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The Beauty of a ’67 Buick Skylark

It may not be English or even European but it certainly does classify as special
interest, especially considering Buick is one of the oldest automobile brands in the world and the oldest in America. Buick was founded in 1899 by David Dunbar Buick in Jackson, Michigan.  It was founded as the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company and was an internal combustion engine manufacturer.  Buick continued to steadily make vehicles DSC_0154from the year 1899 and continues to this day. The first two “Buick” vehicles that were produced were made in 1899 and 1900 by Buick chief engineer Walter Marr. However, David Buick was reluctant to start making vehicles having been satisfied with stationary and marine engine production.  In March of 1904, the company was purchased by Benjamin Briscoe, who in return sold it to James H. Whiting who was the owner of Flint Wagon Works, in Flint, Michigan. Whiting moved Buick to Flint that summer with the idea of adding Buick’s engines to his wagons. David Buick stayed on as a manager and re-hired Walter Marr as chief engineer, and the rest is automotive history.

The Buick Skylark first hit the scene in 1953 and was revered alongside the 1953-Buick-Ad-04-for-postOldsmobile 98 and Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado as a top of the line limited-production specialty convertible. As the years progressed it gained more and more momentum and quickly became four-door as well as one of the best and finest cars you could buy.   By the time 1967 came around the Skylark was offered as a four-door with the option of a soft or hard top and the option of a 300 or 340 V8 engine.  The 400-401 V8 engine was only stock with the ’66-’69 Gran Sport 400.

Mike purchased his 1967 Skylark in North Carolina in the mid DSC_014590’s while he was in the 82nd Airborne Infantry. The car came with a 455 Buick Big Block, as opposed to the 340 V8 that more than likely came stock with this model, and was a sea foam green with rally wheels.  He looks back fondly reminiscing about how they would race cars behind the base during their lunch break, and can you blame him? Who wouldn’t love to be able to race around in a Skylark fitted with 455 Big Block?

DSC_0150After the Army, Mike made his way back home to New Hampshire and decided it may be best to get a better vehicle for winter time, so he sold it to his father. They then further decided that it need a new paint job among a few other things. Luckily Mike was employed at a good auto shop and was able to get the paint mixed to his specifications, he settled on the super rare Ford blue that you see on it now, the paint actually changes tones based on the light and time of the day.  They painted every DSC_0146inch of the car, under the hood, trunk, door jambs, everything! They then installed a carpet kit, re-upholstered the back seat, installed a new custom dual exhaust and last but not least put all new rims and wheels on it. The end result is breathtaking and truly shows that American cars can certainly have the potential if you have the vision and put the time into it.

 

 

 

What’s going down This Week in the Shop?

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Last week was a very busy week, in the garage as well as the office.  Cars are coming and going as the season is starting up.  We got another Jaguar E-type in, a new MG and Gary just went and picked up a beautifully conditioned beige Morris Minor.

DSC_0116The E-Type that just came in is a 1965 Series 1.5. DSC_0110It’s a beautiful gunmetal gray with a gorgeous crimson leather interior.  This car belongs to a very frequent customer and we happened to be the original people who first got this car restored in its final condition and on the road.  The gentleman usually sends this immaculate Series I E-Type to us every year in order to go through it to prepare for the season. We will diagnose any problems that need to be acknowledged and we will then fix them accordingly.

DSC_0139We also have a very nice MGB that is currently in for miscellaneous repairs.   It’s aDSC_0132 beautiful fire engine red 1965 MGB. It’s here for the same reasons as the majority of our fleet, basic check up after being stored all winter. This car’s owner likes to drive this car a lot so it needs to really be on the up and up for the season.

Now to check back on the fire engine red ’63 Series I E-Type we talked about a couple DSC_0082weeks ago, she’s doing well and has all new brakes as well as new cooling hoses all around. Next week we’re going to break down the whole process that Mike will be doing in order to reset the triple carb system. As already stated in past articles resetting carb systems, especially triple carb systems, is not easy and it is, in fact, a lost art that not many auto bodies will do.

jokeLet’s take a look real quick at this gem we found with the MGA that we had in our shop. An extremely interesting concept in an electrical system protection.  Can you tell what’s wrong with this picture? I wonder why my wiring is burned up, is the Prince of Darkness being framed again?

morrisThe Morris Minor that Gary went to purchase this weekend is in great DSC_0156shape. It is a beautiful off color white with a gorgeous interior.  The Morris Minor first hit the scene at the Earls Court Motor Show in London, on September 20, 1948. It was designed under the leadership of Alec Issigonis and well over a million were manufactured between 1948 and 1972. The Minor was released in three separate series: the MM released from 1948 to 1953, the Series II released from 1952 to 1956 and finally the 1000 series which was released from 1956 to 1971.

Some more excellent and exciting news that we have is this follow up from the California jagcaliMille! The Jaguar XK120 we prepared for our client in order to participate in the California Mille, has not only successfully completed but has overall done a great job all around performing flawlessly for the whole rally. Rain and shine.

 

The Beauty of the Jaguar E-Type

Happy Friday to all our readers new and old, hopefully, everyone had a great Easter Sunday as we all did here at Sports Car Services. Today for our weekly “This Week in the Shop” I’d really like to take the time to touch on the Jaguar E-Type and give a brief history of this significant gem.

A couple of weeks ago I briefly touched on this gem and told you that The Jaguar E-Type is an English Sports Car, which was manufactured by Jaguar Cars Ltd between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing established the model as an icon of the motoring world. the E-Type pounced on the scene with a top speed of 150 miles per hour, an acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds, monocoque construction, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, independent front and rear suspension, and unrivaled looks.DSC_0085

“Monocoque construction”, if you’re like me you probably read that and vaguely had an idea of what it meant and that it had something to do with the outer shell being a supporting member of the vehicle itself. Basically, in all essence, that’s exactly what it means.  The E-Type was based on Jaguar’s D-Type racing car, which had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for three consecutive years (1955–1957), and therefore employed the racing design of a body tub attached to a tubular framework, with the engine bolted directly to the framework.

The Jaguar E-Type was an amazing feat of automobile engineering, on its release in March 1961 Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made” and he was not exaggerating. The E-Type dominated the foreign car market in its day and quite honestly, in my personal opinion, it still does.  There were three different series in the course of its reign from 1961-1975:

The E-Type Series I was produced from 1961- 1968 and featured the triple SU carburetted 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine from the XK150S until 1964 when the 3.8-litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in October 1964.  All E-Types featured independent coil spring rearseries 1 suspension with torsion bar front ends, and four-wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, all were power-assisted. Jaguar was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to equip cars with disc brakes as standard from the XK150 in 1958. The Series 1 (except for late models) can be recognized by glass-covered headlights, small “mouth” opening at the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under the number plate in the rear.

The E-Type Series II was produced from 1968-1971 and introduced a number of design changes, largely due to U.S. design legislation. The most distinctive exterior feature is the absence of the glass headlight covers a wrap-around rear bumper, re-positioned and larger front indicators and tail lights below the bumpers, an enlarged “mouth” which series 2aided cooling but detracted from the Series I design purity, twin electric fans, plastic rocker switches in place of the Series I toggle switches, and, of course most importantly, a material downgrading in performance resulting from a switch from the three SU carburetors used in Series I models to a mere two “smogged” Stromberg carbs, reducing horsepower from 265 to 246 and reducing torque from 283 to 263.

The E-Type Series III was produced from 1971- 1975 and featured a new 5.3 L twelve cylinder Jaguar V12 engine, uprated brakes and standard power steering.  The choice of an automatic transmission, wire wheels and air conditioning were available. The brand series3 V12 engine was equipped with four Zenith carburetors. The final engine was claimed to produce 272 hp, more torque and a 0-60 mph acceleration of fewer than 7 seconds. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued, with the Series III available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé.  The newly used longer wheelbase now offered significantly more room in all directions. The Series III is easily identified by the large cross-slatted front grille, flared wheel arches, wider tires, four exhaust tips and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12.

 

 

Bringing in the Spring

Spring is finally upon us and that can only mean two things, that summer is right around the corner and the season for exotic cars is finally upon us. The weather in our hometown of Keene, NH has been absolutely beautiful all week, with the exception of one rain day, and everyone is very happy to see winter on it’s way out. We also had ourselves a great weekend, we finally sold the green Austin Healey that we had posted in our classifieds. Gary met the buyer at the Sports Car Services garage Saturday and finalized the deal and they will be picking it up in the near future. They will now be able to enjoy a beautiful English car all season long that was well kept and in spectacular condition.

We’ve gotten a new customer car in this week as well, a red 1963 Jaguar E-type Series I, here for a DSC_0082basic check-up, the list is growing but nothing too serious.  The Jaguar E-Type is a British sports car, which was manufactured between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of high performance, competitive pricing and elegance established the DSC_0085model as a staple of the motor vehicle industry. At a time when most cars had drum brakes, live rear axles, and mediocre performance, the E-Type burgeoned on the scene with 150 miles per hour for a top speed, and 0 to 60 mph acceleration time, monocoque (structural skin) construction, disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, independent front-end and rear-end suspension and unsurpassed looks. The interior of the E-type is beautiful and the body and mechanics of the car, in general, are in great condition and nothing too serious is wrong with it. The check-up is specifically focusing on mechanical aspects and Mike has been working for the better part of the week diagnosing what is necessitated with it from basic wear and tear. He’s also going to be re-tuning the triple carburetor system and there is a small issue with the driver’s side caliper, which is causing it to stick, and the best option for that is to rebuild the caliper in general, both of which are lost art forms that not many garages will do.

DSC_0041The Crosley is still here in the Sports Car Services garage and should be making its trek home shortly. Everything that we were asked to fix on it has been done, and its running great now.  We did not fully restore this car and there is still plenty of work that could be done on it, but we at least got it on the road.  A fully restored basic Crosley is worth anywhere from 10 to 15 grand.  A Crosley H-Mod classic racer , on the other hand, is worth much more, anywhere from 25-35 grand.

We also have a very cool ’61 MGA Mark II on our hands as well. This Mark II is going toDSC_0081 eventually be fully rebuilt from the frame up. The MGA Mark I replaced the MG TF 1500 Midget (like the one I wrote about a few weeks ago) and represented a complete style change from MG’s earlier sports cars, the Mark I was of course eventually replaced by the Mark II. Announced on September 26, 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The MGA design dates back to 1951 when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver’s seat because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor DSC_0061attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections.  Road & Track magazine reviewed the MGA Mark II in the September 1961 issue and reported a top speed of 105 mph and a 0-60 acceleration of 12 1/2 seconds. The frame on the MGA Mark II that we’re working on is just like brand new, the engine is in mint condition and has been rebuilt to standards of a brand new engine and the drive-train, as well, is in very good condition. Albert spent a good part of the week running brake lines, as well as fuel lines for it, the next step will be to finish the body.

DSC_0078Jason and Rod are still busy in our brother shop, G&R Autoworks LTD, getting the Jeep rebuild finished. There has been a lot of modifications on this project. Utility boxes have been added all around it as well as a new winch. That isn’t even half of it though, they have Installed new ball joints , the front axle U-joints, replaced both front axle seals, full E-brake service requiring a redesign to the original automatic adjusting system that everyone complains about, installed new wheels and tires, installed headlights. The list is just starting to grow and who knows what else we’ll be modifying next.

 

What is the California Mille?

Last week we talked about how the beautiful ’53 Jaguar XK120 we had in our shop was getting prepared to go to the California Mille in San Francisco, California.californiamille2 Well, what exactly is the California Mille you may be asking, The California Mille is a run, not a race, starting in San Francisco and continuing into the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey and along the Big Sur coast toward Carmel. It is open to cars that either ran or would have been eligible to run in the original event; hence participants cars must be designs from 1957 or earlier. The California Mille field is limited to 65 cars and applicants are screened for their car’s historical significance and general condition; not all applicants are accepted.

The California Mille is run in honor of the “Mille Miglia” which was as an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy. The Mille Miglia was run twenty-four times alfonsocrashfrom 1927 to 1957. From the years 1953 until 1957 it was also included as a round of the World Sports Car Championship.  The race was banned after two fatal crashes. The first was in 1957 when the crash of a 4.2-litre Ferrari 335 S took the lives of the driver Alfonso De Portago, his co-driver/navigator EdmundGottgens Nelson, and nine spectators. The car supposedly landed on top of Portago and Nelson cutting them in half. Portago desperately wanted to win this race and made the grave decision to wait to long to make a tire change.  The second crash was much less devastating, although it took the life of Joseph Gottgens and his Triumph T3.

The California Mille was founded in 1991 by automotive enthusiast Martin Swig, it is supported by an informal group called the “Amici americani della Mille Miglia”californiamille (“American friends of the Mille Miglia” in Italian). The event attracts a number of corporate sponsors which have included in the past Jaguar, Chrysler and Sotheby’s as well as many others this corporate sponsorship ensures that the California Mille remains one of the more exclusive and high quality events.

Travel Itenerary via The California Mille Website

“On Monday, April 24, at 8:30 a.m. Consul General Ortona will wave the Italian flag outside the departure arch at Mason and California Streets, officially starting the four-day, one thousand mile tour (not a race) of northern California time capsule towns and little-known backroads.

The Mille will cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head north toward Highway 1 passing through colorful Marin County towns and villages. At Laguna Elementary School on Chileno Road, the entire student body (all 16 kids and principal Cindy Demchuk) will greet the Mille by waving paper Italian flags and shouting “Benvenuto” – or something similar. The first day of the drive will end in Healdsburg.

On Tuesday, April 25, the Mille will drive to Cloverdale, Lakeport, Boonville, Elk and north, logging 191 miles before spending the night in Little River.

The California Mille will depart at 8:00 a.m. on April 26 for Fort Bragg, Westport, the stunning “Lost Coast,” Petrolia, and Ferndale. Day 3 will end with an overnight in Mendocino.

The final day of the legendary drive will take the Mille to Point Arena, Gualala, Jenner, Tomales, Nicasio, Petaluma, and complete the tour in Calistoga with an awards dinner and closing ceremonies.”

 

Closing up winter with a busy week!

Sports Car Services had a lot going on this week, but its never too much for us. The Crosley is coming along and should be all doneDSC_0041 and shipped out next week thanks to Albert and Gary for doing an DSC_0043extremely precise job on it.  The interior in the MG is coming along just great and Albert will be heading to the seacoast to do the seats next week.  Mike’s been busy overseeing the Sports Car Services garage in its entirety. He’s been right out straight working on the Spitfire, repairing a few different electrical malfunctions as well as countless other projects such as getting the Jaguar XK120 prepared for shipping to California DSC_0057[1]for the “California Mille”.  The California Mille is a classic car run that last four days and travels throughout northern California. The event is open to cars manufactured prior to DSC_0053[1]Jan. 1st, 1958.  Approx. 65 cars are chosen from those submitted for entry.  This year will be the 27th anniversary. The run is in the spirit of the original Italian Mille Miglia which ran from 1927-1957, and all entries must be cars that did, or could have, participated in the original Mille Miglia during the years of 1927-57, and can be of foreign or domestic manufacture.

California Mille

Lineup of car for this years California Mille:

  • 11 Alfa Romeos      1927-1957
  • 8 Jaguars                 1938-1956
  • 7 Mercedes-Benz  1955-1957
  • 7 Porsches              1955-1957
  • 2 Bentleys               1923-1928

 

Gary and Rod are working  on the 1954 Jaguar Mark VII we talked about a couple weeks back. Our current task on the Jaguar DSC_0034is to finish building the exhaustDSC_0040
which you can see Rod and Gary have done with quality and precision. Watching experienced trades men, like the guys in our shop, makes it seem that they almost work with ease because they’re so skilled and confident in their techniques and knowledge. Gary has the back seats at his house and the rest of the upholstery should be in this coming week.

Over in our brother shop, G&R Autoworks, Jason has been busy spending many hours of DSC_0026logistics trying to decide on, and order, all the modifications needed for the 2013 Jeep
he’s in the process of building, for one of our customers. We also had a Mitsubishi GT DSC_0021that received a lot of body work which Rod did a phenomenal job on, talk about a perfectionist at wire feed welding!. We’re also expecting the arrival next week of a 1970 Jaguar E-type Series II, that’s going to be quite the project, and I look forward to covering the story on that beauty.

As for myself I’ve been busy finishing up this new website and doing the final ironing and behind the scenes work.  I’ve also been planning out a Covered Bridge Run for next autumn, that’ll be going from Keene and looping through Vermont and back over to Keene.  Make sure you also check out the “Cars and Coffee” tab above. Starting in May we will be going to various Cars and Coffee locations once a month, we will be leaving the Sports Car Services shop on 55 Victoria St and traveling as pack of beautiful European cars.

 

1955 MG TF Interior

In the midst of the Sports Car Services shop we have a 1955 red MG TF.  We restored this car from the ground up, it’s basically a brand new car at this point. It has a full engine rebuild, body rebuild, new drivetrain and now new interior.

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Lets take a brief minute or two to discuss the history of the MG and their TF and TF 1500 model. MG was a European car company founded in 1924 by William R. Morris, before getting involved in the motor vehicle industry Morris was a bicycle repair man. He ran MG motors until he was appointed to be Lord of Nuffield, a title he kept for 4 years. The British sports car company continued without Morris and made many more models, one of which is the TF/TF 1500 Midget.  The TF Midget was launched 15 October 1953 and was basically a TD with a facelift and the TD Mark II engine.  In 1954 the engine capacity was increase by 17% and the bore was increased to 72 mm (2.8 in) and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp (47 kW) at 5,000 rpm and a 17% increase in torque.

When we received the TF that we have in our shop we basically started from the ground up and built a whole new car.  As you can see in the slide show above we started with a rolling chassis and from there we added the drivetrain, the body, the engine and then we started on the interior. First thing done with the interior was the wool carpet and the guys did an amazing job. Tight fits and beautifully hemmed edges is what you’ll find on this car and you can thank Albert and Butch.

Next up was the leather on the walls and doors inside the car and the glove boxes. Albert did an amazing job with the leather work. With his intense concentration and his  precise attention to detail, Albert has been a key person in finishing the interior of this TF.  The seats are being sent to the seacoast and Albert will be going with them to assure that the standards of Sports Car Services are kept alive and well.  Thanks again to Abington Spares for providing this perfect interior kit. The quality of their product was immaculate.

 

Reo Fun in a ’17 Model M

Last week we talked about the beautiful Jaguar Mark VII we are in the midst of partially restoring. This week however, I’d like to take the time to talk about the 1917 REO Model M Touring car that we have in our shop.  The Reo Motor Company was based out of Lansing, Michigan and they produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 until 1975. The company was founded by Ransom Olds. Ransom Olds was an entrepreneur who founded various automobile companies and in 1897 he founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. In 1905 he left Oldsmobile and established a new company, the REO Motor Car Company. The company was originally to be called “The R.E. Olds Motor Company”, but upon facing legal action from the owner of Old’s prior company, Olds Motor Works, the name was changed to REO Motor Company. Early spellings of the name list it as REO, as later listings list it as Reo. The pronunciation however was always pronounced as one word, Reo.  The 1917 Reo Model M Touring vehicle was a four door seven passenger car.  It had a 5 litre engine that was naturally aspirated with an overhead inlet, side exhaust and  6 cylinders that produced 45 bhp of power at 1800 rpm. It was three-speed, rear wheeled drive with a carburetor fuel system.

 

The ’17 Reo Model M we’re working on in our shop is quite unique.  From The hand painted flowers on the door and fenders, down to the hand painted peace sign on the back. It has the original wooden wheels and the engine itself is in good shape.  Albert did a great job replacing the running boards as well as some miscellaneous body work. This Reo was purchased brand new in 1916 by the current owners great grand-father.  In 1935 he was going to junk it but his grandson, the current owners father, said no and took it under his wing for the mere price of $25.00.  Her mother and father drove it from that point on naming it “Joesphine”. Her father was the youngest professor at Toledo University and her mother was a nursing student.  At one point an article ran in the local newspaper that read “Oldest Car In University Parking Lot Operated By Youngest Faculty Member” Her mother and father were very active in racial equality and human rights in the 1940’s, this unfortunately lead to her father being accused of “communism” and being terminated from the university. Upon his termination the Reo was sold to a family friend. He owned the car for the next 15 years or so until they bought it back around 1967, the summer of love. The current owners sister outfitted it with a peace sign and flowers, and I think it’s safe to say their family got the last laugh; peace, love, equality and fine motor vehicles will always win.

 

 

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