Archive for the 'Car List' Category

An original Corvette anticipating return to action

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Chaz's 1967 Stingray

Chaz's 1967 Stingray

Today is a very good day in my world of cars.  After many years of procrastination and several months of glacial preparation, I have laid the first wrench on the Corvette.  In time (estimates later, but reality is when rubber hits the road) 67Vette will be mixing it up with all of those homogenized, drive-by-wire, cell texting, modern day cars. Ah, the pleasure of being involved with the car rather than the peripherals. Meanwhile, I plan to get reacquainted with an old friend, one bolt at a time.

My Corvette is a 1967, convertible, 427 ci., 390 hp., 4 speed.  I can’t recall any options except, perhaps for the AM/FM radio (rarely used as the more satisfying exhaust note is just a throttle mash away).  I purchased it new in the fall of 1966 and have accumulated about 120K miles (the odometer failed long ago and I only was able to keep track of the miles by my “frequent” gas purchase records).

As far as provenance, I have been the soul owner.  It’s been run hard.  It’s very quick to 100, but the short rear end limits top speed (a good thing since the front end begins fly at about 120.  No surprise that Corvette’s sprouted front end spoilers with the next model change).  It was autocrossed and rallied extensively, and has run fast on Sebring, Watkins Glen, Cumberland Airport, and Marlboro raceways (not in sanctioned races, just autocrosses or “bandit” runs after the officials had departed).  Early on, late summer Sunday night returns from the beach were supremely entertaining.  It was also used for everyday transportation for many years; some residents on Gorman Road, in Howard County, MD may remember my morning bonzai runs on the way to work.  One could hit triple digits by catching the last corner before the bridge over I95 just right.  Yeee ha.  Now that was a workday stress reliever!

The Vette is not a virgin.  I have previously completely rebuilt the engine and the brakes.  I have experimented with various ignition, tire, suspension, exhaust, and fuel delivery setups.  The original parts that are not on the car are preserved, but I have no intention of getting anal about a “numbers matching” garage queen.  The memories of driving are just too vivid and fun to do a restoration and then not drive it. I pretty much completely know this set of wheels from the inside and the outside, so I think this process will be like turning the pages of a favorite long lost diary.

Stay tuned for updates.

Yeeh ha!

For those of you who are first time visitors, you can read about the origin of this blog if you click into the October 2008 Archives at the right of this page.

The Hudson of Coincidence, a Doug Adams experience

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

My current photographic project —  http://chazimages.com/current-projects.php — is putting more meat on the bones of my Automotive Art Forms  http://chazimages.com/sculpture.php.  These classic cars are beautiful to look at, but they also all have interesting and unique histories.  That entails more research on new entries and sharing of that history along with the images.

 

So, just the other day, I was working in the garage when one of the neighborhood walkers stopped to chat.  I knew he was a kindred spirit when he identified as a Corvette Stingray the shrouded shape in the shadows of my garage.  He further validated his credentials when he listed some of his former rides (my favorite, a Fiat 500!)  My current neighborhood has not seemed as “car aware” as my last.  Cars here seem to be more like appliances or status symbols; where as, back in the old neighborhood a lot of the Saturday afternoon socializing revolved around cars and garages.   But now, a ray of hope!  I  don’t know if I will ever find a garage buddy to share beers and wrenches again (unless Peter Egan moves into the neighborhood), but at least I know there is “car talk” to be had.

 

Ray (the neighbor walker) was full of information about local car shows and other interesting automotive resources.  And most remarkably and coincidentally, he is the source of the “Hudson of Coincidence”.  He sent me a link to a You Tube automotive subculture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB6apYb5mJI&feature=email , “TheOriginalWheelsTV.  Chuck Derer, the producer, has recorded interviews with numerous car fans and made them available on You Tube.  They are at least as interesting as those by Jay Leno on Jay Leno’s Garage, but without the annoying lead in commercials.

 

The “Hudson of Coincidence” occurred when I viewed the You Tube clip on the Hudson Italia.  What an interesting, unique, and rare car.  And it so happens that I was at the time struggling with an image from an AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) show of a couple of years ago.

Wouldn’t yah know it, it’s a Hudson Italia.  True to the You Tube clip, it’s in the original, and only factory color, Cream.  This is a very rare car; only 26 were built, and only 5 are known to exist today.  Luck would have it that I now have seen 2 of the 5.  There you have it; a lucky conversation, a fellow enthusiast, a cool new link, progress on my Automotive Art Form histories.

Rental cars don’t always suck

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Warren Brown is an enthusiast with the unenviable job of writing about cars to an audience of mostly non-enthusiasts – Washington Post readers.  This is a newspaper whose only automotive sports coverage is the occasional NASCAR fisticuff.  Today Warren wrote about bottom feeder rental cars  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/01/AR2009050101603.html .  That got me thinking about my own experience with rental cars.

 

My favorite recollection is of the 1986 timeframe, when I was torn between buying a BMW 3 series and a Merkur.  BMW, back then as now, was considered the pinnacle of sports sedans.  I wanted one badly, but I had also read good things about the Merkur.  Sir Jackie Stewart had helped with the suspension tuning, and a friend had one he loved.  I discovered that Merkurs were available from a rental company, so I rented one for the weekend.  I took off to Pennsylvania and couldn’t stop driving!  The rental was on a fixed mile basis and I ended up with a big mileage penalty, but I also ended up buying the Merkur.  I loved that car, put 170K miles and 18 years on it, and only gave it up for a modern Mini.  Oh yeah, and with sales desperation discounts, I saved nearly $15K over a BMW.

 

Countering that experience was an early Hyundai my wife and I rented in Boston.  This car was so bad that we returned it to Logan Airport, driving thru terrible traffic in both directions, to exchange it for something acceptable.  And, in spite of recent great press for the brand, I still maintain a resistance against ever buying one.

 

Swinging back to the positive side, my son and I rented an early Chevy Malibu in Portland, OR a few years ago.  This was before the automotive press had discovered it.  We had a ball hammering it on the way out to the Oregon coast and then inland to Mt. St. Helens.  This was one of the few times I can remember crying Uncle! as a passenger.  But then I never have been a fan of steep drop offs.  Both of us concluded that this was a really nice, inexpensive, sporty sedan with plenty of pep (we had one with a 6 cylinder engine).

 

I also recollect a friend and I, each in our own rental Ford Fiestas, hanging it all out on Mulholland Drive, in LA.  Back then Mulholland had long stretches of dirt and we both felt like FIA World Rally drivers.  That was a car you could abuse terribly and it would still come back for more.

 

And, finally, who could forget the original “Rent-a-racer”, the Hertz GT350.  See my March 2009 blog entry on Marlboro Raceway.

 

So, Warren, bottom feeders may be the bane of today, but rental fleets of the past offered up some really great rides.

Ferrari and a ho, ho, ho

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I am contemplating the end of the year and yet another Christmas morning lacking that giftbow topped Ferrari parked in front of my door.  All of us gear heads must have some fantasy of that sort that creeps into our car dreams.  The one facilitated by imagining a previously unknown rich uncle who has watched our development from afar and finally decided that we are worthy of a very special gift as a reward for our hours, days, or perhaps even months of “being good” in anticipation of the big day.  We all likely out grow Santa, but I bet I’m not the only one who has not out grown that gift wish.

 

The “gift wish” can probably be viewed as just another form of Garage Envy.  So what better thought to prompt my beginning of the lay out of my  “personal favorites” list.  You may recall (or if you wish, search the archives and read it) that I divide my favorites into three categories: retro, runner, and racer.  I thought I would “envy” some retro’s today, since that plays directly into my Ferrari fantasy.

 

Any twelve cylinder Ferrari would make my retro list.  The sound of one at speed is orgasmic and even at idle they make wonderful mechanical noises.  I lost a noticeable bit of my hearing cozying up to race versions of these machines at Sebring. Maybe, I should just settle for a sound track.  A 250 GTO would probably be my first pick and not coincidentally I have included one in my Automotive Sculptures Gallery at http://www.chazimages.com/automotive-art-gallery.php. Might as well wish big, as these rare beauties go for well into the 8 figures.

 

A Lamborghini Miura has always been at the very top of my retro list.  And it is just for the pure beauty of its form.  I have yet to catch one during my photography expeditions in a pose that warrants entry into the Sculpture gallery.  But this auto paparazzi will eventually catch it.  The Miura was one of the first, if not the first, mid-engine sports cars, and it’s radical design caused a sensation in 1966.  Coincidentally, in 1966 Raquel Welch stared in the movie “One Million Years B.C.  The movie was crap, but the resulting classic poster hung in my bedroom along with a Miura poster for many of my bachelor years.  One on the wall and one on the ceiling over my bed; I’ll let you guess which was where.

 

I’ll end with a more practical/affordable favorite, the Series 1, Jaguar XKE coupe.  A truly passionate enthusiast could probably get a nice driver for the price of a new car.  The first models had the best lines and even had clear headlight covers to further smooth the look.  I never understood why the convertible sold better.  I saw the really sexy lines of the coupe overcoming the coolness factor of the convertible.  The clamshell hood opened to display an equally beautiful straight six engine.  Lots of complex mechanicals and bright metal surfaces, and an engine that your could actually see; none of those styled plastic covers that obscure the engines of today.  After I finish restoring my “67 Vette, the XKE may be my first retro purchase.

 

My list is long and continues to grow, but these three would keep me happy driving, wrenching, and polishing for a very long time.

 

Happy New Year everyone.  

Two hundred fifty three miles per hour – Where are we going with this?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Automotive one-ups-manship has undergone a not so subtitle evolution in the last decade or so.  Used to be that 0-60 time was king, but with the introduction of the McLaren F1 in the 1991 and the setting of the fastest street legal top speed in 1994, things have changed.  Top speed in now king and 0-60 time is just another statistic.  And I think the world of the car enthusiast is poorer for it.

 

 Take a look at this Youtube video  http://tinyurl.com/5cgg7.  Two hundred and fifty three miles an hour in the current fastest production car in the world, the Bugatti Veyron!  That is an insane speed.  The best I have ever done is a hundred miles an hour slower than that!  Now I think most enthusiasts would like to give it a try, but how?  That youtube run took an unbelievable amount of coordination and preparation to pull off.  Not the kind of thing you do on any sunny afternoon.  Lots of other cars, even Corvette, now have bragging rights for an over 200 mph top speed.  And car magazines are constantly churning out features on 200 mph match-ups.  Test drivers comment that everything changes for a production car when you get over something like 170 mph.  Of course everything changes at a much lower speed if you are on a public road; which is what these cars are built for.

 

 Bragging rights are nice; but, as with owning a Rolex or a Mont blanc pen, what more can you do with it than you can with a more ordinary model?  On the other hand, 0-60 time is something an enthusiast can exercise practically everyday they are behind the wheel.  And how exhilarating is that?  There is nothing like nailing it and hanging on for the few seconds it takes to get to 60 mph; and most places you can do it without even attracting the attention of the authorities.  Try that with  200 mph.

 

 So, rise up enthusiasts and demand that car makers and car mags bring the emphasis back to a “go fast” capability that us ordinary folks can relate to.  I’ll even settle for the metric version of that, 100kph.

 

AJSTC SPLIT ON AUTOMAKER BAILOUT

Friday, December 5th, 2008

The Annapolis Junction Sports and Touring Club voted today on the automaker bailout and much like Congress and the rest of the Nation seem to be voting – it was a split decision.  Lest you be unimpressed by AJSTC’s views, the combined automotive experience of those present and voting totals at least seven hundred years.  Clearly not a bunch of car buying novices! The vote was: 4 in favor, 5 opposed, 4 undecided (one particularly shy member present managed to avoid the vote – texting their broker to sell the GM stock, I think).

 

 

As car buffs, those present would have to agree that the Big Three has not brought much to the table of interest to an enthusiast, but none would deny the utility, value, and usefulness of the many Big Three cars we have owned among us.   So why weren’t this bunch of car fans screaming to save GM, Ford, and Chrysler; or alternately voting to throw them to the Toyota lion?

 

My theory is that we don’t understand what a bailout means; and for that matter what a non-bailout means.  And I don’t think all those supposedly super smart people in Congress have a clue either.  For that matter, I’ll add those really well paid auto executives to that group.

 

So, maybe we should think about solving the problem a different way.  Let’s try coming at this from the bottom up vice the top down.  The reason the carmakers are desperate right now is that they are not selling cars.  Yes they have too high labor costs, expensive legacy retirement packages, and breathtaking health plan costs; but those problems have been around a long time and throwing a bailout at them won’t solve those problems  anyway.  But, get those sales back up and car makers and unions will solve those other problems without government help or deservedly go out of business.

 

Congress, I’ll make it easy to understand; give me (and all of my car loving friends, about a million of us at $35K per car) that bailout money to buy a car (I guess we have to make a rule here – no BMW, Honda, or Tata  here, gotta buy a Big Three) and we will empty those dealer lots and factory fields of cars, the Big Three execs can keep their corporate jets, and workers keep their jobs.  No complicated oversight or regulation required here.  Give me money, I buy car.  I’m even willing to report it on my income tax (and not bury the expenses in some un-understandable corporate annual report write-off).

 

I think it’s only fair, given their enthusiastic participation in this Garage Envy survey, that my friends in AJSTC are placed at the front of the line, behind me of course.  I’m ready to start shopping tomorrow.

 

 

So many cars ——

Monday, October 27th, 2008

What’s an enthusiast to do?  There are so many great and interesting cars out there that we invariably make lists.  Every car mag I have seen has, at one point, and often annually, made a list of the 100 Greatest Cars, or something like that.

I’ve decided to keep a running list, just in case I fall into that vat of cash and can afford some of them.  To make things more interesting and diverse, I have created three categories to list them under: Retro, runner, and racer.  Keeping with my “drive them as much as possible” philosophy my mode of driving helps define each category.  Retro (these are the classics): historic, technically brilliant, and beautiful; I’ll drive these gently, on sunny days, on scenic back roads.  Runner (quick, fast, great handling): the best road cars, great acceleration, torquey, corner carvers.  My first pick when I want to enjoy the journey.  Racer (memorable track cars): built to race, gut wrenching performance, formidable looks.  Track days only, the gearhead’s version of bungee jumping.

I’ll share my lists in future posts.  Find below a visual example of each.

The Retro: Type 59 Bugatti Grand Prix

The Runner: 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

The Racer: 2002 ALMS LP1 Cadillac