Thursday, December 30, 2010

What and how would you an iPad Classic Car Magazine to be?

The Apple iPad is quite a famous gadget and after many companies missed the hype around the iPhone lots of media companies are investing into iPad applications to be part of the game this time. Wired for example set some sort of a benchmark.
As we are thinking about bringing a zwischengas-iPad-application sometimes during 2011 we are wondering what the features would be that iPad users would look for. Of course the App needs to make use of state-of-the-art multimedia, i.e. sound, video, images, but that's probably not enough. It must be more than a website with different navigation patterns and controls, right? But what exactly?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 officially launched

It was a lot of hard work, but now its available for public use: It's targeted towards German language readers, but the pictures are of course multi language. Have a look and you will understand that my blogging frequency went down over the last weeks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What we can celebrate next year (2011)

Soon we will swap 2010 by 2011 in our calendars. So I started to think about what cars have been presented 50 years ago. Here's a first list:
Renault 4
Jaguar E-Type
VW 1500
Peugeot 404
NSU Prinz 4
Fiat 1300/1500
Daf 600
Devin VW (Devin D)
Citroen Ami 6
Fiat Coupé 2300 S
Simca 1000
Jaguar Mark X
Triumph TR 4
Ferrari 250 GT(E)
Alfa-Romeo 2000 Sprint (Bertone)

Yes, I agree, not all of these have the same relevance ;-)
So, here's a list for cars presented 30 years ago (so 1981):
Alfa-Romeo GTV 6
Audi Quattro
Audi Coupé
Talbot Murena
Porsche 944
Renault 5 Turbo
Ferrari Mondial
Mercedes 380/500 SEC
Opel Ascona (front wheel drive)
VW Jetta
Talbot Tagora
TVR Tasmin
As always, I am open for feedbacks and corrections.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Devin D restoration project for sale - now on ebay

I have been writing about this Devin D restoration project before. It's a very rare find! It has been with the same owner since 1973 and comes with a clear title identifying the car as the number 20 of totally 49 Devin Ds every built. It will make a splendid vintage racer, but could also be finished as a street car. Of course, there's some work to do, but the components are available.
The odometer apparently reads only 1139 miles. The car had been raced in original red with black interior and also with Porsche silver with burgundy accents. The car had been prepared to re-paint when the current owner bought it. The instruments, wipers, windshield and other components where remove to sand and refinish. The car has remained in this condition to this day. There is an additional windshield glass from 1956 Porsche Speedster, full top, bows and side-curtains. There are other additional parts, such as exhaust and muffler and other sundry parts.
So, if you are in the market for a rare vintage racer (I know of only two D Devins in Europe) then here's an opportunity to acquire a fantastic platform to start with.
As said, it's on ebay now. Have a look.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Classic Car Season is over

A few days ago I posted a comment on my last trips with my cars for this year, and I was right. In the meantime the winter has visibly arrived, with snowfall and cold temperatures.
So for the next couple of months it will be more about reading books and magazines, watching movies and maybe working on the cars, than driving our cherished classics. Well, that's how it is when you live in central Europe.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When you have to pay more to NOT get an aircondition

This is the Porsche Cayman R. It's a lighter and more powerful version of the Cayman S. To save weight, the Porsche Engineers got rid of the radio and the aircondition. They also got rid of some other comfort accessories and items. They increased power by 10 HP, which shouldn't cost them much more as it's probably chip tuning only. So, you get almost the same, but less and you pay a lot more for the package, Euro 7'300.- to be specific. Okay, the lighter wheels may be a bit more expensive, but honestly, why would you pay so much more to actually get less? True weight saving must start with the basic concept of the car, not by removing convenience.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Auto Zurich 2010 - McLaren MP4-12C Ferrari 599 GTO Aston-Martin Cygnet ...

Auto Zurich cannot be compared with the Geneva car show. But looking at the range of new cars presented in Zurich it must be said that it's still an impressive show. New cars on scene were the Ferrari 599 GTO (for people with a lot of money) , McLaren MP4-12C (for people with a need for exclusivity), Volkswagen Passat (for people with families), Aston-Martin Cygnet (for people who want to pay twice the money to receive a Toyota IQ), Ranger Rover Evoque (for people who thing the BMW X6 isn't nice enough), Brabus Mercedes-Benz SLS (for people who thing the standard thing isn't expensive enough), Mercedes-Benz CLS (or people who only know short people to get into the back), Porsche Carrera GTS (same as a standard 911 for the GT3 price when fully loaded), new Veritas (if convenience is not an objective), Mitsubishi MIEV (if electricity is available where you park), and so on. The Zurich show is also a good show, because you can see all the cars in roughly 90 minutes ...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Has been here before - 4 door Coupés

Pininfarina designed this Lancia Florida Four Door Coupé in the mid fifties. It really looked sharp! So, what we see from Mercedes (CLS), Volkswagen (Passat CC) Aston-Martin (Rapide) or Porsche (Panamera) isn't really that innovative and new, isn't it? By the way, Rover and other brands continued this tradition of building 4 door coupés through the 60ies and 70ies, into the 80ies.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One that you can buy - Amilcar C6 Grand Prix Car

Here's again a car, that is for sale. It attracted my attention because it has a lovely patina and combines Grand Prix feeling with a road registration. It's a 1927 Amilcar C6 with a straight six cylinder engine with a double overhead camshaft, a dry sump system and a compressor. When the C6 was launched in 1926 it achieved no less than 74 victories in that year, such as the Italian Grand Prix, the Provence Grand Prix and the Brooklands 200 Miles. The C6 was also the first 1100ccm car to go reach speeds above 200 km/h.
The car for sale at VDV is in completely original state, with a fully reconditioned engine. There's no mentioning of the sales price, but it won't come cheap, but could be worth every penny!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The best ever driver's car? Not an obvious choice

Here's a picture from Pistonheads. Actually they sort of borrowed it from Classic and Sportscars. C&S is celebrating the best ever driver's cars in a coming issue and that's where the foto is coming from. As you can see in the picture, the top 5 are the Alfa 8C, the McLaren F1, the Mini Cooper, the Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 and the Lotus Elan Sprint. Now, the question of course is whether we agree with this selection (and the winner RS 2.7). Difficult to say, as I haven't yet driven four of the five, at least not in the proposed disguise. But I wonder whether they didn't miss a couple of additional candidates, i.e. the Dino 246 GT or something from the 50ies for example. And, three out of five are British, but only one German and one Italian car? Seems to be a bit harsh. No Japanese car, not even the iconic Honda NSX or the Toyota GT 2000? No French car, not even the multi-times-Monte-Carlo-winner Alpine A110 1600S or one of the sought after Bugattis? No American car - well, maybe that's okay.
But, if given the choice, which of the five would I take? Probably not the McLaren and neither the Mini. Rather the Lotus or the Porsche. But my winner would be the Alfa-Romeo. Yes, I am slowly getting mature enough to fancy pre-war cars ....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Last Classic Car Blast before the Winter

One thing we, central European Classic Car drivers, share is the winter issue. At the end of every good classic car season there's the day where you take your car out for a blast the last time before you prepare it for the sleeping period over the winter. The last drive is always a great experience even if there's also some sadness combined with it. Why can't the Autumn just last forever, why can't we have more days like the ones we just experienced? Ten to fifteen degrees of Celsius, dry condition, wonderful Indian summer colors, that's a great combination for the last drive. Well, soon we'll see snow, salt on the streets and limited daylight conditions. That will be the time when you read all the old motor magazines, new books and test your reflexes on the Playstation 3.
Well, at least I had the opportunity to take out my cars once more. And they all seemed to respond to that last drive very well.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Picture of the Week - Abarth

Carlo Abarth built some of the best sportscars in the 60ies and early 70ies. Many won big races despite a engine size deficit. And many great driver was a works driver with the Abarth team. Many of the cars were beautifully shaped, but efficiency was more of a concern for Carlo Abarth than beauty. When he sold his company to Fiat the end was soon to come, too bad. Today you can again buy Abarth cars, but they are mostly tuned Fiat derivates. However there's a rumour that a new lightweight sportcar might be arriving!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

TVR Grantura Restoration - Stage Four - more difficulties!

Since the last post on this very topic almost 10 months have passed. Initially my dear TVR Grantura should have been restored and back on the road by now, but as always, things didn't develop as planned.
At least, in the meantime we have been able to separate the chassis from the body. Before we were able to do so the body had to be stabilized and partially fixed. What we found when we were able to look at the chassis the first time without fiberglass around it, was quite shocking! Longitudinal tubes were missing or totally rusted away! Others were not where they should be and some were repaired in a fairly bad way. So there's quite a bit of work that has to go into the chassis, we even have to consider a replacement item, if we can find one. But, the good news is, there can't be many more bad messages coming from now on. So, next stage will be all about fixing the chassis and in parallel, fixing the body as well. Only then we can start to reassembling the car. And hopefully it will go back on the road in 2011 still!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Have we gone beyond the tipping point in automobile engineering?

Recently I was involved in a discussion on whether we have gone beyond the tipping point in automobile engineering. The question discussed was whether future cars will not be "truly" better than the cars produced today and points mentioned where things such as engine downsizing, cars getting heavier and heavier, more and more electronics taking away the fun from driving, noise restrictions, emission regulations enforcing direct fuel injections, etc..
Of course you can have many different perspectives here. Let me just mention a few:
(I) The best cars are the ones from the last decade. Cars like the Audi RS4/SE, BMW M3, Porsche 911 Carrera GT3/GT3 RS, Audi RS8 V10, Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggiera, maybe even the Bugatti Veyron, etc. have set the bar and shown what is feasible. With new laws and restrictions you can only make it worse, but barely better.
(II) The best cars come from the 50ies and early 60ies, as then racing and competition cars (especially GTs and prototype type two seaters) could be driven on the road and offered maximum driving pleasure and a great sound spectrum. Take a Jaguar C-Type or a Porsche Carrera 6 as example. And don't think about convenience and usability.
(III) The best cars are still to come as with modern computer technology they will be extremely safe, extremely convenient taking over most/all of the driver's activivities and offer full access to web, TV, sound and entertainment while moving from A to B.
All of the three perspective have some "raison d'être". And for all there are exceptions and counter arguments of course. It's all a matter of what you want and value.
However there are some facts out there as well. The Volkswagen V6 engine built into the R32 for example offered an incredible sound, which the new 4 cylinder Golf R can't match. On the other side modern sound engineering and computer controlled exhaust systems in cars such as the Maserati coupé or the Aston Martin DBS/DB9 enables interesting noise patterns as well. Or just listen to a Ferrari 430 Scuderia. And it's obvious that the current cars offer superior road handling thanks to electronics, modern tyre technology and great suspension design. And it's also clear that weight spoils driving pleasure to some extent, so a 600kg sportscar of the 60ies has certain advantages against a 2 ton Aston Martin, even if the advantage doesn't translate to better lap times.
So, it's a wide topic or as you can say in German "das ist ein weites Feld". Enjoy what you like best and let room for the others with different opinions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

German electrical car with a range of more than 600 km

It's not first of April, so maybe it's true. Apparently German companies (lekker engery, DBM energy) built an electrical car that can go more than 600 km (they did 605 km to prove this) and can be recharged within an hour (or in 5 minutes under optimal conditions). The technology used for the battery is new and is based on lithium metal polymer structures. The whole battery weighs only 100 kg. The car used is an almost vintage Audi A2 and still offers seats for 4 people and space for the luggage. This almost sounds like a miracle! Sadly enough the battery technology is not yet production ready and of course many questions can be raised. But if eventually something like this can be manufactured in large numbers then this provides interesting parameters for the design of future cars! Think about small electrical motors, relatively small and light batteries. Let's see!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Picture of the Week - Porsche 904 Signature

What you can see here are two things:
a) the "signature" on a Porsche 904 GTS with true patina
b) classic car design at its best
They don't do signatures and brand model like this anymore. And it looked so good. The car (or better part of it) pictured is probably one of the few unrestored Porsche 904 in existence. And it's good that something like this still lives!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do all cars look alike? How car makers are giving up on individual characteristics and design attributes

What you see here are station wagons of two design brands that give quite a bit for their distinctive characteristics and design attributes. But you really have to look for the details to see the differences! The "man from the street" probably couldn't tell which car is coming from what brand, if you removed the batches. Don't understand me wrongly, both cars are pretty and certainly well shaped and designed, but they lack differentiation. And it's not just these two cars, it's the whole lot we can buy today. Aerodynamics, safety and apparently today's tate influence what the designers can do. Too sad!
By the way, if you haven't been able to identify the two cars: BMW 5 Series Touring 2010 and Citroen C5 Tourer 2010.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

With the GT40 at Le Mans - difficult to beat this

The Ford GT40 is one of the all time best sportscars ever. Not only did it win Le Mans more than once it also successfully competed on many other racetracks around the world. And you could even drive the car on the road. It looked good as well, but, Gee, the sound was just incredible, as the enclosed (not new) video from a lap at Le Mans (Classic 2008) clearly points out:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Google's robot cars and what it may mean for classic cars

So, apparently Google has cars driving around guided purely by computers. Robot Cars. The idea has been around since the 60ies, but few years ago the electronics/hardware still took most of the passenger and boot space. This is getting better by the day. Google's cars are Toyota Prius and obviously there's still at least enough space to seat a control person and a passenger, maybe more. Now people say that this may open a new development similar to the impact of the internet. With robot driven cars you can reduce accidents, put more cars on the road on less space and make cars lighter and more economical as they will prevent accidents rather to have a lot of passive safety built inside. That would be good news as such. But obviously this only makes sense if all the cars follow the same logic and if we have less software errors built into these cars than into the odd MS Excel or Word. And I am a bit afraid, this is not good news of us who keep classic cars on the road and try to mesh into daily traffic. These robot cars will not know that a vintage automobile may easily take 100 meters to brake from 100 km/h to 0, or more.
But anyway, until we have these robot cars on public roads, a lot of legal and technical hurdles need to be removed, so let's get excited when it's here ...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tyres have changed a lot, so has the advertisement

Tyres are one of the products that have changed dramatically during the development of the automobile. So has advertisement for tyres. Here's one from 1949, most people probably don't even remember the brand "India". It probably disappeared a long time ago. Interestingly though some of the very early tyre makers such as Michelin and Dunlop, having influenced the development quite significantly from the beginning, are still here and still successful. And mind, it's the square of four postcards that connect your car to the street, so maybe picking the right tyres should be as much an important consideration as picking the car as such.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Radar speed control detection in 1961

A long time ago, in 1961, the company Hamos (New York) introduced a radar (speed control) detection unit to be installed in cars. Given that cars barely were able to go beyond 100 km/h and the low probability of a speed control exercise the purchase of such a (expensive) unit may sound a bit "beyond" today. But it's interesting to know that the "problem" was acknowledge already 50 years ago, isn't it?
And it's also funny to see that the company already in 1961 claimed to increase road safety with this device.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Volvo P1800 - a car, that almost looked like a Ferrari

Here's an ad from 1961 showing the Volvo P1800. It was a gorgeous sportscar that combined Swedish solidity with Italian design. The front almost looked like a Ferrari, the side and back was probably influenced by the Americans. It drove well, even if it was not that fast. Many people admired it, including Simon Templar in the so called TV series. When I was young I lost a tennis match against a P1800 driver, but the ride home was worth it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Volkswagen Passat looks a bit very much like expected

Could you trust a computer to design a new car? Well, hopefully not. But in this case it may have worked. This is the new Volkswagen Passat. It's quite pretty and much smoother than it's predecessor. It basically made the same transition than the Golf going from V to VI. So, if you had a good morphing software and you could instruct to do a similar evolution with the old Passat that was done with the Golf, you would pretty much get what you see here on the picture. That's not only bad news and it's certainly good for the business of the German car manufacturer. But it's a bit boring too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tucker - the untold stories

Remember the movie "Tucker"? It's about a visionary man reinventing the car and coming up with something quite revolutionary considering the year 1948. The story behind the movie actually is quite true. Tucker existed and the (prototype) cars as well. Not only was these car more aerodynamically shaped than almost anything else, it also had a few engineering ideas incorporated that made it special, i.e. a small helicopter engine taking much less space in the back than the usual 6 or 8 cylinder engines and leaving a lot of boot space in the front. But the car had also a few problems, including not being able to reverse. And the development was funded by people putting a deposit. And these people, and there were some even in Switzerland, never got their car, but the deposit of course had gone. The illustration here is an actual ad for the car in a car catalogue in 1948. It really looked good!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Advertising the BMW 507

As you probably have found out, I really love old car ads. Here's one showcasing the BMW 507. It was BMW's attempt to compete with the mighty Mercedes 300 SL and it actually had a magnificent 8 cylinder engine and the gorgeous design of Goertz. But it didn't sell well in the 50ies and disappeared after only few cars produced. I know of people having been able to buy one for less than 40k Euro and selling it for ten time as much a number of years later.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Remember the Ford Capri RS 2600?

In March 1970 Ford presented the Ford Capri RS 2600. It delivered 150 HP with its 2.6 liter engine, quite something at that time! It was derived from the touring car and at the same time the basis for many racing versions to come. With its twin lights and the Kugelfischer injection it was steps ahead from the rest of the Capri range. Everybody wanted to have one.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One that you can buy - Lotus Europa S1

It takes a special fan to buy such a car, but it's certainly a worthwhile investment. Here's a Lotus Europa S1, 1967, for sale in Switzerland. It comes from the very first series, chassis number 149 and is one of the few still existing cars of the first year of build. It still has the closed windows, specific chassis and its original wheels. It's great that such cars continue to exist in its standard version. And it certainly need to be preserved in this condition! Freshly restored it comes with all you need.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Soon available - - online portal for friends of classic cars and historic races

We have been working a lot over the last months, but soon we can present the results of our efforts: This will be an online platform for German reading classic car addicts and friends of historic racing. We have scanned and digitized more than 120'000 pages of historically important documents, have searched through large archives and edited sound and video documents to create what we think the most comprehensive online information repository covering 100+ years of automobile history.
If you want to get a sneak preview, have a look at the video shown here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Lotus Esprit revealed

What Lotus did in Paris, came quite as a suprise to many. We all had expected the new Elite, but Lotus also presented a new mid engine Esprit a new Elan, a new Elise and the new 4 door saloon Eterne. Obviously they seem to share a lot, engines, drivetrain, etc. They also seem to talk the same design language. Now, having been an admirer for many of the old Lotus (Elite, 11, 23, 17, Elan, Europa, Esprit S2.2 and Elise/Exige), what do I think about this new model range? I honestly think that Lotus makes the same mistake as the others, Aston-Martin, Maserati and so on. More and more power, more and more weight and similar design patterns. This is, in my eyes, not what Lotus made great. So, having seen the lot now, I will continue to stick with the classics, once more.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hudson Hornet - a nearly invincible car in stock car racing

Remember the Pixar movie "Cars"? Most of the cars in this computer animated film were modeled after real cars, i.e. the Fiat 500, the Porsche, and the Hudson Hornet. The local judge was the Hudson Hornet character, a grumpy old cars having been highly successful in racing in its better days. And it's actually a true story. The Hudson Hornet proved to be almost invincible in stock car racing during the early 50ies. Despite this racing success, sales didn't really follow and the car has almost disappear from the landscape. Even more exciting is it therefore when you can actually see one racing up the hill in Switzerland (Europe), as it happened last weekend at the Steckborn-Eichhölzli classic car hillclimb 2010. It is an impressive car, even if you can't really spot the racing genes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It IS possible - Lamborghini Sesto Elemento with less than 1000 kg

Lamborghini presents the Sesto Elemento, a concept car, in Paris. It's sort of a next version Gallardo, built with (probably expensive) lightweight materials. The result though is staggering: 990 kg, 570 hp, 0-100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. Well my key take away: Even with a heavy drivetrain and big engine you can get the weight of the car below 1'000 kg. So with more sensibility (smaller engine, only rear wheel drive, etc.) you actually can build a modern car below 800 to 900 kg. So, engineers, go to your drawing boards and build these modern sportscars that take less and driver better!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hillclimb Steckborn-Eichhölzli 2010 - driving the Devin-TR up the hill

The hillclimb Steckborn-Eichhölzli is organized only every third year, so this was the first event since 2007. While the first day was extremely wet and cold, the second day enjoyed drivers and spectators with sun and more acceptable temperatures. The "track" is 2900 m long and climbs 127m. Best times were below 1:10, which means an average speed of more than 160 km/h, but even 2:00 means more than 85 km/h average speed. Three more challenging curves and three chicanes limit higher speeds. How this feels, you can watch yourself in the video:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ferrari SA Aperta - already sold out

Isn't that how you want it to have as a car manufacturer? You create a new car, and even before it's officially presented, it's already sold out. Exactly this is what happened with the Ferrari SA Apperta, the open version of the 599. It's a good looking car and with the limitation to 80 examples to be built it's clear that there's at least initial collector's value. Whether the money will keep the value, that's another question, but we will see. By the way the "SA" goes back to Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina, and the "80" comes from Pininfarina's 80st anniversary.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lotus reveals new Elite

So, finally, Lotus has revealed its new sportscar, called the Elite. It's a 2+2 coupé with an 8 cylinder engine and 500ish hp, 1650 kg heavy, with aluminum doors. It looks good, a bit like a mixture of Aston Martin and Honda.
So what's wrong? A lot!
It carries a famous name. The Lotus Elite was Lotus' first coupé, a revolutionary car with full fiberglass body (no chassis!) and 1200 ccm Climax engine. It was extremely handsome! It was successful in racing as well, winning the efficiency category in Le Mans for example. It was successful in the hand of many amateur racing driver of the late 50ies and early sixties. It's a legend! And now this. A car that is twice as heavy as the early Lotus Elise (MK1), almost as big as a 5-series BMW. For me, this is like another brand, i.e. Lotus (H) versus Lotus (L) - H standing for heavyweight, L standing for lightweight. It will be expensive as well, I fear. Not that I don't like the car as such, it would have been a good baby Aston or let's say a new baby Bristol. But for Lotus I would have wished something different, much lighter and more revolutionary. Too bad!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lancia Fulvia Zagato - neat coupé from the sixties

The Lancia Fulvia probably was one of the most successful Lancias over all. 320000 cars were built of which roughly 147000 were Coupés. The rarest of the breed is the Fulvia Sport with Zagato body, only 7120 cars were produced. It wasn't as successful in racing and rallyies as the Fulvia Coupé (HF and so on), but it certainly was a pretty car. Here's a picture from the sales leaflet, and it's really a wonderful foto, isn't it? Before the times of Photoshop the artist was able to capture the touch of history and tradition, combine it with a lifestyle ambiente and even include a bit of love and women's touch. Wonderful! They don't do pictures like this anymore, and they don't do cars like this anymore neither ...