1961 Ferrari GT Spyder California SWB

February 22, 2011

The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB, better known as the Cal Spyder, is a rare beauty that is easy to fall in love with.  Motivated by distributors, Jon von Neumann and Luigi Chinetti, this Spyder was the last of the truly, open-aired, dual-purpose Ferraris.  It was first shown in Geneva in 1960. Only 55 were built in 1961 (125 total were built from 1958-1963) and many of them were unique in some way due to the fact that the vehicles were built for both the race track and for the road.

The Cal Spyder was built to replace the LWB California Spyder and was based on the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB.  It was built with a Carozerria Scaglietti body construction of a Pinin Farina Cabriolet design.  It featured a 60 degree 3.0-liter SOHC V-12 engine, triple down-draft Weber carbs, a 4-speed manual transmission and cranked out 280hp.  Disc brakes were introduced and both covered and open headlights were other features of this vehicle.

In May of 2008, the Cal Spyder earned the prestigious title of the most expensive vehicle ever sold in an auction.  Oscar-winning actor, James Coburn, who played in The Magnificent Seven, sold his black ’61 for nearly $11 million ($6.4 million Euros + fees) to a British radio DJ.  The other reason that this vehicle was made famous is because it was featured in the 1980’s movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  A fiber glass bodied replica was used in the movie, but Ferrari later sued for damages because the actual vehicle used was not a Ferrari and the producers did not have the proper permission to label it as one.

Canadian International Auto Show

February 17, 2011

The Canadian International Auto Show roars into Toronto this weekend and runs through February 27th.  This year’s theme is “Discover, Connect, Experience”.  The organizers of the show would like you to discover the latest in electric hybrids, hydrogen-powered models, and advances in technologies such as navigation systems and enhanced web interaction.  They want you to connect with the vehicles by feeling and interacting with the most advanced automotive creations.  Finally, they want you to experience industry-leading displays, special exhibits, and exclusive, on-site test drive opportunities.

The show is featuring many activities and displays; the Icons: Legend of the Camaro/Firebird is a 30,000 sq./ft. historical display of the two most popular and celebrated vehicles in American History.  Some of the famous cars that will be in this display are Smokey and The Bandit’s 1977 Firebird S/E Trans Am, KITT of Knight Rider and the bright yellow BumbleBee, the charismatic star of the 2007 blockbuster Transformers.  Another feature is the PlayStation Gran Turismo 5 Challenge, where people can play the new game and win prizes for posting the best lap time of the day or the entire show.  Callaway is also offering a Driving Centre and Volkswagen is offering a children’s play area, among the many other features being offered.

If you’re feeling lucky, the show is also featuring many contests and give-aways.  There are going to be opportunities for people to win vehicles, like in the “Auto Lotto”, where game cards will come in the Toronto Sun, which people can scan at the show for a chance to win one of 25 Chevrolet Cruzes (they have two random drawings for those that don’t get the Toronto Sun).  Also, AutoTrader is offering a climb in and win contest for a new 2011 Camaro, while the National Post is giving away a 2011 Lexus CT in their “Win the Perfect Moment” contest.  People also have the opportunities to win vacations. TADA and Aeroplan are giving away 500,000 Aeroplan travel miles, while VIA Rail Canada is giving away a trip across Canada for 4 people.

The show will run from 10:30AM-10:00PM, February 18-26 and from 10:30AM-6:00PM on February 27th.  Tickets are $20 for adults (you can save 10% by buying online), kids between 7-12 are $7 and children 6 and under are free.  Volkswagen is offering a family admissions deal for $40 (also 10% off when you buy online) that allows entrance for 2 adults and 2 children (ages 7-12), which is a $14 discount.  Finally, they are offering a 2-day pass for $30.

If you are in the Toronto area in the next few weeks, The Canadian International Auto Show is something that you should check out. Going to a place that offers interactive games, contests, and of course, most importantly, amazing cars is any car lovers dream!

“Ecto 1” – Ghostbuster “Ectomobile”

February 15, 2011

“You ain’t afraid of no…” Ghostbusters’ Ectomobile!  The 1959 Cadillac ambulance/hearse combination limo-style endloader is one of the most iconic vehicles from a movie.  The original Ecto 1 was built by Miller-Meteor Company and included a 6.5 liter V8 engine.  It was 20 feet long and 6.5 feet wide.

In the original Ghostbusters movie, character Ray Stantz, played by actor Dan Aykroyd, purchased the vehicle for $4800, which was very pricey for the 80’s and for the poor condition the vehicle was in.  The work that he describes doing on it is as follows:  suspension work, new shocks, brakes, brake pads, lining, transmission, rings, muffler, rear end and steering box and a little bit of wiring.  When it was complete, it had a bench large enough to fit 4 adults comfortably and room to store “proton packs, ecto goggles, P.K.E. meters” and other ghost traps.

In Ghostbusters II, there is a scene where the Ecto-1 backfires and spews smoke on the Brooklyn Bridge.  This was not done with special effects; the actual vehicle was in poor shape and died on the bridge during filming.  In fact, the NYPD fined the filming crew because the Ecto 1 was blocking traffic and the bridge did not have a breakdown lane at the time.  The Ecto 1 then was overhauled into the Ecto 1a.  The original Ecto 1-a still remains in the back lot of Universal Studios.

In September of 2010, a replica of the Ecto-1 was put up for auction at the infamous Brooklands Auction.  The gentleman auctioning the vehicle spent over $100,000 restoring the vehicle to make it an exact replica of the movie vehicle.  At this time, the vehicle has not sold.

4 of the Most Famous Cars in Television

February 8, 2011

There were many great television series during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, but for those people who love American Muscle cars, certain shows stood out.  Here, we are going to take a look at 4 of the most famous cars from television series.

4.  1966 Chrysler Imperial – Green Hornet “Black Beauty” (1967)

“Black Beauty’s” 440 cubic-inch V8 that cranked out 350hp and had 480 pounds/ft of torque was built by Hollywood car builder Dean Jeffries.  He built the vehicle to resemble to Imperial but with specific modifications for the show, such as: the green house sail was extended 14 inches, which gave the vehicle a more “limo-looking” back end, the door latches were replaced with electronic switches, the rear lights were re-designed to run up the trunk, and the gas tank hole was moved to the rear of the vehicle since it was replaced by a “gun” for the show.

3.  1974-76 Ford Torino – Starsky & Hutch (1975-1979)

Officers, Starsky and Hutch were most well-known for driving around in Starsky’s “Viper Red” with white stripes Ford Torino.  While the actor, Paul Michael Glaser, who played Starsky, actually gave the car the nickname “Striped Tomato” when he first saw it, it was David Soul’s character, Hutch, who introduced the nickname in the “Snowstorm” episode of the show.  A number of Torino’s were used during the production of the show with engines ranging from a 351 to a 400ci, to a 385 series V8 to a 460.  They also had 4 barrel carburetors and XPL Type C-6 Automatic transmissions.

2.  1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – Knight Rider “KITT” (1982-1986)

KITT, which stood for Knight Industries Two Thousand) was the famous talking car with artificial intelligence and all of the gadgets from the television series Knight Rider.  Michael Knight, played by David Hasselhoff, was given a second chance at fighting crime after a near-fatal shot to the face. He has help from the Firebird Trans Am that sported a V8 engine, 3rd generation F-body, “T-tops” and that famous black color with tan interior.  Many people raced to Pontiac in hopes of purchasing a replica of KITT after the premiere of the show in the 1980’s.

1.  1969 Dodge Challenger – Dukes of Hazard “General Lee” (1979-1985)

While the show Dukes of Hazard is supposed to be about two cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, foiling the plots of corrupt politician, Boss Hogg, and skimming the lines of their probation terms for illegally transporting moonshine, the vehicle they do it all in, “General Lee”, stands out as the star of the show.  With its 440 cubic inch Magnum V8 engine, 375 hp, and its ability to reach top speeds of 135mph and go from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, this Dodge Challenger takes top honors for best muscle car in a television series.  Over 300 Chargers were used in the production of the television series and only 17 of those originals remain today.

10 of the Most Famous Cars in Movies

February 3, 2011

What car enthusiast doesn’t love watching a movie with a wild, rip-roaring chase scene or a loud, growling drag race? What car aficionado doesn’t pay more attention to the car and its specs in a movie rather than the plot? Here we are going to pay homage to those movie-watching car lovers by taking a look at 10 of the Most Famous Cars in Movies.

10. 1972 Ford Gran Torino – Gran Torino (2008):

In Gran Torino, Walt Kowalski’s character (Clint Eastwood) represents the final passing of an old American generation. Much like his character, the 1972 Gran Torino he owns in the movie represents the same thing. This vehicle, with its fastback style, “laser stripes”, faux hood scoop, Magnum 500 wheels and white letter tires, was made right on the brink of change in American cars as we knew and loved them.

9. 1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible – Thelma and Louise (1991):

While Thelma and Louise are off killing people, robbing stores, blowing up trucks and locking police officers in their own trunks, the Thunderbird (1 of 5 used in filming) they drive gets a lot of face time. In 1966, there were three types of Thunderbirds offered: the base 390 V8, two-barrel carburetor, 275 horsepower; the 390 V8, four-barrel carb, 315hp; or the 428 V8, four-barrel carb, 345hp.

8. 1976 Chevrolet Camaro – Transformers “Bumblebee” (2007)

During the filming of Transformers, producers were looking for a Camaro that their main character, played by Shia LeBeouf, could realistically be able to acquire. So, they asked GM executives to help them choose the most “trashy” Camaro. Their first pick was a 1969 Camaro, but everyone knows there are no longer “trashy” ‘69s, so their next choice was a ’76 because no Z28s were offered that year and the engine was a four-barrel equipped 350 that only cranked out 165hp. Transformers fans did get a treat later when the ’76 Camaro turned into the 2009 version.

7. 1958 Plymouth Fury – Christine (1983):

Stephen King wrote an interesting tale, which was then turned into a movie, of a possessed car named Christine that takes over her owner, Arnie. Who wouldn’t want to be taken over by a rare, 1958 Fury with its 3 speed overdrive (manual transmission), 2-door style and bright-red, special ordered color? During the filming of the movie, 27 cars were used and not all of them were Furys. Belvederes and Savoys, made to look like the Fury, were also used, but unfortunately, some Furys were destroyed in the filming.

6. 1970 Dodge Challenger – Vanishing Point (1971):

Barry Neumann plays a depressed, car delivery driver named, Kowalski. He is supposed to deliver a white, 1970 Dodge Challenger to San Francisco from Dallas. He makes a bet that he can deliver it in less time than it is supposed to take and therefore, the chase scenes begin with the police. The 440 cubic-inch V8 R/T 440 engine in the Challenger provides roaring speeds that are no match for the police cars in the movie.

5. 1968 Ford Mustang 390 CID Fastback – Bullitt (1968):

Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, played by Steve McQueen, is trying to take down mobster, Pete Ross, and investigate the murder of Inspector Ross, by hit-men. During this investigation, Bullitt picks up the Mustang and is tailed by the two hit-men, resulting in a famous car chase that ultimately kills the hit-men. The Mustang had a 390/4v motor and stronger springs and Koni shocks were added to it for the stunts. 2 cars were purchased for the movie; the stunt car was completely demolished and the other one used for close-ups was sold.

4. 1977 Pontiac Trans Am – Smokey and the Bandit (1977):

The black and gold Trans Am, featured in the movie Smokey and the Bandit, as the “blocker” car to divert attention away from the illegal alcohol in the semi-truck that is following it, became iconic in the 70’s. While 3 “special edition” Trans Ams were made for the movie, all of which were destroyed, customers flocked to Pontiac dealers to purchase a replica. Sales went from approximately 69,000 cars being sold to 93,500 being sold during 1977.

3. 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 – Gone in 60 Seconds “Eleanor”:

The famous, temperamental Shelby Mustang GT500 that Nicholas Cage drives at the end of Gone In 60 Seconds, has become somewhat of a “dream car” for many car enthusiasts. With its 428 engine that cranks out 650hp (1000hp with nitrous), what’s not to love? For the movie, they modified the vehicle by adding a body kit, functional side pipes, mag rims, sport tires and a hood scoop because they didn’t want it upstaged by the Porshes and Ferraris also featured in the movie.

2. Aston Martin DB5 – James Bond Films (Casino Royale, Goldfinger, Thunderball, etc.):

Why wouldn’t the debonair James Bond, played by Sean Connery, drive a sleek and powerful vehicle? The Aston Marin DB5 driven in the films has a 4.0L aluminum engine, ZF five-speed transmission and a three SU carburetor that propelled the vehicle to top speeds of 145mph and allowed it to go from 0-60 in 7.1 seconds. Only 2 of the vehicles that Sean Connery drove remain. One fetched $4.1 million in auction in October 2010.

1. DeLorean DMC12 – Back To The Future “Time Machine” (1985):

The famous “time machine” from the Back To The Future movies was a DeLorean DMC12 that featured “gull-wing” doors and a fiberglass underbody. These vehicles were produced from 1982-1982; approximately 9,000 were made, and 6,500 are still believed to be in existence. The vehicles used for the film production were modified versions of this vehicle.