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Friday
Apr282017

Cobra vs. Corvette

By William G. Sawyer, Editor at Large

All photos © Legendary Motorcar Company, 2017

The intense focus on Carroll Shelby’s rivalry with Enzo Ferrari often takes attention away from his role in the century-old feud between Ford and Chevrolet. At the time Ferrari’s annual production numbered in the hundreds, and in today’s baffling politically-correct atmosphere, Ford’s aggression against the much smaller Italian team might be termed bullying. The war between Ford and Chevy was a better match, although one could argue that Chevy fought with one arm tied behind its back due to upper management’s stubborn adherence to the Automobile Manufacturers Association’s (AMA) racing ban.

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Friday
Apr072017

Almost Ferraris

By William G. Sawyer, Editor at Large

Ferraris are the undisputed kings of performance cars. They’re the cars people lust after, and the ones many enthusiasts buy once their bank balance can survive having the check clear. Many attempts have been made to knock the marque off its pedestal. Some of them came from unlikely competitors (e.g. Acura NSX) or from those looking to infuse Italian style with American power (e.g. De Tomaso Pantera) for a more reasonable price. Today, we look at a few of these “almost Ferraris” starting off with one built by Ferrari itself.

1972 Dino 246 GTS, Serial Number 03916

© 2017 Ferraris-online.comIf you look hard enough you’ll still find Tifosi who claim the Dino 246 isn’t a Ferrari, and they’re right. Dino was a standalone nameplate, created as a (relatively) low cost competitor for the Porsche 911. The Dino 246 GT and 246 GTS were powered by a 2.4 liter, 195 hp engine with roots that go back to the power plant in Brit Mike Hawthorne’s 1958 World Championship winning Ferrari. Reportedly the brainchild of Alfredo (Dino) Ferrari, Il Commendatore’s only legitimate son who died of muscular dystrophy at age 24, the engine, in 2.0-liter form, went on to power the gorgeous Dino 206 SP sports racers before being productionized and put into service in the Fiat Dino and our subject car.

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Friday
Mar102017

Wanna Buy a Duck?

By William G. Sawyer, Editor at Large

All photos © 2017 RM Sotheby’s

We present two new additions to the Virtual Collection. One is an obscure Italian luxury brand owned and driven by a number of entertainment personalities, while the other is a British racer that finished 3rd in its manufacturer’s legendary 1-2-3-4 finish in the 1929 Le Mans 24 Hour race. Both cars are featured lots in this week’s RM Sotheby’s auction on Amelia Island. And the headline? Read on.

1933 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Dual Cowl Sports Tourer

Italy is renowned for building spectacular sports cars, but there once was an Italian manufacturer that attempted to rival Rolls Royce in the luxury arena. Cesare Isotta and the Fraschini brothers — Vincenzo, Antonio, and Oreste — started out importing and assembling French cars for sale in Italy. After dipping their toes in the automotive pond they introduced their own brand of high-powered vehicles. True to their Italian roots racing beckoned and Isotta proved its mettle by winning the 1908 Targa Florio. Just over a decade later, the brand moved upscale with the Type 8, a luxury car renowned as the first automobile with a straight eight engine.

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Friday
Feb242017

Stalking the Vanquished

By William G. Sawyer, Editor at Large

© Autosport DesignsThe potential for appreciation is often the last consideration in choosing cars for the Virtual Collection. We fall for vehicles that make our hearts flutter and cause our right foot to itch in a way that can only be satisfied by pressing the accelerator to the floor. True collectors with actual dollars as opposed to our virtual cash buy for any number of reasons. Often they gravitate toward cars that graced their bedroom walls in high school, or they buy to impress, leaving their investment in a climate controlled garage, never to be seen on the road again.

Predicting future classics is dicey business, but that doesn’t stop Hagerty’s Insurance, various auto journals, or rabid market followers like myself from selecting future winners. In this issue we look at three examples of a car many believe is about to see its value skyrocket, The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. It’s a controversial choice for anyone who worships at the altar of Jeremy Clarkson. The TV host, who has more than a passing resemblance to the Paddington Bear dolls that made his parents wealthy, singlehandedly cast a black mark on the soul of our feature car when he declared the transmission unlivable. Values stagnated as a result, although there is ample evidence that a change is taking place, especially in Europe.

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Friday
Feb102017

Power Struggle

By William G. Sawyer, Editor at Large

© Motorcar ClassicsEver since Henry Ford popularized the V8 engine in 1932 it’s been the power plant of choice for everyone from bank robbers to teens drag racing on Woodward Avenue, and professional racers. Once Chevrolet introduced their 265 cubic inch small block engine in 1955 the floodgates opened and the American V8 took its place as the undisputed master of inexpensive but explosive power in a variety of applications. Sadly, 100 million+ small block Chevys later, some say the V8’s heyday is over. Despite valiant efforts by Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler to keep V8s at the head of the class they’re being eclipsed by smaller, direct and port injected, multi-cam turbo motors that produce less pollution and higher mileage on the EPA test cycle, if not always in actual driving conditions. This week the Virtual Collection welcomes two new additions, one an example of a Chevy V8 powered racer from the halcyon days of the original Can-Am Series, the other Ford’s attempt to convince legions of V8 enthusiasts that a move to smaller displacement doesn’t preclude the performance they love. For comic relief we conclude with a look at a V8 powered monstrosity that never should have seen the light of day, and will never grace the halls of our simulated museum.

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