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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tom Meade's Anti-Cobra


An Answer to Carroll Shelby


Above: the Anti-Cobra being prepared by Tom Meade in his Maranello studio.

“Started in 1963, the basic idea was begun over a frustrated Baron: In the town of Laussan, near Lake Geneva,  Switzerland, Baron de Bloney had a Corvette. Being an automotive enthusiast, he raced it regularly but had been complaining that he was getting his ‘doors blown off by the Cobras.’ Thus began the Anti-Cobra project.

“As he hung out in Italy and we knew each other, one day the Baron came with a proposal and cash deposit, commissioning me to build a special car. This weapon for the street and track would rival the legendary Shelby AC Cobras. By this time, in the early 1960s, Carroll Shelby himself was already retired as a winning racecar driver for manufacturers including Scarab, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Maserati (in 1956 and ‘57 Sports Illustrated named Shelby sports car driver of the year, and in 1959 he and co-driver Ray Salvadori won 24 Hours of LeMans).

“To more clearly understand the impetus for the Anti-Cobra, it is important to put the rival car, the Cobra, into proper historical context: 

“Lighter and faster than the Corvette Stingray, by 1963, Shelby’s Cobra arrived at 3 Hours of Daytona for its first international competition. Although it did well, the Ferrari GTOs won, taking 1st and 2nd, while Corvette finished 3rd, leaving the Cobra in 4th place.


Above: 250 GTO ­#4219GT, with Pedro Rodriguez at Three Hours of Daytona.

“Thereafter, Shelby-American entered four cars at 12 Hours of Sebring, Florida, an FIA race. Two of the four Cobras had the new rack-and-pinion steering setup, driven by Dan Gurney and Phil Hill. Although Hill set the fastest GT lap, the Ferraris won again (dominating the field). The leading Cobra finished 11th  but ahead of the Corvettes.

“Later that same year, 1963, Shelby-American completed its first 125 Cobras. Because Ford refused to finance a Cobra Le Mans effort, Shelby put together a deal with AC Cars and Ed Hugus, who prepared one car each. The top Cobra finished 7th. After Le Mans, Shelby began the Daytona Coupe project, as the LeMans experience revealed that AC Cobra roadster body lacked the aerodynamics necessary for the desired 190(+) mph for the Mulsanne Straight. Pete Brock was the Daytona body designer.


Above: 1963 -The 3 Cobra roadsters that would win the 1963 USRRC Manufacturer's Championship.

“By year’s end, December 1963, the Cobra won the USRRC (United States Road Racing Championship). This foreshadowed things to come. And although Ferrari continued to dominate 1963 and ’64, by the end of the 1964 season, Shelby’s Daytona Cobras had come into maturity and for the first time Ferrari’s GTOs were beaten around Le Mans and Sebring. The rest is history.


Above: the 1st Daytona Cobra at 12 Hours of Sebring where it won GT class, placing 4th overall.

“Up against such provenance, I took the Cobra as a sort of benchmark for a starting point, and developed the Anti-Cobra’s capabilities from there. I wanted Anti-Cobra to be its own strike-force, worthy of competing with the likes of Jaguar and Ferrari. To achieve this, I built a bespoke tubular steel chassis with independent suspension and Gurling disc brakes to all four corners (with inboard discs at the rear).

“I used a quick-change differential, and a German ZF 5-speed gearbox. The suspension uprights were Magnesium, as well as the wheels. Most of the components for the suspension and chassis were either aluminum or magnesium, with a 1.5mm aluminum body.


Above: the Anti-Cobra being prepared by Tom Meade in his Maranello studio, with Thomassima III in foreground.

“I designed a removable targa top with gullwing windows (yes windows, not doors). The windows and doors were separate units. In this way, when the targa top was removed, there were no windows.

“The Anti-Cobra is one of my cars that has slipped through the cracks. Very little is known about it; very few know of it. It was finished in 1964, although it was one of my first cars, built simultaneously with Thomassima I (started in 1962). In those days I had to make a living with client cars so my Thomassima passion could be financed by commissions. And so was the Anti-Cobra.



Above and below: the Anti-Cobra

“Baron deBloney one day loaned the car to a friend who eventually wrecked it. It was then very poorly repaired and I bought it back from him. I then stored it where it remains to this day, in Italy. I plan to build a new and updated version of Anti-Cobra using Corvette ZR-1 components, supercharged, with a hammered out aluminum body over wireframe, made in Italy.”



Above: Anti-Cobra's gull wing windows are featured.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tom Meade Update: February 2012 -Part 9


More on the New Thomassima IIII


 photo above: Thomassima III

“My car will be reminiscent of a ’57 Ferrari TR, 275 LM, and a 250 GTO–the body to be built in Modena. I’m hoping it will be the most exciting cars to come out of Italy.

“My mission, my goal, my dream is, and has always been, to create the most beautiful car ever given to the world. It will debut at a to-be-announced time, at Lowe’s Casino at the F1 in May in Monte Carlo (as seen in the James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’). The Thomassima’s body will be tasteful, elegant, subtle, and traditional.

“The engine is a Ferrari, twin supercharged, dry sumped, 4-cam, multi-valved, V12. The fuel tanks are  hand-made riveted aluminum with leather straps and rubber safety fuel bladders. It will be a 3-pedal manual standard 6 or 7-speed.

“The rim barrels are spun (not cast) from 6061T6 aluminum. The center knock off ‘star’ is aluminum. The 3-pedal assemblies are CNC machined out of solid 6061T6 aluminum billet. The shift gate is to be plated in black chrome.

“The steering wheel is ergonomically molded, sculpted, and assembled from different components including ebony, ivory, carbon fiber, glass, and titanium. The main structure ring is ergonomically molded purple carbon fiber hand made in the workshop. On the wheel are hollowed out and hand-carved Sri Lankan ebony attachments/inserts. Upon these pieces are mastodon ivory, colored purple. Titanium hex screws secure the ivory to the ebony. The center steering wheel mounting studs are 7000 series aluminum.  The dash cluster is fiber optically illuminated.”

Parting Shots (for now)


“I do not feel inferior to any of the big names in the automotive world. But am I a guy who loves cars. I’ll be doing this in heaven or in hell. And I’m asking and hoping for the readers to join me in this adventure. It’s up to you make up your own mind if the Thomassima is beautiful or ugly. I am only saying ‘please take a peek at my car.’

“The first Thomassima IIII will not be for sale but will be maintained and displayed around the world by one of the biggest auction houses in the world. We’ve already agreed to this with the owner over dinner at Lake Como in the Swiss Alps. This is on the border of Switzerland and Italy. I’ll let you know when we’re going to Monte Carlo.”

Monday, January 7, 2013

Original 1966 Television Car "Batmobile" Started With a Kiss

A concept cars' journey into fame really took off from having the blues, to going in the red, then re-emerging far into the black:


Whereas most tv cars exist in multiple versions with no singular/non-repeatable origin (such as the Monkee Mobile, see: http://chadglass.blogspot.com/2012/03/cult-of-tacky-perfectly-good-gtos.html), George Barris' onscreen Batmobile was born from an originally fully-working custom one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car with a cosmetically (but pivotally historical) reworked body. Although never put into mass production (unless you consider the Futura model kits as being mass-produced cars), the Futura concept influenced Lincoln's design ethos throughout the rest of the 1950s, with the tailfin era and motif assuming the controlling design idiom. 

Originally designed by Bill Schmidt, Lincoln-Mercury's chief design stylist at the time, Futura was hand-built for $250,000 in 1954 by Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy, for an unveiling at the 1955 Detroit Auto Show. Its huge success there ensured Futura would be an excellent publicity generating machine for Ford in the intervening years before Barris' involvement.



But a decade flew by and Batman signaled. 

And with such staggeringly short turnaround time, Barris looked no further than his own prop yard to a rusting red form that once graced the silver screen with Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds in an entirely forgettable film entitled It Started With a Kiss, from 1959. Repainted gloss red for the movie, ownership of the Lincoln went from Ford (where it was showcased for a few years to garner publicity) then transferred to Barris where he used it on the Kiss (bought from Ford for $1)whereafter he kept it at his shop, Barris Kustom Industries, in North Hollywood, California (and he has been the owner of the car ever since): 

See: http://northhollywood.patch.com/listings/barris-kustom-industries#video-5462150 

With most of the work already done for him, Futura's civilian luxury appeal; however, would not pass for a Batmobile. He was so close but so far. Therefore, Barris was then challenged to transform the originally blue-white pearlescent bespoke Lincoln (which was red by the time Barris acquired it) --in only three weeks-- to become one of the main characters in a television series. The final creation had to matter hugely and what resulted in such a short gestation period is nothing short of astonishing.

To meet the looming deadline for its Batman television debut, Barris changed just enough and left just enough to reinvent the wheel into super stardom. Futura is Batmobile is Futura: In other words, there is only one true original 1966 Batmobile, with the following  four extra tv cars built being only replicas. 




Languishing neglected for over ten years after the Kiss, the fate of this machine would go down in history as, perhaps, the most famous car of all time. 


From derelict to dashing, the revamped Futura lived up to its name and transformed, like Bruce Wayne himself, into Batmobile under Barris' deliciously tacky design statement. I must admit, the Batmobile is badass. Its outrageous styling works beautifully as I cannot see it being any other way. Barris didn't do anything wrong or erroneous, with the whole thing coming together in harmony. 




video

This is a case, too, of a future-looking concept car actually being implemented in the future and then rising to iconic form. But oh the irony -a 1954 design (with the 1950s being a decade supposedly stigmatized as square, staid, and conservative) revived and accelerated to the very topmost levels of fame into mid to late 1960s television culture. With the Batmobile, indeed the space age had come of age (and thus became married to a character concept called "Batman," created by writer and artist Bob Kane, dating originally from issue #27 of DC's Detective Comics in 1939 -the year of Gone With the Wind and Wizard of Oz).





The first appearance of Batman in DC's Detective Comics #27, May, 1939

To collectors of exotica origin is everything, and its rarity will enshrine the Batmobile as its own force of provenance indefinitely, with the new owner to be determined this month at the renowned Barrett-Jackson auction on January 19, in Scottsdale, Arizona (with this article to be updated once the car sells).

At a count of 120 shows and falling ratings, the final Batman episode aired on March 14 on ABC, 1968, with the Batmobile going back into indefinite retirement, but not without possible plans for another tour of duty onscreen. With Batmobile sitting again in Barris' yard, although now cemented in stratospheric fame, there were talks within NBC studios to bring it back. But with 20th Century Fox having already demolished all of the sets, this was not to be. A three-season run was all Batmobile would deliver but that is all it needed. 

Outlasting the show it made famous, Batmobile and Barris' industrial design genius live on and will forevermore. With its 390 cubic inch 1956 Lincoln V8 and B&M Hyrdromatic transmission it will grace the stage for eyes and cameras again as the auctioner's gavel slams down the going value for a historically priceless icon. 

Update to follow soon... 




The first appearance of the Batmobile in DC Detective Comics issue #27, May, 1939

For a detailed history of Batman and the Batmobile appearing in DC Comics, please visit:
http://goldenagecomics.org/wordpress/2009/04/18/the-year-of-the-bat-70-years-old-today/
http://goldenagecomics.org/wordpress/2009/03/08/the-year-of-the-bat-part-2/
http://goldenagecomics.org/wordpress/2009/04/12/the-year-of-the-bat-part-3-the-batmobile/


Edit:
Original Batmobile sells for $4.6 million at Barrett-Jackson



excerpt:


"The original 1955 Lincoln Futura concept—that George Barris turned into the Batmobile for the TV show—sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottdale, Ariz., on Jan. 19 for a final price of $4.62 million, not including fees. The first of six Batmobiles used for the show was the top-selling car in the Barrett-Jackson Salon Collection.
"It was followed by Clark Gable's 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe ($2,035,000), a 1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 Grand Sport ($2,035,000), a 1934 Duesenberg J Murphy LWB Custom Beverly Sedan ($1,430,000), a 1956 Chrysler Diablo Concept Convertible ($1,375,000) and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda' Convertible that went for $1,320,000.

"The winning bidder was Rick Champagne, a business man and car collector from the Phoenix area who has been attending the Barrett-Jackson auctions for years. Champagne told The Hollywood Reporter that he grew up watching the show and was determined to walk away with the car. When asked where he intended to keep the car, Champagne joked he would knock down a wall in his living room."


Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130121/carnews01/130129981#ixzz2Irni8b2L

Original 1966 Television Car "Batmobile" Started With a Kiss

A concept cars' journey into fame really took off from having the blues, to going in the red, then re-emerging far into the black:


Whereas most tv cars exist in multiple versions with no singular/non-repeatable origin (such as the Monkee Mobile, see: http://chadglass.blogspot.com/2012/03/cult-of-tacky-perfectly-good-gtos.html), George Barris' onscreen Batmobile was born from an originally fully-working custom one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car with a cosmetically (but pivotally historical) reworked body. Although never put into mass production (unless you consider the Futura model kits as being mass-produced cars), the Futura concept influenced Lincoln's design ethos throughout the rest of the 1950s, with the tailfin era and motif assuming the controlling design idiom. 

Originally designed by Bill Schmidt, Lincoln-Mercury's chief design stylist at the time, Futura was hand-built for $250,000 in 1954 by Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy, for an unveiling at the 1955 Detroit Auto Show. Its huge success there ensured Futura would be an excellent publicity generating machine for Ford in the intervening years before Barris' involvement.



But a decade flew by and Batman signaled. 

And with such staggeringly short turnaround time, Barris looked no further than his own prop yard to a rusting red form that once graced the silver screen with Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds in an entirely forgettable film entitled It Started With a Kiss, from 1959. Repainted gloss red for the movie, ownership of the Lincoln went from Ford (where it was showcased for a few years to garner publicity) then transferred to Barris where he used it on the Kiss (bought from Ford for $1)whereafter he kept it at his shop, Barris Kustom Industries, in North Hollywood, California (and he has been the owner of the car ever since): 

See: http://northhollywood.patch.com/listings/barris-kustom-industries#video-5462150 

With most of the work already done for him, Futura's civilian luxury appeal; however, would not pass for a Batmobile. He was so close but so far. Therefore, Barris was then challenged to transform the originally blue-white pearlescent bespoke Lincoln (which was red by the time Barris acquired it) --in only three weeks-- to become one of the main characters in a television series. The final creation had to matter hugely and what resulted in such a short gestation period is nothing short of astonishing.

To meet the looming deadline for its Batman television debut, Baris changed just enough and left just enough to reinvent the wheel into super stardom. Futura is Batmobile is Futura: In other words, there is only one true original 1966 Batmobile, with the following  four extra tv cars built being only replicas. 




Languishing neglected for over ten years after the Kiss, the fate of this machine would go down in history as, perhaps, the most famous car of all time. 


From derelict to dashing, the revamped Futura lived up to its name and transformed, like Bruce Wayne himself, into Batmobile under Barris' deliciously tacky design statement. I must admit, the Batmobile is badass. Its outrageous styling works beautifully as I cannot see it being any other way. Barris didn't do anything wrong or erroneous, with the whole thing coming together in harmony. 




video

This is a case, too, of a future-looking concept car actually being implemented in the future and then rising to iconic form. But oh the irony -a 1954 design (with the 1950s being a decade supposedly stigmatized as square, staid, and conservative) revived and accelerated to the very topmost levels of fame into mid to late 1960s television culture. With the Batmobile, indeed the space age had come of age (and thus became married to a character concept called "Batman," created by writer and artist Bob Kane, dating originally from issue #27 of DC's Detective Comics in 1939 -the year of Gone With the Wind and Wizard of Oz).





The first appearance of Batman in DC's Detective Comics #27, May, 1939

To collectors of exotica origin is everything, and its rarity will enshrine the Batmobile as its own force of provenance indefinitely, with the new owner to be determined this month at the renowned Barrett-Jackson auction on January 19, in Scottsdale, Arizona (with this article to be updated once the car sells).

At a count of 120 shows and falling ratings, the final Batman episode aired on March 14 on ABC, 1968, with the Batmobile going back into indefinite retirement, but not without possible plans for another tour of duty onscreen. With Batmobile sitting again in Barris' yard, although now cemented in stratospheric fame, there were talks within NBC studios to bring it back. But with 20th Century Fox having already demolished all of the sets, this was not to be. A three-season run was all Batmobile would deliver but that is all it needed. 

Outlasting the show it made famous, Batmobile and Barris' industrial design genius live on and will forevermore. With its 390 cubic inch 1956 Lincoln V8 and B&M Hyrdromatic transmission it will grace the stage for eyes and cameras again as the auctioner's gavel slams down the going value for a historically priceless icon. 

Update to follow soon... 




The first appearance of the Batmobile in DC Detective Comics issue #27, May, 1939

For a detailed history of Batman and the Batmobile appearing in DC Comics, please visit:
http://goldenagecomics.org/wordpress/2009/04/18/the-year-of-the-bat-70-years-old-today/
http://goldenagecomics.org/wordpress/2009/03/08/the-year-of-the-bat-part-2/
http://goldenagecomics.org/wordpress/2009/04/12/the-year-of-the-bat-part-3-the-batmobile/


Edit:
Original Batmobile sells for $4.6 million at Barrett-Jackson



excerpt:


"The original 1955 Lincoln Futura concept—that George Barris turned into the Batmobile for the TV show—sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottdale, Ariz., on Jan. 19 for a final price of $4.62 million, not including fees. The first of six Batmobiles used for the show was the top-selling car in the Barrett-Jackson Salon Collection.
"It was followed by Clark Gable's 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe ($2,035,000), a 1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 Grand Sport ($2,035,000), a 1934 Duesenberg J Murphy LWB Custom Beverly Sedan ($1,430,000), a 1956 Chrysler Diablo Concept Convertible ($1,375,000) and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda' Convertible that went for $1,320,000.

"The winning bidder was Rick Champagne, a business man and car collector from the Phoenix area who has been attending the Barrett-Jackson auctions for years. Champagne told The Hollywood Reporter that he grew up watching the show and was determined to walk away with the car. When asked where he intended to keep the car, Champagne joked he would knock down a wall in his living room."


Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130121/carnews01/130129981#ixzz2Irni8b2L