Tag: Hagerty

9 old tools almost nobody uses anymore – Kyle Smith @Hagerty

9 old tools almost nobody uses anymore – Kyle Smith @Hagerty


The nuts and bolts that make up our beloved automobiles have not changed that much over the last 150 years. But the tools needed to maintain them? Those have changed a lot. Software has cemented itself as part of a service technician’s day-to-day regimen, relegating a handful of tools to the history books. (Or, perhaps, to niche shops or private garages that keep many aging cars alive and on the road.)

How many of these now-obsolete tools do you have in your garage? More to the point, which are you still regularly using?

Spark-plug gap tool

Though spark-plug gap tools can still be found in the “impulse buy” section of your favorite parts store, these have been all but eliminated from regular use by the growing popularity of iridium and platinum plugs. These rare-earth metals are extremely resistant to degradation but, when it comes time to set the proper gap between the ground strap and electrode, they are very delicate. That’s why the factory sets the gap when the plug is produced.

These modern plugs often work well in older engines, meaning that gapping plugs is left for luddites—those who like doing things the old way just because. Nothing wrong with that; but don’t be surprised if dedicated plug-gapping tools fade from common usage fairly quickly.

Verdict: Keep. Takes up no real space. 

Dwell meter

50 years ago, a tuneup of an engine centered on the ignition system. The breaker points are critical to a properly functioning ignition system, and timing how long those points are closed (the “dwell”) determines how much charge is built up in the ignition coil and thus discharged through the spark plug. Poorly timed ignition discharge is wasted energy, but points-based ignition systems disappeared from factory floors decades ago, and drop-in electronic ignition setups have never been more reliable (or polarizing—but we’ll leave that verdict up to you.)

Setting the point gap properly is usually enough to keep an engine running well, and modern multifunction timing lights can include a dwell meter for those who really need it. A dedicated dwell meter is an outdated tool for a modern mechanic, and thus most of the vintage ones are left to estate sales and online auction sites.

Verdict: Toss once it stops working. Modern versions are affordable and multifunctional. 

Distributor wrench

When mechanics did a lot of regular timing adjustments and tuning, a purposely bent distributor wrench made their lives much easier. However, much like ignition points, distributors have all but disappeared. Thanks to coil-on-plug ignition systems and computer-controlled timing, the distributor is little more than a messenger: It simply tells the computer where the engine is at in its rotation.

Timing adjustments have become so uncommon that a job-specific tool is likely a waste of space. If you’ve got room in your tool chest, keep yours around; but know that a standard box-end wrench can usually get the job done and is only fractionally less convenient than the specialized version.

Verdict: Keep if you have them. No need to buy if you don’t. 

Pre-OBDII diagnostic scan tools

Prior to the required standardization of on-board diagnostic computers by the U.S. in 1996, a single car could host a wild mix of analog and digital diagnostic methods. OBDII, which stands for On-Board Diagnostic II, wasn’t the first time that a small computer was used to pull information from the vehicle via an electronic connection; it merely standardized the language.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s each OEM had its own version of a scan tool. Now those tools can be reverse-engineered and functionally spoofed by a modern computer, allowing access to diagnostic info tools that, at the time, were only available to dealers. Since many pre-OBDII cars are now treated as classics or antiques and driven far less frequently, the need for period-correct diagnostic tools is dropping.

Verdict: Keep. These will only get harder to find with time, and working versions will be even rarer. 

Distributor machine

A distributor is simple in concept. Trying to balance the performance and economy of the ignition system, with the distributor attached to a running engine, and achieving proper operation starts to get pretty complicated. That’s where a distributor machine comes in.

A distributor is attached to the apparatus and spun at engine speed by an electric motor. This allows you to literally see how the points are opening and closing. You can also evaluate the function of vacuum or mechanical advance systems. These machines are still great but the frequency that this service is needed these days is few and far between, especially when trying to justify keeping a large tool around and properly calibrated.

Verdict: Keep, if you are a specialty shop or tool collector. 

Engine analyzer

Even a casual enthusiast can see there is a lot more information that can be gleaned from a running engine than whatever readouts might be on the dash. Enter the engine analyzer, a rolling cabinet of sensors and processors designed to fill in the data gaps between everything that is happening in a car and what its gauges report.

An engine analyzer is essentially a handful of additional instruments packaged into a small box hanging around the bottom of your tool drawers. It can also house a lot of sensors in a giant cabinet, which was likely wheeled into the corner of the shop in 1989 and left to gather dust. Now engine analyzers can be found listed online for as cheap as $200.

The funny thing is that many of the sensors in these engine analyzers are often the same systems that come built into modern dynamometer tuning systems. In a dyno, the sensors allow the operator to see more than max power; they also show how changes to an engine’s tune affect emissions. Maybe engine analyzers didn’t disappear so much as change clothes.

Verdict: Toss. The opportunity cost of the space these take up can be tough for most home garages. Sensors went out of calibration decades ago so the information you might get from one is dubious at best. 

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Why is the 319-hp Shelby GT hotter than the 500-hp GT500? – Conner Golden @Hagerty


Thought experiment:

Two distinctly modern Shelby Mustangs, produced during parallel model years with a set of stripes and goosed-up V-8s. One was a Shelby-licensed Ford factory effort: a comprehensively engineered, 500-hp, supercharged, stick-axle snake that was, for a moment, the most powerful production muscle-car on the planet. The other is a true Shelby-modified ’Stang, marginally more than an aesthetic package with some quality bolt-ons.

Which would you expect to be more collectible? The 500-hp monster, right? Correct!

Well, kind of. Maybe. It’s complicated.

2007 Shelby GT, sold for $23,100 in RM Sotheby’s Open Roads, North America sale in July 2020. RM Sotheby’s

As you probably gleaned from the headline and that pretty pony in the lead image, these mystery Mustangs are the 2007–2009 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and the 2007–2008 Shelby GT (SGT). And, if you determine collectability by which trades hands for more cash, then yes, the GT500 is the obvious winner with overall higher values across all conditions, according to the Hagerty Valuation Tool.

The money favors the big, beefy GT500, but something’s happening with the lesser-known Shelby GT. Both ’Stangs have increased their values since 2020, but the understudy SGT has outpaced the GT500 in appreciation.

Pause for a moment—here’s some context before we get nerdy with the numbers. In the mid-2000s, the Mustang brand was arguably the strongest it’d been in decades, with the newly-launched S197-generation Mustang (2005–2013) ushering a surge of sales from a horde of new and returning Mustang owners looking to mainline a fat dose of nostalgia with the S197’s neo-retro design.

Broad Arrow

The time was right for a Shelby resurgence. Despite a successful turn at hopping-up Omnis, Chargers, and Dakotas for Chrysler, Carroll Shelby’s surname hadn’t graced the decklid of a Mustang in any capacity since Shelby legally re-VIN’d 789 unsold 1969 GT500s as model year 1970. The S197 reawakened Shelby’s relationship with the Mustang, first with the rare 2005 CS6 and CS8 Mustang packages, and shortly thereafter with a 21st-century rekindling of his bonds with Ford and Hertz. The two corporate giants teamed up with the famed Mustang maestro for the 2006 Shelby GT-H, a limited 500-unit run of Shelby-fied black-and-gold Mustang GTs exclusively for Hertz’s rental fleets that recalled the original Shelby-Hertz partnership from 1966.

A year later, Ford and Shelby collaborated again on the 2007–2008 Shelby GT as a commercially-available production version of the former GT-H—which, by the way, returned to Hertz’s fleet for the 2007 model year configured only as a convertible. For SGT production, Ford followed in the spirit of the Shelby Mustangs of 1960s yore by shipping new Mustang GTs straight from the factory to Shelby’s facility in Las Vegas for the hop-up kit.

A new intake, ECU, and exhaust squeezed another 19 hp and 10 lb-ft of torque out of the GT’s 4.6-liter V-8 for a total of 319 hp and 330 lb-ft. Upgraded springs, dampers, and thicker sway bars from a Ford Performance suspension kit significantly improved handling. Aesthetically, the rear spoiler was deleted and a new retro-style hood scoop, chrome five-spoke American Racing-style wheels, a new grille, and rear diffuser were added. Inside, the requisite Shelby commemorative plaque sits on the dash above a classic cue-ball shifter.

So, it’s best to consider the SGT a “Mustang GT-Plus” with Shelby bona fides. It never had its time at the top of the hierarchy however, as the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 also landed on U.S. tarmac in 2007. Developed almost entirely in-house by Ford’s Special Vehicles Team (SVT) with only consultation and licensing from Shelby, the new GT500 was fully built by Ford at its Flat Rock, Michigan, plant. Differences over its siblings were substantial: a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 ripped the rear tires with 500 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, bigger Brembo brakes, and an aggressive suspension with revised springs and dampers to manage the added heft and power. It also sported a vented hood, different front fascia, and rear spoiler, along with its own unique wheels and tires

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1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham: Intermediate Luxury – Thomas Klockau @Hagerty


Once upon a time, there was a car called the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was popular for years—nay, decades—and found happy homes in suburbs and cities and country towns everywhere. You’d never know it today, with largely uninteresting and largely anonymous-looking crossovers making up the vast majority of new cars

But back in 1986 you could get your luxury at your friendly local Oldsmobile dealer, in large (98 Regency Brougham), medium (Cutlass Supreme Brougham), or small (Calais Supreme). For that “just right” size, look no further than the Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan and Coupe.

The 1978–88 Cutlass coupes are much more commonly seen, as coupes were the gotta-have-it model through most of the ’80s. The Cutlass Supreme sedan, by comparison, was kind of the wallflower. But I still really like them, perhaps a bit more than a loaded-up Brougham coupe, simply due to their scarcity.

By 1986 the success of these cars was starting to wane, but there were still plenty of people who took home a new Olds that year. The Brougham Sedan had a base price of $11,551 (about $30,850 today). They rode a 108.1-inch wheelbase, were 200.4 inches overall, had a curb weight of 3253 pounds, and 27,967 were built.

These had been largely unchanged since the 1980 model year, other than some revised taillights, grilles, colors, and fabrics. But the coupe still handily outsold the sedan. Stats on the Brougham Coupe: $11,408, 59,726 built, 108.1-inch wheelbase  and 200.0 inches long. At 3211 pounds, they were slightly lighter than their four-door sibling.

But the four doors looked a lot different from their original ’78 forebears. The ’78 A-body “Aeroback” two- and four-door models were fastbacks, not a three-box sedan. But while they looked like hatchbacks, they actually had a tiny conventional trunk lid instead. Compared to the earlier “Colonnade” 1973–77 Cutlasses, they looked a little, well … anemic? And sales were too, though the also-downsized 1978–80 Cutlass coupes sold like dollar beer at a baseball game.

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How Detroit’s transportation landmarks are—or aren’t—being saved from ruin – Jeff Peek @Hagerty


The signs are everywhere, but they might as well be nowhere. Yellow markers, warning against trespassing, that violators will be prosecuted. They no longer serve as deterrent, if they ever did. As Detroit’s once-proud Packard assembly plant continues its slide into ruin, interlopers have turned the automotive landmark into a giant dump. The buildings, or their remains, hold unwanted junk of all sorts—as large as cars and boats, as small as household waste.

Now it appears the brick and mortar will soon follow suit. After a foreign developer abandoned his redevelopment plans for the plant, the City of Detroit was given permission to level the place in the name of public safety. The wrecking ball could get to work any day. When that happens, a hundred-year-old landmark and long-contested symbol of a struggling city’s glory days will be gone for good.

Detroit being Detroit, the Packard plant is not alone. Eleven miles to the west, the former American Motors Corporation headquarters will also meet the wrecking ball as part of a redevelopment costing $66 million. Other historical industrial/transportation buildings are also undergoing change. In the Corktown neighborhood, the 18-story Michigan Central Station, opened in 1914, is receiving the finishing touches of a reported $738 million makeover. (USA Today says the number is closer to $1 billion.) Like the Packard plant, Michigan Central has been deserted for years. Unlike that plant, it is on the way to becoming the centerpiece of a new high-tech campus for the Ford Motor Company. Meanwhile, the long-vacant Fisher Body Plant 21 on Piquette Avenue is set to be repurposed as Fisher 21 Lofts, a $134 million project.

Detroit has been a home of “ruin porn” since the tail of the last century—these buildings are but the four most visible and well-known. Depending on where you stand, their diverging futures are either exciting or tragic.

Fisher Body Plant #21 Cameron Neveu

“I grew up in the city. I know all these buildings well, and yeah, you’d like to preserve them, but it’s a balance,” says Tim Conder, vice president of acquisitions for NorthPoint Development, which is redeveloping the AMC site. “Sometimes you can preserve them, sometimes you can’t. People compare Central Station [which is essentially an office building] with AMC, but you’ve seen AMC—that’s not an office market out there … It just wouldn’t work.”

The problem with saving these buildings, Conder says, is the cost. And there are other considerations with structures like these.

“If you want to maintain the historical aspect of it, you want to get tax credits,” he says. “That’s a long process, it’s a tedious process, and it’s not an easy process. It’s like restoring a car; do you want to do it halfway? Maybe there’s adaptive reuse, and you can include portions of a façade, but that still costs money. That wasn’t factored in at AMC. That building is just too far gone.”

The Motor City is a place both shackled and bolstered by its past. These four buildings are a tangible version of Detroit’s complex relationship with history, but they’re also deeply representative of how the city operates and has always operated. How optimistic plans born of good intention can repeatedly stall. How tradition matters, but long periods of decline can bring too much entrenchment in the past. And how the city’s very strengths can stand in the way of it becoming the best modern version of itself.

The undeniable truth is that things in Detroit are changing, and not always as everyone would like. So, we went there to see the condition of these historic for ourselves.

One: The AMC Headquarters

The former American Motors Company headquarters and factory sit at 14250 Plymouth Road, about 10 miles northwest of downtown Detroit. At 95 years old, the AMC complex is the youngest of the four sites in this story. It is also the only one not built from the start for the transportation industry.

Designed by the city firm of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, and built under the direction of architects Amedeo Leoni and William E. Kapp, the facility’s administration building and factory were completed in 1927. They were constructed for the Kelvinator Corporation, which made home refrigerators. Originally 1.5 million square feet (later expanded), the park included a tall office tower facing Plymouth Road. Behind that building sat a huge, three-story factory in multiple sections, plus a self-contained power plant. Kelvinator’s name was chosen to honor the British physicist Lord Kelvin, who developed a scale for measuring absolute temperature. A Kelvin quote was once engraved above the doorway to the plant’s administrative entrance: “I’ve thought of a better way.”

Kelvinator Corporation in the 1930s. Courtesy Reuther Library / Wayne State University

For Kelvinator, the better way involved a merger with Nash Motors in 1937. In 1954, the resulting company, Nash-Kelvinator, merged again, this time with Detroit’s Hudson Motors, forming the American Motors Corporation. When AMC relocated its headquarters to suburban Southfield in 1975, the Plymouth Road facility refocused on Jeep. In 1987, when Chrysler bought AMC, the complex was renamed the Jeep and Truck Engineering Center.

Twenty years later, in 2007, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. The Plymouth Road complex closed in June 2009.

Drama began soon after. In 2010, the AMC facility was sold to Terry Williams for $2.3 million. (The original ask was $10 million.) Williams announced that he was going to turn the facility into a school for autistic children, but he began stripping the factory of scrap metal, which authorities said “disturbed asbestos-containing materials and released ozone-depleting substances.” In 2014, Williams was convicted of violating the Clean Air Act and sentenced to 27 months in prison. The AMC property, seized by the court, was transferred to the Wayne County Land Bank. It wound up as property of the City of Detroit in a 2018 land swap. A subsequent environmental-cleanup operation included demolition of the power plant and much of the rear of the factory

After the property sat vacant for more than a decade, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan held a press conference on December 9, 2021. NorthPoint, he announced, would demolish the remaining buildings and replace the complex with a $66 million warehouse development.

“One by one,” Duggan said, “we are taking down the massive vacant buildings that for too long have been a drain on our neighborhoods and our city’s image, and putting something new in their place … (and) I expect we will be announcing plans for other such sites in the city very soon.”

Not everyone was so excited. Because NorthPoint pursued public incentives (the firm eventually secured $32.6 million in brownfield TIFs), the Missouri-based developer was required to hold public meetings about its plans for the site. Those meetings resulted in “a ton of pushback” from preservationists, Conder says, and a December 2021 editorial in Crain’s Business News—the headline was “Detroit needs a plan to save its industrial history”—advocated saving the historic structure. The Crain’s story immediately prompted an open letter to the editor from neighborhood residents, who were thrilled that something was finally being done with the abandoned complex. It was an eyesore near a public park, they claimed, one with racist ties to the area.

“The joy in our neighborhoods was indescribable,” the letter read. “For many years, that monstrous abandoned AMC site has devastated our community, driving down the home values of those who stayed, crippling any effort to rebuild commercial businesses on Plymouth, and permanently affecting our children’s view of the neighborhood where they are being raised … We won’t sit by while outsiders, who couldn’t find our neighborhood without a map, presume to tell us how much we should value their precious ‘Art-deco neighborhood landmark.’”

NorthPoint’s Conder, despite his admitted affection for historic buildings, agrees: The time to save the AMC facility has come and gone.

This huge sign, which hung inside the former AMC headquarters after it had become Jeep Engineering, reads “A New Dawn … New Opportunities … ” The missing right side of the sign featured a silhouette of the plant’s administrative tower, backlit by the sun. Cameron Neveu

“Do you know how long that building has sat there untouched?” he says. “The moment someone is interested in the site, all of a sudden people come out of the woodwork and say, ‘You can’t do that …’ No one cared about it until we got it under contract. Talk to the community; they’re happy to see it go. Hey, I love historical buildings and want to preserve as much history as we can, but again, you have to balance that with economics and business going forward.

“The problem with Detroit is, there are not enough readily available sites to develop. So, when requirements come out for space in the city, they quickly realize there are no sites available, so they immediately look in the suburbs. And there are sites available in the suburbs, so none of the business stays in Detroit. What we’re really trying to do is help the city of Detroit create developable sites that are readily available … We’re trying to remove blighted properties, bring in new projects, bring in new jobs to the area.”

Northpoint says the plan to build a 794,000-square-foot warehouse or light industrial space on the former AMC campus at Plymouth Road will create 350 permanent jobs and 100 temporary construction jobs. Demolition is expected to begin this month. Conder says it will take approximately six months to “prepare the pad” and 12 months to complete construction.

A map showing the location of the planned warehouse. NorthPoint Development
A rendering of the proposed building on Plymouth Road. NorthPoint Development

“We approach these as spec developments, meaning we don’t have a tenant,” he says. “We buy the property, tear it down, clean it up, and go vertical—all while talking to prospective tenants.”

In addition to cost, Conder says, the number-one reason NorthPoint never considered saving even a portion of the AMC structure is that every bit of the 50-acre site is needed to deliver adequate warehouse space.

University of Michigan’s Zimmerman has not visited the AMC headquarters recently, so she admits that it might be too far gone. Regardless, she says, the facility never should have reached this point. On historic Detroit buildings in general, she reasons, “The City of Detroit is not thinking about the city’s heritage here; they’re thinking about the city’s budget … (but) once these things are gone, they’re just gone. You can’t recapture them.

“I think it’s a little bit of a failure of the public realm not to have some provision to guard the history of the city and its significant buildings. Yes, they require some maintenance, and you’d have to do serious work to bring them back up to a usable state, but what do we have city governments for? We have them to keep law and order, and to preserve civic identity.”

George Romney Chairman of AMC with Nash Automobiles in 1955

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WWII killed the better Offenhauser – Preston Lerner @Hagerty


At first glance, the engine looks like one of the Offenhausers that dominated midget racing from the 1930s to the 1960s.

I walk around the inline-four, observing its profile—a pair of slim, cylindrical cam covers balanced on top of a tall, narrow crankcase. Closer inspection reveals that it’s not an Offy at all. On the contrary, it’s a slick, remarkably clever motor that woulda, coulda, shoulda replaced the American four-cylinder if World War II hadn’t come along at just the wrong time.

“It was supposed to be the next-generation midget engine,” says Gary Schroeder, who owns the motor.

“The Offy has two valves per cylinder and three main bearings. This has four valves per cylinder and five main bearings. It has a main-cap-style crankcase instead of a barrel crankcase. The cams are lubricated with pressurized oil instead of spreading the black stuff with a scavenge pump—which was a known shortcoming of the Offy. The engine even has insert bearings (instead of Babbitt bearings), which was really unusual back in 1939.”

Schroeder retired a few years ago, after decades of machining bulletproof steering boxes, torsion bars, springs, and a host of other race-car components at various shops in Burbank, California. He also enjoyed a long career as a midget driver here in the states and in New Zealand. And as the son of Gordon Schroeder, he’s a member of American circle-track royalty.

Gordon Schroeder was a young draftsman and would-be race-car builder who made his first foray to the Indianapolis 500 in 1938 to help driving legend Ted Horn. Soon thereafter, he joined crack crew-chief Riley Brett in an effort funded by wealthy sportsman Alden Sampson to escape from the long shadow cast by Harry A. Miller.

Miller was the foundational genius of American racing, and the magnificent cars he designed and built in the 1920s set standards that beggar belief even today, a century later.

Miller was a maverick, but he wasn’t a one-man band. His empire was based on a triumvirate, whose other members were almost as influential as he was. While Miller was the protean big-picture man, mild-mannered engineer Leo Goossen put Miller’s ideas onto paper and virtuoso machinist Fred Offenhauser transformed the drawings into metal masterpieces.

After the stock market crash of 1929, racers could no longer afford Miller’s jewel-like straight-eight engines. Offenhauser struck out on his own to build automobile versions of the robust four-banger that Miller had developed for boat racing. This so-called Offy quickly emerged as the 800-pound gorilla of American motorsports.

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2023 Bull Market Pick: 2001–04 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – Eddy Eckart @Hagerty


High-performance Corvette variants often came with some baked-in sacrifice: a heavy big-block hobbling chassis balance or racetrack handling at the expense of ride quality. That all changed with the introduction of the C5 Corvette Z06 in 2001.

Corvette engineers equipped the Z06 with stickier tires and a firmer suspension to rein in its powerful engine. James Lipman

At its core, the base C5 platform’s stiff hydroformed frames and rear transaxle layout maximized interior space and everyday usability while also paying dividends for weight balance and rigidity. Chevy opted to base this performance Vette on the C5 hardtop rather than the heavier and more flexy hatchback coupe. Hung with firmer suspension components and stickier, non-run-flat rubber, the C5’s cornering capability swelled to near-supercar levels. Hot-rodding the base car’s LS1 V-8 into the 405-hp LS6 yielded a formidable 4.0-second 0–60 hustle. Even now, the Z06 meets an array of buyers on their turf—it’s as happy on a relaxed cruise as it is beating up on cars half its age during a track day.

Speaking of track days, the Z06 looks the part, sporting several performance-oriented design cues. The notch-back greenhouse, aggressive wheels, brake ducts, mesh intake screens, and subtle badges convey a more serious, capable presence than entry-level C5s. Slide behind the wheel and the Z06’s controls, though decades old, feel current and precise. The brake pedal is firm, and each long mechanical throw of the shifter conveys that you’re wrangling 405 horses. This is no Miata shifter. Although appearing thin and delicate for the car, the steering wheel’s weight is firm but not overly heavy, and behind it are easy-to-read gauges with an attractive depth to them.

Fire it up, pop the easily modulated clutch, and the Z06 squats back on its haunches while roaring to its 6500-rpm redline. It has theatrics to accentuate its pace. There’s more roll and pitch than in younger sports cars, but suspension motions are well controlled and it never feels unwieldy. Once you’ve gotten some fun out of your system, the Z06 is a pleasant, docile road-tripper, idling down the highway at under 2000 rpm.

The hopped-up heart of the Z06 beats the output of standard Corvettes by 60 horses. Matt Tierney

“Before I bought this Z06, I didn’t realize how smooth they were on the open road,” says owner Chuck Brown, who bought the car from a friend in 2018. “My wife and I enjoy it for Sunday drives to the beach or through the California mountains. We love the power and handling, but also how relaxed and comfortable the Z06 can be.”

Unsurprisingly, enthusiasts of all ages enjoy that versatility, as cross-generational appeal has driven the C5 Z06’s recent appreciation. And word is getting out on something Brown discovered four years ago: The C5 Z06 offers the sports car experience without the typical penalty of high cost. At least, for now anyway.

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2023 Bull Market Pick: 1992–06 AM General Hummer H1 – Steven Cole Smith @Hagerty


Lorenzo Detoma has nothing against technical advances. But in his 2002 Hummer H1, he finds they aren’t mandatory. “One of the things I love is how analog it is in this digital world,” he says. “The only digital piece of equipment on the whole vehicle is the odometer. It feels like a tank when you drive it, stable and confident.”

Perhaps that’s because the Hummer H1 is based, of course, on the military’s High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee for short, which probably had more in common with a tank than with your average SUV.

When AM General initiated sales to civilians beginning in 1992 with a modest 316 that year, it had toned down the military-ness, but only a little. The H1 is, after all, the only vehicle in the 2023 Bull Market lineup that has big steel loops coming out of the hood, left over from where the military attached a parachute so they could launch Humvees out of the back of C-130s.

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2023 Bull Market Pick: 1968–70 AMC AMX – Colin Comer @Hagerty


American Motors Corp. lost a reported $12.6 million in 1966 and saw a 12 percent decline in sales. One has to imagine that the Big Three never looked bigger to Kenosha, Wisconsin’s favorite automotive manufacturer. Holding less than 4 percent market share, AMC was a distant fourth, an inconsequential player to the suits in Detroit and by all accounts well on its way to extinction.

And then, like a Hollywood movie, in walked AMC’s hero, one Robert Beverley Evans, known for buying into sick companies and nursing them back to health. Evans knew it also wouldn’t hurt to get some AMCs racing and have a bit of “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mojo working in Kenosha. The result of this influence was to take the upcoming 1968 Javelin and make a unique two-seat personal sports car from it. If nothing else, it would draw young buyers into AMC showrooms again. The AMX (American Motors eXperimental) project got the green light in September 1966, with styling derived from the 1966 Vignale-designed AMX I show car. The production car was designed by Dick Teague, and it was a stunner

Dick Teague–penned proportions make the AMX look more Hot Wheel than production car.  Cameron Neveu

To lose the back seat, 12 inches were sliced from the Javelin, giving it a 97-inch wheelbase. The AMX interior was the same as the Javelin SST’s. Engine choices, unlike in the Javelin, were solely V-8s, with 290-, 343-, and 390-cubic-inch displacements, all paired with either a four-speed stick or an automatic. The AMX had the desired effect; here was a two-seat “sports car,” as was the Corvette, but some $2000 cheaper. It was never designed to be a direct competitor, but the public certainly drew parallels, and AMC wasn’t about to complain.

Every AMX received a serialized dash plaque, a brilliant nod to the “exclusivity” of the AMX. AMC advertised this by saying, “We’re even putting the production number on the dash for collectors …” These plaques inexplicably bore no correlation with the VIN of the car. In any event, the new AMX was the shot in the arm that AMC needed.

Of course, nothing is perfect. The trunnion-style front suspension of the 1968 and ’69 AMX was flawed, the ball joint–style setup that arrived with the facelifted ’70 an improvement. The short wheelbase, combined with diabolically quick power steering and a big V-8, proved challenging for many. And, of course, the AMX wasn’t immune to the traditional 1960s scourges of build quality and propensity to rust. Over the 3 years of two-seat AMX production, just 19,134 were built. The best sales year was ’69, the AMX’s first full year, with 8293 rolling out of showrooms.

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Prototype Mustang built for Henry Ford II: See what makes it so UNIQUE | Barn Find Hunter – Hagerty Media


Tom Cotter has shifted gears for the latest episode of Barn Find Hunter, leaving dusty sheds and rusty sheetmetal in favor of a tour of Detroit landmarks and some noteworthy cars that were designed, engineered, and built in and around the Motor City. His first vehicular deep dive is a look into the history of a very special 1965 Mustang that was built for and owned by Henry Ford II.

The car in question has been owned by Art Cairo, a longtime Ford employee who bought the unique pony car 45 years ago for just $500. Cairo had the car restored and replaced any rotted sheetmetal with new-old stock that he went to great length and expense to track down, making sure that this piece of history is still all Ford.

Cairo shows Tom some of the unique details that set this coupe apart from the millions of other Mustangs built in the ’60s. Perhaps most apparent is the leather interior, which wasn’t offered on early Mustangs. The door jamb also reveals chrome door strikers and a nicely finished seam where the jamb meets the quarter panel rather than a clear overlap and spot welds.

There are also several less-obvious, telltale signs that this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill pony car. For example, the back of the instrument cluster has “Henry Ford’s car” hand-written in marker and there’s a scatter shield bolted to the transmission tunnel. Under the hood is a high-performance K-code 289-cubic-inch V-8 that was not available on early 1965 Mustangs.

This car is just the first of many that Tom will highlight on his special trip through Detroit, so make sure to subscribe to Hagerty’s YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the hidden gems of Motor City history.

6 of the most rewarding moments in vintage car ownership – Kyle Smith @Hagerty


Owning and maintaining a hobby car is full of ups and downs. With any luck the highs appear more often than the lows, but there is no way to guarantee their appearance. What we can do is focus on the moments that make the thin wallets and late nights and headaches worth it.

To bring some light into what may be a dark tunnel, we pulled out six of the moments in car ownership that we’ve found most rewarding. Whether you own a classic now or are thinking about jumping in with both feet, here is what you have to look forward to.

First show/event

Getting your new purchase home is a big moment; taking it out for its first show or event is even bigger. A car can be an extension of your personality and going out to your first car show with this new form of expression is a powerful moment.

Sharing your car and its story can be as easy as joining a gathering of likeminded individuals in a parking lot—or, if you thrive on more challenging goals, as complicated as earning a spot on a concours lawn. You don’t have to walk away with an award, but we’ll bet you’ll carry a memory when you go.

First startup

Catching a problem before it’s a problem

Classic vehicles require a certain understanding. Once you learn your car’s language, you will know when something is not right.

Whether you do your own diagnosis or call in the professionals, having your hunch justified is an awesome feeling. It’s more than just keeping up on maintenance. This is knowing your car well enough that, when you detect a disturbance in the force, you act on it with confidence.

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