For the third time in as many years, I found myself roaming the streets of New Canaan, Connecticut, on a fall day for an event called Caffeine and Carburetors. Unlike the past fall days, though, this one was very cold and very dreary. But I persevered — largely for the amazing cars. I was considering taking this year off as it’s a 5-hour drive each way and since it’s much, much easier to go down the night before, but that requires the expense of a dinner and hotel. However, when I saw that their last show of the season would also fall on my birthday, I assumed that was a sign, and I gathered a couple of friends to tag along on the journey.
Obviously, talking about all the amazing cars that were on display would take a novel, so I’ll focus on a few of the highlights. Each event has a featured marque or theme. This time, that honor belonged to Shelby and any of their creations. So, let’s start there.
1967 Shelby 427 A.C. Cobra
This particular example was, among several replicas, one of two original Cobras that attended. According to the owner, it is also one of 30 "Independent Prepared Competition" cars which added a wider body to accommodate bigger tires, a 42-gallon fuel tank, an up-rated competition version of the 427-cu in. V8 (because what the Cobra really needs is more power!), and a huge list of other things designed to make a remarkably fast and scary car faster and scarier. The car is said to have 511 horsepower on 93 octane and weighs in at around 2,200 pounds. Amazingly, the odometer reading says that the car has a total of 436 miles on it! If that’s to be believed, the value of this car must be absolutely astronomical. It was, as one would hope, incredibly clean — and it even still had the Lucas emblems on the headlights (which probably didn’t work …). We were down the street when the car arrived and we gave up on waiting for it to depart, but, hearing this thing fire up would’ve been a great little cherry on top!
1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R
While we’re on the subject of rare Shelby cars that attended the show in pairs, we must also talk about the two (out of 34 total produced) Shelby GT350R cars that were there. The GT350R was literally ready to race right off the production line, and it was powered by a modified 289-cu in. Ford V8 that made 360 hp. The two cars pictured above were both sponsored by Dockery Ford of Morristown, New Jersey. After their racing careers, both cars went their separate ways, but they’ve subsequently been hunted down and bought back by the original Dockery family.
Both have also been painstakingly restored to their former racing glory. Some quick research didn’t reveal a significant amount of information on the white car pictured above (chassis number 5R100), but the blue one (chassis number 5R105) was raced in the 1966 Trans-Am series by Mark Donahue. Mark was a successful racing driver who went on to race in Formula 1 in the 1970s, where he was killed during practice at the 1975 Austrian GP. Fortunately, we were nearby and had our cameras ready when these cars were taken off their trucks and jockeyed into position. Please see the attached short video clip for your aural pleasure.
Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
It wasn’t all testosterone and lumpy V8s though. Among the many Shelby cars, real or otherwise, that rumbled around was a healthy supply of anything and everything else. For example, here’s what would clearly be someone’s unrestored Mercedes Gullwing. Now, I’m not certain of what type of dwelling in which this car has spent the majority of its life — however, it is clearly what one would refer to as a "barn find." It’s in rough shape, but it was obviously protected from most of the elements — as, had it been sitting outside, it would likely have been completely destroyed and all that would remain would be a handful of aluminum body panels. When these cars were introduced in 1955, they were the first cars to come with fuel injection, and they held the distinction of being the fastest production cars in the world, with a top speed of 160 miles per hour. This particular car may not be ready to push that boundary at the moment, but, after being hidden for so long, it’s likely happy to once again see the light of day and the admiration of onlookers.
Sterling 827 SLi
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to see several incredibly rare and incredibly valuable vehicles when I’m attending an event in one of the most affluent areas of the country. However, what if I told you I saw not one, but two Sterling cars? Sadly, since one of them was only seen whizzing by in the other direction on the Merritt Parkway, I am unable to provide proof. I know, I know — pics or it didn’t happen. I was at least able to get a quick shot of one of them.
This one is a hatchback built between 1989 and 1991 (the only years the hatchback was available). Sterling was an attempt by British automaker Rover to sell some cars in the U.S. market. Unfortunately, while the cars shared the proven running gear and platform of the Acura Legend, they were still built lackadaisically in England using world-famous Lucas electronics. Many thousands of them were sold, so they weren’t especially rare or unpopular at the time, but poor reliability means that while the engines are strong and can be taken care of by your local Acura specialist, the rest of the car has what enthusiasts might refer to as "character."
Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer
I am fortunate in that this is the second time I have seen this particular car in person. This time, however, I was present when the car arrived on the scene. Sadly, the owner was promptly mobbed by other folks — and once the crowd has dispersed, he was clearly ready to leave and enjoy the other vehicles on display, so I decided to leave him alone. However, while the crowd was present, he was kind enough to open the engine cover and leave the driver’s door open for a few moments. The level of detail is just as amazing as you would imagine and expect. Every little thing has been removed with the intention of finding some way to improve it. The result is nothing short of incredible. The tachometer really does go up to 11! Even the engine bay, with its crazy intake manifold and leather lined firewall, is a work of art.
Alfa Romeo GTV6 Callaway
The last car I’ll focus on today is this Alfa Romeo GTV6. Now, in a car show that included a Singer 911, Shelby models worth millions of dollars, and countless other amazing exotic and incredible cars, why would I use your valuable time to talk about the relatively common Alfa Romeo GTV6? Well, that would be because, as it was making its way down the street under its own power (a rare feat for an Alfa Romeo!), I happened to spot on the rear window a sticker that said "Callaway Twin Turbo". This, as you might imagine, piqued my interest.
It turns out that only around 35 of these were made, and they were a pretty significant improvement on the original car. For instance, the original 2.5-liter V6 produced 154 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque (the same as a base model Mazda3 today). Adding two turbos made for a significant bump to 230 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque. That peak torque being available at only 2,500 rpm meant that while you would be rewarded if you ran it to redline, you could get around just fine without it. The jump in power output obviously had an effect on performance, dropping the 0-to-60 mph time from 8.5 to 6.2 seconds and dropping the 0-to-100 mph run from a boring 24.3 seconds to 15.4 seconds, which would put it on par with the Honda S2000. Unfortunately, the aural experience will have to remain in your imagination, but, I’m sure it’s glorious!
Many other amazing and beautiful cars were there and I’ll post a link to my photo gallery here. Now, if you’ve never been to Caffeine and Carburetors, you have missed your chance this year, but if you’re in New England or planning to be in New England when one of the several yearly shows is scheduled, it is worth visiting — even if you have to play hooky to do it. Though, if you do call in sick (sick of work is a kind of sick, right?), probably don’t post on Oversteer about your adventure!
By day, Bill Leedy spends his time selling Mazda’s folks throughout Vermont and the Adirondacks. By night, he attempts to fight crime and write things about cars (he does one of those things better than the other). He can also be found on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram under the name Green Mountain Car Guy.
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