31 March 2011

Crusher Camaro - The Road Trip

A '67 Camaro owned by current Hot Rod magazine editor Rob Kinnan that has evolved into a hard-as-nails hi-rider. Impractical? Try not to tell Rob that; he took it on an 1,100 mile road trip and wrote about it here.

30 March 2011

Abarth 205 Vignale Berlinetta

I was going to post something else, but I was reminded of this beauty so I'd thought I'd share it with you.

Austrian born tuning expert Carlo Abarth was one of an all-star team that was involved in Piero Dusio's ambitious Cisitalia project immediately after the War. By 1949, Cisitalia's financial position quickly worsened and Abarth decided to jump the sinking ship. As compensation for his efforts, Dusio gave him several examples of the latest '204' model in various states of completion. They were modified to the extent that a rebadging to Cisitalia-Abarth 204A was warranted. 

Encouraged by the good results on the track and funded by the ever increasing sales of his exhaust systems, Carlo Abarth established Abarth & Co. to manufacture complete cars. The first of these made a victorious debut early in March of 1950, when Guido Scagliarini won the 1100cc class in the Coppa InterEuropa at Monza. It was confusingly referred to as an Abarth 204A. Today it seems more likely that the car was actually the first of three Abarth 205s built around a brand new floorpan chassis. The 204s used a very different tubular frame.

Both cars do share the FIAT sourced four cylinder engine. Fitted with Abarth's tuning kit, which consisted of a revised intake manifold, two Weber carburettors and a bespoke exhaust, the tiny 1089cc engine produced an impressive 83 bhp. The four-speed gearbox was also sourced from FIAT. The potent drivetrain was fitted in a very straightforward box-section steel platform chassis. Alfredo Vignale was commissioned to build the lightweight aluminium body. The beautiful design came from the pen of Giovanni Michelotti. Included, of course, were the three portholes on the front fenders that were typical for Vignale's bodies.

After its spectacular Monza debut, the 204A / 205 Coupe was shown during the 1950 Turin Motor Show; it was the first time Abarth displayed his cars there. A second example was finished shortly after and both were raced in the major Italian events that season. The third example was completed early in 1951. Fitted with a slightly larger version of the four cylinder engine, it was shown during the '51 Turin show. Priced at the level of a two-litre Ferrari, Abarth struggled to find customers for his small Coupes and in the end only three were built.

The huge expenses of the racing efforts weighed heavily on the fledgling company and Abarth decided it was wise to cease racing and focus on developing the successful exhaust systems for the foreseeable future. The platform chassis first used on the 205 would serve on as the basis for several show cars and eventually the Abarth 207 racing car introduced in 1955. Amazingly all three Abarth 205s have survived and are in the hands of caring owners. They remain as the first in a long line of Abarth racing cars that made their mark on small-displacement racing for several decades. 

29 March 2011

Cars & Music - The Who

The Who Magic Bus tour, 1968. The somewhat deceptive title implies that the songs were recorded live, but all recordings on the album are in fact studio tracks.

The bus in question is a Midland Red D7, made for that bus company to order by Metro-Cammel. THA 111, was exported to Universal studios, California, U.S.A in 1964.

Santa Monica Police Department's '64 Plymouth Savoy

This is a real police car.
Not a clone, not a tribute car, and certainly not granny's car painted black and white. The radio works, as do the lights and siren, it stays in the city's garage with 100 Ford Crown Victorias, and if you do something wrong in Santa Monica, this car could pull you over...

Originally purchased by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD), this '64 Plymouth was assigned to the City of Industry station. A private owner bought it from a Sheriff's auction after it was retired, and it remained in storage until 1995 when it turned up at the Pomona swap meet. The person who bought it approached the Santa Monica Police Officer's Association to see if it would be interested in buying the car.

In 1964 the SMPD's cars were purchased under the same contract as the Sheriff's cars, so even though this had never been a Santa Monica car, it was equipped with the same specs as the SMPD's '64 Plymouths. The Association bought the car and had it restored in time for the department's centennial celebration in 1996. Though the department uses it mainly for shows and public relations events, this Plymouth is still a working police car, it just sounds a lot different from the rest of Santa Monica's fleet.

More info here.

25 March 2011

Championnat de France de la Montagne, 1981

Front to back: Chrysler Horizon (despite the Talbot stickers on the headlights), BMW E21, VW Golf, Mitsubishi Lancer (2000 turbo?) another Golf, unkown car, a brace of Renault Alpine A310s and a BMW 2002.

Cosmo On The Rocks Please

The second generation CD Cosmo was produced from 1975 and until 1981. It was known as the Cosmo AP in Japan, and sold internationally as the Mazda RX-5, though in some export markets its piston powered counterpart was called the Mazda 121 (a name later applied to Mazda's small hatchback in the 90's). America used the Mazda Cosmo name and offered it from 1976 through 1978. The CD Cosmo/RX-5 series was a flop internationally, as Mazda tried too hard to "Americanise" the car. It was however an enormous success in Japan where over 55,000 where sold in the first year alone. Due to its poor sales as an export, the series-II version from 79-81 was not exported and remained on domestic sale only.
The Cosmo was Mazda's 'large' compact rotary coupe and based on the Mazda RX-4 floorpan and mechanics, but slightly heavier due to body design and more luxurious appointments, including  5-link rear suspension and rear disc brakes. It was available with the 12A and 13B engines.

Right, that's the spiel over, I've suddenly developed a real hankering for one of these, even though I have more chance of getting six numbers on the Lottery, which just happen to be Cote de Pablo's phone number, than finding one for sale.

This one is a grey market import Series II, with the square lights. Still super-cool though.

This unusual small opening window caught my eye. I never realised it opened, but then I've not seen one in ages.

Well, the 'For Sale' thing... I've found one for sale on eBay - in America. Drat.

Those wheels need to take a trip off the nearest cliff edge.

Did anyone say Hillman Avenger?

24 March 2011

Supra. V12. Twin Turbo. Indeed.

From here; built by Top Secret, a Japanese tuning company. Has a twin-turbo 5.0 V12 Toyota Century V12.

23 March 2011

Heffner Lamborghini Gallardo Twin Turbo

Normally I'm not too big a fan of Gallardos. But...

These Gallardos are modified by Heffner Performance (nothing to do with a certain porn magnate & raconteurand is equipped with a twin-turbo V10 that lifts the total power output to between 850 and 1050hp depending on the settings. Hubba.
Performance? look here & here. Engage dribble bib before clicking.

22 March 2011

The Jaguar Ascot

After the recent Jaguar-based Bertone B99 concept, let's look at one of their past Jaguar-based efforts. 

Based on the Jaguar XJS, in 1977 the Ascot appeared as a proposal to Jaguar which never made it into production. By 1977 Bertone must have been getting lazy, as the Ascot had more than a passing resemblance to the 308GT Rainbow concept car that Bertone had presented to Ferrari in 1976.

As Bertone had pioneered the wedge concept with the Lamborghini Countach, they tried a similar exersise with the XJS. I think they tried too hard to apply the wedge format to every car that came along, so the result was only partly successful. As you can see, in the classic 1970s Bertone tradition the Ascot is all angles, while the car's body is made from hand beaten aluminium panels and has a hatchback layout.

These pics were posted on an XJS forum in 2009, apparently the poster works at a restorers and this is in the basement gathering dust. As you can see from the other shots, it's original colour was white, but at some point after it was resprayed in gold. It still has the 5.3litre V12 and was drivable, although he'd never heard it run.

Brown velour and a wedge dash. It's the 70's alright. Note the XJS dials.

The Ascot isn't beautiful or elegant like the XJS but I'm happy that the car still exists.