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The Magazine

Tough to crack car puzzle #175

Tough to crack car puzzle #175
This car was new to us until recently, which was a real surprise as it is just the kind of thing we like. Why? Well… It’s a well-know model from a well-known manufacturer but… not quite as we know it. This car was modified, turning it into something that’s not immediately recognizable. From this point of view, at least. It’s not a coachbuilt car with a completely new body, though, and you can still identify plenty of bits and pieces from the photograph seen here. We’ve just obscured the logo on the bonnet.

Also: the modifications were carried out not just for cosmetic reasons, there was something else behind it. And we’d like to know from you more about that. Perhaps you can also tell us about similar cars with similar conversions? You know what we like. Tell us in your best possible 100-words answer and you may well become the car puzzler of the week. The rules are below as usual (click 'read more') and oh, if you’re going out tonight, don’t forget to congratulate the DJ!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

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Playmate Plymouth in colour code ‘999’

Playmate Plymouth in ‘999’ pink
Anyone can paint their car in an unusual colour, but when the colour code fits the historical data it will be a lot more desirable to some. Colour codes can form quite an advantage, especially when they were made to special order. You might even like to know that some American car manufacturers used ‘999’ paint codes for such orders between 1961 and 1978. Only when dealerships, or purchasing agents specifically wanted them, paid for them and placed a special order they were made. The 999 code was actually used on the car’s vehicle identification plate, making so called ‘999 cars’ now wanted. 

Notable is a fleet of Chrysler New Yorkers in bright yellow, Plymouth Belvederes in orange and Road Runners in silver. Then there were also the Playmate cars, notably pink in colour. There have been limited runs of Mustangs and of the Plymouth Barracuda seen here. How many of these were painted in a ‘999’ pink hue is uncertain, but the one seen above must have been the first of them.

The girl joining is Lisa Baker, who took the Playmate of the Year title in 1966 and was given the car. After that Plymouth decided to have a small production run of pink Barracudas and called them ‘Plymouth Playmate Barracudas’, selling them at $2,860 in 1967. When you find one nowadays, do check that VIN tag for the number 999 when you're interested though!

(Words editor, picture Plymouth PR)

Friday, 19 January 2018

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Speedster conversions: your opinion please

Speedster conversions: your opinions please
This pair of speedsters struck us at last weekend’s Interclassics show in Maastricht. They make a lovely back-to-back, but what exactly are they? Surely not a real Rennsport 190 SL and ‘Sebring’ Barchetta Giulietta?

They surely aren’t. The Mercedes was born as a US-spec 190 SL of 1955-vintage that was more recently turned into a SLR replica albeit without the alloy doors, special wheels and seats but with two Webers, sports exhaust system and modified suspension. It's an eye-catcher nevertheless that may appear to come straight from the Carrera Panamericana? Well, the total number of 190 SLs made (25,881) does leave plenty of room for modifications and while only 7 or 8 real Rennsports ever appeared, the number of replicas must by now easily have tenfolded?

The Alfa underwent similar changes. It came to the world as a Giulia Spider in 1962; again in the US where, by the 1980s, it was turned from road car into race car. Used extensively on the tracks of the East coast, it raced for over three decades before returning to Europe, restored once more. That means that, by now, it must have been in its barchetta guise for longer than it was a standard factory Spider. For the record: 27,437 Giulietta- and Giulia Spiders were built; just 24 Barchettas ever materialized, again with alloy bonnets, boot panels and doors with no handles.

Now, what do we think? This is a relatively easy way to turn everyday roadsters into mean-looking speedsters. Remove bumpers and hubcaps, and replace the windscreen by an aeroscreen, ad some go-faster stripes and there you go. The cost will be a fraction of finding and securing a real SLR or Sebring. But should they really be compared to these?

(Words and pictures Jeroen Booij)


Thursday, 18 January 2018

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Back to back: BMW or Abarth?

Back to back: BMW or Abarth?
Worldwide Auctioneers and RM Sotheby’s are not the only ones bringing over a hard of classics to Scottsdale this week – Bonhams auctioneers is there, too. We already told you about that great little Molzon they are bringing over, but the majority of their proposition is European. And we really liked the sight of these two quite unusual little Euro-screamers, too. BMW and Fiat world aparts? Perhaps not so much in the 1960s. Here we go.

The BMW 700 Sport is sometimes called the car that saved BMW. With its 40hp 697cc air-cooled 2-cylinder boxer engine it certainly was different from the BMWs that we now know. But it was a clever car, too, with monocoque chassis, independent wheel suspension. The ‘Sports’ tag for the version with twin carbs was well-deserved, too. Hans Stuck drove one to the 1st place in the 1960 German Hill climb Championship while Walter Schneider tackled – and won – the 1961 German Saloon Car title in one. The grey car offered for sale is a 1962 Sports version, which was fully restored and the mechanicals (matching numbers) fully rebuilt. The only concession made was to remove the bumpers for that sporting look. Estimated to make a strong $50- to 75,000 (but with no reserve) it would be nice if this one remained in the US as these cars are so scarce there.

Talking about scarce: how about a Fiat-Abarth 1000 OTR as its counterpart? Yes, that’s the 1967 homologation special with 100hp 982cc OHV four-cylinder and twin Webers. Abarth needs no introduction, but this car OTR (Omologato Turismo Radiale), designed for FIA Group 3 competition, is seldomly seen. The main reason being it was banned from competition as some racing organizations, notably the SCCA, believed to few of these roadgoing cars were ever constructed. This is one of just three survivors trusted to be on the road in the US of A and fourteen in the world. Sold new to Pennsylvania, it eventually went to an employee of the dealer who had it in its showroom. Apart from being sold several times, not much was done with the car until fully restored in 2006. Expected to sell for $80- to 110,000 it certainly seems worth that. Bonhams believes it to be ‘the single best example of the 1000 OTR on the planet.’

(Words editor, pictures courtesy Bonhams auctioneers)

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

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