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Goodguys indeed: Hot rod and custom group’s Autocross for Kids to fight pediatric cancer

You can ride with a pro and benefit a worthwhile charity | Nicole James photos
You can ride with a pro and benefit a worthwhile charity | Nicole James photos

The North Carolina Nationals isn’t the only thing the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association launches the weekend of April 17-19 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. The huge car show in Raleigh also marks the debut of the Goodguys’  Autocross for Kids, the first of six such events this year at which you can made a donation and ride with a professional driver at tire-squealing, passenger-screaming speeds as he or she maneuvers through the cones on the Goodguys autocross course.

The point to this exercise beyond the adrenalin rush you’ll experience is to raise money for the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. (To learn more about the foundation, see Larry Edsall’s commentary.)

If you’ve paid attention to Barrett-Jackson auctions in the past few years, you may be familiar with this foundation, which was established in the memory of Austin Hatcher Osborn, who was born August 15, 2006 but just seven weeks later was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer that would claim his life before the end of October.

“Hatch,” that’s what his parents nicknamed their firstborn, and automakers and others donated cars for Barrett-Jackson to sell to help fund the foundation Hatch’s parents started.

“We talked intently for a number of years to find a charity/foundation that made sense for our crowd,” said Betsy Bennett, a Goodguys staffer, who met with Hatch’s mother and foundation president Amy Jo Osborn last fall at the SEMA Show. That’s the annual trade show of automotive product producers and the shops that buy and the garages that install those products on everything from new cars to customs and hot rods.

An autocrosser races the Goodguys course earlier this year at Scottsdale
An autocrosser races the Goodguys course earlier this year at Scottsdale

“The story is so powerful,” Bennett added, “and someone in every family has had cancer. The Goodguys is a family company, and it’s especially hard when cancer touches your kids.”

“Goodguys events are family events,” added Marc Meadors, Goodguys president. “The hot rod/car community is a huge family and bringing the Austin Hatcher Foundation into the fold is a win-win for everyone. We hope to do great things for them this year in raising awareness and funds in the fight against pediatric cancer.”

The way the Autocross for Kids works is that while attending one of the Goodguys shows where the program takes place, you make your donation — a $20 contribution is suggested — and you go for a ride, which will be offered on the Friday or the Sunday of the Goodguys event weekend.

But there’s more to it than that. In conjunction with the Autocross for Kids at the car show, the Austin Hatcher Foundation will be taking its 40-foot pinewood derby-style racing track to a local children’s hospital so the children there also can enjoy car-related fun.

“We are overwhelmed at the support Goodguys has already demonstrated and continues to provide the foundation,” Osborn said. “They have offered up these amazing events and continue to look for new ways to help. They have really rallied to support our cause.”

The Autocross for Kids events will be held at Raleigh, Nashville, Indianapolis, Columbus (Ohio), Bowling Green (Kentucky) and Charlotte. But you don’t have to attend one of the Autocross for Kids events to show your support. You can make a contribution through the Autocross for Kids website.


Sometimes we write our stories with tears in our eyes…

Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain the journalist objectivity I’ve been trained to display while reporting and writing a story. This story is one of those times. This story is punctuated not only with periods and commas but with tears, my tears.

I just completed the second of my conversations/interviews with Amy Jo Osborn. She’s the president of the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. Austin Hatcher, or “Hatch” as Amy Jo and her husband Jim called their firstborn child, died when he was nine weeks old. He seemed so perfect at birth and for his first seven weeks. And then…

And then Jim and Amy Jo were at an auto race, which is how they’d met in the first place.

Amy Jo was a photographer for Southern Living magazine and was assigned to a story about a spinal surgeon who raced cars, an amateur who went head-to-head against the professional teams supported by major automakers and even high-dollar corporate sponsors. But instead of seeking sponsorships for his own car, this doctor-driver was out raising money so he could make it possible for ailing children and their families to go to the races and have some fun.


Get Hatch to the emergency room. Go. Now.”


[/pullquote]The story done, the doctor and the photographer started dating. Three years later they married, and then Hatch was born, August 15, 2006. He was six weeks old when his parents took him to the Road Atlanta race track where they were helping to raise money for an organization that takes children with pediatric cancer and their families to the beach for a week.

Back home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hatch wasn’t himself. The pediatrician suspected a stomach virus, but by the following weekend there was an issue with the baby’s left eye and arm.

“Get Hatch to the emergency room. Go. Now.” the pediatrician told Amy Jo.

I find those words haunting. You see, I was working as a daily newspaper sportswriter when our pediatrician called my office to tell me he’d just sent Judy and our baby to the ER and that I should get there — immediately! I ignored all traffic-control signs and signals and was waiting, frantic, when they arrived at the hospital.

Like Hatch’s parents, at first we were told that it might be meningitis and tests were done. Neither Hatch nor Lindsey had meningitis. Hatch had a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Lindsey had a congenital heart defect, an hourglass-shaped aorta. She underwent surgery, the surgeon even made his incision under her left arm so she wouldn’t have a scar that showed. But it was too late; her organs hadn’t received enough blood during pregnancy. She was 12 days old when she died.

Hatch was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Cancer Center in Atlanta, where they discovered he not only had tumors on his brain but down his spine. A biopsy showed the tumors were malignant; cancer had taken over the 8-week-old baby’s central nervous system.


The pain of this is nearly unspeakable, still.”

— Amy Jo Osborn

[/pullquote]Hatch died on October 19. He’d been born August 15.

I cried again when Amy Jo mentioned Hatch’s birthday. This story was again hitting too close to home; my birthday also is August 15.

“The pain of this is nearly unspeakable, still,” Amy Jo has written. “But that pain has created a deep desire to do all we can to help find a cure for Pediatric Cancer.”

Jim and Amy Jo met at the race track. “The DNA of his foundation has always been involved with racing,” she told me.

The racing community — the American Le Mans and its supporting series — and its racers embraced the foundation the Osborns established in Hatch’s name.

“We were not there to reinvent the wheel,” Amy Jo said, “but to provide services that weren’t being met for the families.”

The automakers got involved, and so did SEMA, the trade association of the companies that make parts for regular cars, hot rods, customs and racing cars.

Car companies donated vehicles for Barrett-Jackson to sell at its auctions. Hatch’s father sold his Volkswagen Jetta racing car at one of those auctions. It sold for $75,000 and the buyer donated it right back and it sold again. And that buyer sold it at the next Barrett-Jackson auction, and that buyer donated it back and sold it again. Eventually, through the generosity of such bidders, that car would raise more than half a million dollars for the foundation.

What does the foundation do with its money? Well, it doesn’t pay much staff. The foundation has four on its clinical staff and four additional employees — and lots of volunteers, which it needs because it does 185 events a year as it provides help to families in three areas: diversionary therapy, specialized activities that reduce the barriers to play and recreation; psycho-oncology emotional, academic and social development programs; and healthy lifestyle education to help children make lifestyle choices involving nutrition, exercise, sun safety and tobacco prevention to reduce their risk of cancer in adulthood.

This year those events will include six Autocross for Kids fund-raisers in conjunction with the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association. The suggested contribution to take a ride around the autocross course with one of the Goodguys professional drivers is $20.

Twenty bucks. That’s what, your morning stop at Starbucks or at the drive-thru window at the donut shop for a single work week? Or to put it another way: That’s less than the cost of an oil change.

Unless you’ll be at Raleigh to make a donation and take a ride, I urge you to do what I’m doing, making an immediate contribution. I’m writing a check but you also can donate through the Autocross for Kids website. And don’t feel you have to limit your contribution to $20.larry-sig

Classic Profile: Wally Dallenbach Sr. Indy cars

Dallenbach drove the No. 22 car three times at the Indianapolis 500 | Photos courtesy of the author
Dallenbach drove the No. 22 car three times at the Indianapolis 500 | Photos courtesy of the author

(This story was written by Nathan Evans, 15, one of the Junior Journalists at ClassicCars.com.)

As all of my friends and relatives know, I am a huge motorsports fan. So when my father was gifted a box of Indianapolis 500 photos from various years, I couldn’t help but search through them, trying to find drivers and cars that I would recognize.

While wading through the pictures, I stumbled across a name that was familiar. There were two photographs of Wally Dallenbach, whom I knew as the father of the somewhat-renowned former NASCAR television presenter Wally Dallenbach Jr.

Turns out that Wally Sr. won five Indycar races between 1965 and 1970, though he couldn’t manage to win the famous Indianapolis 500, which he started 13 times and finished fourth in 1976 and 1977.

The No. 62 car at Indy in 1973 with the sponsor’s trailer
The No. 62 car at Indy in 1973 with the sponsor’s motorhome

Unfortunately, he didn’t have much success with these two cars pictured, the No. 22 Kuzma-Kenyon or the No. 62 Eagle 72. Dallenbach drove No.22 at Indy on three occasions (1969, 1970 and 1971) but retired from all three races with mechanical issues. In 1970, he started 23rd and moved up to the 17th position before retiring with a spring failure.

Wally drove the No.62 car at Indianapolis in 1973, but he only completed 43 laps before a broken rod ended his day. At least he had his sponsor’s motorhome in which to enjoy the rest of the race.

Editor’s note: Do you know or are you a potential ClassicCars.com Junior Journalist? We’re looking for people ages 13 to 18 who attend classic car events with a parent, grandparent or guardian and can write about their experiences and provide a few photographs. For more information, contact dawna@classiccars.com.

Countdown to Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach: Chevy customs

Editors note: This is the third in a 10-day series featuring cars of interest to be sold this month at Barrett-Jacksons Palm Beach Auction.

1962 Chevrolet Corvette custom convertible

1962 Chevrolet Corvette | Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

The 1962 Chevrolet Corvette was quick, with two new engine options available. This also was the last model year with a solid-rear-axle suspension that had been used since the beginning. This was the last year exposed headlights were shown as well as the optional power convertible top, and the first time rocker panel trim was seen.

Seemingly no expense was spared in this ’62 resto-mod Corvette. The car was designed and built by D & D Specialty Cars for competition and features a state-of-the-art dry sump LS7 427/505-horsepower engine with one-of-a-kind intake, Tremec 6-speed transmission and custom 9-inch independent rear axle with inboard brakes.

This stunning vehicle rides on a custom Art Morrison chassis with coilover suspension and 6-piston Wilwood brakes. Custom-made Billet Specialties wheels are unique to this car only. High-grade custom leather upholstery and interior finishes, custom-built gauges by Classic Instruments and one-off House of Kolor red exterior paint.

1957 Chevrolet 3100 custom pickup

1957 Chevrolet 3100 | Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

As part of the second series of Chevrolet trucks in the 1950s, the 1957 Chevrolet 3100 was the only year to feature an open grille with a flatter hood similar to the ’57 Bel Air.

This customized 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Deluxe Cab is black with red custom interior and panoramic window. A frame-off restoration has been done which includes all of today’s modern luxuries while maintaining the style of a classic pickup.

Restoration began with media blasting, smoothing the original firewall and door jambs, and installing Bearclaw door latches.

Additions to the chassis include Heidts Superide II independent front suspension, 4-wheel power Wilwood disc brakes and Heidts 4-link rear suspension with a 3.73 posi-traction rear axle. Billet coilovers on all four corners and Boyd Coddington wheels complete the chassis.

This LS2 engine, backed by a 4L60E 4-speed automatic transmission, provides performance. Mandrel exhaust system enhances the sound of the 400 horses under the hood.

Inside the Deluxe Cab you find many modern options, such as Vintage Air and heat, Custom Auto Sound, power windows, billet air conditioning vents, Lokar door handles and shifter.

Barrett-Jacksons 13th annual Palm Beach Auction is April 17-19 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. Coverage of the event will be broadcast on Velocity and Discovery during 19 hours of live, high-definition television beginning Friday, April 17, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Telecast Schedule:

Friday, April 17, 12-8 p.m. EDT Velocity

Saturday, April 18, 2-5 p.m. EDT Discovery

Saturday, April 18, 5-8 p.m. EDT Velocity

Sunday, April 19, 12-5 p.m. EDT – Velocity


My Classic Car: Don’s 1960 Chevrolet Impala

1960 Chevrolet Impala is original except for the wheels | Don Wilson photos
1960 Chevrolet Impala is original except for the wheels | Don Wilson photos

This 1960 Chevrolet Impala is unmolested and all original as if it came directly off the showroom floor (except for the wheels). It was ordered with the 283 with a 4-barrel carburetor.

Kept in like-new condition since 1960
Kept in like-new condition since 1960

This was a barn find in Knoxville, Tennessee, by Fred and Virgie Lark. When Fred died, Virgie asked Dwight Patterson, a friend of the family who had a car dealership in Scipio, Indiana, if he would sell the car for her. I bought the from Dwight on November 28, 2014. It had 74,165 miles on its odometer at that time.

I paid $23,500 and it cost me $1,700.00 to have it shipped out to Granite Falls, Washington.

— Don Wilson, Granite Falls WA

The distinctive triple tail lamps and eyebrows of the 1960 Chevrolet Impala
The distinctive triple tail lamps and eyebrows of the 1960 Chevrolet Impala

Copperstate 1000 rally celebrates 25 years in style

A Shelby GT350 chases a 1952 Cunningham C-3 in last year’s Copperstate 1000 | Larry Edsall photos
A Shelby GT350 chases a 1952 Cunningham C-3 in last year’s Copperstate 1000 | Larry Edsall photos

A quarter century has passed since an elite group of more than 50 classic automobiles departed from the Phoenix Art Museum for the first Copperstate 1000 road rally, a thousand-mile tour of Arizona’s famous back-road scenery.

Now one of the nation’s premier classic car events, the Copperstate 1000 celebrates its 25th anniversary by staging its biggest rally ever, taking more than 90 pre-1973 automobiles on the four-day journey, starting April 18 ,to drive on some of the most splendid winding roads that the state has to offer. Each day, the road will end at an iconic landmark in Arizona or Utah.

As always, the public is invited to the European-style sendoff of the vintage sports cars, GTs and classics at Tempe Diablo Stadium, where the launch party has been held for the past several years. Gates open for the free event at 9 a.m., leaving plenty of time to examine the rare automobiles up close until they are introduced and flagged off one at a time starting at 12:30 p.m.

On one of Arizona’s scenic winding roads
On one of Arizona’s scenic winding roads

The Bell Lexus Copperstate 1000 has become an important fund-raiser for the Phoenix Art Museum, although when the idea first came up in 1990, a cross-country automotive event seemed like an unlikely fit for the conservative Men’s Arts Council to raise money for the city’s largest art treasure. Up until then, the primary museum fund-raiser for the volunteer group of businessmen and civic leaders had been the annual Cowboy Artists of America show and sale.

The road-rally idea came from MAC member and classic car enthusiast Louis Laflin, who had the vision of replicating the famed Mille Miglia of Italy in the Southwestern desert. Not only would such a signature event raise money for the art museum, Laflin argued, but it would lift the stature of the Phoenix area in the classic car community.

Laflin pushed his idea despite doubt-filled opponents, finally winning them over when he and his supporters purchased “bonds” in case the Copperstate sustained a severe financial backfire. Laflin performed much of the grunt work that went into the rally, such as writing the route book and enlisting dozens of people for volunteer duties.

So in April 1991, the stunning collection of vintage automobiles set out for the inaugural rally. Laflin had tapped into his many connections to ensure high-quality participants, among them veteran Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, who served as grand marshal for the first Copperstate.

Sadly, Laflin only lived to enjoy the first few years of the event. In his honor, the rally presents its annual Louis Laflin III Spirit Award to the participant who best reflects his passion. The award is a sculpture designed by noted Arizona artist Ed Mell, who also created many paintings specifically for the Copperstate that were used as annual posters. Mell is a regular Copperstate participant, most often in his 1962 Corvette, although this year he’s taking his 1972 DeTomaso Pantera.

Cars parked in left field at Tempe Diablo Stadium
Cars parked in left field at Tempe Diablo Stadium

Over the years, Copperstate entries have comprised a who’s who of top classic cars and owners from around the country, most of them top-drawer post-war sports and GT cars with such names as Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Shelby, Corvette and Alfa Romeo. But the Copperstate has seen its share of spectacular classic cars as well, and quite a few all-out race cars fettled for highway use.

Attorney Rick Mahrle has been on essentially every one of the rallies, first as a volunteer and later as a participant. Mahrle served as chairman during the event’s 10th anniversary run. This year, he is driving with his wife in a 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider.

“I was the Prescott city captain the first year,” he said. “That entailed going up to Prescott (ahead of time) and making sure everything was set and ready. We parked around the town square that year, the first stop on the Copperstate.”

From the start, the preparation and organization of each Copperstate has been a challenge requiring a legion of volunteers and workers, Mahrle added.

A 1963 Jaguar E-type enjoys some curves
A 1963 Jaguar E-type enjoys some curves

“It’s always a logistics balancing act,” he said. “You have parameters. You want to make sure the event runs well. You want people to be able to drive on really cool roads and stay off the freeways. Freeways are boring.

“You also have to have the right hotel accommodations for people. You have to make sure you’re going on a really cool road that’s going to end up at a hotel that people like the accommodations. And you have to find meal spots.”

Mahrle recalled some of the famous people who have taken part in the Copperstate, such as racing legend Phil Hill and Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk. Mahrle was in the back seat of a modern Bentley Azure convertible during one rally with Luyendyk at the wheel, he recalled, traveling at incredible speed but totally controlled by the professional driver.

“I never felt so comfortable in my life,” Mahrle said.

The late Phil Hill was always the consummate gentleman, Mahrle added, although highly competitive on the road, going so far as blocking anyone trying to pass. Hill was often driving a sponsor’s car, and each morning, you’d see him out in the parking lot cleaning and polishing it for the coming day.

“He would be out there doing it himself,” Mahrle said. “These are the kind of great memories that stand out.”

This year, the Copperstate 1000 has announced a new event in addition to the road rally, an off-road adventure called the Copperstate Overland set for October that will take participants in their vintage off-road vehicles into the wilds of backcountry Arizona. The new rally also will benefit the Phoenix Art Museum.

For more information about the Copperstate 1000, and the new Copperstate Overland, see copperstate1000.com.

Will drift cars become cherished classics?

Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s 2015 drift car | Photo courtesy of Vaughn Gittin Jr.

In 2006, a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 convertible rolled across the auction block at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale, and sold for $1,242,000. What made this car special was that it had been drag raced in 1970 by Ray Allen, who won seemingly every significant event that year, including the National Hot Rod Association’s U.S. Nationals.

Thirty-six years, a racing heritage and a thorough restoration turned this old, far-from-stock racing car into a million-dollar collectible machine.

Like yesterday’s boomers, today’s millennials are into motorsports, though perhaps not so much into stock, Indy, sports car or drag racing as they are into drifting.

Competitive Drifting originated in Japan with the D1 Grand Prix series in 2001. Drifting is a driving style in which the driver tries to keep the car in a condition of oversteer while going from turn to turn. Drifters emphasize car control by coordinating the amount of counter steer, or opposite lock, with the simultaneous modulation of the throttle and brakes to shift the weight balance of the car back and forth with each turn. All these elements make it look as though the car is sliding around on the track.

Opposite lock | Photo by Hans Marquez

What appeals to the millennials about drifting is the fun factor. Drifting is not the quickest way to get around a track, but there is something inherently exciting about driving on a road course with the car completely sideways to the course and counter-steering in direction of the slide. It’s a delicate balance between the right amount of power applied and the appropriate steering angle so the car doesn’t spin.

Three years after its debut in Japan, the Formula Drift series launched in the U.S. and really gained momentum in 2006 when the sport was featured in the movie, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Vaughn Gittin Jr. is one of the pioneers in drifting in the U.S. and is the only American to win a D1 Grand Prix event twice—and one of those times included the D1GP World Championship. In 2010, he earned his first Formula Drift championship, becoming the second-ever champion with a strictly drifting background.In 2011, Gittin Jr. competed in China’s premier drift series, World Drift Series, and won the championship.

Monster Energy Nitto Tire Ford Mustang | Photo courtesy of Vaughn Gittin Jr.

So fast forward a few decades. Might Gittin Jr.’s drift car, the Monster Energy Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR, one of the sport’s most identifiable cars, be worth a million dollars or more to a car collector, say one who might be a teenage drifting fan today?

According to Dave Kinney, classic car appraiser and publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide, it’s all about the visibility Gittin Jr.’s car has in both the marketplace when the car was new and the kind of lasting motorsports fame the car carries decades into the future.

“The classic example I’m thinking of would be the Ford Mustang,” Kinney said. “A lot of people that are in the 15-25 age group will remember that (the Mustang) as something they thought was cool and drifting as something other younger people did with those cars, so they will remember that and as they get older will want to pursue (collect) those cars.”

“They look awesome, they are nimble, fun. They make a ton of power and it is easy to modify them to suit personal needs behind the wheel,” Gittin Jr. told ClassicCars.com.“The Ford Mustang has become an extension of my body over the years and I am all smiles behind the wheel of one.”

The Mustang RTR is a spin-off similar to Mustangs modified by Saleen, Roush, and Shelby. It is Gittin Jr.’s choice of drift machine, and his vision, and copies are available for purchase at selected Ford dealerships.

2015 Monster Energy Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR to be used in 2015 Formula Drift Series | Photo courtesy of Vaughn Gittin Jr.

When creating the RTR, his dream was to introduce something new that would not only appeal to the younger generation, but also to the traditional muscle car enthusiast. The Mustang RTR takes the best of multiple automotive cultures and combines them together into something that any car enthusiast immediately can appreciate.

With the Mustang RTR coming into the scene very strongly, Gittin Jr. has changed the perception of how a muscle car looks and performs.

When asked if he thought the Mustang RTR would be a future classic or might  be compared with early Shelby Mustangs, Gittin Jr. said, “Being compared with Carroll is something that always makes me pinch myself. I prefer not to try to predict the future like that.

“However, I do know that I am committed to RTR, it is my baby and I look forward to continuing to working hard with my amazing team to continue its growth and innovation.

“What Carroll built and (why) the passionate owners that love his products is a huge inspiration, and I can only hope we get within reach of that path.”

Vaughn Gittin Jr. at Formula Drift Long Beach 2014 | Photo courtesy of Vaughn Gittin Jr.

Not every drift-ready Mustang will be a future collectible or sell for whatever the equivalent of a million dollars is decades in the future.

“It’s all about the recognition the cars have and how they perform,” Kinney said.

Collectors will want the cars for what they were most famous for, including livery, modifications and sponsor emblems and the driver’s name on the car. The driver’s reputation also matters.

“Typically a good guy’s cars sell for ‘X’ amount, the bad guys sell for ‘X’ amount plus more due to the notoriety,” Kinney said.

Kinney adds that while a car may undergo changes during and after its racing career, “Collectors will want to return a car to that time (of its most famous days on the track), to the car’s glory days.

“It doesn’t matter if the car changes, collectors will want the (top) driver’s name on the car and the same sponsors at the time of the car’s popularity.”

Part of the added value in Allen’s drag-racing Chevelle was the fact that he did the restoration, taking the car back to the way it was when he raced it to the championship.

Gittin Jr. has saved his world championship-winning car, the car that essentially launched him to where he is today.

“I have hopes that it will end up in the collection of a long-time fan of mine or some other collection where someone will be pumped to have it,” Gittin Jr.  said.

80’s to early 2000’s are popular cars to drift | Photo by Hans Marquez

“People will look back on this time and see drifting as what the cool kids were doing, and even the kids that weren’t cool but who will go on to make millions and become that cool kid by getting those cars,”Kinney said. “It’s not retro, its more so, I can’t afford then but I can now.”

The collectability of such cars also is influenced by their acceptance in popular culture. Consider the impact Smokey and the Bandit or the Dukes of Hazard had on the Pontic Firebird and Dodge Charger as collectible classics.

Just as Formula Drift received a bump in popularity from The Fast and Furious movies, so did all the cars featured in the film series.

According to Kinney, “All those cars had an astounding impact on people who are 30-40 and saw them as kids before having driver’s license.”

Forest Wang Drifting | Photo by Hans Marquez

Of course, another aspect of the future collectability of drift cars is whether they survive long enough to be collected.

“I think it depends on how much they are actually drifted,” said Gittin Jr., who already has retired his championship-winning machine.

“The sport is very tough on equipment, that’s for sure,” he said, adding, however, the destruction of many cars through the wear and tear of competition likely means the value of those that survive will increase.”

Countdown to Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach: Muscle and pony cars

Editors note: This is the second in a 10-day series of featured vehicles to be sold at Barrett-Jacksons Palm Beach Auction.

1969 Shelby GT500 Fastback

1969 Shelby GT500 Fastback | Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

Following the overwhelming success of the now notorious Shelby built, Ford Powered, AC Cobras of the mid-sixties, Ford reached out to Shelby American in 1964 to once again bring a winning performance package to a new small car, notably, the Ford Mustang. With Ford commissioning Shelby American to build a line of performance Mustangs in 1964, the first Shelby GT350 rolled off the assembly line as a 1965 Shelby GT350.

By 1969 Shelby had introduced the potent big block GT500 to the Shelby lineup. With overwhelming demand for the GT500, the production was moved to the Ford assembly plant.

In 1969 the cars were marketed as either the Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT500. The difference between the two models was the motor size. The GT350 had a 351 while the GT500 had a 428 motor.

This 1969 GT500 has 83,687 original miles and is one of 416 cars with this paint code.  It has a 4-speed manual transmission, traction-lock differential, 3.50 axle ratio, new Goodyear Polyglas tires and Ram Air induction.

The car was built June 20, 1969, in Dearborn, Michigan, and delivered to Falls Church, Virginia. It features black interior, sport deck rear seat, factory roll bar, special Grabber Blue exterior paint and tinted glass. It comes with a Marti Report and a partial Build Sheet from the frame-off rotisserie restoration and engine rebuild it underwent.

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE | Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

With Ford and Chevrolet engaged in a fierce pony war battle to dominate the racetracks in the late sixties, Dodge had some designs of their own to waltz in and take over the pony war party. In the fall of 1969 Dodge brought the big block Challenger to the race track and all the rules changed. The Challenger was Dodge’s response to the powerful Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. The Challenger came in a staggering number of trim and option levels that featured virtually every engine in Chryslers inventory including the notorious powerhouses 440 Six Pack and Hemi.

This particular Challenger, was restored about three years ago, with a rebuilt 440/6-pack engine with less than 250 miles on it since the restoration. The car is black and features a vinyl SE roof, rally hood, dual exhaust, 15-inch rally wheels and new tan interior with factory-leather buckets. This car also includes such options as power windows and 6-way seat track. All of the SE/RT chrome and badging are present.

Barrett-Jacksons 13th annual Palm Beach Auction is April 17-19 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. Coverage of the event will be broadcast on Velocity and Discovery during 19 hours of live, high-definition television beginning Friday, April 17, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Telecast Schedule:

Friday, April 17, 12-8 p.m. EDT Velocity

Saturday, April 18, 2-5 p.m. EDT Discovery

Saturday, April 18, 5-8 p.m. EDT Velocity

Sunday, April 19, 12-5 p.m. EDT – Velocity

Will fourth time be the charm for Jensen’s return?


The Jensen Interceptor is the GT car that is not willing to die. Yet again a new group has taken the reigns to revive the Jensen brand and its first effort is a new model called the Jensen GT.

Over the years, no fewer than four different groups have attempted to revive this world-class GT car brand, though with little success. Is this latest effort the one that will be a success?

The tale of the Jensen Interceptor is a long and complicated one. From the start the car was enveloped in controversy. The founders of Jensen actually left the company during the car’s original production run. The cars were terrific grand touring cars, to many the equal of Aston Martin, but the brand never developed the following its more famous countryman.

A lot of this has to do with the mythology of the Aston brand when compared to that of Jensen. Aston has a racing heritage, which did much to feed this mythology. The placement of its cars as movie hero James Bond’s car of choice in no less than nine different 007 films did nothing but bolster this mythology.

I think that Jensen very much missed the boat on this all important brand-building mythology because back in the 1970s the Interceptor was very much a car to have and was owned by countless stars of film, music, and even motorcycle racers and race car drivers. My personal Interceptor was owned originally by none other than actor Tony Curtis.

Sadly, the company never capitalized on this star-studded owner list, nor did it promote itself as much as it might have. As a result, the Interceptor was largely forgotten.

The latest effort is by a company called the Jensen Group, led by entrepreneur Tim Hearley. From 1981 through 1984, Hearley served as joint chairman of Aston Martin Lagonda. Next, he was a director of, “a business specializing in the restoration of Jensen Interceptor cars,” according to a Jensen Group news release.

In 2009, Hearley founded Jensen Cars Ltd., which after much legal action acquired the rights to the Jensen and Interceptor names.

Obviously, these experiences add up to a great brand ambassador for a new Jensen and someone who may finally be able to bring a new Interceptor to the market in the way that will finally revive this great marque.

I will admit that I am a huge fan of the Jensen Interceptor and have owned one.

‘The Interceptor has always made a nice alternative to the Aston Martin V8 cars of the 1970s and ‘80s for a more realistic price. That low price may soon be a thing of the past, however, as interest in the Jensen Interceptor by the collector car market has been increasing of late, with prices on the rise as other cars in the category have had huge price increases and buyers started to look for more affordable alternatives to cars like the Aston Martin, Iso Griffo and Facel Vega.

Rear three-quarters view of the new Jensen GT
Rear three-quarters view of the new Jensen GT

The big question is: Can a car like the Interceptor, a low-production car from the start, actually be successful in today’s marketplace and sell in enough volume for the company to actually stay in business?

Well, if you look at the large number of low-production cars currently being marketed and sold in record numbers — think McLaren and Paganni — then it could be that the timing for a new Interceptor launch couldn’t be better.

The clay models of the new Jensen GT displayed definitely look the part of a modern Interceptor. We have high hopes that Mr. Hearley may be exactly the kind of person who can revive this storied brand.signature


Countdown to Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach: 1950s convertibles

Editors note: This is the first in a 10-day series of featured vehicles to be sold at Barrett-Jacksons Palm Beach Auction.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air custom convertible

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air custom convertible | Photo provided by Barrett-Jackson

The Chevrolet Bel Air was in production from 1950-1975 in the US and was ultimately retired in 1981 in Canada, spanning seven different generations. The Bel Air was a full-size car that came in many different body options, including the choice between a two-door or a four-door, hard top or convertible, and select years a number of different station wagon configurationswere avalable.

With all new styling for the second-generation, launched in 1955, and with the new small-block V8 under the hood, the Bel Air was regarded as the “Hot One” in a GM advertising campaign. Today, second-generation Bel Airs, those from the 1955-57 model years, are regarded as the most collectable.

For 1956, the Bel Air received two-tone body-side treatments, a full-width grille and new taillights that encompassed the running lights, stoplight and reverse light.

This customized 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air (Lot #456) carries a 355-cubic-inch V8 engine with a 4-bolt main, dual quads with finned moon air cleaners and valve cleaners. Attention was given to the engine to ensure it is absolutely amazing down to correctly detailed wires, and even the engine bay is polished chrome.

All the mechanicals of this car were all rebuilt. The fit and finish of both the body and paint are deemed outstanding with all new chrome and trim. The glass is new with re-chromed frames providing outstanding alignment so that the doors click shut properly with the top and windows up. The convertible top frame is painted and has the correct cloth weather-strips. The body is as straight.

The interior is without wrinkles while the dash has been meticulously restored. The underside has been detailed like new.

Options on this car include power steering, power brakes, power top, Wonderbar radio, whitewalls, tinted glass, oil filter/exhaust tips, stone shields/reverse lights, rocker moldings, fender spears, electric wipers, door handle guards and gas door guard.

1954 Buick Skylark convertible

1954 Buick Skylark convertible

In 1954 Buick produced a total of 836 Skylark convertibles. The 1954 model was substantially restyled from the 1953 50th-year anniversary Roadmaster Skylark and all the options available on the 1953 became standard equipment for 1954. It came with wheel cutouts that could be painted in a contrasting color and  taillights were housed in huge chrome fins. The ’54 Skylark rode on the series 40 chassis, making front leg room drop 2.4 inches.

Rarely driven and having won best of show at the 2007 Buick Nationals, this 1954 Buick Skylark convertible has had a frame-off restoration and comes with a complete book detailing the process.

This car will be sold at approximately 6:00 pm on Saturday, April 18.

Barrett-Jacksons 13th annual Palm Beach Auction is April 17-19 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. Coverage of the event will be broadcast on Velocity and Discovery during 19 hours of live, high-definition television beginning Friday, April 17, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Telecast Schedule:

Friday, April 17, 12-8 p.m. EDT Velocity

Saturday, April 18, 2-5 p.m. EDT Discovery

Saturday, April 18, 5-8 p.m. EDT Velocity

Sunday, April 19, 12-5 p.m. EDT – Velocity