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

Monterey’s $2.3m Bargain

These cars, which are at home on the road or track, are very affordable in relation to Ferrari racers from the same era

Normally my life revolves around cars that “ran when parked.” Volvo 122s with hardly any rust, Fiat 850 Spiders that are mostly complete, and even BMW 2002s that have potential to be restored. That’s the stuff of “Affordable Classics.”

But this is SCM’s Monterey issue, and only in Monterey could a $2,000,000 car (or $2,299,999) be called Read More

1982-85 Bentley Mulsanne Turbo

After reaching its zenith in the 1920s and 1930s, the Bentley began a long, slow decline in the 1950s. By the 1970s, the once-proud marque was reduced to a badge-engineered Rolls-Royce afterthought.

Finally realizing that this was an atrocious squandering of the heritage of a storied brand, managers in Crewe decided that a few pounds of manifold pressure might restore a bit of pride and self respect to the Bentley marque. The resulting Mulsanne Turbo (its name recalling long-ago Read More

BMW M6: Still Hot After All These Years

{vsig}2010-9_2521{/vsig}For BMW enthusiasts, the E-24 generation 6-series is one of the marque’s most beloved models, introduced in 1976 to replace the outgoing 3.0 CS and CSL. In 1983, BMW unveiled the ultimate specification of the series, the M635CSi. Specially outfitted by the “M” division with the 3.4-liter DOCH six-cylinder engine of the legendary M1, this was the ultimate high-speed BMW of the decade and a performance and status icon of the 1980s. Only 1,767 examples were brought to North America, Read More

1950-1967 Volkswagen Microbus

During the 1950s, the people charged with the task of selling imported cars were often more in tune with what the market wanted than the manufacturers.

Witness the string of successes that U.S.-based BMW and Porsche importer Max Hoffman had with the Porsche Speedster, BMW 2002 and Bavaria.

In the case of the VW Microbus, it was Dutch importer Ben Pon who conceived of a light van based on VW Type 1 (Beetle) mechanicals. Save for rare oddballs like Buckminster Read More

On a Clear Day, You Can See DeLorean

Wealthy Type-A car guys can’t seem to resist starting their own companies (named, of course, after themselves). But for every Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, there’s a Bricklin, Tucker, and. DeLorean. John Z. DeLorean, at least, seemed to have the automotive chops to make his company a long-term survivor. He was a thoroughly unconventional GM executive, the son of immigrants, and public school educated, he was hip, handsome, and a non-conformist-all of which were the kiss of death at ultra-conservative GM. Read More

Aston Martin DBS, Unloved No More

Aston Martin was in trouble again. By the mid-1960s, it was clear that the DB6 was in dire need of modernization, based as it was on a design with its roots firmly in the now-archaic DB4, which was launched in 1958. William Towns, who would serve Aston well (if controversially at times) through the 1970s, was brought in to design a thoroughly modern car.

The resulting DBS was the last of the David Brown Aston Martins, and while looking little Read More

1955-57 Ford Thunderbird

The immediate post-war era saw sports cars enter the American consciousness for the first time since the days of the Mercer Raceabout and the Stutz Bearcat. By the early 1950s-in addition to foreigners like MG, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Ferrari-Ford had to stomach American independents and upstarts dabbling in sports cars, most notably tiny manufacturers like Kaiser, Hudson, Nash, Crosley, Kurtis, and Muntz. The final straw came when arch rival Chevrolet introduced the Corvette in June of 1953, though really, Read More

Zoom Zoom: The Miata Turns 20

The Mazda Miata might hold the record for inverse relationships in the automotive world. It’s difficult to think of a car more significant in the sports car pantheon that enjoys less respect from the masses. Often derided as a “chick car” by the clueless and insecure, the Miata is the only reason the two-seat roadster hasn’t been consigned to the automotive fossil record, along with the dual-cowl phaeton and the landaulet.

Mazda has an interesting, almost narcoleptic history in the Read More

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