Not Sold Here: Honda Beat

In today’s edition of Not Sold Here, we are featuring the Honda Beat. The Beat is a special class of super small vehicles for which there is no equivalent in the United States. Smaller than a subcompact, these cars are often called “kei cars” in Japan. I featured another Japanese vehicle, the Subaru Microvan, a few years ago. The difference is that the Subaru was actually imported to the U.S. while the Honda Beat was not.

I ran across this Honda Beat at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale. It is unbelievably small in person. Although it’s hard to visualize, the Honda Beat is nearly 10 inches narrower and 400 lbs lighter than the original Mazda Miata. It really is like a street legal go-kart. The philosophy behind these kei cars is to have small, efficient transportation for the narrow streets and crowded cities of Japan. As such, they were not designed to be particularly sporty. The inline 3-cylinder engine displaces 656 cc (40.0 cubic inches) and puts out a whopping 63 horsepower. The Honda Beat was only available with a 5-speed manual transmission.

There is a law in the United States that allows vehicles 25 years or older to be imported and driven on the roads, even though the vehicles do not meet US Federal crash test standards. This “show and display” law is the reason why you might be seeing more R32 Skylines and other right-hand drive Japanese vehicles at your favorite car shows. It is very likely that this Honda was imported under that same law.

About 34,000 of these cars were built during the production run from 1991 to 1996. It is unknown how many of them have made it to the U.S., but I’m certain the number is quite small. The car drew a huge number of curious onlookers at the show – much more than some of the brand new exotics and supercars that cost many times what this vehicle is worth.

This is a very unique car and I’m glad to have run across it at the Saturday Motorsports Gathering put on by Scuderia Southwest.

Gold Rush Rally: GRX 2018 in Scottsdale

Pagani Huayra at the Gold Rush Rally in Scottsdale

The origins of the automotive rally date back more than 100 years to 1895 in France, when early motorsports enthusiasts came up with a point-to-point race using public roads, as there were very few race tracks at the time. Today, the tradition of a city to city road rally is as popular as ever.

One of the most elite in the United States is the Gold Rush Rally, now in its 10th year. For 2018 the route covers ten cities in ten days, stretching more than 3,500 miles from Boston to Las Vegas.

The event is open to those who can afford the steep price tag of $22,000 for the full route, or $11,000 for half of the journey. The cost includes VIP parties, lodging in first-class accommodations, and the experience of being part of a rolling party of automotive mayhem. As you might imagine, the entry fee attracts a certain type of individual with a preference for exotic, high-end supercars and luxury cars. These cars are often modified with body kits, aftermarket wheels, and exotic wraps. Think of it like your local car meet, only far more expensive.

Over 20 teams registered for the 2018 event, which has also attracted a number of high-level corporate sponsors including Barrett-Jackson, Michelin Tires, Lexus, and Vorsteiner just to name a few. The rally features support vehicles, police escorts, and private track experiences along the way.

While I am not part of the Gold Rush Rally nor am I a sponsor or a vendor, I do have an appreciation for exotic cars and for the lifestyle, so I decided to head out to Scottsdale to check out the cars and the teams on Day 9 of the ten-day event.

Vorsteiner Ferrari

Sunday, June 1, 2018
The cars rolled into the parking lot at Luxury Auto Collection after spending the night at the 5-star Fairmont Princess Resort. LAC was the host of this event, with breakfast for the teams and a chance to see the GRR teams for the public. I arrived half an hour early and was greeted by a crowd of 30-40 car spotters already in place, lined up along both sides of the road. Telephoto lenses, stabilizers, and DSLR cameras were the order of the day. Continue reading

Intermeccanica Indra 2+2 Coupe

Now HERE’s something you don’t see every day! In fact, I would be quite surprised if you had heard of an Intermeccanica Indra before. I certainly had not, until I was standing in front of this one at the monthly Cars and Coffee car show in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was vaguely familiar with Intermeccanica because of the Italia, the car which took me years to figure out what it was.

Founded in Torino, Italy in 1959, the company began producing small numbers of sports cars such as the Apollo GT. I think the design of the Indra is very representative of what was happening in Italy in the 1970s. You can see a little bit of everything in this car, yet it doesn’t look like a carbon copy of a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or DeTomaso. The Intermeccanica has some distinct design elements, like the shape of the quarter windows, the flares over the wheel arches, and the vents on the front fenders.
The Indra is an exceptionally rare car, with only 127 examples completed between early 1971 and mid-1974. According to the website intermeccanica.org, the breakdown was approximately 60 convertibles, 40 coupes and 27 two plus twos. That makes this yellow 2+2 the rarest of the rare! This one is well-equipped with an automatic transmission, power windows, air conditioning, a stereo, and a full complement of gauges.With a Chevrolet 350 under the hood, maintenance is both affordable and easy on the powertrain. I spent a few minutes chatting with the owner of this wonderful and unique car. He told me the car has had a complete restoration on the paint and body, with everything sorted out. Standing next to it, I can attest that for a 1970s Italian car, this one was in stunning condition.

The one custom touch the owner made was to have the Intermeccanica logo embroidered on the seats – he said it didn’t come that way from the factory, but he really liked it.

I really enjoyed learning about this interesting piece of automotive history, and I hope that you enjoyed reading about it!

 

1975 Lamborghini Urraco – One Odd Bull

Readers who remember the 70s will recall the gas crisis of 1973 and the long-lasting effects it had on the global market for high performance cars. In response to the uncertain economic times and skyrocketing fuel costs, supercar manufacturers began to produce “budget supercars” like the V6-powered Ferrari Dino and Maserati Merak. Lamborghini was still producing the Miura, but they also rolled out a budget supercar of their own: the Urraco.

The Urraco is an extraordinarily rare car, with total production of just 791 vehicles between 1973 to 1979. Of those, just 21 were manufactured for export to the United States market. This car is one of them. I had a chance to get up close and personal with this 1975 Urraco P111 at the 2018 Russo and Steele Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The basis of Lamborghini’s cars has long been the V12 powerplant, but not with the Urraco. Because it was intended to be a more affordable supercar, it conceals a V8 engine under the rear hatch making 217 horsepower – significantly more than the Dino 206 and 246 GT and the early Merak (non-SS models).

This car was advertised as being in excellent mechanical condition, with an engine rebuild and major service completed in 2016 at a cost of $36,000. Other perks include the original owner’s manual and spare assembly, service history with records and receipts, and a 40-hour detailing job.
While a modern Lamborghini interior looks like the cockpit of a fighter jet, the cars of the 1970s were much more spartan. This Urraco sports a full suite of gauges, a stereo, and even factory air conditioning! I’m not sure if this was standard on US market cars or an option, but it would certainly be essential for an Arizona car.

I have to say that this 1975 Urraco was one of the more interesting cars at the Russo and Steele Scottsdale 2018 auction, and I am very glad I went. It’s definitely the odd bull of the herd as it doesn’t have the famous Lamborghini V12 or the amazing looks of the Miura, but it’s a part of the company’s history nonetheless. Collector car auctions offer a chance to see those rare and unique vehicles that you just don’t see every day, and Russo and Steele did not disappoint in that regard. I am very glad I went and would recommend that you do the same, if you are in the market for a unique collector vehicle.

Cadillac LSA-Swapped 1968 Buick Riviera

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of resto-mods, as I cover plenty of them every year at the SEMA Show. The combination of timeless styling and modern turn-key reliability is a formula that many people find appealing. But as is so often the case, people tend to overdo it.

I understand that if you’re going to upgrade the engine and build a car, you’re also going to do better brakes, suspension, and fix up the rest of the car. As a matter of personal opinion, I am conflicted when I see an old car with 20-inch billet wheels, fender flares, and massive disc brakes. Are you trying to build a muscle car or a modern race car? It looks a bit odd to me to see carbon fiber air dams and projector headlights on a 1960s car.

With this 1968 Buick Riviera, they really got it right.

I spotted this car at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale, Arizona. The original engine has been swapped with a supercharged 6.2L LSA V8 from the Cadillac CTS-V. With 556 horsepower, it certainly packs more power than the original engine.

And again, there is that turn-key reliability. Modern engines can run on ethanol-blended fuels with no problem (ethanol blended fuels are sold in Maricopa County). Modern engines don’t need to have the valves adjusted every 30,000 miles. You don’t need to let it warm up on a cold morning. You don’t need to worry about vapor lock on hot summer days. You just get in, turn the key, and cruise.

This car appears to be set up as something of a sleeper/cruiser. It doesn’t have a wild paint job, crazy wheels, or anything to indicate that it’s packing a serious wallop under the hood. From the outside, it just looks like a clean, restored classic car. Even the exhaust tips with stock-looking turndowns are present.

I’ve got to hand it to the owner on this Rivera for doing it right by not over-doing it. Well done.

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2018 Auction By the Numbers

Every year, I cover the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale. This usually means checking out the auction catalog and writing about some of the more exciting or interesting cars for sale. The 2018 auction featured plenty of interesting vehicles, but I wanted to do something a bit different this time around.

This post is about looking at the Scottsdale auction from a data-driven perspective. If you want to see a bunch of photos of the cool cars at the auction, check our Instagram or follow our blog for more in the future.

Now in its 47th year, Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale 2018 auction had a total of 1,752 vehicles consigned to sell, which was a new record for the company. The oldest car was a 1914 Rolls Royce, and the newest was a 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.

Here is a chart showing the distribution of vehicles in the 2018 catalog by year of manufacture. You can see that 1,095 out of 1,752 vehicles (62.5%) were manufactured between 1950 and 1979. The mean (average) year is 1970, while the median (middle) age of all cars for sale is 1968.

This chart shows the vehicles for sale by Make or Manufacturer. It should come as no surprise that American cars are the most popular, with 1,258 out of 1,752 vehicles (71.8%) for sale produced by Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Chevrolet was the top marque with 588 vehicles, followed by Ford with 314. While you can buy a Porsche or Ferrari at a Barrett-Jackson auction, it’s pretty clear that the bulk of the catalog is centered around American cars from the 1950s through 1970s.

Here we have a similar chart showing the most popular models of vehicle by name. The Corvette was the most popular model of car at the auction with 158 of them for sale (9% of the entire catalog!). The Mustang and Camaro tied for second place, with exactly 103 of them for sale for each car. The Chevrolet Chevelle came in third, with 49 examples for sale at this year’s event. The Ford Thunderbird came in fourth, with 39 cars for sale.

Here is the same chart but without the “Other” vehicles shown. I think it gives a pretty clear picture of what cars people are most interested in buying and selling.

According to the listing titles, just 405 out of 1,752 (23%) of vehicles at the auction were convertibles.

Pickup trucks were even less popular, comprising just 241 out of 1,752 (14%) of vehicles for sale.

Many sellers try to distinguish their vehicle from the others for sale by doing customizations. Analyzing the titles of auction listings, 458 vehicles or 26% of the entire catalog contained the word “custom.”

So what have we learned? Barrett-Jackson will sell whatever someone consigns to them, but we can see that the majority of sellers and buyers are interested in American cars from 1950 to 1979 and more specifically, Corvettes. If you’re in the market for one of these vehicles, Barrett-Jackson is where you need to be!

I hope you enjoyed this look at the numbers behind the auction. Stay tuned for more coverage of Arizona Car Week 2018!

1981 Camaro Z28 | Barrett-Jackson 2018

This is the very last of the second generation of Chevrolet’s Mustang-fighter: the Camaro. Compared to its Ford competition the Camaro looks less like an unfortunate product of an economic crisis and instead more like time capsule for an era of a simpler time for the automotive enthusiast.

This car is well kept with a paint scheme that hasn’t aged poorly by comparison to its peers. Equipped with a four-speed manual transmission this car finds itself only held back by the 165hp LG4 5.0l V8; an engine with potential given its ancestry, but hampered by it’s notoriously problematic computer-controlled carburetor and distributor.

The 1981 has some visual queues that hint at what’s just around the corner for GM with the lighter, sporty and arguably superior third generation platform available in the next model year. That being said, when it comes to pure automotive machismo this Camaro can’t be denied. It’s no surprise it was able to bring in a final price of $28,000.

1979 Dodge Lil Red Express | Barrett-Jackson 2018

Available in 1978 and 1979 this truck has a reputation for being one of the fastest vehicles produced during those years. Although I’d like to be able correctly credit the reason why Dodge was able to squeeze a massive 225hp net rating out of the 360 under the hood, there’s a ton of conflicting reasons why.

Some say it was due to a loophole that allowed a lack of emissions equipment, specifically the catalytic converters. However another source claims the 1979 model has catalytic converters equipped on it, as well as a pointless 85mph speedometer.

What I can say is that Mopar was not able to match this number again until 1993 with the 230hp 5.9l Magnum V8. This truck has also fallen by the wayside along with the Warlock, Midnight Express and other Dodge trucks from this era that paved the way for trucks like the Dodge SRT-10, Ford Lightning, Silverado SS and many others.

This handsome piece of late 70’s lore sold for $20,000 in auction.