Wallace Wyss, a frequent CBI contributor, reported to us that his research on 356 Porsches has convinced him that his novel The FerrariHunters needs to be changed to the German marque.
“I wrote that Ferrari novel a few years back when you could still buy ratty Ferraris. Now all old pre-1970 V12 Ferraris, regardless of condition, are worth $100,000. My novel’s protagonist was buying rough cars, but you can’t make any money with that buying price so now that I discovered there were over 70,000 356 cars made, I think the story makes more sense if I make the hero a Porsche hunter.”
The most desirable 356 cars, he says, are Abarth Carreras (20 made) or Speedsters (over 4,000 made). A Carrera Speedster with matching numbers (Porsche Kardex shows engine is original to the car) is worth one million.”
The book is an action thriller, part of a series Wyss is planning featuring a two-fisted private eye who buys and sells exotic cars between solving murders.
Wyss is hoping to hear from a Porsche-friendly producer through their literary agent. He previously optioned his book on Carroll Shelby to Hollywood.
“Future Car and Past, an episodic documentary format TV show about what’s going on with cars out in the west coast, and beyond. The talent includes Wallace Wyss, author of more than fifteen car histories, and Carlos R’, a up and coming auto journalist. Each episode investigates a different aspect of California’s diverse Car Culture, from classic cars to modern cars, and even explores such tributaries as rat rods, and custom cars. Every episode will include current auto news from all over the world. So, please join us, and fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be some ride ride!”
Now I knew Gene Garfinkle, a quiet, modest car designer who had once worked for Ford in Dearborn but preferred working on the coast even if it meant assignments were few and far between.
One of his most unique assignments was doing a Ferrari Daytona “shooting brake” for Lou Chinetti Jr. back when Chinetti was modifiying one Ferrari after another to create a unique series of speciales.
The one-off Daytona, SN 15275, had a long rear cargo area with two glass windows all along the sides, and a sort of concave rear with sharp edges on the metal surrounding the back. The nose was modified slightly but still looks Daytona-ish from the doors forward. Continue reading →
Imagine you are a car guy. And you have, oh, on a good day, 1000 designers working for you. And a workshop to make whatever the hell your little heart desires. The only trouble was Bill Mitchell was VP in charge of styling at GM where he had to supervise the design of station wagons and all the boring stuff. He couldn’t just do performance cars. But he would do these little back door projects. You could usually tell when it was one of those because it would be candy apple red instead of the usual silver of an approved factory prototype. And it would have gold trim, maybe not real gold but it looked gold. Yards of it. And gold pin striping. It was boy-racer all the way on toys for himself. Such a car was the Pontiac Firebird he had redone. The Firebird, on a design by Jerry Palmer for the Camaro, was already very European looking, on a par with some Ferraris. The Pontiac engine wasn’t so good, though. In fact when they went Trans Am racing, they used Chevy engines. Mitchell had the nose made into an oval with foglamps in the edges, the grille reminiscent of OSCA, an obscure brand made by the Maserati brothers after WWII (they had sold the Maserati brand before the war). It was called the Pontiac Pegasus, maybe in a nod to the Texaco insignia of a winged horse that was common in racing in the Fifties. But the cool thing about the car is when it starts up, it not only sounds like a lusty 4 cam V12 six carburetor Ferrari but damn, you lift the hood and there she be—a Daytona 365GTB/4 engine. Who woulda thunk—seeing the candy-apple-red paint and gold-tone pinstriping and gold-colored chrome? This is kind of like a hip-hop break dancer singing Verdi… Continue reading →
As some of you who frequent CarBuildIndex may have realized, the results of the Top 15 Stories of 2015 (↑) may have been skewed in favor of build threads as a result of having been reposted throughout the year with updates, garnering them more views than normal as a result. It should be noted that our favorite guest contributor, Wallace Wyss has had some memorable stories that otherwise would have made more of them into the running, therefore we would like to present to you on the following page:
If any car feature you can put on a car says “dream car” more than any other it is the bubble top, like a fighter plane. The 1959 Cyclone XP-74 Concept of the late ‘50s was one of GM’s last bubble top cars (though the Corvette Shark and XP700 had twin bubble tops).
Harley Earl had started the bubble top binge and his successor Bill Mitchell kept it going. Over at Ford they had bubble tops as well. Never mind that in the hot August of a Michigan summer you’d fry in such a car.
And yet, in the early to mid-‘50s, at the styling departments of The Big Three…Continue reading →
Timing is everything. Just ask the recently retired Giorgetto Giugiaro, Italy’s most famous car designer. When he left Ghia to start up his own firm, Ital Design, there was some worry that with Bertone, Pininfarina, etc. already well established, how could a new guy come along and expect any assignments? Especially if he didn’t have a factory behind his design studio?
Well, not to worry. As we now know, he has achieved many things, from production cars made by the millions, to one off prototypes like this car. Continue reading →
When I remember the Cadillac Allante, which is to be truthful, seldom, it is with mixed feelings.
Cadillac introduced the Allante in 1987 as an American competitor in the ultra luxury roadster market—to counter Jaguar’s XJS and Mercedes’ SL.
On first hearing it would have Pininfarina styling I was excited—wow, the same people who did the Ferrari Daytona and suchlike. But then I heard the engine was rather lame one, under 200 hp, and that it would only have an automatic and be front wheel drive. Two downers for a lad raised within the engine sound of Woodward Avenue.
Photographs: Hundreds of photographs in color and black and white
Language: Italian /English
Binding: Hardback with dust cover
Paper: 170 gr. coated paper
REVIEW BY WALLACE WYSS
I remember going to the re-creation of the Mille Miglia sometime in the ‘80s. It was sort of like going to a party where part of the party was hopping in your vintage sports car and tearing across Italy full tilt boogie for 1,000 miles, stopping only for refueling and more partying along the way. The book says 438 vintage cars participated in the 2015 event plus 61 Ferraris and 34 Mercedes that were tribute entries of more recent vintage.
I don’t think a rally could be held with such zest in the U.S., too many laws to break but in Italy they have a police escort and it’s fairly safe, or as safe as you can be with 60-year old cars and some drivers who are older than the cars!
Now you would think for all the publicity it gets, the Speedster is the be-all end-all Fifties street Porsche.
It is, especially with a 4 cam Carrera engine. If the Kardex file at Porsche says it has the Carrera engine it was built with, you can count on a $500,000 selling price.
But little known is the fact that there was another Porsche that used the same body, and that was the Convertible D. Only 1,331 Convertible Ds are believed to have been built between August 1958 and September 1959 so ironically they are more rare than Speedsters. Continue reading →
Title: “Art of the Corvette”, by author Randy Leffingwell
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Motorbooks (December 1, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1 x 12.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
Let’s face it—back in the Fifties and Sixties, American cars were, uh, how can the son of a UAW worker say this tactfully—somewhat thrown together. In fact the old joke was that at the end of the assembly line was a big hulk whose job it was to make that door fit, god damn it, by slamming his body against it.
So that’s one reason there hasn’t been a book like this on too many American cars, a book devoted to photographing perfect specimens- because there really weren’t that many. This book has many Corvettes that are so beyond perfect, it’s hard to believe they came out of the factory that way but I guess to please the NCRS, you have to be able to do your car the ideal way it would have been built, so somewhere out there are perfect examples of each generation.
And Randy Leffingwell, one time LA Times photographer, is the guy to do it because he really tries hard to capture a car on film (well, digital images now). Usually Randy shoots outdoors but this book was done with Tom Loeser, a co-photographer as it were, and marks Randy’s entrance into studio shooting which is more about indoor studio lighting, a whole different art.
And if you like Corvettes, it’s a happy result—you see the beauty of some designs as you have never seen them before—you can appreciate them more than you ever have.
Giorgio Nada Editore, an Italian book publisher who do car books in English, is doing a great service with these hardbound one-marque guides. I previously reviewed the Ferrari one by Gianni Cancellieri and have to say I enjoyed this one even more.
The format is to give each model of car two pages—then to have a painting on the right hand page and a photo on the left. I was happy with most of the illustrations as being fair representations of the cars that section is about except for the 1961 mid-engine Maserati 63—can’t make out the shape — just looks like a blob. The usual photo he has on the opposite page is no help because on that page is an X-ray view.
Well, flash forward several decades to John and Robin Gray who live near San Antonio. Mrs. Gray had started in 2001 sellilng tote bags. Pretty soon she began to manufacture them. Eventually she teamed up with some friends and started in vintage clothing sales, at first just confining their venue to the Marburger Farm Antique show in Round Top.
Yes, it’s true, and I am sure most Porsche 911 owners would faint dead away if you proposed rocketing their car across the open desert. But the Porsche Rally variant of the 959 was made for that. It started when the FIA inaugurated the Group B rally category in 1982. Each automaker participating was to make 200 of their proposed race car.
Porsche had developed a four wheel drive car but didn’t want to make hundreds, and fortunately they read the rule books and discovered that, for desert racing, you didn’t have to make that many. It didn’t matter that only 20% of the folks who race Porsches race them off road, they were thinking of the publicity if, out on the desert sands, a Porsche rocketed by vehicles built for the sand from scratch! Continue reading →
Way back when Porsche was making the 356, they already knew that rear engine cars weren’t the best for racing and in the early ‘50s started making the 550 Spyder. They mostly ran it as a spyder but there were coupes as well. Unfortunately actor James Dean got killed in a road accident in one and got the car a bad image it is still recovering from.
Nevertheless there are some kit versions out now, and you can’t blame me for thinking that this one at the Art Center College of Design concours was a kit. Well it wasn’t. It was a hand made car built by some Frenchmen who run a company in Culver City,CA that makes prototypes for automakers. So basically it is a four wheel tribute to their skills.
Would there be a demand for a coupe like this? Well, since the real 550s have gone up so much in value, I kind of wonder. I read somewhere that the first one built sold for $3.7 million.
Title: The Complete Book of Porsche 911- Every Model since 1964 Author: Randy Leffingwell Hardcover: 288 pages Publisher: Motorbooks; First edition (October 22, 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 0760339392 ISBN-13: 978-0760339398 Product Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 11.2 inches Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds Price: $45
REVIEW BY WALLACE WYSS
Now the ironic thing about reviewing this latest book on Porsche by Randy Leffingwell is that his chief competition are other books by Randy Leffingwell about Porsches. He must have a half dozen of them!
It seems he has forgotten his former loves, like farm tractors, and other marques, and is now running full tilt boogie toward embracing Porsche. I would say, among car historians, he is their No. 1 fan.
[Editor’s Note: Before we start, if you have been with us a while then you might recognize this car and these photos. We previously did a feature on it before but we still couldn’t turn down the opportunity of another tale about it told by Wallace Wyss from his own unique perspective, so here it is.]
Now one of my rules of barn finding (I write the Incredible Barn Finds series of books wherein I dispense lots of advice) is that you look where no one else is looking.
Like Minnesota for an exotic like the Facel II, made by Facel Vega, a French firm.
That’s because when things break on an odd foreign car, a brand that no one in the vicinity has ever seen, such cars tend to be parked.
In the barn.
Well, in this case somehow Mark Hyman, a famous classic car dealer, found it and took it to the homeland of the Facel cars, France, and sold it at the Artcurial auction for a pretty penny, despite the fact it was still lookin’ like it just came out of the barn. Continue reading →
Title: Mercedes Benz 300SL Vom Rennsport zur Legende (From racing to legend) German language version Authors: Mike Riedner/Gunter Engelen Publisher: Motor Buch Verlag Photos by: Hans-Dieter SeufertMotorbuch-Verlag Binding: softbound Pages: 288 pages Price: Currently on sale in Germany for 19.95 Euro.
Described by one review as “The German standard compendium for every 300 SL enthusiast”, this edition by Mike Riedner and Günter Engelen is softbound, apparently the third edition of a book first published way back in 1989. Now I know there are a lot of books on the 300SL but this one, to a former gullwing owner, is extremely satisfying so I am recommending on the basis of its artwork for the 300SL enthusiast even though it repeats some pictures and facts found in other books.
Why then do I recommend it? Because for those who do not have those more expensive hardbound coffee table books, this book still serves a purpose, shining a light on the engineering of the early racing models, such as a roadster version in ’52 that I have not seen before, where the passenger side is blocked off. In those photos it appears to be very Porsche 356-inspired. A lot of the other 300SL books dwell on the production car but this book gives equal space to the race cars, the pre-production styling prototypes and the final production cars.
Enjoyment in life is, fundamentally, made up of stolen moments. A few minutes at a time (my conversation with, say, Jayne Mansfield, or driving a Ferrari V12 through a tunnel at redline, or riding a horse at full gallop in Montana, etc. etc.).
But one fantasy I have yet to achieve is having a very elegant picnic.
Oh, there’s plenty of places to have one nearby, one I have tried is near Mt. Baldy, a snow covered mountain (in certain winter days) in California’s Inland Empire, but hampering my enjoyment of a picnic is a lack of a proper hamper.
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