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Currently filtering items tagged with #1968

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    This 550-horsepower #1968-Porsche-912 is getting all of its power from an unexpected source: the electric motor from a #Tesla-Model-S-P85D . It was made by two Southern California shops, #Zelectric-Motors and #EV-West , which convert old Volkswagens and Porsches into modernized electric cars. It’s a new way to rescue aging vintage cars — though not everyone is happy with the idea.

    / #Porsche-912 / #1968 / #2019 / #Porsche / #Porsche-912-Eelectric / #Zelectric-Motors / #Porsche-912-Zelectric-Motors / #Porsche-911
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    Metal gurus at work

    CAR: #1968-Jensen-Interceptor / #1968 / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen


    My Jensen had been with the chaps at Autostilo (www.autostilo. for a couple of months when I received that call. It might be a good time to pop up to Potters Bar and have a look, they said. Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, my natural reaction to this was fear and the thought that it could prove very expensive. On the way up there, however, I started to rationalise this a bit and found two positive needles in the haystack of uncertainty.

    The first was that a fair bit of progress must have been made, otherwise why bother getting me up there? The second was that it probably meant the car was going to be at its absolute worst because, if I were a bodywork guy, that s when I would want the owner to see it, the better to appreciate the work done thereafter. Hence, things can only get better.
    On my arrival, I was kind of impressed to see the Jensen up in the air on a two-post ramp, because it meant that the sills must be rather stronger than I had previously suspected.

    It turns out I was right on both fronts. Some good progress had been made, but some grisly discoveries had been unearthed, too, horrors which, to be fair, Massimos and Paolos initial inspection and the suspect bubbling on both A-pillars had led them to expect.

    First, the progress. I had sourced most of the panels that were needed from Jason Lawrence down at Rejen, specifically the front and rear lower valances and both rear wheelarch repair sections. Actually, Jason only had one of the arch sections in stock, but I know that Andy Brooks at Richard Appleyard Jensen has an offside item that I will try and prise out of his grasp. Apart from both lower doorskins, these are precisely the same panels that were repaired or replaced when I briefly last had the funds for bodywork, nearly nine years ago.

    The front valance is on and the rear is off awaiting the new item, plus the rear nearside arch is done. Apart from the offside arch, there remains some general tidying and some less visible welding to be done - plus those A-pillars and a proper sill inspection - before we can even think about paint.

    So completion is a long way off, but I have to say that I am delighted with the quality of work I have seen so far and I can hardly wait to get the Jensen back. I’ll just have to be patient; right now the front valance is probably the strongest part of the car!

    Clockwise from right: Tiny Fiat has needed even more metal than hefty Jensen; new front valance; old offside rear arch not so good; new nearside one ready for rubbing-down.
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    Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s I worked in a European car dealership called Foreign Motors. The name seems quaint now, but back then most people bought Detroit iron because it just seemed like you got more for your money. It seemed foolish to pay more for a six-cylinder Mercedes when you could get a Cadillac with an enormous V8 engine and automatic transmission for a whole lot less.

    / #Mercedes-Benz-300SEL-6.3-W109 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SEL-6.3 / #Mercedes-Benz-W109 / #Mercedes-Benz / #1967 / #1968

    Then in 1968 came the game changer: the #300-SEL-6.3 , the fastest four-door sedan in the world. It’s hard to convey the impact this vehicle had on the world when it was introduced. Horsepower and torque were something Americans understood. Even Hot Rod ran a feature on the Mercedes. Car & Driver had drag-racing superstar Don Garlits look it over in an article entitled Superman Meets Super Machine. I still have my copy from October 1969.

    I remember one particular detail in the engine compartment that seemed to stump Garlits, an inner fender panel switch. Then it dawned on him: it was there for safety reasons. It turned off the auxiliary cooling fans when you raised the hood, so you didn’t lose a finger. That was a small example of the level of engineering in this Q-ship.

    There’s no need to re-tell the story of how the car came about. Everyone knows that engineer Erich Waxenberger took the V8 from the Mercedes 600 and shoehorned it into the W108/W109 platform. Kind of like what John DeLorean did when he created the Pontiac GTO by putting the 389ci V8 into an intermediate-sized Le Mans body. Or ‘Le Manz’ as they say here.
    The impact the SEL 6.3 had on me as a 19-year-old was unbelievable. Sure, there were bigger American V8s, but they didn’t have overhead cams, fuel injection, air suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, as well as all the amenities American luxury cars had such as sunroof, air-conditioning, acres of wood trim and a leather interior.

    It took me 40 years, but I finally got one. Mine was a 1968 with over 300,000 miles on it. The previous owner had died and the son just wanted to get rid of the car. I offered him $5500 cash and he took it. That was over ten years ago. Since then, I’ve put another 25,000 miles on the Merc and have had relatively few problems.

    Then it started to go downhill. First off, the air suspension was starting to leak overnight and it was taking longer and longer for the air compressor to raise it back up. Another bad sign was that the warning light on the dash was staying on, indicating that the air compressor could not maintain normal driving pressure.

    I know these cars are supposed to be a nightmare to work on, but the good news is that it’s a mechanical nightmare and not an electronic one. First thing we did was to take off the engine-driven air compressor, thinking we could replace it with an electric one. Then we realised this wouldn’t work because it drives the power steering. We then proceeded to take apart the compressor, figuring we would replace the valves and the piston rings. That didn’t work either, because once we got the piston out we found there were no rings that were commercially available. Before admitting defeat, I then used the greatest tool in my #Mercedes -Benz tool box: the Classic Center.

    I often hear people complain about the prices of classic parts, but only before they start their search, not after. After nearly a week of calling breaker’s yards and various piston-ring manufacturers, trying to find something that worked for a car of which they made only 6526, I finally called the Classic Center.

    I said, I’ve got a 1968 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 and I need an air compressor for the suspension. After I’d had seven days of hearing ‘Good luck finding one of those’, and ‘Yeah, right’, click, the voice on the other end said, ‘Do you want rebuilt or new old stock?’ ‘New old stock’, I said. ‘Next day delivery OK?’ And I had it the next day. Was it expensive? Yes. But not as expensive as a lost week, searching high and low.


    I then realised I could make my 50-year-old car not quite brand new but pretty damn close. I ordered new rubber bladders for the suspension plus bushes, kingpins and everything else to make it last another 50 years. If this sounds like an ad for Mercedes, it’s not. Jaguar, Lamborghini, Ferrari and other such brands are now all doing the same thing. I’ve had too many close calls caused by using replacement parts made by someone other than the original manufacturer. Most recently a front tyre on a 4500lb Duesenberg blew out at 70mph, when the replacement inner tube disintegrated with less than 300 miles on it. The box it came in looked identical to those I had purchased for years from a brand-name manufacturer, except these ones were made – well, you can guess where.
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    Jensen intervention
    CAR: #1968-Jensen-Interceptor / #1968 / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen


    It all started when we were preparing for the Octane Tour to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court last autumn. Mark Dixon announced that he would be doing it in a lovely new Bentley, not his Mustang because it wasn’t in good enough condition, this took me aback because Mark’s Mustang is a minter compared to either of my current classics.

    Maybe Mark was just saying that to warn me off using the Jensen - until then it had never crossed my mind not to - and potentially embarrassing us in front of our readers. Or maybe not, but either way it really made me aware of the depressing state of my cars and their unsuitability for ‘official’ occasions, those frilly-knicker arches and all the other bodily shortcomings were suddenly and hugely amplified in my mind.

    To be fair, the bodywork was last looked at eight years ago and I guess that in my mind it was just too soon to need to revisit it to this degree. So I had been ‘driving around’ the issues for years. Of course, much-used, all-season cars are always going to deteriorate more than classics tucked up in a garage and wrapped in blankets over winter, but there is only one thing worse than using your classic at will, that is not being able to use it, and I was damned if I was going to have a car that was mechanically sound, but which I felt compelled to leave at home for purely aesthetic reasons.

    So I started casting my net for someone I trusted to make the Jensen great again, there are loads of those, but when we added the filters of doing it on my terms and to my budget, the playing field thinned rather.

    Good pal Tom Cribb recommended Massimo Olimpis Autostilo (01707 658723), which had been looking after Tom’s many Alfas for years. We contrived a visit so they could check out the car and I could check them out, and we all got on like a house on fire. Of course they desperately wanted to do a proper body-off restoration, but I insisted that this time around the best I could stretch to was to make it solid and presentable. Of course there are degrees of presentable and, such is the work Autostilo carries out when broke Jensen owners aren’t forcing them to compromise, I sensed these guys would be near the top end.

    We arranged a second visit for a proper on-ramp inspection, and agreed an initial price exclusive of undiscovered nasties. I wish I could fund a full resto, but I can’t. Neither can I jettison the Jensen. So, watch this space...
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    / #1968-Citroën-DS21-Decapotable / #Citroen-DS21-Decapotable / #Citroen-DS21 / #Citroen / #Citroen-DS / #1968

    CHASING CARS Russ Smith’s tempting buys

    For sale at #Bonhams , London, December 1, Why buy it? Any #DS drop-top is a rare thing of beauty, and Bonhams’ goddess compounds the attraction by being one of – it is believed – only six examples built in right-hand drive. Straight, smart and with just the right level of patina, it has covered just 700 miles in the last three years. Price estimate £150,000-£180,000
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    Ben Field
    No. 1... with a #1968-Bullitt ! / #1968-Ford-Mustang-390GT-Fastback / #1968 / #Ford-Mustang-390GT-Fastback / #Ford-Mustang / #Ford / #Steve-McQueen

    Classic American was approached with an offer we just couldn’t turn down: to be the sole UK publication to feature one of the original (probably the most wellknown one in terms of time on screen) Mustangs used in Bullitt on its return visit to San Francisco. Over the years we’ve featured various Bullitt tributes and replicas, but never one of the original cars and certainly not shot on location in San Francisco.

    I hope you enjoy the feature. The film is always voted one of the best car chase sequences of all time and it’s amazing to hear how the car led such a pedestrian and ordinary life in New Jersey after its brief blaze of glory on the silver screen.

    Another favourite article of mine this month is Jim Maxwell’s feature on retro automotive accessory advertising, which starts on page. Even after all these years being around American cars and Classic American magazine, it’s still a real buzz to find out/discover things I never knew, such as the snippets in Jim’s feature. For instance I was aware Trico manufactured wiper blades, but I never knew Trico stood for Tri-Continental, or that the firm was based in Buffalo, New York. Likewise, while I was aware of 3M as a company, I didn’t know that the ‘3M’ stood for ‘Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing’ or that Delco was actually an abbreviation of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company…

    As you read this, the finals of this year’s Footman James & Kingstown Shipping Car of the Year competition will have taken place, but this magazine will have already gone to print; however, if you take a look at the Classic American website and/or Facebook page, you’ll be able to find out who won after the competition has finished!

    The original Bullitt Mustang at the launch of the #2019-Ford-Mustang-Bullitt-Special-Edition .
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    To Bedford or bust

    CAR #1968-Jensen-Interceptor / #1968 / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen

    OWNER James Elliott

    There are all sorts of reasons why I didn’t press the Jensen straight back into regular service after its prodigal-son routine. First, I wanted to feel proud of it again, to lavish a bit of time on it and rekindle the desire. Oh, and to sort out all sorts of issues. Lots of issues, not least the rotten running.

    So I spent a few weekend hours washing, polishing and tinkering, and pottering around locally to rebuild my confidence in it. I distracted myself from the horrors of the rusty rear ’arches with little jobs such as stripping what was left of the woodwork from the gearshift surround and re-covering it in black vinyl. I told myself it was a temporary measure, but suspect that the fact I included a nice foam layer betrays otherwise.

    As for the mechanicals, I dropped and replaced all the fluids and set about discovering why, after initially starting on the button but running very rough, it suddenly didn’t want to start at all, meaning that after one day’s fettling I needed to call on my brother Mark and nephew Billy to help me push its two tonnes up the gentle incline into the lock-up.

    With a new coil and after timing the engine by ear, as always, I got it starting and running, but pinking like a pig even on Shell V-Power, so I retarded it a bit and sacrificed some thrust for some peace of mind. Not as good as it should be, but usable. Thank goodness.

    With my Triumph in the no man’s land between MoT expiry and MoT exemption and my Alfa 145 Cloverleaf developing the most Milanese of problems – when it rained heavily, water was dropping onto the fusebox and wiping out the (you got it) wipers – I needed the Jensen to get me to the Bedford office for press week. It’s a 150-mile round trip that includes a horrible section around the North Circular in London, then a schlep up a ‘smart motorway’ and dual carriageway before the tortuous finale around Bedford’s ring road into the countryside.

    I was so terrified of breaking down on a hard-shoulder-free motorway that I planned all sorts of convoluted routes, yet when I got to the first ‘smart’ section the Jensen was running so well that I powered on to the office. And so it continued all week. With the Alfa mended by the Friday, I didn’t need to take the Jensen, but it was coping so well and I was enjoying it so much that I did, just for fun.

    As I tucked it up on the Friday night, another issue of Octane off to the printer, the only ill-effect seemed to be the manifold gasket ticking like a frenzied metronome. And thanks to commuting 600 miles in only four days, I go into the summer full of confidence – but empty of wallet. The Jensen averaged just 14mpg…

    Clockwise from left Interceptor stepped in for off-duty Triumph; in the Octane car park with Mark Dixon’s Ford Mustang; rejuvenated gearshift surround.
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