Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Art of George Bartell

A true master.

1965 24 Hours of LeMans inspiration

An imagined closed-course race, 1965

Night-driving at Lemans, 1963

Cobras at Sebring, 1964.

Sebring Race, 1963

This link is a neat summation about the great George Bartell and his art in other fields.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wings of the Pegaso

The stunning Pegaso, a rare feat of nationalized sports car production that succeeded on a creative level, but fell victim to logistics and practicalities.

I was a mere lad, when I stumbled upon a lupine creature so stirring in it's wolfish stance and growl, that I immediately fell in love. It was an outlier, a car so fabulous that only it's extraordinary high-price could hold back it's potential as a world-beater.


After the war, Spain was reeling, economically and socially. The Civil War of the mid-1930's had thrown the country into chaos, and the second World War and Spain's tenuous ties to the Axis had caused it to be isolated and shunned by the West until 1959.
That's what makes this achievement so extraordinary. Far from the shores of the greatest car market on the planet, (the US), and bordered by resentful Western Allies, Spain had no business launching a sports car salvo against the established foreign manufacturers, but they did, and successfully on many levels. 

Wilfredo Ricart was a talented engineer/designer who had a run of unfortunate associations with companies that were financially fragile. ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.) was a Spanish vehicle manufacturing company, incorporated in 1946 having bought the automotive assets of the Spanish arm of Hispano-Suiza. It produced trucks, buses and military armored vehicles under the Pegaso and, for a short while, Sava brands. Enasa belonged to the state-owned INI industrial holding. 

For some incredible reason, they decided that the way to pull the moribund car manufacturing industry out of the post-war trough was to lead from the front and produce the highest-quality and most desirable car they could, and Wilfredo was the man to design it.
And what did they conjure from whole cloth and the scraps of Spanish industry?

Voila! The Pegaso z-102!

It was a beautiful design, with great power for it's day (clocked at 150 mph) and a wide variation in custom models., like the Bisiliuro.

There was the Z-102B Carroceria Berlinata Touring and the Spider Touring as well...

And the one that started it all for me? The very Berlinetta pictured below. It was at the Imperial Palace Casino in Vegas. A dark-skinned exotic beauty the likes of which I'd never seen before. I fell in love that day, and I'm still a sucker for the out-of-reach rare gems, and Pegaso is at the top of the list.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vintage Car Inspection ad

1960. It Was A Very Good Year To Be A British Sports Car Enthusiast

For those in 1960 England driving a stodgy Hillman or Ford, there was always the dream of trading the fedora for a driving cap, and turning your family sedan into a sports car with a fiberglass kit that would turn the head of every bird on the block. The Falcon! The Cheetah! The Shirley! (?)
Here are some rare ads for just these sort of dream-makers...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The (bad) Luck o' the Irish in Sports Car Manufacturing

Behold the 1959 Shamrock! 

This was to be the Ireland-based world beater, a fiberglass wheeled warrior that would show the sports car companies how it could be done.

It was a noble effort that fell on the double-edged sword of being over-priced and under-powered. It wouldn't be the last Emerald Isle stab at luxury car production (Delorean), but it might provide the rarest proof of such an endeavor. 
At last count there were four extant cars. Is there a fifth in a garage near you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

1952 Ferrari Cover Car

Here's the legendary 1952 Ferrari roadster on the cover of the April, 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics (art by Bill Johnson).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sports Car Engineering Company

The 1950's was a Golden Age of home-built fiberglass sports cars, not only for the backyard builder of one-offs, but for companies that specialized in providing bodies and also turn-key rods and racers for the amateur. Sports Car Engineering Company was one of those short-lived outfits. Here's some vintage info from the 1958, April edition of Motor Life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Veness 1959 Devin W-6 Special / VICTRESS

Here's a great feature from the 1961, February issue of Car Life featuring the Tom Veness Devin that won the 1959 Northwest Class C Sports Car Championship.

Here is a super rare Victress pictured in the same magazine, with an even rarer steam engine!