Monday, December 31, 2012

Rare Pontiac Catalina Stock Car for Sale

1963 Super Duty Pontiac Catalina coupe
courtesy of Russo and Steele

Russo and Steele always has interesting cars at their Scottsdale auction and it looks like the January 2013 version will be no exception. One of them is this 1963 Super Duty 421 Pontiac Catalina coupe. It’s one of a group of only 14 (only nine remain) known as the Swiss Cheese lightweights.

These muscle cars were meant for drag racing. As in most drag racers, the sound deadening and insulating materials were stripped out by Pontiac to save weight. They also took out one of the inside frame sections, and replaced some parts with aluminium. To make them even lighter, John DeLorean had them drill holes in the frame rails—which is how they got their nickname. The result was a car that was 800 pounds lighter and, according to Russo and Steele, “easily produced low-12s at about 115 mph on the quarter-mile.”

The particular car at auction was raced as a Super Stocker in 1963 by Harold Ramsey. He then had the wheelbase altered so he could race in the A/FX series. It was later raced by Larry Johnson. The current owner bought it, still wearing its late ‘60s paint job, in 1997, and turned it over to Thorpe’s Body and Corvettes Shop of O’Fallon, Illinois. They restored it to original specs, a 3,000 hour job, after which it grabbed a 400 point score at the June 2010 Charleston POCI Nationals. It’s picked up a few more titles since then. It’s also documented in Pontiac Musclecar Performance 1955-1979 by Pete McCarthy and John Angelis.

Russo and Steele say “the Swiss Cheese cars were equipped with the top SD 421 engine featuring 12.5:1 compression, Mickey Thompson pistons, a McKellar #10 cam, lightweight valves, high-flow cylinder heads, dual Carter AFB carbs, a special aluminum intake manifold, heavy-duty internals, and a lightweight flywheel. A heavy-duty Borg-Warner 3-speed manual transmission (with 2.10:1 first gear to prevent excessive driveline shock at launch) with aluminum tail housing and an aluminum center section for the 4.33:1 Safe-T-Track rear end rounded out the stout driveline.” That’s one serious drag racer.

1963 Super Duty Pontiac Catalina coupe
courtesy of Russo and Steele


Thursday, December 20, 2012

New and Improved Digital Car Painter

One of my most popular posts was about the Digital Car Painter iPhone/iPad app produced by BC-based Bestapp Digital Enterprises Ltd. Apparently, the app itself is quite popular with the hot rod community, too, but they’ve also provided a lot of feedback.

According to Bestapp’s president Al Beix, a lot of that feedback concerned the limited number of vehicles built in to the app’s library. He explains that “When we built the app we realized that it would be impossible to include the millions of vehicle models that have been produced since the 1930s so we opted to include vehicles with shapes that represented what was available in each decade. What we did not anticipate was the worldwide appeal of the app and as a result folks in Europe, Asia, and Australia for example found the app lacking for their vehicles.”

The solution? Giving users the chance, for a small fee, to add photos of their own car using a “Custom Cars” button. The basic app is free, although there are small fees for the various add-ons. You can check it out at Digital Car Painter.

[SOURCE: Bestapp Digital Enterprises Ltd.]

Monday, December 17, 2012

How Do You Start a 1905 Cadillac?

Judging by this video from the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, it’s a very complicated process. I’d figured there’d be a crank involved, but all of those other steps? And why would anyone put a lever on the back of a seat? Good thing the electric starter came along shortly thereafter—according to Wikipedia, Cadillacs had them beginning in 1912.

Speaking of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, if you’re ever in the area (it's not that far from Edmonton), it’s well worth a look. Besides a ton of great cars, they also have agricultural equipment and airplanes. Like most museums, not everything is on display at once. Your best chance to see the cars is their annual History Road event, generally held in June.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Aston Martin Enters North American Racing

Aston Martin Racing and The Racer’s Group recently announced a new partnership, TRG-Aston Martin Racing North America, LLC,  to form a factory-supported racing program in North America. Apparently they’re planning on participating in the American Le Mans Series, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, and the GRAND-AM Contintal Tire Sports Car Challenge starting in 2013. In addition they’ll be starting a single-make support series using Aston Martin Vantage GT4 race cars. I’ve always thought single-make series were a great way to level the playing field and really show what the drivers’ skills are, so I think this is a terrific idea.

The partnership has already acquired 10 race cars for the various series they plan to compete in. Look out for the Aston Martin Vantage GTE at the American Le Mans Series Winter Test (February 7-8), and again in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 16. The Vantage GT3 will be showing up in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, while the GT4 will take on the Continental Tire Challenge. As for the one-make series, it will use the GT4 Vantage in a sprint race format and may start by fall 2013.

According to Kevin Buckler, CEO of the new partnership, “What we have crafted with Aston Martin Racing is the ability for TRG-AMR North America to compete in all the major race series with multiple teams, and to manage and support all customer programs, marketing, merchandising, transport, maintenance, a new Aston Martin GT4 race series, and even an Aston Martin-specific "Arrive and Drive" program for corporate clients and customers. I am honored to have my Aston Martin friends and co-drivers Kenneth Greenberg and Robert Nimkoff as partners with us on this new endeavor, and we are all excited to get the programs rolling immediately.”

In addition to their own team, they’ll be supporting customer teams as well. Buckler said, “We will be responsible for race car sales, race parts, at-track engineering and technical support, rebuilds and repairs and will be there with the full support and backing of TRG-Aston Martin Racing North America for any of our customer teams.”

If you’re an Aston Martin customer, you might be interested in the “Arrive and Drive” program. Aston Martin’s press release says it will “feature Aston Martin race cars at tracks throughout North America where corporate clients, team sponsors and customers can become fully immersed in a track event, with data and instruction from the team and drivers. It will be a full-service, roving driving school throughout North America centered on an amazing driving and lifestyle experience.”

I don’t doubt it.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Collector Chevelles at Auction in New Orleans

Since I can’t get to any classic car shows at this time of the year, the next best thing is trawling the online catalogs of the various collector car auction houses. Always lots of great photos and cool cars. Vicari Auction will be selling cars from the Brent Tauth Chevelle Collection at tomorrow’s New Orleans Classic Auto Festival.

1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 396
Courtesy Vicari Auction
What’s up for grabs? The feature car is a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS5 V8 automatic. This convertible still has its original engine, and comes in black with white racing stripes. Sweet. There’s also a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396, described as show ready. You can see it in the photo. I’d love to see it at a local show.

Another of the featured cars is a hardtop 1970 Chevelle Malibu survivor car. It’s only had two owners, and still has its original 300 HP V8 (naturally), as well as lots of toys and a special order factory SS dash. Not as in-your-face as the SS 396, but a very nice car indeed.
1970 Chevelle Malibu
Courtesy Vicari Auction

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ford Provides Virtual Driving School

Whether you’re a novice driver, have years of experience behind the wheel, or teach others to drive, there’s always something to learn. Ford wants to help people do just that, in a safe virtual environment. Check out their online driving skills academy.

Once you’ve registered, you have access to videos on driving, a teacher’s guide, and—probably of most interest to teens—a virtual driving game produced by Michigan State University to teach skills in a safe environment. According to manager Jim Graham of Ford Driving Skills for Life, “Research has found driving simulation can effectively introduce new drivers to potentially life-saving skills. Tens of thousands of new drivers have attended our driving clinics, but this new game will provide millions of new drivers the opportunity to test and develop their skills online and on their schedule.”

Obviously, real world practice is still required, but the driving skills academy is a great supplement. Kudos to Ford for introducing it.


I apologize for posting so infrequently these last few weeks—I’ve been having back problems, which has reduced my computer time. Now that I’m on the mend, you should be seeing more frequent posts.

Monday, November 19, 2012

At Last! A Bentley I Can Afford to Drive

Courtesy Bentley Motors

Bentley Motors recently announced a new collection of items in their online store for the holidays. While the collection includes everything from Le Mans luggage to a handcrafted backgammon set that can be customized to match your Bentley, it was the cars that caught my attention.

Specifically, a remote control 1:12 scale model Bentley Continental Supersport. Looks just like the real thing and would like great parked under the Christmas tree. There’s also a model kit for a 4.5 litre Bentley Blower, and a nice selection of model Bentleys both new and classic, including the Speed Six Blue Train Bentley. Or how about an 8 GB USB stick in the shape of the Continental GT? It even has flashing headlights.

Prices could best be described as “exclusive” but still a fraction of the cost of a real Bentley.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1931 Duesenberg Racing Engine

Back in June, I’d talked about a 1931 Leon Duray Indy 500 race car I’d seen at the Samsung Transportation Museum in South Korea. A few days ago, an anonymous reader commented that the engine for this car was for sale on eBay. Sure enough, there was a 1931 Duesenberg V16 racing engine that ended up selling for $77,000. If you check out the link, you can see lots of photos of it.

I doubt it’s the engine from the museum—everything there was beautifully restored. But then I’m not sure the museum’s car isn’t a replica. I also don’t know if Duray’s 1931 Indy car had a Duesenberg engine. It’s listed as a Stevens / Duray 2C on Racing-Reference, and apparently failed to finish due to overheating. Race-Database also lists the engine as a Duray, though I suspect that means he may have modified it, not built it. Still, the Duesenberg is a rare engine. Thanks to my anonymous commenter for drawing it to my attention.

It seems Leon Duray did have a connection with a 1931 Duesenberg, but it wasn’t a race car—it was a Model J. It’s not known if Duray actually owned the car, but he certainly drove it. You can find the whole story at Hemmings Classic Car.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hot Rod Heaven: New 1940 Ford Coupe

1940 Ford Coupe body shell
Courtesy Ford Motor Company

I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about hot rods. On the one hand, I love the creativity involved. On the other hand, a classic car was destroyed to make it. Yes, there were lots of Fords and Chevys (around here they seem to make the bulk of the hot rods) built in the 1930s and 1940s, but sooner or later they’ll be gone. Plus the likelihood of finding a pristine body to build from—pretty much zero.

Now there’s another option. Dennis Carpenter FordRestoration Parts is offering reproduction body shells for the 1940 Ford Coupe. Built with modern steel and modern techniques, and officially licensed by Ford, these shells are ready to be made into hot rods, or your own reproduction 1940 Ford coupe. They’re already rust-proofed, so apart from whatever cutting down and stretching you want to do, there’s no drilling and filling required. The shells can be ordered with or without door and trunk panels. There’s also an option of a modified firewall to make room for a bigger powertrain.
1940 Ford Coupe body shell
Courtesy Ford Motor Company

They also make and carry parts for lots of other classic Fords. In fact, the company got started because Carpenter wanted dash knobs to restore his own car. Not being able to find any, he got permission from Ford to make reproductions using their blueprints. He’s produced many more parts since then. “When you see a beautifully restored 1940 Ford, it is like a piece of jewelry,” Carpenter said. “People just really love the lines of that car. It is timeless and appeals to all ages.”

Dennis Mondrach, licensing manager for Ford Restoration Parts, would agree. “Like its older 1932 Deuce Coupe and younger Mustang siblings, the 1940 Ford is a bodystyle and design that represents Ford at its best. The 1940 Ford Coupe has always been highly sought after and collectible. Unfortunately, good, solid restorable examples have become hard to find and expensive, so this faithful reproduction is bound to prove popular.”

If you can’t find the parts you need among Carpenter’s large inventory, you can also try Ford Restoration itself. While they don’t appear to sell parts, they do have a searchable database that will point you to the nearest licenced retailer of the part that you are looking for.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason Tackles London to Brighton Veteran Car Run for 28th Time

1901 Panhard
courtesy Royal Automobile Club

The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run must be a lot of fun. Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason, has driven in it every year since 1985 and has finished all but two times. He’ll be driving a 1901 5-litre Panhard et Levassor Roi des Belges this Sunday, one of many classic cars owned by his company. Now there’s a garage I’d love to tour.

Yep, he’s a gearhead, and has been for years. About the Panhard, bought specifically for doing the London to Brighton run, he says, “Big-engined cars from this era are not that common, and the great thing about the Panhard’s 5-litre engine is that the car can tackle a steep hill even when loaded to the gunwales with friends, family and mechanics.” He should know, he’s used it on the course 18 times already.

About the run itself, he says, “I suspect I was, like most people, guilty of assuming the run was mainly an excuse for dressing up, but experience has taught me that considerable skill is required to keep these brutes going in a straight line, let alone coaxing the gearbox into surrendering another gear. Entering Madeira Drive in Brighton gives you as great a sense of satisfaction as a chequered flag.”

He adds, “My passion for cars and motor racing predates any involvement with music. My father, a director for Shell’s documentary film unit, used to take me in his 4 1/2 litre Bentley to the vintage car events he was competing in, and some of my happiest childhood memories include the smell of leather, hot oil and blended racing fuels, accompanying the ticking sound of hot metal.”

Definitely a gearhead.

Monday, October 29, 2012

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run Just a Warm-Up for Joy Rainey and Her 1904 Oldsmobile

Joy Rainey and her 1904 Curved Dash Olds
courtesy London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

The annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run could be described as the world’s oldest motoring event for the world’s oldest cars. Originally held in 1927 as a re-enactment of an 1896 race celebrating the end of the 4 mph speed limit enforced on motor cars, it’s been hosted by the Royal Automobile Club since 1930. What makes it cool, at least to me, is that it’s restricted to cars built in 1905 or earlier. There’s more of them around than you might think—recent years have seen over 500 entries for the 60 mile run.

While not every car finishes the run, Joy Rainey, who’s done the run before, has a longer trip in mind. She’s planning on driving her 1904 Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabout across the United States next year. She used to participate in speed hill climbs, and has also done some long runs, including the London to Sydney Marathon and the Carrera Sudamericana. Neither of those were in anything as old school as the 1904 Olds, however. According to Rainey, “An invitation to a pub lunch and a viewing of the veteran resulted in me arriving home complete with the back axle and mangled gears and a decision to sell my 400bhp single-seater racing car and take on a 7hp 1904 Oldsmobile.”

So why the 2,826 mile trip across the States? Rainey wants to raise money for Cancer Research UK, in honour of her former partner and co-driver Trevor Hulks who died in 2010. Rainey explains, “A few months after Trevor’s untimely death I was contacted by Gary Hoonsbeen of the CDO Club in the USA who gently suggested that at some time in the future I might consider undertaking the trip myself as a tribute to Trevor. My reply was something like, ‘I never say never’, but in my heart then, I did not think that I could take on such a challenging trip without my soul mate.

“Now, after considerable soul-searching and encouragement from old and new friends, I have decided that this challenge feels like unfinished business. Therefore on 14th April next year I will start my coast-to-coast USA trip from Los Angeles and drive to Daytona Beach arriving on the 15th May in my 109-year-old Curved Dash Oldsmobile. And I would like to raise £20,000 for Cancer Research.”

I hope she does.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bond’s Best Car

If you were to survey James Bond film fans as to which of the various cars appearing in the movies was their favourite, what would they pick? Total Car Score recently ran a Facebook survey to determine exactly that. They let participants choose from a list of 10 cars covering the franchise’s history. You can see pictures of the various car models (some of the photos show the actual movie cars) in this article by their editor-in-chief Karl Brauer.

If you picked the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, you weren’t alone. The survey said 55% of the votes were for this car, with two other Aston Martins, the DBS from Quantum of Solace and the Vanquish from Die Another Day, coming in at second and third place. And no wonder. “Based on the opinions of those we surveyed on Facebook, it seems the Aston Martin DB5 has everything that makes a Bond car a Bond car,” said Brauer. “Early vehicles, like Dr. No's Sunbeam Alpine, didn't diminish 007's image, yet the Aston Martin DB5 that debuted in Goldfinger set a new standard that has yet to be eclipsed. The DB5's sleek profile can stand on its own, but throw in oil jets, machine guns and an ejector seat and you're left with a Bond icon so powerful they've brought it back for the modern movies.”

Check it out in the attached RM Auction video, posted in September 2010 for their October Automobiles of London sale, where it went for £2,912,000 ($4,608,531).



Art Cars Go Camping

No, we’re not talking the BMW art cars here, those racing vehicles painted by famous artists such as Andy Warhol. Instead, we’re talking about advertising vehicles shaped like product. Seems L.L.Bean recently commissioned its own car, the L.L. Bean Bootmobile, and thought it might be fun to take it camping in Freeport, Maine, last Saturday and raise funds for the US National Park Foundation at the same time. Three other art cars were invited along for the trip, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile (how appropriate), the Just Born PEEPSTER car, and the Lindt Chocolate Gold Bunny car.

As the newest art car on the road, the L.L.Bean Bootmobile,
created in honor of the company's 100th anniversary, has
invited the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, the Just Born
PEEPSTER Car and the Lindt Chocolate Gold Bunny Car
to come together for the first ever "Art Car Campout"
in Freeport, ME on Sat., October 13. Today, Fri.,
October 12, the vehicles warm-up by the campfire
before the big day of outdoor family fun.
(Brian Peterson, Feature Photo Service)
 There’s a Lindt Chocolate Gold Bunny car? How did I not know this? So I did a quick Google search and discovered that there’s actually more than one of these golden Smart cars. This blog entry from 2008 says they’re the official company cars, at least in Canada. Why have I never seen one at the local outlet store?

You can see the Lindt Bunny car parked at L.L. Bean’s in the attached video. I’m thinking I may need to stake out our local outlet to see if I can spot a golden bunny of my own.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mopar Headed to SEMA

Possibly the most interesting car show in North America for new cars is the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show held each fall in Las Vegas. That’s where all the cool aftermarket bits and pieces you can use to tweak your ride can be found. Unfortunately, most of us Jane and Joe Averages will never get to see it, but many of the exhibiters are generous with details. Chrysler Group held a press conference last Friday to show off some of the toys they’ll be taking to this year’s show, which runs from October 30 to November 2.

They’ve used 500 plus Mopar parts and accessories to deck out 24 Chrysler Group vehicles. Only eight were on display Friday. Here are my favourites from among them.

The Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper is one of 24 custom vehicles
that Mopar will bring to the 2012 Specialty Equipment
 Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.
 Courtesy and copyright Chrysler Group LLC.
 Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper

Too bad they’re only teasing us with a drawing—I assume the real thing will be ready for SEMA. Anyway, this monster uses the 5.7 liter HEMI® V-8 conversion kit, to give 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. It’s been boosted with front and rear portal axles, and rides on 42-inch Super Swamper Bogger tires. Other goodies include a skid plate, LED off-road lights, a CB radio, and a trailside winch kit. They’ve even added a trunk. Looks like a lot of fun, but with those half doors, it’s obviously not designed for winter. Too bad.

Fiat 500 Beach Cruiser

Courtesy and copyright Chrysler Group LLC.
Courtesy and copyright Chrysler Group LLC.
Heh. They’ve widened the body by a foot, added fender flares, teak wood trim on the floor and roof rack, and even a matching surfboard. The seats come with beach towel inserts, and there’s the obligatory hula girl on the dash. They’ve also thrown in performance and handling upgrades. All it needs now is an eight-track and a supply of Beach Boys albums to play in it. Where can I sign up for surfing lessons?

Dodge Charger Juiced

Take a Dodge Charger and add a Viper V-10 Mopar crate engine. Oh yeah! Add a Mopar lowering kit, front chin spoiler, and performance prototype hood, plus metallic Copperhead paint. Yum.
Courtesy and copyright Chrysler Group LLC.

SRT Viper

I saved the best for last. Thought the Viper was perfect already? Mopar has replaced several parts with carbon fiber versions, making the Viper lighter. Mopar springs boost suspension performance. Lots of yellow accents and polished chrome and aluminum make it pretty. There’s an optional front tow hook, in case you accidentally go off-roading.

Like the Jeep, this is only a drawing, but I'm assuming they'll have a live Viper on the SEMA floor.
Courtesy and copyright Chrysler Group LLC.

Friday, October 12, 2012

All I Want for Christmas is a 2013 Neiman Marcus Edition McLaren 12C Spider

2013 Neiman Marcus Edition McLaren 12c Spider.
PRNewsFoto/The Neiman Marcus Group
The 2012 edition of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue is now out. For those of us not on their mailing list (yup, that includes me for some reason), the catalogue can be viewed online. I used to love looking through the Sears Wish Book as a kid, but they never had anything like this. Here are a few items from their fantasy gift list that the gearhead on your list would probably love. And, hey, some of it goes to charity.

First there’s the featured car. Yeah, a 2013 Neiman Marcus Edition McLaren 12C Spider. Twelve of them, actually. I’m thinking his and hers would be nice. First there’s the car itself, in volcano red, with a 616 horsepower V8 twin turbo that will take you from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. It comes with matching luggage, which you’ll need for the business-class trip to England to tour the McLaren Technology Center and have dinner with McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis (um, I’d rather have dinner with McLaren himself). Plus a $3,000 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters. For $354,000, it can all be yours. They’re taking orders as of October 24, noon EDT. Call 888-756-0775 to reserve.

While you’d need a second car for it (unless you want to put a trailer hitch on the Spider), they’re also offering a Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Woody-Tailgate Trailer. Think I’ll just quote from the press release here—it’ll be shorter that way. “Designed by interior designer Brad Ford, it's impressive on the outside, but what's on the inside truly astounds: sleek leather furnishings and details from Moore & Giles, rich wood finishings (handcrafted from reclaimed Bulleit Bourbon casks), elegant glassware, and a top-notch entertainment system, including a flat-screen TV, Blu-ray Disc™ player, and a state-of-the-art sound system, plus a one-year supply of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye.” I wonder how they determine what a one-year supply is?

Finally, and possibly cooler than the McLaren Spider, is the JetLev R200. You get a water-propelled jetpack, complete with boat and all the necessary equipment, plus a CFI 1 Pilot Certification Training & Safety course. Sweet.

I’m not seriously expecting any of this to end up under my tree, but it’s fun to look.

[SOURCE The Neiman Marcus Group]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Three Great Hot Rod Websites

1934 Ford Roadster by Kate Tompkins

I’ve noticed more hot rods out at shows the last few years. I know I like to look at them, and I can’t be the only one. Since the show season’s pretty much over up here, I thought I’d post a few websites where you can get your fix over the next several months.

Not only do they put out a great hard copy magazine (also available as a digital subscription), there’s lots of content on their website as well, including web only features. There are photos from lots of different shows, including last year’s Fleetwood Country Cruize In, a show I’d love to get to. Not so happy about the photos of the SEMA girls—the only eye candy I want to see is cars, thanks. Check out the videos as well, they cover projects as well as shows. Lots of links to other clubs, as well. If you like them on Facebook, you’ll get occasional updates, with pictures, from whatever show they’re currently at or project they’re working on.

This site has a different emphasis, being more about racing than about the building and showing of hot rods. Here you can find profiles of hot rod legends, together with photos, many of them historic. There’s a featured Photo of the Day and Part of the Week (it’s under Cool Stuff), and even a list of movies featuring hot rods.

Like Canadian Hot Rods, HOT ROD has both a digital and hard copy presence. There are lots of articles on cars and tech, and you can even search for cars by make. You’ll also find coverage of events such as the HOT ROD power tour and HOT ROD drag week. They also do a weekly radio broadcast, accessible from the web page. There doesn’t seem to be a specific photo section, but you can find lots to look at under Reader’s Rides.

Know any other great hot rod sites I should add to this list?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lyonheart K to Build 250 Cars, Including Both Coupe and Convertible

Lyonheart K courtesy Classic Factory

Further to my last post, Lyonheart K has announced that it will be building 250 of its proposed British luxury sports car, and that, due to customer demand, some of those will be convertibles. If you’re in the market for a hand-built sports car with a Cosworth Supercharged V8, you might want to check this out. I’m mesmerized by the photos.

Unfortunately, while the car’s price has come down—the latest press release says the price will be well under 400,000 Euros before tax and delivery—we North Americans are out of luck. They’re planning on selling 70% of the production run in Europe, 10% in the Middle East and the remaining 20% in China. But I guess if you can afford the purchase price, you could afford to run over to Europe and pick one up.

I’ll be adding both the coupe and the convertible to my virtual garage.
Lyonheart K courtesy Classic Factory

Lyonheart K courtesy Classic Factory


New Lyonheart Sports Car Reinterprets Jaguar E-Type for Today

I originally wrote this column back in February for a now defunct car website. I’m rerunning it here as background for my next post.
Lyonheart K courtesy Classic Factory

Swiss design company Classic Factory has just launched a new British luxury sports car, to be built by hand entirely in Coventry. Does the world need yet another British luxury car? Probably not, but I just had a look at the Lyonheart Cars Ltd. website and the Lyonheart K is drop-dead gorgeous. While I will never in a million years be able to afford one (the asking price is €495,000 or approximately $656,122, and that’s before taxes), I sure wish I could.

This limited series car has a 5.0 litre supercharged V-8, putting out 550PS. With an aluminum chassis and engine, and carbon fibre panels, the Lyonheart K weighs around 3500 pounds. Consequently it’s fast. They say it will do 100 kph in less than four seconds (that’s 0 to 60 mph), with an electronically-governed top speed of 300 kph or somewhere around 186 mph. Yikes. All of this is hidden under a classic clamshell hood.

Classic Factory had originally designed the car as a one-off modern take on Jaguar’s E-type, but it was so popular they decided to actually build it. According to their CEO, Robert Palm, "We want to make the 'Made In England' label into a truthful concept, not just a statement. Every part of the Lyonheart K is developed, engineered and hand-built in England. The design clues of the Lyonheart K reflect Britishness at its best: cool, elegant, refined, understated yet powerful and dynamic."

It’s all of that. If it performs even half as well as it looks, it’ll be sensational.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Knit a Scarf to Match Your MINI

Courtesy BMW Group

In one of the more unusual marketing partnerships I've seen, MINI is working together with Wool and the Gang to produce a limited number of kits for people to knit their own scarf in MINI Countryman True Blue Metallic. Each kit for the LULA HOOP scarf comes with sufficient Peruvian wool to make it, the necessary knitting needles, a sewing needle, and the pattern. And, to make it truly exclusive, a sew-on badge with the MINI / Wool and the Gang cooperation logo.

Before any of you knitters out there get too excited, you should know that the kits are only available from the Wool and the Gang online shop (that’s HERE), and cost €75.00. Ouch. Think that’s because it’s exclusive? Apparently not, since all of their kits seem to be insanely expensive. The ready-made LULA HOOPs, not in MINI blue, are even more money.

Of course you could easily find an online pattern for an infinity cowl and pick up some bulky yarn at your local department store for $10 or so. You could probably even persuade someone to knit it for you. You wouldn't have the badge or the matching colour, however. For a true MINI fan, it’s probably worth the extra money.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gentlemen, Start Your Lawnmowers

Got a press release a few weeks back announcing that some company or other was continuing to supply parts to, or renewing their sponsorship of, a lawn mower racing association. Obviously the press release wasn’t too effective on me because I can’t remember who issued it (possibly STA-BIL, a gas additive manufacturer)—I was too fixated on the idea that people not only race lawn mowers, but that there was an actual association for it.

According to Wikipedia, the whole thing got started, not surprisingly, in a pub in England, back in 1973. Needless to say, it spread. There are at least two American associations, the U.S. Lawn Mower RacingAssociation and the American Lawn Mower Racing Association. Both offer local chapters as well as a national championship. A little closer to home is the Southwestern Ontario Lawn Tractor Racing Association (SOLTRA).

In case you’re wondering, they use ride on mowers (wimps), which have had some modifications made to them for safety, including the removal of the blades. Too bad. I was planning on starting a local chapter and hosting a race in my backyard. Seemed like an easy way to get my grass cut.

I can’t vouch for the instructions, but here’s a site telling you how to make a racing lawn mower. There’s even an online lawnmowerracing game, in 3D no less. It does require you to register to play, which I haven’t done, so again, I can’t vouch for it. If anyone tries it and it is good, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2012 Targa Newfoundland: The Finish

1983 Volvo 245 Turbo GLT of Tony and Philip Piscitelli
reaches the 2012 Targa Newfoundland finish line.
Photo by Kate Tompkins

Here, finally, is my video of the various competitors crossing the finish line. I should explain that the rally stages were already completed, so the order in which the cars appear has nothing to do with the position in which they finished. Nonetheless, in order to claim a finisher’s medallion, each team must not only complete a certain number of stages, but their vehicle or parts thereof (that’s what the official rules say) must cross the finish line.

The rules don’t say the vehicle has to cross under its own power. As you can see in the top photo, the 1983 Volvo 245 Turbo GLT driven by Tony and Philip Piscitelli had a little help. I think these guys deserve a medal just for being such good sports.

They weren’t the only car to take some damage. Check out the 2004 Subaru WRX driven by John Howard and Matt Kelland. They’re still smiling, though.
2004 Subaru WRX driven by John Howard and Matt
Kelland reaches the 2012 Targa Newfoundland
finish line. Photo by Kate Tompkins

The actual group winners are as follows:

Classic: Scott Giannou and Ray Felice in a 1981 Porsche 911 SC, beating out six other teams, all of whom finished.

Modern: Andrew Comrie-Picard and Brian O'Kane in a 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 9, beating out 13 other teams, only nine of whom finished.

Open: Local favourites Paul Dyer and Justin Crant in a Mitsubishi, beating out 11 other teams, eight of whom finished.

Grand Touring Equipped: John Hume and Craig MacMullen in a 2011 BMW 335is, beating seven other teams.
Grand Touring Unequipped: David Burrows and Jason Fancey in a 2013 Scion FR-S, ahead of the only other team.

Winners of the 2012 President’s Manufacturer’s Challenge, with two vehicles apiece entered, were Kia Canada and FIAT.

The 2012 Kenzie Cup for Marque Teams, given to the manufacturer with the three highest placing cars, went to BMW.

For a detailed look at the results, you can check out the Targa Newfoundland website.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

2012 Targa Newfoundland Official Start

2012 Targa Newfoundland start
by Kate Tompkins

I’ve finally got caught up with my day job and had a chance to edit the video I shot of the official start to this year’s Targa Newfoundland on September 9. It was a perfect day for driving and there was a good crowd out to cheer on each of the teams as they crossed the start line and headed off for the three prologue stages. The prologue stages, held in nearby Flatrock and Torbay, were meant as shake-downs for the real thing, which started on the Monday.

While the weather was perfect, the behaviour of my video camera was not, as it kept cutting out on me. Fortunately, my still camera also shoots video, though with less resolution and no sound. You’ll have to imagine the roar of the motors and the squeal of tires as the teams took off, because they were definitely putting on a show for their fans. I did get footage of most of the cars, and thanks to the video editing software of YouTube, my old camera did a fair job.

You can catch the classic Mustang at around 6:16 of the video, and at 9:12, one of the cars comes through for a second time. Not a good sign if they got lost that quickly. And yes, there really were that many Porsches.

Next on my agenda is the official finish. No problems with the video camera that day, so there will be sound and good resolution.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

McLaren’s Next Supercar, the P1

McLaren’s new supercar, the P1
Courtesy PRNewsFoto/McLaren Automotive

Okay, it’s not actually built yet, but McLaren has released images of its current project, which it describes as the “next generation ultimate supercar.” They’ll be previewing a design study at the Paris Motor Show running September 27 to October 14, and have promised more details after their press conference at the show on its opening day.

They expect to have a production version next year, which will be both more powerful and pricier than the 12C and 12C Spider. According to their automotive managing director Antony Sheriff, “It will be the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.”

Fact or marketing bumph? Guess we’ll find out when the rubber meets the track.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 Targa Newfoundland Car Show

As I’d posted several days back, I was at the opening car show for the Targa Newfoundland on September 8. I’ve now had a chance to label and edit my photos, so you can check out the cars in the attached video. Not all of the cars entered were in the show—there were vehicles coming and going throughout the day—but most of them were. At least one was out in the parking lot being worked on.

In particular, note the lady with the crutch in the picture of the 1979 Porsche 911, not the two SCs, but the black one. Believe it or not, she was the navigator, and yes, she went through the entire Targa with a broken foot.

In addition to getting a chance to see the cars and some of the drivers, the $5 admission got you a copy of this year’s official guide, which I’ve just now discovered has a page in the back for autographs, and a snazzy Targa poster, currently hanging on the wall in my office.

The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, this year’s official Targa Newfoundland charity, had a booth selling food and also had volunteers selling tickets on a new car. Several of the competitors were also racing to raise funds for autism. Targa management encourages the teams to raise funds for the charity of their choice and many were doing exactly that. Ronald MacDonald House seemed to be a popular pick.

Of course there was also a booth selling official Targa Newfoundland gear. I hadn’t meant to get anything, but somehow ended up buying a Targa cap and a very nice lady’s polo shirt. I blame my husband for encouraging me. They must have sold out of the shirts because I don’t see any left on their merchandise page. I know I got the last blue one. Lots of other things still available though, including a DVD of the 10th anniversary Targa held last year.

Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Targa Newfoundland Links

2010 Kia Forte Koup SX
by Kate Tompkins

Now that I’m back home from St. John’s, not dealing with a laggy computer that I was sharing with three other people, I hope to have photos and video of my Targa Newfoundland experience up soon. While I didn’t have the budget to chase the rally cars all over Newfoundland (maybe next time), I did catch the start and finish. In the meantime, here are some links to the past week’s events.

You can check out each day’s results in my Examiner columns starting here, or you can check out the official Targa Newfoundland site.

There’s some good coverage, including photos and video, on There’s more coverage over at Vivid Racing, who had a 2011 Porsche 997 Turbo S in the running. And even more coverage at, who had a 2010 Kia Forte Koup in the race.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Live from Targa Newfoundland

2010 Ford Shelby GT 500
by Kate Tompkins

Yes, I’m actually in St. John’s, and will be doing some coverage of this year’s Targa Newfoundland. The official start is later today, but things began for the spectators yesterday with a car show at the Remax Centre, or, as the locals call it, the curling club.
2012 Fiat Abarth
by Kate Tompkins

I’ve never seen so many rally cars in one place before—or so many Porsches for that matter. It was the first of a series of shows, as there will be one each night in whatever community that day’s driving has ended in. Loved getting a close look and peeking through the windows at the interiors.

I’ll be posting more pictures once I get home, but here’s one of the 2012 Fiat Abarth entered by Chrysler’s team (I still wish they’d put a Viper in—maybe next year), and a 2010 Ford Shelby GT 500 which is raising money for autism, this year’s official charity.

The really exotic cars weren’t out last night, but I’m hoping to catch them at the official start. You can 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Targa Newfoundland Announces Video Coverage

If you’re one of the many Targa Newfoundland fans who can’t actually make it out to watch next week’s rally, you’re in luck. They’ve announced a new website,, where daily results and a daily video news summary will be posted starting on September 9. While the main website has always posted results and photos, the daily video is a welcome addition. I know I’ll be checking it out.

According to Targa organizer Robert Giannou, “Not only will this new program help deliver Targa results faster, and to those fans who really follow the event, we hope this format will provide the opportunity to tell the story of more teams’ adventures at Targa.” Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No Viper at This Year’s Targa Newfoundland, But Don’t Count Chrysler Out

I have to admit I’m disappointed that Ralph Gilles won’t be behind the wheel of an SRT Viper for this year’s running of the TargaNewfoundland (September 8 to 15). I suspect he is, too.

Nonetheless, Chrysler Group does have an entry in the Targa, a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, nicely tuned. The Fiat will be driven by Jen Horsey, writer, reporter and Targa veteran, and Formula DRIFT champion and stunt driver Samuel Hubinette.

Last year, Horsey and Gilles came in second in their group (Modern Division) in the Viper. Should be interesting to see how Horsey and Hubinette make out in the Fiat. I bet it’s easier to get around the corners.

Monday, September 3, 2012

KITT Replica for Sale

Back in the ‘80s, when Knight Rider was on TV, I couldn’t have cared less about David Hasselhoff. It was the car I wanted. Now I find out that if I only had £30,000 or so, I could own KITT, or at least a very nice replica. Not just any replica, either. This one is apparently so good that it’s been hired many times, including by David Hasselhoff himself.

It’s not just the car that’s being sold, it’s the car hire business that goes with it. Ha! Like I would let anyone else get their grubby little hands on KITT once he was safely in my garage.

Sorry, no photos to accompany this article, though you can find them on the businessforsale page, together with information on how to make them an offer. If the link only brings up the main page, ask it to show you all countries, and then check “unique” under type of business.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

GM’s Car/Lifestyle Contest

Who wouldn’t like a new car? GM Canada is currently running a contest (last entry date December 21, 2012) with a car as the grand prize. While only one car can be won, the winner has the choice of 20 different GM vehicles with their corresponding prize packages. The rules, and the various websites where you can enter (BUT ONLY ONCE IN TOTAL), can be found here:

If you don’t want to enter online, you can fill out an entry form at your GM dealer. You have to have a valid driver’s licence and neither you nor your immediate family can be connected with GM. Unfortunately, that rules out quite a few of the people I know who would be interested, but more chances for the rest of us, right?

So what can you win? I haven’t space for all 20 options, but here are a few of them.

A 2012 Buick Enclave CX, and a ski weekend for two in Banff, including four star resort, lift passes, economy airfare to Calgary, and ground trip transportation from Calgary to the resort.

A 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS 2 door coupe, a trip for two to Toronto, and a full day professional driving training course at Mosport International Airport.

A 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE 4WD Extended Cab, and a home garage renovation.

A 2012 Cadillac CTS 3.0L 4 door sedan, and a trip for two to Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, you have to pick your package when you enter. Personally, I’m having a hard time deciding which one I want.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grande Salon Auction of Collectible Chryslers

1940 American Bantam Speedster
courtesy Classic Motorcar Auctions

Chrysler fans may want to check out the 3rd annual Grande Salon Auction by Classic Motorcar Auctions this September 15. Among the items up for grabs are several vehicles and memorabilia, all at no reserve, from the William A.C. Pettit, III collection. Since Pettit owned a Chrysler dealership for many years, before running the Museum of Motoring Memories, you can bet there are some nice cars in the collection.

Among the more unusual items from the Pettit Collection are three American Bantam cars, including a 1940 Bantam Speedster. There’s also four classic engines on stands: a 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, a 1922 Duesenberg Model A inline eight, a 1931 Stutz DV-32 inline eight, and a 1934 Packard Twelve.

Of greater interest to Chrysler fans will be the 1970 Chrysler Newport convertible (the last year Chrysler made full-size convertibles), the 1984 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country convertible, the 1967 Plymouth Barracuda convertible with power pack engine and a 1968 Plymouth Sport Satellite convertible. All at no reserve. Hmm. So is the 1965 Ford Falcon Sprint Vintage Race Car.

Bob Lichty, the president of Classic Motorcar Auctions, says, “I am amazed at the quality and quantity of memorabilia items from the William A.C. Pettit, III Collection, many of which date back to his childhood in the 1930s. The cars also represent an important time in our history, as the Bantams were America's first economy car and the Chryslers are indelibly linked to the Pettit family legacy in the Chrysler business. The engines have been preserved for many years in a climate-controlled environment, making them ideal for a vintage car restorer or a museum display.”

Proceeds from the sale of the Pettit Collection will go to the Shriners Hospital for Children. For more information, visit, email or call 866-653-8900.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Coolest Garage Door Ever

Courtesy style-your-garage

Open the average garage door and you’ll probably see—well—a pile of junk. Lawnmowers, garden tools, used paint cans, that sort of thing. But what if it looked like your garage held a racing car or bike, a classic 1950s Bentley, a 1967 Corvette or a 1968 Maserati? Much better.

Check out style-your-garage, for all of these and more. This German company (they do ship) makes billboards to cover your garage door and make your dreams come virtually true. My personal favourite is the horse box complete with mare and foal. Mind you, the garage band setup is pretty cool, too.

Prices for the garage murals start at $80 US, which includes the installation kit but not shipping. They also make billboards for ordinary doors—there are at least three different ones that look like the opening to a wine cellar, and some that show glimpses of cars. Or perhaps a wall sticker that looks like a porthole (complete with shark) or a window or door opening onto a tropical beach. Hmm, think my office needs one of those.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ford Honours Carroll Shelby with Tribute Car

© Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, Ford Racing, Shelby American and others have come together to build a one-of-a-kind Cobra in memory of Carroll Shelby. This 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra wide-body Mustang has a Ford Racing 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger engine under the hood, capable of putting out more than 850 horsepower. That’s a lot of ponies! It’s also painted in historic trim in honour of the Shelby Cobra’s 50th anniversary, looking sharp in Guardsman Blue with Wimbledon White stripes. The hood itself was designed specifically for this car by Shelby American, who also provided the Shelby Wilwood brakes and 20 inch wheels.
© Ford Motor Company

The car made its first appearance last week at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion. According to Ford’s vice president for sales and marketing, Jim Farley, “You might also know that Carroll was a philanthropist, noted for supporting causes that moved him,” adds Farley. “In that spirit, this car will be taken on tour around the country, and hopefully will be used in a special way at the end of its tour –  a way Carroll would appreciate.” That sounds to me like it will be auctioned off for charity at some point. I’ll let you know if I hear anything.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1994 Honda Accord First Choice of Auto Thieves

2012 Dodge Challenger by Kate Tompkins
The latest Hot Wheels report—the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NIBC) list of the ten most frequently stolen vehicles in the United States—has just come out. While I’m relieved my current ride isn’t on it, I’m rather surprised by what is. A pretty dull list, actually. Guess most thefts must be for parts, rather than people taking a sports car for a joy ride.

Thefts are apparently at their lowest rate since 1967. However, NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle warns: “"While overall thefts continue to decline, we are seeing a trend toward increases in the thefts of late model vehicles − ones that are theoretically harder to steal due to sophisticated key code technology. Today's vehicle thieves are typically professional criminals who have figured out how to get the key code for a specific vehicle, have a replacement key made, and steal the vehicle within a matter of days.”

Which vehicles are they targeting? Here’s the 2011 list:

1994 Honda Accord
1998 Honda Civic
2006 Ford Pickup (Full Size)
1991 Toyota Camry
2000 Dodge Caravan
1994 Acura Integra
1999 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
2004 Dodge Pickup (Full Size)
2002 Ford Explorer
1994 Nissan Sentra

Even if your vehicle’s not on the “hot” list, it still makes sense to take precautions. The NICB recommends the use of warning, immobilizing and tracking devices, and, cheapest and simplest of all, always locking your car and never leaving the keys in it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cruise into Your Local A&W This Thursday

For all you Canadians out there, August 23 is the fourth annual Cruisin' for a Cause at your local A&W restaurant. Purchase a Teen Burger and A&W will make a $1 donation to the MS Society. Some restaurants will be running contests, or cruise nights, or giving away prizes, maybe all three.

Speaking of prizes, check out the Cruisin' the Dub contest. Top prize is a 2012 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ford Mustangs, SVT Vehicles at 2012 Woodward Dream Cruise

The 2012 edition of the world’s largest one-day classic car event was held in Michigan last Saturday, and Ford had a large presence there. They were expecting over 800 Mustangs to be parked on Mustang Alley. I can’t even imagine a car show with 800 cars, let alone 800 of just one model and 40,000 or so in all. Guess you have to pick and choose because there’s no way you can see everything.

In addition to Mustangs from 1964 on up, Ford Motor Company was hosting a 20th Anniversary display of its Special Vehicle Team (SVT) vehicles. Check them all out in the attached fact sheet (available online at Wouldn’t that make a great wall poster?

Courtesy Ford Motor Company


Friday, August 10, 2012

Shelby Collectibles for Sale

With the recent death of Carroll Shelby, Shelby cars have been more noticeable than ever. I know of at least three upcoming auctions where Shelby vehicles are being featured.

1965 Shelby Cobra 289 Roadster
courtesy of Russo and Steele
The first is Russo and Steele’s upcoming Monterey auction (August 16 to 18). They have several Shelby cars set to cross the block, some of which have no reserve. There’s a cute little red 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 roadster (nope, that’s not one of the no reserve cars), at least four 1966 Shelby GT 350s, one of which has raced in the SCCA and one of which is one of the Hertz cars, and even a 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible, which is marked “no reserve.” Plenty of opportunities for someone to start a collection.
2009 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
courtesy of Vicari Auction Company

If a car with the Shelby name on it isn’t good enough, how about a car Shelby actually owned? The Vicari Auction Company is offering exactly that at their 16th annual Biloxi Auction (October 12-13). It’s a 2009 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR, with less than 1,600 miles on it, and comes with proof that Shelby owned it, plus his signature on the dash.
2009 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
courtesy of Vicari Auction Company

We’re talking serious supercar here. The people at Vicari say it’s “powered by a 90 degree ‘MOD’ DOHC supercharged 5.4L/330CID V-8 producing 540 HP @ 6,250 RPM and 510 lbs.-ft of torque @ 4,500 RPM. It goes 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and has a quarter-mile ET of 12.5 seconds at 114 mph.”

For something truly unique (and thanks to my husband for drawing my attention to this one), how about a lifesize model of a car driven by Carroll Shelby. And not just any car, but the Aston Martin DBR1 in which he and Roy Salvadori won the 1959 Le Mans 24-Hour. It looks exactly like a giant model that has not yet been assembled. It will be up for grabs at Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival Sale on September 15. Since I haven’t got permission from Bonhams, I can’t post a photo here, but you can see it for yourself at this link. They think it will go for between 20-25,000 British pounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went even higher.