Columns (1951)

1958 Devin Special

Written by June 2014
The Devin Special is a serious sports car. It has a tube frame, lightweight fiberglass body, aluminum interior, complete instrumentation, individual windscreens, functional hood scoop, aluminum headrest, egg-crate grille, quick-fill fuel cap and sport mirrors. The Devin is finished in white and blue, which represented American racing colors of the period. Devin Enterprises in El Monte, CA, built this exciting open-cockpit, two-seater car. A Chevrolet 283-ci V8 engine powers this car, and it carries dual Carter AFB carburetors — with an original Bill Devin dual 4-barrel aluminum intake that Devin designed and cast himself. The owner reports that only about…
The Datsun roadster, lovingly dubbed “the Fairlady” in its Japanese home market, was built from 1963 to 1970. Although legend has it that it was designed as a copy of the MGB, in actual fact the Datsun model was launched several months prior to the MGB and therefore, any design resemblance is happenstance. Nevertheless, the car’s main competitors were considered to be the offerings of MG, Triumph and Fiat. The Datsun roadster was extremely popular, with over 40,000 being built over its 11 years of production by Nissan in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, Japan. It was, however, considerably less expensive and more…
We thought it was odd that our client’s Mercedes-Benz dealer was threatening to sue him for wrongfully exporting his car in violation of his agreement that he would not do so, exposing him to substantial liquidated damages. As we got into the case, we learned that this was a really big deal across the United States. Luxury-car manufacturers (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Land Rover, Porsche and Lexus) are worried about a growing U.S. cottage industry that buys their new cars in the U.S. — and then promptly exports them to Asia, Russia and other parts of the world. The U.S.-based exporters are…
  There’s nothing more fun than buying, driving and enjoying a bargain sports car. Today, in our red-hot collector car market, most hope — and perhaps pray — that our purchases will continue to appreciate. Yet the prospect of price appreciation someday is different than a bargain today. The 911SC is that rarity which represents a great value in today’s market. The 911SC saved Porsche from a botched response to U.S. emission controls imposed in 1974. Intended to be the rear-engine swan song, the 911SC instead proved to be a tremendously enjoyable and durable design. Long the everyday car of…
The collector car market is steamrolling along with the largest price increases we’ve ever seen. From 2009 to 2013, combined sales of all the auctions in Monterey jumped from $120m to $308m. That $188m increase in four years represents a 157% change, and a return of 26.6% per year. For Scottsdale, from 2010 to 2014, combined sales went from $126m to $253m. That’s a 101% increase, and an annualized return of 19%. The Dow Jones Index, which has reached record heights this year, began 2009 at 8,776 and ended 2013 at 16,576. That’s a 90% increase, and a yearly increase…
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…
 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…
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…
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…
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…