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A Supercar and Cult Car

Not too many automobiles have the distinction of being both a supercar and a cult car, but the Lamborghini Countach is one. Referred to by Forbes Magazine as “the poster child for cult cars”, the Countach featured the exotic design and high performance criteria for supercars. Yet it also has the ‘cult car’ charisma.

The word countach itself implies exotic. In the native Piedmontese language it is used by men when they encounter an amazingly beautiful woman. The word is not translatable into English but expresses the same idea as a wolf whistle.

Marcello Gandini of the Bertone Design Studio designed the Countach. The Bertone Studio was also responsible for the Lamborghini Miura. The Miura is among the first if not the first of the super cars. British motor journalist used the phrase to describe the Miura in an article in CAR Magazine published during the 1960′s. CAR magazine then claimed the credit for ‘coining the phrase.’

A single prototype, the LP500, painted sunflower yellow, made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971. However the design needed considerable modification before it could be put into production.

The first production model was the LP400. It was a 2-door sports coupe with a rear mid-engine and rear-wheel drive.

Several modifications had to be made to the prototype. The air intake valves on the prototype were found to be inadequate for cooling the engine. So large air box scoops were added on the rear shoulders and large NACA ducts were added on the sides. The original futuristic light clusters were also replaced by conventional lights.

A total of 157 LP400′s were produced. The first recorded delivery was made to D. Milne of the Australian Defence Force Transport Corps.

Then in 1978, Lamborghini brought out the LP400S. This was manufactured in a series of three. While the interior modifications were limited to an upgrade in the engine, the exterior changes were extensive. Lamborghini added fiberglass arch extension and replaced the tires with Pirelli P7 units, a much wider tire than was mounted on the LP400.

In 1982, the LP500S was introduced. The engine was upgraded to a more powerful 5-liter model but no changes were made to the exterior.

In 1985 additional improvements were made to the engine. Other changes were made to conform to US federal standards so the car could now be sold in the United States. This model was priced at $99,5000.

The year 1988 marked the 25th anniversary of the company. They celebrated by introducing the 25th anniversary Countach. This model had undergone considerable changes in styling that proved to be unpopular with many Lamborghini followers.

Then in 1975, Walter Wolf, an extremely wealthy Canadian businessman and owner of the Wolf Racing Team, purchased a LP400. However, he didn’t like the engine. He, therefore, contacted Lamborghini’s chief engineer and requested that the company custom build a special high-powered engine.

The result was an engine capable of reaching 315 kilometers per hour and producing 447 hp/7900 rpm. This model was also equipped with the upgraded wheels, Pirelli P tires, large fender flares and rear spoilers as had been installed on the LP400S. It was painted red with black fender flares.

The company produced 2,042 cars from 1974 to 1989 when they retired the design. Although its popularity has declined somewhat, it continues to be a collectible with a loyal following.

How To Enhance Your Automotive Hobby Experience By Collecting Car Art

What with the explosive escalation of labor and parts costs to build a collector car or do a proper restoration of a car or truck, collecting automotive art and prints may be a substantial alternative to actually owning a great automotive icon. Artists from around the world are currently selling great works, and you can utilize them in collecting reasonable and provocative car art. You just have to be willing to make the effort to find them. Perhaps this article may prove helpful to you in that pursuit.

It matters little what type of car or truck you love to follow. There are artists who have depicted your favorite vehicle in one form or another, and you can find those artists using the resources suggested here in this article. You may favor restored vehicles, or maybe custom cars, hot rods, muscle cars, pickups, legal classics, vintage racers, drag racing vehicles, vintage antiques, or even foreign sports cars. Trust me…..it has been rendered in oils, water colors, or ink art work by someone somewhere, and you can buy it now. You just have to be able to locate what you want.

Thanks to the wonderment of the internet, typing in just a few key words into your search engine can reveal page after page of resources to review. You don’t want to look at just the first page that pops up. You may find that the first five or ten pages reveal hundreds of sources of art work. Take time to look at a lot of these sources. Behind non-descript titles might lay fabulous renderings, many of which have found their way into the leading automotive magazines in America and other countries.

It amazes me how much it costs to get prints of the top art work when that art is done in color by a “name” car artist. Original works can run into the hundreds of dollars or even the thousands of dollars. But there is one way to enjoy it all much more cheaply…….buy the print of the original art. I know of famous painters who sell the actual original for $5000-$40000, but the print may cost only $35-$150 each. And the print may look every bit as stunning when hung on the wall and viewed from ten feet out. Many artists provide 10-20 printed renderings, while others sell up to 40-50 different prints on their website.

The artist who resides overseas from America can give you an exotic take on certain foreign sports cars and legal classics, and I find that particularly attractive if one is to diversify the type of vehicle held in one’s collection. Some of the greatest prints or originals of Ferraris, Mercedes Benz, Masserati, Lamborghini, Jaguar and others come from those who reside overseas. Their inspiration probably comes from national heritage or from photography taken at some of the greatest concours competitions held overseas. Of course, many mingle with wealthy car owners and use photography of the cars owned by their friends as inspiration.

Here in America, older cars have always held court in the arena of favorable public opinion, and there seems to be a tremendous surge in custom cars, hot rods, muscle cars, trucks, and drag racing vehicles specifically. It seems everyone is into nostalgia, and what better way to preserve it all than through art prints or originals. Outdoor and indoor shows across the USA are filled with vehicles that look like they stepped right out of the fifties or sixties. The automotive hobby is alive and well, thank you very much.

Ever hear of a “rat rod”? This is a fairly new phenomenon. These are cars and trucks that have been heavily modified, made reliable with late model drivetrains but don’t have much in the way of power accessories. And these vehicles are just as likely to be unpainted as painted. Primer finishes seem to prevail. If rat rods give the impression that unfinished is cool, they have succeeded in their message. And the lower you can make the vehicle by top chopping, body sectitioning, and chassis lowering, the better. Rust is the patina of choice, and headers packed with muffling steel wool (because there is no muffler system) is the order of the day. These cars and trucks look pretty obnoxious, and of course you’d be stylin’ to the max if you had tattoos up the gazzoo and your lady had a pin-up demeanor about her. Go to any super market or bookstore and you’ll see at least three or four publications devoted to rat rods. Be prepared to grin.

What did you drive in high school or slightly beyond? You’ll find artists drawing up a storm doing Chevelles, Corvettes, Mustangs, GTOs, Buick Gran Sports, El Caminos, Dodge Chargers, Rivieras, Gran Prixs, old shoebox Fords, early Mercurys, etc. And then there are the incomparable inline six-powered Chevys, Chevy stepside pickups, Ford and Dodge trucks, and the wide range of drag racing cars out there. Top fuelers, funny cars, altereds, gassers, super stocks, and modified street machines were all the rage from about 1957 through 1975 or so.

Where do we find these artists and their works? Well, start by going to your local bookstore and reviewing what is on the newstand featuring the current monthly series of car magazines. There are easily 30-40 different magazines out there, and it seems the editors can’t do some articles without help from an artist submitting a rendering or two to emphasize the article or accompanying pictures of particular car or truck types. Then there is the internet, within which you will find lurking all types of art, online magazine issues, and websites of the artists themselves. You’ll find great renderings submitted by such artists as Thom Taylor, Dave Bell, Kenny Youndblood, Rick Wilson, Steve Sanford, and dozens of other household names in car art.

Some artists produce books filled with art work by not only the author but by many others in their chosen field of influence. Thom Taylor in particular has some great stuff out there for you to research and view. My personal favorites are Steve Sanford, Dave Bell, Chip Foose, and Darryl Mayabb. Then there are the high end artists who produce iconic art depicting the greats in autodom, artists like Kenny Youngblood. And don’t get me started on all the tremendous artists who specialize in cars favored in car auctions and foreign racing cars. The list seems endless.

One of the deterrants to collecting auto art is price. Assuming the original piece is out of the question for you, your next logical step is to buy prints of original artwork. But there are choices here, too. Do you want color, or is line art without color sufficient? Colorization will lead you down a path of print cost ranging from $10 per print to $125 or higher. The problem with this is that everybody seems to regergitate the same subjects presented the way in the same size format. The best prices seem to come in the smaller sized renderings. This can be disappointing, to say the least, if you want a wall hanging to be of decent size and presence.

I personally prefer art that is a bit bigger than conventional 8″ x 11″ format. I like clean black ink art, whether it’sw colorized or not, and I want it to not have a busy background. This allows the vehicle to be the center of attention without distractions. I also want it to be large enough to be seen well even if I am fifteen feet away. Some folks like smaller art, and you can certainly reduce the size of your print at your local postal place. Most have great duplicators that will allow you to enlarge or shrink your print size. And make sure you get your print in a size where it is easy to find a frame to fit it.

So, where might I resource the largest choice of auto art? Galleries are a great start, and all you have to do is type in some key words in your computer’s search engine, like “custom car art prints, hot rod prints, drag racing prints, foreign car art work”, etc., and the search is on. You can also resource various leading car magazines, like Super Chevy, Hemmings Motor News, Hot Rod Magazine, Truckin’ Magazine, Classic Car Magazine, Lowrider Magazine, Rodders Journal, or even Jalopy Journal or H.A.M.B. (both one and the same), and you’ll be a happy camper. One source I love is HotRodHotlineNews.com. They don’t necessarily have art resources, but you’ll get an incredible car and truck fix that will hook you into that website forever. From there, you’ll get ideas about which art work to pursue in the open marketplace.

If you attend indoor cars shows or various swap meets throughout the year, artists quite often rent space and pass out cards and sell prints directly on the spot. It’s a great way to get your prints fast and be able to meet the artist in person. The very best artists take requests by doing special commissions for drawing your personal car or truck, or issuing a rendering of a vehicle type you desire and want to hang on your wall.

Prints have a great edge to them. You can interchange prints inside a wall frame and display piece. If you have several prints of the same size, you can change out your art work throughout the year so you don’t get bored seeing the same old thing every day of the year. Let’s say you’re into muscle cars. Get a Mustang, a Chevelle, a Corvette, a GTO, a Charger, a Challenger, a Cougar, and rotate the art throughout the year. It’s a great way to enhance your bedroom, living area, shop, or office. It’s a great and proud way to promote your interest in cars and trucks, even motorcycles. I am amazed how many attorneys, doctors, accountants, home builders, etc., display what interests them automotively by posting car art in their work place.

Along the subject of posting key words into your internet search, don’t restrict yourself by being shallow in the words or phrases you use. Let’s say you really dig custom cars and trucks. Don’t just type in “custom cars” and leave it at that. You’ll get a pittence of response. Throw out a variety of words and terms. Use commas to separate the terms/words, and do not put a space after the comma. Search engines work that way, so you should, too. In this example, I would type in……..”custom car,custom car art,custom car art prints,custom truck,custom truck art,custom truck art prints”……the results will surprise you.

A great source of art work in the automotive field is any website that might feature automotive artists worldwide. To find such sites, practice typing in key words in your computer’s search engine. You can use such words as “automtoive artists featuring hot rods”, or “automotive artists featuring muscle cars,”, etc. You can continue on and you will soon find multiple pages offered to you to review. It is critical that you take the time to review many pages and not just the top one or two. Most times, great sites which have just what you seek are buried along with other content, and they don’t reside in the first page or two under those key words. I have found great content by dedicating and hour or two to review content of the first 30-40-50 websites that pop up. If you find the first few give you the vehicle type(s) you seek, you’re lucky. And get in the practice of writing down the website URL’s that seem to be the most interesting to you. The content of these sites change, and you want in on the news several times a year. To be able to pop back into your favorite sites is priceless. Add those URL’s to your persoanl list of “favorites”.

I do automotive art, and I am forever amazed at how widely varied the prices and shipping and handling fees are. It pays to shop not only for subject matter and how it is presented, but shop to get the biggest bang for the buck. Of course, I expect the artists who have been out there the longest to command the highest prices. It’s just Hollywood… some get the most ink, so to speak, and they can claim a higher degree of pedigree with their art. I also look for art that is timeless. I want my purchases to look as timely and “with it” in ten years as they do today. Not many people seek a rendering of a 2010 Mustang, since subsequent ones might have more to offer visually. But, the iconic 1965-69 Mustangs will always have a huge following.

Pay attention to the artists who give you a discount off the print cost per piece if you bulk order multiple renderings. It is annoying to pay a full-boat fee to an artist who should be discounting to you. You weren’t a customer before, and you expect an enticement for doing business with the artist. The most aggressive artists eager to promote their works will offer this up front without being asked.

As mentioned earlier, many artists will do commission work for you. They can draw up a vehicle per your description, or better yet, they can do a rendering of your personal vehicle (past or present). All they need is a photo to guide them, and you’re all set. Turnaround time for completion should be 30 days or so. I try to do it quicker, but even a 45-day wait is not too much to ask. The best artists are going to be busy and you’ll have to “take a number”. These rates can vary from $25 on up to as much as maybe $120-$150 per view, so expect a wide range of charges.

If you don’t mind paying a fee on the higher end of the scale, you are probably going to get an artist who has a series of vehicles which have been built using his or her art work for the basis. That can be a big plus. Name artists attached to your rendering, resulting in your building the car later, can mean the difference in getting into a magazine feature story or not. Magazines, just like car owners themselves, are attached to their egos. That is why only a select few numbers of car builders, car designers, and car owners get their vehicles in the magazines almost guaranteed. That may not be a bad thing. Great art work leading to quality construction yields a superior show or street machine. The magazine crowd will pay to have that at their fingertips.

Well, I haven’t covered everything, but my experience with car people is that it doesn’t take a whole lot to light a fire under them. I hope I’ve lit a fire under you. Go out and treat yourself to some terrific car art. I hope you have enjoyed this article, and remember… cruise safely.

You Might Be a Car Nut if

If you met me on the street you would think I’m a pretty normal guy, and in most aspects that would be true. However, I am a sick person; I suffer from an incurable disease: I am a car nut.

There are a number of ways to determine if you are afflicted by this disease. Below I have listed some ways to tell if you are a car nut. I have highlighted the ones I am guilty of.

You might be a car nut if:

1. You have owned more cars than years you have been driving. Example: I have been driving for 9 years and have owned 15 cars.

2. You own 3-4 cars at a time, and 2 of them don’t run.

3. You attend car events of all kinds: car shows, races, truck shows, etc. You even attend events for cars you don’t even like, just because it is related to cars.

4. You own the most extensive collection of toy cars anyone has ever seen. I’m talking matchbox cars, model cars, die cast cars, etc.

5. You spend more quality time with your car than your girlfriend/wife.

6. You get into a fight with your girlfriend/wife and instead of making you sleep on the couch she takes away your detailing supplies.

7. When you buy a new house, you are only concerned with the size of the garage.

8. You attend auto shows even when you’re not looking to buy a car.

9. You know the 0-60 times of all of your cars and their closest 5 competitors.

10. The engine compartment of your car is clean enough to eat off.

11. You have trained your girlfriend/wife on spotting different models of cars and what modifications they have on them.

12. On road trips, you always challenge yourself to get their faster than the last time.

13. Your garage holds more cars than your house has bedrooms.

14. You have enough spare parts to build another car.

15. You have car parts in your cubicle at work.

16. You ask your future wife if you can register at AutoZone, Napa and Advance Auto.

17. The reading material in your bathroom is all car magazines, car and racing catalogs and a few books written by famous drivers.

18. Your family brings a couch into the garage so they can spend some time with you.

19. You can’t stand anyone telling you how to drive, you are the best!

20. You always want to change something on your car to make it handle better.

21. You spend more time polishing your car then you do bathing.

22. You spend more on insurance premiums than food.

23. You know the 0-60 and ΒΌ mile times of your lawn mower and want to improve them.

24. After you tell your girlfriend/wife where you want to go on vacation, she asks “Why is there a car show or race there?”

25. You have auto parts store on your speed dial.

26. When someone asks where you went to school you reply “Skip Barber.”

27. Your email or screen name refers to your car and not you.

28. You sit in your car in a dark garage and make car noises and shift and practice your heel toe shifting.

29. You look at the purchase of tools as a long term investment.

30. You have a separate drawer for garage clothes.

This is just a small list of ways to determine if you are an addict. I have grown up a car nut, being raised by one, my father. It is like a bug and once you are bitten there is no remedy to get rid of it. You can try to pick other hobbies and jobs, but in the end it will always come down to cars. So the best thing to do is just give in, admit you have a problem, then say the hell with it and go enjoy that car!