Farewell to an Aeronautical hot rod…

On Friday September 21,  Southern California witnessed the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, anchored securely atop a specially equipped 747, as it made it way over Los Angeles and Orange County landmarks, with its final destination being Los Angeles International airport. And flying escort on the shuttles last tour, would be a pair of T-38 military jets. One of the landmarks identified for a fly over would be Pasadena, California’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Since my office is located in South Pasadena, I took my camera to work on Friday, with hopes of possibly capturing a glimpse of the shuttle.

Throughout the morning, the shuttle’s progress was monitored online in our office, with location updates shared by those interested in seeing the shuttle. Around 11:30 AM, the shuttle was reported leaving the Santa Monica area, so our office staff headed outside in hopes of catching a glimpse. So outside we went, climbing up onto the roof of our office for a better view. After about ten minutes, our neighbors in the next building, who were also standing on top of their taller office, yelled over that they could see the shuttle approaching. So off I ran towards the back of our roof…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_approach to South Pasadena, CA._photo 1_Friday September 21, 2012

and there is was, with its two escorts, heading straight towards us…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_approach to South Pasadena, CA._photo 2_Friday September 21, 2012

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_directly overhead, South Pasadena, CA._photo 1_Friday September 21, 2012Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_directly overhead, South Pasadena, CA._photo 2_Friday September 21, 2012Little did we know that our office would be directly beneath its flight path…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_heading towards JPL, Pasadena, CA._Friday September 21, 2012

As the shuttle passed overhead, it started banking to the left, beginning a sweeping turn towards its next destination (JPL), with the San Gabriel mountains serving as a backdrop (above and below)…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_San Gabriel mountain back drop_Friday September 21, 2012

With another left turn, the shuttle was flying towards us once again (see below)…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_second approach towards South Pasadena, CA_Friday September 21, 2012

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_second approach towards South Pasadena, CA_photo 2_Friday September 21, 2012On this approach, we could clearly see the shuttle perched atop the 747 (above and below).

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_profile shot over South Pasadena CA_Friday September 21, 2012

And then it was on us again, with just enough time to grab a couple more shots before it banked right, and was off to its next destination with escorts in tow…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_profile shot departing South Pasadena CA_Friday September 21, 2012

Hard to believe that this final shuttle flight signified the end of this chapter on NASA’s space shuttle program. Looking back at the Endeavour’s statistics, over the course of its 25 missions, it successfully orbited the earth 4,671 times. Ironically, the Endeavour was retired after completing only 25 missions, well short of the 100 missions that it had originally been designed and built to sustain.

On a positive note, this event brought the population of Southern California together for an hour to celebrate the technological excellence that had created the space shuttle. And how cool to see other people also on rooftops, hoping to view  and cheer on the shuttle. And for that hour, we were all able to focus on and celebrate this technological milestone, forever linked to America’s space exploration history.

(All photos by the author)


Celebrating 9/17/2012; the one year anniversary of digitaldtour.com

Today marks the one year anniversary of the debut of my blog, digitaldtour. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the positive feedback and support that I have received during my first year of writing, and sharing my photographic passion for Porsches and all things automotive through my blog. During this past year I have had the opportunity to meet some incredible people who I can now count as friends, and I really appreciate them taking the time to share their automotive stories with me.

I would also like to thank everyone who has subscribed to my blog or has simply taken a moment to read one of my posts or check out the accompanying photos. I hope you will continue to find my blog of interest and worthy of a return visit.

As I stated one year ago, the launch date of my blog was significant in that it shared a series of numbers commonly associated with the Porsche 917K, which has always been one of my favorite Porsche race cars, and is still synonymous with the classic Porsche race cars of the 1970s. So imagine my delight at the opportunity to come face to face with this beautiful, 1969 Porsche 917 K at Porsches Rennsport Reunion IV, as seen below…

1969 Gulf Porsche 917K_Porsches Rennsport Reunion IV_October 2011

So here’s looking forward to a second year of blogging, and the cool cars and stories just waiting to be discovered and shared…

(All photos by the author)

The Vintech P-550 tribute; A one – off prototype infused with Porsche 550 DNA…

What if Porsche had continued to further refine the design of the their 550 Spyder?  And what would it have looked like if fully developed as a 550 coupe?

Well. below lies the answer; the Vintech P-550 Tribute.

The car (as seen above and below), is a one-off prototype conceived and built by the French firm  Vintech; a company that specializes in the fabrication of prototype vehicles for the automotive industry. The Vintech P-550 tribute was created as an independent, in-house project, to serve as a showcase for their design and fabrication talents, along with their expertise and abilities to creatively manipulate carbon fiber.

Several weeks previous to its showing at Cars&Coffee, the car made its world debut in Monterey,California at The Quail Motorsports Gathering, held on August 17, 2012.

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_Opened up for viewing_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

Not only is the entire body created from carbon fiber, but so is the fuel tank, front hood, gull-wing doors, rear deck lid, bulkhead, rear strut bar and the engine fan shroud. The attention to detail is incredible, and even more impressive when one realizes that the entire body is carbon fiber and not aluminum. And its flawless silver paint finish was just the right icing for this cake…

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_front wheel detail_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

An example of the very cool Porsche wheels, machined and further customized by Vintech (above).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_carbon fiber fuel tank with polished central fuel filler and cap_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012The flawless, carbon fiber fuel tank, fuel sender and polished metal fuel filler and cap (above).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_thru the opening in front hood shot of carbon fiber fuel tank with polished central fuel filler and cap_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_all opened up, 3/4 front drivers side view_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012One of the subtle design details found up front, on the underside of the hood, was the masking off of select, molded in recesses, which when viewed up close, reveal the hoods true nature; black carbon fiber, contrasted against the beautiful silver paint finish. And all of these details were captured and reflected in the carbon fiber fuel tank (as seen below).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_all opened up, carbon fiber fuel tank, tie down straps and reflections_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

As expected, the same high level of detail found on the exterior was carried over and applied to the interior.

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_interior shot, drivers side_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

Even the gull-wing doors are a work of art, from their seamless carbon fiber construction, to the upholstered inner door cavities, leather pull straps and the sliding plexiglass side windows. Anchoring each door is a hinge mechanism designed as sculpture; each hinge appears to have been carved from billet stock and then highly polished, and integrated into the door and roof structure (as seen below)…

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_gullwing door detail_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012silver Vintech P-550 tribute_gullwing door detail, machined hinge and gas strut_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012The flush fitting, polished metal gull-wing door hinges, nestled into the top of the P-550s roof.

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_gullwing door exterior machined, polished metal hinges_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012Mounted out back (as seen below), is the custom-built 3.0 liter, four-cylinder motor (manufactured to Vintech specifications), breathing through a pair of dual, double throated Weber carburetors. Power is directed to the rear wheels through a Porsche type 915, 5 speed transmission.

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_top view,3.0 liter, 4 cylinder motor with dual Weber carbs_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012 silver Vintech P-550 tribute_3/4 rear view, rear deck_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

The beautifully crafted, flush mounted dual rear deck grills (above and below).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ rear view, rear deck and dual grill detail_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ rear view, rear deck badging_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

More automotive jewelry; the polished metal, air intake trim found on each of the rear deck air intake scoops (below).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ rear deck  detail, machined and polished metal air intake scoop_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ side view, engine compartment, carbon fiber bulkhead, fan shroud, strut bar and Weber carbs__Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012The polished metal venturi, mounted atop the dual, double throated Weber carburetors (above and below).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ Weber carb & venturi details__Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

Strategically placed within the car reside a pair of custom, spyder style sport seats; each revealing a glimpse of exposed, brushed and cross-drilled aluminum frame, clad in light gray leather, accented by a darker gray fabric center, and trimmed by terra-cotta red piping. Even the side sills were detailed by a pair of recessed, light gray leather inset panels, also trimmed with the terra-cotta red piping ( below).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ interior detail, custom aluminum seat with leather upholstery trim_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ interior detail_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

Fender mounted, Sebring style rear view mirror…

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ fender mounted mirror, promo cards, detail and reflections_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012With the mornings event winding down, the caretakers from Vintech began the process of closing and securing the rear deck, front hood, and doors (below).

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ 3/4 rear view , getting buttoned up_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

All buttoned up and read to go…

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ front view_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012 With the motor warmed up, and a blip of the throttle, the Vintech P-550 tribute was underway.

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_ 3/4 front view, getting ready to leave_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

silver Vintech P-550 tribute_rear view,departure_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_September 1, 2012

Given the interest paid to this car throughout the morning, hopefully this will not be the last time we see the Vintech P-550 tribute at Cars&Coffee or in the automotive press…

(All photos by the author)

Porsches, Poodles with attitude, an Ultima Can Am and a 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT…

Saturday morning, August the 25th dawned cool and clear as I set out from my house towards my final destination, Cars&Coffee / Irvine. These early morning conditions were a welcomed break from the heat wave conditions being experienced by Southern California. However, it was the low coastal cloud cover and light drizzle that I encountered as I neared Irvine. These conditions came as a surprise, and would wind up setting the tone for the rest of the mornings activities.

Regardless of these damp conditions, by 6:30 AM the parking lot at C&C was already filling up, with many of the participants eager to share their stories from the previous weeks Monterey Motorsports Reunion events.

Porsche row was once again well represented by a bevy of early 911s…

Early Porsche 911s_rear end shot along Porsche row_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

Green 1967 Porsche 911_3/4 rear view Porsche row_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012The morning’s dew cloaking Porsche row…

Lime Green 1970 Porsche 911E_3/4 front view Porsche row_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

Parked amongst its Porsche siblings, was this 1973 911E in Gemini Blue (shown below), with only 52,000 miles showing on its odometer. This particular car turned out to be for sale, and represented by one of the local Orange County automotive brokers ; the firm autokennel. Even more surprising was the asking price -$99K.  Its been amazing to see how much these early 911s are appreciating in value, in addition to the increasing difficulty in finding a clean example for sale…

Gemini Blue 1973 Porsche 911E_3/4 rear view Porsche row_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

Gemini Blue 1973 Porsche 911E_3/4 front view Porsche row_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012As I’ve noted in previous posts, I began attending Cars&Coffee back in 2008, and have observed over time an increase in the number of participants bringing their pets (primarily dogs) to the show each week, thus my “poodles with attitude reference”. Unfortunately, not every pet is well-trained or behaved; the worst example I’ve seen was a dog that decided to relieve himself on a freshly polished custom chrome wheel, attached to a stunning hot rod. Unfortunately, the dogs owner appeared oblivious to the carnage that his dog had just rendered to the wheel finish, and the two of them simply walked away. The other down side with some of the untrained pets are the land mines they leave behind for the unwary pedestrian, both on the parking lot surface and planted medians that divide the parking lot rows. (This condition reminds me of navigating the sidewalks of Paris, France during the summer months, when they are visited by the owners and their pets out for their daily walk).

Another interesting observation I’ve made is recognizing distinct personalities exhibited by many of the dogs present each week. A classic example of this was the “Poodle with attitude” (as seen below)…

After walking through the event, the owner returned to his car, opened up the door for his dog to climb in. The dog jumped in, sat down on the front seat, leaned back and then proceeded to put its paw up on the owners arm just as they were leaving; quite the hilarious sight…

"Poodle with attitude" _ as a passenger_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

Parked right next to the “poodle with attitude” car, was my friend Matt’s Porsche; his incredible 2007 viper green GT3RS…

2007 Viper Green Porsche GT3RS _ 3/4 side view_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012Another of the friends that I have made since attending Cars&Coffee is the owner of this British Racing Green Ultima Can Am, as seen below…

British Racing Green Ultima Can Am_3/4 side view_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

During a conversation that morning with my friend Eric, I happened to mention that the very first time I saw an Ultima Can Am was on the Cable TV Show “Supercars Exposed”, being driven by the host of the show, Tanner Foust.  I told Eric that the car in the show sure looked allot like his car, to which he replied “it should, because that was my car featured on that episode”.  Talk about a small world…

At this point of our conversation, several people approached Eric to ask about his car. Through Eric;s discussion, I learned more about the car, and that he had purchased this car in kit form, and proceeded to build it component by component from the ground up.

British Racing Green Ultima Can Am_motor and Hilborn fuel injection detail_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012And because the car was classified as a” rolling chassis”, it did not come with a motor or transmission. So Eric had to source both; He had a friend build up the potent V8, which includes the unique Hilborn fuel injection system (seen above and below), and for a transmission, he ended up sourcing a transaxle from a Porsche 911.
British Racing Green Ultima Can Am_motor - top view of Hilborn fuel injection system_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

Parked out on the very last row of the lot, was a Ferrari that I had seen drive into the event earlier that morning, but at the time did not have a clue as to its year or model designation. I had been looking for this particular Ferrari for the better part of the morning, and finally located it due to the large crowd of people gathered around it. Still not knowing the build date year or even the model designation, I decided to photograph the car in hope of finding some type of identification, or to overhear a conversation regarding details. One of the most striking visual features is its two-tone paint treatment; the basic body color in white, and on this particular car its painted, teal colored roof (as seen below)…

White and teal green 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT_front view_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

Regardless of this vehicles age, the chrome plated bumper, grill trim, driving lights and headlight bezels all appeared as if brand new…

White and teal green 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT_front grill, bumper and driving light detail_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

White and teal green 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT_3/4 side view_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

White and teal green 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT_rear view_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

Even the Borrani wire wheels appeared like fine Italian jewelry…

White and teal green 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT_rear Borrani wire wheel detail_Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

By the time I made my way around to the passenger side of the car, I began hearing conversations regarding some background details on this car. Several of the C&C regulars, obviously well versed in all things Ferrari, acknowledged that this particular car was in fact a 1955 250 Europa GT, and added that it had also been a participant in the 2011 Mille Miglia event (the participant decals were displayed on the windshield, placed low on the passenger side).  Confirmation of these discussion was found within the interior, in the form of a commemorative placard from the 2011 Mille Miglia event, that was found resting on the passenger’s side, teal colored carpet (see below).

White and teal green 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT_interior carpet detail and Mille Miglia 2011 commemorative placard__Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

It was hard to believe that this car had in fact competed in the event, since it was in  flawless, museum-like condition.

White and teal green 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT_Side view__Cars&Coffee/Irvine_August 25, 2012

When I returned home later that morning, I decided to educate myself further regarding this particular Ferrari model, so imagine my surprise when I googled “1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT”, and up popped an image of this very car!  A classic example of the automotive depth of treasures that reside right here in Southern California, and why each weeks Cars&Coffee event holds the promise of another new discovery…

(All photos by the author)