Archive for April, 2009

Traqmate: Sophisticated Data Acquisition

This video of a Lotus 11 at VIR equipped with a Traqmate data acquisition unit is fascinating. The Traqmate system relies on a couple of core modules to provide fairly sophisticated data for your lapping. The heart of the system is a high-accuracy GPS receiver that records your vehicle’s position 4 times per second. Coupled with an accelerometer to measure speed and G-forces, the system paints a picture of your performance throughout the race. Back at your computer, mate the data to the Traqview analysis application to visualize this data overlaid on a map of the track, or when attached to a video camera, watch a video game-esque playback of your race. If your race group has several members using the system, it can marry the data from all of the participants to show the entire racing group’s performance; allowing you to swap notes with your friends on the track. The system allows you to ‘see’ your race from a completely different perspective. Neat stuff.

They also offer a variety of accessories such as bullet cameras to get good camera positioning on the car, and a module to attach your tachometer to the system to record RPM over the course of the race (as seen in the playback video above). Fantastic stuff.

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Bring a Trailer Covers the California Mille

2009 California Mille - Porsche 356a GTThe mighty Bring a Trailer is along for the ride with the California Mille. I suspect these photos are just the tip of the iceberg and that coverage will continue over the next several days. Take a look.

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Garage Watching: Jack Olsen’s Retro Retreat

Jack Olsen's retro garage.I’m afraid it’s true. My car sickness extends beyond the cars themselves; beyond the posters and the slot cars and the models and books. Now I’m sick with places to keep it all. I’m sure this isn’t news to most of you. This is practically a support-group for people with automotive illness.

As a result, I find myself from time to time wading through the projects at the Garage Journal forums. Most of the garages are the stuff of pure fantasy. Pole barns and hangars and “Garage Mahals” of endless square footage. Recently a call was put out on the forum for a return to normalcy—or at least a reduction in envy. “Let’s see your 2 car garage”, seems like a normal enough request.

Jack Olsen stepped up with a fantastic space to house his marvelous track car: a ’73 911 RSR tribute. The car is a beauty; built on a ’72 911 chassis, the engine bay hides a 993 power plant mated to a ’77 transaxle. She’s light too, with fiberglass bodywork and Lexan windows. Plus I’m just a sucker for the duck tail. He’s done a wonderful job on it. Especially after a decent smashup with the tire wall forced him to rethink things a bit (see the link above for the grisly photos).

RSR tribute
But let’s look again at this great little 440 square foot car hole. I love the color palette and it’s a smart use of the space. These colors and cabinets remind me a lot of hanging out with my grandfather in his lawnmower repair shop. Does it seem like everything used to be that shade of Stanley Thermos meets Dickies coveralls green?

I also like John’s clever use of reclaimed cabinets, folding workspaces, and the idea of isolating the air compressor in the crawlspace probably helps conversations in the space. Mostly though, I like that this garage feels homemade and not like a swarm of garage contractors breezed in and manufactured perfection on the spot. It looks cared for and crafted.

Finally I can reset my garage fantasies to come back to reality a bit. Good job, Jack.

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A Look At Sports Car Racing (1963)

Oh my, yes!

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2009 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing Panamericana. Want.

Gullwing Concept“Let’s update a classic model from our past”, is a sentence that, since 1998’s successful redesign and relaunch of the VW beetle, must have been heard in every manufacturer’s boardroom since. In an era of blasé jellybeans on wheels dominating the auto market, I can’t say I blame them. These re-issues come and go with varying levels of success. Sometimes even multiple reissues from the same manufacturer are on opposite ends of this spectrum. New Dodge Challenger? Yes, please. New Dodge Charger? Nuh-uh.

In general, though, I tend to judge the success of digging into the archives for new product based on how much they evoke the original; how true they are to their roots. By that criteria, this design exercise by Arturo Alonso hits the nail on the head. It’s almost TOO close to the original. This is not, however, simply a replica of the classic Gullwing. The plan for this small production run series is to use modern materials and technologies, including a new Benz V8, mated to a very original-looking body—sadly made from fiberglass and not aluminum. The subtle softening of the edges and taming of the corners give the body a more modern look as well, and further suggest that this isn’t just another kit or reproduction.

Like the earlier Viper design project, it is currently only (publicly) a digital rendering. As a design study, it’s fun. More than that, I hope it does come to fruition and inspires more updates of this quality.

keep your eyes on Gullwing-America.com for the official site. It’ not up yet, though.

In the meantime, Carscoop has the, well, scoop.

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1950 Abarth 205 A Berlinetta Vignale

Abarth 204A at Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

This Abarth 205 A coupe that won the Trofeo Girard-Perregaux at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza is absolutely stunning. I’ve not seen one before. Congratulations to car owner Mark Gessler for the win, and for one fine automobile.

Sports Car Digest has a sizable photo gallery of this year’s event.

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Leggende e Passione: Ferrari 330 P4

Ferrari 330 P4 #0858The late 60s were, by any measure, a high-water point for sports car racing. The cars were absolutely beautiful. The science of aerodynamics was coming into its own. The cars were fast. Very fast. Faster than Formula 1 cars of the era.

Here’s a lovely example of the era that is coming available as part of RM Auctions’ Leggende e Passione auction: A meticulously preserved Ferrari 330 P4. Chassis 0858 is a majestic example, with a fairly impressive history. This is, after all, a car that was driven by Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon. Beyond a win at Monza, they shared the car for a wonderful meeting at Brands Hatch for the the British BOAC International 500. This was the last championship points winning race of the season and the World’s Sportscar Manufacturer Championship was on the line. Ferrari held a small lead, but Porsche was nipping at the horse’s heels. Jo Siffert was racing hard in his 910 to show that Porsche wasn’t just going to let Ferrari walk away with it. Through a handful of lead changes and hard battles, Jackie Stewart took the car back from Amon in the final hour to hold on to second place and secure Ferrari’s championship (Mike Spence and Phil Hill won the meeting in their Chaparral).

Ferrari 330 P4 #0858Ferrari 330 P4 is indeed a very special car. In many ways, however, this era is bittersweet for me because it represents the real turning point in sportscar sophistication. The era of the garagista as a force in racing then started its slow decline. Wind tunnels, aerodynamicists, space-aged materials, and technological leaps permanently placed sportscar racing—any racing for that matter—in the hands of professional engineers, not amateur gearheads. I know, I know, I’m always singing the praises of the 917, a car perhaps even more the culprit for this shift. But it’s sad all the same.

On another tangent, I really have to commend RM Auctions on not only securing a marvelous roster of cars for their auction, but on investing in high quality photography for the catalog. These shots are simply stunning and it’s worth hopping over to the catalog just to take them all in.

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Top Gear on the Miura

If you need more Miura porn after today’s earlier video post, let’s take a drive with The Hamster in a couple more Miuras: the standard model (if you can call it that) and an SV.

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A Jaunt Up the Coast

When a blonde in a 250 California passes you on the highway, give chase, my friend. Give chase.

I could probably do an entire series of these ‘street race as flirting’ scenes.

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Phil Hill’s Ferrari 225 S Barchetta Available

Ferrari 225S 0218ETMartin Chisholm is offering a marvelous 1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Barchetta. She is a beautiful, Rossa Corso wonder. A squat, dense muscle powered by an early iteration of Colombo’s famous V12 that would later prove so successful for the various Ferrari 250 variants that are in such high demand. This version of the V12 was based on the earlier 212, but bored out an extra 10mm and stroked to 58.8 mm for a total displacement of 2715 cc. The extra oomph under the bonnet made 224S #0218ET good for a perfectly reasonable 210 horses at 7200 RPM.

The 225 was developed with the twisty mountain sections of the Mille Miglia in mind, but since she was developed alongside early prototype versions of the 250, she was quickly overshadowed by her big brother in Italy. Fortunately, 0218ET was headed for American shores. This Barchetta, was an Alf Momo car, quickly prepped and ready for club racing in the States.

Bill Spear gave 0218ET her debut at the 1952 Sowega Air Force Base races and brought her in at 5th overall. Not a bad start.

Of course, what makes this car really desirable was her entry in the ’53 Sebring 12 Hours Race. Bill Spears shared the car with Phil Hill. Unfortunately, in a rare mistake, Phil had an off-course excursion that cost them the race. In the early days of Sebring, the grass surrounding the course was a very treacherous place and Phil managed to find the foundation of a disused and demolished barracks. The hit to the rear wheel took out the differential, forcing the team to call it quits for the race.

The car bounced around from racer to racer for several years, before becoming a toy of a Hollywood businessman. Finally the car was rescued by noted collector Gary Schonwald who located the long missing original engine and restored 0218ET to the remarkable shape you see her in today. She looks Concours and Historic Mille Miglia perfect.

Carrozzeria Vignale did an absolutely incredible piece of work crafting the body of this little barchetta back in 1952, and despite the more impressive statistics of the scores of Ferrari models that have followed in the wake of the early barchettas, there is no model that I find more romantic than these early V12 series.

Ferrari 225S - FrontFerrari 225S - Period

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