Hoping to attract young buyers just entering the new vehicle marketplace, American Motors rolled out a succession of vehicles with unusual styling in the mid-1970s. The first was the Gremlin with its diagonally sliced tail. Next came the Pacer with its bubble-like styling. And does anyone remember the Hornet AMX hatchback or Matador coupe?
One of those Pacers, a 1977 Pacer Limited, is Pick of the Day. The Pacer bodywork grew into a so-called station wagon version in 1977 and the Pick is an example. Fold down the back seat and this compact provided 47.8 cubic feet for carrying cargo, and with the rear hatch opening nearly to bumper height, loading and unloading was made easier.
In some ways, the Pacer wagon was far ahead of its time. Today, it seems as though everyone wants a compact “crossover” vehicle.
The example on offer, advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealership located in Milbank, South Dakota, wears Bordeaux paint and has a tan leather interior.
It also has AMC’s 258cid inline 6-cylinder engine, linked to an automatic transmission.
Additional features included factory air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, power windows, AM/FM/CB radio and color-keyed wheels.
The dealership notes that the odometer shows 51,519 miles and that “the Pacer has become a Highly Sought After Classic!”
On a recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, the comedian and car guy returned to muscle cars in a big way. Literally.
The star of the episode is a 1971 Plymouth GTX, which was otherwise known as the “businessman’s muscle car.” Road Runners of the day were stripped out with beefy engines. The GTX packed a 440 cubic inch V8 with around 375 horsepower, as well as comforts such as air conditioning. The car shown here has been modified by its owner to include an air grabber hood, which meant putting non-factory air conditioning in. However, it’s probably the only 1971 GTX with both.
Otherwise, the car is totally original inside and out. The owner said he did a little bit of touching up on the paint, but the color remains the same. That’s alright because it suits the land yacht of a muscle car very well.
When it’s time to fire the massive engine up, we remember why this era is so special. The no-frills approach with just a lump of a V8 ahead of the driver is refreshing to see. Yet, the owner doesn’t go for a ride with Leno. Instead, the GTX owner invited his high school shop teacher to the show, who ends up going for a ride with Leno. It’s a wonderful gesture after the owner credits his shop teacher for influencing him so many decades ago.
The 80-year-old retired teacher is still sharp as can be and gets a few laps in with Leno.
This article was originally published by Motor Authority, an editorial partner of ClassicCars.com.
Vincenzo Lancia died in 1937, suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 55 just before his company’s Aprilla modal went into production. But with Italy suffering economically and facing sanctions for its invasion of Ethiopia, Lancia wanted to produce an even smaller and less expensive car model.
In 1939, the Ardea went into production, and it would become “the most popular” of all Lancia models.
Adele (Miglietti) Lancia and her son, Gianni (center) | FCA Heritage photo
With the founder of the company no longer living, it was his widow, Adele, who guided the development of the Ardea, a vehicle that in addition to sedans was produced in commercial van and even “truck” versions.
The 80th anniversary of the Ardea will be one of the focuses this fall of the Auto e Moto d’Epoca classic car show, Europe’s largest such event, at Padua, Italy, with a special showcase by the Lancia Ardea Club.
The show is scheduled for October 24-27.
An Ardea in motion
Vincenzo Lancia was born in Turin, Italy, the youngest of four children of a wealthy soup cannery owner. His family wanted him to become a bookkeeper, but the youngster was more interested in engines and machines and became an apprentice, focusing on finances but soon working with Aristide Faccioli, who did designs for Giovanni Battista Ceirano, a bicycle importer and producer who produced motorcars from 1901-1904.
Ceirano sold out to Fiat and Lancia became an inspector, test driver and winning racer who, with support from Count Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia, launched his own car company in 1906.
Although Lancia’s son, Gianni, would take over his father’s business, he was only a teenager when his father died, so it was left to Adele (Miglietti) Lancia to lead the company’s development and production of the Ardea model, powered by a 30 horsepower overhead-cam V4 engine linked to a 5-speed transmission.
According to The Great Adventure of Women in the Turin Industry, “The day after her husband’s funeral, Adele was already behind the desk to follow the work of the workshop and ensure continuity of management, with her technical preparation and the wise administration of an important heritage.
A 1-of-6 1969 Chevrolet Biscayne with M22 (4-speed manual) and L72 (big-block V8) options, a 1969 Shelby GT500 with Drag Pack in Grabber Yellow and a half-dozen 1962-1970 Chevrolet Corvettes highlight the docket for GAA Classic Cars summer sale scheduled for July 25-27 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Of the 650 cars on the docket, more than 100 will be offered at no reserve, the auction house said.
1972 Chevrolet Corvette with LT-1 power
Among the no-reserve vehicles is the Joe Alcoke Collection that includes a 1972 Corvette with an LT-1 engine and a 1986 Mercury Tiffany.
Another no-reserve offering is a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS Transformers Edition.
The Pick of the Day is a purpose-built drag racer straight from the factory, a 1968 LO23 Super Stock Hemi Dodge Dart, powered by a 426 Hemi V8 and created to blast the competition into the weeds.
The Dart is verified as authentic, according to the private seller in Phoenix advertising the historic race car on ClassicCars.com.
The Dart wears the colors of a restaurant chain
“There were only 80 of these cars ever built,” the seller says in the ad. “Dodge built these cars specifically to dominate the ¼-mile strips and pushed them out the back doors of the factory with no warranty, expressly prohibiting them from street use.
“Anything that could be lightened or removed to save weight and make these cars faster was done. The doors were acid dipped lightweight steel, windows were extra thin, fiberglass hood and front fenders were installed, as were seats out of A100 vans.
The interior is totally track-focused
“There were no creature comforts. The windows rolled up and down with seatbelt straps. The seats were installed with aluminum seat brackets with no adjustment, it had no back seat, and definitely had no radio. These were purpose-built race cars.”
This Dart originally was sold to Miller Dodge in St. Louis, Missouri, and raced by the dealership in metallic green paint and campaigned as Miller’s King Dodge, the seller says.
“This example is extra special with a great history,” according to the ad. “Included is a letter from Dell Jones confirming this car is, in fact, one of the original LO23 cars. Not only that, but it also states this car was built in the first batch of these cars to roll out the back door at Dodge and was likely the 15th car built.”
The Dart as it was raced as the ‘Spider’ by its third owner
The car was subsequently sold and raced by several other owners, who put their own paint jobs on the car. The third owner was Harry Prososki, who kept the car for 20 years and raced it extensively as the “Spider.”
Its current checkboard livery was applied in 1995 by the owner of Checkers restaurants, although he never took delivery after it was completed.
“When the car is up on the lift, if you look very closely, you can still see a few flecks of the original green metallic paint under the car,” the seller notes. “The current owner was encouraged to cover it, but he refused feeling that it is a part of this car’s history and should stay there.”
The race car retains the factory modifications that made it competitive
The performance mods are top notch, the seller adds.
“Under the hood and trailing back to the rear end is where the magic happens,” the seller says. “The 426 Hemi was recently rebuilt and hasn’t even seen any road miles. It has a Mopar performance block, 53 mm cam bearings, Smith Brothers push rods and Manton adjusters. It also sports Stage V intake rockers and stock wide pad exhaust rockers. When you watch the video, you’ll hear that this car roars.”
The sale includes The Wise Vehicle Inspection Report as well as the car’s original Certicard, a rare and important piece of its history.
The performance-tuned carburetors and intake on the 426 Hemi
The Hemi Dart is priced at $135,000, which the seller says is quite a bargain compared with what other authentic examples of these factory race cars typically go for at auction.
It’s been nearly a decade since Ted West has accomplished something I’d long been told was impossible. He wrote a novel, a book-length story full of compelling characters, with an unfolding plot that enfolds various subplots, all set on the stage of auto racing.
Novels set on athletic fields rarely work, is what I wrote after reading the original version of West’s Closing Speed. For one thing, it’s hard for fiction writers to create stories as dramatic as the nonfiction that arises naturally in sport.
Sure, we remember Shoeless Joe as Field of Dreams, and The Natural and Bang the Drum Slowly may have become as successful in bookstores as they were on movie screens.
But it’s been decades since the writers of Semi-Tough or North Dallas Forty succeeded in taking us beyond the playing field, into not only the lives but the very thoughts and souls of people who achieve athletic feats of which the rest of us can only imagine.
And yet, that’s what Ted West has achieved with Closing Speed, a novel – a real novel with characters about whom we care and a story line that has us hooked from first page to last.
And now, in 2019, West is back with “the unabridged version” of the novel. So what’s changed, I wondered?
“It restores the form it was originally written in using a present-day narrator and telling the racing story in flashbacks,” West responded by email. “I believe this gives it more depth, and in re-doing it I also line-edited the whole bleeding thing.”
For the record, the backdrop for West’s novel is the 1970 World Manufacturers (sports car racing) Championship.
West knows of what he writes. In 1970, Road & Track magazine sent West, then a recent college graduate, to Europe to cover those historic battles between two of the most storied cars in motorsports history — the Ferrari 512 and Porsche 917 – and those who prepared them, who sponsored them, and who drove them.
It is against this backdrop that West worked to write his novel with a journalist’s eye and a storyteller’s skill. His description of listening as a car climbs from the valley up into the hills and then suddenly roars past and out of sight during practice for the Targa Florio fills only 2 ½ pages, but captures a moment in motorsports as well as anything I’ve ever read.
But what makes this story work as a novel is the author’s emphasis not on scene but on character. West presents us with a cast of people who come off the pages as so lifelike that we find ourselves trying to figure out whom to play them in the movie adaptation of the book.
Speaking of which, just days before I started reading the original version of Closing Speed nearly a decade ago, a friend sent me an email. The friend had had a conversation with a Hollywood movie developer who was interested in doing a film about a fictional racing team from the era about which West writes.
The friend wondered if I’d be interested in writing a screen play. As much as I might have liked such a challenge, I suggested they contact Ted West about taking Closing Speed from written pages to the big screen.
I recommended the book back then and I still do today.
Closing Speed — A Motor Racing Novel
By Ted West
E.M. Landsea Publishers, 2019 (new unabridged edition)
Because of the ever-changing landscape at these gatherings, we felt it was once again time to visit this bunch of car nuts who convene every other Wednesday at a restaurant in Sarasota, Florida, the Sarasota Café Racers, also known as Car Guys Who Lunch.
It’s an ever-changing, shape-shifting crowd of mostly senior car nuts, some of whom were entrepreneurs, chairmen of the board, CEOs, CFOs or managing directors in their careers, but most who were not. They are just a bunch of relaxed, knowledgeable car guys who collect, drive and race a mind-boggling array of machinery both foreign and domestic.
The last time we visited, many of the regulars were spending their summers at their other domiciles in places far less hot and sticky than Sarasota in July, but the parking lot was still full of interesting machinery. Everything from old hot rods to Fiat Abarths to American muscle cars to multi-million-dollar Ferraris
During the course of our recent visit, founding member Marty Schorr, who owns a Ford GT, a Jaguar XK-R, and a C6 Corvette, made it clear to another visitor to our lunch table that it’s just lunch.
This is not a club. There is no board of directors. There are no meetings. There are no dues. There are no speakers. There are no dinners or dances or holiday parties. There are no wives or girlfriends here. It’s just lunch, twice a month on Wednesdays, and the group has already outgrown several large restaurants in Sarasota, currently meeting at Geckos just off I-75. There is even a branch of Car Guys Who Lunch on the other side of the world in Iran!
Schorr, who has been involved with hot cars for close to 60 years, doesn’t miss many lunches. He was editor of Hi-Performance Cars, founding editor of Vette magazine, producer of many special magazine titles, promoter of Baldwin-Motion Chevrolet products, Buick PR man during the turbo V6 era and beyond, PR man for the Bulgari car collection, friend of Piero Rivolta, owner of an Iso Grifo, and author of some really authoritative muscle car history books. He knows everybody at the lunch tables, and they all greet him warmly before they sit down.
On weekends, many of these car guys also race, everything from the Peugeot 908 that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans to a wide variety of Porsches from a 914 to a 917, to Bonneville cars and drag racing Ford Mustang Cobra Jets, so they’ll have something to tell the other guys about at the next lunch.
Unfortunately, we were not able to take our usual whole bunch of photographs to present to you, because the skies opened up and stayed open for the best part of 90 minutes, by which time the roomful of car guys had taken most of their rides home.
Four months after launching its 1962 model lineup, Plymouth reintroduced its Sport Fury, a top-of-the-line vehicle available as a 2-door hardtop or convertible with bucket seats, center console, full wheel covers, Deluxe steering wheel and foam cushions beneath the rear-seat covers.
The cars also had a third tail lamp on each side, extended beltline trim and a grille with stronger segmentation and blacked out divider panels.
The car originally was Ermine White, but at some point was repainted in a color the dealer says its close to a 1959 Chrysler color called Persian Pink — “It’s not pink, it’s not orange, and it’s not really even salmon,” the dealer explains.
“If it’s not for you, that’s OK, but if you skip this car, you’re missing one of the best-driving vintage Mopars we’ve ever had and a car that loves to be driven,” the dealer says. “Perfect it ain’t, but if you want high style and low stress, this Fury totally nails it.”
“Thanks to living most of its life in Arizona, there’s good, straight bodywork underneath with no signs of incompetent workmanship or critical rust repairs, and the gaps are quite good so it hasn’t been wrecked,” the dealer notes. “There are certainly signs of use all over the place, but a big part of this car’s appeal is the ability to simply get in, enjoy, and not worry about it.
“Everyone seems to think they want a perfect car that people are afraid to touch, but in practice, you’ll find that it’s incredibly liberating to own and drive a cool car that doesn’t cause you any stress at all. That’s why cars like this are my favorites—high style, low stress.”
The dealer points out that the interior has been redone, has newer carpets and replicated door panels. The car has a new black and powered convertible top.
The engine is a recently rebuilt 318cid V8 (with Edelbrock carb and intake manifold and a dual exhaust) and is linked to a 3-spped push-button TorqueFlite transmission and to 3.23 rear gearing that provides around 20 mph when highway cruising.
The car rides on 14-inch Cragar mag wheels for “a cool old-school look.”
The mythic power of the earliest car to wear Porsche lettering on its nose, the 1939 Type 64 competition coupe, is examined in a new film released by RM Sotheby’s, which will auction the historic car during its three-day sale in Monterey, California.
The film, produced by Porch House Pictures, is gorgeously photographed and stars two of today’s most-acclaimed Porsche personalities – Jeff Zwart, author, filmmaker, Pikes Peak Hill Climb champion and lifelong Porsche fanatic, and Patrick Long, Porsche factory team driver and co-founder of the Luftgekühlt extravaganza – who speak of the significance of the car and actually drive it on a California race course.
Jeff Zwart (left) and Patrick Long discuss the Type 64 in the film | RM Sotheby’s photos
“This car, I can’t imagine walking around anything in the automotive world that could tell as many stories,” Zwart says in the film as he reverentially pores over the Type 64’s details.
For enthusiasts, this sole remaining example of the first three aerodynamic coupes – built for a Rome-to-Berlin auto race that never took place – is the seminal expression of the automotive lineage that runs through every 356, 550, 911 and all the other sports and racing cars from the German automaker.
Ferry Porsche had the iconic block lettering applied in 1946
“The car is extremely original, and its resemblance to the marque’s evolution through the years, right up to today’s 911 model range, is easily discernable,” according to an auction news release. “This is the first car to ever wear Porsche’s iconic wide-font script name and is without a doubt the most historically important Porsche ever offered for public sale.”
RM Sotheby’s caused a stir when it announced in May that the revered Type 64 would be among the offerings at its annual Monterey Conference Center auction to be held August 15-17 during Monterey Car Week, which culminates in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The Porsche Type 64 was driven on a race track for the film |
The auction company presents no pre-auction estimated value for the unique racer, although there has been conjecture that the Type 64 could become the highest-priced Porsche ever sold at auction; RM Sotheby’s says it could bring in excess of $20 million when it crosses the block Saturday evening, August 17.
The coupe has had just three owners in its 70 years, including serving after the war as a personal car for the Porsche family. It subsequently was owned and raced by private racer Otto Mathé, who had it in his possession for 46 years.
For more information about the Porsche Type 64 and RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale, visit the auction website.
Calling the project the “strategic development of the proving ground for future mobility testing,” Porsche Engineering Group has completed the modernization of the historic automotive test tracks and the re-opening of the Nardo Technical Center, in Apulia, Italy.
The centerpiece of the effort was the renovation of the 12.6-kilometer high-speed circular track and other dynamic testing circuits.
Porsche said the project cost €35 million ($40 million) and lasted seven months, with the goal of assuring “that Nardò’s customers are always provided with the perfect conditions to test the vehicles of tomorrow.”
“Besides the complex asphalting of the renowned circular track, an innovative guardrail system that has been developed by Porsche Engineering specifically for the high-speed testing activities in Nardò, was installed. The works also included the complete renovation of the car dynamic platform with an area of 106,000 square meters.”
The high-speed circular track has been repaved and updated for vehicle testing and development
Though managed since 2012 by Porsche Engineering Group, which provides services to various automotive companies, the Nardo facility is used by automakers and suppliers from around the globe.
The update, said Antonio Gratis, managing director of the Nardo Technical Center, provides “the opportunity to test the current and future trends in automotive development, for example the fast-charging behavior of electric vehicles, latest driver assistance systems, connected services and autonomous driving.
“There are several more extensions and renewals planned for the future,” he added. “In addition, we want to promote the growth of the entire local ecosystem with the further development.”
The Nardo facility, founded in 1975 as a Fiat testing facility, includes more than 20 tracks and counts 90 companies among its customers.
Among the record speeds recorded on its circular track were the first lap at 400 km/h by the Mercedes-Benz C111-IV in 1979, a diesel-powered record by the Volkswagen ARVW in 1980, 24-hour speed records by various Porshce 928s, a methane-powered record by the Bugatti EB110GT in 1994, an electric-car record by the Bertone Z.E.R. in 1994, and a production-car record in 2005 by a Koenigsegg CCR.