MMR Blog

C7 Corvette

Posted on March 19, 2013 Comments (4)

Corvette is in a tough spot. They are like the 35-year-old woman on Craig’s List who is looking for a long term relationship. And she only ever gets two responses. One from a 20-year-old who knows she is too expensive to maintain and has too much “experience” for him and the other from the 60-year-old who wants someone a little slower and more comfortable.

The C7 is that woman. To drive that thing to 50% of its potential, you have to have more experience than any 20-30 year old, and, the 60 year old is too smart to try. Up until the C3s, the mission was simple. Go fast, go loud, and keep it affordable enough for college kids. When the horsepower edict came down and gutted the C3 they lost most of the kids and they never got them back.

The market today is the kids that never left and the ones that missed out on the 67 Big Blocks. Sadly, for Corvette, two things are happening to them, the first is that “the kids” are living longer but still dying, and the fact that Corvette’s ever stiffening chassis and boy racer suspension mean they can’t take a trip unless they tow their dialysis machine along behind them. They are plain uncomfortable.

C7 Corvette

Message from your old guys: Honda once built a 50cc racing motorcycle with 10 speeds. A 4-mph breeze or a 1-degree incline forced the rider to drop a gear to maintain speed. That is because it only had 50cc and no torque. Your Corvette has 450 lbs. of torque. Put all the gears you want in an automatic transmission but please explain to me why anyone needs a seven speed shifter? Most of us can’t remember that high and we know what gear we are in by the sound of the engine. We think four gears are just fine and a fifth should be an optional switch on the dash. Read overdrive.

Thanks for the decent interior. (What happened? Did your bean counter die?) How about finding a suspension engineer that is 60 or over, has a bad back and thinks the Nurburgring was written by Wagner. Then have him dial in a setting on the suspension that corresponds to his needs and you have it. Want a clue? Drive a 550 Maranello and then lift the Corvette chassis two inches so that I don’t have to fall out to get out.

Get rid of the Camaro back end, it looks like a Dinky toy. Go back to the C-5 rear and get rid of those stupid floor heater grates on the tops of the fenders or at least paint them the body color. Jesus! Now detune it a tad and slap a decal on it somewhere that says GT, because that is what I want! A powerful, comfortable and sharp lookin’ Grand Touring car.

And get rid of the T-Top. That went out with high-button shoes. The pricing is fine. I have the money.

C7 Corvette

Message from the younger guys you don’t have: This is our first sports car. We don’t have a lot of money and all this car says is “my Dad has a lot of money, please punish me”. So how about something that is simple to run and drive, goes like hell and makes a great sound. Like… say… a C-1 with a slightly stiffer chassis and an edgy body style, a four speed transmission with no switch on the dash and offered as ragtop only.

Confine all the electrics to the engine. We can roll up the windows ourselves. Give us a 250HP V8 and a straight axle for hopping around and sell it to us for $30-35K. We’ll fix it ourselves. Our dads did.

Tags: Corvette, C7

Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Vinyl Top Begone!

Posted on March 19, 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 sixth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

This isn’t really an update. This is more like a cosmetic facelift.

I confess, despite owning a 308 GTS, the GTB is really my favorite 308. I think the line is better unbroken by the black vinyl square in the middle of the Targa top. But the black vinyl top does go well with slatted rear quarter windows. Of course, it isn’t quite as noticeable on a black car, but it is still there. And it is only there to protect the top from being scratched when it is stowed behind the seats.

308 with clear coat panel

Eight years ago when we repainted the car, I recalled seeing a black 308 in Montreal with a roof panel that was denuded of its vinyl and I really liked it. So we stripped off the vinyl, filled in the surface to the best of our ability and voila. Is it wavy? Yes. Is it prone to scratching? Yes. Does it look better? I think so. Now if I can just get a set of GTB rear quarter window setups, I’ll have the best of both worlds; the clean look of the GTB and a removable Targa top. Have whoever does the work ladle on the clear because you will be buffing it out often.

GTB top with GTS rear quarters


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Driver Ergonomics

Posted on March 15, 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 fifth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

At a certain age, comfort in a car is a luxury. A little further down the road, it becomes a necessity. While hardly what passes today for a luxury car, a 308 is surprisingly comfortable. This is primarily due to the ride itself and the way the car handles bumps and other road surface irregularities. The current style of sports car chassis and suspension accent chassis rigidity and cornering performance over the softer suspension of years past.

Having said that, to be comfortable ergonomically, the designer assumes that the driver is 5'8" tall and has an offset spine that happily accommodates the six inch right offset of the clutch-brake-gas pedal cluster in the footwell. The seat and steering wheel are perfectly aligned with the chassis. In the driver’s seated position, hands on the wheel, the left side foot rest is exactly where you might expect the clutch pedal to be. The six inch shift to the right is necessitated by the intrusion of the left front wheel well into the driver’s foot well. One could assume that on long trips this could be a pain in the back and one would be correct.

Upgrading a Ferrari 308 GTS

That is an issue we cannot do a thing about. Taller drivers will be pleased to learn however that the seat pushes back far enough to comfortably accommodate the outstretched legs of a six footer. At that point however, ones arms are outstretched and the leverage to turn large tires at slow speed is severely compromised. Operation of the foot pedals is not an issue once you adapt to the offset.

What to do about the ”too far” steering wheel? One thing I noticed immediately is that while the wheel is too far away from my shoulders, it is also too close to the dash binnacle. John Tirrell, of Independent Ferrari Service in South Easton, MA installed a solution that benefitted both of us. By adding a two piece quick release hub between the steering wheel and the steering shaft platform you add about 1.5 inches. Unfortunately the horn wiring does not go through the style of hub I chose, so we installed a new horn button under the dash. The amazing thing is how often you remove the steering wheel to do even the simplest chores around the driver’s area.

There are several types of quick release systems available and l am using the Elliptical Quick Release unit by OMP. I tried the Snap Off system. I couldn’t get the steering wheel to line up properly when the wheel was at top dead center. It was only off 3/8 of an inch but it drove me nuts.

Pricing goes from $40 to $440 dollars so you will need to do your own due diligence on this part.

Below are images of the two parts: one on the shaft and the other that attached to the wheel. Also a side view of the complete unit installed that gives you some idea of the space between the top of the wheel and the gauge binnacle.

308 Steering wheel quick release component

308 Steering wheel quick release component

Steering hub

Steering hub

Attached hub component

Attached hub component

Installed quick release

Installed quick release

All race supply houses have these units. Suppliers may be found in our Goods and Services Directory under Parts and Accessories: Safety Equipment.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Muffler Systems

Posted on March 7, 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 fourth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

Do you hear what I hear?!

Whether it is the first notes of a Beethoven symphony or the blipping of the throttle on a V-12 Ferrari engine, sound moves us all.

The exhaust sound is arguably the most frequently personalized aspect of performance car ownership.

Aftermarket tuner systems generally differentiate themselves from original equipment by offering improved materials, finishes and designs that are “tuned? to be less restrictive, more powerful and noticeably louder.

Late model automobiles are equipped with stainless steel exhaust systems. They have replaced the steel versions which were given to rusting. However, the two metals respond differently to sound. While stainless is unquestionable longer lasting, it does so at the expense of the more mellifluous tones produced by the softer mild steel which played such a huge role in creating the Ferrari V12 mystique. In today’s high revving and high performance V8s, stainless OE and most aftermarket systems produce a hollow, raspy sound, which has become the hallmark of high performance motors.

While working on my 308 throughout the winter I noticed that the paint was flaking off the main body of its Ansa Sport muffler, pronounced Awnsa, and I wondered what the next step might be. The thought of buying a new muffler simply because the existing one, though structurally fine, was unsightly, seemed wrong.

WASRED muffler

By chance, I was recently digging into the Bobileff Motorcar Company’s site to add them to the MMR Goods & Services Directory as a restorer. That’s when I noticed that they also offer other services and one of them is the ability to rebuild Ansa Exhaust systems. I called and spoke with Gary Bobileff. He is owner of the company and a concours judge, a vehicle appraiser, and a person who is respected in the sport. I posed my problem to him.

Gary informed me that his company refurbishes the steel Ansa units which were built to fit V12 Ferraris of an earlier period. (There is a slide show on the site showing how they repair a Daytona muffler.) I asked him why? “The reason that people have the older Ansa systems rebuilt to exacting original specs is the sound. When installing a stainless system on a Ferrari 275, or Daytona, the sound nearly disappears. By staying with mild steel, the sound resonates not only from the tail pipes, but the entire system. This creates that beautiful melody throughout the rev ranges. This music can only be truly appreciated with an original mild steel system!”

But what about mine? He explained that my muffler, like all Ansas for V8 Ferraris, is stainless steel and that his company doesn’t have the capacity to work on these units. Gary suggested that a local metal refinisher would probably be able to refresh its appearance with the application of a good high heat coating. That would solve my problem reasonably and inexpensively.

The MMR Goods and Services Directory, with the Specialty Services – Metal Coating and Refinishing filter checked, will lead you to a number of good people who can recoat your older Ansa Unit.

But if you need to have your older Ansa system replaced, consider having it refurbished with Bobileff Motorcars in San Diego. Good people doing good things.


Sandy on Assignment:
Cavallino Classic Concorso d’Eleganza
A Gem in the World of Concours

Posted on March 7, 2013 Comments (1)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Remember the MMR article, last summer, in search of No. 3 in the world of Concours? I had my own thoughts at the time, and after being immersed in elegance and the spectacular, I hope every Concours devotee will treat themselves to the Cavallino Classic at least once in their lifetime! This four-day weekend held mid-January, in Palm Beach, is a gem in the world of Concours events, with something for every motorsports enthusiast, including and beyond the prancing Cavallino marque.

A Ferrari red sunrise at The Breakers for Concours check-in

A Ferrari red sunrise at The Breakers for Concours check-in.

Why a gem? The breadth and rarity of cars, both on display and in motion, plus the credentials of judges, speak to the respect 22 years of Cavallino holds in the motorsports world. Every event is meticulously planned and orchestrated. Even as an attendee, you feel a sense of genuine camaraderie. By Day 4, when most other multi-day events are winding down, Classic Sports Car Sunday on the lush grounds of Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club is high energy among the guests and entrants.

Behind The Donald is the favorite GT car, a 1954 Maserati A6G Zagato Coupe

Behind The Donald is the favorite GT car, a 1954 Maserati A6G Zagato Coupe.

To give you a lay of the land, the weekend basically kicks off on Thursday, Day 1, at The Breakers Hotel, so if you aren’t the car nut in the family, there is still more than enough to hold your attention and make you ooh and awe. For registrants, morning “classic lectures”, tech type and historical sessions with the realclassic cars on hand, start the day. Classic competitors are already at the Palm Beach International Raceway for car inspections and practice. After lunch, the magic unfolds as the Ferraris line up and down the imposing entrance to The Breakers, poised for a tour of Palm Beach with their final destination, the Jet Reception… one huge hanger party with Ferraris on the tarmac and private jets to tour at Palm Beach International Airport.

Top pick at the Jet Reception, a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder

Top pick at the Jet Reception, a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder.

A photo finish for Jim Fuchs in his Ferrari 512 BBLM No.447 in the 1961-1980 Disc Brakes category

A photo finish for Jim Fuchs in his Ferrari 512 BBLM No.447 in the 1961-1980 Disc Brakes category.

Friday at the track becomes my all day itinerary. It was a little light this year, with the added Ferrari Challenge Series at the Daytona 24, but a plus for me to get close to the track and drivers. Only in its second year, this annual classic competition for the vintage and classic racing Ferraris and Maseratis added a new event for 2013—a Pre-War race for Alfa Romeos and Bugattis. Close your eyes and picture a hand full of Bugattis and a couple of Alfas positioned for the start. I was transported into another time and place!

An impressive line-up for the 1947-1960 Drum Brake group

An impressive line-up for the 1947-1960 Drum Brake group.

First in line gets a push!

First in line gets a push!

A treat to see so many Alpha’s up close, this year

A treat to see so many Alpha’s up close this year.

Ever stylish, the Bugatti T35’s came in blue and silver, my track favorites

Ever stylish, the Bugatti T35’s came in blue and silver, my track favorites.

It was all about the Alpha’s when it came to pre-war podium finishes

It was all about the Alpha’s when it came to pre-war podium finishes.

After a day at the track, the Palm Harbor Marina is the place to be for the traditional Yacht Hop. The night before, I learned the price tag to order a private jet. In comparison, a yacht is a bargain! So what’s a yacht hop? Exactly that! Shoes off, as you hop on deck to get a tour of these sailing beauties while sipping champagne at sunset.

At the Yacht Hop, everyone picks a favorite

At the Yacht Hop, everyone picks a favorite.

Saturday is the day… Concorso d’Eleganza, sprawled out over the croquet lawn and adjacent golf fairway of The Breakers with little treasures even in the parking lot! A dawn patrol of its own, you can watch the 100 or so Ferraris systematically line up for check-in and judging placement before the actual event begins. I’ve become fascinated by the Italian body builders… opps, coachbuilders. This year’s event paid tribute to the Pinin Farina designed Ferraris.

This 1957 red and white Ferrari 500 TRC was definitely a winner

This 1957 red and white Ferrari 500 TRC was definitely a winner.

My choice as an elegant favorite was the 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupe

My choice as an elegant favorite was the 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupe.

Owner Andreas Mohringer and his No.9 Ferrari 375 MM Spyder are familiar favorites among the Concours and vintage racing circuits

Owner Andreas Mohringer and his No.9 Ferrari 375 MM Spyder are familiar favorites among the Concours and vintage racing circuits.

The finale to the weekend is worth the splurge, Classic Sports Sunday at Mar-A-Lago and yes, The Donald was there! This beauty contest of multi-marque cars brought out the spectacular! Marque awards are chosen by a Committee of honored judges but the real pleasers for the day are all people’s choice awards. I definitely had my favorites. Agreeing with the Ladies Choice award, I was taken with the 1958 HRG Twin Cam Spider, a British car I had never seen before. America’s pride was strong as the 1929 DuPont LeMans Speedster walked away with the American Best in Class as well as the people’s choice overall favorite, “If I could Take One Home”. The stunning 1946 Talbot-Lago T26 Cabriolet took my breath away along with this year’s Best of Show and Best in Class.

The 1954 XK120 OTS Jaguar enjoys the calm before Classic Sports Sunday begins

The 1954 XK120 OTS Jaguar enjoys the calm before Classic Sports Sunday begins.

Ladies Choice and British Excellence in Class winner, the 1958 HRG

Ladies Choice and British Excellence in Class winner, the 1958 HRG.

If I Could Take One Home, the people’s favorite award, the 1929 DuPont LeMans Speedster

“If I Could Take One Home”, the people’s favorite award, the 1929 DuPont LeMans Speedster.

Best in Show and Best in Class, the 1947 Talbot-Lago Cabriolet

Best in Show and Best in Class, the 1947 Talbot-Lago Cabriolet.

The people I meet make my motorsports adventures. Among Sunday’s featured marque, winning both Pre-War Excellence and Open Excellence in Class was the stunning 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom I Springfield and its owners, Robert and Agata Matteucci. Seeing the Matteuccis and the car that took me on a dream come true at Pebble Beach made my Cavallino Classic weekend sparkle!

The Pebble Beach Rolls Royce back in Florida

The Pebble Beach Rolls Royce back in Florida.