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.