Columns (1871)

  Many years ago, I was considering buying a Mercedes 230SL and called Mercedes guru, SCM contributor and collector Alex Dearborn to ask for his advice. I told him the car was straight enough, a little scruffy in and out, would need a torn swing-axle boot replaced, had a 4-speed and both tops. At that time, the price of $18,000 was about right. Alex was direct in his response. “How much imperfection can you stand?” he said. “You’ll need to fix anything mechanical that creates safety problems, but after that it’s all up to you.” I decided that if the…
  We recently reported on the status of a lawsuit involving the Briggs Cunningham Corvette, which is ongoing (December 2013, p. 40 and January 2014, p. 42). Domenico M. Idoni, one of the plaintiffs in that case, is now the plaintiff in another lawsuit involving another Corvette, the “Real McCoy.” That’s either bad luck or quite an appetite for litigation! The story is taken from the parties’ court filings. The Real McCoy is a 1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR prototype that Chevrolet built to race. John Fitch ran it in the 1956 12 Hours of Sebring, finishing 1st in class and…
While it is common today to think that the introduction of Jaguar’s new “sporting” model in 1975 was greeted with jeers, the truth is rather different. Certainly the XJ-S (the name carried a hyphen until 1991, when it became the XJS) was a notable departure from the XKE. The nomenclature clearly indicated that it was the top of the XJ sedan line rather than the latest in a line of XK sports cars. Nevertheless, the XJ-S was very much the successor to the XK 150 FHC, a comfortable grand touring coupe that could even be had with an automatic transmission.…
This car is equipped with a 260-hp, 2,999-cc DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine with two Weber 45 DCO/A3 carburetors, a 5-speed manual transaxle, independent front suspension with transverse leaf springs, De Dion rear axle with parallel trailing arms and semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel drum brakes, and a tubular steel frame. This car finished 5th overall at the 1955 12 Hours of Sebring. It raced to multiple 1st-place finishes in other races. Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby raced the car. Marcel Massini documented the history of the car. This car is an early example of Ferrari’s 3-liter, 4-cylinder customer sports/racing cars. It…
Cunningham C-3s have picked up a bit of a tail wind recently, as seen during the Gooding sale at Pebble Beach in 2012, where a yellow coupe sold for $341,000 with commissions. Our subject car, a 1952 Cunningham C-3 Vignale coupe, s/n 5210, sold at Gooding & Company’s Scottsdale auction on January 17, 2014, for $550,000, including buyer’s commission. This tidy appreciation perhaps reflects the car’s role as one alternative to increasingly unaffordable top line collectibles: Ferrari, Mercedes, Porsche and the like. With the Cunningham C-3 Reunion held at Lime Rock last Labor Day weekend — and the simultaneous release…
This Mercedes-Benz 600 is powered by the distinctive M100 6,332-cc overhead-valve V8 engine developed specifically for the Grand 600s. The engine produces 245 horsepower. The car is equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission; double-wishbone air-spring independent front suspension; swing-axle rear suspension with air springs; and four-wheel, power-assisted hydraulic disc brakes. The car is built on the 600 Pullman wheelbase of 3,900 mm (153.5 inches). The Landaulet Pullmans are considered the “holy grail” for collectors. Making this one even rarer, it is a 6-door model, one of only 26 ever built. This example is being offered for sale publicly for the…
Although founded in the 1920s, the company that would become Mazda Motor Corporation did not commence series production of passenger cars until 1960. Only four years later, the Japanese firm exhibited its first rotary-engined prototype, having acquired the rights to produce NSU’s Wankel-designed engines. In 1966, Mazda launched its first rotary engine, the Cosmo L10A, which went into production the following year. Mazda’s flagship model, the Cosmo, was powered by a twin-rotor engine displacing 982 cc and producing 110 horsepower, which was enough to endow the pretty two-seater coupé with a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). In July…
 In 1979, the modest Renault Sport division, responsible for the R5 Turbo rally program led by engineers François Bernard and Michel Têtu, only had the Group 5 prototype that had appeared on the Tour of Italy, the famous “Black” R5, assembled from specific Renault and Alpine parts. Gérard Larrousse and his team had to wait for 400 examples of the production series to be built for homologation in Group 4 that would allow the R5 Turbo to compete in major international competitions. This was done before the summer of 1980. And so the car presented here was born, bearing the…
As popular now among enthusiasts of traditional British sports cars as it was in its heyday, the TF was mechanically little different from the outgoing TD II. The TF kept its predecessor’s body center section, while featuring a changed front end with shortened, sloping, radiator grille and headlamps faired into the wings — plus an improved interior with separately adjustable seats. The TD’s 1,250-cc XPAG engine was retained at first, but the need for more power prompted the swift introduction — in November 1954 — of the TF 1500 (with 1,466-cc XPEG engine), which accounted for more than half of…
  I love the way the collector-car year launches. Arizona in January is like Mardi Gras, with cars to be auctioned replacing floats. The procession of delectable automobiles is non-stop, with the six big auctions pulling out all the stops. For me, the action started earlier this year than usual. It included a quick trip to London for a dinner at Bonhams’ new headquarters at 101 New Bond Street — a most tony address, in a most tony part of a tony city. I was fortunate enough to stay at the Royal Automobile Club. For a blue-jeans-bred, West Coast boy,…
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