Classic Recreations Shelby GT350CR

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Classic Recreations Shelby GT350CR

If you've got an itch for a classic Mustang Fastback, you may want to give Classic Recreations a call. The Oklahoma-based company, which has made a name for itself building award-winning muscle cars licensed by Shelby, recently handed me the keys to its latest creation - a prototype 1966 Shelby GT350CR (serial number SCR350-00P) with a nitrous-injected 427-cubic-inch small-block Ford Racing engine sending power to its rear wheels through a Tremec five-speed manual gearbox. Yeah, it's the sort of machinery that whets my appetite.

As you might suspect by looking at the company's name, the team starts with a standard stock 1966 Mustang Fastback and then tears it down to the chassis in preparation for a full rebuild into what they call a Shelby GT350CR. This particular restoration includes the fitment of the aforementioned 7.0-liter V8 with BBK Long Tube ceramic-coated headers, Magnaflow mufflers, coil-over suspension and rack-and-pinion power steering. Stopping power is provided by Wilwood brakes, in the form of four-piston calipers over ventilated and cross-drilled iron rotors, and the mechanical upgrades are finished off with four brightly polished 18-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich g-Force T/A tires (245/45ZR18 front and 275/35ZR18 rear).

Inside the passenger compartment, occupants are treated to Carroll Shelby Scat Rally Series 1000 seats, five-point Camlock belts, three-spoke aluminum woodgrain steering wheel with tilt column, a full complement of gauges and full carpeting. An Old Air Products air conditioning system blows ice-cold breezes, and a powerful audio system with external amp and subwoofer ensure a sweet background track to the V8's wild bellow.

Classic Recreations met us with its beauty in Southern California, so we turned its striped nose toward Los Angeles' classic Mulholland Highway for an evening run.

Driving Notes:
  • A brief walk-around of the Mustang before the drive reveals an attention to detail that will leave countless onlookers waving and asking questions. The metallic blue paintwork is excellent and the craftsmanship inside the engine bay, passenger cabin and trunk are show-worthy. In particular, I really like the epoxy-coated sheetmetal and satin-polished aluminum components under the hood, the functional and easy-to-read Shelby gauge cluster and the lightweight HRE wheels, which provided a nice compromise between classic and modern design.
  • It's hard not to be intimidated by the Shelby GT350CR. Its purpose-built seats, polished metal shifter and competition harnesses have me looking around for my helmet moments after buckling in (in truth, the harness really needs a pass-through in the lower cushion to fit properly). The mechanical feel of the manual lever and clutch mechanism drives the racing message home. That said, the cockpit is comfortable and spacious. Thin A-pillars provide excellent forward visibility, and the view out back is clear, but sightlines over the shoulders into the rear quarters are challenged by the blocked windows.
  • The controls are 1960s-era simple, primarily consisting of a few polished knobs that require a simple push-pull to operate and the windows manually crank. The optional NOS system, fitted to the test car, automatically engages if enabled by its red dash-mounted switch (the tank is full, but sadly I will never have an open opportunity to use it).
  • The 427-cubic-inch V8 drives and sounds every bit as good as it looks. It idles with an angry demeanor and then backs up its bark with a ferocious bite. There is plenty of power in each of the lower gears to initiate immediate wheelspin, leaving rear tire life completely up to the operator (the company quotes a 0-60 sprint of 3.7 seconds, but based on available grip, I feel that number is a bit optimistic). Kudos to Classic Recreations for putting an open side pipe on both the passenger and driver side of the car, as the two provide stereophonic rumbles and backfires reverberating throughout the cabin. While the climate control works perfectly, I would never roll up the windows for fear of suppressing the exhaust noise - it's addictive.
  • Despite the upgraded and modernized coil-over suspension with oversized sway bars and race-tuned ride on sticky BF Goodrich rubber, this Mustang is still more of a cruiser than a carver. Initial turn-in is on the slow side and the coupe drives with a large demeanor that requires plenty of anticipation in the corners. When compared to other ungainly muscle cars of its era, its handling would certainly be considered impressive, but today's multi-talented sports cars would run circles around this Pony in the canyons.
  • Classic Recreations is making only 10 of the legacy cars each year, and buyers are offered a grocery list of options to customize each to their specifications. While it wouldn't be my first choice in a canyon or race track, bring this muscle car to a drag strip, crowded boulevard, summer beach or car show and it will simply shine - we had to pull impressed gawkers away in order to leave a Mulholland overlook.

Classic Recreations Shelby GT350CR originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Oct 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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1910 Benz 21/80 Prinz Heinrich [w/video]

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As many invitations that I receive to drive the latest and greatest the automotive industry has to offer, my ears always perk up just a little bit more when the invite specifies a ride in a particular vehicle. Normally, I'd be expecting to ride shotgun in some sort of development mule or prototype, but during the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance last month, Mercedes-Benz offered to give me a ride in a fully restored 1910 Benz 21/80 Prinz Heinrich racecar. While hundreds of cars sat parked on the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island golf course, Mercedes shuttled me to a nearby road canopied by oak trees draped in Spanish moss to spend just 30 minutes with this super-rare antique racer.

Cars like the 21/80 were used in long-distance races between 1907 and 1911, and Mercedes-Benz says that they were among the first true sports cars. This particular example (wearing the No. 38) is owned by Mercedes, and it was recently restored to practically brand new condition at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

Driving Notes
  • After a brief walkaround/history lesson, the two-man crew with the 1910 Benz 21/80 Prinz Heinrich got to work getting the car started. The first step is delicately removing the engine cover and priming the engine with a hectane fuel. Then comes the hard work. While one man adjusts the various steering-wheel controls and foot pedals, the other stands in front of the car to crank the engine over. It took four good attempts at the hand crank, but the 80-horsepower, four-cylinder engine finally came to life with fuel leaking on the ground and the exposed cylinder valves clattering away. Life was good!
  • With the big Benz running, I hopped in the back seat... almost literally hopped. Back in the day, the car's single-piece, wheel-to-wheel running boards helped occupants get in the car, but you simply don't step on the freshly painted metal of a 103-year-old car. Getting into the back seat was a feat requiring athleticism and flexibility, but once in, it was like being transported a century back in time. There's just something very majestic about being chauffeured around on a cool Florida afternoon in a car with a suicide shifter.
  • Taking off was no easy task either. As the driver started to work the gas and clutch pedals, it felt like we were rear-ended by another car to get our forward momentum kicked off. Once up to speed though, there is nothing as exhilarating as driving through a neighborhood with the wind in your face watching as local residents and motorists alike do double, triple and quadruple takes of the car before letting out a grin and a friendly wave.
  • One of the requirements for the Prinz Heinrich racecars was that they must be production vehicles with seating for four passengers. Now while I'd like to tell myself this was one of those "bendable" racing rules, it's more likely just a telling sign that passenger size and personal space have both grown exponentially over time. I was obviously also a little taller than most 1910s-era passengers as the majority of my useable legroom was taken up by the spare tire, but some slightly banged up knees were more than worth it for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
  • The driving route we took was along a standard side street, but at times it felt like the car was driving over whoopty doos thanks to its four-wheel leaf spring suspension, massive wheelbase and the fact that the rear passenger - me - was positioned directly over the rear axle. During this ride, we got up to around 40 miles per hour, but the car's handlers said that it is more than capable of hitting triple-digit speeds. Achieving such high speeds would surely have been thrilling in its time, but I can only imagine that things would get a little hairy every now and then considering that the car only has rear brakes.
  • Just sitting still, the Benz 21/80 Prinz Heinrich was imposing. About as long as the GL-Class we pulled up in, this car was painted in a dark green hue accented only by subtle pinstriping and various racing decals and badges. One interesting part of the car was its added nose piece, which I was told helped improve aerodynamics and controlled air flow to the radiator. The simple cockpit of the car featured just four gauges - we couldn't figure out what any of them were used for - mounted into the wooden firewall (how ironically dangerous does that sound?).
  • As exciting as it was to ride as a passenger in this timeless car, it was almost as fun to see it on display at Amelia Island the very next day alongside another Prinz Heinrich car - a privately owned car that eventually went on to race in the very first Indianapolis 500.

Continue reading 1910 Benz 21/80 Prinz Heinrich [w/video]

1910 Benz 21/80 Prinz Heinrich [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 02 Apr 2013 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Shelby Cobra 289 FIA [w/video]

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The Best Way To Remember Carroll

Shelby Cobra 289 FIA

For the ultimate rush, drive a Shelby Cobra. It is about as close as one can get to climbing on top of an American V8, wrapping gloved fingers around red-hot exhaust manifolds and then holding on for dear life as it tries to buck you off.

We just spent an hour behind the wheel of a brand-new fiberglass-body Shelby Cobra 289 FIA. The CSX7000 is a faithful recreation of the legendary race cars that circled tracks around the world from 1962 through 1965. Under the hood of this particular Jet Black sports car with a bright yellow transverse stripe is a stroked Ford Racing Boss 302. With its side pipes cackling, the 347 cubic inch eight-cylinder generates more than 400 horsepower to motive a featherweight 2,200-pound chassis. "Overpowered" is an understatement.

Continue reading Shelby Cobra 289 FIA [w/video]

Shelby Cobra 289 FIA [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 02 Aug 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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