Nik Schulz Illustration / Cars from around the Web
I've been a longtime fan of the Porsche 944. It still looks great today and contemporary reviewers overwhelmingly touted its balance and fine road manners. Here's an example from 1989.
Evo always produces beautiful videos. This one chronicles the Porsche 959's birth from the R&D push behind Group B racing (itself a response to the R&D lag caused by the 1970s oil crisis).
The presenter, while piloting the 959 around a road course, almost seems to choke up talking about what an amazing car it is. Beautiful stuff.
This new print on the site started as my first commissioned piece. I couldn't be happier with my client's taste in cars or how the drawing turned out.
Here's the story of the car:
After Group B rally racing collapsed in 1986 due to a spate of fatalities, Audi sought new a competition venue for its game-changing Quattro 4-wheel-drive system. After a brief stint in the American Trans-Am series, Audi set its sites on the 1989 IMSA Camel GT championship, specifically the GTO class ("O" for GT cars over 2.5 liters).
They lifted the engine and drivetrain from the 2-door Group B rally car and dropped it into a tube-frame racing car, built to resemble the 4-door Audi 90. According to the homologation rules, the only piece of the original Audi 90 that had to be utilized was the roof.
The result was an impossibly wide, 720 hp track beast that dominated the 1989 season. By spreading the acceleration loads over all four wheels, the Audi made better use of its power with less tire wear. The car could brake later, corner faster, and take virtually any racing line.
Despite dominating the field, Audi didn't have the car finished in time for the first two races of the season and thus missed an opportunity to contest the championship. Still, proved to be a major technical and performance achievement and today is seen as a legend.
Below are a couple of great videos of the car on the track during its heyday.
Have you ever wondered what the Ford design studio was up to in the era that launched the Mustang?
Well, this film takes us to Ford, circa 1964, and introduces us to the people designing the cars of the (then) future. The narrator refers to them as "stylists," of course today we'd call them industrial designers.
It winds through a bit of history, and then reveals concept cars that presage features like memory-adjustable controls, and in-dash GPS. It culminates with the introduction of the Mustang, one Ford's greatest automotive hits. It offers an interesting look into the history of industrial design (and a fantastic jazz soundtrack to boot).
This fall I had the good fortune to visit Jay Leno's Garage. The Pantera I drew for my site was based on one in Jay's collection so I sent him a print. A couple of weeks later I got a pleasant surprise: Jay himself calling to say thanks. After a quick chat he invited me to stop by the garage, if I was in the neighborhood. So cool! So on our way down to Southern California for Thanksgiving, we went. The place was glorious and Jay was really nice.
Of all the cars there, this was the one I was most excited to see, a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 600. The 600 was Mercedes's cost-is-no-object sedan. It had hydraulically operated power windows and seats, an hydraulic-air suspension, and a hefty 6.3-liter engine. It was a luxurious, hand-made, indestructible tank launched in 1963 to the tune of $20,000 (about $154,400 today). It was the best car in the world.
Travel along as Jay takes you for a ride in his.
PS Here's an interesting Car and Driver article listing ten things you may or may not know about the 600.
This is a grainy but good video from Car & Driver looking back at the De Tomaso Pantera, the Italian-American supercar that you could buy from your friendly Lincoln-Mercury dealer in the early '70s.
This, you may well know, is the Lamborghini Miura, the first mid-engined super car—the car that put Lamborghini on the map. It was developed in the mid-1960s by a group of young engineers working after hours against the wishes of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini.
They wanted to develop a car that could be driven on the road and win at the track. They did things a little differently. They put the engine in the middle and because it had 12 cylinders, and wanted to keep the car compact, they put it in sideways.
By 1965 the engineers had fought hard and won Ferruccio Lamborghini's blessing for the project to proceed as a marketing exercise. The Miura's rolling chassis was shown at that year's Turin Salon—the body had not yet been designed. Despite that, an enthusiastic public began placing orders. A mere four months later, with the Bertone-penned body mounted, the completed car was presented at the 1966 Geneva Motor show to rapturous applause.
When Lamborghini took the car to Monte Carlo later that year for the Grand Prix, crowds choked the square in front of the Hotel de Paris, where the car had been parked, just to get a look at it.
It had rocketed from a mere marketing exercise to a runaway hit. Today it still remains one of the most significant sports cars of all time. This Petrolicious video highlights what it's like to drive one.
In 1955 a 25-year-old Stirling Moss, and his navigator Denis Jenkinson, drove the Mille Miglia in 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds, an average of 97.9 miles an hour over a 992-mile, open-road course. It's a record that still stands to this day.
True, the Mille Miglia ceased to exist as a road race after 1957 due to two fatal crashes along the route, but to pilot a 50s-era car for over ten hours at speeds up to 150 mph on country roads is an astounding feat few drivers can match. As Stirling says in the video, most of the competition ended up crashed out on the side of the road within the first 20 kilometers.
The car they drove was the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, the slippery, 310 hp, straight-8 coupe, seen in the fantastic Petrolicious video above.
Peter Giacobbi, an automotive engineer, found 1959 Ferrari Testarossa body shell that had been languishing in an Italian warehouse and set out to recreate his boyhood dream. Finding an original 3-liter motor proved impossible so he sourced a 4.4-liter, Ferrari 365 engine, giving the car over 400 hp, much more than it originally had. The result is a very hand made-looking but faithful reproduction of a classic Ferrari.
It's amazing to me that what in 1959 took a team of men to accomplish can now be accomplished by one man in his garage. And unless you have $35 million to spend on an original, this is the way it has to be done.