history

history

Happy Thanksgiving to all the TopSpeed readers, we hope that your Turkey Day is off to a great start. We all know the importance of Thanksgiving here in the U.S., but this day is also a very special one for the automobile racing industry.

On this day, 118 years ago — in 1895 for those that don’t have a calculator handy — America’s first ever automotive race , the Chicago Times-Herald Race, took place. It was a 54-mile journey from Jackson Park in Chicago to Evanston, IL and back, and it included just six cars at the starting line — two electric cars and three gasoline-powered cars.

Only four of the cars actually finished, and the highest top speed during the race was a sluggish 7.5 mph. The winner, Frank Duryea, managed to complete the icy course in nine hours, netting a $5,000 prize in the process (about $140,000 by today’s dollar value), and the second-place finisher took another two hours to reach the start-finish marker, which was a boulder near the Museum of Science and Industry.

This rock is now legendary in the automotive racing industry, as it marks the beginning of one of the biggest industries in America. Each and every year, a group of 100, or so, exotic cars and motorcycles make their way to "The Rock" on Thanksgiving day to celebrate the race (weather permitting). And this year is no different. The celebration typically kicks off around 9 a.m.

So, if you have some extra time between cooking and stuffing your face with Turkey, you should swing by and check out some of the cars and see the most famous rock in racing history! For those that don’t know, "The Rock" is southwest of the Museum of Science and Industry. Simply take the Museum exit on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and look for the line cars; you can’t miss it.

Check out a map of the original race after the jump.

The Bugatti name has long been associated with style and performance in the realms of automotive excellence, but few are aware of impact the Bugatti name made in the worlds of art and craftsmanship.

The Bugatti family began a legacy for themselves in the late 1800s that continued through many generations and lasts even still. The Mullin Automotive Museum, an institution devoted to showcasing French art and automobiles from the Art Deco era, has announced The Art of Bugatti exhibition that starts in the spring of 2014.

The museum is located roughly an hour north of Los Angeles in Oxnard, California, and it will play host to the Bugatti family collection of oil paintings, bronze sculptures, intricate furniture and, of course, some of Bugatti’s most famous cars, including the current Veyron .

Besides the Veyron , the exhibition will also host the early Brescia racecar , the race-winning Types 35s, 37, and 51; Jean Bugatti’s Type 64 Papillon and Atlantic Coupé; Types 57 Aravis and Atalante, and the Type 41 Bugatti Royale. Even more impressive is perhaps one of Bugatti’s earliest four-wheeled creations, a horse-drawn cart, complete with the iconic Bugatti logo branded on its side.

Click past the jump to see more pictures of the classic Bugatti cars and artwork

Very few automakers throw a celebration quite like Ferrari .

This year, the iconic Italian automaker celebrated its 30th anniversary in Hong Kong, and true to form, it organized quite an event to ring in the celebrations.

The pictures paint the story, fellas. Those are over 600 Ferraris, ranging from old-time classics to the latest releases, all converging at the Asia World Expo in Lantau island, to commemorate Ferrari’s 30th anniversary in the Chinese territory.

To add prestige to the event, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo was in attendance to lead the celebration that included some of the most iconic Ferraris in existence, including the Dino , the 195 Inter, and the 365 GTS . Modern Ferraris were also in attendance, including the 458 Challenge , 599XX and the FXX Evoluzione .

The event also gave Ferrari the opportunity to unveil its latest offering, the 458 Speciale , which was unveiled by F1 test driver Marc Gene.

Congratulations to Ferrari on its 30th anniversary in Hong Kong. Here’s to more years of success in the Chinese territory.

Click past the jump to read about the 2014 Ferrari 458 Speciale

Meet "the most important car."

We’ve covered our fair share of rare and historic classic cars here at TopSpeed, but this 1931 Voisin C20 MyLord takes the cake. Its level of beauty and class is only overshadowed by its rarity and appraised value. It is truly a gorgeous thing to behold.

Powered by an innovative sleeve-valve V-12 engine riding on an underslung chassis, the two-door coupe was built in France by automotive and aeronautics pioneer Gabriel Voisin who was more well-known for his achievements in the air than on the road. He did, however, start Avions Voisin, one of the world’s most prestigious automotive brands of the day.

The one-off MyLord was only a concept vehicle and never saw full production, making this example the only one in existence. It was treated to a full restoration before heading to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance auction block in 2010. One fortunate bidder took home the MyLord, leaving a $2,750,000 check in its place.

Click past the jump to learn more about the Voisin C20 MyLord Demi-Berline

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"Iconic" is a word that is thrown around far too often in the automotive world, but after 100 years and dozens of colors and text styles, the lasting importance and brand symbol of the Chevy bowtie emblem is a sure thing.

As the bowtie evolved over the ten decades, its transformations were barely noticeable versus the complete revolution in transport they adorned - from the first Chevy ’Classic Six’ model to today’s industrial heavy-hitter with more than 50 global model lines.

General Motors’ Chevrolet brand was launched with a script logo with the words Chevrolet written in stylized cursive.

Legibility and pronunciation of this French name were a real problem versus monosyllabic "Fords " across the street.

Soon, a baby blue bowtie logo appeared along with Chevrolet written in all caps in 1913, but the exact origins of this bowtie are unknown.

What we do know is that the Chevy bowtie instantly means cars.

Along with Ford , Coca Cola and General Electric, the emblem of the Chevrolet lineup is a globally-recognized symbol of freedom, prestige and mobility.

Logo changes are often fraught with peril for the companies who fail to understand the symbol’s importance to their most loyal consumers. Just a brief look back shows disastrous results followed when Gap Inc. tried to remodel their emblem, or the huge drop in real-life sales following Tropicana’s disastrous package redesign.

With the new 2014 Cadillac logo (without the wreath!) in place on the Elmiraj Concept , here’s a look back at the evolution of the Chevrolet bowtie over the Chevrolet bowtie over the last hundred years.

Click past the jump for the full Chevy’s BowTie Emblem Turns 100, Reflects On Badge’s Evolution article - to find out the most likely source of the bowtie emblem.

Updated 10/14/2013: This article has been updated with Chevy’s latest skinny emblem, which the original article did not highlight as the new bowtie in use since 2010.

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Dream cars are such a regular and normal part of every car guy and gal’s life growing up. Waiting for that license, dreaming about the wild places you will go and friends you might meet. For generations of enthusiasts until the 1950s, however, such dreams were so unattainable they were foolish.

The only non-mass-market car around was the coach-built Phaeton from Rolls-Royce , Mercedes-Benz or Duesenberg .

Such was the gulf between the rich and poor at the time that it makes today’s 99-percent protests seem as ridiculous as they are. In those days, the ratio was more like 99.99999 percent versus the 0.00001 percent.

You can probably guess which group we and most young car shoppers would fall into. And it is not the one with the nines.

For a generation of hot-shot former military officers, pilots and engineers: coming home from the battle fronts of Europe and the Pacific had whet their appetites for speed. The enormous volume of men and women enchanted by steel machinery during wartime was unprecedented.

But coming home, the cars these speed demons found were lumbering, great heavy beasts with no power and little cornering ability whatsoever. These men were chasing the rush they felt in fighter bombers - but in a stylish and affordable package.

The Corvette from 1953 was the answer to these wishes and much, much more. Initially just a throw-away concept for the Motorama events, such was the demand that Chevy had no choice but to produce the car for sale.

But those shapes could never be made in steel! And never made in time to get the car to eager buyers. So a stop-gap solution was born to make the panels out of fiberglass over a ladder frame chassis. Little did the fabricators know, this template would underpin America’s sports car for the next 75 years or more.

The Chevrolet Corvette C1 is a very special automobile. Collected here are three incredible examples of this ground-breaking achievement for affordable dream cars ever since.

Click past the jump for this debrief of the 1953-1962 Chevrolet Corvette C1.

As Mercedes ’ flagship model since roughly the beginning of time, the Mercedes S-Class has always been at the forefront of the automaker’s technological advancements. In a lot of ways, it was ahead of the curve and contained features that would eventually move down to the company’s other models.

At last month’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance , Mercedes took the unprecedented step of showcasing all of its S-Class models, including a number of iconic models that have since been given the classic treatment.

But the best part about this showcase was that Mercedes was able to capture it on video, giving all of us a chance to relive the legendary history of the company’s flagship model dating back to its infancy. There are a lot in there that were released way before any of us were born, so you can understand how reverential we treat some of these models.

Click past the jump to read about the latest model to be bestowed the S-Class designation, the recently revealed 2013 Mercedes S-Class Coupe Concept

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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.

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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.

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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.


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