classic cars

classic cars

  Classic Cars news and reviews.

Posted on by TB +  

The question of where to take Lincoln ’s styling was top-of-mind for Ford during the mid 1950s, and the net it cast was to both the internal styling teams and one special dream car creator of Italy.

Turbulent times for all the Blue Oval brands followed the market flop of their Edsel series, and Chevrolet was lighting up newsprint and auto shows with their swanky Motorama events and the original Corvette concept of 1953.

The desire for miraculous styling direction and stunning concept cars led to all the non-GM American car brands to pair off with Italian styling houses. During this flurry of deals, Ghia signed up with Chrysler , Bertone for Packard and Carrozerria Touring with Hudson.

Lincoln went with a less-renowned name of Felice Paolo to dress a rolling chassis with bespoke coupe bodywork ahead of the Turin motor show. The orange lacquer paint was barely dry on the 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Exclusive Study by Carrozzeria Boano Torino when it was rolled onto the rotating platform of the Turin auto show.

This stunning concept car is headed for the glitz and flash bulbs again this November with RM Auctions, where the car’s previous million-dollar pricing is expected to climb in value yet again.

Click past the jump for all the unusual and one-off style of the 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Concept.

Posted on by TB +  

Tucked inside the wealthy enclave of Santa Barbara, California is one of the most awe-inspiring collections of pre-war French automobiles ever assembled anywhere on earth — even inside France.

Just a few hours south of Monterey and Pebble Beach , the Mullins Automotive Museum is almost as exclusive as the cars inside. And for good reason: dozens of the cars in the collection are priceless and completely unique.

The Mullins museum has dozens of Bugatti ’s, including the all-time most-valuable car ever: the Type 57 Atlantique . This is too easy and common, so we will focus on some of the more obscure pieces in its priceless collection.

There are highlights are every turn, but we’ve assembled some of the most influential and visually breathtaking cars here in a list of Top Ten Coach-Built French Imports - between 1930 and 1950.

This list could also have been called the "unpronounceables" because their names are quite complicated to say out loud. Doing so is a real treat, however, especially in the case of the all-star Hispano-Suiza H6C Xenia. This gorgeous coupe has some of the most otherworldly styling ever seen then or since.

Winner of Best in Show at Goodwood 2009, this Hispano-Suiza features sliding side doors, a rounded fuselage design, and bespoke luggage that looks like a million bucks.

Click past the jump for all ten of these stunners: including a number of Bugatti ’s, Avoins Voisin and the first hard-top cabrio: the 1938 Peugeot 402L Cabriolet Metallique Decouvrable.

Posted on by TB +  

The Ferrari F50 is by far the least popular of the firm’s first four generations of modern hypercars. All the world’s respect and awe for the F40 met the F50 at its debut, but the tide quickly turned for this $480,000 machine after reviewers and Ferrari customers alike revealed the F40 replacement’s familiar styling hid dynamics and a driver experience nowhere near the ferocity of the legendary original.

Instead of a peaky and violent Group B reject like the F40 , the F50 was a heavy, high-speed missile with limited tractability at low speeds from the V-12 versus the explosive F40’s twin turbochargers and short gearing.

Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with the performance of the F50, which easily spanked [the hottest thing available from Lamborghini at the time, the Diablo VT in sprint pace, as well as maximum velocity. The construction is carbon-fiber with the rigidity of a fortified bunker, the rear wing is eye-catching, and the 1990s makeover of the F40 ’s simple nose was beautiful, at first.

The F50 largely included the F40 ’s exaggerated and exotic proportions and clamshell hoods front and back. Headlamps above the bumper and hood’s leading edge were possible via shrouded enclosures for the first time in three decades, and the unadorned intake wears only a simple and modest prancing horse.

The F50 is an enjoyable case study for armchair experts and everyone else forced to endure Ferrari ’s frequent grandstanding. It also shows a few nice things for all supercar fans, especially those who are, unfortunately, not debating which Ferrari to purchase (at least not any time soon)!

Click past the jump for the full debrief of the Ferrari F50: the Ferrari’s hypercar sophomore album that is now a study in what *not* to do when replacing a legend.

Posted on by TB +  

Classic Vettes are on the upswing in values this year, with the $3.2 million earned by this 1967 L88 Sting Ray Convertible at Mecum’s Dallas auction the highest total yet for any example of America’s sports car .

Corvette collection can become an obsession thanks to the huge variety of models, special editions and racing derivatives over the model’s 60-year history. Just like a bag of chips: once you pop... you can’t stop collecting these iconic machines.

Valuations for these models are incredibly sensitive to the car’s history, rarity and restoration quality. Beauty and the driving experience take a back seat to the engine specification and matching serial numbers. As such, this investment-grade L88 convertible’s huge earning at auction is a bit confusing to outsiders.

Part of a giant Bobby Herin collection sold by Mecum Auctions, to an outsider’s eye there seem to be many more special and beautiful examples out there, including some from Mr. Herin’s garage as well.

But they provenance of this L88 convertible is beyond reproach, with all the required documentation, the fuel tank sticker, and the other minute details collectors look for when purchasing a car at these prices. The authenticity of the interior adds patina, as does the car’s NHRA drag racing championship, old drag racing time slips, and the painstakingly-recreated original Marlboro Maroon paintjob.

How cool is this L88? It was beyond a ZR1 upgrade in its day, and the color directly influenced the new 2014 Stringray Convertible’s launch color .

Click past the jump for the full review of the most valuable Corvette (and perhaps any American road car) ever sold at auction, this 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible.

Posted on by TB +  

As the Jaguar product renaissance continues full-steam ahead with the XQ-type crossover’s reveal, there is even more excitement back home with the debut of the Eagle Low Drag GT.

Sharing the lawn with dozens of other priceless exotics, the Eagle Low Drag GT applies the same priceless supercar restoration and upgrade that makes its Speedster such a showstopper.

Finished in gorgeous hand-polished aluminum for the panels and chassis, the Low Drag GT revives one of the most celebrated Jaguar racing concepts ever: a fastback E-type that was wider, more powerful and far more streamlined than any production Jaguar coupe from then or now.

The original E-type was many things during its prime, including a super-rapid, high-speed express that could reach huge top speeds for a fraction of the price of its competition from Italy.

For all this beauty and heritage that flows into the F-type today, the E-type was surprisingly never a truly successful racing machine or a good-looking two-seat coupe.

As Jaguar puts the final touches on the F-type Coupe ahead of its arrival this spring, the Eagle Low Drag GT is the perfect example of Jaguar fastback style.

With pricing likely to be in the seven digits and a total production run of perhaps five cars, the 2013 Eagle Low Drag GT writes a new chapter in the celebrated Jaguar E-type legacy.

Posted on by TB +  

When it comes to Mr. Snuggles (Kobe Bryant) and his West Coast Customs ’ 1963 Impala SS Convertible, it seems that having $100,000,000 in the bank will change a man’s taste in automobiles.

From this air-ride and 808-thumping beast, Kobe’s previous taste in cars was not quite as universally refreshing as his favorite brand of soda, which is Sprite, by the way. Painted a hideous purple/blue blend and with Cheech and Chong-style low-rider wheels: this nasty custom is really an L.A. special.

The 100-spoke, 13-inch wheels and the interior are reasonably well done, but watching the West Coast Customs ’ brain trust on cable TV does not inspire confidence in one inch of the engine mechanicals, handling, reliability, performance or value of this 1963 Impala SS.

This example is for sale at $100,000 even, with over 700 people watching the auction and dozens of offers already rejected. No word if West Coast Customs would do a barter deal for tutoring and (maybe!) get these artistic geniuses a GED certificate or two.

Click past the jump to take a fantastic voyage in Kobe’s baller Impala , which might even come with a grumpy meet/greet with Jesse James.

Posted on by TB +  

Ever the tornado of creativity and speed, Ferrari was quite a volatile company in the early 1960s. For every race Enzo won, it seems like the Old Man made a few enemies as well. The failed buyout from Ford and the epic “palace revolution” of management resulted in a brain drain at Maranello.

Competing hot-shot engineers would form nearly a dozen competing supercar marques, including: Lamborghini , De Tomaso , Iso , ATS, ASA and Bizzarrini .

Each led by a mastermind engineer, stylist, machinest or visionary, only Lamborghini’s brand was strong enough to make it to the 1970s and beyond. The Ferrari exodus left all these talented men with huge ideas, but less of a real concept of how to bring the car to market effectively and resolve development problems outside their specialized area of experience.

Giotto Bizzarrini worked with all of the above firms before eventually launching what would be his best-known model: the 1965 Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada Alloy supercar. With all the latest curves, a wide road graphic and a low roof: the Strada was a gorgeous hit right from the start.

Sharing the low nose and mid-engine stance of the Lamborghini Miura , the Strada is actually a front-engine coupe powered by a reliable and torque-rich 5.3-liter Chevrolet small-block V-8 .

That’s right, the long history of Chevy small-block V-8 engines in bespoke supercars started well before the 2013 Local Motors Rally Fighter ’s 6.2-liter LS3 motor.

Click past the jump to read more about the 1965 Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada Alloy, with high-res images and performance details on its proven 161 mph top speed.

Posted on by TB +  

Only a 1950s Maserati Spyder racecar could decline a $2.2 million dollar auction bid and go home disappointed. This 1953 Maserati A6 Sypder by Fantuzzi did not sell after failing to meet its reserve, but is still one of the most breathtaking automobile designs in history.

Who knows what collectors are thinking during these boozy social events of the high-dollar auction world. This Spyder, known by its code name of A6GCS/53 and/or chassis number 2053, has had quite the racing history to go with its stunning red paintwork, topless style and luxurious Jaeger dashboard gauges.

Despite some on-track crash damage in 1955 and a Chevy engine living under that soft nose in the 1960s, this Maserati Spyder is finally back in concours condition following a six-figure restoration since coming back to America in 1999.

Originally a U.S.-imported racing machine, the legendary Juan Miguel Fangio even took this exact Maserati Spyder for its first few laps in 1954.

Like many racecars from bygone eras, the Maserati A6 Spyder by Fantuzzi does not have mind-popping performance specifications or top speed claims. What is does have is true classic car history, with every panel and curve of this gorgeous bodywork telling the stories of long-passed racing glory for the Trident brand.

It also can stop your heart with its simple and delicate beauty, and knowledge that its drivers needed equal parts bravery, physical strength, and mental focus to take home podium trophies.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 1953 Maserati A6GCS/53 Spyder by Fantuzzi, certainly one of the best-looking racing speedsters in automobile history.

Posted on by TB +  

This 1958 Facel Vega coupe has not been seen in public or ever sold at auction in its 55 years living in Texas. Part of a 300-unit run in total, the FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe is widely viewed as the most elegant and successful car from this fledging Parisian automaker. Powered by the potent Chrysler 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 from the 1950s, the Facel Vega has distinctly European elegance in its styling, but proportions that made this car look like a tank versus the mini cars otherwise driven by the French middle class.

Originally advertised as the car “For the Few Who Own the Finest,” Facel Vega’s were ideal transport for the Monaco crowd. A two-speed, pushbutton automatic and Bugatti -quality cabin materials set the tone for a giant price.

A cruiser at heart, the FVS Series 4 Sports Coupe brings together two sides of the Atlantic in a partnership that would spin pure gold for Carroll Shelby when done the other way around.

Shelby brought over a few of the lightest and smallest European roadster he could find, then added a monster American V-8 engine. Facel Vega went a different route, importing the frame chassis and engine of Chrysler 300C to France, before adding custom coachwork outside and in.

Both were big advancements toward international collaboration during a time when even mailing a postcard from New York to Paris took almost 6 weeks to arrive.
This coupe does not major in business lessons, as it was the high point for Facel Vega’s car manufacturing venture. The Facellia replacement was a failure, taking the company and its styling grace with it.

Click past the jump to see more about the 1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe, with exquisite images of its red leather cabin and bespoke luggage.

Posted on by TB +  

The BMW 2002tii is one of the most fun-to-drive and affordable classic cars available. Most classic cars have a distinctly fragile and wooly way of handling and accelerating down the road, causing drivers to think... ‘Don’t floor the throttle because something might break!’

Not in the BMW 2002tii. This car is plugged into the tarmac and every pebble is felt through the giant unassisted steering wheel, pedals and shift knob.

The seating position and performance sensations are far more modern than the VIN number stamp would have you believe. It was this light and nimble attitude that brought BMW back from the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1960s, when Germany was reeling from a prolonged recession even as the rest of the world danced in tie-dye shirts and went to Woodstock.

BMW had big problems at the time, most critically being a lack of cash to invest in the business. Their primary 1500 sedan was well-regarded in Germany as a more agile and cheaper Mercedes alternative, but the small sedan was a fish out of water on U.S. roads clogged with millions of Ford Mustangs . Sedans and BMW ’s U.S. sales were out of gas as two-door coupes became all the rage.

As with some other TopSpeed Hall of Fame models like the NART Ferrari Spider from last weekend, the beginnings of the BMW 2002 legend start with a strong-arm tactic from a U.S. importer.

Against BMW’s protests, he cajoled them into adding their largest engine under the 1500’s hood and chopping the rear doors. Instant sports coupe and American success meant nothing less than salvation for this historic engine manufacturer.

And for a clue about the origin of the 4 Series coupe names, a quick look at the (odd) 1500 sedan becoming the (even) 2002 two-door explains BMW ’s logic.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 1972 - 1974 BMW 2002tii, with special highlights on this sport model’s extra performance and style.


Back to top