In what is arguably the biggest coup of the forthcoming Pebble Beach auctions so far, RM Sotheby’s has consigned the very first Shelby Cobra – chassis CSX 2000 – straight from the collection of the late Carroll Shelby himself…
When Carroll Shelby shoehorned Ford’s then-new V8 into the diminutive chassis of an AC Ace in 1962, it proved a stroke of genius, and a recipe that would be followed for decades to come. That very car – which served as a test and development vehicle, a press car (regularly repainted to give the impression of a larger fleet) and a rolling advert for the fledgling company – tore the rulebook to shreds, boasting scarcely believable performance figures at the time. The 0-60mph sprint was dealt with in just 4.2sec, and top speed was clocked at 153mph.
Having remained in Carroll Shelby’s hands for the rest of its life, it starred in countless books and magazines, and at motor shows across America. Now it’s being offered for sale by RM Sotheby’s at its Monterey sale, taking place on 19-20 August. There are many historically significant Cobras (and American cars, for that matter), but very few – if any – can lay claim to a legacy to rival this one.
There is much to be said about car collectors but these three things are for certain: each one panders to their own niche, wrangle up a slew of cars that they deem superior and at times, can seemingly be quite a snob about it (although, don’t exclude their merit). The subject of the latest Petrolicious episode is a German-based collector named Thorsten Seitz. The man has a crystal clear vision for the types of Fords he wants in his stable: economy cars that are “rarely altered.”
Seitz told Petrolicious about how he resurrected an old Cortina and keeps an Escort roaring down the road. As a whole, the collector embraces simplicity over complexity in terms of car design. “On old cars, many put exhaust tips, mud flaps, or some chrome trim that doesn’t belong there,” says Seitz. “No, I like to keep it very simple.” Take a look at the visually stunning, eight-minute video above.
At first blush, leaving Italy to go in search of a beautiful vintage car seems as unnecessary as leaving Tahiti to look for the perfect beach. But when a man takes a fancy to a particular car, he sometimes has no choice but to cast a wider net.
Such is the story of Gianfranco Giovine and his 1954 Jensen 541. Perhaps he wanted to set himself apart from all the Lancias and Fiats and Alfa Romeos on Italy’s roads, or perhaps it was simply the challenge of tracking down a car that is seldom seen outside of Britain. Whatever the case, Giovine, after much searching and dreaming, finally found his car in Ireland, where he wasted no time in signing a sales contract and arranging for shipping back to Italy.
While Giovine has had to adjust to right-hand drive–a transition made all the more challenging by the narrow roads and streets around his hometown–he quickly developed a love affair with the car’s lines and with its powerful six-cylinder engine, a powerplant that shares much in common with the Austin Healeys of the day.
Much like a man might finally settle down after winning the love of the woman of his dreams, Giovine has no plans to part with his beloved Jensen.
“If I have a big smile on my face,” says Spike Feresten. “I know I’ve made a wonderful decision…and this car delivers it every time.”
Spike says a lot of that’s due to the car’s sound, “…just a hair under illegal; inside, it’s a one-car Trans-Am race”. He’s not joking: his beloved 1968 Porsche 911L is actually a factory race car built in period for Trans-Am competition. That’s right: he’s able to drive this ex-race car on the streets and through L.A.’s famous nearby canyons.
“I never knew I was destined to be someone who craves the experience of a street legal race car. I don’t mean racing on the streets, just driving a race car on the street!” he says. “That’s the whole car experience, living a life beyond my wildest car dreams.”
Through a series of coincidences, the car is famous for other reasons—not only was it raced in period by comedian “Dickie” Dick Smothers but it featured in period Porsche advertisements, and was even a prized poster on a friend’s wall.
“What do you mean, it’s got a title? I could put a license plate on that, and just, drive it and pick up groceries? For me, that’s irresistible.”
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.
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.
Planning a vacation is tough work, as is securing a rental car worthy of being seen in. With plenty of practice under its belt (Bertha Benz was the first person to take a road trip, after all), Mercedes-Benz recently partnered with a classic car tour company so that more people can enjoy a classic SL while on holiday. Its new “Classic Car Travel” isn’t the least expensive way to get from A to B, but surely one of the most stylish.
The company Nostalgic GmbH has been hosting classic car tours for more than 10 years, and you can think of this new program as more of a “guided route” rather than a do-what-you-please service. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but a driving tour is a good way to hit as many great roads in as little time as possible. Initially, ten SLs from two generations, (W113 and R107) will ferry drivers and passengers alike around France and Italy. Meals, accommodation, and an English-speaking guide are included.
Starting in a car you don’t like isn’t an issue, as vehicles will be rotated among participants. Profit, surely, is a consideration, but a starting price of 1,975 € per person doesn’t seem unreasonable for essentially an all-inclusive four-day tour. Driving around Europe has got to be better than beached on a cruise, right?
You have E30 M3 fans, and then you have 190E fans.
For car aficionados, while the E30 BMW M3 is in a category of its own, its hard to ignore the impact and cult-status Mercedes-Benz brought with its 3-series contendor: the 190E. Here, in a stunning example supplied by Petrolicious and owner Del Necessary, the boxy 4-door relic from the 80s sports car world proves to be the definition of a sleeper. Yes, the car has a miniscule-for-modern-times 167 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds, but the true charm lies in the engine, as developed by British racing company Cosworth with loosely-based F1 technology. Thus, its high-revving motor, flared wheel arches, dog-leg gearbox (where 1st gear is positioned to the bottom left and therefore 2nd and 3rd are straight up and down for optimal shifting) and early adoptions of ABS and air bags propelled the 190E to legendary automotive status.
An update on what Leno’s team is currently restoring.
Jay Leno doesn’t just own a bunch of cars – he restores them. (Or has people who restores them, at any rate.) For this latest video, he’s showing us some of the projects he and his team are currently working on.
The tour-de-garage starts with a 1953 Cunningham that had been in storage since ’68, complete with a copper grille ready for plating and a 331 Hemi V8. Jay says that every one of the cars that Briggs Cunningham made is still on the road – but that’s just one of the dozen or so projects Jay and company are working on.
There’s a suitably brown ’71 Porsche 911 T in near-original condition having sat untouched parked underground in Beverly Hills for decades, and a ’58 Chrysler Imperial convertible once driven by Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra, and now getting a brake upgrade. There’s a Volvo 122 wagon that’s been stripped down, media-blasted, and powder-coated, a thousand-horsepower Rolls-Royce, a 1960 Nash Metropolitan, a supercharged Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman, and a 1914 Detroit Electric. And those are just the four-wheeled automobiles. Over in the two-wheeler section there’s a pair of Brough Superiors, a BSA, an Indian, and a custom racing sidecar that Jay’s mechanic Bernard is working on.
In short, Jay Leno’s Garage isn’t just one where vehicles are kept – it’s one where vehicles are brought back to life.
The R107 looks as elegant today as it did in 1971.
For decades, people have complained that safety regulations ruin car design. That’s a load of nonsense, as the third-generation Mercedes-Benz SL roadster proved. Charles Morgan explains how the R107 managed to be safe and elegant, in this video from our friends at Carfection.
When this car was designed in the early 1970s, U.S. safety legislation threatened the very existence of the convertible, but Mercedes wasn’t fazed. It developed steel reinforced A-pillars strong enough to bear the weight of the car in a rollover. Mercedes engineers also made the R107 so stiff, the company successfully took it rallying in the late 1970s, despite the fact that it was designed to be a luxurious grand tourer.
With this car, Mercedes showed the world that safety didn’t have to get in the way of style, just like it has with the modern AMG GT. Cars like this are the reason why Mercedes’ so-called “Golden Age” is spoken about in such reverent terms.
Small is beautiful, baby. How small do you want to get?
In case one needed further proof that Italians build some of the coolest cars on Earth (see: Alfa Romeo “Monstro,” Lancia Thema “Hellcat” for some recent examples) then you can take your pick of superlatives for the car above, the 1959 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile:
It’s the coolest car with a sliding canvas roof.
Coolest car with less horsepower than some industrial food processors. Coolest Italian city car that isn’t the Fiat 500.
Coolest car that’s named after itself—the Autobianchi “small Bianchi!”
You get the idea.
Autobianchi rose from a resurrection, and every resurrection in Europe begins with the end of the war. From 1899, Edvardo Bianchi’s eponymous firm was Italy’s third-largest auto producer, building luxurious, detail-oriented cars alongside bicycles, motorcycles, and army trucks. Allied bombing destroyed its company headquarters in Abruzzi, 50 miles east of Rome, and Edvardo himself died in a car crash a year after the war ended. It took a partnership between Fiat and tiremaker Pirelli that began in 1955 to restart production. Two years later, at Milan’s “Leonardo da Vinci” Museum of Science and Technology, the Bianchina debuted.
The Bianchina shared the same 479cc drivetrain of Fiat’s Nuova 500—with just 13 horsepower at launch. (1959 models enjoyed a modest 20cc increase that provided another handy five horsepower, which this 1958 model inevitably shares.)
But it was the bodywork originally designed by Luigi Rapi that was the real shocker: chrome streaks and swooping lines, tail fin vestiges and little proportions, it exemplified an postwar exuberance best expressed through design for the masses. Just like the Fiat 500. Just like that other wonderful example of Italian tininess: the Vespa, if you can see it.
The Bianchina was actually longer than the Fiat 500 by a matter of inches, and weighed approximately 70 pounds more. You’d be hard-pressed to notice.
The above Bianchina, with its white-wall tires and adorable roll-down canvas roof, is going up for auction at RM Sotheby’s Monaco event. It shares the attention with what you’d expect from a collector car auction in Monaco. About thirty dozen coach-built Ferraris, a bunch of one-off Porsche homologation specials, and a few honest-to-God race cars. Hey, even an Alfa Romeo RZ!
But it’s this Bianchina that’s captured our hearts. Maybe it’s the faint, magic-hour glow of the Leica Look photos for this Bianchina. Maybe it’s the video, via Petrolicious, of the Bianchina Trasformabile in the most perfect moment it could ever been seen: speeding up along the coast at the hands of a girl named Annalisa. She chose to walk past her father’s collection of 18 vintage cars—as we are all wont to do—preferring to tool around her coastal town of Rimini in her little Bianchina. And why not? We should all be so fortunate never to find ourselves needing more than that.