Columns (1898)

The brainchild of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the “Father of the Corvette,” the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle II is the first known operating example of torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, and it is among the most important Corvette development vehicles in private hands today. Since leaving General Motors, it has only been owned by the Briggs Cunningham Museum, Miles Collier, John Moores and the consigning owner. The first CERV was completed in 1960, and it was aimed at open-wheel racing. Duntov began work on this successor in late 1961, intending “to incorporate all the features necessary to make it a successful contender, not only…
Some 54 C-types were manufactured in all, the majority for customer sale, leaving the model rarer than examples of the replacement D-type family. This Ecurie Ecosse C-type has often been listed as having been intended originally for export to a customer in Argentina named Carlos Lostalo. The order was allegedly canceled due to customs difficulties, whereupon the car was delivered instead to Rossleigh of Edinburgh, Jaguar distributors. In fact the extensive — and beautifully bound — documentation file accompanying XKC042 reveals a different background story. Señor Lostalo’s planned purchase of the car did not arise until early in 1954, when…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
By any standard, Harry C. Stutz was an unlikely artist. Perhaps a few in the stands at Indianapolis in 1911 saw Stutz’s creation coming, but they were in the minority, as they were engineers and fellow veterans of the early automobile industry, and they knew Stutz’s genius. The car that he built under his own name averaged 62.375 mph for 500 miles in that first running of the Indianapolis 500, running with only minimal mechanical adjustment and 13 pit stops, with 11 of them for tire changes. Although the Stutz car did not win the race, its durable performance was…