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My Classic Car: Gene’s 1957 Ford Skyliner

My car with its cousins at a regional meet in Dayton | Gene Colucci photos
My car with its cousins at a regional meet in Dayton | Gene Colucci photos

When I was 15 years old, my father rented out one bay in our garage to an engineer from Bell Aerosystems. The engineer had a brand new Oldsmoible 98 convertible, black with red interior and a white top and those spinner hubcaps.

What an eyeful when he pulled it into and out of our garage, “spotless and gorgeous.”

But what caught my eye was the salesman for the local Ford dealer who would pull up across the street in a new two-door hardtop Fairlane 500. The ’57 Ford had a sleek flair that held my attention.

Time goes on and my first ownership was an Olds 88 with the 98 motor and later I bought the 1957 Ford convertible and then built many wrecks and fixed a lot of decaying ’57 Fords in western New York where the weather and salt used on the roads was not too kind to the sheet metal.

 Skyliner regularly wins awards at car shows
Skyliner regularly wins awards at car shows

I did a lot of paint and collision work during my college years and painted an extremely long 1957 baby-blue Skyliner. It seemed like I had to order an extra
two quarts of enamel just to cover the extra surface area of that gorgeous car.

Fast forward to 2009 when I purchased a solid-black 1957 Ford Skyliner. That trophy car is my favorite to drive, including all the mid-year Corvettes that I own.

That car with its gold and stainless trim against black seems so formal that I feel as if I should be wearing a tux when I get in to drive it. She sure gets the looks and takes home the trophies when I show it.

— Gene Colucci, Lewiston NY

Gene's favorite ride
Gene’s favorite ride

London Classic Car Show expanding for 2016

London Classic Car Show

The inaugural London Classic Car Show was such a success that organizers already have announced an expanded footprint for 2016 with 50 percent more floor space in the ExCel convention facility. Dates for 2016 are February 18-21.

“The feedback from the very first London Classic Car Show was incredibly positive,” event director Bas Bungish said in a news release. “So positive, in fact, that 98 per cent of our exhibitors have already ensured they have space at the 2016 show.”

Spectators of all ages share their enthusiasm

Many additional exhibitors are expected, organizers said, including more classic car dealers lured by the fact that sales at the show included a Ferrari that sold for $2.28 million and an Aston Martin and E-type Jaguar that each brought more than $750,000.

With more space available, one of the show’s top features — The Grand Avenue — will be extended. In addition to static displays, the avenue, which ran through the center of the facility, served as a runway on which cars could be showcased while being driven.

“Our aim with the London Classic Car Show was to create a show that really raises the bar,” Bungish added. “We did that…. motor shows will never be the same again.”

Maserati display

1970 Hemi ‘Cuda with just 81 miles heads for auction

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The 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda stands in pristine unrestored condition | Mecum Auctions photos
The 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda stands in pristine unrestored condition | Mecum Auctions photos

Dream on, Hemi fanatics, because Mecum has a muscle car coming to auction that’s the stuff dreams are made of.

The car is special enough, an all-original 1970 Plymouth 426 Hemi ‘Cuda coupe in immaculate condition. But what puts this ‘Cuda over the top is that it has never been restored. Because why would it be when the car has been driven just 81 miles?

This Hemi ‘Cuda is believed to be the lowest-mileage example in existence, boosting its value exponentially to what Mecum estimates as between $600,000 and $800,000. Some auction watchers think such a pristine ‘Cuda could go into seven figures when it crosses the block at Mecum’s big Indy auction May 12-17 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

The 426-cid Hemi V8 is rated at 271 horsepower
The 426-cid Hemi V8 is rated at 271 horsepower

Powered by the classic 425-horsepower Hemi V8, the car was purchased in 1970 by the original owner, who immediately modified it for drag racing.

“It was special-ordered and purchased new at Shreves Plymouth-Dodge in June 1970 by Bill Reardon of Clarksburg, West Virginia, who was finally buying his dream car at 62 years of age,” Mecum says in the catalog description. “One of the last 10 Hemi ‘Cudas built in 1970, it was exactly as he imagined it: Torch Red with a black interior, Torqueflite automatic transmission, Shaker hood with tie downs and color-matching steel wheels with dog-dish hub caps and Goodyear Polyglas GT tires.”

Reardon replaced the carburetors and intake, exhaust system, rear, shocks, and wheels and tires with performance parts for racing, but carefully put the original parts in storage. He only had the opportunity to race one season, making about 30 runs at local drag strips. He passed away after the season ended.

The ‘Cuda wears its original dog-dish hubcaps
The ‘Cuda wears its original dog-dish hubcaps

When his widow died in 1977, the couple’s son sold the car and the stored parts to an enthusiast who removed the racing gear and returned the car to the original factory configuration. At that time, the ‘Cuda has gone just 42 miles, and the new owner added less than one mile in the 16 years that he kept it.

“The car passed through three more caring owners before renowned Hemi specialist John Arruza of Thomasville, North Carolina, purchased it with 61 miles on the odometer,” according to Mecum’s description. “Arruza performed his magic on the car, refreshing it after its years of storage with a complete fluid change and tune-up, and overhauling its carburetion system so that it once again performed as new.

“Arruza drove the car to 73 miles in the process of refining the car’s state of tune. Since then it has been moved enough to take the odometer to its present reading of 81 miles.”

The interior looks like it’s brand new
The interior looks like it’s brand new

With original paint and interior, the coupe is in correct factory trim with twin four-barrel carburetors, dual exhaust, hood pins, road lights and those dog-dish hubcaps with Goodyear Polyglas GT tires.

“Today it is the textbook definition of a time capsule: unmolested, original and in superb condition, with documentation that includes the factory broadcast sheet and a recorded verification of the numbers and codes,” Mecum concludes. “For Hemi lovers, the Holy Grail.”

Eye Candy: 25th annual Bell Lexus North Scottsdale Copperstate 1000 vintage rally

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‘On the Road Again…” and for the 25th time, the Copperstate 1000 celebrated 25 consecutive years of some of the finest, most pristine sports and classic cars manufactured before 1973 challenging over 1000 miles of some of the most scenic mountains and deserts that Arizona (and this year southern Utah) has to offer. The Copperstate gives more than 90 vintage cars and their drivers and navigators the opportunity to explore Arizona’s spectacular back roads in their prized automotive treasures.

In the most recent and anniversary edition, the motorcade assembled at Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring training home of the Los Angeles Angeles baseball team, for a car show before blasting out of the stadium Mille Miglia-style to the first overnight stop nestled at the base of the San Francisco Peaks and Humphreys Peak at Flagstaff. At elevation — Humphreys towers above 12,000 feet — the evening was chilly, but participants were wired for an early start the following morning for the drive into Utah with an overnight in the town of St. George.

The caravan of cars looked stupendous in the glorious natural wonders of Zion National Park, where massive sandstone cliffs of pink and red rise into a deep blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.

That caravan ranged from elderly but still spry vehicles including a 1929 Bentley 6.5 Litre, 1930 Bentley Speed Six and 1932 Lincoln KB boattail speedster to post-war Ferraris, Jaguars, Maseratis, 300SLs, Porsches, Alfas, Astons and nine Shelby GT350s in this, that car’s 50th anniversary year.

For the event’s 25th anniversary, the rally started a day earlier than usual and stretched to nearly 1,300 miles in a feast for all the senses encompassing sight, sounds and aromas of the blooming flowers in the spring desert and a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains.

From the stunning box canyon views on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the cars trekked south back through Flagstaff and tall pines and Aspen-laden forests to the majestic red rocks of Sedona for two nights at the luxurious Enchantment Resort at the head of Boynton Canyon.

On Tuesday, the Copperstaters enjoyed dose of the magnificent Grand Canyon and refreshed at the Hagerty Hospitality RV at the Grandview Point overlook. The rock layers of the canyon that serve as a window into time provided a fantastic natural backdrop for the colorful classic and sports cars.

A quick jaunt through the artist enclave of Jerome gave the participants and their machinery a good workout on the challenging the twisty roads of Mingus Mountain.

The final leg of this incredible journey took the cavalcade of motorcars through historic Prescott and a catered lunch at the beautiful Hidden Springs Ranch, where some of the finest thoroughbred stallions in the world are bred and trained.

After lunch, a drive along Carefree Highway and past a monumental stand of saguaro cactus took the tour to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa for the Suds & Suds car wash and awards banquet.

Among those awards, the Participants Choice for the car they’d most want in their own garages went to the 1930 Bentley Speed Six owned by Clive Cussler and the Louis E. Laflin III Spirit Award went to Jim Ballinger and Marc Cavness.

The Copperstate 1000 vintage rally is staged by the Men’s Arts Council to benefit the Phoenix Art Museum. For more information on the event, and on the new Copperstate Overland off-road adventure planned for this fall, visit the Men’s Arts Council website.

www.mensartcouncil.com

Photography by Howard Koby

Run, don’t walk away from some swap-meet ‘projects’

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While attending Spring Carlisle I saw quite a few great cars in the car corral and quite a few nice project car opportunities as well. In fact, most of the cars at Sprng Carlisle were great examples or very fairly priced driver-level vehicles.

Despite the overall exceptional quality of most of the cars for sale, I also saw the kinds of cars that a person should never even consider as cars to restore or refurbish. These are those “projects” that put you irretrievably upside down financially from the day you buy it.

I see this quite a bit at car swap meets, but never have I seen so many cars that friends should never let friends buy. These are all cars that if you are considering, you should just say no and run, not walk away. Not only were these cars all complete messes, they were also priced quite high.

Remember: When you see that potential project at the next swap meet you attend to really take a long look at the car and determine for yourself if it has potential as a restoration candidate or if it merely a parts car.

The first just say no car was a Plymouth Satellite. This car was described as having a nice body but I would hate to see what the seller thinks a bad body looks like. It was also missing an engine, transmission, various front end components and a lot of interior trim. But the most astounding thing was the $5,900 asking price.
Next is another Mopar, this time a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda. I love the first-generation Barracuda but found no love for this car whatsoever. The seller said the car had no title but failed to discuss the prodigious amount of rust that was everywhere we looked. The price was a bit more reasonable at $1,800, but you would have to spend 10 times that amount to get this car to the driver level.
Next is this 1968 “undocumented” Camaro Z28. Now what exactly is an “undocumented” Z28. I suspect that it is a Camaro that the owner was told was a Z28 but is just a standard Camaro. This car is missing the Z28 302 V8 engine, transmission, interior and most of the chrome. The owner was asking a staggering $7,000.
Our next “winner” was this 1984 Pontiac Firebird, a complete disaster with rust everywhere, extensive body damage and an interior with no salvageable parts. The car did not run, was in various shades of paint and primer, and was at best a parts car, yet was priced at $3,000.
The best of the worst award goes to a 1969 El Camino. Even the president of the EL Camino club would run from this one. Literally every piece of sheet metal was completely rusted and we think that the paint was the only think holding the body together. The lack of most of the interior was also a definite issue as well.
Asking price: $3,200.
Winner and champion of bad ideas for project cars was, sadly, a 1957 Corvette. This Vette had extensive body issues, no engine or gearbox, no interior but it did have accident history which “restyled” the front end a bit. It was also missing practically every single bit of chrome trim, the exception being the windshield frame. The punch line as that the seller wanted $13,500. To add insult to injury, in the car corral area you could buy a nice driver-level C2 model for $32,000.

Spring Carlisle: The lifestyle

One of the things that makes Spring Carlisle so awesome is the swap meet. I was given the task of photographing interesting and unusual things for sale, but what I found more exciting and interesting was the lifestyle I saw as the swap-meet.

It’s a given when you go to a swap meet that you’re going to buy stuff, and while cars are big and heavy, I never really imagined that people would be buying panels, doors, motors, transmissions and such, much less how they would transport these items.

However, at Spring Carlisle I’ve seen the genius behind home-engineered shopping carts and other devices.

And just when I thought I had seen it all, it only got gloriously better.

By far my favorite thing was the well thought out and skillfully executed ways of transporting car parts. Sure, there were people lugging around huge bumpers on dollies, but what got me was dollies with crates bungee-corded to them with makeshift boxes on the back that served as cup holders.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, moments later another cart went made from a dolly platform with some plywood on the base to support the huge trash can attached with tow straps.

But the ingenuity didn’t stop there. Years of Tetris skills paid off as some people balanced boxes and doors along with hoses on a dolly.

Don’t have a cool or unique shopping cart? Don’t worry, just strap parts to your backpacks and recruit your friends to help lug stuff around.

I’m not sure if it is because it has been unseasonably cold here in Carlisle but the hats were eye-catching. I saw everything from a Batman beanie to camo baseball hats to top hats to a tie-dyed jester’s hat, even giant hotdog hats.

And deeper into the sawp meet I got, the more unusual the head wear became.

With Spring Carlisle being such a huge event, you really need to have something to cruise around. Some of my favorites? A Fairlane body on a possibly a golf cart, a bicycle with pink tassels, a Harley Davidson bar stool go cart, and an endless supply of scooters.

 

1966 Ford Mustang GT K-Code

The 1966 Ford Mustang GT fastback is a rare, original K-Code performance model
The 1966 Ford Mustang GT fastback is a rare, original K-Code performance model

Few classic cars have the universal appeal of a truly great Ford Mustang and here’s one for Pick of the Week that is an apparently pristine, very-low-mileage beauty that ticks all the boxes.

The 1966 Ford Mustang GT fastback is a rare numbers-matching factory K-Code model, which means it has a special high-performance 271-horsepower 289-cid V8 under its long hood and also is equipped with a heavy-duty clutch, driveshaft and differential and sports suspension.

Add to that a factory four-speed manual transmission, disc brakes, power steering, pony interior and rally-pac gauges, all contained in a purposeful fastback body that was the early Mustangs’ most attractive design.

Everything about this car is totally authentic, the Atlanta collector-car dealer states in the ClassicCars.com advertisement, noting that it remains in exceptional condition after a comprehensive restoration in the 1990s and driven only 9,000 miles since. The only change, the seller says, is the addition of aftermarket air conditioning – the performance-oriented K-Code Mustangs did not offer such creature comforts at the time.

The asking price is $48,900, which might seem steep until you consider how special this Mustang really is.

“In short, the rarest and most desirable drivetrain and options you can get on a 1966 Mustang,” the seller says in the ad. “Correct to the trim tag in all respects, including the gorgeous original color of Vintage Burgundy Metallic.

“It’s refreshing to find a K-Code fastback that has been left tastefully stock – and with fewer than 10,000 ’66 K-Codes made, spread across coupe, convertible, and fastback variants (including the Shelby cars), a factory hi-po 289 Fastback is rare indeed.”

Window shopping with Nicole at Spring Carlisle

Spring Carlisle is an undoubtedly huge event, located on the 150-acre Carlisle Fairgrounds here in Pennsylvania. Now in its 41st year, the Spring Carlisle is a collector and classic car swap meet, car corral and auction that brings together 2,000 cars from all over the East Coast and Canada. It also is the third event of the calendar year for Carlisle Events and marks the beginning of the Carlisle-based show and swap meet season after earlier events in Florida.While the high reached 50 degrees Thursday, snow flurries could be seen and winds were gusting at 20 miles per hour, but the extreme weather conditions didn’t stop the hardcore enthusiasts from coming out to search for either the perfect car or for carrying away a coveted piece for the project back home in a make shift cart made from a dolly with a 5-gallon paint bucket strapped to it with bungee cords.

To escape the Pennsylvania weather I made my way to the auction area, conveniently located inside a warm building. Being based way out west, I tend to see a lot of the same trends or auction cars circulating. This being my first time on the East Coast, everything was new and exciting. I couldn’t help but fantasize that I had just won the lottery and was able to pick out the cars I wanted to take home, but knew I never could. However, window shopping in Carlisle was fun.

Walking into the auction house I was immediately captivated by a cream=colored 1937 Packard 120 C convertible. The car is absolutely stunning no matter how you look at it. One of my favorite things on the car was the whitewall tires.
Catching my attention next was a 1951 Ford F1 in a matte black with black chrome grill complete with gloss black five-spoke wheels. I would imagine it to be difficult to build a truck using so many different gloss levels of black, however, the builder of this truck did a flawless execution.
Always a sucker for Mustangs, I was pulled into a day dream where I had just won this beautiful red 1970 Ford Mustang. The car was road ready with a 302-cubic-inch V8 and featured its matching ‘born with’ driveline.
Sittin’ pretty in bubble gum-like-pink was a 1940 Mercury Super Deluxe that I knew I absolutely had to add to my window-shopping list. The official color of the car is Strawbery Fizz and it has a contrasting Maroon roof, with maroon accents inside the gray interior. The car was also originally commissioned by a movie company in the U.S. to be built for the rock/pop-star Pink.
Catching my eye from inside and prompting me to venture out into the cold was a 1934 Chevrolet Maxium. What did I like about this car? A few simple things: rumble seat, six-CD changer, the bright eye-catching yellow paint job, oh, and the 400-horsepower coming out of the motor.
I don’t know what it is about a ’57 Bel Air that just gets me going. This particular car won my affection with it being a Wagon and the beautiful tiffany blue like color with white accents. The grill appeared to be a gold, while the rest of the metal accents remained chrome.

Iconic 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider joins RM Sotheby’s Italian auction

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The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider sale could go into eight figures | RM Sotheby’s
The sale of the rare FerrariCalifornia Spider sale could go into eight figures | RM Sotheby’s

A pristine 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, one of just 16 “open headlight” versions produced, headlines RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction May 23 during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy.

The recent consignment of perhaps the most-iconic of all Ferrari road cars leads a collection 17 classic and contemporary Ferraris that dominate the sale offering 40 exclusive European cars (and a couple of vintage speed boats) at the Villa Erba auction.

RM Sotheby’s does not provide a value estimate for the California Spider, but the current Hagerty Price Guide places it between $9.7 million and $12.4 million.

The 1950 Ferrari 195 Inter Berlinetta is gorgeously styled
The 1950 Ferrari 195 Inter Berlinetta is gorgeously styled

“The words ‘California Spider’ are synonymous with ‘La Dolce Vita’ and the finest motoring experience that can be imagined,” Peter Wallman, car specialist at RM Sotheby’s, said in a news release. “Perhaps the most beautiful convertible car ever made, and featuring the powerful Colombo designed 3.0-litre V12 engine, this spacious and versatile two-seat sports car with racecar performance is the ultimate road-going Ferrari of all time.”

The Ferrari offerings range from such early models as a rare and spectacular 1950 Ferrari 195 Inter Berlinetta and a lovely 1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta by Touring, to more recent supercars, such as a 1991 F40, 2002 Enzo and a 2015 458 Speciale A.

Some of the other special offerings at the RM Sotheby’s sale include a beautiful 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este Coupé by Touring, one of just 36 built and the last hand-made Alfa Romeo of its era, and a classic, award-winning 1930 Minerva AL Cabriolet, the sole survivor of this model.

For more information and a digital catalog, see Villa Erba auction.

Corvette museum meets enthusiasts’ need for speed

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Peter Brock and the Daytona Coupe | Photo courtesy of the Blackhawk Museum

Over at the National Corvette Museum they are all about performance and want to get you out on the track with several track days and events scheduled. The first is this Saturday, April 25. The NCM has broken the day into two autocross sessions, the first from 9 a.m. until noon, the second from 1 to 4 p.m.. Cost is only $25 for NCM members registered for the Bash event, $30 for non-members registered for Bash, or $35 for anyone not registered for Bash.

The NCM is also a destination track for the SCCA’s new Track Night series of events, which are designed to bring car enthusiasts to a race track to drive, shine and show, meet with car clubs or just hang out. The NCM is one of 20 tracks across the country to host Track Night in America, which will run once a month at the designated tracks.

Participants will get three 20-minute sessions for a $150 entry fee. Paced laps will be open and free to all attendees at each Track Night. It is open to the general public over age 18, with valid drivers’ license.

The dates for the track night series at the NCM are: May 19, June 16, July 21, August 18.

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Lyn St. James | Photo curtsey of the Blackhawk Museum

The next Blackhawk Museum speaker series is Saturday April 26 and will feature race car driver Lyn St. James. Then, on May 9, and coinciding with Team Shelby Pacific Coast Region’s second annual Carroll Shelby Memorial Classic car show at the Museum, the speaker series will showcase legendary car designer Peter Brock, who will focus on the Shelby Daytona Coupe he designed for Carroll Shelby.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Fire Museum will host an antique fire memorabilia swap meet and vendor day May 9. Antiques and various parts and equipment will be available as will antique clothing and artifacts.