming patina that serves as testament to its extensive racing career. It is always welcome at prestigious events around the world and remains very competitive in its vintage class.

A fully-documented factory alloy Longnose version retaining its original matching-numbers three-carburetor V-12 engine and drivetrain, the 1966 275 GTB Alloy Berlinetta S/N 08143 (Lot S95) was sold new in Rome, Italy. Reconditioned and detailed in 2011, its original V-12 engine was completely rebuilt by Ferrari expert John Hajduk, with final sorting and chassis detailing by Chris Campbell of Vintage Connection in Oklahoma City. Their combined talents were rewarded with Best in Class in the Sports Cars 1960-1973 category at the Concours d'Elegance of Texas.
More Photos

A premium example of the exceptionally rare 1972 Daytona Spyder S/N 14857 (Lot S151) was previously owned by noted Ferrari Daytona expert Steve Hill. Wrapped in a gorgeous Pininfarina-styled body and bestowed with 4-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel Dunlop vented disc brakes and a race-bred four-cam V-12 engine, this brilliantly detailed Daytona Spyder is perfectly completed with chromed Borrani wire wheels fitted with correct high speed Michelin radials.
The lithe and athletic Ferrari 512BBi Berlinetta Boxer, S/N 046117 was the pre-eminent supercar of its time, combining a race-proven Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injected flat-12 engine with purposeful Pininfarina styling and 4-wheel independent suspension. Finished in beautiful Rosso Corsa with a gleaming Tan interior, the low-mileage (35,370) example offered as Lot F121 is one of only 1,007 very desirable fuel-injected Boxers produced. More Photos

Mecum’s Daytime Monterey Auction will also offer pristine low-mileage examples of more contemporary Prancing Horse classics. Lot S175 is a premium all-matching-numbers 1990 Testarosa S/N 082987 retaining its original 5.0 liter flat-12 engine and 5-speed manual transmission. Finished in its original White with Tan leather interior, it received a fresh major service, including an engine-out belt replacement, in June 2012. More Photos

There is no mistaking the Ferrari F430 Spider’s Formula 1 pedigree, which is evident in every aspect from its howling 4.3 L V-8 and electronically-controlled F1 gearbox, awe-inspiring handling and power to its aerodynamic shape and Sharknose-inspired elliptical front air intakes. Lot S89 is a highly optioned 2007 Ferrari F430 Spider S/N 154061 showing just 1,788 original miles, a fact reflected in its excellent overall condition. More Photos

Lot S154, a 4,600-mile 1999 Ferrari 355 spider S/N 115352, is powered by the original 3.5 L/375 HP V-8 driving a 6-speed transaxle. Well equipped with factory air conditioning, power steering and brakes, power windows, locks, seats and top and the original Ferrari sound system with CD player, it has just had a $9,000 engine-out belt service completed in June 2012.

Mecum will offer a total of twelve outstanding collector Ferraris over the course of the three-day Monterey Daytime Auction, during which 750 specialty and collector vehicles will cross the block

The Mecum Monterey Daytime Auction is open to the public with complimentary general admission.  Gates open daily at 8 a.m. Pacific Time. Discovery’s Velocity Network will broadcast 18 hours of live coverage from the Del Monte Golf Course. For more information, and to learn how to become a registered bidder go to or call 262.275.5050.

Monterey, CA The Daytime Auction
August 16-18, 2012
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa
on Del Monte Golf Course
1 Old Golf Course Road
Monterey, CA 93940

Preview: Gates open at 8 a.m. Thursday through Saturday
Auction: Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m.
Live TV Times: Thursday thru Saturday 12-6 PM


Posted Bi Miguel Caparros

Eight Cars from Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum at Miller Motorsports Park Highlight Display

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (August 01, 2012) – Eight historically significant cars from the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum at Miller Motorsports Park will be on display at the 2012 Intermountain Concours d’Elegance September 22, 2012. These special cars comprise the centerpiece for a display honoring legendary automotive designer and racecar driver Carroll Shelby. “We’re overwhelmed by the incredible cars being brought to our event by the Miller family, and see this as an outstanding way to not only pay tribute to Carroll Shelby, but to also carry forward Larry Miller’s passion for the cars Shelby built, raced and influenced,” said Chris Purdhum, Concours Chairman.
Carroll Shelby created the iconic Shelby Cobra sports car, and he developed the Shelby Mustang and the Ford GT40. He managed racing teams for Ford Motor Company that won championships on both sides of the Atlantic. He inspired thousands of people through his long career, and one of those people was the late Larry H. Miller.
Reflecting on the loss of his friend, Shelby said in a 2011 interview, “It was a sad day when we lost Larry, especially the way we had to lose him. He was my friend for many years. He was one of the first early collectors of my Cobras. He recognized before anybody that they were going to be worth something someday. You can’t say enough superlatives about Larry. He was a very giving man, and he was an absolute workaholic: he’s the only guy I ever knew besides Roger Penske who worked 36 hours a day. I loved Larry.”
“This display will not only be incredible to witness up close and personal, it will serve to educate event visitors about the magnificent vision and creative genius of Carroll Shelby. From the first Cobra that raced, to the Cobra one can spot in the movie “Viva Las Vegas”, this is something everyone needs to experience,” said Purdum. Early Concours entries value well over $15,000,000 and the event is attracting collectors from as far away as Florida.

About Miller Motorsports Park and the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Automobile Museum Once he had achieved some success as an auto dealer, Larry Miller finally found an opportunity to purchase a Shelby Cobra. One Cobra led to another, and another, and another, and the result is the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Automobile Museum. A few of Larry’s cars are on loan to the Shelby American Collection in Colorado, but the majority of his collection resides at his state-of-art motorsports complex, Miller Motorsports Park, located just outside Salt Lake City in Tooele, Utah. Almost every car on display is capable of being driven, and until Larry’s death in February 2009, a number of them competed in vintage racing events on both sides of the Atlantic. More:
Following is a list of historically significant cars from the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum that will be on display Saturday, September 22, 2012 at the Intermountain Concours d’Elegance at The Gardens of Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah.

1964 Shelby Cobra CSX-2299: This is one of six specially-built coupes built to compete on European tracks that were longer and faster than American tracks. They were nicknamed “Daytona Coupes” after they made their debut in the 1964 24 Hours of Daytona. This was the second built, and has the best racing record of them all, finishing first in the GT class and fourth overall in its debut race at Le Mans with Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant (handing Ferrari its first defeat in the GT class at Le Mans since the class was established in 1959), and took the same result in the season-ending Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in England with Gurney. It also took first in GT and second overall in the 1965 24 Hours of Daytona (Jo Schlesser/Hal Keck) and first in GT/fourth overall in the 1965 12 Hours of Sebring (Bondurant/Schlesser), helping Shelby become the first (and, to date, only) American manufacturer to win the FIA GT World Manufacturers Championship. CSX-2299 is considered the most valuable Cobra in existence, and perhaps the most valuable car in America.
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II P-1015: One of the most significant Ford GT40s ever, this Mk II finished second in what was arguably the most controversial finish in the history of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. This car, co-driven by Ken Miles and Denis Hulme, was leading in the final hour, with another GT40 (Jacky Ickx/Chris Amon) in second on the same lap. Ford executives called for a “photo finish” and the Ickx/Amon car actually took the checkered flag first, robbing Shelby development driver Miles, who had already won at Daytona and Sebring that year, the chance to be the first man to win the “Big 3” of endurance races (Daytona/Sebring/Le Mans).
1962 Shelby Cobra CSX-2002: This was the third Cobra ever built, and the first built in Carroll Shelby’s shop in Venice, California. It was also the first Cobra ever to race, driven by Billy Krause in the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at California’s Riverside International Raceway in October 1962.
1967 Ford GT Mk IV J4: The final iteration of the Ford GT, only four J-Car prototypes were built before Mk lV production was finalized. This is the final prototype chassis and the car utilized in testing to determine the final body shape of the Mk lV. It raced only once, in the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring with Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren, but it qualified on pole and won the race, bringing the first victory for a Mk IV.
1963 Shelby Cobra CSX-2128: This was one of two Cobras built for the 1963 12 Hours of Sebring with rack-and-pinion steering. In its original color scheme, it was photographed to appear on the cover of “Hey Little Cobra,” a record album recorded by The Rip Chords. This was the car that caused Larry Miller to fall in love with Cobras. In January 2005, Larry purchased this car after placing highest bid at auction against none other than George Lucas, who had been on the crew when the car was subsequently owned by San Francisco-based Allan Grant and designed the livery used on the car at that time, which was reversed from the original black-with-yellow scheme.
1962 Shelby Cobra CSX-2019: This unrestored Cobra was originally a “PR car” for Shelby, used in promotional pieces and magazine articles. It was painted different colors for different magazine features, to appear as though there were many cars. In the summer of 1963, it was rented to MGM Studios for use in the Elvis Presley movie “Viva Las Vegas” (red Cobra No. 98). In late 1963, it became the “Dragonsnake,” or drag racing-equipped Cobra, with which employees from Shelby’s production-car facility won a national championship and spurred a line of drag-racing parts offered by Shelby.
1964 Shelby Cobra CSX-2488: This Cobra was built as a USRRC team car. It was raced by team drivers Dan Gerber (scion of the Gerber Baby Food family), Bob Johnson and Ed Leslie from 1964-66. It won overall at Mosport (FIA) and Grattan (SCCA) in 1965, and was first in class at Mid-Ohio (USRRC) and second in class at Nassau (FIA). After the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona, it was loaned to Universal Studios for the movie “Redline 7000”. Gerber bought the car himself in 2000. Legend has it that he changed the Gerber Baby Food can on the doors to read “Prune Mush” in deference to his advancing age.
1965 Shelby Mustang GT-350R SFM5R535: Shelby Mustangs are among the most collectible cars in the world, but the most desirable of them all are the 36 GT-350Rs built in 1965 as pure racing cars. This car is number 35 of only 36 purpose-built race cars assembled in Carroll Shelby’s first shop in Venice, California.

Media Contact
Cindy A. Meitle/CAR PR USA
(480) 277-1864


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

1966 Ghia 450SS

In the 1960s, a few of the remaining custom coach builders continued to demonstrate their ideas and skill with a number of one-off concepts, using a  production-based chassis on the speculation that they could sell the design. These cars were displayed  at the major auto shows in Turin, Geneva and Paris, hoping to attract lucrative commissions from a manufacturers, as well as sales from the wealthiest private clients. Ghia displayed the Fiat G230S Coupe, based on Fiat's 2100 sedan chassis at the 1960 Turin show.

 Burt Sugarman working as a salesman at a Beverly Hills Import car dealership, owned by Johnny Carson and some other heavy weight producers (before Burt himself  became a major producer) saw the Ghia-bodied Fiat G230S Coupe on the cover of the latest Road & Track and was so enthralled with the modern lines by the then young designer Giorgetto Giugiaro.  He contacted Ghia in Turin. Sugarman convince Ghia to build a limited-production convertible based on the Fiat design. Sugarman wanted a car with American mechanicals with a powerful V8 engine. The complete drive-train of the Plymouth Barracuda Formula S was chosen. He then formed a new company, Ghia of America. This resulted in the 450 SS and the car was branded as a Ghia. Only 52 cars were built. This is one of the alleged surviving 26.

Driving the Ghia 450SS.

 I first drove one in 1972, I too had loved its looks, although at this point and time designs were moving in the short trunk long nose direction. You can not argue with the room and comfort provided by this car in comparison to some of its other contemporaries. There was secure feeling knowing that  mechanical parts could be found at every gas station in North America. Mechanical parts for some exotics in those days could cripple the car for months.  That out of the way I shrugged it of my list due to the automatic transmission. The great sound from the engine was not backed up by great acceleration. It was not what I expected of an Italian built car. I reminded my self it is a Barracuda in a real nice Italian suit. I can appreciated now much more than my speed crazed 20 year old version.

1964 Ferrari Lusso

By Miguel Caparros

I look at the Pininfarina designed Ferrari Lusso 250 GT as not only the most beautiful Ferrari but the end of an era, the last great race cars that could be driven to the race and then home.  Available as a GT/L, sold as a road-going car and directly benefited from the successful line of Ferrari 250 GTs. It was developed from the dual-purpose 250 GT Short Wheel Base (SWB) which was delivered as both as a full-on competition or a steel-bodied grand touring car. When the SWB's time was up, its road-going version was replaced in 1962 with the smoother more shapely 250 GT Lusso.

Introduced at the Paris Salon in October of 1962 and created a stir of interest with its flowing proportions. Think of how other cars of 1962 looked, the Lusso became instantly recognizable. Slim, almost dainty roof pillars, a cropped tail and the unique three piece integrated bumper that foretold of things to come.

If you are a fan of the 250 GTO the Lusso shared many chassis and mechanics. By moving the engine forward they provided for a comfortable cabin with out compromise to the dynamics of the handling. When the GTO was no longer available many racers did like the owner of the car in this video, bought a Lusso and went racing.

Ferrari has always offered customers personalized building services of their production car and with the Lusso some  350 cars were built with the same steel body designed by Pininfarina and made by Scaglietti with aluminum doors, trunk and hoods. A few cars received custom rear end ratios, 5-speed gearboxes and competition spec carburetion and many more were modified after delivery. Custom body and interior alterations were available by Pininfarina, including faired-in headlights, extra vents and air conditioning, these factory modifications were rare.

We were fortunate enough to have both a 250 GTO and a Lusso at our store at the same time. For me two related cars could not have been more different. The GTO a retired race car that hat been slightly civilized for street duty where the Lusso had been outfitted with equipment for club racing.

The 250 GTO is a racing legend and it was built to race, Driving it on the street you are constantly reminded of that fact. The engine was finely tuned to give maximum performance and was not happy at much below 3500 rpm. But once on the cam and heading towards 7000 rpm everything starts to work as it was meant to.
The Lusso on the other hand, even in race prepared tune never lost its primary purpose, to transport two in relative comfort very quickly.

Friday, July 27, 2012

1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass W-31

The W-31 was a Cutlass with a 350 CID Performance Option, not a 442 Option and was only built for 2 seasons, in 1969 and 1970. Engine upgrades included the use of what's become known as the 308 camshaft, which was actually the unit's duration; the camshaft also touted .474-inch lift and an intake/exhaust valve overlap of 82 degrees. The engines were factory blue printed units by picking components off the production line that were matched in weight. The Connecting rods for the W-31 engine were particular to the engine The Cylinder heads were also specific to the W-31  Completing the fuel/air induction system was an aluminum intake manifold with a "performance calibrated" 750-CFM Rochester Quadrajet as well as the W25 low-restriction air cleaner assembly. Above that was a new-for-1970 air induction system: twin scoops on top of a fiberglass hood with chrome hold-downs.

Only 1029 of these made. The rarest of the high performance Oldsmobile made.
Behind the engine is a Muncie M21 4 Speed Trans w/ Hurst Shifter. Dual Exhaust, RLimited Slip Rear-End. Manual Brakes, HD 4 core Radiator. the W-31 package automatically upgraded the front and rear coil-sprung suspension to the FE2 heavy-duty components, including special springs and tubular hydraulic shocks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Nissan Versa Shines We Love It! Road Test

By Miguel Caparros, Bob Sarda With Mike Thies
First Look
Expectations of testing the least expensive new car in America were running cold just coming out of the Infiniti M37. The retail price of the base model is $10,990, the black SV model we tested  looked good. Black cars can show every defect in the paint and body. Our example on close inspection revealed a flawless finish and all body panels lined up properly. It did not look cheap, to the contrary we have seen some high end models that (Click Here For The Intro Video)                             would be shamed by the exterior finish of  this car. At $14,990 it is still very affordable and a good value. Although it is listed as a subcompact there is nothing compact about the inside room. even with the seat adjusted for our tallest driver, 6'7" Mike Thies, I could still sit comfortably behind him.  No magic mirrors or trickery just sound engineering and planning. Most small cars and even some large ones have a very upright rear seat that pushes you forward. The Versa rear seat is slightly reclined and the tall height of the seat cushion to the floor make it a comfortable place to sit even for long periods of time. 
( Click Here For The Close Ups Videos)
The trunk does not scrimp at all on space either, taking our full mixture of suitcases, garment bag and a small duffle bag. enough for a family of 4 for a vacation. This car also has the largest glove box I have ever seen. You could put the baby in there (not recommended) a better use would be to carry a roasted chicken meal with all the fixings for four!
Click Here For The Road Test Part 1

The Engine is a 1.6 liter of 109 horsepower and it moves this car rather acceptably with a 0 to 60 time just under 10 seconds, our tester was equipped with the automatic CVT transmission that works great but does take a little getting used to. For those those drivers that enjoy the experience of shifting their own, a 5 speed transmission is standard equipment. Either way the fuel mileage is rated at 30 city 38 highway.
Click Here For Road Test Part 2 

Al four of us liked the driving and feel of this car. Doreen loved the way it felt, it reminded her of the first gen Scirroco she had in high school, peppy, agile and did exactly what you asked of it. She wished it was a 5 speed. Mike though it was to firm and jiggly, he did like the steering and how the brakes felt. I liked it! I was pleasantly surprised at how flat it cornered and how well it accelerated. 

Bob Sarda who had volunteered his 2007 Honda Aaccord to show just how big the Versa is, he wrote a whole chapter. 

Here it is in his own word

It was a stormy, rainy night, the night before I was tasked to drive the Versa.
On the day of my test run, the sky was Carolina Blue, the humidity was mid to late 60 ‘s percentile and the roads were clear, clean and freshly washed. One could not ask for better weather-a cool morning, temp in the upper 60’s.  Near perfect.

I did a thoughtful walk around the car. Not too big, not too small, and yet it just bearly made the cut in the sub-compact class.
 As I settled into the driver’s seat, I began to realize that this little car was very big inside. My co-captain who is not a small man by any stretch of the imagination, and yet, he is sitting in the suicide seat with plenty of leg and head room. And for him to have plenty of head room is saying a lot. ( I thing Bob Is calling me a fat head)
After the drive we checked out the trunk and the back seat room.  There is plenty of room in the trunk for 2 dead bodies and the back seat has more room and more comfortable seating than my V6 Honda Accord.
The Test Drive:
The car is quick and smooth. The ride is excellent for a sub-compact car. Heck! It is very good for a mid-size car. It carried us down the road at speeds that required you to double check the speedometer. You did not feel like you were merging onto the highway at 90 miles per hour. I had stomped the gas pedal on the on ramp to watch the tachometer and feel the constant velocity transmission work its magic.
It was smooth as glass and high revving as one would expect of a 4 banger.  It never approached the red line and before I merged into traffic, there I was, staring down at an impressive 90 mph. There was some pedal left and yet, I did not need any more.  I backed off the throttle. Mission accomplished.
I felt a little hollow. There is something empty about getting up to 90 and not feeling the rush of acceleration. The feeling of power, raw, hoary, stick- it- to- the- man HORSE POWER.
We need to accelerate to make a proper merge and the machine simply responded-“Compliance”.  Just a walk in the park to go 90 miles per hour. As if the machine  responded back to my wishes, “Should you require anything else, just press the accelerator or the brakes. This is what I do.” (Bob Just finished watching a Sci-Fi marathon) 

My first car was a 1947 Mercury, business coupe, flat head 8- 88 HP on a good day. When I got the car with 54,000 plus miles on it, it used a quart of oil every 9 gallons of gas or every 108 miles. I was 16 at the time and that car never saw 90 MPH.  I tried. Lord knows I tried. 60 MPH was an accomplishment and you felt like you were flying, cheating death, living on the edge, bare knuckle riding the wind, flirting with disaster. And  heaven help you if you came near a curve. Better get those horses under control and whoa back down to 45. Thanks Bob.

So to sum it up it gets 4 thumbs up from all of us. We like to get blind opinions we get random people for a quick look and ride and get their impressions, this is where we find out what people think of the car.  

We snatch random people at the mall. 
Beth a late 20s secretary having launch, loved the room in the car and she noticed that in this car she could face the baby seat to the rear without interfering with the front seat, something she cannot do in her Honda Civic. When asked what she would pay for this car, her answer was, giving that her 3 year old civic cost her $ 17,000 she would expect to pay 18,000 for the larger Versa. 

Bill an options broker in his late 40's has a new Acura SUV. He has an Au Pair that he has currently in a 4 year old Camry. He was impressed with the ruggedness of all the materials and the fact that it has all the latest safety gear to keep his kids safe as they are driven to the various soccer practice and ballet rehearsals that are part of their daily life. He was awe struck with the size of the trunk as the Camry is always jammed with all the gear that has to be moved around. Bill did a quick calculation in his mind when we told him the fuel mileage, he said that the savings in 3 years would permit him to get the BMW 5 series that he wants! He made us an on the spot offer of  $16,500 plus fees right now. We told him to head to his closest Nissan dealer as this one is not for sale. This is the first time we encounter people willing to pay more than the MSRP. They were all speechless when we told them the base price of $10,990 and the price of our second level SV model of $15,490. 

Italian Motor Cycles As Art

Story, Photos And Video By Miguel Caparros        Click Here For The Video
In August of 2011 the Museum Of Design Atlanta, MODA Chose for its Grand Opening to feature the art of the Italian motorcycles. Italians just have the design gene as part of their DNA. It has always been there and always very present in their industrial designs. It was not enough to just build great machinery but every nut, bolt and fin was seen as an opportunity to not just male a part useful but beautiful as well. Vittorio Jano at Alfa Romeo in the early 1930s, treated every part as a separate work of art.  From the Emblems to the cooling fins, every part is styled not only to enhance the function but also to please the eye. His influence even translated to the designs of Motorcycles. Though many in the past looked at Italian Motorcycles as too dainty and fragile when you study them up close and get to feel the precision on their ultra light parts you begin to understand part of the art follows function was taken to the extreme. I have tried to convey that up close feeling of many of the individual parts on the Motorcycles in the video,  and these stills taken from the video. Pause and take a close look, hope you enjoy it. We had the opportunity to come in the day before the public and take some up close video and photos with no one in the back ground..

Bimota was Created 1973 in  Rimini  Italy byBianchi, Morri and Tamburini. The company name is a combination from the first two letters of each of the three founders' surnames, i.e. Bianchi Morri Tamburini. All of them established in the Motorcycle industry. Initially Bimota was for formed to supply a superior chassis for the wonderful inline 4 cylinder motors made by the Japanese, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha. Powerful smooth engines supported by mediocre chassis and handling. 

By the time this 1997 500 Due was built Bimota was having thoughts of leaving the Japan made motors and built a revolutionary 2 cylinder 2 stroke engine that was powerful, lighter and clean enough to pass emission regulations. They also were hoping to go F 1 racing against the worlds Motorcycles best. By 2001 Bimota went into bankruptcy and the end of the dreams of racing for a world championship were a reality. In 2003 a run of 120, 500 Due were assembled as street bikes using carburetors instead of fuel injection, also running with reduced power. Today all the Due Bikes are considered very valuable collectors items.

Moto Morini Is a survivor, that is the company. Founded in 1937 by Alfonso Marini in Bologna Italy, they went through WWII, the departure of the Germans, the Allies Occupation, the internal revolution, hostile take overs, bankruptcy, financial collapse and  some how they are still there. In my eyes Moto Morini is the Champion of minimalism, There is not a part on these bikes that is not doing something. From the beautiful aluminum head and cylinder castings to the dainty rods that support the fairing. Even the carburetor velocity stack is perfectly proportioned.  In the small displacement classes they led and everyone else followed. They were racing, winning and selling 150 cc to 250cc motorcycles from 1948- the 1970's.
I hope you can enjoy the works of art as much as I do. Stop the video and study the smallest of details.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Racing From Havana To Miami

By Miguel Caparros 
Originally written June 30th 2011
Photos By Rogelio Caparros from the book "Grand Prix From Havana To Miami"
It is interesting how certain events can trigger memories and the angst of how to put them down on paper. The recent passing of Peter Faulk and the memories lately of Columbo and of his side kick, the Peugeot 403 Cabriolet has stirred nostalgia for what may be Karyn's and my favorite car brand of all time. 
My history with Peugeot goes back to my old mentor Claude Meder and Cuba when I was a boy. My father would take me everywhere with him. From the symphony to the chess club then to the shop that he was a partner in where all the exotic cars were sold and serviced. Then onto the errands to drop off a starter at the re-builders and always a stop at Claude Meder's shop where French was the first language. The shop was surrounded by every kind of French car you could imagine and some that were complete mysteries. 
Claude came to Cuba as a young man, a political refuge when the Germans occupied France during world war II. A master mechanic that apprenticed with Panhard and Renault in Paris. His knowledge of French cars was second to non. Among the Renault 4CV's the Citroen Traction Avant, a couple of Bugatti's, assorted Simca's and other French makes were the race cars. Claude was also a very accomplished race car driver and his successes in the most car crazy culture in the Americas permitted him to be the representative for Panhard, Renault and Peugeot. Race prepared versions of each of the manufacturers cars were present. A tiny 750 cc Renault 4CV, a not much larger Panhard Dyna, and the big dog of the bunch, the Peugeot 203, still small by American car standards. 
This was the time of over the road races all thru out Cuba, Mexico, Central America and Argentina. Cuba Was centrally located and was the home base for many of the manufactures team that actually raced what hey sold. Cuba had a very active series of over the road races as did Argentina and Mexico. To put it into perspective, these were full blown over the road rallies with mountain passes, paved roads, secondary dirt roads and high speed 2 lane highways where the fastest cars could reach over 180 miles per hour. Roads through the desserts that could barely be called roads. This is in the era of bias ply tires, drum brakes and no power steering. Seat belts, roll over protection and helmets were optional. My father told me of the Mexican leg of the Carrera Pan Americana road race of 1954, he shared a DC3 chase plane with Chris Economaki and some other journalist. They were using it as a camera platform and crossing a desert in the high plains. The DC3 was maintaining a cruise speed of 180 mph and the Mercedes SL's, Ferraris, Maseratis some of the Buicks and one Studebaker were going faster than the plane. 
Claude was a wizard of blue printing engines. He got the most out of the tiny engines the European cars had. What the Panhard and the Peugeot had over the big cars was handling, better brakes, lighter weight, and much less need to stop for fuel. But the secret weapon that no one took into consideration were the Michelin X radial tires. There was no such thing as a sprint race in over the road races. The short ones were 200 miles, the long ones a 1,000 or more. All these reasons where why the small displacement cars of 70 horsepower or less were sometimes threatening the over all winners. I actually got to see Claude driving the Panhard Dyna , another time the Peugeot 203 where he placed 5th overall, two places ahead of my fathers Austin Healy 100 LM. 
Now we can fast forward to the 1960's. I was working part of my summers as Claude's apprentice at his shop in Miami, I was also my fathers crew running the Renault R8 Gordini in road races and I served as navigator in rallies. When I turned 16, Claude used his influence for me to become a development driver for Renault. My first car at 16 was a Peugeot 403. Fathers 1966 Gordini was replace by a new Peugeot 404 in 1968. Then a 504 in 1970. The 68 404 was handed down to Karyn and I in 1973. That was the car she learned to drive a standard transmission on. Our first children were protected by the armor of the 404. In 1982 we sold the 404 with 250,000 miles and still driving and looking like new to a young couple that needed reliable transportation to get married in Texas. Although I drove for Renault I truly enjoyed racing in dad's 404, it was a very forgiving car that only had a top speed of 105 mph but could maintain 90+ no mater the terrain or weather. It felt as safe as a brick house. 
Although people always associated us with our businesses of exotic cars, Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Porsche, in the back ground was an ex rally car that served the family for 14 years when we wanted fun performance and inconspicuous transportation we had our trusty Peugeot 404.