Affordable classics, maniacal 360s, and Maserati epiphanies.
I LIKED Mike Floyd’s column, “Buying and Selling” (December), about the highest-priced classic cars. Yes, rare Ferraris, Cobras, and Jags will continue to command high prices as long as rich guys will bid against each other. But according to one company’s research, less than 20 percent of car sales occur at auction, with 12 percent done through dealers and 71.5 percent done between private parties. I understand the auction market is relatively easy to document, whereas private sales are more or less done in opaque marketplaces; you mentioned a rumored $70 million sale price of a Ferrari GTO done in one of these dark-alley transactions. It is fun to look at the highfliers of the classic car world, but I would really like to see what regular people are spending on their cars. What’s the average Chevelle sell for, and what type of condition does this price point correspond to? What about MGBs, C3 Corvettes? If I am new to the hobby, do I need to drop six figures to partake in the local cruise night, or can I get by with an old, cool-looking car without breaking the bank? What about replica cars? They are gaining more interest as the original versions become harder to acquire, even for well-heeled buyers. Do matchingnumbers cars still carry the same allure as they did in the ’80s and ’90s? These are just some topics I would like to see addressed in your Classic section. Thanks.
I am one of the masses, with my biggest auction splurge being a 1997 Acura NSX. But I have also bought and sold Fiat Spiders, MGBs, and Mercedes-Benz 560SLs online. I’d like to see more coverage of cars like that, the ones that are less than $20,000 but appreciating. Stuff like Volkswagen Bugs and Karmann Ghias, Corvairs, Healeys both Jensen and Austin varieties. I would deem these “affordable classics.” While it’s nice to dream about a BMW Z8, it’s even nicer to fix up a classic Fiat with a neighbor and enjoy the Italian melody as it roars back to life. And even that pales to the top-down ride in your affordable classic, knowing your car will probably be the only one of its type on the road today. Keep up the good work. I’m back to reading your magazine now and catching up with my 15-year-old Audi TT. Oh, which I also put in that “affordable classic” category. You know, for the masses.
I couldn’t agree more with Arthur
St. Antoine’s thoughts expressed in his “Epiphany in a Maserati” column (December). I have two Maseratis, a 2012 Quattroporte S and a 2014 GT cabriolet. Sure, there are faster cars, but few of those are styled as elegantly as these two Pininfarina beauties.
And the engine and the sounds! In the cabrio, top down, the belches, burbles, and wails are worth the price. Those who have heard it walk away saying, “Wow.” I once encountered a neighbor, and he remarked, “Watching you at play in [those cars], you’re
13.” I considered it a compliment.
The Maserati formula truly is an intoxicating elixir.
Regarding your drive of the Subaru 360 (December): I lived near Cherry Hill, New Jersey, during the ’60s and ’70s, not far from Subaru of America’s headquarters. After the company stopped retailing the 360, some or all of the vehicles left were used at a small go-kart-like track behind the headquarters. I recall it was $5 for five laps; you could run wide open and not go very fast. I think you had to sign a waiver and wear a helmet. I had a great time with friends trying to destroy the cars. They drove just like the article said: SLOW.
I enjoyed Aaron Gold’s feature on the history of Subaru in the U.S. The company has come a long way, as have many Japanese manufacturers. It’s difficult to imagine there was only 25 hp in those original cars! But please let him know that what he refers to as “cement trucks” are really concrete trucks. Cement is a dry, gray powder, which, when combined with water and gravel, makes concrete and is then transported in the large trucks he is referring to. Cement is not hard and does not weigh a lot by itself, and it is commonly confused with concrete. But I’m doing what I can to correct this error!
Franconia, New Hampshire
Cement isn’t hard—and neither is the cement slurry in the truck. Concrete is the solidified end result.— Ed.
COME ON, FORD
Your New and Future Cars issue (September/October) is great. I loved your rendering of the Lincoln Mark IX Coupe. I wonder why my intelligent note to Ford was ignored; I simply suggested that the company giving up sedans is a fine idea, but I asked them to please tell me what the migration path is these days for a Ford buyer? Mustang to F-150? I think not. Once the Mustang owner has a family, the ’Stang goes. So why not a sexy, sleek, four-door version of the Mustang? The idea is good enough for Porsche, Aston Martin, etc. How about having your talented artists do a rendering of that? I would love to see it, and maybe someone at Ford will wake up. Keep up the great work. GREG CHAGARIS
THE PASSION IS DEAD
It is with a heavy heart that I am considering allowing my 26-year-long subscription to Automobile to lapse. As I look at the content of each new issue that arrives in my mailbox,
I’m faced with so many cars I have zero desire to drive. With nary a manual transmission in sight, it’s all manumatics, electric cars, and selfdriving drones as far as the eye can see. Why do I care that a new Ford GT or Porsche GT2 RS are mindblowingly fast if all it takes to get there is to put your right foot down? Where is the passion for the perfect upshift or the satisfaction of a wellexecuted heel-toe downshift? As I look in my garage at my new Subaru WRX, I know it will likely be the last new car I will ever be able to buy with a manual transmission, and I will hang onto it until they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.
Even our staff is divided on this one, Evan. We will always love manual gearboxes. But in the context of modern hypercars—especially when driving them quickly on tracks or in otherwise suitably controlled environments—you quickly find thoughts of stick-shifting vanish when you’re trying to catch your breath after accelerating to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, braking later than you ever imagined possible, and holding on while cornering at more than 1 g. The way these cars achieve performance today might be different than in the past, but the rush is still the same as always.— Ed.
LONG LIVE THE PASSION
Arthur St. Antoine’s column in the December issue was a great read. While I’ve never had the opportunity to drive a Maserati Gran Turismo—an “If I win the lottery” must-buy—I did have a pretty great experience in a car over the summer. It was a first-generation new Mini Cooper S convertible, my mom’s. I wanted some quality manual-transmission time and to take my 5-year-old son for a ride. When we got a reasonable distance from my parents’ house, I floored it, shifting into second, then third. My son laughed from the back seat. For the next 20 minutes or so, I drove quickly on the straight stretches and only slightly slower through some great bends in the road. Being able to take a certain type of turn at 40-plus mph with no drama is pretty great. My son loved every minute of it. It was great hearing him laugh and seeing him enjoy it so much. Maybe a few more quick drives on the windy roads near Granny and Pa’s house will get him loving cars as much as I do.
A TT TALE
Having once bought a 10-year-old original model Audi TT Quattro,
I was pleased to see “Audi TT at
20” on the cover of the December issue. I first test-drove a Denim
Blue (inside and out) 2000 TT at a local dealer, but the car was sold at auction. I eventually tracked it down at another dealer. My wife had not seen or driven it, so we hopped in. She looked left, punched it, and turned right onto the street. I was slammed back into the seat; she hit second and kept the pedal down. I saw the speedo and told her to slow down. “This thing is fast!” After completing the sale, I noticed the large intercooler where there should have been none. Opening the hood, I saw “FORGE MOTORSPORTS” on the hose from the intercooler to the intake. “APR” was on the blow-off valve. We found a receipt showing the work done to the car, including the reflashed computer. Oh, boy! Our local service writer later stated the car was conservatively putting out at least 50 percent more horsepower and torque than stock. So, that was $10,500 well spent. Except, as many discover, a $40,000 German car is still a $40,000 car when it needs something. After a few issues, it was time to put it on eBay. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to own one. SCOTT ROBB