Thursday, May 29, 2014

Texas Tour Coverage

Last weekend, a large fleet of classic cars passed through the hill country as part of the Texas Tour. Sponsored by the Road Relics, the tour takes drivers and their vintage machines through some of the prettiest parts of Texas on some of the most scenic roads around. I got some photos and chatted with some of the owners during their stop in Wimberley, where they held a car show of sorts. I was absolutely blown away by the vehicles on hand. There were some incredibly rare and unique automobiles participating in the tour, and to see them idle in under their own power was memorable, to say the least. Kudos to the drivers for keeping these beautiful machines out on the road, where they belong.

There were a troupe of Model T's involved in the tour, but this 1913 model was one of the oldest. The Model T was a revolutionary vehicle that paved the way for the growth of automobiles, so seeing some of these in motion was wonderful. This car is an open tourer, boasting four doors and a convertible top.

When I saw this pull in, I nearly went into cardiac arrest from shock. This is a museum-worthy automobile that is likely worth a small fortune, and yet here it is driving on public roads and navigating traffic. It's a 1913 Pierce-Arrow Runabout, something I never even knew I wanted to see until I saw it. It's in utterly impeccable condition, which is even more impressive when you think about how long ago this car was built. This is a 101-year-old car. Absolutely amazing.

Also under the "didn't expect to see that" category is this 1915 Hudson. It's a big car, with a minimal amount of gauges and buttons inside. A far cry from today's passenger sedans. The big fenders and lights are almost like caricatures, and the mirror mounted on the spare tires is an odd yet creative feature.

Another early Model T, this one a Speedster. If you want a car that lets you be one with the elements while driving, then this might be the vehicle for you. No windshield and two very simple seats indicate a spartan design philosophy. The red and blue paint job is likely not the car's original look, but I'm certainly not complaining. It's quirky and unique, which fits with the car itself.

The Model TT was a commercial truck version of the original Tin Lizzie. This one is a tanker, and bears a very cool four-door cab. I liked this truck a lot, and it's neat to think how what was once a simple work vehicle is now a show car. It's ruggedly simplistic, an example of how primitive the automobile was in the 1920's.

This colossal blue beast is another Pierce-Arrow, an open tourer. Something about that entirely-blue color scheme is very alluring to me. This classic cruiser wasn't as concours-ready as some of the other vehicles, with its nicked and distressed paintwork, but that just adds character. Quite an impressive automobile.

There were a couple of antique Packards in the tour, but this one was perhaps the most elegant of the lot. It's a 1928 Packard 4-43 Phaeton, and it's a lot of car. That huge hood seems to go on for miles, and the rest of the vehicle is scaled up to match. This car is the result of a meticulous four-year restoration, and the current owner's father bought the car new in 1928. This car is elegant from every angle, and seeing it driving is a satisfying sight.

This 1930 Packard was also present. All of these vintage cars seemed to have unbelievably pretty paint jobs and color combinations, with this one being particularly nice. These old Packards are big cars, but they don't make a sound. Being luxury automobiles, they were built to be virtually silent, and it's almost spooky how such a large and imposing machine can pass by without so much as a whisper of noise.

I'd seen this 1931 Auburn once before a few years back, but it certainly hasn't lost any of its appeal. Auburn is one of my favorite classic car brands. They built a lot of truly stunning automobiles that could compete with the best in the world. They're relatively uncommon now, so I'm always happy to see one, especially one as nice as this.

Not to be outdone by the armada of Model T's, a set of Model A's were part of the tour, with this 1931 pickup being my favorite of the two. That paint job is so vibrant and sunny, and draws your eye from a long ways off. This little pickup is in great shape, and looks like it sees regular use. It was interesting to see both Model T's and Model A's together, to really see how Ford evolved the idea.

Oh my. There comes a point where a car transcends beyond being considered merely transportation, and instead becomes pure sculpture. This Packard is a prime example. It's artwork that can be driven. The vivid colors, the bespoke bodywork, and luxuriant creature comforts combine to form what is likely one of the prettiest vehicles I've ever seen. This was hands-down one of my favorite cars in the show. Simply beyond compare.

This 1934 Lincoln is not something you see everyday. I love seeing these old color combinations. Brown fenders and orange wheels? Absolutely. It's different in such a good way. I like the big rumble seat and the little fender-mounted lights. Cars like this are all about the little details, and there are plenty to admire if you're observant enough to really look.

The Chrysler Airflow was ahead of its time. It was designed with regard to aerodynamics and wind resistance and efficiency, something that has become the standard of automotive design in today's cars. But in 1936, it was just plain odd-looking, and sales were sluggish. Thus, you don't see a whole lot of them around. This one is spotless, and could very well have rolled out of the factory yesterday.

Buick's Roadmaster models are most famous for their 1950's iterations, but the name had already been around for a while at that point. This Roadmaster is a 1938, looking sharp in black. This was not a car for the common man, and Buick made sure that was obvious just by looking at it. I love the design of the headlight pods and the turn signals on the fenders.

This 1939 LaSalle is a very nice car. LaSalle was discontinued after 1940, making this one of the last cars built. It's very elegant and well-upholstered, but that was exactly why they killed the company. Instead of stealing sales from other brands, LaSalle was drawing buyers away from Cadillac, which led to the downfall of the marque. It's too bad, because these were attractive and intriguing vehicles.

Speaking of Cadillac, check out this magnificent 1941 Cadillac convertible. Most Cadillacs sold were sedans, so a convertible like this is a rare sight. This one is in mint condition, and looks gorgeous in black with those red wheels. Quite a car.

It wasn't only American cars in the tour, either. Take a look at this lovely little 1952 MG TD. One of Britain's most iconic sports car manufacturers, MG had a lot of popular models, but the TD is usually considered one of the best. This one is in great shape, and looks like it would be a lot of fun on a nice twisting backroad.

This 1956 Mercury is a wonderful example of 1950's design. It's got points and angles, but also curves and swooping lines. The chrome is awesome and excessive, a distinctly American characteristic. Wonderful.

I have to show off the perfect colors of this 1956 Chrysler Windsor. That coral color is achingly beautiful, and the two-tone paint scheme is ever so classy. The mid-50's Chryslers were very well designed cars, as is evidenced here. Style, luxury, and power were what made these cars so desirable then, and even more so now.

It's hard to find a car more distinctively beautiful than a classic Rolls-Royce, and this Silver Cloud is perfect. The color fits the name, and everything about this car is elegant and delicate. It's pure class and style, a fortress of flowing metal. Rolls-Royce has a vast collection of beautiful cars under their belt, but the Silver Cloud is one of the most perfectly-designed vehicles they've ever produced.

This Austin-Healey was showing signs of age, with a weathered interior and paint that was cracked and pitted, but somehow that only made me like it more. That bright blue is seemingly magnetic, and the chrome sets it off so well. The Austin-Healey 3000 series has long been, in my opinion, one of the prettiest sports cars to come out of Britain. There are plenty of other attractive vehicles, too, like the Lotus Elan or the early MGB models, but this car really gets me.

This Chrysler doesn't look particularly special at first glance. It's a 1963 300K, finished in an unassuming silver with a respectable vinyl top. But take a look at the engine, and suddenly it's no ordinary car. This massive Chrysler is a cross-ram car, a seriously collectible machine in today's market. Not too shabby.

The first-generation Buick Riviera is Bill Mitchell in his finest hour. It was a beautiful design, and is considered one of the most attractive cars ever produced. I prefer the 1965 model, like this one, with its hidden headlights. This car is a Gran Sport model, which is very rare. The Riviera Gran Sport featured the 425-cubic-inch Super Wildcat V8, a heck of a motor. In all black, it's a menacing car. Very, very nice.

Naturally there had to be at least one Mustang, and this 1965 coupe was a very nice example. Black with a 289 V8, it's a simple cruiser that has aged well.

Similarly, there had to be a few Corvettes in the show, and of the three or four I saw, this one was the nicest by far. It's a 1966 Sting Ray with the 427 Turbo-Jet V8. It looks all original and sounds fantastic. The C2 Corvette is a beautiful car, and this one has all the right options.

One of two '66 Thunderbirds in the tour, this landau coupe is incredible. Even the original wheel covers are intact. The color is ever so nice, and the dark-colored roof balances it out nicely. Somebody has put a lot of time into preserving this car, and quite frankly they deserve a medal.

Muscle car aficionados crowded around this 1968 Pontiac GTO convertible. A red GTO is a sure way to get some attention, and for good reason. This was one of the best-looking bodystyles for the Goat, and in red it really comes into its own. Plus, hood tachs are just plain cool.

And then there's this. A 1970 Buick GS 455 convertible. In the muscle car wars, everybody remembers the Hemi-powered Mopars and the SS Chevrolets, but look through some old magazine tests and you'll find that the quickest muscle cars in the quarter-mile were Buicks, namely the 455-powered cars like this. While the lovely red convertible above doesn't have the venerable Stage 1 package, it's still no slouch in a straight line. On top of that, it's a very attractive car, one of my personal favorites.

This 1973 Charger stood out mostly due to how basic it is. It's not an R/T or a Super Bee or anything of that nature, but instead a plain-jane entry-level example. The dog-dish hubcaps and vinyl top are very 1970's, and make this Mopar a time capsule of sorts.

I've wanted to see one of these for a long time. In 1979, this was the fastest production vehicle in America. Yes, a bright red pickup with chrome stacks was the fastest American car money could buy. Called the Li'l Red Express, this Dodge took advantage of a loophole in the emissions regulations, and therefore was a serious performance truck. I love it, and find it to be just ridiculous enough to be cool.

Lastly, this 1981 Delorean was all kinds of cool. The owner had put some work into it, including some neat custom touches. The LED strip below the bumper can imitate police lights, among other patterns. The coolest touch, however, are the doors, which can be opened remotely via the key fob. Seeing a gullwing door open itself is a sort of captivating and grin-inducing experience. I like these cars, dismal PRV V6 aside, and always enjoy seeing them. It's a stainless-steel sports car, how can you not love it?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1951 Ford F-1

Today's RCW is a treat from this year's Blanco show. It wasn't a part of the show itself, but instead was seen in the parking lot nearby. It is one of the most attractive pickups I've seen in a while, a 1951 Ford F-1. What really makes it stand out is the paint job. It's not just any shade of black, but instead a very glossy black that seems to go on forever. It catches the light just so, and really compliments the lines of the truck. For contrast, the chrome is perfectly polished, and in the midday sun it really stood out. Lastly, the white-wall tires are a great addition, and tie together a very pretty old pickup. 1951 was the first year for this grille, a change from the horizontal bars used from '48 to '50. The entire F-series would be overhauled in 1953, and was equally iconic. This truck, though, stands out in being very tastefully done. Considering that it was originally built to be a workhorse, it's surprising how well it looks as a cruising machine like this. Pickups are popular here in Texas, and looking at this one, it's easy to see why.

1951 Ford F-1

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Car Show Highlights

Last weekend there were quite a few car shows going on. Blanco hosted their annual car show, Dick's Classic Garage had their monthly cruise-in, and Cars and Coffee was going on as well. Naturally, I went and took some photos. The weather held throughout the weekend, and as such there were some very special machines on display.

This 1928 Chrysler caught my attention early on, but it wasn't until I took a closer look that I really got to appreciate it. That document framed in the windshield is the original registration from 1928. It shows that this car started life in Colorado before finding its way into Texas.

Among the many Ford hot rods I've seen, this one is unique in its simplicity. The colors are muted and tasteful, and it still retains its original flathead V8, albeit slightly souped-up. It's nice to see one of these that doesn't follow the usual formula.

This 1931 Ford Model A Roadster Pickup is in surprisingly good shape for its age. Of all the bodystyles available on the Model A, this is my favorite. The idea of a convertible pickup truck appeals to me, and this one is a lovely example.

Hot rods are a staple of Texas car culture, and this beautiful Ford coupe is an eye-catcher for sure. The old-school Hemi V8 and black paint are an iconic combination, and with those big white-walls, this car really looks good.

A host of little modifications set this 1936 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery apart from the crowd. Bright red paint, custom wheels, side-exit exhaust and custom bumpers make for a very cool street machine.

This 1937 Buick is unique for sure. The Cragar wire wheels are a neat touch, along with that peculiar green paint, but the real standout modifications are the headlights and taillights, which have been borrowed from a Plymouth Prowler. It's a cool idea, and it makes for an unmistakable car.

Few cars can claim to be as elegant as this. This 1940 Cadillac is a vast rolling sculpture, fit for a king. The paint is starting to show some wear and tear, especially around the rear fenders, but nevertheless this an incredible machine.

Old Chevy trucks are a dime a dozen, but a classic GMC? Not as much. This 1940's pickup is rocking some great patina, and makes for a unique vehicle. I actually prefer the design of the GMC to the Chevrolet, so this was cool to look at up close.

This 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan is an uncommon car. The suicide doors are cool, and would later appear on the Continental. This car is all about luxury, and even by today's standards it's a nice automobile.

This 1953 Oldsmobile is an absolute beauty. The aftermarket rims work better than expected, and that gloss black paint is perfect. The chrome really stands out on this one.

Not only is this 1955 Bel Air my favorite of the Tri-Five designs, it's also in the exact color scheme I would want if I was in the market for a Bel Air. This example is immaculately preserved.

This 1957 Chevrolet panel truck has been converted into a promotional vehicle of sorts for a local automotive wiring company. The truck looks great, and should definitely attract some business.

The 1957 Bel Air is a car show constant. There's always at least one. This one, though, is something special. The sensational paint job draws people in, and the 5.7-liter Hemi seals the deal. This is a well-built car.

I definitely wasn't expecting this. It's a Lotus Eleven racecar, and it is tiny. It isn't so much a car as a fancy go-kart with headlights. I could spend all day poring over every detail of this car. It's a rare and intriguing classic.

A Volkswagen Beetle doesn't usually get my attention, but a 1957 Cabriolet isn't your average Beetle. I'm digging the fender skirts.

This 1958 Impala looked like it rolled out of the showroom yesterday. It was in spectacular condition. This was the first year for the Impala, and it's easy to see why it caught on.

Pure opulence, this one. It's a 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, and yes, the owner DID have Grey Poupon with him.

This is actually my favorite Lotus of all time, the Elite. I love the styling, and the sheer simplicity of it. It's a very small car that boasts a fantastic driving experience. This one is a 1963 model, in a stunning shade of red.

This 1963 Continental convertible was massive. It's one of the most luxurious vehicles ever built in America, and one of my favorite cars of the 1960's. I especially love the convertible, with it's hydraulically-operated trunk.

I like the little Cobra replicas, but they don't usually catch my eye that often. This one is a rare exception. I love this color, and it's nice to see one without the obligatory stripes. This is such a pretty car, and one of my favorites of the weekend.

I also love this Corvette. The groovy factory mag wheels and white-letter tires are a killer combination. Factor in the side pipes and hoodscoop and you have a very cool Corvette.

This Mustang GT is in perfect condition. The owner just put on the white-line tires to make this car as original as possible, and it sure does look good.

This GT 350 is achingly pretty, especially in red and white. The Magnums are a cool touch, and they really work well here.

This 1967 Austin-Healey was one of several classic British roadsters to show up in Blanco, and probably my favorite of the bunch. These cars are so well-designed.

Muscle car enthusiasts will enjoy this 1967 Chevelle SS 396. It's a stunning car, and it sounds wonderful.

This lightly-modified Fairlane was a personal favorite of mine. I love this bodystyle, and the painted Torq-Thrusts are a great addition to a pretty car.

The owner of this 1967 GT500 has had the car in his family since 1979. All that's left to do is put the engine back in and it'll be ready to hit the streets.

This 1968 GTO is outstanding, and looks simply majestic in that shade of green. While I'm partial to the '69 myself, I wouldn't mind one of these.

Yes, it's a Mustang Grandè. A 1969 model, no less, with a 351 under the hood. It sounded great, and makes for a unique Mustang.

Boss Hogg would approve of this 1970 Cadillac. This is a very pretty car, and although I'd seen it before in the parking garage, I was happy to finally see it out in the sunshine where it belongs.

1971 was the only year for the Charger Super Bee, so it's not a car you see too often. This one is very nice, and packs a 383 Magnum V8.

This 1972 K/4 Blazer is simply jaw-dropping. It's not everyday you see one of these in good condition, but this one is just phenomenal. The orange and white is icing on the cake.

Similarly, this is a pretty sweet Bronco. It's a 1973 model, and the owner has modified it quite a bit for off-road use.

This 1980 Scout II is very neat. The green paint lends a military vibe, and the powerplant is very perplexing. The owner has fitted this 4x4 with an older Nissan Diesel motor. It's an odd choice, but it makes this cool off-roader even more unique.

The Turbo Trans Am, namely the NASCAR special edition. I very much approve of this.

Porsche enthusiasts will recognize the "flat-nose" 930 immediately. An option on the 911 in the 1980's, these cars are very collectable today.

The owner of this 1985 BMW 535i is slowly converting it to European specifications. I adore the E30 BMW's, and while it's no M5, this car is something I wouldn't mind having.

If you've been keeping up with the trailers for the new Transformers film, you might've spotted this Mini in the trailers. This is the actual car used during filming, and while I'm not sure what role the car has in the film, it's still a cool little car.

This 1991 Acura NSX is in great shape, and showed up with another NSX. I much prefer the look of these cars as opposed to the later fixed-headlight cars.

I have no idea how a R33 Skyline GT-R found its way into Blanco, Texas, but I'm sure glad it did. This car is incredible, and drew a crowd all day long. The R33 is my favorite Skyline generation, and this one has all the right modifications.

This very handsome Lotus Esprit V8 is a veteran of Cars and Coffee, but I couldn't resist getting a better picture of it. It's unmistakably yellow, and those aftermarket wheels are a great modification.

The first Campagna T-Rex I've seen in person. These are fascinating little oddballs, and seeing them in motion is a strange experience.

The F-Type Coupe is starting to show up in dealerships, and it looks fantastic. I prefer the coupe to the convertible, and the exhaust note on these is utterly incredible.

The all-new 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX STi. I love the new look, and it wears the blue and gold with pride. This car is being hailed as a return to form for Subaru, and a breath of fresh air. I have to agree. Well played Subaru, well played.