The Ford Fiesta has cemented its reputation as the UK’s favourite car, taking the No 1 spot for the 10th consecutive year. However, final year figures for 2018 released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that total registrations were down 6.8% to 2.37 million cars, reflecting 12 months of turbulence. Sales of …
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The 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.
OK, 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.
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
The sixth generation 2018 Honda Gold Wing Gl 1800 was a complete redesign and rebuild from the ground up. There’s a new chassis and sharper styling. Plus the engine might be the same capacity as the previous 1833cc version, but it’s smaller, smoother and more powerful. But even with such big improvements, you might still need one of the 4 new Honda Gold Wing replacement screens from Skidmarx.
There are a few reasons for picking one of the aftermarket screens, depending on your exact needs. The Skidmarx Standard screen is the direct replacement you’d imagine. So it’s a good choice if you’ve had damage to your original screen, and need something that will fit straight in.
All of the Skidmarx screens are made in the UK from 4mm cast acrylic, so they won’t flex in the wind. And they use the original mountings to fit. And they’re also all available in a choice of clear, light or dark tints. So you might just fancy a darker screen to improve the look of your Gold Wing. Or maybe you just want to keep the original screen in mint condition, for the cost of a £99.95 replacement.
If you’ve been inspired by the 41kg lighter, 125bhp 2018 Gold Wing, maybe you’d like the Skidmarx Sports Screen for the GL1800. It’s just 36cm tall compared to the standard version (which is 53cm x 48cm). So you’ll cut down the frontal area of the bike considerably.
You’re probably not about to take your Gold Wing on a track day, but some riders prefer to be in the wind, especially in warmer weather. And at £99.95, it’s affordable enough to try the screen out and see if you prefer it.
But the main reason why aftermarket screens are popular for touring motorcycles is when they’re bigger. That can be to increase the shelter from wind and weather for taller riders, or just provide a bigger bubble of air to relax in when you’re on a long trip.
So there are two options for cutting down the buffeting and wind noise on the 2018 Honda GL1800 Gold Wing from Skidmarx. The first is the Tall Screen, which is 62cm x 51cm wide, and costs £109.95.
But if you’re looking for the biggest replacement screen for your Honda Gold Wing, then check out the Skidmarx Tall and Wide ‘super size’ version. Like the Tall screen it’s got a flip-up lip for coverage beyond the 69cm and 54cm wide screen itself. But you’ll still pay the same £109.95 despite the extra few centimetres of cast acrylic.
So if you own a 2018 Honda GL1800 Gold Wing, you can now choose the right screen to match your personal preference.
There’s a feeling of the inevitable as Marc Marquez wins the Fastest Qualifier BMW for the 6th time. As the ‘Official Car of MotoGP’ for 20 years, the BMW M Award has been given to the fastest qualifying performance across each season since 2003. And for the past six years, that’s meant a new BMW added to the Marquez garage.
Motorcycle racers are legendary for their ability to use and abuse hire cars. But Marquez now has enough to start loaning out his own collection. For six consecutive years he has been awarded the latest in the BMW M range as a reward for his qualification achievements.
Given his success at the highest level of motorcycle racing, it’s no surprising Marquez has broken several qualifying records along the way. Since 2003, the BMW Awards have seen him become the first rookie to achieve it in 2013, the first rider to win three in-a-row in 2015, and first rider to achieve four awards in 2016. Considering he’s a five-time MotoGP champion at the age of 25, it might be wise to invest in a bigger garage for the future.
This year Marquez drives away in a new 2018 BMW M3 CS. Not necessarily a match for his Repsol Honda RC213V. But still the most powerful BMW M3 so far, with a 460hp M TwinPower turbo inline-six-cylinder engine achieving 0-100 kmh in 3.9 seconds. It’s got a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, adaptive suspension, full leather interior and 19 inch alloys.
“I can hardly believe that I have won the BMW M Award for the sixth time running,” said Márquez at the award ceremony at Valencia. “One year ago, I announced here that my objective for 2018 was to claim this sixth victory – and I have actually managed it. That makes me very proud. Now I can hardly wait to get behind the wheel of this fantastic BMW M3 CS. I want to thank BMW M GmbH for providing the BMW M Award as an accolade for the fastest qualifier. This shows special appreciation for us as MotoGP riders. The prospect of winning this prize provides even more motivation for us when qualifying starts on Saturdays.”
The BMW M Award is based on a points system allocated for the MotoGP qualifying each weekend. And the rider with the most points over the season gets a brand new BMW M series. Marc Marquez holds the record with six awards, followed by Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner who each received 3. Jorge Lorenzo is next on 2, and 1 award has gone to both Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden.