• DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!

    DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!

    Ronnie Staples’ flamed classic ’32 Ford has gone through a number of engine-transmission combos over the years, but it’s all sorted out now and ready for serious cruising thanks to a modern five-speed.

    DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!Ronnie Staples is a serious carguy with a very large garage filled with Pro Touring customs and hot rods that he drives as well as shows. His collecting mantra is simple: NO TRAILER QUEENS! Some are designed and engineered to “bring back the good old days”, while others feature state-of-the-art billet fabrication. All, except those still under construction, are plated, insured and road-ready.

    One of his favorite hot rods is this flamed, chopped ’32 Ford five-window coupe powered by a stroked and supercharged Flathead. Its top was chopped three inches and the roof section filled. Originally built in the late-1990s by Ohio-based hot-rodder, Greg Steiner and it was powered by a 302-inch Ford with three two-barrel carbs backed up by a C4 automatic. One of Ronnie Staples’s friends purchased it at the Goodguys event in Charlotte, NC in 1998. He swapped the 302 Ford for a vintage Joe Smith Automotive Flathead with a ¾-race Potvin camshaft and a new B&M blower topped with three Holley 94 two-barrels on an adapter. Unfortunately, he retained the C4 automatic.

    In 2002 Staples saw that the coupe was for sale and road tested it. “No power to say the least,” said Staples. “Two of the carbs were blocked off, so the blower was pushing air through two butterflies, less an one-inch-diameter each. He saw the potential and made the buy. And, he has never looked back!

    DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!One of the first decisions Staples made after purchasing it was to sort out the powertrain by modifying and machining the engine and mating it to a modern five-speed. Rod and custom craftsman Mike Griffin, at his shop in Sarasota, FL, executed the Chevy S10 five-speed transmission conversion, fabricated new engine mounts and worked on a number of detail body and paint modifications. While out of the car, Griffin epoxy and K36 primed, then painted the Flathead block and finned aluminum heads Torch Red.

    NO TRAILER QUEENS!What appears to be STAPLES finned aluminum heads on the vintage late-1940s Flathead are actually from Offenhauser. The Offy logo was milled off and replaced with composite letters that Staples had found on eBay! Engine displacement is 255 cubic inches thanks to a four-inch-stroke Mercury crank. Bore diameter is stock 3 3/16-inch. A pair of leaned-out Stromberg Super 97 carbs from Speedway Motors tops off the billet Roots positive-displacement supercharger, custom built for Staples by an old high school buddy in Virginia, Donnie “Duck” Townsen. “Duck is an artist with his CNC machinery and can make almost anything, including cutting my name into the lower sides of the custom blower housing,” said Staples.

    The unique twin-V-belt blower is over-driven 100-percent (3-inch blower pulley, 6-inch crank pulley) and makes 6 ½-pounds boost. Staples estimates a 50 horsepower increase over stock. With a 3.55 Posi rear, cruising at 75 mph in 5th gear, the stroked Flathead is running at just 2,300 rpm. Acceleration is outstanding thanks to a very low First gear.

    DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!Since there’s not a lot of room in a chopped ’32 Ford coupe, the rear package shelf was removed and the seats relocated rearward. Tracks were removed from the seats and seats were bolted directly to the floor. JR’s Upholstery, Venice, FL, is responsible for the custom “very” red interior. The ’31 Cadillac dash bezel was salvaged from junkyard back when Greg Steiner was building the hot rod.

    Sammy Long, with some help from Ronnie Staples, redid the chassis and suspension for increased suspension travel, improved ride and handling. The frame was C-notched to bring the car down approximately one-inch and the old crossmember was cut out and replaced with a tubular mounting for adjustable coil-over shocks. Dropped I-beam front axle, finned brakes, chrome tube shocks, and filled grille shell look as good today as they did in the 1950s!

    DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL!Ronnie Staples is a member of the Sarasota Café Racers and these photos were taken at the group’s carguy events and lunches. For more information about the Sarasota Café Racers and its satellites here and abroad, please visit http://www.sarasotacaferacers.com/home.html

    The post DUECE COUPE: OLD SCHOOL; NEW SCHOOL! appeared first on Car Guy Chronicles.

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  • BMW 8 Series Coupe review

    The rakish, all-new 8 Series Coupe is proof positive that BMW is a brand on the move – in an upwardly mobile direction. Here’s an accomplished big GT that’s an intoxicating blend of old school and cutting edge with a dash of luxury. Powerful, plush and packed with the latest tech, it’s also blessed with …

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  • RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!

    A trip to one of the most eclectic auctions this year – RM Sotherby’s at the Petersen Museum – and coming face-to-face with the iconic ‘Rat Fink’, relieves Jim Palam’s decades-old car guy guilt. Here’s his photo-report.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!It was weighing me down, this Car Guy guilt I’ve been lugging around since I moved to California in 1976. How was it that in all these years I had never visited the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles? I really didn’t have an excuse, so when I received an invitation from RM Sotheby’s to attend their final auction of 2018 at the Petersen – showcasing 64 blue-chip collector cars and original Kustom Kulture art by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Von Dutch – my eyes bulged like Roth’s ‘Rat Fink’ icon and I excitedly RSVP’d.

    As soon as I pulled-into the Petersen’s parking structure on Saturday morning that heavy weight of guilt lifted. There, just beyond the kiosk gate, was an ‘06 Ford GT, a ’27 Ford ‘Track Nose’ Roadster and a Kool recreation of Roth’s ’62 Mysterion Kustom. As the gate lifted I drove past the auction cars that were neatly displayed and dramatically lit.

    “This is where dreams are parked,” I thought as I exited my vehicle, grabbed my camera and started my special day – finally – at the Petersen. Let’s take a look at what I discovered…

    If you grew up in the 1960s you may not have known who Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was, but you probably had seen his comically grotesque creation, “Rat Fink.” R.F. first appeared in the July 1963 issue of Car Craft and is still to this day one of the most famous symbols associated with the Kustom Kulture movement. This original, full-color version of R.F., above, right, sold for $12,600. There’s no way Mysterion, top, and its big-eye, – parked in front of the kiosk gate – wasn’t going to hypnotize you. This functioning recreation of Ed Roth’s ‘62 twin-engine custom by petroleum engineer Jeff Jones sold for $246,400 – more than double the low-end auction estimate.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!Bidders and guests were treated to a Champagne Brunch in the preview areas before the auction. Once bidding commenced inside the museum the scene was quite proper and efficiently directed by the RM Sotheby’s and Petersen’s teams. I kept thinking, “This is Hollywood, Baby.” Everyone was well rehearsed and on their marks. When the final hammer fell, sales totaled $40 Million with 88% of all lots sold.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!Original artwork by Ed Roth and Von Dutch was displayed on the walls of the parking structure surrounding the auction vehicles. It was hard to select just one to feature here but Roth’s “Ford Man” is a great, surviving example. It showcases how pre-computer pen and ink illustrations were often made camera-ready by taping or gluing vellum refinement layers together. “Ford Man” sold with a companion illustration, “Ford Van” for $12,000.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!What’s red, rare and racy and sold for $22 Million? You’re right – the auction’s top seller – the Scuderia Ferrari campaigned ‘56 Ferrari 290 MM. Team drivers for this prestigious racer included Fangio, Hill, Collins, von Trips, Gendebien and Castelloti. Sir Sterling Moss later raced it under private ownership.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!Maybe it was her white beret that first caught my eye, but I knew I just had to ask her if she would mind posing by one of the classics. She hesitated for a moment, then grabbed my arm and quickly pulled me over to the ‘61Mercedes-Benz 190 SL. “This color compliments my outfit” she said and then, unprompted, immediately started striking poses. “Hollywood, Baby” I thought.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!This very rare ‘76 Porsche 935 Turbo was re-imagined for its original owner in Germany by Kremer Racing, thus becoming a Group 5 racecar. It has a 3.0-liter turbocharged flat six engine, paired to a four-speed transaxle, and less than 41,000 miles on its odometer. It fetched $173,600 at the hammer.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!This unique Ferrari started life as a ‘65 330 GT Series II with Pininfarina coachwork. In 1967 it was transformed by Chinetti Motors and re-bodied as a ‘shooting brake’. Today the car is powered by a 300-horsepower SOHC V-12 and presented in sophisticated bronze metallic. It sold for $313,000, inclusive of buyer’s fee.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!Motor scooters were introduced to post-war Italians as affordable, easy-to-use, compact transportation. The first Lambretta became available in 1947. This sharp, two-tone, tasseled-leather ’61 Lambretta TV 175 Series II was meticulously restored and adorned with period accessories. It zipped to $33,600 as the hammer came down.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!Did you know that Toyota 2000 GTs could be refitted with roller-coaster wheels? Just kidding of course, but that fantasy option just might be what’s needed to keep owners calm as the car’s value rises and falls from auction to auction. Still a smart investment for those who grabbed them early-on, this pristine Pegasus White, right-hand drive ’67 hammered at $511,000, inclusive of the buyer’s fee.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!It’s 1963 and you’ve got $5,700 burning a hole in your pocket. If you’re Bryan A. Frame of Waukesha, WI you know what to do – buy this one-year-only split-window Sting Ray. Optioned with the L75 300-horsepower 327, Powerglide transmission, AM/FM radio and rare factory air, this unmolested Silver Blue Corvette sold for $89,600, inclusive of the buyer’s fee. Nicely done!

    MesserschmittThe Messerschmitt is considered by many to be the most desirable Microcar. This Rompin’ Red ’64 Messerschmitt KR 200 is the second-to-last produced and even better, it’s a very rare roadster. It underwent a nuts-and-bolts restoration and a KR201 snakeskin upholstery upgrade. Selling for $57,120 inclusive of buyer’s fees was a reminder that Microcars may be small, but they are still hot.

    MesserschmittOK, here’s fuel for the Car World/Art World fire. Neon artist Lili Lakish’s ‘73 Volvo P1800 ES had a fuel injection failure in 1990. Not able to find a mechanic capable of repairing the car (really?) she and her artist friend Juan Carlos hired some car guys to cut a big wedge-shape out of the Volvo. They then constructed a flaming neon art corner wall into the void. The finished work was titled ‘Body Heat – Crashing the Modern’ with hopes of getting the art into the Museum of Modern Art. This car art sold for $18,000 at the Petersen.

    RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL!Having secured my auction images and notes I decided I’d take a peek around the museum before I headed back home. Just steps away from the auction room was the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery which is currently featuring the Auto-Didactic: The Juxtapoz School exhibition, which showcases high-concept art by lowbrow artists. In a back corner of the gallery stood a human-size statue of Rat Fink. I paused in front and thanked him for finally pulling me in to the Petersen and helping to lift the weight of my Car Guy guilt. Like everything’s Kool now, man!

    Words & Photos by Jim Palam, http://www.jimpalam.com/

    For the complete ROM Sotherby’s auction inventory and results, please visit

    https://rmsothebys.com/en/home/lots/ca18

    To learn more about the incredible Petersen Museum, check out https://www.petersen.org/

    The post RM SOTHERBY’S & THE PETERSEN: KUSTOM KULTURE & PRECIOUS METAL! appeared first on Car Guy Chronicles.

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  • MIKE COOK: LOSS OF A LEGEND!

    MIKE COOK: LOSS OF A LEGEND!

    Mike Cook had spent a lifetime immersed in the British automotive industry as a PR and advertising executive, in the hobby as a racer, and later in his retirement as an archivist for Jaguar Land Rover. He passed away this week.

    MIKE COOK: LOSS OF A LEGEND!MIKE COOK: LOSS OF A LEGEND!When I was a magazine editor in the 1960s and 1970s, I often interfaced with Mike Cook and regularly saw him at International Motor Press Association (IMPA) lunches and events. While my passion was Corvettes and high-performance American cars with big V8 engines, Mike had become the champion of British sports cars. On the surface it was “apples & oranges.” But we often spent time simply sharing car guy experiences.

    In his retirement years he was responsible for archiving vintage Jaguar and Land Rover advertising, racing news and press materials. He became the go-to guy for journalists, collectors and enthusiasts researching the history of these storied brands. Without Mike and his endless enthusiasm for these vehicles and British car history, Jaguar Land Rover North America would not have the ability to serve the needs of the media as well as the hobby.

    My son, Stuart Schorr, Vice-President Communications, Jaguar Land Rover North America, wrote the following tribute:

    On Tuesday, November 27, Jaguar Land Rover lost a dear friend and passionate lifelong advocate, Michael Cook, to pneumonia at the age of 85. Mike had a storied career in advertising and public relations for a murderer’s row of British brands: Rover, Land Rover, Austin, MG, Jaguar and his beloved Triumph. He retired from Jaguar as Director of U.S. Public Relations in 1991.

     Up until this very week, Mike had been a constant, determined and cheerful fixture at the Jaguar Land Rover North American headquarters, running our JLR U.S. historical archives department, which he created with Karen Miller in the 1980s. For many of those years, Mike ran the Archives department like a carmakers’ skunk works operation: he was going to keep it going whether anyone officially knew about it or not. Mike personally kept the Rover and Land Rover (and Triumph) archival material at his home before anyone in the company ever thought it might be something we needed. Is there a stronger word than dedicated?

     A visit to the Archives or an email exchange with Mike quickly revealed the impressive depth of Mike’s knowledge and affection he had for these unique cars, and the people that made, marketed, raced and owned them. It was always a pleasure for Mike to assist someone, and a greater pleasure to be helped by him.

     In addition to his second career as Jaguar (and eventually Land Rover) archivist, Mike was prominent in the Jaguar and Triumph Club worlds, and a prolific author and editor of historical publications. Did I mention he was a racer himself and publicist for numerous Jaguar and Triumph racing teams? Talk about being a “car guy”!

     It’s one of those career clichés we often hear: Do something you love. Mike Cook loved working with our company and British automobiles so much that he dedicated his entire career to it. We are all honored to have worked with him, we thank him again, and we will miss him dearly.

     Mike passed away peacefully, in the company of his family, with his favorite Miles Davis playing in the background.

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  • New Gladstone Motorcycles SE Bobber Unveiled

    The new Gladstone Motorcycles SE has been unveiled, and it looks rather nice. The company was founded back in 2012 by TV presenter and biking enthusiast Henry Cole as a bespoke British motorcycle brand. And the SE is the follow-up to their original model, the Gladstone No.1 bobber, which appeared in 2013.

    Although the SE shares some of the key components and features from the No.1, the SE changes things a bit. Designer Guy Willison describes it as a “slightly lazier, earthier version of the No.1. We wanted to build a bike where we didn’t have any customers for it – this is what I’d build for myself as a personalised bike on the road. No outside influence – just me and Henry building what we want to ride”

    The Gladstone Motorcycles SE
    The new Gladstone Motorcycles SE bobber

    It turns out what Willison and Cole want to ride is a bobber which features some Gladstone trademarks. Those include a Metisse nickel-plated rigid frame, a bespoke alloy petrol tank and fake oil tank, and a 5″ Smiths analogue speedometer.

    Gladstone Motorcycles SE Rear Three Quarters View
    The new Gladstone Motorcycles SE uses a rigid Metisse frame

    But there are some significant changes from the nine hand-built No.1s that the company previously produced. Most noticeable is the paint, with the new model adorned in Aston Martin Rosso Red. That’s a bolder look than the original model, which came in black.

    The Gladstone Motorcycles SE also swaps out the 750cc Triumph T140 engine of the No.1, which came with a 5-speed left foot gear shift. Instead, you get a refurbished 650cc 4-speed Triumph T120R motor, with a right foot gear shirt and single carburetor.

    Gladstone Motorcycles SE Triumph T120R Engine
    The Gladstone Motorcycles SE Triumph T120R Engine

    There are now Norman Hyde M-bars, rather than the flat examples from the No.1. And the Gladstone Motorcycles SE also gets shorter, 720mm Ceriani front forks. Another change is that a Norton TLS front brake replaces the Ceriani replica Grimeca 4-leading shoe drum.

    Gladstone Motorcycles SE Seat
    The Gladstone Motorcycles SE Seat in Alcantara

    Rather than the Monza design used on the NO.1, the SE gets a flush-fitting petrol cap. And there are Doherty levers, plus natural rubber Tommaselli handlebar grips. The Alcantara seat comes with red stitching to match the Aston Martin paint. And the headlamp and tail light get brass bezels.

    Gladstone Motorcycles SE Brake Light
    The Gladstone Motorcycles SE Brake Light With Brass Bezel

    As a bespoke British motorcycle manufacturer, customers get to tailor the Gladstone Motorcycles SE to their preference. Which means you can request changes to the colour finishes, grips, saddle and more. But you also need to be a little patient, as there’s a 12-month delivery time from when you order.

    Gladstone Motorcycles SE Side View
    The new Gladstone Motorcycles SE

    Following the release of the 9 Gladstone No.1 models, the waiting list started for the new SE. And it’s a bit of an investment, with prices starting from £40,000. Hence why the company describe their customers as ‘discerning hooligans’.

    Gladstone Motorcycles Designer Guy Willison
    Gladstone Motorcycles Designer Guy Willison

    But you do get something created with the iconic classic Triumph engine, a rather lovely frame, and numerous other hand-made and bespoke features for things like pipes, brackets and more.

    Gladstone Motorcycles Founder Henry Cole
    Gladstone Motorcycles Founder and CEO Henry Cole

    So if you fancy ordering the new Gladstone Motorcycles SE bobber, and you have the finances, you can contact the company via their website to get the building started.

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