Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1965 Shelby Mustang Cobra GT

1965 Shelby Cobra GT Mustang

This is the Mustang I want to own. Same colours and wheels and if I can't get a real one, they are getting more expensive by the year, I will have to build a replica.

The GT350 is as pure a sports car as any British or German etc one. No frills, light weight, good handling (for the time) and lots of grunt. Plus it just looks beautiful.

Carroll Shelby did a wonderful job on these cars and in a recent interview with Jay Leno, watch the video here, he said that the '65 was the best for racing and that after '68 Mustangs were just road cars. Two heavy, too much stuff. Love the fact the GT350 was named by Shelby after weeks of to-ing and fro-ing with executives from Ford. He was in a meeting with them and he asked an employee to walk over the road to his other factory to see how far it was. He came an said it was 348 steps. Shelby said, "Fine we will call it the GT350. You can fly back to Detroit now."

Best Carroll Shelby quote; "A car makes a name. A name doesn't make a car." Brilliant!

Monday, March 29, 2010

1959 Ford Levacar

1959 Ford Levacar

Roaming through the interweb I saw a pic of the Ford Levacar and had to find out more. There wasn't a huge amount written about it but I did find some interesting info. Hopefully someone will know more.

The Levacar Mach 1 was unveiled in the Ford Rotunda at Ford HQ in 1959 and was a full size prototype. Which meant a person could sit in it but not much more. With an eye on the Jetsons the Levacar was designed as a one man flying car and was meant to be able to do 200mph. Some sites said 500mph but I think 200mph is nearer the speed it was designed for.

At the rotunda the Levacar levitated several inches off the ground powered by air jets tethered to the stand like a tether car. Ford planned to power the Levacar with a turbojet so maybe 500mph wasn't that far off for personal transport. Great thinking though and beautiful design.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

1971 HG Holden Belmont Ute

I want this ute! Beautiful motoring Holden style. I saw it on and it's owned by Andrew. Great story because the HG was brought back to life over six years and finally finished in November 2008. What's also cool is his mum brought it new in 1971 to drive her dogs to shows. I know my mum wouldn't have brought a ute in 1971. She did drive a Studebaker though. That's another story.

Back to the HG. Andrew has restored it back to stock along with the 14inch steel wheels and added in a great handmade grill. It adds a nice touch that would make it really stand out in a row of Aussie utes but keeps the stock look.

Under the hood though it's a different story because Andrew has fitted an 11sec package with a 450+hp 383ci V8 and Ford 9inch differential combo. He has another set of wheels for when he wants to flaunt the grunt a bit more.

What I also like about this car is the detail and that there is some cool touches under the hood like an aluminium cold air intake. It's worth taking a look at all the pics on his site and I'm going to keep an eye out for Andrew at car shows because it turns out he moved to New Zealand and is building some beautiful cars over here.

See pics of the build here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Robbie Francevic's Custaxie

I saw the Custaxie in the latest copy of New Zealand Classic Car and thought what an incredible car. The history is fantastic because this car changed motor racing in New Zealand. Designed by Robbie's mate Tony Kriletich it was built 'under' a house in Grey Lynn by Tony, Robbie and a lot of mates. Having a budget of zero meant the guys had to be very innovative and they came up with an almost unbeatable car. Especially with Robbie at the wheel.

The Custaxie came about after Robbie's dad refused to let him use the family 62 Ford Fairlane. He found a '55 Ford Customline and matched it with a borrowed 427ci Ford Galaxie competition motor from a speedboat.

A lot of the innovation was in the body, because the Customline had to go on a crash diet, and the suspension. Aluminium panels were used but the coolest thing was the front end. In the mid '60's fibreglass front ends were not the norm and so they had to find someone to make it. First they built a mould from chicken wire and plaster of paris and then found someone to make the front end. Something we could do easily these days was a nightmare for them.

The suspension is amazing with dual Koni's out the back and new axles and suspension links so they could get the widest rubber they could under the car. Amazing stuff and cutting edge technology. Then again with huge horsepower, around 500, getting the power to the ground is a priority if you want to go fast. This car is incredible and after years of being hacked around and forgotten has been rebuilt to it's former glory. If you get a chance to see it in action make sure you do and buy the latest New Zealand Classic Car for a great indepth article on a beautiful part of NZ racing history.

Photo Credit: Rikko40

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

1955 Chevrolet Corvette - The Duntov Test Mule EX-87

This beautiful car came up for sale in 2009 and generated a lot of interest because it was the first 'real' performance Corvette. The car had come up for sale after Daytona and racing legend Henry 'Smokey' Yunick's widow ringing a friend to say I have some stuff here you might want.

And some amazing 'stuff' it turned out to be. After a year of really going for it Steve Tate, with a small team of friends, rebuilt this great car.

It was 1955 when Zora Arkus Duntov at Chevrolet Engineering was handed the car to get ready for a high speed run. A year before the car had been used by the Chevrolet Chief Engineer Mauri Rose as a test 'mule' and so had an experimental V8 put in by Smokey. To get ready for the run Duntov had an experimental camshaft made. Engineering wasn't to keen on it but in December 1955 the car went 163mph helped by Duntov's new camshaft that gave the 307ci V8 275hp. This camshaft also became synonymous with Duntov as it helped the Corvette gain fuel injection.

He made modifications to the body that really make it stand out today. With a hat tip to Jaguar he made and fitted the fibreglass tailfin. I'm not sure if these tailfins actually worked, someone might know, but they look cool and gave the driver a good headrest and a bit more rollover protection. The other mods were the single windscreen, passenger side cover, and some lightening of the car.

After the run the motor was used in another Corvette that ran 150mph at Daytona Proving Grounds. An amazing feat by the standards of the day and it was these feats that made Corvette into the legend it is today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

1930 'Baby' Austin 7 Sports

I saw this Baby Austin on Trademe and it reminded me of one my dad used to tell me about. Baby Austin's are very small cars. Just over 6ft long and weigh around 600 kgs. Not considered the manliest of cars in America they were the equivalent of today's hot hatches and did very well in competition, especially with supercharged motors, because they were so light.

I've been told the racer built by a friend of dads, Ian Joynt, revved to 13,000 rpm like a motorcycle engine. Never having been in it I cannot say for sure how fast it goes but I'm assured very fast. Easily doing 100mph. Not sure how it held together at 13,000rom but it still runs to this day and has a beautifully hand built aluminum body.

A beautiful little car that saved Austin from going under the Baby Austin's are fantastic to see and hear run. Check out this barn find Austin here. Great story and I saw these pics on Flickr. Amazing. Love the Green Special. Pigsty Racing having been building fast Austin's for 30 years. Their website is

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mark III Ford Zephyr

I saw a beautiful example of a Mark III Zephyr today driven by a very proud man in his 50's with his wife in the passenger seat. Elbow out the window, cruising. The perfect car for the beautiful day in Auckland. Like the one above the car had the split grill denoting it was a Zephyr 6. I like the fins on the Mark III. A little bit behind the times in 1962 maybe but they look very cool.

Having put on a lot weight going from the Mark II the 98hp, 2.5 litre 6 didn't really have much of a chance. However, lot of racing drivers did very well with the Mark III by transplanting V8's into them.

I read this line in an article on the Independent, "... the Zephyr 6 was equipped with front folding armrest, invaluable for keeping the driver anchored." Brilliant! Read the article here.

If you have one of these parked in the garage it's a great time to get it out and start cruising. And if you want to buy on I saw this one, actually two, on Trademe here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

1980 Alfa Romeo GTV

I remember someone I knew having one of these. I'm certain it was a female and it was always breaking down with electrical faults. But when it went, it was great. Handled well and sounded so cool and different to the usual Japanese cars we all drove.

Styling by Giugiaro makes the GTV a beautiful looking car and it's excellent handling and great motor mean it's still a cool car today. The one above is a 1980 Alfetta 2000 GTV and this is the shape I remember.

There is a link to the previous Alfa 159 I posted directly to the 1980 GTV. The drivetrain configuration used in the GTV was first used in the 159 F1 car almost 30 years before. The gearbox, clutch, and differential are at the back to maximize weight distribution and this was the main reason the GTV handled so well. Rear suspension was a de Dion beam and the front was double wishbones and torsion bars. Very advanced even today. A beautiful car with a lot of attention to styling, power and handling that still rates today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

1951 Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 Alfetta

One of my driving hero's is Juan-Manuel Fangio. Fangio was the man for me. A great driver who won five Formula One championships and completely dominated Formula One in its early years. He drove beautiful, powerful cars with great finesse and is considered the greatest driver ever. Even by the great Michael Schumacher who took the title of most F1 championships of him, after 45 years, in 2003.

The 159 Alfetta above is the one he won hi 1951 World Driving Championship in and is an amazing looking car with a huge amount of horspower. 450hp in face from a dual supercharged 1.5 litre straight eight. I recommend you search Youtube for some video's of these at 9,500rpm, incredible. The 159 is one of the winningest cars ever built and by 1950 was a 12 year old design that Ferrari and Maserati were only just starting to catch.

Alfa Romeo have never done so well as they did with this car but they did it so well I don't think they really had to. Point proven. Beautiful motoring F1 style. It's so beautiful I had to include this pic of its insides. Fantastic.

Photo one credit: WebCars!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Subaru 360

I like the Subaru 360. It's very cool and as a retro ride it would be a great addition to any garage. Not the fastest, or the safest car, ever built it was the first car mass produced by Subaru and unleashed on the world. The 360 was built as a Kei car. A class of Japanese car that is still very much alive today with the current Subaru R2 taking it's design cues directly from the 360.

Powered by a 356cc two stroke motor producing 16hp when introduced, and 36hp by the end, the 360 was never going to be a great performer. But, it could do 66 miles to the gallon while carrying four passengers. Quite amazing. Of course being a two-stroke you had to mix oil with the fuel. Subaru's answer was the fuel cap was a measuring cup. Very cool.

The suicide doors really were 'suicide' doors with tests showing they could blow open at speed. That would have made life very interesting at 60mph. Beautiful motoring Japanese Kei style.

Photo credit:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ferrari 250 TR

This photo shows perfectly what beautiful motoring is. Stripped bare the Ferrari is maybe more beautiful than painted. The body is a work of art. The roll cage and the air intake gives you an inkling of power that will be hidden away when the car is completed.

The 250 TR was a very successful race car for Ferrari. The TR stands for Testa Rossa (Red head for the valve covers) and it is a name that has been put on only a few Ferrari's. All of which are outstanding.

Powered by a small, deceptively powerful 3.0 litre V12 the lightweight 250's were very fast. The motor alone weighed hundreds of pounds less than it's main competitors like the XK Jaguars and made 276hp. The most powerful thing about 250's though is how much they go for at auction. You won't get a lot of change from US$8 million if you buy one. One even went for just over US$12 million in May 2009.

If I owned this car I would be keen to leave the body bare for awhile, drive it on the odd occasion and have it as beautiful art in my garage.

P.S. Sorry I haven't been updating the blog as much as usual. Normal service resumes this week.

Photo credit:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

70's Toyota Celica

Why back in the early 90's a friend had one of these Toyota Celica's and he scared the heck out of us in it. One night passing a huge line of traffic between Renwick and Blenheim. With a blue printed motor, twin Webers, exhaust, a host of other mods and good suspension it did it with ease but it was still butt clenching stuff. A colleague at the time had a later model one, a GTT, with the twin spark plug head and a turbo. That made for an insane ride with lots of lag and then a huge force pushing you into the seat. Fun times in the RNZAF.

On Wikipedia it is written that the name Celica is ultimately derived from the Latin word coelica meaning "heavenly" or "celestial". I'm not convinced Toyota were channeling old Romans at the time but the early Celica's look fantastic. Maybe 'heavenly' could be used to describe them by a Celica nut.

Another beautiful car to add to my garage and a classic in the making because they started to get a bit ugly after this model. However Toyota redeemed themselves by winning the World Rally Championship with the GT4.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2008 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 500

You might be thinking, "What is an S-Class Merc doing on!" Well I had one over the weekend, this exact car in fact, for my wedding car.

I have never been in a car with so much technology on display. It's incredible what you can do and I was amazed at how easy and intuitive it all was to use. The main thing I wanted to try out was the night-vision and I got to try that on the way out to Piha. Awesome! My bride was a bit worried because I was looking at the screen instead of the road sometimes but I could actually see more in most cases because of the poor road lighting. I'm not sure how often you would use it in New Zealand but if it was belting down or your headlights were out it would be very useful.

For such a big powerful car I found it harder to drive fast than the Bentley Continental Flying Spur I drove recently and it dawned on me this is just a BIG cruiser. BIG being an important word here. The seats are 'spacious' and don't offer a heap of support. More like a comfy lounge chair. Which would be fantastic for long distances and larger people. I felt like I had a lot of room to move. Everything seemed far away for me and I felt smaller than my 5"11.

What was impressive though was the power delivery. Smooth and like a constant push in the back. Plenty to get you moving but not enough to be in awe of or scared of. Handling was interesting because it just got on with the job of going round corners and flattening any surface. Perfect except I couldn't work out anything nice to say about it. It just handled.

It is a beautiful car to look at. Impressive Mercedes stance, big wheels and sharp lines. My overall impression of it was of a heavy car. It felt heavy, it looks heavy and it's the type of car a heavy might drive or be chauffeured around in. Great car for eating the miles or hauling your family around.

Thanks to Lee at Independent Prestige for loaning it to me. If you want to buy this impressive caryou can view it on the Independent Prestige website.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Aston Martin Coal Scuttle

Who would name their first car Coal Scuttle? I would love to know what they were thinking. Apart from the interesting name the Coal Scuttle was the first production car from Aston Martin. It was ready to roll in 1915. The odd thing though is the second Coal Scuttle didn't appear until five years later. Perhaps they were busy winning the races that gave them their first name Aston. That is the hill climb events at Aston Hill. The second name Martin comes from Lionel Martin the racing driver who together with Robert Bamford started Aston Martin.

They had a great vision for their cars which I think is lived up to today. Aston Martins were to be, "A quality car of good performance and appearance: a car for the discerning owner driver with fast touring in mind, designed, developed, engineered and built as an individual.”

There isn't a lot of info I could find about this beautiful car. The ones that were built in the 1920's were incredibly successful and there is one 1922 Aston Martin still racing today. The history of Aston Martin makes for an interesting read and you can see why they are such awesome cars when they started out like this.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

1957 Fiat Stanguellini 1200 Spider

1957 Fiat Stanguellini 1200 Spider

Franco Scaglione designed some of the most beautiful cars ever conceived and this 1957 Stanguellini is no exception. Built by Bertone for the Turin Motor Show all I have found out so far is that the car first appeared at Turin, then Geneva in 1957, and went from there to the Buenas Aires Motor Show. It was shown a few more times and then put into storage. In 1995 though it was revived when it's current owner restored it. Fiat fits into picture having supplied on of it's famous 1200cc motors so popular in those days.

It's a great example of the style and aerodynamic thought put into cars at this time. The cut outs behind the front wheels and the wings are very cool however I'm sure it would look better with the top down. If you know anything about this car please email me or make a comment and I will update this post. Hopefully someone will know more about this classic and beautiful Italian.

Monday, March 1, 2010

1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia

I saw this 328 Mille Miglia on today and had to feature it because it's just so beautiful. The Mille Miglia has spawned many cars with the same moniker because it was such a demanding race. And if your car won, it was an amazing feat against both the other competitors, the course and the weather. This particular BMW 328 is making itself known because it's being auctioned off by RM Auctions. They seem to get all the beautiful and fantastically expensive car these days.

The 30's is one of my favourite periods of automotive history because so many of the cars looked this good and went very fast. Maybe a bit light on the handling and stopping but they looked great and sounded magnificent at speed. Not many cars do both these days.

Less than 500 328's were built. They all had tube frame chassis with a 2.0 litre inline six that boasted approximately 80hp. This racing one however has 140hp. Not a huge amount sure but when the car it's had to push only weighed 1830lbs it could do over 100mph. Why this particular 328 is so rare is because it was built to race in the 1940 Mille Miglia and the special lightweight body was welded to the tube frame. This created a lower center of gravity because the driver and engine could sit lower. It also has a great story. It was part of reparations after the war and was even driven from Russia to Germany after the fall of Communism. Great stories equal a lot more money and I expect this BMW to fetch a large price.

One thing I notice though is how there are design cues that have carried on to this day. The main one being the lines across the top of the guards. It's like BMW is looking backwards to create today's car and that can only be a good thing.

More photo's on