Flashback Friday with Editor-in-Chief D. Randy Riggs—What’s Under That Hood?

Photo: Steve Rossini

How does one get a group of men to stop whatever they’re doing at a moment’s notice, and stare? Sure, a nicely dressed, beautiful woman walking by would do the trick, at least for me, but there’s another sure-fire way to make it happen.

At any auto show or concours, observe what takes place when a hood raises on any vehicle there.

Faster than fake news you will see men begin to wander in the direction of that particular vehicle, as if they were wearing a suit of armor and said vehicle was a powerful magnet. Toting coffee or cell phones, or simply with hands in pockets, these male show goers behave like ants heading for a discarded hot dog.

In a way, I suppose, they’re trying to answer that age-old car guy question— what’s under that hood? Now, that might sound like a sexist statement, because we all know there are car girls, too, but in all the years I have attended countless car shows and concours, I have yet to see a lady wander over on her own to take a peek when a hood goes up. Notgonnahappen.com.

I will admit that I am as guilty as the next guy when I see a hood—or bonnet if you prefer—point at the sky. I can no more feign disinterest than I can turn down a slice of coconut creme pie. The first time I remember peering into an engine compartment and being impressed was way back in 1954—at age 8—when a family friend brought by their new Pennant Blue Corvette right into our driveway and popped the reversed-hinged hood.

There was chrome in there! I had never seen brightwork in an engine compartment. And the Corvette was just as memorable in that dull period of automotive styling. That brief peek aroused my under-hood curiosity so, later, when my dad’s friend gave me a ride in his Jaguar XK120 Coupe, I asked him to show me the engine, which he did.

I had never viewed a power source anything like it, and just the thought of those polished aluminum cam covers kept me awake for several nights. To date, this legendary DOHC inline-6 that was the soul of many Jaguar models still rates as one of the most beautiful engines ever for me, especially in the drop-dead gorgeous Series 1 E-Types.

Other heart-stopping engine views are always possible with any Ferrari but I’ll be a throwback to the 1950s and select a 250 Testa Rossa—not only because of the bewitching curves on the outside—but, oh my, that stunner of a V12 under the shapely aluminum couldn’t be any more perfect with those six Weber carburetors, delicious exhaust headers and crinkle-red cam covers. Can you fire it up, please!

Can’t leave out a Lamborghini Muira from 1966, with its transverse-mounted 60-degree V12 and four 3-barrel downdraft Webers, and the tilt-rear body allowing an unfettered view. Almost erotic.

There are many more examples I could mention, but why not e-mail me with your favorites?

And enjoy them while you can, because as electrification comes to the automotive marketplace, you’ll just have to move along—nothing to see there.

Comments? Email the editor at <d.randyriggs@comcast.net>.