The Pontiac Fiero is one of those cars that is forever showing up on lists. A simple on-line search finds that it’s one of the 100 worst cars ever built, one of the ten cars that should be avoided by tall people, one of the worst ever Indy 500 Pace Cars and, because of its poor sales, one of the 10 greatest automotive financial disasters of all time. Other lists, however, rate the little two-seater as one of the best sports cars of the 1980s, call it one of the ten unexpectedly best cars for tall people and even rank it as one of the best choices for future collectability. Oddly enough, the Pontiac Fiero also appeared on my own personal list of potential purchases a few months ago and, despite the fact that I ended up choosing one of its contemporaries, when I recently found a wonderful, low-mileage example at KC Classic Autos in near-by Kansas city, I knew I must see it. (Read More…)
An old car is a feast for the senses. The gentle curve of a fender or the sharply drawn body line pleases the eye while the clatter of valves and the whine of spinning belts combine to make mechanical music. The exhaust gasses, which smell just a tad too rich, blend with the odors of old motor oil, decaying rubber and that musty smell that wafts from the car’s interior to fill your olfactory, while the mixture of gasoline, oil and grease that makes your hands feel so slippery even finds its way onto your tongue when you bring the fingertip you burned on a hot manifold to your mouth. You see it, hear it, smell it, feel it and can even taste it, all five senses touched by one malodorous, malevolent little mechanical beast. Yes friends, if you hadn’t guessed by now, my ’83 Shelby Charger is here at last. (Read More…)
Your humble E-I-C has already driven the new C7 in anger around a road course (of sorts), and I’ve also driven the current-gen GT500. The C7 is just brilliant, but at least four out of the five times I consider the issue I think I’d rather have the Mustang. Now we have the two cars going head-to-head where it really matters: the streets, yo.
(Let’s all welcome Zombie McQuestionbot back to TTAC. He’s a well-known and well-loved writer who is now writing for “bigger” and “better” and “more easily recognized” and “less thoroughly despised” outlets than this one, but we managed to convince him to write a few questions for us — JB)
Mustangs. I know, right? I almost bought a Mustang once. Actually, I did buy a Mustang. I was in the American South on my way to see an actual underground bullfight, with a bull and everything. But it turned out that the two-year-old “Mustang” that I agreed to pay five thousand dollars for in a back room of a Mexican restaurant was actually a Mustang.
You know, a horse.
The good news is that “Trigger” and I had plenty of good years together before I let him retire to a farm in Oregon. For “plenty of good years” subtitute “one drunken night”. And for “a farm in Oregon” substitute “the glue factory”. Oh, how I cried when they led Trigger away. Mostly because he’d stepped on my foot. But that isn’t the kind of Mustang we’re talking about here. The retro Mustang’s been around since 2005. What’s your favorite one?
The president of Galpin Auto Sports, the Los Angeles based car dealer and tuner, Beau Boeckmann (whom you may recognize from his role on MTV’s Pimp My Ride), used the Pebble Beach concours festivities to announce that GAS will be putting their Ford GT based GTR1 supercar into limited production next year at a starting price of just over one million dollars. Boeckman says that the venture will be profitable if they sell six GTR1s and that production will be capped at two dozen, limited by the short life prototype tooling used to make it.
Automotive News reports that Galpin’s Boeckman is optimistic about its prospects. “There is a market for a car like this,” said Boeckmann, scion of the family that owns Galpin Motors, one of the largest privately held dealer groups in the United States, including the world’s largest Ford dealership. “It’s amazing how many million-dollar car purchases there are. I know several customers who will be interested in buying one.” (Read More…)
Let us go then, you and I,
When the Oak Tree flagger lets the blue flag fly
Like a warning for the engine-bay unable;
Let us go, slideways through the track-out,
The supercharger shouts
And restless Vettes with small-blocks spinning hard
And sundry other so-called fast cars
Moving to the right like a conga line
The four-lobe whine
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
This GT500 is tha shiznit.
Most folks think of Cobras or Mustangs when they think of the late Carroll Shelby, but don’t forget the Shelby Chryslers of the 1980s! Shelby cranked out a run of turbocharged front-drive Dodges that delivered amazing-for-their-time bang-for-buck performance, and they’ve remained quite affordable. So affordable, in fact, that Shelby Dodges are not uncommon sights in self-service junkyards; just in the last couple of years, I’ve found this Daytona Shelby Z, this Omni GLH, and this Shelby Charger awaiting their appointments with The Crusher. Last week, I spotted another one in a Denver yard. (Read More…)
50 years ago, the Shelby Cobra made its debut at the New York Auto Show, spawning a rich legacy of American motorsport success, and rampant kit car clones. (Read More…)
It is one thing to recognize the legendary status of Mr. Shelby and the original Cobras, including the 427 S/C, and quite another to assert that purchasers and potential
purchasers view Cobra continuations or replicas, sold primarily as kits, which employ the Cobra 427 S/C Design as coming from a single source. The fact that Cobra replicas, sold primarily as kits, which employ the 427 S/C Design, have been sold by numerous third parties for more than three decades, including between 2002 and 2009, precludes us from drawing that conclusion. Accordingly, we find applicant’s evidence based on media coverage of Mr. Shelby and all of the Cobras not probative of the issue of acquired distinctiveness.
That’s right, the Shelby Cobra has been officially copied to death, according to a recent ruling by the US Patent Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board [in PDF here]. The board’s finding was complex, as proving “distinctiveness” takes a lot of doing, but the upshot is that so many Cobra replicas have been built, consumers don’t actually think of the original (Shelby-designed) Cobras when they see one. Had Shelby sued every single kit car maker since day one, he’d have the legal rights to his design, but in the years since 1968, the term “Cobra” has come to mean more than the specific Shelby Cobra 289 or Shelby Cobra 427 S/C. In fact, a survey used to try to prove the distinctiveness of the Shelby designs in the eyes of consumers may have even used a photo of a 289 to illustrate a 427 S/C… even the guy running the survey wasn’t sure. The moral of Caroll Shelby’s legal battle to own the rights to anything resembling an original Cobra: never stop suing the kit car makers. Or, just be happy with the millions of dollars and legend status you’ve already accumulated.
The Shelby 427 Cobra is a curious car. There are few vehicles that more worthily deserve the description iconic. The originals are so historically significant and rare that each is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (and in the case of the six Daytona Coupes, millions), yet stylistically identical replicas are ubiquitous. Chances are, if you see a Cobra, it’s probably not real baby seal. Over the decades thousands of replica Cobras have been produced to varying degrees of fidelity by a variety of kit car and turnkey manufacturers. When Carroll Shelby realized that he couldn’t sue the replicar makers into submission, he decided to make his own “continuation series” Cobra replicas (in your choice of carbon fiber, fiberglass or original aluminum bodies). He’s also come to a licensing agreement with Superformance, who make superb Cobra and Daytona Coupe reproductions. I’m a big supporter of the idea of intellectual property, and Ol’ Shel is entitled to make a living off his name and accomplishments, but Carroll Shelby’s proprietary attitude towards the Cobra borders on the absurd.