Saturday, February 27, 2010

1963 AC Cobra

I must confess I have a soft spot for AC Cobra's especially when they look like the one above. This is a very beautiful car with a great history. It was auctioned off last year but was passed in at US$790,000. WOW! Wouldn't you like to be the guy that discovered this in your granddads shed. I don't think anyone did by the way. Bit of editorial license there.

The AC Cobra and Carroll Shelby helped Ford take on Ferrari and beat them where it hurt, Le Mans in 1964. Light with a 340hp 289 V8 it still took quite a bit of work to get the AC Cobra ready for it's biggest challenge because it had to be homologated International Competition. So in went a rollcage, on went a roof, new windscreen, safety equipment and a lot of suspension work. The suspension work made the biggest difference though because these things could really motor and the standard ones were a real handful.

These days I think cars are going for big money if they have a story, like this one. I can't see the point of having a cool car you dreamed about owning and then not driving it like it was designed for. You would be hard pressed to find an original AC Cobra now but the licensed built ones are great and probably a lot lighter on the pocket. A beautiful car that really show the“Cavallino Rampante” boys a thing or two.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

BMW 700 LS Luxus Coupe

How cool is this example of beautiful motoring? And I don't just mean the model behind the wheel. Although in my opinion models like her did add a bit of class to car shoots. Elegant and beautiful you can see them behind the wheel of a car like this.

It has been said this car the BMW 700 LS Luxus Coupe is the car that saved BMW. Things weren't going that great and they had to come up with something cool, that worked and didn't have a door at the front. See Isetta or BMW 600.

So starting fresh with the chassis but keeping the same flat twin, now up to 700cc, this is what they came up with. And isn't it beautiful. What is really interesting is that Wolfgang Denzel, the guy who built the Denzel, designed the body for BMW. He was at this time the BMW importer in Vienna. Small world. The concept was then developed inhouse at BMW into a coupe (above) and two door saloon.

The unveiling of the BMW 700 was met with a standing ovation - how many cars would receive one of those these days. A beautiful looking car with a top speed of 78mph and 47mpg it was a winner and the start of great things for BMW.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1958 Tornado Typhoon Sportsbrake Sport Wagon

With probably the longest name in automotive history the 'Sportsbrake' is one very cool looking car. It looks like the love child of a Reliant Scimitar and a Jaguar XKSS to me.

Tornado were a British outfit that built cars in the 50's, and up until 1964, when they stopped producing cars and became a successful body shop. Their cars had very cool names like; Typhoon, Tempest, Thunderbolt and of course Sportbrake. They were an early version of todays kit cars by being available fully built or as a kit and had a fibreglass body. They were a bit rough by some standards but with a 1172cc side valved flat head from a Ford 10, and basic mechanicals, they were easy to work on. The '10' stood for 10hp however the Ford 10 could really be modified to produce some decent horsepower. You will find lots of British 'Specials' from this era used the Ford 10 motor as a base and it was definitely good as proven by their race results.

Reading about Tornado I discovered that everyone who worked there was a racer and it showed in the chassis. Handling is said to have been great, stopping not so good. Beautiful reminder of simpler times when you could work on your own car.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

1958 DKW Monza

The DKW Monza is a very beautiful car. As you can see from the four rings logo on the front it has an association with Audi. This is because the Monza was built on a Auto Union DKW base that was covered in a glass-fiber reinforced polyester coupe body. Lightweight, 780kg's, and quite small the Monza was quite fast and even set five records at the Monza Circuit in 1956.

Power is via a 900cc three cylinder with a massive 40hp. With this the Monza could do 87mph flat out. In fairness a modern golf cart would probably accelerate faster but the golf cart wouldn't sound like this. Excellent.

The shame about this car is that in 1957 Audi produced a competitor car and so wouldn't provide the chassis needed to keep the Monza in production. No one seems to have a handle on how many of these cool cars were built but here's a link to pics of a racing one. Check out the engine bay of the silver car in the second row. Beautiful.

Friday, February 19, 2010

1989 Honda Civic Vtec hatch

As mentioned a couple of posts ago I have owned a few Honda Civic's. This is another one of them; the 1989 Honda Civic Vtec hatch. Loved this car. Not actually this car because my one was a very cool Honda Green that looked black until you got close.

The owner of this car, Adam Nguyen of Huntington Beach, CA, loved them so much too he built the perfect JDM spec Civic from his old thrashed college car. Things like the DOHC VTEC stickers he put on when most would take them off, the Mugen wheels, suspension and engine work have all been done to create a slick and fast car. Not over the top, just enough to put a huge smile on his face.

This is a beautiful example of an EF Civic and if you have one in your garage read the article for some inspiration. 

Photo credit:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

1957 Ferrari 250 California

I like the look of the 1957 California. It backs up my theory that Ferrari made beautiful cars for years and then lost the plot for the last 30 before they had Pininfarina design the 468 Italia.

We have John Von Neumann, the California Ferrari represenative, to thank for the 250 California LWB. He felt sure there was a market for an open topped Berlinetta because of the great weather on the West Coast. Designed by Pininfarina, with the bodies built by Scaglietti in either aluminium or steel with aluminium doors, boot and bonnet, there were only 106 of these made. With a 240hp V12 and a top speed of almost 160mph it's great Ferrari chose to put disc brakes on the later cars.

These Ferrari's are one of the most valuable cars on the planet fetching millions of dollars if and when they come up for sale. Beautiful cars from a great era and I think this it looks great in this setting.

Let me know what you think of it on our Facebook page:

Photo credit: Ferrari

Monday, February 15, 2010

1964 Lotus 30 Mk1 Group 7 Sports Racer

The first thing I noticed about the Lotus 30 was the exhaust sticking out the back of the car. I just had to know more. Known for it's beautiful fibreglass body and chassis design the Lotus 30 was said to be faster than Formula One cars of the time and a lot more dangerous to drive due to poor weight distribution and aerodynamics. Lifting the nose at speed would definitely put the wind up you. Jim Clark managed to pick up a few wins but it wasn't that successful.

Lotus used a 4.7 litre Ford V8 developing 350bhp, up to 360bhp with fuel injection, to power the 1500lb beast: giving it an estimated 200mph top speed. Quite phenomenal in 1963 Sports Car racing.

33 Lotus 30's were produced and the best story I have found so far is one was registered for the road in the 1970's. Imagine being on the road in something as scarey and as unsafe as this? Yep, I got a smile thinking about that too.

Beautiful cars with a great history.

Photo credit:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

1986 Honda Civic Si Hatch

Honda Civics are one of my favourite cars. Actually they are my favourite because I have owned six of them. Three of them were 1986 hatches like this one, one was a 1988 Si hatch, one a 1989 Vtec hatch and the last a 1992 Si hatch. You can see a common thread here I'm sure. Fast, light, great handling cars that don't cost a lot to run.

The Honda Civic gave me my only car claim to fame in NZ. Back in the mid 90's I turboed the first Honda in New Zealand. At the time I was driving one for a work wagon and building a 13B powered Datsun 1600SSS. When I sold the Datsun I turned my attention to my Honda and did the usual things to it: airfilter, exhaust, lightened flywheel, paddle clutch, suspension, etc. But turboing got my attention after reading some US and Japanese magazines. I purchased a book and got to learning because no one knew anything about turboing Honda's and a lot thought it was a waste of time. Well after I got it going, and only running 7psi boost, a lot of people changed their minds. Generally when I was wheel spinning past them in 3rd or 4th gear.

I think these Honda's are future classics and I hope to one day have all the models I like. In the meantime I will feature them for your enjoyment. Let me know if you have ever driven a Honda Civic on our Facebook page -

Photo credit:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

1956 Jaguar XKSS Le Mans

As far as beautiful cars go early Jaguar's are almost always on sexiest top 10 car lists. This one however is more special than most because it is an actual Le Mans race car lightly modified to drive on the road. The D Type Jag won Le Mans three years running and to put them on the road all Jaguar did was; fit a passenger door and seat, make a canvas top to keep out the weather, install a windshield, remove the huge vertical rear fin, replace the head lights, and the cherry on top, add a bit of chrome.

The motor is a 3.5 litre straight six with triple Webers that was good for 250hp and able to push the XKSS up to 185mph on Mulsanne Straight and 150mph with Steve McQueen et al on the road. You can hear the motors potential in the video below. Steve added a lot of points and lost his license in his XKSS proving even stars can't get off all their tickets. A beautiful, winning car from a great time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

TVR Sagaris

The Sagaris is another ridiculous car from TVR and I love it. Not all of it though because the exhaust leave me scratching my head. Why are they sticking out the sides of the rear bumper? Oh it's a TVR. That's ok then.

The first TVR I ever saw was a Tuscan that now been turned into a Super GT racecar. Check it out here. Amazing car.

Back to the beautiful Sagaris. For the first time Clarkson says TVR have built a car that handles. They did that by hiring the guy who worked on the Noble. This means all of the 380hp from the 4.0 litre V8 goes where it's supposed to and will get you to 60mph in 3.7 seconds and onto a top speed of 160mph. Personally after watching the bonnet jump around and listen to the rattles I'm not sure I would want to push it that hard but it would get me through the back roads of Auckland very quickly.

Watch the Top Gear test here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

1973 Nsu Trapeze

The beautiful NSU Trapeze looks like a car from Logan's Run. Gregory Harrison or Michael Yorke would have looked pretty cool behind the wheel with their heroines.

Designed by Bertone the Trapeze was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show and was interesting because it was designed around the centrally mounted NSU RO80 motor. This made the seating arrangement quite different to a standard layout because the rear seats were behind and to the side of the front seats. Meant to give better passive safety for the driver and better visibility for the passengers the staggered layout gave the car its name, Trapeze.

The Trapeze contributed quite a bit to automotive safety with the bumper that runs around the whole car being used by other manufacturers. NSU is still spiritually in business today after being taken over by Volkswagen and merged with Auto Union into Audi. Imagine a rotary powered Audi .... cool.
Some good info at

Photo credit

Friday, February 5, 2010

Abarth 205 Vignale Berlinetta

Abarth is one of my favourite tuners and this car makes up a big part of it's history being one of the first cars badged as an Abarth after Carlo Abarth left Cisitalia. The cars were tube framed and had an 1089cc four cylinder that with a bespoke Abarth exhaust and twin Webers produced 83bhp. Like most car manufacturers of the day the engines were sourced from Fiat.

It's great that all three of the 205's have survived and this photo of chassis number 205102 was taken at the 2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Brilliant to see this beautiful car being raced and not stored away. I'm a bit disappointed the current owner 'rectified' the previous owner famous Swiss racer Helmut Fischer's modifications. Fischer modified the nose, fitted the car with an Alfa Romeo 1300cc engine, changed the interior and painted the car Green. With the success it had in that configuration, the history and the patina it would have had it would be a cooler car left as it was. 

Photo credit Wouter Melisse.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wiesmann GT MF-5

This is a Weismann GT MF-5. It has been described as "The perfect Roadster" by European Car Maagazine and talked about as the sportscar the Brits should have built by many others. Of course it's German and because it is the MF-5 handles perfectly and goes like a cut cat.

I love this car. It embodies the idea of 'beautiful motoring' perfectly and with Wiesmann producing only 350 cars per year it keeps them rarer and more exclusive than a Lamborghini.

Powered by BMW's mighty 5.0 litre V10 the 1,380kg car has 507hp on tap. Excellent! Top speed is 193mph and you get to 60mph in just under 4 seconds but it's the corners where this will come into it's own. And that is where it would be so much fun. Plus imagine pulling up next to or passing a Porsche or Ferrari in it. Magic.

Beautiful car. Here's a google image search for you so you can drool over more great pictures.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jaguar XJ13

The Jaguar XJ13 is a beautiful looking car. Every bit a sexy Jag and as a one-off worth every penny it's valued at, about US$27million at last guesstimate. Unfortunately this great car is very rarely seen but in 2008 it came out of it's museum in Coventry to take part in the Bradford Classic.

Built in 1966 at the time Jag was merging with BMC it took so long to get built it was obsolete by the time it was finished. It showed some potential in 1971 by breaking the Mira lap record with Norman Dewis at the wheel. Unfortunately he crashed several laps later and almost destroyed the car. A company owner saw the car in storage and rebuilt it for Jaguar, from the original jigs, into the car you see today.

With a 502hp 5.0 litre mid-mounted V12, in a car that weighs less than a mid 80's budget Toyota Corolla, the car is meant to be remarkably easy to drive. Jag were very on to it when they built their Le Mans racing cars. They very early on realised it was the drivers that generally wore out before the cars and so made them easy to drive. This meant the driver was less likely to get tired and make a mistake. Excellent idea.

How I know it's easy to drive is that Andrew Frankl from the Times got to drive it in 2006. He said the noise was incredible and I'm hoping I can have the same pleasure one day as it is still driveable.