Monday, September 30, 2013

Rides On Monmouth

Not only is the annual Rides On Monmouth one of the larger shows of the season, it is set in a little Northern Kentucky town that should be a lot more famous, if not infamous, than it is. I have written about the history (including some of my own) of this city and how it was actually the blueprint for what became legal in Las Vegas. Of course back when gambling and prostitution were rampant in Newport it was very much illegal, so illegal that even Bobby Kennedy came to town to try, in vain, to clean it up. If you want to know more about that history you can check out past posts about this show. Otherwise, just enjoy some of the great cars that were on display at this year's event.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Chrysler 300

You see them driving down the street, you see the commercials on the air: the Chrysler 300 is the top of the line luxury car for that brand. While the commercials and dealers will tell you that the 300 is the latest in luxury performance vehicles, the badge dates back to the mid 1950s.

Starting in 1955 the 300 "letter series" was released. True luxury cars in a era of luxury, these cars were originally designed, built and released as a performance platform car to compete with the likes of Cadillac. The 1955 model was officially known as the C-300. The follow-up in 1956 was dubbed the 300B. Each subsequent model took on the next letter (skipping "I") and going all the way to L.
While that first 300 in 1955 was technically a luxury car, in reality it was a NASCAR racer which was sold for homologation purposes. Powered by a 331 cubic inch "Firepower" Hemi V8 monster engine, it is easy to see how this car was utilized on race tracks around the country. It featured twin four barrel carbs, solid lifters, a stiff racing suspension, and a high performance exhaust system. All anyone had to do was punch the gas pedal to understand the real reason it was built.The car featured the "Forward Look" styling of Virgil Exner who, believe it or not, scoured the parts bins for many of the final pieces to this car.
Sales of the homologation models actually exceeded expectations. So for the 1956 model the car was given not only a bit more high performance kick with an engine as large as a 354 cubic inch Hemi V8 but also got a bit of a face lift as well. This model looked a little less like a racer and a little more like a luxury family car. Even with a softer look, this became the first car to produce one horsepower per cubic inch as that 354 Hemi growled out 355 horses.
Changes both in styling and under the hood continued through the rest of the 1950s and into the 1960s. By the time the 1962 model seen here was released the 300 had lost its rather large fins for a more traditional look but had maintained its penchant for power. With a 413 cubic inch Hemi V8 with inline dual four barrel carbs, the 300H line was faster than its predecessors. The fact that Chrysler figured a way to shed 300 pounds helped.
This year also saw the introduction of a Sport Series version of the 300. While there were various trims including a four door and two door hardtop, these cars came minus some of the luxury features of the standard 300H (though they could be added on as options). Creating this "extra" line cost the 300H some of its exclusivity and this became the slowest selling of the 300 models.
This perhaps marked the beginning of the end of the 300 "letter series" as the last of their kind rolled off the lines in the 1965 model year. In 1970 a Hurst 300 high performance muscle car was introduced. Another 300 popped up in 1973. In 1999 Chrysler rolled out what it dubbed the 300M which lasted until 2004. For 2005 they rolled out the current Chrysler 300 series which continues to sell well today. While it maintained the high performance luxury of its ancestors it isn't the NASCAR racer at heart of the early 300 "letter series" cars.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One More Labor of Love

Here is one more post from the 7th Annual Labor of Love show but don't despair, there will be plenty more posts from this show to come once our show season ends.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More Labor of Love

We've had crazy weather this year with lots of rain washing out a number of car shows. And while the day turned out to be not bad for the 7th Annual Labor of Love show, weather did affect it quite a bit. There was rain in the early morning and the threat of rain was reinforced by not only the local weather forecasters but also by anyone who looked at the sky. For that reason the number of cars that rolled out for this event was down over the past few years. In all about 100 cars showed up which is about half of what it has been in the past. This is too bad because all of the proceeds from this show go to the Shriner's Hospital. Still, the cars that did show up were great, even if it was very hot and sticky.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Perfect Setting

For the past couple of years the Labor of Love Car Show has been held at Easy Street Speed and Kustoms, an east side custom car shop. It is a natural place for a custom car club to host its annual charity show. On a hot day, though, with the sun beating down and the humidity high you may think that this huge blacktopped parking lot isn't the best place after all. But with a bunch of vendors and some great food and cool drinks, where else would you want to have an open car show?

Monday, September 23, 2013

7th Annual Labor of Love

It isn't uncommon for a group of car enthusiast friends to get together and form a club. Most of the time they spend cruising with each other, attending car shows, meeting up for dinners and always, always talking about cars. The Border Lords is a car club but their reason for getting together was different. The impetus behind this club is to host a charity car show each year in order to raise funds for the Shriner's Hospital. For them, it's a labor of love.

Recently, for the seventh year in a row they have hosted the Labor of Love Car Show. I've always said that car people are very giving and caring individuals. Just about every show supports some charity or another. This one, because of the efforts put forth by the Border Lords, is always one of the more successful and highly anticipated shows of the year.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Little Brother

In the 1950s the motoring world was changing, particularly in America. GIs had returned home from Europe after World War II and brought with them an appreciation of the small sports cars that seemed to be everywhere. So while Detroit was churning out big bodied behemoths with equally large engines, some Americans turned toward imports to find smaller, lighter cars that were better on curves than on straight-aways.

The first to migrate to the states were the British roadsters. But a Diamler-Benz importer named Max Hoffman convinced the Stuttgart firm that a street version of their latest racer would be a big hit in the USA. When it was introduced in 1954, the 300 SL with its gullwing doors was everything the company hoped it would be. Except it was too expensive for most American's.

So the following year they brought out the 300 SL's little brother, the 190 SL. Built on a shorter frame and powered by a brand new in line four cylinder single overhead cam engine that pumped out 104 horse power and 105 foot pounds of torque. The car was a true sports car grand tourer and even it's fans agreed that it was a bit rough around the edges.

One reason was that Mercedes incorporated many of the pieces from the larger, more powerful 300 SL into this smaller version. For example, the engine block for the six cylinder 300 SL was used for the smaller 190 SL. While the 85 mm bore was identical on both models, the 190 SL had its stroke shortened nearly five mm.

Still, the 190 SL was a true Sport Leicht or Sport Lightweight vehicle and with the larger 300 SL made up the first generation of the Mercedes SL Class of cars. Sold until 1963, the car was available with either a soft top or a removable hard top.

By the time Mercedes had decided to replace their first generation SL line with the new 230 SL in 1936, the 190 SL had taught them a lot about the American market, what they wanted and what they were willing to pay for it. All of the SL Class cars that have followed learned from those initial lessons and each subsequent model improved on what was really begun with that first generation little brother of a car.