Sunday, June 30, 2013

Portland Historic Races Super Gallery of Pixelated Piston Passion

1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo 8c35, possibly the most significant car in attendance.
 A day spent contained within a humidity-producing former swamp-land-turned-city-operated-racetrack may not sound like the ideal way to whittle away a 93-degree day but for people like us who will do almost anything to smell burning petrol, burning tires, burning brakes and burning cash, we would have it no other way.

Aftermath of a paddock repair to a smashed fender on a Jaguar XK120.
The annual Portland Historic Races, active for the last 37-years, is a PacNW right of passage for car nuts*. (*Not the rubber appendages you see dangling from the trailer hitch of jacked-up F150's but rather people who live and breathe automobiles.) While the weather did seem to dampen the crowds a bit compared to previous years the enthusiasm of those attending was unmatched. Al Unser Jr. was the Grand Marshall tho we did not personally lay eyes upon him, but ever-present Portland Car Guru In-Chief Keith Martin made the rounds, and a few laps, in his own vintage Alfa.

A young driver creates a lifelong memory.

Our favorite of the show? That would be the car in the header, that lovely '35 Alfa Romeo racer that ran from 1937-47 at Indianapolis on the same engine (!!!) and hosted drivers such as Nuvolari, Farina and present Owner/Driver Peter Giddings. This fantastically historic automobile isn't a pampered pooch however and is regularly raced and perhaps more surprising, the owner graciously allowed attendees to sit inside the car and pretend, for just a few moments, that they were speeding through the turns at Monaco or the Nurburgring just as #31 did so many years ago. This car, an ex-Scuderia Ferrari championed racer is frame #8, engine #50012 (SF#64) is also rather valuable in the tangible sense, a similar car (#50013-SF#65) will go up for auction at Bonhams Goodwood Revival sale on September 14th and is estimated to be worth approximately $8.5-10 million.

We spent so much time photographing cars on the in-field and among the paddock, chatting up the members of various car clubs and visiting with our own MBCA fellows that we missed much of the racing this year, so forgive the dearth of photos of screeching tires, but we hope you will enjoy this giant gallery of images we managed to bring home for your viewing pleasure.

Click "read more" for the full gallery of images! Click on any image to see a HUGE version.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Driver Allen Simonsen Dies at LeMans

Dutch driver Allan Simonsen was killed a short time ago at the French 24-Hours of LeMans race. Information is still somewhat sparse but as of this writing is appears his Aston Martin went wide coming through the Tertre Rouge bend, loosing grip on the left side tires that left the pavement which spun him directly into the wall at nearly full racing speed. Commentators suggested that there was massive damage to the frame of the car indicated by the twisted roof panel.

Simonsen's death is the first fatality at the event since 1997 when Sebastien Enjolras died in a crash and resulting fire during pre-qualification runs, but the last death to occur during the actual race was back in 1986 when Jo Gartner hit a safety barrier at 160mph. Our condolences to the friends, family and teammates of Simonsen during this tragic moment in racing history. Simonsen was 34-years old.

Espresso Veloce is Your V-12 Bean Dream Come True

Most car folks love coffee. It's what fuels us to get up in the morning for that drive to meet the sunrise or to do a little bit of quick clean-up work before the local Cars and Coffee gathering. The team at South Africa's  Espresso Veloce recognized this symbiosis and engineered what they modestly describe as, "The most beautifully engineered espresso machine in the world." While we have seen a few that may give the EV a run for it's money in the looks department there is no more welcoming sight for a true gear head than seeing this thing warming up on your counter top.

The EV comes in three varieties, V8, V10 and V12 and they even offer a bespoke service where you can customize various elements such as choosing the color of the velocity stacks. We love the fine details like titanium exhaust pipes that are heat-treated to appear like you just ran a few laps at Monaco.

Some specs are included on the website like it's 68-lb shipping weight and the fact that an espresso can be readied in just 16-seconds from nailing the throttle hitting the start button. What is not revealed is the price of any of the machines, doubtless substantial in an "if you have to ask..." sort of way. We do know the machines will be limited to an edition of 500, we presume of each of the three styles. Some images also show cups machined to look like pistons but it is not noted if these actually come with the machine or are even available from the manufacturer, but they complement the piece perfectly. We also love the "crate" the EV arrives in, something we're reasonably certain won't be tossed in the recycle bin by most buyers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Season 2 Begins June 13th

The exhaust rattling laughs that accompanied the first season of Jerry Seinfeld's web series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is returning for a second season. In the trailer above you can see some of the upcoming guests ranging from David Letterman, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, Don Rickles, Seth Myers, and more. The cars are the rear star of the series however and we are enticed into the new episodes with the full spectrum of automobilia, from A Lamborghini Miura to a Volvo wagon.

If the new stuff is but half as good as season one, this will still be one of the very best shows never on television.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Collector Car Price Tracker Helps You Make Best Buy

Keith Martin recently teamed up with eBay Motors to create the Collector Car Price Tracker, a stand alone database of real-world car values based on recent sales of virtually every automobile that exists, or at least every type that has been offered for sale on eBay.

Screenshot from
You already know Keith Martin for his Sports Car Market value guides and for being the co-host on "What's My Car Worth" so it was a natural pairing between the two automotive data powerhouses. The old-school Kelly's Blue Book and NADA guides have their fans and detractors, and surely this new service will too since it reflects what people have paid and we all know that most cars bought on eBay are never seen in person prior to purchase therefore leaving room for overvaluation in some cases.

Regardless, having one more tool in your box to get the best deal is never a bad thing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Your Mechanic's Stethoscope is Outdated

A group of engineers in Korea have found a creative new way to diagnose engine problems, random rattles, and otherwise annoying sounds that emminate from within the innards of your Outback (or whatever car you drive).

The Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed a 4-lb handheld camera outfitted with 30 digital microphones paired to a high-definition lens to detect and diagnose the areas of an engine that are producing sounds. The device accomplishes this by displaying each range of frequency as a specific color, red is the most intense and blue would be the least. You can now peer deep inside the engine digitally using these color patters to figure out if your cam shaft is the culprit or if your neighbor's kitty is simply camping out for the night inside your air box.

The technology isn't limited to automotive applications of course and over time we're sure many types of businesses and industries could benefit. Will classrooms of the future have a digital classroom monitor so the teacher no longer has to ask, "who's talking in the back?" Or perhaps a ceiling mounter taser system could automatically dole out justice to movie theatre talkers.  Hmmmm, the future is bright indeed!

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