Style Change

Over the weekend, I was watching Jay Leno drive Joe Rogan’s resto-modded ’67 Corvette Stingray, and Jay made the comment that this model (’63-’67) was his favorite Corvette body style.

Look, it’s lovely:

I have no issue with the car (and for the purposes of this discussion, I’m not interested in the engine or the performance of the different models).  It’s one of the great classic shapes.

But (and you knew this was coming), for my taste it’s not sexy enough — and unlike my usual preference for an older design, I actually prefer the shape of the post-67 Corvette:

As with the 246 Dino, this model looks like a woman lying on her side:  shoulders over the front wheel, slim waist in the middle, and voluptuous hip in the back.  Here’s a profile of each (67 and 70 respectively):

I like both, but I prefer the ’70 shape.

As always with discussions of this nature, there’s no right or wrong — it’s all about taste.  However, I do prefer both the above to the modern (2021 C8) Corvette:

…which looks like any other modern sports / supercar shape.

And none of the above holds a candle to this:


Here’s a biennial pleasure:  the Historic Grand Prix Race of Monaco, which took place last Sunday.

(It’s an 8-hour video, watch it in segments or by race.)  The only thing which spoiled it for me was the ubiquitous appearance of facemasks — okay, also the lack of crowds, because only Monegasques (citizens of Monaco) were allowed to watch because of you-know-what.


The cars and races are grouped by era, and the first race (post-WWI to1961 F1 cars only) made parts of me tingle that haven’t tingled in years (Maserati 250F, oh yeah baby):

One of the most beautiful race cars ever made.

The second race featured pre-WWII cars (1928-1938), a.k.a.  the “supercharged” models:  Frazer-Nash, Talbot-Lago, Bugatti 35, Mercedes SSK, Riley, Maserati 6CM, Delage… be still, my beating heart.  Here’s the Bugatti 35B:

Supercharged… woof woof.

The next race was for the teeny 1961-1965 F1 era cars… the era of Lotus, a.k.a. the era of Jim Clark and Graham Hill, driving 1500cc engines.

…all following the Colin Chapman maxim:  “Make it faster.  Add less.”

Race 4 (1966-1972 era) was the time when aerofoils made their first appearance in F1 — and turned the cars from tubular shapes (like the Lotus above) into space-age machines, with wider tires as well.  Also, the engines grew from four-cylinder 1500cc into flat-12 three-liter monsters, and (other than Ferrari) the marque names changed a little, too:  McLaren, Surtees, Brabham…  and here’s the Matra 120C:

The cars are getting wider, here:  in earlier eras, the cars could fit three across the track, comfortably.  No more.

Anyway:  let me not go on and on — watch the whole thing for yourselves.  And enjoy… I certainly did.  And from a later race, here’s an Aston Martin DB3S:

…also, the peerless Maserati 300S:

And if that doesn’t make your bits tingle, I don’t wanna talk to you no more.

Car Nut

Tim Allen (the man, not the TV caricature he plays) is one of the people I’d want on my Dinner Guest Bucket List.   Not only is he as funny as hell, he’s also a gearhead and gun guy (in part 1 below, when Tim gets to talking about his GT40, look over the car into his gun room).

Here he is walking us through his car collection, a trip which takes under an hour:  Part 1 and Part 2.  My favorite parts?  He has models of a Spitfire, Me109 and P52 P-51 Mustang hanging from the ceiling.  I just wish he’d taken us on a tour of his gun room.

And for those classic Camaro fans, here’s Jay Leno driving Tim’s 427 COPO.  (Best line:  Leno:  “There’s nothing in this car that doesn’t belong.”  Allen:  “Except maybe us.”)



No, not that BLM nonsense;  I’m talking about cars that in my opinion were the last of the “hot” saloon cars that were the mainstay of, and dominated European racing of that ilk in the late 1980s — a time when car designers weren’t strapped over a desk and raped by environmental- and safety constraints, in that oh-so wonderful era before the horrible wind-tunnel became the main basis for cars’ shapes.  Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

1987 Audi Quattro Sport

I know:  by today’s standards the Audi (and indeed most of the cars that follow) seems horribly angular.  But regardless, they were absolute rockets despite power outputs that are dwarfed by today’s models.  The reason that these cars were so quick, and so much fun to drive is that they weren’t burdened with all the safety bullshit that bedevils today’s cars, and turns them into deadweight that needs all that horsepower just to get them moving.

1988 Lancia HF Stradale

With all the (justifiable) reservations about Lancia’s reliability, the Stradale was a monster:  a perennial race- and rally winner, even when pitted against competitors fielded by giant car companies like Audi or Ford.  And speaking of the latter:

1989 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Like the U.S.-designed Taurus, the Sierra was the first of Ford’s “gumdrop”-shaped cars, but the Cosworth-powered RS stuck more to the older, sharp-edged shape of the time.  So powerful was its engine that the redoubtable Borg-Warner company had to design and build a special new line of gearboxes to handle the demands of the engine (which generated a modest 204hp in the street car, but 300hp in the race version — at a time when Formula 1 cars generated 400hp).

And finally, there’s probably the best of the bunch:

1986 BMW E30 M3 EVO II

The little E30 pocket rocket had the longest production time (six years) of all these cars, with justification:  it would stand up pretty well against almost every similar car of today’s era.

While the Lancia is my romantic favorite (because Lancia), the Beemer would be my first choice if I was going to do some serious driving.

Discuss amongst yourselves, in Comments.

Afterthought:  Reader Uncle Kenny reminds me of the raven-haired and redoubtable Michèle Mouton of that era:

Power & Beauty

A couple weeks ago, C.W. posted this pic:

It is, of course, one of the earlier offerings from the once-defunct and since-resurrected Wiesmann company, and as lovely as that picture is, it doesn’t do the car justice.  Here are a couple more:

Here’s the interior:

From Wikipedia:

Wiesmann used BMW six-cylinder engines to power its MF models, until the introduction in 2003 of the GT MF4, which used BMW’s 4.8-litre V8, and the MF 5, which used the M5’s 5.0-litre V10.

The cars are all, of course, hand-built and don’t ask about the price.  (Okay, okay:  think new Aston Martin DB11 price for a secondhand Wiesmann MF 5.)

Lottery payout permitting, the MF4 would be on my shortlist of “Outrageously-Overpriced Self-Indulgent Midlife Crisis Cars”:

Come to think of it, it might well be the only car on that list.

Don’t ask me to pick between the Roadster (ragtop) or GT (roof).  Nor between the tan or white leather interior.  As for automatic- vs. manual transmission… that, I could decide.