• 666 Ducati Diavel Diesel Models To Be Built

    The Ducati Diavel Diesel is a limited edition model being produced as a collaboration by the two Italian firms. A total of 666 motorcycles will be produced as a result, featuring what the press releases calls ‘a hyperkinteic dynamism of a post-apocalyptic, retro-futuristic world’. Sounds fancy.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel

    To go with the release of the Ducati Diavel Diesel is a small collection of clothing to match from Diesel. On the way in April with the limited edition, will be a leather jacket, two T-shirts and a pair of Jogg Jeans. Which might be why the new bike was actually unveiled at Milan Men’s Fashion Week before heading to the Motor Bike Expo.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel and Clothing

    Ducati Diavel Diesel Design:

    So it’s obvious that a motorcycle worked on by Ducati and an Italian clothing brand would need to look good. And the Diavel starts off with a hand-brushed stainless steel superstructure with visible welding and rivets. That approach is kept for the fuel tank cover, front cowl and passenger saddle cover.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Tank Cover

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Tank Cover

    And the saddle itself looks rather lovely, made of real leather, and with a pyramid of three Ds to stand for Ducati, Diesel and Diavel. The mix of leather and visibile steel has that feel of vintage aeroplanes or ships. It’s definitely my favourite part of the bike.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Saddle and Passenger Cowl

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Saddle and Passenger Cowl

    The black anodised lateral air intakes also ave visible welding, and have intake covers in red methacrylate (or bendy plastic as it’s also known). And some Diesel logos on the inside.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Intake Cover

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Intake Cover

    There’s a red theme with the LCD dashboard matching the Brembo front brake calipers and even the chain features five red links.

    But the exhaust goes for classic black Zircotec ceramic coating, with black silencers. Both the exhausts end cans and rear-view mirrors are machined from a solid block. You also get a black front mudguard with the DDD pyramid logo on it.

    To show it’s a limited edition, the Ducati Diavel Diesel comes with a numbered plate on the frame. And buyers will be happy to know they get a bike cover and rear stand included in the price – but will have to wait to pick up a matching Diesel T-shirt.

    Mechanically it’s a standard Ducati Diavel, with a 162hp Testastretta engine, with the Ducati Safety Pack (ABS and Traction Control). Which is the point where some people may have lost interest – but as a purely cosmetic limited edition, the Ducati Diavel Diesel has some nice touches to enjoy or possibly emulate.

    There’s no word on price, but we’re sure your local Ducati dealer can find out for you before the bike is released in April. And if you can’t stretch that far, you can always buy a T-shirt instead…

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  • PLYMOUTH SUPERBIRD: THE RICHARD PETTY CONNECTION!

    Our man on the track, Stephen Cox, talks with Richard Petty about his connection to the winged Superbird.

    It has been claimed that Plymouth’s legendary winged ‘70 Superbird was the brainchild of NASCAR champion Richard Petty. The rumor has been around for decades but I’ve never found anyone with first-hand knowledge who could absolutely confirm or deny that the car’s origins truly began with The King of Stock Car Racing.

    But opportunity knocked a couple of weeks ago when Petty was in attendance at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, FL, which I co-host for NBCSN. I found him relaxing backstage late in the show and hollered, “Hey, King!” Although I don’t know him well, he looked up with his trademark smile and immediately held out his hand.

    I asked him point blank whether he was responsible for the development of the Plymouth Superbird. Petty paused and laid the back of his hand across his brow. “Well, let me get the dates right.”

    “We knew in 1968 that Dodge was building a wing car. So I went to Plymouth and asked if they were gonna build one and they said, ‘No.’ I told them that I’d like them to work on one and they said, ‘No, you’re winning all the races anyway.’”

    True, Petty had been dominant, winning 27 of 49 Grand National races en route to the championship in 1968. Rather than cough up the additional funds to stay current in NASCAR’s burgeoning aero wars, Plymouth was content to let Petty struggle against increasing odds.

    Undeterred, Petty tried another angle. He asked if he could stay within the Chrysler family and simply move over to Dodge and drive the new Charger Daytona winged car for the 1969 season. Plymouth flatly refused.

    “So I said, ‘Either build me a wing car or I’m walking across the street,’” Petty continued. “They said, ‘Sure, go ahead.’ So I did.”

    That same afternoon Richard Petty personally walked into Ford Motor Company’s front office. Ford executives took no risks, signing Petty to a one-year contract on the spot. Petty finished second in the points chase while winning ten races for Ford in 1969. It was enough. He didn’t have to return to Detroit to beg Plymouth for a winged car. This time, they came to him.

    “The head man from Plymouth came walking into my shop,” Petty continued. “He said, ‘What do we need to do to get you back? I said, ‘Give me what I’ve been asking for.’”

    Plymouth pledged to have a new winged car completed for Petty in time for the 1970 NASCAR season. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, they chose to use a modified version of the wildly successful Dodge Charger Daytona platform. Under NASCAR’s homologation rules, a limited number of Superbird street cars were built and sold through Plymouth’s dealership network.

    Behind the wheel of the car built specifically for him, Richard Petty and his Plymouth Superbird won 18 of the 40 races in which they competed in 1970, led nearly half of all laps and won nine pole positions. Despite being produced for only one model year, the road-going version of the Superbird became a legend in the annals of musclecar history.

    Today, a concours-ready Plymouth Superbird will routinely draw bids from $100,000 to $300,000 at auction. They remain among the most collectible musclecars ever built.

    “So there you go,” Petty told me with a smile. “That’s how it happened.”

     

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  • The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth Now Available

    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth is a new and limited edition model in the Sport Heritage range. It teams the Japanese company with a famous name from the car world. Abarth was originally founded in 1949, and has specialised in small sports cars for 60 years, including being featured as the sportier end of the FIAT brand.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Abarth already sponsors the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team and supplies a number of specialist vehicles as part of that relationship. So it seems only right that Yamaha honour them by producing a total of 695 bikes with some exclusive lightweight parts.

    Typically for a factory special, the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth features the standard 950cc three-cylinder engine with traction control and slipper clutch. But what it does gain is a full lightweight Akrapovic exhaust system with titanium double slip-on silencer. So that will help acceleration a bit, as well as making you sound faster.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Just running in the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Also helping you feel faster is a sportier riding position, thanks to swallow ‘clip-on’ style handlebars and the single racing seat. It’s finished with a suede cover and red stitching. And the seat cowl is one of the new lighweight carbon parts which feature the Abarth logo, along with the carbon front mudguard.

    Online order registrations opened on January 17th with the first 95 customers getting an invitation to an exclusive Yamaha VIP Abarth Experience, along with their choice of companion. The events will be confirmed when the new owners finish their purchase, and will take place between May 1st and June 16th 2017 at circuits in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria and the UK.

    Each event includes the chance to test drive a range of Abarth vehicles on the circuit, take a drive with a professional racing driver, and also be given the chance to visit Abarth’s Turin headquarters by prior appointment throughout 2017.

    Once the initial 95 models of the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth have gone, the remain 600 are available to order from your local Yamaha dealer from April 2017. And to be fair, you’ll have as much fun on the road or track on the XSR900 as you would in any car.

    Then again, if you do appreciate small, four-wheeled vehicles, then you might like the fact Abarth have also procuded a concept car to match the bike. The 695 Tributo XSR has the same grey and red livery, an extensive array of carbon fibre, and also gets an Akrapovic exhaust system.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth and Car

    It’s just a shame they haven’t produced a matching motorcycle trailer and made it all available as a set!

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  • SVRA HEACOCK CLASSIC: THE GOLD STANDARD!

    Mike Matune goes trackside at VIR to bring us highlights of the Gold Cup historic races.

    The SVRA wrapped up part of its season at the Heacock Class “Gold Cup historic races at VIRginia International Raceway. Optimum weather and VIR’s lush surroundings welcomed a bevy of seasoned racers. Spectators were treated to the sights and sounds of some great big-bore historic racecars. Olthoff Racing (www.olthoffracing.com) of NC showed up with three Superformance GT40s, top, including those of Harry McPherson (#2) and Jeff McKee.

    Curt Vogt brought his ‘70 Mustang, above. While it is a genuine Boss 302, it has no race history and is prepared to the current vintage rulebook as opposed to period standards. The engine puts out close to 600 horsepower and Vogt used every one of them as he manhandled the beast around VIR, frequently testing the limits of the track’s “friction circle”.

    Michael Lange’s Ford GT was built by Matech in Switzerland for GT3 competition in Europe. It served as an interesting contrast to the 1960s era technology of the Superformance cars. The car has approximately 500 horsepower from a Ford DOHC V8 backed by a Hewland sequential gearbox. Extensive use of carbon fiber keeps overall weight to about 2,300 pounds, allowing “adequate” performance. A surprising feature of the car is air conditioning!

    Tommy Riggins originally built this Falcon for the updated Trans-Am series. It never turned a wheel there and ended up competing in SCCA GT1. It features a fiberglass silhouette body favoring the 1963 Falcon (if you squint) on a modern tubular frame with tubular A-arms up front and a Ford nine-inch rear end suspended with a three-link system. Power comes from a 358-inch Rousch-Yates Ford V-8. Doug Richmond bought the car and freshened it for the vintage racing wars. VIR was its second outing under his ownership.

    It is hard to fault the lines on the Lola T70, Eric Broadley’s early attempt at a Group 7 racecar. Tom Shelton’s example was originally sold by the late Carl Haas, Lola’s U.S. importer to a privateer. It was campaigned in the USRRC and Can-Am with very modest success. As an early Mark I model, it had a narrow body updated to its present wide-body to accommodate hefty racing rubber during its extensive restoration.

    Dave Robert’s ‘56 Corvette could was converted into a racecar by Chicago area Motor Sport Research in the early 1960s. It would live a life over time involving multiple owners and drivers, each attaining some level of success. When technology eventually caught up with it, it became a vintage racer and continued its winning ways. Roberts has recently returned the car to its original configuration to best celebrate its historic significance.

    Ken Mennella is a long time vintage competitor in his “tribute” ‘63 Corvette Grand Sport roadster. Equipped with a 600 horsepower, 400-inch Chevy small-block and TexRacing Super T-10 transmission, the car has been wining in SVRA Groups 5 & 10 for more than ten years. His car is a faithful reproduction of what was envisioned as an American car to beat Shelby’s Cobra and the fastest European racing cars. Its promise was short lived when GM enforced its anti-racing position.

    Externally Robert Gee’s ‘69 Corvette has all the pieces associated with the L88 endurance racing package – fender flares, fixed headlights under clear plastic covers and a vented and bubbled hood. It’s small-block powered and prepared to B/Production vintage standards with original brakes and stamped steel a-arms.

    Bob Lima’s big-block powered Corvette was formerly raced by Dick Kantrud. Like Gee’s car, it features styling cues from the famed Corvette endurance racers of the late-1960s,-early 1970s. Power comes from a big block Chevy with Edelbrock aluminum heads and a plethora of racing hardware. The raised headlights with clear covers reduced weight and complexity by eliminating the retracting mechanism. They also allowed improved airflow.

    Corvette racecars come in all forms from nearly showroom stock to purpose-built racers like Jeff Bernatovich’s entry. Originally built by Irv Hoerr, it combines a tube frame and look-alike fiberglass body panels, sharing precious little with its production counterparts. Some racers like this approach because instead of removing extraneous street components and beefing up cars that were never intended to withstand racetrack punishment, they are starting with a clean slate and incorporating only that what they need for speed and safety.

     

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  • ’59 STINGRAY: TRIBUTE TO A MASTERPIECE!

    It’s “the Sting of Inspiration’ blogs CarGuyChronicles’ Jim Palam, who succumbed to the magnetic appeal of the Fiberfab Centurion.

    Bill Mitchell’s real XP-87 Stingray, top, photographed with two other Corvette legends – SR-2 and the iconic Grand Sport coupe – by Marty Schorr at the GM Proving Ground. Jim Palam’s photo of the Fiberfab Centurion, above.

    In 1959 GM design chief Bill Mitchell wasn’t buying into the ban on manufacturer-sponsored racing proposed by the Automobile Manufacturers Association. He assembled a team of designers, headed up by Tony Lapine and working with Larry Shinoda, Chuck Pohlman and Gene Garfinkle, working on the XP-87 project in his secret “Hammer Room” studio. Peter Brock had worked on the XP-87 design prior to the team being assembled and he moved on to another Corvette Concept.

    The XP-87 competition roadster is the forefather of the legendary C-2 Sting Ray Corvette. After Mitchell chose to retire his beautiful, race-tested Concept, many felt the ’63 Sting Ray wasn’t quite filling the XP-87 void.

    So Fiberfab’s Warren “Bud” Goodwin’s decided to seize the opportunity to resurrect the XP-87 concept by building the Fiberfab Centurion in 1965. 

The example I discovered at Rick Cole Auctions in Monterey is 1 of only 8-12 Centurions produced between 1965 and 1966. With obvious design inspiration from Mitchell’s XP-87, this Inca-Silver Centurion sits on a ’58 Corvette chassis and features dual head-rest fairings, a Rochester FI 283 motor, 4-speed transmission and a 4.11 Posi rear. The Centurion body was designed and engineered to fit on any C-1 Corvette chassis

    While there was plenty of buzz about this car during Car Week 2016, a high bid of $175,000 wasn’t quite enough to reel-in this radical roadster. Ultimately, GM halted production of this kit car, claiming ’58 Stingray Racer patent infringement.

     

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