Happy Birthday Steve McQueen

There are only a few Hollywood stars that were able to capture both movie goers and car people alike.  Elvis Presley, Paul Newman, James Dean, and Paul Walker were some of the more notable ones that transcended the screen and lived their car culture. They were known as racers, car guys, and hot rodders as much as they were heart throbs, action heroes and singer-dancer types.  The king of them all, though, is Steve McQueenmcqueen trck.

Ever the essence of cool car guy, Steve seemingly had it all. The women, the cars, the bikes and the glory of winning major races like Sebring. Everyone wanted to be Steve and most people still want to be him today.  The motorcycle jump in The Great Escape, the iconic car chase in Bullitt, and his masterpiece about sportscar racing LeMans are how we remember him on screen.  Happy birthday Steve.

He would’ve been 86 today.

 

Here are some of those famous scenes:

 

The Great Escape

 

Bullitt

 

LeMans

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The Ugly MR-2

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The Toyota MR2 is one of my personal favorite cars. The first two iterations of it were great! It started off strong with classic 80’s wedge styling on a budget.  The engine, although anemic, could come with an optional supercharger for “fuel economy.”  The jewel of the MR2 family however was the W20.  It has been dubbed the “Poor man’s Ferrari” by some and it kind of was. The styling of these cars doesn’t seem to date itself.  Even more so than ever these cars are attainable. Mid-engined, rear drive and with exotic looks akin to the Ferrari F355. You should go find yourself one on Craigslist somewhere for your daily beater like Cole did here:

 

IMAG0487When did you get your beater?
It all began with a DRZ 400 which I traded for a Ninja 250r which then turned into the MR-2. It was in August and I had no use for the Ninja and was just searching the interweb. Not really looking for anything in particular just someone that would do a straight trade. The owner was willing but there was a catch. The MR-2 was not running and the rear end and cross member was off the car. So the deal was for me to put everything back together and tow it out. The good thing about it was that he had all the parts organized. The bad was that I had to do everything in 3 hours and in 100 degree weather in his garage.

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What do you like about your beater?
It’s a Toyota! I have been a Nissan guy all my life but this thing is weird and quirky. You don’t see much of these cars around anymore. The best part of the car is that is RWD and turbocharged with the engine built by Yamaha. This beater is all around fun.

 

What do you dislike about your beater?IMAG0508
I hate that it is 25 years old. That means everything is old on it that will break or is broken. Appearance on the thing is not bad but needs a little love in the paint department. The previous owner did not tell me what kind of service was done to it so i have to guess what needs to be done to the little guy. The pin has been pulled now I’m waiting on whats going to go next.

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What is the funniest thing that has happened in it? So I am driving to the gym doing the speed limit with the t-tops off and windows down jamming the 90’s hip hop and rap station on Spotify just enjoying life. I get to the stop light and the guy next to me looks down from his SUV and starts staring. He then asks if I have my pinks? I look up at him and just laugh. told him I don’t do that anymore. I’m thinking to my self why would ask that? My car is ugly all the clear coat is chipping away and it’ doesn’t look a ricer car at all. It kinda hit me as soon as I move in my seat that I was in a race bucket seat with a 5 pt harness and a cage. He laughs and we both go back to our own business.

Have you been on any roadtrips?
No road trips yet. I don’t think my car is ready for a stress test yet. I am not trusting the reliability of the MR-2 just yet.IMAG0478

Has it ever broken down on you someplace unpleasant/sketchy?
The day I thought I had everything dialed in with the timing and all the boost leaks I decided to drive it to work. Even though my commute to work is 12 miles there is basically just desert in between. No houses or buildings just sand and fields. So everything is running fine power is good and then a little rubbing sound comes from the engine. The rubbing gets louder then I lose all power. Timing belt snapped 7 miles away from work. I had to call my co-worker to get the flat bed and pick me up. I was all alone in the desert waiting for a trailer to bring me to work.IMAG0748 (1)

WE NEED YOUR STORIES!!! Send your stories and some pics about your everyday cars to: BeaterLifeBlog@gmail.com.   Send it to us. We’ll feature it!

I Wasn’t Ready For The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance

300Since starting this blog a couple months ago I told myself that I’d use it to help me check off some items from my personal bucket list. I do admit that going to Amelia Island to cover the concourse show and reporting on how the other half lives is a stretch, but I wanted to share this iconic event with you guys, beaters or no beaters. I have been processing everything I saw for the last several days and nights and the one thing that I took away from this was just how unprepared I was for the weekend. I was completely overwhelmed by the event, the setting, the people and the cars.

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The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance has been around since 1996 and has been held at the Ritz-Carlton Resort in Amelia Island Florida ever since.  It has become one of the premier rare and luxury car shows in the United States second only to Pebble Beach.  I had gotten excited about going this year when I heard a report that Jerry Seinfeld would be auctioning off some of his rare Porsche’s.  I pulled some strings, called begged some friends and eventually was able to raise the funds to buy a ticket and go for the Sunday show (I missed the auctions where a 1961 Ferrari 250GT California SWB sold for $17m and an old Beetle sold for $120k!).

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After wondering how I could spin this into something you all would like to read about, one of our followers gave me the idea to use #notsobeaterlife while I flooded our Instagram account with up-to-date pictures of what we were seeing at the event.  Maybe next year we’ll see about live streaming video which, as it turns out, would’ve been easier.  I knew I’d be seeing better than museum quality examples of the finest automobiles ever made, you expect that. The sheer quantity and quality of vehicles present, though, was dumbfounding.  Once through the gate, the first display was a Lamborghini celebration of the Miura. Six of the best examples, including chassis #4846 of what is arguably Lambo’s most beautiful car just siting there with matching Italian booth girls ready and posing for my pictures. It was like diving headfirst into cold water. I was shocked, I couldn’t breathe, and I stood motionless for a second.

The shock and awe kept going for the whole of the 7 hours we were there. One rarity after another, rare Mercedes pre-war race cars, MG’s, A TALBOT-LAGO T26C! and Rolls’, Bugattis, and Bentleys all over the place.  After a while you build up a tolerance to such beauty. I’m not saying that I stopped appreciating them, but after a while it was just work looking at them through my camera. It wouldn’t hit me until later in the morning while admiring some of the most pristine Packards in the country I overheard a conversation an owner had with the class judge. “This is only one of six cars with this coachwork done the we know to exist…in the world.458

There I go again. Back to reality.  In a true Wayne’s World moment I was instantly unworthy to be walking around the fairway that held such iconic machines. I was sharing a fairway with Jochen Mass for Pete’s sake! Making my way through the Rolls Royce line up was humbling. This clearly was a “No Peasants Allowed” area. Limousines and coaches for former statesmen all lined up and glimmering in the light with window curtains drawn open displaying their rich leather interiors. Their owners scoffing a the Alfa Romeo display just behind their precious coaches and overshadowed by the Bugatti’s across the aisle.

This is only one of six cars with this coachwork done the we know to exist…in the world.

To complete the comparison the event organizers lined up the American luxury sedans next to the best that Britain has to offer, with old Caddys, Oldsmobiles and a plethora of Deusenbergs flexing their biceps at the Brits.  It easy to forget how great American luxury sedans were back then and how competently they stacked up against what the world was offering. We’re only now seeing a resurgence in American luxury autos.  Cadillac has stepped up their game from high end Chevy’s to true world super sedan contenders.470

Everything at the show was perfect. I still find it weird that I became so desensitized to what I was seeing.  In any other setting just one of the cars at the show,  any one of the Pegaso’s, any one of the Astons, Allards, or even the MG’s would’ve held my astonishment for hours. Here, though, it was a different story. They were just another rare car. Much like after being in a museum, that priceless sarcophagus is amazing the first time you see it, but after the 3rd walk-through it becomes just another artifact.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still appreciated them and their significance, but my attitude shifted from “Oh wow!” to”Oh, wow.”

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The day ended with the reveal of Best in Show, which turned out to be a yellow 1952 Pegaso Z-102 Cupola & 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom II. There was airborne champagne, lots of pictures and very excited and proud rich people.  So, it was pretty great.  I had to rush over to the showing stage to get the few pictures I could of the show winners. This was the first time I felt like a photographer. Surrounded by press passes and elbows, I wrestled my way through the crowd and grabbed a few quickies of the now ribbon laden grills of both cars.

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I was unprepared. I thought I knew what I was going to experience, but much like the first time you visit the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, you walk away trying to understand and process things you’ve only seen pictures of and read about; things that have now become reality.  The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance is like a zoo that only cares for endangered and near extinct species. I don’t think you can ever be prepared for a place as special as that.

Be sure to check out our gallery from the show