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Porsche will put your fingerprint on your 911

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We’ve seen people who use fingerprints to unlock their cell phones. We’ve also seen Jeeps with printed-on-vinyl topographic maps wrapped on their hoods. And now Porsche — you read that correctly — Porsche is offering to put your fingerprint on the hood of your sports car.

“A Porsche as personal as your own fingerprint,” the German automaker headlines the news release announcing the direct printing method it has developed. 

Fingerprint printed directly on to the hood is just the first step in Porsche’s latest customization offerings
Image is printed directly onto hood

As innovative and remarkable as this new printing process may be, do you really want your hood-sized fingerprint for all to see as you cruise down the highway?

“Initially,” Porsche says, “customer who purchase a new 911 can have the bonnet personalized with a design based on their own fingerprint. In the medium term, other customer-specific designs will become available.”

“Individuality is very important for Porsche customers,” Alexander Fabig, vice president of individualization and classic for Porsche, is quoted in the news release. 

“And no design can be more personal than your own fingerprint,” he adds.

To imprint the body parts with unique designs, a “technology cell” has been established within the paint shop at Porsche’s training center in Zuffenhausen, the company said. 

“Direct printing makes it possible to produce designs that are not possible with conventional painting,” the company explained. “In terms of look and feel, the new technology is clearly superior to film application. The operating principle is similar to that of an inkjet printer: using a print head, the paint is applied to three-dimensional components automatically and without overspray.”

Porsche plans to offer such fingerprint-graphic printed hoods to customers starting in March. The price is 7,500 euro ($8,155).

One of only 92 Super Bee heads to GAA auction

One of only 92 such 1969 Dodge Super Bee hardtop coupes with a Hemi engine and 4-speed transmission built for the U.S. market will be among the featured vehicles at GAA’s classic car auction scheduled for February 27-29 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The numbers-matching car has been driven less than 10,000 miles since rolling off the assembly line at the Lynch Road plant in Michigan. It also is fully optioned and the seller believes it is the only ’69 Super Bee Hemi 4-speed done in white on white colors.

The car has bee restored to original-equipment standards and has won first-place awards at multiple events. For example, it was Mopar top eliminator pick in 2014 at the 50th anniversary of the 426 Hemi and 100th anniversary of Dodge, and was featured in the Mopar Collector’s Guide magazine. It also scored 997 points at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, where it earned an “emerald” award.

In its early years, the car was the “Hide and Watch” drag racing star and many trophies, photos and racing-history documentation will go to the next owner, as will the restoration photos and the awards won since that work was completed. Since the restoration, when only the hood and rear inner-wheel wells needed to be replaced with original metal, the car only been driven to and from the trailer on its way to various car shows.

The 426 Hemi V8 is topped by twin Carter ABF 4-barrel carburetors and is rated at 425 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and at 490 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The transmission is a Super Track Pak Dana 60 with a 9.75 axle, 4.10 ratio and Sure Grip. The car has Rally/Hemi suspension with heavy-duty sway and torsion bars.

The rare Super Bee will be joined by around 650 other classic, muscle and unique vehicles crossing the block during the auction at GAA’s permanent and climate-controlled facility.

GAA Auction Block

Gates open at 8 a.m. on February 27. Registered bidders and consignors and guests will get lunch from Longhorn Steakhouse at 11:30 with the auction starting at 1 p.m. with classic memorabilia and 190 vehicles.

Bidding on 266 vehicles begins at 10 a.m. on February 28 and again February 29 when 185 vehicles, including the Super Bee, are scheduled to cross the block.

Visit www.gaaclassiccars.com for additional information.

Licensing number: NCLF#9949

Ken Block and his 1977 Ford F-150 hustle up Tianmen Mountain

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Ken Block
Ken Block and his 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck on their way up Tianmen Mountain | Hoonigan Racing photos

VW’s ID.R race car isn’t the only high-performance vehicle to challenge China’s daunting “Big Gate Road” and its 99 hairpin turns recently. Ken Block and his Hoonitruck also did a run up Tianmen Mountain.

The Hoonitruck is a somewhat modified 1977 Ford F-150 with 914 horsepower and, with support from Toyo Tires, Forza Motorsport and Omaze, Block and his vehicle staged Climbkhana Two: Tianmen Mountain, and have video to share of the experience.

“About five years ago, I found a photo on the internet of this crazy road made of multiple switchbacks that actually crossed over itself,” Block is quoted on his website. “Before I even discovered where in the world it was, I knew we had to go film there.

“As we did more research, I realized we may have found the greatest road ever. It’s like a European tarmac rally stage – but turned up to 11 – and, it’s set in a wild scene that looks stolen right out of the movie Avatar.”

Turns out the location is Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China, a region that actually inspired James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi film. 

The Tianmen Mountain Highway climbs 6.7 miles and is considered so dangerous that the Chinese public is forbidden to drive it. 

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

“While similar in basic design to the location for the first film: Pikes Peak, this road is almost half as wide in most places, and the consequences way more frightening,” Block’s website points out.

“Over the past couple years, a few other projects have been filmed in the region, but we really wanted to bring our unique style of filmmaking and Ken Block’s wild driving to this road to show it in a way it hasn’t been seen before,” said Climbkhana Two director Brian Scotto. “This road is amazing, but also very unforgiving, which ironically is its best attribute.”

“Of all of Ken Block’s vehicles, the Hoonitruck seemed the least suited for this incredibly narrow road, which at some points is skinnier than the highly modified, AWD truck is long,” Blocks website reports. “But its massive proportions only make the feat even more impressive.”

No April Fool: 1949 Studebaker convertible has become affordable

This being April Fools’ Day, I was planning on an elaborate joke for Pick of the Day, something on the order of a pristine Lamborghini for a surprisingly low price. April Fool!

But since we’re already feeling these days like the rug’s being pulled out from under us, I decided to drop that idea.  So let’s focus instead on an actual trend, the decline in value of once-desirable American collector cars from the 1940s and ’50s. 

This was not unexpected as generations pass and tastes change, but it’s still sad to see. Those stylish but lumbering beasts of the post-war era seem to be dropping in worth as fast as the Dow Jones. But like the stock market, it has exposed some real bargains. 

The Pick of the Day is a good example, a 1949 Studebaker Champion convertible, rare and quirkily attractive with just over 40,000 miles showing and in what looks to be terrific condition. The styling changed the following year to the controversial “bullet-nose” front; this one’s not so oddball.

Studebaker

“Factory-born convertible unchanged with original low-mileage driveline and body panels,” according to the Hilton, New York, dealer advertising the Studebaker on ClassicCars.com, noting the 80-horsepower straight-6 engine and 3-speed manual transmission. 

The convertible has a new replacement power top, the seller says, and the interior has been redone.  The Studebaker is fitted with optional fog lights, directional signals and backup lights, as well as a chrome package, armrests, tinted glass, full vehicle cover, sports package and luxury package.

Studebaker

“We have gone through this car and it is every bit as good if not better in person than in pictures,” the dealer says. “The chassis and undercarriage (are) as nice as the topsides.  The Bahama Blue is absolutely gorgeous. It shines a great deal in sunlight. Very straight, and very pretty!

“Beautiful driving car that looks great from 2 to 200 feet away. Love the color combination and truly a comfortable car to drive.”

Studebaker

Not so many years back, you’d expect a Studebaker convertible like this to be priced somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000.  The asking price today is $22,495. 

And that’s no April Fools’ joke.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Canadian association recommends car clubs cancel events

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In light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the National Association of Automobile Clubs of Canada has recommended that country’s car clubs cancel all activities, including any meetings involving more than 5 people, until further notice. 

Hopefully, however, that recommendation might be lifted by July 12, which the group notes has been designated as International Collector Car Appreciation Day, and not only in Canada but in the United States and elsewhere. In Canada, July also has been proclaimed as Automobile Heritage Month. 

Fraser and Dorothy Field, shown with their 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air ambulance, again will be trip leaders for a vintage vehicle drive across Canada in 2022 | Coasters photo

Everyone in the hobby on both sides of the border has to hope that things are back to normal long before the next Coasters Cross Canada Tour, which already has filled with 55 vintage vehicles scheduled for a drive from Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia, starting July 5 and ending August 28 in 2022. The 2022 tour will mark the 55th anniversary of the inaugural Coasters tour held in 1967.

Concorso Italiano raising money for Italy relief effort

Italy is among the countries struck most severely by the coronavirus pandemic and organizers of Concorso Italiano, the celebration of all things Italian that takes place each August on the Monterey Peninsula, are raising money to support the Bergamo region northeast of Milan.

“Bergamo and the surrounding regions are also home to many of the manufacturers and suppliers of our favorite Italian automotive brands,” writes Thomas McDowell, Concorso chairman. “This beautiful area is where many of the news stories of the thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths are occurring in Italy.”

Thus $10 from each Concorso ticket and vehicle registration by May 1 will be donated to the Cesvi Foundation. Those who already have purchased tickets or registrations can made an additional contribution and the Concorso Italiano Foundation will match those contributions. To make a direct contribution, visit the Cesvi Foundation’s Go Fund Me page.

Fall car-show calendar filling quickly

The postponement of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, one of the world’s premier collector car celebrations, figures to only make more complicated the car-show calendar this fall. 

Goodwood is looking at a late summer/early autumn time slot, and already has its annual Goodwood Revival vintage racing event scheduled for September 11-13. 

Here’s how the calendar is shaping up with events originally scheduled and those postponed because of the pandemic:

August 9-16 — Monterey Car Week

August 21-23 — Morgan Adams Concours d’Elegance (Colorado), Geneva (Illinois) Concours d’Elegance (plus the Indianapolis 500)

August 28-30 — Corvettes at Carlisle, Artmobilia Weekend (Carmel, Indiana) (plus the rescheduled New York International Auto Show)

September 4-7 (Labor Day weekend) — Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance, Lime Rock Historic Festival, Crescent Beach Concours d’Elegance,  Sonoma Speed Festival, Royal Concours of Elegance (England)

September 11-13 — Goodwood Revival, Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance, Vail Classic

September 18-20 — Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, New York City Concours d’Elegance, Dayton Concours d’Elegance, Oregon Festival of Cars, LaJolla Concours d’Elegance, Arizona FuelFest (plus the 24 Hours of Le Mans)

September 25-27 — Telluride Festival, Ironstone Concours d’Elegance (California), St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance (Maryland)

October 2-4 — Audrian’s Newport Concours ‘Elegance, Fall Carlisle

October 9-11 — Chico Concours d’Elegance (California)

October 16-18 — Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, Keels & Wheels, Lake Mirror Concours d’Elegance (Florida)

October 23-25 — Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance (plus the Mille Miglia race/rally)

October 30-November 1 — Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance, Copperstate 1000 vintage rally car show

1956 Lister-Maserati sports racer tops Bonhams sale

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Bonhams had to turn its anticipated Goodwood Members’ Meeting auction into a “private sale” because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, only 9 collector cars and 1 boat were sold.

Nonetheless, said Tim Schofield, head of Bonhams Collectors’ Motor Cars department, “We are very pleased to have successfully sold these motor cars over the weekend.

“Due to the continually changing and challenging circumstances over the past few weeks, we have had to quickly adapt our sale format. The results show that, despite the current situation, there is still an appetite to buy good-quality classic and historic competition cars among collectors and enthusiasts.”

The Lister-Maserati in competition at Aintree in 1956

The star sale of the event was the ex-Archie Scott Brown 1956 Lister-Maserati 2.0-liter sports-racing two-seater that brought $713,672. Brown drove the car to first- and second-place finishes at Brands Hatch in 1956. More recently, the car has competed in the Le Mans Classic, Monaco Historique and Goodwood Revival vintage racing car events.

Another Lister, a Jaguar-powered 1958 “Knobbly” sports racer, was sold  but the price was not revealed. A 1937 Lagonda LG45 Fox & Nicholl Le Mans replica sold for $211,247. The ex-Tommy Hitchcock 1964 Brabham BG8 sport-racing prototype also sold, though like the Lagonda the sales price was not released.

In addition to the 9 cars, a 1950s-era racing hydroplane from the Morbidelli Museum collection sold for $8,564.

After the sale, Bonhams said it would soon announce plans for its upcoming summer sales season.

Featured listing: Not your Standard Ford – 1939 De Luxe Ford

This ClassicCars.com Marketplace featured listing is a 1939 De Luxe Ford for sale in Aviston, Illinois. This is begging the question, when is a Ford not a Ford? 

America in the late thirties was nearly a decade past the devastating stock market crash and economic tailspin of 1929. The peak global unemployment hit 24.9% in 1933, and the global GDP was off 26.7%. But, by the end of the 30s the public was getting back to the business of spending money. Car companies looking to cash in on the public’s desire for more upscale products began marketing efforts geared towards that end. 

General Motors had different brands that offered each consumer at every rung of the financial ladder something that they could grab ahold of. Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet at the time were targeting those with varying levels of disposable income. Just like today, Chevrolet was selling the entry level products and Cadillac was the most aspirational brand. Not too dissimilar, over at Chrysler the brands were Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, and Plymouth. 

1939 De Luxe Ford
1939 De Luxe Ford Coupe – trunk

Ford was doing the very same thing with Lincoln, Lincoln-Zephyr, Mercury, and Ford. Lincolns would have been the most expensive line produced by Ford, while the Fords were the entry level, comparable to Chevrolet. But, Ford wanted to expand its reach with a new brand that was between a Ford and Lincoln that would address the growing consumer desire for upscale products. This spawned the brand known as De Luxe. 

Both prior and after the demise of this stand-alone brand, Ford used the Deluxe name as a superior trim level. But, from 1937-1940 the De Luxe Ford was its own sub-brand.

1939 De Luxe Ford
1939 De Luxe Ford – interior

What made this model cool was a greater emphasis on styling. In fact, as each model year changed, the styling elements were handed down to the standard Ford model line-up, like an older sibling handing down clothes that they’ve outgrown. Thereby, the 1939 De Luxe had a different front grill from the 1938 model. However, by 1940 Ford had outgrown the De Luxe brand, and Mercury was filling the needs of the very same consumers. It was a redundant brand and only duplicating marketing and other expenses. 

But, the models from the late thirties are reminders of that time. This 1939 De Luxe has been restored and modified to offer a slightly more modern interpretation of the car. This has taken home several awards at NHRA Shows. The exterior is in keeping with the original model. The paint and chrome sparkle, highlighting the pleasing body design. 

1939 De Luxe Ford
1939 De Luxe Ford – Interior

New leather, front power seats replace the worn fabric seats. Matching leather covers the rest of the other interior parts, providing a pleasing user experience. Overall, most of the interior has been updated to retain the essence of the 1939 De Luxe. However, a few considerations were made for usability. Perhaps one of the most important features of this De Luxe is air conditioning, which can be a deal-breaker for some.

Originally, a 221 cubic-inch motor with a one-barrel carburetor was fit into the 1939 De Luxe, and that only managed 85-horsepower. Although that might have been fine and good in ’39, that is insufficient for many living in this century. This green machine doesn’t disappoint. Under the hood of this 179.5” coupe is a 350 V8, coupled to an automatic transmission. This also touts a 600 CFM Edelbrock carburetor, a polished aluminum manifold, power steering and brakes, and more. 

1939 De Luxe Ford
1939 De Luxe Ford – 350 V8

To view the listing on ClassicCars.com, click here

Ford F-1 bonus built: The first modern half-ton pickup truck

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Up until 1947, there was no ‘Goldilocks’ choice in half-ton pickup trucks. The options were the choice between a truck based on lightly-modified passenger car chassis or one scaled-down from a medium-duty truck. That all changed with the introduction of the 1948 Ford F-1 Bonus Built. 

There were certainly pickup trucks available prior to 1948, from Ford, GM, and other truck manufacturers, though they tended to be one of two varieties. The Big 3 primarily produced trucks based on passenger car components, while truck manufacturers (as well as some automotive OEMs) made heavier-duty trucks that were scaled-down medium trucks. 

Take the 1917 through 1927 Ford Model TT. Based on the Model T, the only significant changes between it and the Model TT was a frame stamped of slightly heavier gauge steel and a worm gear and pinion rear axle, though beefier, limited speeds to 15 mph.  Great for use around the farm or for the occasional trip into town, but not a vehicle you’d want to rely upon for longer trips on a more frequent basis. 

This standard of adapting a passenger car chassis for light truck duty continued through the Ford AA, Ford BB and the Ford Model 50. Though each featured a more robust frame with suspension upgraded for heavier roads (though not for ride comfort, on the Ford AA front shocks were optional and no rear shocks were available at all from the factory).  

The 1948 Dodge appears dowdy compared to the Ford F-1 Bonus Built | ClassicCars.com

On the other end, heavy truck manufacturers like Mack offered downsized versions of their medium trucks. The 1937-1938 Mack Jr was available in capacities ranging from ½ ton to 3 tons and a range of eight models, ranging from pickup truck and school bus to flatbed and wrecker configurations. Price for even the most basic Mack Jr was nearly 25% more than a comparable Ford, not a great marketing position during the Great Depression. Sales ended after two brief years. 

At the close of World War II, the Big 3 turned their focus from the production of military vehicles and planes to developing new products for the burgeoning middle class. Along with that came the introduction of new light trucks. In 1947 General Motors introduced new pickups under the heading of Chevrolet Advance-Design and GMC New Design. While styled more attractively, these two pickups were still built on the GM A platform from 1936, shared with Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile automobiles. Engine choice was limited to a 216 CID inline six-cylinder motor. 

The deep skirted Y- block V8 was the first OHV engine offered in a half-ton pickup | Ford Motor Company photo

Over at Dodge, for 1948 the B-Series’ styling was updated, though could not exactly be called a breakthrough. It still featured a split windshield, while the front fascia had a clear dividing line with the fenders, the rear window was small and the rear fender featured a more traditional rear axle styling. Power came from an inline six-cylinder engine that dated back to 1924.  

But Ford had a better idea. For their first new product after the war they set about to lead the market with their 1948 F-1 Bonus Built pickup. It was a completely new design from the ground up. Its frame was designed specifically for light truck use and no longer had any relation with passenger car chassis. Ford moved away from lever shocks to telescopic double-acting versions, touting them as ‘aircraft type.” These sealed dampers required no ongoing maintenance beyond the occasional replacement. An all-new third member was developed, tough enough to be installed in Ford’s medium truck chassis as well. 

Ford’s million-dollar investment in a new cab produced one that the company described as “Wider! Longer! Taller!” Design features included wider doors, increased foot room and bench seats adjustable for both fore-and-aft and rake. The cab itself was mounted to the frame using isolation bushings at the front and lever-action torsion links in the rear. 

1953 Ford F-100 half-ton pickup truck | RM Sothebys photo

From a styling perspective, the 1948 Bonus Built Ford had it all over the 1948 Dodge B-Series. Ford offered brightwork on the grille and hood (a $10 option), along with front fenders that wrapped around to the front fascia. The rear fenders departed from previous style of a semi-circle to a design that integrates with the front fenders. Unique among its competitors, the Bonus Built features a curved, one-piece windshield, breaking one more connection to pre-war designs. 

Unlike all of its competition, which only offered inline six-cylinder engines (and often in only one displacement) Ford offered three engines, one of which was its legendary 100 HP V8.  

This all didn’t occur by accident. Henry Ford II had his sights set on overtaking Chevrolet in total production (car and truck). The largest difference between the two companies was in Chevrolet’s outsized light truck market share. To surpass Chevrolet Ford needed to beat it in light truck sales. 

The Ford F-1 was also offered in Canada under the Mercury brand. As Canada was so sparsely populated, many towns couldn’t support both a Ford and a Lincoln Mercury dealership. To make certain that Ford of Canada was able to sell the new truck coast-to-coast the badge-engineered Mercury M-1 was created. 

While Ford’s intent all along was to create a more rugged and comfortable truck for commercial operations, consumers with light hauling duties soon began purchasing the F-1 Bonus Built for their own needs. Horse owners who only needed the load capacity to carry a few bales of hay were attracted to the F-1 not just for its capabilities but for its style and comfort as well. Now driving a truck into town didn’t necessarily mean you were a farmer or a ranch hand, as the ranch owners were trading in their sedans and coupes for Ford Bonus Built pickups.  

By 1953 this had become a trend and Ford stepped up to the plate. In that model year, the F-1 become the F-100 to commemorate Ford’s 50th anniversary (I don’t understand the math either). A reported $30 million was spent on a redesign and resultant retooling that included what was perhaps the first full ergonomics study. Now available were luxuries like a wrap-around windshield, large back window, insulated roof, interior lighting, arms rests, sun visors and a radio. The facia had become more stylized with the grille now surrounding the headlights. In 1953 the F-1 Bonus Built had closed the gap greatly between Ford and Chevrolet in half-ton pickup sales. Ford and International were both minor players.    

In 1954, the Flathead V8 was replaced by the new 130 HP OHV Y-block V8 engine in a 239 CID capacity, the first ever in a light truck. Features included items that turned the F-100 from a work truck to a vehicle anyone in the family could drive such as a reduced turning radius, vacuum brake booster, Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission, and the MagicAire heating and ventilation system. 

These conveniences, all intended to make delivery drivers more efficient through easy access, improved comfort and reduced operating costs all lead to the totally unexpected outcome of the half-ton pickup truck becoming the most popular vehicle sold in the United States today, with Ford pickups in a continued leadership position. 

Handmade rarity 1968 TVR Vixen

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I really love handmade British sports cars. I like that individual people built these cars, that they are quite exclusive, and they often tend to be quite different from production cars.

The problem with most handmade British cars is that they tend to be very expensive. They cars are built by such companies as Lagonda, Aston Martin and Alvis, and they tend to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Then there’s the Pick of the Day, an affordable handmade British sports car: a 1968 TVR Vixen.

The TVR car company, originally called Trevcars, was founded in 1946 by Trevor Wilkinson to launch his own sports car company. Starting your own sports car company might sound crazy here in the US, but during this time in England, many people had a similar idea, including such bright minds as Frank Nichols with Elva, Jem Marsh and Frank Costin with Marcos and, most famously, Colin Chapman with Lotus.

The first TVR was named the Grantura and was launched in 1961. It ingeniously used a pair of fiberglass rear body panels taken from another low production car, the RGS Atalanta, for both its front and rear body. To that, TVR added a chassis designed in house utilizing parts from such companies as Austin and an independent rear suspension from the VW Beetle.

Fast forward a few years and TVR has a new owner, Martin Lilley, and a new series of cars, though still based on the idea of a tubular steel chassis and a fiberglass body. The new model, introduced in 1967 was called the Vixen.

vixen

The Vixen took the lessons learned on the Grantura and worked to improve all the weaknesses of that car.  It was available with the choce of two different 4-cylinder engines or the 6-cylinder engine from the Triumph TR6.

By this time, the body was actually bolted to the chassis instead of bonded, making it easier to service and drastically reducing chassis rust problems that existed in the earlier bonded cars.

This is a Series 1 Vixen with a 1.6-liter Ford Kent engine, advertised on ClassicCars.com by a Stratford, Connecticut, dealer. Only 117 total Vixens were built and just 47 of those were had left-hand drive. Something even more rare is that this Vixen was built as a USA import and features a dual master cylinder and other DOT requirements.

vixen

The seller states that the Vixen has an excellent fiberglass body and has been comprehensively rebuilt and prepared by an expert in the marque.

Recent work includes brakes, new tires, Aeroquip brake lines, and a well- prepared 1,600cc Ford engine, the seller states. It features forged racing pistons, a Kent 234 race cam, twin 40 DCOE Webers and headers. This makes for potent performance as the engine builder claims it puts out 170 hp on the dyno to motivate a 1,600-pound car.

The Vixen is one of those sports cars you can take to a show and not see another example anywhere in sight. Combine that with the strong performance and you have a real winner, especially at the price of only $24,500, basically TR4 money.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

RM Sotheby’s 1st Online Only catalog auction reaches $13.7 million

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RM Sotheby’s first online-only catalog sale, which replaced the annual live South Florida auction because of the COVID-19 pandemic, totaled $13.7 million in overall sales for 259 collector cars and 21 lots of memorabilia. 

The auction was held on the company’s Online Only digital platform from March 20 with timed bidding closing from March 25 through 28, achieving a 69 percent sell-through rate.  There were about 900 registered bidders from around the world, 23 percent more than the average number at the South Florida sales during the past four years, according to an RM Sotheby’s news release.

A 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra sold for $682,000

The Online Only: The Palm Beach Auction virtual sale was originally RM Sotheby’s 18th annual South Florida auction, set to be held at the Palm Beach International Raceway on March 20-21.  This was to have been the first year at the new location, with the previous annual Florida auctions held in Fort Lauderdale.

The company decided to switch from live to online just 10 days prior to the auction date in the face of rising concerns about coronavirus transmission.  The Online Only platform was launched in the fall of 2019 for single or small-lot sales. 

rm sotheby's
The McLaren Senna has been driven only 200 miles

“This was an unprecedented online collector car auction in terms of both value of cars offered over four days and the speed at which we had to pivot from the regularly scheduled South Florida auction,” Kenneth Ahn, president of RM Sotheby’s, said in the news release. “The decision to shift our long-established physical auction to our online platform was not without its complexities.

“The COVID-19 virus pandemic is clearly a new challenge for our industry and business. We were able to quickly mobilize and adapt to the changing environment, allowing us to continue to serve our clients in a meaningful and effective way.”

Last year, RM Sotheby’s auction in Fort Lauderdale reached a record $23.2 million total, with 80 percent of the 476 vehicles sold.  All reported sales results include auction fees.

rm sotheby's
The Porsche GT2 is one of just 194 road-going examples built by Porsche

A 1996 Porsche 911 GT2, a pristine, unmodified example of only 194 road-going examples of the German supercar was the high seller, hitting $891,000.  A 2019 McLaren Senna, a highly option example presented in essentially as-new condition with just 200 miles on the odometer, was second highest at $847,000. 

The top-10 highest sellers at RM Sotheby’s Online Only auction were:

  1. 1996 Porsche 911 GT2, $891,000
  2. 2019 McLaren Senna, $847,000
  3. 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra, $682,000
  4. 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, $434,500
  5. 2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale, $324,500
  6. 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8-liter roadster, $280,500
  7. 1992 Lamborghini LM002, $275,000
  8. 1983 Lamborghini Countach LP 5000S, $275,000
  9. 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 Series II, $260,000
  10. 2006 Ford GT, $242,000

(All sales include buyer fees)

RM Sotheby’s and its RM Auctions affiliate have canceled auctions for the next few months because of COVID-19.  The resumption of the auctions depends on how long the pandemic precautions continue.

I don’t understand the prices being asked for old Ford Broncos

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In mid-March, I wrote a commentary headlined “I don’t understand the need for driving gloves: Do people wear them just to look cool, or do they enhance car control?” 

While I have nothing against such gloves, or against those who might wear them, I had never understood exactly why people would wear them, or why some driving gloves have full fingers and some have no fingers at all.

I asked for edification through the Comments section and was delighted — and educated — by the response.

So, I’m going to try it again, with a new topic: “I don’t understand the prices being asked for old Ford Broncos.” 

I’ve had this quandary for a few years now. Again, I have nothing against people who buy or sell vintage Ford Broncos, it’s just that I don’t understand the values being attached to them. And right up front, I’m excluding from this discussion vintage Broncos such as the 1974 Bronco that sold for $650,000 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in January, a charity sale with all proceeds earmarked for Alzheimer’s research and care. 

But as early as January 2017, Bloomberg was reporting “your dad’s beater that once cost $2,400 is a highly coveted artifact” and that, if you wanted one, you better buy quickly while you still could find one for less than $100,000.

Seriously? Six figures for a Bronco? OK, sure, for one of the Broncos built and raced in Baja by Bill Stroppe, yes, certainly six figures. But for a vehicle that, as I recall, was inferior to the Jeep Wrangler, I’m mystified. 

I’m also a little worried. One possible explanation for vintage Bronco prices could be the anticipation of the Bronco revival. We’ve been through this before, folks. Remember the run up in early Thunderbird prices nearly two decades ago when Ford was tooling up a new Tbird?

But back to the Bronco… It’s not that Ford didn’t have 4×4 heritage, after all, it helped develop and produce the original Jeeps for the World War II war effort. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1965 that Ford rolled out a vehicle that, according to The Standard Catalog of 4x4s, was called by Ford division general manager Donald Frey (and remember, he had been one of the fathers of the new Ford Mustang) “as neither a car nor a truck, but as a vehicle which combines the best of both…”

Actually, wasn’t it the worst of both? Neither a car nor a truck, though it did have 4-wheel drive and the sort of ground clearance you might need for forest roads or trails across the desert. 

And that’s one reason for the high prices. Many of the old Broncos for sale have been restored and resto-modded with contemporary engines, updated suspension and comfortable interiors, and the price for such work adds up.

The original Bronco was in production for 30 years and several generations and in various forms — roadster, sports utility, (station) wagon, pickup truck. Over the years and generations, the vehicle grew, from its original 93-inch wheelbase to more than 104 inches from axle to axle. It also grew in other dimensions, for example, length, from 152.1 inches to 183.6.

In the spring of 1983, Ford launched the Bronco II, built on the chassis of Ford’s compact pickup truck, the Ranger. Available only in what we now recognize as sport utility guise, this smaller Bronco was about the size of the original, spanning 94 inches between axles and stretching only 158.4 inches overall. Production of the II ended in January 1990. A month later, Ford introduced the Explorer in its place.

The bigger Bronco lasted a few more years, but interest in 2-door SUVs dwindled and Ford launched the Expedition, a 4-door SUV built on the F-150 pickup truck platform.

It was in 2016 that word leaked that Ford was working to introduce a new Bronco, this one to be based on the new but now mid-sized Ranger pickup truck. Which makes me think of the run-up in prices on early Ford Thunderbirds after people learned that Ford would reintroduce a luxurious roadster for the 2002 model year, albeit one based on a larger, heavier platform shared by the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type sedans.

It seemed to take forever before the new T’bird arrived (almost as long as it’s taking for this new Bronco to be born). And when the new Thunderbird was unveiled, boom quickly busted when the new one didn’t live up to the anticipation, the hype or the history.

Hagerty’s online vehicle valuation tool shows prices for early Broncos as relatively flat until around 2011, climbing nicely since then and skyrocketing since the fall of 2017, with a 1966 Bronco roadster in top condition now worth $76,800, though many sellers are asking that and more even for those not quite in concours condition.

A quick search of the CollectorCar.com Marketplace found 40 early Broncos being advertised and for prices that included $80,000, $82,995, $84,900, $87,995, $94,900, $99,000, $109,000, $125,000, $135,000, $145,000, $150,000, $159,995, $169,950, $209,000, and $219,000.

I don’t understand those prices. If you do, please use the Comments section to educate me.

H&H Classics reports 97 percent sell-through for online auction

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Shopping from home has not been halted by the coronavirus pandemic and H&H Classics reports a 97 percent sell-through rate for its recent online Automobilia auction. 

“The fact that the result was achieved during this difficult time for the country and the world speaks volumes about online sales as a powerful phenomenon in the tradition bound auction world,” H&H Classics head of Automobilia, Adam Sykes, was quoted in the company’s news release. 

“We were delighted with the sale. We had an astonishing 2,648 separate bids.”

Overall, the online event generated £132,319.50 ($164,125). The top sale of the event was a 46-piece toolkit from a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost which went for £4,830 ($5,998). 

Marilyn and the Chrysler 300

A large, framed and autographed photograph of Marilyn Monroe sitting in front of a Chrysler sold for £1,495 ($1,857).

Featured listing: Track Ready – 1972 Porsche 914

This ClassicCars.com Marketplace featured listing is a 1972 Porsche 914 for sale in Corona, California. This is ready for the track, not the street. You can think about it, but don’t do it!

In 1969, the Porsche 914 came to market and began a seven-year sales run that left the 911 far back in second place. This Porsche inception was due to the ongoing relationship Volkswagen had with Porsche. VW contracted Porsche to develop new products, and the 914 was the last in the contractual obligations at that time.

1972 Porsche 914
1972 Porsche 914 – Ritchie Ginther Tribute Race Car

The VW / Porsche relationship strained prior to the debut. The solution resulted in Porsche selling the 914 in America, and VW would have its badge on other markets.

The 914 didn’t have much in the way of power. The initial VW sourced 4-cylinder motor was rated at just 80-horsepower, and the Porsche 2.0-liter, flat 6-cylinder was good for 109 ponies sitting behind the driver in a mid-engine layout. 

1972 Porsche 914
1972 Porsche 914 – Ritchie Ginther Tribute Race Car

On the other hand, the Porsche 914 weighted in at 2,072-2,194 pounds, allowing this to provide a sporty ride. The handling and braking also vastly benefited from this, taking a page from Lotus’ Colin Chapman’s playbook.

This 1972 Porsche 914 is not your typical 914. This is a tribute car to honor drive, mechanic, and innovator Ritchie Ginther. Both Phil Hill and Ginther connected in Southern California prior to Ritchie being drafted for the Korean conflict. Ritchie became the protégé of Phil Hill, due to his mechanical skills. Ultimately, Ritchie Ginther became a successful racer in his own right.

1972 Porsche 914
1972 Porsche 914 – Ritchie Ginther Tribute Race Car

In 1972, Jo Hoppen, the director of Motorsports for VW and Porsche | Audi, approached Richie Ginther (Former Formula One driver and mechanic, sports car racer, and Carrera Pan America winner) to prepare a Porsche 914 for the ’72 American Road Race Championship, and to develop a kit to help club racers build a competitive car.

Ginther, and his ace mechanic Harold Broughton, built three cars taking their knowledge from their C production 914-6’s raced by Elliott Forbes Robinson and Alan Johnson. As a result of the project Elliott Forbes-Robinson got his first paid ride of his hall of fame career.  

1972 Porsche 914
1972 Porsche 914 – Ritchie Ginther Tribute Race Car

Elliot dominated almost all the races with the 914, including 7 wins, 8 poles, 5 track records, and 1 DNF. 

This track-ready car has an extensive list of new or rebuilt parts totaling $25K. Considering the sale price of this 1972 Porsche 914, the updates are beyond impressive.

Just a some of the numerous updates include: Rebuilt 2.0-liter engine, Rebuilt Dual Weber 45 carburetors with performance linkage, Front Oil Cooler, Rebuilt 901 Transaxle with new clutch, All nylon shift linkage components replaced, 911 SC Suspension, New Front Bilstein Struts, New Fire Suppression System with fire suppression nozzles in the driver’s compartment, engine bay and fuel cell area, Massive weight saving parts (see ad), 911 SC Brakes (just rebuilt with a new Master Cylinder and wheel bearings installed), Full roll cage with full chassis reinforcement making this 1972 Porsche 914 very stiff with minimal roll.

To view the listing on ClassicCars.com, click here