Tom Flanders World

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Twin turbo Maserati on eBay

A Maserati for the motorhead masses

Maserati BiturboNot every Maserati is the stuff of legends. Once upon a time they built a car that was designed to compete with the lesser cars of the world. If you can call a BMW M3 a lesser car.

On the surface it sounds like a mighty machine. A twin-turbo V-6 with many valves per cylinder. Mighty when running that is. According to several reviews the running part was the problem.

On the other hand, we may be dealing with a matter of perception. The Biturbo was released just before Maserati pulled out of the American market. Many blame the poor quality of the car as the reason, but it all may be an economic coincidence.

All that aside the Biturbo is the stuff of dreams for us bottom feeders. It’s poor reputation keeps prices low and a variety of after-market parts, and decades of development, easily alter its short-comings.

So here we have an example sitting in a salvage yard in Illinois. The heart races. Apparently is was too nice to set to pasture. The current bid is $1647 with 4.5 days to go and reserve not met. Imagine a Maserati for under $2000? Neither can I. I’m sure the bid will rise but will stay well below the prices normally associated with the name Maserati.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/201756635264

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Kissel on eBay
kissel roadster

Kissel was a good car killed by the depression

Once a mighty builder of trucks for the military and sports cars for Hollywood stars, the Kissel was too small and specialized to survive the big crash. To make matters worse it tried to save itself by building the unworkable lever engine. Basically an engine with two pistons running off a single crank with a lever connecting them. Yikes.

Most pictures of Kissels back in the day showed a golf bag mounted on the fender. That should tell you something about the target audience. They weren’t as fast or powerful as Dusenburgs and the like but they looked cool. They also left the driver more exposed to the elements. That looked cool but required a warn dry climate to fully enjoy.

One odd thing popped up in my research. I found a reference from the 30’s calling the Kissel roadster a “lesbian car.” The list of known female owners shows several very strong women. I have the feeling the author I read had a typical societal bias towards softer women, hence the sexist analysis.

If you look at the eBay listing be sure to look at all the pictures. Some show past conditions and some show a restored example. The stripped down and raggedy pictures are the current state of the car.

The seller states that the car is running with good sheet metal. The car was in the middle of a conversion to a roadster when the owner died. The project is being sold mid build.

With three days to go the bid is at $7700 with reserve not met.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/182388921151

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Elcar on eBay

That’s Elcar not Elgar. (For you Futurama fans.)

The Elcar is one of those makes that was never able to scale up to compete with the big boys. Their best year ever they sold 4,000 cars. Compare that to Ford’s 820,000 the same year.

The “El” in Elcar comes from Elkhart Lake WI, where it was built. Like many smaller makes it never grew much beyond its local market. Especially in the 20’s as the economics of scale took force. Elkhart Lake was too far from the parts suppliers and distribution network centered around Detroit.

All that makes a surviving Elcar all the more interesting. The one for sale on eBay is a top of the line to boot. Of course it sat for a long time and needs a complete restoration, but everything except the perishables seem to be intact. I doubt there is anything a good metal worker couldn’t fix or fabricate.

Fortunately for potential restorers the engine isn’t a rare as the rest of the car. It was built by Continental and the same engine was used in several other makes so parts and documentation are not unfindable. It’s 299 c.i. with a reported 140 h.p.. That should move the old guy along at good clip when resurrected.

You should look at the full listing and read the seller’s description. It is very detailed and entertaining. The car belongs to the seller’s father who’s owned that for over 40 years. My favorite picture from the listing is of the Stewart Warner odometer suggesting that the car has less than 19,000 miles on it.

I would hate to have to bet on what this car will sell for. It’s rarity and from an amateur’s opinion not too difficult a restoration should up the value. However, its oddity make work against it and the worst case scenario would be someone buying it to strip it of common parts for use in restoring a better-known make.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/222334592589

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Baby Can-Am on eBay

If I buy this baby can-am do I get to be Peter Revson?

baby can-am carThis baby can-am car is the lower 99 percenter’s hope for owning a cool old race car. Real can-am cars cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s way more than I could ever justify paying for a toy.

The little PBS looks remarkably like it’s fire-breathing 7 liter monster big brothers but is powered by a high revving 1.3 liter engine. Very quick, responsive and I imagine very very loud.

It is currently used for vintage racing and I can’t imagine a better car for the job. This would be a blast to drive without the fear of chipping the fiberglass of a half-million dollar machine.

In SCCA terms, I believe this is a D Sports Racer which is the emotional successor to H Modified, which are my favorite race cars ever. I love race cars built to limiting rules. It requires the builders to use their imagination rather than cubic inches and piles of cash.

It’s funny how this thinking translates to other areas. In the world of RVing there is a huge dollar range from 10’s of thousands all the way up to million dollars rigs. The weird thing is, the smaller the rig, the better the layout, usually. For small RVs the builders have to put thought and creativity into getting all the essential pieces to function in a small package.

On the other hand, the million dollar machines have so much room that things are just thrown together hap-hazard. This wastes a lot of space. One side-effect of this is you have 50 foot rigs that only sleep 2 or 4 people and also have 25 foot rigs that sleep 6 or 8.

Sorry, off on a tangent. Anyway, as usual, I want this car but don’t have the money, garage space, etc.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/252639183369

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Belly tanker of the beast on eBay

Who needs a belly tanker? I do.

belly tankerOK, I don’t need a belly tanker but I really really want one. Yes, the only places to drive it are many hundreds of miles away. So what? It’s cool and I want one. I can’t afford one but what does that have to do with anything?

For those of you who don’t know, a belly tanker is a airplane fuel tank that sat outside the plane’s main body. After WWII the mechanically hyperactive ex-military hot rodders discovered that they made great bodies for the all out speed wars happening out on the flats. Since the army didn’t need them anymore they could be had for cheap.

This particular example is not just a great example of a tank but is also powered by the ultimate early hot rod engine, the flathead V8. This was an engine simple in design and not overly amazing in performance. However its design was intended to be nearly indestructible.

This allowed the crazies to add ridiculously severe camshafts, pistons, ignitions, piles of carbs and even the occasional supercharger without blowing the block apart. (Well, sometimes.) Seriously, look at the pictures in the listing. You will see all kinds of what-the-hell-is-thats bolted on or around the engine.

Salt flat racing is an interesting tangent to the history of hot rodding. At first there was a lot of crossover between drag racing and the cars on the flats, but quickly the specialized needs of each discipline began excluding the other.

So if I were to buy this car what would I do with it? The biggest problem is that I not only don’t have a garage, I don’t even have a driveway. Perhaps I could rent a crane to lift it into my back yard. Invite my motorhead friends over for group tinkering. Maybe not.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/152288161151

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