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Old 17th December 2014, 22:31   #1
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Default Tales & Legends of the Automotive world

This existence of this thread is merely to create a collection of articles about cars that have attained a certain status that goes beyond what is norm and the story behind their cult.

Safe to say that in our world of technology and machines, cars have a certain charm and character about them that makes them stand out from other machinery. Even the most non car enthusiastic person in the world will have to admit that there is something about cars that gives them a certain aura of life that washing machines and refrigerators can't dish out. Maybe it's because cars are the natural successors of our old four legged traveling pals the Horse.
Whatever the reasons might be we have to acknowledge that the world is a much more interesting place with the cars in it.

But all cars are not equal. Because some are more equal than the others.

I am going to kick start the thread with the story of a four door sedan that terrorized UK roads during the 1990's. The Lotus Carlton.

Tales & Legends of the Automotive world-vauxhall_lotus_carlton_6.jpg

Introduced in 1990, the Lotus Carlton or the Lotus Omega was conceived when GM decided it's Vauxhall brand needed a halo car of it's own to go head to head against BMW's M5. BMW's M division had already made a serious reputation for themselves with the M1, E30 M3, E28 M5. So GM must have thought it would be a good idea to tune its mid size executive sedan the "Carlton" by a reputed performance brand. Luckily they had Lotus under its ownership. The rest is history.

The top pf the line Vauxhall Carlton 3.0 straight six was given to Lotus who enlarged the engine to 3.6 and strapped on two turbochargers for good measure. The result was 377 bhp and 568 NM of torque, 0-100 in 5.2 seconds, 0-160 in 11 seconds and a top speed of 280 kph. Of course it came only in manual and with no traction control or stability control. This all ultimately meant that the jumped up mid size sedan from Vauxhall had more performance than a Ferrari Testarossa. And it's top speed figure of 280 kph was the headline grabber though. Never before something with an actual boot could go so fast at that time. The authorities were a bit worried about the launch of the Lotus Carlton. Sadly poor officer Plod's worries soon became reality.

The 1990's were a time of economic recession and just like what happened few years ago in Britain, things turned really ugly.

Britain was enveloped in a string of violent robberies, in which thieves would ram stolen cars into the windows of retail stores and make off with jewellery and booze. Mainly Booze.
While not a new phenomenon, "ram raids" spiked in Britain during the global economic meltdown of that period, and subsequently dominated the 24-hour news cycle.

And so, when a particular group of smash-and-grab thieves were looking for the ultimate getaway car, the Lotus Carlton was at the top of their list.
They made their move on the night of November 26, 1993. According to the papers, a gang of ram raiders snatched a Lotus Carlton and in the months that followed, they used it to rip off an estimated 20,000 GBP in liquor and cigarettes. The thieves hid the car during the day, and struck after midnight. The cops were helpless in their Fiat Pandas while the thieves and their hot-rod Vauxhall were making a mockery of the force. Although their policy of not giving high speed pursuits like they do in the U.S also might have had something to do with it.

The media soon jumped on the story of "the car that was too fast for public safety" and called for the car to be banned, or at least its top speed to be restricted. None of that happened though. GM executives coolly looked the other way in-spite of all the media pressures.
Eventually, the number of incidents waned, and while the media hung on to the ram-raid story for dear life, the police never did catch that particular gang. Hmmm and I thought Indian cops were the only hopeless ones. The thieves can thank the performance of their stolen Lotus Carlton, a car whose story resounds in British automotive lore. In one often-told urban legend, after one such ram raid, the gang outran a police helicopter on the highway. That may or may not be true, but knowing the Lotus Carlton's 0-160 time of 11 seconds flat, it could very well have been possible.

They say the stars that shine twice as bright live half as long. And same was the case with the Lotus Carlton. It's production was halted in December 1992 with only 950 cars produced. All of them came in the imperial British Racing Green.

[Content courtesy of Wikipedia, Jalopnik, Evo]

Here are some pics.

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Here are some cool video reviews about the Lotus Carlton.

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Old 20th December 2014, 21:16   #2
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Incredible stories about cars like these are numerous. In this thread, the story can be about any car from any make. No car needs to be expensive and fast to be special. So If anybody has got any good car story, please do share it here.
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Old 3rd January 2015, 18:24   #3
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The Drunken Master

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This is the story of Duncan Hamilton. Duncan was a a British amateur racing driver, who was educated at Brighton College, flew Lysanders with the Fleet Air Arm in World War II and ran a garage.
He appeared in five Formula One Grand Prix in the 40s and 50s with no significant success. Duncan's fate thou, was to become arguably the most famous motor racing story of all time. Back in the 40s and the 50s, professional sport was just in it's first years of development. In most of the cases with automotive racing, it was just a side activity for people with a lot of money. Even though being very popular even back then, motor racing was yet to turn a truly professional. Duncan Hamilton, therefore wasnt taking racing seriously - for him it was the thing to do, after drinking all the booze and having all the girls. He became a sort of mascot for the scene.

Aside from Formula One, Duncan contested nine times in the legendary endurance race "The 24 Hours of Le Mans". The most notable was the race of 1953. Driving a works Jaguar C-Type, he and co-driver Tony Rolt believed that they had failed to gain entry for the race because they had been disqualified for practicing in a car with the same number as another on the circuit at the same time. So, after qualifying, they headed into town for a monster session. Only once they’d drowned their sorrows several times over were they found by a team member who told them that they would be starting the race after all. And guess what happened - still completely drunk, they won the race. A very interesting part of the whole story though, was the fact that Hamilton collided with a bird, while driving at 130 mph. He got his nose broken, but he soldiered on. Another racing legend says, that Duncan refused to drink coffee in the pit-stop to keep himself awake, because it was making his hands shaky. Instead, to keep him calm and focused, the team were giving him a glass of brandy. Still, the fact remains that despite being drunk, Duncan Hamilton and his co-driver, became the first team to average a speed of 100 mph in the history of Le Mans.

Tales & Legends of the Automotive world-kfojvig.jpg

Later that year, Duncan made even more of an impact when he crashed into a pylon when racing in Oporto and cut off the power supply to the Portuguese city for several hours.
When Hamilton eventually came to he was in the operating theatre – in semi-darkness – and in the company of two nuns and a surgeon whose cigar was dangling precariously above his open chest cavity.
‘Why is it dark in here?’ Hamilton mumbled.
‘Because the pylon you crashed into fed this hospital’s electricity,’ replied the surgeon.
‘Why aren’t I anaesthetised?’
‘Because the anaesthetist went to watch the motor race you were in.’
‘And what are these nuns doing here?’
‘They are to give you as much port as it takes to numb your pain. Or the last rites. Whichever comes first.’

All things considered – fighting in Word War II, racing cars whilst intoxicated and crashing into electricity pylons – it’s a wonder that Duncan Hamilton lived to the ripe old age of 74. But even though Hamilton is with us no more, this is one automotive legend that will not be forgotten any time soon.

[content courtesy- teamliquid.net, venmotorspoet.wordpress]
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Old 16th January 2015, 21:11   #4
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Fallen Legend- Mosler Automotive

Warren Mosler was a hedge fund manager who in 1985 started a company called Consulier Industries and build a 990 kilo, mid engined sports car called the Consulier GTP. It had a fiber glass and foam monocoque chassis and was powered by a 2.2 L 190 hp, Chrysler engine. The entire car apart from the chassis was made out of bits and bobs from the spare parts bin of the big three (Ford, GM, Chrysler).The resulting fiberglass-bodied car had a marvelous power-to-weight ratio and did so well in racing that it was eventually banned.

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In 1993, Consulier Industries spun off its automotive division, now named Mosler Automotive. The newly named Mosler Automotive introduced the Intruder, a rebodied Consulier with a new 300 hp GM LT1 engine. This car raced at the 24 hours of Nelson Ledges for two consecutive years, winning both years - unfortunately, the Intruder was also banned after its dominating 1993-4 performances. In 1996, an Intruder modified by Lingenfelter Performance Engineering to yield 450 hp won Car and Driver's One Lap of America. It too was banned after three victories.

In 2001, an all-new Mosler debuted - the Mosler MT900. This carbon-fiber chassis, rear wheel drive supercar was designed by using Siemens advanced design software, and used a 350 hp (261 kW), mid-mounted GM LS1 engine. An early prototype MT900S, despite being 390 pounds (177 kg) heavier and having 65 hp (49 kW) less power than the production version could achieve a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, and a quarter-mile time of 12 seconds flat.

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Since then, the MT900 has undergone several revisions to become the 2005 MT900S, which has 435 hp (324 kW) from its Corvette Z06-derived LS-6 V8, powering a 2,500 lb (1136 kg) car (without fuel). A Photon variant is available which adds a Hewland transmission, thinwall subframes, BBS magnesium wheels, titanium springs, and carbon fiber seats and bodywork, reducing the car's mass to 1,980 lb (900 kg). MotorTrend with its guest hot shoe, Le Mans winner Justin Bell, behind the wheel reported a 0-60 time of 3.1 seconds, a standing quarter-mile time of 11.72 seconds and a standing mile time of 30.4 seconds. In addition to breaking acceleration records, Motor Trend also reported 60-0 braking in 100 feet, braking from 100-0 in 275 feet and the ultimate test, 0-100-0 in 10.98 seconds, breaking the 11.15 second record previously held by the McLaren F1 LM. It was discovered after the Motor Trend test that the Mosler MT900 test car had a faulty O2 sensor and was very down on power.

Tales & Legends of the Automotive world-bankoboev.ru_mosler_mt900_gt3_gonka.jpg

Introduced concurrently was the MT900R, a race prepared version of the MT900. In 2003, the MT900R won the GTS Division of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. In Europe, the MT900R has successfully raced and won in the British GT Championship, FIA GT Tourist Trophy races, International Open GT Championship, Britcar Championship, Spanish GT Championship as well as selected races in other series.

Mosler cars were not without its faults though. Chief of which has to be the looks. Then there is the obvious lack of finesse in the interiors and so on. But then again people seemed not to realize what this car stood for and largely ignored it despite the truly impressive performance on the race track. Such a shame. The automotive world needs more people like Warren Mosler. He stuck on to a singular vision of less is more when everybody else was going the opposite way. Perhaps that is also his greatest flaw. He never was a great sales person and he simply couldn't convince the market of what he has done.

Mosler Automotive is now defunct and Warren Mosler has moved out of Car making business. Truly a loss for the automotive world. A loss that nobody seems even to have noticed.

[Content courtesy- Wikipedia, Time Magazine]

This is video is an interview of Warren Mosler by Motor Trend Magazine. Really touching story.

Here is one where Tiff puts the MT900 through its paces.

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Old 22nd February 2015, 18:57   #5
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The Lost Serpent

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You know I had originally planned to do a write up on Carroll Shelby and his infamous Cobra 427. But while browsing the net for contents I came up across this weird story of a Shelby Daytona Coupe in the Car and Driver website.

A short intro- The Shelby Daytona Coupe also called the Daytona Cobra Coupe was a coupé loosely based on the AC Cobra. It was built for racing, specifically to take on Ferrari and its 250 GTO in the GT class. Just six Shelby Daytona Coupes were built between 1964 and 1965, as Shelby was reassigned to the Ford GT40 project to compete at the 24 hours of Le Mans, again to compete with Ferrari. With the Shelby Daytona, Shelby became the first American constructor to win a title on the international scene at the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1965. The car in our story is the very first Shelby Daytona Coupe built- Chassis#2287.

The story as posted in Car and Driver site goes as follows;

"The two cops who came upon the middle-aged woman in the last hours of her life, lying on the bridle path of a park in Fullerton, California, an hour after sunrise, must surely have dreadful memories of her they'd like to forget.

She lay on the path, naked, her clothes burned away, her body charred from her singed platinum hair down to her toes. She was tucked into one last fetal position. Nearby were two gallon jugs, one empty and the other half-filled with gas. It was Sunday, October 22, 2000.

The cops thought she was dead. Then one of them noticed movement of her torso. She was breathing. He leaned down. Who did this terrible thing to you?

He could barely hear what she said: "Just . . . let me . . . die." Lying there, before the ambulance arrived, she made it known in whispers that she had done this to herself. She was angry at still being alive; to a cop's persistent questions, she twice spit out: "Shut up." She would not give her name.

She must have been in unimaginable pain, with burns over 98 percent of her body. Police would later theorize that sometime in the night, this woman, who was five feet four and weighed 168 pounds, had made her way to the park a mile or so from her home in La Habra, poured gasoline over herself, and set it ablaze in a concrete culvert under a bridge along the horse trail, but the terror of the flames had set her in motion and she was found 30 feet away. More bizarrely, she'd done the same thing to two rabbits, presumably pets, both dead nearby. The police never determined if she'd had help from someone.

At the hospital, a nurse shook her head. The burned woman repeated her desire to die. Before night fell, she got her wish.

Weeks passed. Police thought she'd been a homeless person. A big-city newspaper reporter wrote a feature story on how the coroner goes about identifying Jane Does like her, but the story was killed by an editor who thought it in poor taste to exploit a sad, deranged woman.

And then a former boyfriend, who co-owned the house she lived in, filed a missing-persons report after she failed to make a house payment. The mystery ended almost six weeks after her suicide. She was Donna O'Hara, 54, a divorced woman who had worked for 13 years at a Sears merchandise-distribution center in Santa Ana.

One tried to imagine what madness had led her to this.

Soon there was an even more perplexing question: What had happened to the Shelby Cobra race car that Donna O'Hara had locked away in storage for almost three decades, the one that had been worth maybe 10 grand when the padlock went on but was now worth $4 million, the one that she got angry about when anyone brought up the subject? Very soon, a whole bunch of people would be talking about it-in court.

When this first-built Daytona Cobra coupe, known as CSX2287, was retired from racing in 1965, Carroll Shelby sold it for $4500 to Jim Russell of Russkits, a maker of miniature slot-racing cars. That's how much interest there was then in beat-up "old" race cars.

Russell recalls, "Shelby's guys knew some shop in Tijuana that could put an interior in it, so we sent it there. I had to weld eight Smithy mufflers on it to quiet it down."

A year or so later, Russell sold it to Phil Spector, then about 26 and well on his way to becoming rock music's first star producer and megarich in the process. Achieving that, he would become a recluse.

"He lived in this big mansion in the Hollywood Hills with a curving driveway," Russell said recently. "At first, he wouldn't come out-I heard he avoided face-to-face meetings if at all possible, and my partner, who was a lawyer, went back and forth inside the house to finalize the sale. I heard Beethoven or Mozart being piped through the house. Then Spector came out. He didn't drive it, figuring if it made it under its own power, it was working. He gave me a check for $7500."

Recluse or not, Spector was looking for attention, so he had the car's racing heroics painted onto both doors of the car. The claims were clownish, childishly ridiculous: "Winner 33 grand prix" and "Land speed record 227 mph" and "427 cu in engine." He drove it around, but it was a cop magnet, and he complained about the cost of upkeep.

Near the end of the 1960s, a newly hired mansion manager named George Brand wound up with it. Brand was an ex-cop who was pushing 50 and had gone to work for Spector about 1968, the same year Brand was divorced from his wife, Dorothy. Russell remembers him as "a helluva nice guy-could do anything, some kind of house man for Spector, very practical." Precisely how Brand wound up with the car would become, 32 years later, the multimillion-dollar question. Brand is 80 now, lives in an assisted-living home, and has a mental disorder similar to early-stage Alzheimer's, but has been quoted as saying Spector sold it to him for $1000. Brand would work for the difficult Mr. Spector for 19 years. When his health failed, sources say, he retired, sought health benefits, and not getting them, successfully sued Spector.

Back in '68, Brand looked around for a place to store the Cobra. His daughter, Donna, volunteered a garage-type storage unit she rented. Donna was in her early 20s and had been married about three years to her high-school sweetheart, John O'Hara, who worked at an orange grove in Yorba Linda. The O'Haras wanted to drive it around, so they managed to get the race car registered, reportedly without her father's knowledge, in both their names. But race cars are mechanical headaches on the street, and near the end of '71, it went into storage.

The Cobra was still garaged when the O'Haras' marriage ended, childless, in 1982. John O'Hara reportedly made no claim to the Cobra when the couple divided up their assets. The car sat in storage, and Donna paid the monthly fees.

About 1988, she got the job at a Sears distribution center. Soon she was dating a forklift driver there, Robert Doty, although Donna would break it off six months later. But she did invite Doty, who eventually became her supervisor at work, to invest in buying a home in 1990 in La Habra and becoming housemates. Doty hoped it might rekindle a romance, but it was not to be: "The first time I walked into the house, she said, 'There are four rooms. Which one do you want?'" Doty moved out in 1993 and is now married.

Asked to describe Donna, Doty, now 52, said, "She was a very strong individual. She didn't need nobody. She was an independent person-the most independent person I've ever known. She was very beautiful. She went to museums. She was very intelligent. She had a way of doing things, but anybody who says she was disturbed just didn't know the lady."

A cousin, Chuck Jones, described her as "a very sensitive person, very cultured," who was involved in the arts and theater of Orange County.

In those years, Doty says she never mentioned the Cobra to him, nor spoke of her marriage of 17 years. "She was a very, very private person," he says. And then, about five years ago, a vintage-car collector tracked her down and offered $150,000 for the Cobra. Doty recalls, "I thought he was talking about a Shelby Mustang. Whatever, she said no, and she said she did not want to talk about it. I told her she could pay off the house with the money, but she said no."

Word of the "lost Cobra" spread. Car hunters began circling, only to be rebuked, rudely. There was an offer of $500,000. Donna O'Hara seemed to get angrier as the hunters closed in. She got a reputation as being weird. When Carroll Shelby came calling, she would not concede even that she had the car. She was "kooky," he said. A lawyer's investigator who came bearing an offer of $2 million was supposedly run off her front yard.

Everyone agrees Donna O'Hara's life began to fall apart by the summer of 2000. In August, she suddenly broke off with a boyfriend. Doty was a constant reminder that they'd agreed to cash out the house when Donna turned 55 in February. She would have to move out.

Then there was the job. A relative says she was about to be fired. Sears refuses to comment. After her death, a file was found among her papers in which Donna alleged all sorts of improprieties at the office; in the file was a news clipping about a person who had won millions in a whistle-blower case. A co-worker says she was simply paranoid, thought people were out to get her, and went around in a simmering rage.

She was estranged from both parents. In 1993, she'd invited her mother to move in, but Donna flew into rages over petty things and Dorothy Brand was gone in weeks. She hadn't spoken to her father since his last visit in 1995, and at that get-together she'd called the police on him without any real cause. "She was estranged from every single member of her family," a relative said. Then a plan to start a retail business with another woman failed to materialize. So now her job was unbearable, she was about to lose her house, and how could a 54-year-old shipping-and-receiving clerk start over again?

On October 17, a Tuesday, she walked off the job in the morning and went home. She phoned Kurt Goss, 50, a friend of her family since the days when, as a teenager, he cleaned up at George Brand's family billiards parlor, an alcohol-free place in the town of Orange, where Brand was a county marshal from 1956 to '68. Years later, Goss would provide living quarters for Brand at a facility where Goss had a well-drilling business, and in return, the ex-cop would keep an eye on the place.

Goss says he drove to Donna's home that morning. Later, in a court deposition, he would say he "had always been enthusiastic about the [Cobra] car and used to drive it in the early 1970s. Donna had told me several times since she purchased the car that it had been purchased with the intention that I own it. Donna told me she was in the process of executing documents needed to transfer the Cobra to me. She then gave me the keys to the storage unit where the Cobra was kept." He added that O'Hara had granted access for him on the storage contract.

That morning, Goss says, Donna told him "that in the unlikely event that anything should happen to her" she wanted him to look after her personal effects. To do so, she gave him a bunch of keys-to her home, a safety-deposit box, a garage in Placentia, and an Anaheim storage facility where the Cobra was housed.

Five days later, Donna O'Hara killed herself and her two rabbits. In testimony to her aloneness, no one noticed she was missing until Doty came up short on the house payment.

So why hadn't she erased her financial problems by selling the car? An anonymous rare-car expert offers a theory: "She knew that her father got the car in, well, a questionable way. She knew her father and Spector ended up enemies. If she tried to sell it, she might get in real trouble because she knew it wasn't hers to sell. So here she had this $4 million car hidden away, but she couldn't sell it-and that's why she didn't want collectors coming around and drawing attention to it. The best she could hope for was for Spector to die, and then she could sell it."

An interesting theory, until one discovers that Goss's lawyers have in their possession a certificate of ownership issued in July 1982 by the state of California that officially recognizes Donna O'Hara as the "registered owner" of the car. Back to square one.

After she was identified, George and Dorothy Brand, Kurt Goss, and her cousin Chuck Jones appeared on December 2 at the La Habra home. Jones says, and police corroborate, that she left "suicide notes an inch thick." George Brand, who gets around well despite his mental disadvantage, was "in great grief," Jones says.

In the garage of her home, on a pool table, Jones found "pink slips" to three vehicles-a '69 MG, a '69 Datsun, a '92 Geo Metro-but doesn't remember seeing one for the Cobra. Jones says he collected these papers and others and placed them in a box, which George Brand took when he was driven home. Supposedly, O'Hara left a short handwritten note saying she hoped Goss would find a place for the Cobra in a museum, but there were many, many notes to Doty and Goss, and authorities will not comment on their content.

The next day, Goss went to the Anaheim storage facility, with Jones joining him as the Brand family's representative. Sure enough, Donna had listed Goss as a person to be granted access to her storage. And Donna did fill out a vehicle-transfer document in which she clearly names Goss as recipient of the Cobra, albeit in a slovenly way that has invited challenge.

Goss paid $300 in back rent, then Jones used bolt cutters on the rusted combination padlock. The door swung open and there, in the gloom and dust, its nose crunched in, was CSX2287, the Cobra that had electrified the racing world in 1964 and '65. On four flat tires. A new lock was put in place, and they left. During the next two weeks, Goss could have removed the car, but he didn't.

Late in December, as the shock of her daughter's death ebbed-her only other child, a daughter, had died of a reported drug overdose decades earlier-Dorothy Brand, who had power of attorney for her former husband, began to look into the old race car. She knew it was valuable, she knew she was the next of kin since no will had been found, and her first act was to make sure the golden egg stayed put.

On December 18, she had her nephew, Chuck Jones, drive her to the Anaheim storage facility. Jones later testified: "Dorothy had completed the title form which enabled her to take control of the garage as next of kin. She also paid the January rent. After viewing the contents [with the Cobra inside], we double-bolted the garage." Now there were two locks on the storage.

Then around Christmastime Mrs. Brand, going through her daughter's things, found a most amazing letter: a written offer of more than $2 million for the Cobra! There was a phone number, and four days after Christmas, she called the man who'd made the offer, a man with a cultured English accent that she liked, a vintage-race-car broker from that fancy area called Montecito, near Santa Barbara.

Yes indeed, said the car hunter, whose name was Martin Eyears, the offer was still good. But Dorothy wanted him to know he was not dealing with Edith Bunker-she was well aware that one of the six Cobra race cars had sold at auction last summer for $4 million. So, she'd like $4 million, too. Oh, replied Eyears calmly, but that was a perfectly restored Cobra, and that could cost, oh, a fortune. Very well then, said Dorothy Brand, I'll take $3 million. And that, in so many imagined words, is how Dorothy Brand became a millionaire at the age of 78.

Eyears paid off on February 7, and Dorothy handed over the keys and a notarized bill of sale signed by the Brands, but not the "pink slip." Hearing dreadful rumors, Goss arrived 10 days later at the storage facility with a pair of attorneys in tow, only to be greeted by four oily spots where the Cobra's tires had rested for decades, and an appalling sense of loss.

Eyears moved quickly. He had trailered it to a colleague's garage, put out word that he had the "lost Cobra," and almost at the moment Kurt Goss's heart was losing altitude, Steve Volk, president of the Shelby American Collection Museum in Boulder, Colorado, offered $3,750,000 for it.

Eyears liked the sound of that but backed out two days later. The winning bidder was a Philadelphia neurosurgeon named Frederick Simeone, who is, as you might imagine, not discussing the matter publicly. He reportedly paid $4 million. It's a good bet the car is long gone from California.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Brand, in an expansive mood, was said to have given $150,000 to her favorite charity and then doled out $850,000 to relatives. Goss went to court claiming the car had been stolen out from under him and got an injunction tying up the remaining $2 million. The judge, understandably confused, ordered a hearing April 17.

On that date in the court of Judge James Gray, as the assembled lawyers began evil-eye warm-ups, a new lawyer appeared at the last moment, just like in the movies, and said this:

"Mr. Spector is the owner of the Cobra. He never gave it or sold it to anyone."

Well, that guy was just the messenger lawyer. Spector's real lawyer, it turns out, is Robert Shapiro, one of the lead smooth talkers of O.J. Simpson's "Dream Team." He was busy back in Century City, up on the 18th floor in the swell offices of a seven-name law firm.

Spector, Shapiro informed, had simply turned over the car to Brand to store for him. Spector assumed that his financial managers were taking care of the details, as they do with his mucho other investments. Shapiro finished with a pearl of insight about Spector: "This isn't a man who gets in his car every morning and checks his oil pressure and drives to work."

The judge ordered all the lawyers to get together for a settlement conference on October 5, and when that fails, a civil trial will commence on November 19.

There was one more twist in this Hollywood script. Thirty-three years after they were divorced, it was announced that Dorothy and George Brand will remarry. For the moment, they have a considerable nest egg for their old, old age."

That's quite a story.

Throw in an item number here, a few fight scenes there and you have got all the makings of a Bollywood Masala Flick.
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Old 23rd February 2015, 11:11   #6
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Int'l Forum. Thanks for sharing!

Here's another thread with interesting tales from the Indian car scene - Link (Fun & Interesting Trivia on the Indian Car Scene).

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Old 23rd February 2015, 12:36   #7
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Default Re: Tales & Legends of the Automotive world

Awesome thread this is !

Cars , true to their service, can be called mystified objects [ if not creatures like horses] and the stories that are spun around cars would as much attract the attention as the cars itself , to the petrol-heads .

Let the stories flow on ...
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Old 23rd February 2015, 12:48   #8
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Fantastic start! Already feels like an enthusiast's bible in the making! Brilliant effort! Rating 5 stars and subscribing to the thread. Thank you!
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Old 24th February 2015, 14:51   #9
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Refreshing! Subscribed and rated five stars.. please keep it coming!
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Old 24th February 2015, 19:29   #10
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Default Re: Tales & Legends of the Automotive world

A very famous tale of a buried Ferrari Dino 246 GTS! Read on!

Source: Jalopnik

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These photos, taken in February, 1978, show a Dino 246 GTS being unearthed from the front yard of a home in Los Angeles. The photos have been making the rounds online for years. But what's the real story? How'd the Dino wind up underground, and where is it now?
In May, 1977, Sandra Ilene West, dressed in her best lace nightgown and seated upright at the wheel of her powder-blue 1964 Ferrari 330 America, was lowered into a concrete mausoleum — just as her last will and testament had instructed.
The 37-year-old widow of a Texas oilman had died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs at her home in Beverly Hills. She and the car had been shipped to San Antonio for burial next to her late husband's grave. After workmen placed the car, containing Ms. West, in its final resting place, two trucks poured cement into the bunker to discourage car thieves from digging it up.
The story of Ms. West's subterranean Ferrari made national headlines that year, and in the decades that followed became part of Ferrari lore. But it wouldn't be the only underground Italian sports car to capture the country's attention in the late '70s.
Nearly a year later, a group of kids were digging in the mud outside a house at 1137 W. 119th St. in the West Athens section of Los Angeles. Just below the surface, they struck something that felt like the roof of a car. They flagged down a sheriff's cruiser.
Priscilla Painton, staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times, recorded what happened next for history. The story unfolded of a strange, four-wheeled treasure that two sheriff's detectives would unearth from the front yard of a suburban house. When the story hit newspapers around the country, it reminded many of Ms. West's odd Italian coffin, only this time the driver's seat was empty.

Attacking the yard with a skip loader and a small team of men with shovels, detectives Joe Sabas and Lenny Carroll uncovered a dark, metallic green, Dino 246 GTS (serial number 07862) from the the sandy Los Angeles loam. In her article, which ran on Feburary 8, 1978, Painton wrote the car appeared to be in "surprisingly good condition," and estimated its worth at around $18,000 (around $63,500 in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars). Ferrari enthusiasts would later note the Dino had been fitted with the optional Campagnolo wheels and Daytona seats.
Investigators dug into the provenance of the Dino — license plate 832 LJQ — discovering it had been bought in October, 1974 by Rosendo Cruz of Alhambra, California. On December 7, 1974, Cruz had reported the car stolen, and the police report was kept on file at the Rampart division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

But the mystery remained. How did the Dino get there? The house's then-current tenants (who'd only lived there for three months) offered no explanation, and none of the area's residents said they'd had noticed anything odd happening at the house back in 1974. That struck detective Sabas as odd. After all, he joked, burying a Dino is "not like planting cabbages." Whoever buried it had obviously expected to claim it later; they'd attempted to mummify it in plastic sheets and had stuffed towels into its intakes to keep the worms out.
With no leads, the case of the stolen, buried Ferrari fizzled soon after the car's strange uncovering. Cops had years before declared the original incident a "righteous theft." Farmers Insurance Group had agreed with the police and paid off a loss of $22,500 to the Dino's legal owner, the Hollywood branch of the Bank of America. There was no more to be done. The unearthed Dino was returned to the insurance company, which would perform its own sorting-out process.
Photographer Michael Haering shot the story for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He remembered the case for its odd newsworthiness and coincidental connection to Ms. West's Ferrari burial.
At the time we (the press) were puzzled and amused that a thief would bury a car, especially in his back yard. Many jokes we passed around at the time: One customer to car salesman, "Say, I'd like to buy a Ferrari, got any leads?" Salesman, "Let me get back to you, I'll see what I can dig up."
During that period there was a story of [Ms. West and her Ferrari coffin] and a question emerged if this could be accomplished legally. The press compared the two stories and played them off one another. Story drew lots of attention as a novelty. Then of course, it played itself out.
But that's not the end of the story. Greg Sharp, writing for AutoWeek (March 3, 1986) picked up the trail of the dirty Dino long after its exhuming, and followed it back to the car's pre-burial life.
Originally ordered by Modern Classic Motors in Reno, Nevada, her new destination, as one of a 10 model allotment, was Griswald Motors in the San Francisco Bay Area. She remained in the showroom on Market Street only two weeks before being purchased and either driven or dispatched by truck 400 miles south to Los Angeles. The buyer was yet another of America's 46 Ferrari dealers, Hollywood Sports Cars. It is a dealership inevitably famous for its Ferrari sales to Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Sammy Davis Jr., Pat Boone, William Holden, Jayne Mansfield, the Gabor sisters, poor Sharon Tate and Suzanne Pleshette. Hollywood Sports Cars is supported by more than the glamour colony, however, so late that October, for a price of $22,500, the Dino was purchased by a plumber as a birthday present for his wife.
The wife drove it a total of 501 miles. Then, on Dec. 7, the evening of their wedding anniversary, wife and husband visited the Brown Derby restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard where the plumber instantly was put on his guard by the anticipatory gleams in the eyes of the valet parkers. He left the Dino on Wilshire Boulevard. That other parties, too, had eyes for Dino became evident when the couple returned from their anniversary dinner and discovered her missing.
Then, as the story goes, it was found underground. But by mentioning the car had been lifted out in "surprisingly good" condition, the LA Times article inadvertently set off a frenzy, and the switchboard at Farmers lit up with prospective buyers. Insurance investigator Tom Underwood decided it might be appropriate to to take a look and see if the Dino's condition matched the reportage. It didn't.
As Sharp wrote,
The Dino's 21 layers of paint (14 primer, 7 paint) were freckled with white pox. Rust had eaten cancerous holes in the Pininfarina body and then spread everywhere, including inside the elegant leather interior (the dumb ass thieves brilliantly stuffed towels between the windows, then neglected to remember to roll up the windows all the way).
Erosion had wasted the wheels and chewed the camshaft covers. Both twin exhausts were plugged solid with mud. The mauling that the sorry Dino had absorbed being dragged out of the hole must have been horrible, too, because the hood of her engine compartment was partially crushed, there were terrific scratch marks and gouges across her roof, and the windshield was smashed.
It all was so mournfully sad, and so hopelessly bad, that Tom Underwood was able to wrap up his investigation in record time. Any idea that somebody outside of the Ferrari factory itself could restore the Dino to anything approaching its original state seemed ludicrous.
By this time, Farmers was receiving so many calls about the car, company officials feared a public-relations crisis. Underwood had an idea. He'd put the car on public display. Farmers trucked the sad Dino to a private warehouse in Pasadena, where it remained on view for two weeks. The company invited viewers to submit sealed bids. But the plan backfired. Scalzo wrote, "After two weeks of sordid pawing, she was returned to Farmers missing almost everything not bolted down, including her oil dip stick. Few legitimate bids were submitted."
And so, Underwood invited the original callers to re-submit bids. Few did, but it took only one to sell it. A high bid of between $5000 and $9000 made the Dino the property of a young mechanic with his own garage on Burbank Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley. After a new alternator and distributor, he even got the Dino to start. And then the cylinder rings stuck. Sharp puts a cap on the story.
Afterward the young mechanic moved the Dino and himself out of the garage on Burbank Boulevard without leaving a forwarding address, Then he or parties unknown perfectly completed the Dino's impossible restoration. Duly registered and newly licensed [with vanity tags reading "DUGUP"] by California's Department of Motor Vehicles, the buried Dino next was returned to what I hope is high speed play out on L.A.'s kinking boulevards and across our endless and flat out four and five laners.
More than 30 years after it was found, the dirty Dino remains unlisted on any Dino registry. That's not to say it's not somewhere out there. Indeed, it just may be
Jalopnik even tracked the car down in 2012. Here is the video:

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Old 26th February 2015, 18:58   #11
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Default Re: Tales & Legends of the Automotive world

Absolutely delightful stories. Had viewed the story of buried Dino sometime back on youtube.

The other stories were refreshing and dramatic. Keep it coming.
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Old 1st March 2015, 20:10   #12
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Default Re: Tales & Legends of the Automotive world

There should be a thread like this for our very own Indian Cars/ cars available here.
Legendary cars and such.
Esteem, Amby etc may be a part of it i suppose.
I'd love to read up about our local legends anytime!
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Old 15th April 2015, 18:36   #13
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The Legend of the Original Flying Sikh

Source : http://www.nation.co.ke/sports/Kenya...z/-/index.html

If you want to understand the greatness of Joginder Singh, do not look at the 22 times that he entered the East African Safari Rally and failed to finish only three. Do not analyse his three wins, which were the first by any competitor. Do not even go to his retirement home in Surrey, England and marvel at the trophies, certificates, books, newspapers, magazines and documentaries that chronicle his victories in motor rallies around the world.

Instead, go back to 1971. There you’ll find his second worst placing in the Safari besides the three retirements in 1972, 1975 and 1978. He finished 16th overall in his works prepared Ford Escort Twin-Cam. But that is where to start. It is there that you’ll find the confluence between the myth and the reality which, in Joginder’s case, are one and the same thing.

By this time, he was already lionized as The Flying Sikh and Simba wa Kenya. He had attained a superhuman status in the psyche of one generation of Kenyans and they need not necessarily have been motor sport fans. Little boys curved cars out of cartons and affixed wheels of soda and beer bottle tops and trailed them around in an imaginary Safari route shouting ‘Joginder! Joginder! Joginder!’ Only the winners qualified to claim that title because Joginder could never be second best.

Maybe one of these boys was Patrick Njiru, probably Kenya’s most talented African rally driver who years later as an ace in his own right, spoke about his earliest inspiration. He said: “Joginder Singh.”

He was a rare breed whose appeal lay in a sublime neutrality so that the millions who loved him – people who lived in mental ethnic and racial cocoons - didn’t see a Sikh or an Asian; just a motoring superman. The profundity of this quality was such that it needed no words to propagate and few of the multitudes who were enamoured of The Flying Sikh have ever heard him speak.

Who, really, was Joginder Singh?

The 1971 Safari Rally was just a few hours underway when a nylon bush in the gearbox of Joginder’s Ford Escort melted at the foot of the Taita Hills, leaving only the reverse gear functioning. Joginder decided to return to where his service crew was and drove the car backwards for four and a half kilometres with a screw driver in place of the gear lever.

He explained: “At Ndi, in the very early stages of the Safari, we met the service team before the turn-off to the Taita Hills. After we took the turn four and half kilometres later, I found I had no gear in a corner. I stopped the car and tried all the gears. I discovered I had only the reverse gear left. So I reversed all the way, back to the service crew. All this time, about 70 more Safari cars were coming flat out towards me as I was reversing.

“On reaching the service point, we found the Ford crew had gone. Only two mechanics remained. We just opened up the gearbox and stripped it to bits. The gear selector had broken. There were no spare parts, not even at Mombasa or Dar es Salaam. We bent the levers in the gears so as to stick them in and put it all back into place. It took a lot of hammering to bend the steel rods to make them work. This took a lot of precious time.

Overtaking tail-enders

“As soon as we got back on the road, we let go at full speed. We started overtaking the tail-enders. We were right at the end. I remember overtaking Car No. 115 and we carried on overtaking them in the Taita Hills and on the stretch to Mombasa. We were the 100th car at one stage and we just kept overtaking them.”

In fact, just as Joginder had linked up with his two mechanics after the epic reverse drive, Stuart Turner, the Ford Team Chief, circled overhead in his plane and Joginder frantically waved his useless gear lever at him.

But Turner had already decided that Joginder’s case was hopeless and radioed the service crew to pursue Finland’s Hanu Mikkola, the other driver upon who all Ford’s hopes now lay as far as Turner was concerned. Mikkola would, the following year, become the first overseas driver to win the East African Safari – but that is a story for another day. Turner left Joginder to his own devices.

Anyone but Joginder would have called it quits – and that is what Turner had expected him to do. But the manager was staggered when Joginder showed up at the finish line at number three on the road. He had started off as Car No. 30 and fallen right at the back of the field. He had stripped his gearbox and reassembled it and then had it replaced altogether. He had overtaken more than one hundred cars and if the rally was a few kilometres longer, he would have wound up first on the road.

But the enormous loss of time had consigned him to a 16th place finish on points.

That drive is etched in the memory of Kenya. KBC radio, the only live media available to the nation, had periodic progress reports of the Safari and Kenyans followed the broadcasts with probably as much interest as Americans had showed with their first trip to the moon.

At the ramp at KICC, commentators and ordinary fans searched for words to describe Joginder. All questions by journalists basically amounted to only one: how had he done it? One journalist reported that many people “just wanted to touch the car that had done so well.”

Joginder, of course, had a critical advantage over many other drivers and he used it to the fullest. In his 1966 book, The Shell History of the East African Safari Rally, Charles Disney had this observation to make: “The Kenya-born Sikh brothers, Joginder and Jaswant Singh...had driven together since 1960 and had never failed to finish, never being lower in the ratings than fifth in their class.

“They had gained a class win and three class seconds and, in 1963, had been one of the seven crews to complete the Safari, finishing fourth. Both are good drivers and excellent mechanics, able to assemble, tune and prepare their cars themselves as well as being able to effect any necessary repairs en route without recourse to outside assistance.”

That is what Stuart Turner had not reckoned with. In 1971, Joginder’s co-driver was Jaswant. He was another gift. Ashok Bhalla, now Manager at the East African Safari Rally Ltd, which runs the Safari Classic, navigated Joginder in a series of local rallies. He noticed something early on.

“Joginder never forgot a bend,” says Bhalla. “He drove around it once and memorized its details – sharpness of angle, gradient of terrain, type of surface and all that. Next time we went there, he took it at the maximum speed possible. He combined the roles of driver and navigator.”

Navigated many drivers

This is collaborated by a Joginder fan, John Kagagi, better known as a rugby referee and game authority than a motor sportsman. “As small boys growing up at Itiati on the slopes of Mt Kenya, we eagerly awaited the Safari cars every Easter. Ours was a place marked by a series of hairpin bends. Joginder knew them like the back of his hand. He negotiated them at a speed nobody else could to our great thrill.”

But it is Surinder Thathi, a vice-president of the FIA, the International Automobile Federation, who paints the most poignant, most nostalgic and probably the most complete picture of the legendary driver.

He remembers: “As a little boy, I used to go to the entrance of Joginder Motors on Koinange Street and just stand there, watching my hero work. I stood and stood until Joginder came over and ordered me ‘go home now. Go and do something else.”

“I could never have enough. Many years later, after I had become a motor sportsman, I went to Joginder and said to him: ‘Joginder, I have navigated many great drivers. I have navigated Mike Kirkland; I have navigated Vic Preston Junior, Rauno Aaltonen, Avin Weber, Patrick Njiru, Ian Duncan and many others. You are the greatest driver that I’ve never had a chance to navigate. Please give me a chance.’ Joginder shook his head and said to me: ‘Sorry, my rallying days are over.’ And indeed they were. That was in 1996.”

Thathi says he missed and marvelled at the way Joginder took sharp corners.

“He approached them at high speed and then twisted the car so that it fully faced the bank on its side before pulling off. This was completely contrary to how Shekhar Mehta did it. Shekhar turned his corners ‘clean’. Vic Preston Jr was somewhere in between Joginder and Mehta.” Shekhar Mehta won the Safari a record five times – another story for another day.

Joginder Singh Bachu was born on February 9, 1932 in Kericho, the eldest of eight sons and two daughters born to Batan Singh Bachu and his wife Swaran. His father had sailed into Kenya in the 1920s in a small dhow from the Punjab region of India. By his own reckoning, he and his brothers Jaswant and Davinder took much after their father who worked as an engineer in the Kimungu factory of the Kenya Tea Company, a subsidiary of Brook Bond Kenya Ltd.

First class mechanic

Engineer the elder Bachu was but not from anybody’s university. He was self taught. In an account of his early life given to Roger Barnard and Peter Moll for their 1975 book, The Flying Sikh, illustrated by Mohammed Amin, Joginder said: “My father came from a village called Kandola near Jallunder in the Punjab. He was a big man – over six foot and weighing perhaps 220 lbs. He may have lacked education, but like so many of our people, he was very good with his hands.

“He was a first class mechanic, mason, carpenter...anything. For instance, after the last war, tools were very difficult to obtain. My father made his own. We still use some of them today in the garage. Throughout his life, he was a man of principle, a very honest man. For him, there was no cheating, no lies. But he was very quick-tempered. He often used to beat me. That’s how I learnt. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know half as much.”

Joginder went to Highland Indian School in Kericho until 1946 before being enrolled at Indian High School in Nairobi, later called Duke of Gloucester School, and today Jamhuri High School.

He described himself as a village boy who was always homesick while in school in Nairobi. He longed for Kericho, where his father already had a name for kicking up tremendous clouds of dust in his wake as he drove fast to and from work on the dirt roads. Unknown to him, the teenaged Joginder was watching, and itching to do the same.

Lost left thumb

But he had a friend whose father ran a saw mill in what is now Baricho Road in Nairobi’s Industrial Area. “In 1947,” recalled Joginder, “on a visit to the saw mill, I lost my left thumb. I was lucky not to lose my life. I was looking at the machines and noticed a belt hanging loose. I pulled at it and caught my hand in a pulley. I was thrown 20 ft away.

“Where my thumb should have been there was just a bloody pulp. When my father heard about it, he drove to Nairobi in four and a half hours. In those days, it was a great time for over 200 miles of marrum road. I think that feat almost made the loss of my thumb worthwhile.”

This thrill with speed became an all-consuming passion, as his later career proved. Once, in 1966 during the Swedish Rally, he arrived at a control point ahead of time. Sikhs with their distinctive head dress were a rarity in the country. A woman saw Joginder and was almost hysterical with concern seeing the heavy ‘bandage’ he was wearing on his head.

“He’s hurt....!” she exclaimed. “Get a doctor!” Because Joginder had arrived early, he had sufficient time to explain to the woman that he was alright and further enlightened her on the significance of his turban.

Embodiment of driving discipline

About 10 years ago, Joginder developed problems with his heart. He underwent by-pass surgery that apparently didn’t solve the problem. Today, life in his Surrey home with his wife is about going and coming back from hospital. He will be 81 next month. It is very difficult, just coming to terms with Kenya’s lion in winter – in the late afternoon of his life.

The superman of speed has always been the embodiment of driving discipline away from the rally tracks. “Often,” he said of some of his compatriots during his competition days, “drivers recognise me when I am on the road, perhaps just going to work or picking up my son from school. They have to prove that they are faster than me. It can be hair-raising at times. In town, I drive cautiously and obey the traffic regulations. It pays.”

Just the mention of his name, and the ears itch to hear the crank of a motor starter and to listen to the roaring response of a rally car’s engine. His place as one of the most imminent Kenyans of the last 50 years is assured. And to take in his fading away from the rallying scene – it is haunting.

Roy Gachuhi, a former Nation Media Group sports reporter, is a writer with The Content House
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Old 16th April 2015, 14:23   #14
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Default Re: Tales & Legends of the Automotive world

Wow. Amazing thread this is. All the stories were amazing. Story of the Dino was online some time back.

Get the stories flowing. Waiting for more.
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