Avanti R2, 1963, refresh

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Now Monday, March 5th. Cold this AM, 26 degrees, waiting for a little snow.

But Greg was really busy yesterday. That R3 engine is quite a brute. Here is his report.

"A comparison of the original and repro R3 headgasket. A couple holes had been eliminated or overlooked in the new ones. I decided to put them back. The turret punch did a nice job of the 3/16" holes.

Time also spent on the head retention bolts. Blast cleaned, wire wheeled, and a quick coating to prevent corrosion and the heads were then set in place but not yet tightened.

Looking ahead to shooting paint, I'm tag teaming a couple deep sump oil pans. Epoxy primer, a little filler in scars and blems, sanded and recoated with epoxy.

A good days work."





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It is Wednesday, March 7th. Been really cold for the last couple of days so have not worked on cars, but today looks to be warmer. But the cold does not seem to bother Greg. He is like the old Postman. Always making his deliveries, come rain or shine.

So here is Greg's report for last night.

"Back when men were men, and women were glad of it..... we didn't have to sweat the possibility of ruining our flat tappet engines because the EPA mandated the ZDDP be reduced in our "new and improved" motor oils. Ask me how I know.

As assembly progresses on the black Avanti R-3 engine, I took time tonight to apply a zinc additive break-in lube to the camshaft lobes. There's a chance that the weather will allow me to roll it outside and shoot some paint on it. I also wiped down the block and brushed a light coat of epoxy primer on it. I've got the paint. I'd call it a third generation Granatelli Red, having matched the color forty years ago from an original sample, now I've had that color matched and mixed. Should be pretty close.

Tomorrow I'll tape things off and blow some color on it. I've got to do it outside because my buddy Scott has our paint room so jammed up that you can hardly get in the door.

And maybe you've forgotten about the Matheson engine. I haven't. I've been putting in time machining parts to make the ignition components resemble those in the parts book. Matheson did things for a reason. You'll notice the new spring anchor rail has slots and adjustable anchors. This allows for position adjustment of the triggers. Lots of making small parts, some got riveted place.

That, in a nutshell, is tonight's activity.

Day job: Setting up to line bore the main bearings on the Wright vertical four engine case."







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Still Wednesday, PM. Well, got caught short this morning. My barn builder helper said that he could come over this morning and tomorrow for a few hours. So I had to put off my Avanti and other work.

So we laid out the positions for all the six poles and planted two of them. Tomorrow we will do the other four. I also pulled off the back of the barn enclosure. Now that was tough to get off. I really had nailed everything tight. Here are a few pics.

But I did get a chance to put on some silver paint on the back of the little rear bumper extensions to see how it would work out. Boy, this silver paint is runny stuff. But it looks good when it dires. Glad that Greg told me to do it. I could see rust starting to form on the backside of all the bumper pieces. Tomorrow I will do the long rear bumper as it is suppose to be over 70 degrees tomorrow. Here are a couple of before and after pics.






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Thursday, March 8th. Planting the remaining four barn poles this morning. Then if there is time will do some more Avanti bumper painting.

Speaking of painting, here is Greg's report. And you will love his story too.

"Today, as nice as it was, too windy to paint outside. Only alternative, carve out a corner of the paint room by the exhaust fan.

This done I rolled in the engine block, cleaned the primer out of the old dinosaur DeVilbiss gun and prepared the red enamel.

The paint covered surprisingly well. A medium wet tack coat, wait fifteen minutes and a good wet top coat. I haven't sprayed paint, especially enamel in a long time and I was impressed with my glossy finish and absence of any runs or sags.

Rolled it out and hung more parts, same thing. Two coats and even though I was spraying in a dirty, filthy room and the subjects were directly in the airstream of the exhaust fan, hardly a spec of dust in the finish.

Why not try my luck with an oil pan. Another medium tack coat and go play on the computer for fifteen minutes, then give it a wet top coat. Really nice! One more to go. Instant replay of the first. Good gloss and NO DIRT!

Time to get out of there, turn off the dirt sucking exhaust fan and let it "get out of dust", dry enough to be in the same room with. Good boy.

Go upstairs, nuke some soup, watch a minute of TV while I gulp it down. That done, I couldn't help myself. Had to go back in and take another look. What I saw took me back more than fifty years.

It took me back to a family trip. Mother had kin somewhere in central Pennsylvania. We were visiting their farm out in the country. I must have been about ten years old, plus or minus.

Looking for something to do, I found a bicycle. Exploring a country dirt road, I eventually happened upon a small gas station/repair garage type place. Old cars sitting around. A well worn '34 Ford pickup truck, in the garage bay was a barn fresh '35 Cadillac convertible coupe. And out front in the open air paint booth was a '54 Ford. Freshly painted. The brightest red enamel I'd ever seen. It looked like a big Luden's Wild Cherry cough drop that had been savored for a while. I took a closer look.

(Here's why this came to mind) If it had one gnat stuck in it, it had a trillion of 'em, all doing the backstroke.

My dust free, glossy non sagged finished oil pan had a bug in it. Actually I just took a look. Four of the little buggers stuck in it.

Oh well, not to get too upset.

They might rub off.

They are on the bottom.

and.....one of the top ten rules from Cone's Laws of Restoration:

Paint is only temporary."





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I like that rule Greg !

Paint and bugs? Reminds me of painting yachts in (outside)Florida. Love bugs love Awlgrip!

Rule : Never paint in a west wind .

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Still Thursday, PM. Well, we got the remaining four poles planted in the ground for the barn/garage addition. Have to head out tomorrow and haul in some more wood and stuff for the headers, etc. We plan on putting up the headers on Saturday morning. Enclosed is a pic of "polehenge".

On the car front I received the NOS kick panel boards for the Avanti. The ones that I took off the car are warped and degraded. I have new carpet and it covers the entire board. But I think I will try to save the existing vinyl, take off the black vinyl paint and make an attempt to reuse the red vinyl. Here are some pics of the NOS panels and the old versus new panels, front and back.

Pulled out the newly chromed rear bumper and took a before picture of the rust forming. I hope to paint it tomorrow.

PS I got a second wind and decided I better paint the inside of the rear bumper. Blowing over 40 mph at times so lots of dust in the air. Alice is home so there is no way to paint it on the kitchen counter. So decided to paint it in the horse/llama trailer, which is empty and can be closed off. So that is what I did. Here are a few pics just for fun.










Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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Neil Young said it best John, "Rust Never Sleeps". Jeez, you just had them plated! Hmmm...where did you get those kick panels?

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Chris, I have no idea why the backs of the bumpers started to rust. Greg has had a similar experience that is why he suggested that I paint them. The panels are on Ebay. Easy enough to make a set, but then you have to go out and buy the blanks at an interior shop. For me it was just a wash money wise so went NOS.

It is Friday, March 9th. Weather has changed since blowing all of yesterday. Instead of 70 degrees we are going to be lucky to hit 50.

Getting ready to head out to buy more wood for the barn, but first, a report from Greg.

"Pleasant day looking out the window, windy though. Nice enough to get old maroon Avanti out for a run. So, I did. Took the long way to the bank, paid my phone bill, stopped at the Zone to get more gasket shellac and back. Hasn't shimmied since I replaced the tie rods. That's a good thing.

As for progress on the black Avanti R3 engine? Dry enough to handle, so I installed the front motor mounts, cleaned and prepped hardware to mount the oil filter base and the pan gaskets. Then, having run out of excuses, I took a final look inside and then screwed down the oil pan itself.

Now, as I finish a phone conversation in which the last discussion was pertaining to what's left to do? The nature of the restoration game is to not look too far ahead. Bite off a chunk and keep gnawing on it without stopping to look a just how huge the elephant buffet really is.

Think while I'm swallowing, I'll go put 'Ol Seabiscuit away."



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Still Friday, PM. Done for the day. Got the wood for the new barn addition and changed out the post hole digger for the rear blade. I will use the rear blade to remove dirt from the barn where we will pour the cement pad. I have to go down about half a foot or more. I have to put down about four inches of gravel and then five inches of fiberglass reinforced concrete. Tomorrow we are putting up the headers for the addition.

Did I tell you that the tractor attachments are heavy. Just about all I can do to lug them into position an inch at a time. Here is a pic of the blade.

And I still got some time in for the Avanti. Finished painting the insides of all the bumpers, cleaned some more in the engine bay, and installed the little side bumpers on the rear of the car. They look pretty good.

Greg and I are also talking about getting valve covers, carb bonnets, air cleaner canisters, and valley covers re-chromed. So we have started the search for a good place at a reasonable cost.





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"Did I tell you that the tractor attachments are heavy. Just about all I can do to lug them into position an inch at a time"

One of the strange things in life John.. Seems the older you get, the heavier things become and also the more damage you can do to yourself when you try to lift them.

I purchased a portable compressor about fifteen years ago and I bought the biggest one that I could pysically pickup (15cu/ft) and put on the tray of my truck. A struggle mind you but I could do it. Nowdays I can hardly lift it off the ground let alone put it in the truck. Some one must be adding ballast to it.

On a different subject, I came across a interesting web site which I am sure your friend Greg would be most interested in if he doesn't know about it already. The story on the Beardmore engine is fascinating.

The Vintage Aviator Ltd | The Vintage Aviator

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David, a reply back from Greg re your aviation web site referral.

"Hey, great site!

Although I hadn't seen it, we here at work know of their work. Last fall the boss sold them a load of vintage aircraft engines (rotaries, Hissos, Curtiss)..... and a ton of magnetos and repair parts. A container load!

And Gene DeMarco.....he once allowed me about forty-five minutes in the left seat of his Howard DGA."

It is Saturday, barn building this morning and then hope to remount the Avanti back bumper. Now where did I put the little baggie with all those mounting bolts? I think I am almost done, but I seem to have a box full of parts to put on. Glad they are in only three spots in the garage. I am so organized (not), god help me if anyone moves anything from its spot, then I will never find it.

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It is Sunday, March 11th. Took the Jaguar XK120 to a Cars and Coffee weekly event at a local Starbucks near Fair Lakes, VA. About 50 or so cars there. Mostly Porsche, Lotus, BMW, Mustangs, Cobras, and many Corvettes. We had a great time looking at all the cars and talking to folks. We had many folks coming over to talk about our car. We let everyone sit in the car if they wanted. Many took us up on the offer. So everyone had a great time. We even got to sit in a 2007 Lotus. Now that is one pocket rocket. Here are a few pics.

Spent all day yesterday installing the headers for the barn addition to including drilling for and installing bolts to attach everything together. Here is what it looks like after today's work.








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Still Sunday and the weekend report from Greg.

"It's been a good weekend, busy trying to cram in all possible.

Progress wise, the R-3 Avanti engine is coming together. The heads and head gaskets screwed down, then the push rods and rocker arm assemblies were scrubbed and when they were in place, all the hardware was torqued.

Then some incidentals. Some of the missing plugs for the oil galleries were next. So basically, the engine itself is pretty much a thing.

The harmonic balancer will be in the next batch of parts to be painted so that it can go on. Then lots of exterior stuff to freshen. Blower bracket assembly, pulleys, intake manifold, exhaust manifolds, carburetor and fuel pump overhaul, etc.

Photos: *Hungry mouths to feed.

*Current engine progress."




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It is Monday, March 12th, PM. Well it seems like the mornings are filled with farm and barn work, and then the Avanti in the afternoon.

Made two runs into town this morning, first to pick up wood for the barn rafters (30 2x6x12s), and the second to take a Chevrolet Trailblazer full of wood debris to the dump. Of course I had to off load the wood and put it over by the barn. Ready for tomorrows AM work.

On the Avanti I mounted the rear bumper with Alice's help. We did not hit or scratch anything. But I can see I need more of the rubber shims that go between the body and the bumper. I have a couple but not enough to get an accurate fit. But the rear bumper is on and looks great.

If I get a chance tomorrow I plan on working on the front of the car. The headlights and their wiring are next.




Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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I always read this even though I am not really an Avanti fan. For the benefit of the Avanti fans out there that also read your updates, I found this Avanti in our local craigslist. I do not know anything about it and don't know the owner. If anyone is interested, I would offer to check it out for anyone who might be interested.

1963 Studebaker Avanti R-1

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I haven't looked at my Studebaker stuff in a long time but I seem to remember that square headlights were a 1964 feature. Or did I dream this?

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Pat, I believe that the square headlights were a running change along with lots of other things like the drip rails. I have seen the date of the change beginning with a certain cars serial number, but cannot find it right now. Most folks believe that the square headlight mean a 1964 model, but to Studebaker all the cars were just Avantis. State DMVs made them a 1963 or 1964 depending on the sold date from the dealer.

It is Tuesday, March 13th. What a nice day here today in Northern Virginia, and 83 degrees to boot. I figured I had better post before I drop in a heap.

We got half of the rafters up this morning, will do the other half tomorrow. Starting to look like a pole barn. See pic.

We took the Jaguar out last night to a big farm near us. Had a great dinner, and drove home in the pitch black of night. I must say the previous owner never drove the car in the dark. The headlights are way off. The low beams point five feet out, high beams maybe twenty feet, but the driving lights were excellent and lit the way. Of course we had to drive on a dusty gravel road so had to wash the car this morning. It was a pleasant experience.

Then to work on the Avanti. Did some more cleaning inside the car and found out that one of the front bucket hold down bolts is now spinning in its mount. I know there are repair kits and Greg also has a way to fix them. Will put it on the to do list. I do like the red interior. Sure is pretty.

I then tackled the headlight wiring. I had to remove the wiring bundle from the car in order to make new connections. I then test fitting the newly rewired buick in the car. It will get a seal of dum dum tomorrow and will be mounted and ready for the actual headlight installation. Then on to the other side.

I also test fitted the new coolant over flow bottle that I got from Studebaker International. Fits great. I may have to rotate the horn the other way, but will check on that tomorrow.

And finally, a pic or two of our latest critters lounging in the flower baskets and whatching me work. I wish I was a cat.











Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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It is Wednesday, March 14th. Really early, like 3 AM. Have the windows open and the llamas alterting woke me up, so grabbed the flashlight and headed out to see what is up. Surprised a skunk, but saw nothing else. So am awake. Just in time to catch Greg's post. He is up too, but ready to go to bed I expect.

Here is Greg's report.

"Since the major work is done on the R-3 and I'll be doing the external components when I'm in the mood, I've decided while doing one Studebaker V8, I might as well piggyback another in my spare time.

This is the one that had the side blown out of it, evidently while it was being directed to misbehave. I had already taken it to a backyard welding shop in the hills leading to West Virginia. Was that last winter or the one before? Don't remember.

I do remember the place however. Barb went along. It was a dark and (snow)stormy night. The asphalt road had turned to gravel and then to a dirt lane up the grade through the trees. The two car garage behind a mobil home in the woods was what we were looking for.

Told that our guy was a good cast iron welder, we followed him into the shop and when he told us that he'd just gotten back from welding a steam locomotive....on site....I felt reassured and left the block with him. You don't mess with live steam.

I then followed him to the lower level of the garage/shop to his office. A quick glance around and I noticed what appeared to be the door of a jail cell??! Another glance inside proved that our welder had his own arsenal. Wasn't anyone going to take that ridge!

Anyway, he had welded and rough dressed his repair and I was impressed. It looked good. Finally, the other night I decided to finish the job . Scott helped me lift the block onto the milling machine and I used a flycutter to machine the pan rail surface. The weld cut very nicely, Like butter, not a pinhole or hard spot in it. Then it was time to drill and tap for the oil pan bolt.

There again, the weld drilled easily, and there wasn't any problem cutting the threads. Usually, that's when the tap would break off in the thing and by the time it is out, you've butchered the casting so badly it is back to the hills for more welding.

I intend to call the guy and really thank him for such a great job he did of the nasty job of welding cast iron.

The day job Wright four engine block is progressing, now I am re-doing the camshaft babbitt bearings that I'm not happy with.

I was called out of the shop today, was late getting back, so planned Matheson work didn't happen. Not good.

Photos: * Machining the pan rail*

*Drilled and tapped hole for pan bolt*

*The next problem to address. The side had been knocked out by a connecting rod that failed when the piston pin made contact with the cylinder wall. I guess I'll have to buy Lee's lunch tomorrow and hope that he'll take over the repair of this thing. He will probably have to overbore that cylinder and press fit a sleeve in it. Then it and the other bores will need to be precision honed and both decks (headgasket surfaces) be resurfaced."




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It is Wednesday, March 14th. No Avanti work today, worked on the barn all day. Wanted to get everything I could do done. Why? Well, we are heading to Italy for two weeks on Friday. Tomorrow I hope to do a couple of little things on the Avanti.

Being gone I don't think that I will be posting much. I will try to keep up with Greg, but I do not know how the internet connections will be where we are staying. I will try.

Here are a couple of pics of the barn sans roof.




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It is Thursday, March 15th. The eye has it. The Avanti looks like a pirate with one eye.

I spent the entire afternoon rewiring the passenger side headlight. The wires were just twisted together and wrapped with a couple of passes of plastic tape. So I tore into them, sodered, shrink wrapped, and wrapped again with self-adhesive silicon black tape.

I used the dum dum to seal the headlight bucket back into its housing on the fender. Note to self, do not let the dum dum get warm/hot. It turns to mush and sticks like glue to everything. But it is good stuff and will seal the headlight bucket nicely.

I then mounted the headlight, connected the wiring and a miracle occurred. I have a working headlight. I will not mount the beauty ring and glass cover until I check the alignment. No sense in doing things twice if I do not have to.

I tried the parking light on the passenger side, it worked fine. But the turn signal does not work, it may be a ground issue associated with the driver's side. It will have to wait until I get the driver's side electrics done.

I also mounted the new coolant overflow bottle. I had to turn the horn around to make it fit. Now the horn is out of position, but heck, it still works.

Here are a few pics to include one of the peanut gallery.










Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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Still Thursday. Just got a note from Greg. What a story. You all will enjoy it.

"All isn't deadly serious here at Hyde Manor. Most of the time it is. Especially for Ken, who is trying to keep this place afloat, all his employees fed. He's got a lot on him.

Of course he seems to enjoy fighting those uphill battles with little or no chance of winning. Take his battle with Mother Nature.

Years ago he'd dug a manmade lake. And it is stocked with fish. Tanker truck loads of little hybrid striped bass (rockfish) which grew into thousands of big rockfish. Other kinds of fish too. And of course it is a daily chore of keeping all those fish fed and healthy. Huge catfish that will eat out of your hand, and there are also those colorful decorative carp in there. Big ones that help keep the lake clean. Ken likes to dine on fish.

Mother Nature also sends a few predators by to snack on the fishys. Muskrats, turtles, and now the real menace.

Across our fence is the Airlie wildlife preserve. Among other critters, you'll find an increasing population of Bald Eagles. Beautiful to watch. And guess what they like to eat. Ken's expensive fish.

So Captain Ken has this running battle with the eagles. They take great delight in dropping down on an unwary fish, carry it off and then land on the bank and take a couple bites and then fly away. The bigger the catch the better. This leaves Ken with steam coming out his ears.

So along with dropping what he's doing to chase away an eagle sighting, he engaged Scott to make an scarecrow. Scott, always working over the top, built one with articulating arms and legs, tin foil and dressed in a dayglow plastic rain coat to flap in the breeze.

Ken even put flashing lights on them (it grew into a pair of scarecrows). I guess the flashing lights are for when the eagles are flying on instruments and need something to line up on when breaking out of the clouds.

This went on for a while, but then Ken stepped up the program. Each scarecrow is now armed with a wooden shotgun (in case eagles know what shotguns are).

Well....Cliff and I were staring out the window at the nearest sentry and a fiendish plot came to mind. With and evil grin, I approached Scott with our idea. Well, he took the ball and ran with it.

Remember that Scott always works over the top. What I thought would be a quick and dirty upgrade to the scarecrow turned into a project. Cardboard, carved wood, wire and paint, another mastepiece.

And today the time was right. While Ken was working off the lot, we made the addition to the scarecrow, a full scale and very lifelike bald eagle.

Carefully staged, upon his return Ken found us staring out the window at the scarecrow. That's when his eyes popped out!

"Why that ##(&**!! " "And he's sitting on the *%%#$ shotgun!!!"

So out the door he went, clapping his hands and shouting at the top of his lungs. He made it about halfway to the thing and then stopped, turned around and looked back at us, then trudged up the hill for a closer look.

So, I've still got a job, but the day isn't over yet."






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It is Friday, March 16th. Up, up and away. In a few short hours we will be heading off to Italy so this will be my last post until I can get an internet connection there.

But good old Greg has a post for us from last night's work. Here it is.

"Well, all joking aside. Back to work. I should warm the babbitt pot tomorrow and pour the Wright vertical cam bearings and caps.

I had sent a new pattern to the foundry so they could supply me with longer cam bearings for the V8. I'd found that the front one is longer than the other four. Bob Eagan had called Monday to say that since he wouldn't be pouring bearing bronze for some time, that he was going to send me an ingot of the alloy so that I could cut and hack the pieces I need. That's what I'm doing.

Night shift: With nice weather flirting with us, I decided that I'd better get the old 1921 Dodge four out of winter storage. Got some gas in the tank, filled the vacuum tank (fuel pump) and flooded the carburetor. Opened the driver's door (not a Model T), connected the ex-Frank Gable battery and slid in behind the wheel. Turned the key to vertical and noted the current draw on the ammeter, set the spark and throttle levers, pulled the choke out a couple notches just like I'd done so many times before.

Put my foot on the starter button and before I could push it all the way to the floor....the engine was running. Dependable Dodge. But, with no coolant in it, shut it down before it got warm. I would have gotten it out to play, but a passing rain shower changed my mind.

After supper I wanted to get some R-3 parts cleaned so that I could cycle them in with some blast cleaning I had in store for some Matheson parts.

The Avantis blower bracket and idler assembly and fuel pump were scrubbed and then the bracket and pulley parts were stripped with paint remover. I was surprised that the stripper cut the 1973 Imron right down to the Corlar epoxy primer. That was going to come off in the blast cabinet. My plans changed when I discovered the cabinet disabled due to some problem. Guess that will be enough for tonight.

Otherwise, earlier this week I met my friend Lee for lunch. Listened to him tell me how busy he was and then when I asked if he would do the sleeve repair on a Studebaker block for me , he grumbled and said bring it over. So I did. I'll lay low for a while.

Today I ordered a fresh fuel pump overhaul kit and a new bearing for the R-3 idler pulley. Add lunch with 'Ol Bill, it's been another good day."






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Hope you get to visit some car museums in Italy, there are some great ones.

An obvious choice is Galleria Ferrari in Maranello (near Modena), but be sure you like the color red before you go in.......the great thing is that you can walk right up to the cars, no barriers of any kind....however, there are guards in plain clothes that, if you so much as start to put a finger on a car, will be there in a flash and gently tell you "no touch".

A great museum, off the beaten path, is the Museo Nicolis in Verona....one [wealthy] man's obsession with technology....3 floors of cars, motorcycles, bicycles, inventions.....and then, airplanes on the roof! Try to see if you can talk to the owner (he speaks little english) and get him to show you the bedroom of a famous Italian race car driver...yes, he purchased the entire bedroom and moved it to a private room in the museum, as a tribute or shrine....the driver's name escapes me as I type this....

Have fun!!!!

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