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]