Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.
Launched in 1965, the Shelby G.T. 350R – the competition version of the Shelby G.T. 350 – went on to capture SCCA B Production Championships in 1965, 1966 and 1967. As good as it was, those building the original car – the Original Venice Crew (OVC), as they’ve come to call themselves – believed it could be better. Now, a limited production run of 1965 Shelby G.T. 350Rs, designed by the OVC with all the upgrades meant for the original car, stands poised to improve on the original.
The OVC, consisting of Peter Brock, Jim Marietta and Ted Sutton, reconvened in 2015 to build a pair of “new” Shelby G.T.350Rs, one incorporating an experimental independent rear suspension (IRS) originally designed for the 1965 car. The cars also received a new front valance designed to improve engine cooling, Plexiglas rear and quarter windows designed by Brock to improve aerodynamics and ventilation, and improved brake ducts. The project was intended to honor the 50th Anniversary of the G.T.350R’s first win, at Texas’s Green Valley Raceway on February 14, 1965, but afterward, those involved with the project continued to refine and develop the tribute cars.
As Sutton explains, “During track testing, people began to ask if the car was for sale. After a landslide of inquiries we decided to see if there was a good case for offering a limited run of them.” The answer was yes, and Marietta stepped in to head up the new venture.
One of the first steps required to put the car into production was obtaining permission, via licensing agreements, from both Carroll Shelby International and the Ford Motor Company. These in place, the 36 G.T. 350Rs to be produced by OVC (matching the original production run of G.T. 350R models) will be badged in the same way as the originals and will be given a Shelby serial number. Papers on each car sold will be sent to both the Shelby American Automobile Club Registry and the Shelby American Registry.
Beginning with a reconditioned donor 1965 Ford Mustang fastback chassis, each Wimbledon White OVC Shelby G.T. 350R will receive a competition-prepared, iron-block V-8 from the Carrol Shelby Engine Company, mated to a period-correct four-speed manual transmission. Marietta tells us that the goal is to source original K-code body shells, but if this proves impossible, other production fastback variants will be used. As for engines, the standard issues will be a 289, but since each car is bespoke, buyers opting for horsepower over authenticity will have that option. The improvements from the 2015 OVC car (front valance, Plexiglas rear and quarter windows, brake ducts and IRS) will be incorporated into the continuation cars, producing what Marietta describes as the ultimate G.T. 350R.
Production of the 36 cars, which will be road-legal, begins this fall, and each will carry a base price of $250,000 before any extras are added. That’s not an insubstantial sum, but where else, at any price, can one buy a new 1965 Shelby G.T. 350R, designed by the original project team and incorporating features the original car was meant to have, had development time and money not run out? The new version is a race-proven, too; in 2016, Shelby American test driver Vince LaViolette qualified one of the prototypes third on the grid in a vintage race at the Hallet Motor Racing Circuit in Oklahoma, driving the Shelby to a win in the event.
Once the OVC Shelby production kicks off, the company has plans to offer the valance, Plexiglass windows, brake ducts and IRS to vintage Mustang owners, either installed or as stand alone parts. For more on the OVC continuation Shelby G.T. 350 Mustangs, visit OVCMustangs.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.
Renewed enforcement of Australia’s total ban on asbestos-containing imports has led to enhanced scrutiny of collector cars entering the country and reportedly caused collector car enthusiasts there to stop importing older cars altogether.
Issued last month, the Australian Border Force’s notice No. 2017/21 warns importers that the agency takes a hardline stance on enforcement of the country’s ban on manufacture, use, and importation of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials, enacted December 31, 2003. Specifically, the agency notes that it conducts risk assessment of everything imported into the country, regardless of whether the importer declares to customs that what they’re importing doesn’t contain asbestos, and that importers must know – “back to the point of manufacture” – whether their goods contain asbestos.
“Importers need to obtain sufficient information, prior to shipment, when unsure of any asbestos content, parts or components accompanying the primary item of import that are a risk (such as gaskets), or whether asbestos was present at any point in the supply chain process,” the notice reads. “If the information presented does not provide sufficient assurance, the ABF will require importers to arrange testing and certification in Australia… For testing in Australia, the ABF will only accept certification from a laboratory, that is accredited by NATA to undertake asbestos testing, that confirms asbestos was not detected.”
And that testing certainly comes at a price. According to an account by Australian collector car importer Terry Healy that received widespread attention across Australia – and that may have prompted the ABF to issue its notice – extensive testing on the 1965 Ford Mustang and 1966 Shelby G.T. 350 he had shipped to Australia earlier this year cost roughly $15,000, caused $12,000 in damages due to destructive testing of samples from the two cars, and led to the seizure of a number of parts found to contain asbestos, among them the brake pads, brake shoes, exhaust manifold gaskets, and exhaust pipe gaskets.
“For those thinking of importing cars particularly restored cars let alone highly original cars like my Shelby GT 350 there is much to be fearful of,” Healy wrote. “The asbestos content of these cars is very high and in places most enthusiasts would not guess.”
Similarly, according to an account that Michael Sheehan related last month, a DKW importer whose car’s brakes, gaskets, and undercoating tested positive for asbestos faced storage costs, inspection fees, and replacement parts costs that nearly totaled the AUS $7,000 purchase cost of the car.
“The extra red tape, inspection costs and uncertainty have slowed imports to a crawl,” Sheehan wrote. According to Sheehan, the Australian Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association, largely concerned with getting the Australian government to liberalize the country’s import laws for new cars, has lobbied the ABF for a standardized asbestos inspection regime for imported collector cars that would cut down on the costs and uncertainty.
The renewed scrutiny of imported goods that may contain asbestos – the ABF specifically cites automotive parts in its list of such goods – likely comes on the heels of a report published in The Australian in August of last year and of Australian senate hearings in January of this year that detailed how materials containing asbestos had slipped past ABF inspectors. Specifically, the report cited in The Australian noted the presence of asbestos in “motor vehicle gaskets and spare parts.”
In June, the ABF stated that its “activities are not designed to cause inconvenience to importers, but are part of the Australian Government’s arrangements to protect the public from the significant dangers of asbestos.” Along with that statement, ABF officials provided figures showing that its own asbestos enforcement actions had dramatically increased – from 10 tests in 2013-2014 to 742 tests in 2016-2017 and from zero infringement notices in 2013-2014 to 13 in 2016-2017.
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, at one point was highly prized for its fire resistance but is also known to cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Asbestos was commonly found in clutches, brakes, transmissions, and gaskets up until the 1970s.
Fines for individuals who import asbestos can run up to AUS $180,000. Importers can obtain exceptions to the ban on asbestos-containing goods, though only if the goods are naturally-occuring materials with trace amounts of asbestos or for a narrow set of circumstances, mostly involving research and analysis.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
Of the many cars along Route 66, probably one of the most photographed and instantly recognizable is the white Pontiac in Glenrio, Texas. Everyone who visits the town takes a photo of it and, while they might congratulate themselves on identifying it as a 1968 Pontiac Catalina, very few will even give a second thought to how it ended up on the forecourt of a derelict gas station. But there is a reason why the Pontiac is there.
The Texaco station forecourt on which it sits was built by Joseph (Joe) Brownlee in 1950, while the diner to the side – often known as the Little Juarez Diner – was originally called the Brownlee Diner and opened in 1952. Behind the gas station is the Joseph Brownlee house which was first built in 1930 in Amarillo and was then moved to Glenrio when Joe bought land there. It now houses Mrs Ruth Roxann Travis, Joe’s daughter and the one remaining resident of Glenrio; the dogs whose barking welcomes you to Glenrio belong to Roxann.
Roxann grew up in Glenrio, helping her father, along with her six brothers and sisters, at his two gas stations at a time when Route 66 was often nose-to-tail traffic. It all came to a grinding halt when Interstate 40 opened in 1973. Three years before, when she was just 19 and he three years older, Roxann had married Larry Lee Travis, a quiet young man from Darrouzzett. By 1975, however, everything was just about closed in Glenrio and Roxann and Larry now had a family, a little son called Michael Joe. So Larry approached a former employer, Don Morgan, and asked if he could rent the Standard Service Station on the east side of Adrian. Mr Morgan had closed the gas station a few months before and didn’t expect it to reopen. But he knew Larry was a hard worker and, after some persuasion, he agreed to rent the garage to him.
So, each day, Larry got in his white 1968 Pontiac Catalina and drove the 25 miles to Adrian to run the gas station. It wasn’t a job without risks – just the previous year a group of gas, shop and service station owners had banded together as a vigilante force to patrol the streets of Vega and Adrian. They never caught any criminals but nor were there any burglaries and robberies while they were on watch. By the beginning of 1976 the patrols had fizzled out and so there was no-one around but Larry when, after driving the Pontiac to work for the last time on the evening of 7th March, a 23-year-old Texan called Lewis Steven Powell entered the Standard Service Station. No-one knows what happened in those few minutes, whether Larry – proud of his hard work – refused to hand over his takings, but Powell made him kneel down and shot him in the back of the head before robbing the till.
Powell was a high school graduate who had served four years in the Navy and never been arrested, received a speeding ticket or been suspected of any mental disorder. But Larry was the second man he had killed in 36 hours. The police were already hunting the killer of Clyde Franklin Helton near Dallas and just the next day Powell was apprehended after a shoot-out in Colorado. In a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison. Life, in this case, meant just seven years before he was eligible for parole, although there would be a 40-year sentence waiting for him in Colorado as a result of firing at police during his arrest. But again, 40 years was a vague figure. Powell has been a free man for some time, although I am pleased to say that, as of May 2017, he was back in custody due to parole violations.
Larry never came home again, but his Pontiac Catalina did, and it keeps silent sentinel in Glenrio, perhaps looking after Roxann as much as her dogs and her son, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Please remember, it’s not just another junk car parked for a Route 66 photo opportunity, respect the Private Property signs, it’s not for sale. It’s as much a part of Glenrio as Roxann Travis, and that is where it belongs.
Article courtesy of Neverquitelost.com
If we take a look back to a time when life seemed simpler and cars had had a distinct look that varied from each manufacturer – the ‘50s, it seemed like anything was possible. Americans were infatuated with the future, and the jet-age was in full swing. Under the direction of Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell, GM went on to build numerous cars that fueled this passion and mimicked jet aircraft and/or rockets. This is where the story of the GM Stiletto begins.
Eventually, the jet-age “fad” ran its course, and although the concept cars coming out of Detroit still displayed a futuristic look – as the still do, when 1964 rolled around, GM may have scaled back styling cues on production cars that mimicked jet design, but, The GM-X Stiletto show car illustrates that this philosophy was very much still on the mind of a few designers at GM in regard to concept cars. According to a GM press release dated April 8, 1964, the Stiletto was touted by GM to be a two passenger, high performance coupe with special appeal to car enthusiasts.
The Stiletto was first displayed to the American public at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. There was no denying the car was the product of very fertile imaginations, with a very stylish “fastback” roofline, clean surfaces, and a long body with crisp lines. The protruding nose cone verified that the whole jet/rocket thing wasn’t quite over with, and the overall styling made a huge impression.
To further convey a jet influence, we only need to peer into the inside of the car to understand how much the aviation world influenced the Stiletto. When seated under the access-granting roofline, the occupants were greeted with no fewer than 31 indicator lights, 29 toggle switches, and 16 gauges, all spread across the roof and dashboard console.
But, when it came to the steering wheel, a “wheel” just wouldn’t do. Imagine hopping into your musclecar, and being faced with an airplane-style steering apparatus. Try to picture in your mind one of these in a 1970 Chevelle. Go ahead, we dare you.
Not only was the car’s design futuristic, but it also contained some very innovative ideas. The concept made use of automatic climate control, ultrasonic obstacle sensors, rear view cameras, and we’re told there was even a speaker/microphone for inside and outside communication. If you ask us, that is something all cars need today. Imagine being able to express your displeasure toward other drivers, and have them actually hear you!
But when it comes to futuristic, the Stiletto was leading the pack by not offering doors. That’s right, the car had no doors, and occupants would enter the car via a one-piece hatch that incorporated the entire roof. At the time, the concept was very well received.
When the World’s Fair concluded, the Stiletto was relegated to long-term storage for the next five years. But in a surprising twist, GM then resurrected the Stiletto by giving it a new, even more sleek nose and a silver paint job. This is when the car was branded as a Pontiac and renamed Cirrus. It was given new life on the show circuit until the end of 1970. At that time, the car unceremoniously returned to storage until the ‘80s. It’s sad to say, but that is when it was sent to the crusher after General Motors decided to do a little house cleaning.
Article courtesy of Street Muscle Magazine, written by Randy Bolig.
Anyone who is old enough to remember 1960s television has to be familiar with George Barris and his Hollywood custom-built TV cars. Among these memorable relics are the “Batmobile,” the “Munster Koach,” the “General Lee,” the Beverly Hillbillies truck and that hideous green, “Wagon Queen Family Truckster” from the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie.
Still active in the classic car hobby, the now 89-year old Barris recently witnessed his original Batmobile roll off the auction block at $4.6 million.
One car that has survived through some of the most incredible twists and turns is the Barris Kustom Industry’s 1955 Chevy Aztec, originally built at Barris’ shop by his incredibly talented tin-knocker, Bill DeCarr. It was owned by Barris’ friend and roommate, Bill Carr. (Confusing? You bet!)
RacingJunk.com recently caught-up with Barry Mazza, the current owner of the Aztec, who keeps this amazing car garaged in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
“Bill Carr was an insurance company adjuster who’d become friends with Barris and they shared an apartment together. Carr had been moonlighting as a hot rod customizer in the 1950's,” Mazza explained. “Carr purchased the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air and started customizing it, but the car wasn’t getting the attention he thought it deserved, so Barris began sketching ideas on paper napkins for Carr each day as they shared breakfast. The work started at Barris’ shop in 1956 and was completed in late 1957.”
Carr and Barris dubbed the finished car the Aztec. It was immediately shipped to Portland, Oregon in December of 1957 to make its debut at a national car show. From the Portland show, the car went on tour, appearing at shows across the US for the next two years.
While the car quickly became a “cover car” for many automotive magazines, it suddenly garnered national attention when a notorious bank robber purchased it.
“In 1961, Carr sold the Aztec to a guy named, “Bob Wilcox", who actually turned out to be a murderer and bank robber,” said Mazza. "One-Eye Bobby Wilcoxson was his real name. He’d lost an eye while serving in the military. He was on the FBI’s 10 Most-Wanted Listfor killing a bank guard during a violent robbery. One-Eye was a John Dillinger-type guy. He was heavily armed and shot a bank guard to death. This guy was so badass, he used a military BAR (Browning automatic rifle) during his robberies.”
A short time after selling the Aztec, FBI agents swarmed into Carr's house. They interrogated Carr with many questions about the money he received from Wilcoxson, since the Aztec had been purchased with money stolen during a bank heist – one that included a murder.
“The FBI wanted that stolen money back,” said Mazza, “but Carr was basically broke. He agreed to help lure Wilcoxson into contacting him by running ads in automotive publications, asking Bobby to contact him in order to help him solve a “title issue” with the Aztec. To his surprise, Wilcoxson responded and was quickly located and arrested by the FBI.
One-Eye Bobby received the death sentence at the ensuing trial.
“Carr was living in fear that Wilcoxson might escape prison or make parole and would eventually return. He had indicated that he’d kill him at one point,” Mazza recalled. “In the meantime, the FBI auctioned the car off in Tucson.” Wilcoxson had stashed the car in a Phoenix garage.
The car was purchased by local Tucson auto dealership and put on display right in front of the sales lot. A Marine soldier on a passing bus spotted the car and immediately recognized it. He hired his cousin to pay the $3,500 asking price and then drive the Aztec to Virginia. The car went missing for two months while his cousin took the car on a nationwide joyride. Eventually, the car arrived in VA.
The Marine repainted and drove the Aztec for a few years before selling it to a man named Bill Holz who owned York US 30 Dragway in PA. Again, the car was repainted and reupholstered and put on the show circuit for another 5 years.
“At a car show in Cleveland, Holz decided to sell-off his car collection. The car was purchased again for $3,500 and this time, it ended up in New Jersey,” said Mazza. “It was put in a body shop in Newton, NJ and completely stripped down. The interior upholstery was stripped, all the chrome and the entire drivetrain was removed, but suddenly the FBI came in on a drug bust and confiscated the entire shop!”
The Aztec –now basically a shell– was dragged off to a federal impound yard. The body shop owner had fled to avoid prosecution – leaving the car’s owner with no idea where it was.
“The owner got a call from an informant who wanted 500 bucks to reveal the whereabouts of the Aztec,” Mazza chuckled. “So he was forced to pay the $500 and drove up to northern New Jersey see his car. The Aztec had no wheels on it and had been dragged around by a forklift. He told the scrapyard to crush the car.”
A Change of Mind
As the car owner drove home, his two children were visibly upset that the car was going to be crushed. They continued to plead with him to save the Aztec until he finally relented and called the scrapyard when he returned home. He told them not to crush the Aztec. He brought the title with him and reclaimed his car.
“The Aztec sat for years in the New Jersey weather until I purchased it from him,” Mazza recalled. “I had the car transported on a flatbed, but the entire top blew off it on the Garden State Parkway!”
Mazza blocked the lane and had his wife help him drag the heavy top and lift it into the bed of his El Camino.
Mazza trailered the Aztec to FL in 1994 and restored it over the next five years to like-new condition. Custom Paint & Body of Ft. Pierce completed the final paint work in 1999.
With its gruesome past behind it, the Aztec was now safely garaged on Hutchinson Island in Ft. Pierce, relegated to local car shows around Florida’s east coast – weather permitting.
It seems the Curse of the Aztec finally been broken.
“I was recently offered $1 million for the Aztec.” Mazza offered, “but there’s no way I’m selling it after all it’s been through. Besides, what would I take to the car shows?”
With a million bucks, Mazza could certainly purchase several nice classic cars, but his decision not to sell the car is provides proof that the Aztec – a car that survived so much – has finally found a safe home.
Bill Carr traveled to see the Aztec in Ft. Pierce in 1999. "Bill and his wife began to cry when they saw the Aztek for the first time in many years," said owner Barry Mazza. Carr died from ALS shortly after this photo was taken.
Much of the car's sheet metal and the roof was custom formed by George Barris' metal-shaping guru, Bill DeCarr in 1956-57. The car is extremely heavy due to lead sheeting that was used to form many body parts.
Is this the tail end of a 1955 Bel Air? The fins were swiped from a Studebaker Hawk, while the taillights were created by Bob Hirohata. The bumpers were created using 1957 DeSoto and ’57 Oldsmobile bumpers.
"One-eye" Bobby Wilcoxson is brought into a court hearing on November 15, 1962. He shot and killed a bank guard in Dec. 1961 and was later sentenced to death. He died while in prison before the sentence was carried out.
Article courtesy of HotRod Hotline, written by Keith MacDonald. Photo credit Steve Coonan.