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Mmm, Purple!.. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts you'll love what's on the classics menu at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.

No, were not talking about Homer Simpson’s favorite flavor of doughnut, but a 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Aero Coupe, equipped with a 165 bhp, 7,340 cc V-12 cylinder engine (two in-line 6s with twin distributors), and a spiffy purple paint job. Replacing the Phantom II in 1936, this was the only V-12 Rolls-Royce until the 1998 introduction of the Silver Seraph, which had approximately double the horsepower at 322 bhp. This particular specimen was on loan from the Klairmont Kollections, a private automobile museum in the City of Chicago.

Royce Phantom III a

With a wheelbase of 140 inches, and weighing in at 7,700 lb. for the original Rippon Brothers 4 door limousine body, this car was built like a tank, which is likely why Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), in the James and film “Goldfinger,” chose to drive one in order to haul around his gold that he smuggled throughput Europe. The one featured here has an Art Deco-style, handcrafted aluminum body, designed by a French coach builder, Carrosserie Vanvooren, in Paris in 1937, but it was not built and added to the chassis until the 2000s. This version likely weighs closer to chassis-only weight of 4,050 lb.

Royce Phantom III b

One wonders how much gold Auric Goldfinger could fit in the trunk of this body style. I was expecting ‘Nick Nack’ (Hervé Jean-Pierre Villechaize), the 3 foot 10 inch villain to pop up at any moment, but he worked for Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) in “The Man with the Golden Gun,” who drove a 1974 AMC Matador. The real surprise is when one opens it up to find the trunk lid has a latched panel on the inside that, once opened, reveals a specialized collection of all the tools needed for this particular Rolls, including a set of spare spark plugs. Under the hood of the engine compartment, one will find easy access to the crank and tools for a manual start.

Royce Phantom III c

The ’suicide’ doors are very heavy, around 4 inched thick, and certainly weighing over 50 lb, and the interior is outfitted high-quality leather and wood. There are many details to explore, such as the tiny marker lights behind the beautiful chrome headlight assemblies that indicate to the driver that the headlights are on. The reverse lights that flank the license plate are two different colors, white on the right, and red on the left. Though long gone from auto design and manufacturing, I really love the aesthetic look of the split windows, and this example has them in both the front and back. Finally, if you go to the Chicago Auto Show this weekend, and find a curator willing to start the engine, you will be amazed how quiet is this 1937 V-12 engine, and how melodious the sound of the horn!

2018 Chicago Auto Show
McCormick Place
2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60616
Feb. 10 - 18 (10 a.m. - 10 p.m.)
Feb. 19 (10 a.m. - 8 p.m.)


Happy Mardi Gras from Car Chat

Happy Mardi Gras to Car Chat followers and fans! You may not know this, but we at Car Chat are mostly native New Orleanians or from nearby in Louisiana. Though it is a 'regular Tuesday' in most other places in the USA, in New Orleans and other places in Louisiana and Cajun-land we are celebrating the very old tradition of Carnival and the consumption of scrumptious ‘king cakes’.

Mardi Gras is a wonderful time and a great opportunity to see some awesome classic automobiles, fantastical creations, or elaborately decorated jalopies. You never know what your are going to see when you turn a corner in the French Quarter. I was on my way to the family home, right in the heart of the Mardi Gras mayhem when I came across a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala, the debut year for this American classic.
The fine specimen in the photo above is a Sport Coupe equipped with either a 235-cubic-inch Blue Flame I6, or 283-cubic-inch Turbo-Fire V8, or perhaps the 348-cubic-inch Turbo-Thrust V8. Though I did not stop to ask any detailed questions, it was great to greet such a fine lady who is passionate about classic American cars.
So, just to give you a taste of the flavor of our genre de vie (way of life) here, I will finish this blog post in my native dialect, which is a gumbo of French, Spanish, Italian, Irish, and English:

”I was passing by momenem's house in da French Quarter fo' da Mardi Gras, and snapped dis photo from da banquette of dis belle dame next to a 1958 Impala. Laissez les bon temps rouler!"

Translation from New Orleans dialect: "I was visiting my family's home in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras when I took this photo from the sidewalk of this fine lady standing next to a 1958 Impala. Let the good times roll!"



The First Muscle Car


The First Muscle Car

When Oldsmobile introduced the first mass-produced overhead-valve high-compression V8 engine for the 1949 model year, it was said to be the first muscle car. With 135 horsepower it out-powered the flathead Ford V8 by 35% and had the lightest, smallest body of any higher powered V8 cars. Others argue that the 1951 Chrysler Hemi was the first muscle car, with 180 horsepower, but its moderate price and two year jump give the title to Oldsmobile.

Imagine a person's surprise and delight at approaching a local Aldi's and finding this extremely well kept example in a handicapped parking spot.

1950 Oldsmobile 88

One of the first cars to offer an automatic transmission (standard equipment), the Hydramatic was actually a four-speed automatic, when other early automatics mostly had two speeds and even almost all manual transmissions had three. The 88 was also equipped with the Rocket V8 engine as standard. This two-door example shows full wheel covers and dual exterior spotlights, popular options in the day. Air-conditioning was not yet offered.

1950 Oldsmobile 88 Front Quarter

Don't worry too much about its driver enduring the hot Missouri Summer, notice the "wind-wings" integral with the front windows: those corner windows can be angled out to scoop in air, or angled in to scoop it out (great for smokers with finicky family members back in the day). That's just the easily visible extra ventilation feature that older cars had. Foot vents, a dashboard fan, the ventilation fan and a high roof are other design features that helped keep driver and passengers cool in the days before air-conditioning was standard.

1950 Oldsmobile Rear Quarter

The Rocket V8, the 88's signature feature, would grow in horsepower to as much as 400 horsepower in big-block 455 CID versions and Oldsmobile would continue to make its own V8 engines through 1990. Oldsmobile itself would shut down in 2004, six years before sister divisions Pontiac, Hummer and Saturn.


1957 Aston Martin DBR2 Sighted at Sarasota Monthly Car Show

Driving around Florida's Sun Coast, one shouldn't be surprised to find expensive automobiles used as daily drivers.  But once in a while, you come across something that just makes you stop in your tracks and go over and check it out.  That's what I found this week in passing Harry's Sports Bar & Grille in Sarasota hosting their monthly car show - a rare 1957 Aston Martin DBR2 Roadster meticulously restored and on display in all its glory.

1957 Aston Martin DBR2

1957 Aston Martin DBR2

1957 Aston Martin DBR2

There's more photos of this beautifully restored classic from The Last Detail in suburban Chicago, IL:



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