Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cars & Coffee - 10/22/11: Ferrari Day

Absolutely amazing gathering of Enzo's finest today. From new Italias, 430s, 360s, 355s, Maranellos, Stradales, Scuds and a new 599 SA, to classics like the SWB, TdF, Mondial and Mexico, it was one of the best shows ever. Tillack alone brought half a dozen of the coolest cars ever to show at C&C - Niki Lauda's F1 car, a Scuderia Ferrari Lancia D-50 made from spare parts, a 250 GT Speciale, gorgeous blue and white Vignale bodied 340 Mexico, Superfast and 500 Mondial/Testa Rossa.

Of course, there was also a line that included two 275 GTBs, an SWB, TdF, Lusso, Daytonas and a stunning 250 GT Pininfarina Europa Coupe. And if you're not much of a Ferrari fan (you probably stopped reading by now anyhow), there was a nice line of Porsches, a Lexus LFA, Fiat 600 Multipla, old school 1970 Subaru microvan with wheelie bars, shag carpet and a velour dash, an Aventador and two, yes two, McLaren MP4-12Cs. One in black and one in a ruby red that really showed off the car's shape well. It's amazing how compact and low in the chassis that V8 is!

Absolutely the best thing from the whole show for me, though, was the shifter in Niki Lauda's 312 B3. The classic Ferrari gated shifter, just in miniature. It looked like the keychain version of the polished gate but had a full size shift knob to go with it, which made it almost comical. We envisioned it being used with your thumb kind of like an early joystick. Love it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV

First-Ever West Coast Appearance Called “Unforgettable”

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 19, 2011 — With nearly 35,000 spectators on hand over three days enjoying autograph sessions with 50-plus legendary Porsche drivers, German music and food in the Biergarten, museum quality display cars and plenty of on-track Porsche action – Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV is in the books as the best ever on all accounts.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca played host to Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV Oct. 14-16, which brought together many of Porsche’s most historic racing models from across the country and direct from the Porsche Museum in Germany. There was a significant highlight around every turn in the paddock, including a special tribute to the celebrated Porsche 911 history, a Concours on Pit Lane, the North American debut of the new 2012 Porsche 911 and the Porsche Club of America’s largest single marque car corral in Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca history with more than 1,300 vehicles.

“Rennsport Reunion IV has exceeded our wildest expectations, and the entire Porsche team is both grateful and a bit proud that our dreams and hard work have paid off,” said Detlev von Platen, president of Porsche Cars North America. “But it took more than just our efforts to make this weekend a magic one. It took a perfect race track, a beautiful countryside, picture perfect weather and the tireless work and cooperation by the professionals of SCRAMP to make Rennsport Reunion IV unforgettable for our many racing legends, the hundreds of participants, the tens of thousands of race fans.”

“We were pleased to be a part of Porsche history,” says Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Judging by the smiles on the faces of spectators and participants alike, we feel the event was a huge success. Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV is the capper for what has been a tremendous 2011 season.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Porsche Legends Arriving in Monterey for Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV

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Porsche Legends Arriving in Monterey for Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV
October 14-16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 12, 2011 — There are thousands of race car drivers around the world. But there are far fewer who can be called Porsche Legends. At this weekend’s Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV more than 50 legendary Porsche drivers who took this fabled marque to victories at the world’s most demanding race tracks will be on hand to celebrate Porsche racing history, October 14-16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Porsche Rennsport Reunion occurs only every three years and captures the essence and purity of man and machine. Few, if any, marques can claim such road racing dominance, whether in the early years or today, as Porsche has done and continues to do..

But the cars are only half the story. The drivers themselves who fearlessly put Porsche into countless victory circles will be present to tell their stories. At Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV, fans will have the opportunity to see the cars up close, and meet the legends.

Among the significant Porsche personalities attending are (listed in alphabetical order):

Dennis Aase
Tony Adamowicz
Richard Attwood
Dick Barbour
Jurgen Barth
Derek Bell
Joerg Bergmeister
Timo Bernhard
Jo Buzzetta
David Donohue
Romain Dumas
Rob Dyson
Chris Dyson
Vic Elford
John Fitzpatrick
George Follmer
Elliott Forbes-Robinson
Bob Garretson
Walter Gerber
Hurley Haywood
Wolf Henzler
Marco Holzer
Alex Job
Stefan Johansson
Alan Johnson
Willi Kaussen
Charlie Kemp
Michael Keyser
Gerard Larrousse
Bruce Leven
Marc Lieb
Richard Lietz
Rudi Lins
Patrick Long
Arie Luyendyk
Sascha Maassen
Jochen Mass
Chad McQueen
David Murry
Walter Naeher
Seth Neiman
Kees Nierop
Jackie Oliver
John O'Steen
Scooter Patrick
Patrick Pilet
David Piper
Brian Redman
Chip Robinson
Valentin Schaeffer
Vern Schuppan
Udo Schutz
Norbert Singer
Alwin Springer
Danny Sullivan
Gijs van Lennep
Cort Wagner
James Weaver
Jeff Zwart

Tickets are available each day at the entry gates, which open at 7 a.m. For complete details and a schedule of events, please log onto www.MazdaRaceway.com.

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About Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV
Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV will be the world’s greatest gathering of Porsche race cars and the drivers that drove them to victory, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from October 14 to 16, 2011. Hosted by Porsche Cars North America, it will assemble the wide variety of Porsche’s most historic racing models from the nimble 550 Spyder of the mid-Fifties through the mighty 917 and 956/962 of the Seventies and Eighties to the highly successful RS Spyder of the last decade.

Special tribute will be paid to the numerous racing versions of the Porsche 911 and their countless victories on the dawn of what will become another milestone of this iconic sports car. Additional details of the Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV are published on www.porsche.com/usa/rennsport-reunion-iv/, and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s website www.MazdaRaceway.com.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jerry Seinfeld Joins Norbert Singer as Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV Grand Marshal for October 14-16 Event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca


Jerry Seinfeld Joins Norbert Singer as Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV
Grand Marshal for October 14-16 Event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

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MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 10, 2011 — The man who inspired many of the Porsche race cars that will be on display at the upcoming Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV will be joined by the man who has one of the most significant collections of those cars as Jerry Seinfeld has been named co-Grand-Marshal with retired Porsche Engineer Norbert Singer.

Seinfeld, who will bring a number of his most-prized cars to Rennsport, was honored to be named to share the Grand Marshal duties with Singer.

"Norbert Singer is one of Porsche's most brilliant innovators and someone I have always wanted to meet. I am thrilled to join him in Monterey for Rennsport IV as Co-Grand Marshal," said Seinfeld.

Seinfeld’s participation is particularly appropriate as Rennsport IV is honoring the Porsche 911.  Included in his collection is the first production 911 (1964) and the last production air-cooled 911 - a 1998 993 that he bought from the factory - the last 993 to roll down the assembly line.

His collection, a mixture of street cars and race cars, includes a street-version Porsche 959 (not legal to drive in the U.S.) - one of only 200 ever built. Others include the Porsche 917K that Steve McQueen drove in the movie Le Mans, a 1959 straight-16 GT speedster; and a 1955 Spyder 550 -- the same model and pearl-grey color actor  as the James Dean car.

Additional details of the Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV will be published on Porsche’s press web site (www.press..porsche.com), and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s web site  (www.mazdaraceway.com). Ticket information is available by contacting 800-327-7322 or online at www.mazdaraceway.com.

About Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV
Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV will be the world’s greatest gathering of Porsche race cars and the drivers that drove them to victory, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from October 14 to 16, 2011. Hosted by Porsche Cars North America, it will assemble the wide variety of Porsche’s most historic racing models from the nimble 550 Spyder of the mid-Fifties through the mighty 917 and 956/962 of the Seventies and Eighties to the highly successful RS Spyder of the last decade.

Special tribute will be paid to the numerous racing versions of the Porsche 911 and their countless victories on the dawn of what will become another milestone of this iconic sports car.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cars & Coffee - 10/1/11: Briggs Cunningham edition

A Cunningham C-3 Continental Coupe, Lamborghini Jalpa, Lotus Elan COUPE, Pro-Street Vega and '67 Camaro, aluminum Alfa GTA, Fiat 500 Abarth, world tour wood-spoke Packard, Peugeot 403, CLK and SL65 Black Series, F40, 458, Scuds, 599, 430s, and a bunch of other Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis, E-Types and Minis were among this week's highlights, but the Cunningham was the star.

Briggs Cunningham

Briggs Swift Cunningham II (January 19, 1907 - July 2, 2003) was an American entrepreneur and sportsman who raced automobiles and yachts. Born into a wealthy family, he became a racing car constructor, driver, and team owner as well as a sports car manufacturer and automobile collector. You might think of him as a Reeves Callaway from a different era.

Introduced to motorsports as a youngster when his uncle took him to road races just after the first world war, Cunningham began international racing in 1930 with his college friends Barron, Miles, and Samuel Collier, who in 1933 founded the Automobile Racing Club of America (renamed the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) in 1944). He continued in competition for 36 years.

His first race as a driver was with his "Bu-Merc," a modified Buick chassis with Buick engine, and Mercedes-Benz SSK body, at Watkins Glen shortly after World War Two. This was a hybrid of a different sort that was popular at a time when Europe designed the best looking bodies and America had a lot of cheap powerful engines. Some of his other hybrids involved Cadillacs, Chryslers, and Fords.

In 1950 Briggs Cunningham entered two Cadillacs for Le Mans, one a stock-appearing Cadillac Coupe de Ville, the other a special-bodied sports car dubbed "Le Monstre." They finished 10th and 11th overall. On December 31, 1950 Cunningham participated in the Sam Collier Memorial Race, the first automobile race held on the Sebring Airport race track. He finished second in his Aston Martin DB2 Vantage LML/50/21, the first Vantage produced.

Cunningham C-1

Appetites whetted by their impressive finish in the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Cunningham team embarked on a program to design and build its own cars and win the classic 24 hour race outright. Cunningham's announcement of his intention to build an American contender for outright victory at the Le Mans race had caused a stir on both continents. His team was already a favorite with the Le Mans fans, and the announcement demonstrated his commitment to fielding a winning team of American drivers and automobiles.

Four roadsters and a coupe were planned, and the first real Cunningham, the C-1, was finished in late 1950. It utilized a Cadillac OHV V-8 engine and Cadillac three-speed manual transmission installed in a massive frame made of three-inch steel tubing with a tubing cruciform x-member in the center to augment the front and rear crossmembers.

A Ford-based coil spring independant front suspension was used, along with a Cunningham-built de Dion rear axle assembly. The wheelbase was 105 inches and the track, front and rear, was 58 inches. The C-1 was the prototype from which the C-2R was to be developed and, as things turned out, the next three cars were C-2Rs, but with Chrysler Hemi V-8 engines instead of Cadillacs.


By the time work began on the C-2R, the supply of engines and the expected help from Cadillac had evaporated, so Briggs Cunningham called on an old Yale classmate, Bob Keller (the son of K.T. Keller, who had succeeded Walter P. Chrysler as president of the company), and suddenly Chrysler engines were made available to Cunningham at a 40-percent discount.

Chassis details of the C-1 and C-2R were identical, with Cadillac drum brakes, Chrysler Oriflow shock absorbers backed up by Houdaille lever-action units, and Chrysler worm-and-sector steering, modified to provide 2.75 turns lock-to-lock.

As delivered, the Chrysler engines produced 180 HP, but compression was raised from 7.5 to 8.6:1 (using Cadillac rods and pistons!) and a log-type manifold carrying four downdraft Zenith carbs was installed, resulting in 220 HP. Additional testing and development of cam timing, plus intake and exhaust porting, raised power to 270 HP by the time the cars ran at Watkins Glen and Elkhart Lake in 1951.

These early Cunninghams were fast, a C-2R reportedly being clocked at 152 mph during the Le Mans race, but they were far too heavy and put an exhorbitant load on tires, brakes and clutches - a problem the Cunningham crew could not solve with the state of the art at the time.


The first Cunningham to bear the C-3 designation was actually built in 1951 on a C-1 chassis at a cost of $15,000, proving it unfeasible in an American market that, even in the upper income ranges, was not prepared to go to five figures. In addition, the car did not approach the deluxe level of finish Briggs had in mind for a Cunningham road car, as it was essentially a competition roadster with a hardtop.

Briggs then contracted with Carrozzeria Vignale of Turin, who would build bodies on the C-2 chassis. Rolling chassis were shipped to Turin from West Palm Beach and fitted with either coupe or roadster bodies, then returned to Florida for final finishing and delivery.

The car’s dimensions were such that it was smaller than the vast majority of American cars yet larger than the Ferraris and Maseratis it most resembled, while the styling was typical of Giovani Michelotti’s designs, restrained and well-proportioned, with minimal use of brightwork. The interior, described by a contemporary writer as "oozing luxury," was functional and beautifully finished. Performance was beyond practically any other American car of the time.

To be eligible for LeMans in 1953, Briggs Cunningham needed to produce 25 road-going examples of the C-3, or at least show that he had intent to produce 25 street cars. As the only series production model manufactured at Cunningham's Palm Beach, Florida factory, the C-3 was a hot rod in a European suit. The C-3 benefited from development done on the three C-2Rs that contested the 24 Hours of LeMans and also won at Road America and Watkins Glen.

Each C-3 used a ladder-type tube chassis which was similar to the C-2's. It had an independent coil-spring front suspension and Chrysler live axle located by parallel trailing arms. Braking was provided by Mercury drums.

Chrysler helped support the project and supplied their Firepower Hemi V8 at a discount. Cunningham kept the engine almost stock but used his own manifold, which was fitted with four Zenith downdraft carburetors. Shifting was handled by a semi-automatic Chrysler transmission and with 235 hp on tap, 7-second runs to 60 mph were possible.

The body, which is one of the most striking to be fitted to an American sports car, was designed by Michelotti of Vignale and closely resembles some of his Ferrari 212s. This is also true of the interior with its oversize gauges and small sporting seats. The only cue that this jewel came from America is the Cunningham script and the huge engine under the hood. Each body took Vignale over two months to complete.

The first C-3 competed at Watkins Glen in September 1952 before being displayed across America and at the Paris Auto Show. Series production began in 1953 with 20 coupes and five convertibles being made. Each cost between $8,000 and $12,000, and were as highly regarded as Ferraris in their time. The low production figures, however, prompted the IRS to withdraw Cunningham’s status as a manufacturer, a move that eventually caused the demise of the company’s racing operations. Today, 24 of the 25 original C-3 road cars are thankfully still with us.

C-4R and C-5R
The next race car in the evolution of Cunningham models was the C-4R. A Chrysler-powered Cunningham C-4R, proudly built by The B. S. Cunningham Company of West Palm Beach, Florida and driven by Phil Walters and John Fitch, finished 18th out of 60 starters in the 1951 Le Mans 24. The other, driven by George Rand and Fred Wacker Jr. failed to finish.

Undeterred, Briggs was back the following year, co-piloting his own C-4R. In 1952 the Cunningham C-4R of Briggs Cunningham and Bill Spear finished fourth overall at Le Mans. While he didn't achieve his goal at Le Mans, Cunningham didn't give up.

A Cunningham C-4R eventually won the 1953 Sebring 12 Hours, and at Le Mans, Walters and Fitch finished first in class and third overall with the new C-5R. Two other Team Cunningham cars finished seventh and tenth the same year and returned to take third and fifth place in 1954.

These years were to be the high point of achievement for Cunningham-built cars at Le Mans. With victory unattained, the effort was described as a "gallant failure" by American journalist Ozzie Lyons. Later in 1954, Cunninghams finished fifth and sixth in the Reims 12 Hour sports car race before the team turned to its newest creation, the C-6R.

At Le Mans in 1955 the Cunningham C6-R, fitted with an Offenhauser engine, retired from the race, ending Cunningham's quest for an overall victory at Le Mans for good. The retirement of the C-6R was attributed to transmission trouble and the poor quality of French gas. Cunningham and Sherwood Johnston drove the car to speeds of up to 141.32 mph, but were forced to go progressively more slowly until all but top gear in the transmission gave up. The extra load was too much for the Offy, which already had inherent overheating problems caused by the conversion from alcohol to gasoline; the engine eventually ate one of its pistons, and the car retired after eighteen hours in 13th place.

Certainly an even greater disappointment was that, as a consequence of witnessing the massive accident that took so many lives at Le Mans that year, the immensely talented Phil Walters decided on the spot that he was through with racing. Said Briggs years later, “I can’t say that I blame him.”

Briggs drove the car again at the Road America season-opener where the plucky Offy finally expired for good. The car sat dormant until 1957, when team mechanic Alfred Momo installed a 3.8-litre Jaguar engine and transmission. Cunningham entered the car at Sebring and cracked a cylinder wall during practice. It later ran in a couple of SCCA events before being permanently retired, and is now in the Collier collection in Florida. That marked the end of Team Cunningham, but the Cunningham name wasn't forgotten.

Briggs Cunningham's only son, Briggs S. Cunningham III, together with Robert (Bob) Lutz and Lawrence (Larry) Black, resurrected his father's company in the late 1990s and introduced the Cunningham C7 concept at the 2001 Detroit International Automobile show. No customer cars were built, however.

Co-Drivers of Briggs and Team Cunningham Drivers
Among the notable drivers to have shared a car with Briggs or to have driven for his team are some of the most legendary names in racing:
Dan Gurney
Stirling Moss
Jack Brabham
Bruce McLaren
Mike Hawthorn
John Fitch
Roger Penske
Augie Pabst
Denise McCluggage
Phil Walters
Sherwood Johnston
Charles StokeyLake Underwood
Ivor Bueb
Walt Hansgen
Archie Scott Brown
Paul Richards
Lucie Cunningham McKinney
Bill Lloyd
Bill Spear
Charlie Wallace
Ed Crawford
John Gordon Benett
Phil Forno
Russ Boss
Bill Kimberly
Bob Grossman
Fred Windridge
Dick Thompson
George G. Huntoon

Other Team Cars
In addition to Cunninghams, the team raced Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati, O.S.C.A., Porsche, and other sports cars. One set a record in 1954 that remains unbroken: driven by Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd, Cunningham's 1.5-liter O.S.C.A. MT4 (Maserati Tipo 4) become the smallest-engined car ever to win the Sebring 12 Hours race, and also the first to win on wire wheels. The team won at Sebring again the following year, this time with a Jaguar D-Type. In 1964 Briggs Cunningham and Lake Underwood won the 3.0 Liter Prototype class at Sebring with their jointly-owned Porsche 904 GTS, and took first place in the 2-liter class and ninth overall in 1965, again with a 904 GTS.

Racing Stripes
Besides his own great race cars and his determination to win, this great American racer contributed something else to racing that still endures to this day. Cunningham's cars were the first to be painted with racing stripes. The traditional Cunningham racing colors were blue stripes on white automobiles. Carroll Shelby, who competed against Cunningham and his team, adopted the Team Cunningham colors and revived the stripes for his own brand of race cars. White and blue became the official colors of American race teams in international racing, where Italy used red and France adopted blue.

Cunningham amassed a collection of automobiles that included the first Ferrari sold in the United States by Luigi Chinetti, and a Bugatti Royale, one of only six made. To house the collection he opened the Cunningham Museum right up the road in Costa Mesa, California. Eventually the vehicles were sold to his long-time friend Miles Collier, to be combined with the Collier Automotive Museum collection in Naples, Florida, which also was open to the public at that time.

Today's C-3
At the Gooding Co. auction in Pebble Beach this year, this 1953 Cunningham C-3 Continental Coupe sold for $539,000. The catalog description read: Formerly the Property of Jack Hinkle. One of Only 20 C-3 Coupes Built. Documented by Cunningham Factory Records. * Fascinating History and Design. Recently Completed Show-Quality Restoration. AACA National First Award Winner. Displayed at Amelia Island and Mar-a-Lago. Ideal Entry for Leading Concours and Driving Events.