Unaffordable Classic: The Purchase Price is Just the Beginning

A look at the photos of the rusty 1953 Lancia Aurelia GT, sold by Bonhams at Olympia, in London, on December 7, 2009, for $26,082, sent a rush of emotions through my head.

The first was admiration for the brave soul who would commit to such an ambitious project. Let’s hope he is well versed in metal repair and the intricacies of early post-war hand-built Italian sports cars. Even a sound example can spring some wicked surprises, as I can Read More

When MG Got an “A”

What most of us know about the immediate post-war history of MG is historical rather than experiential. The 1945-49 TC was the sports car of the WWII generation, now sadly passing to that great wrecking yard in the sky. The pre-war PAs, PBs, TAs, and TBs that GIs stationed in Britain saw were as glamorous to them as Mercer Raceabouts and Stutz Bearcats were to their WWI-generation fathers. “Sports car” to WWII vets became synonymous with cut-down doors, separate fenders, Read More

VW’s Rabbit Hole-in-One

After 1973, Americans had to get used to pressing their faces against the glass and watching the Europeans get all the good stuff, beginning with the Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera RS and BMW 3.0 CSL. Even entertaining cheap stuff like the MG B V8 and Triumph Dolomite were forbidden. It seemed destined to be no different when VW launched the hot version of its new Golf sub-compact, the GTI, in 1976.

With more horsepower and a stiffer suspension, the GTI Read More

Still at Sixes and Sevens

Although it’s hard to believe today, BMW nearly didn’t survive the late 1950s and 1960s. Thirsty and expensive Baroque sedans, the hard-to-find V8-powered 507 sports car (253 built), and the tiny egg-shaped Isetta wasn’t really a formula for success.

The “New Class” 1,500-cc sedans of 1962, which led directly to the 2002 and a successful series of 2,500-, 2,800-, and 3,000-cc sedans and coupes, changed that, in rapid succession. Perhaps the crown jewel of BMW’s renaissance was the E9 coupe-better Read More

When X1/9 Marked the Spot

By the early 1970s, some were predicting the demise of the inexpensive sports car. Modern small sedans like the Audi Fox and VW Rabbit were threatening to render sports cars redundant. It didn’t help that the standard-bearers for the under-$4,000 sports car class were the MG Midget and Triumph Spitfire.

Both were ancient in comparison to up-to-the-minute designs like the Rabbit and Fox, or for that matter, the Toyota Celica. The enthusiast publications practically demanded that somebody build a cheap Read More

Plus 4 Plusses (and Minuses)

Factory support of older Morgans is incredible. With simply a serial number, the gang in Malvern Link can supply or make just about anything for a Plus 4

There has always been an enthusiastic market (albeit a limited one) for anachronisms. Vinyl records and mechanical watches are in most respects inferior to CDs and quartz watches, but they are infinitely more charming than their modern mass-market replacements. So it is with Morgans. Read More

Beach Blanket Bimbos

Association with the glamour of the Riviera of the 1960s and people like
Aristotle Onassis can make people do silly things at auction

Beach cars are frivolous, slow, and silly, but they’re cute as hell, and in the case of Fiat and Renault Jollys, the association with the glamour of the Riviera of the 1960s and people like Aristotle Onassis can make people do silly things at auction. And while Things Read More

Triumph’s Joan Rivers

When Karmann face-lifted the Triumph TR4 in 1968, there were still some arthritic old bones behind the TR6’s wide smile and smooth skin

The age of the biplane fighter lasted from roughly 1915 to 1941, by which time the last of the fabric-covered, fixed-gear aircraft like the Gloster Gladiator and Fiat CR42 were looking quite antique. The Triumph TR6 was the Gloster Gladiator of sports cars: If not absolutely the last traditional Read More

Ferrari 400: Sensible Italian Shoes?

Buy a Ferrari 400 with needs and you may as well start thinking about ways to improve on Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme

The mid 1970s were cruel to the entire auto industry, and the Italian exotics were particularly hard hit. Punitive taxes, fuel shortages, and a general reluctance to consume conspicuously put Maserati and Lamborghini on the ropes. Even Ferrari wasn’t immune.

Worse still, class warfare turned into open warfare when Read More

Worth the Weight

The Lotus Elan will forever be remembered as the ride of latex catsuit-
wearing Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the BBC spy show “The Avengers”

Colin Chapman’s fanaticism about keeping weight off makes the average supermodel’s interest in the same subject seem merely casual. The results he achieved without materials like carbon fiber and the extensive use of aluminum were simply amazing, even if they were gained at the expense of Read More

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