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PICK OF THE DAY: Nicely Preserved 1968 Porsche 912

April 23, 2014

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Anyone who has followed the market on the original short-wheelbase Porsche A Modelles can speak to their stratospheric appreciation, particularly since the recent Spring auctions. An SWB 911 is getting out of reach for most hobbyist collectors and becoming blue-chip. But there is a glimmer of hope. As it did when it was introduced in 1965, the 912 offers much of the same joys of owning a classic Porsche at prices that are still attainable. With their iconic looks, nimble handling and go-the-distance fuel economy, the Porsche 912 is a Cinderella story in the making. Finding a 912 that hasn’t been treated like the unworthy stepsister can be a grim task. Likewise, to bring one back to its deserved glory can be more trouble than its worth—literally. The 912 presented here has been exceptionally well preserved, with a numbers matching drivetrain, original interior and one repaint on a rust-free, accident-free body. Sepia Brown may not get a lot of love, but it is the original color and not at all out of character for a late 60s German sports car. It has some desirable options like original headrest and fog lamps as well as the expensive wood steering wheel (no mention whether that’s original but the forthcoming CoA will clarify). Pictured with the extra cost Fuchs, but correct stamped chrome steelies come with the car (which look more appropriate on a 912 anyway). It is said to be in an excellent mechanical state with recent tune up, carb cleaning and new gaskets, as well as new service distributor, belts, points and wires. It also has a reconditioned OEM gas tank, had brakes serviced and replaced all fluids, torsion bar bushings, battery, and OEM valve springs. Having been lowered two inches not only improves the already excellent handling of a 912, but makes it look more purposeful. It is being offered for sale by a noted early Porsche collector. Find it here on The Samba in Los Angeles CA for a reasonable $40,000.

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PICK OF THE DAY: Presentable Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3

April 22, 2014

 

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In many ways, the Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 was the answer to a question that no-one at the time was asking. And yet, 45 years later, it is as historically significant as the Porsche 356 or Pontiac GTO. What it was was a fairly ubiquitous Mercedes W109 sedan with a monstrous 6.3 litre motor transplanted from the dignitary-class 600 Limousine. What it did was pave the way for future performance sedans like the BMW M5, Audi S8, and its own descendants in the AMG S63 and S65; all big luxurious saloon cars that are equally at home storming the autobahn or lapping the Nürburgring. The 6.3 was a two-ton car capable of 0-60 times around six seconds and a top speed around 150 MPH. It was the first German Q-Ship. Prices of 300SEL 6.3s have remained steady since a significant leap just prior to the recession. No. 1 cars can fetch as much as $60K, while there are many tired examples out there for under $20K. This example looks to be a solid No. 3 and with some tweaking could be brought to No. 2 fairly easily. It underwent a fair amount of restoration 20 years ago and it’s once again showing some age, but it’s more than presentable. More importantly, everything including the air suspension and mechanical fuel injection, are in excellent working order. The body and chassis appear to be completely rust free. Inside, all controls and instruments—including the original Becker Europa—work.  It’s being offered by its fifth documented owner, and though it has been on the market for several months, a fresh price drop should attract new buyers. Find it here on Hemmings in Clinton Township MI for a negotiable $30,000.

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ON THE RUNWAY: Volkswagen Premiers 400-hp Golf R400 Concept

April 22, 2014

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Wolfsburg / Beijing, April 2014. The latest Golf R production model was introduced just recently. With 221 kW / 300 PS of power. All-wheel drive. It handles the sprint to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds and attains a top speed of 250 km/h (governed) – this is the sharpest production Golf ever and one of the most agile sports cars in its class. But the potential of the Golf – which made its debut exactly 40 years ago and developed into one of the world’s most successful cars – enables even further extensions to the limits of what is feasible in sporty performance. Volkswagen is demonstrating at Auto China 2014 just how far these limits can (currently) be extended in the world premiere of the Golf R 400 concept car. Its name reflects its mission. It is a Golf developed by Volkswagen R GmbH – the brand’s sports car manufacturer. 400 stands for 400 PS (294 kW). The powerful engine with the genes of the WRC racing version propels the Golf to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. Its top speed, assuming that a German motorway or race course is available: 280 km/h (governed).

3.55 kg per PS. The Golf R 400, including its all-wheel drive system, weighs just 1,420 kg thanks to its compact high-performance engine (2.0 TSI), lightweight dual-clutch gearbox and low body weight. Its weight-to-power ratio is a dominant 3.55 kg per PS. The permanent all-wheel drive system by Volkswagen – 4MOTION – is also one of the most fuel-efficient systems of its kind. In addition, the Golf is also exceptionally aerodynamic, as the R 400 as well. Perfection in details runs through the entire concept of the Golf R 400 – from the engine to the largely new body design. This extreme Golf is painted in “Silver Flake”; creating a contrast to this light metallic colour are the car’s glossy “Black” roof and mirror caps in genuine carbon. Also designed in painted carbon effect are the splitters (wrap-around aerodynamic parts) adapted from motorsport and genuine carbon accents in the interior. Special features of the Golf R 400 in detail:

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R 400 turbocharged engine

200 PS per litre displacement. The Golf R 400 is powered by a 2.0 TSI with the technical genes of the WRC racing engine. Compared to the 221 kW / 300 PS Golf R, the Golf R 400 develops 100 PS more power, thus providing 295 kW / 400 PS (at 7,200 rpm) – which is 200 PS per litre of engine displacement. This specific power figure lies on the same level as that of super sports cars. The engine’s maximum torque was increased by 70 Newton metres to 450 Newton metres (between 2,400 and 6,000 rpm).

R400 all-wheel drive system and running gear

4MOTION. Typical of all Golf R cars, due to their exceptional power reserves, has always been their permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. Of course, this also applies to the Golf R 400 being shown in Beijing. In this car, the all-wheel drive system is coupled with an automatic 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG), which can also be shifted manually as an alternative via the gear shift lever or steering wheel paddles.

Clever control. The 4MOTION all-wheel drive of the Golf R, which has been perfected with such features as a Haldex-5 coupling, is activated even before slip occurs. Traction loss is practically prevented by this. The system makes use of a pre-control strategy here, which depends on the specific driving state. Under low load conditions, or during coastdown, the front wheels transfer most of the propulsive power, while the rear axle is decoupled. This basic tuning saves on fuel. If necessary, the rear axle of the Golf R can be variably engaged in fractions of a second as soon as this becomes necessary. This is done by means of the Haldex coupling that is activated by an electro-hydraulic oil pump.

EDS, XDS, ESC Sport. Along with the Haldex coupling, which acts as a central differential lock, the electronic differential locks (EDS) integrated in the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system act as transverse differential locks. In addition, the Golf R 400 is equipped with the XDS+ system on both the front and rear axles, which brakes the wheels at the inside of a bend during fast driving through bends, and which optimises steering response as a transverse differential lock. Last but not least, the Golf R 400 has an “ESC Sport” function like that of the production model. The system is activated via a two-stage switch on the centre console. When the driver presses the button once briefly, this selects the “ESC Sport” mode of Electronic Stability Control (ESC). During very fast driving with lots of bends – e.g. on a race course – the ESC does not intervene as frequently, which enables even more agile handling properties. If the ESC button is held down more than three seconds, the system is fully deactivated for professional drivers on a race course.

Sport suspension and new wheels. The sport suspension of the production Golf R, which lowers the ride height by 20 mm compared to the base Golf, did not have to be changed for the Golf R 400 thanks to its large power reserve. In front, the two Golf R versions each have a MacPherson-type suspension with lower wishbones, while what is known as the modular performance suspension (multi-link suspension) is used at the rear. The tyres are also the same on both cars: 235/35 R 19. The alloy wheels of the Golf R 400 are a new development. Their design is based on the 19-inch “Cadiz” production wheels, but they were highly modified and equipped with high-gloss black inserts which, as air vanes, perfect cooling in the reinforced brake system.

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R 400 exterior

Side profile. Volkswagen Design made wide-ranging design changes to the Golf R 400. For one, the body was widened by 20 mm on each side to accommodate the 19-inch wheels that are further outboard due to their larger wheel offset. In front, the designers developed an entirely new wing, which – as a modern interpretation of the legendary Rallye Golf G60 (from 1988) – are significantly flared. Similarly, the rear side panels over the wheel housings of the Golf R 400 were also flared. The wheel arches are painted in body colour as a uniform part of the new wings and side panels. In addition, the bottoms of the sides are characterised by a wrap-around splitter made of visual carbon that is a very flat aerodynamic element derived from motorsport. Perfection in the details: the fibres of the visual carbon parts in the exterior area that just have a matt coating are aligned in the driving direction, and as arrow-shaped elements they emphasise the dynamism of the R 400. Above the splitter, designers also adapted the side sills to the new contours, creating a uniform transition to the newly designed wheel arches.

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Front end. Designers have redesigned the front end of the Golf R 400 as well. Beneath the high-gloss black radiator grille with its “R badge”, on a background in “Lemon Yellow”, the Golf R 400 also features a line in “Lemon Yellow”. Similar to the line of the Golf R (chrome line), Golf GTI (red line) and the new Golf GTE (blue line), it forms the termination of the grille towards the rear and continues into the headlights on the left and right. Beneath this line, there is a type of slot that serves as an air inlet on the Golf R 400 to help cover the car’s elevated cooling requirements. The bumper was also completely redesigned. The central air inlets have a surround that is a wing-like element made of carbon effect, which visually appear to hover in the bumper. The lines of this aerodynamic element run horizontally up to the height of the bi-xenon headlights, then they bend in a V-shape towards the rear, and finally describe the form of a C (left) and a reversed C (right). Self-contained wing elements in high-gloss black also hover in the lower air inlets. Between the aerodynamic element of visual carbon and the high-gloss black wings (as well as within these black elements) there is a protective screen whose honeycomb structure – like so many details of the Golf R 400 – is reminiscent of motorsport vehicles. Since the wing element protrudes somewhat further forward, this gives it a progressive three-dimensional appearance. As in the side profile, there is also a motorsport-derived splitter in carbon effect at the front.

Rear section. At the rear, the wrap-around motorsport splitters transition into a diffuser, which – like the front wing element – protrudes slightly out from the body. Integrated here are the two central exhaust tailpipes. The reason: in contrast to the Golf R with its four tailpipes (two each, left and right), the Golf R 400 follows the design of the Golf R32 – the original R-series model presented in 2002. Specifically, there are two polished tailpipes with a diameter of 110 mm, which are spaced 200 mm apart from one another and extend slightly upwards. Perfection in the details: the exhaust tailpipes have an inner part that is visible from the outside, which repeats the honeycomb design of the front air inlet. The designers also redesigned the rear bumper; at each end of the bumper there is a carbon inlay in a C-shape (reversed C on the right). The reflector is integrated in the lower horizontal part of the C; the vertical part protrudes slightly from the bumper. Here the designers have worked in a wheel arch exhaust vent.

Dual rear spoiler design. The black roof transitions into a roof spoiler that is also in black. It has two levels: viewed from the rear, the gaze is directed through the two “flying” spoilers, one above the other, to the roof. Designers have integrated an LED brake light bar in the rear spoiler.

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R 400 interior

Shell seats in Alcantara and carbon leather. The interior of the Golf R 400 has also been extensively customised. The driver and front passenger have motorsport shell seats with integrated head restraints and belt openings. The cross-quilted middle seat panels are designed in Alcantara (“Anthracite” colour); the areas at head level and the inner surfaces of the lateral supports are designed in exclusive “carbon leather”. The same applies to the outer side of the shell seats. The decorative stitching and stitch tucks (contrasting seams on lateral supports) create a contrast to the fresh “Lemon Yellow” colour. “R” badges are embroidered in the leather on the backs of the front seats. The rear individual seats are also designed in “carbon leather” on their outer areas, and the inner surfaces are upholstered in Alcantara. The area between the two seats is trimmed in black “Nappa leather”.

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Carbon accents. Carbon is also the dominant material for accents in the doors and on the passenger’s side of the dashboard – in contrast to the exterior, however, it is coated here in a glossy rather than matt clearcoat. The centre console accents, cockpit surround and trim around the air nozzles are designed in glossy black piano finish. Carbon leather is used for the door inserts. The door armrests, meanwhile, have contrasting stitching in “Lemon Yellow”. There is white ambience lighting around the door accents and the stainless steel door sill plates. Carbon leather is used in the “R” design of the three-spoke sport leather steering wheel. All leather elements are also customised by decorative stitching in the contrasting colour “Lemon Yellow” – perfection down to the smallest of details.

UPDATE: According to Car and Driver, VW R&D chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser has confirmed that production is likely, and that the EA888 will be underhood—a motor that makes 290 hp in the US-spec Golf R. With a little tuning, 395 hp is not outside the realm of possibility for the otherwise ubiquitous EA888.

PICK OF THE DAY: Nicely Restored 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

April 21, 2014

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In the Camaro world, it doesn’t get better than a ’69. With single-year styling that remained in the genuine spirit of the pony car; that is, smaller and lighter but with ample performance, before the 70s brought bigger and, eventually, restricted power due to emissions standards. And while there was more horsepower in the 327s and 396s (not to mention the Yenko and COPO 427s), the Z/28, with its small black 302 and standard F41 suspension, found the a balance between pure horsepower and manageable handling that was missing in the muscle car world by the end of the ’60s (perhaps the Shelby GT350 being the only other true keeper of the flame). It was, and remains surprisingly so today, a very drivable car. While Z/28 prices did slump during the recession, prices have returned to near peak levels, performing significantly better than comparable muscle cars. Today’s example is a beautifully restored z/28 that’s seen limited ownership and presents very well in its original Daytona Yellow Color and correct houndstooth interior. It is also nicely equipped with original options like the cowl induction hood, short rear spoiler, walnut interior with Nardi-esque “Italian” steering wheel, console and gauges. The quality of the restoration is evident in every aspect and every detail from the body to the interior to the motor to the undercarriage, right down to the tires, badges and decals. With average prices soon to return into the six figures, this one is a relative bargain. Find it here at Ideal Classic Cars in Venice, Florida for just under $60,000.

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PICK OF THE DAY: Low-mile One-Owner Five-Letter Mazda RX-7

April 19, 2014

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Toward the end of the 70s, faced with increased safety requirements and waning sales, the traditional affordable sports car was facing near extinction. British sports cars were encumbered with grotesque bumpers, Italians were hanging onto whatever marketshare they could, and even the emerging Japanese entries, fueled by the Z Cars, had become bloated and further from the character that defined the segment: light, agile, peppy and fun, whether on a Saturday drive on B roads or a Sunday event at the track. Focus groups seemed to suggest the maturing baby boomer market was no longer interested in these things. Fortunately, Mazda was either too small to hire focus groups or was simply up for flying in the face of convention. In 1978, it introduced a car that not only reversed the trend but captured the Chapman-esque essence of what defined a sports car. This was the RX-7. It was an immediate success with both press and public. Not to ignore market trends however, the third series of the first-gen cars incorporated many of the comfort and luxury elements that appealed to the focus group buyers including leather upholstery, air conditioning and a premium (for the time) sound system. Meanwhile, performance and handling continued to be tweaked with fuel injection and limited slip. These were the GSL-SEs, or five-letter FBs, the ultimate statement of the first generation’s balance of traditional sports car values and modern comfort and convenience. Finding a five-letter RX-7 that hasn’t been abused, whether through mistreatment of its 1.3 litre rotary engine or abomination through bolt-on body kits, roller skate wheels, etc., can be very difficult. Today’s car not has not been abused, but is pristinely original with less than 40,000 miles covered by a single owner. It’s said to have been in climate controlled storage for 20 years, so some careful attention will need to be given to return it to the road, but it is nevertheless a rare opportunity, not only for enthusiasts of the first-gen RX-7, but for anyone who appreciates an ideal when sport was still in sports car. After a global-economy driven slump, they’re now surpassing peak levels around the $10K mark, with investment potential up and to the right. Find it here on Craigslist in Littleton CO with offers being accepted.

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PICK OF THE DAY: Unmolested Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary

April 18, 2014

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With its introduction at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1975, the Volkswagen GTI, for all intents and purposes, gave birth to a new automotive segment, thereupon known as Hot Hatch. Today, it remains the one that other marques target and imitate. 2003 marked the 20th anniversary of the GTI’s launch in the US. Coinciding with the Golf MK 4—in many enthusiast’s estimation the finest of the series—the “20th,” along with the Eurpopean-market 25th (337 in the US) and the ultimate MK4, the R32, represents the pinnacle of the GTi. The 20th was not just a cosmetic variation of the standard Mk 4. Indeed it had unique body accents, special badges and a Recaro interior. However in addition to these, it featured a 6-speed gearbox. Only a manual was offered (the superb DSG would not be introduced until the R32 a year later). This. mated with its 180-hp turbocharged motor, gave the car a unique sporting character unlike any GTI that came before it and once again upped the game in the Hot Hatch segment. They were quick, nimble and most of all fun. The motors were also designed to allow for extensive aftermarket performance enhancements. By tuning intake, exhaust, boost, software, etc., more than double the horsepower was possible without significant changes to the stock drivetrain. It was at the time a brilliant piece of marketing (though it was never promoted as such): provide a very good canvas and let the customer dial it in to their liking. Herein also lies the problem. Because they were so easy to modify, modify they did. What remains some 11 years later is a circus of MK 4s that reflect one owner’s tastes without much regard for anyone else’s liking. An unmolested MK 4, much less a 20th, much less a 20th with just over 50K on the clock, is a hot commodity. This one looks particularly cool in its Jazz Blue finish. Find it here at Dean Motor Cars in Houston TX for a very reasonable $10,486.

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IN THE NEWS: LEGO for a Ride. Johansen and Fiskar Collaboration Produces Viking Concept

April 18, 2014

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April 17, 2014 – Lauge Jensen motorcycles is today unveiling the Viking Concept at the Top Marques luxury brands show in Monaco.

This premium motorcycle is a design study that blends the talents of two of Denmark’s most creative talents: Anders Kirk Johansen, an industrialist whose family invented LEGO™, and renowned vehicle designer Henrik Fisker.

The Viking Concept points to a possible volume-production direction for Johansen’s Lauge Jensen brand, following his acquisition of the company in 2012.

Johansen commissioned world-renowned automotive designer Henrik Fisker, previously a design chief at both BMW and Aston Martin and the designer of the Fisker Karma, to design the Viking Concept.

The result is a bike that retains a classic cruiser look sculptured into a dynamic, flowing design. In particular the tank, seat and rear fender blend together to create a seamless effect. Fisker believes this to be unique in custom motorcycles.

The Viking Concept is powered by a 45-degree V-twin producing 100hp, making the bike capable of more than 130mph. Yet it’s the first motorcycle of its type to comply with new, much more stringent Euro IV emissions regulations that come into effect in 2016.

The engine, built in Wisconsin, USA, has been carefully developed and tuned to achieve this without losing its trademark V-twin sound or soul.

Johansen and Lauge Jensen are proud to have achieved the new emissions targets without compromising the engine’s performance, safeguarding the production and character of future products.

Lauge Jensen currently produces the limited edition Great Dane custom cruiser, which starts from €42,800 euros. The company intends to build a bike based on the Viking Concept at higher volumes and with a lower price tag than the Great Dane.

Commenting on the design collaboration, Anders Kirk Johansen says: ‘We have been developing the Viking Concept for some time, so I am delighted to reveal it today here in Monaco. Potentially, it’s the next step for our company beyond our limited production Great Dane custom bike.

‘It’s great to have Henrik, one of the world’s leading vehicle designers and a fellow Dane working in partnership with us to help create a really special, emotional design. Revealing a concept bike is all about gauging demand but, if it’s there, I look forward to producing the Viking Concept for the mainstream market.’

Henrik Fisker added: ‘It’s been a dream of mine to design and create a motorcycle for many years and this is the first time I have the freedom to go and do it.

‘I hope people like what we have created and that we can make more of them – for sure there’s plenty more to come from this collaboration between myself and Anders.’

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