Lost and Found: How to find your “Barn Find”

531958 Berkley Roadster Found in the Southern Claifornia Mountains for $600

Everyone in the car hobby is always looking for that rare”barn find” but if you know how to look they are far more common then you may think. Over the years I have found dozens of ultra rare cars, from a forgotten Boss 302, to classic Austin Healey’s with racing history and everything in between. There are always stories about car hunters, even some T.V. shows have popped up that make it seem like finding an old car is a magical gift. To make the show or story interesting there is always a cloud of mystery to how they find these diamonds in the rough, and they pretend that these cars are so few and far between that it has to be a full time job.

Well…You don’t have to root around behind peoples barns, get chased by farm dogs, or pick through abandoned buildings hoping to uncover some hidden gem. As someone that has been finding, restoring, selling, trading, and racing old cars for the last 14 years I have some idea on what it takes to find them. The professional car hunters will not be happy, but here are some tips for first time car hunters:

1. Run a ad in the local paper: Wanted 1965-1966 Ford Mustang in need of work. You will be surprised how many calls you will get from people wanting to get that old car out of their drive way. One such call yielded a low mileage unrestored Fastback V8, with power steering complete and rust free for only $1,000.
(Note: You can always spot the car hunters ads because they have some story like “looking for a car like my wife and I had when we were first married” or the best one “father and son looking for project to bond over”. These 9 times out of 10 professional car buyers. They also will stress “Privet Party” in their ads, that way when they show up with their three car hauler the sellers will be more comfortable.)

2. Go exploring: Take a drive, if you have GPS turn off the “Allow Freeways” option and set off through some older parts of town. On my drives I have seen everything from Boss 302’s to a classic Ferrari. They may not all be for sale, but knock on some doors. You can always copy down the address and send a letter to the owner. A letter is how I once picked up a 1972 Mustang Sportsroof 351C that ran and drove for FREE. A letter to a old auto repair shop, help pick up a 1967 coach built Moretti 124 for the low sum of just $500.

3. Craigslist and Ebay: Yes everyone knows about these sites, but I have found some great deals on them just by changing the way I search. Many people will type in “1965 Mustang” and you may find some cars, but so will everyone else. Search by year “1965”, search common misspellings and typos, and search models. You will be surprised what you find, a guy may list a 1970 Mustang Sportsroof as “70 msutang slopeback”. In searching this way I found a complete V8, 1970 Mustang Sportsroof for $1,500.

4. Make Connections: Make friends with some local salvage guys, you may be able to get a car and pay them a finders fee before they have to process it as salvage. I found a 1969 MGB roadster for $200 plus lunch for the salvage yard driver.

Another tip for the new car hunter is to keep a small bag in the car with the following:

Flashlight

Note Pad and Pen

Camera

AAA premium membership card

Pair of Jeans, Tee Shirt, and Gloves

Small Tool Kit

You never know what you may find while driving to your cousins house, or helping a friend move, or behind the local repair shop.

These are not stories from the 10 or 20 years ago. I have found all of these cars in the last 5 years and with very few exceptions have I never paid more then $1,500 for a project. My current 1974 Fiat X1/9 (project Budget Elise) was a running driving car purchased for just $900, and my vintage Formula Vee with Cal-Club race history was pulled from a back yard for $500.

I have found the most amazing cars when not looking for them, if you run an ad that says “Wanted: Rare Boss 302 Mustang” you have just told the guy that has that car rotting in his back yard it is rare. If you run an ad “Wanted: 1968-1973 Mustang unrestored” you may get a call from that guy with the Boss, Mach 1, or K code.

Don’t let the “experts” try to tell you that their are no more cars out there. For every deal that I passed up, I found two more, and remember even today, old cars are being parked because of mechanical failure, or the purchase of a new car. I have purchased cars that had been sitting for just a few months before the owner lost interest and parked it. So take your time, if it is a project car it may take a few months to find the right car for you, but just remember there are still lots of cars out there.

Fiat 500, Deep in the heart of Texas

54The Fiat 500, the original was a response to the Suez Crisis of 1956, the post war European economy was beginning to wake up and by 1955 half of all ships passing through the Suez Canal were oil tankers. Fiat no stranger to small cars had released the Fiat 600 in 1955, but with the oil crisis of 1956 it was clear that a even more fuel efficient car was needed for the growing urban centers in Europe. The Fiat 500 is considered by many to be the first “City Car”. But that is enough history, today people are just as concerned about oil prices, cities are still growing, and people are looking for stylish alternatives to the standard econo-box hatchback. Just as it was in the late 1950’s the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper stepped up to answer the call with cars that have a little personality.

As a car lover I could not wait for the new Fiat 500 to hit US Shores, I had owned several classic Fiats over the years, but had not driven a new Fiat since my last trip to Europe. So I did what most people would do and headed over to the local dealership (they call them studios) the showrooms are slick, clean red and white paneling, smooth Italian styled cabinets and displays, a coffee bar, and lots of glass. The only problem with the dealer is that no one would walk out and help me. After spending 20 mins walking around the lot, looking at every car, no one would come out. Now back when I sold cars, you get someone on the lot, at 10AM on a weekday, that’s a good opportunity. So I made my way into the showroom where I found no-one, I began to wonder if I had missed the rapture, but at last I spotted a salesperson sitting a glass office. I waved, shouted, and he looked up with little regard, and turned back to whatever it was he was doing. So needless to say, the first drive of a 500 would not come from Fiat of Ontario. I reached out to them, but that is another story for another time. I was headed to Dallas.

Dallas…

I landed in Dallas, it was over 100 degrees and the humidity from incoming thunderstorms made it feel even hotter. I watched as people darted in and out of air-conditioned cars into the terminal and back again, as if they could avoid feeling the heat. “CC66…sir,sir, your car is parked in CC66” said the lady from behind the counter. “Thank you” I said as a fumbled for my sunglasses. Outside the air was as thick, the heat was intense, the kind of heat you can only experience on blacktop, where it radiates from all directions. CC66, there it was bright red, one of only four colors an Italian car can really be.

Getting into the car I began to acclimate myself with all the bells and whistles, for someone that drives a 1969 Mini Cooper everyday the number of flashing lights and dials was impressive, and slightly overwhelming. The window buttons are not on the door and after a few moments searching I discovered them on the center console. For a car that is so small some buttons (such as the passenger side window) are kind of a reach for the driver. Thankfully this car was equipped with the steering-wheel mounted radio controls. The car seemed to get mixed reactions as a drove into town, some people would thumbs up, others from their towering pickups would shake their head as if to shame me, still others looked at me as if I were Al-Qaeda descending on their city.

The body color dash panel is a nice touch, it gives the car that 1960’s feel that they were going for, however, I just know some aftermarket company is going to come up with a simulated carbon fiber snap on cover for it. If you buy a 500 please avoid the urge to install wood or carbon fiber anywhere on it. For some reason, Fiat has decided to market the accessories under the MOPAR name here in the US. Because when you think MOPAR you think small and European. So far they have mostly come up with chrome fuel doors, mirror covers, decals, and the normal racks for all the extreme sports you will be doing in your Fiat. Don’t worry they already coming out with MOPAR seat covers, shift knobs, and wheel centers for your Fiat.

The seats are trimmed in cloth and vinyl, they are comfortable and supportive, for an inexpensive car have a good range of movement. The back seats fold nicely, but with the seats up you have just about enough truck space for a fat Basset Hound. With the seat down you have more room than the MINI, and about the same as the new Mazda 2/Ford Fiesta.

Driving all over Dallas I found myself looking at maps since there was no built in Navigation. I know that the dashboard layout does not lend itself to a navigation system, but MINI figured it out. Instead of doing it the right way Fiat has teamed up with Tom Tom, with a special edition Tom Tom dock that is mounted on the top of the dash, the system takes up about half of the windscreen and looks like a dirty thrift-store t-shirt under a Armani suit.The Navigation system is a $400 option and for that money your better off just getting the standard $149 Tom Tom with the large window blocking suction cup mount and spending the rest of that money on 512 $0.49 red burritos from Del Taco.

That does bring up the price, while the basic model does start at $15,500 the pricing quickly spikes up from there. The top of the line Fiat 500 Lounge C (C is for Cabriolet) will set you back $23,500 and that’s before you add the options. You want heated fronts seats and an auto dimming mirror that will be $450. Leather $1,250. A wifi hot spot in the car? give’em $499. Special order color $849, a red white and green racing sticker down the side? $399 so it all adds up pretty quickly. All said you can kit out a Fiat 500 to just under $30,000…and that is before you start adding your MOPAR parts to it.

So…ummm…yeah…$30K….Fiat 500….hummmmm. If you really have you heart set on an Italian Convertible for around $30K, I would suggest a previously loved Maserati Spyder, Qvale Mangusta, or go British and pick up a gently used Lotus Elise. With the Lotus you get the best of a Fiat… its small, impractical, flashy, and gets good gas mileage. But you get one thing that the current Fiat can’t give you….the Lotus is also fun to drive.
So how does the Fiat 500 drive, well the as tested Fiat 500 Sport, came in at just over $19K, the car is a “sport” because it has a button that says so on the dash. I think it is just the overdrive button most automatic cars have that disengages the overdrive. But this one says Sport so therefore it makes the car more sporty. It also gets the sporty alloy wheels and some other styling upgrades. However, the 101hp and 98 lb-ft of torque do little to inspire a sporty driving experience. (The Turbocharged Abarth model is needed ASAP.)

The sport model would have benefited with steering wheel mounted shifters since reaching for the shifter to do the +/- “Sport” shifting gets old quick and I ended up just putting it back in drive. The dash board mounted shifter is just far enough out of reach to feel uncomfortable, a feeling I got in the manual transmission version as well. I kept looking for the low between the seats, well placed shifter of my classic Mini Cooper that allowed you top push and pull the gear changes. This feels more like a toggle switch that has to be pulled at an odd angle. Fiat may have designed the shifter this was as keeping both hands on the wheel is important when you are driving the 500 at speed. Take a corner and the car feels like it is going to pitch over and roll, the back end bounces and misses no opportunity to take flight. This translates into a unsettled and uncontrolled feeling in any corner that is not perfectly smooth and level. The four-wheel discs do allow to brake later, keeping momentum is important in the 500. I was hoping for more of an original Golf GTI or Classic Mini Cooper feel in the handling department, but the only go-kart similarity the 500 has is the wheelbase.

Perhaps we are asking too much from the 500, it is about 6 grand less than a comparable MINI, and while the MINI has a racing heritage and pedigree, the standard 500 was never known as a performer, it took Abarth who doubled the cubic inches, and reworked the entire suspension and chassis to make it a worthwhile racer. The standard Fiat 500 is serving its purpose the original was intended for, a cute, affordable (if you go with a base model), city car that can deliver MPG in the high 30’s. It has a good A/C system, good fit and finish, it looks the part, but the “Sport” is a bit misleading.

It will take some time to see if the new 500 has more than just the cuteness appeal, once those who buy the car as a fashion accessory are done shopping will the drawbacks make the 500 this years SMART-CAR?

The History of Racing Stripes and Some Interesting Facts

50Initially, the stripes served a practical purpose and they turned into a tuning material later on.

As the name suggests, racing stripes were first applied to cars participating in races, in order to increase recognition. According to some official information, such stripes were applied to the Cunningham team racing cars in 1951.

In the 1960s, the stripes started getting applied to cars apart from the vehicles used in races. They were called go-faster stripes during that period and they were used to achieve the cool appearance of race cars. The hood, the roof of the car and the trunk were the places where the stripes were installed most often.

Until the 1960s, vehicles competing in Formula 1 and other major events came in specific colors and with specific stripes to differentiate one team from another. This approach was popular until sponsorship entered the world of racing and the color differentiation became redundant.

Cunningham team cars were distinguished by the two parallel blue stripes passing through the middle of the hood, the roof and the back of the car. The stripes were brought to the scene once again in 1996. This year is often seen as the revival of racing stripes because these were used on a Dodge Viper GTS.

In the 1990s, stripes became widely available as a tuning material. All the traditions connected to their past and the clean, linear appearance give cars with stripes a slightly retro appearance that is very different from the effect that can be achieved through the usage of other tuning materials.

The material that is most commonly used in the production of stripes and stickers today is vinyl. Vinyl managed to beat other materials in terms of affordability and durability. Although thin, it can withstand environmental influences for many years. Good racing car stripes can remain in excellent condition for a period ranging between five and seven years.

Stripes are available in many colors and they can be applied on nearly any part of the car. The traditional application on the front or the sides of the car is still possible but some new options have emerged, as well. Stripes can be applied on the spoiler, the bumpers, the grill of the car or anywhere else that the owner of the vehicle wants to achieve customization.

The traditional shape of the racing car stripe is changed, as well. Although the typical stripes are still available, the range has expanded significantly.

Stripes can come in the shape of flames, detailed ornaments or even lines of lettering.

Some car manufacturers have developed their own stripe ranges as a range of official accessories and tuning products. These ranges are designed for application on a specific model, which has further increased the simplicity connected to the usage of this particular tuning material.

Stripes can also come with distinctive finishes and effects that make them even funkier and more unusual than the original racing stripes that came into existence in the 1950s. Although the style is still the same, the stripe can now look original and somehow modern.

The history of stripes is quite interesting. The origin of this tuning material is easy to understand. What started out as a practical method of distinction has now turned into a wonderful way for the transformation of a car’s exterior. Racing stripes have been around for some time and they are probably here to stay. Although trends in the tuning realm change all the time, the stripe has managed to stand the test of time.

Porsche 956/962 Powered Group C/GTP Race Car GKW

49A Unique Car, only one specimen in the whole world, Chassis Number 001/88, an Unbelievable Result!!!
700Kg and over 750 HP, an Amazing Spare Package: there is Certainly No Other Group C Cars which comes with a similar package.

Designed for the Swiss Driver Claude Haldi, who raced several times in Le Mans with many different racing Porsches, up to Porsche 934 and Porsche 935, by the Italian genius, engineer and racing driver Gabriele
Gottifredi in cooperation with the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 specialist who built the Niki Lauda Alfa Formula 1, GKW racing car was supposed to run at Le Mans, Fuji and 1988 Monza circuits, where it performed several tests, but did not participate because it was under completion at the appointed date. After this the sponsors retired due to lack of money and the project was stopped.

The car was in GKW workshop for more than 10 years before that an Italian gentleman drive purchased  it with all spares package. The new owner ordered a completely dismantling and parts renew to a very specialized shop: the GKW Race Car was completely re-worked, excluding engines. The workshop that did the job participated to Le Mans 24 hours with a Group C2 years ago and today is specialized on Ferrari Challenger racing cars, Sport prototypes, Formula 3000 and so on.

This remodeling job took nearly near 3 years and now everything is new or better than new,  e.g. some suspension parts were  redesigned to make them more resistant  and also the  feet and front pedal protection was rebuilt stronger (the scope was not to win the world championship!).

The new owner decided do not use the air-water cooled Porsche 956 engine due to his not professional driving and ordered to     Rennsport  (one of the 2 main expert in Racing Porches in Italy, near Modena) a thin Turbo Based on a 3,2 IMSA configuration air cooled and electronic injected, twin plug.

This engine was developed, tested and electronically mapped by Rehinold Schmirler – RS Tuning  in Germany, one of the 3 best Porsche Racing motorist in Germany that worked e.g. on Uwe Alzen Porsche 997 GT3 and other Porsche winner. As result this engine was excellent, over 750 HP, but  the owner decided to limit it at 675 HP DIN at 7000 rpm,  with a wonderful torque and power distribution.

Original Porsche 956 KKK Turbos  are used with inconel headers, made in Maranello by specialists who work for Ferrari F1). All crash test were made and  the car is now ready to race and win, with its effective weight of about 740 Kg and its 675 HP DIN engine.

The original Porsche 956 Engine can be bought separately as spare part.

The car is eligible for Group C 2 in Europe and GTP Racing in America.

Are we getting anything out of all of the rear wing car spoilers?

48If you’re one among the lucky ones caught cruising around Woodward inside a new Camaro, Charger, or Mustang, you may have already gotten the back end spoiled! With Auto Spoilers available now for nearly any automobile, you don’t necessarily have to be driving one of these great hot rods, to have a spoiler dressing up your ride!

Spoilers are an additional illustration of auto parts that have originated on the race track. Made to help “spoil” the unfavorable air movement across the back end of the motor vehicle on race cars, the spoiler’s job was to keep the car down on the track. Further, they added stability, cornering, and aerodynamics to the race cars, creating a complete new dimension in the wacky world of auto racing.

Including a spoiler to a street vehicle is possibly far more for appearance than anything, but nonetheless they do their part to help keep these automobiles a lot more secure while enhancing their fuel efficiency. You are able to find numerous options with the spoiler out on the market nowadays – most generally OEM, Customized, Universal, and Higher Rise or Specialty.

The OEM Spoilers are replicas or replacements of the original factory jobs. Assured to match, they appear precisely the same as the picture in the car brochure. Whether you happen to be replacing a broken one in particular or adding one to a rear deck where there was none, they’re one of the most popular.

Following those will be the Customized Spoilers, that are usually designed to suit a particular make and model automobile, but will not be replicas like the authentic factory ones. These tend to permit the customizer who wants a little more oomph on his ride to accomplish that. They are also assured to fit, which can be most helpful.

The Universal Spoilers are just what the name sounds like – one particular dimension piece fits all. They may be made in a very specific design or shape, but without make and model differences. You’ll need to perform some careful measuring with these to insure they fit properly across the back of your particular automobile.

Finally, the High Rise or Specialty Spoilers would be the huge dudes that sit higher up off the deck lid. Take a trip down Memory Lane back to the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, and its mammoth rear spoiler. Like them or not, they’re popping up once again, everywhere, primarily on the smaller compact rides.

The moment you’ve figured out which spoiler is appropriate for you personally, you many commence shopping the net for the best choice, lowest prices, and greatest matches for your vehicle. You will find plenty of excellent suppliers and aftermarket merchants on line that can guide you toward the car spoiler of your dreams. Surprisingly enough, many can be found to answer questions and offer installation hints or guidelines. So whatever rear spoiler you’re after, you’ll find individuals out there that will help you get yours put together – folks who already have one particular like yours, people with photos of them, or instructional vid clips on putting them on. Be brave. Check it all out. And don’t allow anything to spoil your fun!