The Ford GT40

In the spring of 1963, Henry Ford II received word that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling the family business to Ford Motor Company. Ford was excited to have an opportunity to buy the legendary brand and reportedly spent several million dollars in an audit of Ferrari assets and on lawyers who were working on the negotiations. At the eleventh hour, as the story goes, Ferrari pulled out of the deal. It is said it was over the motorsports wing of Ferrari, which Ferrari wanted to retain operational control of, Ford was busy racing at Indy and if the deal went through Ferrari cars would not be allowed to race at the Indianapolis 500. Enzo shut the deal down costing Ford millions. 

Out of that mutual spirit of animosity Henry Ford II ordered his racing division to build a car that could beat Ferrari.  Lead by Harley Copp, the team of Broadley, Lunn and Wyer began working on a new car at the Lola Factory in Bromley. By the end of 1963 Ford had established Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd, a new subsidiary under the direction of Wyer. 

During this same time another American Carroll Shelby was working on refining his year old Shelby Cobra in his own bid to take down Ferrari in the FIA World Championship. His Cobra Daytona Coupe would do so in 1965. The GT40 was first raced in May 1964 at the Nürburgring 1000 km race where it retired with suspension failure after holding second place early in the event. 

Three weeks later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, all three entries retired with mechanical issues. Ford was seeing the success Carroll Shelby was having with his Cobras and knew he had his eyes already on a Le Mans bid so after a season plagued with issues under John Wyer, Shelby took over after the 1964 Nassau race. The cars were shipped directly from the Bahamas to Shelby in Los Angeles. 

Shelby was quick to add a victory to the GT40's resume on their first race out with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby taking victory at the Daytona 2000 in 1965. The rest of 1965 was not as successful, but the lessons learned in 64-65 allowed the MK-II version of the GT40 to dominate the 1966 24 hours of Le Mans with a 1-2-3- victory and elevated it to the status of legend. 

This MKI Street Version of the Ford GT40, Chassis P/1059 was photographed by Mike Satterfield

Chevy Unveils Mostly Forgettable SEMA Show Cars


SEMA is just a few weeks away and Chevrolet has released images of their entire SEMA lineup of "concept vehicles".  According to the Chevrolet's press release: "Chevrolet’s 2015 passenger car lineup is one of the strongest and most competitive in the industry, offering customers a wide range of great-looking, great-driving and well-connected choices,” said Paul Edwards, vice president of Chevrolet marketing.

I get it... it's Paul's job to be positive about the brand, and while Chevrolet has some good looking cars, these SEMA projects look like they spent more time in the committee room than the design department. I generally don't like to write in a negative tone, but seriously GM needs a wake up call. Since all the other automotive journalists suckle at the teet of the automakers and don't want to risk not being invited to the next ride and drive I suppose it falls on me to point out that these are about as lame as it comes when you talk about the automotive madness that is SEMA.  These concepts look like a bunch of 70 year old men are sitting around a committee table, stifling all the creative concepts brought to them while they gum their milk toast and complain about popular music. I am starting to see why De Nysschen has fled to New York City with Cadillac.
Crosstown rival Ford has always gone more outside the box with their SEMA cars working with creatives in the industry to produce provocative and ostentatious show cars that push the envelope of the theme or concept. This sometimes goes terribly sideways when they decided to go to production with a Funk-Master-Flex vehicle, but for SEMA you have to pull all the stops.

Even the new kids on the block Kia and Scion take radical or exciting concepts to SEMA every year, partnering with pop-culture icons, fashion brands, and motorsports to create unique concept cars. While the GM booth is something everyone walks through on their way to the other side of Hot Rod Alley, I don't come to SEMA to see a preview of the GM booth at the Los Angeles Auto Show, I want to see cars built to a farcical level. I want to see a Sonic with a monster V8 driving the rear wheels or a Impala turned into a modern version of a old school lowrider. You have to give us something crazy to look at!

Look Milk-Toast Executives at Chevy, those young kids you want to sell Sonics and Sparks to... they like the radical and the ridiculous. Drifting is the perfect example of this, those Camaro's running around the drift track are super cool, some kid sees Tyler McQuarrie sliding sideways in a blaze of burnt rubber and says "Wow I want to buy a Chevy"...but when they find themselves on the lot you don't have anything cool they can buy on a 18 year olds salary. The Spark and Sonic could be cool, but concepts like this are about as uncool as it gets.

Even for Chevy these rides are pretty tame and in my opinion no one will be talking about them at SEMA. I mean really.... the "Sonic Performance Concept" gets a cold-air intake and an exhaust system, "sport tuned suspension" (read lowering springs and shocks), 17" wheels and a stripe that matches the wheels and spoiler... is this 2001?  It's literally lipstick on a pig, since the Sonic needs so much more help in the design department. I think the first question one has to ask in 2014 is why is a 17" wheel consider an upgrade on the "Sporty" Sonic turbo?  If you (Chevy) are trying to sell the Sonic as a blank canvas for the tuners make it cheap and showcase the extremes of what it can become.

The Creative Team at Chevrolet pulled out all the stops with this "concept" called the Black... so you can guess how wild they got...wheel centers...blacked out, grill and headlights....blacked out, That's and a Bose Sound System round out this dynamic and groundbreaking design. 

This Chevrolet SS Sport Concept, got a red paint job with black stripes and some Holden Wheels that they forgot to swap the center caps on in what they described as a "nod to Australian heritage". Ummm ok... the also blacked out the grill and side vent. Again it not that this is not a great looking car... but its really not innovative or even a concept car. It's a partsbin reshuffle and a trip to the local tint/wrap shop to black out some stuff.

GM I write this not just to heckle your meager attempt at relevance in the automotive aftermarket, but because you could do better. There are hundreds of talented tuners, designers, and enthusiasts...many within your own walls... just let them create cool stuff and have the committee take a vacation for a bit.

Source: Chevrolet

Update in response to an email: 
Now these are not just sour grapes because a concept I pitched them on did not get picked up, from what I heard around the watercooler not many Chevys found their way into tuner circulation this year. I will have cars I did work on at SEMA... but just none of them are Chevrolets.

PS: A Sonic rendering I pitched to build this year for the SEMA show, GM decided it was too radical I guess, with its flared fenders, 19" wheels, Carbon Fiber hood, hatch, front splitter, and rear wing, LED running lights and coilover suspension.

1961 AC Ace

Gentleman Car our favorite car dealer in Europe has just added this amazing AC Ace to their collection of cars for sale. Just a year before Carroll Shelby took the Ace and created the Shelby Cobra a man named Ken Rudd from "Ruddspeed" fitted the AC Ace with a 2600cc inline six from the Ford Zephyr. It used three Weber or SU carburettors and a performance "Mays" head was an option. With proper tuning the Ruddspeed Ace could produce 170 bhp, providing a top speed of 130 mph and 0–60 mph in 8.1 seconds.

This car is offered for sale by Gentleman Car and features Disc Brakes with Alfin Rear Drums, a detachable roll bar that fits nicely in the boot, and full FIA HTP papers meaning the car is legal for any FIA historic competitions.

Source: Gentleman Car

Spotted on the Street: Optimus Prime

So one of the random things that happens when you are in the LA area is sometimes you run across things like this. Optimus Prime from Transformers was parked at the local Holiday Inn along the 60 freeway. I was headed into the studio this morning and caught it out of the corner of my eye, so of course I had to flip a U-Turn and check it out. No one came out to see me and Optimus played it cool by not answering any of my questions.

It was cool to see in person and the level of fit and finish was pretty impressive. Check out the rest of the photos of Optimus below and be sure to check out the other cars we have "Spotted on the Street" HERE.

Pirelli World Challenge Chooses Mazda Raceway for 2015

One of North America’s finest and longest running auto racing series, the Pirelli World Challenge, will crown their 2015 champions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Sept. 11-13 at the Series’ season finale. 
The popular Series boasts a paddock of more than 70 race cars and consists of six classes of vehicles: grand touring (GT); touring car (TC); grand touring sport (GTS); touring car B-spec (TCB), touring car A (TCA) and Porsche GT-Cup (GT-Cup). Well known brands including Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Mazda, McLaren and Porsche make up the classes of competition.
“With a competitive slot for nearly every sports car and sedan on the market the Pirelli World Challenge provides racing that everyone can relate to,” says Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Fans love seeing their make of car on the race track battling for the win.”
Pirelli World Challenge races are 50-minutes from start to finish ensuring each driver is giving 100 percent from beginning to end because there are no scheduled pit stops or driver changes. There is the intensity of the final lap, every lap.
Tickets for the Pirelli World Challenge race weekend will be on sale in December by visiting or calling the ticket office at 800-327-7322.

Rally Historico Transpeninsular

I just got back from Mexico, I was invited down to take part of a press day in Tijuana for the 2015 Rally Historico Transpeninsular. A race that I will be competing in and shooting a short film about with the help of an amazing team. The film we hope will serve as a pilot for an automotive adventure show that we hope both car people and not car people a like will love. The race is going to be filled with danger and excitement as we pilot a 1962 Austin Healey Sprite across over 1,000 miles of Baja Mexico. 

Our car is a 1962 Austin Healey Sprite built in the 1960's by a guy named J. Giddens, like everyone who was racing in the 1960's they just built it themselves, much like we are doing. The car is the only one in the world (that we know of) with Giddens' unique front bodywork. The film will be shown at the 2015 AutoMoto film festival during Monterey Car Week and at film festivals across the country. 

We are currently locking in our sponsorship partners so if your brand would like some international racing exposure and a 30 min film featuring your brand get in touch with 

Gulf Fairlane: First Drive

First ride, the Fairlane we built for the SEMA show has been a bit of a trailer queen. When we were invited out to use it in a photo shoot for a magazine we figured we would take it for a shakeout drive. The car is a beast, it sounds like a monster thanks to the Doug Headers and the Flowmaster Exhaust. You can't miss it, just a few moments after parking it in front of the studio where it would be photographed at, a small crowd formed with people asking about the car, wanting to see the 427 big block under the hood and loving the old school feel of the Cragar Wheels.

The car ran great, we installed a Champion Cooling Systems Radiator in the car to keep the big block cool, being the first real drive I was watching the gauges close to make sure our oil pressure and temp were ok. The car ran perfect and never got over 190 degrees. The Tremec Transmission is amazing and when I took it up to speed on the 210 Freeway that 5th gear was great to have!

The one issue we had was that it looks like there is a wiring problem with the alternator so we were running on battery power only. So we got it back to the garage ASAP after the shoot, thankfully it was just 18 miles away from our studio.

A friend of ours had to swing by and check out the Fairlane, he brought his sweet SR20 Powered Datsun Roadster

Gear: Bespoke Bags by Ian James NY

Sometimes you just want something different, something handcrafted, in todays world of mass produced and disposable products it is always nice to find craftsmen. Ian James is a designer who wants to give each customer something special, be it a carry on bag for a weekend getaway or a messenger bag for the everyday commuter, each bag is special and made here in the USA.

Most bags are made to order, each is handcrafted by Ian using materials sourced from American companies. Every bag is functional, durable, and well built,  but also timeless and casual. Constructed of 18 oz water-resistant cotton canvas, cowhide leather, and top quality hardware means these bags are built to last a lifetime.

Bags range from between $125-$250 with smaller accessories starting around $30. If you don't see something in the readymade collection, you can always custom order a bag, selecting style, materials, and colors.

For more information or to order visit the official Ian James New York site HERE

Each bag is crafted by hand in Ian James' New York Studio

Tod's Ferrari Driving Shoes

Tod's Ferrari driving loafer have got to be some of the coolest driving shoes on the market. These blue suede shoes are accented by their exposed hand stitching, front tie, famous cavallino rampante in nickel-plated metal, iconic rubber pebble outsole. These would be perfect for that weekend drive even if you don't have the car to match...

Priced at $453 and available at the Ferrari Store HERE

The 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Bentley is one of those brands I have always loved, while I have yet to own a Bentley, a GT is on my list of cars that will one day rotate through my garage, the other Bentleys on my list are more likely to be found in an Ian Fleming novel than my garage anytime soon, but thats just the way it goes. 

The Mulsanne, Bentley's flagship sedan is everything you would expect it to be. Imposing, yet graceful, opulent, yet understated, and now with the addition of the Mulsanne Speed to the lineup it's also pretty darn fast. Getting a car the size of the Mulsanne to a 4.8 second 0-60 time is stunning and the six and three-quarter leader twin turbo V8 does it by producing a 530 bph and an incredible 811 lb-ft of torque. The team in Crewe also reworked the 8-speed automatic gearbox to have a "S" mode that helps keeps the turbos spooling and makes for more spirited driving as you head towards the top speed of 190 mph. 

In all the new Mulsanne Speed is everything you could want in a ultra luxury sports sedan, official pricing has not been released, but the current Mulsanne starts just north of $300K USD so expect a significant mark up on the Speed version, my guess between $60-100K more than standard Mulsanne.

Check out more images the official Press Release below:

Official Release:


• New Bentley flagship offering pinnacle of luxury and performance
• Legendary 6¾-litre V8 engine advanced to deliver 1,100 Nm of torque and 13% more efficiency
• New sports suspension and steering creates tailored driving experience
• Assertive Speed styling with new exclusive and contemporary features

(Crewe, 16th September 2014) Bentley redefines the fastest ultra-luxury driving experience in the world with a new pinnacle flagship. The new Mulsanne Speed is tailored for the driver, with 537 PS (530 bhp / 395 kW), 1,100 Nm (811 lb.ft) and selectable sports suspension and steering on demand.

The reengineered powertrain, featuring Bentley's mighty 6¾-litre twin-turbo V8, propels the Mulsanne Speed to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds) and on to a top speed of 190 mph (305 km/h). In modern Bentley tradition, the extra performance is matched by markedly improved efficiency; a 13% gain means a range extended by 50 miles (80 km).

New and contemporary styling features define the Mulsanne Speed as a statement in quintessential British luxury. On-board technology and connectivity are discreetly integrated beneath the finest materials, created with unrivalled craftsmanship and exquisite handcrafted details.

Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, Wolfgang Dürheimer, comments: "The new Mulsanne Speed is the car that defines Bentley, as a flagship for driving luxury performance. Our customers don't compromise, and we've adopted the same approach in the design, engineering and crafting of our new flagship. The Mulsanne Speed is distinguished, calm and relaxing, but always with a connection to the road and relentless dynamic performance on demand. In this car, every journey becomes a drive."

The Mulsanne Speed will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show on Thursday 2nd October, and will be available for customer delivery this winter.

Torque pushed to record levels

At the heart of the Mulsanne Speed is Bentley's iconic 6¾-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, which has been re-engineered for the Mulsanne Speed as well as the signature Mulsanne. A totally redesigned combustion system (including combustion chamber, inlet ports, fuel injectors, spark plugs, and compression ratio) promotes a much faster and more controlled combustion process. Through combining these advances with new variable valve timing and optimised turbocharger control, torque output of the engine has been pushed to record levels – 1,100 Nm (811 lb.ft) from 1,750 rpm.

The swell of torque from low engine speeds builds to a new peak power output of 537 PS, enough to drive the Mulsanne Speed to a top speed of 190 mph (305 km/h) – an unrivalled figure in the ultra-luxury sector. The 0-60 mph sprint is covered in 4.8 seconds, with 0-100 km/h taking just 4.9 seconds.

The new engine is paired with a recalibrated gearbox designed to enhance the driving experience of the Mulsanne Speed. The gear strategy is optimised for the new, higher wave of torque, and is designed for instant torque delivery on throttle application. The connection between the car and driver has been the focus, and extensive validation with both keen drivers and professional chauffeurs has proven the new setup. A new "S" mode gives the driver even more control, and maintains the engine speed above 2,000 rpm so that the turbochargers are always ready to deliver instantaneous performance.

An extensive recalibration of the engine management system has yielded benefits beyond increased torque and power. The cylinder deactivation system, that runs the engine as a V4 during light load, has been retuned for smoother transitions between V8 and V4 for even greater refinement. This work combines with a new gearbox control strategy and the engine hardware improvements to give a new level of efficiency for the Mulsanne engine.

Meeting the new EU6 emissions legislation, and designed to also meet the upcoming US LEV III standards in the future, the new powertrain records 342 g/km of CO 2 on the N EDC drive cycle – a 13% improvement on the current Mulsanne. The ensuing fuel economy improvements have extended the fuel range of the new Mulsanne Speed by 50 miles (80 km).

A Chassis System Tailored to the Driver

To deploy the effortless power and acceleration on offer in the Mulsanne Speed, an even more driver-focused Sport suspension mode is included. While the Bentley and Comfort suspension modes provide a comfort-focused and fully compliant chassis setup, the Sport mode stiffens the all-round air suspension for improved body control and adjusts the steering dynamics for greater feedback and accuracy. The driver can also choose to individually match steering, chassis and engine tunes according to personal preference through the Custom setting.

Through this new setup, the Mulsanne Speed builds on the abilities of the signature Mulsanne model, being able to switch from a communicative and enjoyable car to drive at pace, to a relaxing, comfortable and exceptionally refined limousine.

An assertive exterior

The Mulsanne Speed reflects its ground-breaking performance with new and more assertive styling features that are marks of distinction for Bentley's pinnacle flagship.

A dark tint finish is applied to the exterior stainless steel matrix grilles, in a process unique in the automotive industry, with the radiator grille, lower bumper grilles and wing vents all featuring this exquisite treatment. The distinctive headlights of the Mulsanne show the same dark tint application , and at the rear of the car the taillights retain the "floating ellipse" design, but are similarly finished with a dark tint for a striking appearance, especially at night.

The Mulsanne Speed introduces Bentley's first ever directional style wheel, with a design that is handed for the right or left side of the car. The 21" wheels, available in painted, polished and dark tint with machined accent finishes, are individually machined from solid forged blanks, before being perfected by hand.

Twin rifled exhaust tailpipes are the finishing touch to the revised powertrain, while solid, polished stainless steel Speed badging adorns the front fender and door tread plate areas.

Four new exterior paint colours are introduced for the Mulsanne and Mulsanne Speed. These are:
• Spectre: Seemingly black at first glance, heavy gold metallic and a hint of green result in a rich tone inspired by reptilian skin.
• Candy Red: A rich and deep liquid red.
• Camel : Reminiscent of golden sands, Camel has a bright metallic highlight with a butterscotch mid - tone.
• Marlin: A rich blue with a hint of green, inspired by the shade of deep ocean waters and with a metallic shimmer.

The "standard" paint range covers 25 shades, including Marlin, while the optional extended range features over 100 colours. A fully bespoke paint-matching service is available on request.

A Cabin of Contemporary Luxury

The cabin of the Mulsanne Speed is a contemporary reinterpretation of the exquisite interior of the Bentley flagship. To create a modern two-tone feel, a new and unique colour split is available, with new stitch lines, that balances diamond quilted light-colour hide with darker, smooth hide. A new technical veneer option is available, with Piano Black veneer panels now including expertly handcrafted carbon fibre inlays. These new, contemporary panels have been especially developed for the Mulsanne Speed and match the rich, lustrous finish of the Piano Black veneer.

The Mulliner Driving Specification interior features are fitted as standard to the Mulsanne Speed, and includes:
• Diamond quilted hide door panels and seats
• Indented hide headlining
• Embroidered Bentley emblems to all seats
• A coined finish to interior door handles
• Knurling to the sports gear lever and "organ stop" ventilation controls
• Drilled alloy sports foot pedals

Customers choose from 24 different hide colours, in six different colour splits, and ten different veneers (seven as cost options) when specifying their Mulsanne Speed. Included in these ranges is a new hide colour, Camel (to match the new exterior paint of the same name) and a new veneer to the Mulsanne family, Tamo Ash.

Concealed Technology and Endless Customisation

Concealed beneath the exquisite materials that define the Mulsanne Speed cabin is a suite of technology to make any journey as productive or relaxing as one desires. A 60 GB on-board hard drive can store the driver's collection of music and films. Electrically-operated tables, with recesses and connections for iPads and matching keyboards, can be fitted to the rear of the front seats, while on-board Wi-Fi through a dedicated router keep s the car connected to the outside world.

A frosted glass bottle cooler, complete with bespoke crystal champagne flutes, may be installed behind the rear armrest. A 2,200 watt Naim for Bentley premium audio system expands on the standard 14-speaker system and offers the best in-car sound experience in the world. Entertainment on-the-move can be provided through the Rear Seat Entertainment system, including two 8" screens and Bluetooth headphones.

Signature Mulsanne updated for 2015

The signature Mulsanne ultra-luxury sedan has been updated for 2015, to complement the launch of the performance-focused Mulsanne Speed. The Mulsanne receives the same efficiency upgrade through new engine hardware, with its 512 PS (505 bhp), 1,020 Nm (752 lb.ft) 6¾-litre twin-turbo V8 engine also now 13% more efficient. Changes have also been made to the gearbox calibration of the Mulsanne, focussing on smoother, relaxed gear changes that promote a comfortable and refined driving experience. New paint colours, hide and veneers options are also available across the Mulsanne family.

Source: Bentley