Saturday, March 16, 2019

1991 Kelly Python - What Could Have Been...

Now this is an obscure car...

Very little is written about the Kelly Python. From what I can gather, the story goes something like this: Some time in the 1960s Ford was looking for a replacement body for the A/C Cobra. Ford's Vice President of Design, Eugene Bordinat and McKinley Thompson designed a couple of prototypes. The body was to be made of a new plastic called Royalex which was created by United States Rubber Company (now Uniroyal). The car never got past the prototype stage as Shelby and Ford parted ways.

In 1981 a man named Alvin Kelly found one of the original Bordinat / McThompson Royalex Cobra prototypes. With the approval of Gene Bordinat and help of McKinley Thompson, Kelly built the Python, basing the body on the original prototype and using a Fox-body Mustang frame. The Mustang frame was reinforced and modified to give the car better weight distribution. It lost its rear seat in the process.

Kelly set up shop in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Python was to be sold through Ford dealerships and have a full Ford factory warranty. Kelly planned on building 5000 cars. He, uh, fell somewhat short of his goal. Just 20 - maybe less - were built. Kelly found out - like so many others have - that getting funding to create an automobile isn't easy.

Looking at it now, this car could have been a success. It's body has the wedge style that was so popular in the late 1970s and 1980s. (One website compared it to a TVR. I can see that...) With its 5.0 liter V8 - and every other mechanical part - coming from Ford's parts bins it would have been relatively reliable and easy to work on. It might have even stolen some sales from the Corvette.

12 of these cars are said to still be in existence. This is one of them.

The seller has owned this car for 12 years. He doesn't write about maintenance or its condition, but based on the photos it appears to be in very nice shape. The asking price is $35,000.00 ($40,000.00 if you want the enclosed trailer, too).When your talking about an obscure car from a manufacturer that had no past or future it's hard to judge whether the asking price is high, low, or just right. I guess it depends on how much you want it.

Located in Colorado Springs, CO, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2001 BMW M3 S54-Swapped 325Xi Touring 6-Speed - Wow. Just Wow.

This car has already appeared on a few other websites. Still, it is so well done and so cool I wanted to post it here.

. The ad is well done, too. I'm going to copy and paste some of the text from it.

"The E46 generation M3 was the last of a legacy of normally aspirated, inline 6-cylinder M cars that defined the marque for a generation. At the heart of the E46 M3 was the 333-horsepower S54B32 engine, an evolution of an architecture that reaches back to the original M535i and M1. The S54 won multiple engineering awards upon its release and, at the time, it produced the highest horsepower-per-liter for a normally aspirated production engine. A pull to its screaming 8000-RPM redline is a smile-evoking experience that is only made better by the communicative and composed E46 chassis. Unfortunately, that chassis only came in a coupe or a convertible--no sedan, and no touring (for us wagon lovers). Hardcore enthusiasts have been solving that problem for years by swapping the S54 into the rear-wheel drive E46 3 Series Sport Wagon. It's not a small undertaking, but not unreasonable for the skilled enthusiast. The result is the car that BMW should have built, an M-powered wagon that is both exclusive--because nobody else has one--and practical because it's a wagon!"

The details: "2001 BMW (E46) S54-Powered 325Xi Sport Wagon, Orient Blue Metallic Exterior (317), Standard Beige Leather Interior (N6HC), Fine Wood Interior Trim, 280K Estimated Chassis Miles (Total Mileage Unknown), 88K Motor Miles (odometer calibrated to match), S54B32 Inline 6-Cylinder Engine from 2004 BMW M3, 6-Speed Manual Transmission (60K miles from a 330xi), S54 Swap by BMW Master Tech and Shop Owner, Rebuilt Head w/ Valves, Valve Guides, Valve Springs, S54 Valve Adjustment, Dr Vanos VANOS Unit, Rod Bearings Replaced, Accessory Belts, Power Steering Pump, Power Steering Lines, M50 Oil Pump w/ Welded Nut, 330Xi Oil Pan w/ Custom Baffles, Custom Tune, M3 Radiator, Electric Aux Fan w/ Manual Switch, Fresh Cooling Hoses, Mishimoto High-Flow Oil Cooler, Braided Oil Lines, X3 3.0 3:91 Front and Rear Differentials, KW V1 Coilover Suspension, Ground Control Camber Plates, Aftermarket Sway Bars, Fresh Suspension Bushings, ECS Tuning M3 CSL Brake Kit, Front Splitter, Gloss Black Window Trim, Fender Flares, Roof Rack Delete, Tinted Windows, Sport Package: Power / Memory Sport Seats & Sport Leather Steering Wheel, Auto Dimming Rearview Mirror, Xenon Headlights, BMW Business CD53 Stereo w/ Aux Input, Harmon Kardon HiFi Sound System, Automatic Climate Control, On Board Computer, Arm Rest, ZHP Shift Knob, Apex FL-5 Wheels w/ Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires, ASA Wheels w/ Firestone Firehawk Winter Tires."

More details: "This 2001 S54-swaped 325iX wagon takes the normal S54 swap a step further by adding it to an all-wheel drive platform. The chassis has approximately 278,000 miles on it in Orient Blue over Standard Beige leather. It came well optioned with the Sport Package, Harmon Kardon premium sound and Xenon headlights have been added at some point. The known history goes back to the second owner, who was a salesman from Sun Motor Cars BMW. He purchased it in 2009 at 178,000 miles and always had it serviced at Sun Motor Cars BMW driving it mostly on his highway commute. He always maintained it to an exceptional standard. The third owner purchased and completed the swap. He is certified BMW master technician and the owner of a premier independent specialist shop. He built it as a personal car before selling it to the current owner, who I am selling it on consignment for. The current owner is a good friend and BMW enthusiast who is only selling because he just took delivery of an M2 Competition."

"The swap was done with an engine from a 2004 BMW M3. It was swapped at approximately 80,000 miles and currently has 87,967 miles with the odometer calibrated to match (this will go up as we periodically drive the car). The 2004 M3 engine had a VANOS unit failure. When it failed, it bent several valve stems (the engineered failure point) but that was the only damage, there was no bottom end damage or piston to valve contact. The engine was disassembled, inspected, and rebuilt with a refreshed head including valves, valve springs, and valve guides. A VANOS unit from Dr. Vanos was installed. The rod bearings were replaced and the top and bottom end resealed. Reassembly also included an S54 valve adjustment, head gasket, oil pan gasket, motor mounts, and accessory belts. Cooling is accomplished through an M3 radiator, OEM water pump, fresh cooling hoses, and the expansion tank was relocated to the right of the engine bay (the washer reservoir was removed to facilitate this, a smaller tank could easily be retrofitted). Dual electric auxiliary fans are fitted and powered by a cockpit-mounted switch. To accommodate the AWD system 330Xi and X3 components were used. A 330Xi oil pan with custom baffle and M50 oil pump was fitted with a welded oil pump nut. Braided high-flow oil lines are routed to a Mishimoto high-flow oil cooler. The engine received a custom tune and custom high-flow exhaust with high-flow catalytic converters that sounds glorious, but is still quiet enough for daily drive-ability. It passes Colorado Emissions."

"A six-speed transmission from a 60,000-mile 330Xi was installed with a fresh OEM 330 clutch kit and a ZHP weighted shift knob. X3 3.0 3:91 ratio (the factory diffs were 2:94s) front and rear differentials were installed from a low mileage X3. The suspension received fresh bushings, along with aftermarket sway bars and a KW V1 coil-over kit and Ground Control camber plates installed by us earlier this year. Braking is accomplished through an ECS Tuning M3 CSL big brake kit. Color-matched fender flares were added to accommodate Apex FL-5 wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. A second set of ASA wheels wearing Firestone Firehawk snow tires is also included in the sale. We have serviced this car prior to the owner deciding to sell it. Recent maintenance we have completed includes: the oil pressure relief valve (due to leakage), several fuel evap lines, several CV axles boots, power steering hoses, a brake fluid flush, water pump gasket (due to seepage), installing the KW V1 coil-overs, and having the hood painted and replaced in preparation for sale. As it sits, it is a turn-key swap, everything functions as if came from the factory this way (air conditioning, AWD, emissions controls, etc) with the exception of the windshield washer system, which could be easily retrofitted. The front CV axles are at an angle that causes to the boots wear prematurely depending on ride height. We have adjusted it as high as possible to help mitigate this. I will include a replacement front axle that I had in stock with the sale, but it does not need to be replaced at this time".

"As with any swapped car, I would recommend the buyer have the ability to turn a wrench or have the means to pay a competent shop to do so. This is one of the only AWD S54-swapped wagons I am aware of in the country. It is the wagon that BMW should have built, but building one is a considerable undertaking compared to the normal S54 wagon swap. It comes with a clean Colorado title, clean Carfax (noting the mileage change), and passes Colorado emissions."


Exterior: "The Orient Blue paint is in very good condition--exceptional condition considering its age and mileage. It has clearly been spared harsh weather and UV exposure. The only notable imperfections are small spots of failed clear coat on the roof and rear hatch cover. We replaced the hood with an OEM hood from BMW in preparation for sale. The paint is close, but not a perfect match. The factory VIN placard is in place. There is virtually no rust, other than two small spots on the rear door jams. All trim work is in place and the fender flares look amazing. The window trim has been refinished in gloss black. The windshield is crack-free, but does have some pitting. The side and rear windows are tinted (the rear windows are darker than the driver and passenger side). The headlight lenses are crystal clear, but also have minor pitting. The front marker lights, turn signals, and taillight lenses are all crack-free. The factory roof rack rails have been deleted and covers have been added over the attachment points. Apex FL-5 wheels and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires have less than 4,000 miles on them--they are nearly perfect. The ASA wheels are in good shape, with some imperfections and low-mileage Bridgestone Blizzak tires. "

Interior: "The Standard Beige leather interior is also in excellent condition considering its age and mileage. The carpet has no stains or tears and is protected by BMW M3 front floor mats. The driver's side dead pedal is cracked. There are no cracks in the wood trim. The seats are in great shape, with no excessive wear, although they do have some visible creasing. The fold-down rear seats are in excellent shape. The rear hatch area carpet is covered by rubber cargo mat that is permanently mounted with hard points. The cargo cover is missing. The sport leather steering wheel leather is also in excellent shape with no failed stitching. There are no failed pixels in the instrument cluster, radio, or HVAC panel, and there are no warning or check engine lights. The auto-dimming rear view mirror has no leaking fluid. The headliner does not sag. The BMW Harmon Kardon HiFi sound system sounds great. The BMW Business CD was been upgraded to a late-model CD53 with aux input. The cord is routed in the center storage area. The heat blows warm and the air conditioning blows cold. The final stage resistor functions correctly, but the blower motor chirps very slightly under hard cornering or braking. The center console ashtray cover is scratched, but this is common on E46s. The ZHP shift knob is excellent and the boot is in good shape. The aux fan switch is mounted on the shifter console. The power windows, door locks, and the sunroof operate correctly. The door cards are tight and the window regulators are quiet. "

Mechanical: "All common S54 preventative maintenance is up to date or was addressed during the swap (rod bearings, VANOS, valve adjustment, etc). Virtually all of the mechanical components have been upgraded or replaced with fresh or low-mileage components. The engine fires on command, idles smoothly and pulls strongly to redline. It does not leak, drip, or spot. The shifter is tight, the clutch does not slip, and the take up is correct. The suspension is tuned and aligned for this set up. It is as high as possible to prevent premature front CV boot wear, but will not prevent it completely--I recommend periodic inspections, like during oil changes. I have included one replacement front axle that I had in my inventory. The CSL big brake kit is impressive and has minimal wear on the pads and rotors. There is no driveline or wheel bearing vibration or whine, but there is some vibration in the rear hatch trim after lifting off the throttle at moderate RPMs due to exhaust resonation. This is a swapped vehicle, it will require a higher degree of knowledge and skill to maintain, but it is worth the reward. "

All-in-all, this is a beautiful, unique, well done car that I would love to own.

Located in Erie, CO, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Weekend Quickies - A BMW 318ti and an Avanti II

1999 BMW 318ti - The 318ti was BMW's entry level car in the nineties. I have always liked these cars. I know I am in the minority. BMW didn't sell many here.

In the United States we foolishly look at hatchbacks as cheap cars. No one wanted to be seen in a "cheap" BMW. People complained about the 4 cylinder engine. But, honestly, it's not a bad engine. No, it's not an inline 6, but as far as normally aspirated 4 cylinder engines go, it was damn good.

This car is drop dead gorgeous. Unfortunately, the engine is just dead.

The seller writes "It has M-tech bumpers, skirts and moldings. It's a sport package so you get the highly desirable 3-spoke steering wheel, sport seats and sport suspension. It has the cold weather and premium sound packages... It has the sunroof option too." All of that makes this a very desirable 318ti.

The asking price is a reasonable $2100.00. Find a good used M44 engine (they are around) and you'll have a really nice daily driver. Or, you can go crazy like some folks in the past did (see posts here and here) and create an incredible show car / weekend driver.

Located in the San Fernando Valley Valley of CA click here to see the Craigslist ad.

1971 Avanti II - Great Britain has (Or had. Sadly, the number has dwindled.) a number of small "cottage industry" car manufacturers. Bristol, TVR, AC, Jensen, etc. (Even Aston Martin and Lotus would have been in that category at one time.) For most of the 1960s - 1990s we had just one; Avanti.

You have to give the company and its owners some credit for keeping the car in production from 1965 - 1991. 26 years is a long time. Think of some of the "bigger" names and better funded companies - Bricklin, Delorean, to name a few - that lasted just 1/10th of that time, and you realize what a difficult task it is to start and operate a small car company. Had things gone just a little better, Avanti could have been America's answer to Bristol.

Avanti went in and out of business a few times before being purchased in 2001 (for the second time) by Michael Kelly. Unfortunately, Kelly, besides running Avanti, was also running another company that was a massive Ponzi scheme. He was arrested and Avanti closed its doors for good.

This appears to be a very well taken care of Avanti II. For a car that was built in limited numbers over a limited time, keeping an Avanti II running and looking good is not as tough as you would expect it to be. Virtually all of the mechanical parts are from GM and there are still a number of companies that deal in the Avanti-only parts.

Located in Rochester, NH, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

1961 Ford Taunus 17m Wagon

I have never seen one of these in person. What a cool looking car.

Manufactured by Ford of Germany, the The P3 Taunus was designed by Uwe Bahnsen, who later on designed the European Ford Capri, the 1980 Escort, Sierra and many other European Ford cars.

The running gear was nothing special. Available engines were all 4 cylinders of 1.5, 1.7 and 2.0 displacement. The standard transmission was a 3 speed manual with a column mounted shiftier. A Saxomat semi-automatic (clutchless) transmission was also available.

The body is where things get different. The tail lights are mounted on the leading edge of the roof. That's really cool looking, although I wonder if that made them difficult to notice. The front end has a different style with a large uniquely shaped grill and turn signal / parking lights in the fenders that lined up with the bumpers.

Ford sold the Taunus 17m in the U.S., although it wasn't a big seller. This car, based on the U.S. mandated sealed beam headlights, is one of the few that did sell here. It appears to have the Saxomat clutch in it, as I can't see a clutch pedal.

This car needs a total restoration. The seller says it is complete, but not running. The seller is asking $5000.00, which I thought was high given that you're going to need to put at least that much into it - if you do all the work yourself - to make it a presentable, running car. But, I couldn't find another wagon for sale anywhere, and in Europe Taunus 17m sedans and coupes often sell for over $15,000.00. Maybe this car isn't overpriced at all.

If you have the time and talent and you're looking for a cool project, this car might be for you.

Located in San Jose, CA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Friday, February 22, 2019

A Well Preserved Renault Fuego

Yowza! When did you last see a Fuego in this condition?

If you've read this bog in the past you know that I owned a Fuego for a few years in the 1980s. I've said quite a few times that I had a love / hate relationship with it. (In retrospect I may have been a little hard on it because I traded my 1979 Renault R17 Gordini in on it. I loved my R17.)

I once wrote that I thought the Fuego body hadn't aged well. But now, looking at this car, I realize I was wrong. Yes, it has 1980s styling cliches in spades (you can almost hear the Eurythmics coming out of the cassette deck) and the U.S. headlights and bumpers did it no favors, but it has aged better than many of the other 1980s sporty coupes.

Renault did not have a good name in the U.S. and the Fuego was not a big seller. Most people did not think to preserve a Fuego. That's what makes this car so amazing. It is one of the cleanest Fuegos I have seen for sale in a very long time.

The seller writes: " I'm the fourth owner and it was bought new in Indiana and used as daily driver by the first owner. The second owner was the original owners neighbor who had it for a couple years before selling it to a friend of mine that uses cars for movies. He however, had the car stored and it was never used in any movies. I saw the car one day and had to have it!" He also states that it runs and drives "great."

Everything about this car says that it was well cared for. The interior looks pristine. Even the leather seats - which are some of the best seats I have ever had in any car - look good for their age. The body looks close to perfect and original. That's important, as body and trim parts for the Fuego are becoming scarce, especially in North America.

There is, however, something odd about this car / ad. The seller states that it is a 1983 Fuego. But the 2.2 liter badge on the side and some of the trim makes me believe it is a 1984 car. Also, there are two exhaust tips sticking out of the back. The Fuego did not come with dual exhaust. I'm not sure what that is all about.

The Fuego is an underappreciated car. It is a car that will be unique at most car shows, but one you could have fun with driving it on weekends.

The asking price - $7500.00 - is top dollar for a Fuego. But, this may be a top Fuego and worth every penny.

Located in New Albany, OH, click here to see the Craigslist ad.