Alfa Romeo Car Show (AKA Alfas at the Autry)

Alfas are fun, sunny, great sports cars, coupes and sedans with lots of Italian style that are fun to drive with lots of style and smiles per mile.  Plus of course they have great design and motorsport history to enjoy too.

Alfas are fun, sunny, great sports cars, coupes and sedans with lots of Italian style that are fun to drive with lots of style and smiles per mile. Plus of course they have great design and motorsport history to enjoy too.

I’m embarrassed to have to admit to you that this wonderful little club concours took place last fall, and I just kept overlooking the photos in my “To Post” file. So for that, I apologize.

But no matter, I thought you’d still want to see the photos of these great cars. And great photos of great cars, thanks to my shooter man Kirk Gerbracht.

Our mutual friend Jeff is the car show chairman for the local Alfa Club region, and he does a great job wearing this hat. They do several shows per year, some are standalone events, others are “shows within shows” but this particular day was a solo flight, held in the parking lot at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum. The museum, at the time, was also home to an interesting Route 66 heritage exhibit, which visually depicted the history of the “Mother Road” and the motorized movement west.

I won’t bore you with a class by class recalling of all the cars and what awards they won, and who took home the hardware. Because it’s my guess you just want to see the goods. So…here goes, and again my apology to Jeff, to this club and to these enthusiastic car owners for this slothful delay.

I might as well start at the top, for me personally anyway.  Without question my favorite car at this show was this elegant and flawless black over red Touring bodied 2000 Spider.  This owner often doesn't like to participate in judging, which is good for the other contestants, because this car is so authentically and crisply restored and presented, it would sweep up major trophy hardware at any show, anywhere.  An expensive car these days, and worth every lire.

I might as well start at the top, for me personally anyway. Without question my favorite car at this show was this elegant and flawless black over red Touring bodied 2000 Spider. This owner often doesn’t like to participate in judging, which is good for the other contestants, because this car is so authentically and crisply restored and presented, it would sweep up major trophy hardware at any show, anywhere. An expensive car these days, and worth every lire.

 

I mentioned pal Jeff, and this is his '74 Spider, a joy to drive and also detailed to show winning quality and originality.  Love this car a bunch, as does its legitimately proud owner.

I mentioned pal Jeff, and this is his ’74 Spider, a joy to drive and also detailed to show winning quality and originality.  Love this car a bunch, as does its legitimately proud owner.

 

The other yellow Alfa Spider at this show was this eye popping machine.  Although its oversized aftermarket wheels and tires aren't my personal taste, this car is eyecatching, immaculate, and no doubt a blast to pedal.

The other yellow Alfa Spider at this show was this eye popping machine. Although its oversized aftermarket wheels and tires aren’t my personal taste, this car is eyecatching, immaculate, and no doubt a blast to pedal.

 

I never tire of these fabulous Giulia and Giuletta spiders; elegant, perfectly proportioned, and great fun to drive.  The definition of La Dolce Vita.  Wish I had a little of this sweet life in my garage.

I never tire of these fabulous Giulia and Giuletta spiders; elegant, perfectly proportioned, and great fun to drive. The definition of La Dolce Vita.  Wish I had a little of this sweet life in my garage.

 

One of the cool things about this event is that Jeff makes room for a "run what ya brung" class so anything goes.  This handsome Jaguar belongs photographer Gerbracht, the Silver Benz roadster just to its right is my own SL500 and you can also see Jeff's aforementioned Yellow Spider just over the Jag's hood.

One of the cool things about this event is that Jeff makes room for a “run what ya brung” class so anything goes. This handsome Jaguar belongs photographer Gerbracht, the Silver Benz roadster just to its right is my own SL500 and you can also see Jeff’s aforementioned Yellow Spider just over the Jag’s hood.

 

A great trio of run what you brung, Italian style.  This being a Maserati Quattroporte, a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and a Fiat 500.  More Dolce Vita la-la-la-la-la-la!

A great trio of run what you brung, Italian style. This being a Maserati Quattroporte, a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and a Fiat 500. More Dolce Vita la-la-la-la-la-la!

 

Something for every Alfa fan here and what's not to like...

Something for every Alfa fan here and what’s not to like…

 

Another favorite on my personal "if I ever buy an Alfa" is the seiminal GTV.  Another Giugiaro while at Bertone masterpiece the GTV is  ideally proportioned, comfy, and a blast to drive.  Yum.  This one is a '67 single headlight model with the "stepped" hood, a very desirable combo.  More Yum.

Another favorite on my personal “if I ever buy an Alfa” is the seiminal GTV.  Another Giugiaro-while-at-Bertone masterpiece, the GTV is ideally proportioned, comfy, and a blast to drive. With a heavy duty racing resume.Yum. This one is a ’67 single headlight model with the “stepped” hood, a very desirable combo. More Yum.

 

You may be recalling that classic era GTVs run four cylinder power of varying sizes, and they do, but this one no longer does.  This Alfa V-6 looks like it grew there, can't be much heavier than the stock four, and certainly spruces up the GTV's weight to power ratio.  Not for everyone, but cool, and well done.

You may be recalling that classic era GTVs run four cylinder power of varying sizes, and they do, but this one no longer does. This Alfa V-6 looks like it grew there, can’t be much heavier than the stock four, and certainly spruces up the GTV’s weight to power ratio. Not for everyone, but cool, and well done.

 

I'll apologize only once and just a little for showing you another photo of the Touring 2000 Spider.  This car really sings to me, and looks perfect on steel wheels with hubcaps; who needs them fancy alloy mags anyway?  Its a little larger than the tidy Giulia and Giulietta models, and a little heavier, so perhaps not as nippy to drive, but still a true sporting gran turismo that I wish was mine.

I’ll apologize only once and just a little for showing you another photo of the Touring 2000 Spider. This car really sings to me, and looks perfect on steel wheels with hubcaps; who needs them fancy alloy mags anyway? Its a little larger than the tidy Giulia and Giulietta models, and a little heavier, so perhaps not as nippy to drive, but still a true sporting gran turismo that I wish was mine.

Driven: Chrysler 200C V-6

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By now you’ve seen Chrysler’s “America’s Import” ad campaign for the Chrysler 200 sedan. It’s pretty clever stuff, leaning on big name talent icons such as Eminem and Bob Dylan. And it also plucks our heartstrings for Detroit; America’s long ago designated Motor City. The idea behind the ads is that American companies and workers can build cars entirely competitive with imported brands. Which is true. We can and often have. The subscript is that the 200 should be on your shopping list against the usual German, Korean, and Japanese models that dominate the premium mid-size sedan marketplace. Which it should.

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Even though there’s a bit of the 200’s chassis architecture and “black metal” beneath the skin that is shared with Alfa Romeo sedans, remember that Chrysler and Alfa are all children under Fiat ownership these days. And Alfas are pretty darn good cars (yes, imports) so what’s the harm. Anything you can see and touch is exclusive to this car, or at least to modern day Chryslers. The 200 replaced the outgoing Sebring and Avenger models a few years back and with this generation it’s offered only as a four-door sedan; any previous coupes, and (Hawaii’s favorite rental car) Sebring convertibles are no longer produced.

19-inch rolling stock looked great and promoted sharp handling, but isn't exactly cheap.

19-inch rolling stock looked great and promoted sharp handling, but isn’t exactly cheap.

My Billet Silver Metallic Clearcoat tester was loaded to the gills with every luxury and technology option you can get; enough to push its $25,995 base up to $34,415. This car had the heavy duty safety and “customer preferred equipment” packages, premium lighting group, 19-inch alloy wheels, and the V-6 engine / 9-speed automatic transmission powertrain. Loaded loaded.

Its hard to compete with the appeal of the "Alien Peace Patrol" cruiser at the Alien Beef Jerky HQ in Baker California, but the 200 acquitted itself handsomely.

Its hard to compete with the appeal of the “Alien Peace Patrol” cruiser at the Alien Beef Jerky HQ in Baker California, but the 200 acquitted itself handsomely.

And for all that it was a damn nice car. The design and styling are whistle-slick, really handsome, and nicely detailed. Parked next to my wife’s KIA Optima Hybrid, the two looked like siblings, if not at least close cousins. No bad thing, but the body envelopes are very similar. Chrysler has for a long time taken stick over cheap and cheesy interiors, but this cabin was finished as well as any Mercedes-Benz or Lexus with high quality materials, high tech instrumentation, clean crisp switchgear, superb seats, and squeak-and-rattle free assembly. The Alpine 9-speaker plus subwoofer is one outstanding stereo, with all of the connectivity stuff you want. And the GPS nav system is one of the smartest and easiest to use navs I’ve ever experienced in an automobile. It gave lots of information on a superb screen and was super easy to use and program. Not sure if it is Garmin sourced or who makes it, but it was nigh to perfect in operation.

Nice motor is Chrysler's 305 horse V-6.  Many other cars would be happy to have this engine.

Nice motor is Chrysler’s 305 horse V-6. Many other cars would be happy to have this engine.

The powertrain proved equally outstanding. Chrysler’s 3.6-liter V-6 has always been a nice engine, but in this application, it burbles through lusty sounding dual exhausts, has lots of low end torque, and really revs easily and smoothly; a thoroughbred powerplant to be sure; much more lively feeling that Lexus’s similarly sized V-6. I was at first skeptical of the 9-speed trans, which on the surface seems like far more gear ratios than anyone needs. Is this just a way to game the EPA mileage test? Which, on this car, is 19 City, 32 Highway, 23 combined. Market competitive, but not exceptional. I’d read some other roadtests where the trans was criticized for hunting a lot up and down the gears, but I didn’t notice it here. Sure it shifted a lot accelerating hard up through the gears, but once settled, seemed fine and very smooth, only shifting down when extra power was needed or when facing hills. And it is also particularly responsive, quick to shift up or down when so commanded by the steering wheel mounted paddles.
The 200 C’s suspension is tuned fairly taught, for solid, almost Germanic handling, with quick, crisp response to steering wheel inputs; you’d expect that with 19-inch, low profile rolling stock, but not even these great tires and wheels could overcome a sloppy suspension, which this car doesn’t have. Yet there was no measurable ride penalty either; the car quiet and smooth even over less than outstanding road surfaces.

Handsome, high quality stuff in here.

Handsome, high quality stuff in here.

It’s roomy and comfy front seats or back, and the trunk is large and flat floored too. A great road trip car, which is what I did with it. Vegas, baby…

Chrysler 200C sticker
I couldn’t find much not to like, as this car looks great, inside and out, and does everything well. The price struck me as a little strong, although the content was certainly present and accounted for. The base price wasn’t bad, but it seems like every option was at least a thousand dollars, and the V-6 cost you an extra two grand. Plus there’s no hybrid, electric or diesel model offered so forget hypermiling if that’s your taste. No matter a very American car that absolutely can compete with similarly equipped and priced imports, no matter where they come from.

One of the many things I love about driving through the desert, all the crazy crap you just wouldn't see anywhere else.  And the Jerky here is wonderful.

One of the many things I love about driving through the desert, all the crazy crap you just wouldn’t see anywhere else. And the Jerky here is wonderful.

ExoticBarnFinds final cover art

I’ve spent many hours daydreaming about why car people are so jazzed up over finding a dusty old car abandoned in a barn or garage.
Is it an update or automotive incarnation of the buried treasure fantasy? Or a spin on the notion of nostalgia? Or maybe some people automatically think they can prize that “unwanted old junker” away from a less than knowledgeable owner and sell it and make a ton of money on the deal. Or one’s inner “This Old House” gene that makes us want to adopt a neglected old thing (car, dog, house, spouse, whatever) and nurse it back to health and beauty. Now back to the buried treasure mentality; to find something valuable that nobody else knew about, dig it up, and cash in? I asked my friend Corky Coker, who owns a variety of businesses that serve the collector and classic car marketplace, and hosts a television show about barnfinding cars (charmingly named “Backroad Gold,”) what he felt drove the phenom. He replied that it’s a “giant mix of all those factors with a heap of human nature thrown in.”

I agree.

This notion is nothing new; the hope of finding that Bugatti in a barn or the forlorn Ferrari in a field has been the fantasy of car enthusiasts for decades, but it certainly has become exponentially more popular in the last dozen or so years. Perhaps it’s the growing popularity of buying and selling cars at collector and classic car auctions (often on live television), where the buyer and seller groups are larger and more diverse. The internet certainly keeps the barnfind jungle drums humming. Another reason is likely the growing appreciation for unrestored cars, originality and the “patina” of use and enjoyment – although as you’ll see, too many barnfinds have been abused and neglected far beyond the notion of patina; many have degraded to “parts car” status, or are in genuine need of a comprehensive physical and cosmetic restoration. No matter, it’s the thrill of the hunt for many. And perhaps it’s all analogous to the notion of so many of us rooting around in Antique shops and at garage sales.

I’ve come to think of “barnfind” as metaphor for a car lost and found, as not every great hidden find comes directly and literally out of a barn, and I hope you’ll go along with me on this. But if the piece wasn’t somehow lost, salted away, vanished and then reborn into the world, it’s not a barnfind. Many cars have been lost; the idea here to me means cars that have been lost (or hidden) and found.

In as much as I’ve invested so many brain hours into this entire notion, I’ve now written a book about it.

Exotic Barn Finds will be available this fall, to be published by CarTech Books. In order to set my piece apart from the already many great barn find books out there, I’ve elected to stick with primarily “exotic” marques and models. My other goal being to avoid stories of just “another nice old car” in other words, not that I have anything against them, but you won’t find any ’47 Plymouths in this volume.

I apologize that this all sounds like an unabashed plug for my next book, as it kind of is. However, I’m guessing that visit  this site, you like fabulous old cars, and the stories that surround them being lost and found, plus hundreds of great photos of same, so I hope you’ll allow me license to use this space to clue you in to this upcoming project about topics we both love. Exotic Barn Finds will be available publisher-direct at www.cartechbooks.com or you can pre-order now at www.Amazon.com. I hope you check it out and I further hope you enjoy it. Thanks for listening.

Making friends with Steve McQueen to help out a lot of great kids

Each year's show commemorates one of McQueen's car or bike related films, this time out it was the outstanding On Any Sunday, dedicated to the phenom of motorcycle racing.

Each year’s show commemorates one of McQueen’s car or bike related films, this time out it was the outstanding On Any Sunday, dedicated to the phenom of motorcycle racing.

It’s hard for me to believe that the Friends of Steve McQueen Car Show has been running for eight years now; I remember the first one, which was little more than a Porsche 356 club gathering, but it raised nearly $10,000 for the Boys Republic Schools; This fine institution, with its primary campus in Chino Hills, California, was founded in 1907 as a place to put wayward boys (and now girls too) onto good paths in life. Steve McCool lived and schooled there as a young teen, and later credited Boys Republic for “saving his life.” He often went back to the school to meet and speak with, and inspire, the kids that drugs and crime is no way to live, in fact its a great way to die. The school has remained the McQueen family’s pet charity, and they take an active role in supporting the school, and putting on one helluva car show. Its grown in size, stature, and quality over these last several years, putting around 300 great cars and motorcycles on the school grounds during a weekend festival that celebrates everything Steve.

In as much as Steve was a big Porsche fan, owner, and racer, and the show is co-sponsored by a Porsche club and dealer, it's no surprise that there are a lot of Porsches in this field...and some damn fabulous ones at that.

In as much as Steve was a big Porsche fan, owner, and racer, and the show is co-sponsored by a Porsche club and dealer, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of Porsches in this field…and some damn fabulous ones at that.

I’ve been involved with the show since its beginnings, and will continue to be. This year I strong armed several friends into putting their cars in the show, along with my own, and attending and supporting the cause. Which they did and for which I’m appreciative. The show’s main goal this year was to surpass the $1,000,000 mark in terms of fund raising, which the show did handily. The money is used to remodel the school’s physical plants and facilities and to buy much needed teaching and farming equipment.

This roundish and most fabulous Hudson Wasp coupe was one of three Hudsons that Steve McQueen owned over time, now in the Petersen Automotive Museum's Los Angeles based collection

This roundish and most fabulous Hudson Wasp coupe was one of three Hudsons that Steve McQueen owned over time, now in the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Los Angeles based collection

The quality and variety of cars, trucks, vintage travel trailers, and bikes this year was inspiring. Its not Pebble Beach, very much a run what you brung kind of event, yet that didn’t keep many legit, ex Steve McQueen cars and bikes from showing, as well as many true show quality cars.

Like Bikes?  The FOSMQ show was packed with them, a lot of great off roaders and vintage two wheelers this year, logical given the "On Any Sunday" theme

Like Bikes? The FOSMQ show was packed with them, a lot of great off roaders and vintage two wheelers this year, logical given the “On Any Sunday” theme

These great Kirk Gerbracht photos (please scroll all the way to the bottom not to miss any) tell the story better than I can with words, so please enjoy the sights of the Friends of Steve McQueen Show, 2015, and mark your calendar for next June, 2016, attend or even enter your car. Learn more at www.boysrepublic.com

One of the coolest aspects of this show is that the BR metal and wood shop students make all the trophies out of used car parts -- nice!

One of the coolest aspects of this show is that the BR metal and wood shop students make all the trophies out of used car parts — nice!

 

One of the school's hillsides was sculpted into a pretty serious motocross style track, and many of these exhibition riders were catching serious air.

One of the school’s hillsides was sculpted into a pretty serious motocross style track, and many of these exhibition riders were catching serious air.

 

It wouldn't be a  McQueen show without rows of Highland Green Metallic Bullitt Mustangs on hand, and this year there were many and plenty.

It wouldn’t be a McQueen show without rows of Highland Green Metallic Bullitt Mustangs on hand, and this year there were many and plenty.

 

The yellow thing is my friend Jeff's 1974 Alfa Romeo Spyder, and the tall thing standing next to it is my friend Jeff.

The yellow thing is my friend Jeff’s 1974 Alfa Romeo Spyder, and the tall thing standing next to it is my friend Jeff.

 

Tall friend Jeff accepting the "Best Italian" trophy for his winning '74 Alfa Spyder.  Chad McQueen is seen far right, and as Steve's only son, is co-chairman of the event, and helps hand out all the awards.

Tall friend Jeff accepting the “Best Italian” trophy for his winning ’74 Alfa Spyder. Chad McQueen is seen far right, and as Steve’s only son, is co-chairman of the event, and helps hand out all the awards.

 

Photographer Gerbracht's Jag...

Photographer Gerbracht’s Jag…

 

 

and my own SL500, just to prove that we were really there...

and my own SL500, just to prove that we were really there…

 

A perfect lineup of Husky history

A perfect lineup of Husky history

 

 

Well attended awards presentation.

Well attended awards presentation.

 

This Husqvarna tank is signed by two of On Any Sunday's three great stars, the incomparable Malcolm Smith and awesome dirt track bike racer Mert Lawill.

This Husqvarna tank is signed by two of On Any Sunday’s three great stars, the incomparable Malcolm Smith and awesome dirt track bike racer Mert Lawill.

This is a great place doing great things for great kids.  Come and support the show next year and you'll enjoy yourself, I promise...

This is a great place doing great things for great kids. Come and support the show next year and you’ll enjoy yourself, I promise…

 

 

Third Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show Celebrating the Spirit of 1965

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Kirk Gerbracht photos

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Carroll Shelby passed away in May of 2013. So every spring, the Carroll Shelby Foundation, Shelby American, and all the other related Shelby companies and entities mark the occasion – but don’t you dare call this fabulous event, hosted at the historic Shelby Los Angeles facility in Gardena, California, a memorial. It’s a tribute, and a worthy one at that.
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The property is significant because for many years it was the home of Shelby’s Goodyear Racing Tire Distributorship warehouse and is still home base for the DenBeste owned Carroll Shelby Engine Company. It also houses the Shelby Foundation, International, and Licensing offices, and a giant garage full of Carroll’s own personal collection, and is the site of the planned Carroll Shelby Museum. Fortunately, the parking lot is large and will hold hundreds of cars, so it’s the obvious place to hold any car show or tribute event in Carroll’s honor.
Since this event is now in its third year, you might be thinking that it would be much the same as the two previous editions: a parking lot full of Shelby Mustangs and a picnic ground full of chili. Not so. In order to spice up the 2015 rendition with some new steps, the Shelby folks made two significant upgrades, that being to throw open the buildings’ doors and let the assembled crowd of car owners, media and enthusiasts see what’s actually behind Oz’s curtain, and to introduce a new car to the media and public at the same time. In as much as 1965 represents the birth of the original Shelby GT350, these cars were showcased inside the warehouse building. Ditto for big block Cobras. Several of Carroll’s own cars were also on display, including his automatic trans-equipped 289 Cobra and several Mustangs.

Carroll Shelby's first race car, this charming British Racing Green MG proudly on display inside the Shelby Los Angeles warehouse, is now owned by the Shelby family

Carroll Shelby’s first race car, this charming British Racing Green MG proudly on display inside the Shelby Los Angeles warehouse, is now owned by the Shelby family

An important piece of Carroll’s history as a racing driver was also on show inside, that being the British Racing Green 1949 MG-TC that is the first car that Shelby raced as a driver. And even though it was his first race, in a car he didn’t know, he won. Of course he won! It is heartwarming to mention that the Shelby family has since purchased this car, now likely to remain in Shelby hands forever as an important heirloom in remembrance of Carroll.

Legendary Shelby designer Peter Brock, The Shelby Foundation Exec Director Jenni Shreeves, Carroll's grandson Aaron Shelby, Shelby exec Neil Cummings, and also Shelby exec Tracey Smith

Legendary Shelby designer Peter Brock, The Shelby Foundation Exec Director Jenni Shreeves, Carroll’s grandson Aaron Shelby, Shelby exec Neil Cummings, and also Shelby exec Tracey Smith

Lots of people important to the Shelby story, past and present were also on hand. Several former Shelby American employees, such as designer Peter Brock and driver Alan Grant, were there, as was Carroll’s grandson Aaron Shelby.

Aaron Shelby

Aaron Shelby

Aaron is the son of Carroll’s son Patrick, and is today a successful banker in Texas. Even though Aaron has no day to day hand or position in running Shelby American, he’s taken a very participatory interest in the present and future of the Shelby companies and brand. The role he appears to be taking is somewhat similar to that of Edsel Ford II, within the Ford family and company hierarchy, as that of a company and brand ambassador. It’s a role that Mr. Ford appears to relish, and he represents his forbears admirably. Aaron Shelby does much the same: he’s tall, handsome, and warmly outgoing, happy to chat about the cars, the company and his famous grandfather, equally willing to sign autographs and pose for selfies. A genuinely nice man who understands who he is and what his famous name represents in autodom, and is more than willing to share it. We compliment him on all of that.
Every time we visited the Gardena warehouses, we’d see a long row of unused 427 Cobra frames; clearly new and previously unbuilt, not rusty but coated with the patina of unpainted metal that’s sat inside untouched for decades. Every time, we’d think “hmmm…sure be fun to get one of those and build it up.” It turns out that they were awaiting the right time and a plan. Shelby has decided now is the time and they have a plan. In its own announcement, here’s how you can buy one:

From Left, Neil Cummings, Bob DenBeste, Peter Brock, Aaron Shelby and the new 427 Cobra Homologation special race car

From Left, Neil Cummings, Bob DenBeste, Peter Brock, Aaron Shelby and the new 427 Cobra Homologation special race car

CARROLL SHELBY TRUST TO COMPLETE UNBUILT
427 SHELBY COBRA COMPETITION CHASSIS RACE CARS
LOS ANGELES – May 12, 2015 – Fifty years after the 427 Shelby Cobra was first introduced, the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust will complete and offer to the public the remaining original Competition Chassis race cars that were started in 1965. Built faithfully to the original specifications, the roadsters will be sold as race cars, just as Carroll Shelby intended when he launched the car in 1965.
“The Shelby 427 Cobra is the most iconic car in post-war history,” said Neil Cummings, co-Trustee of the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust. “Shelby American didn’t complete the mandatory 100 units in time to race for the FIA World Championship in 1966. This was because Henry Ford II (“Henry the Deuce”) wanted Carroll to drop what he was doing and take over Ford’s GT-40 race program. Carroll famously replied ‘Ferrari’s ass is mine’, which it was, with the Shelby-led team promptly winning Le Mans and three straight FIA World Championships in the hallowed “Prototype” racing class. Carroll put the 427 S/C program on hold after building 53 of the original 100 homologation cars. The 50 year anniversary of the big block Cobra seemed an appropriate time to finish the last of the Cobras.”
Each authentic 427 S/C Shelby Cobra comes with the CSX VIN and badge number originally assigned in 1965, as well as an “MSO” and “Title” document signed by Carroll Shelby himself. As a pure race car, this vehicle cannot be registered for use on the streets. But, each car will be specially registered and have a unique place in the Shelby American World Registry, not to mention American muscle car history.
The Shelby 427 S/C indeed has a fascinating history. From 1962-1964, Shelby American dominated racetracks worldwide with its powerful, diminutive 289 Cobra, leading to the now internationally famous Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, which won the FIA World Manufacturers’ Championship in 1965. This is the first, and to this day only, time an American car has won the World Championship on European soil. Then rumors swirled that GM was readying a new big block Corvette and Ferrari was said to be building a more powerful car to outrun the Shelby.
“Carroll simply couldn’t and wouldn’t let the competition overtake him, especially Ferrari” said Joe Conway, co-Trustee of Shelby’s Trust. “The Ford small block engines had reached their limit for power and the leaf spring suspension could not handle additional stress given the 289 Cobra’s paltry weight, making it lighter wasn’t an option. Ever looking forward to “the next car,” Carroll and his Shelby American team designed an entirely new Cobra. It was bigger and faster, but at the same time maintained the unique, classic features of all the Cobras.”
Shelby American and Ford Motor Company together designed an entirely new coil spring suspension and a stronger frame to accommodate more power. At Ford’s behest, Shelby fitted the 427 NASCAR based engine into the model. In January 1965, the CSX3000 series Cobra was unveiled at Riverside Raceway.
The first 100 cars were designated to be competition versions so that the car could compete in FIA races, ergo the “S/C” designation appearing after “427.” Only 53 were completed before Henry Ford II made his special request of Carroll to take on Ferrari in the “Prototype” class. This, in reality, marked the end of the Shelby Cobra builds…998 in all. Until now!
Carroll Shelby began the sacred task of completing the “Remaining 43” in 1988 when he hired the legendary restorer Mike McCluskey, who began the painstaking job of making the tooling, jigs and fixtures necessary to build these vintage cars true to their original specifications.
Carroll completed and sold five of the 427 S/C Cobras for $500,000 each between 1990 and 1992. Then AC Cars foolishly tried to claim the Cobra and its heritage by spreading false rumors about Carroll and Shelby American in automotive publications and newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. Shelby brought suit to establish not only his rights, but also to compel this English company, once and for all, to acknowledge America’s and Shelby’s place as the “Manufacturer of Record” of all the original 260, 289 and 427 Cobras (998 in all), and the ones responsible for the Shelby Cobra’s incredible racing successes. The litigation with AC Cars went on for years. But, ultimately, Shelby prevailed on all fronts, and the owner of AC Cars signed a written statement (published worldwide) acknowledging the truth that Shelby was the “creator,” “Manufacturer of Record” and racing guru for all of the Cobras.
“After we forced AC Cars to admit that the Cobra was purely Carroll’s vision and all Cobras were built by, or under license to Shelby American, Shelby contemplated restarting production,” said Cummings. “But, he was already busy building continuation component Cobras and moving his operations to Las Vegas. Carroll told me he wanted to suspend the 427 Cobra Competition Chassis program until after his passing so he could focus on other projects involving new model year vehicles.”
In 2014, the Carroll Shelby Trust followed Carroll’s wishes and undertook the job of gradually finishing the remainder of the 427 S/C Cobras.
Each competition chassis Cobra features a spectacular aluminum body clad in a customer’s choice of color and with a black interior. The engines will be period correct and supplied by the Carroll Shelby Engine Company, which is owned and operated by Bill DenBeste. Each will be fitted with an original cast-iron Ford side oiler 427 block, forged internals and correct medium riser cylinder heads. The engine will be dressed with period correct parts including an Aviaid oil pan, sandcast Cobra valve covers, medium riser intake, Le Mans carburetor and turkey pan air box.
All of that power will run through a blueprinted 4-speed correct gearbox. The Shelby features the original style swept forward shifter, horn button, Raydyot mirrors and Lucas headlights to add to the overall aesthetic authenticity. It comes with a MSO listing it as a 1965 Cobra signed by the late Carroll Shelby for ownership purposes.
A portion of the sale from each 427 Shelby Cobra Competition series car will be donated to help construction of the “Shelby Automotive Museum” in Los Angeles, California, which is now in the design and build stage. This tax exempt 501(9)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation was created by Carroll Shelby to celebrate American racing heritage, including Mr. Shelby’s contributions to that history.
Those interested in one of the only remaining Competition Chassis Shelby 427 Cobra can contact the Carroll Hall Shelby Trust at (310) 327-5072.

More tribute photos below

Lots of yum in the sun

Lots of yum in the sun

 

GT350s took pride of place inside the buildings to enjoy their 50th birthday

GT350s took pride of place inside the buildings to enjoy their 50th birthday

 

The best and most venomous got a special room inside the warehouse

The best and most venomous got a special room inside the warehouse

 

Like it or not, not every interesting piece of the Carroll Shelby legacy was born with a Ford engine

Like it or not, not every interesting piece of the Carroll Shelby legacy was born with a Ford engine

 

Several of these were Carroll's personal cars...Highland Green Metallic '68 coupe is NOT the original Green Hornet prototype, but a clever and handsome copy

Several of these were Carroll’s personal cars…Highland Green Metallic ’68 coupe is NOT the original Green Hornet prototype, but a clever and handsome copy

 

New Ford built GT350 (front) and Shelby American converted Shelby GT (red) had crowds around them all day

New Ford built GT350 (front) and Shelby American converted Shelby GT (red) had crowds around them all day

 

$17.95 a day, unlimited burnouts!  Where do I sign?

$17.95 a day, unlimited burnouts! Where do I sign?

 

 

Auctions America returns to California, July 17 – 18, 2015

Several top flight Porsches, plus a few Top Gun Ferraris, will highlight Auctions America's debut visit to Barker Hanger in Santa Monica next month.  See you there...

Several top flight Porsches, plus a few Top Gun Ferraris, will highlight Auctions America’s debut visit to Barker Hanger in Santa Monica next month. See you there…

Auctions America’s most recent California sales have been at a hotel in Burbank. Nothing wrong with that, but now the company has changed to a more exciting and romantic venue and moved its dates up so as not to be so close to all of the Monterey Car Week action. They recently brought a few of the upcoming sale’s lots to the new locale, Santa Monica Airport’s historic Barker Hanger, so I went for a look and a few drives. Here’s a few photos from that preview visit, plus Auctions America’s own announcement and details of the the sale. It’ll be a great gig, not too big but very select in terms of quality cars. I’ll see you there — MS

Porsches, Jags, Ferraris, Shelby Mustangs -- my kinda stuff.  Yum

Porsches, Jags, Ferraris, Shelby Mustangs — my kinda stuff. Yum

Moving to an exciting new venue in 2015 – Santa Monica’s historic Barker Hangar – the multi-day auction is set to build on the company’s strong sales run in Southern California. The event will also move to new dates in 2015 (mid-July), spacing out the busy summer collector car calendar.

I drove this unblemished, low mile, '98 993 Carrera S coupe: great colors, aero kit, perfect service history, and you can buy it at Barker next month.  And you should if only to keep me away from it.

I drove this unblemished, low mile, ’98 993 Carrera S coupe: great colors, aero kit, perfect service history, and you can buy it at Barker next month. And you should if only to keep me away from it.

 

Magical words and letters and they can be yours, as I wish they were mine.  This car drives like absolute new; just broken in but feels fresh and ready in every way

Magical words and letters and they can be yours, as I wish they were mine. This car drives like absolute new; just broken in but feels fresh and ready in every way

Since 2013, Auctions America has enjoyed a successful entrance into the notoriously difficult Southern California collector car auction market, posting record results at each of its events to date. The company’s debut sale in 2013 made waves in the collector car hobby, proving that with the right vehicles and the right team, Southern California can host a successful collector car auction. The Auctions America team replicated the success in 2014, generating $17.5 million in sales – a result which bested the company’s 2013 performance in all categories. The upcoming July 17-18 auction is set to continue the momentum, lifting the gavel on a handpicked collection of 300 quality vehicles. As in past years, the sale promises an eclectic mix of automobiles representative of diverse Southern California tastes: European and American sports cars, prewar classics, hot rods and customs.

The Barker Hangar is an ideal new venue for Auctions America’s California sale. Host to some of Southern California’s most exclusive events, it is one of the largest and most versatile event spaces in the Los Angeles-area and is ideally situated just a few short miles to the beach and close to major freeways as well as the Los Angeles International Airport.

visit WWW.auctionsamerica.com for the schedule and details.

Denise McCluggage, 1927-2015

That's Denise on the left in  her trademark polkadotted helmet.  A golden spirit who raced during the golden age.

That’s Denise on the left in her trademark polkadotted helmet. A golden spirit who raced during the golden age.

By know you may have heard that Denise McCluggage passed away last week at 88. I knew her for many years, and pretty well. Among many other things, she was a superlative racing driver, competitive skier, and sports and automotive journalist. I won’t recount her entire bio here, as that’s been done now a dozen other places; for a well written piece about her life and career, I suggest you check out this feature from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/sports/autoracing/denise-mccluggage-auto-racing-pacesetter-dies-at-88.html?emc=eta1&_r=0 — which I’m honored to be quoted in. Denise broke down, or worked around, so many barriers, as a woman in professional sports. If you think back to the 1950s, I’ll bet you can’t name too many pro level female sports car racers that ran at Sebring, Watkins Glen and so forth. She raced during the golden age with so many of the golden drivers: Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, the Rodriquez brothers, Richie Ginther, Masten Gregory, and Dan Gurney were among her friends and competitive rivals. She was very close friends with Sir Stirling Moss, and another significant lady racer named Isabelle Haskell DeTomaso (yes, she American wife of racer and car builder Allessandro).

Denise and fellow female drive "Pinkie" Rollo drove this Ferrari 275 NART Spyder to a credible 17th overall and 3rd in the GT class at Sebring in 1967; the same car, repainted a bronzy brown, was later on the cover of Road & Track, and appeared in the original "Thomas Crown Affair" as Faye Dunaway's character's ride...nice.  John Clinard photo

Denise and fellow female driver “Pinkie” Rollo drove this Ferrari 275 NART Spyder to a credible 17th overall and 3rd in the GT class at Sebring in 1967; the same car, repainted a bronzy brown, was later on the cover of Road & Track, and appeared in the original “Thomas Crown Affair” as Faye Dunaway’s character’s ride…nice. John Clinard photo

As a newspaper reporter, she was more than challenged simply trying to do her job, because in many sports, women weren’t allowed in the pressbox. She told me one time that she was assigned to cover the baseball playoffs, and had to buy tickets like any other fan, and had to interview the players by talking to them through the fence. She had similar challenges at the Indy 500 as women weren’t allowed in the pits — imagine that, a woman who had an international racing license, with more than enough talent and experience to run in the damn race, not being allowed proper access to cover it for a newspaper.

Denise drove countless great cars in her life, and seemed to relish them all. She was also among the leaders that launched the Sante Fe (New Mexico) Concours d’Elegance because she lived in that wonderful town and wanted to share its beauty, history, and tranquility with others. Denise and I many times judged together at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.  She was friends with Steve McQueen and dated jazz great Miles Davis, and is a textbook example of a large life, lived large.

My favorite Denise story tells you a lot about her ability as a driver, even well into her seventh decade. I went to the media ride and drive launch program put on by Mazda for the updated MX-5 Miata that came along in the mid-1980s. At the end of the day, after the marketing and technical presentations, lunch, and a long on road drive, Mazda hosted a casual autocross for the attending journalists. Many of the guys there are great drivers; young testosterone-addled bucks who could really pedal. Everyone thought the battle lines would be drawn between rival magazine writers: the Motor Trend guys vs. the Road & Track editors vs. Popular Mechancs and Car and Driver, etc. Guess who beat us all: the short, slightly portly older lady with the gray hair. Most of Miatas just attacked the cones, with engines revving and tires squealing. But not Denise; she drove through that gymkhana course with no more drama than if she were at the mall looking for a parking spot; smooth as glass and not putting the tail out once. Like the great Sir Jackie Stewart says: Smooth Is Fast.

If you’d like to further enjoy Denise’s talent for writing and passion for cars, pick up her book called “By Brooks too Broad for Leaping,” an enjoyable compendium of her AutoWeek magazine columns. It gives you a glimpse into her greatness. I will miss her brains, talent, humility, big smile, warm greetings, and sense of humor, and it’s my honor to have known her as a friend.

Driven: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

When you see this badge, don't mess with this car, unless you've got something really husky underneath you.

When you see this badge, don’t mess with this car, unless you’ve got something really husky underneath you.

When I first saw the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG at an auto show, I knew it was a car I had to drive and evaluate as soon as possible. I immediately liked the CLA’s curvy styling, and was interested that Mercedes had again elected to offer a more value priced “entry level” model to attract younger buyers to the brand. Then add to that the full AMG spa treatment, least of all including a turbocharged, two-liter four spooled up to more than 350 horsepower. With that comes all the usual AMG suspension, interior, and rolling stock upgrades, plus 4Matic all-wheel drive and a 7-speed autoclutch gear box, and I’m in!

Some onlookers guessed that this was an E-Class AMG, an easy mistake to make given its big grille and muscled fenders.

Some onlookers guessed that this was an E-Class AMG, an easy mistake to make given its big grille and muscled fenders.

My handsome tester was finished in elegant metallic gray with a mostly black interior and really looked the business with enough cool exterior upgrades to distance it upwards from the base CLA models, plus a fabulously trimmed interior given seriously grippy and supportive sport seats, and all the expected infotainment toys. My initial concern was that such a small turbocharged engine would be all upper end power with no low end torque for punching the car away from lights and around town.

 

Super high tech, handbuilt two-liter I-4 turbo boils out 355 horse smoothly, yet still delivers reasonable fuel mileage for how fast it is.

Super high tech, handbuilt two-liter I-4 turbo boils out 355 horse smoothly, yet still delivers reasonable fuel mileage for how fast it is.

I needn’t have worried, because AMG’s engine boffins are better than that. It’s not a C7 Corvette off the line, but AMG has tuned in some low end turbo boost helping make plenty of low to mid-range torque. And once you get some revs on the tach, it’s good bye. Motor Trend got a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds, fast by any measure. And the dual-clutch 7-speed sequential manual gearbox is a great partner; there’s a ratio for every occasion, and you can really keep the engine on the boil in any situation. I enjoyed driving it “on the paddles” by using the manual shift mode and shifting myself, but the trans is plenty smart, so if you just leave it in Drive, and orchestrate the powertrain with nothing more than your right foot, you’ll be happy and fast.

Perfect wheel and tire combo for this car, and serious brakes.

Perfect wheel and tire combo for this car, and serious brakes.

18-inch performance wheels and tires don’t seem like anything so exotic today, but believe me are a perfect match for this size car. Turn in is near go-kart quick, with reasonable steering feel, high grip levels, and a generally neutral attitude with still comfortable yet firm ride quality. Another thing I really extra love about this car is a trait common to most AMG Mercedes, and that’s superlative high speed straight line stability; Punch up 120 on the speedo and this thing feels laser guided and like it’s bolted to rails.  All that autobahn breeding really shows.  Torquesteer from a high horse motor in a front-drive car? No worries, because standard in this AMG is 4Matic all-wheel drive, which can adjust and mix power delivery between the front and rear wheels in a seamless fashion, successfully quelling any notion of torquesteer. And this car has a wonderful exhaust rumble too; not too loud, but absolutely there, in a rich, bassy, exotic snarl, with a little bit of pop and burble on the overrun.

Excuse my bad for not straightening the steering wheel prior to snapping this pic.

Excuse my bad for not straightening the steering wheel prior to snapping this pic.

I won’t get too deep into all the infotainment details here, but all of the electronic wizardry inside works perfectly, with a great nav and Bluetooth functionality. The carbon fiber trim inside is real, and looks great and high tech. Build quality is first rate.
I found very little in this car not to like.

P1010407

The swoopy roofline compromises rear seating comfort just a bit for taller passengers, and of course: Speed costs money, so it ain’t cheap. The base MSRP is $47,450 and my tester bottom lined at $57,165, window sticker just below. There were a few price options you might choose to live without, but getting a nicely equipped CLA45 is still going to run you $55,000 just about no matter what. Not inexpensive, but the content, luxury, quality and performance are definitely present and accounted for. Those are decisions you need to make for yourself, but if the car appeals to you, I’d say you won’t be disappointed. With absolute respect to Mazda: Zoom Zoom.

CLA45 AMG sticker

Woodies in the Park show coming soon

Woodies_web-01

Some news from my friends at the Automobile Driving Museum that I thought you might enjoy….

(El Segundo, CA) The Automobile Driving Museum (ADM), a non-profit museum that preserves historic automobiles, is proud to present “Woodies in the Park” picnic and car show on Saturday, July 11th, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The ADM will be hosting some of the nicest wooden bodied station wagons here in the Southern California area. On display will be stock and modified versions of the “Woodie Wagons” built by Detroit from the earliest years up thru 1953. Inside the museum, a special exhibit of three unique Woodies that will be on display from July 3rd to July 19th, 2015.

If you are a proud owner of one of these cool cars or just a big fan, we urge you to attend! A BBQ of hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos will be available for purchase on the grounds of the museum. A beautiful picnic setting will be available for your comfort. Come cool off in our Ice Cream Station inside the museum or rock out with our Surf Band outside. It will make you feel like you are back in the golden years of Woodies, the 1960′s.

Car show pre-registration entry fee is $20 before July 1st, 2015, and $25 at the door for up to two guests. Check-in and set-up starts at 8 a.m. Limited parking of 80 cars. All registrants get an event dash plaque.

The ADM is proud to present this important segment of automotive history and a great summer beach day. Join us July 11th, 2015 for a special day of Woodies at the Automobile Driving Museum, 610 Lairport Street, El Segundo, CA 90245, www.theADM.org or 310-909-0950 for more information. Come see these fabulous vehicles and join us for a picnic and surf rock.

About the ADM:
The Automobile Driving Museum is a unique venue for auto enthusiasts. Not only is the museum filled with over 130 vintage, antique, and muscle cars; but is also the only museum that takes you for a ride in them. The ADM is conveniently located at 610 Lairport Street, just 1Ž2 mile south of LAX in beautiful El Segundo, CA. 90254. Admissions are a requested donation of $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for children (11-17) and 10 and under are free. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Mondays. The ADM is host to many events for families as well as auto enthusiasts and is a great location for weddings, birthday parties, and holiday parties. The museum offers guests the opportunity to see their cars up close. In addition, the museum offers guided tours on the weekends and rides in their cars on Sundays, weather permitting. For more information about the ADM, visit: www.theADM.org, Twitter @TheADMorg, and Facebook at /TheADMorg. Come take a ride you’ll never forget.