In town to pick up a few Mustangs for the 1971 Trans-Am season, Bud Moore couldn’t help but ask about a couple of pointy-nosed Torinos just hanging around Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, one of them damaged, the other looking about as plain as such an exotic car could be. “Take ’em,” his contact at Ford told him, and Moore thus found himself in possession of what would become two of the most significant Torinos built, one of which will head to auction this coming January.
The two cars, of course, proved to be a pair of Torino King Cobras, aero cars intended to take on Dodge’s Charger Daytona and Plymouth’s Superbird in NASCAR’s Grand National division. The unique front sheetmetal applied to the King Cobras showed some promise, but the King Cobra’s overall aerodynamics still required development at a time of internal turmoil at Ford – King Cobra backer and Ford president Bunkie Knudsen and King Cobra designer Larry Shinoda both got the axe in 1970 – and at a time of changing NASCAR homologation rules. With Knudsen and Shinoda out and with the prospect of suddenly having to build 2,000 unproven King Cobras rather than 500, Ford brass canceled the project.
How many King Cobras Ford ultimately built, nobody seems to know. Some made it into the hands of Ford’s racing partners, either whole or just the front-end parts; Holman Moody and Richard Petty worked with King Cobras for developmental purposes. Two wound up in Dearborn with uncertain futures thanks to their association with two deposed leaders at Ford: a blue one with a damaged steel beak, and a yellow one with just a few hundred miles on it. Moore bought them for $600 apiece.
The blue one he repaired, repainted, and sold off to a local in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It later ended up in a junkyard, where a couple Ford enthusiasts found it and bought it before they documented it and restored it. The yellow one, however (VIN 0H38C108527), Moore held on to. Originally built in August 1969 as a regular Lorain assembly line Torino Cobra equipped with the C-code 370hp Cobra Jet 429 and Cruise-O-Matic C6 automatic transmission, it oddly didn’t feature Shinoda’s signature stripes or the blackout hood that decorated other King Cobras. Nor did it wear the typical King Cobra Magnum 500 wheels, instead making do with Cyclone GT wheels with double white stripe G78 tires.
Still, with about 500 miles on it, the King Cobra was still essentially a new car, one that Moore drove around town, though sparingly, for a few decades. He eventually sold it to collector Jacky Jones of Hayesville, North Carolina, who in turn sold it to Las Vegas real estate developer and muscle car collector Brett Torino. Sixteen cars formerly of the Brett Torino collection, including the King Cobra, have been consigned for Mecum’s Kissimmee auction in January. These days it shows just 831 miles and remains unrestored.
Only two other King Cobras are known to exist today: Steve Honnell’s yellow example, which he bought in 1970 off Holman Moody; and the other Bud Moore King Cobra, which bid up to $350,000 but didn’t sell at Mecum’s 2013 Indianapolis auction, and which is currently for sale with an asking price of $459,900. No pre-auction estimate has been released for the stripeless yellow King Cobra.
Mecum’s Kissimmee auction will take place January 15-24. For more information, visit Mecum.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
When 1959 rolled around, the Chevrolet Impala was in its second year of production, and already received a redesigned. In a move to cut costs, GM was sharing body shells through its divisions, so the Impala, some Buicks and Oldsmobiles, and even some Pontiac cars used much of the same structure. A new X-frame was utilized, the roof line was 3 inches lower, the bodies were 2 inches wider, and curb weight increased from 1958. But, the design feature that stands out to this day are the car’s tailfins. Previous automotive designs had the fins standing up, but the ’59 Impala fins laid down like a pair of wings, and the taillights were now the shape of an elongated oval. These sleeker, pointed taillights became known as “cat’s eye” taillamps.
Sport coupes featured a shortened roof line and a wrap-over back window that that not only complemented the compound-curved windshield, it promised a virtually unlimited rear sight line.
The Impala became a separate series this year, adding a four-door hardtop and four-door sedan, to the two-door Sport coupe and convertible line up. The standard engine was an inline six-cylinder, while the base V8 engine was the 185 horsepower 283 cubic-inch engine. There was however an optional 283 cubic-inch engine delivering 290 horsepower. The W-headed 348 cubic-inch V8 was the top-of-the-line engine choice.
The upscale car offered standard interior features like front and rear armrests, an electric clock, dual sliding sun visors, and crank-operated front vent windows. A contoured and hooded instrument panel held gauges that were recessed into the dash, and in keeping with the upscale theme, the driver enjoyed the new Flexomatic six-way adjustable power seat. With the flick of a switch, the driver could move their seat forward or backwards, and up or down. In an attempt to help keep drivers conscientious of how they were driving, a Speedminder alarm was installed. The Speedminder allowed the driver to set a needle at a specific speed on the speedometer, and a buzzer would sound if that speed was exceeded.
If purchased with a six-cylinder engine the ’59 Impala convertible cost $2,849 but a V8 engine added $118 making it $2,967.
The ’59 Impala is a beautiful car, and any fan of the brand would enjoy ownership of one of these car, so we have to ask, “If you had a spare $3,000 dollars burning a hole in your pocket, what color would your convertible 1959 Impala be painted?”
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Randy Bolig.
We all know Jay Leno is a car enthusiast and collector to the nth power. His collection ranges from the old and antique to the rare and exotic. In his series of videos, television appearances and media sneak peeks we get a look into his toy room, and the creations of others he deems worthy of his celebrity. In this episode we see a wild Peterbilt based hot rod creation coined “Piss’d Off Pete.”
The brainchild of custom car designer and builder Randy Grubb, this all aluminum beauty features classic art-deco styling and a powerplant to turn heads. According to Randy, “powering this particular vehicle is a Detroit diesel 12V71, two-stroke diesel. It’s a very unique motor, 12V71, meaning each cylinder is 71 cubic inches.” He continues to explain “Those two 671 superchargers inline are stock.” Despite the massive displacement, and forced induction systems, Randy clarifies that this is the lower horsepower version of this Detroit engine, at around 500 hp, and 1,000 lb-ft of torque. The uprated version featured turbochargers feeding the superchargers.
A four-speed Allison transmission, from a tour bus, transfers the power to the ground. The 351 Peterbilt cab, was chopped and sectioned five inches in the B-pilar, and eight inches in the A-pilar to give that classic raked look. The seats are custom upholstered in saddle leather, and demonstrate old-world craftsmanship with ornate designs and stitching.
Spread over 15 months, Randy spent around 3,000 hours completing this custom diesel. But this is certainly not his first endeavor, having built multiple other wild hot rods. Reflecting the aesthetic of old-school Top-Fuel altered dragsters, Randy describes his design, “This is my version of one of the old Top-Fuel altereds, remember the short wheelbase altereds? The altereds had certain design elements like the bug-catcher intake, the zoomy tubes, and the 12-spoke spindle mounts.”
The suspension of this Peterbilt is far from original. “Well the springs are a rather unique approach, they would be termed a quarter-elliptical. We’ve got it mounted on the frame which is kinda unique, rather than putting the spring on the axle which would be carrying it in an unsprung-weight situation, we’ve moved it up onto the frame so that it is part of the sprung-weight now, which makes the car handle a little better.” The front axle is a GMC 7000 series beam that Randy cut nine inches out of to narrow the track width and keep the sleek stance. Sleek and Peterbilt are rarely found in the same thought but in this case it has been achieved.
Out on the road this truck almost looks reasonably streetable. Due to the two-stroke engine cycle the exhaust note bellows a deceptive tone. Onlookers may misjudge this low-RPM engine for a high-RPM screamer but the low powerband scarcely sees above 2,800 rpm. Randy makes these creations out of autmotive inspiration, and crafts his sculptures with great care. Check out his other machines on his website www.blastolene.com
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Trevor Anderson.
In addition to eschewing the Lincoln brand name for the Continental Mark II, Ford Motor Company executives initially declined to assign model years to the Mark II, arguing that the halo car represented luxurious timelessness. Time, however, has a way of catching up to even the most timeless of cars, as evidenced by today, the 60th anniversary of the public debut of the Mark II.
The original Edsel Ford-envisioned Lincoln Continental proved a tough act to follow; after all, it set the tone for American luxury automobiles upon its introduction in 1939 and fired the imagination of designers from Walter Dorwin Teague Jr. to Frank Lloyd Wright. Lincoln itself even declined to replace it after 1948, letting its distinctive grace – not to mention its V-12 engine – lapse from dealership showrooms. Ford designers made a handful of drawings for a 1949 or 1950 Continental and the X-100 concept car seemed to promise a gadget-laden Continental of the future, but those all came to naught.
The absence wouldn’t last forever, though. In 1952, thanks in large part to the influence of William Clay “Bill” Ford, Edsel’s son and a director of the company since 1948, Ford began preliminary work on establishing a new division, the Continental division, that would build a successor to its namesake, a car intended from the start to represent the pinnacle of American luxury and compete with Chrysler’s Imperial and Cadillac’s Eldorado.
As manager of the Special Product Operations, Bill Ford then handpicked a team to guide the new Continental into existence: John Reinhart, who worked under Bill Mitchell at GM and later served as chief stylist at Packard; Harley Copp, who would later go on to engineer the Ford Falcon, as chief engineer; and Gordon Buehrig, Cord 810 designer; as chief body engineer. He secured the recently vacated building that housed the Henry Ford Trade School, separate from any other Lincoln or Ford design studios and engineering departments, for the development work as well as a dedicated manufacturing facility in Dearborn where the cars would be hand-built.
While the Mark II emerged as a two-door, four-passenger hardtop only, it nearly had a couple other bodystyles join it when it bowed on October 6, 1955, at the Paris Auto Show. Keeping in line with the original Continental, Ford’s team naturally proposed a convertible, but it also seriously considered Gil Spear’s idea of a retractable hardtop. A team led by John Hollowell and including Ben Smith ended up building one complete and functioning Mark II retractable – a prototype called the XC 1500 R, based on a cobbed-together 1953 Lincoln – before Ford’s team ultimately canceled both body styles and Ford division adapted the design to its own 1957 Skyliner.
(The XC 1500 R actually sat upon a prototype Mark II chassis, one of two that the Continental division commissioned Hess and Eisenhardt to build. The second chassis went on to serve as the basis for the Futura concept car and later as the basis for the Batmobile from the 1966 television series.)
While assembly took place in Dearborn, the bodies of the Continental Mark II were supplied by Mitchell-Bentley of Ionia, Michigan, best known for supplying wood- and steel-bodied station wagons and fiberglass-bodied prototypes to Detroit’s automakers. Power came from Lincoln’s 285hp overhead-valve 368-cu.in. V-8 backed by Lincoln’s three-speed automatic transmission, but Continental touted the Lincoln drivetrain’s hand-assembled nature, with each bolt individually torques. With leather seats and power accessories standard, the option list consisted of just one item: air conditioning for $595. With air conditioning, the sales price of the Mark II topped $10,000 – at a time when a Ford Fairlane could be had for less than $2,500.
First-year production came in at 2,550; for 1957, production tailed off to 444. As The Henry Ford noted, even at $10,000 Continental lost money on every Mark II sold – such is the nature of halo cars, after all – but that didn’t sit well with stockholders once Ford Motor Company went public in 1956. The far less expensive unibody Mark III, built alongside the Thunderbird on the Wixom assembly line, replaced the Mark II for 1958; the Continental division lasted a few years more before the Lincoln division reabsorbed the Continental series. The Continental as a model lasted until the 2002 model year.
These days, the Mark II has gained near-universal recognition as one of the most stylish cars of the 1950s, a car that bucked the chrome-everything trend and thus showed off its natural elegance to great effect. A car that, though aged, still carries the same impact it did 60 years ago.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
Studebaker was first out of the gate with a freshly styled lineup in 1947, beating the GM, Ford and Chrysler competition that wouldn’t have truly new cars to offer until 1949. Those 1947 Studebakers—styled by Raymond Loewy‘s team, then including Holden Kato and Virgil Exner—would spark trends with their integral front fenders and wraparound rear glass. Their basic design remained in production through 1949, the last year Studebaker used a conventional grille design, before 1950-’51’s controversial “bullet nose” styling made the scene.
The 1949 lineup was largely carried over, and included the low-priced Champion and premium Commander, both offered in Deluxe and Regal Deluxe trims and both with six-cylinder engines. Prices ranged from $1,588 for a three-passenger Champion Deluxe coupe to $2,467 for a Commander Regal Deluxe convertible, the rough equivalents today of $15,900-$24,700.
In this double-sided four-panel foldout brochure, Studebaker was keen to emphasize its long history (97 years!) and multi-generational family workers, which were also stressed in the firm’s print advertisements.
Article courtesy of hemmings Daily, written by Mark J McCourt.
Better than Darryl Starbird’s Superfleck Moonbird? 1958 Impala from “American Graffiti” could sell for $1 million
ith a dweeb at the wheel, it might not have captured the imagination of moviegoers and cruisin’ fans like Milner’s coupe or Bob Falfa’s black Chevrolet, but the customized white 1958 Chevrolet Impala in George Lucas’s American Graffiti remains one of the stars of the movie, and the one owner of the car from the time the studio sold it to today will put that star power to work when Toad’s Impala crosses the auction block at the end of the month.
In the film, the Impala actually belonged to Ron Howard’s character, Steve Bolander, who offered it to Charles Martin Smith’s Toad for the night. In real life, according to American Graffiti enthusiast Kip Pullman, Lucas’s co-producer, Gary Kurtz, bought the nosed and decked Impala two-door hardtop somewhere in the Los Angeles area specifically because the script called for a car with a tuck-n-roll interior and the Impala already featured that modification.
After filming ended in 1972, Henry Travers, who coordinated the cars for the film and oversaw the additional modifications to the Impala, was tasked with selling the Impala and a few other cars from the film. After following through on a newspaper ad, Mike Famalette of Vallejo, California, ended up buying the Impala for something less than the $325 asking price.
Photos courtesy Profiles in History.
Reportedly the only Impala used in the film, the Chevrolet had its tuck-n-roll upholstery intact as well as a 348 under the hood (rather than the 327 with six Strombergs that Toad boasted of) and a three-speed manual transmission. Famalette then proceeded to use the car as a daily driver, replacing the drivetrain first with a 283 and Powerglide, then later with an LT-1 and Powerglide, according to Pullman. The car then went into storage for more than a quarter century while Famalette moved and started a family, Pullman wrote:
until (his) daughter, Ashley, decided that for her senior project she would remove and replace the Impala’s engine with a 348 Tri-Power and a 3-speed turbo-hydro automatic transmission. In addition, she wrote a paper on the importance of a positive influence a father has on his daughter, and received an “A” on her project. Aside from motor and transmission replacements, Mike has pretty much kept his Impala in the same condition as when he bought it. His reason for this, he explains, is that he makes a modest living and fixing minor blemishes just cost too much.
Famalette has shown the Impala as the American Graffiti car since then, and has now put it up for sale with Profiles in History’s upcoming Hollywood Auction. According to Profiles in History, the original three-speed manual transmission comes with the car as well as a California DMV validated registration card issued to Lucas Film LTD. The pre-auction estimate for the car ranges from $800,000 to $1.2 million. In addition to the car, the auction will include an original poster for American Graffiti as well as actress Candy Clark’s shooting script for the movie.
The Profiles in History Hollywood Auction 74 will take place September 29 to October 1. For more information, visit ProfilesinHistory.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daneil Strohl.