Cars That Meet Their Maker

This is a touchy subject for me, as watching cars meet their end is always a sad thing. Cars are loyal and reliable (unless they are Italian) friends, butlers and chauffeurs; they transport us to work, give us pleasure, whisk us to important meetings and special occasions. They save us time (unless they are Italian) and shelter us from bad weather. An old car wears its dents and scrapes, rips and tears, stickers and badges with pride, and to see one crushed is like watching the dog in Marley & Me going to doggy heaven (yep, I welled up at that, too).

Some cars are the real stars in movies, but how many of them meet their maker? I’ve watched every car/road movie ever made and it’s these following examples that stand out and are memorable to me. If you can think of more examples, please let me know in the comments box.

Herbie The Love Bug

One death in particular yanked on my heart strings when I was at infant school. Thinking about it, the following car (along with the General Lee) sparked my interest in cars. Because our teacher was off sick and their weren’t enough stand-ins to cover, two classes merged together to watch Herbie The Love Bug. I was besotted with the lovable and magical little car… until he tried to commit suicide, that is. Yes, that’s correct: suicide. After his racecar driver owner buys an Italian sportscar, Herbie gets jealous, smashes up the red Lambo and trundles (almost drunkenly) around the streets at night, crashing into to things, before mounting a bridge to try and launch himself into a river. The feeble noise Herbie made combined with his desperate attempt to find grip for his launch really got to me and I remember biting my lip so I wouldn’t cry in front of all my mates (and girls).

I made the clip, and despite being over 2 minutes long (I had to add the jealous scene as well as the attempted suicide), it tells a tale all on its own.

 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The next car to roll into the eternal junkyard is a very precious machine indeed. Whilst I love the movie and my friends usually laugh at the following scene, I just hate it. I know it isn’t a real Ferrari California that takes a dive in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, but all the same, it’s horrible to watch.

 

Christine

Christine is in my top 5 of favourite movies and novels of all time. I can watch this film over and over and it never wears thin – the soundtrack is great too. Christine is a gorgeous 1958 Plymouth Fury, a jealous and hate filled machine. There are many cool scenes in the film, along with some impressive effects for the period. Although Christine goes on a killing spree and miraculously heals after taking a beating, she ultimately meets her end when she is run over and crushed into a cube of twisted metal. Heart breaking…

 

 

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

The Ford Falcon with that big supercharger bursting through its hood is one of cinema’s coolest and meanest rides. Four decades after Mel Gibson completely stacked his beloved Falcon in this movie, the automotive world has been replicating the ‘used and abused’ look in recent years. The popular ‘murdered-out’ look combined with the ‘rat’ look surely take their roots from the Mad Max films.

 

Vanishing Point

This is my favourite cult movie. Kowalski works for a car delivery service, and after taking on a 1970 Dodge Challenger, he takes a bet that he can deliver from Colorado to San Francisco in 15 hours. Unlike the silly road movies like Smokey and The Bandit, this has a more serious side to it with flashes of back story telling you what kind of a person Kowalski is. When I first watched this as a kid, I didn’t really get why the film ended the way it did, but the more you watch it and understand the moral thread, it makes a statement. Just go watch it if you haven’t already.

Kowalski is probably the coolest guy ever to grace the big screen. Every man wants to be him.

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Video

Steve McQueen’s Ferrari 275 GTB Graces Mulholland Drive

Steve McQueen - Ferrari 275 GTB

Steve McQueen – Ferrari 275 GTB

I was recently invited to attend a car TV show launch in London featuring a restored 1962 Sebring Sprite raced by Sir Stirling Moss. The show was National Geographic’s Car S.O.S and, having the privilege of watching the screening of the first episode, I learnt a certain movie star raced in the same car and series as Moss.

Car SOS - Sir Stirling Moss' 1962 Sebring Sprite

Car SOS – Sir Stirling Moss’ 1962 Sebring Sprite

This actor was the original “King of Cool”, none other than Steve McQueen. If you’re unfamiliar with his work (although I highly doubt it), he’s the guy in the dark green Ford Mustang in the most famous car chase movie of all time, Bullitt.

I knew McQueen liked racing cars and I always associated him with Le Mans 1971 and Bullitt 1968, but I didn’t realise he bumped fenders with the epitome of the gentleman racer, Sir Stirling Moss.

Sir Stirling Moss' 1962 Sebring Sprite

Sir Stirling Moss’ 1962 Sebring Sprite

Later that evening I managed to chat with the show’s presenters and get up close to the little race car. I peered into the tiny cockpit and imagined battling it out on track, looking in my mirrors as McQueen and Moss prepared to take a dive down the inside – yes, this is fantasy; I’m not deluded enough to think Moss would ever be in my mirrors.

These were the hay days of racing cars, the days when gentleman with fat wallets could climb into cars and race with the stars.

Steve McQueen - Ferrari 275 GTB

Steve McQueen – Ferrari 275 GTB

Inspired, I dug a little deeper and discovered a recent video of McQueen’s Ferrari 275 GTB on YouTube. The car channel, theAFICIONAUTO not only managed to get hold of McQueen’s beloved Fezza, but they also took it for a spin down Los Angeles’ Mulholland Drive.

In fact, going back to the movie, Bullitt, McQueen actually owned and drove his 275 GTB at the time of its filming. As the Italian masterpiece makes it way along Mulholland Drive, you get to hear it’s glorious V12 song, all the while taking in some of McQueen’s favourite sights.

Ferrari’s Classiche department has since restored the 275 GTB, leaving as flawless as the day it left Maranello.

Steve McQueen - Ferrari 275 GTB

Steve McQueen – Ferrari 275 GTB

Because this is a classic Ferrari, price tags are going to be high, but when you factor in the previous owner’s own tag as “The King of Cool”, the price is going to soar – by soar, I mean over $10M. This is the money a lucky bidder forked out for the GTB at an RM action in August 2014.

Yes, it’s a lot of money, but if you sit back and watch the video below, take in the sights, the sounds, and imagine every bend through the eyes of “Mr Cool”, you’ll get some idea as to why people part with so much of their hard earned cash.

If you like the look of the little Austin Healey Sebring Sprite, check out Car S.O.S. and watch Moss take it for a good thrashing after its restoration.

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What’s The Most Unreliable Car You’d Happily Own?

Chap broken down

“Buy with your head, not your heart,” is something you’ll either hear from your parents, partner or non-car person. I’ve had this kind of advice fired at me from all angles over the years… thankfully, the wife is (slightly) more understanding.

Luckily, if you are like me and born with high-octane sluicing around in your arteries, this advice goes unheard, no matter how persistent the messenger. I’ve bought cars with my heart every time I’ve fancied a change, and to hell with reliability and MPG, especially with my first two. When you’ve just passed your driving test and you are still in your teens, money is usually an issue, especially when it comes to insurance – you are advised to select something simple, sensible and cheap for both insurance and maintenance.

1978 MGB GT

1978 MGB GT

“Bugger that,” was my immediate response, all ready knowing full well I wanted an MGB GT. A 1983 Ford Mustang quickly followed, then an Alfa, a Maserati, an M3… the list goes on.

People spend silly amounts on various hobbies, such as art, flying, fashion and golf, so why is driving your desired car a problem to these people who harp on about MPG and reliability?

Funnily enough and despite the marque’s bad reputation for breaking down, the Alfa I owned was reliable and extremely fun to drive. My 147 was Russo red with cream leather and top-spec alloys; it was a lovely looking thing, too. The older Alfas are not so reliable, which leads me onto the point of this post – notoriously bad for electrical and mechanical failings, there is one particular model I’d happily own, despite the bad rep.

Alfa Alfetta GTV6

Alfa Alfetta GTV6

The combination of the Alfa Romeo GTV6’s looks and V6 wail is enough to hammer the last nail into the proverbial pragmatic coffin. With looks this good accompanied by the mechanical opera soundtrack, who cares if you spend more on fuel and recovery trucks?

This is defiantly a car you’d gawp at over your shoulder every time you parked up and walked away.

Here’s the Italian beauty in full flight in 007’s Octopussy. 

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What’s That One Car You Wish You’d Kept?

Gas Monkey Garage 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline

Gas Monkey Garage 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline

Even if you’re not a real car guy, you probably harbour fond memories of freedom thanks to the automobile – whether it was a piece of junk “first car” or a “daddy’s BMW” car, four wheels and an engine meant doing whatever the hell you wanted… away from your doorstep.

If you’re a car guy like me, you’ll have loads of fond memories from your early days of motoring, whether you got all oily under the hood or you lived your days out on mad road trips. I’ve loved all of my cars but there is the “one” I wished I’d kept, much like Gas Monkey Garage’s first car pictured above and below.

Gas Monkey Garage 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline

Gas Monkey Garage 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline

The ratrod 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline was the first car that bought Fast N’ Loud’s Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman together. In one episode, Rawlings finds out the car is up for sale, and despite setting him back $50K, he manages to reunite her with Gas Monkey Garage.

1978 MGB GT

1978 MGB GT

My first car was an orange 1978 MGB GT, and although I spun it in the rain on my first day of legal driving, crunching the rear wing, if I knew then what I know now, I’d have kept her and fixed her up. What I ended up doing was selling her on and buying a 1983 Ford Mustang, much to my mother’s distain.

As I learnt to drive in a tiny 1.0-L Rover Metro, the MG’s rebored 1.8-L engine sounded amazing. The low cockpit was an entirely different world to that of the modern car I learned in – the big steering wheel, leather seats, cool dials and increase in power left me shaking with excitement. She smelt of petrol, oil and leather, and going too fast around corners meant immediate correction, something I hadn’t learnt in my time with the instructor.

My time with her was short, but I wish I’d kept her, and the more I think about those exciting days, the more I want to buy another MGB GT.

Midlife crisis? Who cares…

What’s the one car you still wished you washed every Sunday morning?

As this is Gargling Gas, here’s Richard Rawling’s sweetheart doing a burnout.

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Gas Guzzling Music

Ferrari F40

Ferrari F40

Petrolheads will understand why opening a window and letting rip through a tunnel beats any form of music, especially if you have a car with big displacement and horsepower. I won’t rule out the smaller engines with turbos as many owners (I’ve owned two WRXs) love the sucking, hissing, whooshing and warble of BOV and big exhaust.

However, nothing quite beats the throb of V8 (especially the Ford GT), the scream of Italian V6 or the roar of either a V10 or V12. Having owned and driven pretty much all types of engine, my favourite note comes from BMW’s inline-six from the E46 M3 – it’s raw, raucous, dirty and earth-shattering when the revs go past 5500. The only engine to top this for me is the V8 from the F1 cars before they went all turbo – I attended the British GP in 2010, and the first time they took to the track, I experienced serious goosebumps.

The brilliant video below is a compilation of some of the best engine sounds around. Whilst some are missing, it’s a great way for the petrolhead to kick back and take in the combustion engine’s suck, squeeze, bang and blow sound track.

Is your favourite engine in there? If not, what’s your favourite sounding car?

What Car Would You Drive To Woo?

Couple Kissing in Car

I’ve started many posts with a “what car would you” title, and being Gargling Gas, they usually run along the lines of something dark, sinister, destructive, or worse…

This time out I am really interested in understanding what cars you would choose to woo and romance a date. Car designs and tastes are extremely subjective and we never discriminate against ‘scenes’ within car cultures, but when it comes to romance and setting the tone for a romantic drive/date, a lot of cars can be eliminated, especially tuner and super-cars.

This may sound odd but a super-car just isn’t the right car for a romantic drive – they are loud, shouty, you are bound by racing seats, and causing a scene everywhere you go just dampens the mood for romance. If your date is classy, she/he may even feel embarrassed having to clamber out of the likes of a Ford GT or Lamborghini – if you are dressed to impress, having to play twister just to exit a car eradicates any iota of dignity.

Lamborghini Countach

Lamborghini Countach

Supercars certainly look the part, but when you are trying to impress a date, having members of the public offer you masturbatory gesticulations is without a doubt a passion-killer. On a romantic date you hope to be swapping spit with your sweetheart, not finding it in/on your car when you return.

1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

I’ll jump right in and offer up the car I’d use on a date; whether it’s a country drive and pub lunch or a classy London restaurant, my choice more than finds itself at home.

Behold the 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce.

This quaint little red sports car oozes Italian flare without screaming sharp lines, carbon fibre and 700-bhp of noise. It’s timeless in design and so classy it would happily roll with the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren should they happen to meet on a high street.

1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce

1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce

Okay, so if things heated up and more space was required, this car might not be practical, but if your date is the sort of person to appreciate a classic and a gentleman’s car, chances they’ll settle for nothing less than a four poster bed.

So what car would you choose as your metaphorical and mechanical oyster?

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No Sensationalistic Title Needed: 628-BHP Franken E30 M3

BMW Franken M3

BMW Franken M3

The Franken M3

Gargling Gas loves old school BMWs, particularly Pre 2000 M cars. The E30 M3 above is a very special classic indeed. Despite a V10 engine transplant, this ‘Franken M3’ only weighs in 150-lbs heavier than when it left the factory stock, around 3K-lbs.

BMW Franken M3 V10

BMW Franken M3 V10

Franken M3’s Heart

This monster’s modest 4-pot heart was ripped out and a 5.7-L V10 forced in its place. It wasn’t just any heart, either; the stroker unit came from BMW’s performance specialists, Dinan. Along with the massive power comes a tarmac creasing 480 lb-ft of torque, the same as Dinan’s heavier M6 S3.

Of course, the power mongers had to do some serious fettling to allow for a 6-speed transmission, V10 headers and E90 subframes and suspension, but considering all of this only added an extra 150-lbs to its stock weight, I still consider Franken M3 a seriously lightweight E30.

Cost?

Only $224,500.

I usually refer to cars as “her” or “she”, but I’ll end this post by signing off with: Check out the video below and watch this THING in action.