The “Pretty Woman” Lotus is a Winner

Few modern classics offer more performance and visual bang than a Lotus Esprit Turbo SE. Somehow, this softened version — the less-aggressive, non-origami, original shape — has aged gracefully over the past 20 or so years.

Peter Stevens gets credit for this design, with honorable mention to Julian Thompson for the refreshing in 1994.

I’m going to focus on the Esprit SE seen in “Pretty Woman” and ”Basic Instinct” instead of the Roger Read More

Did You See That ’58 Aston Martin DB Mark III?

Is there such a thing as an affordable classic or a good deal during Monterey auction week? Watching collectors and enthusiasts flock to the numerous auctions searching for a special, once-in-a-lifetime deal is like watching a professional goat rodeo. If you are a chaos junkie, this is for you, but making sense of this madness can be taxing, perplexing and exhausting — even for seasoned pros.

Imagine every dealer, collector, punter, enthusiast and wannabe all gathering under a tent, vying Read More

Doing the 105 Series Alfa Axle Hop

The 105 Series Alfa Romeos are the cars most non-Alfisti think of when you say “Alfa.” And that’s not surprising, as all of them — coupe (GTV), convertible (Spider) or sedan (Berlina) — offer a level of mechanical sophistication, build quality and pure driving fun which is hard to beat in their price ranges. In addition, any of these Alfas can be used without fear in modern traffic. While your collector-car insurance agency might not appreciate it, these cars could Read More

Is the TR8 Lemon Due for Some Sugar?

The last volume-produced traditional British roadster was the Triumph TR6. Even in 1969 when it was introduced, it was obsolete. Magazines such as Road & Track clamored for better, newer sports cars with modern engines, chassis and unibody construction—cars that would finally dispense with antiquated features like lever-action shocks and feeble heaters.

In early 1975, Triumph finally introduced such a car in the TR7, which would be sold alongside the TR6 for about a year. Dubbed in ads as “the Read More

A Truck Stuck in the 1946 Wayback Machine

By 1940, military planners all but knew that the United States was eventually going to end up embroiled in World War II. Specifications were drawn up for military-specific truck configurations, and Dodge was at the forefront.

Contracts were let initially for a series of half-ton trucks based on the new-for-1940 Dodge civilian trucks with several cab and body configurations, including an SUV-like Carryall wagon. These VC-Series trucks held great promise, and they soon evolved into the Read More

The Angry Catfish May be a Keeper

Daimler of the U.K. (no relation to Daimler-Benz) was mainly a purveyor of ultra-stodgy sedans, hearses and limousines to British nobility and the royal family. They were as unlikely an entrant into the sports car market as Kaiser and Nash had been a few years early with the Kaiser-Darrin and the Nash-Healey. Nevertheless, the moribund Daimler saw the export dollars that Standard-Triumph and BMC were raking in during the 1950s, and the company decided to grab their own Read More

The Safety Car that Didn’t Sell

By 1973, things looked very bad indeed for the types of cars that most of us care about. Fuel shortages, insurance rates, nutty safety and bumper regulations— plus a hearty helping of general gloom and malaise all but killed performance cars. Subaru importer Malcolm Bricklin thought he could exploit a niche for a sports car that nearly anyone (including killjoy busybodies like Joan Claybrook and Ralph Nader) could feel if not good, at least less bad about. Read More

A Well-Sorted MGB is a Great Start to Collecting

Much like Morgan fans remain to this day, the MG faithful of the 1950s were committed masochists. Fans of the T-Series cars were positively aghast when the envelope-bodied MGA replaced the TF.

When the inevitable wheel of progress hit Abingdon-on-Thames once again in 1962, the faithful were horrified to find that the new MGB came with roll-up glass side windows in place of fiddly, ill-fitting side curtains. Few would have predicted in 1962 that the car would be around Read More

A Fiat or a Ferrari?

The foibles of “production” car racing and homologation rules have given rise to some rather interesting machinery over the years. Nutty Plymouth Superbirds and road-going Ford GT40s are at one end of the spectrum, and Ferrari’s first V6 engine is at the other.

Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari envisioned the V6 as an ideal Formula 2 engine before his untimely death in 1956. But the engine didn’t come to fruition until nearly a decade later. By then, there was simply no way Read More

James Bond’s Car of the 1970s

Some companies can lock one label into the consumer’s mind. This is especially true in the auto industry. Volvos are safe, Subarus are sensible, Saabs are odd and Lotuses are lightweights.

Lotus mastermind Colin Chapman’s philosophy seemed to consist of omitting, thinning and paring—until the car collapsed on itself—and then put back the last thing either omitted, thinned or pared and calling it well done. All this made for cars that handled well and extracted the maximum performance out of Read More