Thu Jan 09 2014 19:47:12 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
The engine is out of a 1952 Diamond-Reo tractor and makes 1,640 lb-ft of torque. The chassis is pieced together from old light poles from the City of Hollywood. The body... that's from a 1931 Ford. Meet Gretchen, one of the coolest rat-rods we've ever seen and a ride that turns heads wherever it goes. This ain't no hybrid, instead it's a black smoke belching, gasoline guzzling, animal of a car that's not only amazing to look at, but with some cool hidden engineering, has the ability to surprise even the most hardened of motor-heads.
Fri Oct 18 2013 15:07:30 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
One of the best-kept secrets of the automotive world is the Lane Motor Museum, a collection of about 400 (mostly European) classic cars that will celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend. A 132,000-square-foot former Sunbeam Bakery, it's now a spruced-up display space for the eclectic and impressive collection that has been put together by Jeff Lane, a mechanical engineer who grew up outside Detroit and inherited his dad's love of British sports cars. Click image for full article.
Thu Aug 08 2013 16:43:02 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Miss Dangerous Curves, 1954:
This is Miss Helen Fleming, 18 of Golden, Colorado, she was chosen to be “Miss Dangerous Curves of 1954″ and she reigned over the Buffalo Bill Mountain hill climb for sports cars on August 7 th. and 8 th. In addition to that press clipping on the back of the photo is a note mentioning Lookout Mountain. It was published in an unknown area newspaper. The car is a Jaguar carrying a very interesting non-standard bumper. You can find 42 pages of Women and Vehicles on The Old Motor @
Sat Aug 03 2013 16:01:12 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Automotive Jewelry – Michael Furman: Mascots and badges are a unique art form that have identified automotive marques since the late 19th century. At first, these elements appeared as script affixed to the exposed radiator core of the early cars. As the front of the cars gained presence, notably the radiator shell, it’s surfaces and cap, there were now new places to express marque identity. The script was joined by badges, which were then joined by Moto Meters and mascots. As the functionality of the Moto Meter was replaced with a dashboard mounted temperature gauge, the mascots flourished and are the basis for this new book. SEE MORE on The Old Motor @
The Sebring Alfa in the Chicken Coop. This Sunday’s In the Barn story is about the acquisition of an Alfa Romeo race car. Everyone knew about it, but it wasn’t easy to convince the owner to let it go. Enjoy the tale and be sure to subscribe to our mailing list for a chance to win a free copy of The Corvette in the Barn, the source of this story.
Not all barn finds are secret. Several years ago my friend Jim Maxwell and I purchased a 32,000-mile 1967 Shelby GT500 that many enthusiasts knew about. “Oh, you’re wasting your time, Bob will never sell,” they said. Yet today Jim and I own one of the most original big-block Shelbys on the planet. It called for relationship building, not a “Here’s my best offer; take it or leave it” mentality.
Jim McNeil of Bayport, New York, had a similar experience after hearing about a rare Alfa Romeo SZ that had been sitting in a chicken coop outside of Baltimore. “It was a known car,” said McNeil, who along with his wife, Sandra, own and race a number of desirable historic sports car. “But it was one of those stories of the owner who always said he was going to restore it. But he never did.”
Lots of enthusiasts knew about the little Alfa coupe, probably for as long as 35 years. When new it was sent by the factory to a Northport, New York–based team run by Lou Comito, otherwise known as Mr. Alfa. Actually, the factory sent three Alfas to be campaigned at the 1961 Sebring 12-Hour race by Mr. Alfa’s team.
“He juiced up the motors with hotter camshafts,” said McNeil. “They really produced some decent horsepower. If you wanted to race an Alfa, you couldn’t leave the 1290cc engine alone if you wanted to go fast.”
And go fast they did. Driver of a sister Alfa SZ in the 1961 Sebring race was Tommy O’Brien. He told McNeil more recently that “It was the fastest car at Sebring.” Actually, it wasn’t the fastest car, but with drivers Harry Theodoracopulos and Comito, the No. 57 Alfa finished 39th out of a 64-car field that included more powerful cars like Ferraris, Corvettes, and Porsches.
After Sebring, the car was sold to Lazy Vizelli, who continued to race it for five or six more years. In the early 1970s, the Alfa was sold to Ray Cuomo of Long Island before being sold to Ed Williamson of Brooklyn.
“Williamson knew it had a trick motor in it, so he bought it and pulled the motor out to put in his Veloce Spider race car, which he ran in the early VSCCA races for a number of years,” said McNeil.
After changing hands a few more times—to owners in Tennessee, Massachusetts, and back to New York—the rare little coupe was purchased by Frank Salemi of Connecticut. Salemi was a member of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, and he intended to restore the car. But it sat. Eventually, McNeil began thinking about buying an SZ coupe after another Alfa was involved in an on-track altercation.
“I’ve always wanted a Z,” he said. “We were racing an Alfa Sprint coupe at the time, and we got into a fender bender. So that’s when I decided to look for an SZ.”
Through his crew chief at KTR Racing in Massachusetts, Andy Funk, McNeil heard about an SZ that was somewhere in Connecticut. He started a search for Sameli, who by then had moved to the Baltimore area, which complicated the search.
McNeil put the word out among his Alfa buddies that he was looking for an SZ that had vanished, when one day he got a phone call from an enthusiast from Baltimore. “He told me he knew of a coupe that was sitting in a chicken coop,” said McNeil. “But he also said it wasn’t for sale, that the owner was going to restore it.
“Well it was the same car I had been trying to find in Connecticut, but the leads had all dried up. It was obvious, though, that after owning the car from 1973 until 2000, if he didn’t restore the car in that time, he wasn’t going to restore it.”
He called Salemi and told him he was a serious buyer. “I had to convince Salemi that we were the right people to own and restore that car,” he said. He was successful and was offered the car.
“He sold it to us pretty inexpensively, but we had to invest a lot into it,” he said. “It wasn’t as nice as it had appeared. You could almost stand on the ground while inside the car; it was that bad.”
KTR Crew Chief and General Manager Funk agrees. “It was clear that the car had been wrapped around a tree at some point in its life,” he said. “It wasn’t straight at all. It was loaded with Bondo, probably from a quickie restoration done sometime in the 1960s. It had shiny paint, but once we stripped it off, there wasn’t much left.”
Funk and his crew took more than two years to restore the tired race car into the condition it was when it first entered Sebring 40 years earlier.
Since then, with Sandra McNeil driving, the car has competed in vintage races at Lime Rock, Connecticut, and at the 2009 Goodwood Revival in England. The McNeils are pleased with the newest addition to their race car collection. “They’re not furniture, we like to use our cars,” said McNeil.
Even Funk, who got many bloody knuckles while restoring the coupe, has warm feelings about the car. “It’s a neat little car now,” he said. “We brought it back from the dead.”
Tue Jun 11 2013 00:38:26 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
“American roads have created perpetual motion, an automotive perpetuum mobile.”
That statement may not seem at all startling to you. At least not until you learn that it was written not last week but way back in 1935, decades before the Interstate highways paved the way through and around cities and from coast to coast and border to border -- and seemingly across much of the area in between.
The words were written by two writers from the Soviet Union who spent two months driving from coast to coast and back again in a Ford sedan they bought just for the trip. The writers were Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, and they were accompanied on the route by a retired engineer who had moved from Latvia to the United States and by the engineer’s American-born but Russian-speaking wife. It is the wife who is believed to have actually been the one who did the driving, first from New York to San Francisco by way of Chicago, Hannibal, Missouri (Mark Twain’s hometown), Kansas City, the Texas panhandle and the Grand Canyon, and then from San Francisco down the California coast to Los Angeles and back through El Paso, the Gulf Coast and up the Atlantic seaboard to New York, where they caught to ship back to Europe and Mother Russia.
Oh, and frequently there was a fifth person in the Ford as they picked up a succession of hitchhikers.
Upon returning to the Soviet Union, the tandem published a series of 12 magazine articles about the trip. Decades later, those articles were reprinted, along with photos they took as they traveled, in Ilf and Petrov’s American Road Trip: The 1935 Travelogue of Two Soviet Writers, published in 2007 by Cabinet Books and the Princeton Architectural Press.
Though they were hugely popular in their native country, I’d never heard of the writers or their American road trip until a long-time and now Facebook friend recently posted his delight in rediscovering his copy of the book. Curious, I went to and found a copy for myself.
If you’re read much of what I’ve written, you know I like road trips -- doing them and reading about them. I was an eager passenger to ride along with Ilf and Petrov and to see my country through they’re eyes, and words, and to see what had changed and what had not.
Here’s one thing that had changed: “The great American service...” (Their italics, not mine.)
“...without ever leaving his car, the traveler can get the necessary quantity of gasoline at the gas stations that line American highways by the thousands,” we read
"The tank has been filled. The traveler can now go confidently on his way. However, the gentleman in the striped cap and leather bow-tie doesn’t let him go. The great American service begins. The man from the gas station lifts the car’s hood and checks the oil and water levels... Then the air pressure in the tires... cleans the car windshield...”
And, they note, all this service is provided for free. (Again, their italics.)
But now, in this more progressive and advanced age, we have self-service, well, except for New Jersey and Oregon, and I was just in New Jersey and while state law requires a service station employee to pump your gas, the one who pumped mine showed no inclination to cleaning the windshield, let alone checking oil and water levels or tire pressures. But sometimes change is progressive. For example, no longer do we, like Ilf and Petrov, have to add a quart of oil every 1,000 miles we drive.
What were some other things that impressed the tourists? Well, what they termed the “nauseating” fact that one movie star earned more than ten top American scientists; that we had “the most advanced technology in the world and a horrifyingly oppressive, stupefying social order” that didn’t seem at all bothered by “shameful” poverty’ that while there was no longer slavery in America, neither was there equality of races; and that in America, “it doesn’t matter how you make your money, as long as you make some.”
They were appalled by the omnipresence of advertising: “An American doesn’t have to think about anything,” they wrote. “Big business thinks for him.” And when Americans do think, they learned, they tend to think primarily, if not only, about themselves: Hitchhikers they picked up, they wrote, were “talkative, self-assured, and incurious,” quite happy to talk only about themselves while never asking about “who we were.”
And yet there was an American trait they envied, even though they were here during the depths of the Depression. That trait -- the American spirit of optimism.
“Just thinking about the general state of affairs in the United States is enough to make you fall into a deep melancholy,” the visitors wrote, but the American sees “no dark cloud in his consciousness. Quite the opposite: he’s completely free from any shadow of worry... he’ll get by somehow.”
But I wonder: Would the visitors see the same spirit of optimism today?
Tue Jun 11 2013 00:43:24 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
I shot this more than 40 years ago: Frank Musico's record-setting Motion- Minicar-built Wampuskitty racecar with full body panels, muffler, radical VW stroker engine and license plates in front of the Plaza Hotel, NYC, GM Building in background. Waiting to pick me up for wild drive on Fifth Ave, terrorizing taxi cabs and pedestrians, for story in CARS. That's Frank standing in background. They were the great old days! Image courtesy Martyn Schorr.
Mon Mar 11 2013 13:06:36 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Set the Scene
Yardage of fabric and a few extra-long bamboo garden stakes make a low-cost canopy that creates ambience, covers the food, and provides shelter from the sun. Use tent stakes to make holes in the ground, stick the bamboo into the holes, then drape the fabric over the top of the poles and secure it with twine. If your car has a luggage rack,
Sat Dec 15 2012 02:53:13 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
The "Sting Ray" bike from the 1960s turned neighborhoods upside down with their rebellious look wild colors. The long banana seat, sissy bar, and stingray handlebars were a far cry from the conventional Raleigh Sports or Schwinn.
Thu Dec 13 2012 03:13:56 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Lincoln Motor Company Dec. 2013 advertisement, perfectly choreographed with just the right touch of retro. From the company: "Introducing the Lincoln Motor Company, celebrating ninety years of doing what we've always done, which is doing what others aren't. Honoring the vision of our past, the all-new 2013 MKZ is our latest testament to innovation and excellence in design. The new road starts here."
Fri Nov 09 2012 01:59:59 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
A return to the annual car show of the Northern Ohio Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America. Featured cars include a 1932 Franklin Airman, a 1928 REO Wolverine, a 1948 Nash Ambassador and a 1911 Mercedes 50 HP.