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Posted on January 24, 2014 Comments (2)

“My Maserati goes 185… I lost my license and now I don’t drive.”
Joe Walsh – Eagles

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Maserati. To a now aging segment of the general public, the word Maserati means Italian speed and racing sports cars. The word Maserati has stuck in the minds of today’s senior generation, just as Lamborghini is the first Italian car name on the lips of the subsequent generation and Alfa Romeo of the generation that preceded Maserati. Each generation is reasonably ignorant of the one before. To many readers, the Alfa Romeos of the sixties and Dustin Hoffman’s ride in The Graduate are their points of reference for this historic marque. Unfortunately for us, in their day, North America was never exposed to the classic Alfa racers and the beautiful road cars that dominated the European motoring scene before WW2. Alfa came to America long after they had abandoned Grand Prix racing. Their offering was aimed at entry level post-war buyers and competed with the British MGs and Austin Healeys.

Ferrari, heir to the Alfa race team, competed with Maserati on the tracks of Europe and both came to America to sell luxury sports cars at the highest level of an emerging market for European automobiles. Maserati more than held its own against Ferrari and in its day was synonymous with fast and stylish Italian cars. At its introduction in 1967, the straight six Maserati 3500 GT competed for customers against the then three-year-old Ferrari 275 V-12 and was more expensive. Ferrari manufactured 650 of the 275 GTB coupes and 10 convertibles; Maserati produced 245 convertibles and 2000 coupes. The company also produced a series of stunning and very capable road racing and street cars. The A6GCS, the 300S, and Tipo 65 Birdcage sports cars were icons in their day. So it was with good reason that for several decades, after their departure from Grand Prix racing, the name Maserati continued to be synonymous with Italian exotics. Also, the name Maserati, like Gina Lollobrigida, Alfa Romeo, and so many more Italian words, is laden with vowels and actually sounds like a fast car when you say it. And so it must be, because Eagles singer Joe Walsh, who should know, never sang “My Lamborghini goes 185…”

Maserati

Daytona 24 Hours – Tomorrow!

Tudor United

For those of you who, like me, shiver when you hear people describe anything as “very unique”, (since the word means “absolutely without equal”), we promise that the Tudor United Sports Car Championship Series or TUSC for short will be “unique”. The United in the title is the key word. This is the first race in which the former Daytona Prototypes will race against the former LMP2 cars. Both have been “adjusted” for equivalency. This being the biggest race of the season for the new TUSC series, everyone has pressure on them to win. I would say that by the end of 10 laps we will know which of the two types of cars is more “equivalent”. Incidentally, the Ganassi Team is the big dog at this track and they have switched from BMW power to Ford. Chevrolet is also running in the prototype class with their factory team. Chevy vs. Ford. C’mon Ford, build a car. It’s time.

Tommy Kendall

The GT field will be most interesting. These are race cars most similar to street models. Corvette, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, and Viper will be competing. Where are McLaren and Audi R8 we ask? Where also is our official MMR Hero Tommy Kendall? Cast aside like an old shoe? This will not go down well with the MMR tifosi. C’mon Mr. Ford, phone TK and have him field a team for you! He’s smart, fast, and speaks English properly. What more could you want? MMR readers, what do you think?

In this issue we preview the February MMR Motorsports calendar which includes this weekend’s races.

The 2014 Scottsdale Auctions are now history. And yes, we did watch a portion of the televised Barrett-Jackson Salon segment. Other than a Ferrari F1 car once driven by Eddie Irvine making $1.7M and bringing a huge sigh of relief to the 50 or so owners of other virtually useless F1 Ferraris, not much was accomplished. We predict that as a result of this, more such garden ornaments will come to auction this year. The bidders appeared uninterested in the other European classic cars offered.

Ferrari

Peter Bourassa


Sandy on Assignment:
My Favorite...The Goodwood Revival

Posted on January 9, 2014 Comments (5)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Adventure Begins - Goodwood House

Another adventure begins…in front of the Goodwood House.

Although it never made my motorsports bucket list, everyone I know who has attended the Goodwood Revival says it’s a must, so I felt compelled to check it out. It was fantastic - my all-time favorite adventure for the year! This is an event for everyone… from the vintage racing buff to the reluctant spouse. You can’t help but have a fabulous time... even in the rain!

Stepping Back in Time

Stepping back in time.

Mods and Rockers

A friendly group of mods and rockers.

Close your eyes and take yourself back in time... England, post war ‘40s and ‘50s, through the early ‘60s… and you have the setting for the Revival. Everyone is dressed to play the part from the golden era of motorsports. Tight skirts and silk stockings, British military uniforms, fedora hats, mechanics’ overalls, biker garb and bell bottoms… if it’s vintage, you’ll see it. Even the concessions are in period, selling absolutely everything to get you into the mood for this three-day event.

West Sussex County, the 2.4-mile circuit sits on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate. During WWII, this area was a key British airfield and home to several Spitfire squadrons. When the RAF closed the base after the war, the landowner, Freddie March, grandfather of the current Earl of March, turned the perimeter road into a racing circuit. Britain’s first post-war motor racing took place here on September 18, 1948. The track was closed to racing in 1966, then re-opened in 1998. In its 16th year, the Revival features 15 races and special tributes over the mid-September weekend. I’ll give you the how-to’s for this event. But first, if you ever think you’ll attend annually, get on the list for membership into the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC). Membership perks are outstanding. I’m on a 24 month wait list!

GTs

The GT’s from the Woodcote grandstands.

Taste of Victory

A taste of victory.

This year, celebrating 50 years of Ford’s GT40 history, an exciting one-make race for GT40s and related models took place. The career of legendary racecar driver Jim Clark was celebrated with 36 of the actual cars he raced, on parade. The Settrington Cup saw younger racers pedaling their way to glory in Austin J40s! Bonham’s auctioned over $23M in cars on Saturday. Tour de France cyclists, celebrating the 100th year running of the world’s greatest bicycle race, were also on parade. One hundred years of Aston Martin was celebrated in the Earl’s Court Motor Show exhibit and spectacular air shows went on overhead daily.... all just for starters!

Air shows and races

Air shows and races … all day long at the Revival.

Since I’m not a costume type person, I was a little apprehensive going into this adventure… easing in slowly. Outfitted in a black turtleneck, white jeans and big square sunglasses, I headed off to the Tampa airport feeling like Jackie O. By Day 3 at the track, I was so into dressing up that I didn’t think twice about wearing my red satin evening coat, long gloves and big sunglasses… in the pouring rain.

Before sharing my adventure, let me say that getting to Chichester, England, which is just up the road from Goodwood, was a snap! British Airways flies direct to Gatwick from Tampa, in eight hours, leaving at 6:15pm and arriving the next morning around 8am. Since tickets for this event go on sale mid-November, I was able to book a flight at a ridiculously low fare. Once in Gatwick, I hopped the train (right inside the airport) into Chichester. I personally didn’t want to hassle with a rental car and succumb to driving on the wrong side of the road. Lucky for me, I booked lodging in town and could take a five minute taxi ride to the Goodwood grounds after the gates opened at 7:30am and catch the official shuttle bus back into Chichester at the end of the day. Friends Keith Carlson and Bruce Murray were meeting up with Brits locally, and drove directly to the Estate in classic cars. The parking lots are a show in themselves!

Sandy in the Paddock

E2A and Sandy in the Paddock.

Paddock - rows of racing

The Paddock…rows of racing history.

It was a given, I would be seeing a lot of British cars, but, I was curious as to what else was in the Paddock. I was also on a mission to track down a Ferrari or two. To my surprise, there was a paddock full of these stallions! Speaking of the Paddock, a special pass, and of course vintage attire, is required to enter. Getting a Paddock pass is difficult, as you cannot buy them. That’s where the GRRC membership comes in handy. Again, I lucked out. After stopping to take photos with a group of bikers, they handed me a pass!

For me, my motorsports adventures sparkle because of the people I meet. Whether it’s a famous race car driver, classic car collector, or just another motorsports enthusiast, like me, each person adds to my adventure. The Goodwood Revival was all sparkles!

Flurry of excitement

A flurry of excitement around Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass.

I checked out the racing line-up and was thrilled to be able to watch legends Derek Bell, Brian Redman, and Andy Wallace, and also Oliver Gavin and Tom Kristensen – whom I had just seen race at Le Mans, all take the wheel of some pretty cool vintage race cars. Stirling Moss was on hand signing autographs, but more special than that, I was able to witness Stirling and Jochen Mass prepare a race history time capsule. It was a treat to run into Garth Hammers from Gooding Auctions and Steve Serio from Aston Martin of New England, who, like me, were there enjoying the weekend festivities.

Max - race car driver

Max… the race car driver.

What made this entire adventure spectacular was following one very special racecar driver through every pace of the weekend. Right off the bat, I thought I recognized a familiar face from the automotive auction world, as I was snooping around the Paddock. No, it couldn’t be, I thought. But on Day 2, while again roaming the Paddock, I ran into my very favorite auctioneer, Max Girado, from RM Auctions. It really was Max whom I thought I recognized the day before. You’ve read my praises of Max, as an auctioneer in previous articles, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find out he was racing… the Ferraris!!

Derek Bell

Derek Bell up second in the Corvette Sting Ray.

Besides being offered a Paddock pass at the start of the Revival, I was graciously offered another pass from the mechanic of the 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, which Derek Bell would race on Sunday… a team armband. I hope that gentleman goes straight to heaven when the time comes, as doing such a good deed was amazing. I could maneuver anywhere inside the pits and team areas, wearing the armband.

Ready to race

Ready to race.

Following Max though the paces connected me with the excitement of the races. The owners of both cars he was driving, the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France and 1956 Ferrari 860 Monza, told me they had heard Max was a great auctioneer, but obviously admired him for his skills as a race car driver. Max slipped into the cars with ease, all smiles, and graciously took the time to wave before taking off. Watching Max finish third on Sunday, in the No. 22, 250 GT during the Fordwater Trophy race, was a thrill. I even watched him go through the post scrutineering checks. He definitely made my weekend!

Similar to Le Mans, you really have to watch the website (www.goodwood.com) to jump on board for early ticket sales, as they sell out quickly. Tickets are mailed after the first of the year. Here is what my website shopping cart included: A 3-day required roving grandstand general admission ticket, for $206; and, Saturday and Sunday reserved grandstand tickets at $122 each, in the Woodcote grandstands. The grandstands offer a fantastic viewing advantage.

I signed up for lunches at the Goodwood Hotel in the Cedar Suite. Dinners were back in Chichester at a fabulous Italian restaurant, Carluccio’s. Lodging at the Goodwood Hotel is reserved exclusively for guests of Lord March, but you can make reservations, on–line, for the three-course buffet lunch. Hostesses seat guests together, filling up tables for scheduled seatings. The Hotel ended up being my go to place for everything… relaxing, bathroom breaks and all other meals. There was even a fleet of complimentary vintage Jowett taxis and roadsters to take me back and forth to the track. The Hotel experience is definitely my MMR secret find!

Revival

Everyone has fun at the Revival.

Forever one of my favorite adventures, I hope the Goodwood Revival makes everyone’s motorsports bucket list. It’s no wonder Veuve Clicquot is sparkling everywhere during this weekend of excitement!


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Wiper Blades

Posted on July 24, 2013 Comments (2)

For Want of a Blade a Horse Was Almost Lost

I bought the WASRED 308 in Chicago and drove it 850 miles to Boston in a day and a half. The spare wheel and tire were in the passenger seat, it had a slow leaking front tire, an expired Texas vanity plate that didn't belong to me and a non functioning radio. Ah! But I was driving a Ferrari! And the combined fear of speeding in a strange car, heightened by the anticipation of being caught and then having to explain my total lack of proper documentation was intoxicating. Life on the edge. I loved every minute of it. 

Once I had driven the car for a few days, I realized I didn't have an Owner’s Manual and I had questions that it might address. My local Ferrari dealer seemed the logical place to find a manual and some answers. As I introduced myself to the parts man, I saw tears well in his eyes. I proudly spoke of my recent purchase, confessed my complete ignorance of all things Ferrari, told him how much I had in the bank and that I counted on his assistance to fill the list of parts that I gave him. He hugged me and kissed my hand before I left. I could tell that God hadn’t sent him an idiot like me for a long time.

On a warm sunny day, Targa top safely stowed, there is nothing more exhilarating than driving a 308 with the carburetor intake sound in your right ear and the mechanical engine and transmission sound coming in over your left shoulder and the Ansa exhaust bludgeoning them both. And all that happened at 40MPH in second gear! I remember cruising back to Boston alone from Lime Rock late on a warm summer’s night with all this and the Eagles and Steely Dan competing for my attention at 90 – 100 MPH for very long stretches. Bliss… like slow dancing with a strong woman.

However, on a cold rainy night, on a two lane road, when the defroster isn’t working, rain is leaking in on your now quiet passenger, the headlights useless, people are going by you honking their horns, and the wipers are smearing road grime across where you think the road might be, a Camry seems like a good idea—a suggestion that may have come from the passenger seat… several times. That was before things got wet and quiet. Strong women can be hell at times.

308 Wiper Blades

A note about wiper blades: Several years ago, in preparation for one if my trips to Amelia Island in Florida, I installed a set of newer-design wiper blades. I believe they were Bosch units. Instead of the conventional light spring blade with holes along the arching support, this was the single solid unit plastic blade with a rubber contact insert. Though they looked different, in light rain they seemed to work fine. On the way back, on Rte. 95, at night, in a heavy rainstorm, a side gust of wind ripped the whole arm off the driver's side. That was exciting! It broke at the base and I could have stopped to look for it but I would have been killed. The arm was probably 30 years old and who really knows what shape it was in, but it did cause me to think that maybe these newer style blades, with a design that doesn’t permit air to flow through them, put undue stress on the arm. 

The 308 wiper system is hardly the equivalent of the systems on newer cars but I have found that it works well enough. I bought a used wiper arm from Fred Petroske at Mostly British in Chaumont NY, returned to conventional styled blades, and all is well.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Mirrors

Posted on July 18, 2013 Comments (3)

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 twentieth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

The Car Designer’s Curse

Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS Mirrors

Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS Mirrors

Though the process was at times humiliating, I still remember the amazing sense of wellbeing that always accompanied the wearing of my first tailor made suit.

The salesman said I had a perfect body. It would complement the fabric, he said. The tailor’s notes indicated my back was hunched, one shoulder was higher than the other, same with the hip on the opposite side, and my knees were bowed (three fingers). Almost perfect.

Though far better, few automobiles today are a custom fit. In 1978, owners were expected to fit Ferraris. Ferraris were not made to fit owners. Elsewhere on the site I have discussed the minor adjustments made to steering wheel and pedals to better accommodate my body and driving style, now let’s talk about mirrors.

Other than the need to identify creeping constabulary, good drivers are constantly checking rearview mirrors to know what else might soon be a part of their immediacy. This is generally done with the centered rearview cabin mirror. The WASRED 308 center mirror is perfectly proportioned and positioned. The daytime/nighttime detent feature is controlled by pressing the mirror across a plastic strip containing a small ridge. One side of the ridge holds the mirror to deflect nighttime headlight glare, the other gives you a daytime image of everything behind you. With time the plastic detent strip wears or breaks and leaves you with only the daytime position. You cannot replace the strip. You must replace the mirror and you must then make a Ferrari ownership decision involving cost and value. A single position is fine on the WASRED 308.

The outside mirrors are where the custom suit analogy applies and since these mirrors are affixed at the factory, it doesn’t. The model for the 308 driver is 5 ft. 8 inches tall, has a 24 inch inseam, a 34 incharm length and weighs 150 pounds. An adult chimp would do fine. He can sit comfortably below the removable Targa roof and also see the two side mirrors reasonably well through the quarter windows. I am 6 feet tall with a 30 inch inseam and 31 inch sleeve length and I weigh 175 pounds. Other than the aforementioned deformities, I am reasonably well proportioned. The seat cushion has been depressed with age and use and I now have ample head room. BTW, the seats are amazingly comfortable for me. My problem is that the position of the side mirrors requires me to lean forward and down in order to use the mirrors and even then, the rear quarter outward view is very limited.

European mirrors offer a split rear view, with a partially convex portion of the mirror, allowing a view of vehicles that may be slightly behind and away from the view offered by a simple flat mirror. For some reason that is not allowed in North America.

I initially replaced the original mirrors with Vitaloni mirrors that I liked better. That was an improvement. Later, with the help of The Garage Valet, Jim Miga, we drilled new holes in the door and repositioned the mirrors lower.

It aint Pretty

Still dissatisfied, I added a small convex mirror that I purchased from Griot’s Garage to give me a hint of the action that may be taking place in an area I could otherwise not see. Perhaps, I should add another to the passenger side.

Driver’s view

Purists shudder. Then again purists don’t have 150K+ miles on their speedos either.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Air Conditioning Part 2

Posted on July 11, 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 Nineteenth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

Putting it Back Together

In Part 1 of this project, with my assistance, Spencer Guder, of Spencer Restorations of Canterbury, CT, had disassembled the entire A/C System on the 308, except for the hoses running back to front through the passenger side rocker panels. These were detached from the original components but remained in place.

In Part 2, we put it all back together.

Beginning at the front… In case I didn’t mention it, the hood needs to be off because the radiator condenser assembly needs to come out. Probably more than once. Since we were replacing the rad anyway, we killed two birds with one stone and did the rad/condenser/fan assembly all at once. Placing the condenser in the position you want requires a little fiddling. The condenser has multiple attachment holes; you can locate it with zip ties and then fasten it with bolts that come with the condenser.

Radiator and condenser

While we are taking things off, the wheel well liners on the right side and the right side fuel tank also need to be removed. This means draining all the fuel from the center plug of the crossover tube at the bottom of the tanks. After you have drained the tanks and you put the plug back, Spencer recommends coating the sealing ring with a Teflon paste. This plug is a pain to take off and tougher yet to keep from leaking when you put it all back together. The air cleaner hose and fiberglass air pick-up tube need to come off also. My steel trunk lid is too heavy for me to handle. I believe newer 308 models have an aluminum trunk lid, and of course some 308s are fiberglass, so if you can, it would make things a lot easier if it also could be removed.

Old Fan

The original fans, though similar, were not identical. Things happen in 35 years. The fan situation needed updating for several good reasons, the first was that one worked and the other didn’t. Second, they were inefficient in electrical draw and in their suspended mounting application. They each weigh 2½ lbs.

We replaced them with a single plastic 16” SPAL pusher fan. Total weight 2.9 lbs. Thickness 2.5”.

Our supplier was The Fanman, accessible through the MMR Goods and Services Directory under Radiator Fans. We had no issues mounting the product or putting the whole package in place

Radiator Condenser Fan assembly

Next, we mounted the compressor. The new set up is actually easier to mount than the original because the compressor sits on a platform which is bolted to the block. The mounting needs to be shimmed with washers to properly align the pulleys and place it within the adjustability range of the belt tensioner. That is a trial and error job which requires patience and some strength to hold the compressor up from beneath so that you can fiddle with the washers and the bolts. Spencer has the patience of a saint and he did it all by himself. I encouraged him by watching, grimacing, and drinking sympathy beers.

New mounted compressor

Next came the trickiest part of the endeavor; threading the new hoses through the rocker panels.

The replacement hoses have fittings at the compressor end and a package of loose fittings which are meant to be affixed once the hoses have gone through the rocker panels and are set to be attached to the receiver-dryer and the condenser.

There is no room to pull hoses with fittings thru the rocker panel. Undoing the old hoses from the compressor, Spencer sliced off the old fittings. Next he threaded the ceramic end of a spark plug into the end of the hose and lockwired it in place. He then forced the threaded end of the spark plug into the end of the new hose which had no fitting and was meant to go to the front of the car. He lockwired that in place also. The lockwired spark plug joined both hoses, but more importantly, was no wider that the hoses themselves. After spraying all the visible hose with silicone, and me pulling from the front and him pushing and feeding from the back, we pulled the old hose out and the new hose followed easily. It felt like we had given birth.

The new hoses were now ready to be measured, cut, and have the proper fittings attached. In a normal, well equipped shop, we would have swaged the fittings and been done. In my garage, we didn’t have the equipment to complete the job. By the same token we didn’t have the equipment to charge the system either. Enter Rick Hennessey of Natick Radiator and Auto Repair. Rick supplied us with the older style fittings that can be mounted on the hose and secured with hand tools. That done, all we had to do was reinstall the rear fuel tank, a proper pain in the butt, button everything together, and bring it round to Rick’s to be charged. We did and he did and the system makes driving the WASRED 308 a very different summer experience.

This was by far the most complex project in our upgrading process. Here are some tips I learned from watching someone who knows what they are doing.

  • You don’t really need special tools but we found lock wire pliers handy. Taking pictures before and throughout the process, making notes and diagrams, really helps.

  • Assemble all the components you believe you will need before you begin anything. You will be wrong, but try. Then try to get it done in as short a period of time as possible. There are a hell of a lot of small parts involved in this process and between that and trying to remember exactly how everything goes together, it can become a challenge. The less time you spend doing this, the easier it is.

  • Remember that the kit is not an exact replacement and that you will need to be flexible in your interpretation of the instructions. Once you accept that, you are fine because it all works. And, probably far better than it did originally.

  • If your 308 is an older car (all 308s are older cars now) that has been screwed with under the dash to fit various stereo components, there is a strong possibility that the fragile plastic evaporator is at least cracked. When you take it out, I would say, if it isn’t broken or at least cracked you are lucky. I would have it reinforced anyway once it is out.

  • New R-134 refrigerant requires green O-rings and a sufficient amount come with the kit. If you should misplace them and need more, they are available at any NAPA store. At several of the places where the hoses pass through bodywork, the hoses sit on relatively sharp edges. We slit lengths of heater hose and slipped them over those sharp edges and then tie-wrapped them in place.

  • Wherever you buy your kit, make certain you are dealing with someone who can communicate with you and has the patience to do so. RetroAir was at the end of the line on more than one occasion and they responded quickly and professionally. Only call me if you are prepared to be disappointed.

Good luck!

Thanks to the following businesses for making this possible (as listed in our MMR Goods & Services Directory):

Spencer Restorations

RetroAir

Natick Radiator and Auto Repair

The Fan Man -Radiator Fans