The Guns Of The Old Wild West

Own a Gunfighter’s Favorite

Thanks to replicas, you can have a spitting-image, working copy of some of the Old West’s most colorful shootists’ famous guns.

Talk about expensive! Original guns used by the famous and infamous personalities of the Old West have become coveted collectibles. If not already in museum collections, such arms can cost five, six and sometimes seven figures, making them impossible for anyone of average means to afford. 

In the Rock Island Auction Company’s May 2021 auction, two notable 5½-inch barreled, 1873 Colt Peacemakers garnered hefty prices. A Colt Single Action (SA) used by the Dalton gang in the Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery sold for $138,000. And the last Colt SA personally ordered by frontier gunfighter W.B. “Bat” Masterson, hammered down at a whopping $488,750.

Recently, Bonhams of Los Angeles auctioned off the 7½-inch-barreled, Colt .44-40 SA, that Sheriff Pat Garrett used to kill Billy the Kid for an astounding $6,030,312. A Springfield Sporting Rifle, buried with James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, went for $425,312, Robert Olinger’s shotgun went for $978,312, John Wesley Hardin’s Smith & Wesson sold for $625,312 and another Bat Masterson Colt sold for $375,312. (For more details on this auction, see “Collecting the West,” page 14). Obviously, purchasing an actual gun owned by a notable Western figure is out of the question for most of us.

It’s believed that James Butler Hickok, known as the “Prince of Pistoleers,” and shown here with his percussion Navies, carried cartridge conversion Navy Colts in his final days. In Uberti USA’s Outlaws and Lawmen series, this “Wild Bill” replica, a 7½-inch, .38 Special, octagon-barreled l851 Navy clone is offered. This handsome six‑shooter sports a blue and color case-hardened finish and simulated ivory stocks, similar to what Hickok would have packed. Photo of “Wild Bill” .38 courtesy Uberti USA/Hickok Photo from True West Archives

Thanks to the replica firearms industry, Italian-import clones of the actual “hardware” packed by Old West luminaries can be had at affordable prices, leading to in some cases, complete collections of replicas of their specific guns. These new/old guns look and operate like the originals, but fire modern factory smokeless ammunition, so they can be taken to the range or field and enjoyed like any other modern gun.

The following replica firearms are detailed copies of famous shooting irons used by the gunmen of the Wild West. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus strictly on metallic cartridge firearms.

A number of firearms companies offer historic reproduction firearms. Outfits like Taylor’s & Company and Dixie Gun Works offer an extensive line of frontier-era revolvers, rifles and shotguns. C. Sharps Arms Co. custom builds 1874, 1875 and 1877 Sharps, 1885 High Wall, and Remington Hepburn rifles. Winchester offers new versions of its legendary 1866, 1873, 1886, 1892, 1894 and 1895 lever-action rifles, along with its 1885 single-shot High Wall rifle. And Marlin continues to turn out its long-popular Model 1894 and 1895 lever guns. Ruger, of course, produces its much-liked Vaquero single-action, peacemaker-styled revolver, with its traditional looks and modern internal workings. For this article we’re focused on replicas of the actual guns toted by historical figures.

Among the guns carried by lawman/army scout/gambler William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was a 5½-inch, ivory-stocked, nickeled and engraved .45 Colt Peacemaker. Cimarron Firearms offers a laser-engraved, Old Model copy of Bat’s original revolver. It features the circular “bullseye” ejector head, a squared-off front blade sight and the name “W.B. Bat Masterson,” laser-engraved on the back strap, like on the famed gunman’s original. Despite being fitted with the pre-1896 black powder frame, Cimarron’s Bat Masterson repro handles modern factory smokeless ammo. Masterson photo from True West Archives, replica revolver courtesy Cimarron Firearms

REVOLVERS

Cimarron Firearms has a few 1873 Colt
lookalikes designed to resemble the guns of legendary gunmen. They boast of laser engraving that is not as detailed as hand engraving, but neither is the price tag. Cimarron’s “Bat Masterson” revolver is patterned after one of the famed lawman/army scout/gambler’s Colts. This 5½-inch-barreled, nickeled six-shooter is an Old Model, pre-1896 black powder frame (handles .45 Colt factory smokeless ammo) like Bat’s 1880s Peacemakers, and sports a 5½-inch barrel, a squared-off front sight blade, circular “bullseye” ejector head, simulated ivory stocks, and like the original, wears “W.B. Bat Masterson” engraved on the back strap. Cimarron’s copy of cowboy president Teddy Roosevelt’s 1880s nickeled, 7½-inch-barreled Colt with the “TR” monogram on faux ivory stocks is also offered with laser engraving, and is a real beauty.

EMF’s tribute to General George S. Patton, is a replica of the famed six gun Patton used in the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Old Mexico, and then packed at his side during his legendary World War II exploits. It is a laser-engraved, stainless steel, 4¾-inch-barreled clone, and is available in .45 Colt or .357 Magnum. Courtesy EMF

Both Cimarron and EMF Co. offer handsome replicas of Gen. George S. Patton’s famed Peacemaker. While General Patton is usually associated with World War II, this fighting general made quite a name for himself during the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Mexico. As a young lieutenant out on a foraging patrol, Patton surprised three Mexican revolutionaries from Pancho Villa’s Brigada Del Norte and in a gun battle, shot each of the banditos and emerged an unscathed victor. Patton was credited with wounding all three, and killing two of them, with his 1873 Colt revolver. He went on to become one of the Second World War’s most successful generals and packed this famous Peacemaker throughout the war. Cimarron’s version is nickel-plated in the post-1896 pre-war style (cylinder base pin retaining screws on each side of the frame) and is laser engraved in the Cuno Helfricht style of Colt engraving, as was the general’s sidearm. It’s produced in .45 Colt, with the 4¾-inch barrel, has hand-fitted poly ivory grips with the “GSP” initials and a lanyard ring on the grip frame. 

EMF’s “Deluxe General Patton” copy is part of its Great Western II series of 1873 single-action revolvers. Its tribute to Patton is a handsome stainless steel pre-war model, correct 4¾-inch barrel and is offered in either the .45 Colt chambering, or in .357 Magnum. It sports factory laser engraving in the style of Patton’s original Colt, and wears simulated plain ivory grips. 

Single Action revolver fans will appreciate Uberti USA’s “Dalton,” a blue and color case-hardened, laser‑engraved peacemaker-styled SA, fitted with simulated ivory stocks. It’s a close copy of one of the .45 Colts actually used by the Dalton gang during their ill-fated Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery. It’s available as a .45 Colt, .38 Special, or .357 Magnum. Photo courtesy Uberti USA

Uberti USA has created the Outlaws and Lawmen Series, made to emulate those revolvers of the good and bad men of the West. It includes such six-shooters as “Frank,” a 7½-inch barreled, nickeled 1875 Remington model (one of Frank James’s favorite sidearms). It’s offered in .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. The “Teddy” model is a 5½-inch tubed ’73 Cattleman SA, featuring engraving similar to a Colt our cowboy president, Theodore Roosevelt, owned in his later years. It, too, comes in .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. The “Prince of Pistoleers,” James Butler Hickok was believed to have carried cartridge conversion Colts in his final days, and Uberti’s series includes the “Wild Bill,” a 7½-inch .38 special, octagon-barreled 1851 Navy replica that sports faux ivory stocks, like other guns Hickok was known to have. 

This writer’s favorite of the Uberti lineup is the “Dalton,” a blue and color case-hardened, laser-engraved peacemaker-styled SA, fitted with faux ivory stocks. It copies one of the .45 Colts used by the Dalton gang during their ill-fated Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery. It’s available as a .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. Other smoke wagons in the Outlaws and Lawmen Series include revolvers simulating weapons packed by gambler/gunfighter Doc Holiday and outlaws Billy the Kid, Jesse James and John Wesley Hardin. 

RIFLES

Some of the most coveted treasures from our Western past are shoulder arms. Cimarron offers a selection of rifles that are copies of the long arms that played major roles in conquering the Wild West. A trio of 32-inch, octagon-barreled “Billy Dixon Sharps” replicate the model 1874 Sharps Sporting Rifle like Dixon used during the June 1874 battle at Adobe Walls in Texas, when he dropped an Indian warrior from 1,538 yards (7/8 mile). These repros include two Pedersoli-made rifles (.45-90 and .45-70), and a more economically priced Armi Sport version (.45-70). Each model duplicates the look of the Hartford model ’74 Sharps, with the metal nose cap, and a blue and color case-hardened finish. 

Above: One example of Cimarron Firearms’ famous frontier replicas is this “McNelly,” 22-inch-barreled Sharps carbine. Ranger Captain Leander McNelly’s men were issued Sharps carbines like this, reworked from caplock to metallic cartridge .50-70 Govt. caliber. Cimarron’s repro comes in the commercially available, factory standard .45-70 Govt. round. (Below) This circa mid-1870s hombre, believed to be a Texas Ranger, could be one of McNelly’s Rangers who helped clean up the outlaw-infested Nueces Strip in southern Texas. He’s toting his cartridge conversion Sharps carbine, along with a holstered Colt revolver. Carbine photo courtesy Cimarron Firearms, period image from True West Archives

If your taste runs to military-style arms, the Armi Sport “McNelly” Texas Ranger .45-70, 22-inch round-
barreled Sharps carbine, like the M-1859 percussion Sharps issued to Leander McNelly’s Rangers in 1875, when he was ordered to rid Texas’s notorious Nueces Strip of the outlaw gangs operating there. Like the original 36 carbines purchased for the Rangers, Cimarron’s replica bears a “T↔S” stamping, but rather than being cham-bered for the now non-commercially manufactured .50-70 McNelly’s Sharps were chambered for, Cimarron’s clones are built to take the .45-70 cartridge, which is readily available in factory smokeless loads.

Even though buffalo hunter Matthew Quigley was not a “gen-u-wine” Old West frontiersman, actor Tom Selleck’s portrayal of the sharpshooter brought him life beyond the screen. His “costar,” the 1874 Sharps rifle, produced by the Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company was expressly crafted for the 1990 classic Quigley Down Under film, and together, the pair has become modern-day Wild West icons. Shiloh continues to custom build “Quigley” Sharps replicas, down to the last detail of the movie gun, including the customer’s initials (any initials except “M Q”) in gold, inlaid on the receiver. If you want a buffalo gun that shoots 1,200 yards, or in Quigley’s words, one that shoots “a mite further,” contact Shiloh.

Bob Dalton, who worked both sides of the law in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) packed an engraved and pearl-stocked .45 Colt—one of ten ordered by the Dalton gang for their failed Coffeyville bank robbery. An original, well-documented Dalton Gang Colt, so embellished, sold at the Rock Island Auction Company’s May 2021 auction for a whopping $138,000. Ironically, Bob Dalton undoubtedly never made near that much money in all his honest and nefarious pursuits combined. True West Archives

Speaking of movies, the 1980 Western, Tom Horn starring Steve McQueen gave rise to an interest in the big 1876 Winchester lever-action rifle. Cimarron has brought out a re-creation of the blued-frame ’76 packed by McQueen, including a replica of the unique tang sight, similar to that seen on the silver screen rifle. This .45-60 caliber lever gun (as featured in the flick) also has a side plate with a facsimile of Horn’s actual signature engraved on it. 

One of Cimarron’s many unique and historical introductions to the replica world is its 22-inch-barreled, full-stocked round-barreled 1876 Winchester “NWMP Carbine.” This is a spitting image of those 1,261 Winchester ’76s issued to Canada’s North West Mounted Police who saw service from 1878 until 1914. Chambered for the powerful .45-75 cartridge, these lever-actions were used to put down the 1885 North West Rebellion, protect Canada’s borders during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1898 and later during the Alaska Boundary Dispute at the dawn of the 20th century. Cimarron’s detail-perfect copy features a full blue finish, tubular magazine, full stock with barrel band and blued metal fore-end, with the addition of the proper “NWMP” stamping in the stock. This model is chambered for the original .45-75 (350-grain bullet) cartridge. Cimarron also offers the 1876 Carbine in the “Crossfire” version, as featured in the popular 2001, Tom Selleck TNT movie Crossfire Trail. This civilian model, available in .45-75, or .45-60 (movie version) sports a blue barrel, magazine, barrel band and metal fore-end, but has a color case-hardened receiver, lever, trigger, hammer and butt plate. 

Although Henry Repeating Arms is perhaps best known for producing modern designs of lever-action rifles inspired by the repeaters of the Old West, the company also offers a selection of authentic, all American-made Model 1860 Henry rifles. Henry’s full-length historic replica rifle has a 24½-inch, blued octagon barrel, and comes in a choice of brass (.44-40 or .45 Colt) or iron (color case-hardened) receiver (.44-40 only) and butt plate. A 20½-inch, .44-40 octagon tubed, carbine model is also offered with brass receiver and butt plate, and two limited production of 1,000 each, brass or silver, engraved 1860-design Henry, .44-40 full-length rifles are offered. Each of the engraved models is hand-engraved and embellished, as were those presented to dignitaries and/or purchased as presentation pieces during the 1862-1866 period of the original Henry’s production. Henry also offers a special 200th Anniversary (limited to 200 copies) engraved, original style Henry rifle, commemorating the birth of this historic gun’s inventor, Benjamin Tyler Henry.

Above: In total, three 12-pound, 14.1-ounce, 34-inch octagon-barreled rifles, duplicating the movie rifle shown here, were custom built by Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company, for the 1990 film Quigley Down Under. This buffalo gun has gained such fame that Shiloh continues to produce “Quigley Models,” complete with the customer’s initials in gold, on the receiver. Below: This studio still photo reveals the scene when Tom Selleck, as Matthew Quigley, prepares to make his legendary long-range “bucket” shot, that introduced his Shiloh Sharps .45-110 rifle in the film. Rifle Photo courtesy Tom Selleck, “Quigley Down Under” still courtesy MGM

Shooters wanting a more modern-style “Old West” lever-action rifle should remember that Henry Repeating Arms carries a broad selection of dozens of rimfire and centerfire lever guns ranging from .22 rimfire to .44 Magnum, and even .45-70 chamberings. The newest additions to its lineup include the “Side Gate Lever Actions” in a variety of models and finishes. These side gate rifles allow for loading through the removable tubular magazine or via a more traditional lever gun side plate loading gate. 

Above: In this turn-of-the-20th-century photograph, North West Mounted Police officers display their British-inspired red tunics, dark blue trousers, boots, campaign hats and their 1876 Winchester carbines. Cimarron offers a spitting image copy of these famed firearms, complete with full blued finish, 22-inch round barrels, chambered for their original .45-75 cartridge (smokeless ammo available from Cimarron and other sources), and with “NWMP” stamped into the stock (below). NWMP photo from True West Archives, replica carbine photo courtesy Cimarron Firearms

Of course, since you can enjoy shooting these historic replicas, you’ll need fodder. Besides standard factory loadings, there are outfits that turn out Old West ammunition, and/or the reduced-velocity cowboy loads, ranging from small-bore revolver chamberings, up to the big rifle rounds. Check out the cowboy action offerings from Aguila, Black Hills Ammunition, Buffalo Arms, Fiocchi, HSM, Magtech, Tennessee Cartridge Co. and Winchester. Some of these firms even offer black powder ammo. Garrett Cartridges, which specializes in super hard cast “Hammerhead” hunting loads, also offers a nifty .45-70, 420-grain Springfield load, moving out at 1,350 feet per second, especially made for trapdoors and replicas.

Although best known for modern renditions of classic lever-action rifles, Henry Repeating Arms also offers a selection of all-American-made original-style, Model 1860 Henry repeaters. Henry is also producing limited runs of 1,000 each beautifully hand-engraved, in period embellishment (as photos reveal), brass or silver-framed Henry .44-40 lever action rifles. Henry is also offering 200 special 200th Anniversary hand-engraved original style Henry rifles (not shown), commemorating the birth of this historic gun’s inventor, Benjamin Tyler Henry. Photos courtesy Henry Repeating Arms

Remember, these replicas of the actual guns of the famed gunmen and organizations of the frontier are more than just wall hangers, they’re fun working guns that you can enjoy for plinking, competition or taking game with. Grab a re-created piece of history and relive the Wild West!

What Really Happened to The Franklin Expedition?

Face to face with a Franklin expedition crew member, 140 years later

Captain Sir John Franklin was both a highly regarded and popular naval officer to his contemporaries.

A veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar, a young officer in the first ship to circumnavigate Australia, the discoverer and surveyor of the south-western end of the hoped-for North-West Passage, and Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land where he was widely praised for his humane treatment of both the settlers and convicts.

He was known as ‘The man who ate his boots’ after surviving his crossings of northern Canada, and his ship HMS Rainbow was known as ‘Franklin’s Paradise’ when he refused to inflict flogging as a punishment.

Until the tragedy of Captain Scott, Franklin was always the exemplar of polar exploration despite his expedition’s tragic end.

Daguerreotype photograph of Franklin taken in 1845, prior to the expedition’s departure. He is wearing the 1843–1846 pattern Royal Navy undress tailcoat with cocked hat.

The expedition

When the Admiralty decided to mount a sea-borne expedition to discover the North-West Passage in 1845, the 59-year-old Franklin requested that his name be considered to lead the enterprise.

At first, the Admiralty were reluctant to comply due to his age, but his fellow officers with polar experience, including such illustrious names as John and James Ross, William Parry, Frederick Beechey, and George Back, supported Franklin and he was eventually selected.

The expedition was to take part with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two especially adapted and strongly built former bomb vessels in which much polar experience had already been obtained.

Fitted with former railway locomotives as additional sources of power, they also had the ship’s screws and rudders designed so that they could be lifted clear of the water if they were threatened by ice. Several of the officers had polar experience, and the ship’s companies were all volunteers.

The expedition sailed on 19 May 1845, calling at Stromness on Orkney, and at islands in West Greenland’s Disko Bay. After exchanging signals with two whaling vessels in Baffin Bay, Franklin, his men, and his ships disappeared after heading towards Lancaster Sound.

Urged on by Jane, Lady Franklin, in 1848 the Admiralty and the American Navy sent out search expeditions. The search ships entered Lancaster Sound and probed westwards along the Parry Channel and the graves of three of Franklin’s men were found on Beechey Island off the northern shore of the Channel.

The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin by Stephen Pearce, 1851. Left to right are: George Back, William Edward Parry, Edward Bird, James Clark Ross, Francis Beaufort (seated), John Barrow Jnr, Edward Sabine, William Alexander Baillie Hamilton, John Richardson and Frederick William Beechey.

Uncovering evidence

Eventually, in 1859, a search expedition under the command of Captain Francis McClintock found the evidence for which they had all been searching.

A ship’s boat along with skeletons and other remains were discovered on the south-western coast of King William Island, an island at the southern end of Peel Sound.

Of even greater importance, McClintock’s deputy, Lieutenant William Hobson, found a message in a cairn on the north-western shore of the island."Victory Point" note

William Hobson and his men finding the cairn with the “Victory Point” note, Back Bay, King William Island, May 1859.

The note explained that Franklin’s ships had been deserted after two winters locked in the ice ‘5 leagues NNW’ of the landing site. Franklin had died in June, 1847, and the survivors landed on King William Island in the hope of making their way overland to the south. None were to survive the journey.

In the meantime, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee, John Rae, return to England with artefacts from Franklin’s expedition he had obtained from the local Inuit.

He also brought with him tales of cannibalism he claimed to have heard from the same Inuit, claims that were utterly rejected by all those who had known Franklin and his men. None of the Inuit had visited the site of the Franklin tragedy and none would escort Rae to the site.

Despite being just a few days march away – and ignoring rumours that his own men had heard that there were survivors of the expedition still alive – Rae raced across the Atlantic claiming that he did not know of any reward for finding evidence of the Franklin expedition and, furthermore, claiming that he had discovered the North-West Passage.

A revival of interest

The story of the Franklin expedition gradually faded into history only to be brought back into the glare of harsh publicity when a 1984-86 Canadian expedition led by academics disinterred the bodies on Beechey Island.

To a blaze of media attention, and the publication of a best-selling book, it was claimed that an examination of the dead (and by extension, all the seamen on the expedition) had revealed that they had died of lead poisoning.

Observations that such an idea was manifestly nonsense were totally ignored and dismissed out of hand. It was this reaction that led me to mount four expeditions to King William Island in order to make my own search, and to come to my own conclusions.

During 1992-93 other academic-led Canadian expeditions visited Erebus Bay, the site where McClintock had discovered the ship’s boat. A large number of human bones were found in a cairn where they had been deposited by an 1878 American expedition.

Much to the delight of the expedition leaders, the bones not only ‘confirmed’ the lead-poisoning claim, but ‘cut marks’ on some of the bones equally confirmed the Inuit tales spread by Rae.

Once again, any opposition to the expedition’s conclusions were swept aside or ignored. In a bid to set the cannibalism concept in concrete, in 2015, academics decided that some of the bones had been ‘pot polished’ as the devourers of their messmates boiled the bones in order to obtain the marrow contained therein.

In 2006, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, decided that scientists employed by the government should not be able to communicate directly with the media or with to the public.

In addition, all government documentation and other data should be either destroyed or held securely against publication. Scientific research was cut dramatically and scientists were dismissed in their hundreds. Research facilities and government libraries were closed down.

Then, also in 2006, a Bahamas-flagged ocean liner sailed through the North-West Passage and, the following year, the Russians made a claim to the North Pole and other Arctic areas based on

‘a broad range of scientific data collected over many years of Arctic exploration’,

although actually based on little more than a soil sample taken from the seafloor beneath the Pole and the dropping of a titanium Russian flag in the same place.

The quest for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

By 2013, the Prime Minister began to take a political interest in the sovereignty of the Arctic. That year, a government-sponsored underwater expedition was mounted to examine the wreck of HMS Investigator, a Franklin search ship that had been abandoned by Commander Robert McClure when he led his surviving men on foot and sledge through the Passage.

The ship was easily found (it had been spotted from the air many years earlier). This led to a number of expeditions, both government sponsored and privately funded, in search of Franklin’s lost ships.

Again, no government employee was allowed to contact the media – all such contact had to be made through authorised government sources, closely supervised by a small coterie of senior Government officials.

The only exception to this ruling was the Chairman and former President of the Canadian Royal Geographical Society, the same individual who wrote the book about the early 1980s expeditions to Beechey Island (although he had never been on the expedition), and a close friend of the Prime Minister.

When the find was publicly announced (by the Prime Minister) there was worldwide recognition of a great achievement. Medals were invented and awarded – even to those who never came anywhere near the discoveries.Stephen Harper

Harper appearing at a gala at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to celebrate the discovery of HMS Erebus, one of two ships wrecked during John Franklin’s lost expedition (Credit: Alex Guibord / CC).

The Canadian Arctic was secure in the hands of its proper owners – the Canadian people. Sovereignty was established, and an election was in the offing.

Then a rather strange thing happened. Academics and, at least one ‘celebrity’ decided that the success had to be underlined – not to further emphasise the Canadian achievements (which no-one was challenging) but by launching a sustained attack upon Franklin, the Royal Navy, and the English.

An internationally renowned Canadian novelist – not known for her polar expertise – described Franklin as ‘a dope’.

An American professor described the Franklin expedition as

‘a failed British expedition whose architects sought to demonstrate the superiority of British science over Inuit knowledge.’

A professor who took part in the Erebus Bay expedition declared that ‘the question of lead poisoning is settled.’ Another author trumpeted that Franklin’s widow mounted ‘a smear campaign’ against Rae ‘supported by racist writing from the likes of Charles Dickens’.

Refuting the cannibalism story

There were many more attacks on Franklin and his men, all of which ignored the multitude of questions that need answers.

For example, from 1984 to 2018, despite the evidence against lead poisoning, the matter was spread far and wide and was considered unanswerable – yet, in 2018 a genuine study using the simple method of comparison concluded that their finding

‘…did not support the hypothesis that the Franklin sailors were exposed to an unusually high level of Pb for the time period’.

On the question of cannibalism, the academics were adamant that the ‘cut marks’ on the bones at Erebus Bay were unchallengeable proof that the British seamen ate each other. Their reason for this nonsense was that the Inuit were ‘a stone age people’ who did not have access to metal.

In fact, the local tribe had already achieved a reputation for aggressively driving away other tribes using weapons made from a mountain of metal that Captain John Ross had left on their doorstep. Evidence that pointed to female and young male bones amongst those found at Erebus Bay was, at first, wholly misinterpreted, and then disregarded.

As for the ‘pot polishing’ claim, it was quietly forgotten that bones left on the rough, gritty surface of the Arctic are subjected over many years to the strong winds that not only throw more grit at them, but are also rolled or are scraped along the ground.

During his investigations into the idea that the Inuit attacked the seamen, I was approached by a well educated Inuit woman who bluntly told him that ‘My people killed your people.’ Nevertheless, a statue has been erected to John Rae on Orkney.John Rae, by Stephen Pearce (died 1904).

John Rae, painting by Stephen Pearce.

The locating of the ships was a magnificent achievement, but there were some questions, nevertheless, to be answered. How, for example, could a heavy ship’s fitting detach itself from a sunken ship, roll along the sea bottom, up a beach slope, and throw itself into the shingle to be found by accident?

How could a diver by the stern of a sunken ship indicate in detail the unique arrangements of the ship’s propeller and rudder when photographs of the vessel clearly show that the stern had been completely destroyed?

Why is the size and design of the ship’s bell completely against the ‘custom of the Service?’ And why has the ship’s wheel shrunk from the large, double, version seen in the photograph before the expedition sailed, to the small version found that would have been more suitable for a sailing yacht?

How did the masts of one of the ships remain clear of the water long enough for a 21st-century Inuit to spot them, yet not be noticed by professional seamen like McClintock and others who walked along the same shore – then to have disappeared when the man returned just a few days later?

All these questions and many more, based on my thirty-six years’ service in the Royal Navy and four expeditions to walk across the ice and land of the scene of the tragedy, are explored in No Earthly Pole.

2021 Bentley GT Mulliner Convertible, The Most Gorgeous Convertible !

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The signature craftmanship of Bentley Mulliner is apparent throughout this consummate vehicle, with a level of detail that has the power to surprise and delight. From mood lighting and illuminated sill plates that bear the Mulliner name, to hand-stitched headrests, embroidered with the distinctive accent colour of your chosen interior colourway, every inch is luxuriously refined and considered. This is echoed in the 3-colour, handcrafted presentation box which houses the keys to your car upon purchase in two leather key pouches– a memorable keepsake.

The Continental GT Mulliner‘s agile V8 engine featuring the emotive Bentley burble, can reach 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds (0 to 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds) before powering on to a top speed of 198 mph (318 km/h). Expect effortless handling and smooth acceleration in any environment. 

Lancia Delta Is Back From The Dead In 2026!

But as you can probably guess, it’ll be an EV.

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Earlier this year, we got wind that Stellantis may finally put some action into saving the legendary Lancia brand, and why not? The company has some truly iconic cars in its archives, including the inimitable Stratos and the breathtaking 037. Sadly, the closest we’ve come to seeing the revival of these uber cool names has been from third-party tuners and designers, but now we finally have the glorious news we’ve been wishing for: Lancia has confirmed that it will be resurrecting the brand’s most well-known car, the Delta. The news comes via Corriere della Sera, an Italian publication that recently had an interview with Lancia’s new CEO Luca Napolitano.

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In the interview, Napolitano says that everyone at Lancia is aware of the love people have for the Delta: “Everyone wants the Delta and it cannot be missing from our plans. It will return and it will be a true Delta: an exciting car, a manifesto of progress and technology. And of course, it will be electric.” Details are scant, but Corriere della Sera speculates that we’ll see a platform that can offer up to 435 miles of range off a single charge. This will likely be completed in 2026 when Lancia will sell only pure-electric vehicles. That means that its current offering in Italy, an obscure car called the Ypsilon, will be replaced in 2024 as the last combustion-powered Lancia.

While it may be disappointing that the revived Delta won’t be a turbocharged, AWD rival to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf R, Napolitano says that electrification makes sense for the brand. “We will build cars with a great sense of responsibility towards the world we live in, as our customers want a clean drive, and the revolution towards pure electric is in line with our tradition of great technological innovation,” says the CEO. To help the brand achieve its goals, it will reportedly be aiming to launch a new dealership network from scratch in Europe, with the cooperation of the existing Alfa Romeo and DS dealers. There’s no word on whether to expect the new Delta to be sold in the US, but if the brand manages to successfully revive itself in Europe, other markets will surely be on the cards in due time.

The $1m+, fully electric Aston Martin DB6

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

No, it’s not Bond’s Aston but do pay attention, because it is quite gorgeous. It is a fully restored Aston Martin DB6, filled with dreams, potential questions from surprised onlookers and a fair whack of electricity.

That’s right, Aston’s venerable 4.0-litre sixer has been relegated in favour of British engineering company Lunaz’s “proprietary modular electric powertrain”, developed in-house using Euro battery cells and motors. This is the same Lunaz that built an entirely delectable Bentley S1 and got investment from one Mr David Beckham.

The DB6 marks the completion of Lunaz’s desire to Electrify The Cool British Classics; we’ve seen that Bentley, a simply majestic Rolls-Royce Phantom V, and now there’s this. Back in 2015, we got a ‘holy trinity’ of LaFerrari, 918 and P1. In 2021, electrified classics. Sign o’ the times indeed.

As with anything Lunaz undertakes, the DB6 is inspected, weighed and measured, after which its engine and associated paraphernalia are “sensitively removed” and stored. The entire car is 3D-scanned and then stripped to its base metal underpinnings and reshaped “entirely in the client’s image”; that is to say, anything the client wants, the client gets.

As long as it’s electric, of course. The DB6’s powertrain has been specifically programmed by Lunaz to allow for “brisk initial acceleration with the requirements of a classic car that is very much built in the mode of a Grand Tourer”. It reckons on a range of around 255 miles, which is probably more than most DB6s cover in a year.

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021
Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

As you’d expect, the brakes, suspension and steering have all been “uprated”, while there’s air conditioning, wifi, sat nav and modern infotainment options. Indeed, other creative ideas are welcomed; Lunaz design director Jen Holloway said: “We are proud to introduce the quintessential British GT, remastered for a new generation.”

She used to work as a lead in Aston Martin’s Q-Branch, so there’s star-quality pedigree in customisation right there. You can go traditional, or contemporary, including recycled textiles and so forth. Maybe even some oil slicks or a bullet-proof windscreen if you ask nicely enough, though we wouldn’t hold our breath on headlight-mounted miniguns…

Speaking of which, Lunaz has confirmed that while it intends on building this DB6 for around $1m plus local taxes (with deliveries scheduled for 2023) it will also electrify, strictly upon application, an Aston Martin DB4… and an Aston Martin DB5. As 007 said in Goldfinger, ‘shocking, positively shocking’.

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

The Gorgeous EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car Exudes Perfection

Kimera Automobili will only produce 37 examples.

Kimera Automobili EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car

Italian automotive design firm Kimera Automobili just revealed the EVO37, a tribute car to the legendary Lancia 037 of 1980s rally racing fame. The EVO37 is a reimagined modern version of the cult-status 037, the last rear-wheel-drive rally car to win a championship title in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

Kimera Automobili EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car 01

Developed as part of the FIA Group B homologation rules, the Martini Racing team drove the Lancia 037 in WRC races from 1982 to 1986. A supercharged 2.0-liter inline-four mated to a ZF-sourced five-speed manual transmission propelled the 037 through the tough terrain that marks WRC racing. The Abarth and Pininfarina-designed rally car’s little four-pot generated 205 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque, which helped it win several victories during its rally racing run. The four-wheel-drive Lancia Delta S4 would later replace the iconic 037.

Renowned engineer Claudio Lombardi, responsible for the Delta S4 engine, helped develop the powertrain of the EVO37. Re-engineered by Italtecnica under the direction of Lombardi, the new car’s reworked turbo-four produces 505 hp and approximately 406 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or a six-speed sequential transmission.

Kimera Automobili EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car 03

The gritty and gorgeous EVO37 exudes perfection. This restomod was built from the ground up using a central cage based on the Lancia Beta Montecarlo. The vibrant red EVO37 maintains the exterior lines and shapes of the original 037. It comes fitted with rally-inspired wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber, as well as Brembo brakes, adjustable Öhlins shock absorbers, and carbon-fiber body panels. The EVO37 has a completely overhauled interior, too, and it comes fitted with carbon-fiber trim, leather and Alcantara upholstery, and Delta S4-inspired sport seats, which are lined in either leather or Alcantara.

Kimera Automobili will only produce 37 examples of this muscularly sculpted work of art, of which 11 have already sold. Plan on spending at least €480,000 (about $586,100 at current exchange rates) to call one of these machines your own. The EVO37 will make its official debut at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.

Hyperion’s Insane New Hydrogen-Powered Supercar.

Developed with ex-NASA engineers and current space technologies, the XP-1 also offers a blistering sub-3-second sprint to 60 mph and has a 1,000-Mile Range—and Can Recharge in 5 Minutes

The Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered supercar.Photo: Courtesy of Hyperion Companies, Inc.

In the United States, plug-in electric vehicles account for just less than 2 percent of all vehicles running on roads, but Southern California–based Hyperion Companies, Inc., and its Hyperion Motors division, is banking on cutting-edge, space-grade hydrogen fuel-cell technology to help consumers embrace the electric car market with much more vigor. Hyperion’s first salvo in the battle against combustion is the XP-1 prototype—a futuristic supercar with a claimed 1,016-mile range and the ability to haul to 60 mph in 2.2 seconds. Oh, and the recharge time is less than five minutes. The Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered supercar.

The Hyperion XP-1 prototype. Photo: Courtesy of Hyperion Companies.

Skeptics of the XP-1’s performance promises should consider three crucial factors: Hyperion was founded nearly a decade ago by a team of PhDs exclusively focused on hydrogen-based power and delivery, and Hyperion works in conjunction with NASA to utilize technologies developed for space travel in commercial applications. Lastly, the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans are planning to add a hydrogen-powered class by 2024, signaling that the element may play a vital part in the future of motorsports. 

“Our vehicle represents the answer to ‘why hydrogen?’” says Angelo Kafantaris, Hyperion’s CEO. “It’s a no-compromise car that represents the best that hydrogen fuel-cell technology can be. Hydrogen is the cleanest, most sustainable energy source that’s not been properly utilized.”

The Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered supercar.

The hydrogen-powered car will reportedly have a top speed of more than 221 mph. Photo: Courtesy of Hyperion Companies, Inc.

For those who glazed over during chemistry class in high school, hydrogen molecules can unleash heaps of electrical power after a chemical reaction breaks them apart. That electrical energy can be stored in fuel cells in lieu of lithium-ion batteries, which are beyond heavy, require lengthy charging times, degrade over the lifecycle and can be expensive to recycle. 

“We can store more energy, for the weight, than a battery-electric vehicle,” Kafantaris shares, “all while extending range and shortening refueling time.” Kafantaris, who holds a transportation design degree, understands that the experience of owning and driving a hydrogen-powered car must be identical to our current vehicular norms, and so he is hyper-focused on reducing pain points for those making the switch. “I’ve been driving hydrogen for five years and it’s identical to gas, with refueling. Very quick,” he says. 

The Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered supercar.

Power comes from two permanently excited motors mounted in the rear. Photo: Courtesy of Hyperion Companies, Inc.

Among the larger hurdles to mass hydrogen acceptance is a lack of low-cost hydrogen fuel stations and the current inability to provide home fueling, for those used to plug-in electric vehicles. “It will take time to get the infrastructure right, but we want to give you all the benefits of clean fuel without any tradeoffs. The benefit here won’t be matching gas vehicles; it’ll be exceeding them,” Kafantaris says. To help educate consumers about those benefits, and showcase them, his team—including a cadre of ex-NASA engineers—worked for more than eight years to bring the XP-1 prototype to fruition.

The Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered supercar.

Only 300 examples of the XP-1 will be made. Photo: Courtesy of Hyperion Companies, Inc.

“It’s the ultimate sports car,” he says. “It’s got all the right tick boxes: speed, excitement and range.” Powered by twin permanently excited motors (both mounted in the rear), the XP-1 is all-wheel drive, with a 55 percent weight-bias towards the back and a top speed of more than 221 mph. Part of the car’s blistering speed is due to its carbon-fiber monocoque anchoring a chassis surrounded with aluminum and titanium components. The result is a car with a curb weight of less than 2,275 pounds.

Unlike battery-electric vehicles, which require constant temperature regulation to realize maximum performance, the XP-1’s hydrogen storage system is unaffected by the thermometer’s readout and is capable of peak performance while repeatedly turning competitive laps on a track or during prolonged, impassioned road outings. Those wraparound buttresses pull double-duty as active aerodynamic elements that bolster cornering at higher speeds but also act as solar panels that can actuate and move to better align with the sun. 

The Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered supercar.

First deliveries of the XP-1 are planned for early 2022. Photo: Courtesy of Hyperion Companies, Inc.

Only 300 examples of the XP-1 will be made, but pricing and select power-train specs have yet to be announced. “With the XP-1, we’ll be inspiring first and then explaining how we’ll bring hydrogen mainstream,” notes Kafantaris.  A lot can happen between prototype and production but, if all goes to plan, future models—with various body styles—are in the Hyperion product road map.  

Could the new Vespa scooter concept reimagine the classic scooter as a modern battery-powered ride?

The gas-guzzling engine of yore has been replaced by a 30 aH lithium-ion battery.

It takes a lot of guts to mess with a bellissimo Vespa. The iconic scooter, which was designed by Corradino D’Ascanio and released by Piaggio in 1946, is beloved the world over. In fact, more than 16 million Vespas have been made to-date and garnered one helluva loyal fanbase. But, that hasn’t stopped one India-based design firm from penning a disruptive new take.

Mightyseed’s electrifying concept reimagines the classic scooter as a modern battery-powered ride. Like its muse, the “Vespa 98” still has a simple silhouette, step-through frame and artfully concealed mechanics. It also exudes the same playfulness for which the original two-wheeler is renowned. But it’s been equipped with a spate of futuristic features to bring the bike full speed into the 21st century

Mightyseed Electric Vespa

Mightyseed

The gas-guzzling engine of yore has been replaced by a 30 aH lithium-ion battery and hub-mounted motor. This not only gives the rider extra storage under the seat; it reduces the carbon emissions to zero. The rearview mirrors have been swapped for an intuitive LIDAR system, which is essentially a fancy sensor that allows riders to “see” what’s around them (road hazards, oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, etc.). And the seat has also been reduced in size.

Surprisingly, it’s the handlebar area where the designers have really switched things up. They’ve eschewed the Vespa’s signature round headlight in favor of a minimalist LED strip that sits atop the front fender, offering a futuristic digital display, which runs across the decidedly svelte bars. These features alone give the bike a next-gen feel that’s sure to appeal to tech-heads.

Mightyseed Electric Vespa

Mightyseed

The scooter’s outer shell sports a pale blue gloss finish, which is juxtaposed by two neon yellow pinstripes that run down the backside. It’s not the most groundbreaking paint job, but it’s appealing nonetheless.

“The Vespa 98 project was an in-house self-initiated project and the inspiration was Corradino D’Ascanio’s adored Vespa,” Mightyseed’s co-founder and principal designer, Bonny Sunny, told Robb Report. “We added the flavor to look relevant for modern times.”

The firm didn’t divulge whether this Vespa will roll into production. But count us among those hoping to see this Vespa on the road.

The megayacht Indah a 394-Foot Epic Beach Club That Expands Like a Bird’s Tail

It’s all thanks to the rotating transom bulkheads

Opalinski Design House Indah MegayachtOpalinski Design House

It’s no secret that beach clubs have become a popular addition to luxury yachts, but the one that adorns the new megayacht Indah is unlike anything currently on the seas. In fact, it’s more like an epic waterfront entertainment venue, offering enough space for you, your friends and even your friends’ friends to enjoy.

The oversized beach club is the centerpiece of the 394-foot concept, which was penned by Opalinski Design House. The vessel sports a sleek steel hull, an aluminum superstructure and a wave-piercing vertical bow. It also features some nifty, origami-like engineering to give it more space aft.

The patented design is equipped with rotating transom bulkheads that expand outwards to reveal additional decking. These extended decks are then raised to level with the swim platform to create a sprawling beach club. This space features sunpads for seaside chilling, along with a gym and sauna that are discreetly hidden behind tinted glass. Seafarers will also have direct access to tenders, which can pull up next to the openings in the bulkheads.Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

The vessel with the rotating transom bulkheads closed. Opalinski Design House

Beyond the beach club, Indah, which means “beautiful one” in Indonesian, features a massive 5,500 GT interior and a myriad of luxurious amenities. She can accommodate a total of 24 guests across 12 cabins and the generous owner’s suite comes complete with its own dedicated aft deck balcony. She can also sleep a total 32 crew.

Elsewhere, Indah offers a foredeck jacuzzi with sunbeds and a retractable sunshade, a sizable aft pool that overlooks the beach club, along with a haul of water toys. Owners can also choose to add a helicopter landing pad and hangar for further exploration at sea.Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

The vessel with the rotating transom bulkheads extended. Opalinski Design House

Billed as a “true ocean-going vessel,” Indah will be fitted with a diesel-electric propulsion package for cleaner and efficient cruising. She will be powered by four MTU16V engines that together deliver a top speed of 24 knots and a range of 7,000 nautical miles. She will also have solar generating surface coatings and vertical wind turbines onboard to produce green energy.

Although Indah is just a concept at this stage, the firm is currently offering to license the rotational transom bulkheads to selected manufacturers. That means we may be seeing many more ginormous beach clubs in the future.

Check out more renders of the megayacht below:Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House Indah Megayacht

Opalinski Design House

Ten of the greatest one-off cars ever made

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One-off cars are hellishly expensive to make, but manufacturers treat us to one from time to time as a way of showcasing what they are capable of. Usually outlandish in design and often crazy-powerful, they act as halo machines for the wider brand. For example, when Volkswagen stuffed a W12 engine into the Golf GTI – which is downright nuts – it probably prompted a few sales of the regular hot hatch.

We’re just pleased that brands have given us so many amazing one-off cars over the years, so here we pay tribute to ten of the very best ever made.

BMW M1 Hommage (2008)

There are no prizes for guessing which legendary model BMW was making a nod to with the M1 Hommage. This reimagining of the 1978 M1 (the first ever M car) was also clearly heavy inspiration for the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sportscar, which became the second production BMW to feature a mid-mounted engine, after the M1.

Aston Martin Bulldog (1979)

The Bulldog was initially planned for a production run of 15-25 cars, but it was deemed too expensive to make so plans were scrapped after the first example. Effectively Aston’s first hypercar, the Bulldog could hit 237mph, but it ended up being mothballed in a private car collection owned by a Saudi Prince. It was recently returned to the UK, however, and is being restored to working condition.

Lamborghini Egoista (2013)

Built by Lambo to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Egoista is based on the Gallardo supercar but looks more like a fully-functional Batmobile. From its side profile the Egoista is supposed to resemble a bull ready to charge, and it’s powered by the Gallardo’s 5.2-litre V10 engine.

Mazda Furai (2007)

Mazda wanted this car to go into production and had ambitions of returning to Le Mans with it…until it caught fire and was destroyed. Yep, the 460bhp Furai burned up while being driven by a well-known motoring magazine which has the initials T and G, and it was never seen again.

GT by Citroen (2008)

Being a Citroen it has to have a pretentious name, but in every other way the GT by Citroen is an absolute beast, featuring a 640-odd bhp Ford-suppled V8 engine and weighing just 1,400kg. With Citroen being the masters of good PR, the GT was designed and produced as a joint venture with the Gran Turismo 5 video game.

Jaguar XJ13 (1966)

The brainchild of Jaguar engineering director William Heynes, the XJ13 was built as an entry to Le Mans, but sadly it never happened. In 1971 it was nearly written off in a crash during a photoshoot being held to promote the Series 3 E-Type, which used a similar V12 engine to the XJ13. Luckily it was restored, but it could never be remade to the exact original specification.

Porsche 911 Four Door (1967)

Long before the Panamera came the 911 Four Door, which was literally an elongated 911 with two rear doors fitted, which were suicide doors. The car was commissioned by a Texan Porsche distributor who wanted to give his wife something more practical to drive.

Volkswagen Golf GTI W12-650 (2007)

The stats alone sound frightening: 641bhp, 750Nm of torque and a top speed of 201mph. In a VW Golf. Wow. While the W12-650 was built as a concept car the one example in existence is fully-functional, using a 6-litre W12 engine nicked straight out of the Bentley Continental GT.

Kia Sorento Ski Gondola (2016)

You don’t normally think of the Kia Sorento as an exciting car, but this 2016 one-off is brilliant. It’s essentially a four seater SUV with the capability to go almost literally anywhere, thanks to the continuous track systems in place of each wheel.

Bugatti La Voiture Noire (2019)

Based on the – let’s face it already pretty exclusive – Bugatti Chiron, the La Voiture Noire (French for ‘the black car’) is a nod to the 1935 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. It’s powered by the same 8-litre W16 engine as the Chiron, but components like the auto ‘box and dampers are softened to recreate that ‘wafting’ feel of the 57SC.