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Friday, July 25, 2014

Spotted: 1949 Oldsmobile 98 Futuramic Series Coupe Deluxe

1949 Oldsmobile 98 Futuramic
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Don’t you just love the back end on this car? Saw this beauty at the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue show last month. Not only had I never seen a Futuramic before, I don’t think I’d even heard of one, but it certainly caught my eye. Can’t say I’m surprised to find that Harley Earl had a hand in its design.

While it seems quite retro now, it was definitely forward-looking when it was built. Ever since the Second World War had started, no one had worried about styling since they could sell every car they made, and manufacturers basically kept putting out their 1942 models each year. By 1948 it was time for something new.

1949 Oldsmobile 98 Futuramic
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Wikipedia says the Futuramic styling concept was first used on the 1948 Oldsmobile 98. While what was under the hood was the same old flathead straight eight Oldsmobile had been using for years, the body, based on the new C-body (shared with Buick and Cadillac), was all new. By 1949, Futuramic styling traits were extended to the Oldsmobile 88 and 76 series as well.

1949 Oldsmobile 98 Futuramic
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Oldsmobile introduced the Rocket V8 in 1949, so the new body had a new engine to go with it. Not surprisingly, some of Oldsmobile’sadvertising for the Futuramic line has a rocket/space theme. It was the Futuramic 88 they were pushing, though, as the lowest-priced car with the “rocket engine.” And, with its lighter body and the Rocket V8, the 88 has been called by some “America’s first muscle car.”

Check out this video (below) of ads for the Futuramic if you’d like a closer look at the car and its features. Among other things, it had power windows and seats, a powered roof on the convertible, and an automatic transmission. The top of the line 98, while not as speedy as the 88, was a very nice car for its time. I wouldn’t say no to a ride in one today.



[SOURCES: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1948-1949-oldsmobile-futuramic-98.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldsmobile_98]


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Project 7: Jaguar’s Ultimate F-Type

F-TYPE Project 7 – the most powerful and fastest production
Jaguar to date – made its dynamic debut in front of
packed crowds during the Le Mans Classic race
meeting over the weekend of 4-6 July.
Photo courtesy Jaguar Land Rover Limited.
As you’ve probably heard, Jaguar’s decided to go into production with a roadster based on its Project 7 concept, which itself was built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar D-Type, a British racer that won Le Mans three times in the 1950s. Jaguar has won the Le Mans seven times in all, hence the Project 7 name.

D-Type Jaguar at Le Mans Classic race meeting over
the weekend of 4-6 July.
Photo courtesy Jaguar Land Rover Limited.
The new roadster (above) was shown off at this month’s Le Mans Classic. Appropriately enough, a classic D-Type (seen to the right) celebrated its 60th in style by winning its class at the Le Mans Classic.






F-Type Project 7 Jaguar.
Photo courtesy Jaguar Land Rover Limited
They’re billing the new Project 7 as Jaguar’s “fastest and most powerful production Jaguar.” While I seriously question whether a car that’s being hand-built by Jaguar’s Special Operations team (doesn’t that sound like something out of a Bond movie?) and of which at most 250 will be made is really a “production” car, that’s beside the point.

F-Type Project 7 Jaguar.
Photo courtesy Jaguar Land Rover Limited
The car is gorgeous. They’ve managed to make it both modern and retro at the same time. Not sure I like the rear fairing behind the driver’s head, though. I understand it’s copying the D-type but looks a bit lopsided.

While the concept car, seen in action below, is a one-seater like the original D-Type, the production version will be a two-seater. It has an aluminum body, with a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine. It’s anticipated it will do 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and will be electronically limited to 186 mph. Not surprising, given that, are the Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes (standard), the racing style bucket seats, and the optional four-point racing harnesses.



I’ve put Jaguar’s promotional video for the production car below, mostly so you can hear for yourself the sound of the engine. But in case it disappears, here’s the link.




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ford Trucks Go Better with Ketchup?

In one of the more unlikely sounding business pairings, Ford Motor Company and H.J. Heinz Company are working together. Yes, the ketchup company. It seems that the by-products of Heinz Ketchup (tomato skins, stems and seeds) might be useful in making bio-plastic.

Heinz processes more than two million tons of tomatoes a year to make its ketchup. That adds up to a lot of left over tomato skins. Researchers think they might be able to turn the fibres in the waste products into plastic for wiring brackets or storage bins.

Sound far-fetched? Ford has been actively pursuing bio-plastics over the last few years. “We are exploring whether this food processing by-product makes sense for an automotive application,” said Ellen Lee, plastics research technical specialist for Ford. “Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact.”

Ford is already using eight other bio-based materials, with ingredients ranging from rice to soy to coconut. Now if they could only find something useful to do with zucchini.




[SOURCE: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140610005821/en#.U8Vz0PldXng]

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spotted: 1969 Mod Top Plymouth Barracuda

1969 Mod Top Plymouth Barracuda
Photo by Kate Tompkins
One of the interesting cars I saw at the Ste-Anne Cruisin’ at the Boardwalk show was this 1969 Mod Top Plymouth Barracuda. Check out the vinyl roof, and the seats. Feeling nostalgic for the Swinging Sixties?

Chrysler first came out with the Mod Top option for some of their models in 1969. If you bought a 1969 Barracuda, Satellite or Roadrunner, or a 1969 Dodge Dart, Coronet or Super Bee, there was a package available that gave you the floral roof, with matching seat and door panel inserts. Or you could just have the floral roof with plain seats or vice versa. The 1970 Barracuda, Challenger and Dart also came with this option.

There were two color patterns available, depending on what your exterior paint was. You could have the yellow/green/black floral or the blue/green floral. Either way, the car also came tricked out with “Mod Top” script decals for the quarter windows. It must have been a fairly rare option. I couldn’t find it in any of the brochures I looked in. Nor had I ever seen one before the Ste-Anne show. But if you do own one, you might want to join the registry at mooresmopars.

How rare an option was it? According to the people at moparsinscale (checked in 2011 when I first wrote about Mod Tops, specific page no longer in existence), quoting from the April/May 1994 issue of Mopar Muscle, there were only 2,876 cars with the Mod Top roof produced in total:

1,637 1969 Plymouth Satellites
   937 1969 Plymouth Barracudas
     98 1969 Dodge Dart Swingers
     55 1969 Dodge Darts
     26 1969 Super Bees
     39 1969 Dodge Coronets
     84 1970 Plymouth Barracudas.

In fact, I think there have been more diecast Mod Top cars produced than actual cars. Though oddly enough there’s a diecast with a pink Mod Top, which never existed. Probably should have, though.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Spotted: Campagna Motors V13R

Campagna Motors V13R
Photo by Kate Tompkins
We were enroute to Ottawa the other day when we saw something unusual on a trailer in front of us. Dug out my pocket video camera and took a few photos—this is the best of the lot. We knew it was a three-wheeler, could see a C on the nose, but couldn’t get a close enough shot to actually read the badge. Not without tailgating, anyhow, and we didn’t want to do that.

So I did an online search when I got home and discovered what we’d seen was a Campagna Motors V13R, made right here in Quebec (Boucherville to be exact). Jay Leno took one for a spin back in 2012. I’ve embedded the video below, but in case it disappears, there’s a link here.

It is indeed a three-wheeler (two in front, one in the back) with room for two. The company website describes it as “the Roadster with Attitude,” which seems apt. Its powerhouse is a Harley-Davidson® Liquid-cooled Revolution® 60° V-Twin engine which puts out 122 horsepower and 84 pounds of torque. With a weight of only 1156 pounds, it should have great power and mileage. It has a five-speed transmission and, unlike many three-wheelers, has a reverse gear.

At only 42 inches, it is seriously low to the ground (clearance of 4.5 inches, so not built for off-roading). Would be interesting for touring though if you like to travel light. There is a small cargo bin, plus a 46 litre side bag mounted on each side of the back wheel.

Hmm. I wants one. Need to make more room in the virtual garage.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Mark Higgins Sets New Four-Wheel Lap Record for Isle of Man TT Course Twice in One Week

The All-New 2015 Subaru WRX STI sets new lap
record at the Isle of Man TT Circuit.
(PRNewsFoto/Subaru of America, Inc.)
While the Isle of Man TT Road Course is best-known for its motorcycle races, people like to take on the 37-miles on four wheels as well. According to rally driver Mark Higgins, "There is nothing like the TT course in all of racing, it's just an amazing circuit. Not just because of its length, but the elevation changes, constant surface variations as you shift from town to country roads and the fact that we run roughly 30 mph and then up to 160 plus for much of the race."

On June 4, Higgins set a new record with a time of 19 minutes and 26 seconds, for an average lap speed of 116.470 mph. He was driving a US-spec 2015 Subaru WRX STI. The car was stock, with the exception of a few modifications for safety (roll cage, racing seat and harness…) and the removal of the speed limiter.

Not happy with the previous result, on June 6, he tackled the course again, this time finishing in 19 minutes and 15 seconds, for an average lap speed of 117.510. Yikes.

Subaru WRX STI re-breaks Isle of Man lap record
(PRNewsFoto/Subaru of America, Inc.)
 "This was a great run when everything came together and I was able to do a much cleaner lap as I am still learning where I can go flat in this car," said Mark Higgins. "I am really happy to beat the lap records set by John McGuiness in the Zero Bikes and the sidecar lap record as John was riding me about that! I can't say enough about the new WRX STI and how much abuse it has taken as we have really ridden it hard over this course for three very fast runs and this is definitely not an easy course. The chassis on this new car is just night and day."

There is an online video of the entire lap but I’m not going to post it as it runs over 20 minutes. At the moment, it’s available here if you want to watch it.


[SOURCE: Subaru of America, Inc. via https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/all-new-2015-subaru-wrx-sti-sets-new-lap-record-at-the-isle-of-man-tt-course-261819821.html, https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/262107601.html]

2014 Cruisin’ at the Boardwalk

Photo by Kate Tompkins
I have a lot of material piling up that I want to write posts for, which includes at least two on specific cars I saw at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue last month. Blame my backlog on my recent vacation (you can figure out where I was and what we were driving from the photo to the left). Anyway, here’s a slideshow of the Ste-Anne show to get things underway.

It was a great show as usual, but there were relatively fewer cars out. I blame the weather, which had been very wet all week and still looked like rain the morning of the show. Nonetheless, there were still lots of cars to admire.

The Mustangs were out in force, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ford’s pony car—though the newer ‘stangs look more like war horses than ponies. Lots of Mopar offerings including a Mod Top Barracuda, something I’d never seen before. A great selection of hot rods as always, a sprinkling of foreign cars, and my pick for best of show, a 1949 Oldsmobile Futuramic. Rolling art, that one.