Monday, July 4, 2011

License to Steal: 1960 Fiat 1100

What can we possibly say about Fiat 1100's that has not been covered in any of our other posts? Only that this one is clearly about as Distress Sale as they come, and the fishing price starts at a reasonable $1000. Our bet is you can knock a zero off that price and steal this old girl.

Seller is claiming that this is an unfinished restoration. Could that be fresh paint under all that dust?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Flat Wrong: 1964 Lancia Flavia RHD

Finding a Flavia in the U.S. is a rare enough feat, let alone a Right Hand Drive variant. This one in Washington State is a barnfind that runs but does not drive. The underside shows no rust, and the interior and chrome trim looks complete and in good condition.

These Pininfarina-designed coupes are elegant and attractive, evocative of a smaller scale Ferrari 250 GTE. However, the Flavia-specific flat four will not be confused with a Ferrari. Performance is not very impressive, and the overall driving experience is not as rewarding as that of it's Lancia brother, the Fulvia.

Don't let the Right Hand Drive configuration turn you off from American road use. It is generally a lot easier to drive a RHD car on American roads than a LHD car on U.K. roads. Just remember, the shift gate does not change sides...1st gear is still in the same place no matter which side the wheel is on!

If you can get past the RHD, and don't mind doing the requisite hydraulic brake work for barnfind Lancias, the price is fair if the is car proves to be solid.

Dun Rovin':1960 Rover 3 Litre

This ones a runner, and has already been reduced by $1000. The seller claims 29k original miles. The perfect heavy cruiser for your next British Car Field Day.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

One Man's Opinion: 1963 Corvair Monza Spyder

As evidence that one man can change history, consider the case of Ralph Nader and the Corvair. How would we now be valuing these innovative, European styled cars had Mr. Nader kept his opinions to himself?

My guess is that we'd be looking at America's Porsche: an all-aluminum, mid engined flat six with clean European lines and Chevrolet reliability. Sounds pretty good.

This car pretty much embodies everything that I would want in a Corvair. Its a first series body, with the cleanest and purest lines. It's white with red guts- always a sexy combo. But most importantly it is the Monza Spyder variant, with the 150 hp Turbocharged flat six and four speed manual transmission.

This one is a no-brainer. The asking price is almost an insult to the memory of a car whose legacy was tainted by one man's opinion.

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Ice: 1960 Austin 7

Wherever you find a frozen lake, you will find ice racers. This old Austin has been shuttered for 17 years, which an optimist would point out is 17 years less of salt and road rage. The interior has been gutted for a roll cage and features a solo drivers seat. The suspension has been firmed up, and "somewhere" the seller has a dual Weber carb setup. Though not running, the car's engine has been turned over in storage to keep things free.

The "Seven" name goes back decades, denoting lightweight British- built cars that often found their way into competitions like hillclimbs and rallyes. It was one of the first accessible "everyman" automobiles, like the Ford Model T or the Fiat Ballila. In 1959 the name was used for Sir Alec Issigonis' remarkable Mini, aptly capturing the spirit of the original "Sevens".

Despite the seller's protestations to the contrary, the price for a decades-old non runner is always negotiable. I'd show up with cash and trailer for the best price on this old club car.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don't Believe The Hype: 1964 Fiat 1500 Spider

Don't let the title fool you. We are big fans of these Pininfarina designed early Fiats. But for some reason, values on these cars seem to be all over the board. As near as we can ascertain, some of it goes back to a single episode of Wayne Carini's car-dealer reality TV show Chasing Classic Cars- where Wayne speculates and hits a big home run on a 1957 Fiat 1200TV Roadster.

But while mechanically similar, the 1200TV is a much rarer and more unusual car than these Pininfarina spiders. A bit of Apples v.s. Oranges. So the much lauded auction results that Wayne achieved do not translate as a market comparable for the army of hopeful Fiat owners searching for a benchmark value.

This car is a typical example of a seller fishing for an offer and not really knowing what to ask. What makes this car desirable is the interesting color combination and the factory removable hardtop. We love factory hardtops on old Italian cars; like everything from Italy they were designed to be beautiful and not accessories or afterthoughts. Do not confuse these with the more common aftermarket fiberglass tops which were manufactured without much thought for aesthetics. Having the factory hardtop is akin to having two cars for the price of one.

Reading between the lines in this ad, we would press the owner for a real honest assessment of the rust on this car. Minnesota weather is typically not kind to Italian metal, but in the age of the Internet this car could have spent the majority of its life anywhere.

 Having driven one of the best 1500s in the country, we can tell you: prepare to be underwhelmed. The single cam makes a pleasant-but-not-potent burble and the early car's four-speed transmissions can be tedious. The 124 Twin Cam Series make much more rewarding drivers, but the delicate and classy lines of the 1500 are more evocative of the heyday of Italian design.

$2000-3000 seems a closer estimate for this old Fiat, and at that price it might be considered for just the hardtop and any usable parts.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spridget Racer: 1965 Austin Healey Sprite.

It's always a great idea to buy someones else's project. That rule is no truer than for race cars. This Austin Healy Sprite, or Spridget (as it is the same body used on the MG Midget) seems like a great value for a solid race-prepped chassis. The car raced A-production in the Midwest and looks prepared to a fairly high level with removable fiberglass body panels and Carrera suspension. The vintage magnesium rims on the car are probably worth half the asking price. The car is ready for a drivetrain and would make a straightforward father-son project.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Update: 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE Body

The seller informs us that the Ferrari 250 GTE Body we featured here is still available for $7000. The car features an alloy hood and trunk lid. The car has unusual thru-rust in the roof gutter area..yet the door, fender and rocker bottoms are solid.The exterior trim is mostly complete and we'd love to see a track car made out of this body- rather than hacking up a good stock street car for competition use.

Spring Collection

Sorry to those faithful readers who have missed our regular posts. We have just been so busy this spring with cars coming and going that we have not had a chance to write about them! Here is a quick snapshot of some new stuff that caught our eye....

No idea what anyone would do with this thing, other than to appreciate it from the safety of your computer monitor. American built, ex-military/fire service, aluminum coachwork. Big, Red, and Ungainly. At $5500, not very cheap, but probably close to scrap metal price. Love the dashboard, which seems to have more gauges than a battleship's wheelhouse. Marmon Herrington has built everything from semi tractors to tanks, and has a cult following. I guess I would not be surprised to see this in someone's heavy equipment collection.


Now this one is actually tempting. I am not sure why Traction Avants seemed to have survive in such relatively high numbers for Pre War Design/Post War Production European cars. It seems every period WWII film has a bevy of these cars running around in the background. They have great styling, lots of charm, and interesting details. This one seems like an honest project that the current owner has just tired of.

A colleague told us that the British are buying up MGAs and repatriating them in big numbers. I can't speak to that, but this would seem like a good candidate for that scenario. Its a driver, with a complete top assembly but needing paint.The price is not cheap, but I get the feeling a cash offer of up to $2000 less would not be ignored.

Assuming our negotiating skills would apply equally to this MG and we could knock $2000 off this price, we'd be money ahead on this car. Its a Texas car with an older restoration that seems to be holding up well. Fixed Head Coupes seem rarer than Roadsters and with the luggage rack it begs to tour. Its been for sale for awhile (at a fair price) so one has to think $10.5k would buy it.

Insufferably slow but wonderfully styled by Pietro Frua while at Carrozzeria Ghia this convertible Caravelle is a striking piece. This one is an estate sale needing the requisite brake work from long term storage. Black seems to suit the car well and the removable hardtop is a big bonus not found on the standard Caravelle Cabriolet. We really like this one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Lerch: 1957 Pontiac Hearse

Doesn't every town have a creepy guy who drives around in an old hearse? Maybe he owns a goth dance club. Or a used vinyl record store. No? Well, here is your chance to be that guy...

Truthfully, hearses represent an interesting and active sector of the automotive hobby known as "service vehicles". Most of these vehicles feature high-end custom coachwork from small, little known American custom coachbuilders. As such, it is important to find one that is complete, as some parts are just non-existent. Superior usually built most of the Pontiac coachs, which included ambulances, limos and airport livery vehicles.

This car has clearly started the transformation into something of a creepy street rod. We think that look has run it's course, and this car has elegant enough lines to warrant a restoration. An increasing number of funeral homes are showing interest in having classic livery service, and the cost of a restoration is probably cheap compared to the extravagant costs of a new service vehicle. Chalk the restoration up as a business expense.

Mini-Vette: 1970 Opel GT

Back in the 70's, the rap on the Opel GT was that they were the poor man's Corvette. The styling seemed directly derivative of the Mako Shark styled C3 Vettes, and poorly proportioned at that. Throw in some dashes of Ferrari GTO and you had the Opel GT.

Nowadays-given the mists of time- the cars design stands on its own. These are interesting little cars that are getting harder to come by. Rust has eaten most, and this one admits to a bit of corrosion.

This one seems set up how we would like it. Some attention has seemingly been given to making this one a rally/road racer. We love the yellow paint job and the chrome seems in good shape. Look for a 4 speed car and check for the rare limited slip differential.

One thing we would lose is the side pipes...again another nod to the early Corvettes. These cars should stand on their own. This would be a great car to see at any club event.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Magic Bullet: 1950 Hudson Pacemaker

This old Hudson satisfies two long held desires of ours: to own a Hudson, and to build a rat-rod.

When you think about collecting cars at its very core, it's about getting admission into different groups of enthusiasts. We'd love to have an interesting car to hang out with the the retro-gearhead, rockabilly crowd. This one fits the bill.

Maybe why Hudsons appeal to us is the high belt line, slab styled flanks and narrow glass. It seems very European. The cars appear chopped from the factory. Add to it that the car is a "step down"- meaning the floorboards are nestled in between the frame rails- and you have that ever-so-cool ergonomic.

We love the surface rust on this thing and wouldn't change a thing. We might even take more of the paint off and patina the car with a mild acid wash in spots. Faded door livery of some sort might be cool. The fact that it currently runs is no small feat, even if it just means that it can move on and off a trailer until it is thoroughly vetted.

Luckily the cars trim seems complete. The bumpers, grill and headlight trim seem intact. We would repaint the steel wheels and add new rubber, then go through the cars mechanical systems to make it a solid driver. Exhaust, brakes, suspension, charging system and drivetrain would need to be bulletproof. If the engine doesn't pan out, we have a 4-cam Maserati 4.9 motor that would be a trick combination.

But the best thing about having it would be not having to worry about scratching the paint. There is room in the garage for something like that.