Month: December 2013

Former Harrah’s collection Hudson Italia to cross the block

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Kurt Ernst
1954 Hudson Italia. Photos by Alejandro Rodriguez, courtesy Gooding and Company. 1954 Hudson Italia art print by Danny
In the 1950s, American automakers both large and small partnered with Italian design houses on concept cars and limited-production grand tourers. Chrysler, for example, turned to Ghia for concepts (and later, the Dodge-based Dual Ghia coupe and convertible), while Ford turned to former Ghia employee Felice Mario Boano to style its 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe. Even Hudson got in on the trans-Atlantic action, hiring Carrozzeria Touring to pen a special model based on the Hudson Jet. The result was the Hudson Italia, of which just 27 examples were constructed; one of these, possibly owned by Liberace during its six-decade lifespan, will cross the block next month.

The Hudson Italia was the brainchild of Hudson’s head designer, Frank Spring. Looking for a way to bring attention and prestige to the Hudson brand, Spring felt that a collaboration with a respected Italian design firm would give the struggling automaker a design edge. It would also yield a halo car, in the form of a grand touring coupe, of which just 25 examples were produced in the first (and ultimately, only) design run. Counting the Hudson Italia prototype and a four-door sedan prototype known as the X-161, only 27 such models were ever assembled, of which 21 are known to survive today.


While the chassis and mechanicals were based on the new-for-1953 Hudson Jet, the inline six-cylinder engine received the benefit of dual two-barrel carburetors, as opposed to the Jet’s single one-barrel carburetor. The net result was an output of 114 horsepower, compared to the Jet’s rating of 104 horsepower, and performance was further enhanced via the lightweight “Superleggera” body provided by Touring. As was the norm in race car construction of the day, the body panels mounted to a framework of hollow steel tubes, designed to add chassis rigidity while shaving pounds from the finished product.



When the Italia debuted in 1953, Hudson described the car as being “styled like no other car that preceded it,” and the jet-age influences (such as the faux “intakes” positioned above the headlamps, or the jet-fighter-like front seats) are unmistakable. Even by Hudson “step down” standards, the Italia was low to the ground, with a height roughly 10 inches lower than other Hudson models. Had things gone according to plan, the Hudson Italia would have entered mass production, but time was not on the automaker’s side; just as the Italia began to hit dealerships, financial difficulties prompted Hudson’s merger with Nash, which saw no reason to proceed with production of an expensive, Italian-bodied grand touring coupe (though it did explore the idea a couple of years later with the Pinin Farina-built Rambler Palm Beach concept car).


Chassis IT10011, to be offered by Gooding and Company in Scottsdale, has seen a fair number of trips across the auction block in recent years. Once part of the Harrah collection (and rumored to have been owned by Liberace, though no solid proof of this exists), the car was offered for sale in unrestored condition at RM’s Arizona auction in January 2008. Bidding reached a high of $250,000, which wasn’t enough to meet the car’s reserve. A few months later, Bonhams offered the car at Quail Lodge, where bidding hit a high of $210,000. The car was then subjected to a comprehensive restoration before being sold at RM’s Amelia Island auction in 2009 for a price of $275,000.

Gooding and Company predicts this example, generally described as one of the nicest Italias remaining, will sell between $400,000 and $500,000 when it crosses the stage in Scottsdale next month. For additional details on the upcoming sale, visit

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The Real McCoy – 1956 Corvette to cross the block

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The Real McCoy 1956 Corvette SR Prototype.
Photos by David Newhardt, courtesy Mecum Auctions.


Kurt Ernst Dec 23rd, 2013 at 8am
In 1955, Chevrolet was struggling to find buyers for its Corvette roadster, which had yet to be proven in competition. Chevrolet engineering head Ed Cole understood that the surest way to boost the car’s stock was with an on-track victory, so Cole reached out to legendary American driver John Fitch. Tasked with producing a victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1956, Fitch and his team worked tirelessly to test and improve the Corvette before the race, and when the checkered flag fell, a pair of Corvettes took class wins at the prestigious event. Now, the 1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR prototype that first crossed the finish line at Sebring, known as The Real McCoy, will head to auction next month.

While Fitch’s skill as a driver was without question, Cole needed him to act in a team management role as well. With just five weeks of development time before the race, Fitch’s initial experience with the Corvette was disheartening. While Smokey Yunick prepared four cars for the race, Fitch began testing with a Corvette mule at Sebring, only to find that the car was scarcely capable of turning a lap at speed without a component failure. Engines lost oil pressure, wheel bearings seized, oil seals failed and so did the cars’ brakes.


When Yunick delivered his Corvettes, the situation failed to improve dramatically. Each issue discovered in testing had to be sent up the chain of command by an on-site Chevrolet engineer, and improved parts had to be sourced from suppliers or constructed in house. In keeping with SCCA regulations, each improved part had to be cataloged as well, available (theoretically, at least) for any Corvette owner to purchase.

Three of the cars prepared by Yunick were equipped with Chevrolet’s V-8, fitted with a custom-ground Duntov camshaft, and fed via a pair of dual four-barrel carburetors. The fourth car, a modified 1955 chassis (number 1194) with a prototype 1956 body, was fitted with a bored and stroked V-8 that now displaced 307 cubic inches, and thus would compete in a different class during the event. To handle the engine’s higher output, a custom four-speed transmission was supplied by ZF, and on race day the car would be driven by Fitch himself, paired with Walt Hansgen.


The V-8, topped by a pair of dual four-barrel carburetors. Though Fitch, Cole and the others involved in the project (including legendary Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, who was heading the parts engineering effort in Detroit) struggled to get the bugs worked out in advance of the event, five weeks wasn’t enough time to develop a fully sorted race car. To maximize the team’s chances of victory, each of the V-8 cars (numbered 5, 6 and 7) would run a different strategy involving gearing and engine speed. As for the car, issued number 1, it would be up to Fitch and co-driver Hansgen to bring the car home in one piece, hopefully with a class win.

When the green flag flew, things immediately began to look bleak for the Corvette team. On the second lap, the clutch on car number 1 began to slip, while just 20 miles into the race the rear axle failed on car number 5. Two hours into the race, car number 7’s engine let go, and car number 6 experienced a transmission problem that left it with only top gear. Despite the obstacles, cars 1 and 6 pressed on, down but far from out, and when the checkered flag waved, both cars had taken victories in their respective classes. Fitch and Hansgen’s car crossed the line first, finishing ninth overall. A few minutes later, the second Corvette, number 6, finished the race in 15th overall position.

1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR Prototype 1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR Prototype 1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR Prototype 1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR Prototype




Though the victories immediately prompted Chevrolet print advertising to bill the Corvette as “a tough, road-gripping torpedo on wheels,” and, more significantly, “The Real McCoy,” they achieved far more than that. The general availability of the homologated high-performance parts suddenly made the Corvette attractive to other racers, and more and more Corvettes began appearing at SCCA events. In 1955, the first year of the V-8 engine, Chevrolet had produced just 700 Corvettes; in 1956, this number swelled to 3,467, and in 1957 jumped again to 6,339. Any thoughts that General Motors may have had about conceding the two-seater market to the Ford Thunderbird were banished, and it’s quite likely that the victory realized by Fitch and Hansgen saved the Corvette from extinction.

In addition to its class win at Sebring, chassis 1194 was also driven by Arkus-Duntov to a new two-way Flying Mile Speed Record at the 1956 Daytona Speed Week. It’s been the recipient of numerous awards over the years, including a 2012 Bloomington Gold Great Hall induction and the Spirit of Detroit award at the 2011 Concours of America.

Mecum will offer the Real McCoy Corvette at its Kissimmee, Florida, auction, which will take place January 17 to 26, 2014. For additional details, visit

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Bangastang : 2013-2014 Mustang Widebody Kit

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NEW 13-14 Mustang Widebody Kit available from Bangastang $4,500 Contact us for special pricing here!



APR Mustang Wide Body 2013 2

APR Wide Body 2013 3

APR Wide Body 2013

We have the 2013-2014 Mustang Widebody Kit that will take your Stang to another plateau. The Mustang Wide-body Kit has taken the Mustang styling scene by storm and there is good reason.Late model Mustang owners have longed for new Mustang accessories that are out of the box and not rehashed products from years gone by. Many of the Mustang parts and Mustang accessories that we see today are only copies of accessories from years ago. How many times have you seen the same style of Mustang Window Scoop on Mustangs from different generations? It doesn’t take much effort to repeat the same design.

Bangastang has the new Widebody Kit for the 2013-2014 Mustang and it’s waking up the Mustang enthusiasts with excitement that they haven’t seen in a while. This is a 10 piece Widebody Kit that includes the front fascia, front fenders, side skirts, rear bumper, carbon fiber rear diffuser, carbon fiber front splitter, rear quarter panels and fuel door. A carbon fiber rear Wing is optional with the Widebody kit. Made from top quality fiberglass here in the US this Widebody Kit is a plus
in styling and performance.

With twin turbo systems and superchargers late model Mustangs are putting down 750 to 1,000 RWHP which puts them in the BEAST category. With having a beast you must be able to tame the beast which involves suspension and TRACTION. With the Widebody kit comes wider front and rear fenders which allow for larger wheels and tires. How much larger? For the front fenders you can run a 285/30/20 tire. With the widened rear quarter panels you can run a 345/30/20 tire. Wider tires means more rubber on the ground and better traction. With 750-1,000 RWHP traction is vital to making the beast move.

A carbon fiber Front Splitter and Rear Diffuser also comes with the Widebody Kit, both of these parts are functional. The Front Splitter increases downforce for more stability at higher speeds. The carbon fiber Rear Diffuser reduces air drag for improved aerodynamics. The quality of the carbon fiber is excellent. The Widebody Kit is not for your “Do it Yourself” home project we recommend finding a auto body shop that is experienced in fiberglass for the installation. The Widebody Kit comes with a gelcoat finish that requires prepping before installation. Rather your Mustang is a street car, show car or track car the Widebody Kit is something to consider.

Price at $4,500 we’re offering a special discount if you place your order over the phone. If you’re looking to upgrade the performance and styling of your 2013-2014 Stang then Check out the 2013-2014 Mustang Widebody Kit here!


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Chrysler’s “Most Beautiful Engineer,” and the industry’s forgotten sexist history

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Chrysler’s “Most Beautiful Engineer,” and the industry’s forgotten sexist history
By Justin Hyde | Motoramic – Fri, Dec 13, 2013


Lucille Pieti
Last week’s promotion of Mary Barra to chief executive of General Motors marked a major milestone of the first female CEO of a global automaker. What may be just as remarkable was how Barra made the climb: as a mechanical engineer, a field once all but closed to women in Detroit. Sixty years ago, the Motor City’s most well-known female engineer was promoted for her looks into a television model rather than allowed to work in the field she’d chosen — and the forgotten history of Lucille Pieti, once dubbed “Chrysler’s Most Beautiful Engineer,” demonstrates what’s changed, and what hasn’t.

Pieti was a Detroit native who showed a flair for math and science in high school, and after graduating high school in 1944 signed up for engineering at nearby Wayne University (now Wayne State.) Pieti was popular — she was named Miss Wayne U her last year — but also harassed; male students would play pranks like painting her drill press pink, and engineering professors would suggest that “girls” who graduated would have promising careers as secretaries, if they didn’t get hitched first. At 18, Pieti also began a co-op program with Chrysler, the traditional route for engineers to join the automaker which was poised to rebound in the years after World War II.


How rare was Pieti? When she graduated in 1950 with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, she was not just the only woman in a class of about 300 engineers, but perhaps the first woman to get that degree from the school. Two years later, a national survey found that 0.17 percent of the nation’s engineering graduates were women; Pieti was literally one in a thousand. She told Parade magazine in 1954 that getting hired by her Chrysler boss even after six years of co-op work was a challenge, despite a labor shortage: “The toughest part was convincing him to see me and then to give me the job. The rest of the work was nothing that any woman couldn’t handle as easily as a man.”

But Chrysler, like most industrial companies of that era, had no plan to give Pieti or any other woman the same career opportunities as her male coworkers. Instead of traditional engineering assignments, Pieti was sent to the technical writing department, a ghetto for the few women in the field with no chance of advancement beyond marriage. And it was while doing internal presentations that her bosses came up with the idea of capitalizing on Pieti’s beauty.


“If you think of a mechanical engineer as someone who sports greasy overalls and a colorful vocabulary, Lucille would be an educational experience for you. Modish and slender, she has a soft voice, come-hither hazel eyes and dainty white paws tipped with rosy nail polish.” That was the women’s editor of the Miami Daily News in 1953 ahead of Pieti coming to town with Chrysler’s “New Worlds In Motion,” a mini-auto show that Chrysler barnstormed around the country. Pieti was often a star attraction, tasked with explaining tech advancements in layman’s terms while Chrysler touted the beauty of its single, twentysomething engineer to the press. (Among the cars she promoted: the Dodge LaFemme, a model the company said was made “By Special Appointment to Her Majesty… the American Woman.)


From Cars magazine, July 1953
Pieti proved adept enough at working the crowds that Chrysler decided to raise her exposure further. In Apri 1954, Chrysler’s Plymouth division signed on as sole sponsor of a new CBS sitcom, “That’s My Boy.” For commercials, the company moved Pieti to Hollywood, and had her perform live, televised versions of the talks she gave on the road to actors. As Edward Malone noted in his 2010 history, she stood in a garage set, wearing tailored white overalls, occasionally with grease streaked on her face for emphasis. Pieti’s fame soared, and she made an impression in Hollywood: “If you’re an example of what’s being turned out in Detroit, I’m going back working on the assembly line,” Groucho Marx said.

And while there’s no records she ever turned down a Chrysler assignment, she rejected all offers to dump the engineering career she’d now been chasing for nearly a decade in return for a shot at stardom. “I’m just the slide rule type,” she told a Detroit newspaper while staying at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. “Without the micrometers and the calipers and the tools of my trade I’d be a pretty lost girl.”

Cars magazine, July 1953
Here’s where Hollywood would rewrite Pieti’s narrative with her using her fame to make her dreams come true and stump the old-boy network. But Pieti’s story was written by Detroit instead; when”That’s My Boy” was cancelled in January 1955, Chrysler simply moved Pieti back to her writing job, with the additional tasks of answering customer complaint letters — work that she increasingly saw as a waste of her engineering talents. After getting engaged to her husband, petroleum engineer Jim Milne, Pieti quit Chrysler in September 1955. She got married, raised two children, and returned to engineering in 1977, this time for an oil company in Saudi Arabia. She died in 2011 at the age of 84.

Today, women make up a quarter of engineering, science and technology graduates, and Barra joins a growing list of women who’ve used their technical degrees as a stepping stone into the executive suites. Yet among automakers, Barra remains an exception; there’s few other women in line for roles such as CEO; there’s no other woman at another automaker who oversees vehicle development as Barra did for GM. The path ahead may not be as clear as it should be, but for today’s young Lucille Pietis crafting a career in engineering, they have far more examples of how to avoid getting lost along the way.

buy this perfect art representation of Chrysler's dream machines of the 50's  at Danny
buy this perfect art representation of Chrysler’s dream machines of the 50’s at Danny

Congratulations to : Rick Appleton and Suzan Appleton, on the purchase of their beloved 1966 Mustang pro stock Art prints !

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I wrote to Rick how this project was by far one of the most interesting and fun drawing I’ve done all year. Some of you may remember the post I made last week about the drawing I did in 1975. It was a 1968 Mustang I did for a guy in my shop class. That was the very first drawing I ever got paid for but the best thing about it was, drawing all those modifications on it. Well this project reminded me of the same thing. I haven’t done a pro stock like this since 1994 and that was a 1969 Roadrunner. So as you can see I got a real charge out of this and went the extra mile on as much detail as I could see. Rick and Suzan run the Blue Oval Gang on Facebook with tons of Fast Fords and Hot Mustangs. Check it out if you get a chance. Ricks is also going for all three views.


It was this drawing I did way back in 1975 that Rick’s Project reminded me of. So many memories associated with this drawing.

1968 Mustang drawn by danny Whitfield in 1975
1968 Mustang drawn by danny Whitfield in 1975