Friday, December 20, 2013

Daytona 500 Trans Am Parade Car to Go Under the Hammer

2002 Collector's Edition Firebird Trans Am
courtesy of Russo and Steele
Yet another NASCAR-related car in Russo and Steele’s upcoming Scottsdale auction. Not a classic this time (only because it’s not old enough), this 2002 Collector’s Edition Firebird Trans Am is sure to make some collector very happy. First of all, it represents the last year of production. It’s a limited edition, with only 2,390 produced, of which 1,041 were convertibles. The limited edition was the pace car for the 2002 Daytona 500 and according to Russo and Steele, “Unlike most other production cars used as Daytona pace cars in the past requiring extensive modifications to perform their duties, the Collector’s Edition Trans Am required no mechanical upgrades. In fact, the only modifications were special identification decals and a light bar!”

2002 Collector's Edition Firebird Trans Am
courtesy of Russo and Steele
This particular vehicle was one of 43 that were used in the driver introduction laps, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was the driver who rode in it. He’s signed the window sticker and the driver’s side visor, and Rick Hendrick, for whom he drove, has signed the passenger-side visor. With only 5,700 original miles on it, a Ram Air 5.67-litre V-8, WS-6 performance package, and 17 inch aluminum wheels, this car is begging for a road trip.

How can you go wrong with a sunshine yellow convertible?


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Official 1969 NASCAR Pace Car at Auction

1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS 396 convertible
Courtesy Russo and Steele
Yet another racing-related car from the upcoming Russo and Steele Scottsdale auction in January. Unlike so many “pace cars” around which are really just limited editions made to look like official pace cars, this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS 396 convertible did see actual service, at both the 1969 Daytona 500 and the 1969 Firecracker 400. It’s also been used as a parade car
1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS 396 convertible
Courtesy Russo and Steele

Not only that, the car was originally owned by NASCAR co-founder William C. France, Sr. Restored to its original livery, the Camaro comes with a copy of the original title, and photographs from the Daytona archives. It’s also fully loaded, with a 396 big-block engine that puts out 350 hp, a Turbo Hydramatic 400 transmission, power top, power windows, and even air conditioning for those days when you don’t want to drive with the top down.

[SOURCE: Russo and Steele]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bud Moore’s 1972 Ford Torino for Sale

1972 Ford Torino
Courtesy Russo and Steele
Here’s another race car featured in Russo and Steele’s upcoming Scottsdale auction (January 15-19). This time it’s a Grand National series stock car once owned and prepared by NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Bud Moore. He entered it in a few races in the 1972 season to see how its Ford 351 Cleveland small block motor would perform, and it did manage a 4th place finish at Atlanta in the hands of David Pearson.
1972 Ford Torino
Courtesy Russo and Steele
For 1973, Moore hired driver Bobby Isaac, the 1970 Grand National World Champion. The car’s best finish for that year was the number two place in the Daytona 500, with Richard Petty taking first. Isaac quit partway through the season after a 21-car pile-up killed Larry Smith during the Talladega 500, and Darrell Waltrip took over. The car was then sold on. It has since been through several hands, been restored, and both shown and vintage raced. Since 2008 it’s had numerous improvements, including a 351 Cleveland V-8, and rebuilt electrical, brake, fuel and cooling systems.

Bud Moore and his son Greg have authenticated the car. Russo and Steele say it’s thought to be “the only remaining Bud Moore Engineering Torino.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Russo and Steele to Auction off 1959 Maserati Tipo 61

1959 Maserati Tipo 61/60
Courtesy Russo and Steele
Scottsdale, Arizona, is a mecca in January for classic car collectors, with several sales going on. One of the biggest, and possibly the one with the most North American cars, is Russo and Steele’s, scheduled this year for January 15-19. Several of the featured cars for this auction are race cars or at least have a racing connection, so I thought I’d take a look at a few over the next several days.

Obviously a Maserati is NOT a North American car, but since I was just talking about the Maserati centennial, I thought I’d start with this “bird cage” Tipo 61 (VIN 2459). At the time, Maserati was building race cars for sale, as opposed to running their own team. The Tipo 60 and 61 both debuted in 1959, the 60 with a 2.0 litre, 200 hp, four-cylinder engine, the 61 with a 3.0 litre, 250 hp engine. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but with their light aluminum tube frame, these cars were competitive.

According to Russo and Steele, only 22 bird cage Maseratis were built, yet they won nearly (their word, not mine) 170 victories from 1959 to 1967, including the 1960 Nurburgring race. Accidents and modifications reduced the number of wholly original examples to one. Nope, this isn’t it, but it’s still a very rare car with an interesting history.

1959 Maserati Tipo 61/60
Courtesy Russo and Steele
This particular car was commissioned by American Briggs Cunningham, who not only raced himself, but owned racing teams. The car was kept in racing condition by Alfred Momo and driven by, among others, Augie Pabst and Walt Hansgen. Pabst crashed the car during a practice session for the 1962 Daytona 3-hour Continental.

Several years afterwards, a lengthy restoration was carried out. A new frame was built, as was a new 2.0 litre engine (with many original parts), turning the 61 into a 60. Some original parts do remain, the rest were made from original drawings or copied from original parts. Documentation exists for all of the repairs/restoration. The car may no longer be what you or I would consider original, but the UK Motor Sports Association granted it an Historic Technical Passport in 2010, when restoration was complete. The car has been invited to one of the Maserati centennial events, the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Car show car or vintage racer? Tough call. Guess that all depends on who buys it.

[SOURCES: Russo and Steele, Wikipedia]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Maserati’s Centennial Year Preceded by North American Sales Record

2014 Maserati Ghibli (PRNewsFoto/Maserati)
While Maserati is celebrating the start of its centennial year this month, that might be a bit premature. Three of the Maserati brothers, Alfieri, Ettore and Ernesto, were definitely involved in building cars in December, 1914, but they were race cars for another Italian company, Diatto. The first car with the Maserati marque wasn’t actually produced until 1926. That was a Tipo 26, which started its career with a win in that year’s Targa Florio. Maseratis have been racing ever since.

In 1947, Maserati came out with the A6 grand tourer, its first passenger car. They built the first Quattroporte, a model name still in use today, in 1963. There don’t seem to be any plans for a centennial edition Maserati, but they have designed a centennial logo. Several events are in the works for the next 13 months (December 2013 through December 2014), including a Maserati gathering in Modena next September.

There will also be a display of Maseratis at the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari. A book, “Maserati – A Century of History” was released last week. Details of all the various events, plus much more, can be found on Maserati’s centennial website.

To start their centennial year off right, Maserati reported record sales for North America in November, with 910 Maseratis sold. Seems the mid-size Maserati Ghibli is pushing this surge in popularity. It has a Ferrari-built twin-turbocharged V6 that will do 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, and is an Insurance Institute of Highway Safety Top Safety Pick. With a starting price of $65,600, plus a halo of exoticism, it may give some of the other European sport/luxury brands a run for their money.

[SOURCES: Maserati,]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coming Soon to a Track Near You – 2014 SRT Viper TA

2014 SRT Viper TA
Photo courtesy Chrysler Group

Back in April I said Chrysler had revealed its new Time Attack Viper at the New York International Auto Show. Well, the latest word from Chrysler is that they’re currently being built in their Connor Avenue assembly plant and some should have already shown up at dealerships. Thought you might enjoy another photo of this street legal racing machine.

Assuming you could actually afford one, I think the toughest question would be deciding which colour to get. It looks great in the TA orange, but the Viper white and Venom black versions are striking, too. Not much time to decide, however, since there will only be 93 produced in orange, and 33 apiece in black and white.

For a little less money you could get the standard Viper. As you can see below, it's still pretty sharp.

Photos courtesy of Chrysler Group

For more photos, see the Drive SRT site.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thomas Kerr Packard Collection at Auction

Rare 1930 Packard Speedsters to be sold by Dragone Auctions.
(PRNewsFoto/Dragone Classic Motorcars)
Dragone Classic Motorcars in Westport, Connecticut, has an interesting slate of cars going under the hammer tomorrow (December 7) at 2 pm. It’s a great chance to see and acquire some rare Packards for the collector. Those of us without the money or garage space can at least enjoy the photos of these beautiful cars.

Among the featured Packards are a 1929 Packard 645 roadster, a 1930 734 Speedster runabout, a 1930 734 Speedster phaeton, and a 1935 1107 coupe roadster. Dragone say the 1930 Speedsters are two out of just 15 known to still exist.

Prefer a Rolls? No problem. They have a 1920 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost which has been stored since 1937. Wow. There’s also a collection of six Chrysler LeBaron Custom Imperials dating from 1931-1933. For the complete list of vehicles to be sold and more photos, check out

[SOURCE: Dragone Classic Motorcars]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dodge Celebrates 100th Anniversary with Special Edition Challenger and Charger

2014 Dodge Challenger Centennial Edition
Courtesy Chrysler Group LLC
No, the Challenger and Charger haven’t been around that long, but the first Dodge cars (and the first American mass-produced all-steel-bodied cars) were produced in 1914. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company founded by John and Horace Dodge, Chrysler is building special editions of these two muscle cars.
2014 Dodge Charger Centennial Edition
Courtesy Chyrsler Group LLC
Naturally, the 100th Anniversary Editions of the 2014 Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger will be available with the legendary HEMI V8 (0-60 in less than 60 seconds), though the Pentastar V6, with its 31 mpg, comes standard. They’ll be set off with special badging, a unique key fob, gorgeous High Octane Red Pearl Coat paint, 20-inch aluminum wheels, and will come with a book celebrating the Dodge brand’s 100 year history. Other paint colours are available, but the High Octane Red is exclusive to the anniversary edition.

The interior will be equally impressive, with Molten Red or Foundry Black Nappa leather, Liquid Graphite accents, and more badging. The flat-bottom steering wheel comes with die-cast paddle shifters. You can expect to see these cars in your Dodge dealer in the first quarter of 2014, but numbers are limited so they may not be there long. Pricing won’t be that much higher than the Challenger SRT or Charger SXT Plus. For more details and photos, check out:

[SOURCE: Chrysler Group LLC]

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lee Marvin’s Shelby GT500 Up for Grabs

1968 Shelby GT500 KR convertible
Photo courtesy Russo and Steele
Haven’t run a collector car auction post in a while, so here’s one with a Hollywood connection. At Russo and Steele’s upcoming Scottsdale auction (January 15 to 19), they’re offering a 1968 Shelby GT500 KR convertible. It's one of only 318 built, and Marvin was the original owner, driving it until 1972.

It’s had a few owners since, of course, starting with Mr. Marvin’s gardener, who received it as a gift. Nice boss! It had a concours-level restoration by Drew Alcazar in the ‘80s, and still has less than 47,000 miles on it. It comes with its Shelby Automotive Pre-Deliver Inspection form, and four original Shelby American 10-spoke wheels. Sweet.

[SOURCE: Russo and Steele]

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spy Gadget for Your Car

Driving Activity Reporter
Courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer
Hammacher Schlemmer offers some cool stuff. The latest to catch my eye was this Driving Activity Reporter. It does exactly what it sounds like it would. You attach it to a car inside or outside (it has a magnet) and it keeps track of where and how fast the car goes, using a GPS receiver. The data, in the form of animated maps, can then be viewed on your computer by plugging it into the USB port. Its memory will store up to 100 hours of driving activity, entering sleep mode when the vehicle isn’t moving. It does require two AAA lithium batteries to power it.

While I’m not recommending you attach it to anyone else’s car—apart from the privacy issues, it would obviously be illegal—it would be a great way to record information about your route while on vacation. Since the data can be viewed with Google Earth, you could even add location photos. Might also be useful for tracking mileage for expense purposes on business trips. Or making sure no one’s used your car without your permission.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stocking Stuffer for Gearheads

Picked up a 2014 dream car calendar at the checkout of my local Walmart the other day. It’s apparently the 15th anniversary edition and looks like it would make a great stocking stuffer for anyone who likes cars. The calendar runs from December 2013 through to December 2014 and has a nice assortment of photos of exotics and classics, including a 2013 McLaren MP4-12C Spider and a 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso.

The cost is only 97 cents and 20 cents of that goes to the Children’s Miracle Network. There’s also a contest where you can enter a photo of your own dream car for consideration for the 2015 calendar and a prize of ArmorAll products. Not a bad deal—a great looking calendar and a charitable donation. I’m wishing I’d picked up more than one.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How to Equip Your Car with Gull Wing Doors

Courtesy of our favourite handyman, Red Green. Got this sneaky suspicion it would void my lease, however.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

BMW’s Armoured Concept Car

BMW X5 Security Plus concept car
Photo courtesy BMW Group
Glad I’m not in the category of people who need something like this, but if you are, you might want to take a look at BMW’s X5 Security Plus, presented at last month’s Frankfurt International Motor Show. Seems this is the third generation of security cars based on the BMW X5, so evidently there is a market.

According to BMW Group’s press release, the X5 Security Plus offers “all-round protection against violent assault, kidnapping and organised crime.” That means it will protect you from an AK-47, thanks to high-performance steel, sealed joints, and security glass. All of this while still being quite driveable. It has all-wheel drive with a 450 hp V8 TwinPower Turbo to give it guts.

If you don’t need something quite that powerful, but are worried about street crime, BMW also offers the X5 Security, built with that in mind. Because both of these cars are designed from the ground up by BMW, rather than having a third party retrofit them, the security systems and the extra weight of the armouring have been taken into account when dealing with other vehicle systems such as braking. BMW also has driver training programmes for the security vehicles.

One security feature that may not be immediately obvious is the fact that the vehicles don’t look noticeably different from the non-security models on the outside. That does make a lot of sense. BMW says they’re just as comfortable as the regular models, too. I’d love a chance to test-drive both versions.

You can find more information (together with info on BMW police cars) in their Authority Vehicles brochure.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Social Media Analysis Suggests Consumers Value Comfort over Safety

Back in September,, a company that offers consumers vehicle service extended warranty contracts, released the results of their analysis of 1,500 Facebook and Twitter comments that dealt with auto repairs. While it’s no surprise that people were discussing delaying repairs—after all, they’re usually expensive and not something we’ve budgeted for—the types of repairs they discussed delaying might surprise you. Or not, since I hinted at it in the headline.

Of the various delayed repairs discussed, 18% were about safety, 13% about performance, and 7% about technology or electronics. The most common safety-related repairs discussed had to do with brakes, steering, and suspension. Certainly things I’d want fixed pronto, but that’s not what their analysis found. People were more interested in fixing the GPS, A/C or sound system. According to’s CEO and founder, Russ Carpel, “Our claims administrators are not at all surprised to see this type of sentiment, as many of them witnessed this type of service priority in many repair facilities throughout the country. People can’t live without their air conditioning, but they will find every way to delay making payments for a suspension system.”

Yikes. I doubt things are much different on this side of the border. I can see living with bad shocks, but is the DVD player really more important than the brakes? What do you think?


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Old World Style or New? Aston Marton or Viper? Yes, Please!

A couple of videos came across my desk today which I enjoyed so much I thought I’d pass them on. Two entirely different takes on style, but I love them both.

First up is one from Aston Martin. They’re celebrating their 100th anniversary this year and among other things, several owners drove 100 Aston Martins from Lake Como to London’s Kensington Gardens back in July, stopping at the Nurburgring on their way. Some good shots of several classic Aston Martins in there, along with pictures of their owners partying. Well, I would, too, if I could afford to drive one.

You can learn about their 100 year history on their webpage, where they have a centenary timeline posted (check out the photo for the September 17, 1964 date). You might also want to check out their CC 100 speedsterconcept car, which pays homage to the 1959 DBR1 racer. Pity it’s a one-off.

Up next is what I’d call the North American auto industry’s most stylish car—the SRT Viper. Here’s a video from DriveSRT looking at their 2013 American Le Mans Series season. Vroom! Looking good for next year.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pink Floyd Drummer Nick Mason Tackles London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Nick Mason and his 1901 Panhard
Courtesy Royal Automobile Club
This November 3 Nick Mason will be taking on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in his 1901 5-litre Panhard. And not for the first time, either. He actually bought the car from an American museum specifically to compete in the 60 mile run. “It sounds bizarre getting up at the crack of dawn on what’s usually a really rather cold November morning but it’s great to run these old cars,” explains Mason. “It’s a real thrill to get these old machines working and to get them down to Brighton.”

He’s enthusiastic about his Panhard. “It’s actually a very good ‘old’ car with some very advanced things for the period such as a steering wheel rather than a tiller! It’s also got a big engine and is terrific in terms of power considering its age. It was almost certainly originally built as a race car. Consequently, when other people are struggling up the hills, on a good day we can have five passengers aboard and just go for it.”

How many times has he done just that? “I think we’ve now finished 17 out of 20 times. We actually had a couple of failures earlier on mainly due to punctures and a faulty wheel but once we sorted that the car has been pretty reliable, touch wood.”

[SOURCE: Royal Automobile Club]

Thursday, October 17, 2013

London to Brighton Veteran Driver

Sir Ray Tindle and his 1904 Speedwell Dogcart
Photo courtesy The Royal Automobile Club
It’s not just the cars that are veterans in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Some of the drivers have more than a few Runs under their belts as well.

Newspaper baron and long-time event sponsor Sir Ray Tindle is planning his 50th Run this November 3, using the same car, a 1904 single-cylinder Speedwell Dogcart, that he used in his previous 49 Runs. But he says his history with the world’s longest-running motoring event goes back to his childhood. “I can recall the exact spot on Streatham Common where my parents took me to watch these wonderful old machines pass,” he said.  “Of course, then the oldest car taking part was probably only about 30 years old but still totally different from their modern counterparts. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to ride on one of those cars.”
Sir Ray Tindle and his 1904 Speedwell Dogcart
Photo courtesy The Royal Automobile Club

So he bought one. Then, in 2007, he bought a second vintage car, a 1903 Georges Richard, in case of bad weather. Seems the weather hasn’t been bad enough yet, he’s continued to drive the open Speedwell. No need to feel sorry for the Georges Richard, however. In 2008 Tindle lent it to HRH the Duke of Kent (that would be Prince Edward), who did complete the run in it.

[SOURCE: The Royal Automobile Club]

Monday, October 14, 2013

Coolest Golf Cart Ever

Hammacher Schlemmer's Golf Cart Hovercraft
Courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer
I don’t even play golf, but I still think Hammacher Schlemmer’s Golf Cart Hovercraft is seriously cool. Okay, for the purchase price of $58,000 you could buy a pretty decent car, but would it be able to take you over a sand trap and across a pond? It has a 65-hp engine and will do a top speed of 45 mph at 9” off the ground. It’s tough enough to carry four passengers and two golf bags, and meets US Coast Guard standards. It has a lift-up roof and even comes with its own trailer. And, yes, us Canadians can order it too, it’s even duty free.

[SOURCE: Hammacher Schlemmer]

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hyundai’s Fan Designed Santa Fe Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse

Hyundai And The Walking Dead Bring Fan-Designed 
Zombie Survival Machine To Life. 
(PRNewsFoto/Hyundai Motor America)
Those of you who are fans of the Walking Dead probably already knew this, but it seems Hyundai’s been running a contest where people could design a zombie survival vehicle based on Hyundai’s Elantra, Veloster Turbo, or Santa Fe. Many fans did, and Hyundai picked Anson Kuo’s design from over 82,500 fan submissions. It was put together by Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) and will make its debut at the New York Comic-Con this Thursday, October 10. An earlier Veloster Zombie Survival Machine designed by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and also put together by GAS was shown off at the San Diego Comic-Con in July.

Among other gadgets, the Santa Fe Zombie Survival Machine boasts aluminum armour, razor-wired windows, an automatic crossbow, three machine guns, a samurai sword, and knife blades. According to Kuo, having knives as a primary weapon ensures scarce ammunition is conserved.

Want to build your own Survival Machine? You can find the Walking Dead Chop Shop app here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run Adds Regularity Trial

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
Photo courtesy Royal Automobile Club
One of the car events I’d love to see is the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. It’s been going for 117 years, longer than any other motoring event, covers the 60 miles from London to Brighton, and is restricted to veteran cars—cars built before 1905.

This year’s version, scheduled for November 3, has added a new twist. For those for whom getting to the finish line isn’t challenging enough (and not every car does finish), the Royal Automobile Club has added a regularity trial. What that means is that competitors are expected to keep a certain average speed, with penalties for arriving at secret check points and the finish too early or too late.

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
Photo courtesy Royal Automobile Club
Rather like a rally, but if you have visions of speeding cars skidding around corners, it won’t be like that. Competitors can choose to do the run in three, four, five or six hours, with three hours being approximately 20 mph and six being 10 mph. It’s better to be slow than fast, with one penalty point being added for each minute over and two for each minute under. There will be a winner in each of the four time classes.

There could be as many as 500 cars participating in this year’s run, and half-a-million people turning out to watch. Some of them will no doubt also go to the Regent Street Motor Show the day before, which offers a Concours d’Elegance for veteran cars.
London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
Photo courtesy Royal Automobile Club

Friday, October 4, 2013

Classic Furniture for Your Classic Garage

1957 Chevy couch
Courtesy Classic Couches
One of the things I always loved about the TV show Vega$ was that Dan Tanna could drive his T-bird right into the house. I mean, who wouldn't want to look at it? So when I came across this company on the internet that makes furniture out of classic cars, I had to write about it.

1951 Cadillac desk
Courtesy Classic Couches
Yes, actual cars, not replicas or reproductions. So if your garage is somewhere you hang out, rather than just somewhere you park your car, you might want to check out Classic Couches to get some furniture to sit on or work at. Each piece is custom-built with real parts, restored to showroom condition. According to their contact sheet, that includes contract grade interiors, new chrome plating, clear coat paint, restored steel and—possibly coolest of all—working lights. Sweet!

1957 Chevy booth
Courtesy Classic Couches
They’ll source the cars for you, or they can work with a car you provide. While I’d hate to see something rare turned into a bar, I think it’s a great idea for anything relatively common. You can check out more of their work on their Facebook page. I’m rather partial to the Cadillac desk myself. And if I had the space, I’d love one of the car diner booths. With a vintage Wurlitzer to go with it, of course.
1959 Cadillac Couch
Courtesy Classic Couches

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vintage Trans-Am Racing

If you love the classic muscle cars from the ‘60s and early ‘70s, here’s a fabulous video from the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) of historic cars racing earlier this month at Watkins Glen. You can check out their website at to see what other races are coming up. I love their slogan: Some People Collect Art. . . We Race It.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Days Four and Five

Day Four

The weather continued good for Thursday. There was also little change in the standings, with the same teams in first place for each of Classic, Modern and Open. In the Grand Touring division, McDonald and Fuller slipped into third, to be replaced by MacMullen and Russell. In the Open division, Pledger and Willett also ran into difficulty, so rented a car to compete in the Grand Touring division on Friday, the last day of the rally.

While there were no accidents, there were some mechanical problems. In the Modern division, Deshaies and McKenzie’s Kia’s engine failed, causing them to withdraw.

Day Five

It was still anyone’s race going into the fifth and final leg, so the first stage of the day, in Bay L’Argent, was a game-changer. At nearly 15 kilometres long, there are opportunities for passing, and several teams took advantage. The heat was definitely on by the Harbour Mile stage. Team Bartleet/Picco, in their Porsche 944, missed a sharp turn and damaged their car, leaving them unhurt but unable to continue.

Despite that, Gill and Didcock stayed in the lead and took the Classic division, being nearly 16 minutes ahead of the next team. In the Modern division, Aweida and Aweida managed to hang on to their lead, becoming the first rookie team to win a competitive division at Targa Newfoundland. Davenport and Benson took the Open division, while Riddell and DeLange took the Grand Touring, possibly the most hotly contested class, undecided until the very last stage.

I expect the contestants are already thinking about next year. And I’m thinking it’s really time I learned to drive a standard.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Day Three

Seems there’s been more than one team that’s had to switch cars and classes in order to continue this year. I already discussed Hiscott and Cline Abrahams, who are now driving a Toyota in the Open class. In addition, father and daughter team Don and Skye Sawyer left the road in their Mini Cooper on leg one. With no rally car to compete with, they grabbed the family Volkswagen and joined the Fast Tour. Brunner and Laitenberg had a problem with their Mustang on leg three. No problem. They found another Mustang and also joined the Fast Tour.

Leg three started in the Bonavista Peninsula, a first for Targa Newfoundland, and took in the communities of Lethbridge, Brooklyn, Trinity, Goose Cove, New Bonaventure, Port Rexton, and Clarenville. Seems a moose delayed start-up at Goose Cove, but that’s Newfoundland for you. After all the dust had settled, here’s where the teams ended up.


Gill and Didcock are still leading, with a three second time penalty. Rogers and Strupp are still in second, but nearly six minutes behind. Wiltshire and Wiltshire’s Porsche 911 is now third, with Brunner and Laitenberg in fourth with a time of 13:19.


Aweida and and Aweida continue to lead, quite an accomplishment for their first Targa Newfoundland. Hume and Bartleet are one minute behind. Mepham and Solecki are another 12 seconds behind them. The Oldfords, who had been hoping for a third trip to the podium after last year’s disappointment, are out with an engine failure. They deserved better luck.


Davenport and Benson still have the lead at 16 seconds penalty, but the next two teams aren’t far behind. Atkinson and Tarrant are sitting at 1:25 and Hiscott and Cline Abrahams are a mere four seconds behind.

Grand Touring

While everyone now has time penalties, the first four teams are within six seconds of each other. That would be MacMullen and Russell with a total score of 2 seconds, Riddell and DeLange with 3 seconds, McDonald and Fuller at 4, and Bartlett and Picco at 8. Still very much anyone’s race.

Just today and tomorrow before this year’s Targa wraps up.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Targa Newfoundland: Day Two

For leg two (Exploits Valley) of this year’s Targa Newfoundland, there were 29 cars lined up at the start of the first stage. That’s one more than Monday. Looks like the Watermans, in their 2002 Subaru WRX were somehow left off yesterday’s start list, though the Open list does show them.

Some of the stages passed through on Tuesday were Appleton, Point Leamington, Bobby’s Cove, Pleasantview, and Glover’s Harbour. Regrettably, the stages in Gander had to be dropped as it was getting too late in the day to run them safely.


There were no changes in the division standings, with Gill and Didcock still ahead by 10 seconds and Rogers and Strupp in second. The third Ford, that of Brunner and Laitenberg, is still 5:08 out of first, but Wiltshire and Wiltshire have lost time and are now 7:03 behind.


All 11 cars completed leg two, but the teams are now spread out more. In first place, still with no time penalties, are both Aweida and Aweida and Oldford and Oldford. Two seconds behind are Rittenhouse and Semrad, with Hartling and Proudfoot another two seconds behind them.


While all 8 cars from leg one went on to complete leg two, Bergeron and Kirby, who were leading, are having trouble with a blown piston and may not be able to continue. They’re currently sitting in sixth place. Davenport and Benson are currently at the top, with a one second penalty, and Hiscott and Cline 15 seconds behind them with their second car, the Toyota Corolla, having had to dump the Evo for engine problems. In third are Atkinson and Tarrant.

Grand Touring

All seven cars finished leg two, and the same four teams are still sitting in first, with no time penalties.


2013 Targa Newfoundland: Day One

The first official day of racing had a lot better weather than the prologue. Twenty-seven teams showed up at the start line for the first stage of leg one. That included all four teams from the Classic division. Missing from the Modern Class were Hiscott and Cline in their 1995 Mitsubish Lancer Evo. The Open Class was missing Scott and Mikey Waterman in their 2002 Subaru WRX, while the Grand Touring Class had lost Hume and Crant in their 2011 BMW 335is. Too bad! Hiscott and Cline seem to have switched cars and classes and are now in the Open division with a Toyota Corolla.

Four teams left the road at some point during the day’s eight stages, with one being taken to hospital for observation as a precaution. At the end of the day, here’s where the four divisions stood. I’m basing this on the results posted on the website, which don’t always agree with the press releases.


It’s the battle of the Fords, with three of the four cars sporting the blue oval. In first place by ten seconds are Gill and Didcock in their Ford RS 1800, followed closely by Rogers and Strupp in their Mustang. Four minutes and 58 seconds behind are Brunner and Laitenberg in their Mustang GT, with Wiltshire and Wiltshire a further 21 seconds behind in their Porsche 911.


Of the 11 cars that started in the morning, all 11 finished. Four teams are tied for first, with another three less than a minute behind them. So we have Hume and Bartleet in their BMW M3, Aweida and Aweida in their Mustang FR500S, Oldford and Oldford in their Subaru WRX STI, and Mepham and Solecki in their Mini Cooper S JCW, all with no time penalties so far. Even the backrunners, Deshaies and McKenzie in their Kia Forte Koup SX, are only 9:23 behind.


All 8 cars that started the day finished. Bergeron and Kirby in their Subaru STI are tied with Davenport and Benson in their Subaru WRX with 0 time points. Five seconds behind are Hiscott and Cline in a Toyota Corolla. Another five seconds behind are Atkinson and Tarrant in their Acura Integra.

Grand Touring

Again, all 7 cars that started finished. There are four teams tied for first, with no time penalties. We have McDonald and Fuller in their Audi A6, Riddell and DeLange in their BMW 135i, MacMullen and Russell in their Mini Countryman JCW, and Trickett and Trickett in their Audi S4.

Next up: Day Two


2013 Targa Newfoundland: Prologue

This year’s Targa Newfoundland had its official start on Sunday, followed by the three prologue stages, a chance for cars and drivers to get used to what they’d be driving over for the next week. And even though the day’s results don’t count, no one was taking it easy, as you can see from the attached video.

But let’s backtrack a bit and talk about the cars and teams in each of the classes. First off is the Classic Class for model years 1981 and before. There are only four entries this year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be competitive. Based strictly on car number, we have:

- Ben Gill and Dave Didcock from the UK in their 1978 Ford RS 1800 Escort. Hmm. I have them noted as driving a 1979 last year, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same car.
- Chip Brunner (Virginia) and Mark Laitenberg (New York), in their 1965 Ford Mustang GT. I remember that car from last year, too.
- Jack Rogers and CJ Strupp from Indiana, in another 1965 Ford Mustang.
- Finally, we have Edison and Margo Wiltshire from Newfoundland, in a 1979 Porsche 911. They were also competitors last year.

There are 12 entries in the Modern Class, and many of them are repeat contenders. Again sorting strictly by car number, we have:

- John Hume, Jr. and Ron Bartleet, both of Ontario, in a 2004 BMW M3
- Dan and Tina Aweida from Colorado in a 2008 Ford Mustang FR500S
- Jacques Deshaies* and Guy McKenzie from Quebec in a 2010 Kia Forte Koup SX
- Michael Hiscott and Max Cline Abrahams from Newfoundland in a 1995 Mitsubish Lancer Evo
- Jim Kenzie+ (Ontario) and Brian Bourbonniere (Nova Scotia) in the second official Kia entry, a 2012 Kia Optima EX Turbo
- Mark Rittenhouse (Ontario) and Robert Semrad (North Carolina) in a2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
- Don and Skye Sawyer from New York in a 2006 Mini Cooper S
- Brad Melendy and Wayne Lorenzen, both from Newfoundland, in a 1986 Chevrolet Camaro
- Matthew and Brian Oldford from Newfoundland in a 2004 Subaru WRX STI
- Doug Mephem and John Solecki, both from Ontario, in a 2006 Mini Cooper S JCW
- Scott Robbins and Stewart Tymchuk, both from Ontario, in a 1988 Ford Sierra Cosworth
- Stan Hartling (Turks and Caicos) and Andy Proudfoot (Newfoundland) in a 2006 Lotus Exige

*You can follow Deshaies on his blog (in French) at
+You can follow Kenzie on his blog at

Next we have the Open Class, with seven teams, four of which are driving Subarus. Hmm.

- Jean Luc Bergeron and Eric Kirby of Quebec in a 2006 Subaru STI
- Menelaos and Gregory Georgiadis of New York in a 2008 Subaru STI
- Dave Pledger (BC) and Robin Willett (North Virginia) in a 1971 Ford Escort Mark IV
- Mike Davenport and Brad Benson of Ontario in a 2002 Subaru WRX
- John Howard and Matt Kelland of Newfoundland in a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
- Richard Atkinson and Kirk Tarrant of Newfoundland in a 1995 Acura Integra
- Scott and Mikey Waterman of Newfoundland in a 2002 Subaru WRX

Finally, there’s the Grand Touring Class.

- Terry DaSilva and Graham Austin of Ontario in a 1980 MGB
- Mark McDonald and Andrew Fuller of Ontario in a 2003 Audi A6
- Jon Riddell and Briar DeLange of Ontario in a 2008 BMW 135i
- Craig MacMullen (Nova Scotia) and Justin Russell (Newfoundland) in a 2013 Mini Countryman JCW
- Gary and Judi Trickett of Florida in a 2004 Audi S4
- John Hume (Ontario) and Justin Crant (Newfoundland) in a 2011 BMW 335is
- Peter Bartlett and Bridget Picco of Newfoundland in a 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo

That makes 30 teams in all. If you’re wondering where all the exotics are, they mostly tend to do the Fast Tour, which isn’t scored.

There were heavy showers and wet driving conditions for the three prologue stages, held in Flatrock, Pouch Cove, and Torbay. Certainly a good test for the cars and drivers. And the weather didn’t stop the spectators from coming out. There were a few glitches. One car had an engine failure, while another had some minor damage to its front end due to a mechanical issue taking it off course. A third car also went off course with minor vehicle damage. No participants or spectators were injured. With the possible exception of Hume and Crant’s BMW in the Grand Touring Class, all were expected to be able to continue, though Hiscott and Cline of the Modern Class didn’t complete all of the prologue stages.

Next up, Day One


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Two Time Targa Newfoundland Winners Looking for Three

2004 Subaru WRX at 2012 Targa Newfoundland
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Last year’s Targa Newfoundland could have been the third win in a row in the modern division for father and son team Brian and Matthew Oldford from St. John’s. Unfortunately, a crash on day one took their Subaru out of the running. This year they’re going to take on North America’s coolest rally, over 2,200 of Newfoundland’s scenic and twisty roads, once more. For Oldford Senior, it will be his 11th Targa (he first started in 2003). Obviously he’s got the bug bad.

So what exactly went wrong last year? In Brian’s own words, “Whatever happened, happened really fast.” They were on the last stage of the day, in Gooseberry Cove, a stage they’re quite familiar with from past Targas. Somehow, they missed a corner. “Where we went off, in previous years we had been able to read the tree line to get a sense of where the road goes,” Brian continues, “but a local had cut down some of the trees, so the road looked straight and we went over the crest flat-out.”

“I actually never saw the corner,” Brian adds. “I was busy counting us down to the next corner. Then all I saw was alders flying by the window.”

“I don’t think I want to try that again,” he says wryly.

While the car was badly damaged, neither of the Oldfords were hurt, and they’re ready to give it another shot this year. The 2004 Subaru WRX is rebuilt and ready to go. “The car should be competitive,” Brian says.

I’m wishing them better luck this year—they should be a team worth watching.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12th Annual Targa Newfoundland Starts This Saturday

2012 Targa Newfoundland Start
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Last year’s Targa Newfoundland ran from September 8 through 14 and right in the middle of that, tropical storm Leslie hit Newfoundland. Fortunately, it only caused one day of bad weather, and the race went on. This year’s begins this Saturday, and once again, a tropical storm, named Gabrielle, is headed that way. Here’s hoping she has as little impact as Leslie did.

I won’t be in St. John’s this year to watch the start and finish, but I’ll certainly be following along online. You can get details on the various stages of the 2,200 km run on the official website. While things can change right up to the last minute, the official start is slated for 12:20 pm Sunday outside the Keg in St. John’s. I can tell you from watching it last year that it’s a lot of fun and a good chance to see the cars and drivers before they get banged up. Leg one starts in Torbay first thing Monday, and, if all goes well, the final leg is in Carbonear on Friday, followed by the ceremonial finish back at the St. John’s Keg. Each night there will be a car show in whichever community the day’s racing ended, to raise funds for the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

They’re expecting teams from all over to compete in the three classes: Targa (Classic, Modern and Open), Grand Touring, and Fast Tour, including a team from the UK, a driver from the Turks and Caicos, another from Bermuda, and of course teams from Canada and the US. Many are repeat competitors.

Here’s the Vivid Racing team’s video take on their experience last year. Doesn’t that make you want to go?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bentley SUV Is a Go

Courtesy Bentley Motors
Back in March 2012, Bentley introduced the EXP 9 concept at the Geneva Motor Show. Not everyone was happy about that, with the bulk of the complaints being made about the way it looked. Enough people must have responded positively, however, as Bentley has now announced a fourth model line to accommodate an SUV. Like the other Bentleys, it will be built in Crewe.

It’s not expected to go on sale until 2016, but Bentley will be putting lots of money into it and other new models before that. They’ll be spending somewhere in the neighbourhood of £800 million on facilities and development in the next three years. Good news for Crewe.

While there are lots of quotes from politicians and company executives, nobody seems to be providing any details. The line drawing illustrating the press release (see above) certainly doesn’t give anything away. Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, says: “The SUV will be a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. The styling will set it apart from any other SUV on the road and will be true to the Bentley design DNA. It will be the most luxurious and most powerful SUV in the market.”

In other words, it will be a Bentley. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shelby GT500 Stars in Getaway

Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and the Ford Shelby
GT500 Super Snake star in the upcoming action
thriller Getaway hitting the big screens Labor Day Weekend. (Photo: Business Wire)
If you caught action thriller Getaway on the big screen this weekend, you know that the movie didn’t just star Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight. Also on screen was a 2014 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake. Nothing like a little muscle to liven things up. According to director and producer Courtney Solomon, “I felt strongly that we needed the quintessential American muscle car with enough star power to shine with Ethan and Selena. With 725 horsepower, amazing capabilities and great looks, the Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake was ideal for this ‘role.’ … We look forward to taking audiences on the ride of their lives in the Shelby Super Snake.”

Have you seen the movie yet? Does the car steal the show?

If you live in the States, you might be interested in the contest at, where you can enter to win your very own 2014 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake. The rest of us will just have to keep saving up, but in the meantime, you can at least build one online at Shelby American.

[SOURCE: Business Wire]

Monday, September 2, 2013

Wrap Your Ford Fiesta in Bacon

Bacon-wrapped Ford Fiesta. (PRNewsFoto/Ford Motor Company)
Nope, not the latest anti-rust trick, but a new way to customize your ride. It seems that last Saturday (August 31) was International Bacon Day. To celebrate, Ford showed off one of their 2014 Fiestas sporting custom exterior vinyl wraps from Ford Custom Graphics. The Fiesta in the photo is covered in 10 strips of bacon, but there are other items on the menu. You can take away Bacon Racing Strips for your hood, or display a Side of Bacon over the rear wheel.

Don’t drive a Fiesta? They do have graphics for other Ford vehicles. There are also other designs, though they seem lacking in sizzle beside the bacon wraps. But if consumers show a taste for bacon, could cheeseburger or donut wraps be far away?

[SOURCE Ford Motor Company]

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Spotted: Camping World Truck

As NASCAR fans already know, this Saturday and Sunday features the first Canadian running of a race in the Camping World Truck series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. That’s just north of Bowmanville, and about an hour east of Toronto. If you’re looking for information on the Mosport website, the actual race is called the Chevrolet Silverado 250. And no, they’re not racing RVs (now, that would be something to see), but it’s possible to camp on site so you’re near all the truck racing action. After all, RV retailer Camping World is a sponsor.

Appropriately enough, this Camping World inspired truck was on display at the recent Rebel Ridez show.
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Photo by Kate Tompkins

Monday, August 26, 2013

Putting the Rat in Rat Rod

1950 Mercury Rat Rod
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Further to my post of the other day, here’s a rat rod based on a 1950 Mercury that caught my eye at the recent Rebel Ridez car show. Check out the hood ornament.
1950 Mercury Rat Rod
Photo by Kate Tompkins
1950 Mercury Rat Rod
Photo by Kate Tompkins

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rebel Ridez Car Show

Rebel Ridez 3rd Annual Car Show, Montreal
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Got out to my first local car show of the season last Saturday, the third annual Rebel Ridez show. It’s the first time I’ve been out to one of their shows, and I have to say I was impressed. In addition to their own members’ cars, they had a few race cars on display, and there were sponsors’ booths as well. They had a lot of volunteers, easily identifiable by their T-shirts, to help participants get parked. Lots of participants, too, a booth selling food, and a table full of trophies to hand out.
Rebel Ridez 3rd Annual Car Show, Montreal
Photo by Kate Tompkins

There was a nice selection of cars to look at, too. While the emphasis was on muscle cars (from classic to modern), there was something for everyone, from hot rods, to 50’s chrome, and even a miniature Mercury. I’ll be taking a closer look at some that caught my eye over the next few days, but these group shots give you some idea of what the show was like.
Rebel Ridez 3rd Annual Car Show, Montreal
Photo by Kate Tompkins

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Russo and Steele’s Monterey Catalog

Russo and Steele’s online catalog for this week’s auction in Monterey, California, (August 15 through 17) can be found here, all 216 pages of it. A trip to Monterey certainly isn’t in my near future, but I do enjoy looking. They’re featuring a couple of Ferrari spider conversions, among other things. Fancy a 1981 Jaguar XJR-4 race car? A 1969 COPO Camaro? Lots of Shelbys, and even (yuck!) a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette wagon. I wish I was making that up, but it’s right there on page 110.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Little Red Corvette

Power Wheels® brand introduces a brand new 
battery-powered ride-on replica of the highly
anticipated 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
(Photo: Business Wire)
Seems Fisher-Price is adding a new car to its Power Wheels line of battery-powered ride-on toys. Just in time for Corvette’s 60th anniversary, it’s a replica of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. This highly desirable toy (well, I know I want one, and I’m too big for it) will do 0-6 mph and is for three years and up. It has forward and reverse gears and even comes with Power Lock® brakes. Suggested price is just under $300.

According to the press release from Fisher-Price, it’s possible to order it from, where it’s currently listed for $210.08. I don’t see it listed on the Walmart Canada site. Bleah.

If the Corvette’s not your thing, they have other cars, Jeeps, trucks and SUVs, including a Ford Mustang Boss 302, and a Cadillac Escalade. Those are available in Canada.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Queen’s State Limo on Display

Bentley State Limousine
Photo courtesy Bentley Motors
If you were at the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace Gardens last month (July 11-14), you would have had a chance to see Her Majesty’s state limousine up close. No, I wasn’t there, either—guess my invitation must have been lost in the mail--but Bentley Motors has provided photos so the rest of us can see what we missed.

The car, built to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee in 2002, is unique, even for a Bentley. According to Bentley PR, the car was “designed to ensure as many well-wishers as possible have the opportunity to see the Queen” thanks to a panoramic glasshouse and extra height. They add that “the rear seat position was determined using a model of the same height as the Queen and the doors are hinged at the rear and open through 90 degrees to enable Her Majesty to almost walk out of the car.” A feature I wish my own car had, some days.
Bentley State Limousine
Photo courtesy Bentley Motors

The limo was being displayed together with a collection of other Bentleys (I’m eyeing up the red car to the right—sweet!).

Bentley also presented the Mulsanne, their flagship model. It looks like Her Majesty approves. Bentley claim it takes almost 400 hours to build a Mulsanne, 200 of which goes on the interior. Potential purchasers have a choice of over 100 standard paint colours, and 24 colours of leather. All hand-stitched, of course. It’s enough to make you feel like a queen.
The Queen visits the Bentley stand at the Coronation Festival.
Photo courtesy Bentley Motors