Thursday, June 28, 2012

First 2013 SRT Viper GTS Sells for $300,000

First 2013 SRT Viper GTS auctioned
 for Austin Hatcher Foundation charity.
 (PRNewsFoto/Chrysler Group LLC)

Ouch, but don’t worry, that was for charity. The car was auctioned off at Barrett-Jackson’s Orange County auction last weekend, with proceeds to benefit the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. There’s no official word yet on what the price of the new Vipers will be when they start coming off the production line in Detroit later this year, but you can check out pictures, specs, and even video on the official SRT site. Best guess on the internet seems to be around $100,000 for the base version. That being the case, whoever bought this pre-production model might have gotten a real bargain on a one-of-a-kind collector car.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Racing Bentleys at Goodwood

The 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed, a British hill-climbing event that’s been running since 1993, starts tomorrow. Bentley Motors is sponsoring the event, so naturally they’ll be showing off their newest models, including the EXP 9 F concept SUV. The new Continental GT V8 will be taking on the hill. But they’ll have a couple of older cars there to do the hill climb as well, two former Le Mans racers to be driven by Bentley Boys Guy Smith, Juha Kankkunen, and Derek Bell.
Bentley Speed 8 courtesy Bentley Motors

The newer of the two is the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours winner, the Bentley Speed 8. It does look fast, but I can’t see anything that low to the ground taking on a hill. Nonetheless, they say it will be making two runs per day.

The older car is one of the Birkin Blowers, a 4 1/2 litre supercharged Bentley built for racing in the early 30s. It’s completed the Mille Miglia three times, the third this year, and will also be doing two runs a day on the hill.
Tim Birkin at Le Mans (1930) courtesy Bentley Motors

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Build a Virtual Mustang, Win a Real One

2013 Ford Shelby GT500
© Ford Motor Company and Wieck Media Services, Inc.

Don’t know if you’ve had a chance to play with Ford’s online Mustang customizer yet, but it’s lots of fun. Now Ford’s updated it for the 2013 Mustang and added a contest to boot. While the contest, which will give away four customized Mustangs, is only available to those living in the continental US (other than Alaska), anyone can access the customizer. You can either use it online or download the app (soon to be available for iPhone, iPad and Android).

Pick your Mustang type, whether a V6, GT, Boss 302 or Shelby GT500. Then choose your desired features from the choices of body kits, graphics, paint and wheels. Once it’s together, you can check it out from five different angles and save it to use as wallpaper or share on Facebook.

Of course, you can also take it to your nearest Ford dealer to order your very own non-virtual Mustang.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

1959 Devin SS to Feature at Russo and Steele Monterey Auction

One of my favourite things to do is browse the catalogues for collector car auctions. Can’t actually afford one myself, but I do love to look. I’m sure I’m not the only one, so here’s the first of many posts to come on upcoming auctions.
1959 Devin SS courtesy of Russo and Steele

Caught sight of this beauty in a press release from Russo and Steele. Seems it’s up for grabs at their 12th Annual Monterey Californiaauction, to be held August 16 to 18. Can’t get to Monterey but want to bid? No problem. It is possible to bid by phone, but you must register in advance.

This 1959 Devin SS looks a lot like a Ferrari. That’s not a coincidence. Its designer, racer Bill Devin, was trying to produce a similar car for less money. There were only about 15 of the Devin SSs ever built. The chassis were designed and built by Malcolm MacGregor in Ireland, then sent to Devin in California for completion. That included the addition of a Chevy V8, Borg Warner transmission, chromed exhaust pipes and of course the body. They retailed for around $6,000 or half the price of a comparable Ferrari.

This particular Devin, VIN SR5-1, was apparently the last one completed. According to Russo and Steele, it has features not included in its predecessors. You can find a detailed list (and more photos) on their website, but they include a 331 Chevy block, Schnieder cam, Holley carb, racing transmission, and Dayton/Devin 72 spoke knock off wheels. It’s said to weigh 2060 pounds fully fueled and be “wicked quick.”

Car Gadgets: The Bicycle Rearview Camera

Courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer

Okay, it’s not actually for cars, but what a great idea! The bicycle rearview camera, available through Hammacher Schlemmer, gives cyclists a view of what’s behind them without turning their head. It has a 3 1/2 inch colour monitor that sits on the handlebars, giving a 75 degree field of view of what’s behind. The camera itself is on the back of the seat post. Both camera and monitor are attached with a zip-tied cable so can be taken with you if you have to leave your bike somewhere.

I haven’t seen the product in person so I can’t vouch for its quality or ease of use, but Hammacher Schlemmer says it’s designed to be weather and vibration resistant. It comes with a rechargeable battery to provide 10 hours of use. Another nice feature is that the camera produces a flashing pattern of red LEDs under low light condition, making you more visible to motorists.

At $179.95, it doesn’t come cheap, but if you do much riding in traffic, the added safety is probably worth it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jensen Interceptor Spotted

1971 Jensen Interceptor Mk II by Kate Tompkins

The first car to catch my eye at the car show I was at last Saturday was sleek and red with a fastback and a licence plate that said it was a 1971 Jensen Interceptor Mark II. My husband and I looked at each other. Nope, neither of us were familiar with that make. What a great name, though. Sounded like it should be a fighter jet, or a British spy car.

So of course I googled it when I got home, and discovered I was right about the British part at least. According to Wikipedia, the Interceptor was a grand tourer manufactured by Jensen Motors between 1966 and 1976. Available body types were a two-door convertible, two-door coupe, or two-door hatchback. Judging by the back end, I’m thinking this one’s a hatchback. It looks like the rear window would lift up. Since only 6,408 were ever built (not counting the early Interceptor of the 1950s), it’s a fairly rare car.
1971 Jensen Interceptor Mk II by Kate Tompkins

Is it collectible? Concept Carz has auction information for the 1971 Interceptor which gives the average price as just under $20,000. They give comparable average prices for several other 1971 cars including a BMW 3.0 CS E9 and a Fiat 500L. Still, if you’re looking for something a bit unusual rather than an investment, it could be just the ticket.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Absolutely Gorgeous 1936 Auburn Reproduction

1936 Auburn speedster replica by Kate Tompkins

Saw this beauty at a local car show on the weekend. It’s a reproduction of a 1936 supercharged Auburn speedster, one of the famous boattails. I see there’s a company online called Speedster Motorcar that sells kits for these. If that’s what this is, the owner did a beautiful job of putting it together.

According to Concept Carz, 1936 was the last year Auburn made the speedster. At the time, you could pick one up for $2,245. Today, they go at auction for six figures. Not unreasonable for a rolling piece of art, but I think I’d rather drive the replica.
1936 Auburn speedster replica by Kate Tompkins

Friday, June 15, 2012

Classic Austins

1964 Austin-Healey 3000 BJ7 Mk II
Photo by Kate Tompkins
For a slideshow of several classic Austins I shot at a local British car show a couple of weeks ago, check out today’s column at the Montreal Examiner:

Or you can look at these photos.

1965 Morris Minor 1000
Photo by Kate Tompkins

1966 Austin-Healey 3000 BJ8 Mk II
Photo by Kate Tompkins

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Samsung Transportation Museum Part Seventeen: 2nd Floor Gallery – Racing Zone

Here’s a few more cars from the Racing Zone of the SamsungTransportation Museum. I seem to have gotten these out of date order for some reason, this first one should have come between the Hudson Six and the Leon Duray Indy car.

1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS
1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS by Kate Tompkins

According to Wikipedia, most of these cars came off the line as rolling chassis and were sent to various coachbuilders for bodies. There’s nothing to indicate who bodied this one so it could have been factory produced, unlike the 1949 one we looked at earlier which my brochure identifies as having a body by Pininfarina. 1929 was the first year for the 6C with the larger 1750 engine. The super sport model came with a double overhead cam. My brochure does say that the Alfa 6C 1750 SS won the Mille Miglia in both 1929 and 1930.

1955 Jaguar D-Type (replica)
1955 Jaguar D-Type replica by Kate Tompkins

The museum brochure notes that the Jaguar D-Type won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957. It’s the strangest looking Jaguar I’ve ever seen, but it was built for racing, not for street use. According to Wikipedia, only 87 D-Types were built. Of those, 18 were for Jaguar’s racing program, 53 were for customers, and another 16 had been made into the Jaguar XKSS, which had a second seat and door. I guess that explains why the museum’s Jag is a replica. There’s actually a company in the UK that builds replicas of both C and D-Types, called, not surprisingly, Classic Jaguar Replicas.

1975 McLaren M16E
1975 McLaren M16E by Kate Tompkins

This was an Indy 500 winner (it came in second) in 1976 and looks a lot more like my idea of a race car, aerodynamic and low to the ground, especially compared to the Leon Duray Indy car behind it. You can find a detailed history of the various M16 vehicles and pictures of the M16E on the UltimateCar Page site. 
It seems only two were built. Chassis one is on display in the McLaren Technology Centre. Chassis two was used in the 1976 Indy. I don’t know if that’s the one in the Samsung Museum or if it, like the Jaguar D-Type, is a replica. It is wearing the right livery.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

McLaren Announces More Powerful MP4-12C, Offers Free Power Upgrade to Existing Owners

2013 McLaren MP4-12C
copyright & courtesy of McLaren Automotive Limited

It seems McLaren Automotive has tweaked its 12C to get 616 hp out of its turbocharged V8 for the 2013 model, thanks to changes to the engine and drivetrain. They’ve thrown in their Innovative Intake Sound Generator, letting the driver pick which of three levels of engine noise can be heard in the cockpit. And while they’re at it, they’ve added more choices of paint, leather and wheels for those lucky enough to be able to afford one. Prices will start at $239,400 US, not including options, handling, licensing, taxes, et cetera, so you’re probably looking at over a quarter of a million, or the price of an entry level Rolls-Royce. I know which one I’d rather have.

Already own an MP4-12C? Not to worry. McLaren 12C owners will be offered upgrades. The extra power upgrade will be no cost. Pretty decent.

What does the extra power do? Assuming the car is equipped with the optional Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires, the 2013 12C, like the 2012, will do 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds. Where the 2012 will do 0-124 mph in 8.9 seconds, the 2013 will do it in 8.8 seconds. Zero to 186 mph? The 2012 can do it in 27.5 seconds, while the 2013 takes a mere 26.5. It’s a tenth of a second faster on a quarter-mile (10.6 seconds) and has a top speed of 207 mph. Despite that, it is street legal.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Return of the Last Hemi

In the days when muscle cars first roamed the earth, among the mightiest were those Mopar products equipped with the 426 hemi V8. Government emission regulations in the US temporarily tamed the muscle car, but Chrysler’s 1966 to 1971 hemis are still legendary today.

RK Motors in Mentor, Ohio, is currently restoring the very last Hemi car ever built, a 1971 Dodge Charger R/T, and we’re invited along for the ride. They’ll be doing a total frame-off restoration, so that the owner, Joe Angelucci, can show off the car this September at the Mega Mopar Action Show at Virginia Motorsports Park.

The restoration will be covered in detail in segments of Fox Sports Ohio’s “Cruise In” show. Fortunately for those of us who don’t get that channel, the segments, together with a detailed restoration blog and lots of photos, can also be found on RK Motor’s website.

“Our team is honored to restore such a significant piece of automotive history,” said Joe Carroll, president and CEO of RK Motors Charlotte. “The current owner wants his hemi to leave our facility in factory-fresh condition. We’re committed to exceeding those expectations.”

“This hemi is a legend,” noted Angelucci. “The Last hemi will be re-built exactly as it would have rolled off the assembly line in 1971. This time it will be hand-built, not assembly-line built, and come with every hemi sticker and badge available for authenticity.”

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hello, Fisker Karma. Welcome to my Virtual Garage

2012 Fisker Karma by Kate Tompkins
Got an invitation to the opening of a Fisker dealership here in Montreal. Since I knew it was the sort of thing that would go over well in my other car column (, and I’ve never seen a Fisker close up, of course I said yes.

I assumed it was just an event for the press, but since Fisker of Montreal shares premises with a Rolls-Royce dealer, I figured I should dress more upscale than my usual car show attire of jeans and a Cruisin’ the Dub T-shirt. Glad I did. From a block away, I could see several men in black T-shirts reading “valet parking.” That, and the red carpet (yes, really) leading to the door clued me in that this was a classy affair. Turned out most of the guests were potential customers rather than auto journalists. Yes, it’s easy to tell the difference, even for those not sporting a heavy camera. Journalists, at least here in Montreal, don’t dress very well. The other guests, however, were dressed very well indeed.
2012 Fisker Karma by Kate Tompkins

Despite that, they didn’t shine as much as the cars. There was a row of Fiskers parked outside and another two cars in the showroom. Beautiful cars, gorgeous lines, really sporty looking. I thought the cockpit and back seat looked a bit cramped, since the console runs from the front right through to the back, but the seats certainly looked comfortable. Fortunately I got there fairly early, while it was still possible to get a clear shot of the cars without several people standing in front of them.
2012 Fisker Karma by Kate Tompkins

Haven’t had a chance to drive one yet, but I’ll definitely be reporting back if I do. Certainly can’t afford to buy one—they run over $100,000—but I’m moving one into my virtual garage. Black, I think. Definitely black.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ferrari Puts 599XX Evo up for Auction to Benefit Italian Earthquake Victims

Ferrari 599XX Evo. (PRNewsFoto/Ferrari)

Starting today and running through to the end of the month, the Ferrari Store is running an online auction of various Ferrari-themed items in its Ferrari for Emilia event to raise funds for the Emilia earthquake victims. The biggest ticket item is a 599XX Evo sports berlinetta with a stated commercial value of 1.3 million Euros. Since that is also the starting bid, no one will be getting any bargains here, but the car is not only top of the line performance wise, it also has a plaque signed by Montezemolo, Massa and Alonso. The car was donated by the Scuderia Ferrari drivers.

Too pricey for you? Not to worry, there are other items up for grabs, including many Formula 1 goodies. How about the nose cone off an F60? Or a V8 F1 Ferrari engine? Gotta be some way to wedge that into your daily driver. There are also signed racing helmets, gloves and suits used in actual Grand Prix races. For those of us on more of a budget, money from the purchase of Ferrari watches also goes to the earthquake fund. Okay, they do cost several hundred dollars, but it’s a lot cheaper than an actual Ferrari.

It seems this isn’t the first time Ferrari has helped out with earthquake reconstruction, not only in Italy (the Abruzzo earthquake in 2009) but in Japan. Good on them, I say.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Samsung Transportation Museum Part Sixteen: 2nd Floor Gallery – Racing Zone

The second floor gallery of the Samsung Transportation Museum is much smaller than the first. That’s because the first floor lobby is open to the roof, so there’s a good view of it once you climb the stairs. Despite that, there are still two exhibition spaces, the first of which is devoted to auto racing.

There are several cars representing the history of racing. When I was there, the oldest car on display was a 1917 Hudson Super Six Racer, with the most recent being a 2000 Hyundai Tiberon or possibly the unidentified BMW (I’m thinking an M3). We’ll take a closer look at some of them in today’s post and cover more tomorrow.

1917 Hudson Super Six Racer
1917 Hudson Super Six Racer by Kate Tompkins

I found this car fascinating. I assume the answer has something to do with aerodynamics, but I’ve never understood why these old racers are pointed at the back, but not at the front.

According to Wikipedia, Hudson built cars in Detroit from 1909 to 1954, at which point they became part of American Motors, who continued to produce them at a factory in Wisconsin until 1957. While Hudsons were once fairly common, they seem to be a rare breed today. I’ve only seen one other Hudson, a 1951 at a local car show, and it was quite heavily modified.
1917 Hudson Super Six Racer by Kate Tompkins

The “Super Six” in the 1917 Hudson’s name refers to its straight six engine, found in most Hudsons to the very end of production. PsychoOnTyres says there were four of the 1917 Hudson racers in the 1919 Indy 500. A Hudson bearing No. 27 like the one in the Samsung museum is the 7th photo in the photo gallery from the 1919 Indy 500. It finished in 8th place, driven by Canadian Ira Vail.

1931 Leon Duray Indy 500 race car
1931 Leon Duray Indy 500 race car by Kate Tompkins has a great article on racer Leon Duray, and there’s another at Dick Ralstin’s racing home page. Judging from the latter website, the car in the museum is (or is a replica of) a 16 cylinder car Duray had manufactured for the 1931 Indy. It overheated in six laps and never finished the race.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Samsung Transportation Museum Part Fifteen: Last of the First Floor Cars

1933 Bugatti Type 49 by Kate Tompkins

Only one more car from the first floor to discuss before we venture up to the second floor to look at an exhibition on race cars and another on American chrome.

1933 Bugatti Type 49 Profilée Coupe
1933 Bugatti Type 49 by Kate Tompkins

Bugattis are always special and have also always been very expensive. According to Motorbase, the Type 49 came in four different body types (coupe, tourer, saloon and cabriolet), and each of those could come with different bodies, depending on who did the coachwork. They say 470 Type 49s were produced between 1931 and 1934, which by Bugatti standards makes this a fairly common car.

While the Type 49 was meant to be a touring car rather than a race car, they can still run into six figures at auction. You can find more information on the early eight-cylinder Bugattis on Wikipedia. It seems the design didn’t change much between 1922 (the Type 30) and 1934 (Type 49). Then again, why mess with perfection?
1933 Bugatti Type 49 by Kate Tompkins