Friday, June 28, 2013

Horse Power From Horse Country

Back in the early days of the automobile there were manufacturers popping up all over the place. One of the least likely was the heart of Blue Grass race horse country, Lexington, KY. But in 1909 a race horse promoter named Kninsey Stone founded the Lexington Motor Company.

The company didn't stay in Lexington very long. A group of businessmen from Connersville, IN saw the handwriting on the wall for their various buggy manufacturers and managed to entice Stone to move his young company there. By 1910 they were rolling cars off the line and making some interesting innovations. A dual exhaust system proved to produce about 30 percent more power while using less fuel. A Lexington wore one in 1911 courtesy of chief engineer John C. Moore.

Through the next decade the company had successes and also suffered from financial problems. Through the early 1920s the company partnered with the Ansted Engineering Company and turned out some amazing engines which helped Lexington to some impressive racing victories, including the famed Pikes Peak hill climb.

But even with this success and orders for that engine from GM, the post World War I depression and the growing competition out of Detroit sent Lexington the way of so many other small car makers. Eventually Cord Motor Company bought the Lexington facility in Connorsville and by 1927 the Lexington was nothing but a memory.

The Lexington shown is a 1921 model with a 224 cubic inch six cylinder engine that generated 60 horse power.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Super Cars at the Ault Park Concours

Each year the Ault Park Concours d'Elegance has a section they call Future Classics. In it are some of the coolest super cars you have ever seen. This year was no exception. Among the newer masterpieces on display was a 1996 Vector which is based on a lengthened Lamborghini Diablo body, a 1998 Lamborghini Diablo, a 2002 Ferrari 360 Modena, a 2010 Ferrari 430 Scuderia Spider, a 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider, a 2014 McLaren MP4-12C Spider, a 2012 Lexus LFA which is the most expensive Japanese road car ever built, a 2012 Ferrari FF, a 2002 BMW MZ3 M Coupe, and a 2012 Tesla Model S Sedan. If you had the choice, which one would you drive?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Corvettes at the Ault Park Concours

As part of the 60th anniversary celebration of the introduction of Harley Earl's iconic Chevy Corvette, the Ault Park Concours d'Elegance put together a stunning display of all things Vette. There were models from each generation as well as a nice sampling of racers. Here are just a few of the great Vettes that were part of that display.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Muscle Cars at the Ault Park Concours

I always look forward to the muscle car section of the annual Ault Park Concours d'Elegance. Probably because I grew up in the era but I've always loved those great classic muscle cars and how Detroit kept going bigger and badder. This year was a little disappointing; not because of the quality but because of the lack of quantity. This 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge is an example of the outstanding quality.
As is this next car, a one of a kind prototype for the 1969 GTO "Royal Bobcat." This super tuned Royal Pontiac sported a 500 horse power (yes, you read that correctly) tunnel port V 8 engine. Yeah, I want to drive this car.
Next is a 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T convertible. Many people don't think of Dodge when they think of muscle cars but this 440 cubic inch V 8 that boasts 375 horse power would like to argue that point.
Another Pontiac GTO on display was this 1967 convertible that was one of just under 3000 to be made with the 400 cubic inch V 8 with a two barrel carburetor.
Royal Plumb paint was only available for one year and is seen on this 1957 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396. This car received an amazing 1000 points from the Chevrolet Club of America.
Here is a very rare 1969 Plymouth Road Runner. This is the only car to exist in this specific configuration. So unique is this car that it has appeared on the front cover of MoPar Action Magazine.
One of the least remembered pieces of muscle machinery was this 1970 AMC AMX Coupe. Lightweight for the day it was powered by a 390 cubic inch four barrel carburetor V 8. This is one of only 12 cars to have the "Big Bad Orange Go Package."
This 1967 Ford Fairlane GT convertible is the only one of its kind to have its specific options. Another often overlooked muscle car, this Fairlane could go from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds thanks to a 390 cubic inch V 8.
Last but not least at the muscle car display was this 1967 Ford Mustang GTA. The designation meant that this GT model sported an automatic transmission. It also had a 390 cubic inch V 8.

Monday, June 24, 2013

American Collectors at the Ault Park Concours

One of the sections of the annual Ault Park Concours that I always enjoy is the American Collector cars. These are automobiles made from 1946 through 1968 and demonstrate some of the great advances made by American car companies following World War II. One example is the top car shown here, a 1953 Buick Roadmaster Sedan, the first year they had the 322 cubic inch V 8.

A 1956 Chrysler St. Regis two door hardtop is an example of one of the lesser known cars that the folks at the Concours manage to get displayed.

Then there are the classics such as this mint condition, first generation 1956 Ford Thunderbird. This was supposed to be Ford's answer to the Corvette but veered away from it's initial sports car styling.
By the fourth generation, the Tunuderbird had drastically changed. It was no longer a two seater sports car but had been transformed into what might have passed for a family car; that is if it didn't have a 390 cubic inch V 8 that churned out 300 horses.
One of the most recognizable luxury cars of the late 1950s was the Cadillac. Though they're not included in this picture the tail fins on the 1959 El Dorado models were some of the largest and most unique ever created.
When most people think of Packards they think of the large luxury machines that were put on the roads prior to World War II. But this 1954 convertible is an example of how they were competing against Detroit in the heyday of the automobile.
Back in 1956 it wasn't uncommon for dad to come home to the suburban house with a brand new station wagon. But if it was a Chrysler Town and Country like this one it came equipped with a 354 cubic inch Hemi V 8 that generated 280 horses. Nice station wagon.
One of the most unusual front grills from the era belonged to a 1950 Studebaker Commander convertible. This is a totally unrestored model and is equipped with a 246 cubic inch in-line six capable of 102 horse power.

Car companies are always looking for cool, catchy names. I'm not sure if this one really hit but it has to be one of the longest and most visual names going. This is a 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak 8 Torpedo convertible. Yeah. The "8" represented a 246 cubic inch straight eight engine.
One of only seven Cadillac stations made for 1955 was this Custom Viewmaster. What makes this automobile even more special is that this is body number one.
The last of the American Collector cars on display was this 1954 Cadillac El Dorado convertible which was designed by the famous Harley Earl.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Best In Show

We can all hope to look this good when we are 75. Assembled in 1938 at a factory in Steyr, Austria and then clothed with a custom body in Dresden, German, this Steyr 220 Special Roadsters is one of only three remaining examples of this fine motor car. So fine an example is this car that it recently won Best in Show at the Ault Park Concours d'Elegance.

Steyr Automobile is a company most of us have never heard of. It was founded in 1915 as part of the large manufacturing conglomerate Steyr AG. The first car to roll off the line was the 12/40PS and was the brain child of 38-year-old designer and engineer Hans Ledwinka. The car featured a six cylinder, 199 cubic inch single overhead cam engine.

Ledwinka's time at Steyr wasn't long. He and management repeatedly clashed the direction the company would take. Ledwinka wanted to manufacture small, affordable cars while management insisted on creating luxury models. Obviously, as is most often the case, management won and by 1925 Ledwinka quit.

The company moved forward and in 1929 even managed to recruit the famed Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. His first contribution was the stunning 37/100 Austria that featured a powerful 5.3 liter straight eight engine. When the Depression caused Steyr to look for a bailout that came in the form of Austro Daimler. Daimler cancelled this new car because they saw it as competition. Porsche saw it as a reason to leave and start his own company.

Steyr managed to survive during the Depression and then ensuing World War by using a combination of strategies. These included the manufacture of a limited number of luxury cars along with going into a licensing partnership with Opal to build smaller cars.

One of the luxury models during the Depression was the 120 which debuted in 1934 and featured a unique for the time transverse-leaf independent front suspension. This model was improved upon in 1937 as the 220 and sported a 2.3 liter inline six.

The example shown here came equipped with the Special Roadster package. This meant the car came with a modified cam, dome pistons, dual carburetors and a dual exhaust.

Over the past couple of years this car has won numerous awards at shows and Concours across the country, including finishing second in its class in 2012 at Pebble Beach as well as at the 2013 Boca Raton Concours. Now it can add a Best in Show title from one of the oldest and largest Concours events in the country.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Aston Martin at the Concours

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Aston Martin line of automobiles, the Ault Park Concours d'Elegance set up a special display, a collection of some vintage models from throughout the years. As posted yesterday the most famous Aston on display was the 1964 DB 5 that was used in the Jame Bond films Goldfinger and Thunderball. But there were some other great Astons on display as well.

The company was formed when a couple of car salesmen decided to make their own car in 1913. Lionel Martin fitted a four cylinder Conventry-Simplex engine onto a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini chasis. The name came from the track at Aston Hill where Martin was fond of racing. By 1915 they were actually designing and making their own parts.

Interrupted by World War I the company was reformed when both partners returned from national service. By 1922 they were making cars to compete in races such as the French Grand Prix and were going about setting land speed records. The company changed hands a couple of times, including being reacquired by the original pair prior to World War II.

Following the war the company was acquired by tractor manufacturer Dan Brown and immediately set about establishing itself as a top line of racers and grand touring cars with the introduction of the DB series.

The cars that the Concours was able to get for display were skewed toward the 1950s and later but also featured a 1936 Type C Speed Model racer. Still this collection showed many of the finest DB models the company ever made.