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David Brown Revives the Classic Mini Cooper with Modern Tech

The 60-year-old design gets a modern, premium touch

Introduced in 1959, the original Mini Cooper revolutionized the city car market and became so popular that it remained in production until 2000. The nameplate was purchased by BMW and relaunched in a more modern form in 2001, but most enthusiasts agree that things haven’t been the same. Nearly two decades have passed since the original Mini was discontinued and David Brown Automotive is bringing it back to life.

Called Mini Remastered, the new old Cooper is more than just a reproduction replica. While carefully crafted to resemble the original car from 1959, the small hatchback has been remastered to "meet the demands of modern day life." The exterior may not give away the modern production process of the car (unless you look closely), but the interior has been redesigned to include all sorts of high-tech features, including a premium infotainment system.

The original engine has also undergone a complete transformation. Not only more powerful, it also runs smoother than Mini’s original unit, while returning improved performance and fuel economy. David Brown Automotive says that over 1,000 man hours go into creating each Mini Remastered. Let’s find out why.

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While those of us residing at higher latitudes and altitudes are still feeling the chill of winter (we just got 3 feet of fresh snow up here in Northern California), the weather is starting to warm up further south at sea level. As such, some folks are bringing out the metal for a little show and shine action, starting with the Amelia Island Concourse d’Elegance in Florida. Scheduled to take place March 9th through the 12th, 2017 marks the 22nd running of the event, and includes several top-dollar lifestyle events, celebrity appearances, parties, and of course, the associated elegance competition. However, one of the biggest draws for car collectors is the incredible line-up of high-end auctions, with some of the most rare, beautiful, and downright expensive autos in existence hitting the block to exchange hands for vast quantities of money. Watching the hammer fall on some of these machines could be considered a spectator sport, like a battle of the bank accounts where he with the most zeroes wins.

To find each of these entries, we looked to the catalogues of Bonhams, Gooding & Company, and RM Sotheby’s for some of the most enticing, elusive, and cash-crushing rides we could find. But we wanna know – given the opportunity, which would you have, and why do you think they’re worth so damn much?

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The Second Oldest Carmaker in the World Could Return to Automobile Manufacturing

The company that inspired Porsche’s design for the VW Beetle wants to build cars again

Czech manufacturer Tatra could revive its automobile division and produce its first passenger car since 1999. That’s the word from local newspaper Ekonom, which claims that the Czech Republic-based manufacturer is eager to return to the car market due to unprecedented demand for its classic cars. The source also claims that Tatra wants to roll out a replica of a past model before producing a modern design.

There’s no word as to what model Tatra is looking to reproduce, but the 87 and 600 models are reportedly being considered.

For those of you not familiar with the brand, Tatra, which is named after the nearby Tatra Mountains, was established in 1850 as a wagon and carriage manufacturer. In 1897, Tatra built its first motor car, which was also the first automobile in central Europe. Although passenger car production ceased in 1999, Tatra continued to build all-wheel-drive trucks, which makes it the second oldest company in the world production vehicles with an unbroken history, after Peugeot.

Although rather obscure outside Europe, Tatra was once famous for its luxury, technically advanced cars. Among the first to use air-cooled, opposite-cylinder engines, Tatra also launched the world’s first production aerodynamic car in 1934. Dubbed T77, it had an average drag coefficient of 0.24 and a rear-mounted, air-cooled V-8 engine that was very sophisticated for the time.

Tatra’s designs, largely conceived by Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka, also inspired Ferdinand Porsche in designing the Volkswagen Beetle. The Tatra T97 and Beetle designs were so similar — including the styling, layout, boxer engine, and central tunnel structure — that Tatra launched a lawsuit against Volkswagen. The legal action was stopped when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and forced Tatra to stop making the T97, but the matter was re-opened after World War II and in 1965 the German firm paid Tatra 1 million German Marks (around $360,000) in an out of court settlement.

Tatra’s last commercially successful car was the 613, produced between 1974 and 1996. Its rear-mounted, air-cooled, V-8 engine made it an exotic appearance among European cars. In 1996, Tatra launched the 700, a heavily restyled version of the 613 model, but the sedan wasn’t successful and production was stopped in 1999, making it the company’s last passenger car.

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You Won’t Believe the Mileage on this BMW M1

This M1 is, hands down, the barn find of the year!

Every now and then someone stumbles across an absolutely amazing car that has been stashed away in a barn and completely forgotten about. One of our favorites or recent years was a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante that was found back in 2009. But, more recently, there was a Ferrari 250 GT California SWB that was followed by the find of a 1973 Jaguar E-Type Series III V12 Roadster a couple of months later. Today, we’re happy to report that there has been another great barn find that is being advertised by Mint Classics on their Facebook page: a 1981 BMW M1.

Now, the M1 is special in its own right, being regarded across the world as BMW’s only true supercar and the first mass-produced, mid-engined vehicle from the iconic brand. But, that’s not what really makes this specific example so special. See, this example has just 7,329 km on the clock which computes to just 4,554 miles to those of us here in the U.S. Details about the car itself are rather scant at the moment, and Mint Classics has yet to add it to its official website, but it is known that it was found in a southern Italian garage where it had been sitting since 1982.

Needless to say, and as you can see in the pictures, this baby is in need of a serious detail and some mild maintenance. But, aside from that, and the need to replace any weathered rubber components, this thing appears to be in near-perfect condition. And, as you’ll see in a few of the pictures, it’s already been given a quick bath, and surely the restoration of this classic beauty will be underway shortly.

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Source: MintClassics

Jaguar XK SS Prototype Previews $1.25 Million Continuation Cars in L.A.

Nine will be made and sold to carefully selected Jaguar owners

In 2014, Jaguar and its Heritage division decided to build the remaining six chassis of the E-Type Lightweight sports car exactly 50 years after the final original example left the factory. The new-old cars were put together using numerous original parts and techniques, as well as modern technology for improved safety, and became an instant hit with collectors, despite the £1.2 million (around $1.5 million as of November 2016) sticker. As a result, Jaguar turned its attention to yet another classic sports car whose production came to an abrupt halt: the XK SS. And, the prototype that will be used as a blueprint for the continuation cars was just presented at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Often referred to as the world’s first supercar, the XK SS was originally produced in 1957 using chassis and components from the retired D-Type race car, which had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in a row. Initial plans included a 25-unit production, but nine cars earmarked for export to North America were lost in a massive fire at Jaguar’s factory, leaving only 16 examples on the road. Much like it did with the E-Type Lightweight, Jaguar plans to roll out the remaining nine cars in 2017.

All vehicles, which will look identical to the Sherwood Green prototype shown in L.A. (except for the paint of course) will be completely new and have period chassis numbers from the XK SS chassis log. The cars will cost "in excess of £1 million each." That’s at least $1.25 million. Why the steep price you ask? Well, not only are these cars difficult to build, as the prototype required 18 months of intense work and research, but they’re also highly desirable among collectors and will be sold to carefully selected customers who already own classic Jaguars. All told, the new XK SS won’t be a dealership model and not everyone can buy one. And, despite the high sticker, the Brits will have no trouble selling all nine examples.

So how new is the "new" XK SS? Jaguar says that most components are true to the original car, including the magnesium alloy body, the bronze welded chassis frames, the four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes with a Plessey pump, and Dunlop tires with riveted two-piece magnesium alloy wheels. The engine will be the same 3.4-liter, six-cylinder, D-type unit rated at 262 horsepower, but it will feature completely new cast iron blocks, new cast cylinder heads and three Weber Weber DC03 carburetors. On the other hand, because the original styling bucks do not exist, Jaguar Classic produced a new, bespoke styling buck based on the original bodies from the 1950s.

Inside, the XK SS will get perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges, the wood-rimmed steering wheel, grain of the leather seats, and brass knobs on the dashboard. However, minor specification changes have been made in order to improve driver and passenger safety. The fuel cell, for example, uses modern materials to support throughput of modern fuels. Jaguar will probably give customers a few exterior color options based on its 1950s palette, including the iconic British Racing Green.

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The late ’40s were something of a mad scramble for European race car manufacturers. WWII had only just ended and those companies that were able to rebuild quickly would have an advantage on the track, up against the prewar models being run by their competitors. For Ferrari, this problem took a slightly different form. Since the company had existed only as a racing team up to this point, it wasn’t looking to rebuild, but rather just to build. The company had no previous models to use as a jumping off point, so the first several chassis were just prototypes, having changes made as needed, and even undergoing model name changes.

What it was exactly that happened to which chassis is the matter of some debate, but what we can say is that the first car built was the 125 S, and this was in turn followed by the 159 S, of which apparently two existed. After the 159 S came the 166 S, and Ferrari actually stuck with this version of the car long enough to build a few dozen of them, including actual road-specific versions with roofs and everything. The 159 S was essentially an evolutionary step on the way to the 166.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ferrari 159 S.

1989 Ferrari Testarossa Convertible

An ‘80s icon goes topless

In the mid-‘80s, Ferrari introduced the Testarossa, a two-door berlinetta created as a replacement for the Berlinetta Boxer 512i. The name was a nod to the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa race car that ran in the World Sportscar Championship in the late ‘50s, but the new model was anything but old school. Occupying the top of the Prancing Horse model lineup, the new Testarossa was subsequently well received amongst critics and the buying public. Not only was it popularized by the show Miami Vice, but several prominent celebrities owned one, and eventually, the Testarossa became a well known symbol of ‘80s culture. Considering the popularity, you’d expect Ferrari to be eager to produce a drop-top version of the 12-cylinder sports car, but not so – only one “official” Testarossa convertible was ever produced, forcing custom builders to make their own roofless variants after the fact. This car is one of those rare custom Testarossa convertibles.

At its heart, the car you see here is a 1989 model. It’s nearly identical in every single way to the Testarossas that rolled out from Maranello and into Ferrari dealerships nearly three decades ago, save the infinitely expanded headroom.

This Testarossa convertible is on offer from Paris Prestige Cars, a French dealer of high-end sports cars, and it’s a rare convertible example of one of Ferrari’s most popular models.

Continue reading to learn more about this Ferrari Testarossa Convertible.

1965 Apollo 5000GT

The American Aston Martin

One of the lesser known American sports cars, the Apollo 5000GT, was built between 1962 and 1965 in Oakland, California. The story of the 5000GT actually began back in 1959, when Frank Reisner, a former chemical engineer born in Hungary, raised in Canada, and educated in America, set up a shop in Turin, Italy to produce tuning kits for Renaults, Peugeots, and Simcas. The shop was known as Intermeccanica. In 1960, Reisner met Milt Brown, a young California engineer who wanted to build an American GT that would rival European offerings from Aston Martin and Ferrari. Looking for a coachbuilder for his project, Brown struck a deal with Intermeccanica, which began making bodies for the 5000GT in 1962.

The steel shells were made in Turin and then sent to California, where the Buick-sourced V-8 engine and transmission were installed. Sold by Brown’s International Motorcars of Oakland, the car was well received and made the headlines when American singer and actor Pat Boone purchased one. The Apollo was sold in limited numbers until 1964, when production was stopped due to lack of funds. A prototype 2+2 version of the 5000GT was shown at the New York Auto Show in 1965, but it was never produced as an Apollo, being launched as the Griffith GT a year later.

Although Brown stopped building 5000GTs, several cars were assembled toward the end of the 1960s and in the early 1970s, at first by Vanguard Industries, and later by Apollo International, a company led by attorney Robert Stevens.

Continue reading to learn more about the Apollo 5000GT.

Source: Mecum

LeSee Pro Concept No-Shows Own Launch

Only a non-working prototype was available.

If there ever was an award for the most surreal car launch of 2016, LeEco’s LeSee prototype takes the cake. It was supposed to be a hallmark event for the Chinese tech company as it signaled the start of its foray into autonomous driving, but when it came time for the LeSee to make its grand entrance in its own U.S. unveiling in San Francisco, the actual prototype wasn’t there; it was still stuck in London filming its appearance in Transformers V: The Last Knight.

Apparently, the schedule brouhaha forced LeEco to proceed with the unveiling without the car. To be fair, there was a prototype available, but it didn’t have the autonomous driving capabilities of the other prototype. So Jia sauntered down the runway, telling the audience through a translator that “it shouldn’t be me running out here, we didn’t have any other choice. What we wanted was me in the car, and the autonomous car drives me out."

To be fair, the LeSee prototype actually made its official debut in Beijing back in April 2016. So at least LeEco has that going for it. But it’s still pretty embarrassing when you consider that the company pulled out all the stops for a grand U.S. unveiling, even doing it in the Bay Area, in close proximity to Palo Alto where some of the biggest tech giants, including Apple and Google are located, only to end up with egg on its face because of what boils down to a conflict in schedule.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Source: Reuters

1945 Dodge Pickup

Dodge getting back to civilian pickup production after WWII.

It was in 1939 that Dodge debuted a new design for its pickup truck. A marketing campaign accompanied the truck called “Job Rated,” which helped owners choose the right Dodge pickup for the job. Several versions were offered, including half-ton, three-quarter ton, and one-ton versions, with different engine and wheelbase choices intermingled within.

Things were going well for Dodge when World War II broke out. Like nearly every other private business in 1942, Dodge began making wartime equipment. In its case, the Power Wagon was its shining star. However, Dodge promptly restarted production of civilian trucks a mere two hours after the last military truck rolled off the line in 1945.

It was in 1946 that Dodge built this particular pickup – a half-ton class with an inline six-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transmission, all coated in dark blue with chrome bumpers. It also comes fitted with the Deluxe cab package, which brought more comfortable seats, a driver side armrest and sun visor, dual electric windshield wipers, and chrome trim around the windshield.

The post-war pickups did receive minor updates thanks to enhancements made in wartime production. The chassis and clutch houses were made stronger, and a higher capacity radiator was introduced. All this made the Job Rated Dodge pickup a hardy competitor to other domestic pickups in the post-war boom.

The example seen here recently went under the gavel at the 2016 Mecum car auction at Monterey. It sold for an undisclosed amount, but Mecum’s pre-auction estimate put the price between $50,000 and $60,000.

Continue reading for the full review.

Source: Mecum

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