Monthly Archives

June 2016

Oldtimers

I (Almost) Conquered The 2016 Targa Florio In A 1957 Alfa Romeo

Of all the events to shut down entire regions of Europe during the year, none is as magnificent and memorable as the Targa Florio in Sicily, Italy. This is especially true if you’re racing around in a 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce Alleggeria, a light and nimble two-place GT that seemed built for these roads.

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My friend and co-driver for this journey was fellow Alfista Manuel Leon Minassian, who was the perfect companion—but as you’ll soon read, everything didn’t quite go to plan.

First, how did I get to participate in the Targa Florio? Let’s just say there are some fringe benefits to being a founder of Petrolicious. Our good friends at Zagato contacted me sometime in April, informing me that they had an invitation from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that they would be happy to extend. There was one requirement, however: I must participate with an FCA-brand car.

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Let’s see: I’m an Alfa Romeo addict, and I keep two of my Alfas in Italy for road trips and rallies, so this requirement was akin to saying, “You’re invited to a dream vacation, but you must attend with the love of your life…” I quickly accepted—and already knew which car to drive.

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Three years ago, I took possession of a 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce Alleggeria (yes, a mouthful!) which I specifically bought because it is Mille Miglia-eligible with the hopes of doing that rally at some point.

The “Veloce” is the factory hot-rodded version of the normal Sprint, with twin Webber carbs and hotter cams, and the “Alleggerita” (meaning “lightened”) is the most special variant of the Veloce. The Alleggerita features aluminum doors, hood, and trunk lids, plexiglass for the side and rear windows, and other details to make it the lightest, fastest Giulietta Sprint variant.

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Unfortunately, prior to the Targa Florio I had only driven my Giulietta Sprint Veloce Alleggerita for 10 minutes around the block. Due to some misplaced paperwork and not having a pressing need to drive the car, the bureaucracy to get the car registered and insured did not get completed until just a month ago…we were about to experience baptism by fire.

This year being the 100 year anniversary of the Targa Florio, the organizers created four events in one weekend. We were participating in the main event, the Targa Florio Classic. This is the three-day “regularity rally” featuring about 80 to 100 classic cars of “specific historic or sporting value” made between 1906 and 1970. The rally traces the routes of the historic Targa Florio on the first day and adds a couple of new destinations on days two and three.

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There was also a true speed rally in which the rally legends of the ’70s and ’80s compete. But the biggest attraction for spectators was undoubtedly the Historic Speed. This commemorative race took place on the last day and featured racing legends of the time, reunited with the machines they raced to victory. So many of our childhood heroes were present reliving some of the best years of racing: Arturo Merzario, Jacky Ickx, Nino Vaccarella, Sandro Munari, Carlo Facetti, and Nanni Galli, to name a few. Unfortunately, being part of the classic rally, we did not have the opportunity to witness these racers getting back behind the wheel of the various Alfa Romeo T33 variants, Ferrari 330 P2s, and glorious Porsche 908s, and Carrera RSRs.

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My co-pilot was my good friend and fellow Alfista Manuel Leon Minassian. You may remember him from such Petrolicious classics as Never Enough Alfa or All-Wheel Dominance.

If you live in California and own an Alfa Romeo, chances are that at some point Manuel owned your car before. Having bought and restored over 100 Alfas to date and being mechanically inclined and a much better driver than myself, he was my obvious choice as my co-pilot. In fact, we split the drives, with me driving the morning legs and Manuel driving the afternoon ones.

Let’s just say it was a nice bonding experience.

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Importantly, to both the story and our rally, you should know that we didn’t really prepare.

Seriously, we showed up like a couple of fools, never having driven this specific car before, and with no tools, not even a rag to check the oil, we placed our fate in the Alfa Romeo gods. On top of that, Manuel had never done a regularity rally, and I had only done one two years ago with my wife, Kika. Did we spend some time reading the roadbook and familiarizing ourselves with the navigation signs and terminology? Nope. We were here to drive and have a good time.

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Though this Giulietta has been in my possession for three years, this was my first time driving it for an extended distance, and it was love at first drive!

There’s everything to like about this Giulietta. The little 1300-cc twin-cam loves to rev and has great torque throughout its RPM range. The chassis and handling are way ahead of the car’s time, and make it ideal for the twisty roads of the Targa Florio. It’s even comfortable, roomy, and has great visibility. It’s an extremely usable high-performance sports car. And I just love the Bertone styling! It’s hard to think of what else could compete with it back in 1957—only the Porsche 356 comes to mind.

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We did have a second-gear synchro issue, causing us to cringe each time we had to downshift to second, and our most important gauge, water temperature, was not functioning. Fortunately, we never overheated despite the heat and the hill-climbs.

As for the Targa Florio itself, where to begin? It was three intense days of pleasure of the senses. I’m having a hard time ranking what was best: the driving, the beauty of the Sicilian countryside, the peerless cuisine and wines of Sicily, or the comradery of all the participants.

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As I think back, a few random highlights flash past me: the raw seafood we ate at Cefalù with the master shoemaker Ciccio, the crisp Etna bianco made with carricante grape grown on the volcanic soil of Mount Etna, driving through the Madonie mountains and thinking of Derek Bell in the 718, and of course the cassata made with fresh ricotta that’s unobtainable anywhere else. Yes, I do have a tendency to remember things with my stomach. I did coin “Drive Tastefully”, after all.

Meeting Jean Todt was rather cool as well, but it wasn’t as satisfying as when I sped past John and Lavinia Elkann in their Giulietta SZ Coda Tronca.

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Alas, there was one other problem with the Giulietta that I didn’t mention before. On the third and last day of the rally, I pushed the Giulietta at 6,000 rpm on the Autostrada for about 15 minutes, which in itself did not cause any problems. Immediately after that stint, however, we were confronted with the chaos of our classic rally co-mingling with one of the other four events. Apparently, the organizers did not communicate with each other, leading to a big traffic mess and lots of stopping and starting.

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All this to say that we fouled up the plugs on the Giulietta, and it started running rough. During the last leg, again confronted with a traffic mess akin to the one engineered in the Italian Job, the poor Giulietta stalled and wouldn’t start again. Had we had some basic tools, we may have been able to clean the plugs and get going again.

The ACI breakdown truck that was there as support for the rally asked us if we want to be placed on the flatbed and towed down. We only had five minutes to decide. Manuel really wanted to give it another try and was quite annoyed that we weren’t better prepared. We opted for the conservative route, and went with the tow truck who took us back to the transport that would take the Giulietta back to Milan. As such, we did not finish the rally.

Naturally, as soon as the tow truck arrived down the hill and lowered the Giulietta, she started up immediately.

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Photography and article by Afshin Behnia
Origin: Petrolicious

Gallery Oldtimers

Oldtimers Magazine pres. Automotive Photography vol. 13

I’m Jevgeniy, but You can call me Jev. Been in landscape photography for a while, but recently combined the two passions of mine and I started shooting cars. Having a personal opinion on modern cars, I’ve sort of stuck with oldtimers with E30 topping my list. Just like it, because of it agressive looks. I could go on and on about myself, but I think it’s better to let my photography proceed with our conversation.

Automotive Photography baner1

Today I present to You classic VW T2!

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Photos by Jevgeniy Vyazovoy

Automotive Photography on Facebook

Oldtimers

Is The Ferrari 246 S Dino Really A Forgotten Underdog?

As much as I aspire to be, we can’t all be walking automotive encyclopedias, and besides seeing the famous Cavallino Rampante on its flanks, I had no idea what it was at first glance.

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It’s a Ferrari 246 S Dino. With lineage back to the iconic 250 Testarossa, it debuted with a brand new, and quite unusual V6 engine also used in Formula 1. it was the first V6 engine in that series, fitted to the 246 F1, and was the first V6 to win a Grands Prix. The team didn’t hide its small revolution in engine technology either, with the three Weber carburettors sticking right out of the hood. The engine was incredibly complex and made for a lighter and nimbler car than its V12 contemporaries, but even sports car aces Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips couldn’t best the Porsches at the Targa Florio in 1960.

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The 246 S Dino ultimately wasn’t competitive enough for Enzo Ferrari, and the few copies of the car that existed were swiftly given to privateers, many of which left Ferraris possession with a retrofitted V12. Some even left with a completely different name, repackaged as the 250 Testarossa.

This particular example found its home at NART, where it took first in class at Sebring alongside some smaller victories, with the Rodriguez brothers behind the wheel—not bad for a car Mr. Ferrari deemed unworthy. During this time, it also went over to the famed coachbuilders at Fantuzzi for a new body shell. It returned with a very different profile to the standard silhouette, featuring a high, boxy rear end.

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After its career at NART, the car went between privateers, including Pink Floyd’s manager. These days, you’ll find it tearing around the great European circuits once more, with a victory in the headline Sussex Trophy at Goodwood in 2015, as well as appearances at events like the Le Mans Classic.

It’s strange that cars with so much value and history today were once thrown aside without much thinking, but I’m incredibly glad so many old race cars are still around, in one form or another. This one has experienced a lot of changes, and more than a handful of owners in its life.

But here it is—still winning races, still looking stunning, and still stopping people like me in our tracks.

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Photography by Nat Twiss

Taken from Petrolicious

Lifestyle Oldtimers

Street Find: A Tiny Nash Metropolitan

Rowayton, Connecticut isn’t necessarily a hotbed of classic car hobbyists, but I was recently surprised to see a Nash Metropolitan being advertised for sale on someone’s lawn. This small American microcar was a fixture on American roads through the ’50s, primarily with frugal and attention-craving motorists alike.

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Seeing one up close reinforces that there’s not much to this car in terms of overall size, but what is there is more styled than a roadside diner. Its combination of teal and white two-tone paint, intricately sculpted flanks, chrome everywhere, a “continental” kit out back, insanely beautiful hood ornament, and partially-covered wheels works surprisingly well together. It’s like a ’57 Chevy, just shrunk in the wash.

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The Metropolitan was a pretty popular car in its heyday, with more than 90,000 built in Coupé and Convertible variations; it’s also one of those classics that’s still well-loved and still pretty affordable. This example is for sale; at most, the Metropolitan seems to top out at $20,0000 on the used market. It won’t be the fastest car on the block–zero-to-60 mph is done in like 30 seconds—but it’s a classic that will make anyone smile.

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When I saw this Metropolitan in Rowayton, Connecticut, I sure did.

Article by Ted Gushue / Petrolicious (origin)

Oldtimers

This Jaguar D-Type Lynx Recreation Is My Personal Dream Car

D-Types are unicorns. There’s effectively none of them, but science can’t entirely rule them out. Now, I’m no scientist, but this unicorn is as real as it gets. Paul Martin is a set designer for big budget commercials by day, and an obsessively detailed recreationist by night. He’s commissioned a Peter Brock blessed Shelby Daytona (that we’ll be profiling at a later date) and this gorgeous example of a long nose, pre-wing, 1955 FIA legal D-Type. To spend a few minutes with it, was, as you’d expect, awesome.

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Ted Gushue: All right, Paul, tell me the story of your Jaguar D-Type.

Paul Martin: The Jag was commissioned three years ago, it’s a recreation of a 1955 Le Mans Jaguar D-Type. The body style is actually right before they went to the built-in aerodynamic fin in ’56, so we have a short-nosed rear of the car and a long-nosed front, which makes for what I consider the perfect D-Type silhouette.

The car is full FIA-spec. It’s all built on original Jaguar running gear. We have a dry sump engine. We have a Jag box, Jag rear, Jag brakes. The car’s built around an aluminum monocoque. It’s all period correct. It is, in fact, a tool room copy of the original car.

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TG: What does that mean, ’tool room’?

PM: The expression means it’s absolutely correct, as if the original guys were in the tool room, grabbing the tools off the bench. It’s a sort of standard term they’re using for perfect replicas now. It took about two-and-a-half years to build. It was built by a company in England, Phil and Ollie Cottrell. It’s just a father and son team. They’re both ex-Jaguar racing mechanics.

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TG: How did you choose them and not, let’s say, the guys from Eagle or the other guys that were around? What made you choose these guys?

PM: These guys originally built my C-Type I commissioned four years previous, and I was so impressed with their build and their attention to detail. That’s why I picked them to build the D-Type. They managed to get their hands on the very last remaining Lynx body because they’re actually making their own D-Types now. This was one of the last Lynx bodies, which was a very, very well-built…

TG: Tell me about Lynx.

PM: Lynx was really viewed as being the best D-Type out there. They’re commanding pretty high prices, six-figure prices, even today. Their cars were originally based on E-Types, and then they went to full FIA-spec cars. You’ll see a lot of them actually racing in historics. Quite a few of these will be Lynx FIA cars. They were just incredibly accurate and very, very well made. That’s the story of the body and chassis on the car.

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TG: Very cool. Why D-Type? It seems like a silly question, but I imagine you could have had your choice in exquisite recreations no?.

PM: I was captivated by the Mike Hawthorn black and white films. Most people have seen this incredible film of in-car footage of Mike Hawthorn, going round Le Mans. The cockpit, when I first got in one of these cars, it was like sliding into a Spitfire. It envelops you. You have these period correct, analog rev counter and speedometer. You’re wrapped in there with a Plexiglass windscreen. You’ve nothing but a huge aluminum hood in front of you. I think it’s probably the closest you could get to driving a Spitfire on the road.

I think it’s an absolutely beautiful car. It’s iconic. That along with having owned a C-Type, it was the natural progression. I’ve also done an E, so one could say I went backwards.

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TG: Have you tracked it yet?

PM: Nope. The car’s relatively new to me, so we’ve just got it into California. This is really about its third trip out.

TG: What a great future it has ahead of it!

PM: Indeed.

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Photography by Ted Gushue

Taken from Petrolicious

Oldtimers

Is This 1964 Ford Mustang Pace Car Worth the Price?

$1.1 million is a substantial amount of money. Further, it’s a very substantial amount to spend on a single car. But when it comes to this rare bird of the Ford Mustang world… perhaps it’s a bit of a bargain.

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As its doors proudly display, this is the Ford Mustang Convertiblethe Ford Mustang convertible that was used to pace the 1964 Indianapolis 500, in the process becoming the world’s first Mustang pace car.

It was built during the first hour of official Mustang production, completely disappeared for a decade and a half beginning in the ’70s, but has now resurfaced to dazzle anew. Its home is now the RK Motors dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina, and guess how much it costs. Yup, $1.1 million.

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Let’s pump the brakes for a second though. In the run-up to the launch of the brand-new Mustang in 1964, Ford’s Lee Iacocca developed a huge marketing campaign to push the pony car into the spotlight. For some reason, a Mustang pace car wasn’t part of the ’64 rollout. Instead, the famous Indy 500 was planned to be paced by a Ford Falcon, that is, until Iacocca reconsidered. Mere hours into the first day of Ford Mustang production, three pony cars were plucked from the assembly line and shipped to legendary racing outfit Holman Moody for pace car preparation. Bear in mind, they had to survive speeds in excess of 130 mph. Holman Moody got stuck in, and replaced the stock 260ci V8s with “experimental” 289ci V8s that were being developed for the legendary Ford GT40. A lower, stiffer suspension also followed, as did rear flag stanchions.

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Unfortunately, the turnaround time needed for the three pace car builds was just too short, and development of the third car was scrapped. Strike two against the pace cars; one suffered a mechanical failure upon arrival to the Indy 500, leaving just this car to pace the race. And ‘pace’ it did, with none other than Benson Ford (one of Edsel Ford’s sons) at the wheel, pictured above. Its post-race life is almost even more interesting however. Following the Indy 500, Ford handed the car off to Florida’s Sebring International Raceway where it was used as a parade vehicle and driver loaner until 1974. At this point, its pedigree had long been diluted and it was locked away in a storage unit, largely forgotten. Until 1991, that is.

An official from the Mustang Club of America had heard rumors that the car still existed, so they talked with the track’s owner and became the first and only private owner of the iconic pace car. A clinically thorough restoration followed suit and today the special 1964.5 Ford Mustang is said to be 95 percent original with 5 percent of components either new-old-stock or custom built. As far as “unique” cars go, it’s truly a one-of-one. And if you’ve got a spare $1.1 million lying around, well… it could be yours too.

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This article by Zach Doell originally appeared on Boldride.com / taken from autoblog.com

Gallery Oldtimers

Oldtimers Magazine pres. Automotive Photography vol. 12

I’m Jevgeniy, but You can call me Jev. Been in landscape photography for a while, but recently combined the two passions of mine and I started shooting cars. Having a personal opinion on modern cars, I’ve sort of stuck with oldtimers with E30 topping my list. Just like it, because of it agressive looks. I could go on and on about myself, but I think it’s better to let my photography proceed with our conversation.

Automotive Photography baner1

Today I present to You classic Porsche 964!

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Photos by Jevgeniy Vyazovoy

Automotive Photography on Facebook

Oldtimers Video

Watch Jay Leno drive an ex-highway patrol ’61 Dodge Polara

The latest vehicle to swing by Jay Leno’s Garage is a 1961 Dodge Polara. This one was used by the California Highway Patrol half a century ago, ordered specially by the state police instead of the Darts that were usually used by law-enforcement. After sitting out in the sun for a few decades, it recently underwent a comprehensive, ground-up restoration by the historians and craftsmen at the Automobile Club of Southern California.

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As you can see for yourself, the result of the restoration is really quite stunning. The ACSC apparently spared no expense, bringing the 413-cubic-inch V8 back up to working order, along with the emergency lighting, radio, certified speedometer… the works. In the process they even found the engine cranked out more than the factory quote of 325 horsepower, recording 332 hp and 406 pound-feet of torque on the dyno.

The Polara CHP cruiser hadn’t even been back out on the freeway since the restoration was finished. But after getting the full run-down from the guys responsible for its resuscitation, Jay wasted little time in bringing it back to its natural habitat.

Taken from: Autoblog

Oldtimers

This MG Heading To Auction Is Far More Special Than It Looks

The MGB and MGC series are some of the most common classic sports cars. You don’t even have to be into cars and you’ll likely know what an MG is, and probably that it’s British. It’s hard to dislike their simple, near timeless design—hell, even my mother, who’s no petrolhead, lovingly owned two of them in the 1980s.

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With classic sportscar proportions, lightweight construction, and a capable chassis, it’s easy to see why they were, and still are, so popular amongst enthusiasts. In a sense, they’re the Volkswagen Beetle of the sports car realm: cheap, easy to work on, and they made a ton of them—more than a half million, in fact.

If you’re an MG fanatic, you’ll likely recognize the very special black and gold specimen photographed here. But if you’re like me, at first glance you probably think this is some do-it-yourselfer’s garage built one-off racecar, but you’d be wrong. Turns out, this is one of six GTS Sebring models by The British Motor Corporation (BMC) Competition Department…well, sort of.

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In 1966, the BMC race house in Abingdon began a new program in hopes to boost sales for the not-yet-released MGC. Starting off with six MGB/MGC hybrid chassis, the development team began by constructing just two prototypes. Knowing its tuned straight six engines weren’t mighty enough to outrun the competition, the team took a different approach for speed: by shedding as much weight as possible.

While the chassis remained steel, the doors, roof skin, bonnet, boot lid, and blister arched fenders and quarters were crafted from aluminum. The headlamps received plastic aero-covers, widened spoke wheels wrapped in sticky tread were tucked snuggly under the widened panels, and the unnecessary bumpers were removed—we love bumper-less classics.

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The two “GTS” prototypes went on to race in the Targa Florio, Marathon de la Route at Nürburgring, and Sebring before the program was cancelled in 1970—but whatever happened to the remaining four BMC chassis? Remember, only two of the six hybrid chassis were completed by BMC. Well, this 1969 MG MGC GTS Sebring is one of those remaining four cars.

Upon dissolution of the BMC “GTS” competition program, Austin-Healey specialist John Chatham was offered the unfinished surplus, which he thankfully purchased. John completed chassis MGC 500757 for competition using the latest goodies in the BMC parts bin—making this car an even better performer than the two BMC GTS racers. Stronger magnesium Minilite rollers were selected over the standard brittle wire wheels—but the originals are included in the sale. What makes this already very special MG even more unique is what lies under the alloy bonnet.

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During the BMC GTS racing program, straight six aluminum block powertrains were tested but never installed in either of the two racing prototypes—this Sebring is believed to have the only remaining aluminum block left in existence. With triple Webers feeding the established 220 horsepower on tap, this bespoke “super lightweight” GTS Sebring weighs just ~900 kilos (less than one ton)!

John Chatham extensively raced this custom super-MG at Silverstone, Castle Combe, and more, until selling the car to its current owner in 2004. The car has since been restored and is now ready for another half century of competition.

It’s odd to see such a common-looking car in such an elevated light, but if superhero movies have taught me anything, it’s that exceptional things are often hiding in plain sight.

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History
– One of six genuine GTS Sebring chassis
– Driven by racing legend John Chatham

Specifications

Est. 220 hp, 2,912 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine with triple Weber carburetors, four-speed manual transmission with overdrive, independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,311 mm.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: MGC 500757
Engine no.: AXSP JC 101
Body no.: GCD1 03307

Valuation

– Complete with FIA paperwork
Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimate: TBD
Price realized: Auction on May 14

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Photography courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Article written by Andrew Golseth
Origin Petrolicious

Oldtimers

This Year’s Epic Tour Auto Rally. Check all Photos!

The Tour Auto is one of the longest-running motorsport events in the world, with its first round—then called the Tour de France Automobile—cracking off in 1899. Since 1992, it’s been run as a rally for owners and drivers of classic cars, who get to enjoy awesome roads, food, scenery…and a healthy dash of competition.

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Photographer Paul Criton was out this year covering the entire six-day event—titled the Tour Auto Optic 2000—and sent over a selection of his favorite photos. Besides many of the usual suspects (mainly classic Ferraris and Porsches), the event attracts many historic machines that did quite well in the past, including the rare-and-very-fast Ligier JS2.

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Classics new(er) and old(er) mix during frequently during the event, both on public roads and on timed circuit sessions, creating an awesome spectacle for spectators and an awesome challenge for competitors. This year was the 25th anniversary of the event’s rebirth—and the clock is already ticking on having yourself and your classic ready for 2017.

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Photos and article by Petrolicious