Analog and Amazing

5 Times We Got Behind the Wheel of Vintage Cars and Loved Every Minute of It

April 19, 2017 Cars By

One of the major perks of this job is being able to test drive all the new cars that come out month after month. It’s an incredible opportunity toe experience firsthand the best of what car manufacturers large and small can create. Sometimes, though, it’s more memorable to see how far the car has actually come by getting in an old one — a certifiable vintage car.

Most cars today are laden with technology, so much so that it can actually be tiring. Hopping in an analog sports car with a simple six-speed manual — no Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or lane-keeping assist — can actually feel like a mental vacation. It’s a chance to remember an era when airbags were rare and heated seats meant there was a problem.

Winter Driving in a Slightly Charred 1987 Audi 4000CS

After Niki Lauda endured a fiery crash at the Nurburgring in ‘67, James Hunt amicably quipped, “You’re the only man I know who could be in a fire and come out better looking.” They were bitter rivals, friends and, eventually, legends. My history with the Audi 4000CS Quattro is less illustrious and, thankfully, less incendiary — but I can say, with friendly affection, that the Quattro running through the woods of Team O’Neil’s rally wonderland does look better after being scorched in a fire.

A Short Drive in a Ford GT40 and Shelby Daytona Coupe

As the only outfit sanctioned by the Shelby Car World Registry and official GT40 registry, the GT40 and Daytona Coupe that Superformance makes aren’t kit cars, replicas or “reimagined” models like a Singer 911. They’re bonafide continuations of the original production vehicles; think of a 2015 model-year 1966 Ford GT40. Which is exactly why, when I met with Superformance CEO Lance Stander and two Superformance customers who brought along their personal cars — a GT40 and a Daytona Coupe — to Bear Mountain, New York, I did my absolute best to keep my nervous excitement in check.

A Long Lunch with a Lancia Delta Integrale

Born in 1989 from rallying and boasting performance numbers that still impress 26 years later, the Integrale could get to 60 in 5.5 seconds and its rear-biased all-wheel-drive made it one of the best-handling cars made during the grunge era. So that sorts out the car. The route was an easy pick given the limited selection of quality tarmac within a couple hours of New York City: out of Manhattan, up New Jersey’s palisades, around Bear Mountain and culminating on the fantastically named Storm King Highway.

Driving the Superformance Shelby Cobra MKIII

“A minivan or Prius, those I will never drive,” says Ashton Stander, as we sit side by side in a rumbling small-block 427 Superformance Shelby Cobra, stuck at the light at Portola and Bake, in the Orange County suburbs, a land of minivans and Pri-i. My teeth are chattering from engine reverberations.

The Joys of a Slow Sports Car

I first bought my ’82 Fiat Spider at the tender age of 19. The decision has always garnered a lot of interest, admiration and downright bewilderment from car guys. Why, of all the affordable performance car options for a young man out there, would I buy a 30-year-old Italian car with little over 100 horsepower? Why not a used Mustang, or a modified, Fast & the Furious-style Honda Civic?

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