Columns (1992)

  Last month, “Legal Files” focused on ways that a buyer can protect himself in a collector car purchase transaction. This month, we are focusing on how the seller can protect his interests. In today’s hot collector car market, the seller’s main problem is not getting the car sold, but keeping it sold — that is, not having to buy it back when the buyer complains that the car is not “as it was represented to be.” Watch what you say and write Be very careful about how the car is described and what is said about its nature, condition,…
Launched in 1954, the production 300SL retained the space frame chassis and lightweight aluminum-alloy bodywork of the W194 racer, while its mechanical underpinnings, like the latter’s, owed much to the contemporary Mercedes-Benz 300 luxury saloon. A 2,996-cc overhead-camshaft inline six, the 300SL’s engine was canted at 45 degrees to achieve a low bonnet line and produced 215 brake horsepower at 5,800 rpm using Bosch mechanical fuel injection. A 4-speed, all-synchromesh manual gearbox transmitted power to the hypoid bevel rear axle. Suspension was independent all round: by wishbones and coil springs at the front, with swing axles and coil springs at…
Chassis 3309SA’s tale started in 1962. This Ferrari 400 Superamerica cabriolet would be the last short-wheelbase model built. It was finished in Red Metallic and fitted with covered headlights and a factory hard top. This was perhaps the ultimate example of its breed. Its first destination would be the Geneva Motor Show, where it was displayed on Ferrari’s stand. Later, after being air-freighted to Luigi Chinetti Motors in Greenwich, CT, it was displayed at the New York International Auto Show. In 2005, the car received a no-expense-spared full restoration with a team of California’s best restorers. The project was managed…
With production of the Maserati Ghibli ending in 1972, Maserati started to develop a new front-engine vehicle. The replacement Khamsin was styled by Marcello Gandini, and it debuted in 1972 at the Turin Auto Show, but it was not sold until 1974. The Khamsin would be Maserati’s first front-engine car with full independent rear suspension. Powering this Maserati is a sleek V8 engine that is backed by a 5-speed manual gear box. The car is loaded with AM/FM radio, power windows, alloy wheels, rack-and-pinion steering, and disc brakes all around. The maroon paint on the exterior appears to be original…
The final glorious incarnation of Jaguar’s fabulous XK series of sports cars arrived in 1957. The XK 150 was a progressive development of the XK 120 and XK 140, retaining the same basic chassis, 3.4-liter engine and 4-speed Moss transmission of its predecessors while benefiting from a new, wider body that provided increased interior space and improved visibility — courtesy of a single-piece wrap-around windscreen that replaced the XK 140’s divided screen. Cleverly, the new body used many XK 120/140 pressings, the increased width being achieved by means of a four-inch-wide central fillet. A higher front wing line and broader…
Packard’s most beautiful automobiles of the 1930s were arguably produced as part of the Eleventh Series, and they boasted the first gentle hints of streamlining, such as a slightly angled radiator shell, more deeply skirted fenders, and vee’d headlamp lenses. The 12-cylinder models of this series were the ultimate Packards, and the ultimate of the ultimate were the versions designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and built by LeBaron of Detroit. These scarce cars featured the latest in aerodynamics, including separate, sensuously rounded pontoon fenders, curved running boards blended into the body, and tapered tails. They were the hottest thing to…
  In the United States, Mercedes-Benz Unimogs are rare enough to qualify as mild curiosities, but these tough, fear-no-road trucks are also inching up on the cool meter, especially with military-vehicle buffs. You’ll see them scattered around the countryside — often in the mountain areas of the western United States — but few know their long, fascinating history. For example, Unimogs were originally designed as farm vehicles. Let’s jump into the Wayback Machine for a little Unimog history. Out of the rubble After World War II, when the new West Germany was rebuilding from the rubble, one major need was…
  Having me co-host a television show about cars sold at collector-car auctions is like turning a chocoholic loose in the Hershey factory. When evaluating cars for “What’s My Car Worth?” a TV show I co-host on the Velocity channel, I find myself slipping from the objective to the subjective. “This ’67 Healey BJ8 drives nicely and will probably sell for $80k” moves all too quickly to: “I’d really like to own this car. It’s been months since I’ve had a Big Healey.” So it should have come as no surprise that on a recent Sunday I found myself waiting…

1955 Jaguar D-Type

Written by June 2015
 When the Jaguar D-type debuted at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans, it finished a narrow 2nd to a 4.9-liter Ferrari V12. A year later, a D-type with a long-nosed factory body and a revised motor won the race outright. Although Jaguar retired from racing after the 1956 season, the D-type continued to flourish in private hands, winning Le Mans in 1956 and 1957 for the Ecurie Ecosse. Although not necessarily well suited to every type of course, the D-type proved to be extremely effective on properly surfaced endurance circuits, and it remains one of the most important Le…
In the late 1960s, Nissan began development of a closed sports car to replace their popular Datsun 1600 and 2000 roadsters. Under the direction of Yutaka Katayama, the president of the Nissan Motor Corporation in the U.S. (known as “Mr. K” and the “Father of the Z-car”), renowned German designer Albrecht von Goertz was hired as a consultant on the project. He and the Nissan styling staff would develop the initial design, while Yamaha would engineer the drivetrain and build the prototype. Ultimately, Nissan and Yamaha didn’t come to terms, and the project was temporarily shelved. Undeterred, Nissan continued to…
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