Vintage Lancia, Giancarlo Giannini, and Why We Love Italy

You’re selling something vaguely elegant. Nice sandals, a facial scrub, oversized sunglasses. In the last few years, there’s only been one answer for how to do it: Go to Italy.

We’re not quite sure where that all started, but there have been a series of increasingly elaborate videos, most recently Jude Law driving Giancarlo Giannini’s Delahaye 135 S from Italy to Monaco in a really great Johnnie Walker ad. Parmese fashion house Caruso couldn’t get Law or the Delahaye for its The Good Gentleman ads. But the suiting company did get Giannini and, in this episode, a Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider.

For an Italian clothier, Lancia is a far better choice than the French Delahaye. Some feel the Aurelia Spider is Pinin Farina’s (Note: Later joined up as Pininfarina—Ed.) single greatest design. With its 2.45-liter V-6 and production run of 240 just cars, it’s an icon in its own right.

The advertisement a wonderfully nonsensical affair. Giannini (recently, René Mathis in James Bond films) plays His Majesty Prince Diofebo Meli Lupi,* the current Prince of Soragna, Parma. He and his heavily made-up batman Fefé arrive in their Lancia at Four Seasons Milano, gently terrify the staff and haunt the catacombs in search of the freshest wild herbs.** After being serenaded by a magical suit on one of Caruso’s trademark horrifying mustachioed Clockwork Orange dummies,*** he turns out not to be robbing the cradle. Relieved, we all go out and buy snappy Italian clothes, then are dismayed to find that a B24 Spider costs $500,000. At least we’ll be able to finance the Fiat Spyder.

* Real person

** This actually happens

*** This also actually happens

Drop Everything and Watch Apocalypse Snow Right Now

Apocalypse Snow tells the story of, I don’t know. A spy or something, I guess. I don’t speak French, not that there are more than maybe five lines of dialogue. Starring snowboarding pioneer Regis Rolland as a snowboarder, Director Didier Lafond’s 24-minute film from 1983 is a mind-warping excursion down the French Alps, as Rolland is intermittently pursued by a band of… dudes. Possibly evil dudes, in red jumpsuits, using bizarre Rossignol monoskis. Interspersed with long, beautiful sequences of Rolland glissading down the slopes are assorted high- (and very low-) speed chases, both on land and in the air, among which appears what may be the single most dangerous helicopter stunt ever filmed.

Other highlights include:

Gallic taunting!

Outrunning avalanches!

Dracula fangs!

Googly eyes!

A Zorb chase!

Bright primary colors!

An exploding igloo!

Hang-gliding!

Chewing gum while flying!

Leg warmers!

Electric violins!

Hot snowblowing action!

Extreme eyeliner!

A child bride!

Rolland, who’d been introduced to snowboarding the year before, collaborated with ski-obsessed young cinematographer Lafond on the film in part to publicize the swallowtail board Roland had just developed. Lafond, for his part, brought intricate and expensive filming to the table, and Apocalypse Snow is credited with launching snowboarding—before then a primarily Vermonter activity—as a sport in Europe.

Like Mad Max, it’s thin on plot and heavy on guys chasing other guys through any means necessary, as well as far more explosions than you’d expect in the snow. Also like Max, it was followed by two sequels: Apocalypse Snow II: The Challenge and Apocalypse Snow III: The Survivors of the Apocalypse, filmed in the U.S. and Japan. Even more like Mad Max, it was rebooted with 2008’s Apocalypse Snow: The Return, which reunited the original cast in Chamonix for speedriding, snow-parachuting and snow wingsuit flying.

Apocalypse Snow isn’t as far out as it sounds. It is much, much more so. It needs to be watched with many good friends, fondue and all the wine you can get your hands on.

Here’s Your Essential Winter Survival Gear

Would that every man’s life were a Land Rover commercial! Were that the case, winters would be spent blasting up snowy mountainsides in winter tire-equipped luxury 4X4’s while wearing luxurious overcoats and sporting a glow that only Glenfiddich can imbue. Unfortunately, winter for most is akin to the cross between the “before” part of an advertisement for Dayquil and the cut footage for a regional ad produced by the Fargo Chamber of Commerce: mundane and difficult. And several feet of snow only gums up the whole thing further. If you drive to work and your daily is a maroon ‘94 Cavalier with bald front tires, that journey will be a difficult one, and you’ll likely be stuck. But don’t despair! It takes relatively few dollars and light preparation to outfit yourself with the necessary tools to get even the sorriest sled through winter.

Here’s the lot. All are useful, many are cool, one is drinkable. Chin up, lads.

Black Diamond Snow Shovel

Snow! Pow! The White Stuff (at least outside of Dade County)! Great for beautifying landscapes and padding ski hills, but a real joy-buster when atop and around your car. This light, portable and collapsable shovel—meant to help mountaineers dig themselves out of avalanches—is perfect for stashing in the trunk. Though small, this sexy techno-spade can reveal a snowbound car in minutes. [$74.95, REI.com]

Wagner Heat Gun

When the temperatures really dip, metal stops cooperating as it should. Doors, locks bolts all freeze into an unhappy rigor mortis. However, not even artic temps are a match for a proper heat gun, which can loosen to the tune of 1000 degrees. For something so useful that shares looks with a futuristic ray gun, the Wagner Heat Gun is quite cheap. [$21.97, Jet.com]

Zippo 4-in-1 Woodsman Axe

Sometimes, snow finds creative ways to block your path. Older trees can’t stand too much snow or ice before they topple, sometimes right across the roadway. This compact tool combines a vicious axe head and a handy saw—a real necessity for any impromptu lumbering needs. [$59.99, Brownells.com]

Carhartt Chill Stopper Gloves

Many hands make light work; cold hands make it hard to do any. Any wintertime shoveling, scraping or sawing is greatly improved with warm hands protected from the elements. Carhartt is an unofficial clothier to any American with work to do, and their insulated work gloves warm hands while allowing those hands to maintain dexterity. [$39.99, Carhartt.com]

Uniden Bearcat CB Radio

Heaven forbid you lose cell service—think of the scores of missed Tweets! Also, in a storm, you may need to call for help. In places where the long arm of the tower reaches not, a CB radio can get your distress signal out to nearby drivers. (Mostly, probably, truckers.) While you wait for rescue, practice Smokey and the Bandit style code-talking. [$69.95, rightchannelradios.com]

Traction Sand

All the power in the world, even a knobbly tire, won’t do you any good if the surface you’re contending with is pure slick. That where traction sand comes in: good grit that facilitates the friction necessary before road and tire. Buy a 60-pound bag and use it as helpful ballast in your rear-drive truck or car. At $5 a pop, buy a bag for everyone in your zip code. [$5.31, Lowes]

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Your chest cavity is filled with frost. Your spirit’s low. Your fingers are raw. Warm all three with Jameson’s patented Whiskey technology, which provides heat and comfort to all who partake. Use moderation, though, or you’ll end up like Jack Nicholson in the end of The Shining: dead in a snowbank, face in a happy rictus. [~$25, liquor stores]

Leatherman “Tread” Bracelet

Okay, so this is the priciest and most fanciful entry on the list, but bear with us, there’s function here. Every link in this bit of butch jewelry contains a useful tool, from allen wrenches to screw drivers to box wrenches. We would recommend using this wrist ornament for major repairs, but for an emergency roadside screw-tightening, the bracelet will come through. [$165, Leatherman.com]

LL Bean Mad Bomber Hat

LL Bean’s famous bomber is a great way to put rabbit’s fur in your ears. With its fully comprehensive shape and bunny-proven insulation tech, this cumbersome hat will swaddle your noggin in all the warmth it needs to solve the mystery of Getting My Jetta Out of a Ditch. Plus, you’ll look like a fighter pilot, circa ‘41. [$39.95, llbean.com]

Brass Blade Ice Scraper

Keep the credit card in your wallet doing what it’s meant to: hurrying you into debt. For scraping stubborn layers of ice off glass, try a purpose-built, brass-bladed scraper. The metal vanquishes the ice but, because brass is softer than auto glass, leaves windshields and windows unblemished. Seeing your clear windshield amid a storm, locals will note: “That’s guy’s got a pair of brass… ice scrapers.” [$3.98, homedepot.com]

Jerry Seinfeld Is the World’s Best “Previous Owner”

If you’ve got the cash, buy one of Jerry Seinfeld’s million-dollar vintage Porsches. Because, really, who’s going to have taken better care of a vintage Porsche than the world’s foremost Porschephile, who tends to his shining flock with a care that only an $800 million fortune can furnish? Who better from whom to buy an investment-grade German sportscar than the man with feathered hair and a Porsche 959 and a Porsche 918 Spyder and a “Gmund” Porsche 356, made in the original factory where they hammered the body panels out by hand? This man, it seems, would rather kiss Newman than let any harm befall any Porsche in his famous collection, housed in an anonymous warehouse on 83rd street.

Jerry Seinfeld has consigned several of his cars to Gooding and Co. for what is sure to be a monumental auction for fans of the brand. The cars will go up at Amelia Island on March 11 and are estimated to fetch around $10 million total. The lead asset, so to speak, is an ultra-rare 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, valued at around $6 million; the others, a 1958 Porsche 356 Carrera Speedster and a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR, are worth well over $1 million each.

In a statement, Jerry Seinfeld wrote, “I've never bought a car as an investment. I don't really even think of myself as a collector. I just love cars. And I still love these cars. But it's time to send some of them back into the world for someone else to enjoy.” That reads 75% true to us—no one with such an interest in and eye on the market purchases without some heed to value—though regardless, it’s honorable for Jerry to allow another millionaire to sample some of Porsche’s greatest hits. What does seven figures buy? The assurance that your ostensible “used car” is in better condition than that in which it left the factory. And probably a couple hairs from the famous Seinfeld coif in the upholstery.

<em>(Estimate: $5,000,000-$6,000,000)</em>rChassis 550-0060rCoachwork by Wendler <em>(Estimate: $2,000,000-$2,500,000)</em>rChassis 84908rCoachwork by Reutter <em>(Estimate: $1,200,000-$1,500,000)</em>rChassis 911 460 0016

The Complex Meaning of Craigslist Ads

Craigslist is about the most interesting website on the Internet. Like the local classifieds that preceded it, the site is a (sometimes gross) soup of human emotion: Missed connections, sentimental goodbyes to used chiffarobes, notices about lost pets, raunchy-but-heartfelt requests in the “personals” section. For every uncaptioned photo of a Vitamix among the Craiglist’s 80 million classified ads are two posts that allow a little insight into the soul of the writer.

Of course, some of the best posts come under the “Cars and Trucks” section, and why wouldn’t they? Cars are beloved family members, or projects, or relationship ruiners. Cars are sold to make rent, or given away at firesale prices just to clean out a garage. Many a project is abandoned once the owner uncovers the full scope the troubles. It’s right there, at the intersection of commerce, hopelessness and car fandom, that the best stuff emerges. Here are some of the best entries from the annals of Craiglist, our classifieds section and national personal diary.

Marital Strife - 1961 Chevy Biscayne

What first appears as an ad for a beat-to-heck 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne is actually the portrait of a marriage—a contentious one. Often, a seller will lead with the reason he’s forced to sell a beloved auto. This partner in marriage leads with: My wife is a Bitch making me get rid of my car!!!!! And then, in the classic sit-com one-two of Exasperated, Smart Wife dealing with Idiot Husband, comes the stunning line: my husband is stupid I post his ads.

Man of Few Words - “1988/$1000”

Anyone searching for a used car near Muscle Shoals, Alabama, will find this ad, for “1988/$1000.” A 1988 Elect Dukakis pin? A 1988 Yamaha Snowblower? The body copy reveals that the item for sale is a “truck.” Informationally, out of the frying pan and into the saucepan. Brevity is the soul of wit, but the death of a helpful Craigslist ad. This fellow is too reticent for the medium.

Helpful Man of Few Words - 1967 Mack Tri-Axle

In a similar vein is this ad for a Mack Dumptruck. The copy reads: Mack tri-axle, 6 cylinder diesel, standard, runs good, has some rust. Several quality pictures follow. While almost as laconic as the man selling the “1988,” this seller puts his few words to good use. Everything a prospective buyer needs to know is outlined in eleven words. Presumably, a man whose rhetoric is so sturdy and unornamented is exactly the kind from which to buy dumptrucks.

Immaculate! - 1983 Rolls-Royce

Vintage Rolls-Royces are famously well-built—solid, quiet, heavy—and infamously prone to electronic and hydraulic failures. Many cars that sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Eighties and Nineties now trade hands for Corolla money because of the high costs of maintenance and repair. This 1983 Rolls Silver Spur certainly looks “Immaculate!,” but any wise buyer would require much more information, and a tome of maintenance records, before taking the ghostly plunge. “Immaculate!” is all the verbiage we get. The concision, diction and location (Danbury, Connecticut) speak to a young scion selling dad’s beloved saloon. Listen here, Chadwick: Craigslist is a proletarian space, so give us the details we need. Money is an object.

Shout It Out - 1965 Barracuda

The pictures point to this ‘65 ‘Cuda being in pristine condition and the color, a limey yellow, is good fun. However, seventeen lines of ALL CAPS DESCRIPTION OF RUST BUBBLES AND CAR SHOWS AND PAINT JOBS makes a self-described “old vet” seem more like a crazy old man. You know what really draws attention and underscores details? Punctuation and white space.

Draggin’ Wagon - Hemi Flyer

The copy here has a regular voice and even-handed, helpful tone, but any person selling a V-8-powered children’s red wagon has to be insane in a deep, incurable way

Definitely Niche, Not Quite Nice - 1983 Chevy Malibu Wagon

As with any hobby, the automotive world has tribes. Mustang-, Camaro- and Miata-lovers are some of the bigger groups, but fandom goes all the way down the ladder. Pick what you might deem the world’s worst or least interesting car, and then marvel at its owner’s forum and fan club. Adore your ‘91 Chevy Cavalier? The J-Body owner’s club welcomes you. The seller of this ‘83 Malibu Station wagon is obviously head over heels. The rear window vents, he says, came only on ‘83 wagons. This is the last year, he notes, the Malibu came with rear-drive architecture. Then, he names this jalopy a “classic.” Who are we to yuck a yum? Here’s the obsessive love of every car.

Wagon With a Trunk Full of Heartbreak - 1993 Mercedes 300TE

Sometimes, an otherwise bone-dry Craigslist ad will reveal its author’s heart in the last line. After listing the problems with his 1992 Mercedes 300TE wagon—many due to a negligent former owner—the he ends with a simple request: Will consider trades for Vermont-inspected vehicle with no major mechanical issues. Somebody thought he could rescue an aging German car, fix ‘er up quick and love ‘er indefinitely. Looks like it was harder than that. No cars with major mechanical issues please, and no more heartache.

The Build’s Essential Wrenchin’ Checklist

You may have noticed that we're hard at work returning a busted 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser back to some semblance of awesome. We call this Sisyphean task The Build. But before we started the project, we had to set up a garage. After all, Brooklyn, from whence this greasemonkey adventure sprang, ain't California. We have cold winters and lots of wet weather, so it's good to have an indoor space in which to wrench.

But even if you have to work outside—as I am usually forced to do—you'll need a few tools to get you going. Sure, you can try fixing your car or truck with an adjustable wrench and a set of worn-out screwdrivers, but the amount of time you'll save using the correct tools is priceless.

Luckily, places like Harbor Freight Tools—where we picked up much of our inventory on the cheap at a “tent sale,” as the photos on this page demonstrate—offer decent tools for very low prices. Some people complain that they break, but we have yet to see a Harbor Freight-derived implement that can't be replaced with only minor damage to the ol' bank account.

You'll need other things, of course, but this is a good primer for any budding automotive enthusiast's garage. If it seems like a lot, never fear. You can start with only the tools you need for a particular job, and build on that assortment. By the time you die or are hauled off to the home, your heirs will have a handsome pile of greasy old crap to get rid of.

On that note, good luck and happy wrenching!

Safety Gear

You should really wear safety glasses when you're working on cars. If there's going to be rust and metal flakes flying every which way, invest in a pair of safety goggles as well. You'll want to get a few pairs of mechanics’ gloves as well, in case you handle parts that are hot, sharp or otherwise threatening to your baby-soft hands. If you're prone to dropping things, better get a pair of steel-toed shoes, too. Even a bruised toe can take you out of the shop.

Screwdrivers

Get a full assortment of flat- and phillips-head screwdrivers (also known as slot- and star-head). You can usually get a set of many different sizes in a package deal. There should be large, small, long and short ones. Using a screwdriver of the incorrect size can damage screws and make removing parts impossible. It's not a bad idea to add a set of Torx drivers to your collection, too, especially if you plan on wrenching on GM vehicles.

Wrenches

You'll need a variety of combination wrenches, which are open on one end and closed on the other—everything from small (8 mm or 1/4-inch) to large (24 mm or 1-inch). If you have some extra loot, get a set of wrenches with ratcheting ends, as they're a huge time-saver. You'll also need several sizes of adjustable wrenches.

It's a good idea to pick up both SAE and metric sizes. If you're working on older American cars, all the fasteners come in SAE sizes, but I've found that many of these cars have had new, non-factory fasteners added here and there over the years, and those tend to be metric. Newer American cars, as well as vehicles from Japan, Korea and Europe, all use metric fasteners.

Sockets

No tool set is complete without a good ratchet set. Again, get metric and SAE, just so you won't have to run to the tool shop in the middle of your job when some unexpected size pops up. At the very least, you'll need a 3/8-inch-drive ratchet and matching sockets. If you have the extra scratch, get ratchets and sockets in the larger, 1/2-inch-drive and smaller 1/4-inch-drive sizes, too. If you're going to be working on axles, make sure you have the appropriate-sized large socket (32 mm, 36 mm, etc.) in your collection. Get adapters to facilitate drive-size changes, plus swivels and extensions, too. Different combinations of length, size and angle will be lifesavers when you're trying to get at something tricky and sticky.

Torque Wrench

If you're working on anything more advanced than a Volkswagen Beetle—hell, even if you're just working on a Beetle—there will be times when you need to tighten fasteners to a factory-specified torque level. For this, you'll need a torque wrench. A cheap one will work (and is what we're using) but for higher-end machines, you might want to splurge a bit.

Breaker/Pry Bars

To go along with your 1/2-inch drive sockets, you'll need a breaker bar, too. That's the long-handled bar that can be used to turn difficult-to-crack nuts and bolts. Do yourself a favor and get a ratcheting one, too, as breaker bars are a pain to turn once you've cracked the fastener loose.

Pry bars are essentially giant screw drivers, and can be of great assistance when you're separating old, crusty parts or trying to line up uncooperative bolt holes. Get an assortment of sizes. You won't regret it.

Pliers

You can never have too many of these. You should have "normal" pliers, needlenose pliers, long needlenose pliers, hooked long needlenose pliers and adjustable pliers—in several different sizes. Adding some specialty pliers (snap ring pliers, for example) is also essential. Make sure you have a set of small wire cutters, too. These are useful for all kinds of things, and not just their intended purpose.

Jonathan Schultz/TheDrive.com

Jonathan Schultz/TheDrive.com

Jonathan Schultz/TheDrive.com

Jonathan Schultz/TheDrive.com

Jonathan Schultz/TheDrive.com

Jonathan Schultz/TheDrive.com

Jonathan Schultz/TheDrive.com

Locking Pliers

These are essential, but they should be used wisely, as clamping a pair of vise-grips onto something usually means you might not ever use that part again. But locking pliers are indispensable in the never-ending battle against rusty parts. They also make great window-crank handles when you're too lazy/cheap to buy the correct part.

Hammers

First and foremost, you should have a good-sized ball-pein hammer, for whacking the shit out of things that need "persuasion." If you can get a set of different sizes for cheap, all the better. It's also great to have a brass hammer, which allows you to whack steel things without damaging them (brass being the softer metal), and a dead-blow hammer or two. Those have heads filled with some kind of buckshot that make your hammering action more powerful. Never underestimate the power of the dead-blow hammer. It is simple, but no less amazing for it.

Jack and Jack Stands

If you don't have access to a lift—and even if you do—you'll need a hydraulic floor jack to raise your vehicle off the ground. Since you should never get under a vehicle that's supported only by a hydraulic anything, a set of jack stands is necessary to keep the vehicle in place when it's not resting on its tires and wheels. Do not jack up a vehicle if you don’t know what you’re doing, lest you get crushed because you didn't support it the right way. If you only have one end of the car jacked up, make sure you chock the wheels that are still on the ground to keep the vehicle from rolling off the jack stands.

If you don't have a place to store a big, heavy floor jack, there are portable ones available. The smaller jacks tend to work best on cars and smaller trucks. Full-size pickups and SUVs usually call for bigger jacks and jack stands.

Picks and Magnets

Picks, which look a bit like those tools dentists use to scrape the moss from between your teeth, are indispensable. Using them is like gaining extra length and delicacy of movement for your normally fat, clumsy fingers. A telescoping stick with a magnet on the end is also a must-have, for two reasons. First, if you drop a fastener into a difficult-to-reach spot, a magnet will help you retrieve it. You can also use a magnet, along with a pick, to get out-of-the-way nuts and bolts started on their threads.

Lights and Mirrors

Working on cars is a lot easier when you can see what you're doing. Unfortunately, the many nooks and crannies presented under the hood and under the car make for a lot of obscure, shadowy regions. That's where cheap, battery-powered LED lights can come in handy. Mirrors, again like those ones dentists use, are great for seeing around blind corners and into tight spaces.

Files, Chisels and Punches

Get a set of files: flat ones, an angled one and a round one. They're cheap, and you may need to file things to smooth them out. Chisels and punches may help you get fasteners out when they don't want to move, and can be necessary for removing and installing steel pins that hold things together.

Tap and Die Set

Every mechanic should have one of these, with both SAE and metric thread sizes. The taps are used to clean out and/or repair the threads in bolt holes, and the dies are for doing the same to the bolts themselves. Threads that are in good condition and free from debris are essential for accurate torque readings.

Catch Pans and Buckets

Every mechanic has to drain engine oil, coolant and other fluids at some point, and you'll need a place to put it. Get a couple of different-sized catch pans for the draining, and a lidded five-gallon bucket or two for storage and transport to the recycler.

Rags, Paper Towels and Hand Cleaner

Have a robust supply of rags and paper towels handy, because you're going to make a mess. I like to use paper towels until they're absolutely saturated, in order to reduce waste. Get some of that gritty hand cleaner that smells like oranges. It's magic when it comes time to strip off the thick layer of grease and oil that's caked in every crevice of your hands.

Tool Chest

You'll need to keep your tools organized, because lost and misplaced tools mean time wasted. If you're going to be on the move, it may be a good idea to get a few portable boxes. The hinges on the steel ones last longer, but the plastic ones are cheaper and won't rust. If you have the room, a rolling cabinet is always a clutch play.

Parts Storage Bins

Getting into a big project, you'll need to keep parts and fasteners organized. Pick up a set of plastic bins in several different sizes, ideally clear ones. You can use a labelmaker or a marker and masking tape to keep things straight. Get plastic bins practically anywhere.