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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on January 22, 2015 Comments (0)

America’s First Production Supercar!

The new Ford GT

The surprise surprise of the Detroit Auto Show is the new Ford GT. Arguably, the first supercar made in America and Ford’s third effort at marketing a “halo” car. Their first, the street version GT40 was built in England and really was one of the first almost affordable supercars. However, it was not particularly comfortable or quiet, or easy to drive, but it was and still is a viscerally stunning car and remains a reminder of the great car that won Le Mans. The recent Ford GT was an excellent tribute car. It solved all the creature comfort and drivability issues, reminded us again of the GT40 but broke no new ground in terms of design. The NEW Ford GT is the best looking American mid-engine car ever and a worthy adversary for any supercar since being offered anywhere. Way To Go Ford! Now take it to Le Mans. Again! So what do you think about the new Ford GT?

The New Ford GT, two views

Daytona – Famous for Being Well Known

America’s long distance racing Mecca is Daytona. A 2½ mile oval with an afterthought road course set in the middle of a drainage area that extends the track to 3.5 miles. The oval is fast and banked and the infield course is slow and at times muddy. But Daytona has history. Despite the mediocre course, some historic battles have taken place here and the greatest drivers in our sport have driven in them. Winning puts a driver in that very select company.

LMP Car #16, Daytona

This weekend the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona takes place. Our two favorite announcers Tommy Kendall and Justin Bell will, among others, be covering the race. Listen for them, they are good. MMR supporter, Autosport Designs of Huntington Station on Long Island NY, is sponsoring LMP car #16. Tom Popadopoulos, A-D principal and former Ferrari Challenge Champion, is driving and he is very good. So we MMR Supporters have someone to root for.

Denise Has a Birthday

Happy 88th Birthday, Denise McCluggage!

Denise McCluggage has achieved as many years as a piano has keys. And she is always in tune.

Book Review: The Ferrari Companion Reader

The Ferrari Companion Reader, by Gerald Roush

MMR Editor, Dom Miliano, reviews a compendium of Ferrari Market Letter articles penned by the late Gerald Roush. This is a must have book for every Ferrari owner or would be owner.

Masha Paints!

Masha Pasichnyk, painter of automotive art

On our recent visit to Phoenix we met an exciting new artist. Today we share some of the images we saw there.

MMR Weekly Regulars

The MMR Classifieds this week features Porsche 356 cars.

1928 Mercedes Benz 680S Torpedo, by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s Image is of a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo badge from his book Automotive Jewelry.

MMR Needs Your Help!

We know, because you told us, that you share this Newsletter with friends. Please encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter. It’s good for us and it insures that they will receive the Newsletter on the day you are away or busy.

Have a great weekend. Take your sleeping bag down to the basement and watch TK and Justin tell us what is happening at Daytona. Go Tommy!

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 11, 2014 Comments (0)

Racing Alternatives

Toyota Endurance

Fed up with F1 blather? Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at another series in 2015. The World Endurance Championship (WEC) the purview of Audi in recent years and before them Porsche, was won in 2014 by Toyota. While everyone was keen on watching the two German giants fight it out, the Japanese giant won. They won at Silverstone, Spa, Fuji, Shanghai and finished second at Le Mans behind the winning Audi. Not bad for the guys nobody looked at after Porsche announced they would compete. Audi was second and Porsche was a close third. Next year Nissan join the fray in LMP1. Former F1 drivers Anthony (Ant) Davidson and Sebastian Beuemi, were the winning drivers for Toyota.

GT Cup for Manufacturers

In the GT Cup for Manufacturers portion of the series, Ferrari won the series over Aston and Porsche. In WEC, the cars and drivers are good and the racing is fierce and close. What more could a fan want? TV coverage for more than just Le Mans and possibly COTA for America PLEASE!!! I know we have the Tudor Sports car series, but why should that preclude having coverage of WEC?

Market Shifts

Gooding & Company AuctionFor the past year the dealers we have contacted have complained bitterly about the difficulty they have finding cars to sell. Nevertheless, 2014 will go down as a very good year for people who are selling classic and vintage cars. Unbelievable! has been attached to the selling price on so many auction cars that it has become the new norm. The key word here is “auctions”. No one dealer or person can make a market. But, auctions by introducing the element of entertainment to the sale of vintage cars have virtually become 21st century’s dealers and by the power of their numbers and their marketing presence, they are definitely influencing market pricing.

Barrett Jackson Auction Company

In the final analysis, dealers and auctions have the same goal, satisfying buyers and sellers. Generally both are looking for a fair price or, hopefully, better. The difficulty for sellers is choosing the market channel that best suits their needs. High prices achieved for spectacular cars and the glitz of huge crowds and TV coverage might appear to give auctions an advantage. They have become a spectator sport. But auctions also have a downside for sellers. Not everyone is selling a rare Ferrari. If your car is a second level or lower car, chances are that it won’t be seen on TV. And likely it won’t be presented in prime time. When the majority of people remaining in the room are car dealers looking for a steal, the seller may be thinking that a respected dealer with a good rolodex has something better to offer. Then again many dealers also use auctions to move their slower moving inventory. So it is an interesting game and as we have mentioned before on these pages, it is not one for the inexperienced. If you are considering buying or selling at an auction, you might also consider using one of the seven auction advisers listed in our MMR Goods & Services Directory.

Bell Chapal HelmetIn the 1950s and ‘60s many famous drivers raced wearing an open faced helmet with a visor and face shield. Bell Helmets and Chapal have teamed up to offer vintage racers a redo. The Helmet below is being offered by Hugh Ruthven of The Finish Line. For those of you in the Chicago area, during December only, you can view The Finish Line products at the corner of Cook and Lake Streets in Barrington IL. Or give them a call at 847-382-3020.

Cars of the 1960s

Jaguar XKE, droptop

The sixties were arguably the golden age of sports and GT cars. Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes, Aston, Corvette all delivered models whose desirability may never be matched. When the new Jaguar XKE was introduced in 1961 the motorsports world swooned. I remember them being offered in Canada at around $6K. Ads featuring the coupe in profile became the model for simplicity, beauty, grace, perfection. Someone quoted Enzo Ferrari as saying that the XKE was the most beautiful car ever made. Even if he thought it, it is unlikely he said it. At some point a friend scored a well used press car from Jaguar Canada and we drove it from Montreal to the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport in Ontario.

Driving it there and back that weekend was about 800 mostly highway miles. It was a cold rainy weekend and by its end the gorgeous green coupe was no longer the object of my affections. The seats were stylish but quite uncomfortable. The wipers didn’t work particularly well but worse of all, the car leaked horribly. If memory serves it was at the top of the windshield. First gear didn’t have a syncro and the lights didn’t seem to work that well at night in the rain. The engine leaked oil.

Jaguar XKE in profile

Jaguar eventually addressed the comfort problems by changing the seats and dropping the floor pan to provide a more comfortable angle of access to the pedals. The newer 4.2 engines were also better. For years the pricing for XKEs languished but no more. That original flat floor design tops the chart in XKE pricing. The desirability of the early XKEs appears to be based on the fact that it is exactly that, an early model. Either way, early XKEs are tough to pin down on price but we have seen them recently offered at well north of $200K. Subsequent models equipped with the 4.2 L engine and a full syncromesh transmission are generally more affordable. Go figure.

This week’s Michael Furman image is of a 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS from his book Curves of Steel.

1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS, by Michael Furman

Our Classifieds this week feature Maserati.

Speaking of buying, we encourage readers to support our advertisers. In the coming weeks we will be sharing advertising and buying suggestions from many of our MMR Community supporters.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


In Praise of Older Cars – Part 1

Posted on May 15, 2014 Comments (1)

On two consecutive weekends I drove an excessive amount of miles in two elderly cars. And loved it. Why? What made these two drives special? I wondered that myself and since on the final leg of this pilgrimage I was sitting in traffic for an inordinate amount of time I tasked myself with finding an answer.

On a recent Friday, I climbed aboard my friend Sam Hallowell’s 1972 Ferrari GTC/4 for a two day trip to the Delmarva Peninsula and the Richard Garre/Tom Yang car show in Reistertown near Baltimore. Since this story is all about cars let me take a moment to describe this one. The 365 GTC/4 was based on the 365 Daytona drivetrain with a 2+2 body weighing about 400 lbs. more. The body style is one of those love it or hate it things with an integrated front bumper that gives it a period Camaro kind of look. They made 500 between ’71 and ’73. I love the look and have from the moment I laid eyes on it. The engine is the same 4.4 liter V-12 as the Daytona only 12HP less and I think that is due to the fact that the side draft Webbers lay down on this engine (probably to fit the profile of the hood) and the downdrafts sit up in the Daytona.

In Praise of Older Cars

The GTC/4 has power steering. Sam’s car was repainted from lime green to muddy burgundy, and, while that was unquestionably a huge improvement, in my opinion it still has a way to go before people pin it up on their walls. I personally like it in black, but we have probably discussed that before.

In Praise of Older Cars

We left Sam’s home in Providence, Rhode Island, at nine in the morning and quickly climbed on I-95, the first of many such slabs (a very apt motorcycle term for superhighways) that would bring us to idyllic Oxford, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

The cockpit of this car is roomy by sports car standards but only adequate and typical of the GT cars of the period. Trunk space and rear seat room could only be charitably described as package space. This is for weekend jaunts, not let’s all visit Grandma in Omaha trips. The period seating reminds one that a bucket seat in 1970 had less in common with a bucket than it did with a park bench that had been cut in half, stuffed to bulging with horsehair, and covered in leather. The purpose of a seat, very much like the purpose of sports cars, has changed dramatically since the seventies. High end sports cars today, like the 458 Ferrari, the McLaren 12c, and the new Lambo Huracan, are more a form of personal thrill ride than transportation. Owners of these cars use SUVs or Bentleys for transportation. Sports car designers today engage occupants by heightening the cars feedback to all the senses. A quick ride becomes an exercise in aural, visual, and tactile overload. Today’s ergonomically perfect seat is an adjustable hard leather and foam receptacle that adjusts and embraces its occupant’s limbs and organs. They are visually attractive but designed not so much for comfort as for comforting. They are meant to assure the occupant that, once belted in, no matter how absurd the speed, tight the turn, or sudden the stop, the occupants will remember, if not treasure, every bit of the experience.

One more digression. All of us have either thrilled or been annoyed at the sound of a passing motorcycle. Whether you like the sound or not, all admit it can be loud. From an aural aspect, one of the biggest shocks, and to some degree disappointments, of my motorsports journey was my first motorcycle ride. As a passenger on a 250 BMW, the two sounds that dominated were the wind, (I had no helmet), and the sound of the engine clacking and whirring away just ahead of and beneath me. I hardly heard that wonderful exhaust note because the end of the exhaust pipe was two feet behind me and was lost in the wind. When I moved up to actually drive the motorcycle, I was then directly over the engine and even further away from that glorious sound. To race spectators and ordinary pedestrians, the sound of a street or a race tuned V-12 Ferrari can be music. The driver and passengers of an older front engined V12 Ferrari sports car sit directly behind the engine and are more likely to be the recipients of the sound of the clacking valve train and whirring pumps and fans than they are of the exhaust notes. To a degree this may explain the popularity of louder aftermarket mufflers which allow the driver to better hear that glorious sound which others get for free.

Sam’s GT (Grand Touring) car is 400 lbs. more than its sporty brother and suitably quieter. It was, after all intended for long comfortable drives and loud noises can be tiring. My companion is an interesting fellow and a good conversationalist. The noise level, even at highway speeds, was never intrusive. The sound of the V-12 at cruising RPM of just under 4K is actually quite pleasant. Under hard acceleration it becomes louder and is unfailingly exhilarating. It is nice to have the option.

At some point I took over the wheel and it was the first time I had driven a vintage V-12 Ferrari since it was a current Ferrari. The lack of a right side mirror required craning one’s neck to see the right rear portion of the car, but other than that, the car, equipped with hydraulic power steering was easy and pleasant to drive. At one point, on an off ramp, I got into a decreasing radius turn and a touch of the brakes and a increase steering input was called for. “It’ll lean” I heard Sam say, and indeed it did. There was never any danger of it breaking away or plowing but those 80 aspect tires did indeed roll and the comparatively soft suspension did allow the car to lean. The tires never broke away or squealed, they just took a set and we tracked through the turn. That reminded me that I was driving a 1970s car and that is what cars did in the 1970s. Today’s cars are far different and we will get into that in Part 2.

We traveled about 400 miles and arrived at Oxford in the late afternoon. It was a most enjoyable drive and having shared it neither of us was particularly tired. Our host, Brud LaMotte, is in the real estate business there and is a real car guy. He could appreciate the Ferrari and the journey. He has a very comfortable older home with an attached two car garage and several other structures housing vehicles on the property. After a casual dinner and a catching up on old friends conversation, we turned in and I thought to myself that was a very pleasant drive. Good roads, good company, and a car suited to the purpose.

Saturday was to be a busy day and we were up pretty early. Before we joined a group of local men in town for their ritual Saturday morning breakfast, our host opened his garages and we had an opportunity to appreciate his Sprint Corsa Corvair that John Fitch had prepared for him when he was in college. At some point he had sold it to Sam who also enjoyed it and passed it on. Several years ago, Brud found the car in a barn in the mid-west and restored it. He will be doing the New England 1000 with it later this month. Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time so we didn’t uncover the Corvair. I didn’t get any pictures of it but I expect to when the car comes though Boston later this month. Brud is an ISO fan and he pulled out his ride for the day, a 1971 ISO Grifo. This car had also been recently restored. I joined him for the ride into town in the ISO and I marveled at both the similarities and the differences of this car and the one year newer Ferrari in which I had spent the previous day.

In Praise of Older Cars

In common, they were both comfortable, though for some reason the ISO felt closer to the ground and both made you aware of the engine. Newer front engine cars have more noise insulation. Both also had similar tire and suspension roll in tight turns but the ISO’s 327 Chevy engine, though similar in HP output, seemed to be able to deliver it more quickly but less smoothly than the Ferrari. I have driven several corvettes of that period equipped with that engine and this car certainly felt a little heavier and more substantial. Brud’s habit of accelerating with power out of the turns gave the ISO’s back end an opportunity to step out but it never went beyond a slight waggle. The accompanying sound was also different from the Ferrari but equally pleasing.

Brud led Sam and me to the Reisterstown Events at Radcliffe Motors just north of Baltimore in his ISO and the two cars turned heads wherever they went. This was our second visit, we were there two years ago and although a number of the vehicles had been there before, the mix is eclectic enough to be interesting. Richard and Tom obviously put a lot of effort into getting vendors to display the products that are of interest to enthusiasts looking for do-it-yourself tips, special services and/or memorabilia. We met up here with Michael Keyser of Autosports Marketing. Michael is a good friend and supporter of MMR and his site offers excellent racing memorabilia at very reasonable prices.

In Praise of Older Cars

He also went to school with Brud and once again cars provided an opportunity for old friends to catch up.

We said our goodbyes and left at around two PM. We set some time targets to be home and Sam drove the Ferrari briskly to insure that we met them. This was different from our drive down and I was impressed by how well the car went at a steady and slightly illegal speed. It has long legs, as the expression goes, and always seemed to be happy to give a little more.

Despite the obligatory traffic delays in Connecticut, we hit our deadlines and felt that the Ferrari had served the purpose for which it has been designed very well. This was never a fragile car and a little age hasn’t changed that. Stay tuned for Part 2 and my following week’s adventure in the WASRED 308.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on May 2, 2014 Comments (0)

Alfas

Alfa: A Glorious Past—An Unpredictable Future

Regular subscribers may have noticed that mention of Alfa Romeo occurs frequently in our weekly screeds. The history of this glorious brand provides excellent fodder for our constant railings against the plastic look-alike offerings of Maserati, Jaguar and Buick.

Alfa Romeo has had two lives; a full rich one in Europe where its successful racing and fine street cars engendered a passion which endures around the world today. And another in America where its European accomplishments were generally unknown but where Alfa race cars soared sporadically in the sixties and seventies. Truth be told, it is best remembered in America for being Dustin Hoffmann’s ride in The Graduate.

Alfa

This week it was announced that Fiat would be removing Alfa from under the Ferrari–Maserati umbrella and making it a stand-alone company. In fact, Ferrari is the premium performance brand, and a struggling Maserati is not a close second. Porsche has that. Glorious as its past unquestionably is, today there is no room for Alfa Romeo in the Fiat garage. This week’s announcement is not accompanied by a hopeful plan or an encouraging narrative. Rather it has fueled speculation that Alfa Romeo is being positioned for sale. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it found a loving home.

Alfa 3 wheel

Alfa: History Flash

In keeping with the Alfa theme, contributor S. Scott Callan has provided us a reminder of Alfa’s glorious past from his book, Alfa Romeo: View from The Mouth of the Dragon.

Ferrari 250 GTO in Motion

Ferrari 250 GTO 1964

University of Rhode Island Film Professor, one time actor, and MMR subscriber Hal Hamilton forwarded a great video of Derek Hill narrating the history of and driving the Ferrari 250 GTO that his father drove to victory in several major races. This is about as close as many of us will ever get to the view from the passenger seat of this most beautiful of the 36 GTOs ever made.

Senna and RUSH

Motorsports magazines are reminding Ayrton Senna fans that this month marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna at Imola. Autoweek carried Alain Prost’s fairly brief remembrance of their relationship in the most recent issue. As it happens, I saw RUSH last week and read the Prost piece shortly afterward. It occurred to me that the rivalry between Senna and Prost would have made a far better film.

Images

Our lead image and Alfa images this week are from Michael Keyser’s excellent book Racing Demons – Porsche and the Targa Florio.

And Michael Furman’s image this week is a great shot of the long tail 917 that lives at the Simeone in Philadelphia. Isn’t it stunning?

photo by Michael Furman, Porsche Long Tail 917

If you haven’t visited our Uncommon Classifieds recently, click here. There are a number of rare and interesting cars on offer at this time. Take a moment to dream, it’s good for you.

Have a great weekend and please share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


5 Cars by John Vogt

Posted on February 14, 2014 Comments (0)

John Vogt, principal at High Marques Motor Cars in Morristown, NJ is this week’s contributor to our “Five Cars” feature. His selections, while purely personal, are based on his many years of buying and selling exotic cars as well as his experience serving as a coach to clients who are growing their car collections. 

Number One – The top of my all time list is the Porsche 997 GT3 and the GT3 RS. I drove a GT3 RS and a new McLaren back-to-back at Monticello Motorsports Club and the Porsche spanked the McLaren! It's the finest tool in the toolbox. On the racetrack, it does everything it’s supposed to do at half the price (of the McLaren.) It takes a beating and says, “Give me more…”

Porsche GT3

Number Two – The Ford GT is my number two pick. It’s really a Saleen that pays homage to the GT40s of old. It's an amazing piece of machinery with quality and drivability that’s off the charts. Plus it has lots of upside potential so you can, basically, drive it for free.

Ford GT

Number Three – I call the BMW Z8 a Cobra in a tuxedo. It’s proving to be an appreciating asset as well as being a great car to drive. It’s not a racecar. Rather it’s a great back roads car with a rip snorting V8 that lets you fly under the radar.

BMW Z8

Number Four –In my personal garage, I have a Porsche 993. But any one of the cars from that model, whether it’s the C4S, C2S or 993 Turbo, will be a great drive and an appreciating asset. These are the last of the hand built Porsches with the great air-cooled engine sound. By the way, the Turbo has astounding power without all of the electronic nannies in today’s cars. When you drive it, you feel like your going faster than you actually are—a wonderful experience.

Porsche 993

Number Five –You have to have something Italian in your dream garage. It’s like a beautiful Italian woman slapping you, and you say, “Do it again!”

For me, the Ferrari 458 is the best Italian car out there today. It almost has Honda-like maintenance (almost), an F1 transmission that, finally, works well. It’s rattle free, beautiful and nearly (nearly) bulletproof. Ferrari really got it right.

Ferrari 458