This Alfa Was Dropped By A Tow Truck And Then It Became The Ultimate Italian Survivor

Standing on the edge of a dry lakebed at 4:30 a.m., stars twinkling overhead, I could hear the sound of a distant engine but couldn’t quite make out from where. Scanning the black abyss that is nighttime El Mirage, a lone distant light was actually moving closer and closer. Out of the darkness rumbled a scene straight from Mad Max. Already looking like it had been through an apocalypse, this little Alfa was a survivor of a different sense.

Read the full story on

Here’s What Cuba’s Car Scene Looks Like In 2017

Cuba feels more in flux now than it has in decades. Fidel Castro’s death, the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy and eased restrictions on capitalism mean rapid changes for a country distinctly shaped by a Cold War that ended decades ago. At the same time airplanes full of tourists are landing in Cuba on direct flights from the U.S. for the first time in decades, opening up a floodgate of incoming dollars. So where does that leave Cuba’s eclectic assortment of cars?

There’s been some progress in expanding access to personal transportation in Cuba, but it has been halting. In 2014 the government abolished a system that required citizens to attain a permit to buy a car, and loosened restrictions on new car imports. The new system fell flat when markups equating to four to five times the base price left supposedly cheap cars, like a Peugeot hatchback, with an astronomical price of $85,000 U.S. In a country where a good state job pays $20 a month, a new car would not be a realistic goal within 100 lifetimes of saving for most Cubans.

I went down to Cuba recently, and while I was there I decided to take stock of the country’s famously unique car culture. Roughly the three times the size of the New York metropolitan area and with a population of 11 million, there are an estimated 60,000 pre-1959 American cars still plying the Cuban streets. An easing of the U.S. embargo could could have dramatic effects on the overall Cuban automotive landscape.

Original American Classics

What I found is that the majority of vehicles in Cuba tend to fall into five categories: original American classics, non-original American classics, Russian cars and trucks, newer Chinese/Korean/Japanese vehicles, and European cars—the latter being the smallest percentage.

Cubans are proud car owners, and yes, to maintain an American car for 50 years or more is a feat worthy of pride. Any given parking lot or square in Old Havana is a spilled Skittles bag of brightly colored metal, and every street echoes the deep thrum of Cadillacs, Chevys, Dodges, Buicks, Fords and more that originally rolled out of Detroit half a century ago. Most of the best-looking chromed-up convertibles and coupes are on full-time tourist duty, cruising the Malecon from Old Havana to Miramar night and day.

Originality is key, since foreign tourists, myself included, always want the authentic experience. Absorbing the curved and blistered beauty of these classics, I began to pay more attention to the rougher-looking classics and the fact that the sound of their engines in many cases was quite different from the deep GUG-GUG of the originals. Original American classics are coveted and in most cases are on tourist duty. Without an official tally it’s impossible to know exact numbers of originals vs non-originals, but to my eye and ear the originals seems to be more popular in touristy areas (duh).

Regardless of political changes, we can assume these original American classics will remain part of Cuba’s automotive workforce. Like stagecoaches on a dude ranch, these cars have become a part of Cuba’s identity that visitors want to see and experience. These original cars also earn well for their owners.

Non-Original American Classics

But there’s another, maybe better story beyond the postcard-perfect 1956 Ford Sunliners or the 1957 Chevy Bel Airs. Outside the touristy areas of Old Havana you see many more American classics, but in much rougher condition.

These are the daily drivers, the backbone of Cuba’s personal transportation fleet. Many do remain with their original engine and transmissions, but many others have been gutted and adapted in favor of newer Hyundai diesel engines. And some of those original V8 engines have been replaced by diesel motors from Russian cars, or even boats. Gas is very expensive in Cuba while diesel costs only about half as much.

My ear became keenly tuned to the idle sound when encountering any American classic, more than half the time I was greeted to the unmistakable clatter of a diesel engine at idle. There were whole shops dedicated to fitting and fabricating newer, smaller, more efficient Korean engines and differentials to massive American classics. These non-originals are more likely to be customized on the interior as well. A peek inside in many cases revealed a DVD player sitting in the dash and various festive LED lights, a fascinating intersection of old and new that would have American classic car purists pulling their hair out.

A dissolved U.S. embargo could flood the Cuban market with relatively cheap new American cars, which could in turn greatly reduce the numbers of these pre-revolution Franken-cars. As more new cars enter Cuba these jerry-rigged American classics will inevitably be passed down and essentially run into the ground. To think that Cuba’s current youth may find transportation freedom in an inherited or gifted Hyundai powered 1953 Plymouth is a romantic thought indeed.

Russian Cars & Trucks

The age range of Cuba’s Russian cars is predictable, falling squarely between the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the fall of the Soviet Union in early ‘90s. In rural areas or national parks like Parque Guayanara, the only vehicles intrepid enough to tackle the deep jungle are enormous Russian ZIL troop transport trucks ferrying tourists out and back from beautiful natural caves and waterfalls. “Russian limousines,” the Cubans call these behemoths.

Large Russian KraZ semi tractor trailers still haul tobacco and other cargo around Cuba. But most prevalent is the boxy Lada sedan, which, as far as I can tell, really didn’t get any design updates between 1970 and 1989. Many Ladas, Moskviches, and Volgas are used as taxis for the Cuban population and many more are used as private vehicles. Most seemed to be worn but running satisfactorily, but I did a see a few showroom quality examples of these multi-decade-old Soviet sedans.

A warming of Cuban and American relations is not likely to bring new Russian vehicle imports into Cuba in the foreseeable future. Who knows, in thirty years the old Russian cars and trucks could take the role of the current American classics. Not likely, but anything is possible in the world where we live today.

Chinese/Korean/Japanese Vehicles

Kia and Hyundai seem to be doing well in Cuba. Without having access to definitive import numbers, it seemed that the highest number of the newest cars on Cuban roads were Korean. My family and I traveled in a mid-1990s Kia diesel van for our nine-day trip, and it was tired but did the job.

For our excursion into the Guayanara Parque our required 4x4 transportation was a Hyundai Santa Fe. As we climbed the hills into the park we sailed past a late ’50s Chevrolet Bel Air chugging up the hill full of passengers at about 1.5 mph, and I understood why we needed the 4x4 crossover. We saw other old American cars paused at the bottom of hills so the owners could pour cool water on the radiator before making the climb.

At one point I was stunned to see what I thought was a Chevrolet Cruze, but it turned out to be a Chinese built Geely. Sans badges I would have a very difficult time differentiating the Chevrolet from the Geely; it was a near carbon copy. Since 2009 the Cuban government has been importing Geely vehicles for use as police cars, taxis, and rental vehicles. I spotted one single Mitsubishi Lancer, and a small handful of classic Toyota Land Cruisers outside Havana. Counter to U.S. market share, the Japanese seem to have a smaller portion of the pie in Cuba.

Asian automakers seem to have good relations with the Cuban government regardless of the U.S. embargo. It would be a safe bet to say that Korean and Chinese manufacturers will continue to expand their imports into Cuba as more Cubans are financially able to purchase new cars.

European Cars

The majority of European vehicles spotted in Cuba were older Mercedes-Benzes. The W123 and W124 Mercedes E-class from the late ’80s and early ’90s were the most popular Euros, but still quite rare. The newest cars I saw in the whole trip were current generation Mercedes C200s, and most seemed to be rentals.

In Havana on our last night a black E-class deposited some affluent-looking Russians outside a restaurant. That was probably the most expensive car seen on the whole trip. One single BMW cruised past the beach at Playa Giron (The Bay of Pigs)—a red E30 coupe.

Down a quiet alley in Old Havana a B7 Audi A4 sat with sun-damaged hood paint and body repair on the front fender that was made obvious by the splash of matte blue primer. I couldn’t help but imagine the perfectly molded Audi front fender repair was likely hand-measured and hammered.

Pre-revolution European cars were rare, limited to Mercedes W120 sedans: Fiats, mostly 500s. Alfa Romeo seemed to have sent at least one ship full of cars some time during the ’80s; I spotted a few 159s and one single Milano. French cars and vans from Peugeot and Citroen exist in small numbers, owned by those willing and able to pay the astronomical markups following the 2014 change in ownership rules.

I kept having exciting daydreams, hoping to see one of these big old American original classics doing a tire-slaying smokey burnout in the middle of the Malecon with waves crashing in the background. But then it occurred to me that no Cuban in their right mind would waste tires so frivolously. The simple fact that the roads are in such a state of decay, to the point that speeds are dictated more by the ruts and potholes than the marked signs. Most of the best old cars were piloted around gingerly, 30 to 40mph, by their middle-aged Cuban padrones. When tourists jump out of classic taxis, the drivers always reach across to the passenger side to keep the door from being slammed too hard. They close those doors like it’s a baby’s bedroom and the kid has just gone to sleep.

In Cuba, nothing is really what it seems with these Korean-powered American classics, but it’s endearing as hell when you realize this is about the only place on earth with a car landscape dictated by 60 years of complex geopolitical jockeying. It should be fascinating to see what that looks like in the decades to come.

Jonathan “JBH” Harper is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Los Angeles. Follow JBH on Instagram and his website.

read the original post on

This Wonderful And Weird 1966 Renault R8 Got Saved From The Crusher

I arrived at the 2017 Carroll Shelby Cruise-In on the top level of the Petersen Automotive Museum parking structure expecting to see a big gaggle of American cars. And I did. Cobras, GT350s, Daytonas, lots of sleek muscle. But there was something else, too. Back in a corner, separated from the thrumming V8s, sat something very un-American. And so I met Ben Zinnen standing proudly next to his vintage Renault sedan, something I’d never before seen on U.S soil.

One week later Ben and I reconvened at his house in East Los Angeles to get the full story on his bold little box of a Renault. 

Click HERE to read the full story on

Meet The Man Who Daily Drives A Porsche Reimagined By Singer

Sitting in Los Angeles traffic affords plenty of car-spotting opportunities to break up the monotony. It’s usually a nicely patina’d Datsun or an E30 with fender flares catching my eye, but on this day I saw something of a wholly different breed. Four cars back I had my first glimpse, just the side of the fender sticking out. I could tell it was a Porsche but there was something just a bit different about it. Something I thought I might recognize.

As the light turned and traffic began to move again, I hung back in my lane and grappled for my camera. One lucky shot has the car roared past, which I posted to Instagram. A keen eyed commenter tagged the owner within hours, score one for the internet. Once you’ve seen a Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer there’s no mistaking it. I jumped at the opportunity to find out more about what owning one of the most exclusive and expensive custom Porsche 911s in the world is like, so I messaged the owner on Instagram. A few weeks later I met Edward Lovett and his Porsche in a quiet section of Los Angeles.

Read the full story on

Buying and owning a Project Safari Porsche 911

Recreating the mountain bike of Porsche 911s in gorgeous detail.

– Hudson Valley, New York

Pro racer Leh Keen has taken his passion for Porsche down a dirty, muddy, and very good path with The Keen Project. Essentially recreating the aesthetic of Porsche’s infamous 1984 Dakar-winning 953 911, Keen’s creations don’t just look the part, they play it, too.

On a rainy Monday afternoon in the Lower Hudson Valley, New York, we met with Michael Pollock, proud owner of The Keen Project Safari #4. Michael plans to use the Safari as his inclement-weather wheels while his fair-weather ride, a lightly modified 1991 911 Carrera 4, awaits in a climate-controlled garage. Michael favors the analogy of a road bicycle to a mountain bike, but you get the idea.

Keen’s creations don’t just look the part, they play it, too.

Motor1: Have you always been a Porsche guy?

Michael Pollock: No, actually, for the longest time I was a BMW guy, and in the late ‘80s I sold Ferraris and BMWs for five years. But even though I was selling Ferraris, I knew that if you wanted a sports car that you could actually use every day, that’s a Porsche.

You bought your first Porsche somewhat recently, right?

Yes, September 2015 I bought a 1991 Porsche 911 [964] C4. I had some help from a friend and a group of guys known as DBFD, Drive Break Fix Drive Motorsports, fixing up my car and others. We overhauled I think it was five cars’ suspensions last year. All the bushings, the works; in some cases we replaced the entire suspension.

And that’s work you were doing yourself with the help of friends?

We were doing it with our ring-leader Rob Goughary. Some of the guys have had him do the work for them, but in my case I was able to do most of the work with him, and I worked on a couple other guys’ cars as well.

Leh makes the lightpod himself, but the front bumper guards and skid-plate are pieces he has made with a fabricator near Atlanta.

So how did you find out about The Keen Project?

I saw a story on Leh through PCA [Porsche Club of America], but what got me was my friend Dave Minchin sent me a link to an article on a popular Porsche blog and it was the first article I’d seen about the build, and had some details of how it worked. When that article was written, Safari #3 was just being started, so I gave Leh a call and we started looking for a donor car.

How involved were you with the customization and build of Safari #4?

Throughout this build Leh was having as much fun as I was. Once I narrowed the colors down, Leh provided renderings of my final choices, which helped me settle on Riviera Blue. I was involved in picking the interior fabric, but we left the brown leather trim from the donor car. Since I wanted the roof rack and the spare tire on the Safari, I sent an idea to him, and Leh and his fabricator came up with the removable rear section for the replica Porsche roof rack, which they did an amazing job on.

I don’t want to say anything is non-negotiable but there are things Leh likes to see in the cars, like the way the big mud flaps are mounted into the body.

How much influence does Leh have on the final build of each car?

There are certain aspects of these cars that are Leh’s trademarks. I don’t want to say anything is non-negotiable but there are things he likes to see in the cars, like the way the big mud flaps are mounted into the body. Leh likes the GTS Classics Vallelunga seats, but Safari #3 didn’t have those. For example, the Momo Prototipo steering wheel, he likes the cars to have a bit of a ‘not modern’ vibe. Leh makes the lightpod himself, but the front bumper guards and skid-plate are pieces he has made with a fabricator near Atlanta.

Leh’s got a great network of partners that do the work. Goldcrest Motorsports is a Porsche shop down in Georgia that does a lot of the mechanical work. A guy named Bryson at Classic Livery of Atlanta does all the body work. It’s a great deal because with Leh’s regular partnerships with these guys, they give him great prices, which are then passed along to the customer. Leh just gets a flat fee for organizing the build, so it really works out well for everybody.

What was the delivery experience like?

It was a blast. In my case I flew down to Georgia, Leh picked me up at my hotel, and we went back to his shop where the car was in a corner by itself under some spotlights with all the rest of the lights off. There’s a picture of it in Leh’s Instagram and mine. It was a very cool way to get a new car. And when we were done I got a chance to see Leh’s other cars, like his early 2000s Subaru rally car that he just acquired and his personal Safari. I also got to see the donor car for Safari #5.

I joke that the Safari is the lovechild of my 964 and my son’s 1983 Land Rover 110.

You drove the Safari home from Atlanta to New York, right? What was it like at 80 miles per hour on the highway?

I actually got to experience driving the Safari at 85 mph in pouring rain on the highway and it was incredibly comfortable and incredibly stable. With the exception of the volume level, you could drive that car all day long. And I did, I drove a solid ten hours. I did manage to find dirt at some point every day along the way. I actually drove the car from pick-up in Atlanta down to Savannah to play in the dirt with a guy named Jim Goodlett who has a real rally 911, so within four hours of picking up my Safari I was sliding around on dirt.

What are the main differences between your 1991 964 C4 and the Safari?

In a word, everything. The Safari is lifted, while the 964 has been lowered from the original U.S. ride height, which was kinda high. There’s a little bit of boosted steering in the 964, and there’s no boosted steering in the Safari. I happen to have deleted the radio and air conditioning in my Safari, although I think one Safari has both of those items. I specifically like my 964 a little on the loud side, but it feels like a Lexus in comparison to the Safari. And I have a muffler delete of one of the two mufflers on my 964, so it’s not necessarily a quiet car. I joke that the Safari is the lovechild of my 964 and my son’s 1983 Land Rover 110.

Have you encountered any terrain that the Safari can’t handle?

Yeah, I think so. I was out last week exploring north of me up in Dutchess and Putnam Counties, New York, and I came upon a seasonal road that said “not maintained between November 15th and April,” so of course I started down it. I got to a point where it was about three or four inches of ice over the rocky dirt surface and decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and turned around. The laws of physics still apply, no matter how capable the car is.

Which leads me to my next question, have you thought about mounting studded tires?

Not seriously. If I lived on a lake that froze, I’d have had a set of studded tires before I picked up the car. Since I don’t, they would be a very limited use item. So I haven’t really seriously given it any consideration. It’s not in the cards for this winter.

Is there anything you wish you could change about the Safari build in its current form?

Not really. I did opt for the roll-bar with a horizontal bar behind the seat in case I wanted to put a harness in at some point. I didn’t really think about how much that would get in the way of throwing things into the back of the car, like your gym bag or any bag. It makes the space behind the seats quite a bit harder to use, especially with the shape of the seats that are in the car. They have wings up at shoulder level that project out, which really makes it hard to put anything in the back. I’m not sure I’ll ever have a five-point harness in the car so I probably would have done that differently. My friend is trying to convince me to put a winch on the car, which might be helpful if you get stuck in ice, but I don’t feel a real need for that now.

Any final words about The Keen Project experience so far?

It was really enjoyable working with Leh. I had a chance to meet him over the summer when his race team came to Lime Rock Park, as well as Bob Sanderson from Goldcrest motorsports. It is interactive and it is a collaboration. It was just loads of fun.

Keep up with Michael and his Safari on Instagram and

Base Model Perfection - 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera

Most times when you ask someone ‘in-the-know’ what their ideal Porsche 911 year and spec would be, you’ll get an answer somewhere between 1970s RS and 991 GT3. It seems that folks so often pine for the most hardcore and most ‘track-focused’ versions of this rear-engined German anomaly. But that’s not really what they need.

For a specific set of reasons which you’ll have to watch the video to find out, my friend Dan has chosen an ‘09 base Carrera, the 997 generation. The car has been lightly modified with the focus being on tightening and sharpening the handling for autocross and track-days while also retaining street drivability. The following upgrades serve the car so well in achieving Dan’s goals:

  • Custom exhaust
  • Moton club sport coilovers
  • GMG front swaybar
  • Powergrid inc endlinks
  • Rennline motor mounts
  • Carerra S calipers
  • Porterfield R4-S pads
  • CCW C14 wheels
  • BFG Rivals S tires
  • OEM Tequipment rollbar
  • Bride Zeta III seat

Of course the clout of a GT3 and its big wing has a draw in and of itself, I find myself asking if it’s all really necessary to get the true Porsche experience that harks back to 911s of the 70s and 80s. Raw handling, that hollow flat 6 howl, and most of all the joy that comes with carving through your favorite twisting backroad. Hats off to you Dan, you own the 911 we all want.

And a challenge to the keen-eyed Porsche-philes out there, see if you can spot the bit of 991 GT3 on Dan’s 997.


Courting A 27-Year-Old Italian Is Anything But Easy

The courtship process began in the early throes of summer, and it wasn’t until the days began to shorten that I was even allowed to see her. The natural September light of a perfectly clear day revealed a strange, but undeniably beautiful, 4 door silhouette that looked slightly sinister in its original AR913 Nero black paint. I extended my hand, exhilarated and terrified by the prospect of a first touch, but its owner swooned in front of us like a protective parent vetting out his daughter’s first date.

Make no mistake, this was a first date. Everything about the Milano was new, weird, and exciting but mostly weird in the best of ways. The outside door handles gave the illusion of being conventional pulls when, in fact, they contained cleverly disguised buttons. Opening the door revealed Recaro seats that were designed for a coupe, complete with easy access handles to tilt the backrest of the seat all the way forward, presumably to aid ingress and egress. Someone forgot to tell Alfa Romeo this was a sedan. Indeed, underneath the Milano’s humble sedan proportions lies a GTV6.

Read the full story on

Autocrossing The Porsche 718 Boxster & Boxster S Back-To-Back

The other day I didn’t have much going on, so I called up my buddy. He asked if I wanted to go drive the new 718, and I thought about it for a while.

I thought about the Boxsters I’d driven in the past, and wondered whether this new creature with two less cylinder but one more turbo could measure up to the simple open-top pleasure I’d felt in previous generations. So I said yes.

After arriving and enjoying some unexpected free lunch, I was mingling with the instructors, looking for some tidbits on the 718 from the people who’ve arguably spent the most time in the car to date. Of course it handles fantastic, but what about the sound?

Does it sound like a Subaru? One instructor smiled at me and looked around before whispering, “It’s like a high-end Subaru engine…” I can’t for the life of me imagine what a high-end Subaru engine might sound like, but I try, is it like a classy burble?

Imagination aside, the car handled the autocross with ease, turning in with exceptional precision and even displaying a drop of predictable understeer when pushed past the limit.

Here’s two videos each with POV and pure exhaust footage from each car.

Base 718 Boxster

718 Boxster S


70+ Exotic Cars Invaded A Small Airstrip And It Was Awesome

Some people might sip artisanal coffee and read the paper on a Sunday morning. Others gas up and head North to wreak havoc on a small-town airstrip in cars with many hundreds of horsepower.

I was invited along to Kobelt Airport in Wallkill, NY with the latter group a few weeks ago. It was much better than any cup of coffee. As relaxed as it gets; once your fee is paid just pass through the gate get in line. When the flag drops, so does your right foot and off you go.


Vintage Mini Coopers Are The Perfect Light-Painting Companions

Two classic Mini Coopers, a dark warehouse, a camera, and a whole lot of prancing around with an LED wand makes for a damn good Friday night.

That’s exactly what I learned a few weeks ago. The prancing was both for lighting and for warmth. Even inside the garage it was near-freezing.

These Minis are owned by two brothers who’ve taken two very different paths. The black 1974 Mini is mostly stock and seems to be in very good condition. The blue 1967 Mini is upgraded with competitive driving in mind; a roll-cage and suspension bits along with shorter gear ratios give it a perfectly rough-n-ready vibe. Look out for a driving video with these two later in the summer.

Last time I posted about lightpainting I was using a cheap LED from a gas station, I’ve since upgraded to a much brighter but still cheap LED wand from Amazon. This allows me to get more consistent lighting on the cars along with the ability to light more of the car with each exposure, this is important especially when working with multiple vehicles.

In order to get the desired effect I had to light the cars from a multiple angles in turn insuring that all the bits and bobs are lit-up nicely. This is where the prancing comes in, around and around the cars I went, as you can see in this behind-the-scenes time-lapse:

About two hours of shooting and many, many hours of editing later, I was done. Or, as done as I’d ever be…


The Turbocharged 2017 Porsche 911 Still Sounds Amazing

In order to allay any fears that the 2017 Porsche 911 with its new fangled turbocharger is pissing on decades of marvelous atmospheric flat-six tailpipe sounds, I fastened my GoPro to the rear bumper and let’er rip.

I’ll let you decide…

Normally I would consider a 3-minute video of only exhaust sound and view a bit egregious (and it is) but the length of the video allows one to hear not just the full-throttle sound but everything in-between as well.

Full disclosure: this car does have the factory sport exhaust, that said, all 2017 911 owners should be ticking this box.

What The Heck Is This Awesome Abandoned Truck?

My mom likes to poke fun at me when I agree to do something non-car-related with her, “Oh, you sure you want to go for a hike? There aren’t any vehicles to drive or shoot…you suuure?” Little did she know, there would be a truck to shoot.

New York’s lower Hudson valley is peppered with relics of times past. Just drive up the Taconic Parkway and you’ll see networks of old stone walls and decrepit foundations scattered in what is now parkland or people’s backyards. It’s fascinating. I’ve even gone so far as to dig up old maps to try to identify old roads through the woods, pre-highways, these could have been main thoroughfares now used for hiking and nature walking.

About an hour into the hike we lose the sound of the highway and the path is lined with stone walls. Over a small crest we find this rusting pile of metal and even some bits of wood still screwed into the frame. Did it break down? Was it stolen? We’ll probably never know, but I think an ID should be possible. Help? 

And some stamped numbers, which I used my mom’s phone to snap since of course all I had with me was a massive 300mm prime lens.

Keep up with JBH on Instagram & Youtube

The Sleeper Audi S4 I’ve Known All Along

The other night I did something I do a lot. I met up with a guy I’ve only met briefly in the past to go out in his car and…wait that could be misleading. Let me start over. The other night I shot some photos of a bonkers ‘01 S4, and it turns out I first met this car about 4 years ago.

Before I get into that, a quick rundown of this nondescript Audi four-door. The car has been through a progression of upgrades spanning seven years and three different sets of turbos. From stock turbos to stage 3 K04 turbos to even bigger Porsche turbos and upgraded internals, this car has come a long way. But you wouldn’t know it from the outside, like the nerdy girl with a wild side—you know the one.

But back to the story at hand. Rewind four years, I was still working atClassic Car Club Manhattan. For how long ago it was, I remember the scene in vidid detail, it was a mild fall evening and my last task for the day was to collect the club’s black Audi R8 4.2 6-speed from a member in Great Neck, out on Long Island. Train out, meet the member, aim for NYC, pretty straightforward. I merge onto the highway and settle in for the short ride back to the city. Traffic was light, I was in the middle lane.

Keeping up with the flow of cars, I note a rapidly approaching set of headlights. Instinctively, I downshift with a CLACK from the R8’s open gated shifter. The headlights slow as they approach until he’s right next to me: a badge-less black B5 Audi. Sans badges, I’m assuming this is a juiced up 1.8T, then he pulled.

It rapidly became apparent that this sleeper sedan was quicker than the V8 R8much quicker. I got a huge kick out of seeing him scream away from me. The encounter ended with smiles and thumbs up on both sides before he tore off into the night. The memory had retreated into the depths of my mind until the other evening, when I realized I was sitting in that exact B5 Audi. The owner remembers that night four years ago as well, “Usually when my car is faster than an exotic, the driver won’t even look at me, but you smiled and gave a thumbs up.”

Build sheet from the owner:


Rosten connecting rods

srm k24 billet wheel hybrid turbos @ 17 psi (wastegate pressure)

034 3” Downpipes

Custom 3.5” single exhaust

ER Side mount intercoolers

034 Bipipes

Enlarged turbo inlet pipes

Bosch 044 fuel pump

034 diverter valves

Siemens 660 cc injectors

85mm maf housing

custom tune from ssp tuning for my old k04 setup

samco intake hoses

stern engine mounts

stern snub mount


rs4 pressure plate with custom 8 puck ceramic disc

4:1 center diff mod (75% of the power goes to the rear wheels instead of 50%)

jhm short throw shifter

jhm weighted shift knob

jhm solid shift linkage

stern transmission mounts

apikol diff mount

034 billet rear diff carrier


18Z porsche Cayenne Turbo Calipers with 2 piece 350mm rotors

rear caliper carrier spacer upgrade for larger b7s4 rear rotors

H&R Street Sport Coilovers

Hotchkis Sway bars front and rear


Euro Ecode Headlights

European Rear Bumper

Euro Trunk

Carbon fiber hood (Painted)

RS4 Grille

18” Enkei RPF1’s

a few more photos HERE


The Petersen Museum: A More Perfect Automotive Education

Let’s say you met a time traveler. Someone who had been instantly transported from a time long ago to 2016. This person would have zero concept of modern technology, and transportation, and would inevitably be very curious about, well, everything.

Being a car enthusiast, you’d get right to the point and begin by offering the time traveler an automotive education. How would you do this? You’d take your new friend directly to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The kind ticket salesman will suggest you begin on the top floor of three and work your way down. With vast variation from the first horseless buggies to the “retro” new generation Ford Thunderbird, a lot can be learned here. Wend your way through a star-studded row of movie cars including Walter White’s Pontiac Aztek, and soak in a Ghia-bodied Plymouth. Down the staircase you find slightly more modern metal. A chopped Jaguar F-Type shows off its aluminum underpinnings in a life-size cross section. Turn a corner and say hello to the clay sculpted face of a new Ford GT concept. Hello.

Another bend to the right puts you and your time traveler head to head with a somewhat pedestrian-looking hydrogen-powered Honda FCX. The background is filled with glistening chrome hot rods — all lifted, so as to appreciate the equally shining chrome underbody of these greaser deights. Pass through a doorway into a white room filled with silver cars, and even the time traveler’s jaw drops to the floor. Wipe up the drool, both from the present and past, and soak in the swooping raked metal body of the 1959 Chevy Corvette XP-87 Stingray. Follow the bulbous blisters of the aero-optimized 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 R Streamliner to its rounded edges — beauty in metal and rubber, in any era.

Descend the final staircase into a darkened cavern rife with Delahayes, Delages, and Bugattis that would be at home in an F. Scott Fitzgerald book. Placards reading “1/1” — the first produced, and only one of its kind ever produced — are common in this room of coachbuilt masterpieces. In the final exhibit, a selection of BMW Art Cars caps the tour handily. The 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL painted by Alexander Calder, steals almost as much of your attention as the previous two floors combined.

Education complete, time to hit the gift shop to furnish the home and office with little die-cast models of all the beautiful wheeled works of art we’ll dream about driving for years to come. And you can only imagine how your time traveling pal will describe to family and friends that Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse to his friends and family.

More photos HERE


Nothing Beats A Classic Like A Classic: 1969 Porsche 911T

Driving old cars can be a mixed bag. On one hand, they tend to be nice to look at and fun to see how “things used to be.” On the other hand, they tend to be mechanically temperamental and lacking relative to what we may be accustomed to in terms of performance and handling.

But for a few minutes, leave all that behind. You’ve just been handed the keys to a mechanically sound ‘69 911T. Take it for a spin.

Once you’ve gotten used to manipulating the 5-speed dog-leg transmission it’s a joy to use. Mechanical whine from the drivetrain will fill your ears as you row through the gears tugging from side to side on the truck-sized steering wheel through the twists.

Hearing the flat six warp from metallic rasp to that signature hollow Porsche howl is especially beautiful when your mind immediately connects the dots all the way to the 991 GT3. They’ve changed shapes (albeit slightly) and engines (albeit slightly) and chassis (albeit slightly) but the DNA is still there, and that’s the part you can’t beat.

more photos HERE


Basic Guide To Lightpainting - 2015 Corvette Z06

It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a cheap LED and a DSLR. Last weekend a friend visited and brought this beastly yellow machine, of course I couldn’t help but break out the tripod and snap a few shots.

Using my trust Sony A7 with the kit 28-70mm lens, I was able to produce some pretty spectacular images without a ton of work. To be honest, it’s mostly trial and error, with just a little bit of strategy (beer) sprinkled in throughout.

Sure, you could go out and spend 10 grand on Profoto B1 strobes and expensive lenses or camera bodies, but when you can produce images like this with almost any DSLR and a $20 LED from a gas station, why the hell not?

Basic Steps:

  • camera goes on tripod
  • ISO 100 for least amount of “noise” or “grain” in the image
  • set exposure long enough to light the car (I used between 6 and 15 sec exposures)
  • have a friend hit the shutter for you so you can light the car as soon as exposure begins
  • keep the light on the car, experiment with how far away from the car you hold the light
  • move as smoothly as possible while lighting as much or as little of the car as you please
  • review your results and adjust your technique
  • It will take multiple tries, and of the handful of images I posted here, I had at least 10 throw-aways of each. Don’t expect to get perfect results on the first go, but you’ll never get anything if you don’t keep trying.

    This Z06 is part of the CCC Manhattan fleet, go HERE to find out more about the club.

    Keep up with JBH on Yourube and Instantgraham

    How To Make A McLaren 12C Sound Better Than A Ferrari 458

    The McLaren 12C is a fantastic car, there’s no disputing this fact. It was born from years of street and race proven technology and received by the automotive community with open arms. But there was something missing.

    The performance within was heralded as a real milestone for the “super sports car” segment. With self leveling suspension and some super slippery aerodynamics paired with an extremely potent turbocharged V8, the car quickly catapulted itself far beyond what most drivers are capable of fully exploiting.

    Much like the Nissan GT-R, the technology packaged into the 12C leaves the driver a bit insulated from the very aspects that made cars like the Ferrari F40 and Lamborghini Countach so endeared among enthusiasts. They weren’t easy to use, they were loud, and they weren’t really good for much other than driving quickly.

    Last weekend I encountered a 12C Spider whose owner had quite properly mitigated one of these aspects. The stock exhaust on the 12C has a nice purr to it but is decidedly quiet when revved next to something like a Ferrari 458 or Mercedes SLS. The turbochargers muffle the sound from the 12C, to the point where you’re left pining for the crack of an Italian V8 or the bellow of a German V8.

    The solution comes in the form of the McLaren Sport Exhaust, which, as far as I can tell is just straight pipes. One of my favorite mantras perfectly applies here: louder is better. The free flowing pipes expel exhaust gasses with a new timbre, the roar under power assaults your eardrums in the best way, with crackling overrun off-throttle as the cherry on top.

    NOTE: I should have listened when they said it spits flames…this GoPro was hanging onto the back of the car by a thread of melted plastic, but somewhat incredibly the thing fired right back up after it cooled down and I put a fresh battery in.

    Keep up with JBH on YouTubeInstagram, and Twitter

    Truth In Motoring: 1970 Porsche 911 RSR

    What to even say about this car. It’s silver? It’s loud? It’s like a Singer, but wider? It’s like a Rauh-Welt, but with a better spoiler?

    Those are some pretty bold statements but I think this 911 deserves to have it all. I feel like I’m still just gawking at the car as I write this post. It even has hounds-tooth cloth seats. It’s fucking perfect. The video and the spec sheet speak for themselves, enjoy.

    Body & Chassis

    1970 911 E chassis-one of the lightest 911 factory chassis, factory silver car, south west US car, 65000 miles.

    Steel 930 flares

    F/G RSR bumpers & ducktail – MA Shaw


    ST vintage seats

    Schroth Profi II Harnesses

    Auto-power roll bar

    Palo alto custom gages

    Perlon carpet

    RS door panels


    3.5 L

    SC case, with 74.4mm crank (3.2)

    JE 10.5 ceramic coated pistons, lightweight wrist pins-new, ARP rod bolts

    DC60 cams

    46 mm PMO carbs

    Electromotive Crank-fired twin plug ignition system

    930 sodium filled exhaust valves

    964 oil pump

    Fluidyne oil cooler, all Aeroquip SS braided lines, fittings

    Headers, M&K muffler

    Tuned by Powertech and made 340HP, 285WHP (5/2015)



    Stock Ratios, Factory ZF limited slip 60/40,

    Rennshift shifter


    930 set up, rear calipers machined to fit SC trailing arms, air ducting on fronts


    Braid BZ

    F: 9 x 15 Pirelli 225/50/15

    R: 11 x 15 Pirelli 345/35/15


    Bilstien RSR raised spindle and reinforced front struts, coilover springs

    Coil- rear spring, racing shocks

    935 style spring plates

    Weltmeister sways, wevo rear mounts

    Weltmeister suspension bushings

    Aligned and corner balanced

    more photos HERE

    Keep up with JBH on youtoobtwatter, or instantgraham

    When The Question Is German V8 Sports Cars - Torque Is The Answer

    The formula is correct with this bawdy German duo. A well balanced chassis, drive to the rear wheels, and most importantly a potent V8 motor up front. Only thing missing was a sinuous stretch of tarmac, which we just so happened to find.

    When these cars were new I ate up all the comparison tests. I watched Clarkson, Hammond, and May slide them around Ascari and read all the glorious praise for the BMW’s handling and the Benz’s thunderous V8. Many of you know I have an affinity for BMW in general, and I’ve driven a great many of them including all different flavors of the E9x generation from convertible DCT to manual sedan and all the coupes in between.

    Which is why I was excited to hear that my favorite NYC automotive institution Classic Car Club Manhattan recently added a 2010 Mercedes Benz C63 to their fleet. I’ve always respected the AMG ethos of adding power and luxury, but the C63 represented a sort of forbidden fruit in my mind. It went a bit beyond the typical “luxobarge” designation that AMGs tend to be awarded, with it’s smaller size and favorable comparisons to the M3, I was very keen to try it out.

    It did not disappoint. In fact, I was very impressed. While I loved the ability to ring out the high-revving V8 in the BMW, there were compromises that were so readily assuaged by the larger displacement V8 in the Benz. To put it bluntly, the E9x M3s have a serious lack of low-end torque. I love low-end torque, and not having it is frustrating around town when you just need that squirt of power to merge or change lanes. The C63 has no problem in this area, the low burble quickly turns into a cracking thunder as you feed the 6.2 liter eight banger more fuel. The torque though! All the torque! Everywhere!

    Torque is what makes a car feel fast. Torque is what made the Fiat 500 Abarth tolerable around town, despite not really being that fast. Lack of torque is what makes the E9x feel slower than it really is unless you’re really driving 8/10ths, despite having very similar performance to the Benz. Torque is what left me pining for longer drives, using any excuse to drive the C63. Torque is what made me forget all about the E92 M3.

    Keep up with JBH on InstagramTwitter, and Youtube

    1991 Acura NSX - A Gift From The Motoring Gods

    Words simply can not do this car justice. In the realm of exalted sports cars, inhabited by the likes of the E30 M3 and Mazda Miata, The NSX has a distinctly different flavor.

    The aforementioned sports cars are known now as “the best” for a combination of reasons that center squarely on the fact that they are really fun to drive. The NSX is no exception, but instead of simply aiming to create a really awesome driving machine like Mazda and BMW did with the original M3 and Miata, Acura/Honda set out to teach the world a lesson. They essentially pulled a Tyler Durden and said “fuck what you know” about Ferrari performance, we’ll do it better, for less. And so they did.

    Long before Ayrton Senna got his hands on the NSX, Honda had lofty aspirations. Starting with the initial design, penned by Pininfarina, the same company that designed countless F-cars over the years. Further design cues were liberated from the F-16 fighter jet, for the forward oriented passenger compartment maximizing 360 degree visibility. High speed stability is augmented further with the long flat tail extending out behind the cockpit.

    Channeling Colin Chapman’s ethos, Honda had a breakthrough with the NSX in the form of an all aluminum monocoque, the first of its kind in any production vehicle in the world. Other firsts for the NSX include the first electronic throttle ever fitted to a Honda, and titanium connecting rods allowing the throaty V6 to rev all the way to 8,000 rpm.

    The technical details are surely impressive, but again, my words can’t express the impact that this car had, and still has. Sitting in it, feeling the leather wrapped shifter, the near perfect driving position, the surprisingly robust low-end torque; the aura of something bigger than just a car hangs heavy. This is a gift from the motoring gods, a place where the spirit of Ayrton Senna can live on forever. Thank you Honda. Thank you Ayrton.

    Keep up with JBH on Instagram & Youtube

    NSX via Classic Car Club Manhattan

    PCA Club Racing At Monticello Motor Club

    Racetracks are magical places. Even if you’re not there to race or drive at all, there’s a certain feeling associated with the acrid stank of race gas and burned rubber. Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to be a “spotter” for a Porsche Club of America member.

    I’ve driven track days, raced karts and battled at the 24 Hours of LeMons, but I have never been a spotter. I didn’t even know what it entailed but I readily agreed knowing this gig would get me within proximity of a large range of classic and contemporary P-car racing machines. I went to bed early the night before, dreaming of the raw and hollow wail of a flat six motor; or fifty of them.

    Arriving at the track Saturday morning I was greeted with the unfortunate news that the driver I was to spot for had encountered a terminal electrical issue forcing him to retire before even hitting the track. Gremlins be damned, my entry fee was paid and I’d been told the catering at Monticello Motor Club is top notch.

    With my trusty Sony A7 and borrowed 70-200mm lens I set out to find some good vantage points to practice panning shots. The first qualifying session released from pit lane was like a swarm of angry bees. Spec Boxsters were dime a dozen, as were 996 GT3s, but the classic air cooled machines hold a special place in my heart garage after getting to know the CCC ‘74 911 a few years ago. The sound is truly intoxicating, especially off-throttle when you get this other-worldly BWAHHHHH as the revs drop:

    A few hours later I left sufficiently sunburned with a full belly and a full memory card. Of course, the only danger of going to the track and notdriving is when you depart, and have to continuously remind yourself that the E90 328i you’re driving is in fact not a race car, and the roads that surround the track are definitely not a racetrack.

    Using Format