All I Want For Christmas is…….A Classic Car

10 Dec

The following is an excerpt from Hagerty Collector and Classic Car Insurance.

In addition to home, hearth and family, this is the time of the year that car people reflect on the classics that have made the automotive world a better place. Here are five that we are especially thankful for:

1. Ford Mustang: The original pony car celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. The Mustang was a car like no other. Although designed for the youth market, it appealed to nearly every demographic. Little has changed. We’re particularly big fans of the original 1964½-66 Mustang as well as the present model introduced in 2005.

Pony up with this classic

Pony up with this classic

2. Chevrolet Camaro: The Camaro may have been inspired by the Mustang and it may have come to market a few years later, but bowtie fans had a lot to be enthusiastic about, particularly when the cars butted heads in the legendary SCCA Trans Am race series of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Like the Mustang, we like the bookend effect of the original 1967-69 cars and the present iteration of the Camaro.

1969 Yenko Camaro

1969 Yenko Camaro

3. Chevrolet Corvette: It’s difficult to imagine a world without the Corvette, but GM was ready to kill it after the disappointing 1954 model year. Only the appearance of the 1955 Ford Thunderbird (GM couldn’t countenance the appearance of having been driven from the two-seater market by Ford) and the arrival of savior Zora Arkus-Duntov ensured its survival to the present. The iconic 1963-67 Sting Ray celebrates its 50th anniversary next year along with the 60th of the Corvette itself.

1963 Corvette Stingray

1963 Corvette Stingray

4. Porsche 911: The Porsche 911 is a car that shouldn’t really work at all: Its engine is in the wrong place for well-balanced handling and its basic style is going on a half century old. Yet it continues to inspire lust in everyone from engineers to hedge fund managers. We’re partial to the classic air-cooled models built from 1978-89. They’re nearly bulletproof and some can be bought quite reasonably.

1978 Porche 911 SC

1978 Porche 911 SC

5. Jaguar XKE: As legend has it, none other than Enzo Ferrari wept when the XKE was unveiled — he called it the most beautiful car he’d ever seen. XKEs (or E-Types to the rest of the world) have been frequent museum exhibits and not just at automotive museums — the Museum of Modern Art in New York displayed one for many years. It truly is a piece of moving sculpture the likes of which hasn’t been seen again, although its DNA clearly shows up in the new Jaguar F-Type.

1967 Jaguar XKE Series 1

1967 Jaguar XKE Series 1

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Vintage 1960 “Film Strip” Corvair Presentation

6 Dec

Most of the Corvair brethren remember film strip presentations from grade school.  Dealership advertising used similar technology to present historical and technological  information to potential car buyers.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the bings and dings of just such a show………

The Corvair in Action……1960 TV Commercial

6 Dec

This is one of those glorious TV ads from the 60’s that most of us in the Corvair world remember with fond worm feelings. The following is one of those 6 plus minute “infomercials” that Chevrolet aired on National TV presumably during the Ed Sullivan Show or perhaps Red Skelton. Sit back and enjoy the view once again.

If the Mayan Calendar is Accurate…I’m Bidding On This TODAY!

22 Nov

GM Boss Dan Akerson Selling His Classic Chevrolet Corvette for Charity

From Fox News….Published Nov. 21, 2012

If you ever wanted to own the car of a CEO, now’s your chance.  When Dan Akerson took the top job at General Motors in 2011 he also took on the trappings of his new home by treating himself to a mint 1958 Chevrolet Corvette Corvette hardtop convertible.  As he tells it, the Regal Turquoise and white sports car was the fulfillment of a childhood dream, as he had hoped to get a Schwinn Corvette bicycle for Christmas in 1958.  His car is among the rarest of the Corvettes, with only 419 made, and less than that in this color combination. It’s powered by a 245 hp V8, has a four-speed manual transmission, and now it can be yours, for a good cause.  Akerson is selling the car for charity at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in January, with the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity to help rehabilitate the Morningside Commons neighborhood near GM’s downtown Detroit headquarters.  According to the Hagerty Price Guide, a top notch Corvette like this usually goes for up to $118,000, but given the particular provenance of this one, the charity aspect and the premium prices often drummed up during the frenzy of an auction, there’s a good chance the high bid will likely be much higher than that.

The full article may be found at Fox News.

Corvair Racing Pioneer John Fitch Dies

5 Nov

The following is a recent excerpt from Hemmings Motor News:

Racing Legend and Safety Pioneer John Fitch Dies

A living legend has left us. John Fitch, the racer whose life would have been entirely unbelievable had he not lived it, has died at the age of 95.

It’s difficult to sum up John Fitch’s life without leaving something important out, just as it’s difficult to find any one highlight to his life, considering that his whole life was one almost endless highlight reel. He knew just about everybody there was to know in international racing’s glory years, he drove with some of the best and most notorious race car drivers on the planet, he built his own cars and designed a world-renowned race track, and he invented safety devices that continue to save lives today.

He was born August 4, 1917, to a family that counts another John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat, among its ancestors; Fitch’s stepfather worked as an executive at Stutz and introduced the young Fitch to automobiles and to engineering. He went to Lehigh University to study the latter, but dropped out in 1939 to visit Europe “to see the world before it was destroyed,” he said. Two years later, he volunteered for the Army Air Corps and flew missions in North Africa and England before being shot down over Germany in 1944 and serving out the rest of World War II as a prisoner. He began racing sports cars in 1949 and eventually earned a spot on the Mercedes racing team, sharing a co-driver spot with Pierre Levegh at the infamous 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans. He later raced for Chevrolet and Briggs Cunningham, but the Le Mans crash stayed with him and influenced him to develop the Fitch Inertial Barrier System – those sand-filled yellow barrels that have become almost standard at highway exit ramps. During the 1960s, he turned to tuning the Chevrolet Corvair in attempts to make it perform along the lines of the sports cars that he had so much experience with, and in the mid-1960s built the one-off Fitch Phoenix, a Corvair-based two-seater that very nearly made it into series production. Though he retired from racing in 1966, he remained a fixture in the international racing scene – particularly in and around Lime Rock Park – and in 2003 attempted to set a land-speed record in a Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing.

In later years, Fitch has not only been presented with the Simeone Museum’s Spirit of Competition award, but has also been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the Corvette Hall of Fame, SCCA Hall of Fame, Sebring Hall of Fame, Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and the Bloomington Gold Great Hall. Three years ago we had the chance to visit with him and found him, at age 92, as charming and lucid as ever and still willing to take the Fitch Phoenix or his Consulier GTP out for a spin at the drop of a hat.

As Autoweek reported, Fitch died early this morning of Merkel carcinoma. He was 95.

UPDATE (1.November 2012): As noted above, Fitch was a prolific inventor. While he holds a couple patents on vehicle suspension systems (3366400 and 3473822), one on a stowable luggage rack (3181753) and even one on a wood-burning stove (4141366), the majority are related to both on-track and on-highway crash safety (3606258, 3856268, 3880404, 3916816, 5921702, 5947515, 5957616, 6010275).

End of an Era……..

5 Nov

This post is an excerpt from Fox News about the demise of the Volkswagen Bus. Full article can be seen here.

Volkswagen’s legendary hippie van, originally called the Type 2, but known by many aliases over the years including Microbus, has been living in retirement in Brazil all this time.

Production started there in 1979 after the air-cooled classic was replaced in Europe by a more modern vehicle, while the original soldiered on to service the then developing world. It was also built in Mexico up until 1994.

Aside from switching to a water-cooled engine a couple of years ago to keep up with emissions standards – which explains the unsightly radiator grille on the front – what’s sold in Brazil as the Kombi is pretty much the same second generation Type 2 that’s been on the road since the late 60’s, an update of the 1950 original. Priced at about twenty grand, VW builds 241 of them a day, according to Autocar.co.uk.

But time has finally caught up with the people carrying People’s Car — with a top speed of 80 mph is that really a surprise? Production will end finally on December 31, 2013, ten years after the last VW Beetle rolled off the line in Mexico. New Brazilian safety regulations require two airbags and anti-lock brakes in every vehicle and the old girl just can’t accommodate them.

She’ll be 63 years old when she passes, the Beetle made it to 65.

Sad to see such an important icon passing Passing into the collectors market that is!  Anyone collecting Brazilian buses yet? 

VairFest Wrap-up Rap for September 13, 2012

15 Sep

A small but merry band of Corvair enthusiasts gathered at President Jim’s home to chew the fat of VairFest. We did not have to chew for long since the treasurer’s report shows the club made a whopping $.18 profit for our most recent event in June.  Not that we are in this to line the club coffers with dough but we all got a good laugh at the expense and credit report. The bottom line, to use the parlance of our time; we are still in the black and that was cause for celebration.  Pizza, wine, fruit and a variety of salads lined the buffet counter as we discussed the future of this fine Corvair event.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder

Our goal this year is to grow the event both in paid attendees and in passersby attendance.  We would like to make this a “go to” destination event for everyone and we  agreed to Jump start the 2013 event immediately.  Timely media we agree will be key to getting this event into the eyes of the right people.  First and foremost it was deemed that we get our event into the national media magazines such as Hemming’s Classic Car, CORSA Communique and others that have a calendar of events.  Many of these mags have lead times that are due 6 months in advance so it behooves us to start now.  Which reminds me…..Central Coast Corsa’s annual VairFest event at Heritage Park in Arroyo Grande, CA. will take place the weekend of June 21, 22 and 23, 2013. Once again our signature “Best Value” features are: Friday evenings date night with spaghetti dinner and a movie, Saturday car show, BBQ lunch, raffles and awards and a trek back in time to the Great American Melodrama for a fun and zany vaudeville show that is rife with laughs and a hint of burlesque just for spice. Our goal is to have 35 cars and a parade of informed populace craving to gawk at all the beautiful and unique Corvairs!  Let the parade begin.