1970s Chevrolet Monte Carlo “Custom Cloud”

My fellow editors spotted this car in a random driveway while we were cruising around one night. Since I had my camera and took a picture, I get to write about it. The car was not immediately recognizable and the guys spent several minutes speculating about what it might be.

As it turns out, this odd-looking vehicle is actually a very rare luxury car called a Custom Cloud, which was built on a 1970s Chevrolet Monte Carlo chassis. In a lot of ways, this car is similar to the Stutz Blackhawk, only with a more down-to-earth price.

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Matte Orange 2007 Bentley Continental GT

To an average person on the street, a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce are pretty much the same thing: a very expensive car for rich people. However, the two cars actually serve very different purposes. A Rolls-Royce is a car for you to be chauffeured around in, while a Bentley is a driver’s car.

Bentley has a long tradition of racing heritage going back to the company’s founding in 1919. Bentleys won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race five times between 1924 and 1930. Facing bankruptcy during the Great Depression, Bentley was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931.

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1967-1975 Iso Rivolta S4 Fidia

There is a gathering in Scottsdale on the first Saturday of each month called Cars and Coffee. This informal car show is open to all makes and models of vehicles, so you never know what might roll in.

It was here that I first spied the Hudson Italia, not knowing how rare or valuable it was. I kicked myself later for not taking more pictures of it. Well, I made the same mistake with this car. Not recognizing it, I foolishly took a single picture and moved on. Now I wish I had taken more!

This huge sedan is an Iso Rivolta S4 Fidia, and its claim to fame is that it briefly held the title of “World’s Fastest Four-Seater” in the late 1960s. Only of these cars 192 were built, so it’s pretty damn rare!

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The Pinnacle of Excess: 1972 Stutz Blackhawk

Following the carefree fifties and the rebellious sixties, the 1970s were a decade of uninhibited excess. This was the decade that brought us leisure suits, disco music, and brutalist architecture. For the most part, the 1970s are remembered as a dark age of design, and cars were no exception.

During this decade, cars got bigger and heavier, less fuel efficient, and in many cases uglier due to a combination of Federally-mandated 5mph impact bumpers and the prevailing styles of the times. There is perhaps no other automobile on earth that embodies the lavish excess, the indulgence, and the absurdity of the seventies quite like this 1972 Stutz Blackhawk. Continue reading

2011 Rolls Royce Ghost EWB – A Rolls by Any Other Name

“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.” – Sir Henry Royce

For over a century, Rolls-Royce has manufactured the finest luxury motorcars in the world. In the year 2010, Rolls-Royce introduced a new model to their lineup called the Ghost. Because it was smaller and less expensive than the Phantom, many in the automotive world referred to the Ghost as the “baby Phantom.”

After running across this 2011 Ghost Extended Wheelbase at Cars and Coffee, I am going to paraphrase Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing and declare that “nobody puts [this] baby in a corner!” The Rolls Royce Ghost belongs in the spotlight. Continue reading

2012 Fisker Karma EcoSport EVer

“Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will still be among the stars.” – Les Brown

At the time of this writing, California-based Fisker Automotive is in bad shape and if they don’t get a miracle, they are going to go under.

In case you haven’t been following the Fisker saga, let me fill you in. Fisker Automotive was founded in 2007 by Henrik Fisker, a Danish-born designer who also penned the Aston Martin DB9, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and the BMW Z8. The new company was to launch a luxury plug-in hybrid car in 2009. After multiple setbacks and delays, customers¬† finally began taking deliveries of the Karma sedan in late 2011. Continue reading

1955 Hudson Italia 2-Door Coupe

What is it that makes certain cars more collectible than others? Certainly the car’s condition, its documentation, and any unusual factory options can affect a car’s value. However, I think the most important factor is rarity. The less common a car is, the more valuable it becomes.

Sometimes car manufacturers deliberately make small runs of cars, ensuring that they will become instant collectibles. Take a look at some recently produced exotic cars and their prices:

Lexus LF-A Supercar – 500 units – $375,000 each
Aston Martin One-77 – 77 units – $1,000,000 each
Lamborghini Veneno – 3 units – $3,000,000 each

It boggles my mind that automakers can produce a run of $1 or $3 million dollars cars and have no trouble selling all of them. However, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when automakers had a hard time finding buyers for hyper-expensive cars. One of the first manufacturers to create a ridiculously high-priced supercar was none other than the Hudson Motor Company.

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1958-1961 Facel Vega HK500

There aren’t many cars on the road that I don’t recognize, but this one totally caught me by surprise at Cars and Coffee. I confess that I don’t know much about mid-century French cars, so I hope you will forgive me for not recognizing this one right away. However, I thought it intriguing enough to take some pictures – and boy, am I glad I did!

As it turns out, this gleaming silver beauty is a Facel Vega HK500. One article I read called it “The best car you’ve never heard of” and after doing some research, I can see why the author made that statement.

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