Columns (1985)

One of the few automobiles deemed worthy of inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art in New York — and arguably the most easily recognized American car of all time — the Cord 810 debuted in November 1935, receiving a rapturous reception at U.S. automobile shows. The work of a team led by Duesenberg designer Gordon Buehrig, the 810 body style, with louvered “coffin” nose, streamlined, spat-shaped wings and absence of running boards, would prove immensely influential. Its distinctive features were borrowed by most mainstream manufacturers by the decade’s end. The Cord was redesignated 812 for 1937, when custom sedans…
  It’s hard to see Toyota as a performance brand, especially given the current state of their offerings, but for a time the staid Japanese megabrand produced some real hot rods. The Toyota Supra started life as the performance model of the sporty Celica line. Designed to compete with the Nissan/Datsun Z-cars, the Supra was always given an overhead cam inline 6-cylinder engine. Horsepower ranged from an anemic 110 ponies in 1979 to a reasonably respectable 232 horses for the last of the Mark III Supra Turbos in 1993. The final generation arrived in America in mid-1993 as the 1994…
The extraordinary Ferrari presented here, 1425GT, is the 27th of 50 California Spyders built on the long-wheelbase 250 GT chassis. Consistent with its May 1959 build date, this California Spyder benefits from a number of significant evolutionary improvements introduced throughout the model’s two-year production run. Although more than 55 years have passed since it left the factory, 1425GT has never warranted a full restoration. Simply maintained as required, the Ferrari is largely unchanged since the seller acquired it over 45 years ago. Still wearing its late-1960s red paint and original black leather upholstery, this California Spyder possesses a glorious, irreplaceable…
The introduction of Group B into the World Rally Championship in 1982 was an evolution that was dictated by a general industry move from rear- to front-wheel-drive cars, and it proved revolutionary. Contenders now had three classes to choose: Group N (standard production cars), Group A (modified production cars), and the almost immediately notorious and virtually unbridled Group B (modified sports cars). Most notably, Group B allowed Audi to compete with its still-new Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which was an obvious boon on varied rally stage surfaces. The permanent all-wheel-drive system debuted in the Audi 80-based Quattro coupe in 1980, and…
  A recent Federal District Court decision in Illinois should be of serious concern to auction bidders. If it stands, we might all have to take a full coterie of mechanics and consultants with us to each auction. Our plaintiff, “Ted,” was a successful bidder at a 2011 auction. (“Legal Files” won’t identify the auction company because, as will be explained later, it isn’t particularly unique in this regard.) Ted purchased a 1967 Corvette 427/435 coupe at a hammer price of $68,500 — $72,610 after buyer’s commission. The Corvette was in beautiful condition, and it was displayed with an NCRS…
In July 1966, the Ferrari factory received an order from SAVAF for a 275 GTB Competizione, later specified to be chassis 09079. Late in the specialty model’s limited run, the car was the penultimate example of the thinly aluminum-skinned competition GTB, making it the second-to-last GT car ever produced by Maranello’s factory competition department. Factory records indicate the Tipo 213 competition engine was completed on September 8, 1966, with dynamometer testing occurring a day later. Trimmed with a light gray headliner, blue cloth seat upholstery with matching leather paneling, and complementary blue carpets, the rare GTB/C was finished in Rosso…
Prior to its conversion to Jota specifications, chassis 4892 was constructed at the factory in July 1971 as a Miura SV that was finished in white with a blue interior. The car remained in Italy and was sold new to a Dr. Alcide of Rome, Italy. It is not known when the conversion was done, but a letter issued by Lamborghini in 1974 listed it as a “P400 Miura SV Mod. Jota” at that time, which confirms that the conversion was done within three years following its production. Mechanically, chassis 4892 received slight engine tuning and was fitted with a…
It was a weekend to remember. At 6 a.m. on a Saturday in February this year, my daughter Alexandra joined me on a flight from Portland, OR, to San Jose, CA. We’d bought a 1964 Volvo 1800S last July, and it was time to bring it home. Mike Dudek of iRoll Motors picked us up at San Jose International Airport, and soon we were at his shop in San Martin, south of San Jose. The Volvo was better than I expected — by a long shot. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it had a “lived and loved” feel…
  It’s said that Harley Earl, director of GM styling, got the idea for a GM concept car while watching world speed records being set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It would be a sports racer called a Bonneville Special. That was when 1954 models were being readied for production, and no GM car had ever carried the Bonneville name. Perhaps Harley Earl gave the assignment to Pontiac as the birth of its upcoming performance image. Under the direction of Earl, Homer LaGassey and Paul Gilland built two Bonneville Specials. The bronze car would debut in the Grand…
This car is equipped with a 164-hp, 260-ci, OHV V8 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live axle rear suspension with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and front-disc and rear-drum hydraulic brakes. British coachbuilders Thomas Harrington Ltd. built only a handful of beautifully crafted fastback Le Mans coupe bodies for Sunbeam Alpine chassis during the early 1960s. Exactly one of those bodies was built for the Sunbeam Tiger, the potent Ford V8-powered “pocket rocket” developed with the assistance of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. This is that car, which is known to Sunbeam enthusiasts…