All posts by Bob Golfen

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle.He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs.A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

RM Sotheby’s joins Ferrari to celebrate 70th anniversary year in New York

Some of the most significant Ferraris that have ever worn the Prancing Horse emblem will be on display in Manhattan, New York, this weekend as RM Sotheby’s auction house partners with Ferrari to celebrate the fabled Italian marque’s 70th anniversary.

On Saturday and Sunday, 10 iconic models showcasing the seven decades of Ferrari will be shown on the 10th floor gallery of RM Sotheby’s global headquarters in Manhattan. Other Ferrari sports and racing cars will be shown at key locations, including Ferrari’s New York showroom and the Hublot Flagship Store. The displays are open to the public.

“We’re honored to partner with Ferrari once again during their milestone anniversary year,” said Ian Kelleher, Chief Marketing Officer, RM Sotheby’s. “Our global team of specialists has their finger on the pulse when it comes to the location of some of the world’s most significant Ferraris, and we’re thrilled to bring them to New York City for display – allowing all Ferrari fans to participate in the celebrations.”

Michael Schumacher leads the pack during the 2001 Monaco Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher’s Monaco Grand Prix-winning Ferrari F2001, considered to be the most-important modern Formula 1 car, will be on view at Rockefeller Plaza.

The Schumacher race car, which has been on a weeklong display during Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales, will be offered for sale during Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 6 in New York City, the first collector car ever to be auctioned at a Sotheby’s fine-art sale.

“We’re able to bring one of the most important Ferrari competition cars — the Ferrari F2001, chassis 211 — to another international audience, exposing attendees to the pinnacle of modern car collecting, a car which is sure to increase in both historical significance and value with generations to come,” Kelleher added.

“Beyond its place in motorsport history, which ties it to the greatest driver and the most prestigious race track, the F2001 is a stunning work of design, and is in fact a model that several discerning collectors have chosen to display as three-dimensional art in their homes.”

The New York celebration caps off a year of special events that honor Ferrari’s 70th anniversary. RM Sotheby’s and Ferrari joined for the marque’s special anniversary celebration September 9 at the automaker’s home base in Maranello, Italy, where the auction house held a single-marque Ferrari sale on the Fiorano Test Track.

For information about the Ferrari celebration and Schumacher racecar auction, visit RM Sotheby’s website.

Woodies, Corvettes and the Blackhawks reign at Mecum’s Chicago auction

Collector cars from a host of private collections will be among the offerings starting today when Mecum Auctions rolls into the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in Chicago for a three-day sale.

An expected 1,000 vehicles are expected to cross the block, headlined by American muscle cars, customs and classics.

A 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe from the Mercurio collection

The Chicago-based Klairmont Kollection features a strong array of post-war woodies, including two Chrysler Town & Country convertibles from 1947 and 1948 (Lot No. S24 and S26, respectively), two 1950 Chrysler Town & Country Newports (Lots S25 and S27) and a 1948 Packard Eight station wagon (Lot S23).

Another notable collection is that of Bill and Elaine Mercurio, who will bring all of their 20 Chevrolet Corvettes, most of them to be sold at no reserve. Among them are several pace car editions and some with ultra-low mileage.

Buick Skylark has gone just 300 miles since restoration

A few other significant cars include a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette roadster (Lot F145) that is No. 91 of 300 hand built that first model year, still in great condition after a 1997 restoration; a triple-black, one-owner 1967 Oldsmobile 442 convertible (Lot S102) with matching-numbers engine; and a 1953 Buick Skylark convertible (Lot S106) that is one of 1,690 produced and has been driven fewer than 300 miles since a frame-off restoration.

During the sale Friday, special offers on admission and bidder registration will be available to attendees sporting Illinois State University or Chicago Blackhawks apparel.

For more information, visit Mecum’s website.

Pick of the Day: 1930 Chevrolet Pickup

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first Chevy truck, the Pick of the Day is one of the GM brand’s second generation, after the simple, buckboard-style 1918 One Ton had given way to a complete, closed-cab pickup.

The 1930 Chevrolet half-ton pickup has been completely restored to its original specs, according to the Volo, Illinois, dealer advertising the truck on ClassicCars.com, although the photos with the ad show some period-style embellishments have been added.

The pickup is said to have had a frame-off restoration

This Chevy has all its original running gear, which the dealer says has been rebuilt so that the truck is ready for vintage-style driving.

One advantage of the Chevy pickups of this period is that they were powered by six-cylinder engines while the ubiquitous Ford Model A trucks soldiered on with four-bangers. That was negated in 1932, however, when Ford made its new 60-horsepower V8 available for its next-gen BB pickups.

Brightly varnished pickup-bed rails have been added

“You see lots of Ford pickups restored for show and tour today but rarely do you have the opportunity to own a beautiful ½-ton Chevrolet pickup, all steel with varnished bed and side rails,” the ad says. “This truck was recently frame-off restored, clad in high-gloss Hunter Green and black steel body and fenders. The interior is black leatherette seats and kick panels.

“The 6-cylinder engine was completely rebuilt; runs and drives excellent. A real head turner.”

The shiny varnished frame rails, pickup bed and interior details – including the beautiful wood-slat headliner – might seem over-the-top for this doughty work truck, although they do make the Chevy gleam. Its work days are done, but its job now is to look sharp at car shows and cruise-ins.

The interior has been restored as original, with gleaming wood details

Despite the dress-up bits, the interior remains no frills as original, with a thinly padded, upright bench-seat back that makes my spine ache just looking at it. But the effort to make this Chevy authentic required that factory seating remain. Considering the essentially orthopedic seats in today’s trucks, I suppose people were just tougher back then. Or maybe they were used to being uncomfortable.

The asking price is reasonable at $17,998, especially since interest in classic pickup trucks has been booming among collectors and hobbyists.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Historic Prinz Heinrich Benz at Bonhams

Much of the motorsports competition in the early days of the automobile involved long-distance reliability runs, with some of the sturdiest and most-advanced vehicles of the era vying for prizes.

One famous entry was the Benz 50hp that won the 1908 reliability trial presented by the German Imperial Automobile Club, a driving event that spanned a number of days and crossed through several nations. The trophy was a 30-pound silver automobile replica donated by Prince A.W. Heinrich of Prussia, a noted racing fan. The event was therefore named in his honor.

To celebrate its victory, Benz produced from 1908 to 1910 a “Prinz Heinrich” model that was bespoke and hand-built, terrifically expensive and featured such forward-looking technology as an overhead-valve engine and shaft drive. Prinz Heinrich cars could reach nearly 100 mph, making it a supercar of its day.

The Benz was restored to a raceabout configuration

Bonhams has one of these cars, a 1908 75/105hp Prinz Heinrich Benz Raceabout, ready for its November 11 auction at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California.

This Benz also boasts American motorsports provenance with one of the early celebrities of auto racing, Barney Oldfield, who was known as much for his publicity feats as his driving prowess. In partnership with Benz, Oldfield and the Prinz Heinrich ran barnstorming and promotional events together, and even appeared in a silent film, Race for Life.

The Benz later became part of the collection of Lindley and Ann Bothwell, who frequently drove the car and had it restored as a two-seat raceabout.

“Beautiful, unique, rare, groundbreaking, historic, in excellent working order, and full of provenance, the Prinz Heinrich Benz possesses all the desirable qualities a collector could want,” Bonhams said in a news release.

About 50 collector cars will be offered during the auction at Bothwell Ranch, which is just north of Los Angeles. For information, visit the Bonhams website.

Pick of the Day: 1951 Mercury Monarch

The very first custom car to be dubbed a “lead sled” was built by Sam Barris (George’s brother) from the newly redesigned 1949 Mercury Eight. The result was that any custom Merc from the 1949-51 era became known by that title whether there was any lead filler in the body or not.

The ’49 Mercury was the first stylistic clean break from pre-war design, a lusciously rounded shape that quickly became a favorite among the burgeoning band of customizers on both the East and West Coasts. The similarly restyled Fords and Lincolns, with a look that endured through 1951, also hit a chord among those who wanted to individualize their FoMoCo cars.

The Mercury sports fender skirts and dummy lake pipes

The Pick of the Day is a 1951 Mercury Monarch four-door sedan with the typically menacing look of a custom Merc, sitting sleek and low over chrome custom wheels. The Mercury gets away with being a four-door instead of a coupe because of its cool “suicide” rear doors that look so righteous (as they might have said back in the day).

Painted a dark Midnight Blue with subtle pinstriping, the Mercury would be impressive at night, reflecting the street lights as it hunkered past on its wide whitewalls. This look is so evocative of urban life during the 1950s, and it would be a popular artifact for any Rockabilly celebration.

The low-down sedan is the epitome of ’50s cool

The Monarch is powered by its original 255-cid flathead V8 and manual transmission, and features aftermarket air-conditioning that works well, according to the Fairfield, California, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. The diamond-tufted seats and door panels look just right.

The car has been well-cared for, according to the ad. The engine seals and master cylinder have been replaced, and the car has been converted to a 12-volt electrical system, including a pair electric fans added for radiator cooling.

Extra gauges and AC ducts have been added to the original dashboard

The custom styling features rear fender skirts, windshield visor and a period-correct set of dummy lake pipes, which are a sly piece of irony considering the bold dual-exhaust tips exiting under the rear bumper. The chrome bumpers and trim seems to gleam in the photos with the ad.

“This 1951 Mercury Monarch shows nicely with only minor cosmetic wear to the paint and the interior,” the seller says. “The engine bay is typical driver quality but otherwise, this highly original example looks and drives excellent.”

The asking price for the Mercury is $27,000, which seems modest for all this lead-sled glory.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Porsche Turbo that sparked a rock album to be auctioned at Silverstone

A Porsche Turbo that inspired a platinum-selling record album will be offered by Silverstone Auctions during its annual Porsche Sale on October 21 at the famed Silverstone Circuit race track in the UK.

The 1985 Porsche 930 Turbo SE is owned by Judas Priest lead guitarist Glenn Tipton, who wrote the 1986 heavy-metal album Turbo, with the best-selling single Turbo Lover, in homage to  the Chiffon White coupe. The album went platinum, selling more than a million copies.

The right-hand-drive Porsche has white-leather seats and trim

The Porsche boasts a 300-horsepower turbocharged flat-6 engine and manual transmission, and came with the SE enhancements of vented rear wheel arches, sill extensions and leather interior trim. Silverstone estimates its value from £180,000 to £220,000 ($242,000 to $296,000).

Tipton obtained the Porsche while on a European band tour in 1985. Because of the rock star’s demanding schedule over the years, the car has been driven just 14,100 miles, according to a Silverstone news release.

“We had a tour of the factory at Stuttgart and I was so impressed with the engineering and how meticulous they were when building cars, and I just had to have one,” Tipton said in the news release. “But I live out in the sticks, and it has to be nice weather to take the Porsche out, so I hardly ever use it.

“It’s time for it to go to someone who will get some use of it, but it’s going to be very hard to let it go.”

For information about the Porsche Sale, visit the Silverstone website.

Pick of the Day: 1984 GMC Caballero

The Chevrolet El Camino is an iconic piece of classic car fandom, part of the lore being its regal Spanish name. The car/pickup truck based on Australian “utes” was first brought out by Chevrolet as a 1959 model, a gorgeously Rococo design based on the Impala.

It wasn’t until 1971 that GMC dealers got their own, nearly identical version to sell. But it was marketed with a decidedly unsexy name, Sprint, which compared poorly with the glamorous El Camino brand.

Finally, GMC came out with an evocative Spanish-language name for its 1978 car-based pickup: Caballero. Although the literal meaning in English is horseman, Caballero is generally used by Spanish speakers as the equivalent of gentleman. That’s soundly appropriate since the Caballero (and the El Camino) was designed to be a gentleman’s pickup truck.

The GMC pickup looks very clean under its hood

The Pick of the Day is a 1984 GMC Caballero, electric blue with racy white stripes, that has been resto-modded with upgrades that should make it a fun and reliable pickup.

The original 305 cid V8 has been replaced with a 350 with a mild performance cam, headers and Flowmaster dual exhaust, according to the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, dealer advertising the Caballero on ClassicCars.com.

The pickup is in good running condition, the ad says, with automatic transmission, a new set of brakes (discs up front) and nearly new BF Goodrich T/A radials.

The interior looks original and in decent condition

The actual mileage in unknown because the dashboard was replaced with modern electronic gauges at the same time as the engine swap, with the tachometer showing 3,300 miles since the transition.

The Caballero looks clean and presentable in the photos and would make for a fine cruiser, especially in its fairly rare GMC configuration that differentiates it from the more-common Chevy version.

The asking price seems reasonable at $15,000. Ownership plus: watching the puzzled looks as you tell folks that you drive a Caballero.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Porsche ‘Outlaws’ head for high country

Every year, the Porsche 356 Registry picks a Sunday to declare national Drive Your 356 Day, slotted at the end of summer  so that no matter what part of the country you find yourself – from the arid Southwest to the frigid Northeast — there’s a shot at decent weather for a spirited run in the more-than-half-century-old sports cars.

Central Arizona’s roasting hot summer started cooling off just a couple of days before last Sunday’s trek, when Arizona 356 Outlaws club members roared up Route 87 from the Phoenix area to Payson. The drive, which I led in my 1962 356 Super coupe, went up into Arizona’s mountainous Rim Country, where the Alpine weather is always a cool respite from the desert temps around Phoenix and Scottsdale.

It was a refreshing drive for about a dozen of the tough little air-cooled Porsches, plus a handful of 911s and a 912, through some of Arizona’s most-luscious scenery, where saguaro cactuses give way to tall pines.

The Porsches parked near the lodge at Natural Bridge State Park | Bob Golfen

AZ 87 is a fast four-lane highway well-suited to a Porsche 356’s sporting aspect, including come enjoyable twisties, although some of the steep grades along the way can be challenging for the four-cylinder tubs, and can make oil-temperature gauges climb.

After lunch in Payson, the group continued up 87 to visit one of the Rim Country’s most impressive attractions at Natural Bridge State Park, where we took group photos of some of the participating tubs.

There were no debilitating mechanical problems reported among our group, unless you count the failure of a valve-cover gasket on one lovely 1962 Cabriolet, which resulted in a haze of blue smoke trailing behind it, as well as a gooey engine compartment. But the driver and the silver convertible made the entire trip, although a couple quarts of oil were added on the way.

There were plenty of good action-shot photo ops along the way, and my ever-patient wife Marci took pictures by hanging out the window at 65-plus miles per hour. I think she eventually got the tangles out of her hair.

Pick of the Day: 1948 Packard Super 8

Yes, I admit it, I do admire cars that look like inverted bathtubs, thus my affinity for the Porsche 356. In the late 1940s and early ’50s, that was an aerodynamic trend, and there’s something about the styling of that era that just does it for me.

The Pick of the Day is a prime example of great bathtub design, a 1948 Packard Super Eight two-door sedan, the first year that the automaker produced the controversial styling; some saw it as sleek and modernistic. Others, not so much.

The paint and chrome look to be in very good condition

After World War II, Packard struggled to maintain the brand’s rich luxury heritage. Packard, which started producing cars in 1899, created some of the world’s most luxurious and desirable classic cars before the war, as well as a lineup of high-quality mid-range automobiles, all sold under the famous slogan, “Ask the man who owns one.”

But money was tight for Packard in the late 1940s, and redesigns were expensive. So the 1948-50 models were rebodied versions of the earlier cars, although that was not necessarily such a bad thing. The styling was a bold attempt at bringing back Packard’s relevance as an innovator.

Particularly attractive on this model-year Packard is the chrome slotted grille that wraps around to the front wheel wells. Very elegant.

The interior appears to be restored to original

“As a true appreciator of rare, valuable classics you will certainly enjoy taking a look at this 1948 Packard Super Eight Coupe,” according to the private seller in San Gabriel, California, advertising the Packard on ClassicCars.com. “It features a beautiful and stately body style that offers a nostalgic remembrance of a simpler era, laced with classic authenticity.”

The Packard proved its mettle on a recent tour, the seller wrote: “It just successfully participated in the well-known 2017 San Marino Motor Classic.”

The two-door styling is rarer and better-looking than that of the four-door sedan, and this one looks very clean, with an attractively original interior.

Power is provided by a 427cid flathead straight-8

“The crème-and-dark-green custom paint is complimented by whitewall tires and a beautifully maintained creme/brown and burlwood-trim interior,” according to the ad. “Powered by a 327 straight-8 engine that is paired with a 3-on-the-tree, this charming Packard is eager to get out on the road for an enjoyable driving experience.”

The car has fewer than 44,000 miles showing on the odometer, the seller notes, with
extra effort put into its care and restoration.

“Copious amounts of time and energy have been invested into maintaining its original look and luster,” the ad says. “The body has been fully restored and it comes with many highlights, such as its factory radio, chrome trim and many more.”

The asking price for the Packard is a modest $21,000, so you wouldn’t really have to worry about taking bath on the deal.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Mecum Auctions muscling into Louisville

Big-block muscle dominates as Mecum Auctions rolls in to Louisville, Kentucky, for the second year with an expected 700 collector vehicles crossing the block at the Kentucky Exposition Center from September 21-23.

Coming off the annual Dallas auction that resulted in $22.2 million in sales and a 70 percent sell-through rate, Mecum will offer a wide variety of muscle cars, classics, street rods, custom and sports cars during the three-day sale. Last year’s inaugural Louisville auction resulted in $13.4 million in sales, not including auction fees.

The 1969 Dodge Super Bee is powered by a 440 Six-Pack V8

The 2017 Kentucky auction will feature a triumvirate of top-drawer muscle cars from the Big Three:

A sunfire-yellow 1967 Chevrolet Corvette coupe (Lot S124) with original L68 Tri-Power 427/400-horspower V8 and M21 Muncie 4-speed manual transmission, is a two-time NCRS Top Flight winner with full documentation including its original tank sticker.

A 1969 Dodge Super Bee coupe (Lot S96) powered by a date-code-correct 440 six-pack V8, totally restored in Blue Metallic with just 48,135 miles on its odometer.

The 1969 Shelby GT500 Fastback is fully documented

A 1969 Shelby GT500 fastback (Lot S119) in Acapulco Blue, powered by the 428cid Ram Air Cobra Jet V8 and documented with two build sheets, a copy of the Shelby window sticker and a Marti Report.

For information about the Louisville auction, visit the Mecum website.