history

history

One of the most notable and memorable of the early Porsche cars is the Speedster . This car actually came into existence at the insistence of U.S. distributor Max Hoffman. He was able to convince Ferdinand Porsche that there was a market for a “stripper” car. A stripper is essentially a barebones Roadster that could be easily converted into a racing specification car without too much trouble. The low level of standard equipment also kept prices low, leaving you more budget for race gear and modifications.

This particular Black Speedster here carries a particularly special heritage. It was owned by none other than James Dean, twice. Dean bought the car to race in SCCA competition, but after a few years he sold it to a car collector named Bruce Meyers. Later in 1974 Dean bought the car back from Bruce. This particular model does not wear a Speedster badge as Dean had it removed from the car during his first ownership.

Porsche dropped the Speedster model from the 356 lineup in 1959 in favor of building the newer Convertible D cars. Only 3,122 of Speedsters were ever constructed.

When the cars first entered production there were powered by a 1.5-liter flat-four engine that produced 64 horsepower. Before the production ended, you could order a race-ready Carrera spec model with 128 horsepower. With the proper gearing in the transmission, a Speedster could reach speeds of over 125 mph, making it one of the fastest cars of the era.

Dean’s car here was a mid-range “Super” model that managed 88 horsepower from its 1.6-liter engine. The car is still in Dean’s family under the ownership of his son, Chad.

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It all started in 1956 when wealthy American businessman Tony Parravano hired the Italian manufacturer, Maserati to develop a new V-8 for use in the chassis of the Kurtis Indy. Maserati saw the opportunity to revive the project codenamed Tipo 54 and develop its own engine for use its sport-specific chassis. The original car carrying a V-6 engine with chassis number 3501 became the test bed for the car ordered by the American.

The 450S made its first appearance at the Swedish Grand Prix’s practice session in August 1956, stunning everyone with its tremendous acceleration and top speed. The car clocked the third best timing in the practice, but the underdeveloped car could not handle the vibrations resonating from the wrong firing order of the engine’s spark plugs. Afterwards, the 450S received a new chassis at Mondena factory.

The development continued and in 1957, the new production 450S was rolled out to have its maiden race at the 1000 km of Buenos Aires where it led the Ferrari twin-cam sports car by 10 seconds. The car suffered from a failed transmission and retired from the race. However, the car went on to claim its first ever podium finish in the 1957 Swedish GP. Sadly, FIA changed the rules next year, making 450S ineligible for the Grand Prix.

The car was quickly prepared for the 1956 Mille Miglia 1,000-mile race. Legendary driver Stirling Moss, along with Denis Jenkinson as navigator, experienced a brake failure and the car came to rest against a tree. Driver and co-driver walked away without a scratch, but the car had to return to the factory for repairs and further development.

Fantuazzi then came into picture when he designed a new body with a contoured design. The car also got a longer wheelbase to accommodate the new V-8 engine. The updated vehicle was tested in the Swedish Grand Prix in August 1956 where the car’s builders continued to tweak is new chassis and make improvements.

Click past the jump to read more about the 1956 Maserati 450S Prototype by Fantuzzi.

Source: RM Aucions

Of all the Lamborghinis ever built, a case can be made that the Diablo holds a unique place in the heart of the company and its fans.

Not only did it carry a name that lived up to its diabolical nature, but it also holds the distinction of being the only Lamborghini that was designed under the watch of Chrysler . We’re not going to dive into all those details now, but it’s certainly interesting to remember a day when the Raging Bull was owned by the Pentastar.

It was at that time when the Diablo was created as the successor to arguably one of the most popular Lamborghini models ever, the Countach . Talk about having huge shoes to fill.

Fast forward to this year and the Diablo is now treated with reverence and respect, especially by true car enthusiasts who appreciate everything the Diablo stands for.

Recently, Jay Leno got his hands on a Lamborghini Diablo owned by a buddy of his, Franco Barbuscia. He’s the owner of Franco’s European Sports Cars in Los Angeles and, as Leno claims, is one of a few men in this world who probably knows more about Lamborghinis than the car itself.

The two, together with Barbuscia’s son Damiano, spend 15 minutes talking shop about the Diablo, dissecting it from every conceivable detail and reveling on its place in history among Lamborghini models.

It’s an interesting to hear these guys share their combined knowledge about the cars and the iconic Italian company that built them. And besides, Leno gets to drive a Diablo. What’s not to like?

Bragging rights are a funny thing when it comes to setting records in the auto industry. Everyone shoots for it and once they achieve it, they try to break their own records in an attempt to become better than...themselves. So excuse Subaru for trying to show that it’s better than what it was in 2011 when it set the four-wheeled lap record on the world-famous Isle of Man TT course. That’s because the Japanese automaker is shooting to break the 19 minutes and 56.7 second lap time it set three years ago with British rally champion Mark Higgins.

Later this month, Subaru will once again go to the Isle of Man, only this time it’s bringing the 2015 WRX STI performance saloon to the record attempt. Common sense suggests that since the old record was set by the WRX STI’s predecessor , the 2015 model should have little problem blowing that lap time record away, right?

Well, it’s still easier said than done, especially when you take into consideration how tricky it is to run through a lap without damaging the car. On that end, Subaru did its part by giving the WRX STI some sturdier safety equipment, including adjusting the springs and dampers, as well as fitting the car with a roll-cage, race harness and fire suppression system.

Preparation’s the easy part, but actually achieving what you set out for is the tough part. Hopefully, Higgins and Subaru get to toast to another year of having the fastest time around the Isle of Man TT course.

Pictured Above is Subaru’s 2011 record-setting run at the Isle of Man.

Click past the jump to read more about the Subaru WRX STi.

Although the first automobile built on an assembly line – the Ford Model T – is about 106 years old, the history of the self-propelled vehicle goes all the way back to 1769, when a French inventor created a steam-powered tricycle.

Revised over the next hundred year, this external combustion engine concept was eventually used by a number of U.S.-based automakers until the more efficient gasoline powered was perfected. Most steam car manufacturers are rather anonymous today, but there’s one particular name that stands out – Doble.

Founded in Detroit by Abner Doble, the said company built steam cars between 1909 through 1931, with their latter models, which used electric starters and fast firing boilers, being considered the pinnacle of steam car development.

The Doble E-20, for instance, was able to reach top speeds of up to 132 mph in 1925, matching the performance figures offered by very few internal combustion cars of that era, one of them being Duesenberg . Dobles are a very rare sight nowadays, but one very lucky E-20 model found a home in Jay Leno’s garage , where all sorts of vehicles ranging from vintage steam cars to the latest supercars are known to rest their wheels.

This episode is an awesome history lesson on Doble vehicles, as Leno not only takes the E-20 for a drive, but also explains the mechanics underneath its body. You obviously won’t get any V-8 action in this one, but it’s a piece worth watching if you’re into the more obscure side of the automotive industry.

There are literally a handful of cars in the history of the industry that’s revered more than the Ferrari 250 GTO . Really, you can probably count in one hand those models and we’re guessing you’re even going to have a hard time doing it. Such is the level of respect people have of this true classic. Consider how much a 250 GTO fetches in auctions these days. Last November, a variation of the 250 GTO - the 250 LM - sold for $14.3 million . But even that pales in comparison to the incredible $52 million price Connecticut-based collector Paul Pappalardo paid for a 1963 250 GTO. So yeah, unless there’s a DeLorean out there that actually flies, no car today - classic or modern - will even come close to sniffing that record purchase.

So imagine what it must have felt for Petrolicious to get its hands on a 250 GTO. In this video, Derek Hill, the son of former Formula One champion and Ferrari factory driver Phil HIll, managed to acquire a 1964 250 GTO. We can only wonder what it must have felt like to be entrusted with a car that probably has a higher value that the GDP of some countries. But if anybody understood the value of this car, it’s Hill. After all, his father actually raced this exact 250 GTO at the Daytona Continental, which the older Hill ended up winning.

You really can’t understate the rarity of this particular GTO, chassis #5571. It’s actually one of the last GTOs ever built and was also the first of the Series II bodies and it came with a 3.0-liter V-12 engine that produces 300 horsepower.

Not that we’re pining for it to hit any kind of auction in the future, but can you imagine how much it would fetch in a setting like that? It’s not just a 250 GTO; it’s a 250 GTO with a real racing history attached to it.

North of $50 million? We’d be fools not to at least consider it.

There are chunks of big news coming from the Chrysler Group today, as the Detroit giants has outlined a five-year plan that includes major changes across all brands. However, the most important piece of information has SRT in the spotlight, with the performance marque scheduled to die as a standalone brand and become part of Dodge .

Naturally, the first question that surfaces is what will happen with the Viper . Well, Chrysler says we don’t need to worry about it, as its halo sports car will live on under Dodge, with a refresh planned for 2015. So basically the Viper is regaining the badge it was launched with back in 1992. A bit ironic, eh?

As far as the SRT-prepped Challenger muscle car and Charger muscle sedan are concerned, they will be reintegrated into the Dodge lineup as range-topping, performance iterations. And with the new product plan revealed, Dodge has finally confirmed that the two will be redesigned for the 2018 model year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also announced that former SRT CEO Ralph Gilles will continue to serve as Senior Vice President of Product Design and President and CEO of Motorsports within Dodge.

But that’s not all that’s bound to change at Auburn Hills. The Dart , for instance, will be revised in 2016, followed by the launch of the Dart SRT. Surprisingly enough, the latter will sport a turbocharged engine under the hood and all-wheel drive. The same year will also see the introduction of a brand-new Dodge Journey with a beefed-up SRT version to arrive the next year. What’s more, all-new B-segment sedan and hatchback models, of which we know nothing about, will be unveiled in 2018.

Lastly, Dodge is getting ready to unload two vehicles from its lineup. As expected, the Avenger will get the axed by the end of this year. However, we were surprised to find out that the company will stop producing the Grand Caravan as well. The vehicle that started the whole minivan craze 30 years ago will be phased out in 2016, when the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country rolls off the assembly line.

Click past the jump to read more about the SRT Viper.

The Lexus brand has an interesting history that begins a rather short time ago in the mid 1980s. Built to take on the American luxury market, Toyota chose to construct a car that competed head to head with the Germans and blow the then-current slew of American luxury cars out of the water. Seen in the XCAR video above, the young brand has certainly achieved an unmatched level of success in a very short amount of time.

Launched at the 1989 LA Auto Show, the new brand and its LS400 sedan set out to conquer the States in a sort of David and Goliath story.

Toyota’s new division had a few hurdles to jump before creating a car for the U.S. market. The car had to weight less than 4,145 pounds to avoid the U.S. luxury car tax and achieve at least 25 mpg to avoid the gas guzzler tax. The company was able to achieve this with a sedan the size of a Mercedes S-Class , while being powered by a 4.0-liter V-8. No doubt impressive.

A short 11 years later in 1999, Lexus had risen ranks to become the best selling luxury brand in the U.S. The company also jumped into motorsports and launched the IS family of sedans. The brand continued to improve as sales grew even further. In 2006, Lexus received Toyota’s hybrid drive system, helping boost mpg numbers throughout the Lexus lineup.

Then in 2010, the LFA supercar changed the game again. It challenged longtime rivals BMW and Mercedes – along with new foes Ferrari and Lamborghini. It was totally new ground for Toyota’s luxury division.

Today as the LFA has faded into the history books, the brand still carries the presence of luxurious and sporty speed in nearly ever model it makes. It’s been a long time coming for Lexus, though in reality, it’s all happened in the blink of an eye.

If you have paid attention to all the new videos and reviews of the new LaFerrari you may have noticed something awkward on the car’s steering wheel. There is a tiny badge that reads "F150." You can see it here in our screengrab from Sport Auto’s LaFerrari video .

The badge itself is to signify the car’s internal code designation, and to pay homage to the cars of Ferrari’s past.

Let us start with the past. The very first true Ferrari supercar of the modern era was the Ferrari F40 . It was name the F40 as the car was built to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the company. Then when its successor arrived, it received the name F50 . Not because it was Ferrari’s 50th birthday, but rather, 50 is bigger than 40. That trend continued again with the Ferrari Enzo , which had a designation of F60. Now when the LaFerrari was first in production, most people simply referred to it as the F70, so where the hell did the F150 come from?

That is a slightly different nod to history. You see, a long time ago, Italy was not a unified country. It wasn’t until 1861, and after much bloodshed, that the Kingdom of Italy became a united constituency. In 2011, Ferrari named its F1 car the F150 to celebrate 150 years of Italian unity. After some legal troubles with Ford over the name, the car became known as the Ferrari 150° Italia . Since the LaFerrari was under development at a similar time, it seems very obvious why Ferrari chose the "F150" code for the car.

You learn something new every day, eh?

Click past the jump to read a little more about the Ferrari LaFerrari

Who knew that a 40-second video could say so much about McLaren’s history. But that’s exactly what this video accomplishes, showing us each and every car — production and racing — that McLaren has ever built. Despite being only founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren, McLaren has become one of the most accomplished racing teams, a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence the company had from its very first day in operation.

From old-school racing classics like the Group 7 M1 and the M2B to its current lineup of supercars , including the P1 and the recently-introduced 650 S , McLaren has set a bar for automotive excellence that very few automakers in the world today can even come close to approaching.

Watching this video and seeing the history of McLaren flash before our very eyes made us remember a McLaren commercial with Johnnie Walker back in the late 90’s. We’re hazy on what the ad was showing, but we do remember the overall message of the team’s pursuit of being the best.

"The race for perfection has no finish line".

In so many ways, that line reflects on what McLaren was, is, and will continue to be moving forward.


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