About Trevor Freeman

Trevor is a real gearhead who loves everything from classic American muscle cars to high-performance exotics. When he's not reading about cars or taking photos at a car show, he's probably out cruising around. He is currently working on restoring a 1980 Chevrolet Monza hatchback.

Monterey Car Week 2019 Preview

Automotive enthusiasts are getting ready for what is shaping up to be another exciting year in Monterey, California. Monterey Car Week traces its origins back to 1950 when a small car show and road race event were held on the peninsula. Here we are 69 years later, and this small, one-day gathering of collector car enthusiasts has grown into a week-long celebration of collector vehicles and the automotive lifestyle.

Monterey Car Week today is a multi-day spectacle of many different events including a tour d’elegance, vintage racing at Laguna Seca, multiple collector car auction events, road rallies, and of course, the Pebble Beach Concours itself, where one car takes home the prestigious “Best of Show” award each year.

Here’s a quick preview of what you can expect to see if you are planning to attend Monterey Car Week in 2019.

The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering

The Featured Themes for 2019
  • 100 Years of Bentley Motors
  • 25th Anniversary of the McLaren F1
  • A Tribute to the Electric Car Movement

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the signature event of Monterey Car Week. Now in its 69th year, the competition will feature the usual classes of pre-war, post-war, unrestored, and other collector automobiles. However, there will be four special classes this year:

  • Bentley Centennial
  • Zagato Centennial
  • Bugatti Race & Touring Cars
  • Historic Hot Rod “Cover Cars”

The 100th anniversary of both Bentley and of Italian design house Zagato are sure to draw out the rarely seen and unique examples from both of these manufacturers. The Hot Rod “Cover Cars” class will offer some excitement for fans of American cars, similar to the American Dream Cars of the 1960s special class that was seen at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours event.

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Inaugural Concours d’Elegance Coming to Las Vegas

Nevada has a reputation for many things: casino gambling, entertainment, and tourism. But it’s also becoming a hotspot for the collector car world.

Barrett-Jackson has hosted a collector car auction in Las Vegas every year since 2008. The next auction is coming up October 3-5, 2019 at Mandalay Bay. Now in it’s 11th year, the Las Vegas auction features plenty of classic American and European cars to add to your collection.

Auction events like Barrett-Jackson are all about excitement and suspense, which is great fun. But what if you want a more relaxed, formal atmosphere to enjoy fine motorcars? Coming this October, collector car enthusiasts will get their chance at the inaugural Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance.

The Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance is not just a simple car show, it is a luxury lifestyle event.

Event founder Stuart Sobek is a collector car enthusiast and seasoned veteran of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for more than 30 years. According to an interview with Stuart on the Cars Yeah Podcast, his goal was to bring the prestige and excitement of the Concours environment to Las Vegas, and make it a world-class event.

The whole thing kicks off on October 25, 2019 with a dinner featuring cuisine presented by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

The following day is the Concours event on Saturday, October 26th, held on the green at the Dragon Ridge Country Club in Henderson, NV. Approximately 200 vehicles are scheduled to appear as part of the show. Check out the Las Vegas Concours on Facebook and Instagram for teaser pics of some of the cars that have already been confirmed to appear.

On Sunday morning, there is an amazing opportunity to see cars from the Concours in motion as they cruise down the Las Vegas Strip with a police escort for the inaugural Tour d’Elegance event. These classic vehicles motoring down one of the most famous roads in America should make for a very memorable sight!

And for those fortunate enough to stick around until Monday, it’s back to Dragon Ridge for a charity golf tournament – with a $500 entry fee – with proceeds benefiting the LVCE/ArtCenter Scholarship Fund.

This event has attracted some pretty big attention, with sponsors including Bellagio, Mercedes-Benz of Henderson, as well as the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Mullin Auto Museum, and the National Automobile Museum in Reno.

If you are interested in attending the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance, tickets may be purchased online at www.lasvegasconcours.com. Be sure to check back in November for our coverage of the event!


Mitsubishi Diamante VR-X: Clapped Out Japanese Luxury

The U.S. auto market is among the most competitive you will find anywhere in the world. Throughout the age of the automobile, there have been many cars which were notorious for their failure in the market. The Ford Edsel, Chevrolet Corvair, the Ford Pinto, the Yugo, and even the DeLorean DMC-12 became famous for their lackluster sales. These names are known to those who are not automotive enthusiasts.

But for every widely-publicized flop into the North American car market, there are many more cars which sell poorly and disappear from dealerships without anyone even noticing. Cars like the Lexus ES250, Peugeot 405, and the Chrysler TC by Maserati for example.

Today I present another one of these low-production import cars: the Mitsubishi Diamante VR-X. Continue reading

The Very Rarest: 1966 Shelby Lonestar Concept Car

During his lifetime, Carroll Shelby accomplished more than most men could in two lifetimes. He was a test pilot in the Army Air Corps during the second World War, he was a Formula One racing driver, and would later go on to found Shelby American in 1962. Even people who do not know much about Carroll Shelby the man know him for his creations: the Shelby Cobra, the Shelby Mustang, and of course, for his work with Ford on the Le Mans-winning GT40.

These cars have taken on a mystical aura over the decades, with originals skyrocketing in value and plenty of replica and tribute cars rushing in to fill demand in the market. Shelby’s dedication to building high performance cars has earned the brand enormous respect and prestige among enthusiasts and collectors.

But I’m willing to bet that even the most die-hard Carroll Shelby fan has probably not heard of the Shelby Lonestar before. I will admit that I hadn’t heard of it until I was standing in front of the car earlier this year in Arizona.

I am a Carroll Shelby fan, having toured the factory in Las Vegas and having attended the largest gathering of GT40s in half a century at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But the story of the Shelby Lonestar was one I had not heard before, and it’s worth sharing.

Towards the end of his contract with Ford, Shelby American began working on the next evolution of the Shelby Cobra, a car that was referred to internally as the “Cobra Mk III.” Shelby hired British designer Len Bailey, who had designed the GT40 Mk III and GT40 Mirage.

It is no coincidence that the car resembles a GT40, using a similar tube chassis design with riveted aluminum body work. The mid-engine, two-seater is powered by a Ford 289 V8 engine producing 320 horsepower and paired with a 5-speed ZF gearbox. The Halibrand wheels and Smiths gauges round out the car’s provenance as a born racer. Shelby had intended to call the car a Cobra, but the name belonged to Ford. Shelby opted to call the car Lonestar, an homage to his home state of Texas.

This particular car was featured on the cover of Shelby’s parts catalog, on a poster, and was featured on the cover of Autoweek magazine in December of 1967. One version of the story says that U.S. safety regulations halted the car’s production; another says that Ford declined to finance production of the car. In any case, the idea of a Mark III Cobra  was abandoned after this one and only prototype was built.

The car sat in storage until October 1968, when it was advertised for sale in Autoweek magazine for the sum of $15,000 (equivalent to $110,000 in 2019). It did not sell, and changed hands a few more times before being purchased by Michael and Christa Shoen in 1975.

The Shoens sought the expert help of Cobra restoration expert Geoff Howard of Danbury, CT for help with the restoration – which ended up taking nearly a decade. The completed car is 95% original, aside from a missing front bumper which had to be painstakingly re-created. The Shelby Lonestar made its debut at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2018 to great acclaim.

I saw the car at a few shows in February 2019, now in its new home in Paradise Valley, Arizona. This is easily the rarest car to bear the Shelby name and although it doesn’t have the racing pedigree of the GT40, this one-off is the kind of rare treat enthusiasts fawn over. It sounds as though the car has finally found the loving home and the appreciation it deserves, and will hopefully bring the owner and Shelby fans lots of joy for years to come.

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Radwood Las Vegas (Video)

Started in 2017, Radwood is a car show that focuses specifically on vehicles from 1980 through 1999. These two decades produced some incredible and special cars, and Radwood aims to celebrate this era with its niche car shows.

We recently attended the first ever Radwood Las Vegas event in April 2019. Here is a quick video highlighting the event.

Cadillac El Clasico – The SuperFly El Dorado

The 1970s were truly a decade of excess. I have chronicled this in previous posts such as the Custom Cloud and the 1970’s revival of the Stutz Blackhawk. This decade was also a popular time for neo-classic automobiles, which I have also written about extensively for this site. Today we feature another artifact of this decade that I recently came across at a car show: the Cadillac El Clasico.

It’s hard not to use terms like “pimp mobile” or “pimp car” when admiring this vehicle, as it certainly looks like the product of one person with too much money and questionable taste. However, these cars were actually converted in small numbers by Wisco Corp., a coachbuilder formerly located in Roseville, Michigan. One source I read said that approximately 100 vehicles were given the “El Clasico” treatment, though I was unable to verify this.

Wisco took a car that was already a standard of luxury and prestige and just added MORE to it. More chrome, more trim, more everything. The car’s exterior is extremely busy. Most notable are the completely unnecessary exhaust header extensions that exit through the front fenders and pass through the running boards to the rear of the vehicle. The hood was not open on this car, so I could not verify if they were functional or simply a decoration.

Up at the front, an oversize waterfall grille and hood ornament are all done in chrome. The standard headlights are shrouded by oversize covers that resemble a 1920s car. A pair of fog lights were also added. Again, “more is more” was the mantra here.

With so much chrome, the fixed exterior windshield visor was probably a necessity to prevent the driver being blinded by the glare of his own vehicle.

From the rear, the car has a vinyl roof with a Landau bar, and miles of chrome trim adorning the body lines, window trim, and just generally stuck on all over the place – such as behind the rear wheel arches. It has running boards, similar to those found on full size vans. It has decorative trunk straps similar to the Excalibur, though these are not functional. The car sports dual exhaust with horizontal tips. The wheels are quite unusual and I don’t know how to describe them other than white wire wheels.

Interestingly, this car does not have a Continental Kit at the rear, which would have involved relocating the license plate. It also does not have spare wheels mounted on the fenders, another common feature on neoclassic cars.

The interior is actually the most tasteful part of this car. It seems to have been updated with a leather trimmed center console integrating an iPad. The dark red and black leather upholstery looks right at home with the 1970s era wood. I would have expected this car to have swivel seats and an all white leather interior!

A brand-new 1972 Cadillac ElDorado 2-door hardtop coupe would have cost about $7,360 when new. The Wisco conversion added about $3,630 to the price, for a total of $10,990 in 1972 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, this car would cost the equivalent of $66,705 in 2018.

There’s not a ton of information about Wisco or these El Clasico Cadillac conversions online, so if you have any information, please do share it with us!

Grullon GT8 GP Kit Car vs Factory Five GTM

There is no question that the Chevrolet Corvette is an American legend. It is steeped in tradition, history, and has a true racing provenance. The Corvette is one of the great American sports cars of all time. Dollar for dollar, it’s hard to imagine a car that offers a better value and is both docile enough for everyday use, but performs outstandingly well on a track.

But there is one drawback – Corvettes are everywhere. Every car show in every city has dozens of Vette owners and if you go to a lot of car shows like I do, Corvettes are quite commonplace. They don’t draw crowds of admirers with camera phones the way a flashy new European exotic car does.

Now I am not hating on Corvettes, I like them a lot. But there are a lot of people in the world who aren’t content to blend in – they need to stand out. They need a car that makes a statement about them as an individual – a reflection of their personality. A car like the Grullon GT8 will definitely stand out in a crowd, as this one did at my local Cars and Coffee show in Scottsdale.
The Grullon GT8 is a kit car manufactured by DDR Motorsport in Miami, Florida. While the Grullon looks as exotic as anything from Italy, it is based on the 1997-2002 Chevrolet Corvette C5. It has vertical doors, sharp angles, a roof scoop, and a massive fixed wing in the rear. It will draw as much attention as a Ferrari or Lamborghini for a fraction of the price.

But wait, isn’t there already a C5-based kit car? You are correct – the GTM Supercar from Factory Five Racing has been out for years and comes from a highly reputable and established company. As far as I can tell, the Grullon is a direct competitor to the GTM that appears to be trying to undercut them on price.

Let’s take a look at some figures and do a comparison of the Factory Five GTM vs the Grullon GT8:

Factory Five GTM Grullon GT8
Parent Company Factory Five Racing DDR Motorsport
Based In Wareham, MA (USA) Miami, FL (USA)
Year Established 1995 2001
Base Price $24,990 $17,995
Kit Includes Tubular spaceframe chassis
All body panels
All DOT glass
Steering system
Fuel, Brake, Pedal system
Cooling system
Complete interior kit
Complete electrical kit
Full exhaust system
Full wiring harness
Relocation brackets, mounting hardware
Tubular spaceframe chassis
Fiberglass body panels
Custom Fuel Tank
Front and side glass
Front and rear lights
Cooling System
Center Console
Does Not Include Engine
Fuel Tank
Front & Rear Suspension
Wheels and Tires
Front & Rear Suspension
Steering System
Side View Mirrors
Wiring Harness
Wheels and Tires
Assembly Time Approx. 600 hours ??
Curb Weight 2,400 lbs (1089 kg) 2,700 lbs (1225 kg)
Road Legal In: USA, Canada, International USA, Canada, International

The Grullon sounds enticing, coming in at $6,995 below the price of the Factory Five kit. However, it does not include a number of components such as an exhaust system, seats, gauges, rack and pinion steering, engine wiring harness, and some other items. With the Factory Five kit, some of these are included and some of them come from the donor car. The Grullon does come with its own custom fuel tank, while the GTM adapts the OEM fuel tank from the donor car.

Both cars would be a significant project for someone who is handy with tools and willing to do most of the work themselves. With both kits, the purchaser needs to find their own engine and transaxle as well as a lot of parts from a donor C5 Corvette. Then factoring in things like paint, vehicle inspection and registration, and other costs for hardware, etc. it can really add up. Factory Five estimates that most of their customers spend $35,000 to $50,000 for a completed vehicle – but of course that could go up depending on your specific wants or needs. I could not find a total cost to build estimate on DDR’s website.

The Grullon that I saw at my local car show is actually the upgraded GT8 Grand Prix model, which features numerous carbon fiber body panels in addition to fiberglass. The GT8 GP kit starts at $26,405 as of 2019.

If you want a head-turning car that won’t break the bank, a Corvette-based kit car may be what you’re looking for. With two different kits available, I would encourage potential buyers to do their research before picking one. While I cannot personally vouch for either one, it is interesting to see another option enter the market.

CES 2019 Concept Cars

The purpose of concept cars is to show what technologies, designs, and ideas might be incorporated into production cars in the not-too-distant future. While many of these vehicles rarely make it past the design process, they do occasionally contain elements that trickle down to mass-produced cars.

I was fortunate to attend the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While it mostly focuses on smartphones and wearable tech, there is a significant portion of the show dedicated to cars. Here are some notable concept cars that I spotted at #CES2019.
The Audi AICON is a 2+2 autonomous luxury sedan. Powered by four electric motors, the vehicle is projected to have a range of 450 miles between charges, with an 80% charge taking just 30 minutes.

Byton is a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer based in Nanjing. Founded by former BMW and Nissan executives, the company hopes to begin selling its first models in China later this year. The Byton K-Byte is a luxury sedan with Level 4 autonomous driving and a 325 mile range. It has LiDAR modules mounted on both the left and right front fenders.

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