Motorcar at the Mitty

The Walter Mitty historic races at Road Atlanta are one of our annual “do not miss” events. This year Classic Motorsports Magazine and PCNA were kind enough to organize a Porsche Experience day and invited us to come along. We met bright and early Friday morning at One Porsche Drive for coffee, donuts and a tour of the sprawling facility and museum.

We spectated high above the test track before having a drivers meeting to explain our rally route. Fifty cars participated in the drive that took us from South Atlanta through Dekalb, Clayton, Rockdale and Gwinnett counties (maybe more but we lost track). Once out of the Atlanta suburbs the roads wound through beautiful farmland — perfect for a spirited P-car drive.

Our mid-way point was Social Circle, a charming little town and home to the Blue Willow Inn where lunch was waiting for us. The drive continued to Road Atlanta where we gathered in our driving tour coral and spent the afternoon watching GT40s and Can-Am cars tear around the track.

The races continue on Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23. We hope you can join us — and pick up a program, you’ll find our Motorcar Studio ad there.

Pick your poison…

Exotic?  Check.  Fast?  Check.  Iconic?  Check.
Affordable? Its all relative but, actually, check!
Reliable?  One is a Honda, so, of course!  The other… well at least it’s exotic.
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We love 90’s supercars around here but it’s not very often that we have two of our all-time favorites in stock at the same time. The Acura NSX was the unexpected car from Japan that re-shaped what an exotic could be — and because of it, companies like Ferrari had to step up their game and build cars like the F355.

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Pick your poison: Acura NSX or Ferrari F355 Spider. Both are gloriously devoid of silly driver aids and flappy-paddle gearboxes. And both are offered at approachable price points.

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If My Calculations Are Correct…

Seeing as it is October 21, 2015 (Back to the Future Day for those who haven’t been on the internet in the past 24 hours, the date that Doc and Marty travel to in the future), this seemed as good a time as any to do a quick spotlight on the unofficial star of the ’80s classic trilogy.

Built between 1981 and 1983, the DeLorean DMC-12 was intended to be a forward-lookng vehicle in almost every way: manufacture, design, and engineering.  The car was originally planned to use a centrally-mountedWankel rotary engine, but this plan was scrapped in favor of the now infamous PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) unit.  In addition, the car was planned to implement never-before-used manufacturing techniques, but again were scrapped in favor of more traditional options.  These ambitious goals ultimately slowed down the pre-production process and required nearly everything to be re-enginered, constraining production schedules.

Combined with questionable build quality, budget overruns, and countless other things, the final product was a less-than-stellar peformer.  The cars were slow, even by early 1980s standards, and were pieced together with “whatever fit.”  Speakers were held in place with hose clamps, for example.  In late 1982, the DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt following John DeLorean’s arrest on drug trafficking charges (later found not guilty).  During its production run, there were around 9,200 DMC-12s made in total, all in the unmistakable stainless steel.  Three cars were gold-plated in a promotion for American Express, a few hundred were left without stainless panels as test mules (never marketed), and some more were painted by dealers after purchase from the factory.

Time would tell that things didn’t go quite as intended for the DeLorean DMC-12.  But in its own right, all shortcomings considered, it’s hard to argue that the DeLorean is not a cool car, all you have to do is just look at it (it won’t be going anywhere very quickly anyways).  Doc Brown was ahead of his time in more ways than one (all ways): “The way I see it, if you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”

Know Your Roots

 

The Morgan Motor Company of England is steeped in tradition, and to this day is still using wood to construct the substructure of their cars.  While the cars have a conventional steel chassis, the rest of the car is built buy hand using ash to form the frame that supports the body.

There’s something to be said for doing things ‘the old fashioned way.’ There can be a certain charm in continuing traditions long-since outdated, preserving history and character while the rest of the world races past in its carbon fiber-laden cockpit. That character makes the driving experience that much more enjoyable.  Getting to know a particular vehicle’s personality goes much deeper than just getting in and driving.  Knowing that you have to turn the key just right to the car, knowing exactly what it takes to get all of the power down on a tight and twisty road, learning your car’s common problems and taking the time to fix them yourself (and meeting fellow enthusiasts along the way who have fixed those problems many times before).

Morgans, being built using time-honored methods using traditional materials, have a character about them that can’t be matched by cars built any other way. As often is the case with any other car on the road, statistics about performance, or cost, or production numbers don’t mean a whole lot if the car doesn’t feel fun to drive.  Many have said that it’s much more satisfying to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.  The same can be said for a Morgan.  They don’t have four figures worth of power, aren’t on the bleeding edge technical possibility (the exact opposite, rather), yet are an incredible joy to drive.  And that’s what matters most when it comes to the whole automotive experience: how does it feel?  If it feels right, then what could be wrong?

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1955 Morgan Plus 4 Coming Soon!

When in Need of a Tractor, There is No Substitute

In the early 1930s, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche began developing a tractor at the same time he was working on his “people’s car,” which would go on to be the widely-adored Volkswagen Beetle.  Ultimately, there would be four models of his tractor, all powered by aircooled diesel motors, yet varying in the number of cylinders.  The entry model was the Standard (one cylinder), followed by the Junior (two cylinders), then the Super (three), and the range-topping Master (four).

If you follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed that we’ve come across a 1963 ‘Super.’  The tractor was caught in a barn fire some years ago.  It didn’t actually burn, only got very hot and baked a lot of the paint off as well as melted a lot of the rubber pieces.  As a whole, it is in pretty good structural condition (all of the metal is in very good shape and only minor surface rust in places) and is awaiting full restoration at our shop.

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Rough World – Expression is Everything

 

Originally, this post was going to examine the world of Rauh-Welt Begriff Porsches, discussing the merits of function and form and attempting to locate the source of what exactly gives these cars such a cult-like popularity.  It was effectively already written and was only lacking finished photos of the latest built, locally-owned car: “Clermont.” However, after experiencing the process firsthand, meeting the community of owners, and entering the world of RWB, it seems as if the cars themselves are only a side story to a much bigger, deeper picture.

In a nutshell, a Rauh-Welt Porsche (RWB) is a widebodied Porsche built by a man known as Akira Nakai.  Nakai-san fell in love with the Porsche 911 while working at a body shop in Japan, and was inspired to one day have one of his own.  His first 911, a 930 (pictured above), he customized with aggressive wide fenders and wheels and a huge rear wing.  Having been a part of the Rough World drift crew, he borrowed the name and translated it to German for his Porsche.  His style of customization became very popular, building cars for customers out of his bodyshop in Chiba.  Popularity grew, along with demand, and now Nakai-san travels the world to modify Porsche 911s (930, 964, and 993 variants) for his customers.

When you decide you want your 911 to become a Rauh Welt 911, you have some options as far as the overall style of the car, but you can only get to that point with Nakai-san’s blessing.  Nakai will help decide the overall look for your car after getting to know you over time.  He does this to learn about you as an owner and wants the car to fit your personality and what you will be using the car for; he wants to get to know you and become your friend in the process.  A car that is destined for the street might get a more conservative suspension setup vs a car on the track will be much more aggressive.  Nakai-san tailors your vehicle specifically to you as a person, your tastes, and your intended use.  Your RWB Porsche is strictly YOURS.

RWB cars vary in degrees of modification, while sticking to a similar aesthetic: Porsche GT racecars of the ’70s.  Some have triple stacked wings with inconceivably wide fenders while others might only have a ducktail and some more modest styling.  But what brings everything together is the community of owners.

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After your initial discussions and you’ve waited for your turn (there’s undoubtedly a long waiting list), Nakai-san will fly to your location and build the car for you, on site, in three days.  It is up to you to receive the kit ahead of time and take care of having it painted (and any other suspension/motor work), but actual assembly is up to Nakai himself.  Everything is fit by hand, by eye, with seemingly minimal measurements.

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Brackets are made on the fly, everything is sealed with silicone, and the final fit & finish is second to none.  He will even adjust the ride height and alignment to tune it just for you.  The car is christened with the RAUH-Welt windshield banner and given a name by Nakai-san.  The name usually relates to the personality of the owner or circumstances around the build.

Every year, there are multiple club races held in Japan for RWB owners known as the Idlers Games.  Nakai enjoys racing cars just as much as building them, and invites all of his customers out to come and race together.  The RWB community is a family environment.  Nakai-san has been known to provide cars for his international customers to drive.  Owners will attend new and current owners’ builds.  Catching up with Nakai, old friends, meeting initiate-owners. In some cases Nakai-san will perform maintenance on cars he’s already built: readjusting alignments or the fitment on fenders if they have begun to rub.  Once you have become a part of the community, you have gone beyond customer and become a friend.

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Having a Rauh-Welt Porsche built in the shop at Motorcar Studio was a huge honor and an incredible experience.  Not only watching a great piece of artwork come together, but being able to witness the master craftsman and artist in action is nothing short of mesmerizing. But beyond that, being able to make new friends and spend time with like-minded enthusiasts is really what this is all about.

 

 

 

The Le Mans Racer That Could Have Been

In the 60s, Henry Ford II’s main objective was to beat Ferrari at Le Mans.  In order to do that, he needed a purpose built car to take down the Italians.  Ron Hickman and Colin Chapman of Lotus quickly put together a design to propose to Ford, and wanted partial naming rights to call the car a Lotus-Ford.  However, Ford wanted exclusive branding of the GT race car.  Ultimately, Lola was given the contract to build the would-be Ford GT, leaving Lotus with a mid-engine design of its own, the Europa.

Built from 1966 to 1975, Lotus produced just short of 10,000 Europas in total spanning 5 generations.  The latest Motorcar Studio project is a 1969 Series 2 example.

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The Series 2 was offered with a small list of creature comforts over earlier models.  Things like adjustable seats, electric windows, and a wooden dashboard were now standard kit on the Lotus.

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The 1565cc Renault engine is very peppy and more than happy to rev on up past 6,000 rpm.  This car has a little ways to go in terms of restoring it to it’s former light-and-agile glory, but it is already winning our hearts around the shop.

Group A for Your Garage


When the Group B dragon had finally huffed its last fiery breath and the dust had settled, the new rallying benchmark was the much tamer Group A class.  Group B had incredibly loose restrictions resulting in some of the most sophisticated rally cars ever built.  Cars weighed little, had enormous power, and were built with technology and materials not seen before in competition.  It was considered by many to be the “golden age” of rallying; and with cars like the iconic Audi Quattro S1 and the Ford RS200, it’s hard to argue.

When Group B was disbanded at the end of the 1986 season, it was replaced with Group A as the highest formula in rally competition.  Where Group B cars were built to rally, and homologated for road-use after the fact, Group was the reverse: rally cars built from existing road cars.  The cars had to have four seats and be mass-produced with 5000 units made each year.

Lancia had the right combination of power and a capable four-wheel-drive system giving them the advantage in 1987 and on through 1992, providing the Italian manufacture with 6 straight World Rally Championship titles.

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The archetypal boxy, four-door design matched with the gorgeous Martini livery makes this one of the more recognizable Group A cars of the era (along with the dominant win-streak, of course).  It’s rare to see a Lancia Delta Integrale in the States, or any Lancia for that matter. It’s a “Unicorn” and a very special car that may take a dedicated gearhead or WRC enthusiast to recognize or appreciate — so we are very excited to offer not one, but two Lancia Delta HF Integrales at Motorcar Studio. Both cars are recent imports from Europe. One, clad in Martini livery, is a caged rally car with some trick upgrades but still street legal.

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The second is one of the cleanest and most original Integrales you will find with extensive service records back to the 1990s. Whether you are looking for a car to show off at Cars and Coffee — or hit the trails in — these two “hot hatches” will turn heads and have the performance to back up their boy racer good looks.

For more of the Martini Integrale, click here.

For more of the Red Integrale, click here.

The Dollar’s in the Details – Correct Trim on a Porsche 911

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Sometimes, seemingly insignificant details make all of the difference.  And when it comes to value on classic cars, large price jumps can be made with small pieces.

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Yellow horn grills, yellow sugar scoops, black trimmed corner lights.

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This 1972 Porsche 911T (coming to the inventory soon) is in fantastic shape overall, with some, now very dated, customization done in the ’80s.  The grill over the engine cover, wheels, mirrors, sugar scoops, and horn grills were all painted to match the Light Yellow of the rest of the body. Since original is king, it’s time to change all of these pieces back to stock-looking to retain the value.

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Above, the “refreshed” horn grills and chrome-trimmed corner lights give the car a much cleaner, OEM look that classic Porsche buyers love (and will pay more for).

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In the rear of the car, the rear lenses were also replaced with chrome-trimmed pieces. (Left vs Right) In a market where originality brings big money, a small investment to bring outdated modifications back to stock can make thousands of dollars of difference in overall value.

Economy Cars Before Economy Cars

When thinking of cars from the late 1920s and early 1930s, images of larger than life land-yachts come to mind.  Cars with spectacular bodywork: sweeping fenders and mile-long hoods with enormous engines underneath. While this was predominantly the case, at least one company was of the mind that this was not the only type of car that could be sold to the American market.

In 1929, the American Austin Car Company was founded in Butler, Pennsylvania.  The main goal of the AACC was to produce a small, affordable car for enthusiasts.  However, in spite of initial success, sales slowly fell off until 1934 when the company filed for bankruptcy.

The company was bought out and reorganized in 1935 under the name American Bantam, and went on to produce a range of models from light trucks to wagons.  The company also developed what would become the world-renowned Jeep.  American Bantam only lost out on the US Department of War contract to Willys Overland because they did not posses adequate production capacity.

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001_521AC 1932 American Austin Bantam

Click through to see more photos and the entire ad on our newest addition to the inventory, a wonderful 1932 American Austin Bantam Coupe.