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Darren McGee

Deputy Editor at Globe Drive

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In photos: One-of-a-kind Beatnik Bubbletop headed to auction

And now for something completely different: The Beatnik Bubbletop - a crazy retro-futuristic award-winning car which began as a 1955 Ford - is going on the block at Auctions America's event July 17-18 in Santa Monica, Calif., and is expected to fetch $150,000-$200,000 (U.S.). Created by Gary "Chopit" Fioto, this eclectic lavender ride features the front bumper from a 1959 Cadillac, a rear bumper from a 1958 Caddy and finned taillights from a 1960 Chrysler. Its chassis is from a 1988 Lincoln Town Car and the engine is powered by a Chevrolet 350-cubic-inch V-8. "Being a person who loves art deco and is inspired by custom cars of the '40s, '50s, and '60s, I decided I would like to build something similar to cars I remembered from my childhood," Fioto told hotrod.com several years ago. "There was always that one car that stood out from the crowd. I decided I wanted to build something of that stature. I wanted to be noticed by people while driving down the road." Mission accomplished. But what exactly does the Long Island, N.Y., car customizer believe is vital when constructing such a one-of-a-kind car? "It's gotta have attitude. That's what I look for when I chop a car," Fioto told Street Rodder magazine. "I look for coolness. Whatever makes the car look good is what I go for - it's just got to say something to me; it's got to look like it's moving, even when standing still." And, of course, it also has to have air conditioning - which indeed, the Beatnik does - because life in a Bubbletop on a sunny day can get painfully hot, no matter how cool you look.

Jul 13, 2015

In photos: Bentley owned by Keith Richards going under the gavel

Its owner was a Rolling Stone. And oh, if only this car could talk, the stories it could tell. A blue Bentley S3 Continental Flying Spur bought in 1965 by guitarist Keith Richards is going up for auction in September. "Blue Lena" - Richards named it after jazz singer Lena Horne - was used to transport Mick, Keef and the boys to some wild and crazy parties. And while the Bentley has a stately, reserved, elegant look, don't be fooled. Richards had it modified with a hidden compartment to conceal drugs and related paraphernalia. "It was a car meant to be driven fast at night," Richards said in his 2010 autobiography, Life. "My dark blue Bentley, my S3 Continental Flying Spur - an automobile of some rarity, one of a limited edition of 87. Having this car was already heading for trouble, breaking the rules of the establishment, driving a car I was definitely not born in to. 'Blue Lena' had carried us on many an acid-fuelled journey." But acid trips weren't the only drives Blue Lena was used for. In 1967, Richards took it to Morocco. The reason: to lay low because of the media frenzy surrounding drug charges he was facing in Britain - and because drugs were more freely available in Marrakech. "Richards sold Blue Lena in 1978, and it has since changed hands just three times," said James Knight, Bonhams Group motoring director, in a press release. "Following a five-year restoration, Blue Lena has been returned to its former glory, and will be offered at Bonhams Goodwood Revival Sale." The pre-sale estimate is about $570,000-$855,000 and the Bonhams auction takes place Sept. 12 in Chichester, West Sussex, in south England.

Jul 10, 2015

In photos: Survey shows what the happiest car buyers drive

Kia's K900 achieved the highest marks of any vehicle in a survey of owners for U.S.-based AutoPacific's 19th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. General Motors, however, won the most number of categories with five. The VSAs are based on 66,000 survey responses from owners of new 2015 model year vehicles. Respondents rate 50 attributes for importance in the purchase decision and satisfaction after purchase. In all, 274 models from 33 brands were considered in 21 segments. The 2014 overall winner was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Below is the vehicle that won each different category:

Jul 10, 2015

In photos: Iconic Miami Vice Ferrari headed for auction – includes massive cellphone

Are you stuck in the '80s, your Ray-Bans catching the reflection off your shiny Armani jacket, its sleeves rolled up, with a pastel T-shirt, white linen pants and loafers sans socks? Then crank up the Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Depeche Mode on your car stereo and get your designer five o'clock shadow to the Mecum Daytime Auction in Monterey, Calif., for Aug. 15 - because a 1986 Ferrari Testarossa driven by detectives Crockett and Tubbs during the final three seasons of Miami Vice is going up for auction. Originally black, series director Michael Mann ordered it to be repainted white for better visibility in night scenes. The Testarossa features a 4.9-litre, 390-horsepower flat-12 engine, a traditional five-speed manual gated shifter, beige leather, power windows, power locks, power seats, cruise control and air conditioning. The car has been in storage since Miami Vice ended its five-year run in 1989. There are 16,124 miles on the odometer. Oh, and an old 1980s-era car phone is inside - no word on whether it still works. Mecum has yet to place an official estimate on the Ferrari, but it is expected to fetch between $600,000-$800,000.

Jul 09, 2015

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Darren McGee is an editor and writer for Globe Drive.

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