Photo Album: Luxury Supercar & Concours d’Elegance Weekend – Vancouver 2012

September 11, 2012

This past weekend (Sept. 8th and 9th) marked the third annual Luxury Supercar & Concours d’Elegance Weekend, held on the grounds of the beautiful Van Dusen Gardens in the Shaughnessy region of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The size of the show this year nearly doubled in comparison to the previous year and, it must be said, the thought given towards the layout, open-space and ambiance of the swooping lawns of Van Dusen in displaying these vehicular beauties was an appreciated improvement over any other car-show I’ve ever attended at the historical garden. Well done, organizer(s)… 😉

For this year’s event, special attention was given towards celebrating certain themes. Among those were: 50 years of James Bond cars, Classic Supercars, the 60th Anniversary of Porsche in North America, 50 years of Shelby cars, Mercedes-Benz roadsters, classic Italian motorbikes and (almost) 100 years of Aston Martin.

The weekend culminated with the Shaughnessy Concours d’Elegance, awarding trophies on Sunday to the Best In Class. And Sunday was my chosen day for attending the event, seeing as how the Saturday was absolutely jam-packed with loads of people at the event during one of our last days of blistering Summer-y sunshine before Autumn announces its arrival.

This turned out to be a smart decision on my part, as Sunday was forecasted with overcast skies and a noticeable cooling in temperatures. Less people and less sunshine = a more comfortable and relaxed viewing (and photographical) experience all around.

Some notable cars in attendance were the new 2013 Aston Martin Vanquish, the 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 by Figoni, the 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Vignale Coupe (stunning), the return of the 1967 Toyota 2000GT (the only one in Canada), the Ferrari F40 and Enzo supercar, the wide assortment of Lamborghinis both old and new, the army of Shelby Mustangs, the 4 (or was it 5 ?) McLaren MP4-12C’s in varying trim and colour packages, the Mercedes/Mclaren SLR 722, the Spyker C8, the 1947 Humber Sedanca D’Ville (owned by King George VI)… and so on…

It goes without saying that this was one of, if not THE, most extraordinary vehicular event this fair, west-coast city has ever laid host to… So without further ado, let’s allow the photos to illustrate the extravagance and automotive rarities that were bestowed upon our region for one fine weekend in September… Hope you enjoy the photos.

-Words and Photography: Blake J.
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Spotlight: The Exquisite Alfa-Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale

January 26, 2012

In the oft-worshipped halls of exotic Italian sportscars of yore, the Alfa-Romeo Tipo 33 ‘Stradale’ is the stuff of dreams for petrolheads the world over. Yet, it didn’t exactly start out that way when it was first introduced at the Sport Car Show at Monza, Italy in September of 1967…

Essentially a road-legal version of Alfa’s Tipo 33 mid-engined racecar, the limited-run Stradale cost the equivalent of $17,000 when it was summoned upon the gazing eyes of the motoring world in ’67. That was astronomical money back then and as a result, Alfa struggled to find buyers for their luxuriously appointed, mid-engined Supercar that was carefully built by hand alongside their racing cars.

Churning out high-volume numbers of the Stradale was never going to be an issue so each Stradale was built-up over relaxed periods of time and therefore received evolutionary modifications and upgrades with each one produced. Subsequently, no two Stradales are alike, with earlier examples exhibiting twin-headlamps and later Stradales featuring vents behind the front and rear wheels to enable increased cooling capablities of the brakes.

Power for the Stradale came from Alfa’s first-ever V8 – A mildly-detuned version of their racecar’s 2-litre, all-aluminium, naturally-aspirated, dry-sumped, twin overhead camshaft engine that produced 230 bhp (it was capable of 270 bhp but ‘safely’ reigned-in for road-going purposes) and enabled the sprint to 60 in just 5.5 seconds and a top-speed of over 260 km/h. Rifling through the gears was a 6-speed Colotti gearbox and handling was aided by double wishbones all around. Stopping power was handled by Girling disc brakes on all four corners and helped along by the scant 700 kg curb weight of the entire rolling chassis. Accelerative prowess was a definite given with those numbers…

Franco Scaglione was a former employee at Bertone by the time he designed this evocative aluminium body for the Stradale – surely one of the most beautifully exotic, elegant, balanced and sexy designs to ever clothe a car. The signature (and rather clever) door-design being just one feature of the Stradale alongside many other design cues that permeate Italian flair and beauty like only the best of the best from the era.

With the Stradale struggling to find owners of the mere 18 examples created between late ’67 and March of 1969, five of them were eventually given to coach-builders Giugiaro/Italdesign, Pininfarina and Bertone to use as Stradale-based showcar concepts – the first one emerging from Bertone with their highly-influential, wedge-shaped ‘Carabo’ concept of ’68 (and the later Stradale-based ‘Navajo’ concept shown in ’76) followed by the ‘Iguana’ concept of ’69 from Giugiaro/Italdesign and two later Pininfarina-designed offerings. All five of those concepts survive to this day in the respective museums of their creators along with only 3 known road-going versions left in the wild- rare indeed.

What was considered a complete sales-failure at the time, it is now viewed as one of the most-cherished and adored pieces of Italian automotive creations. Its stunning lines and ferociously-lunged engine providing worldwide fanfare and adoration for this exquisitely created and rarest of Supercars from the 1960s.

-Blake J.
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Spotlight: Alfa Romeo 164 Procar

November 30, 2011

By the time of the late ’80s, Formula 1 had become a raging sea of Turbo-powered monsters that were engineered to produce exaspirating performance figures. It was a tumultuous period for both the FIA and the teams involved, eventually resulting in the outright banning of the mega-horsepowered formula for the 1989 season. Yet, Bernie Ecclestone had an intriguing idea up his sleeve to re-ignite race fans – an F1-powered Procar series for the ’88-’89 season.

A fantastic (though mightily expensive) idea was born – one that allowed the manufacturers to showcase their latest F1 technology within a bespoke race series where the cars were near-identical to their regular production versions. A ‘silhouette’ racing formula that would have seen top drivers competing in relatively stock-looking production cars heavily modified under the skin. The proposed power and weight limitations were exciting as well, dictating a 750 kg minimum and a 3.5L engine that could have up to 12 cylinders.

Alfa Romeo, now under Fiat management, was keen to provide their proposed version of a Procar for they had been planning an eventual return to the F1 stage for several years already. Since 1986, development of a 3.5L V10 F1 engine was evolving for the Ligier team but after relations fell through, Alfa was left with a 610 bhp V10 engine with nothing to slot it in.

One of only 15 V10 engines Alfa Romeo ever produced

When the Procar idea was laid out, Alfa collaborated with Brabham towards the challenge of producing an F1-style chassis that could accomodate a carbon-fibre saloon-car outer shell. The timing was also impecable for the Alfa marketing legions as it coincided the Procar debut with the launch of their brand new 164 Saloon, gorgeously designed by Pininfarina.

By the Fall of 1988, Alfa’s newly successful partnership with Brabham for the project would produce two fully-built Procars (of shocking similarity to the production counterpart) and 15 V10 engines – Alfa looked primed and ready for a triumphant return. Testing of the 164 Procar produced impressive results as well – Top speed was 211 mph (faster than F1 cars) and the standing quarter-mile was achieved in 9.7 seconds.

In light of these figures, Alfa decided to enlist Riccardo Patrese to show-off their new Procar creation (video below) to the public during practice sessions at Monza prior to the Italian Grand Prix. Riccardo hit 207 mph on the long finish-line straight in the slippery-bodied 164 Saloon and easily whet the crowd’s appetite for more Procar action in the future.

Yet, as is the case with most great ideas, this seemingly brilliant one from Mr. Ecclestone would be put to rest by a lack of available funds (and subsequent interest) from all the other major manufacturers. And Alfa Romeo simply could not afford a lone, one-make series a-la BMW in the late ’70s with their M1 Procar. Sadly, the F1-rivalling Procar idea was canned and the 164 Saloon Procar was eventually utilised as a research-vehicle towards their later DTM efforts.

The proposed Procar race series of the late ’80s remains one of those undeniable could-have-been/should-have-been paths for Motorsport to have undertaken. It would have been absolutely spectacular in many ways yet, most importantly, forever memorable.

-Blake J.
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POTD/Spotlight: Alfa Romeo TZ (Zagato)

November 25, 2011

Our Spotlight/Pic-of-the-day comes courtesy of this gorgeous 1964 Alfa Romeo TZ (Tubolare Zagato) Racecar that was developed and built jointly by Zagato and Auto Delta (Alfa Romeo’s Competition Department). The TZ was a purpose-built racecar that utilised a tubular spaceframe chassis clothed in lightweight, all-aluminium body panels that assisted in keeping the overall weight down to a scant 660 kg – That’s nearly half the weight of a Mazda MX-5…

Freshly restored in 2010 and recently sold for $830,000.00

With such feathery weight to propel the TZ, ample power delivery was relied upon a throaty, twin-spark 1.6L inline-4 cyl. engine that chucked out a healthy 160 bhp and enabled the TZ to reach 135 mph. Independent suspension and disc brakes also aided in stability during the varying styles of races it entered throughout its competition-based life.

Le Mans 1964 with the other competing Alfas awaiting the start

This exact TZ (pictured) was the 2nd of the non-prototypes to be built. Completed on April 2 1964, just 24 days later it was entered into the Targa Floria where it finished an impressive 3rd overall. Two months later it saw action in the Le Mans 24 Hours where it finished 15th overall – not too shabby for a 4-cyl Alfa Romeo.

At Le Mans - 1964

From there it was raced throughout the late-’60s until 1967 when its owner, Giancarlo Sala, decided that even more weight could be shed from its shell in the quest for greater performance. How he went about doing this though, remains a questionable (yet characteristic) note on the ‘add lightness’ scale.

Action-shot from the Le Mans 24 Hours - 1964

After watching bare aluminium Porsches compete (and win) at the Nurburgring, Sala decided to completely strip this very TZ of its paint, both inside and out, exposing it right down to the bare aluminium. He even sanded down the aluminium itself to reduce the thickness in his quest for lessened weight. He probably shaved off a few kilos by doing this. Amazingly, the TZ pictured here remained in its bare-aluminium shell until July 2010 when it was completely restored back to its original Le Mans livery/colours.

Sala at the 1969 Targa Florio with the bare-aluminium TZ

In July 2010, the car won 1st-Place honours at the Le Mans Heritage Club Concours. On May 21st of this year it was auctioned off by RM Auctions at Villa d’Este for an astronomical 627,400.000 Euros ($830,110.000)

At the 1964 Le Mans - post-race cool down

Nice, sweet-sounding onboard footage captured here just after its complete restoration…

-Blake J.
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