• October 2016
    Just in time for Hallowe'en! Some cars with a creepy past and a spooky present!

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  • September 2016
    An very interesting story this month, offering a glimpse into the 'virtual' automotive side of film making and commercials. Be warned though. It could shatter your belief in some of the more incredible car chases you've seen! Be sure to watch the video at the top of the article, to see this truly incredible piece of technology in action!

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  • August 2016
    Hot on the heels of last month's article, comes yet another new approach to selling automobiles. I can already envisage some desperate car enthusiast frantically straightening his crumpled $100 bill, as the vending machine spitefully rejects it for the umpteenth time. Knowing my luck, the one I wanted would get stuck on the way down to the collection slot...

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  • July 2016
    This month's offering is a refreshingly honest (if rather expletive laden) car dealership commercial. Viewer discretion is advised.


    Click here to watch the video
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  • June 2016
    Most people in the automotive world are familiar with the fact that Jaguar and Land Rover were acquired by Indian industrial giant, Tata Industries, back in 2008. However, a far lesser known acquisition of a legendary European automotive business by another Indian mega-conglomerate occurred just last year...

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  • May 2016
    Ever looked closely at the badge on an Alfa Romeo? I always thought that the green, reptilian creature on the right hand side, with the red glow around its mouth, was a dragon, breathing fire. Turns out, it's a snake, regurgitating a man...charming. For more insight into some of the most famous automotive logos, have a look at the following article...


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  • April 2016
    With so much emphasis on the car, an often overlooked element in the 'Joys of Motoring' is the road upon which the car is driven. The roads detailed in the following article, are amongst the most spectacular in the world. Whilst I have had the good fortune to drive on a few of them, I would not necessarily recommend that you take your beloved chariot on all of these...


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  • March 2016
    When I was younger, I owned hundreds of cars, including all the ones in the following article, the DB5, the P1800 and even the pink Rolls-Royce. Sadly however, though I was smaller then, I could no more fit in to them at that time, than I could now. The reason being, of course, that they were all models. Wish I still had some of them though, as it appears that, at least percentage wise, their values have performed better than some of their full-sized versions...


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  • February 2016
    Yet another unfortunate Lamborghini incident. On Christmas Day, too. Guessing he's not making the Nice List next year...


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  • January 2016
    Parallel parking. Two words which strike dread into not only the hearts of bespotted youths taking their driving tests but also, some fully-matured, seasoned drivers. Apparently, this chap falls into neither camp, however...

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  • December 2015
    Easter eggs for Christmas?! It's well known that Elon Musk, the billionaire creator of the Tesla electric car, is a big James Bond fan. So much so in fact, he paid $866,000 to buy the Lotus Esprit submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me. It's also well known that, at the Garage, not only are we huge 007 fans but also devotees of the Esprit (we do currently have three of them!). Consequently, you can imagine the smile that came to our faces upon seeing the hidden tribute Mr. Musk incorporated into the software of the Tesla Model S:

    Click here to watch the video
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  • November 2015
    Back to Russia for another look at their Advanced Driver Program...


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  • October 2015
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Nobody likes a show off...

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  • September 2015
    And you thought the I-405 was bad...

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  • August 2015
    This story is almost too crazy to believe. Take a look at the list of heirs associated with this 1954 Ferrari. I suppose if you're going to fight to the death over a car this is a pretty good choice.

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  • July 2015
    Forty seven years old and can outrun a Porsche 918, a LaFerrari and a McLaren P1 to 60mph! Got our attention! And you doubted we were eco-friendly?!


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  • June 2015
    What happens when you strap a Rolls-Royce Viper 203 jet engine from a Shackleton Bomber, with 2,800 lbs of thrust, onto a MINI Cooper? Perhaps not what this chap was hoping for, we're guessing!


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  • May 2015
    We weren't able to make it out to Van Nuys for this year's Queen's English show at Woodley Park, but this was a fun article on a well-kept 1974 Austin Marina that was displayed there along with a link to a great period magazine ad for this wonder of British engineering!

    Click Here to read the article

    and

    Click Here to see the advertisment
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  • April 2015
    Coming soon to a streaming site near you, a new Paul Newman film that focuses on his life as a racer. Back in the late 60's he made a film called Winning, which inspired the name of the new film, Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman.

    Click here to see trailers for both films
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  • March 2015
    LA's best car museum, The Petersen, is undergoing a facelift but that doesn't stop them from driving a few amazing cars. This video has it all, LA scenery, a celebrity connection and a love story. Watch as a 1953 Cadillac rolls through the streets of LA.


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  • February 2015
    If you watched our post from last October, you will realize that we particularly admire owners that get out and drive their vehicles instead of keeping them hidden in garage, where they are painstakingly massaged with cloth diapers, woven from the fur of baby kittens. In this video watch as Harry Metcalf of EVO magazine fame, takes his 1987 Ferrari Testarossa to the Sahara desert.


    Click here to watch the video
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  • January 2015
    No cars in this post, just an engine. In post war Europe it was tough to get around so Ducati had a clever idea to make a motor you could attach to a bicycle. I guess it worked out all right for them...

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  • December 2014
    The great Sir Stirling Moss and his Mercedes-Benz SLR #722 are captured in this video about his run in the 1955 Mille Miglia, from our friends at Petrolicious. (If you weren't already aware, their YouTube page is definitely worth a look, by the way.) At just 25 years old, driver Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson roared through 992 miles of Italian countryside in just 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds. Average speed? 98.53 miles per hour. Not too shabby.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • November 2014
    Being affiliated with an advertising agency, we are naturally interested in advertisements, particularly car related ones. Before VW took over the ad world, Porsche was pumping out some very compelling work. This was back in a time before lawsuits and you could say just about anything. Most of the headlines still hold up today...as do the cars. Here are some of our favourites.

    Click Here to view the ads
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  • October 2014
    Someone thrashing a Group B Ferrari 288 GTO around the English countryside and the author of the video is TaxTheRich. What's not to like?! We don't know who these guys are, but we definitely like their style. Perhaps we should lend them our F355 Challenge Ferrari and see what they can do with it. Then again, perhaps not...

    Click here to watch the video
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  • September 2014
    L.A. Underground

    So imagine it's 1974, and you've just stolen a beautiful brand new Ferrari Dino; you've filed off the ID numbers and are ready to sell it to the highest bidder. Then something goes wrong, very wrong. Now what do you do? Hide it in a barn, or maybe an underground garage? Well, you have it partly right.

    This particular story takes us back to 1978, and concerns a certain 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS that ended up six feet under. The tale begins at a Ferrari dealer in LA, Hollywood Sports Cars, famous for supplying cars to Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Jayne Mansfield, and many more.

    Back in 1974 a plumber purchased this Dino for his wife as a birthday gift. Apparently plumbing paid quite well back then and people bought Ferraris for their wives, not mistresses. How things change.

    The relationship with the Ferrari only lasted 501 miles. The car was stolen while it sat on Wilshire Boulevard as the two were enjoying an anniversary dinner. Talk about a bad omen for a marriage. The exact day it was stolen? December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, a day that apparently will indeed, live in infamy.

    Not much was known about the car's whereabouts after that, until it turned up buried underground four years later, by a few kids who were digging in a backyard. Only in LA, do kids playing in the backyard, dig up a classic Ferrari.

    There were police, banks, and insurance companies involved. Even though the Dino had been buried in plastic sheets and the vents stuffed with towels, the poor girl did not fare well. Many parties were interested and the authorities were unable to find the previous owner, so this once proud Italian exotic was sold off for just a few thousand dollars.

    Take a look at the video to get the full story and some great video and images of all the people involved. The Dino is alive and well, lives in Los Angeles, and now sports a vanity plate that reads, of course: DUG UP.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • August 2014
    'Car'ma Chameleon

    One of my favourite car commercials...(sorry for the appalling video quality)


    Click here to watch the video

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  • June 2014
    A new breed of collector

    Say the words, 'car collector' to most people and images of old men in tweed hats, smoking pipes, huddled in a muddy field, talking about which shade of dark blue is most period correct, jump into their minds. Their cars are all shined and restored to a condition better than when they rolled off the dealer lot. Yawn.

    It seems that most collectors have forgotten what cars are really for - driving. And that's a damned shame. The next generation of gear heads will perhaps never know the roar of a Ferrari V-12, or the howl of a race bred Alfa.

    Sure, some people will drive them slowly in a parade type fashion, or gingerly around the block each Sunday, but that is like seeing a RAF Spitfire parked in a field. You're not getting the whole story.

    There is good news though. A new breed of collector is bringing the noise and the fun back to vintage car shows. The type of collector who drives his car to the edge on a racetrack, nose to nose with some of the most exotic, and expensive machinery on the planet.

    No roll cage, no driver aids and racing on tires skinny enough to be on a bicycle. Now that's real motorsports. No calling into the pits, no computers to manage your engine, no sir. Watching these brave pilots wrestle with their wooden steering wheels with tires at the edge of grip, inches from the wall, makes your heart race. All I know is that I wouldn't want to be the chap who is charge of insuring these million dollar thoroughbreds.

    It's great to know that as a result of all this, the kids today will have a chance to hear, and see, these cars as they were meant to be, not in a dusty museum behind a velvet rope, but tearing along a back straight before braking heavily into a hairpin. It's no wonder most kids are more interested in the latest mobile phone than what they drive. With all the hybrids, EVs and other nonsense prowling the roads, like a silent army of appliances, one can't blame them.

    The sound of Ferrari's finest from the 1960s, at full chat through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey is something ever car lover should get to experience at least once.
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  • April 2014
    A Word about Dream Garages

    Everyone has one, a collection of ultimate fantasy vehicles that they would like access to on a daily basis. Here at Kastner's Garage it would probably be filled with the most exotic vintage machinery from all over the world, a few vintage racers, a few luxury cars, and maybe one with a prancing horse on the hood.

    A dream garage is not just about what is in it, location plays a big part. Some people choose a James Bond villain style underground lair, others opt for an airport hangar so they can also have access to their Learjet. The problem is, that these types of people generally also have homes filled with glass and concrete and uncomfortable designer furniture. And a designer dog at their feet of course.

    However, a few get the combination of collection and location just right. One of our favourites is called the Collezione Righini and resides in a centuries old castle nestled among vineyards just outside of Modena, Italy. So, if you are talking about your car collection and it starts with, "Just go past the vineyard and hang a right at the castle," then you are on the right track in our books.

    Now of course, we need to talk about the actual collection. Sure, you can have a Ferrari, but is it the very first Ferrari that Enzo built? Another one on the list is the one-of-a-kind Costruzioni (AAC) Type 815, raced in the Mille Miglia by famous driver Alberto Ascari. It's also very helpful if the words, "one-of-a-kind" and/or "Enzo," can be used when you are talking to visitors admiring your collection.

    It gets better though. These cars are not parked on some overgrown lawn, or in some backyard shed, or even crammed in a dilapidated warehouse. They are housed in the stables. Sitting in the chilly air are rows and rows of metal thoroughbreds replacing the real horses that were once there. How perfect is that?

    Well done, Mr. Righini. Well done.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • February 2014
    Ferrari 250 GT-Oh my goodness, that's pricey


    Here at the KG offices we are constantly wondering what to do with our next $52 million dollars. Now I understand that this is a vast sum to most so we don't take this decision lightly. Some might rush out to get a Van Gogh, or an island, or several Bugatti Veyrons (thirty-two to be exact). It's a tricky decision.

    Luckily, someone made the decision for us. An unknown chap, a secret billionaire perhaps, has purchased a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. That's right, $52 million for a Ferrari, or roughly $173,000 per horsepower if you're keeping track.

    So what makes this car so desirable that even Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame has one as well? That is not an easy answer, but if you're wondering why the classic currently sitting in your garage is not worth this royal sum, perhaps we can help.

    First off, take a look at your car. What colour is it? Is it red or is it Competition Red? Exactly. The proper color is worth at least $10 million in this game. If your car color alludes to some sort of racing, for example Monza Maroon or Silverstone Sapphire, even better.

    It needs to be rare as well, like one of 38 in the world rare, and hand-built. These two qualities are worth at least $20 million by themselves. If you have ever driven on the motorway and seen a vehicle just like yours, chances are the vehicle you are in is not worth $52 million dollars.

    Also, your car needs a racing pedigree. Yes, you should be able to describe your car using the words pedigree. The initials GTO stand for Gran Turismo Omologato, which, roughly translated means awesome racing car that you will never own. This Ferrari, debuted at the 12 hours of Sebring driven by American F1 champion, Phil Hill, adding at least $10 million.

    One last thing, if you had to be approved by Enzo Ferrari to purchase your car feel free to add another $12 million. Ferrari only made 38 of these, he wasn't going to let them go to just any commoner.

    So this is how we arrive at the sum of $52 million. Seems fair. Now, if you are sitting in your garage and your car matches all the requirements listed above, please give us a ring. We'd love to chat.
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  • December 2013
    The (Garage) Night Before Christmas
    (With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

    'Twas the night before Christmas and out in the shed
    Sat a tired old Jaguar, its battery dead.

    Its fenders were rusted, the floorpan had holes
    The seats and the carpets had been eaten by voles.

    The tires had dry-rot, the gas tank was leaking
    A turn of the wheel sent tie rods a-creaking.

    So I put on my coat with a weight on my heart,
    And went out to the shed to get it to start.

    When the engine turned over, there arose such a clatter!
    I knew right away, it was timing chain chatter.

    From under the dashboard there came a bright flash:
    The whole wiring harness had just turned to ash!

    "I've had it with classics!" I finally swore
    "Enough is enough! I can't take any more!"

    When what to my red, teary eyes should appear
    But a grubby, little Englishman holding a beer.

    "Good Day," said he, as he tapped my shoulder.
    "I'm Joe Lucas," he went on, as the car continued to smolder.

    "This one can be saved; there's no reason to grieve.
    All you need is some faith-- you've just got to believe!"

    "A hammer! Some duct tape! Get me more tools!
    When you work on these cars you just make up the rules!"

    "We'll get her cranked over - no way that she'll stall
    (But stand over there with your back to the wall.)"

    A cough and a sputter, the cacophony stunning--
    I couldn't believe it! The damn thing was running!

    The ghost winked at me and said, kicking a tire,
    "Whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH THIS WIRE!"

    The old man then vanished amid sneezes and farts
    But when the smoke cleared he had left me some parts.

    So I opened the shed door and let the hood down
    Put her in gear and went out on the town.

    And I thought to myself as I missed second gear
    Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year!


    Happy Christmas to all our customers and fellow car enthusiasts everywhere!!
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  • November 2013
    Here in Southern California, we are blessed with such a wonderful climate that, before it lightly sprinkled with rain this morning, I honestly can't remember the last time that I had to turn on my windscreen wipers. However, such rarity of inclement conditions comes at a price. A lot of people here are so unused to driving in the rain that they do not know how and consequently the accident rates increase exponentially after the first fall. It would appear though, that even in countries with less than perfect weather, they still have trouble controlling their vehicles in the wet!

    Click here to watch the video
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  • September 2013
    Though I admit that I have never owned a Honda automobile or motorcycle, I have long believed their engineering and build quality to be of a very high standard. (All my petrol-engined equipment, lawnmower, pressure washer, etc. are Honda powered.) It appears that they have applied the same quality standards to their advertising too, as you will see in this very clever video:

    Click here to watch the video
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  • August 2013
    Who knew the Australians were so innovative?! Where can I get a case of this stuff?!? I've tried Pep Boys, Napa and Autozone, but to no avail!!




    Click here to watch the video
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  • June 2013
    Just in time for the 90th anniversary of the legendary 24 heures du Mans, I thought that you might enjoy this amazing video from the glory days of this tremendous race, back when there were gentleman drivers and recognisable cars. I love the fellow wobbling around on his bicycle in the middle of the track around the 1 minute 50 seconds mark! Hawthorn's comment is priceless too!

    Click here to watch the video
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  • May 2013
    Largely due to my mother's particular insistence, when it comes to motorized transport, I have always favoured four wheels over two. That said, this month, I thought I would share with you a glimpse of what has to be the most thrilling (and somewhat insane) motor racing event in the world. I speak of course, of the Isle of Man TT. Enjoy (gasp, wince, etc.).

    Click here to watch the video
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  • February 2013
    Something a little different this month. A glimpse of the future, perhaps, for all you serious, techie gearheads out there. I have long been interested in the work of Christian von Koenigsegg, the founder of the Swedish supercar company of the same name. For not only has he produced some amazing cars but he is also very involved with new and emerging automotive technologies. A friend of mine sent me the video below about his work with camshaft-less engines. I thought it was fascinating and I hope you do too.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • July 2012
    Almost exactly a year since my last encounter with the dreaded 'Check Engine' light on my Jaguar, it reared its ugly head again. This time with an accompanying code declaring that the fuel mixture was too lean on both banks. I drove it down to my friend's wonderfully equipped shop (he works on a lot of modern exotics and so has endless gadgets that I've never even heard of) so that he could hook it up to one of his high tech box of tricks. This confirmed that it was indeed running lean and that a vacuum leak was the most likely culprit. A cursory glance of the vacuum hoses revealed nothing untoward and so he produced yet another magic box. This one turned out to be something of an apiarist's dream. It was a smoke machine (think Studio 54) that pumped smoke, under mild pressure, into the intake manifold via a hose such that any chinks in the armour, so to speak, became apparent. A very handy gadget indeed.

    Lo and behold, almost instantly, small wisps of smoke started emanating from a joint between two pieces of the composite manifold. Laborious disassembly thus ensued; finally revealing the source of the leak to be some rather tired gasket seals between the two parts. A brief call to my 'ever-helpful' local Jaguar dealer revealed that these particular seals were categorically not available separately and instead one had to procure the entire intake manifold assembly (at vast expense). Never one to roll over easily, I decided to do a little further research. It had occurred to me that Range Rover employed the same manifold in their cars and that perhaps their parts catalogue might be more comprehensive. Sure enough, after a bit of cunning 'Googling', I found a part number for it on a Land Rover website. I called back the Jaguar dealer (who is also a Land Rover dealer) and spoke to the same accommodating parts guy, who declared, 'Oh yeah, we've got those.' And they wonder why people loathe the dealers.

    Several hours (and a few choice curse words) later, it was up and running again and the light but a distant memory, thanks to the miracles of modern technology (and a distinct mistrust of new car dealerships)!
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  • June 2012
    Arguably the most sought after of post war Bentleys, the R-Type Continental Fastback, earned its 'Continental' moniker, from its pronounced ability to devour long stretches of European highways with consummate ease & aplomb. Last week, I had the extremely fortunate opportunity to put this theory to the test, when I was asked by a friend of mine to shuttle his exquisite '54 Fastback (replete with its larger 4.9 litre engine) from his villa on the north shore of Lago Maggiore to the idyllic, Swiss lakefront at Luzern.

    As luck would have it, I was already in England, visiting family & friends. From there, it was only a short plane ride until I was in was in the impossibly verdant countryside of Helvetia. I was then whisked along exquisitely maintained highways and through countless tunnels beneath majestic Alpine peaks in a chauffeur-driven limousine, before emerging in the fascinating, Italian region of the south of Switzerland.

    Though practically everywhere in Switzerland looks like a perfect postcard scene, the gorgeous, lakeside town combined the familiar backdrop of snow-capped peaks and placid lake with the vibrant colours of an Italian village, thereby making it somehow even more picturesque.

    After a splendid night of antipasto, pasta and lots of Brunello di Montalcino, I awoke, slightly hazy, to a glorious, sun-drenched day. Having feebly pushed a little breakfast around my plate, my friend led me to one of his garages and, flinging open the door, revealed my chariot for the day. It was magnificent! The sweeping lines of the elegant coachwork were as breathtaking now as they must have been when it was first shown. Hopping in to the sumptuous cockpit, felt like entering one of those old, gentleman's clubs along Pall Mall in London. Swathes of soft leather and wood, with just the right amount of patina and the faint smell of a good cigar. Turning the ignition switch and pressing the starter button (each beautifully crafted), the engine fired instantly and idled perfectly smoothly. Easing it out of the garage, the sun caught the discreet chrome accents and further accentuated its stunning form.

    Though nigh on sixty years old, out on the highway, it was incredibly sprightly, pulling effortlessly past slower traffic even on the steeper inclines. As brilliantly engineered and efficient as they are, having already travelled down through the tunnels, I resolved to drive back the 'proper' way and go over the mountains instead! This meant taking the fabled San Gottardo Pass which, at its peak, has an elevation of just under 7.000 feet. The Bentley threaded its way up there with the agility of a mountain goat and no hint of labour. Also, despite the fact that there was still snow on the ground (in June!!), it was perfectly sure-footed the whole way. Seldom have I seen a more spectacular piece of road than this and I was so glad that I had chosen this route over the faster, but infinitely more boring, tunnels.

    Upon arrival in Luzern (yet another, truly spectacular place), I pulled up right by the lakefront, next to the casino, whereupon swarms of tourists apparently forgot all about the idyllic setting that they had travelled to see and instead turned their attentions to the equally stunning Continental. Though a little disappointed to learn that they weren't the least bit interested in me, I cannot blame them, for the Fastback could easily steal the show wherever it went.


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  • May 2012
    Flew up to Northern California from the ever-delightful Burbank Airport (such a welcome change from LAX) to visit one of my car-obsessed friends, just north of San Francisco. I was lured there by the promise of a ride through the wine country in his latest acquisition, a 1957 Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk.III. As if the thought of all those tasting sessions at the various vineyards wasn't enough, the Mk.III has long been one of my favourite Astons. Interestingly enough, though James Bond is most famously associated with a DB5, in the original Goldfinger book by Ian Fleming, Bond drove a Mk.III. Only 551 were made, of which 462 were fastback coupes. The fastback coupes started with the DB 2/4 Mk.I and featured an innovative (though now commonplace on practically every car) hatchback rear door and fold down rear seats. Coupled with their excellent performance, they were the world's first 'hot hatch', if you will! Sorry to disappoint you, Golf GTi owners.

    As I stepped out of the airport, there waiting patiently, was the unmistakable shape of my friend (he's 6' 6") and more importantly (and even more unmistakably), the Mk.III.

    Resplendent in its navy blue livery, it looked marvellous against all the wretched Priuses et al that were nearby. Entering over the very broad sill, I marveled as to how my lofty friend could manage such graceful ingress and egress! With a brief stab of the 'go' button, a rorty exhaust note ensued and we slipped out of the airport. Gradually making our way through the traffic, we headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge and the relatively open countryside thereafter. Now it was my turn to take the helm.

    Though the car had been impeccably behaved in town, it was really coming in to its element here. The long stretches of carriageway and sweeping corners were tirelessly devoured, as we wove through mile after mile of asphalt, lined with perfectly tended vineyards, on our quest for the perfect Cabernet. Naturally, we had to check quite a few different ones to be sure we made the right decision!

    Having finally settled on a particularly delicious offering, the fold down seats proved most useful, as we slid four cases in through the hatch and headed home for some more product analysis. I love days like this!
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  • April 2012
    The second annual Kastner & Partners Garage party was another great success, with an attendance that exceeded last year's amazing turn out. Once again, guests were treated to a fabulous array of delicious food, prepared by the Sonoma Wine Garden and an exceptional selection of European wines. In addition to the many beautiful cars on display, a phenomenally realistic F1 simulator provided further thrills. Despite a posted finishing time of nine o'clock, revelers could still be seen in lively, auto-related conversation close to midnight! What a shame that we will have to wait a whole year for the next one!
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  • March 2012
    It is hard to believe that it has been three months since my last car club outing. It seems but a couple of weeks since I was munching delicacies from those Helms trucks on the December tour. This time was a real Spring surprise. Not content with the elegantly sufficient two or three collection tours, they really pulled out all the stops and had lined up six! To view one of these on its own could be considered a real treat so six seemed to be bordering on overindulgence. No complaints from me though, I have a hollow leg when it comes to good food & drink and an equally accommodating reservoir for enjoying fine cars.

    Apparently, I was not alone in my appetite, as some 200 fellow enthusiasts turned up to join in too. We were divided into two groups and then boarded two enormous charabancs which expertly whisked us to our various stops (quite how they managed to negotiate some of the extremely narrow side streets, I cannot imagine, so major kudos to the drivers).

    With so many things to see in a day, it was rather a whirlwind trip, but here is a brief summation:

    First up, covertly tucked behind a handsome, brick house on a side street in Beverly Hills was a wonderfully diverse selection of cars, ranging from a Model T fire engine to an Aston Martin V8 Oscar India and many points in between.



    Second, was a revisit to a collection that I had seen last year but was thrilled to see again. Predominantly comprising a host of fabulous Alfas and Astons in one of the most spectacular settings imaginable.



    Next up, a fine array of pre-war convertibles and roadsters with some post-war beauties thrown in for good measure.



    Collection number four was housed in a wonderfully anonymous building in a largely industrial area. Inside however, it was anything but lackluster. A host of unusual machinery that particularly resonated with my love of the eclectic lined the walls. There were such rarities as the gorgeous Zagato bodied Lancia Flaminia Super Sport, the bizarre Matra 530 and the sublime ATS 2500 GT, not to mention a Vignale bodied Fiat 8V, a 911 RS and a Renault Turbo 1. Then there were the bikes.... including a Ducati 900 SS, an H.R.G. and, my personal favourite, an Ariel Square Four. My father had one when he was a young man and I have always thought them to be desperately cool (they make a great noise too!).



    Approaching car sensory overload, we entered collection five. Here, an immaculate lineup of '32 Ford Coupes awaited us. Beautifully displayed in an outwardly unassuming residential garage, the large roll-up door revealed a chequered, marble tile floor, polished within an inch of its life and the walls festooned with antique automotive signs (including this trip's apparently de riguer accessory, the effigies of the Pep Boys, the founders of the popular auto parts chain, (they had greeted us at all but one of the stops so far).



    Last, but nowhere near least, we were privileged to be the first visitors to the stunning, private museum that now houses the personal collection of the car club's founder. In stark contrast to nearly every collection that I have seen, the walls were plain white, without a single adornment. This gave an extremely 'galleried' feel to the space and consequently served to further highlight and focus one's attention on the cars themselves. And what an amazing selection there was. A land speed record holding Deuce coupe, Le Mans winning Porsches & Ferraris, a Mercedes Gullwing and 300 Sc Cabriolet, 427 Cobra and the most winning dragster of all time, with an unbelievable tally of just 4 losses out of almost 300 races run & won.



    After all this, it was back to the initial rendezvous spot and then on to a local hostelry to rest our feet, exchange opinions and enjoy a very well earned beverage.
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  • February 2012
    With Valentine's Day looming ever closer, there is definitely love in the air. I'm not talking about the sappy, chocolates and flowers for your girlfriend stuff but the real, heartfelt sort. I refer of course, to the love of a man for his car. Can there be any stronger bond? A particularly strong, en masse example of this was displayed recently, when a group of enthusiasts pooled together a cool $4 million and bought the contents of the Saab museum. The 120 cars record the history of the once great Scandinavian automaker. Now, happily, there will be no acrimonious separation and all 120 of them can continue their close, if rather static, relationship.

    Actually, I too was greatly saddened to read of Saab's passing. I had always had a soft spot for the oft-quirky, Swedish cars with their avant garde designs and, latterly, their centre console mounted ignition keys.

    My paternal uncle had several Saabs in the sixties, which is where my fondness for them began. They certainly could not be described as attractive, by any yardstick, but they had a certain charm and were well built and remarkably capacious. He would take my siblings and me for bracing drives around the Welsh countryside near his home and we never seemed to want for space or comfort and the improbable three cylinder, two-stroke engine (and the trusty Ford V4 in his later cars) performed admirably.

    My second encounter with them came, curiously enough, via another uncle, this time on my mother's side. A confirmed Volvo man, as long as I could remember, he, for some reason, switched allegiances to the other Viking manufacturer in the late seventies. He started with a few 900s and then, in '86, he bought a 9000 Turbo. Rather conventional looking for a Saab (no doubt due to its platform being shared by Lancia, Fiat & Alfa Romeo, in another of those bizarre European alliances), they had tremendous performance for their day.

    Obviously a family trait, much like me, my uncle suffered from a very heavy, right foot and this car exacerbated the condition tremendously. He lived near Salisbury, in the west of England, where there is still much evidence of Roman occupation, not least of which being the roads. They are arrow straight (though only one lane in either direction) and afford an unhindered view of the road ahead, as far as the eye can see. This makes them ideal for 'spirited' driving, and few were more spirited than he. It was on one such stretch, that I saw an indicated 150 mph for the first time, which, on a two-lane road, feels bloody fast! This milestone cemented Saabs into my heart and they have held their place there ever since. Admittedly, there are other machines that inspire me more greatly but whether you're into Austin Allegros or Bugatti Royales, there is no denying the true passion of an automotive relationship, so Happy Valentine's Day to fellow car lovers everywhere.
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  • January 2012
    Too fragile to write, having consumed & imbibed far too much over the Christmas/New Year break, I am resorting to merely posting a video clip for this month's news. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did and draw similar inspiration from it. Happy New Year to you all!


    Click here to watch the video
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  • December 2011
    Christmas came early this year, in the form of another splendid private garage tour, which followed the always fun, Motor4Toys Charity Car show. An enormous turnout of over 5,000 cars and some 40,000 toys collected for underprivileged children set the stage for a spectacularly car-filled day. After wandering round the huge field of cars on display, I joined a parade of cars worthy of an auto enthusiast's dream, as we snaked out of the parking lot, en route to the first garage. Here, the genial hosts provided us with a delicious assortment of baked goods (some served from an original and beautifully restored, Helms Bakery delivery van) whilst we perused a wonderfully eclectic mix of classics ranging from an Elva Courier to a Tucker that was originally registered to Preston Tucker himself!



    To reach our next (and final) stop of the day, involved a long, spirited drive over some very accommodating roads, terminating at a very inconspicuous industrial property, nestled amongst a host of similar buildings. The demure exterior however, completely belied the amazing interior. Cleverly decorated in 'Leave it to Beaver' fifties style, complete with fabulous, period appliances, the inside was completely filled with an incredible collection of automobiles & automobilia, including a dozen or so microcars, Issetas, Messerschmidts, etc, numerous Fiats, Cinquecentos, Multiplas, a Topolino & a Jolly, a plethora of Porsches, 356s & early 911s and enough VW Beetles & Type 2s to make Wolfsburg blush. And that was just the first room! Downstairs, a host of equally perfect, (if somewhat larger) beauties awaited us. Various 'Woodies', Jaguars, Mercedes, Morgans and a host of other treats, were arranged around the room in such a way that it looked like a child-giant was proudly displaying their favourite toy cars in an automotive diorama. An absolutely scrumptious, barbecued feast was then provided, followed by dessert from the now obviously de riguer collection piece, a Helms bakery truck! Just time before returning to reality, for a quick wander outside, where lay a clutch of Citroens and an Airstream, complete with period furnishings & accessories.



    So, all in all, another fabulous day of car-gazing, which as ever, only left me hungry for more (and possibly another goodie from those Helms trucks!)
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  • November 2011
    I cannot imagine that I am the only auto-enthusiast afflicted with this problem, but I somehow seem to accumulate the most inordinate amount of car magazines. As far as I recall, I have but two subscriptions, yet somehow I seem to receive 437 different issues a month. What's worse is, I cannot bring myself to throw any of them out (especially as I barely get to read the two that I actually did order), and so I find myself squirreling them away in, what become, impossibly heavy boxes, throughout the house. Whilst trying to move one of these improbably leaden cartons the other day, the sheer weight of the contents overcame the corrugated cardboard that was straining to contain them and they spilled out in a glossy sea of car porn, all over the floor. It turned out that this particular lot was a collection of Road & Track from the mid-Nineties. Where they came from, I have no idea but, as I went to pick them up, I found myself instead, sitting on the floor, leafing through them, lost in a blur of type and cool, car photos. I confess that I've never been a big fan of the American car magazines on the whole (so why was I storing these, one asks?), but I think R&T is probably the pick of the crop, if for no other reason than the brilliant Peter Egan's wonderfully observant 'Side Glances' column. One of these particularly caught my fancy and genuinely had me laughing out loud (as opposed to the ubiquitous and annoying 'LOL', that people seem determined to append to every text message that they send, though I very much doubt that anything they have ever written would cause anyone to actually LOL). As a keen tinkerer of cars for many years, it really struck a chord. I am reproducing it in part below in the hopes that some of you might find it similarly amusing (even if you don't LOL).
    *********
    THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB by Peter Egan There's a lot of tool-use confusion in garages today, so I thought it might be helpful to reveal to the novice mechanic, the rightful roles of the tools found in that 2,000 piece tool set your family got you for Christmas. Let's start with the main stuff:
    Hammer: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive car parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.
    Mechanic's Knife: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing convertible tops or tonneau covers.
    Electric Hand Drill: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works great for drilling rollbar mounting holes in the floor of a sports car just above the brake line that goes to the rear axle.
    Hacksaw: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
    Pliers: Used to round off bolt heads.
    Vise-Grips: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
    Oxyacetylene Torch: Used almost entirely for lighting those stale garage cigarettes you keep hidden in the back of the Whitworth socket drawer (What wife would think to look in there?) because you can never remember to buy lighter fluid for the Zippo lighter you got from the PX at Fort Campbell
    Zippo Lighter: See oxyacetylene torch.
    Whitworth Sockets: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for hiding six-month old Salems from the sort of person who would throw them away for no good reason.

    Drill Press: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against the Rolling Stones poster over the bench grinder.
    Wire Wheel: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, “Django Reinhardt”.
    Hydraulic Floor Jack: Used for lowering a Mustang to the ground after you have installed a set of Ford Motorsports lowered road springs, trapping the jack handle firmly under the front air dam.
    Eight-Foot Long Douglas Fir 2X4: Used for levering a car upward off a hydraulic jack.
    Tweezers: A tool for removing wood splinters.
    Phone: Tool for calling your neighbor Chris to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.
    Snap-On Gasket Scraper: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.
    E-Z Out Bolt and Stud Extractor: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.
    Timing Light: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease buildup on crankshaft pulleys.
    Two-Ton Hydraulic Engine Hoist: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of ground straps and hydraulic clutch lines you may have forgotten to disconnect.
    Craftsman 1/2 x 16-inch Screwdriver: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.
    Battery Electrolyte Tester: A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.
    Aviation Metal Snips: See Hacksaw.
    Trouble Light: The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin", which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.
    Phillips Screwdriver: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.
    Air Compressor: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty suspension bolts last tightened 40 years ago by someone in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and rounds them off.
    Deep-well sockets: Normally used as piston-pin and wheel bearing drifts, deep-well sockets are also good for drawing circles when a coffee-can lid would be way too big.
    *********
    I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did and also encourage you to read more of Mr. Egan's excellent prose, which is now available in handy, compendium form from your local bookseller.
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  • October 2011
    What can you go and buy, straight off the showroom floor, that comes stock with 556 real horsepower, 551 lb ft of shredding torque and a proper 6-speed manual transmission (none of your namby-pamby, paddle shift stuff)? A Ferrari? No, too obvious. Did I mention a 0-60mph time of under 4 seconds? A Lamborghini, perhaps? No, too flash. How about comfortable seating for four passengers? Got to be an Aston Martin, then? No, too expensive. This has a base price of $63,000. Oh, and one last thing, it's also available as a wagon!! Give up? I would have too, until last week when I was very kindly tossed the keys to, wait for it, the new Cadillac! Yes, that's right, a Cadillac. It's not your grandmother's land-yacht anymore. The good people at GM saw fit to let me put their latest flagship through its paces for a few days and I was both surprised and impressed. After I had got over its rather garish, overly-metallic paint job (think, the Twilight vampires when exposed to the sunlight) and then finally discovered the carefully hidden button that opens the door, I slid across the suede-trimmed Recaro seat and took stock of the view ahead. A 200mph speedo and a boost gauge, not your usual Cadillac fare. To my right, a plethora of other buttons and Cadillac crested do-dads dappled the console, though I never did figure out what half of them did! A brief stab of the start button unleashed a most un-Caddy like howl from the pipes. Further experimentation with my right foot only seemed to increase the effect. Having more or less adjusted the 87-way power seats, I felt brave enough to try moving out of my parking space. I depressed the purposefully weighted clutch pedal and moved the gear lever through the clear shift gate. So far, so good, a remarkably genteel & civilized start, the gobs of low end torque, effortlessly piloting me out of port with no need for screaming revs and clutch slip. My confidence increasing, I lent a little harder on the loud pedal and was instantly rewarded with a dizzying blur of the surrounding scenery whizzing past as the tach and speedometer needles quickly climbed. The middle pedal proved equally effective in hauling the beast back down, as the taillights of the car in front loomed ever closer. Apparently, the massive Brembo calipers, in their questionable shade of yellow, that I had spied through the even more massive black-spoked alloy wheels, were not just there for mere show. By now considering myself a seasoned hand, I played with various combinations of the pedals over the course of the next three days (at several points achieving a seemingly improbable indicated speed of well over twice the national speed limit) all whilst cosseted in the most opulent surroundings that Detroit can muster (the ventilated seats being a most welcome touch, as the unseasonably hot weather nudged the three digit mark). All in all, despite my petty aesthetic quibbles, I was supremely impressed. Sure, there were some detractions, the gear ratios all being a little close together (or was that just the elephantine power, making them seem that way?) and its remarkable propensity to drink petrol faster than I can knock back a pint of Newcastle Brown on a hot day, but ultimately a tremendous effort. Fast, well-built, good handling, decently appointed and, let's not deny it, fun! Not words that one normally associates with southeastern Michigan. There was a definite moistening in the corner of my eye as I reluctantly handed back the keys but also an overriding thought, why haven't GM been building cars like this for years?
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  • September 2011
    Minivans. The very word makes me shudder and conjures up images of velour trimmed people settling back in their velour trimmed seats as their beastly children wipe their nose pickings on the acres of bland cabin space. It's right up there with 'beige' and 'taupe'. So, it may come as some surprise that I am about to eulogise one. In England, minivans are referred to as people carriers. A seemingly equally appropriate name, yet somehow less cringe inducing. Another major difference is that, over there, they are actually, dare I say it, cool. On a recent visit to my former homeland, I had occasion to transport five people, a dog and a week's worth of luggage over several hundred miles. Sadly, there is no Euro equivalent to a Suburban and certainly no hot hatch or luxo-barge was going to manage that lot, so I reluctantly ticked the minivan, sorry, people carrier, box at the car rental agency. As I was led out to the parking lot, looking around gloomily for the ecru Plymouth Voyager clone that I envisaged, I was surprised to be guided towards what I can only describe as a pretty slick looking thing in a not unattractive shade of metallic blue. Further investigation revealed that it was a Renault of some sort, with an extremely well appointed interior. Navigating it back through the London traffic, I found the controls fell easily to hand and the seats to be remarkably comfortable and supportive. More surprising still, the engine was responsive, the gears well spread and the braking & handling similarly impressive. My surprise grew further when I pulled into the petrol station to fill it up prior to our epic voyage. There, in large print on the fuel cap, were the words, 'Diesel Only.' What? Where was that infernal rattling noise, the plumes of black exhaust smoke and that nauseating smell that I would normally associate with anything diesel? This thing was quiet, apparently smokeless and smelled as fresh as a daisy. All right, the daisy part was going a bit too far, but you take my point. My children were equally enamoured with it too and whiled away many happy hours reconfiguring the interior in countless ways, thanks to the ingenious individual seats and runners. Over the next few days, it conveyed us all beautifully through the bucolic English countryside under all variations of climatic conditions, with not a single utterance of, 'Are we there, yet'. However, it had saved its best trick for last. When I went to refill it prior to returning to London, I realized that, even fully laden and, after lugging everyone up hill and down dale, it still returned over 40 miles to the gallon. Beat that, all you peace sign festooned Priuses. Thinking this to be an unparalleled feat, I proudly recounted my fuel economy story to my brother who duly informed me that his (equally cool looking) people carrier, routinely got 50 mpg. Why then, in these days of soaring petrol prices and high style, are we in the US, reduced to choosing between one of the hideous, petrol-chewing, available minivans for carrying capacity or an even more hideous 'green' econobox (with all its attendant tree-hugging smugness) for fuel economy, when in Europe they have a splendid blend of both that looks good too?
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  • August 2011
    Whilst driving home from one of my weekly jaunts to Home Depot the other day, the dreaded, orange 'Check Engine' light came on in my Jaguar XJ8 and it started to idle roughly. With every trip I've made to the local Jaguar dealer subsequently necessitating serious proctologic repair, I decided to seek a more comfortable solution. I went to visit a mechanic friend of mine who, after remortgaging his house and parting with a kidney, had managed to obtain the latest 'all singing and dancing' scan tool from Snap-On. Essentially a small computer that plugs in to the diagnostic socket that is mandatorily fitted to all cars built since 1996. Upon connecting this miracle of modern technology to my car, it proceeded to inform me that there was a problem with the fuel injector for the number seven cylinder. Brilliant, or so I thought, this should be a snap to fix. I duly called my local parts supplier and was told, much to my surprise, that they didn't carry them. No matter, there's always the trusty Internet, right? However, twenty-seven pages into my Google search, I was still unable to find anyone that carried them. Girding my backside as best I could, I bit the bullet and called the dealer. “Sorry mate, there's none in the US,” came the reply. Really? My car is a 2005 not a 1905 and the bloody dealer doesn't even have one? Surely I cannot be the only person ever to require one? I was becoming despondent but could not scrap my car for the sake of such a relatively small part, so, as a last resort, I called around the wrecking yards. Finally, I found one in Northern California with a smashed but running 2005 model and they agreed to sell me a guaranteed good injector from it for a whopping $35 (the dealer quoted $380 for the one they didn't have). Upon its arrival on my doorstep the next morning, I consulted the workshop manual from my 2002 XJ8 (it had essentially the same engine, but with a smaller displacement) to determine the location of the number seven cylinder. Apparently, it was the penultimate one from the rear, on the driver's side. After removing various underbonnet plastic beautification shields, I finally had what I believed to be the misbehaving injector in my sights. With not inconsiderable difficultly, I wrestled it from its perch and substituted my junkyard find in its place. I then slapped it all back together, congratulated myself on a job well done and fired it up. Much to my dismay, it was still misfiring. Oh, bugger. To this point, I had put my trust in the computer's diagnosis, rather than bothering to do any investigative work of my own, so I disappeared back in to my garage and came back out with an armful of tools and test equipment. I restarted the car and whilst it was running, pulled the electrical connector off the injector that I had just carefully installed. The engine instantly ran rougher still. Obviously this cylinder was firing. Curiouser & curiouser. I then proceeded to remove & replace the connectors from all the other injectors, each time with similar result, until I got to the very last (and most awkward) one. The rearmost cylinder on the passenger side or, number four, according to my book. Plugged or unplugged, it made not a jot of difference to the running. Here then, was my culprit. But why had the computer said that number seven was at fault when clearly it was number four? With considerably more difficultly (and liberal doses of cursing and gnashing of teeth), I switched the offending item with the one that I had previously removed from the other bank. Crossing my fingers and muttering various spiritual incantations, I cranked it over again. This time however, it ran as smooth as silk. Euphoric, I re-congratulated myself, buttoned everything up, washed my filthy, bloodied hands and poured myself a large reward. It was as I was enjoying my third reward that I became curious as to how the billion-dollar scanner could have made such an egregious error and identified the wrong cylinder. Feeling less pain now, as a result of my liquid trophies (plus a handful of ibuprofen), I felt suitably fortified to delve into the undeniably sad world of online automotive forums to seek an answer. After sifting through countless, heated debates over the correct number of holes in a 1947 Vauxhall speaker grille and other such nonsense, I came across a small but invaluable posting by Mr. R. Hardwicke of Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England, in which he kindly offers that Jaguar, in their infinite wisdom (and for no apparent reason whatsoever), decided to change the numbering system of their V8 engines in 2003. So, whereas before, they were numbered from 1-4 on the right bank and 5-8 on the left, they now are all odd (1,3,5,7) along the right side and even (2,4,6,8) on the left. So the blessed computer was right after all! Jaguar have always been a little strange with their cylinder numbering, on the legendary straight-six XK engine for example, number one cylinder was all the way at the back with six at the front. But to my knowledge, they had not hitherto fore undertaken such a seemingly pointless and confusing re-numbering exercise. Bastards! No wonder that they are now owned by an Indian company.
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  • July 2011
    As an Englishman, I have a certain, innate pre-disposition towards Franco-phobia. However, life has presented me with two good reasons to celebrate Bastille Day. The first, as it is my dear father's birthday and the second, is Jim Hull's splendid Bastille Day Rally. Now in its 33rd year, it is more enjoyable than ever. We met on a gorgeous Sunday morning at the magnificent Greystone Mansion. The wonderfully opulent surroundings provided the perfect backdrop for the incredible array of classic cars in attendance. A delicious, light breakfast gave everyone a chance to reacquaint with old friends and inspect the glittering line-up of automotive masterpieces. The invitation had stipulated a dress code of all white and consequently the event had an almost religious feel to it! Having polished off our muffins and pastries, we mounted our trusty steeds and filed out through the imposing gateway. My chosen ride was a wonderful 1957 Peerless GT. Fresh from a thorough mechanical overhaul, it was in excellent form. We wended our way along Sunset Boulevard all the way to the ocean where we joined PCH before heading inland again to the spectacular canyons. Recently repaved, they were a delight to drive and made the perfect route for the cavalcade. Ahead of me was the amazing and phenomenally exacting Argentinian reproduction of a 1932 Alfa 8C Monza and behind me an immaculate DB4. Coinciding neatly with the 50th anniversary of the E-type, Jaguar was the 'featured' mark and so a plethora of Coventry cats dappled the field, fore and aft. The procession terminated at Jim's fabulous Malibu ranch, Greener Pastures. Here, we were treated to live music, scrumptious food, and, most welcomely, a full bar (it got pretty hot inside the Peerless and I was in a massive state of dehydration). In the midst of our wining and dining, a distant rumbling heralded the approach of an exquisitely restored P38 Lightning, which duly performed several thrilling treetop fly-overs to the delight of the assembled crowd. The plane was one of several WWII fighters that belonged to this years 'rally master' Jack Croul. It was the perfect crescendo to the classic-filled symphony of the day. Now, if they'd just start building some decent cars again, I might have to rethink my opinions of the Gallic nation.
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  • April 2011
    K&P GARAGE GRAND OPENING To celebrate our founder Johannes Kastner's latest successful business venture, the Kastner and Partners Garage Launch Reception was held on April 7th. And what a party it was. Nearly 300 guests enjoyed delicious food and fine wine from Sonoma Wine Garden, as well as the chance to mingle with old friends and make new ones. As the sounds of a jazz ensemble played in the background, some of the biggest names in the Southern California classic car scene came by to say hello, check out the inventory and wish us well.
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  • March 2011
    Hot on the heels of last month's incredible garage tour, came another invitation to a similar excursion around collections in the South Bay. Guess I must have behaved myself well enough to be invited back! Sadly, whilst the previous tour had been conducted under azure skies, this one was not to be so blessed. It was nearly pitch black when I set forth. Not only was it bloody early but the clouds were completely masking any hint of daylight. Southern California is so unused to rain that it almost seizes up when the heavens open. The roads are not designed to drain particularly well and soon resemble long, dark rivers. Motorists are equally unaccustomed to such meteorological change and consequently a slew of accidents ensue. Despite these drawbacks (and a lot of aquaplaning), I arrived in one piece at our meeting point and first destination. It was actually a restoration & repair shop, as opposed to a private garage, but was nonetheless filled with an incredible array of vintage iron of all ages & origins. The place was so spotlessly clean throughout that it could have given many an operating theatre a run for its money. The examples of their work that were dotted around the place bore testimony to the phenomenal standard of work that they perform there. The proprietor was extremely cordial and had laid on a tremendous spread of comestibles for the rain-soaked attendees, which were eagerly enjoyed. From here, it was on to another repair shop, this time with a very heavy Italian leaning. Though hard to choose from the dazzling line-up there, I think that all present agreed that the magnificent Zagato bodied 250 GT was the star attraction. Next stop was one of the most eclectic yet astounding private collections that I have ever seen, including Lister, a C-Type Jaguar and Renault 5 Turbo 2. Additionally they had a slot-car track, which was a painstakingly detailed recreation of the Le Mans circuit, complete with grandstands and spectators. Furthermore, the lights in the room that housed it even cycled through a simulated night & day, thereby enabling one to experience the '24 Hours' in a mere twenty four minutes! A quick (and thoroughly drenching) walk down the street from here was yet another specialist repair facility, this time festooned with Cobras. 289s, 427s, FIAs, you name it, they had it! Our last stop was a large hangar, which housed another private collection consisting largely of some of the most exquisitely restored pre-war American cars and the odd aeroplane! As ever, tremendous thanks to all who made this day possible. I can't wait for the next one!
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  • February 2011
    When was the last time you saw an Alfa TZ2 or a Ferrari 625 TRC or a Vincent Black Shadow? OK, fair enough, but when was the last time you saw them all in the same morning? Well for me, it was last Sunday. I was fortunate enough to be invited on a very exclusive (OK, obviously not that exclusive, if they invited me, I suppose!) tour of some magnificent private collections in Beverly Hills. I and some like-minded friends, piled into a sleek, unmarked motor coach and were whisked around five incredible garages. Now, it's amazing enough to see cars like these in pictures or even a museum but to see them sitting in the garage of somebody's home is quite another matter. And, what makes it more amazing is that, unlike museum cars, these are obviously loved, used and enjoyed on a regular basis, as they should be. At each stop our hosts supplied us with a lovely assortment of victuals and refreshments and said a few words about each of their cars. Every garage was wonderfully decorated and reflected not only their automotive contents but also the style of the owners themselves. Despite all consisting of the same basic ingredients, a building and some cars, each was delightfully different and added yet another layer (as if one was needed) to the enjoyment of this extremely privileged outing. And, just when one thought that nothing could equal that which one had just seen, so the next place and the place after that would prove one wrong. A huge thank you to everyone involved for one of the most intimate and memorable car experiences that I have had. Oh, and did I mention an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato....or a hundred pre-war motorcycles....or a Daytona Spyder....a Fiat 8V Supersonic.....? !
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  • January 2011
    Possibly second only to Monterey's August spectacular, there can be no more car-fueled spot in the U.S. than Scottsdale in January. It is positively teeming with dealers, collectors, enthusiasts and tire-kickers, attending a seemingly endless (and annually increasing) list of auctions. Far better coverage of the major events than I can write, can be found in countless places in print and on the internet. Consequently, I shall limit my jottings to a few other observations from my trip. I decided to drive (for a change) and set out bright & early on Thursday morning, in order to catch the 'Best of British' RM auction that evening (having previously deemed attending the week's earlier auctions unnecessary). The I10 was as uninspiring as ever. (Just what is that vast expanse of RVs either side of the freeway that one passes en route all about? Do people actual live there or is it just some sort of gargantuan Winnebago graveyard?! And, why are all the rest stops along the way, so awful?). Determined not to go the Motel 6 route this year, I stayed at the fabled Camelback Inn. Despite the (to my mind) desperately drear palette with which everything in in Arizona appears to be decorated, my room could not have been nicer. There was a distinct absence of earthtones and even a secluded sun deck with chairs & a table. Very civilized! The bar had a fireplace both inside & out, which ensured that only my gin & tonic stayed cold and the staff were most accommodating. I'm not a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan, but one cannot help but be impressed as one pulls up to the Biltmore in Phoenix, where the RM auctions were being held. The cars on offer were equally spectacular. Bidding was strong (the drinks, less so) and the auctioneer's hammer fell almost rhythmically a seemingly endless stream of Jaguars & Astons sauntered across the block. The highlight for me however, was witnessing a rather lovely XK 120 FHC suddenly start billowing smoke from the interior just as it was crossing the stage (presumably Joseph Lucas up to his old tricks) and then watching the poor auctioneer put a brave face on it. Breakfast the next morning at David Gooding & Co.'s mall-side pavilion was most restorative, bacon, eggs, champagne and even a close approximation of English sausages! A splendid array of cars were lined up for their moment in (or should that be 'out of'?) the sun and David's marvelous hammer-man dispatched them with inimitable aplomb. No trip to Scottsdale would be complete, without a visit to the one that started it all, the three-ring circus that is, Barrett-Jackson. Part carnival, part county fair and all American, it is an event without compare. After stumping around the World's largest tent for what seemed like an eternity, dodging mullets & impossibly obese people, I was in dire need of refreshment and so repaired to the on-site pub, The Tilted Kilt. For those of you not familiar with these genteel establishments (it is, I believe, a nationwide franchise), they consist of late teen/early twenty something girls, dressed in Hugh Hefner-styled Catholic schoolgirl outfits serving actually quite decent draught beer. They are obviously hired on other merits than their intellect (no, nice-girl-putting-herself-through-college stuff here) but, it must be said, their merits are wonderfully presented! More auctions, more drinks & more beige architecture rounded out the rest of the stay and then it was time to turn around and head for home. This however, was not quite as unmarred as the drive there. On the freeway just outside of Phoenix, with scarcely another car on the road, all lanes open and excellent climatic conditions, I was surprised to find myself herded to the side of the road by one of the numerous, different, virtually unmarked, Arizona highway patrol vehicles. That stretch of highway generally has a 75mph limit and though I have no doubt that I was slightly exceeding that, I could not imagine that it was by a broad enough margin to warrant this attention. Upon coming to a halt at the side of the freeway, Dirty Harry came up to my window; hand on gun and proceeds to tell me that by rights he should be taking me straight to jail. When I enquired as to what heinous deed I had performed to justify such, he gesticulated at a couple of orange cones, haphazardly tossed on the far side of the hard shoulder, and informed me that it was a 'construction zone,' that the limit was 50mph and that consequently I had been travelling at 30mph over the speed limit, a jailable offence, in those parts. Despite remaining remarkably civil and gently pointing out that there was no one working, no work vehicles, no lane closures and no clear signage to that effect, he was having none of it and said that I should consider myself lucky as he handed me a stingingly expensive ticket. So perhaps that's what all those RVs are for. They are home to the poor, unfortunate wretches that can't afford to pay the tickets they were given in bogus Phoenix speed traps by heartless mobile, not-quite-policemen.
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  • December 2010
    As the evenings become ever darker, my headlights seem to become ever dimmer. A couple of faint yellow streaks, projecting but a few feet in front of the car. Foolishly, I made the grave error when buying my car, of not ordering the xenon headlight package. I could buy a lot of dry French rosé (my favourite, back then) for that money, I can remember thinking at the time. After realizing the folly of my ways soon afterwards, as I groped my way home through the inky darkness every night, I tried every high performance bulb that I could obtain locally, to try to improve matters, but to no avail. Then, after some intensive internet research, I ordered some special (and very expensive) replacement halogen bulbs from Europe. Sadly however, these too appeared to make no difference whatsoever other than an increased lightness of my wallet. Finally, I resigned myself to having woefully inadequate headlights and became ever the more jealous of the seemingly smug, ultra-bright lights of the xenon-equipped cars I passed on the freeway. Several years passed until when, just the other day, for some unknown reason, I decided to have another delve into the remarkably un-illuminated world of headlight upgrades. Things seem to have come along a bit, since my earlier investigations and a proliferation of HID (high intensity discharge (xenon)) conversion kits are now available. Not only are they offered for pretty much every halogen light application, but they come in a variety of colour temperatures (from yellow to white to blue to purple) and for less money than I spent on those useless European bulbs. With Christmas just around the corner, I decided to treat myself to a set (to compensate for the forty-seven pairs of socks that Santa routinely brings me). I opted for the 4300K pure white ones (I think the blue ones are a bit tacky) and eagerly awaited their arrival. Two days later they showed up and that weekend, I set about installing them. It was a relatively simple process and I only swore twice during it. For once, I couldn't wait for it to get dark, so that I could admire my handiwork. I must confess to being a little skeptical about how good they could be for the price but by six o'clock that evening, I was a believer! I cannot think of anything that I have ever done to any of my cars, for so little money and so little effort that has made such a huge difference. The light that they emit is so clean & white that it makes almost every other car's efforts look dingier & yellower than a chain-smoker's teeth. Not only that, but without being in the least bit blinding to oncoming traffic, they illuminate the road ahead for hundreds of yards. They also run much cooler than the halogens and use half the power. I cannot recommend them highly enough, to anyone that drives at night and still has halogen lights. Not only can I see so much better when I'm driving (and consequently drive more safely) but I am less tired at the end of the drive as my eyes & brain do not have to concentrate so hard just to see the road.
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  • November 2010
    In the midst of a particularly nonsensical dream, I realized that the incessant buzzing sound that appeared to be coming from some creation of my subconscious mind was in fact my mobile phone vibrating most insistently on my bedside table. Not without difficulty in my befuddled state, I managed to hit the answer button and bring it to my ear. “You didn't forget that you were going to help me pick up the Ferrari from the storage place, did you?” boomed a voice from the other end. “Oh, no, of course not,” I blearily lied in response. “Good, because I'm outside and have been hammering on your door for the last ten minutes.” I had of course, completely forgotten that I had agreed to assist my friend David retrieve his 330 GTC from the facility where he leaves it when he is overseas. It had sounded like a lot of fun when he had proposed the idea, early the previous evening. He would pick me up in his new 599 GTB and I would drive the 330 back to his house, noting any possible mechanical issues on the way. Now however, it was sounding more like a grueling chore than the pleasurable jaunt that I had initially envisaged. Curse that remarkably inexpensive but highly drinkable Pinot Grigio that I had been chucking back with such reckless abandon the night before, I thought to myself as I clutched my throbbing head and hung up the phone, whilst simultaneously crawling toward the bathroom and the rumpled pile of clothes therein. Forty seven and a half seconds later, I finally opened the door for the far-too-cheerful-for-that-time-of-morning David. The 599 sat menacingly in the driveway; the exhaust still 'ting-ing' as it cooled from the obvious thrashing it had had en route to my house. “Bloody hell, you look dreadful,” he sweetly opined. “Thanks for noticing,” I muttered, as I trudged towards his car, choking back a Red Bull, in a woefully inadequate attempt to restore my ailing spirits. After a near-silent drive, in which I felt completely unable to appreciate the magnificence of the machine in which I was being conveyed, we arrived at the storage facility. The mildly ominous clouds that had dotted the sky when we left my house had by now coagulated in to a uniform blanket of dark grey and, sure enough, as I eased the 330 out into the subdued daylight, the first specks of rain spattered on the windshield and beaded on the perfectly waxed bonnet. Ordinarily I would have delighted in the opportunity to helm what is generally agreed to be one of the finest driving road cars that Enzo ever produced. Furthermore, I would probably have pleaded with David to wait until the rain had abated before setting off, so as not to spoil this pristine jewel. However, right then, I was intent upon getting the job done as quickly as possible so that I could return to the soothing confines of my bed, and so I pressed on regardless. This proved to be a mistake. As we convoyed down Sunset towards Malibu the wipers gave up the ghost (not that they had actually been doing that much anyway). Undaunted, I carried on until, on a particularly barren stretch of PCH, the accelerator fell to the floor and the car lost all speed. Coasting to the very narrow shoulder, I divined that the throttle cable had snapped (this was a late series GTC, the earlier cars sensibly had solid linkages). I pulled the elegant chromed bonnet release and, with a heavy sigh, stepped out into the elements. By this stage, the rain had worsened and was now coming down in an almost solid mass which was made all the more pervasive by the ever-stiffening wind coming off the seething Pacific on the other side of the road. The shock to my already frail being, emerging from the cosy cocoon of the Ferrari into this maelstrom, was almost more than I could stand. Why on Earth had I volunteered for this wretched exercise? As I leant over the engine to assess the situation, David appeared from the gloom clutching a large red umbrella emblazoned with prancing black horses, presumably one of the many niceties that came with the 599. It turned out to be as effective as a chocolate fireguard, the rain having now contrived to come at us from every direction. So, I closed the bonnet and we repaired to the relative comfort and safety of his car whilst I tried to formulate a plan in my enfeebled brain. I hate to admit defeat when a car breaks down but I had no tools with me and David wouldn't know which way round to hold a screwdriver, so there was no point in asking him if he had any. Not that tools would have done any good mind you, without a new length of braided cable, but I always feel more empowered with a wrench in my hand. As much as I craved this mission to be over, I was damned if I was going to throw in the towel and call a tow truck. A temporary break in the downpour afforded me the opportunity to revisit the humbled GTC whereupon I determined that I could perhaps remotely operate the throttle manually, by attaching a length of something to the pivoted linkage on the valve cover, but what? I rummaged in the trunk and foraged along the roadside in the hopes of finding a piece of string, a spool of wire, a jumper cable, anything that would get the job done, but to no avail. Then it struck me. As David looked on in enthralled bemusement, I lifted up the sodden hem of my sweater and began to unbuckle my belt and pull it clear of the loops on my waistband. I'm not sure if he thought I was going to expose myself to the car in the hopes of frightening it into submission or, give it a damn good thrashing with now dangling strap, but he said nothing. Turning back to the car, I affixed one end of it onto the remaining linkage and then fed the rest out of the lowered but not latched bonnet and then through the slightly opened drivers door window. This way, I was able to pull gently on the belt with my left hand to accelerate whilst juggling the steering wheel and gearlever with my right. It worked like a charm and consequently I was able to pilot the old girl the remaining few miles back to his house (with some not unchallenging feats of dexterity and hand/foot coordination). David drove me home and I was finally able to return to the sanctuary of my seldom-more-welcoming bed, where I reflected upon two things. Firstly, be careful what you agree to after a few adult beverages and secondly, always wear a belt!
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  • September 2010
    Far rarer than its more famous smaller brother, the venerable Cobra, the AC 428 is little known and greatly overlooked. Built on the same chassis as the Mk.III 427 Cobras (though this was lengthened 6” to accommodate the touring body), they were styled by Pietro Frua (of Mistral fame) and were powered by Ford's 428 FE big-block engine and were offered with a choice of 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. They have long been a favourite of mine (I remember seeing one new in 1971) and so it was with great delight that I accepted the kind invitation of my old chum Jeffrey, to give his superb '69 Coupe a whirl. He had just retrieved the car from having considerable mechanical work done to it and was eager to put it through its paces. Yet another gorgeous California day greeted me as I set out for his house, nestled in the Hollywood Hills. He was just pulling it out of the garage when I arrived. Though I have seen several examples over the years, I had forgotten just what a fabulous looking car these are! As it burbled away merrily, I couldn't wait to climb behind the wheel and see what its newly fettled drivetrain could do. After lowering myself into its remarkably commodious cockpit, I eased the wonderfully precise gear lever into first and gently let out the clutch. Even at little more than idle speed the tremendous torque was abundantly apparent as we made our way up to Mullholland. Once up to normal operating temperature, I experimented with ever-deeper depressions of my right foot on the seemingly bottomless accelerator pedal. Each progressive stab was rewarded with the most incredible basso profundo roar from the tailpipes and an astonishing degree of matching acceleration. As we approached some of the more tortuous stretches, the handling was nonetheless impeccable, lapping up the corners with almost no discernible roll or drift. The brakes prove to be equally up to the task, biting keenly but smoothly, hauling the behemoth down with even the lightest application of the middle pedal. All too soon, it seemed that we had descended to more populous areas and we were forced to snake along in a single file line of traffic. This however, presented no challenge to the mighty 428, which seemed as comfortable creeping through town as it had on the open highway. Barely a twitch of the temperature gauge and a surprisingly cool cabin despite the 90-degree plus temperature outside. With an early afternoon appointment looming, I reluctantly pointed the beast back towards his house, allowing myself a few more liberties with the speed limit on the return. A truly marvellous first spin since its revamp and great testament to the work performed by his mechanics. It firmly cemented my belief that these are exceptional cars and further served to increase my already voracious desire to own one!
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  • August 2010
    The Monterey Peninsula in mid-August, what an unparalleled experience for the ardent (and even the not-so-ardent) motoring enthusiast. Take one of the loveliest spots in California, sprinkle in every amazing car ever built, add several hundred thousand assorted collectors, drivers, tyre-kickers and other auto-crazed types and a handful of ultra highline auctions, top with some truly spectacular vintage racing and you've got a vague idea of the magnitude of the proceedings! It is, quite literally, a wall-to-wall car show! In the end, I settled for the comfort & dependability of my newer Jaguar for the trip (I'm becoming such a sybarite in my greying years). I made the great trek up the incomparable Highway 1, on a gorgeously clear Thursday, in convoy with a couple of my friends (both driving even more mundane fare than I, I was pleased to note). As we wended our way along some of the truly prettiest stretches of road ever paved, the traffic gradually thickened, where it clings rather precariously to the cliffs along the seashore, there being only one lane in each direction. Invariably, at these bottlenecks, some miserable old codger with an RV the size of Delaware would manage to completely ignore the thirty-or-so cars lined up behind him, as he willfully passed every turnout and passing lane without a hint of pulling over. As it transpired, this prove to be of little consequence. For, even when the opportunity for some more 'spirited' driving presented itself, we were hamstrung by the wife of one of my friend's, who choose that trip to realize that she becomes intensely nauseous on the mildest of bends and consequently proceeded to turn every shade of green from a light sea-foam to a rich viridian, at any speed above a crawl. Despite these (and several other undocumented) setbacks, we finally arrived at our hallowed destination and checked in to our respective hotels before making a hasty retreat to a nearby hostelry to soothe some of the stresses of the drive. Suitably refreshed, we continued on to the impressive RM auction preview. Although the D-Type (albeit with questionable history) & the stunning, pontoon-fendered 250 Testa Rossa were quite lovely, the real stars of the show had to be the ex Diana Dors, Saoutchik bodied Delahaye and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the miniscule 1970 Subaru police car. (The latter apparently quite capable of being parked within the boot of the former!). A quick pit stop at the slightly less salubrious Russo & Steele sale was followed with a final round of adult beverages before shuffling off for some much needed sleep.rnrn The next morning brought (along with a most restorative breakfast) the twin delights of Concorso Italiano and The Quail, a Motorsport Gathering. The Concorso Italiano was sprawled over the golf course adjoining the racetrack at Laguna Seca, where the Historics were already in full swing, and a well-cocked ear could just discern the howl of some glorious engine screaming past the grandstand. It was the usual vast sea of seemingly mandatorily red-painted, Mediterranean-built machinery. You could almost feel a thick, black moustache forming on your upper lip and the overwhelming desire to gesticulate frantically throughout every conversation. A particularly strong turnout of F40s (when did you last see seven of them?) seemed almost lost next to all the other amazing examples of Enzo's brilliance. The 'also-ran' Lamborghini section was no doubt, fun for some (“Oh, and what kind of stereo do you have fitted in your Diablo...?”) and the always 'interesting' DeTomaso crowd provided some light relief (“Wow, billet seat adjusters,......nice.”). After just about all the piped Godfather theme tune music that I could stand it was off to The Quail, an altogether far more civilized, if expensive, affair. Rubbing shoulders with the who's who of the motoring world whilst sipping pretty good champagne and sampling culinary offerings from around the globe (well, Europe & America anyway). Oh, and then there were the cars! Yet more magnificent offerings beautifully presented in the grounds of the sumptuous Quail Lodge Resort nestled in the bucolic Carmel Valley. After lots of obligatory (though nonetheless deserved) compliments to all the participants that I knew, I was on automotive overload and, having forgotten my sunscreen, starting to resemble a well-cooked lobster. Time to repair to the comfort of the hotel bar for a recharge before heading out to the very enjoyable Gooding auction preview and then dinner in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Saturday was time to see some of these old sleds actually performing rather than just sitting still & looking pretty! Off to Laguna Seca for some truly memorable track action. The volume of incredibly rare cars that get flogged around the circuit is truly jaw dropping. To see any one of these cars in a museum would be a treat but here, their owners are wheel-to-wheel with other similarly prized pieces as if they were driving a Hyundai in a demolition derby. A most spectacular (and expensive) crash in one of my favourite class events brought everything to a halt for a while but no one was badly hurt and it gave me time to explore the delights of the infield. Next up, was the surely unrepeatable sight of 30 Bugattis going for it as if their lives depended on it! Amazing! The unmistakable bark of the Porsche 917's flat twelve heralded the next round in which it ultimately won despite some very heavy pressing from an equally gorgeous Lola T70 Mk. IIIB. Came across lots more chums whilst wandering around the paddock who all pointed out that, once again, I had neglected to plaster on the Coppertone and that I was now not entirely distinguishable from the predominant Ferrari colour at yesterday's Concorso. I took this as a sign that I should call it a day, but couldn't resist staying for one more race when I heard that my dear friend (and Trans-Am champion driver), Tomy Drissi was about to compete. It ultimately prove to be the most thrilling race of the day and Tomy finished a very creditable second, in a 1970 Camaro. In all the excitement of the day, I had almost forgotten that it was my birthday but luckily my travelling companions had not and very kindly took me out for a most delicious meal at Piattis. Afterwards, I went to catch the end of the RM sale over at the Portola Hotel where, lo and behold, who should I bump into, my friend Tomy and his lovely wife Lacy! Tomy was hell bent on buying a particular car that was just about to cross the block. I cast a quick eye over it and determined that it was however, not the car for him and practically had to sit on his arm to stop him bidding on it! He most graciously rewarded me with a nightcap (or two) at one of Monterey's hotspots to perfectly round out my birthday celebrations! The day that originally started this whole Monterey extravaganza, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, was finally upon us. We all piled in my car for the pilgrimage to the 17 mile drive and on to the sacred eighteenth green at Pebble Lodge. After some wonderfully inept marshalling by the parking stewards, which resulted in us making a 34 mile drive out of the 17, we at last stepped out onto the turf and into the tumult of people and cars. I shall not even attempt to describe the spectacle, as many others will already have done a far better job than I could (just Google it!), but suffice it to say, it was everything you've ever imagined....and then some! Yet more encounters with fellow car junkies resulted in yet more libations and a very good time was had by all! After the last award had been presented (a mildly surprising best-in-show to a 1933 Delage), a short walk across the grass brought us back to the Gooding tent for unquestionably the premier auction event of the week. An exceptional dinner at Dutch former racing driver, Ben Pon's sublime Bernardus Lodge was the crowning finale to a most magical trip only leaving me to contemplate the unforgettable memories of the previous days, the rather grim prospect of the drive back with the attendant return to reality and, most importantly, the thought of doing it all again next year!
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  • August 2010
    Got up bright & early this Sunday to join my friend Peter and some other like-minded car enthusiasts for a fabulous morning drive up the coast. The weather started out unseasonably overcast & chilly but gradually evolved into a glorious summer's day with clear blue skies and temperatures to make that cold beer at the end of the tour, all the more palatable! Peter's delightful Meissen Blue 1959 Porsche 356 Convertible D behaved impeccably, though with its freshly rebuilt engine, we were careful not to push it too hard. We were joined by some incredible machinery, ranging from a gorgeous '57 Talbot-Lago to an amazing Alfa Romeo TZ1! After meeting near the Getty Villa we headed north, hugging the mist-shrouded shore up the Pacific Coast Highway to Port Hueneme before heading back via some spectacular canyons, by now bathed in golden sunlight. A delicious brunch overlooking the water in Malibu rounded out the adventure. Yes, it's a rough life, here in Southern California! The automotive frenzy of Monterey looms ever closer as I scrabble to find a not-too-battered suitcase and a few pairs of clean socks to go in it. Still undecided as to which steed I shall entrust with the task of carrying me up there but at least I have found a particularly lovely place to lay my weary head when I get there. The unstinting kindness of another great car friend has truffled up a presumed-to-be-unobtainable room in one of the nicest hotels in Monterey (no more Motel 5½, this year anyway)! Ah, I can almost taste the mini-bar from here....!
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  • July 2010
    More cars have come and gone, our first magazine print ads hit the newsstands, and our new website goes live. What a month! Looking forward to the Pebble Beach/Monterey festivities next month. Cars, cars, racing, the auctions, old friends, new contacts, good food, even better drinks and yet more cars!! What could be better? We will recount our experiences & findings upon our return.
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  • June 2010
    A classic car dealership is born. Kastner & Partners Garage opened its doors to the public. This has saved us a considerable amount in window cleaning costs as now people can actually come in and look at the cars instead of pressing their faces to the glass. Just days after commencing business, we chalked up our first sale, a nicely prepared early Porsche 911E with lightweight panels and roll cage, to a most illustrious client. The car is already en route to its proud new owner in Europe.
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  • October 2016
    Just in time for Hallowe'en! Some cars with a creepy past and a spooky present!

    Click Here to read the article
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  • September 2016
    An very interesting story this month, offering a glimpse into the 'virtual' automotive side of film making and commercials. Be warned though. It could shatter your belief in some of the more incredible car chases you've seen! Be sure to watch the video at the top of the article, to see this truly incredible piece of technology in action!

    Click Here to read the article
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  • August 2016
    Hot on the heels of last month's article, comes yet another new approach to selling automobiles. I can already envisage some desperate car enthusiast frantically straightening his crumpled $100 bill, as the vending machine spitefully rejects it for the umpteenth time. Knowing my luck, the one I wanted would get stuck on the way down to the collection slot...

    Click Here to read the article
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  • July 2016
    This month's offering is a refreshingly honest (if rather expletive laden) car dealership commercial. Viewer discretion is advised.


    Click here to watch the video
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  • June 2016
    Most people in the automotive world are familiar with the fact that Jaguar and Land Rover were acquired by Indian industrial giant, Tata Industries, back in 2008. However, a far lesser known acquisition of a legendary European automotive business by another Indian mega-conglomerate occurred just last year...

    Click Here to read the article
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  • May 2016
    Ever looked closely at the badge on an Alfa Romeo? I always thought that the green, reptilian creature on the right hand side, with the red glow around its mouth, was a dragon, breathing fire. Turns out, it's a snake, regurgitating a man...charming. For more insight into some of the most famous automotive logos, have a look at the following article...


    Click Here to read the article
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  • April 2016
    With so much emphasis on the car, an often overlooked element in the 'Joys of Motoring' is the road upon which the car is driven. The roads detailed in the following article, are amongst the most spectacular in the world. Whilst I have had the good fortune to drive on a few of them, I would not necessarily recommend that you take your beloved chariot on all of these...


    Click Here to read the article
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  • March 2016
    When I was younger, I owned hundreds of cars, including all the ones in the following article, the DB5, the P1800 and even the pink Rolls-Royce. Sadly however, though I was smaller then, I could no more fit in to them at that time, than I could now. The reason being, of course, that they were all models. Wish I still had some of them though, as it appears that, at least percentage wise, their values have performed better than some of their full-sized versions...


    Click Here to read the article
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  • February 2016
    Yet another unfortunate Lamborghini incident. On Christmas Day, too. Guessing he's not making the Nice List next year...


    Click Here to read the article
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  • January 2016
    Parallel parking. Two words which strike dread into not only the hearts of bespotted youths taking their driving tests but also, some fully-matured, seasoned drivers. Apparently, this chap falls into neither camp, however...

    Click here to watch the video
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  • December 2015
    Easter eggs for Christmas?! It's well known that Elon Musk, the billionaire creator of the Tesla electric car, is a big James Bond fan. So much so in fact, he paid $866,000 to buy the Lotus Esprit submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me. It's also well known that, at the Garage, not only are we huge 007 fans but also devotees of the Esprit (we do currently have three of them!). Consequently, you can imagine the smile that came to our faces upon seeing the hidden tribute Mr. Musk incorporated into the software of the Tesla Model S:

    Click here to watch the video
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  • November 2015
    Back to Russia for another look at their Advanced Driver Program...


    Click Here to read the article
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  • October 2015
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Nobody likes a show off...

    Click Here to read the article
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  • September 2015
    And you thought the I-405 was bad...

    Click Here to read the article
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  • August 2015
    This story is almost too crazy to believe. Take a look at the list of heirs associated with this 1954 Ferrari. I suppose if you're going to fight to the death over a car this is a pretty good choice.

    Click Here to read the article
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  • July 2015
    Forty seven years old and can outrun a Porsche 918, a LaFerrari and a McLaren P1 to 60mph! Got our attention! And you doubted we were eco-friendly?!


    Click here to read more
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  • June 2015
    What happens when you strap a Rolls-Royce Viper 203 jet engine from a Shackleton Bomber, with 2,800 lbs of thrust, onto a MINI Cooper? Perhaps not what this chap was hoping for, we're guessing!


    Click here to watch the video
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  • May 2015
    We weren't able to make it out to Van Nuys for this year's Queen's English show at Woodley Park, but this was a fun article on a well-kept 1974 Austin Marina that was displayed there along with a link to a great period magazine ad for this wonder of British engineering!

    Click Here to read the article

    and

    Click Here to see the advertisment
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  • April 2015
    Coming soon to a streaming site near you, a new Paul Newman film that focuses on his life as a racer. Back in the late 60's he made a film called Winning, which inspired the name of the new film, Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman.

    Click here to see trailers for both films
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  • March 2015
    LA's best car museum, The Petersen, is undergoing a facelift but that doesn't stop them from driving a few amazing cars. This video has it all, LA scenery, a celebrity connection and a love story. Watch as a 1953 Cadillac rolls through the streets of LA.


    Click here to watch the video
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  • February 2015
    If you watched our post from last October, you will realize that we particularly admire owners that get out and drive their vehicles instead of keeping them hidden in garage, where they are painstakingly massaged with cloth diapers, woven from the fur of baby kittens. In this video watch as Harry Metcalf of EVO magazine fame, takes his 1987 Ferrari Testarossa to the Sahara desert.


    Click here to watch the video
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  • January 2015
    No cars in this post, just an engine. In post war Europe it was tough to get around so Ducati had a clever idea to make a motor you could attach to a bicycle. I guess it worked out all right for them...

    Click Here to read the article
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  • December 2014
    The great Sir Stirling Moss and his Mercedes-Benz SLR #722 are captured in this video about his run in the 1955 Mille Miglia, from our friends at Petrolicious. (If you weren't already aware, their YouTube page is definitely worth a look, by the way.) At just 25 years old, driver Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson roared through 992 miles of Italian countryside in just 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds. Average speed? 98.53 miles per hour. Not too shabby.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • November 2014
    Being affiliated with an advertising agency, we are naturally interested in advertisements, particularly car related ones. Before VW took over the ad world, Porsche was pumping out some very compelling work. This was back in a time before lawsuits and you could say just about anything. Most of the headlines still hold up today...as do the cars. Here are some of our favourites.

    Click Here to view the ads
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  • October 2014
    Someone thrashing a Group B Ferrari 288 GTO around the English countryside and the author of the video is TaxTheRich. What's not to like?! We don't know who these guys are, but we definitely like their style. Perhaps we should lend them our F355 Challenge Ferrari and see what they can do with it. Then again, perhaps not...

    Click here to watch the video
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  • September 2014
    L.A. Underground

    So imagine it's 1974, and you've just stolen a beautiful brand new Ferrari Dino; you've filed off the ID numbers and are ready to sell it to the highest bidder. Then something goes wrong, very wrong. Now what do you do? Hide it in a barn, or maybe an underground garage? Well, you have it partly right.

    This particular story takes us back to 1978, and concerns a certain 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS that ended up six feet under. The tale begins at a Ferrari dealer in LA, Hollywood Sports Cars, famous for supplying cars to Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Jayne Mansfield, and many more.

    Back in 1974 a plumber purchased this Dino for his wife as a birthday gift. Apparently plumbing paid quite well back then and people bought Ferraris for their wives, not mistresses. How things change.

    The relationship with the Ferrari only lasted 501 miles. The car was stolen while it sat on Wilshire Boulevard as the two were enjoying an anniversary dinner. Talk about a bad omen for a marriage. The exact day it was stolen? December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, a day that apparently will indeed, live in infamy.

    Not much was known about the car's whereabouts after that, until it turned up buried underground four years later, by a few kids who were digging in a backyard. Only in LA, do kids playing in the backyard, dig up a classic Ferrari.

    There were police, banks, and insurance companies involved. Even though the Dino had been buried in plastic sheets and the vents stuffed with towels, the poor girl did not fare well. Many parties were interested and the authorities were unable to find the previous owner, so this once proud Italian exotic was sold off for just a few thousand dollars.

    Take a look at the video to get the full story and some great video and images of all the people involved. The Dino is alive and well, lives in Los Angeles, and now sports a vanity plate that reads, of course: DUG UP.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • August 2014
    'Car'ma Chameleon

    One of my favourite car commercials...(sorry for the appalling video quality)


    Click here to watch the video

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  • June 2014
    A new breed of collector

    Say the words, 'car collector' to most people and images of old men in tweed hats, smoking pipes, huddled in a muddy field, talking about which shade of dark blue is most period correct, jump into their minds. Their cars are all shined and restored to a condition better than when they rolled off the dealer lot. Yawn.

    It seems that most collectors have forgotten what cars are really for - driving. And that's a damned shame. The next generation of gear heads will perhaps never know the roar of a Ferrari V-12, or the howl of a race bred Alfa.

    Sure, some people will drive them slowly in a parade type fashion, or gingerly around the block each Sunday, but that is like seeing a RAF Spitfire parked in a field. You're not getting the whole story.

    There is good news though. A new breed of collector is bringing the noise and the fun back to vintage car shows. The type of collector who drives his car to the edge on a racetrack, nose to nose with some of the most exotic, and expensive machinery on the planet.

    No roll cage, no driver aids and racing on tires skinny enough to be on a bicycle. Now that's real motorsports. No calling into the pits, no computers to manage your engine, no sir. Watching these brave pilots wrestle with their wooden steering wheels with tires at the edge of grip, inches from the wall, makes your heart race. All I know is that I wouldn't want to be the chap who is charge of insuring these million dollar thoroughbreds.

    It's great to know that as a result of all this, the kids today will have a chance to hear, and see, these cars as they were meant to be, not in a dusty museum behind a velvet rope, but tearing along a back straight before braking heavily into a hairpin. It's no wonder most kids are more interested in the latest mobile phone than what they drive. With all the hybrids, EVs and other nonsense prowling the roads, like a silent army of appliances, one can't blame them.

    The sound of Ferrari's finest from the 1960s, at full chat through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey is something ever car lover should get to experience at least once.
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  • April 2014
    A Word about Dream Garages

    Everyone has one, a collection of ultimate fantasy vehicles that they would like access to on a daily basis. Here at Kastner's Garage it would probably be filled with the most exotic vintage machinery from all over the world, a few vintage racers, a few luxury cars, and maybe one with a prancing horse on the hood.

    A dream garage is not just about what is in it, location plays a big part. Some people choose a James Bond villain style underground lair, others opt for an airport hangar so they can also have access to their Learjet. The problem is, that these types of people generally also have homes filled with glass and concrete and uncomfortable designer furniture. And a designer dog at their feet of course.

    However, a few get the combination of collection and location just right. One of our favourites is called the Collezione Righini and resides in a centuries old castle nestled among vineyards just outside of Modena, Italy. So, if you are talking about your car collection and it starts with, "Just go past the vineyard and hang a right at the castle," then you are on the right track in our books.

    Now of course, we need to talk about the actual collection. Sure, you can have a Ferrari, but is it the very first Ferrari that Enzo built? Another one on the list is the one-of-a-kind Costruzioni (AAC) Type 815, raced in the Mille Miglia by famous driver Alberto Ascari. It's also very helpful if the words, "one-of-a-kind" and/or "Enzo," can be used when you are talking to visitors admiring your collection.

    It gets better though. These cars are not parked on some overgrown lawn, or in some backyard shed, or even crammed in a dilapidated warehouse. They are housed in the stables. Sitting in the chilly air are rows and rows of metal thoroughbreds replacing the real horses that were once there. How perfect is that?

    Well done, Mr. Righini. Well done.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • February 2014
    Ferrari 250 GT-Oh my goodness, that's pricey


    Here at the KG offices we are constantly wondering what to do with our next $52 million dollars. Now I understand that this is a vast sum to most so we don't take this decision lightly. Some might rush out to get a Van Gogh, or an island, or several Bugatti Veyrons (thirty-two to be exact). It's a tricky decision.

    Luckily, someone made the decision for us. An unknown chap, a secret billionaire perhaps, has purchased a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. That's right, $52 million for a Ferrari, or roughly $173,000 per horsepower if you're keeping track.

    So what makes this car so desirable that even Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame has one as well? That is not an easy answer, but if you're wondering why the classic currently sitting in your garage is not worth this royal sum, perhaps we can help.

    First off, take a look at your car. What colour is it? Is it red or is it Competition Red? Exactly. The proper color is worth at least $10 million in this game. If your car color alludes to some sort of racing, for example Monza Maroon or Silverstone Sapphire, even better.

    It needs to be rare as well, like one of 38 in the world rare, and hand-built. These two qualities are worth at least $20 million by themselves. If you have ever driven on the motorway and seen a vehicle just like yours, chances are the vehicle you are in is not worth $52 million dollars.

    Also, your car needs a racing pedigree. Yes, you should be able to describe your car using the words pedigree. The initials GTO stand for Gran Turismo Omologato, which, roughly translated means awesome racing car that you will never own. This Ferrari, debuted at the 12 hours of Sebring driven by American F1 champion, Phil Hill, adding at least $10 million.

    One last thing, if you had to be approved by Enzo Ferrari to purchase your car feel free to add another $12 million. Ferrari only made 38 of these, he wasn't going to let them go to just any commoner.

    So this is how we arrive at the sum of $52 million. Seems fair. Now, if you are sitting in your garage and your car matches all the requirements listed above, please give us a ring. We'd love to chat.
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  • December 2013
    The (Garage) Night Before Christmas
    (With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

    'Twas the night before Christmas and out in the shed
    Sat a tired old Jaguar, its battery dead.

    Its fenders were rusted, the floorpan had holes
    The seats and the carpets had been eaten by voles.

    The tires had dry-rot, the gas tank was leaking
    A turn of the wheel sent tie rods a-creaking.

    So I put on my coat with a weight on my heart,
    And went out to the shed to get it to start.

    When the engine turned over, there arose such a clatter!
    I knew right away, it was timing chain chatter.

    From under the dashboard there came a bright flash:
    The whole wiring harness had just turned to ash!

    "I've had it with classics!" I finally swore
    "Enough is enough! I can't take any more!"

    When what to my red, teary eyes should appear
    But a grubby, little Englishman holding a beer.

    "Good Day," said he, as he tapped my shoulder.
    "I'm Joe Lucas," he went on, as the car continued to smolder.

    "This one can be saved; there's no reason to grieve.
    All you need is some faith-- you've just got to believe!"

    "A hammer! Some duct tape! Get me more tools!
    When you work on these cars you just make up the rules!"

    "We'll get her cranked over - no way that she'll stall
    (But stand over there with your back to the wall.)"

    A cough and a sputter, the cacophony stunning--
    I couldn't believe it! The damn thing was running!

    The ghost winked at me and said, kicking a tire,
    "Whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH THIS WIRE!"

    The old man then vanished amid sneezes and farts
    But when the smoke cleared he had left me some parts.

    So I opened the shed door and let the hood down
    Put her in gear and went out on the town.

    And I thought to myself as I missed second gear
    Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year!


    Happy Christmas to all our customers and fellow car enthusiasts everywhere!!
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  • November 2013
    Here in Southern California, we are blessed with such a wonderful climate that, before it lightly sprinkled with rain this morning, I honestly can't remember the last time that I had to turn on my windscreen wipers. However, such rarity of inclement conditions comes at a price. A lot of people here are so unused to driving in the rain that they do not know how and consequently the accident rates increase exponentially after the first fall. It would appear though, that even in countries with less than perfect weather, they still have trouble controlling their vehicles in the wet!

    Click here to watch the video
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  • September 2013
    Though I admit that I have never owned a Honda automobile or motorcycle, I have long believed their engineering and build quality to be of a very high standard. (All my petrol-engined equipment, lawnmower, pressure washer, etc. are Honda powered.) It appears that they have applied the same quality standards to their advertising too, as you will see in this very clever video:

    Click here to watch the video
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  • August 2013
    Who knew the Australians were so innovative?! Where can I get a case of this stuff?!? I've tried Pep Boys, Napa and Autozone, but to no avail!!




    Click here to watch the video
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  • June 2013
    Just in time for the 90th anniversary of the legendary 24 heures du Mans, I thought that you might enjoy this amazing video from the glory days of this tremendous race, back when there were gentleman drivers and recognisable cars. I love the fellow wobbling around on his bicycle in the middle of the track around the 1 minute 50 seconds mark! Hawthorn's comment is priceless too!

    Click here to watch the video
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  • May 2013
    Largely due to my mother's particular insistence, when it comes to motorized transport, I have always favoured four wheels over two. That said, this month, I thought I would share with you a glimpse of what has to be the most thrilling (and somewhat insane) motor racing event in the world. I speak of course, of the Isle of Man TT. Enjoy (gasp, wince, etc.).

    Click here to watch the video
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  • February 2013
    Something a little different this month. A glimpse of the future, perhaps, for all you serious, techie gearheads out there. I have long been interested in the work of Christian von Koenigsegg, the founder of the Swedish supercar company of the same name. For not only has he produced some amazing cars but he is also very involved with new and emerging automotive technologies. A friend of mine sent me the video below about his work with camshaft-less engines. I thought it was fascinating and I hope you do too.

    Click here to watch the video
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  • July 2012
    Almost exactly a year since my last encounter with the dreaded 'Check Engine' light on my Jaguar, it reared its ugly head again. This time with an accompanying code declaring that the fuel mixture was too lean on both banks. I drove it down to my friend's wonderfully equipped shop (he works on a lot of modern exotics and so has endless gadgets that I've never even heard of) so that he could hook it up to one of his high tech box of tricks. This confirmed that it was indeed running lean and that a vacuum leak was the most likely culprit. A cursory glance of the vacuum hoses revealed nothing untoward and so he produced yet another magic box. This one turned out to be something of an apiarist's dream. It was a smoke machine (think Studio 54) that pumped smoke, under mild pressure, into the intake manifold via a hose such that any chinks in the armour, so to speak, became apparent. A very handy gadget indeed.

    Lo and behold, almost instantly, small wisps of smoke started emanating from a joint between two pieces of the composite manifold. Laborious disassembly thus ensued; finally revealing the source of the leak to be some rather tired gasket seals between the two parts. A brief call to my 'ever-helpful' local Jaguar dealer revealed that these particular seals were categorically not available separately and instead one had to procure the entire intake manifold assembly (at vast expense). Never one to roll over easily, I decided to do a little further research. It had occurred to me that Range Rover employed the same manifold in their cars and that perhaps their parts catalogue might be more comprehensive. Sure enough, after a bit of cunning 'Googling', I found a part number for it on a Land Rover website. I called back the Jaguar dealer (who is also a Land Rover dealer) and spoke to the same accommodating parts guy, who declared, 'Oh yeah, we've got those.' And they wonder why people loathe the dealers.

    Several hours (and a few choice curse words) later, it was up and running again and the light but a distant memory, thanks to the miracles of modern technology (and a distinct mistrust of new car dealerships)!
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  • June 2012
    Arguably the most sought after of post war Bentleys, the R-Type Continental Fastback, earned its 'Continental' moniker, from its pronounced ability to devour long stretches of European highways with consummate ease & aplomb. Last week, I had the extremely fortunate opportunity to put this theory to the test, when I was asked by a friend of mine to shuttle his exquisite '54 Fastback (replete with its larger 4.9 litre engine) from his villa on the north shore of Lago Maggiore to the idyllic, Swiss lakefront at Luzern.

    As luck would have it, I was already in England, visiting family & friends. From there, it was only a short plane ride until I was in was in the impossibly verdant countryside of Helvetia. I was then whisked along exquisitely maintained highways and through countless tunnels beneath majestic Alpine peaks in a chauffeur-driven limousine, before emerging in the fascinating, Italian region of the south of Switzerland.

    Though practically everywhere in Switzerland looks like a perfect postcard scene, the gorgeous, lakeside town combined the familiar backdrop of snow-capped peaks and placid lake with the vibrant colours of an Italian village, thereby making it somehow even more picturesque.

    After a splendid night of antipasto, pasta and lots of Brunello di Montalcino, I awoke, slightly hazy, to a glorious, sun-drenched day. Having feebly pushed a little breakfast around my plate, my friend led me to one of his garages and, flinging open the door, revealed my chariot for the day. It was magnificent! The sweeping lines of the elegant coachwork were as breathtaking now as they must have been when it was first shown. Hopping in to the sumptuous cockpit, felt like entering one of those old, gentleman's clubs along Pall Mall in London. Swathes of soft leather and wood, with just the right amount of patina and the faint smell of a good cigar. Turning the ignition switch and pressing the starter button (each beautifully crafted), the engine fired instantly and idled perfectly smoothly. Easing it out of the garage, the sun caught the discreet chrome accents and further accentuated its stunning form.

    Though nigh on sixty years old, out on the highway, it was incredibly sprightly, pulling effortlessly past slower traffic even on the steeper inclines. As brilliantly engineered and efficient as they are, having already travelled down through the tunnels, I resolved to drive back the 'proper' way and go over the mountains instead! This meant taking the fabled San Gottardo Pass which, at its peak, has an elevation of just under 7.000 feet. The Bentley threaded its way up there with the agility of a mountain goat and no hint of labour. Also, despite the fact that there was still snow on the ground (in June!!), it was perfectly sure-footed the whole way. Seldom have I seen a more spectacular piece of road than this and I was so glad that I had chosen this route over the faster, but infinitely more boring, tunnels.

    Upon arrival in Luzern (yet another, truly spectacular place), I pulled up right by the lakefront, next to the casino, whereupon swarms of tourists apparently forgot all about the idyllic setting that they had travelled to see and instead turned their attentions to the equally stunning Continental. Though a little disappointed to learn that they weren't the least bit interested in me, I cannot blame them, for the Fastback could easily steal the show wherever it went.


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  • May 2012
    Flew up to Northern California from the ever-delightful Burbank Airport (such a welcome change from LAX) to visit one of my car-obsessed friends, just north of San Francisco. I was lured there by the promise of a ride through the wine country in his latest acquisition, a 1957 Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk.III. As if the thought of all those tasting sessions at the various vineyards wasn't enough, the Mk.III has long been one of my favourite Astons. Interestingly enough, though James Bond is most famously associated with a DB5, in the original Goldfinger book by Ian Fleming, Bond drove a Mk.III. Only 551 were made, of which 462 were fastback coupes. The fastback coupes started with the DB 2/4 Mk.I and featured an innovative (though now commonplace on practically every car) hatchback rear door and fold down rear seats. Coupled with their excellent performance, they were the world's first 'hot hatch', if you will! Sorry to disappoint you, Golf GTi owners.

    As I stepped out of the airport, there waiting patiently, was the unmistakable shape of my friend (he's 6' 6") and more importantly (and even more unmistakably), the Mk.III.

    Resplendent in its navy blue livery, it looked marvellous against all the wretched Priuses et al that were nearby. Entering over the very broad sill, I marveled as to how my lofty friend could manage such graceful ingress and egress! With a brief stab of the 'go' button, a rorty exhaust note ensued and we slipped out of the airport. Gradually making our way through the traffic, we headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge and the relatively open countryside thereafter. Now it was my turn to take the helm.

    Though the car had been impeccably behaved in town, it was really coming in to its element here. The long stretches of carriageway and sweeping corners were tirelessly devoured, as we wove through mile after mile of asphalt, lined with perfectly tended vineyards, on our quest for the perfect Cabernet. Naturally, we had to check quite a few different ones to be sure we made the right decision!

    Having finally settled on a particularly delicious offering, the fold down seats proved most useful, as we slid four cases in through the hatch and headed home for some more product analysis. I love days like this!
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  • April 2012
    The second annual Kastner & Partners Garage party was another great success, with an attendance that exceeded last year's amazing turn out. Once again, guests were treated to a fabulous array of delicious food, prepared by the Sonoma Wine Garden and an exceptional selection of European wines. In addition to the many beautiful cars on display, a phenomenally realistic F1 simulator provided further thrills. Despite a posted finishing time of nine o'clock, revelers could still be seen in lively, auto-related conversation close to midnight! What a shame that we will have to wait a whole year for the next one!
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  • March 2012
    It is hard to believe that it has been three months since my last car club outing. It seems but a couple of weeks since I was munching delicacies from those Helms trucks on the December tour. This time was a real Spring surprise. Not content with the elegantly sufficient two or three collection tours, they really pulled out all the stops and had lined up six! To view one of these on its own could be considered a real treat so six seemed to be bordering on overindulgence. No complaints from me though, I have a hollow leg when it comes to good food & drink and an equally accommodating reservoir for enjoying fine cars.

    Apparently, I was not alone in my appetite, as some 200 fellow enthusiasts turned up to join in too. We were divided into two groups and then boarded two enormous charabancs which expertly whisked us to our various stops (quite how they managed to negotiate some of the extremely narrow side streets, I cannot imagine, so major kudos to the drivers).

    With so many things to see in a day, it was rather a whirlwind trip, but here is a brief summation:

    First up, covertly tucked behind a handsome, brick house on a side street in Beverly Hills was a wonderfully diverse selection of cars, ranging from a Model T fire engine to an Aston Martin V8 Oscar India and many points in between.



    Second, was a revisit to a collection that I had seen last year but was thrilled to see again. Predominantly comprising a host of fabulous Alfas and Astons in one of the most spectacular settings imaginable.



    Next up, a fine array of pre-war convertibles and roadsters with some post-war beauties thrown in for good measure.



    Collection number four was housed in a wonderfully anonymous building in a largely industrial area. Inside however, it was anything but lackluster. A host of unusual machinery that particularly resonated with my love of the eclectic lined the walls. There were such rarities as the gorgeous Zagato bodied Lancia Flaminia Super Sport, the bizarre Matra 530 and the sublime ATS 2500 GT, not to mention a Vignale bodied Fiat 8V, a 911 RS and a Renault Turbo 1. Then there were the bikes.... including a Ducati 900 SS, an H.R.G. and, my personal favourite, an Ariel Square Four. My father had one when he was a young man and I have always thought them to be desperately cool (they make a great noise too!).



    Approaching car sensory overload, we entered collection five. Here, an immaculate lineup of '32 Ford Coupes awaited us. Beautifully displayed in an outwardly unassuming residential garage, the large roll-up door revealed a chequered, marble tile floor, polished within an inch of its life and the walls festooned with antique automotive signs (including this trip's apparently de riguer accessory, the effigies of the Pep Boys, the founders of the popular auto parts chain, (they had greeted us at all but one of the stops so far).



    Last, but nowhere near least, we were privileged to be the first visitors to the stunning, private museum that now houses the personal collection of the car club's founder. In stark contrast to nearly every collection that I have seen, the walls were plain white, without a single adornment. This gave an extremely 'galleried' feel to the space and consequently served to further highlight and focus one's attention on the cars themselves. And what an amazing selection there was. A land speed record holding Deuce coupe, Le Mans winning Porsches & Ferraris, a Mercedes Gullwing and 300 Sc Cabriolet, 427 Cobra and the most winning dragster of all time, with an unbelievable tally of just 4 losses out of almost 300 races run & won.



    After all this, it was back to the initial rendezvous spot and then on to a local hostelry to rest our feet, exchange opinions and enjoy a very well earned beverage.
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  • February 2012
    With Valentine's Day looming ever closer, there is definitely love in the air. I'm not talking about the sappy, chocolates and flowers for your girlfriend stuff but the real, heartfelt sort. I refer of course, to the love of a man for his car. Can there be any stronger bond? A particularly strong, en masse example of this was displayed recently, when a group of enthusiasts pooled together a cool $4 million and bought the contents of the Saab museum. The 120 cars record the history of the once great Scandinavian automaker. Now, happily, there will be no acrimonious separation and all 120 of them can continue their close, if rather static, relationship.

    Actually, I too was greatly saddened to read of Saab's passing. I had always had a soft spot for the oft-quirky, Swedish cars with their avant garde designs and, latterly, their centre console mounted ignition keys.

    My paternal uncle had several Saabs in the sixties, which is where my fondness for them began. They certainly could not be described as attractive, by any yardstick, but they had a certain charm and were well built and remarkably capacious. He would take my siblings and me for bracing drives around the Welsh countryside near his home and we never seemed to want for space or comfort and the improbable three cylinder, two-stroke engine (and the trusty Ford V4 in his later cars) performed admirably.

    My second encounter with them came, curiously enough, via another uncle, this time on my mother's side. A confirmed Volvo man, as long as I could remember, he, for some reason, switched allegiances to the other Viking manufacturer in the late seventies. He started with a few 900s and then, in '86, he bought a 9000 Turbo. Rather conventional looking for a Saab (no doubt due to its platform being shared by Lancia, Fiat & Alfa Romeo, in another of those bizarre European alliances), they had tremendous performance for their day.

    Obviously a family trait, much like me, my uncle suffered from a very heavy, right foot and this car exacerbated the condition tremendously. He lived near Salisbury, in the west of England, where there is still much evidence of Roman occupation, not least of which being the roads. They are arrow straight (though only one lane in either direction) and afford an unhindered view of the road ahead, as far as the eye can see. This makes them ideal for 'spirited' driving, and few were more spirited than he. It was on one such stretch, that I saw an indicated 150 mph for the first time, which, on a two-lane road, feels bloody fast! This milestone cemented Saabs into my heart and they have held their place there ever since. Admittedly, there are other machines that inspire me more greatly but whether you're into Austin Allegros or Bugatti Royales, there is no denying the true passion of an automotive relationship, so Happy Valentine's Day to fellow car lovers everywhere.
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  • January 2012
    Too fragile to write, having consumed & imbibed far too much over the Christmas/New Year break, I am resorting to merely posting a video clip for this month's news. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did and draw similar inspiration from it. Happy New Year to you all!


    Click here to watch the video
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  • December 2011
    Christmas came early this year, in the form of another splendid private garage tour, which followed the always fun, Motor4Toys Charity Car show. An enormous turnout of over 5,000 cars and some 40,000 toys collected for underprivileged children set the stage for a spectacularly car-filled day. After wandering round the huge field of cars on display, I joined a parade of cars worthy of an auto enthusiast's dream, as we snaked out of the parking lot, en route to the first garage. Here, the genial hosts provided us with a delicious assortment of baked goods (some served from an original and beautifully restored, Helms Bakery delivery van) whilst we perused a wonderfully eclectic mix of classics ranging from an Elva Courier to a Tucker that was originally registered to Preston Tucker himself!



    To reach our next (and final) stop of the day, involved a long, spirited drive over some very accommodating roads, terminating at a very inconspicuous industrial property, nestled amongst a host of similar buildings. The demure exterior however, completely belied the amazing interior. Cleverly decorated in 'Leave it to Beaver' fifties style, complete with fabulous, period appliances, the inside was completely filled with an incredible collection of automobiles & automobilia, including a dozen or so microcars, Issetas, Messerschmidts, etc, numerous Fiats, Cinquecentos, Multiplas, a Topolino & a Jolly, a plethora of Porsches, 356s & early 911s and enough VW Beetles & Type 2s to make Wolfsburg blush. And that was just the first room! Downstairs, a host of equally perfect, (if somewhat larger) beauties awaited us. Various 'Woodies', Jaguars, Mercedes, Morgans and a host of other treats, were arranged around the room in such a way that it looked like a child-giant was proudly displaying their favourite toy cars in an automotive diorama. An absolutely scrumptious, barbecued feast was then provided, followed by dessert from the now obviously de riguer collection piece, a Helms bakery truck! Just time before returning to reality, for a quick wander outside, where lay a clutch of Citroens and an Airstream, complete with period furnishings & accessories.



    So, all in all, another fabulous day of car-gazing, which as ever, only left me hungry for more (and possibly another goodie from those Helms trucks!)
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  • November 2011
    I cannot imagine that I am the only auto-enthusiast afflicted with this problem, but I somehow seem to accumulate the most inordinate amount of car magazines. As far as I recall, I have but two subscriptions, yet somehow I seem to receive 437 different issues a month. What's worse is, I cannot bring myself to throw any of them out (especially as I barely get to read the two that I actually did order), and so I find myself squirreling them away in, what become, impossibly heavy boxes, throughout the house. Whilst trying to move one of these improbably leaden cartons the other day, the sheer weight of the contents overcame the corrugated cardboard that was straining to contain them and they spilled out in a glossy sea of car porn, all over the floor. It turned out that this particular lot was a collection of Road & Track from the mid-Nineties. Where they came from, I have no idea but, as I went to pick them up, I found myself instead, sitting on the floor, leafing through them, lost in a blur of type and cool, car photos. I confess that I've never been a big fan of the American car magazines on the whole (so why was I storing these, one asks?), but I think R&T is probably the pick of the crop, if for no other reason than the brilliant Peter Egan's wonderfully observant 'Side Glances' column. One of these particularly caught my fancy and genuinely had me laughing out loud (as opposed to the ubiquitous and annoying 'LOL', that people seem determined to append to every text message that they send, though I very much doubt that anything they have ever written would cause anyone to actually LOL). As a keen tinkerer of cars for many years, it really struck a chord. I am reproducing it in part below in the hopes that some of you might find it similarly amusing (even if you don't LOL).
    *********
    THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB by Peter Egan There's a lot of tool-use confusion in garages today, so I thought it might be helpful to reveal to the novice mechanic, the rightful roles of the tools found in that 2,000 piece tool set your family got you for Christmas. Let's start with the main stuff:
    Hammer: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive car parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.
    Mechanic's Knife: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing convertible tops or tonneau covers.
    Electric Hand Drill: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works great for drilling rollbar mounting holes in the floor of a sports car just above the brake line that goes to the rear axle.
    Hacksaw: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
    Pliers: Used to round off bolt heads.
    Vise-Grips: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
    Oxyacetylene Torch: Used almost entirely for lighting those stale garage cigarettes you keep hidden in the back of the Whitworth socket drawer (What wife would think to look in there?) because you can never remember to buy lighter fluid for the Zippo lighter you got from the PX at Fort Campbell
    Zippo Lighter: See oxyacetylene torch.
    Whitworth Sockets: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for hiding six-month old Salems from the sort of person who would throw them away for no good reason.

    Drill Press: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against the Rolling Stones poster over the bench grinder.
    Wire Wheel: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, “Django Reinhardt”.
    Hydraulic Floor Jack: Used for lowering a Mustang to the ground after you have installed a set of Ford Motorsports lowered road springs, trapping the jack handle firmly under the front air dam.
    Eight-Foot Long Douglas Fir 2X4: Used for levering a car upward off a hydraulic jack.
    Tweezers: A tool for removing wood splinters.
    Phone: Tool for calling your neighbor Chris to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.
    Snap-On Gasket Scraper: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.
    E-Z Out Bolt and Stud Extractor: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.
    Timing Light: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease buildup on crankshaft pulleys.
    Two-Ton Hydraulic Engine Hoist: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of ground straps and hydraulic clutch lines you may have forgotten to disconnect.
    Craftsman 1/2 x 16-inch Screwdriver: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.
    Battery Electrolyte Tester: A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.
    Aviation Metal Snips: See Hacksaw.
    Trouble Light: The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin", which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.
    Phillips Screwdriver: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.
    Air Compressor: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty suspension bolts last tightened 40 years ago by someone in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and rounds them off.
    Deep-well sockets: Normally used as piston-pin and wheel bearing drifts, deep-well sockets are also good for drawing circles when a coffee-can lid would be way too big.
    *********
    I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did and also encourage you to read more of Mr. Egan's excellent prose, which is now available in handy, compendium form from your local bookseller.
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  • October 2011
    What can you go and buy, straight off the showroom floor, that comes stock with 556 real horsepower, 551 lb ft of shredding torque and a proper 6-speed manual transmission (none of your namby-pamby, paddle shift stuff)? A Ferrari? No, too obvious. Did I mention a 0-60mph time of under 4 seconds? A Lamborghini, perhaps? No, too flash. How about comfortable seating for four passengers? Got to be an Aston Martin, then? No, too expensive. This has a base price of $63,000. Oh, and one last thing, it's also available as a wagon!! Give up? I would have too, until last week when I was very kindly tossed the keys to, wait for it, the new Cadillac! Yes, that's right, a Cadillac. It's not your grandmother's land-yacht anymore. The good people at GM saw fit to let me put their latest flagship through its paces for a few days and I was both surprised and impressed. After I had got over its rather garish, overly-metallic paint job (think, the Twilight vampires when exposed to the sunlight) and then finally discovered the carefully hidden button that opens the door, I slid across the suede-trimmed Recaro seat and took stock of the view ahead. A 200mph speedo and a boost gauge, not your usual Cadillac fare. To my right, a plethora of other buttons and Cadillac crested do-dads dappled the console, though I never did figure out what half of them did! A brief stab of the start button unleashed a most un-Caddy like howl from the pipes. Further experimentation with my right foot only seemed to increase the effect. Having more or less adjusted the 87-way power seats, I felt brave enough to try moving out of my parking space. I depressed the purposefully weighted clutch pedal and moved the gear lever through the clear shift gate. So far, so good, a remarkably genteel & civilized start, the gobs of low end torque, effortlessly piloting me out of port with no need for screaming revs and clutch slip. My confidence increasing, I lent a little harder on the loud pedal and was instantly rewarded with a dizzying blur of the surrounding scenery whizzing past as the tach and speedometer needles quickly climbed. The middle pedal proved equally effective in hauling the beast back down, as the taillights of the car in front loomed ever closer. Apparently, the massive Brembo calipers, in their questionable shade of yellow, that I had spied through the even more massive black-spoked alloy wheels, were not just there for mere show. By now considering myself a seasoned hand, I played with various combinations of the pedals over the course of the next three days (at several points achieving a seemingly improbable indicated speed of well over twice the national speed limit) all whilst cosseted in the most opulent surroundings that Detroit can muster (the ventilated seats being a most welcome touch, as the unseasonably hot weather nudged the three digit mark). All in all, despite my petty aesthetic quibbles, I was supremely impressed. Sure, there were some detractions, the gear ratios all being a little close together (or was that just the elephantine power, making them seem that way?) and its remarkable propensity to drink petrol faster than I can knock back a pint of Newcastle Brown on a hot day, but ultimately a tremendous effort. Fast, well-built, good handling, decently appointed and, let's not deny it, fun! Not words that one normally associates with southeastern Michigan. There was a definite moistening in the corner of my eye as I reluctantly handed back the keys but also an overriding thought, why haven't GM been building cars like this for years?
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  • September 2011
    Minivans. The very word makes me shudder and conjures up images of velour trimmed people settling back in their velour trimmed seats as their beastly children wipe their nose pickings on the acres of bland cabin space. It's right up there with 'beige' and 'taupe'. So, it may come as some surprise that I am about to eulogise one. In England, minivans are referred to as people carriers. A seemingly equally appropriate name, yet somehow less cringe inducing. Another major difference is that, over there, they are actually, dare I say it, cool. On a recent visit to my former homeland, I had occasion to transport five people, a dog and a week's worth of luggage over several hundred miles. Sadly, there is no Euro equivalent to a Suburban and certainly no hot hatch or luxo-barge was going to manage that lot, so I reluctantly ticked the minivan, sorry, people carrier, box at the car rental agency. As I was led out to the parking lot, looking around gloomily for the ecru Plymouth Voyager clone that I envisaged, I was surprised to be guided towards what I can only describe as a pretty slick looking thing in a not unattractive shade of metallic blue. Further investigation revealed that it was a Renault of some sort, with an extremely well appointed interior. Navigating it back through the London traffic, I found the controls fell easily to hand and the seats to be remarkably comfortable and supportive. More surprising still, the engine was responsive, the gears well spread and the braking & handling similarly impressive. My surprise grew further when I pulled into the petrol station to fill it up prior to our epic voyage. There, in large print on the fuel cap, were the words, 'Diesel Only.' What? Where was that infernal rattling noise, the plumes of black exhaust smoke and that nauseating smell that I would normally associate with anything diesel? This thing was quiet, apparently smokeless and smelled as fresh as a daisy. All right, the daisy part was going a bit too far, but you take my point. My children were equally enamoured with it too and whiled away many happy hours reconfiguring the interior in countless ways, thanks to the ingenious individual seats and runners. Over the next few days, it conveyed us all beautifully through the bucolic English countryside under all variations of climatic conditions, with not a single utterance of, 'Are we there, yet'. However, it had saved its best trick for last. When I went to refill it prior to returning to London, I realized that, even fully laden and, after lugging everyone up hill and down dale, it still returned over 40 miles to the gallon. Beat that, all you peace sign festooned Priuses. Thinking this to be an unparalleled feat, I proudly recounted my fuel economy story to my brother who duly informed me that his (equally cool looking) people carrier, routinely got 50 mpg. Why then, in these days of soaring petrol prices and high style, are we in the US, reduced to choosing between one of the hideous, petrol-chewing, available minivans for carrying capacity or an even more hideous 'green' econobox (with all its attendant tree-hugging smugness) for fuel economy, when in Europe they have a splendid blend of both that looks good too?
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  • August 2011
    Whilst driving home from one of my weekly jaunts to Home Depot the other day, the dreaded, orange 'Check Engine' light came on in my Jaguar XJ8 and it started to idle roughly. With every trip I've made to the local Jaguar dealer subsequently necessitating serious proctologic repair, I decided to seek a more comfortable solution. I went to visit a mechanic friend of mine who, after remortgaging his house and parting with a kidney, had managed to obtain the latest 'all singing and dancing' scan tool from Snap-On. Essentially a small computer that plugs in to the diagnostic socket that is mandatorily fitted to all cars built since 1996. Upon connecting this miracle of modern technology to my car, it proceeded to inform me that there was a problem with the fuel injector for the number seven cylinder. Brilliant, or so I thought, this should be a snap to fix. I duly called my local parts supplier and was told, much to my surprise, that they didn't carry them. No matter, there's always the trusty Internet, right? However, twenty-seven pages into my Google search, I was still unable to find anyone that carried them. Girding my backside as best I could, I bit the bullet and called the dealer. “Sorry mate, there's none in the US,” came the reply. Really? My car is a 2005 not a 1905 and the bloody dealer doesn't even have one? Surely I cannot be the only person ever to require one? I was becoming despondent but could not scrap my car for the sake of such a relatively small part, so, as a last resort, I called around the wrecking yards. Finally, I found one in Northern California with a smashed but running 2005 model and they agreed to sell me a guaranteed good injector from it for a whopping $35 (the dealer quoted $380 for the one they didn't have). Upon its arrival on my doorstep the next morning, I consulted the workshop manual from my 2002 XJ8 (it had essentially the same engine, but with a smaller displacement) to determine the location of the number seven cylinder. Apparently, it was the penultimate one from the rear, on the driver's side. After removing various underbonnet plastic beautification shields, I finally had what I believed to be the misbehaving injector in my sights. With not inconsiderable difficultly, I wrestled it from its perch and substituted my junkyard find in its place. I then slapped it all back together, congratulated myself on a job well done and fired it up. Much to my dismay, it was still misfiring. Oh, bugger. To this point, I had put my trust in the computer's diagnosis, rather than bothering to do any investigative work of my own, so I disappeared back in to my garage and came back out with an armful of tools and test equipment. I restarted the car and whilst it was running, pulled the electrical connector off the injector that I had just carefully installed. The engine instantly ran rougher still. Obviously this cylinder was firing. Curiouser & curiouser. I then proceeded to remove & replace the connectors from all the other injectors, each time with similar result, until I got to the very last (and most awkward) one. The rearmost cylinder on the passenger side or, number four, according to my book. Plugged or unplugged, it made not a jot of difference to the running. Here then, was my culprit. But why had the computer said that number seven was at fault when clearly it was number four? With considerably more difficultly (and liberal doses of cursing and gnashing of teeth), I switched the offending item with the one that I had previously removed from the other bank. Crossing my fingers and muttering various spiritual incantations, I cranked it over again. This time however, it ran as smooth as silk. Euphoric, I re-congratulated myself, buttoned everything up, washed my filthy, bloodied hands and poured myself a large reward. It was as I was enjoying my third reward that I became curious as to how the billion-dollar scanner could have made such an egregious error and identified the wrong cylinder. Feeling less pain now, as a result of my liquid trophies (plus a handful of ibuprofen), I felt suitably fortified to delve into the undeniably sad world of online automotive forums to seek an answer. After sifting through countless, heated debates over the correct number of holes in a 1947 Vauxhall speaker grille and other such nonsense, I came across a small but invaluable posting by Mr. R. Hardwicke of Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England, in which he kindly offers that Jaguar, in their infinite wisdom (and for no apparent reason whatsoever), decided to change the numbering system of their V8 engines in 2003. So, whereas before, they were numbered from 1-4 on the right bank and 5-8 on the left, they now are all odd (1,3,5,7) along the right side and even (2,4,6,8) on the left. So the blessed computer was right after all! Jaguar have always been a little strange with their cylinder numbering, on the legendary straight-six XK engine for example, number one cylinder was all the way at the back with six at the front. But to my knowledge, they had not hitherto fore undertaken such a seemingly pointless and confusing re-numbering exercise. Bastards! No wonder that they are now owned by an Indian company.
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  • July 2011
    As an Englishman, I have a certain, innate pre-disposition towards Franco-phobia. However, life has presented me with two good reasons to celebrate Bastille Day. The first, as it is my dear father's birthday and the second, is Jim Hull's splendid Bastille Day Rally. Now in its 33rd year, it is more enjoyable than ever. We met on a gorgeous Sunday morning at the magnificent Greystone Mansion. The wonderfully opulent surroundings provided the perfect backdrop for the incredible array of classic cars in attendance. A delicious, light breakfast gave everyone a chance to reacquaint with old friends and inspect the glittering line-up of automotive masterpieces. The invitation had stipulated a dress code of all white and consequently the event had an almost religious feel to it! Having polished off our muffins and pastries, we mounted our trusty steeds and filed out through the imposing gateway. My chosen ride was a wonderful 1957 Peerless GT. Fresh from a thorough mechanical overhaul, it was in excellent form. We wended our way along Sunset Boulevard all the way to the ocean where we joined PCH before heading inland again to the spectacular canyons. Recently repaved, they were a delight to drive and made the perfect route for the cavalcade. Ahead of me was the amazing and phenomenally exacting Argentinian reproduction of a 1932 Alfa 8C Monza and behind me an immaculate DB4. Coinciding neatly with the 50th anniversary of the E-type, Jaguar was the 'featured' mark and so a plethora of Coventry cats dappled the field, fore and aft. The procession terminated at Jim's fabulous Malibu ranch, Greener Pastures. Here, we were treated to live music, scrumptious food, and, most welcomely, a full bar (it got pretty hot inside the Peerless and I was in a massive state of dehydration). In the midst of our wining and dining, a distant rumbling heralded the approach of an exquisitely restored P38 Lightning, which duly performed several thrilling treetop fly-overs to the delight of the assembled crowd. The plane was one of several WWII fighters that belonged to this years 'rally master' Jack Croul. It was the perfect crescendo to the classic-filled symphony of the day. Now, if they'd just start building some decent cars again, I might have to rethink my opinions of the Gallic nation.
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  • April 2011
    K&P GARAGE GRAND OPENING To celebrate our founder Johannes Kastner's latest successful business venture, the Kastner and Partners Garage Launch Reception was held on April 7th. And what a party it was. Nearly 300 guests enjoyed delicious food and fine wine from Sonoma Wine Garden, as well as the chance to mingle with old friends and make new ones. As the sounds of a jazz ensemble played in the background, some of the biggest names in the Southern California classic car scene came by to say hello, check out the inventory and wish us well.
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  • March 2011
    Hot on the heels of last month's incredible garage tour, came another invitation to a similar excursion around collections in the South Bay. Guess I must have behaved myself well enough to be invited back! Sadly, whilst the previous tour had been conducted under azure skies, this one was not to be so blessed. It was nearly pitch black when I set forth. Not only was it bloody early but the clouds were completely masking any hint of daylight. Southern California is so unused to rain that it almost seizes up when the heavens open. The roads are not designed to drain particularly well and soon resemble long, dark rivers. Motorists are equally unaccustomed to such meteorological change and consequently a slew of accidents ensue. Despite these drawbacks (and a lot of aquaplaning), I arrived in one piece at our meeting point and first destination. It was actually a restoration & repair shop, as opposed to a private garage, but was nonetheless filled with an incredible array of vintage iron of all ages & origins. The place was so spotlessly clean throughout that it could have given many an operating theatre a run for its money. The examples of their work that were dotted around the place bore testimony to the phenomenal standard of work that they perform there. The proprietor was extremely cordial and had laid on a tremendous spread of comestibles for the rain-soaked attendees, which were eagerly enjoyed. From here, it was on to another repair shop, this time with a very heavy Italian leaning. Though hard to choose from the dazzling line-up there, I think that all present agreed that the magnificent Zagato bodied 250 GT was the star attraction. Next stop was one of the most eclectic yet astounding private collections that I have ever seen, including Lister, a C-Type Jaguar and Renault 5 Turbo 2. Additionally they had a slot-car track, which was a painstakingly detailed recreation of the Le Mans circuit, complete with grandstands and spectators. Furthermore, the lights in the room that housed it even cycled through a simulated night & day, thereby enabling one to experience the '24 Hours' in a mere twenty four minutes! A quick (and thoroughly drenching) walk down the street from here was yet another specialist repair facility, this time festooned with Cobras. 289s, 427s, FIAs, you name it, they had it! Our last stop was a large hangar, which housed another private collection consisting largely of some of the most exquisitely restored pre-war American cars and the odd aeroplane! As ever, tremendous thanks to all who made this day possible. I can't wait for the next one!
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  • February 2011
    When was the last time you saw an Alfa TZ2 or a Ferrari 625 TRC or a Vincent Black Shadow? OK, fair enough, but when was the last time you saw them all in the same morning? Well for me, it was last Sunday. I was fortunate enough to be invited on a very exclusive (OK, obviously not that exclusive, if they invited me, I suppose!) tour of some magnificent private collections in Beverly Hills. I and some like-minded friends, piled into a sleek, unmarked motor coach and were whisked around five incredible garages. Now, it's amazing enough to see cars like these in pictures or even a museum but to see them sitting in the garage of somebody's home is quite another matter. And, what makes it more amazing is that, unlike museum cars, these are obviously loved, used and enjoyed on a regular basis, as they should be. At each stop our hosts supplied us with a lovely assortment of victuals and refreshments and said a few words about each of their cars. Every garage was wonderfully decorated and reflected not only their automotive contents but also the style of the owners themselves. Despite all consisting of the same basic ingredients, a building and some cars, each was delightfully different and added yet another layer (as if one was needed) to the enjoyment of this extremely privileged outing. And, just when one thought that nothing could equal that which one had just seen, so the next place and the place after that would prove one wrong. A huge thank you to everyone involved for one of the most intimate and memorable car experiences that I have had. Oh, and did I mention an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato....or a hundred pre-war motorcycles....or a Daytona Spyder....a Fiat 8V Supersonic.....? !
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  • January 2011
    Possibly second only to Monterey's August spectacular, there can be no more car-fueled spot in the U.S. than Scottsdale in January. It is positively teeming with dealers, collectors, enthusiasts and tire-kickers, attending a seemingly endless (and annually increasing) list of auctions. Far better coverage of the major events than I can write, can be found in countless places in print and on the internet. Consequently, I shall limit my jottings to a few other observations from my trip. I decided to drive (for a change) and set out bright & early on Thursday morning, in order to catch the 'Best of British' RM auction that evening (having previously deemed attending the week's earlier auctions unnecessary). The I10 was as uninspiring as ever. (Just what is that vast expanse of RVs either side of the freeway that one passes en route all about? Do people actual live there or is it just some sort of gargantuan Winnebago graveyard?! And, why are all the rest stops along the way, so awful?). Determined not to go the Motel 6 route this year, I stayed at the fabled Camelback Inn. Despite the (to my mind) desperately drear palette with which everything in in Arizona appears to be decorated, my room could not have been nicer. There was a distinct absence of earthtones and even a secluded sun deck with chairs & a table. Very civilized! The bar had a fireplace both inside & out, which ensured that only my gin & tonic stayed cold and the staff were most accommodating. I'm not a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan, but one cannot help but be impressed as one pulls up to the Biltmore in Phoenix, where the RM auctions were being held. The cars on offer were equally spectacular. Bidding was strong (the drinks, less so) and the auctioneer's hammer fell almost rhythmically a seemingly endless stream of Jaguars & Astons sauntered across the block. The highlight for me however, was witnessing a rather lovely XK 120 FHC suddenly start billowing smoke from the interior just as it was crossing the stage (presumably Joseph Lucas up to his old tricks) and then watching the poor auctioneer put a brave face on it. Breakfast the next morning at David Gooding & Co.'s mall-side pavilion was most restorative, bacon, eggs, champagne and even a close approximation of English sausages! A splendid array of cars were lined up for their moment in (or should that be 'out of'?) the sun and David's marvelous hammer-man dispatched them with inimitable aplomb. No trip to Scottsdale would be complete, without a visit to the one that started it all, the three-ring circus that is, Barrett-Jackson. Part carnival, part county fair and all American, it is an event without compare. After stumping around the World's largest tent for what seemed like an eternity, dodging mullets & impossibly obese people, I was in dire need of refreshment and so repaired to the on-site pub, The Tilted Kilt. For those of you not familiar with these genteel establishments (it is, I believe, a nationwide franchise), they consist of late teen/early twenty something girls, dressed in Hugh Hefner-styled Catholic schoolgirl outfits serving actually quite decent draught beer. They are obviously hired on other merits than their intellect (no, nice-girl-putting-herself-through-college stuff here) but, it must be said, their merits are wonderfully presented! More auctions, more drinks & more beige architecture rounded out the rest of the stay and then it was time to turn around and head for home. This however, was not quite as unmarred as the drive there. On the freeway just outside of Phoenix, with scarcely another car on the road, all lanes open and excellent climatic conditions, I was surprised to find myself herded to the side of the road by one of the numerous, different, virtually unmarked, Arizona highway patrol vehicles. That stretch of highway generally has a 75mph limit and though I have no doubt that I was slightly exceeding that, I could not imagine that it was by a broad enough margin to warrant this attention. Upon coming to a halt at the side of the freeway, Dirty Harry came up to my window; hand on gun and proceeds to tell me that by rights he should be taking me straight to jail. When I enquired as to what heinous deed I had performed to justify such, he gesticulated at a couple of orange cones, haphazardly tossed on the far side of the hard shoulder, and informed me that it was a 'construction zone,' that the limit was 50mph and that consequently I had been travelling at 30mph over the speed limit, a jailable offence, in those parts. Despite remaining remarkably civil and gently pointing out that there was no one working, no work vehicles, no lane closures and no clear signage to that effect, he was having none of it and said that I should consider myself lucky as he handed me a stingingly expensive ticket. So perhaps that's what all those RVs are for. They are home to the poor, unfortunate wretches that can't afford to pay the tickets they were given in bogus Phoenix speed traps by heartless mobile, not-quite-policemen.
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  • December 2010
    As the evenings become ever darker, my headlights seem to become ever dimmer. A couple of faint yellow streaks, projecting but a few feet in front of the car. Foolishly, I made the grave error when buying my car, of not ordering the xenon headlight package. I could buy a lot of dry French rosé (my favourite, back then) for that money, I can remember thinking at the time. After realizing the folly of my ways soon afterwards, as I groped my way home through the inky darkness every night, I tried every high performance bulb that I could obtain locally, to try to improve matters, but to no avail. Then, after some intensive internet research, I ordered some special (and very expensive) replacement halogen bulbs from Europe. Sadly however, these too appeared to make no difference whatsoever other than an increased lightness of my wallet. Finally, I resigned myself to having woefully inadequate headlights and became ever the more jealous of the seemingly smug, ultra-bright lights of the xenon-equipped cars I passed on the freeway. Several years passed until when, just the other day, for some unknown reason, I decided to have another delve into the remarkably un-illuminated world of headlight upgrades. Things seem to have come along a bit, since my earlier investigations and a proliferation of HID (high intensity discharge (xenon)) conversion kits are now available. Not only are they offered for pretty much every halogen light application, but they come in a variety of colour temperatures (from yellow to white to blue to purple) and for less money than I spent on those useless European bulbs. With Christmas just around the corner, I decided to treat myself to a set (to compensate for the forty-seven pairs of socks that Santa routinely brings me). I opted for the 4300K pure white ones (I think the blue ones are a bit tacky) and eagerly awaited their arrival. Two days later they showed up and that weekend, I set about installing them. It was a relatively simple process and I only swore twice during it. For once, I couldn't wait for it to get dark, so that I could admire my handiwork. I must confess to being a little skeptical about how good they could be for the price but by six o'clock that evening, I was a believer! I cannot think of anything that I have ever done to any of my cars, for so little money and so little effort that has made such a huge difference. The light that they emit is so clean & white that it makes almost every other car's efforts look dingier & yellower than a chain-smoker's teeth. Not only that, but without being in the least bit blinding to oncoming traffic, they illuminate the road ahead for hundreds of yards. They also run much cooler than the halogens and use half the power. I cannot recommend them highly enough, to anyone that drives at night and still has halogen lights. Not only can I see so much better when I'm driving (and consequently drive more safely) but I am less tired at the end of the drive as my eyes & brain do not have to concentrate so hard just to see the road.
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  • November 2010
    In the midst of a particularly nonsensical dream, I realized that the incessant buzzing sound that appeared to be coming from some creation of my subconscious mind was in fact my mobile phone vibrating most insistently on my bedside table. Not without difficulty in my befuddled state, I managed to hit the answer button and bring it to my ear. “You didn't forget that you were going to help me pick up the Ferrari from the storage place, did you?” boomed a voice from the other end. “Oh, no, of course not,” I blearily lied in response. “Good, because I'm outside and have been hammering on your door for the last ten minutes.” I had of course, completely forgotten that I had agreed to assist my friend David retrieve his 330 GTC from the facility where he leaves it when he is overseas. It had sounded like a lot of fun when he had proposed the idea, early the previous evening. He would pick me up in his new 599 GTB and I would drive the 330 back to his house, noting any possible mechanical issues on the way. Now however, it was sounding more like a grueling chore than the pleasurable jaunt that I had initially envisaged. Curse that remarkably inexpensive but highly drinkable Pinot Grigio that I had been chucking back with such reckless abandon the night before, I thought to myself as I clutched my throbbing head and hung up the phone, whilst simultaneously crawling toward the bathroom and the rumpled pile of clothes therein. Forty seven and a half seconds later, I finally opened the door for the far-too-cheerful-for-that-time-of-morning David. The 599 sat menacingly in the driveway; the exhaust still 'ting-ing' as it cooled from the obvious thrashing it had had en route to my house. “Bloody hell, you look dreadful,” he sweetly opined. “Thanks for noticing,” I muttered, as I trudged towards his car, choking back a Red Bull, in a woefully inadequate attempt to restore my ailing spirits. After a near-silent drive, in which I felt completely unable to appreciate the magnificence of the machine in which I was being conveyed, we arrived at the storage facility. The mildly ominous clouds that had dotted the sky when we left my house had by now coagulated in to a uniform blanket of dark grey and, sure enough, as I eased the 330 out into the subdued daylight, the first specks of rain spattered on the windshield and beaded on the perfectly waxed bonnet. Ordinarily I would have delighted in the opportunity to helm what is generally agreed to be one of the finest driving road cars that Enzo ever produced. Furthermore, I would probably have pleaded with David to wait until the rain had abated before setting off, so as not to spoil this pristine jewel. However, right then, I was intent upon getting the job done as quickly as possible so that I could return to the soothing confines of my bed, and so I pressed on regardless. This proved to be a mistake. As we convoyed down Sunset towards Malibu the wipers gave up the ghost (not that they had actually been doing that much anyway). Undaunted, I carried on until, on a particularly barren stretch of PCH, the accelerator fell to the floor and the car lost all speed. Coasting to the very narrow shoulder, I divined that the throttle cable had snapped (this was a late series GTC, the earlier cars sensibly had solid linkages). I pulled the elegant chromed bonnet release and, with a heavy sigh, stepped out into the elements. By this stage, the rain had worsened and was now coming down in an almost solid mass which was made all the more pervasive by the ever-stiffening wind coming off the seething Pacific on the other side of the road. The shock to my already frail being, emerging from the cosy cocoon of the Ferrari into this maelstrom, was almost more than I could stand. Why on Earth had I volunteered for this wretched exercise? As I leant over the engine to assess the situation, David appeared from the gloom clutching a large red umbrella emblazoned with prancing black horses, presumably one of the many niceties that came with the 599. It turned out to be as effective as a chocolate fireguard, the rain having now contrived to come at us from every direction. So, I closed the bonnet and we repaired to the relative comfort and safety of his car whilst I tried to formulate a plan in my enfeebled brain. I hate to admit defeat when a car breaks down but I had no tools with me and David wouldn't know which way round to hold a screwdriver, so there was no point in asking him if he had any. Not that tools would have done any good mind you, without a new length of braided cable, but I always feel more empowered with a wrench in my hand. As much as I craved this mission to be over, I was damned if I was going to throw in the towel and call a tow truck. A temporary break in the downpour afforded me the opportunity to revisit the humbled GTC whereupon I determined that I could perhaps remotely operate the throttle manually, by attaching a length of something to the pivoted linkage on the valve cover, but what? I rummaged in the trunk and foraged along the roadside in the hopes of finding a piece of string, a spool of wire, a jumper cable, anything that would get the job done, but to no avail. Then it struck me. As David looked on in enthralled bemusement, I lifted up the sodden hem of my sweater and began to unbuckle my belt and pull it clear of the loops on my waistband. I'm not sure if he thought I was going to expose myself to the car in the hopes of frightening it into submission or, give it a damn good thrashing with now dangling strap, but he said nothing. Turning back to the car, I affixed one end of it onto the remaining linkage and then fed the rest out of the lowered but not latched bonnet and then through the slightly opened drivers door window. This way, I was able to pull gently on the belt with my left hand to accelerate whilst juggling the steering wheel and gearlever with my right. It worked like a charm and consequently I was able to pilot the old girl the remaining few miles back to his house (with some not unchallenging feats of dexterity and hand/foot coordination). David drove me home and I was finally able to return to the sanctuary of my seldom-more-welcoming bed, where I reflected upon two things. Firstly, be careful what you agree to after a few adult beverages and secondly, always wear a belt!
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  • September 2010
    Far rarer than its more famous smaller brother, the venerable Cobra, the AC 428 is little known and greatly overlooked. Built on the same chassis as the Mk.III 427 Cobras (though this was lengthened 6” to accommodate the touring body), they were styled by Pietro Frua (of Mistral fame) and were powered by Ford's 428 FE big-block engine and were offered with a choice of 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. They have long been a favourite of mine (I remember seeing one new in 1971) and so it was with great delight that I accepted the kind invitation of my old chum Jeffrey, to give his superb '69 Coupe a whirl. He had just retrieved the car from having considerable mechanical work done to it and was eager to put it through its paces. Yet another gorgeous California day greeted me as I set out for his house, nestled in the Hollywood Hills. He was just pulling it out of the garage when I arrived. Though I have seen several examples over the years, I had forgotten just what a fabulous looking car these are! As it burbled away merrily, I couldn't wait to climb behind the wheel and see what its newly fettled drivetrain could do. After lowering myself into its remarkably commodious cockpit, I eased the wonderfully precise gear lever into first and gently let out the clutch. Even at little more than idle speed the tremendous torque was abundantly apparent as we made our way up to Mullholland. Once up to normal operating temperature, I experimented with ever-deeper depressions of my right foot on the seemingly bottomless accelerator pedal. Each progressive stab was rewarded with the most incredible basso profundo roar from the tailpipes and an astonishing degree of matching acceleration. As we approached some of the more tortuous stretches, the handling was nonetheless impeccable, lapping up the corners with almost no discernible roll or drift. The brakes prove to be equally up to the task, biting keenly but smoothly, hauling the behemoth down with even the lightest application of the middle pedal. All too soon, it seemed that we had descended to more populous areas and we were forced to snake along in a single file line of traffic. This however, presented no challenge to the mighty 428, which seemed as comfortable creeping through town as it had on the open highway. Barely a twitch of the temperature gauge and a surprisingly cool cabin despite the 90-degree plus temperature outside. With an early afternoon appointment looming, I reluctantly pointed the beast back towards his house, allowing myself a few more liberties with the speed limit on the return. A truly marvellous first spin since its revamp and great testament to the work performed by his mechanics. It firmly cemented my belief that these are exceptional cars and further served to increase my already voracious desire to own one!
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  • August 2010
    The Monterey Peninsula in mid-August, what an unparalleled experience for the ardent (and even the not-so-ardent) motoring enthusiast. Take one of the loveliest spots in California, sprinkle in every amazing car ever built, add several hundred thousand assorted collectors, drivers, tyre-kickers and other auto-crazed types and a handful of ultra highline auctions, top with some truly spectacular vintage racing and you've got a vague idea of the magnitude of the proceedings! It is, quite literally, a wall-to-wall car show! In the end, I settled for the comfort & dependability of my newer Jaguar for the trip (I'm becoming such a sybarite in my greying years). I made the great trek up the incomparable Highway 1, on a gorgeously clear Thursday, in convoy with a couple of my friends (both driving even more mundane fare than I, I was pleased to note). As we wended our way along some of the truly prettiest stretches of road ever paved, the traffic gradually thickened, where it clings rather precariously to the cliffs along the seashore, there being only one lane in each direction. Invariably, at these bottlenecks, some miserable old codger with an RV the size of Delaware would manage to completely ignore the thirty-or-so cars lined up behind him, as he willfully passed every turnout and passing lane without a hint of pulling over. As it transpired, this prove to be of little consequence. For, even when the opportunity for some more 'spirited' driving presented itself, we were hamstrung by the wife of one of my friend's, who choose that trip to realize that she becomes intensely nauseous on the mildest of bends and consequently proceeded to turn every shade of green from a light sea-foam to a rich viridian, at any speed above a crawl. Despite these (and several other undocumented) setbacks, we finally arrived at our hallowed destination and checked in to our respective hotels before making a hasty retreat to a nearby hostelry to soothe some of the stresses of the drive. Suitably refreshed, we continued on to the impressive RM auction preview. Although the D-Type (albeit with questionable history) & the stunning, pontoon-fendered 250 Testa Rossa were quite lovely, the real stars of the show had to be the ex Diana Dors, Saoutchik bodied Delahaye and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the miniscule 1970 Subaru police car. (The latter apparently quite capable of being parked within the boot of the former!). A quick pit stop at the slightly less salubrious Russo & Steele sale was followed with a final round of adult beverages before shuffling off for some much needed sleep.rnrn The next morning brought (along with a most restorative breakfast) the twin delights of Concorso Italiano and The Quail, a Motorsport Gathering. The Concorso Italiano was sprawled over the golf course adjoining the racetrack at Laguna Seca, where the Historics were already in full swing, and a well-cocked ear could just discern the howl of some glorious engine screaming past the grandstand. It was the usual vast sea of seemingly mandatorily red-painted, Mediterranean-built machinery. You could almost feel a thick, black moustache forming on your upper lip and the overwhelming desire to gesticulate frantically throughout every conversation. A particularly strong turnout of F40s (when did you last see seven of them?) seemed almost lost next to all the other amazing examples of Enzo's brilliance. The 'also-ran' Lamborghini section was no doubt, fun for some (“Oh, and what kind of stereo do you have fitted in your Diablo...?”) and the always 'interesting' DeTomaso crowd provided some light relief (“Wow, billet seat adjusters,......nice.”). After just about all the piped Godfather theme tune music that I could stand it was off to The Quail, an altogether far more civilized, if expensive, affair. Rubbing shoulders with the who's who of the motoring world whilst sipping pretty good champagne and sampling culinary offerings from around the globe (well, Europe & America anyway). Oh, and then there were the cars! Yet more magnificent offerings beautifully presented in the grounds of the sumptuous Quail Lodge Resort nestled in the bucolic Carmel Valley. After lots of obligatory (though nonetheless deserved) compliments to all the participants that I knew, I was on automotive overload and, having forgotten my sunscreen, starting to resemble a well-cooked lobster. Time to repair to the comfort of the hotel bar for a recharge before heading out to the very enjoyable Gooding auction preview and then dinner in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Saturday was time to see some of these old sleds actually performing rather than just sitting still & looking pretty! Off to Laguna Seca for some truly memorable track action. The volume of incredibly rare cars that get flogged around the circuit is truly jaw dropping. To see any one of these cars in a museum would be a treat but here, their owners are wheel-to-wheel with other similarly prized pieces as if they were driving a Hyundai in a demolition derby. A most spectacular (and expensive) crash in one of my favourite class events brought everything to a halt for a while but no one was badly hurt and it gave me time to explore the delights of the infield. Next up, was the surely unrepeatable sight of 30 Bugattis going for it as if their lives depended on it! Amazing! The unmistakable bark of the Porsche 917's flat twelve heralded the next round in which it ultimately won despite some very heavy pressing from an equally gorgeous Lola T70 Mk. IIIB. Came across lots more chums whilst wandering around the paddock who all pointed out that, once again, I had neglected to plaster on the Coppertone and that I was now not entirely distinguishable from the predominant Ferrari colour at yesterday's Concorso. I took this as a sign that I should call it a day, but couldn't resist staying for one more race when I heard that my dear friend (and Trans-Am champion driver), Tomy Drissi was about to compete. It ultimately prove to be the most thrilling race of the day and Tomy finished a very creditable second, in a 1970 Camaro. In all the excitement of the day, I had almost forgotten that it was my birthday but luckily my travelling companions had not and very kindly took me out for a most delicious meal at Piattis. Afterwards, I went to catch the end of the RM sale over at the Portola Hotel where, lo and behold, who should I bump into, my friend Tomy and his lovely wife Lacy! Tomy was hell bent on buying a particular car that was just about to cross the block. I cast a quick eye over it and determined that it was however, not the car for him and practically had to sit on his arm to stop him bidding on it! He most graciously rewarded me with a nightcap (or two) at one of Monterey's hotspots to perfectly round out my birthday celebrations! The day that originally started this whole Monterey extravaganza, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, was finally upon us. We all piled in my car for the pilgrimage to the 17 mile drive and on to the sacred eighteenth green at Pebble Lodge. After some wonderfully inept marshalling by the parking stewards, which resulted in us making a 34 mile drive out of the 17, we at last stepped out onto the turf and into the tumult of people and cars. I shall not even attempt to describe the spectacle, as many others will already have done a far better job than I could (just Google it!), but suffice it to say, it was everything you've ever imagined....and then some! Yet more encounters with fellow car junkies resulted in yet more libations and a very good time was had by all! After the last award had been presented (a mildly surprising best-in-show to a 1933 Delage), a short walk across the grass brought us back to the Gooding tent for unquestionably the premier auction event of the week. An exceptional dinner at Dutch former racing driver, Ben Pon's sublime Bernardus Lodge was the crowning finale to a most magical trip only leaving me to contemplate the unforgettable memories of the previous days, the rather grim prospect of the drive back with the attendant return to reality and, most importantly, the thought of doing it all again next year!
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  • August 2010
    Got up bright & early this Sunday to join my friend Peter and some other like-minded car enthusiasts for a fabulous morning drive up the coast. The weather started out unseasonably overcast & chilly but gradually evolved into a glorious summer's day with clear blue skies and temperatures to make that cold beer at the end of the tour, all the more palatable! Peter's delightful Meissen Blue 1959 Porsche 356 Convertible D behaved impeccably, though with its freshly rebuilt engine, we were careful not to push it too hard. We were joined by some incredible machinery, ranging from a gorgeous '57 Talbot-Lago to an amazing Alfa Romeo TZ1! After meeting near the Getty Villa we headed north, hugging the mist-shrouded shore up the Pacific Coast Highway to Port Hueneme before heading back via some spectacular canyons, by now bathed in golden sunlight. A delicious brunch overlooking the water in Malibu rounded out the adventure. Yes, it's a rough life, here in Southern California! The automotive frenzy of Monterey looms ever closer as I scrabble to find a not-too-battered suitcase and a few pairs of clean socks to go in it. Still undecided as to which steed I shall entrust with the task of carrying me up there but at least I have found a particularly lovely place to lay my weary head when I get there. The unstinting kindness of another great car friend has truffled up a presumed-to-be-unobtainable room in one of the nicest hotels in Monterey (no more Motel 5½, this year anyway)! Ah, I can almost taste the mini-bar from here....!
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  • July 2010
    More cars have come and gone, our first magazine print ads hit the newsstands, and our new website goes live. What a month! Looking forward to the Pebble Beach/Monterey festivities next month. Cars, cars, racing, the auctions, old friends, new contacts, good food, even better drinks and yet more cars!! What could be better? We will recount our experiences & findings upon our return.
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  • June 2010
    A classic car dealership is born. Kastner & Partners Garage opened its doors to the public. This has saved us a considerable amount in window cleaning costs as now people can actually come in and look at the cars instead of pressing their faces to the glass. Just days after commencing business, we chalked up our first sale, a nicely prepared early Porsche 911E with lightweight panels and roll cage, to a most illustrious client. The car is already en route to its proud new owner in Europe.
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