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Mercedes ‘Silver Arrow’ race cars set for Amelia Island Concours display

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An unprecedented gathering of five Mercedes-Benz “Silver Arrow” champion race cars spanning eight decades of competition will be on special display at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance to help the event celebrate its silver anniversary.

The 25th annual edition of the premier Florida concours, which takes place March 8 on the fairways of the Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island Resort, will bring together about 200 classic and historic vehicles, as well as hosting a number of automotive celebrities.

The Silver Arrow cars are a 1934 Mercedes-Benz W 25, a 1939 Mercedes Benz Type W154, a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W 196 with a streamlined body, a 1989 Sauber-Mercedes C 9 Group C sports car, and a 2014 Mercedes AMG F1 W 05 Hybrid Formula 1 racer.

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The Mercedes-Benz W 25 at the 1934 International Eifel Race driven by Manfred von Brauchitsch | Daimler archive

“The legend of the Silver Arrows begins with the 1934 Mercedes-Benz W 25 Grand Prix racer and its birth in an ancient mountain forest, the Eifel Mountains of southwestern Germany,” according to an Amelia Island Concours news release. “The car is still labeled ‘the first modern racing car’.”

As the story goes, the W 25 was entered in the formula race that had a maximum allowable weight of 750 kilograms – about 1,650 pounds – minus fuel, lubricants and tires.  But when the race car was weighed at German’s famed Nurburgring for the 1934 Eifelrennen, the scales pegged it a 751 kg, one kilogram over the limit. 

So how, at the last minute, would the racer shed that kilogram, equivalent to about 2.2 pounds?

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1939 Mercedes Benz Type W154 | The Revs Institute

Mercedes-Benz’s legendary racing-team manager, Alfred Neubauer, was considering the options for the car – which was painted white in Germany’s then international racing color – when racing mechanic Willy Zimmer spoke the words that led to the solution: “The paint has to go.” 

With that, the team laboriously fine-sanded the paint off the entire body, leaving the W 25 in bare aluminum, now a raw, gleaming silver, which was enough to put the car below the weight limit. 

“They devised a solution that was simple, elegant and still echoes in motorsport legend and lore,” the Amelia Island release says. 

The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W 196 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

During that race, a Berlin newspaper said the winning car was “fast as a silver arrow.” Henceforth, the German grand prix racers wore silver, and were dubbed Silver Arrows. They ruled the grand prix championships in 1937, 1938 and 1939, boosted by funding from the Adolf Hitler regime, which then plunged Europe into World War II.

“When Mercedes-Benz returned to competition in the early 1950s, their new racers also wore silver,” the concours release says. “There was power in it. Victories at Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana (in Mexico) were restorative and rejuvenating for the cars from Stuttgart. The grand marque – the inventor of the automobile – reclaimed its heritage wearing silver.

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1989 Sauber-Mercedes C 9 Group C racing sports car | |Daimler

“Two Formula 1 World Championships (Juan Fangio in 1954 and 1955) and a Sports Car World Championship in 1955 joined Mercedes’ list of unparalleled pre-war accomplishments and became the vanguard of the ‘German Miracle’.”

In 1989, a team of Mercedes-Benz prototypes appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans wearing silver, when Jochen Mass – the 2014 honoree of the Amelia Island Concours – drove more than 11 hours to lead the new Silver Arrows in a one-two finish, more than 25 miles ahead of third place.

Mercedes-AMG F1 W 05 Hybrid Formula 1 racer | Daimler.

In 2014, 80 years after the first Silver Arrow victory, the hybrid Mercedes-AMG W 05 won the Formula 1 World Championship, which Mercedes has won every year since.  Five of those six championships were at the hands of driver Lewis Hamilton.

For more information about the 25th anniversary Amelia Island Concours, visit the event website.

Better ‘Bandit’: ’79 Pontiac Trans Am benefits from fuel-injection upgrade

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Unleash your inner Burt Reynolds with the Pick of the Day, a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am all done up in Bandit Edition regalia and ready to outrun Sheriff Buford T. Justice. 

This Trans Am is in great condition in its original Black and Gold paint set off with gold Turbine wheels with BF Goodrich Radial TA raised white-letter tires, and “the Bandit Edition gold decals to really set it off,” according to the Palmetto, Florida, dealer advertising the Pontiac coupe on ClassicCars.com.

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“Vinyl decals of Burt Reynold’s signature and ‘Bandit’ have been added to the driver side and can easily be removed if they’re not your style,” the seller advises. “The shaker hood scoop proudly wears the iconic T/A 6.6 decal on each side.”

The odometer shows just under 24,000 miles, although the ad does not indicate whether those are original miles or if the 5-digit odometer has turned over.  Also, it’s unclear whether the Pontiac wears original paint.

The Pontiac does have a few upgrades, the ad notes, most significantly a swap to electronic fuel injection instead of the original carburetor.

“This car fires up with a bump of the key thanks to an electric fuel pump feeding a FITech GoEFI system,” the ad says. “That’s right, electronic fuel injection has been added in place of the carburetor for a sure start, more power and reliability.

“The EFI controller is right within your reach to monitor and make changes if necessary.”

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Other updates include Vintage Air A/C and Edelbrock valve covers on the engine, with the power fed through a Turbo 350 4-speed automatic transmission. 

Trans Am fans know that the ’79 coupe shows the restyling changes from the one driven by Reynolds in the iconic 1977 film “Smokey and the Bandit.” But there’s no mistaking the intent here, with the screaming-eagle hood embellishment and everything else that set the Pontiac Trans Am apart in those heady days of discos and mighty mustaches.

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The asking price for this showy cruiser is $19,995.

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

Alejandro De Tomaso: Three iconic sports cars

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Through the 1960s and into the 1970s, a breed of independent Italian car maker, all of whom wanting to become the next Ferrari, created limited-production sports and grand touring cars. Not having the full resources from which to construct their cars from the ground up, they were able to take advantage of several resources available at the time.  

First were Italian design houses and coachbuilders who could supply designs and construct full bodies for their models. Second, the availability of OEM and aftermarket components that could be adapted for their use. And third, lightweight, powerful American V8 engines that cost less, were simpler to maintain and produced greater power to weight than many of the more complicated bespoke Italian designs.  

Introducing Alejandro De Tomaso 

One of the most successful of the Italian car builders who turned to US-made V8 power was Alejandro De Tomaso. It’s difficult to find a more interesting character in the history of motoring than De Tomaso. Charming and sophisticated, he was Argentine born with Italian lineage, and grew up in Buenos Aries among a wealthy and politically influential family. His full name was Alejandro de Tomaso y Ceballos, two powerful family names in that South American country. 

Perhaps due to his upbringing and parentage, De Tomaso was headstrong, arrogant, and unforgiving; characteristics he displayed throughout his life. 

For much of De Tomaso’s early career, there is little fact and much conjecture as to what happened and when. This may have been intentional on his part to create a little intrigue for his backstory. We do know that he moved to Italy in 1955 to pursue a racing career in Europe. We also know he was working for the Maserati brothers as a mechanic at their OSCA firm, and was likely an occasional test driver. Some claim he left Argentina a political refugee (one source suggests he surreptitiously flew his private plane out of the country!) however he returned to his homeland to race in 1956 and 1957, rendering that story slightly suspect.  

Marcello Gandini, designer of the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, relates this story about De Tomaso: “He came to Italy and wanted to make his debut but he was nobody. So, he asked ‘which hotel in Modena was the most prestigious?’ And they told him the Canalgrande. So he went there. After a month, they gave him the check that he, obviously, could not pay so they kicked him out. The first thing he did when he made his money was to buy the hotel. Think about it — it’s incredible!”  

Like much of the lore surrounding De Tomaso, this first-person recollection isn’t entirely accurate. De Tomaso arrived in Bologna, Italy in 1955 and didn’t move to Modena until 1959.  

De Tomaso had some success as a driver, winning the small-bore class at  the Le Mans 24 in 1958. During this time, he met and married the  American heiress and accomplished racer Elizabeth Haskell. Haskell’s  father and grandfather were both Vice Presidents at General Motors, but  it wasn’t cars that occupied their interests.  
Elizabeth and Alejandro | De Tomaso Automobili photo

The Haskell family has long been benefactors of thoroughbred horse racing and Monmouth Park, the track her grandfather helped found, continues to run the million-dollar Haskell Invitational. The couple were married at her father’s estate in Palm Beach, where the family would “winter”. Perhaps this is a link to their frequent appearances at Sebring, 110 miles away. 

Elizabeth maintained the family’s interest in horse racing throughout her life but in the 1950s, she was most passionate about competing in sports cars. A keen competitor, she insisted on racing against men and not in the “ladies’ groups” which were common in the SCCA at the time. As an example, she drove an OSCA to finish second in class in the 1959 Sebring 12 Hours along with her new husband, future Grand Prix race winner Pedro Rodriguez and racer/author Denise McCluggage. 

Together the couple would venture into race car construction in 1959, forming De Tomaso Modena SpA. The new venture began building Formula Junior and Formula 3 cars for customer sale and even dabbling in Formula 1.  

American designer Tom Tijaarda at the drawing board | De Tomaso Automobili photo

A continuing problem for De Tomaso was staying focused on a project and not being distracted by the next one to come along. For example, he constructed a Formula 2 race car and entered it in a support race at the 1959 US Grand Prix at Sebring. While the car DNF’d, he received 15 orders for copies, though none were delivered as he’d moved on to his next project. According to American designer Tom Tjaarda, “‘Alesandro was always looking towards the next project, the next deal, so he just forgot about it and moved on. He would have ten ideas on the go at any one time, and of those maybe one would become reality. 

De Tomaso Valleunga 

The De Tomaso Vallelunga | Bonhams photo

The couple’s attentions soon turned to high performance road going cars, first with the two-seat Vallelunga which was basically a De Tomaso Formula 3 car on a backbone chassis covered with a full body. The Vallelunga, powered by a tuned English Ford four-cylinder engine, debuted in 1963 at the Turin Motor Show. 58 samples were constructed by Ghia, 50 in fiberglass for general sale, the others clad in aluminum were primarily for racing.  

Th Vallelunga’s 1.6 L (1,593 cc) Ford Straight-4 powerplant | Bonhams photo

De Tomaso needed cash to expand his business. The source was Elizabeth’s (now calling herself Isabelle, the Italian translation of her first name) brother, Amory Haskell, vice president of an electronics manufacturer. With his American family’s money, De Tomaso went on a buying spree, purchasing among others styling house Ghia, coachbuilder Vignale, then later motorcycle manufacturer Moto Guzzi, Italian Mini license holder Innocenti, and the entire Maserati organization, saving the later from certain oblivion. 

De Tomaso Mangusta 

De Tomaso Mangusta | De Tomaso Automobili photo

The De Tomaso Mangusta was a major step up for De Tomaso. He needed a car with a broader appeal than the little Vallelunga. The Mangusta was a stunning, Ferrari-sized two-seat grand tourer propelled at first by a Ford 289, and later a 302, V8 engine.  

The Mangusta’s roots go back to a failed collaboration with Carroll Shelby to develop a high-powered, mid-engine car to race in the US. The deal fell apart, both sides angry. There’s conjecture that the Mangusta name (Italian for mongoose) was a deliberate dig at Shelby. Called the P70 by De Tomaso and the King Cobra by Shelby, the P70 featured a larger and stronger version of the Vallelunga’s backbone chassis.  

The modified P70 chassis was then adapted for the Mangusta and enveloped in an aggressive wedge-shaped body by Giorgetto Giugiaro who was with Ghia at the time. In fact, Giugariaro already had the design in his pocket, having pitched it to a rival carmaker who then decided they didn’t want to build a mid-engine car. One of the most recognized elements of his design are the rear deck covers with centrally-hinged “gull-wings” that provided access to the engine and rear storage compartment. 

De Tomaso inspects the Mangusta | De Tomaso Automobili photo

Unfortunately, a backbone chassis, barely sufficient in a small car like the Vallelunga or Chapman’s Lotus Elan, Espirit and Europe, wasn’t rigid enough for the larger car, resulting in unpredictable handling and complaints from customers. Ford looked at the Mangusta and took a pass, which kicked the development of the Pantera into gear. 

A total of 401 Mangustas were produced, and if you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino, you might recognize one of them as Bill’s ride in Kill Bill: Volume 2

De Tomaso Pantera 

1973 De Tomaso Pantera | Sotheby’s photo

The Mangusta had earlier caught the eye of Ford VP Lee Iacocca, who according to then Ford styling chief Gene Bordinat “was crazy about anything Italian.” A deal was finalized in September, 1969, with Ford taking a 30% ownership stake in De Tomaso’s company. Iacocca chose the Lincoln-Mercury division to market the Pantera, the goal being to offer a “halo car” that exceeded the C3 Corvette in design and performance. 

 An unfortunate accident allowed Ford to take a greater control of the Pantera program. In June of 1970, Ford purchased the 50% share of the company held by Amory Haskell, who perished in a small plane crash in March of 1970, just weeks before an engine-less Pantera debuted at the New York Auto Show. This gave Ford a controlling interest in all the De Tomaso-owned companies. 

Acknowledging the shortcomings of the central backbone chassis, Ford assisted in the development of a conventional tubular frame with welded steel panels, forming a stronger monocoque structure which better met the requirements of the US market.  

The Pantera was again styled by Ghia, but now the pen was in the hands of Tjaarda, Giugiaro having left Ghia after a not-too-surprising clash with De Tomaso. Tjaarda seemed to have better luck working with the headstrong Argentinian: “‘He was smart, and I’d rather work with an intelligent delinquent than a nice, stupid guy. People were petrified of him, but it was just an act. These Americans would come along, bending over backwards to be deferential, and he’d completely destroy them. He loved the infamy.’ 

Pantera | Sotheby’s photo

Engineering was by Giampaola Dallara (yes, that Dallara). Motive power came from various versions of the 351 Cleveland V8, which was installed through 1989.  A ZF DS-25/2 five-speed transaxle was utilized, which had also been fitted to the Mangusta and earlier to the Le Mans winning Ford GT40 Mk. II.  

The original Pantera had an exceedingly long life, first available in the 1971 model year with the last car rolling off the line in July of 1990, though a substantially reworked Nuova Pantera was sold in small quantities through 1996. A total of 6,380 Panteras were constructed during the Ford years of 1971 through 1974, with around 5,262 sold in the US, according to US DOT data.  Production figures after that period are sketchy at best. The Pantera historian George Pence stated that: “The DeTomaso web site claims there were a total of 7260 Panteras manufactured. My figures total 7082.”  

The Rest of The Story 

A series of unfortunate events led to De Tomaso never again seeing the success he had with the Pantera. Many sources claim Ford cancelled the agreement in 1974 due to lower than projected sales, which were projected by Ford to range from 2500 in the first year and 12,000 to 15,000 in subsequent years. In an article on the Pantera in the August 1971 issue of Car and Driver magazine it was stated that US-bound production would cease in 1974.  

Some sources claim that the limited production of the ZF transaxle caused the lower-than-anticipated construction and sales, though with Ford’s global manufacturing resources along with the fact that it had created its own in-house transaxle for the Ford Mk IV, that if the Dearborn-based company had the motivation to increase supply it certainly could have. Perhaps there was a bit of ‘wait and see’ going on. 

Ford then sold its shares back to De Tomaso, sans Ghia and Vignale. After Ford’s pull-out and the resultant loss of the Vignale and Ghia resources, the few Panteras that followed had bodies created by smaller carrozzerias and hand-assembled at De Tomaso’s Modena facility.   

De Tomaso also produced luxury cars, though in more limited quantities. Only 244 of the Deauville four-door saloon and 409 Longchamp two-door grand tourer models were produced. These were named after the French Deauville-La Touques and Longchamp horse racing tracks respectively, names suggested by Elizabeth. He went on to manufactured just 50 of the Guarà sports car before his crippling stroke in 1993. At that point he sold Innocenti and Maserati to Fiat.  

De Tomaso died in Modena on May 21, 2003, having left an enduring mark on the Italian motor industry not just through the cars that bear his name, but also through his rescue and resuscitation of the now successful Maserati brand. 

Sprint package enhanced mid-‘60s Mustangs

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To celebrate the sale of the first million Mustangs, Ford did a special Sprint package in the spring of 1966. The package provided upgraded equipment for Mustangs with 6-cylinder engines, and proved successful enough that for 1968, a Sprint “Package B” option was available with a V8 engine.

The Pick of the Day is a 1968 Ford Mustang Sprint Pkg B car offered on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Geneva, Illinois.

“These unique Sprint models were produced with factory fog lights, C body black stripe & pop open gas cap,” the dealer notes in the advertisement. “Power steering, front disc brakes, factory A/C. This was a fully rare optioned car back in the day… It basically has the attributes as the GT cars but much less of these were sold.”

The dealer adds that the car on offer has “a strong running factory 289 V8 mated to a C4 automatic transmission, power steering, front disc brakes, factory A/C, great looking steel wheels.”

It also wears Golf Stream Aqua paint, reportedly a rare color “making this car a superb investment,” the dealer contends.

“We have an extensive array of original documentation on this car including the original purchase invoice and Buyers Guide. We have the original build sheet. 

“You will be without question the only one at any car show or cruise night with one of these.”

The car is priced at $26,995. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Cars from ’80s and ‘90s make endangered-species list

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“Cars of the Eighties, Nineties and 2000s at Risk of Terminal Decline” screamed the headline on the news release from Britain’s Retro Cars magazine.

What? Has there been some Brexit catastrophe that threatens the existence of three decades of vehicles in the UK? 

Not quite. 

However, the magazine checked the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency data report on the Gov.UK website and came up with a “danger list” of vehicles in jeopardy of extinction in England.

“Some of the most popular cars of the Eighties and Nineties are in almost terminal decline according to the latest DVLA data collated by Retro Cars, the car magazine dedicated to accessible modern classic cars from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s,” the magazine reported.

“According to the figures, the most endangered car of the 1980s and 1990s is the Lada Riva, once the butt of many a Blackpool comedian’s joke, but now rarer than a Pagani Zonda. 

Only Alfa Romeo 146 cars remain registered by British drivers

“If you want exclusivity and prestige, perhaps now’s the time to hunt down a Riva 1500 SLX? After all, just 49 Rivas are known to survive.

Meanwhile, while thousands of Alfa Romeo 146 vehicles were sold to British residents in the 1990s, “a mere 89 are left on the road,” the magazine discovered.

“More commonly seen cars from the era are also in grave danger, though, with cars that were once in the UK’s top 10 seller lists having disappeared almost completely. Among them are the last remaining 468 Rover 800s, 409 Peugeot 309s, 324 Nissan Bluebirds, 286 Citroen BXs and 218 Fiat Unos.”

Magazine editor Craig Cheetham offered some perspective on the situation:

“Cars of the Eighties and Nineties are becoming increasingly popular with younger drivers who are embracing this era, but the supply of cars is a lot worse than it is or was for classics of an earlier vintage thanks to a generational shift in society, which has seen a car become as much of a disposable asset as a washing machine.

“In the Eighties and Nineties the days of ‘make good and mend’ turned into ‘finance and replace,’ not helped by the 2009/10 scrappage scheme, and in the future the everyday cars of this era will be far less common than classic MGBs or Triumphs. Indeed, in many cases they already are.”

The magazine said the 10 most-threatened cars from the era are:

  • Lada Riva, only 49 remaining
  • Alfa Romeo 146, 89
  • Fiat Uno, 218
  • Renault 21, 221
  • Vauxhall Carlton, 270
  • Citroen BX, 286
  • Nissan Bluebird, 324
  • Volvo 440, 407
  • Peugeot 309, 409
  • Rover 800, 468

(Source: DVLA statistics through December 2019.)

The first muscle car? How about a Studebaker!

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Introducing the Studebaker Lark

The Lark was Studebaker’s entry into the compact car field that eventually would include the Ford Falcon, Rambler American and Plymouth Valiant. These cars were all about low purchase price and operating costs, and they featured not-too-impressive, down-on-power, four- and six-cylinder engines. 

The standard Lark had been driving volume, but competition from Ford, Chrysler, and GM had cut into its market share. Studebaker needed more traffic through their showrooms. The solution lay in Lark’s engine bay, which had been designed to accept Studebaker’s stout V8 engine, in an albeit small-displacement version.  

While Ed Cole and his team at GM had created what we now know as the small-block Chevrolet, an engine compact, simple and inexpensive to produce. A few years earlier, Studebaker engineers designed their own V8 engine, and had gone a completely different direction.  

The Studebaker engine was stout where the Chevy small block was light. Main-bearing area was larger than that of the contemporary Chrysler Hemi. Crankshaft and rods were all forged. Lifters were solid and acted on forged, shaft-mounted rocker arms. Cam timing was by gear drive.

Eighteen bolts secured each cylinder head, more than most contemporary V8s. And it was powerful. In 1951, the engine produced more power per cubic inch than any other available American engine, save the Hemi. 

The Studebaker V8 had been continually enlarged through the 1950s and early 1960s. First to 259, then 289, and eventually 304.5 cubic inches. But it’s the 289 version that most interests us now.  

The push toward performance was led by Studebaker’s president Sherman Egbert, who told Automotive News in 1963 that “a new corporate image of speed, performance and durability would attract the nation’s younger buyers into Studebaker showrooms.”

So, the V8 that had been upgraded for higher-line models such as the Hawk and the Avanti would now be installed into the compact Lark. 

Larks equipped with the high-performance engines were most-easily identified though the R designation, which actually referenced the engine configuration. There would be an R1 and R2 powered versions of the Lark, along with an R3 and R4, which were highly tuned V8s of very limited production. 

The R1 Lark of 1963-1964 was fitted with a normally aspirated Studebaker 289 V8 modified with a 10.25:1 compression ratio, a Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor, a high-lift long-duration camshaft, a dual-point distributor, and an upgraded metal timing gear. In this form, the engine was named the Jet-Thrust and produced 240 horsepower at 4,500 rpm delivered through a close-ratio Borg Warner T-10 four-speed, the same manual transmission as installed in the Corvette, fitted with a floor-mounted Hurst shifter. 

More horsepower came wit the Studebaker Lark R2, with a supercharged 289 V8.  

McCulloch had started in the 1930s as a company that manufactured superchargers for both OEM and aftermarket applications. Founder and owner Bob McCulloch sold the original company to Borg Warner, then formed yet another producing lawn-mower and chain-saw engines. The he added the goal of developing and selling a modern, low-cost OEM and aftermarket supercharger.  

That came in the form of the VS57 centrifugal supercharger, marketed as a Paxton, which was Robert McCulloch’s middle name, likely to avoid conflict with Borg Warner. The VS57 was driven off the crankshaft by a V-belt with a variable speed pulley that generated relatively high boost at low engine rpm.

The goal was to improve low-end power, then reduce the added boost from the intake path for improved fuel economy. McCulloch sold the supercharger business in 1958 to the Granatelli brothers, who in turn sold it to Studebaker in 1962. 

First installed in the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk with a 289 V8, the Paxton VS57 drove power to 275 horsepower at 4,500 rpm through a two-barrel carburetor, as much power as the 120-pound heavier Packard 352 CID V8 that Studebaker had acquired in the merger of the two companies.  

For even greater performance, Studebaker again turn to Paxton for a fixed-ratio supercharger that would increase power across the entire rpm range. That unit is the SN-60 and was basically a VS57 without the variable speed pulley. It delivered six pounds of boost. 

The 289 V8 Jet-Thrust R2 engine featured larger-chamber cylinder heads used on Studebaker trucks and a Carter 625 CFM AFB blown by a Paxton SN-60 supercharger. It developed 289 horsepower at 4,500 rpm, achieving one horsepower per cubic inch. 

When an order for the Lark R1 or R2 was submitted with an ‘88A’ code on the form, the car would be equipped with HD springs, shocks and sway bars front and rear, a Dana 44 rear axle fitted with one-piece forged axle shafts, a twin-Traction limited slip differential and an available 4.55:1 final drive. Two-piston Bendix 11-inch disc brakes front and a close-ratio Borg Warner T10 completed the performance upgrades. These items were also available on an individual line order basis. Halibrand magnesium alloy wheels were a dealer-installed option. 

Front bucket seats were included in the ‘88A’ order code along with an 8,000-rpm tachometer and a 160 mile per hour speedometer. While those Stewart Warner gauges may have reflected wishful thinking, an R2 equipped with a standard 3.31 final drive did hit 132 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Equipped with standard gearing and a four-speed transmission, Motor Trend reported a 7.3 second 0-60 time. 

In total 325 R2 Larks were built, of them only 53 received the full ‘88A’ package. 

The Granatelli brothers took the R concept further in 1964. They hand-built 120 R3 and R4 versions in their California shop, the block bored 0.0938-inch larger to 304.5 cubic inches. The blueprinted engines were then shipped back to Studebaker’s South Bend, Indiana, plant for installation in several different models, including the Avanti and Hawk.  

The R3 was a normally-aspirated engine with a 12.0:1 compression ratio and dual-quad Carter AFBs that developed 280 horsepower at 4,500 rpm, and the R4 was a supercharger version with a 9.75:1 compression ratio andsingle blown-through Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor,, and rated at 335 horsepower at the same 4,500 rpm as almost all Studebaker V8s. The Granatelli crew claimed they saw 411 horsepower from the R4 on the dyno, likely at higher revs around 6,000.  

Both the R3 and R4 engines received some special treatment, including a Magnafluxed crank, forged pistons, a high-volume oil pump, lighter and larger intake and exhaust valves, ported and polished runners, a more aggressive camshaft and high-flow exhaust manifolds. Dual valve springs were an option.

In the end, according to our best sources, only one R3 Lark model and only one of the R4 Larks reached their owners prior to Studebaker ceasing U.S. production. The rest of the Granatelli R3/R4 V8s ended up in a handful of Hawk coupes and Avanti sports cars or were assembled from their NOS inventory and sold individually, by some sources, until 1969. 

Compared to the 32,450 GTOs that Pontiac delivered in 1964, Studebaker Lark R models represent pretty small potatoes. Which is likely why the GTO gets the nod as the forerunner of all subsequent muscle cars, and the Lark R models remain a footnote in automotive history. 

Believe it or not, this vehicle is a Jaguar

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The vehicle you see above may not look like a Jaguar or a Land Rover, but it is part of Project Vector, which itself is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s Destination Zero mission to offer an autonomous, electric, connected future for urban mobility. 

Project Vector is an “autonomy-ready platform” designed to provide “unparalleled interior space and flexibility in vehicle configuration,” the automaker says in its news release, adding that it plans to have a pilot version operating in Coventry, England, in 2021.

This is the primary Project Vector vehicle, ready for people or cargo delivery | Jaguar Land Rover photos

“Jaguar Land Rover understands the trends shaping modern societies,” said Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover chief executive. “Project Vector shows Jaguar Land Rover as a leader in innovation to make our societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner.  

“Through this project, we are collaborating with the brightest minds in academia, supply chain and digital services, to create connected, integrated mobility systems – the fundamental building blocks for Destination Zero.

“Project Vector is precisely the brave and innovative leap forward needed to deliver on our mission.”

The primary Project Vector vehicle is little more than 13 feet long, has battery and drivetrain beneath a flat floor and offers a flexible cabin that can be used for private or shared transport or for commercial applications.

There’s still a steering wheel

“The megatrends of urbanization and digitalization make connected urban mobility systems necessary and inevitable,” said project director Tim Leverton. “Shared and private vehicles will share spaces with and be connected to public transit networks, so you can travel on demand and autonomously. 

“That is a complex task, best achieved by working together with partners across the spectrum of vehicles, infrastructure and the digital world.

“With the technology and engineering power of Jaguar Land Rover, we can provide a unique opportunity for innovators to develop highly functional urban mobility services, seamlessly integrated into everyday life.

“Future urban travel will be a composite of owned and shared vehicles, access to ride hailing and on-demand services as well as public transport. Our vision shows the vehicle as a flexible part of the urban mobility network that can be adapted for different purposes.”

Featured listing: Hot rod! 1950 Mercury Custom

This ClassicCars.com Marketplace featured listing is a 1950 Mercury Custom for sale in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The third-generation Mercury Eight is an icon of American motoring – and it has always been a prime candidate for hot-rodding.

According to the seller, the car was custom-built 14 years ago and features all the looks of a classic Merc, with modern mechanicals and comfort. Powered by a Chevy 350 paired to a 350 Turbo hydramatic transmission and a 3.50 differential, parts are forever available.

The car also features power steering, power brakes, a Painless Wiring harness, H.D. sway bars, Vintage Air A/C, dual exhaust glass packs, factory spotlights, a hidden kill switch, stereo system, tinted glass, all new AutoMeter Instruments, electric fuel pump, air ride suspension, New Coker Tire Radials w/bias look, a power antenna, electric wipers and new original-styled upholstery.

“I bought this from a man in Fort Meyers, FL. 3 years ago,” the seller says. “This was his baby for quite a while. I had power steering installed in 2018 and at the same time I had H.D. sway bars added to the chassis for better handling. The latter part of 2018, the AC compressor was replaced.”

The 1949-1951 Mercury Eight, because of its distinctive looks, has been a movie star in many legendary films including Rebel Without a Cause, American Graffiti and Grease. Even Sherriff in the Disney/Pixar animated epic, Cars, was a 1949 Mercury Police Cruiser.

Many of the coupes, in the process of hot-rodding over the years, have been chopped, giving the large car a more racy, aerodynamic look.

The seller declares that the car is in excellent condition, “the undercarriage looks as good as the top side.” The seller also is ready to answer further questions about the car.

The 1950 Mercury Custom has an asking price of $49,900. If you love the street-rod, rock-a-billy culture, get a pompadour, a leather jacket and be retro cool at any such gathering!

To view the listing on ClassicCars.com, click here.

One dreamy droptop: 1993 Cadillac Allante

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The Pick of the Day is a 1993 Cadillac Allante offered by a dealer in Alsip, Illinois. The final production year of this model, 1993, also had arguably the best GM powerplant of the era: the 32-valve L37 Northstar, a 4.6 liter V8.

The Northstar was one of the first OEM engines that declared its first tune up wouldn’t be needed until a whopping 100,000 miles. With 99,700 miles on the clock, we can say tongue and cheek that this particular 27-year-old roadster could be due for its first service.

Coachbuilder Pininfarina designed and manufactured the bodies in Turin, Italy, in a special partnership with GM. Once completed, the bodies were loaded, 56 at a time, onto purpose-equipped Boeing 747s and flown from Italy to Cadillac’s Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Detroit, where the bodies were paired with the American-built chassis and engines.

It was a very expensive process, but the Fisher Body Plant #18, where Cadillac bodies were made since 1921, had been shuttered.

There was one previous strategic partnership between Cadillac and Pininfarina, in 1959 when the Italian coachworks designed and produced the 99 bodies for 1959 Eldorado Broughams.

This Flax-Pearlcoat-colored beauty was state of the art for its day – and by design was meant to take on the luxury roadsters of the day from Mercedes and Jaguar. The transverse-mounted Northstar engine produced 295 horsepower linked to a four-speed Hydramatic transmission motivating the front-wheel drive car.

The interior was well-appointed with Lear 8-way power seats, LCD digital instrument cluster and a Delco Premium sound system.

When the first Allantes appeared on roads in 1987, I was a car-loving college journalism student. I already had a love for Cadillacs as my grandfather had driven them my whole life, and my parents had a 1978 Seville, black on red leather, which I loved.

I saw an Allante at the Chicago Auto Show and was very impressed. By the time I graduated in 1989, I swore that I would have one sometime in the future.

The dealer has an asking price of $14,900. Considering that in 1993, this Caddy would set you back nearly $60,000, that just might be a bargain.

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

NASCAR Hall celebrates 25 years of Haulin’

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A special exhibition celebrating 25 years of NASCAR truck racing runs through July at the NASCAR Hall of Fame museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Haulin’: 25 Years of NASCAR Trucks” features racing trucks from P.J. Jones’ 1994 Chevrolet to Matt Crafton’s 2019 Ford.

“This new exhibit is another great example of the NASCAR Hall’s commitment to honoring the history and heritage of all aspects of the sport,” said Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelley. “Honoring these drivers and the trucks that carried them to success is a fitting celebration of the talent and skill throughout NASCAR.”

The No. 1 car is the 1994 Ford driven by P.J. Jones in 1994 for team owner Frank ‘Scoop’ Vessels
Exhibit includes an array of helmets

In unveiled the exhibit, the museum noted that “Sanctioned off-road truck racing had been happening for decades when a small group of Southern California racers pitched NASCAR on the idea of racing pickup trucks on paved oval tracks.”

NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. signed off on a plan in 1992 and in 1994 there were exhibition races on tracks in the Southwest. A year later, the NASCAR SuperTruck Series (now NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series) was born. 

Record-setting Sunbeam getting proper transmission

Restored Sunbeam did low-speed run in 2015 but new transmission will enable driving at speed | Museum photos
Bentley transmission fitted to Sunbeam

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, which in 2015 rebuilt the V12 engine in the 1920 Sunbeam 350hp that Malcolm Campbell drove to a world land speed record of 150 mph, has equipped the car with a proper transmission.

The car lost its original gearbox decades ago. The museum’s workshop staff rebuilt the engine and did a low-speed run on the famed Pendine Sands in South Wales in 2015. The run was done with a transmission from an Albion 35hp that was capable of dealing with only a fraction of the 18-liter engine’s output and which lacked a transmission brake, “an important part of the Sunbeam’s original brake set-up,” the museum noted.

Recently, the museum said, a C-type Bentley transmission has been found and adapted to fit the Sunbeam. The museum said its crew is in the process of installing a historically correct transmission brake and propshaft.

“Once the full installation has been completed, the Sunbeam will have the robust transmission its mighty engine deserves,” the museum noted.

‘Grand Tour’ celebrates Ferrari’s birthday

‘Grand Tour’ display at Enzo Ferrari Museum | Museum photo

February 18 was Enzo Ferrari’s birthday and the opening dat for a new exhibition, “Ferrari Grand Tour,” at the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, Italy. According to the museum, the exhibition is “a journey through beauty and passion” celebrates the international vocation and boundless fame of a marque that has dominated the world scene with unparalleled styling of its cars from the very early days.”

As the exhibition title indicates, it is a showcase of Grand Touring cars and takes visitors on a multimedia journey to Paris, London, New York, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and Rome.

Corvette museum offers ‘next-gen’ memberships

Corvette museum offers new children’s membership program | Museum photo

To create interest in the “next generation,” the National Corvette Museum offers special memberships for those yet to celebrate their 18th birthdays. The cost, which covers the child until age 18, is $400 for those up to 9 years old and $200 for those 10-18 and includes free admission, a gift-store discount, free cookie in the cafe when visiting, a membership packet that includes a Corvette toy, quarterly newsletter, annual birthday gift and discounts on special children’s programs.

For details, see the member-relations supervisor during your next visit. 

Special events this weekend

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, hosts its monthly auto flea market February 23 from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in northeast Indiana, with support from the AWS Foundation, will offer an Access Day on February 22 with additional staff and volunteers on hand to provide special programming for people with disabilities and with sensory-related sensitivities. Pre-registration is required and can be done through the museum website.

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, plans at grand re-opening party from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on February 22 to celebrate its new location.

The finalists for the Dean Batchelor award as book of the year will be featured February 22 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California. The books are The Speed Kings: The Rise and Fall of Motordrome Racing by Don Emde and The Last Shelby Cobra: My Times with Carroll Shelby by Chris Theodore.

Mark your calendar

Tacoma, Washington, museums including LeMay – America’s Car Museum, plan a special K-12 educator workshop exploring science, technology, engineering, art and math on February 29. 

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, stages its first “Muscles & Mojo” monthly first-Sunday car show from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. on March 1.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum opens its spring speaker series on March 4 with racers Conor Daly and Ed Carpenter.

“Drive the Blues Away” with a “Viva Las Vegas” night March 13 from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington. 

The “Foundations of Photography 2020” series of classes begins March 14 at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, where Andrew Taylor will lead the 6-part educational series on photographing the automobile.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, offers a “Start Your Engines!” event on March 21.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum near Charlotte, North Carolina, will host a Ford Spring Garage Sale on March 21.

The Studebaker Family Extravaganza scheduled for April 4 at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will include a parade led by a Tucker, a Studebaker flea market and other activities. The museum notes that the Tucker is Chassis 1026, the only Tucker with an automatic transmission and “has never been seen or driven in a public setting like this.” The car also will take part in the Historic Vehicle Association’s International Drive Conference scheduled for April 23-25 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Miles Through Time Museum preparing for April 4 re-opening | Museum photo

The Miles Through Time Museum in Clarkesville, Georgia, will stage a grand re-0pening and cruise-in on April 4. 

The Mustang Owner’s Museum near Charlotte, North Carolina, is making plans for National Mustang Day with several days of activities, including a test and tune on April 16, at Mooresville Dragway; a driver’s choice cruise to various NASCAR race shops or to a winery, distillery and brewery before the Mustang Hall of Fame induction on April 17; a “day at the museum” program on April 18; and a cruise to Mustang specialist Innovative Performance Technologies on April 19. Just confirmed will be an appearance by the 1963 Mustang II concept vehicle.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host a special Mustang Day program on April 17 with a cruise-in car show beginning at 9 a.m., with behind-the-scenes tours and a special presentation at 1 p.m. by Shelby engineer Chuck Cantwell.

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona, Beach, Florida, hosts “An Evening with Dave Friedman” from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on April 17. Friedman is well known for his motorsports photography, especially for his time with Shelby American.

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, plans its first cars and coffee cruise-in of the season from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. on April 18.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, re-opens its Performance Gallery on April 22. The gallery closed on November 20 for “a much-needed refresh.” 

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, opens two new exhibits on May 7 — “a hobby gone wild” and “Wingless Wonders: Propeller Vehicles That Never Took Off.”

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, hosts its 8th annual vintage trailer show from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on June 20. New this year will be seminars and restoration tips from experts.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com