Columns (1871)

With the Lotus 14 of 1959 — better known as the Elite — Colin Chapman demonstrated that his skills as a racing-car designer and constructor could just as easily be applied to production road cars. Just as innovative as Lotus’s outright competition cars, the Elite featured a fiberglass monocoque body tub, independent suspension all round (based on that of Lotus’ racing monopostos) and four-wheel disc brakes, the rears mounted inboard. Its engine was the 4-cylinder Coventry Climax FWE, a single-overhead-cam unit of 1,216 cc producing 75 hp, while the gearbox, an MGA unit fitted with an alloy casing and modified…
Soon after the 330 GTC was unveiled at the 1966 Geneva Auto Salon, Ferrari introduced its exclusive Spider variant, the GTS. The new 330 GTC, GTS, and the contemporary 275 GTB/4 featured the same mechanical layout of fully independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, a rigid torque-tube driveshaft, and a 5-speed, rear-mounted transaxle. Whereas the 275 GTB/4 utilized a 4-cam, 3.3-liter V12, the 330s were equipped with 4-liter, 2-cam V12 that delivered a genuine 300 horsepower at 6,600 rpm. The 330 GTS was one of the fastest open two-seaters of its era, with a top speed approaching 150 mph. Designed and…
In 1949, this exceptional Auburn Boattail Speedster was discovered in an old garage in Omaha, NE. The Auburn required some refurbishing, so a restoration was undertaken in 1951, and it was decided to restore the car as a 1936 852, perhaps in an attempt to make the already rare Speedster seem even more desirable, as 852s are extremely scarce. The Auburn was parked in the garage during the summer of 1962, and didn’t move from that spot for 52 years, with the exception of a special display at the SAC Museum in 2004, where the car was exhibited for six…
An SCMer wrote asking about potential liability if he sells his vintage Formula One car and the buyer is later injured as a result of a defect in the car. He knew he could clearly state that the car was being sold “as is” but wondered if that would be sufficient. He was particularly concerned because vintage parts are not readily available and often have to be built from scratch, creating greater risk of design and manufacturing defects. One’s first reaction is: Why worry? It’s a race car, racing is a dangerous activity, and everyone knows you take the risks…
At times, the SCM offices resemble an automotive confessional. Emails, texts, Facebook postings, faxes and sometimes even old-school, hand-written letters flood in — each missive asking for collector-car absolution or permission. “Dear SCM, please forgive me as I have sinned and bought a car over the Internet without seeing it in person… again.” “Keith, I am offered a great deal on a Ferrari. It’s a 308 GT4, friends tell me they are the last undervalued Ferrari, and they’re sure to jump in price soon. This one has been color changed from yellow to red. I’m told the engine was recently…
It’s almost an axiom of the automotive world that an unloved make or model can gain respectability over time. The reasons for this phenomenon are many —changing tastes and fashions can transform a formerly ugly duckling, or advancing technology and engineering may reveal that a particular car was ahead of its time. But mostly, when all the models around a particular car have appreciated enough, they’ll bring the less-loved units along with them — to an extent, anyway. That may become the case with the mid-1980s Nissan/Datsun 300ZX (1984–89 Z31). Prices for the early edition Datsun Z-cars (1969–78 S30) have…
Alfa Romeo’s successful Giulietta range debuted in 1954 with the arrival of the Bertone-styled Sprint coupe, the Berlina (saloon) not appearing until the succeeding season. Veloce models with improved performance followed, and the agile Giulietta SV quickly established an enviable record in production-car racing, notable victories including a Gran Turismo class win in the 1956 Mille Miglia. Nevertheless, to fully exploit the car’s potential, lighter and more aerodynamic bodywork was deemed necessary — a requirement which resulted in the ultimate Giuliettas: Bertone’s Sprint Special and the Sprint Zagato (SZ), both built on the short-wheelbase Spider platform and powered by the…
Introduced at the Geneva Salon in March 1963 as replacement for the 190SL, the 230SL is a landmark model that founded a sports-car dynasty that would prove an enormous commercial success for Mercedes-Benz. Soon christened by the public the “Pagoda” after the distinctive shape of the removable hard top that evoked the roof of a Japanese temple, these SL models were among the best-loved sports-tourers of their day and continue to be highly sought after by discerning collectors. This matching-numbers 230SL Pagoda has the manual-transmission option and was exported to Spain when new. The car was purchased by the vendor…
The 250 series was Ferrari’s crowning achievement of the 1950s and early 1960s. The high-water marks of this series have defined the “Prancing Horse” in the decades since, and in many ways, the series set the stylistic and cultural tone, which has grown exponentially model after model. From the lovely Lusso and the sporty California Spyder, to the Tour de France and, of course, the Series II Cabriolet, the basic construction formula was nothing short of perfect: a high-revving V12 engine, a shiver-inducing exhaust note, and an almost unbelievably sexy design that would envelop the chassis in two-door form. Chassis…
In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel produced approximately 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. Hand built, they were, of course, necessarily very expensive — the Facel II was priced in Rolls-Royce territory — and were bought by the rich and famous seeking something exclusive and distinctive. The roll call of owners includes royalty, politicians, diplomats and entertainers: Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye, Joan Fontaine, Ava Gardner and Ringo Starr — the first owner of the car offered here. Confirming that there was high-performance substance behind Facel’s unquestionable style, they were owned and driven…