Barrett-Jackson 2016: 1951 Cadillac Custom Roadster

1951-cadillac-deville-custom-roadster-rearThis car caught my eye while I was walking around the tents at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale this past January. The window sticker revealed frustratingly few details about this cool custom roadster.

From what I could tell, this car began life as a 1951 Cadillac DeVille and was at some point turned into a chop-top roadster. The engine has been swapped out for a Chevrolet LS V8 power plant with a 4L60E automatic transmission. The interior has been redone in tan leather while the exterior has been resprayed a laser red metallic color. Continue reading

2016 Arizona Concours d’Elegance Delights Again

arizona-concours-2016The Arizona Concours d’Elegance returned to the Arizona Biltmore resort for its fourth consecutive year. Our team was on hand to cover the event, which took place on Sunday, January 24th, 2016. We would like to thank the Arizona Concours staff for giving us the opportunity to cover this wonderful show once again.

I have to say that having attended all of the previous events, the fourth annual Arizona Concours d’Elegance was the best yet! What began as a one-day show has now grown into a three-day event featuring panel discussions and special celebrity appearances.

Of course, one must also not forget about the cars! This year’s show featured 99 different vehicles representing all eras of automotive history, from an 1896 Benz Velo to a 1972 Ferrari. There were 16 different classes of vehicles, with a special class featuring the work of Carrozzeria Zagato, the famous Italian coachbuilder and design house founded in 1919. Continue reading

1989 Corsair Roadster Neoclassic Car

corsair-roadster-profileI am becoming quite the expert on Neoclassic cars, having written about the Spartan II, Archer, Excalibur, Zimmer, Gatsby, and the Classic Tiffany.

Today, I’m going to talk about another Neoclassic auto that I spotted at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2016 auction. This is a 1989 Corsair Roadster, and like most of these cars, it has a couple of tricks up its sleeve.

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1959 Plymouth Belvedere w/Dodge Viper V10 Engine Swap

plymouth-belvedere-viper-engineOff the top of your head, what were some of the top supercars of the 1990s? The ones that come to my mind are: Jaguar XJ220, Lamborghini Diablo, Dodge Viper, and the McLaren F1. While all of them were iconic in their own right, only one of them has fallen into the sub-$40,000 range today: the Dodge Viper.

This depreciation has made the Viper’s V10 engine an attractive option for people looking to do an unusual engine swap. People like the owner of this 1959 Belvedere, for example.

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Barrett-Jackson 2016: 1970 GMC K1500

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Despite my love for trucks, I’m admittedly not well versed in their history and model differences. When it comes to GMC, I know less than I do about it’s sister brand – my favorite truck brand – Chevrolet. Now when we talk about GMC trucks 1973 or newer, it’s really a moot point: Badge engineering is in full force. To that extent I can’t believe that people still buy into that “professional grade” nonsense they shill on the TV. It’s the same truck as the Chevy with some trim differences.

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Despite my lack of knowledge, I do know some GMC fun facts. A 1960 model could be had with a GMC-specific 370ci Oldsmobile-derived v8. They also ran some Poncho v8s for a while in the 50’s.

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Long before the Internet was a prolific source for knowledge, my dad showed me my first 60 degree, 305 cubic inch GMC v6 in a dump truck he had bought at auction.

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Thanks to the Internet I found out that huge 5.0L v6 was actually the smallest one GMC made and that they even had a v12 derived from that family. And while I’m on the topic of the v6, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the plaid valve covers available on the half tons of the 60s.

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What’s the point in glossing over this history? Well its not because I’m trying to show off. I’m sure I’m not long for an email or comment regarding how little I know from a truly die hard fan who is scoffing to themselves as they read this now.

The point is that I’m still learning passively with each vehicle I see at trade shows , car shows and meet ups. This is just one reason why I’m so strongly against the current homogenized restomod approach to building an older car or truck. You take a bit of what made unique, to impress the people that can only handle things that are easy, familiar and the same as everyone else.

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This 1970 GMC may not be anything flashy with its “350 crate motor” which is probably a goodwrench v8 that’s surely slower than what it had stock. The mild 2 inch lift and automatic transmission with shift kit don’t really bring much excitement to the table either. To me, this truck in it’s current state of modification is a great period piece of when Bigfoot was new and this truck was only a decade and a half off the lot. It’s aspiring to be something the everyman couldn’t yet achieve.

What would it add to this truck if it were to become victim to the latest trends? Flared prerunner fenders, late model bucket seats and an LS motor? I feel like at that point you’re just taking away from what it was.

I guess what’s funny to me is that what I learned is so minor in compared to my view of the history of this truck. I just always assumed GMC used the same 10/20/30/40 etc sequence for designating the tonnage of their trucks that Chevy did. When I first read 1970 1500, I figured it must have been an error on the owner’s part. However, I was wrong.

Huh, learn something new every day.

Barrett-Jackson 2016: 1969 Olds F-85 W31

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So this is one of those cars where you wonder if at first it could actually be real. The seller attempted to advertise it as a Cutlass/f-85 but really that’s like calling Chevrolet’s platform twin a Chevelle/Malibu. This is an f-85, which was the name for the base model of Oldmobile’s A-body car.

To most people this is just another old muscle car. To the slightly more “initiated”, they might say it’s just another variation of the platform shared by the aforementioned Malibu, the Skylark or the Tempest. For the rest of us, the w-31 emblazoned on the fender says a little bit more.

How much more? How about 0-60 in 6.6 seconds and a factory rated 325hp, same as the 396 BBC found in the Chevelle. Look closely under the bumpers and you’ll see ram air scoops designed to shove cool outside air directly into the engine via snorkel tubes. This a design that is still found on modern cars today.

To find a combination of the base trim car with the high performance motor is really intriguing. More intriguing though is the car itself. Let your eyes be the judge.

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Barrett-Jackson 2016: 1990 Camaro IROC-Z

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This is probably the epitome of a clean third generation Camaro. One that would make a perfect weekend cruiser or daily driver. No ridiculous body or interior modifications and a bit more than stock power. If you’re into third gens as much as I am, then I know this car will appeal to you like it did to me.

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What I like about this car:
1. The wheels are stock to the car in design and conservative in size. This 20″+ trend I’ve been seeing for the last few years is awful.
2. Manual transmission. I’m assuming either a t56 or TKO unit by its 6 gear count. This era Camaro definitely shed it’s massive, straight-line missile persona developed by the second generation cars, so rowing your own gears is a requirement as far as I’m concerned.
3. 383 small block chevy. 10 years ago I might have groaned about this, but I’m just happy to see a TPI unit and not the now ubiquitous Gen III/IV small block.
4. Hard top. I love the open feeling of driving a T-Top car, but as far as structural integrity of a unibody car goes, hard top rules supreme.

What I dislike about this car:
1. The color. I’m sure I’m beating a dead horse with loving stick shifts and hating the color red, but it’s how I feel. I would have loved to see metallic green, bright yellow or even black or white. Is there space here for me to complain about painting the headlight buckets gloss black? At least they’re not body colored…
2. Air brushing. I’m not a fan of the displacement treatment on the hood, especially since it’s a 383, so it wouldn’t displace 5.7 liters. The IROC logo on the ground effects doesn’t do much for me either. On top of all that, the red/yellow combo either reminds me of McDonald’s or Hulk Hogan. No thanks.
3. Some of the body treatments are a little lame. The spoiler is nice and understated but the cowl-induction hood and shaved handles just bring me back to a 1990’s superchevy car. The flat hood is such a great design feature of this car because it accentuates how low the cowl is.
4. The TPI unit. This is conflicting because on one hand I applaud them for keeping the coolest part under the hood of some third generation Camaros. However, even with the nicest aftermarket parts, they’re probably sacrificing a bit of horsepower over a carb. I’d keep the TPI, but this detail shouldn’t go unnoticed.

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1986-1991 Toyota Soarer Z20

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The Ford Thunderbird will go down in history as the car that created an entire market segment: the personal luxury coupe. Since that time, many other auto makers have produced their own version of the Thunderbird. Over time, the segment came to be defined by a few characteristics: an emphasis on luxury and the latest technology, powerful engines with comfortable suspensions, and of course, a 2-door, 4-passenger seating arrangement.

Although the American economy went through a recession in the early 1980s, thingsĀ  turned around and the demand for personal luxury coupes was on the rise by the later end of the decade. General Motors had the Buick Riviera, Ford had the Lincoln Mark VII, and Chrysler had resurrected the Imperial name for their 1981-1983 coupe. The United States wouldn’t see the Lexus SC400 until 1991, but this car was its Japanese predecessor: the Toyota Soarer Z20.

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