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1953 Ferrari 340 MM

1953 Ferrari 340 MM

Back in the days when Ferrari developed engines quicker than they could do gearboxes or bodies, as per Enzo’s belief that those who rely on aerodynamics can’t put together proper engines, many memorable roadsters were built using the 4.0-liter Lampredi V-12 as the centerpiece. Other configurations sprouted from this 1951-designed powerplant as the company continued to use this layout all throughout the decade. One of the most emblematic models of the 340 series is the 340 MM, which appeared as an evolution of previous 340 iterations in 1953.

As with other Ferrari cars, MM stood for Mille Miglia, the race for which the car was originally conceived and which its forerunner, the 340 America, had won in 1951. In truth, the MM was the real replacement of the America, being a real step forward from the so-called 340 Mexico from which it evolved.

With only 11 examples built, the 340 MM is an extremely rare car, especially since both Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera and Carrozzeria Vignale dealt with building spyder bodies while Pininfarina crafted the coupes. This means that nearly each example is unique in its own way. Couple this with the racing history of certain chassis and you get part of the reasoning behind the prices for which these cars change hands. One of the many in the myriad of Ferrari ultra-exotic rarities.

Continue reading to learn more about the 1953 Ferrari 340 MM Competition Vignale Spider.

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2014 Nissan GT-R Track Pack - First-Drive Video

2014 Nissan GT-R Track Pack - First-Drive Video

The Nissan GT-R is my hero. I was so amazed by the performance of the R35 generation of GT-R when launched that I modified the back of my Legacy 2.5GT to read “2.5GT-R” with an expensive and genuine GT-R emblem from Japan.

To put a badge from another car onto your own, as a grown man, is pretty pathetic in retrospect. But for the year or so that my Subaru was a 2.5GT-R, every time I saw the beveled red letters of that logo, I could not help but smile.

My car, I told myself, was sort of like a GT-R for people with dogs and cargo flexibility needs. I eventually grew up and mounted the GT-R emblem in prime position on my refrigerator, where it delights me even today.

Do not meet your heroes, they say. A lifetime spent worshiping a professional baseball pitcher, only to find out he is meaner than a rattlesnake and twice as deadly. Seeing the underbelly of any icon could ruin baseball altogether - if that was your life’s passion until seeing the bad parts up close.

I got to meet my hero last week via the 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Pack. While the car defined my day, and has consumed my thoughts ever since, I am unable to form an opinion even a full week later.

This is rare for me. Love it or hate it, I generally get a good sense of a car’s merits and issues within a few minutes behind the wheel.

But the GT-R is very different. Our time together was more of a fling than going steady, but if I thought I loved the GT-R more than anything else in the world before I drove it, what do I think now?

Still hard to say. I do know that sitting down in the GT-R for the first time was very intense on a number of levels. The hoon before me had every setting in race mode, and, frankly, I was not prepared for the performance the GT-R offers its drivers every second it is on the roads.

So while I try to stop shaking with cold sweats after only a few full-throttle sessions, the GT-R is better than a hero to me. It was better than everything I had previously read or knew about the vehicle.

We are putting together the full Driven review for next week, but until then, please enjoy these TopSpeed First-Drive Video reviews of the 2014 Nissan GT-R.

Click past the jump to see me sweat it out while hitting 60-mph in a claimed 2.8 seconds.

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1963 - 1968 Chevrolet Corvette C2

1963 - 1968 Chevrolet Corvette C2

By the early 1960s, the Corvette had triumphed over the Thunderbird and was now firmly America’s sports car for the second-gen’s arrival as a 1963 model. Car guys, pilots and engineers all over America had taken the lightweight-big engine formula to heart with their prized first-gen Corvettes, but now they wanted more performance by every measurement. Much more speed, in particular.

Chevrolet had similar ideas when brainstorming ways to replace the C1 as far back as 1957. The Q-Corvette concept was a working idea of a smaller, lighter and nimbler Corvette than ever before. Four-wheel discs were to be standard, and the car was could hold its own on a racetrack right off the showroom floor.

Over the C2’s relatively short time — until 1967 — this Corvette became the quickest factory machine ever in the quarter-mile with the 11.02 second time recorded by the 1967 Corvette L88 Sting Ray Convertible.

Click past the jump for the full history of the 1963-1967 Chevrolet Corvette C2, with highlights from two prize-winning concours examples.

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1953 - 1962 Chevrolet Corvette C1

1953 - 1962 Chevrolet Corvette C1

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.

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1995 - 1997 Ferrari F50

1995 - 1997 Ferrari F50

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.

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2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The 2014 STI risks getting lost in the shuffle of the next-gen WRX’s launch at this fall’s Los Angeles auto show. As is customary for Subaru when upgrading the Impreza-based models, the next-gen STI will follow the regular WRX as a projected 2016 model year intro.

That is more than enough time to fall in love again with the current model’s brash styling, forceful turbocharged power delivery, and better tech integration in the cockpit than ever before. 305 horsepower and a 4.7-second sprint to 60 mph means the WRX STI is still a favorite here in the TopSpeed Garage.

Introduced for 2011, the current STI’s strength as a Subaru performance flagship is fully intact. As a low-volume model, its boxer rumble casts a performance glow over even the base $18,000 Impreza sedan. No changes to the STI for 2014, aside from the audio system now offering integration of Aha’s music app.

First-hand driving impressions of this track toy are included, as are comparisons with the WRX STI’s potent competition from the BMW 135i and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Garage review of the 2014 Subaru WRX STI, still a game-changer with wild turbo boost and AWD traction to make every corner seem like a straightaway.

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1972 - 1974 BMW 2002tii

1972 - 1974 BMW 2002tii

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.

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1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider

The record-shattering $27 million dollar auction price of the ultra-rare 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider is making waves through the entire classic car scene.

Never before has such a late-model Ferrari earned such totals - which are typically the preserve of the 250 series from pre-1964.

What makes this gorgeous Ferrari so much more valuable than the thousands of other classic Ferrari’s seeking new homes? How did the price of this single model nearly double the $14 million dollar average price - excluding this giant total - when any of these 10 cherished models have changed hands in the past?

Part of what makes this NART Spider so valuable is the car’s unique blend of the gorgeous late-1950s Ferrari styling and advanced mechancials. The GTB/4S upgrades dramatically increased the performance and handling of this V-12 supercar. Almost the entire Maranello racing technology suite was applied to the NART Spider - allowing it to be a posh cruiser that was also capable of serious speed on a racetrack.

The V-12’s quad overhead camshafts were a first on a road car, while the rear-mounted transaxle, limited-slip diff and independent rear suspension were all huge advancements that were offered first in the NART Spider.

Ferrari never looked back from all the new technology introduced on the NART Spider. At the same time, the NART is especially sentimental because Ferrari would not make make such an emotionally-styled road car again for decades. The 365 GTB/4 Daytona was 1967’s new hot style and Ferrari followed the money trail by ending 275 production.

Little did they know, the layers of exclusivity and special editions that helped create this this NART Spider would make it the most valuable road car ever sold. Ever.

Click past the jump for the full review of this timeless classic Ferrari, with details on the technology and style of this model during its 10-unit production run in 1967.

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1963 - 1967 Aston Martin DB5

1963 - 1967 Aston Martin DB5

The Aston Martin DB5 is a global phenomenon often referred to as ‘the most famous car in the world’ thanks to its longtime heritage over 50 years of James Bond films. The car itself retook center stage a few times in the films since originally starring in Goldfinger and From Russia With Love, most recently with Skyfall’s Daniel Craig wheeling it out of secret storage before a midnight dash to his childhood orphanage in Scotland.

RM Auctions 2012 sale of this Sierra Blue example also includes a big name attached: Sir Paul McCartney, who rewarded himself with his first Aston Martin just a few weeks after The Beatles breakout appearance on U.S. television via The Ed Sullivan Show.

As special as the DB5’s numerous celeb owners and movie credits are, the coverage can be exhausting sometimes because the same tired facts are reshuffled. In this full review of the DB5, the focus is the merits of the car itself versus its contemporaries like the E-type Jaguar, Lamborghini 350 GT and Ferrari 250 GTO.

The DB5 was also created in a fashionable convertible body-style and as a one-off shooting brake for company lead David Brown, but the two-door hardtops are the most recognizable and affordable examples of 1963’s most advanced car.

Click past the jump for the full review of this cherished dream car.

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1963 Chevrolet Impala SS "Mystery Motor"

1963 Chevrolet Impala SS "Mystery Motor"

If we were to say the name “Robert Glenn Johnson Jr” not many people, besides hardcore NASCAR fans, would know who we are talking about. However, mention the name Junior Johnson and “Mystery Motor” and nearly every NASCAR fan knows what we’re talking about. If you haven’t figured it out, Robert Glen Johnson Jr and Junior Johnson are the same person.

The Mystery Motor refers to Junior Johnson’s most famous car, which was a 1963 Chevy Impala SS with an extremely rare Mk II engine. This engine was a very limited production model that was wedged between the Mk I 438/409 engine and Mk IV 427 engine. This engine only saw roughly 50 total units produced, though some claim there were only 18 ever produced, making it one of the rarest GM engines ever built.

Shortly after these engines went out to various Chevrolet drivers, Chevy pulled the plug on its race sponsorship and the owners of the cars were stuck with modifying and fitting the engines themselves. Junior Johnson’s Mk II 427 wound up being the most powerful built at the time and resulted in a total of seven wins, nine pole positions, 13 top-5 finishes, and 14 top-10 finishes in just 33 races in the 1963 season. Its overall power and rarity earned it the name “Mystery Motor.”

Following the 1963 season, Chevy had began production of the Mk IV 427, rendering the Mystery Motor ineligible for NASCAR competition and reducing Johnson’s win total to less than half the following year.

If you have ever wanted to own a piece of automotive and NASCAR history, this is your chance, as RK Motors Charlotte has put Johnson’s 1963 Impala SS up for sale, Mystery Motor and all.

Click past the jump to read our full review.

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1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport

1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport

The Talbot line of racecars had quite a storied racing history, despite the fact that they were constantly out-powered by the likes of Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, and Alfa Romeo. Talbot always relied on its impeccable fuel mileage and extreme durability to conquest these giants of the race world in endurance racing, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

By far, Talbot’s biggest achievement was its 1-2 finish in the 1950 24Hours of Le Mans, using T26 Grand Sport and a Talbot-Lago Monopasto. The chassis that was originally scheduled to run in the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans, chassis No. 110057, but hit a few snags and was not quite ready for the race. Following the victory, the driver of its replacement in the Le Mans purchased it and began its racing history.

Unfortunately, this 1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport had none of the success that its replacement had, as it had a long string of did-not-finish results stretching from 1951 through 1953. The curse of 110057 came to a head when Guy Mairesse was tragically killed in it when he crashed this T26 during testing at Coupe de Paris at Montlhèry.

After that tragedy, its owner at the time, Georges Grignard, parked it in its transporter and laid little more than an eye on it for four years until a savvy T26 enthusiasts, and its current owner, caught wind that one was sitting unused at Grignard’s house. The purchase almost never happened, as it was reported that Grignard wanted an unreasonably high price for this crashed racer, but apparently the two eventually came to terms.

If you have ever wanted to own a piece of Le Mans history, this is the time, as RM Auctions is offering chassis 110057 up for auction on May 12, 2012. Despite its cursed past, this is a rare model that is sure to fetch a premium and will only continue to go up in value.

Click past the jump to read our full review

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1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 "Old Reliable"

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 "Old Reliable"

Super Stock NHRA racing is likely one of the most badass motorsports on the planet, or at least it was back in the 1960s. It was once about as close to stock vehicles as you could possibly get, yet they still screamed down the track.

One of the dominant and most memorable cars of the 1960s was Dave Stickler’s Camaro Z/28 dubbed “Old Reliable.” After it claimed the Stock Car World Championship in the 1968 season, “Old Reliable” was retired and sold.

In 1993, a buyer used VIN data saved by the Sticklers to track down this beast, after it had been repainted and raced in various events across the nation. Few actually knew what the Camaro once was, but this buyer knew what it was and wanted it, badly. According to some sources, when this buyer went to buy “Old Reliable,” it was actually scheduled to be chopped up for scrap metal.

One question that comes to mind is how good of condition can a car that was about to be scraped be in? From what we can see, this thing is in excellent shape and is certainly set to pick up a premium price, now that it has been listed for sale on Ebay by RK Motors Charlotte.

Click past the jump to read the full review.

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1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spyder "Tuboscocca"

1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spyder "Tuboscocca"

In the 1950s, Ferrari was all about racing and built a wide range of vehicles to participate in varying classes. One of the more rare models was the Ferrari 225 Sport, which only had 20 total units built until 1952. This model also acted as the stepping stone toward Ferrari’s leap in to the famed 3.0-liter V-12 engines.

Even rarer is the 225 Sport Spyder ‘Tuboscocca’ whose body was manufactures by the esteemed Alfredo Vignale. Not only is the body very much functional for racing, but it also screams sheer elegance. What’s even more impressive is that only 12 of these 225 Sport Spyders ever existed.

This retro racer has a storied racing history dating back to its first race on October 11, 1952 at the Bologna-Raticosa hill climb, where it took home 1st place. After its 2nd place run in 1963, this 225S Spyder went into storage for 17 years until it was exported to Italy, restored in 1983 and began racing in vintage races around the world.

The 1983 restoration was its final one, as it is currently being offered for sale via RM auctions in Monoco. It is due to be sold on May 12, 2012 and will likely fetch a rather pretty penny.

UPDATE 05/16/2012: The 1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spyder Toboscocca was sold in Monaco for an impressive €2,520,000 (about $3.2 million).

Click past the jump to read our full review and see how much this car will fetch.

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1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider

1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider

Ferrari has always had a famed bloodline of racecars, but few hold the amount of clout of the 1957 625 TRC Spider. There were only two of this famed roadster ever built, chassis 0680 MDTR and 0672 MDTR. If you so happen to have a large chunk of money laying around, you can own a piece of racing history in the form of chassis 0680 MDTR, as RM Auctions has just listed it for their 2012 auction in Monaco.

In August of 1957, this Ferrari and its owner, Johnny von Neumann, ventured to Austria, Germany and took 1st place in its class in just its first time on the track. In its second race, at Laguna Seca, the 625 TRC took 2nd place. In all of the 11 races it ran in the 1957 to 1958 season, this Ferrari took 1st place three times, and landed in second or third place four times. It continued on to have a prolific career, even in vintage races all the way up to 2011 Montery Historic Races.

UPDATE 0516/2012: The 1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider was sold in Monaco for a staggering €5,040,000, or about $6.4 million, a record for this particular model. This was the first time in 30 years that this model was available for auction and it is one of the only two models ever built.

Read the full review after the jump.

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2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Ron Fellows SEMA/Spring Mountain Special Edition

2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Ron Fellows SEMA/Spring Mountain Special Edition

During September, most people in the automotive world are focused on the Frankfurt Motor Show and the many tasty treats ready to hit the floor, but in Bowling Green, Kentucky their focus was the induction of former Corvette Racing Driver, Ron Fellows, into the Corvette Hall of Fame. The National Corvette Museum’s 17th Annual Labor Day celebration took place over the 2011 Labor Day weekend and when Ron Fellows showed up for his induction ceremony, a bright red 2012 Corvette Z06 "Spring Mountain Special Edition" was there waiting for him.

The Z06 "Spring Mountain Special Edition" features many of the options available on the 2012 model, including the full body, white racing stripes and the carbon fiber hood. Other Corvette model elements were also borrowed including the Centennial Edition’s black wheels with the red stripe and seats with the special “100 Years” embroidery; and the custom Grand Sport hash marks reminiscent of the 2007 Ron Fellows Z06 which also had the Canadian Maple Leaf seen on this model.

The special edition was further customized for the Hall-of-Famer with a reworked carbon graphic displaying Ron’s Corvette Racing Number 3 and the words "Hall of Fame," as well as graphics from Mosport Raceway - a Canadian Track that Fellows co-owns - and the Ron Fellows Performance driving school.

Considering its name - SEMA/Spring Mountain Special Edition - we fully expect this special edition to show up at the 2011 SEMA Auto Show in November, but the vehicle may also be used at the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain Raceway outside of Las Vegas.

UPDATE 10/27/2011: Chevrolet has finally unveiled the official details on the Corvette Z06 Ron Fellows ‘Hall of Fame’ Tribute - or Corvette Z06 Ron Fellows SEMA Edition as it was first announced. "This Torch Red show car honors Fellows’ service behind the wheel, using accessories offered from Chevrolet matched with custom graphics. It’s a fitting salute to one of the fastest men ever to drive a Corvette." Hit the jump for the full list of highlights.

Hit the jump for the video of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Ron Fellows SEMA/Spring Mountain Special Edition unveiling.

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