Bortz Auto Collection at Meadowbrook

July 2, 2010 by  
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The Miller Family owned Meadowbrook Farm for more than two centuries, and with the Winnipsaukee Lake to its side and majestic mountains surrounding the farm, it is one of the most picturesque locations in the region. Concerts became a traditional event for the family to host, and in keeping that tradition, the Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion still hosts breathtaking events. The Meadowbrook Musical Arts Centre is now the venue for concerts and exhibitions, while the pavilion acts as a concert and festival venue. On 25 July 2010, a very special exhibition will be held at Meadowbrook.

Over and above being a music industry entrepreneur and restaurant mogul, Joe Bortz is known as a famous concept car restorer and avid car collector. His focus is mainly on vehicles from the 1950’s, which were showcased at the legendary General Motors Motorama. His love for cars led to the creation of the Bortz Auto Collection, and his collection only consists of extremely rare vehicles. As concept cars were created only as showcase vehicles and not for production, finding these prototype vehicles is a very difficult task. Fortunately Bortz found out about a junk dealer, purely by accident, who was selling off the cars in parts. As time went by, Bortz ended up with twenty concept cars, such as the 1958 Pontiac Club de Mer, the 1953 Pontiac Perisienne and the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special. Some prototype vehicles can still be seen in museums around the country, but the Bortz Auto Collection remains truly unique. Four of his vehicles will be on display at Meadowbrook, of which one will be the 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne, saved from the junk yard, and that took twenty-two years to restore.

All four of these restored cars will be showcased together for the first time in fifty-five years, as the Bortz Auto Collection brings the rarest of vehicles to the Meadowbrook exhibition. The other three unique vehicles will be the 1953 Buick Wildcat I, the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special and the 1953 Pontiac Parisienne. Motoring enthusiasts should not miss out on the opportunity to see the these amazing vehicles at the Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion.

Pontiac Tempest Le Mans/GTO

February 9, 2009 by  
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From 1962 to 1981 the Pontiac division of General Motors produced solid, intermediate-sized automobiles called the Pontiac LeMans. Then in 1982 the smaller Pontiac Bonneville model replaced the LeMans.

The LeMans was introduced as the top-line version of the smaller and more solid Pontiac Tempest and had more luxurious trimmings and a sportier look than the Tempest. In 1964 when the Tempest was restyled and enlarged in the form of the LeMans, it continued to have the same 326 cubic inch V8s and 215 cubic inch six-cylinder found in the regular Tempest.

Not long after the 1964 model was produced, the LeMans came out with an alternative performance package assigned as the GTO or the Gran Turismo Omologate. This version came with a lot of technical developments and upgrades, costing just under US$300. It was estimated that 5,000 GTOs would be sold that year but the sales ended up being 32,000, thereby accounting for a substantial portion of the Tempest and LeMans sales.

In 1996 the GTO was made separate from the other models, having the basic shape of the LeMans and Tempest models. The GTO kept the big-engined muscle car style where as the Tempest and the LeMans models received a new SOHC 230 cubic inch six-cylinder engine.

During the late 1960’s the Sprint-optioned LeMans and Tempest models were not as popular as the larger-engined GTO that was fueling the muscle car wars. Those that bought the normal regular LeMans and Tempest models mostly ordered V8 power, as the 326 and the later 350 cubic inch V8 version were the most ordered engines. In 1969 the SOHC six-cylinder engine and the Sprint option were stopped and replaced by an ordinary Chevrolet-built 250 cubic inch OHV six-cylinder engine, which became the base engine in most of the Pontiac intermediates.

When the LeMans was first produced it included a convertible and a pillared coupe with no hardtop option offered in the Tempest. Then in 1964 the hardtop coupe was added followed by the four-door pillared sedan a year later. In 1966 and 1968 the four-door hardtop and then a four-door Safari wagon replaced the previous versions. Over the decades the Pontiac continued to change its style, adding many amazing features and continued to be popular cars.

Ward Burton

February 9, 2009 by  
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Ward Burton was born on October 25, 1961, later becoming a famous American NASCAR driver. After High School Burton joined and graduated from Hargrave Military Academy and then attended Elon College for just under 3 years. Ward is NASCAR driver Jeff Burton’s older brother. In the early years Ward and Jeff were strong competitors at South Boston Speedway, their hometown track.

During the 1990 season Ward started off his NASCAR Busch Series career and competed for a full four seasons. His first season ended with 23 starts and three finishes in the Top-10, with an overall completion of the season in 21st place. Over the next three years his results improved, with his second season made up of 29 starts, two Top-5 finishes and 10 top-10 finishes, completing the overall season in 18th place.

Ward’s second to last season in 1992 was the year he had his first win at Rockingham, on February 29 in a car owned by Alan Dillard. That year he finished the season with one win, three Top-5 finishes and 10 Top-10 finishes, with an 8th place placement. His final season in 1993 was his most successful year with a total of three wins, nine Top-5, ten Top-10 finishes with an end result of 6th place in the final points standings. From there Ward moved up to Winston Cup, taking part in 26 out of the 31 races in a #31 Hardee’s Chevy.

His accomplishments grew when he moved to #22 Bill Davis Racing MBNA Pontiac where he completed 21 races. The years to follow showed a progressive advancement from 33rd spot to 16 in the final points standings. The year 1999 saw Ward Burton’s career peak, as he finished ninth in the final points standings.

In 2000 he won at Darlington Speedway and was 10th in the points. He won the Mountain Dew Southern 500, finishing 10th in 2001. In 2002 he had a bit of a dip but still managed to win the prestigious Daytona 500 and the New England 300 at Loudon, New Hampshire. In 2003 he had even poorer finishes, putting him in 21st place. The following year Ward Burton was released from the team and since then has not raced in NASCAR.

Muscle Cars

February 9, 2009 by  
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The golden age of the Great American Muscle Car began in approximately 1964 and ended in 1971, although these dates are arbitrary. Most people agree that the Pontiac GTO, actually an option package available on the Tempest intermediate car for 1964 and ’65, was the first true muscle car and set the trend for other manufacturers to follow. With its 389 cubic inch V8 and a Hurst shifter to channel the power to the red-lined tires, the GTO made a very big impression. Pretty soon everyone wanted in on Pontiac’s game, and the late 1960s saw legendary muscle cars from Chrysler (Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Challenger), Ford (Mustang Boss 302 and Boss 429, Mercury Marauder) and Chevy (Chevelle SS 396, Corvette 427). The Buick grand Sport and Olds Cutlass 442 were other offerings from GM. Even AMC got in on the act with its fearsome Rebel Machine and AMX models.

Sadly, like all good things, the bubble had to burst. Dropping a powerful engine into a small car might sound like a great idea to you and I, but the insurance companies and highway safety regulators were hearing a different tune – one played to the sound of rising accident rates caused by too much power in inexperienced hands. By the early 1970s, horsepower ratings were in steep decline and monster engines like Chrysler’s 426 Hemi were history. A very special era in automotive history had come to an end. These days, classic muscle cars can be purchased from dealers who specialize in finding, restoring and re-selling them. Muscle cars are also sold by private individuals, often on the Internet. The right muscle car with original parts and rare options can bring 10 to 20 times its original sale price at auction.

Muscle Cars:

Pontiac Firebird

February 9, 2009 by  
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Mention the Pontiac Firebird to virtually any person and they’ll know that it was one of the most memorable cars ever to roll off the manufacturer’s line – even if they know nothing more about it. The car has defined the lives of so many car lovers and it is truly one of the most spectacular muscle cars ever. The Pontiac Firebird emerged quite unpretentiously halfway through 1967 only to get heads turning and people talking. Before long, the motor industry was abuzz with excitement. The car was produced by the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors and it was designed and marketed as a pony car – an affordable, compact and stylish sporty car. Were it not for the Ford Mustang and the Mercury Cougar released that same year, the Pontiac Firebird would have completely dominated the scene.

The original model was built on GM’s F-body platform and it had a more likeable rendition of the Pontiac nose. A twin-scoop hood and nice curves further added to its sporty appeal. The Firebird also had a solid, rear axle – a feature which continued to be incorporated into future versions of the car. In 1969, the car had a major facelift. The entire front end was redesigned, making use of an Endura bumper to house the headlights and grilles. Even the instrument panel, steering wheel and ignition switch were changed and updated. For a bit of extra money, buyers could have the Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package which was a little bit more buff than the newly remodelled Firebird and which was named after the Trans-Am Series without permission. In the first year just 697 Trans-Ams were built – only eight of which were convertibles. The Trans-Am cars could be standard or beefed up but they only came in polar white with blue stripes. Today these are highly prized collectors’ cars.

The 1970s Firebird was a completely remodelled version of the classic. This second generation car featured a more sweeping body styling as opposed to the classic ‘coke bottle’ shape. The twin-scoops were made smaller and positioned closer to the front of the bonnet while the double-grille was split further apart and positioned between a single, functional headlight on either side of the car. The remodelling was a complete success and the car enjoyed massive sales. Ironically, the Firebird Trans-Am that emerged at this time were actually more boxy in shape with a protruding Pontiac nose and more angular shapes. Between 1982 and 1992, the third generation of Pontiac Firebirds emerged. The new models were lighter than older cars and incorporated GM’s CCC engine control system. They benefited from improved performance and better fuel economy and had a lower emission rate than previous models. The styling also changed somewhat, with two pop-up lights becoming the most prominent feature on the beautifully restyled front end. By 1984 the unique T-top styling also became a feature.

The fourth and most recent generation of Pontiac Firebird emerged in 1993 and ended in 2002. These beautifully sleek, aerodynamic cars have kept in line with the Firebird tradition of producing fast, stylish and affordable little cars. Truly, not enough can be said about the Firebird’s contribution to the world of muscle cars – but they continue to live on as a most memorable motor vehicle.

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