Category archives: Features

You’ll do the driving to get to Greyhound bus museum

Greyhound’s famous advertising jingle instructed folks to “take the bus and leave the driving to us.”

But if you want to learn more about the history of the more-than-century-old passenger-transporting company, you’ll likely need to do a lot of driving. Sure, you still can take a Greyhound bus to the company’s founding city of Hibbing, Minnesota, but you’ll be dropped off downtown at the Country Kitchen restaurant, several blocks from where you want to be — the Greyhound Bus Museum.

The museum is located in an old bus station on the north side of town, up near the viewpoint to see the gigantic crater of the Hull-Rust Mahoning Mine. The museum’s location is fitting, since mining was why the bus company was founded in the first place.

Andy Anderson and Charles Wenberg had a Hupmobile dealership in Hibbing and showcased one of their seven-seat motorcars by charging 15 cents a ride to shuttle miners back and forth from nearby communities to their work on the Mesabi Iron Range.

But Wenberg wearied of the driving and sold his share of the fledgling Hibbing Transportation Company to Carl Eric Wickman, who soon enfolded a local taxi company, ordered a couple of truck chassis, had them equipped with bus bodies and, as they say, the rest is history.

Well, except for the name, and Greyhound’s role in the civil-rights movement decades later. The company wasn’t called Greyhound until the late 1920s and you can pick your theory for why from among (a) all the buses were painted gray, (b) a gray bus reflecting in a cafe window reminded someone of a racing greyhound, or (c ) bus-producer Fageol presented the president of what then was known as the Safety Motor Coach Lines with an actual greyhound dog.

By the early 1930s, Greyhound had become a nationwide carrier and the designated transportation provider for the massive and popular Chicago World’s Fair.

In the spring of 1961, a mob, including members of the Ku Klux Klan, stopped and firebombed a Greyhound that was part of the Freedom Rides civil rights protest and beat the riders when they fled the fire. The Greyhound bus station in Montgomery, Alabama, later was included on the National Register of Historic Places.

I learned much of what I know about Greyhound three years ago when the company’s centennial tour visited Phoenix. But late this summer, the Atlas Obscura website, which specializes in revealing fascinating geographic sites, did a report about the Greyhound Bus Museum in Hibbing.

I was spending most of the summer in Michigan, planned to drive home to Phoenix by way of Spokane, Washington, to visit my son and a granddaughter, so why not visit Hibbing on my way? Sure, it would mean driving two-lane roads across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin and Minnesota before joining the Interstate system at Fargo, North Dakota, but isn’t the best part of road tripping the serendipity of discovery along the blue highways?

But while I do love serendipity, I also checked the museum’s website to make sure it would be open the day I’d be detouring through Hibbing. Sure enough, the museum is open from mid-May through September, and it can be opened during the winter months if you have a group of 10 or more and call in advance to schedule your visit.

I arrived during the last week of September. I thought it strange that the parking lot was empty, and while there were a bunch of vintage buses, they were all locked up behind a chain-link fence in the back of the museum.

Oh, well, it was early in the day, so maybe other visitors hadn’t yet arrived. I parked and walked toward the building. It was then that I saw a sign posted on the glass doors — closed for the season.

But the museum wasn’t supposed to close until the following week!

I called the group-reservation number also included on that sign and the museum’s executive director called me back a few minutes later. Problem was, he wasn’t in Hibbing; he was in North Carolina. He was apologetic. Yes, he said, the museum was supposed to be open. However, he added, the volunteer who was on duty had fallen ill and had to close up the facility several days early.

I was bummed, but poked my camera through the chain link to capture some of the images of those vintage buses and, God willing, I’ll try to get back to Hibbing someday.

In the meantime, if you find yourself up on Minnesota’s iron range, perhaps on the popular ‘round Lake Superior drive, stop by the museum, take some photos and let me know what I missed.

The chronology of the ‘Ri’ Mustang

On a gray October morning during the weekend of the 1962 U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York, Dan Gurney nearly matched the lap times the 1.5-liter F1 cars in a tiny Ford roadster with a 1.5-liter V4 mounted behind the seats—an unforgettable racetrack introduction for the name “Mustang.”

It certainly was an auspicious beginning for a name that was never expected to see production; never mind to represent a 4-seat sports car that would quickly intoxicate car enthusiasts across the planet.

The Watkins Glen 'Mustang'
The Watkins Glen ‘Mustang’

On April 17, 1964, Ford’s “Special Falcon” broke cover and changed the American automotive landscape.  Almost exactly a year later, an SCCA B-Production program called “Cobra Mustang,” with Ken Miles, development driver and SCCA champion, wrote the prelude to a legend at Green Valley Raceway in Texas. Under the Carroll Shelby team, it became the G.T. 350—and soon the Shelby GT350.

The first victory: Ken Miles driving at Green Valley | OVC archives

The first three Shelby Ford Mustang serial numbers were 5S001, 5S002, 5S003. The cars planned for racing had 5R001 and 5R002 written on their firewalls in red marker. The 1965 SCCA B-Production champion was later tagged as SFM5R001 and other “R” car became the development “mule” and was tagged SFM5R002. The first car was renumbered SFM5S003 when it became the prototype for the street version GT350.

And now, with the fire of competitive passion that drove the Shelby American shop’s meritocracy to an international championship, three of the original “Venice Crew” have conspired to recreate the car Ken Miles used to win the GT350’s first race.

But wait, there’s more! As development continued through 1965, a design proposal for independent rear suspension was put into engineering drawings. When races are being won with an inexpensive live axle, why go to the expense of creating all the components that go into a sophisticated, adjustable independent suspension system?

And they did not. The drawings went into the archive and competition history was written without the update — until 2017.

At last! IRS on the GT350R | Larry Crane photo

Peter Brock, Jim Marietta and Ted Sutton came together 50 years later to build a GT350 just the way they would have 50 years ago had they been allowed the time and money to develop it the way they wanted.

The Original Venice Crew Mustang GT350Ri project began with the same basic High-Performance 1965 Mustang equipped with a 281-horsepower 289cid V8 and a Borg Warner 4-speed gearbox. However, a diligent search discovered the original independent rear suspension drawings in the Ford archives.

Beginning with only original 1965 K-Code 2+2 Mustangs, the crew worked in the Shelby Gardena facility for all fabrication and assembly. Testing and development (read: geometry, spring rates, ride height and damping) of the Independent Rear Suspension GT350Ri was done on multiple U.S. tracks with Shelby stalwarts Rick Titus (Jerry Titus’s son), Jay Dalton, Ryan Croke, Randy Richardson, John Morton and the OVC Mustangs founders — Brock, Marietta and Sutton.

The finished cars are as good as expected. They qualify as SCCA B-Production entrants or as vintage racers with some of the vintage organizations. There will be 36 of them, turn-key and ready-to-race GT350Ri coupes constructed.

You can have one for $250,000 — unless they have all been sold before this is posted.

Australian record-setters heading to auction

A pair of cars that set early Australian speed records — a 1924 Vauxhall Trans-Continental and a 1934 MG Q Type — are among those on the docket for Mossgreen’s October 14 auction as part of Motorclassica, the Australian International Concours d’elegance and Classic Motor Show in Melbourne.

1935 MG Q Type cockpit

MG launched the Q Type in 1934 on a chassis slightly narrower than that underlying its K3 model. George Harvey-Noble took a single-seat version around the Brooklands circuit at 122 mph, Mossgreen notes, and the normal two-seat version reportedly could achieve 120.

Offered at the auction is chassis No. 0257, the seventh of only eight such cars produced. It was sold new to Cec Warren of Victoria, Australia, in August 1934 and competed in speed runs on the 3-kilometer smooth sand surface of Sellick’s Beach.

MG (No. 19) in competition

Just before World War II, the car was sold to Hope Bartlett, who set a lap record for cars with engines of less than 750cc with a 3:47 time at Bathurst. After the war, the car posted a 20.1-second time in a quarter-mile sprint and finished fifth in the under 1,100cc championship road race despite suffering gearbox issues.

John G. Peek bought the car in 1948, won the car’s class in the 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship and lowered its quarter-mile record to 19.55 seconds and then to 18.64. The car also turned a standing kilometer in 38.88.

“MG Q Type chassis 0257, whether originally dark green or black, as it is painted currently, presents a wonderful opportunity for its next owner to become a custodian of one of the purest British pre-war racing cars now available,” James Nicholls of Mossgreen is quoted in the auction house news release.
Mossgreen expects the car to sell for A$400,000 ($313,000 U.S.).

1934 MG Q Type

Vauxhall launched the OE version of its 30/98 in 1922, with a 4.2-liter engine but with no front brakes — they were added in 1923. Production ended in 1927 after 596 were produced.
Going to auction is a 1924 Vauxhall 30/98 Tourer OE86/100 that set Trans-Continental and Round Australia records.

Vauxhall encounters a river on one of its drives

OE100 was purchased as a gift for John Balmer by his mother. Balmer raced the car in hillclimbs and, with Eddie Scott, in 1936 set transcontinental records from Darwin to Adelaide, Fremantle to Adelaide and Adelaide to Melbourne. In 1938, Balmer and Richard Kent set a record by circumnavigating the Australian continent in 24 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes.

Such driving took its toll on the car, so Balmer took his car’s engine, front axle and gearbox and installed them into OE86, a similar car that had arrived in Australia at the same time as his OE100.

Repco advertisement showcases ‘Round Australia’ record

OE100 had been purchased new by R.S. Robinson as a wedding present for his fiance., Janet. The car was driven on a 300-kilometer commute as Robinson launched his dental practice.

Balmer and Robinson had become friends at the University of Melbourne and were pilots together for the Citizens Air Force, both in Australia and overseas during the war, and decided to merge the cars.

Mossgreen expects the car, now completly restored, to sell for A$330,000 ($235,000 U.S.).

1924 Vauxhall 30/98 Tourer OE86/100

Historic Prinz Heinrich Benz at Bonhams

Much of the motorsports competition in the early days of the automobile involved long-distance reliability runs, with some of the sturdiest and most-advanced vehicles of the era vying for prizes.

One famous entry was the Benz 50hp that won the 1908 reliability trial presented by the German Imperial Automobile Club, a driving event that spanned a number of days and crossed through several nations. The trophy was a 30-pound silver automobile replica donated by Prince A.W. Heinrich of Prussia, a noted racing fan. The event was therefore named in his honor.

To celebrate its victory, Benz produced from 1908 to 1910 a “Prinz Heinrich” model that was bespoke and hand-built, terrifically expensive and featured such forward-looking technology as an overhead-valve engine and shaft drive. Prinz Heinrich cars could reach nearly 100 mph, making it a supercar of its day.

The Benz was restored to a raceabout configuration

Bonhams has one of these cars, a 1908 75/105hp Prinz Heinrich Benz Raceabout, ready for its November 11 auction at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California.

This Benz also boasts American motorsports provenance with one of the early celebrities of auto racing, Barney Oldfield, who was known as much for his publicity feats as his driving prowess. In partnership with Benz, Oldfield and the Prinz Heinrich ran barnstorming and promotional events together, and even appeared in a silent film, Race for Life.

The Benz later became part of the collection of Lindley and Ann Bothwell, who frequently drove the car and had it restored as a two-seat raceabout.

“Beautiful, unique, rare, groundbreaking, historic, in excellent working order, and full of provenance, the Prinz Heinrich Benz possesses all the desirable qualities a collector could want,” Bonhams said in a news release.

About 50 collector cars will be offered during the auction at Bothwell Ranch, which is just north of Los Angeles. For information, visit the Bonhams website.

Who gets what from the price at the pump?

Once you’ve calmed down and stopped cussing about the price you pay at the pump when you refill your car, be it classic or contemporary, have you ever wondered about where your money is going?

So has Auteria, a Texas-based supplier of fuel-pump assemblies produced in Mexico for the U.S. and Canadian automotive markets. It engaged in research with Spork Marketing to produce the accompanying chart, which shows who got what from a gallon of gasoline in 2016.

“The 2016 data shows that gas-station retailers receive the smallest percentage of the gallon’s cost, at only 7 percent, while drilling companies receive nearly half of the money paid at the pump,” Auteria said in its news release.

“For those in the petroleum industry, it may not be a surprise that drilling and production companies take the bulk of the amount paid for a gallon of gas,” added Ana Rivera, Auteria product manager. “For consumers, however, it might be a shock to see how little gas retailers earn.”

The research shows that of each $1 spent on gasoline, 45 cents goes to drilling, 21 percent to state, local and federal taxes, 18 cents to refining costs, 9 percent to the cost of transporting that fuel to the gas station, and 7 percent to the retail outlet.

“Using the 2016 data, the average gasoline retailer earned about 15 cents for every gallon of gasoline sold (at the average 2016 price of $2.16 per gallon),” Auteria noted in its release.

“However, out of this 7 percent share, gasoline retailers must cover the costs of storing and dispensing the fuel, payment processing and store overhead costs.

“To illustrate just how little gas stations earn from selling gasoline, payment processing charges are typically 2-3 percent of the total bill. If a retailer earns 7 percent of the cost of a gallon of fuel, and has to pay a 3 percent processing charge, their share of the total falls to 4 percent (less than 10 cents per gallon).”

“As a fuel system parts manufacturer, we are obviously preoccupied with fuel efficiency and saving our customers money on gasoline,” Rivera concluded. “This data is a reminder that the best way to save money on fuel is to use less of it. It’s not as if there are big savings to be had in the gasoline production pipeline, at least as far as we can tell.”

Somewhat modified 1965 Ford Mustang ‘hoonigans’ Pikes Peak

The Urban Dictionary defines a hoonigan as someone who participates in a “reckless” style of driving, “not limited to drifting, drag racing and burnouts.” That probably means that at some point in your life — and perhaps quite frequently — you’ve been guilty of hooning.

But there are few of us who can hoon like Ken Block, the drifting demon made famous by his online videos of racing around unusual venues in rather unusual vehicles. His latest escapade was to have some fun driving up the Pikes Peak Highway, and working with film maker and Pikes Peak racer Jeff Zwart to produce a video, Climbkhana, about the adventure.

Fortunately for us, Block did his drive in a vintage vehicle, albeit his 1965 Ford Mustang has been slightly modified from stock configuration, what with twin turbochargers, burning methanol fuel, an all-wheel-drive setup and and more. The result is 1,400 tire-smoking horsepower, yet somehow the Toyo Proxes R888R tires got him up the 12-plus mile roadway without exploding.

Ken Block and his ’65 Mustang at Pikes Peak

Block and crew needed three separate trips to the mountain over a 12-month period to overcome weather and vehicle-development issues.

“This car is insane,” he said in a Toyo news release about the film. “I feel it genuinely wants to kill me!

“Before we added the twin turbos, it was the most fun car I’ve ever driven. Now it’s still quite fun to drive, but it melts tires ridiculously quick.

“To have this thing be such a beast and then take it to this very dangerous mountain, well, I thought I’d maybe finally taken on a project that might be too much for me to handle. This is the most powerful AWD-type car in the world to be driven this way, so I’m genuinely glad I didn’t die making this video!”

This wasn’t Block’s first run up the mountain. In 2005 he drove a Group N rally car during the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

“It was an underwhelming experience because of the horsepower issue,” he said, “but I loved the road and mountain – and I had always wanted to go back and do it right.”

Right, indeed.

“I have raced at Pikes Peak for 16 years and through the years I thought I had seen everything,” said Zwart. “But to witness Ken’s skills on basically my home mountain and get to direct him at the same time, it was truly something amazing. Nothing but respect for him and his whole team.”

Carlisle lists Showcase vehicles for Fall auction

Showcase vehicles for Carlisle Auctions’ next sale, scheduled for September 28-30, range from a 1930 LaSalle 340 Phaeton to the 2012 Confederate x132 Hellcat motorcycle prototype, and with much in between.

Carlisle Auctions expanded its Spring sale to three days and will do the same for its Fall auction at the Carlisle Expo Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The auction is being held in conjunction with the Fall Carlisle vehicle show, September 27-October 1.

The auction house notes that consignments for the sale are sold out, in part because of the “free unless sold” guarantee for consignors of vehicles 25 years or older.

Showcase vehicles for the sale include:

  • 1930 LaSalle 340 Phaeton, designed by Harley Earl, with Fleetwood bodywork, and with CCCA full-classic status.
  • 1939 Ford restomod inspired by the moonshine runners and with a Keith Craft Ford 427cid all-aluminum stroker small-block V8 and original steel Ford body on a Roadster Shop Pro G Stage 3 chassis.
  • 1953 Buick Skylark convertible driven less than 40,000 miles since new and fully restored.
  • 1955 Chevrolet Corvette, a NCRS Top Flight winner powered by a 265cid V8.
  • 1956 Austin Healey 100-4 BN2 recently restored in black over green leather.
    1963 split-window Chevrolet Corvette.
  • 1963 Corvette resto-rod roadster with a 465-horsepower LS3 engine, Tremec 5-speed gearbox and 3.73:1 rear on a cutom tubula chassis.
  • 1956 K-Code Ford Mustang, a restored 28,000-mile car.
  • 1968 Corvette convertible with a 427cid V8.
  • 1968 Shelby GT350 Ford Mustang convertible, one of six produced in Lime Gold and with factory air.
  • 1969 Dodger Charger R/T with a 426 Hemi and four-speed manual
  • 1969 Ford Mach I Mustang with a 428 Cobra Jet V8 and Drag Pack option.
  • 1971 Chevrolet Corvette LS6 coupe with Bloomington Gold and NCRS Top Flight certification.
  • 1986 Porsche Kremer 930 wide-body cabriolet showing only 11,675 miles.
  • 1999 Ferrari 360 Modena with a 6-speed manual.
  • 2002 Ferrari 575 Maranello showing only 9,300 miles.
  • 2003 Shelby Cobra continuation series roadster.
  • 2006 Ford GT driven less than 1,900 miles.
  • 2012 Confederate x132 Hellcat Prototype No. 1 motorcycle from the collection of Team Confederate speed record-holder James Hoegh.


Pirelli expands tire line for cars of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s

Pirelli is expanding its range of tires for classic and vintage vehicles. The Pirelli Collezione line is designed to add new and technologically advanced compounds into its classic tire sizes but with the classic look car owners want for their vehicles.

Pirelli notes in its news release that the tires are created to allow “peak performance on today’s street or track while still paying homage to the car’s original character and authenticity.”

Among those tires are a brand new size for the Cinturato CA67, created in tribute to the 60th anniversary of Pirelli’s equipping of the Lancia Flaminia back in 1957. The tire is a 175 R400 89H.

Pirelli said its Collezione range fits many cars produced during the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, including Ferraris, Mercedes-Benz 300SLs, Lamborghini Miuras, Porsche 911s, but also Volkswagen Beetles.

“In particular,” the tire maker reported, “the range serves the air-cooled Porsche community, with five homologated Porsche sizes among the Pirelli Collezione with the Cinturato CN36 and P7 compounds. These tires were built in close collaboration with Porsche and were factory homologated to create the ‘perfect fit’ in terms of style and technical performance.”

Pirelli noted that its engineers consulted Porsche archives to “faithfully recreate the tire characteristics that complement each car’s original suspension set-up and dynamics, resulting in the ‘perfect fit’ tire for contemporary driving situations.”

Cinturato CA67 detail

However, new materials are used to enhance tire construction and detailing, including Pirelli’s high-performance, racing-derived nylon in the dual-ply caracass and high-tensile steel wire in the bead geometry.

“Combined with a dedicated undertread compound, Pirelli Collezione tires ultimately offer greater grip and water expulsion for a safer driving experience,” Pirelli said. “The tire tread compounds also conform to the latest environmental standards (unlike their original counterparts).

“From a design perspective, the tires retain the original sidewall lettering to maintain authenticity down to the smallest details.”

The upgraded Pirelli Collezione product range includes:

  • The Cinturato CA67 – ’50s – “The first textile belted radial tire developed by Pirelli, it contains all-new materials in the classic shape: four longitudinal grooves in the ‘a greca’ style with a cut shoulder and wide siping.” The tire fits the Aston Martin DB5, Ferrari 250 GT and Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Prices range from $273 to $397 per tire, depending on size.
  • The Cinturato CN72 – ’60s – “The CN72 tire tread pattern was developed for standard high-profile sizes, originally equipping the entire Ferrari range, Maserati 4000 and 5000, and other models,” as well as Aston Martin DB6, Lamborghini Miura P400 and original Maserati Ghibli. Price are $423 per tire.
  • The Cinturato CN36 – ’60s – “Created in 1968 specifically for the Fiat Dino, the CN36 was Pirelli’s first standard production steel radial tire. It was HR rated with notable sport features that marked Pirelli’s re-entry into rallies, including an ability to absorb impact and prevent aquaplaning.” It has been repurposed with new technology and is available for such cars the Porsche 911, Ferrari and Fiat Dinos and Mercedes 280 range. Prices are $253 to $409 per tire.
  • The Cinturato CN12 – ’70s – “This tire features a tread pattern created for low-profile sizes after the commercialization of 60- and 70-profile tire sizes.” Fitments include the Lamborghini Miura, Maserati Bora, Aston Martin DB4 and Jaguar E-type. Prices range from $412 to $464.
  • The Cinturato P7 – ’70s – “Launched in 1976, this tire was an important innovation for the racing world with its nylon, zero-degree belt and ultra-low profile geometry.” The new versions fit Porsche 911 G models, including the Carrera Coupe. Prices are $297 to $332 each.
  • The Cinturato P5 – ’70s – “Developed for Jaguar in the late ’70s to equip its luxury sedans, today it can equip those same cars, including the classic Jaguar XJ40 model.” Pricing is $445 per tire.
  • The  P7 CORSA Classic range offers both wet and dry versions for vintage rallying “by combining Pirelli’s latest tire structure and tread pattern with the traditional sidewall appearance. The P7 delivers maximum performance in greater safety.” Fitments include the Ferrari 308, Fiat 131 Abarth, Audi quattro GrB and others. Prices are $236 to $473 each.
The Pirelli stand at The Quail previewed the new tires

The Pirelli Collezione is available through the Pirelli P Zero World, the brand’s flagship showroom in Los Angeles, and (in the five Porsche-homologated N-sped CN36 and P7 sizes) through U.S. Porsche dealerships.

For more information, visit the Pirelli Collezione website.

She’s 79, but her cars make her feel like a teenager again

“You always want what you don’t have,” said Carolyn Sikes, who grew up without even a family car. But while there was no car in the family until she was 12 years old, on October 1, Sikes will display four of her collector vehicles at the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance.

And those are Sikes’ own cars, cars she picked and purchased even before her late husband, Marvin, died a year ago.

Sikes’ father died when she was 18 months old. Her mother couldn’t afford a car so they walked or rode the bus. But Sikes loved cars, and remembers as a child being able to identify them by make and model as they drove past the tiny duplex where they lived.

“When I was in high school, I started dating someone who wound up becoming my husband,” she said. “He was from the ‘other side’ of Houston, if you get my drift. He had the most beautiful car, a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria — brand new, red and white — and he also had a 1952 Jaguar XK120 sports car.

“His mother drove a brand new Lincoln. His father drove a brand new Cadillac. My stepfather had a Plymouth, a small little ugly Plymouth.

“My husband’s friends told him I only dated him for his cars — and that may have had a little bit to do with it,” she adds with a laugh.

“Years later,” she added, “I teased him the only reason he was still married to me was because of my cars.”

1954 Chevrolet Corvette

At the Atlanta concours on the golf course fairways of Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia, Sikes will show her 1954 and 1955 Chevrolet Corvettes, her 1955 Studebaker President Speedster and her supercharged 1963 Studebaker Avanti R2.

Often, she’s also invited to show her V12-powered 1972 Jaguar E-type 2+2, which has won a succession of survivor-class awards. Other cars in her collection include has a 1964 Avanti R1, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird, a 1960 Jaguar Mk2 and a 1961 Corvette. She also has a 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK 350 convertible.

While Sikes was eager to become a classic car owner, she had to wait a while even after marrying Marvin.

“When we got married, we had a very strict budget, and then children came, we had four. We couldn’t afford what we’d love to have, a classic car or two. But whenever it was time for me to get another car, I would always look at him and smile, remembering the XK120.

“You know,” she’d tell Marvin, “I’d love to have a Jaguar sports car, but we can’t get four children in a tw0-seat sports car,’ and I’d usually wind up with a used station wagon.”

But then came the day she saw the 2+2 version of the E-type. “I thought it would hold four (children),” she said, picturing herself behind the wheel. “one in the passenger seat and three in the back seat.”

At the time, the Sikes had moved to Arkansas, where Marvin worked for a truck leasing company. They lived on a small “ranch,” where they also had 90 head of cattle. They loved their life and small-town lifestyle there. But then came the day that Marvin called to say he’d been offered a big promotion, but they’d have to move to Atlanta.

Knowing how much Carolyn loved their Arkansas ranch, he called one day, from Birmingham, Alabama, to say he’d bought her a car, a ’72 Jaguar 2+2.

1955 Chevrolet Corvette

On the drive home, however, Marvin was tired, so he pulled over and got out of the car to stretch his legs. It wasn’t until he went to get back behind the wheel that he realized he’d left the car running — and locked the doors when he’d gotten out.

Of course, a policeman arrived about this time. He couldn’t get the door open either, but was willing to drive back to his station to get something to break a window. While he was gone, Marvin realized he had his own keys in his pocket and started trying each of them on the Jaguar’s door.

Finally, Carolyn recounts, Marvin was able to manipulate an old file-cabinet key just so and the Jaguar’s door opened and he continued his drive home.

Carolyn has stories to tell about each of her cars. Take, for example, the ’55 Corvette.

She wanted a ’55 with its small-block V8 engine, but couldn’t afford one at the time, so she bought the ’54 with its inline 6 instead. Hers was such an excellent example that she’d been invited to show it at the Pinehurst concours. She was getting ready for the pre-concours tour when she noticed a man staring at her car.

The man finally spoke, telling her hers was probably the best ’54 Corvette he’d seen. She thanked him, told him the car’s name was Marlyn (she names all her cars), and, as she was pulling away, she mentioned that she really wanted a ’55.

The man said he had one. She asked if he’d sell it, but she didn’t hear his response as she accelerated away to join the parade of cars leaving on the tour.

The next day, at the concours, she saw the man again. He was one of the judges going over her car “with a fine tooth comb.”

1955 Studebaker President Speedster

After the judges were finished, a group of women approached and asked about her car. One of them said she was the man’s wife, and she mentioned that he was getting more involved with Corvette racing cars and had been thinking about selling his ’55, a car which he’d loaned to a museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and before that had been displayed at the National Corvette Museum.

A phone call later, the Sikes were headed to Tennessee with their trailer to bring home what was now Carolyn’s ’55.

It turns out that Carolyn isn’t the only one with stories to tell about her cars. Recently, she mentioned that the fastest she’d ever driven her V12 Jaguar was 90 mph. Her 55-year-old son confessed that when he was 16, and his parents weren’t home, he’d taken the keys to that car, driven out to a new Atlanta-area highway that had been built but was not yet open to traffic, and saw 140 mph on the speedometer.

“But I could feel the front end start to lift and knew that if something happens to this car, Mom will kill me,” Carolyn recounted his story.

“I was very calm on the outside,” she remembers, “and I said, Marty, had you wrecked the car and not been killed, I would have killed you!”

Another confession: One of her daughters admitted driving the Jaguar to school one day soon after she turned 16, while another daughter was granted permission to use the car for a high school homecoming parade, although Carolyn probably hadn’t planned on all six cheerleaders being packed into her precious car — several of them riding beneath the open rear hatch.

During her years of collector car ownership, Carolyn Sikes has noticed many things. For example, women car owners get more sentimentally attached to their cars then do men, she said. She also said she’s observed that the sexes are attracted to cars of certain colors — men to red, women to yellow.

Regardless of their color choices, “The wonderful thing about any of the car events — concours or not — is that you meet wonderful people that love cars or they wouldn’t be there,” she said. “You already have a lot in common.”

1963-64 Studebaker Avanti

“I try to tell young families that, yes, money is tight, but if they go to a wrecking yard and find an old car and on weekends you and your children work on that car, it’s the best bonding process you can have, and it instills in them a love of cars, too.”

She also advises anyone who is invited to show a car at a concours to consider themselves a winner just for that invitation.

“Do not expect to win an award,” she said. “When your children are grown, sometimes your cars become like your children. You’re very proud of them. You consider them the best of the best. But you’re on that field with perhaps 10 of the best of the best. To get an invitation, you’ve already won, but it’s a hard lesson to learn.”

Another lesson: “When you get ready to buy a car, you need to do your research,” said a woman who can share extensive historical and technical details about the cars she owns, such as why her ’64 Avanti has ’63 headlamps.

For someone who didn’t have a family car until she was 12, Carolyn Sikes has come a long way around from her stepfather’s “ugly” Plymouth.

At age 79, she said, when she sees her reflection in a rear view mirror or car window, she realizes, “I’m just an old lady in an old car.” However, “If I’m in one of my cars and I’m driving and I don’t look at the rearview mirror or see my reflection in the window, I am 16 years old again and driving a brand new car again.”

Hot rod that beat the horse in a race headed to auction

It’s the tale — or since there’s a horse involved, should it be that tail? — of the teenager’s hot rod that became famous for winning a race against a horse.

The 1932 Ford “Pete Henderson” Roadster that’s heading to RM Sotheby’s Hershey auction not only is a car that achieved a top speed of 120.9 mph on the Harper Dry Lake in 1944, but that same year gained fame when it won a race against a quarter horse that had a history of being faster than the fastest cars.

Pete Henderson helped verify this was his car | Karissa Hosek photo

The horse’s owner had won a series of bets that his animal could beat the fastest cars over a quarter-mile distance. The race against Henderson, who was just 18 years old, and his car was held at La Habra, in California’s Orange County, and drew a large crowd that included the likes of hot-rodding pioneers Vic Edelbrock Sr., Ed Winfield and others; the race photo was taken by Ernie McAfee.

Years later, noted hot-rodders said that the race between the car and the horse was where drag racing’s quarter-mile distance was established.

After its race against the horse, the car also was used in circle-track racing and appeared in several movies. It went through a series of owners but was purchased in 1977 by Chuck Longley, who wondered about its history and ran advertisements seeking more information. Among those responding was Henderson himself.

According to RM Sotheby’s, Henderson had bought the car as a teenager from Don Casselman. It came with a built, bored and stroked 296cid Mercury flathead V8 engine equipped with all sorts of early hot-rod parts, but still rode on its original wire wheels and used the mechanical brakes Ford had installed. Among its features was the dash panel from a 1934 Auburn.

It was the Auburn dash panel that helped Henderson realize the car had been his decades earlier.

The car retained its original frame, body and windshield. Longley and his son, Mike, located other period-correct pieces and began restoration to Henderson’s original setup in 1995.

After that restoration, the car won best-in-class honors at Amelia Island and also was honored at the Grand National Roadster show. Whitworth bought the car and planned to showcase it in a museum he planned to build. The car was invited to Pebble Beach but suffered damage during transport and was sent to rod and custom hall of famer Tim Strange’s shop in Tennessee for restoration.

It’s pre-sale estimated value is $160,000 to $180,000, according to RM Sotheby’s.