Pin Up Girls by Larry Saavedra

Believe it or not, the history of pin-up girls dates back to the late 1800s. It wasn’t Playboy, or Sports Illustrated that created the pin-up girl, these cultural layouts actually were more apart of the theater business than magazines.

Burlesque performers and actresses were known to handout photographic advertisements as business cards to promote their shows.

Besides Sports Illustrated annual “Swimsuit” issue, pin-up models saw lots of print in the ‘80s and ‘90s, mostly in glossy car buff magazines.

This use of scantly glad women could be labeled as a shameless way of promoting goods and services, but the idea behind the pin-up model is actually very clever.

The model is the hook that catches one’s attention. It’s click bait. If an advertiser, or publisher can get you to look at their pin-up model then the concept achieved success. That's the purpose behind using models, both male and female, the more eye-balls on the product, the better.

Is it old school? Chauvinistic? I don’t know if it’s that simple. Marketers continue to use models and there is just no getting away from the fact that sexy images sell.

I've photographed hundreds of models posing with cars and car products for countless national newsstand magazines, and it was always considered an essential part of the niche magazine automotive publishing business. However, about the mid-1990s, I stopped the practice.

Image copyright Larry Saavedra

Image copyright Larry Saavedra

The reason behind my sudden departure was basically this: I had strong opinions as to what readers wanted to see, and what I wanted readers to understand about the subject, and not focus on the glamour of an image.

Models might be an attractive lure, but to me it was also a distraction that lowered the credibility of the content.

Betty Page (born in 1923) was a modeling icon and her early work as a pin-up model started a sexual revolution.

Betty Page (born in 1923) was a modeling icon and her early work as a pin-up model started a sexual revolution.

America's First Formula Car by Larry Saavedra

While researching the world of Formula race cars, I stumbled on this gem of a movie on YouTube. It stars the 1959 Scarab, the first front-engined American-made race car to compete in Formula One.

There's a huge story behind this movie, the fact that Lance Reventlow bankrolled it thanks to his fabulously rich mother, Barbara Hutton, the fact that it was made without special effects yet retains the true spirit of racing at speed, and the fact that it was director Bruce Kessler who filmed and produced it for Reventlow. 

You've got to check this out. It's called The Speed of Sound and is really a great look at the Scarab race car and the making of a true racing movie. Run time is about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Social Media For Car Enthusiasts by Larry Saavedra

Social media has become a synonym for political venting and other bad, ugly stuff. That’s cool it’s a free world. But it can also be a portal for constructive collaboration between like-minded people.

Back in Klamath at the campsite with Jerry and his son. Turns out they own Quality Automotive in Whittier, California.

Back in Klamath at the campsite with Jerry and his son. Turns out they own Quality Automotive in Whittier, California.

Case in point.

I was in Crescent City, California off Highway 101 with my wife and dog inside our ‘86 Vanagon. We had stopped to get fuel at this Chevron station and I had just hopped back into the driver’s seat. I was only one week in on a two-month adventure to Canada.

I turned the key and silence…

What would normally be the cranking sound of the VW starter motor was now stone quiet stillness.


I was stuck, frustrated and hundreds of miles from home, in a town that I was a stranger in. It was late in the afternoon on a Sunday, and most places were closed. It was getting dark.

I had my road side AAA card, but I figured it was simply a dead battery and that I could jump start it myself. It wasn’t. The vehicle had bigger issues.

That’s when I went on Facebook and posted to the Vanagon Owners Group (VOG). It’s a group of like-minded Vanagon owners that discuss the A to Z’s of this classic vehicle. It’s the only reason I support FB now.

Here’s an excerpt of that conversation and how the online calvary came to the rescue.


“Near klamath California red battery light on. Ground wires appear good. Drives fine v-belt fine. Might be alternator. Anyone around here? Need advice”


“Stuck in crescent city calif. Anyone nearby?”

15 minutes later I receive the first reply of many to follow:


Dug S. said, Check the blue wire on the alternator.


“Did. Looks good.”


Steve F. said, You might want to remove the voltage regulator and check the brushes for excessive wear. If they're almost gone it's possible that only replacing that will get you back going.

Kyle B. said, Did you check the starter wires?

Bob E. said, Does battery seem low when you engage starter? Is the belt to alternator tight? Even if the belt is new it will stretch. You can get a replacement alt at NAPA. You will have to use your old pulley. Best to check first that the alt is bad. Van should be drivable for several miles.


“The bolt that tightens it seems like its loose but im afraid to ovèr tighten it. I will look in cresent city to see what’s up.”


Anthony W. said, Check connector and condition of wire for the small blue wire on the alternator. Clean up/ replace connector if necessary.

Steve F. said, You might want to remove the voltage regulator and check the brushes for excessive wear. If they're almost gone it's possible that only replacing that will get you back going.

Kyle B. said, Did you check the starter wires?

Anthony W. said, Check connector and condition of wire for the small blue wire on the alternator. Clean up/ replace connector if necessary.

Then out of the blue, I get this VOG member reply:

Jerry D. said, My father and I just pulled up in Crescent City. We’re both vw mechanics lol Are u stuck at a campground.


“I am at the Chevron on the south side of town.”


Jerry D. said, We can come by Whats the address?


“Corner of elk valley road and 101 coming into town.”


Jerry D. said, Be there right now!

To me and my wife (and dog) it was like the calvary riding to the rescue. They didn’t know me. They didn’t have to help. But they did. People responded positively.

We were complete strangers in a sketchy place and everyone had other agendas. I was heading to Canada, and Jerry and his father Jerry Sr. were meeting up with the VW Treffen rally to Mexico that was coming down from Canada. How about that?

To make a long story short, they got us back on the road.

Here’s the final responses from VOG that I think best sum up where America is today.


Jerry D. said, With all the troubles in the world man We need more love ✌

Bill P. said, I think we all have a lot more in common than what we think separates us.

Charlie P said, Wow what are the odds huh? Stuck, puts out a call, not one but TWO VW mechanics respond and but wait there's more! They're not only willing to help, they're on the way!!!! Good fortune boggles the mind! We should all try to boggle minds every day.

Jim R. said, Make sure to get a charge on that battery, if you are able. You can drive it a pretty long way on a fully charged battery, but don't use the heater blower, air conditioning or any non-essential electrical items, ideally just fuel delivery, fuel injection and ignition. Oh, and brake lights/turn signals.

Elliot K. said, Sounds like you’re in good hands, but I’d second checking out the voltage regulator. Had one go out on me during a trip and kept the alt from charging the battery.  

Enjoy the redwoods! Went to school up there for a few years. Magical scenery.

Henry S. said, Man, I love this thread!

Off-Road Racing Champions Inducted into LA Sportswalk of Fame by Larry Saavedra

Johnny Campbell, 11-time SCORE Baja champion.

Johnny Campbell, 11-time SCORE Baja champion.

With all the pomp and circumstance of a well-produced half-time show, two of off-road desert racing’s most popular champions were inducted into the Los Angeles Sportswalk of Fame in front of an enthusiastic crowd of fans of motorsports.

Selected by the board of the #LA Sportswalk Hall of Fame, Robby Gordon and Johnny Campbell took the stage in San Pedro, California with the USS Battleship Iowa docked proudly in the background.

marching band.jpg

Another notable name from motorsports was Formula Drift champion Christopher Forsberg and he proved his worthiness in the seat of his racecar by performing several full-speed stunts inches away from the cement barriers, which got the crowd on its feet and kept them there until the smoke from burning tires cleared.

The LA Sportswalk Hall of Fame was initially called San Pedro Sportswalk and opened October 5, 1978, a ceremony that also marked the revitalization of San Pedro’s Downtown Commercial District. For more information

Robby Gordon (right) with his son by his side as he prepared to accept his place in motorsports history.

Robby Gordon (right) with his son by his side as he prepared to accept his place in motorsports history.

Campbell struts his stuff.

Campbell struts his stuff.

Driving 6,300 Miles in a 32 Year-Old VW by Larry Saavedra


Volkswagen made my particular Vanagon GL popup camper in 1986. It was a first-class ride in the ‘80s, when freeway speeds were safely under 65 miles-per-hour. The population was about 1/10th of where it is today.

Today, dodging modern cars traveling 90 mph on the freeway seems like the national pastime. Vanagons aren’t fast. They prefer the slower pace of country life and long adventures through winding mountain roads.

She’s off-white in color with only some minor dents and dings and outfitted exactly how a vehicle of this era should be, updated with the best accessories and relatively reliable… at least I thought.

Canada or Bust


Traveling 6,300 miles from our home in Southern California on our way to Canada with this old girl was something special. She’s a real fighter, as she proved by scaling the highest peaks of Oregon, Washington and Vancouver Island with relative ease. Things were going smoothly for a while, except for one particular cloudy afternoon when my wife and I climbed back inside the warmth of her brownish colored interior after a 5 mile hike through a rain forest in Ucluelet BC. I had cranked the ignition. It turned over, and I drove off in the direction of the rented cabin, just east about three miles away. We didn’t get far. Maybe two blocks by my estimate before I heard a noise like finger nails scratching across a chalkboard. Her alternator sheered off its solid metal bracket and whipped like crazy in the engine compartment, tearing off all the belts from the power steering pump to the air conditioning compressor. It crushed my oil dipstick like a toothpick. The red light on the dash went mad, flashing in my face as a reminder to monitor the engine before simply driving, after all, it was a byproduct of 32 year-old technology. I should have known better.

Notice the missing belts on the engine. What you can’t see if the broken alternator bracket under the alternator (upper right).

Notice the missing belts on the engine. What you can’t see if the broken alternator bracket under the alternator (upper right).

I recovered from my haze, realizing that I was shit out-of-luck in the middle of Vancouver Island’s west side with no one around, except for barking dogs. I had to laugh. Either that or cry. A good laugh made me feel better, so I did.

I believed I had prepared for any mechanical disaster. Every good, well-versed, Vanagon owner is always prepared for a failure of some part or piece. It comes with the territory of owning a vehicle this ancient. My ace-of-spades was in my wallet and I reached for it.

I had the AAA road service card with 200 free towing miles at my disposal. I’d been a member for 21 years. I also had an extra set of engine drive belts stored neatly in a case above the cab. I was feeling better. The voice on the phone at AAA made every attempt to let me know that a flatbed was dispatched to my location. She had a soothing voice. Don’t worry, be happy.

The Weather


Then it rained. Hard. It came down in buckets as I fumbled around the engine compartment at the back of the Vanagon to determine the extent of the damage. It looked just terrible inside. Better after the engine smoked cleared from burning fan belts. It needed a high-caliber mechanic with a welder for a broken alternator bracket, a part that hasn’t been produced for several decades.

I had pulled off the road with flashers lit up. My wife was up front with our dog Jersey. Jersey is a small female Labrador, black as coal and smart as a whip. She knew something was wrong with dad’s camper van. Jersey that is… Janey did her best to calm the dog, and I struggled to pick up the pieces of metal that had been sheered off the alternator bracket at 4,000 rpm, basically the only component that you don’t want to break on an engine like the German-built Wasserboxer. It doesn’t run so well when the water pump is not turning. At that moment, it couldn’t turn anyways because it had several rubber v-belts melted and wrapped around it tighter than an anaconda.

Another reminder of my predicament was that in less than 12 hours we had to be checked out of the cabin that overlooked a wild, raging river. It was an off-shoot of the even wilder Pacific Ocean. Or so, the locals said. Salmon and bears were everywhere along that river. Or so they say. I watched every day and I never saw a bear, not even an angry spawning fish.

The cabin in Ucluelet BC.

The cabin in Ucluelet BC.

If the rain did anything, it cooled me down. Janey was calm, which helped tremendously. She decided to walk back to our cabin with Jersey while I waited for the tow vehicle. Rain on Vancouver Island is often no more than a light falling during the summer months that we had been there, but not on this day. The cloudy sky opened up and let loose, fortunately, Janey had a rain slicker and Jersey had fur. Did you know that Labs have two layers of fur?

How could I have been so un-prepared? Well, things happen and for now anyway, I concentrated on finding a fix, at least to get us back to civilization, which was miles away on the other side of Vancouver Island.

Night had fallen when the tow truck arrived. The driver had an attitude. I could sense it the moment he stuck out his chest and refused to engage in small talk. He was late for pizza dinner at home and I was an inconvenience. I quickly called around and found one of “two” automotive repair shops nearby. It was open and agreed to take a look at the Vanagon that night, if I could get it there before it closed. I didn’t have much of a choice. I suffered through the ride as Mr. Personality spent his time on his cell phone talking to his pizza connection.

Only His Second Vanagon

The tow truck arrived at Ukee Automotive Service, which was on the outskirts of Ucluelet. This quaint village was a major hiking destination for travelers from around the world. Not a great place to breakdown, but a wonderful place to fill your lungs with clean air.

Things could have been worse, I convinced myself, as the tow truck driver pulled up to the repair shop. That’s when the proprietor, Greg, came out and immediately shouted over the torrential downpour, “This is only the second Vanagon I’ve ever worked on.” He laughed. Not the news I wanted to hear. He had just opened his shop two months prior, and I had to trust that he alone would get us back on the road and home again, thousands of miles away. Good luck.


The trip to Vancouver Island was planned months in advance. We had already spent many weeks camping in the Olympics in Washington and along the coast of Oregon, much of it for only $10 per night thanks to the National Parks Service. That’s the great thing about Vanagon campers, these are self-contained vehicles, complete with stove, frig, running water and an upper and lower bed. Again, Vanagons are slow as pure thick maple syrup. But if you’ve looking for a way to cut out hotel expenses, while living under the stars, it’s the way to travel. Think small though. Inside it’s only a little bigger than a walk in closet.

The Next Morning


I was up at 5 a.m. the next morning, waiting for my $70 taxi to the nearest car rental agency in Tofino. With the Vanagon at the repair shop, I figured it might take a week before Greg figures out how to get us out of this mess. Vanagon parts can be rare as chicken’s teeth. Unless he was a magician, it would be a long, long week.

Boy was I wrong. After renting the car I putted into his shop and heard the familiar tune of a four-cylinder engine. The sound of my Vanagon. ALIVE. He had fixed it. “Up since 5 a.m.,” he crowed loudly over the engine’s idle. I texted my wife. She was shocked as was I and Greg assured us his early morning welding job would work and get us back home. And true to his word, it did. We traveled from Ucluelet to Vancouver then ferried into Seattle and crossed the upper half of Washington onto its Eastern side on our return home. Then onto the Sierra range down Highway 395 for hundreds of miles, past all the ghost towns and wobbly antique shops and finally into Southern California.

Two months on the road. 6,300 total miles. 17.5 miles-per gallon, a bruised ego and a battered bank account. The only thing that came out unscathed was that little AAA road service card I keep in my wallet.

50 Years of the SCORE Baja 500 by Larry Saavedra

After 9 hours plus in the seat of Manny’s Class 7 Ranger I was tired and plenty thirsty. His Ranger crossed the finish line first in class winning the notorious SCORE Baja 500.

After 9 hours plus in the seat of Manny’s Class 7 Ranger I was tired and plenty thirsty. His Ranger crossed the finish line first in class winning the notorious SCORE Baja 500.

     Mexico's never-ending desert in the Baja Peninsula is unforgiving. The blinding dust, needle-sharp cactus and mindless booby-traps often set by locals waiting for a crash are a constant reminder of how dangerous it can be to race in the SCORE Baja 500.


     Obstacles pop up everywhere on the course, crashes are frequent and unfortunately even a few lives have been lost. Yet, when I was beginning my career in automotive journalism I raced it and won. In truth, I was the co-pilot in a Class 7 Ford Ranger driven by the late Off-Road Hall of Fame inductee, Manny Esquerra

     Esquerra drove so skillfully that June day with so much confidence and joy that I actually had time to glance out the window netting and take in the scenery of the Peninsula, especially where it neared the Pacific ocean. In 9 hours Esquerra finished the race with me by his side, even though his brother I'm told wanted to navigate the second half of the course. It was a once in a lifetime thing and I was just having so much fun in his Class 7 Ford Ranger that I didn't want to get out, even if my bladder, and his brother, told me otherwise. 

     While the race can be dangerous, the promoter, SCORE International, has an amazing safety record, given the fact that all it takes is a loose boulder, a stray cow or a sudden blow-out to ruin your day. It's 500 miles of constant jarring and the sound of open exhaust, where split-decisions require cool-heads going 100-plus miles-per-hour. 


     For many years, I held onto a can of Coors someone had passed me through the window net after Esquerra and I crossed the finish line in Ensenada. But it was lost years ago, likely recycled like so much aluminum. Fortunately I still have the finisher’s pin and a few black and white photographs, which tell the story.

     This year SCORE is celebrating it's 50th year of running the Baja 500 co-marshalled by Ivan "Ironman" Stewart and Sal Fish, the former president of SCORE.  Check out their live Internet feed of the 50th SCORE Baja 500 at



8 Things to Know About Selling or Buying a Car by Larry Saavedra

A while back I wrote a story about Buying and Selling a personal car. But things change so quickly online that instead of just updating it I scrapped it and rewrote the entire thing.

If you've read my About page then you know that I've been working professionally in the automotive publishing business as a journalist and editor for more than 25 years. I've seen a lot of things that people do when it comes to buying or selling a car that concerns me. I think this whole new story might bring clarity to the process. What you will read is based on my experiences and work with others in the automotive field. Of course, you may have other ideas. I'll simply try to point you down the path.

IMG_3441 copy (1).jpg

Let me start by saying that I am mostly referring to Private Party Buying and Selling in this story. Not dealerships because that's another 2,000 word report, or more. Let's concentrate on individuals to make things simple. 

    A friend once told me that she would rather sit in a dentist’s chair than shop for a car. Or, sell one for that matter! When I stopped laughing, I realized she was probably right. Buying or selling a vehicle can be exasperating and kind of scary, unless you’ve done your homework first.

     Even with my experience as an automotive journalist, I still benefit from doing the research (and using common sense) when I'm in the market to sell, buy, or lease. The process might not be rocket science, but it does take some "due diligence" to make a transaction turn out in your favor and not get ripped off. 

  1. There is a certain amount of caution that you should have whenever you are buying or selling a vehicle. It's smart to be aware of who you are dealing with. For those selling cars, here's a case in point, a Scam that appears often on Craigslist is about a "CarFax report." A CarFax is a complete history report of the vehicle, including important personal information. A CarFax tells a story of the car typically from new to the latest Smog Check and DMV Registration. The Scam goes like this: A unknown person emails, texts or calls you. They want to buy your car. They are really excited and offer you CASH! But they immediately ask for a CarFax report. If you say you don't have one, they are quick to give you a link to a website that offers a vehicle report. They insist this report is the only one they want. However, that link is actually a way for them to steal the information you input to get a vehicle report. It's a fake site. Never sign up for a CarFax or any report from an unknown person or source. The correct URL for CarFax starts with https//... and I've linked it above. https:// means it's a secure website. Don't fall victim to a fake site that is pretending to be CarFax.

  2. CarFax reports tell much about a vehicle. They aren't perfect, but they can tell you if the vehicle you are buying is "clean" or "salvaged." A salvaged title suggests the car was involved in prior accidents or maybe a flood and that it was declared "totaled" by an insurance company. Stay away from salvaged titles unless you know what you are buying. What you need to look for is a "clear or clean" title on the CarFax report. BTW, a smog check in the state of California is the responsibility of the seller, NOT the buyer. Check with your auto club or the DMV for details.

  3. Go online and do a price comparison check of the vehicle you would like to buy or sell. Two sites I recommend are as well as . You want to have a good understanding of how much other people are paying for a similar vehicle. Asking your friend how much to list it for is not a good idea. Do you own homework and then set a price that is 10-20 percent higher than a similar vehicle you are selling. If you are buying a car, go for paying 10-20 percent less than the asking price. 10-20 percent is simply the give and take you should be prepared for in a transaction. It is called bartering, or haggling. If you absolutely need $10,000 for the car, a buyer is never going to pay full asking price. So set it to $11,000 and go from there. Don't feel bad about asking more for your car that's for sale. It's almost expected because no one pays the sticker price of anything anyhow. If you are buying a car, feel free to make an offer from the research you've done and remember you can always offer less without offending the seller. Don't be surprised if the person accepts if it is fair and reasonable. Here's rub: If the car you are buying is so darn good that you can't turn away, then pay just under the asking price if your intuition says so. Don't let a good buy slip away. But don't have an emotional attachment to the car you want to buy either. That always ends up badly.

  4. I can't stress this enough. Stay far away from Craigslist when it comes to buying or selling a car, unless (a big unless) you are very experienced on the site. Many Internet Scams from Nigeria or Russia are on this site. Also, people on Craigslist prey on car buyers willing to carry large sums of money around to buy cars. Just stay away from this site and you'll be fine, there is nothing on Craigslist that isn't on another site like for instance. If you must use Craigslist because the car is not listed anywhere else, do so carefully. I once saw a vehicle I really liked on Craigslist and went to see it. The seller didn't want me to test drive it, until I insisted, and then it was only around the block. Then he told me he was selling it for his "uncle" who was nowhere to be found. I asked why there was a lien on the title and he said, "don't worry about the title I'm going to pay it off once you buy the car." I got in my car and left. He was pissed. But when red flags start appearing, take that as a hint that something is not right with the transaction. Maybe I missed out on a car that day, but a month later I found a much better one.

  5. If someone wants to buy your car make sure you show it to them in a safe area. Meet the potential buyer with a friend if possible at a Starbucks in daylight, not at night, or at your home if you feel comfortable. People fall victim to crimes when they don't see issues with meeting strangers in strange places. As for test drives, that's where it can get confusing. Is the person going to drive off with your car and never return? The way to do it is to ride along with the person in your neighborhood, or ask for their driver's license and current registration and insurance card. Make a copy of it and then allow the person to test drive it. If you are buying a car, always ask the seller if you can take the car to an inspection station. If the person says no, stay away. Something is wrong with the vehicle that he or she doesn't not want you to find out about. Often these are hidden things that only a good mechanic can spot. The same goes for selling your vehicle. Offer to take the potential buyer to a local shop if the buyer pays for the inspection. Have all of your past service records on hand too. Showing regular oil changes and other maintenance can add lots of value to a used car.

  6. Do not accept personal checks, or money orders or wired payments. The buyer of your car should either bring cash, or should have a cashier's check from a well-known bank. Call the bank and be sure that the check is real before you hand over the keys and title! If you are buying a car from a private party make sure you agree on a price upfront, and the method of payment before you do anything further. Get a cashier's check from your bank and don't walk around with a wad of cash. if you lose a cashier's check or it is stolen, you can always call the bank and report it and they will Stop payment immediately. If you feel uncomfortable about making the vehicle transaction at home, or at the home of the seller, you can always make an appointment with your local auto club like AAA and they will help you along. You can have the person bring his cashier's check or cash there, or you can bring your payment there and proceed to swap titles in front of an auto club representative.

  7. If you are buying a car, never go shopping with a “must have brand new” mentality. Be open to buying a low-mileage pre-owned vehicle with a warranty that’s been inspected and “certified.” New model cars typically lose several thousands of dollars in resale value the minute they leave the dealer's parking lot. You’ll be on the losing end if you sell the car a year or two after buying it. Pre-owned vehicles are much better buys in that regard. If you are considering a pre-owned vehicle understand that there is a difference between a manufacturer certified and dealer certified vehicles. You should know the difference between the two. For example, former rental fleet vehicles (like cars from Enterprise) can only be sold as “dealer certified” and never manufacturer certified. The difference is that if you purchase a dealer certified vehicle you must take it to a particular dealership for all repairs or maintenance in order not to void the warranty. If you are on vacation in another state, for example, and the car breaks down, you cannot have it repaired at the local dealership. You must return to the original dealership where the car was purchased if you want to use the warranty. Whereas, manufacturer certified pre-owned vehicles can be repaired or serviced at any of the manufacturer’s locations nationwide. The next time you see a certified pre-owned vehicle, ask if it’s a former rental vehicle or if it came off of a private lease. Also, most warranties on newer used vehicles can be transferred from party to party once the title has cleared the DMV.

  8. If you are thinking of buying a vehicle from a private party there are many things to consider first. Starting with the reason the seller is letting go of the vehicle. Did it drive crappy? Did it get poor fuel mileage? Consider what the seller tells you carefully. The same goes for selling your car. Be sure to be upfront about why you are selling it. Maybe it didn't have the cargo room you need. If you are buying and the seller avoids answering anything reasonable, then go elsewhere. Don’t be timid about walking away.

5 Tips to Selling Your Compact Car by Larry Saavedra

This 1971 Honda is highly collectible, but you wouldn't know it by just looking at it. In the '70s these cars were everywhere, but today only a small inventory of them survived the wrecking ball.

This 1971 Honda is highly collectible, but you wouldn't know it by just looking at it. In the '70s these cars were everywhere, but today only a small inventory of them survived the wrecking ball.

     Selling a compact car is easy thanks to sites like and You barely have to lift a finger to make a sale. A few taps of the keyboard and you’re done.

     But are you getting the most money for your precious little car that your daughter left in your driveway when she ran away and eloped with his fiancé? It might look like a piece of junk, but in the eyes of the right buyer, it could be worth its weight in gold.

     Unfortunately, people shortchange themselves. They sell too quickly, or they assume it's just another small car that's not worth much. The truth is the body may look like crap, but the engine could be worth a bundle on its own.

     Take for instance the Acura Integra from 1994-2001. Most of the third generation Integra Sport Coupes are worth money, but the king of the compacts has to be the '97 Integra Type-R introduced with 195-hp 4-cylinder engine. It ran circles around Honda and even a few Porsches of the time. The third gen VTEC 4-cylinder offered enthusiasts 170 hp @ 7600 rpm, and 128 lbs-ft @ 6200 rpm (GS-R). These special Integras looked meek in pure White, but they were wild beasts in the canyons. Here's a link to an Integra that is selling for $44,000 that appeared in the online publication Jalopnik

     There are plenty of others that match that Integra price tag too. Don't be shocked if you have a gem parked out front.

Integra Type R rear badge.jpg

1.     Never be rushed to list your car online or elsewhere. Don’t listen to neighbors, family or friends that suggest you sell quickly. Do not sell quickly. The more methodical your approach to selling a car, the better your chances of maximizing bigger profits. Slow down and do the research on your car’s real value, condition and don’t be intimidated by anyone that wants it for pennies on the dollar.

2.     In the 1970s Honda, Subaru and Toyota compact cars were a dime a dozen. Today, some of these early model compact-sized cars (including Nissan and Volkswagen) are worth bucks to an enthusiast if you happen to own the right make and model of course. Be sure to research the history of your small car before selling it. Find out as much as possible and look online for “forums” that share a common interest in collecting specific compact cars. Forums will help you put a dollar amount on the car. Even if the body looks crumpled and dented, enthusiasts often only want the engine and drivetrain and some will pay dearly for it, no matter how many miles are on it. Old Subaru engines are often swapped into VW Vanagons for instance. 

3.     Find out what suggests your car is worth, based on condition, miles, etc. KBB won't say if it is a car collectors' model, but it will give you a base price to start the process. The only way you can really determine whether that old rusted RX-7 that is sitting in your driveway is worth anything is to go online and read the forums and club news reports. For every decent performance car there is a group of people who chase them down and buy them. If it happens to be deemed “collectible or a limited edition” plan to increase the sale price considerably over what KBB suggests. Rare or limited edition compact cars are in demand as nostalgia and gas prices move upward. These early four-cylinder and six-cylinder compact cars especially are more difficult to appraise than the V8 Detroit classics, but don't be discouraged. A good car appraiser should be able to tell you a value if you want to go down that route. Cost for an appraisal is usually about $200-$300.

4.      Those old parts, manuals, etc should not be tossed away. Extra parts and paperwork are highly cherished by the enthusiast market, and you could boost your profits if you have everything to offer the new buyer.

5.     Never re-paint an early model compact car because it looks bad. If it’s a limited-edition model compact car, buyers often want it with the original paint even if it needs restoration. The same goes for the engine. Leave it alone! The original (OEM matching number) engine can maximize the car’s worth by hundreds or thousands of dollars to the right buyer.

Lance Reventlow and His Scarab GP-2 by Larry Saavedra

    The United States of America has had a lot of historic firsts, starting with landing a man on the Moon and inventing the personal computer. 

    But in motorsports, the true story of Lance Reventlow and his incredible Scarab is the best story of them all, when the Scarab GP-2 became America’s First Formula 1 race car. 

Lance Reventlow and his Scarab.

    Reventlow was the apparent heir to a department store fortune, and he loved racing and was a serious competitor. He poured his inheritance into building the first American race car to compete in Formula 1, which stunned the crowd at Monaco that had gathered that historic day in 1960 to see it run. 


    Among the Europeans watching Reventlow in Monaco was legendary race driver Stirling Moss, who Reventlow had hoped would test drive his Scarab. Apparently that never happened, but Moss did give Reventlow some pointers about Formula 1 and it paid off.

    There were several Scarabs that competed in Monaco, but Scarab GP-2, number 48 was driven by Reventlow himself, which he raced at both the United States Grand Prix and the Gran Prix of Monaco with the front-mounted Offenhauser 2.5-litre, dual overhead cam four-cylinder engine, in keeping with Formula 1 rules on cubic-inch displacement.


    The Scarab Formula 1 cars were ambitious undertakings, rooted in conventional front-engine rear-drive layouts, which Reventlow insisted on. What we know is that Reventlow Automobiles produced eight Scarabs in all from 1958 to 1962, and raced with great success thanks to the likes of A.J. Foyt, Carroll Shelby and Augie Pabst. They were near equally split between American Chevy V-8 powerplants and the Offenhauser-inspired four-cylinders. It's unconfirmed how many still exist, but number 48 has been spotted at a venue or two.

    Today, few purpose-built race cars have enjoyed the same following as the original Reventlow-produced Scarab, a car that won nearly all the American road races it had entered. It’s a story that many have attempted to clone, but that's like trying to repaint Mona Lisa. 

    The Scarab GP-2 that raced at Monaco is proof that legends are made by the men and women with the most vision and the willingness to chase their dreams no matter how far they must travel to become the first at what they do. Reventlow managed to pull off what others thought was impossible. 

Oh...Mother Nature by Larry Saavedra


Don't mess with Mother Nature, at least not when you're on vacation. That's a lesson I learned on a trip to Northern California in the midst of one of the worst storms to hit the West Coast in decades. It rained, hailed, snowed and blew Biblical proportions. I actually thought I saw Noah's ark floating past the Vanagon on one terrible night of thunder and rain, but turned out to be nothing more than a small cabin floating down the raging Russian River. 

Californians like me needed rain. The drought was out-of-control. My once green lawn back home turned a horrible shade of dirt brown sometime last year when the temps hit 103, I quit watering it after that and haven't touched it since. Drought is not a good thing when it effects one of the largest agricultural states in the nation. Want to know why our strawberry prices are so high?... blame it on our drought.  

After weeks and weeks of rain (fact is it is still raining as I write this) our mountains in the Sierras are said to be 170 percent above average for the year. We've had more rain in the first two months of the year than we did the entire 12 months of the previous year, and the year before that, and the year before that... that's what I've been told. 

Anyways, this is not a story about rain. It's actually my first of a series about Vanagon, the good, bad and ugly. That's my ride in the photo above, and in the distance you'll see the 80-foot tall Sequoia tree that felled a 70-foot tall utility pole. You could still feel the electricity in the air when I drove up. Actually, I was driving away from it, escaping our AirB&B rental that had protected three of us from the storm. You see, a man, his wife, and dog needs to eat and sleep sometime, and as luck would have it, or not, the power got knocked out and so without lights, electricity and the like, a hasty, yet logical, decision was made to get out of Dodge (town). That's when I began to appreciate the Vanagon.

Mind you, I'd driven about 1,400 miles on this trip to the North of the state, but I never realized what a blessing a Vanagon can be when you've got no lights, no stove, no running water, and everywhere you look it's flooded. Dangerously flooded. But inside the cozy Vanagon (1986 2.1 Westy) things were calmer and things were ok because it had a stove, running water, lights, refrigerator and two comfortable beds (one for the Labrador and other for us). You see, Westfalias can run on propane, or battery, they are mini-RVs without the carbon-footprint. 

After several days more of camping inside the Vanagon I came to the conclusion that this was perhaps the best vehicle ever made, and my fellow auto writers better give it Car of the Year accolades. Oh darn, it's not manufactured any longer. Well, at least someone should give it an award for being so damn functional, posthumously.

You see, the Vanagon came to an end in December 1991, the last year for this treasured bit of history.

But not exactly, you see Volkswagen actually came out several years later with the EuroVan, but by that time it wasn't the small, lovable, rear-engined, classic Westfalia that Baby Boomers might remember from their Hippie years. It sported a V6 up front, and was outfitted by Winnebago, not by Germans at Westfalia-Werke in Rheda-Wiedenbrück., hence the name. They actually aren't bad vans, but to purists of an era of Jimmy Hendrix, the Doors and protests, the Iterations called EuroVans weren't quite as endearing either. More on that later.

I haven't named her (I think it's a her), but I'm going to someday. Vanagon people do that, they name their rides. You also have to get used to getting the peace sign when you see another one on the road. Because Vanagon people do things like that. That's why I love it. 

So yes, we survived the rains, thunder, falling poles, toppling trees, leaking cabins, mud, snow,  and everything that Mother Nature could do to our vacation in the Vanagon. But MN for short, did not succeed, not this time anyways, 'cause I got a Vanagon.



Don't Yell Fire! by Larry Saavedra

   Road trips can be the most memorable times in our lives, punctuated by days of basking in the great outdoors with family and friends. So some careful planning goes a long way in ensuring that we enjoy the scenery no matter what we drive — from vans and motorhomes to tow rigs. 

    While flat tires and cooling issues are often the most common problems cited, occasionally catastrophic engine failures do happen on the road. Unfortunately, mishaps like these can lead to devastating engine fires.

    All it takes in a leaky fuel or oil line above a red-hot exhaust and an engine can ignite like a match. Even a sudden backfire in your combustion chamber can spark a fire. This year a freshly restored, million-dollar Ferrari F40 once featured on the Internet, burnt to the ground seconds after its maiden voyage, and the story went viral. For decades, some old-school Volkswagens seemed plagued by engine fires. The truth is it’s not just old VWs, fires can happen to any vehicle without much notice. That’s why it’s important to regularly check your fuel and oil lines to ensure they aren’t cracked, broken or leaking. Better yet, always have your vehicle serviced and inspected before leaving home.  

    It’s much cheaper and smarter to replace critical parts than dealing with the aftermath of a vehicle fire, besides you are putting the lives of those around you at risk.

Fire Suppression Systems

    Hand-held fire extinguishers are great to carry on-board, but they only do so much, and you have to be quick to react should an engine fire start. Often times, an engine fire is already out-of-control by the time you are able to lift the hood to beat the flames. Once the hood is lifted, you also allow more oxygen into the fire, which can cause even more trouble. 

    Automatic fire suppression systems located in the engine compartment are the way to go. Luckily for us, we discovered an affordable new alternative called BlazeCut and it’s seeing lots of positive comments on online automotive forums. 

    BlazeCut uses the next generation of Halon called HFC-236fa clean agent, which leaves no residue like typical hand-held chemical fire extinguishers, making it safe for electronics. There’s no need to pull a lever, or to wire it to your electrical system like some fire suppression systems on the market. Just install it and go.

    It is maintenance-free and non-toxic, and detects a fire when sustained temperatures reach above 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the tube melts and it releases the agent. Moreover, it is rated for Class A, B and C fires. 

    BlazeCut is not a replacement for a typical hand-held fire extinguisher, rather it compliments it by giving you time to react to an engine fire. Ideally you should always have both types of fire suppression systems, and never get to a point where fuel or oil lines leak.

The Installation Process

    We placed an order and our BlazeCut arrived days later well packaged and ready to install. We decided to install BlazeCut on a mid-1980’s VW Vanagon Westfalia. Because its fuel lines are positioned directly over an open exhaust system, the Westfalia was the right choice.

    The idea is to position BlazeCut directly over the most susceptible area of your engine (i.e., carburetor, headers, fuel and oil lines). We decided to attach it directly to the underside of the fiberglass engine cover on the Westfalia using hose clamps, nuts and lock-washers, although nyloc-nuts are another good choice. It’s up to you. 

    BlazeCut recommends using durable mounts such as rubber insulated metal clamps to prevent detachment of the tube, although even zip ties work fine, and they are included in each kit. 

    While BlazeCut is not refillable, it does feature a gauge that shows you that it is active and under pressure. According to the manufacturer, “The system is under pressure and functional when the pressure indicator is above the value of 0 bar.” The system cannot leak down or lose pressure like a conventional fire extinguisher, but depending on the ambient temperature the pressure level indicator can fluctuate. 

    You should install it so that you can see the gauge whenever you want, should you want to know the status of your fire suppression system. Starting at just over $100 (plus shipping and handling) you can’t beat the retail price of the system. BlazeCut comes in three different lengths ( 2 meters, 3 meters and 4 meters), and is equipped with mounting hardware and instructions. You can use multiple BlazeCuts for backup protection if you desire. For our application installation time was under 30 minutes, although that time may vary for you. 

    It can be mounted anywhere under the hood as long as there is clearance between the tube and the engine components. Simply attach it for effectiveness, rather than aesthetics. 

    The notion of it accidentally releasing inside the engine bay is very remote, and BlazeCut has never encountered that happening. If your engine bay’s ambient temperature is getting 248 degrees Fahrenheit you’ve got bigger problems than some heat. 

    If you’ve ever experienced or seen a vehicle fire, you will quickly understand the value of an affordable fire suppression system like BlazeCut, which gives you a chance to extinguish the flames before your investment goes up in smoke, or anyone gets injured.  

    To see for yourself what happens when BlazeCut detects an engine fire, here’s a link to an actual video test provided by BlazeCut (

A Look at the 2016 Outdoor Retailer Show in Utah by Larry Saavedra

Whew... the temps were in triple digits just outside the convention center, but no one was complaining because this year's Outdoor Retailer Show was record breaking and amazing in so many other ways. 

Just returned from 5 days of the most intense outdoor show on the planet. Everything from camping gear to rock climbing equipment was on display, and that was just the start of it. There was so much to see and do that it would take a month to seriously examine all that was being presented to the media and those in the industry.

In a dizzying display of outdoor related goods and services, the 2016 Outdoor Retailer Show drew tens of thousands this summer to Salt Lake City, Utah. Most everything shown in Utah will be released to consumers in early 2017. But lucky you, video interviews from OR of what's new will be updated here throughout the rest of the year, so you can get a jump on the spring of 2017. You'll hear from the people at Motorola, Hobie, Yakima, Pelican and many more. 

Come back and keep checking my updates, or subscribe. Or, go to  to read the full reviews. Thanks.

Ed Roth, George Barris and Me by Larry Saavedra

I interviewed my boyhood idol, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth when I first got started writing for car magazines back in the late Eighties. Roth was the real deal, a real gasser you could say. He lived, breathed and slept the car culture, and he changed the way people saw this form of expression.

He was the man behind Rat Fink and any number of cool, crazy rides. He was anti-establishment in every sense...a rebel at marketing, too. He did things his way, and his fans loved him for it, including me.

As a boy I had built just about every plastic model Roth had made for Revell. My favorite was probably Mr. Gasser.


The day I met Big Daddy he was still very active in the car scene, but clearly he was slowing down some. I still wonder to this day if he really knew how many millions of followers he had. People just loved him. I was writing for a very popular truck enthusiast magazine at the time, and that got me the interview with Roth.

I admit I was pretty nervous when I saw him rounding the corner of his house in Southern California, wearing that famous stovepipe black hat with white short-sleeved shirt and black skinny tie, and flashing a huge smile as if you were a long-lost friend. 

I didn't know what to expect as I stood there before him, now just a few feet from my childhood hero. I figured he'd have this enormous ego, and could care less for this younger man with a camera and a dog-eared reporter's notebook. But Roth embraced the moment, serving up a series of one-liners and practically jumping with glee because he was thinking of relaunching another series of plastic toy models of his famous cars like Beatnik Bandit. His energy reverberated throughout my body.

Big Daddy talked, a lot. He talked so fast that I could barely keep up. And he had no problem showing me a glimpse of the actual full-size plaster and paper mock-up used to create the original fiberglass Beatnik Bandit. I practically tripped over myself trying to absorb all of this inside information. 

Big Daddy led me to his modest garage behind his home and slowly lifted the single-car wooden door. It was then that I got a look at the Mother Lode of customizing. There is was, barely a shadow in the dim garage, the Beatnik Bandit, or to be exact, it was a paper mache and plaster mold used to form the fiberglass body of the car. It was slightly leaning on its side, held up by a few old black milk crates and looking rather pathetic. Of course, Big Daddy saw only beauty in it. He looked like a little boy marveling at his creation, his eyes darting back and forth, picking at areas of the car and adding running commentary as he reflected on his next move in the automotive world. He was quite the character, just about as zany and lovable as his models I remember as a child.  

Big Daddy's contemporary of the time was definitely the King of Kustoms, George Barris.

I met Barris in Las Vegas at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer's Association show. SEMA was the place to rub shoulders with the who's who of the automotive world, but this time I was going to speak with him. 

Kicked up against the tire of some street rod, Barris had attracted a small audience around him. All eyes were focused on Barris as he glanced around the room in his famous gold satin shop jacket bearing his logo. Alongside him was Dick Jackson, who worked for Barris from 1949 to '58.

Tucked under my arm was a mint condition copy of his book Famous Custom & Show Cars, which depicted the most incredible works of art, built to resemble versions of beds, bathtubs, telephone booths and even covered wagons. These wild machines were often powered by huge horsepower engines, and most actually could be driven, a few appearing in popular TV shows of the Sixties and Seventies like the Munsters

Barris spotted my book, and he immediately asked if he could see it. "Would you like to sell it?, he asked. "I haven't seen this book in many years." 


I handed it over to him. As he flipped through the pages, he reminisced about the cars, suggesting that I never let go of this book because it went out of publication years ago. With a swirl of his Sharpie, he signed it. It was one of the first times, I had ever approached a celebrity for an autograph, but Barris was different.

Harris and Big Daddy were certainly famous, icons of the automotive world. Yet, they were more like the creations they conceived...totally one of a kind and priceless to those that appreciated their genius. 

Car Photography 101 Updated by Larry Saavedra

note the shadow free windows without reflections, etc... and the smooth reflection free body panels. this was shot late, late in afternoon, F11 with 85mm lens.

So you want to become a better car photographer? You’ve probably seen all the cool photographs in magazines like Car and Driver and you are pumped at the prospect. Here's how they do it.

First, log out of YouTube. Most of the tutorials on YouTube are nonsense. I can tell you that after 25 years of photographing cars, trucks, snowmobiles, etc. most amateurs get it wrong because they listen to someone who has little to no experience in the field. 

While I can't explain every trick of the trade in this post, I can get you on the right track. If you are shooting a car that is stationary, think of your subject as a huge mirror and the sun and sky as your softbox and that’s how to get the best images when shooting cars.

Pick the best possible location to avoid distractions in the sheetmetal, glass or chrome.

Let me explain. The car’s paint finish reflects everything around you, the trees, plants, people, the street, etc. So it’s extremely important to have the best possible light falling on the subject. The light temperature gets warmer in the later afternoon and that's what you want. You can almost get rid of most reflections if you shoot in the light at dusk. But if you shoot in the morning the color shift will be colder than later in the afternoon. It's totally dependent on what look you are trying to achieve. 

Personally, I start shooting (in most cases) an hour before the sun sets and continue to shoot until well after dark. Obviously you need a solid tripod to do this because your shutter speeds get very slow and there’s no way to hand-hold it without blurring the subject. Almost all professional car photographers shoot in the very late afternoon, even with action shots. 

Long exposures are great, they aren’t critical like in the days of film photography, so you can push the exposures tremendously without altering the color balance or shift called reciprocity failure. 


I like to start with what’s called a 3/4 view off the front and then I spin the car around until the entire car is covered. The sun should always be at your back or off to the side (like in the image above) and if you are shooting in the correct light, there should be only soft shadowing off the car. If the shadowing is crisp or harsh, then you are shooting too soon, wait for the sun to get lower in the sky. 

Expose for the undercarriage where the light drops off and then average the light hitting the exterior of the body panels. That should be your exposure setting. Do not shoot with any F-stop under F11 or you will see a dramatic drop-off in sharpness from bumper to bumper. If you want to blur the background, simply move the car further away from the background, don’t adjust the F-stop, keep it at F11 or F16.

This is where novice car photographers always go wrong. They don’t know where to focus. Always focus on the car’s side mirror facing you if the car is at 3/4 to your view. Then reframe the car while holding down your focus button and take the image. Focusing on the grille or the windshield will only create a look that is sharp in the front and soft in the rear end. Use you depth-of-field meter if you have one. 

Try this from several different elevations, low to the ground and from a ladder, too. Add tree limbs, and other things in the foreground to create a dimension to your image. Experiment!!

If you are gettting it right you will see the sunset (or sunrise/clouds) in the car body, and nothing more. Use a slight telephoto (85mm to 135mm) to add a compressed feel and that smooth paint finish will pop even more. 

Use a shutter release cable or lock up the mirror if possible when shooting long exposures for the sharpest images. Mostly, watch your background! It's important to keep the background free of obstructions like trees, poles, etc. Find areas that are wide open in the background so that the vehicle becomes the sole focus of your image. 

Incidentally, if you have to go into PhotoShop of Darkroom and tweak the hell out of your image, you've done something wrong. While we've become a world of post-production addicts, a good photograph will need very little post work and should stand on its own. 

Experiment and enjoy. 


Pinup Models: The Sequel by Larry Saavedra

guess jeans2

Ok... so I wrote about pinups and the concept of using women's sex appeal to promote the sale of products just recently in a blog.

Well, shortly afterward, a friend named Frank, emailed me to say he was just asked to bring his Porsche Speedster to a high-fashion photo shoot in Los Angeles for Guess brand jeans. 

I realize that this was a fashion shoot for Guess, but I also thought it was all rather archaic for 2016. 

It was Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr who satirical said, "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

Well then, pinup models are back in vogue, or they never really disappeared.

So much for the progressive women's movement I suppose. Got to love it.


guess jeans



Going Barefoot by Larry Saavedra

There has been a lot of talk about making trailers cheaper, smaller and more lightweight so those with smaller cars and sport utes can tow them. The problem seems to lie in the true drivability factor. 

Are they safe? Especially being towed behind a smaller wheelbase vehicle. Just because the trailer is lighter than the vehicle's towing capacity, doesn't make it safe. 

By far this new BareFoot is about the best small trailer I've ever seen, and I've seen and towed plenty as the former Editor of RV magazine. But again, is it safe behind a small vehicle?

The tail wags the dog is a problem that arises when the trailer and vehicle become unbalanced on the road at speed. It doesn't happen at low speeds, but at 55 or 65 miles per hour bad things can happen if you get sucked up in the draft of a high-speed big rig that passes by. 

 Trailer sway is a huge issue and not many novice drivers understand it. I won't go into detail because there are plenty of great sites online that discuss it, however, it can be caused by lots of situations, not just other big trucks, but by unbalanced loads or sudden gusts of wind.

The problem is that once sway begins it is very difficult to stop and many people tend to slam on the brakes, which only makes the problem worse. The best thing to do is simply lift off the throttle until the vehicle slows to a safe speed, get out and balance the load in the trailer and then start up again. Don't counter-steer either, that can cause you to spin.

Small vehicles with limited wheelbase and transmission performance can have difficulty towing a trailer, even the small single-axle ones. So it's best to do your research before you get on the road. Trailer sway is just one issue, and sometimes certain hitches help a lot, but unless your rig can be outfitted with a standard 2-inch ball and it's mounted to the frame, I would think twice before towing anything more than a tiny cargo trailer. 

If you're trailer is considerably longer than your vehicle and you can't get a 2-inch ball hitch mounted to the frame, STOP and rethink it. Drive to your local trailer repair shop and ask them their opinion. If you trust their advice go with it, but don't overlook a second opinion either. 

Ignoring the warnings only puts you and the lives of others at risk. Be safe.


Car Guys Are... by Larry Saavedra

Image by Larry Saavedra.

Car guys are a strange breed. Different.

The truth is they aren’t just guys, rather, women comprise a larger role in the enthusiast market than ever before.

What they both have in common is they are drawn to cars (specifically classics, high performance, exotics, etc.) by emotion.

Car enthusiasts find comfort there like a Foodie finds pleasure in a hand-tossed pizza. They fawn over the paint and engine as does the Foodie over the pizza sauce and spices. They are emotionally connected by things that make them feel good.

I think human emotion and experiences plays the biggest role in their love of cars, at least for those of a certain age.

Here’s my theory. People are searching for ways to connect to their past, to the “good old days." They recall mom and dad driving a certain car and they want to relive those times. 

So they embrace particular makes and models that have a special meaning to them. 

Younger enthusiasts love cars because they are cool, often fast, and they attract like minded friends. Besides, they follow the scripting of their parents.  

So the next time you attend a car show, watch the car enthusiasts carefully and take note of what they are saying and looking at. Often in their mannerisms you will see their character, and peek at their past. Good or bad.

BRE Celebrates 50 Years by Larry Saavedra

Like classic rock stars setting sail for one more world tour, Peter Brock, John Knepp, John Morton and the original team from Brock Racing Enterprises, who dominated SCCA Championships between 1968 and 1972, were enthusiastically welcomed onto the stage at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California for a special 50th Anniversary Q&A.

Recently, Brock's wife Gail, moderated the event, and each of the men that contributed to the success of BRE reminisced about the early days of working at BRE, and the constant jouncing between the competition, who had no experience racing against the likes of BRE's incredible Datsun 510s, 240s and roadsters. With BRE's willingness to race the underdog imports, it squarely put Datsun on the map in America.

Are You Buying a Real or Fake Classic Car? by Larry Saavedra


I am not a big fan of fakes or replicas and I'm not talking about Gucci purses. I'm speaking about classic cars.

Sure, replicas and other tribute cars of notable vintage have their place in the free market. There are plenty of people that love these cars and they don't care if they are real or not, just as long as they drive as expected. On the other hand, I want to know that my investment is genuine, true to the period and built with factory components. I'm not a purist, I don't care if the engine matches the body. I just want to know that it is at least "period correct."

Like I said, I don't typically like replicas. But there are some exceptions that are worth a second look. Take for instance the Porsche 550 Spyder that James Dean drove to his death. You can buy a replica of it from Beck that's pretty close to the original for a fraction of what a real one would cost, and you'll still have a lot of fun. So I get it. Certain replicas have their place in the lineup.

I had this conversation about replicas and other tribute cars with a friend named Fred. He's a really great mechanic that deals with classics and muscle cars from the '60s and '70s daily, and he wasn't happy with what I had to say.

Basically, it was Fred's opinion that tribute cars (replicas, etc) belong in the automotive culture, and deserve to be parked side-by-side with the original. I disagreed, but I kept a straight face long enough to allow him to speak.

This all started when the two of us spotted a Oldsmobile 442 at the local Cars & Coffee with a red and white for sale sign dangling in the window. At first, it looked like the real Oldsmobile 442 muscle car, down to its emblems. Even the sign in the window said "442." Then I started to notice a string of issues, like the wheels and graphics, which were clearly aftermarket. The guy who owned it opened the hood, and to my surprise (actually I expected it), there was a 350 cubic-inch V8 under it, not the 442 cubic-inch engine that should have been there. Meanwhile, my friend raved about it. Really? I said. "Why would someone badge a 350 as a 442," I questioned. Now to be fair, the guy wasn't trying to pass it off as the real 442. He admitted he built it as a tribute to the 442, except it apparently forget to find the correct engine.

So now for some tips about buying a investment grade classic car. 

  1. Do a lot of research on the car you are considering. Learn what the factory specs suggested about the standard features and options on the car.

  2. Do not simply rely on paperwork (unless it comes from a notable source), or fantastic stories about the car's history.

  3. Locate the VIN and Style Tags on the car. If you are unsure of where they are located, again there are plenty of sources online if you punch in a few keywords (i.e. VIN + Style Tags + Make and Year of Car)

  4. Decode the VIN and tag information by searching online for a decoder (i.e. Pontiac Firebird decoder).

  5. Attend car shows and find out what others are saying about their classic cars. Ask as many questions as you can.

If the car you are considering is original or period correct, then the tags will tell the whole story. Even the engine of most American classic cars have codes, but you'll have to do the research to find where they are located. On most '60s and '70s American classics, the engine codes are typically located on the engine block. These engine codes will often correspond to the VIN number of the car. But not always. With that said, body tags and VIN numbers can also be faked, but it seldom happens. But this is the best way to begin your research. Learn all there is about the the tags, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Decoding this kind of data can tell you the original Trim line of the body, the year it was manufactured, the plant it was manufactured in, the factory body and interior colors, even the type of upholstery used to build it.

VIN and Style Tags should be present on most (Not all) cars. Decode them online and get the real story.

VIN and Style Tags should be present on most (Not all) cars. Decode them online and get the real story.