MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment:
What is it about cars…

Posted on April 24, 2013 Comments (2)

…that makes us smile?

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Technically, I wasn’t on assignment while sitting in Panera having coffee the other day, when I just happened to glance out the window to see a woman snapping a photo of the back end of my car with her iPad… all smiles. It made me smile just to watch her have so much fun. I’m pretty sure my cars are on the most photographed list of cars on the road, for whatever reason. Toll booth cameras love them. Not a day goes by when I’m either sitting at a light or stuck in traffic that I look in my rearview mirror and see someone taking a picture… all smiles.

Double the pleasure!

Double the pleasure!

When I head off to car events, my car is shiny... and knock-you-over red. The color was not my choice. The fact that I could get my dream car, a convertible (forget the make and model, because I really didn’t know much, OK anything, about cars four years ago) was what counted. All I knew was that I had always wanted a top-down two-seater car. The short version to the story is that I now have twin Jaguars, a 2000 XKR and a 2004 XK8… identical, except for the supercharging look. Don’t ask. I’m female and we have two of everything.  

The smile factor came the very first year I purchased the cars. After the British Invasion, in Stowe, Vermont, the “Brit Boys” as they are known to me (none of whom are British, but all own something British) and I were having drinks with the event organizer, Michael Gaetano. I was interested in knowing more about the “People’s Choice Awards.” I was blunt in asking, “How do I get one?” You need a gimmick to catch people’s attention, Michael encouraged… candy by the car… anything to make them stop, look, and vote for your car. That same summer I actually got to see the car belonging to the woman I met at my first Daytona 24, Miss Amy. Her car has a license plate to match her name! How cool is that, I thought. I put two and two together and came up with the smile factor for my cars, which has been a lot of fun ever since!

Seeing the Brit Boys and their cars always makes me smile.

Seeing the “Brit Boys” and their cars always makes me smile.

So what is my smile factor? I’m a Jag Girl, with license plates to prove it. I have a female mechanic who works under the cars in red stiletto heels. Getting a visual? It’s like watching Candid Camera or Funniest Home Videos, depending on where you fall in generations. At car events I get a kick out of spectators walking by the car then turning back for a double take… all smiles.  

Everyone smiles at JANE the mechanic.

Everyone smiles at JANE the mechanic.

All this got me thinking. What draws my attention to a particular car? It’s common sense that it’s gut reaction and the WOW factor. When I’m judging a Concours, it’s first impressions, along with a set of very specific criteria. I decided to go back into my photo gallery of images taken over the past three years… thousands of them… to see what caught my eye. Still not sure I nailed my own tastes, I trekked off to a Festival of Speed in St. Petersburg, then a couple of cars and coffees, and finally a few hours watching the Speed and Velocity channels to test my gut reaction.  

It’s not always the perfect Concours car that strikes us, although it may. Maybe it’s something that triggers memories; maybe it is the uniqueness of this art form, or maybe it’s just a feeling we get inside. I watch guys peering under the bonnets, salivating at engines, carburetors, and mazes of wires! Most car guys I know have memories of tinkering on a car during high school, or rebuilding an engine with their dad, or secretly drag racing with friends down straightaways.  

Xenis, Jacques Saoutchik’s 1938 Hispano-Suiza coachwork turns heads.

“Xenis”, Jacques Saoutchik’s 1938 Hispano-Suiza coachwork turns heads.

The sleek Bertone concept car caught everyone’s attention at Concorso Italiano 2012.

The sleek Bertone concept car caught everyone’s attention at Concorso Italiano 2012.

After a little research I discovered my trigger… speed. My smile comes from within when I see racecars… and racecar drivers… seriously! It comes with an adrenaline rush either imagining what it would be like to race, or just watching the cars race. It must be innate, because I’m mesmerized at tracks. I think it’s a combination, the technology of the car and the skill of the driver. My preference? I like the “stealth”’ look, although if it races, I pretty much smile! We already know Porsche 911s make my heart pitter patter. And I’m smitten with vintage race cars, even the young 50-60 year olds!

Le Mans keeps me mesmerized.

Le Mans keeps me mesmerized.

Pagani at The Quail topped off my day.

Pagani at The Quail topped off my day.

This photo always makes me smile inside. John Fitch, Lime Rock Historics, 2011.

This photo always makes me smile inside. John Fitch, Lime Rock Historics, 2011.

The curves of European classic cars also strike my fancy… a front or back end with personality. Sleek lines draw a sophisticated smile and raised eyebrow. Porsche 356s and Mercedes 300 SLs stop me in my tracks. Although I’m not a big fan of American muscle cars, probably because I lived through that era, my eyes widen at the sight of Americana when it comes to Cords, Auburns, and Duesenbergs. Seeing what’s right on a car… authenticity… gets a big nod.

Who can resist smiling at chubby cheeks on this 1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster.

Who can resist smiling at chubby cheeks on this 1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster.

Just picture this 1932 Duesenberg driving through middle America, in the day.

Just picture this 1932 Duesenberg driving through middle America, in the day.

Picture perfect! The 1962 Porsche 356 B Super Cabriolet at the St. Michael’s Concours 2012.

Picture perfect! The 1962 Porsche 356 B Super Cabriolet at the St. Michael’s Concours 2012.

At the end of the day I believe it’s the pleasure that cars give those who appreciate them, and that pleasure is in the eyes of the beholder.   

What is it about cars that makes you smile? I’d love to know!


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Cooling System Part 1

Posted on April 2, 2013 Comments (0)

Improved Cooling—Auto and Personal

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the eighth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

The WASRED 308 has never been a hot running car. In traffic the water temperature gauge would sometimes indicate as high as 105 degrees Centigrade. But regular highway running was generally just under the 90 degree mark. That changed last spring when I arrived to 110 degree Fahrenheit weather in Phoenix. The car was running very hot in traffic. Over 110 C. I asked my host, Bud Bourassa (no relation), all around good guy, vintage car owner, and racer and he led me to Alex Traverso’s Ferrari repair shop.

Alex is an old school Italian mechanic and very much at home with older Ferraris. He quickly diagnosed that the bottom of the radiator was plugged, one cooling fan was not working and that effective cooling was limited. I planned to leave the next day, and since I was moving to cooler temperatures, I decided to risk running it home and making repairs there. So I did and I did.

Fans and radiator removed

Fans and radiator removed

Removing the rad was not that difficult and once I had a look at it I knew there were three choices. The first was to re-core the existing unit, the second was to replace it with a new factory unit and the third was to purchase an aluminum aftermarket upgrade. The new Ferrari unit was roughly two and one half times the cost of the aftermarket all aluminum upgrade at $1200 and that unit was about twice the price of re-coring the old unit. My original 1978 unit looked pretty rough.

Old and new radiators

Old and new radiators

I spoke with Nick at Nick's Forza Ferrari and was impressed with his story about the units he designs. The radiator is larger, 3.10 inches versus 2.75 inches wide. The core tubing is oval and that allows for more efficient cooling and a greater capacity. Part of the stated purpose of changing parts on this car is to upgrade individual parts whenever possible. I had to believe that radiator technology had advanced in the 35 years since my radiator was built. Plus dealing with Nick’s Forza was a treat.

Nick knows 308s. He taught me a lot about what I was getting into and what else I should do to the cooling system, fans and A/C units to bring the whole package up to date. While his company benefitted from selling me some of the components, he also spent a great deal of time helping me understand what I was looking at from other suppliers. Nick’s site has a plethora of upgrades for 308s.

Grinding and shaping

Grinding and shaping

While getting the old radiator out was not difficult, putting the new one in was a chore. As previously mentioned, the car had been crashed in the front right corner in a previous life and the original repair left several radiator supports less than level with each other or anything else. While it worked fine, it was definitely ugly. Just as the previous radiator had been “fitted” this one also required support bracket adjustments and shimming to bring it closer to the original. Probably not perfect, but pretty damned close.

The doctor is in.

The doctor is in.

Once again, I had to call on Spencer Guder of Spencer Restorations in Canterbury, CT, for help. Spencer is originally from the Boston area and he still has a large customer base here. He is often picking up or delivering cars in the area and between my general tools and his specialty stuff, he can do almost anything of this nature in my garage. So he stops by and works on the car once I either have completed the grunt work or I am stymied.

In case you think, after reading this, that it is something anyone could do, forget it. Despite what you are reading, I am neither talented nor sufficiently competent to believe that once I have put something together it will actually work. Spencer double checks everything I have touched, tells me what I missed, then finishes the job.

I work on the car at night. Generally after 9:00 PM. This works out well for me because I love to do the work. I am not in a hurry, and I save a few bucks in the process. Spencer and I also worked out an arrangement whereby I can call him when I need information and he bills me the telephone time at shop rates. That way my calls for help can be a profitable annoyance for him rather than just an annoyance. Win-Win.

Neatly tucked in.

Neatly tucked in.

So at this point the radiator is sitting easily, properly positioned in its cradle, and no hoses have been hooked up and no accessories have been bolted to it. We have plans for the A/C system and the original fans. So stay tuned.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
No Spare

Posted on April 1, 2013 Comments (0)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the seventh in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

We Don’t Carry a Spare!

I bought the car in Chicago from a baseball player who was on strike at the time. The car came with the airless spare sitting in the passenger seat because the front spare compartment was filled with stereo equipment. I drove the car home, removed the stereo system, but never replaced it with the spare tire. I use the front compartment for luggage.

I have had one flat tire in the past 20 years. We have AAA Road Assistance. I carry pressurized cans in my safety kit. Maybe I’m lucky.

Working with Spencer Guder of Spencer Restorations in Canterbury, CT (no website), we cut the spare tire mount off the floor platform, ground down the rough edges and then sprayed the whole compartment with NAPA Stone Guard Black #4004. This stuff hides a lot of sins; it is very tough and abrasion resistant. It comes in black or white.

The empty wheel well

The empty wheel well

The missing piece

The missing piece

Whereas the heat from the engine and exhaust manifold insures nothing freezes in the rear luggage compartment, the front tub’s proximity to the radiator does the same thing up front. Later Model 308s have a vented area on the hood lid that allows heat to escape upwards. Presently, on this hood, heated air is routed around the tub and down under the car on each side. Some owners of later 308s and 328s complain that air coming out of the aforementioned vents washes over the hood and windshield and into the passenger compartment when the Targa top is off. The vents make sense and they are a factory development, but the plain hood does look clean. I am torn.


Sandy on Assignment: Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Posted on March 27, 2013 Comments (1)

Where the people are Best in Show

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Heading off for my third year at Amelia, I was hoping to finally click with this event, since it is one of the top Concours in the whole wide world. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what the weekend would bring.

The beauty of Amelia is also it’s downside—everything in close proximity and easily accessible. It can become a blur. I mapped out my adventures beforehand embracing what makes Amelia so unique… the people.

My Best in Show, Concours de Sport… A World Class Car Guy

My Best in Show, Concours de Sport… A World Class Car Guy

Yes, it is about the cars, but this year the people were my Best in Show. Behind every car is a story – about a racecar driver, collector, designer, or manufacturer. Someone who had chosen to design it, save it, or restore it. Someone who had used his or her gifts and talent to make that particular car special.

Hagertys’ Junior Judge admires the 1913  Peugeot Boat-tailed ‘skiff.’

Hagertys’ Junior Judge admires the 1913  Peugeot Boat-tailed ‘skiff.’

First off, if you think this Concours is beyond your reach for whatever reason, it’s not. All it takes is pre-planning, which means now, for 2014. Get a group of friends together, go online and find a condo to rent, preferably near the beach, and you’re set. Major hotel chains may already be booked.

When ticket sales open, jump without hesitation. Buy a ticket to every seminar. For $25–30 each, you get to see and hear legends share their fantastic and funny stories. Consider purchasing a coveted Porsche Driving Experience Road Tour ticket for two, which equates to $100 per person, for a full day’s activities, lunch and thrill of a lifetime. Plan to attend the free, duPont Registry Cars and Coffee, Saturday at 9AM, on the same 18th fairway as Sunday’s Concours.

My Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance…The Savvy Car Girl, RM’s youngest bidder

My Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance…The Savvy Car Girl, RM’s youngest bidder

NO SALE  $1.3M bid wasn’t enough to buy the 1970 Porsche 908/3.

NO SALE  $1.3M bid wasn’t enough to buy the 1970 Porsche 908/3.

Rare 1938 H.R.G Airline Coupe Prototype sold for $253,000

Rare 1938 H.R.G Airline Coupe Prototype sold for $253,000

Go to the Ritz and have lunch by the pool and drinks on the veranda. It costs less than you think. Purchase one $75-80 general admission for two, including catalogues to RM and Gooding auctions, but do not raise your hand unless you want to part with your money. Watch the people, especially Max Girardo, RM’s auctioneer—he’s worth the price of admission. I was taken with an adorable little girl and her parents. Minutes later, little Lockland raised her hand to become the days youngest RM bidder and buyer, taking home the 1941 BMW 327 Sport Cabriolet for a mere $247,500. Now that’s a car girl!  

Now for my adventures…

Keep in mind; my mission was to make this weekend click, so I was game to try some new experiences. I had purchased a rather pricey Rolls- Royce Wine Maker’s dinner ticket, month’s prior. Ironically, the RR dinner turned into a dinner honoring the Guardians of Porsche. To know me is to know my dream car is a Porsche. So there I was, about to sit at a table with total strangers, yet beaming because I was in a room filled with Porsche People, all celebrating the 50th birthday of the 911.

I introduced myself and found everyone to be genuinely friendly at our table. On my right, two couples had just completed the four-day tour around Florida as Amelia Island Concours entrants. On my left was an empty seat to this sold out dinner, then an extremely gracious and engaging couple. I was my usual chatty self, asking about their tie into the motorsports world. James, the husband, said he had a race team that raced a hybrid. Something about the fastest Ferrari and Pininfarina and the Nurburgring, a bit much to digest instantly and I couldn’t quite wrap my arms around a hybrid racing. I chatted with all the guests for a few minutes, then like a lightning bolt, it hit me. A race team, that’s very special. I was still hung up on the hybrid concept, since all I could picture was a Toyota Prius. James offered to write down the name of the car so I could look it up later. During dinner his wife Meg and I shared great conversations. Every course seemed to come with dessert—a picture of one of James cars passed to me on his iPhone.

I spied Vic Elford and his lovely wife Anita and went over to say “Hi.” During the PowerPoint presentation, pictures of Porsche legends, all in attendance that evening, were flashed on the screen. Also on the screen was a striking individual I had never heard of before, Magnus Walker from L.A. After dinner, and the four wine-pairings, I mustered up the nerve to walk over and introduce myself to Patrick Long. There was no doubt, Amelia was going to click this year, and it was only Thursday!

1967 GT 40 MkIV, The Automotive Heritage Award Winner

1967 GT 40 MkIV, The Automotive Heritage Award Winner

When I got back to the MMR condo that evening, Peter and I shared what we had done for dinner. I dug up the paper with the name of the owner and car I needed to research. Peter stared at me in disbelief and calmly said, “You had dinner with whom? Do you know who he is?” Thank goodness for Google. One site noted James Glickenhaus as the most interesting car guy in the world! Also, courtesy of Google, I know exactly what the P 4/5 Competizione is and the history behind the 1967 GT40 Mk IV entered in Sunday’s Concours and its tie to Bruce McLaren. And it was still only Thursday, at Amelia!

Friday morning at 7am, in the dark, I was at the Fernandina Beach Airport with 99 other cars ready for the all day Porsche Driving Experience and Road Tour to begin. Due to a snag in logistics, I was without a navigator. Not a good thing to happen for a road tour. An announcement was made and another navigator-less participant surfaced, Chris Nast, whose cute business card read, “Auto Sommeliers.” For the next 7 hours, we had a blast.

First stop, the St. John River Ferry to transport us over the river. On land again, we headed off to the Mayport Naval Station where the Porsche Sports Driving School instructors and new Porsche 911s and Boxsters would test our autocross skills. I was first in line. It all went too quickly. I got back in line for seconds. I hopped in again, buckled up and looked over to the instructor in the passenger’s seat. It was Geoffrey Lowdermilk, my instructor from the Porsche School in Leeds, Alabama. “Show me what I taught you,” was all he had to say and we were off!

Magnus Walker and Karen Caid rode with both drivers for hot laps!

Magnus Walker and Karen Caid rode with both drivers for hot laps!

Chris and Sandy ready for their hot laps!

Chris and Sandy ready for their hot laps!

Back in our car, Chris and I headed to another section of the naval base for hot laps with a racecar driver. We had our pick of two, Hurley Haywood or Patrick Long! Can you feel my excitement? I’ve done hot laps before. The biggest challenge is climbing into the car. We put on helmets and waited in line. We had a plan; Chris would pick Hurley and I, Patrick. Who should be in front of us, Magnus Walker. He was so gracious letting me take his picture and even handing me his business card. Another thank you to Goggle… urbanoutlaw.tv tells his amazing story.

A spin with Patrick Long!

A spin with Patrick Long!

When we reached our respective cars a little voice inside my head said, “Get into the car gracefully,” and I did. Patrick remembered me, I think, or at least I wanted to believe, and we were off. I asked if he handled these corners like he would at LeMans. “Not as fast”, he replied. My response, “See you at LeMans.”

A conversation starter, the XK140

Another conversation starter, the XK140

Saturday morning was a huge success for the first annual duPont Registry Cars and Coffee sponsored by Hancock Insurance at Amelia. Again, the camaraderie was unbelievable. Standing in front of an XK120 I overhead two men talking about Buddy Polumbo. I couldn’t help but chime in.

Another tip about enjoying Amelia is to reach out and meet new people. Fascinating enthusiasts are everywhere and eager to chat. Peter graciously brought me along to share the company of Denise McCluggage, known to all as the First Lady of sports car racing. Not only are her stories amazing, her sense of humor shines through. Her take on growing old gracefully was priceless. “I’m going for preservation class, not a full restoration”, she joked.

The Chairman’s Choice Award and Most Historically Significant Race Car Driven by Sam Posey, the 1971 Ferrari 512 M

The Chairman’s Choice Award and Most Historically Significant Race Car Driven by Sam Posey,
the 1971 Ferrari 512 M

Everyone who attends a Concours picks his or her own favorites. For me, it’s often the marque or a special owner. Others seek out the unique or nostalgic favorites. My marque is Jaguar so my antennae are always searching for Jags. On Sunday, I spied a beautiful SS100 being awarded the Most Historically Significant Jaguar. A stunning XK120 OTS received the Most Outstanding Jaguar. At the Jaguar pavilion I spotted racecar legend Davey Jones talking up the latest Jaguar models and sharing stories from his racing days.

Prinz Heinrich Benz Racing Touring Cars, the 1908, No.46 and 1911, No. 38

Prinz Heinrich Benz Racing Touring Cars, the 1908, No.46 and 1911, No. 38

You may remember my adventures at Retromobile, where I was taken with one of the Prinz Heinrich racecars, the green number 38. Here it was on display at Amelia, next to its mate, the number 46 white Benz, both newly restored and together for the very first time in public in the United States. Also seen in Paris at the Artcurial auction, was a Messerschmitt. Another and supposedly only one in the United States popped up at Amelia. My comment, “Oh no, not another Messerschmitt!”

American Classic (Pre 1930) awardee, the 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Roadster by Murphy

American Classic (Pre 1930) awardee, the 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Roadster
by Murphy

Hugh Ruthven II was showing his Formula Junior car, a 1959 Bandini, and quite the crowd pleaser. Also on the field was Bob Matteucci, again with an award winning Rolls-Royce, his beautiful yellow 1929 Springfield Phantom I Roadster by Murphy. The Duesenbergs came in a variety of colors. The silver 1936 SJN took top honors, yet Steve Wolf’s red, 1932 Duesenberg really must have been the Duesy of its day.

The covers didn’t even have to come off the cars on the field, for me to get excited over the GT40s! During the Ford GT40 seminar on Saturday morning, I learned how the victory champagne tradition came to be. Started by Dan Gurney spontaneously, after his 1967 win at Le Mans, Sam Posey and Bill Warner kept that tradition alive for Amelia, toasting this year’s Concours winners.

Amelia more than clicked for me this year. I was touched, moved, and inspired. I want to learn more about the cars. I want to keep following my dreams, like the racecar drivers. But most of all, I want to continue to embrace this wonderful world of motorsports because it’s all about the people, and they are precious. 


Seminars at Amelia

Posted on March 19, 2013 Comments (0)

Part of the Amelia joy has to be the multiple seminars. This year’s Corvette, Porsche, and the feature GT40 seminars were all outstanding.

The Corvette seminar celebrated the 50th ground breaking design of the 63 Corvette Split-Window Stingray. In context, before its advent, the 61/62 Jaguar XKE had taken all the air out of the room. Corvette’s exciting new design offered new technical and design features that got Corvette back in the game. Members of the original design team dominated the panel and happily described the evolution of the new model. On the field, significant iterations of it were also celebrated.

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at the Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Ed Welburn, International Director of Design at GM introduced the C7 and shared the thinking behind the design. The significant question from the audience related to its most controversial aspect, the seeming design steal from the Camaro back end. Welburn explained that this was Corvette’s response to the fact that its sales were dropping, as its base was aging, and that it needed to find a way of appealing to a younger demographic. In surveys, the new Corvette’s edgier design was apparently very popular with younger buyers. (See our article on the C7 Corvette for our take on the new car and GM’s dilemma.)

The Porsche seminar was another genuflection to the brilliance of the 911 by the people most closely identified with its success. This rear view tribute to a long in the tooth design ignores the elephant in the room. More and more, the street is saying the Cayman is a far better car.

The Porsche Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40 seminar was billed as the top event and it didn’t disappoint. The beloved native hero, Dan Gurney was the unquestionable crowd favorite. Age and his recent accident made his accession to the speaker’s platform painful to watch. Once in place however, his cogent observations and pithy comments put lie to the thought that Dan Gurney is mentally less than he ever was.

GT40s at Amelia 2013

To me, one of the more interesting interchanges was cleverly engineered by moderator Tim Considine. After several less than positive comments about absent fellow driver Jacky Ickx, the moderator asked Gulf/ Wyer Team Manager and Engineer, John Horsman, who he believed was the best driver he ever managed and Horsman replied, without hesitation, Jacky Ickx. Putting point to his comment he cited the numbers at the end of the first lap of a rainy GT race at Spa when Ickx established a 38-second lead on the second place car. An incredible feat! When you think of that in terms of distance it is unbelievable.

The GT40 Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40, like all success stories had many fathers. Primarily, Wyer, Shelby and Holman-Moody.

Representatives from each team were on the podium and their stories of corporate infighting, conflicting instructions and the struggle at the highest levels of Ford management made for fascinating listening. If you haven’t yet, you must read John Horsman’s Racing in the Rain, recently reprinted by Bull Publishing with a new soft cover, it is not available on Amazon and sells for $29.95 from Bull Publishing. It is the GT40 book to own! Read about it in our Racemaker Book Reviews.