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The Road Back to Barrett-Jackson


Editor's Note: Contributor Ken Visser is an Automotive Photographer and Concours Judge, as well as a Computer Tech at Discovery Communications. He's an enthusiast of generally anything that moves and is excited to share his work with Velocity fans. Reach out to him about his incredible photographs at 

I was so lucky back in January to be asked to cover our Velocity Channel's Barrett Jackson 2015 Scottsdale auction.  I spent 5 days/15 hours a day taking photos, doing web based interviews and blogging.  I was in heaven.  As a car guy, it was the greatest show I've ever been to.  Any car nut must make this a bucket list event.  You don't have to bid on anything, just check out the mile long tent filled will cars and vendors and all sorts of great food.  Then you have another 6 huge tents outside, housing hundreds of vehicles.  

I'm highlighting just a few of my favorites below.

35 Duesenberg SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton 028 sm

The 1935 Duesenberg SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton is a mouthful of title but such a special car and a splendid example of American craftsmanship and engineering.  This special motor car had a 420 cubic inch motor which was upgraded to the SuperCharged specification netting 320 horsepower.  The Duezy was part of the Salon collection of special high end automobiles curated by Ed Fallon and and Don Williams of the Blackhawk Collection.

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The Other RWD Japanese Cars Sold in the USA


Editor's Note: When Velocity's own Sam Wackerle isn't here at work, you can catch him chasing another record, building another project or crawling through the junkyard. Certifiably a car nut, Sam wanted to share his unique vehicular view with a weekly list, The Velocity Stack. 

We all are familiar with the Toyota Supra, Mazda Miata and Datsun 240z to 370z just to name a few, but Japan has more RWD surprises up its sleeve.  Here’s a stack of lesser-known RWD drive Japanese cars that were offered in the US market.

Toyota Cressida

One sick Toyota Cressida

Introduced to the USA in 1977, the RWD Toyota was available until 1992.  It may be a land yacht compared the other cars on the list, but its platform can be easily modified and a 2JZ can be stuffed under the hood without major surgery.  It’s a family sized drift beast in the making.  Put the kids in the back, groceries in the trunk and proceed to do your chores sideways in the cloud of tire smoke.

Subaru 360

1966 Subaru 360 Model K111, History Garage, Tokyo

OK there’s nothing “sporty” about it, but it is rear wheel drive!  This was Subaru’s first venture into the US market.  10,000 360s were imported to the States in 1968.  After some safety concerns were raised about the 1,000-pound car being in a field of luxury American V8s, many were left unsold on the dealer lot.  The Subaru 360 did however sell more than 390,000 units outside of the US and introduced a brand that would become synonymous with awd.

Mitsubishi Starion

Chrysler Conquest 2.6 TSi 1988

The Mitsubishi Starion, or Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler Conquest, was a RWD car offered in the middle of the Japanese FWD economy car invasion.  In true small Japanese car fashion, it had a 2.6L 4 banger but it was turbo charged and starting in 1986 it was offered with an intercooler and a wide body version from the factory.  The widened wheel wells gave it the classic hard lines now nostalgic with the 1980s Japanese import scene. 

Datsun 210 1973-1982

Datsun Sunny B-210 brochure cover

In 1983 the Datsun 210 was swapped over to front wheel drive and eventually became the Nissan Sentra.  Until then though, the Datsun 210 did one thing and did it very well, it was a car.  It didn’t change the way we view the Japanese car market, nor did it wow people with speed or horsepower.  It did however get you from A to B without a hiccup.  Today however, the Datsun 210 has seen a resurgence of popularity.  The RWD platform makes it a prime candidate for engine swaps; more often than not that engine will be a rotary engine from an RX7 pushing 700hp.

Toyota Celica First Gen

Toyota Celica ST Fastback 1977

The Toyota Celica Supra of the 1980s was the stepping-stone for the Supra nomenclature to branch off and become its own legend, but the Celica name had been in the US market for many years before that.  First Gen Celicas borrowed the coke bottle styling of the faded muscle car market and it made them damn good-looking coupes.  It’s like a 1970 Torino and a 1968 Barracuda had a baby. They’re aggressively styled and are now classic cars that will soon be rising in fame and price.


Barrett-Jackson Hosts Pick Their Powerball Dream Cars


If you don't live under a rock, chances are you have a Powerball ticket in your pocket. The winnings have skyrocketed to a life-altering $1.5 billion. With Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale right around the corner, we asked our friends Chris, Cristy, Ray, Steve, Mike and Rick what cars on this month's docket they'd bid on. 

Chris Jacobs:


Lot #31 -- 1981 Porsche 928. Just because I’m a huge fan of this body style and the movie “Risky Business”!  Classic 80’s.

Lot #1330 -- 1970 Camaro built by the Ring Brothers. The ‘Grinch’ is another great example of the unique work done by Mike and Jim Ring. Instantly recognizable!

Lot #540 -- 1968 Charger. Can’t beat a classic Mopar!

Lot #1274 -- 1970 Challenger built by Roadster Shop. I love their work. So bold and strong with clean custom lines.


Cristy Lee:


Lot #779 -- 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Fastback. True survivor car, original paint & interior, matching numbers. Great piece of history, I'm a big fan of "original" cars.

Lot #640 -- 1950 Chevy Pickup.  Pristine truck, rare find. I gotta have a badass truck in my collection!

Lot #1279 -- 1954 Chevy "Entombed" Corvette. One of a kind! I'm fascinated with the story behind this car.

Lot #1301 -- 1967 Shelby GT 500 Supersnake


Steve Magnante:


Lot #1358 -- 1963 Pontiac 421 "Swiss Cheese" Super Duty. A glimpse of the mayhem GM was about to unleash - before the March '63 anti-performance ban shut everything down. 

Lot #1222 -- 1962 Plymouth Fury 413 Max Wedge. A real, verified Max Wedge in this day of clones and recreations.

Lot #1367 -- 1977 Porsche 930 Turbo. I openly admit that American didn't or doesn't have a lock on insanely fast machinery. 

Lot #1376 -- 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet. It'll go well with the Messerschmitt Me262 Jet Fighter replica (sans logos) I'll be buying for weekend fun (a team in Texas is actually reproducing "Swallows"). The PowerBall was good for 1.5 Billion...with a B, right? 


Mike Joy:


Lot #1396 -- 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra Roadster. Always wanted a Cobra, don’t need a big block.

Lot #1368.1-- 1961 Jaguar XKE. My buddy Ron Berle had when we were in college. Sexiest shape on wheels… ever.  

Lot #1372 -- 1970 Corvette Convertible "Music Car". My senior year in high school, this was the car everyone dreamed of.

Lot #1392 -- 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach. Tomorrow’s Porsche today.


Rick DeBruhl:


Lot #1370 -- 2006 Ford GT. Classic shape, modern performance. Flying the Gulf colors. Be still my heart.

Lot #1258 -- 1968 Shelby GT350 Convertible. My favorite year and shape. I want it red so folks can see me coming for miles.  

Lot #1396 -- 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra. Why own an imitation when I can have the original? OK, so this is the 2nd time the Shelby names is on my list. Sue me.

Lot #1387 -- The French Connection. Boyd Coddington's last build. Styled after the 37 Delahaye. Can you say curves of steel?  


Ray Evernham:


Lot #1280 -- 1948 Kurtis Indy Roadster. Sam Hanks, Frank Kurtis and Indy 500 in the same description...legendary.

Lot #1061 -- 1944 Dodge Power Wagon. Most bad ass truck ever built, the resto rodded version is my dream truck.

Lot #1416.1 -- 1962 McGee/Carman Indy Roadster. Legendary Indy car Mechanic Jim McGee is one of my heroes, anything built by him is valuable to my collection.

Lot #1341 -- 1970 Hemi Cuda. It's the "must have" of every muscle car collector.

Eight Great Straight Sixes


Editor's Note: When Velocity's own Sam Wackerle isn't here at work, you can catch him chasing another record, building another project or crawling through the junkyard. Certifiably a car nut, Sam wanted to share his unique vehicular view with a weekly list, The Velocity Stack. 

The straight six may currently be old technology to some, but many enthusiasts still have a soft spot for these inline engines.  Basing decisions on performance capabilities, reliability and most importantly reputation, here’s the Velocity Stack of the 8 best straight sixes ever to be stuffed into a passenger vehicle.

Ford 300/4.9

73-75 Ford F-350

Often heralded as the “best kept secret in drag racing,” the Ford 300 will tow above its class, require less maintenance than the toughest diesel and with some speed equipment it will leave even the stoutest V8s in the dust.  Introduced in 1965 and gradually phased out by 1996, the 300/4.9 was tweaked until it was one of the most reliable gas engines on the planet.  It is not uncommon to hear stories of them reaching well above 400,000 miles with only regular oil changes.  Why use an F350 as the picture?  The 300/4.9 had such a reputation for torque and reliability that you could find a 300/4.9 even in the one-ton Ford trucks.

Toyota 2JZ-GTE

Toyota Supra MKIV Motorraum

Toyota had been making very reliable straight sixes based off the Chevrolet Stovebolt since the 1930’s, but when Toyota began using an overhead cam design in the mid 1960’s, it set the stage for the beast that was to come almost 30 years later.  The 3.0L, dual overhead cam, twin turbocharged monster that emerged from Japan in 1991 immediately changed how people viewed the import scene.  It’s not uncommon to see stock long blocks with 800hp on the street and all out race motors pushing 2000hp at the drag strip.

Chrysler Slant Six

Plymouth Valiant Slant 6

Unlike some others on the list, the Slant Six isn’t known for producing ridiculous power.  The Slant Six can produce solid horsepower, but its reputation wasn’t founded on its performance capabilities.  The Slant Six in its stock form has gained a legendary reliability status other engines can only dream of.  It doesn’t matter where you place your brand loyalty; one thing Slant Six owners all agree on is you can’t kill it.


2007 BMW Z4 M Coupé engine

Few can argue BMW’s long and well-earned history with the straight six.  Nearly all of BMW’s six cylinders deserve a spot, but the S54 introduced in the 2000 E46 M3 was the pinnacle of the BMW naturally aspirated straight six.  With 333 ponies available in the States, it was a rev happy engine and begged to be beaten on.  BMW has yet to make a more powerful, naturally aspirated, production straight six since phasing out the S54 in 2008.

Nissan RB26DETT


For an engine that was never offered in the United States, it sure has a healthy reputation.  Used primarily in the R32, R33 and R34 Skylines in Japan, the RB26DETT has been mating with local 240SX wildlife in the USA for years now.  It’s only 2.6 liters, but its high revving and boost loving capabilities make it a potent and highly sought after 6 banger.

Jaguar XK6

Jaguar XK6 4.2L engine

Excluding all but the most hard-core Jaguar lover, the XK6 hasn’t built a reputation for power or performance here in the states.  In the UK however, it has been likened to the Small Block Chevy.  This moniker was given to the XK6 because of its ability to be modified for more ponies and the vast aftermarket support it receives.  Not only is horsepower easily squeezed out of it, the XK6 is one of the best-looking engines of all time.  The overhead cams, side draft carbs and the gently sloping exhaust manifolds represent a time when the British automotive industry took pride in every aspect of building a vehicle.

AMC 4.0

1983 AMC Spirit GT with 4 liter e

One of the last surviving straight sixes based on old school technology, the 4.0 was made until 2006 but its roots are from all the way back in 1964 when AMC introduced it’s “modern” straight six.  There isn’t much power to be made from a 4.0, it won’t rev to the moon and it wasn’t designed to take ridiculous amounts of boost.  The 4.0 simply does exactly what it was designed to do, provide low end torque to get your dumb ass out of the hole you got your Jeep stuck in.  It’s a tractor engine in a SUVs body and its reliability was a challenge for modern engines to reproduce.

GMC 302

 photo IMG_2091.jpg

This spot on the list could have gone to either the Chevy 292 or the GMC 302.  Both great straight sixes, but the GMC 302 has lore that the Chevy 292 will never have.  The GMC 302 was produced from 1952 to 1960 and in its heyday the 302 was a favorite in land speed racing on the West Coast and dirt track racing on the East Coast.  The GMC 302 was competitive against V8s of similar size well into the late 1960s and continues to set records even today.  The holy grail of GMC speed equipment is the 12 port head, it’s worth a pretty penny, but the hot rod cred that comes with it is substantial to say the least.


Four Underrated Non-V8 Chevy Engines


Editor's Note: When Velocity's own Sam Wackerle isn't here at work, you can catch him chasing another record, building another project or crawling through the junkyard. Certifiably a car nut, Sam wanted to share his unique vehicular view with a weekly list, The Velocity Stack. 

We all know that the Chevy Small Block V8 has permanently etched its name into the history of hot rodding since it’s introduction in 1955.  The equally revered Big Block and LS series V8s followed in its footsteps, but believe it or not, Chevy made, and continues to make, engines in configurations other than a V8 that are pretty good.  The Gen IV and Gen V LS engines are leading the pack for restomodding and all around engine swapping, but let’s take a moment to see the other options Chevrolet can provide.

Vortec 4200 Straight Six

2006 LL8 (Vortec 4200) engine in 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer

The 4.2-liter, straight six pushes out between 270 and 291 horsepower depending on the year and starts making very usable torque all the way down at 1600 RPM.  For what it’s worth, it was in Ward’s Ten Best Engines from 2002 to 2005.  Right off the bat Chevrolet’s modern straight six sounds pretty good to me, but there’s a secret hiding in these motors.  With the majority of the engine being aluminum, with dual overhead cams and 7 main bearings, there’s horsepower waiting to be tapped from these motors.  There hasn’t been an influx of support from the aftermarket for these engines, but there are a few pioneers pushing them to their limits.  Wouldn’t it be perfect to replace your Stovebolt?

4.3L V6


The 4.3 Chevy is a potent power plant and revered in the rock crawling world.  It has simple to understand fuel injection, it’s reliable and it can be squeezed into the smallest of engine compartments.  Don’t be surprised to find them in Datsuns, Miatas, MGs and other compact 2 seaters.  Plus there’s a ton of them available in junkyards and old trucks.  The 1992 to 1995 CPI (Central Port Injection) years are the most desirable for their simplicity and power.  Most of those years are pushing out just under 200 ponies and 260 lb feet of torque.  That may not sound like much in a hot rod, but in a geared down Jeep CJ, or a tiny two-seat convertible, it’s a tough and tight package.  Best place to find them is in 4th generation c/k1500 trucks like the one pictured.

Ecotec 4 Cylinder

2006 Saturn Ion Red Line engine

With a little research and some massive boost, the Ecotec 4 banger can produce ridiculous amounts of power and live to tell the tale.  We’re talking 1400+ horsepower from a tiny 2.0L engine.  You’d expect such a small engine to only be embraced by the JDM fans who are used to pushing small displacement engines to their limits, but the Chevy Ecotec has been setting records by the most scrappy American iron enthusiast at the Salt Flats and other racing events since it’s potential was first realized.  The next time a person pulls up next to you at a red light with a Saturn Ion or Chevy Cobalt, don’t be so sure that your tried and true V8 will smoke them.  It’s a new, exciting and boosted world out there.

292 and 250 Straight Six

Straight Six Camaro

This is a bit out of left field, but that’s the appeal.  An LS can be a good looking engine if you hide a few wires and paint a few bits here and there, but the 292 is a unique piece right out of the box.  There are a lot of myths out there about getting horsepower from the straight six stump-puller.  They can make power, but it requires forethought.  You can’t buy a bunch of go fast pieces from the local auto parts store.  A Chevy 292 needs to be caressed.  Maybe you take it out to dinner first and get to know it.  Put in the time and you’ll have a unique and surprisingly fast piece.  Not to mention, it’s hard for haters to hate when they have a mouth full of your dust.

Visit daily for posts about the shows and spirit of Velocity, an upscale male lifestyle network, featuring the best of the automotive, sports, adventure and travel genres.





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