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.

Events: Milwaukee Concours, big rigs at Carlisle, Minis in the UK

People's Choice last year at Milwaukee Concours, the 1954 Chevrolet Corvette concept| Milwaukee Concours
People’s Choice last year at Milwaukee Concours, the 1954 Chevrolet Corvette concept| Milwaukee Concours

The events of the Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance unfold this weekend for two days of old-car fun at Veterans Park on the waterfront in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On Saturday, cruise in for the open Show & Glow by the Lake, take part in the Motor Tour for vintage vehicles and enjoy the annual Style and Speed Social. Continue reading

Cars from acclaimed Astor collection at Russo and Steele

A handsome 1932 Packard 902 coupe roadster is part of the Devotion Collection | Russo and Steele photos
A handsome 1932 Packard 902 coupe roadster is part of the Devotion Collection | Russo and Steele photos

Broadcasting pioneer Art Astor was a remarkable presence in Southern California, and the entire country, for that matter. As broadcaster and owner during the heyday of rock ‘n roll AM radio in the 1950s and ’60s, he built the presence of his stations, which eventually became the Astor Broadcast Group, and they continued their power and appeal into this century.

As his wealth grew, Astor became an inveterate collector of cultural artifacts, such as vintage radios, toys, slot machines, juke boxes and autographed photos of Hollywood stars. Most notably, Astor was a collector of great old cars, which numbered into the hundreds. Astor died in December at the age of 91. Continue reading

F1 Ferrari, Indy Lotus among historic racers at Bonhams auction

The 1964 Lotus Type 34 is known as the winningest Indy Lotus of all time | Bonhams photos
The 1964 Lotus Type 34 is known as the winningest Indy Lotus of all time | Bonhams photos

Bonhams, which has dubbed its 2017 California auction “Year of the Race Cars,” has announced two more historic competition cars -– an F1 champion Ferrari and an Indy 500 Lotus –- to its docket for the 20th annual collector car sale at the Quail Lodge in Carmel during Monterey Car Week. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible

The Falcon Sprint convertible is an eye-catching red-on-red with period-correct sport wheels
The Falcon Sprint convertible is an eye-catching red-on-red with period-correct sport wheels

Shortly before the advent of the Mustang as a midyear 1964 model, the hot ticket among compact Fords was the Falcon Sprint. The monster success of the Mustang overshadowed the freshly redesigned Falcons -– from which the pony cars were derived -– but today, the 1964 Falcon has a dedicated fan base all its own.

The Pick of the Day is a top-of-the-line 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible, of which just over 4,200 were built that model year. The Sprint served as a halo model for Falcon, its 260 cid V8 putting a performance spin on the economy brand, but this one has been updated with the later 289 V8 and Mustang C4 automatic transmission. Continue reading

100 years ago, Ford rolled out its first work truck

The Ford F-100, like this 1953 model, was a staple of American farm life | Ford photos
The Ford F-100, like this 1954 model, was a staple of American farm life | Ford photos

Another automotive centennial is upon us, and this is a significant one: the 100th anniversary of Ford trucks. One-hundred years ago, Ford produced the first Ford TT, a vehicle designed specifically as a work truck, with a short open cab and heavy-duty frame that allowed it to carry a one-ton payload.

This was during the reign of the ubiquitous Ford Model T passenger cars, which were sometimes privately converted into purposeful trucks, among myriad other modifications. It wasn’t until 1925 that Ford produced a factory pickup version of the Model T, though it was still a lightweight car under its utility body. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1950 Mercury custom show car

Ultra Modern Merc's styling is somewhat polarizing
Ultra Modern Merc took nine years for its builder to complete

The story of the Ultra Modern Merc is one of the most fascinating tales of custom-car building during the 1950s. It tells of how a young, obsessed novice in Southern California enlisted the help of the legendary George and Sam Barris –- who taught him welding, metal shaping and show-car promotion -– and secured backing from the Ford Motor Co. to build his dream car over the course of nine years.

The young builder was Leo Lyons, who was 20 when his endeavor started in 1950. His creation was completed in 1959, and it went on to become a well-regarded show winner and magazine cover car.

Leo Lyons learned to shape metal ti build  his Merc
Leo Lyons learned to shape metal to build his Merc

Considered to be the last of the great 1950s Mercury builds, the Ultra Modern Merc is the Pick of the Day, advertising on ClassicCars.com simply as a 1950 Mercury custom. Offered by a dealer in Sarasota, Florida, the remarkable automobile is also one of the most interesting classic car “barn finds.”

After falling into obscurity for decades, it was rescued in 2013 by Geoffrey Hacker, an author and automotive historian who has dedicated his life to finding and rescuing hand-built custom cars of the post-war era as head of his Forgotten Fiberglass project. Hacker reunited the Merc with Lyons in 2014, shortly before the builder’s passing.

Since Hacker and other like-minded enthusiasts restored the Merc, it has appeared at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in a class for custom Mercurys, and at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours in a class of unique private-build prototypes that was organized by Hacker.

The styling is evocative but polarizing
The styling is evocative but polarizing

“This car is the most radically customized ’49-51 Ccstom Mercury built in-period, and has been recognized as the last significant custom Mercury built in the ’50s,” the seller notes in the ad description.

Lyons originally intended the Merc to be the prototype of a run of identical specials built in period. But by the time the car was finished, interest in producing any more of them had waned.

Other than the chassis, there’s very little Mercury remaining in the Ultra Modern Merc, limited pretty much to small sections of bodywork, the windshield, wipers and exterior door handles.

Most of the body was hand-formed by Lyons, with the hood, doors and roof made by the famed fabricators at California Metal Shaping. The 322cid V8 engine, Dynaflow transmission, headlight rims and Dagmar bumpers came from Buick; hubcaps from Studebaker; and rear trim from Pontiac.

The interior was entirely handmade with extensive rolled-and-pleated seats, dash and panels, and Studebaker gauges and steering-wheel parts from Ford – the steering-wheel center displays the Ford emblem.

The bright interior is uniquely detailed
The bright interior is uniquely detailed

The unique piece of Southern California custom-car history looks in the photos to be in restored condition, although there is no mention in the ad of whether it runs or its roadworthiness. Not that you’d be likely to go joy riding in this Merc; it belongs on the show field or in a museum.

The seller has put an asking price of $159,900 on this unusual find. Whether you favor or fault the innovative styling, this one-man’s-vision creation from the heyday of car customizing is deserving of respect and preservation.

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

Low-mileage muscle highlights Mecum’s Harrisburg auction

A time-warp1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible has been driven just 3,518 miles | Mecum Auctions photos
A time-warp1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible has been driven just 3,518 miles | Mecum Auctions photos

Highlighted by “an unprecedented selection” of American muscle cars, the fourth annual Mecum auction in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will offer an anticipated 1,000 collector vehicles in a three-day sale August 3-5 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.

One of the most intriguing cars crossing the block, according to Mecum, is a 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible in special-ordered Tahoe Turquoise with just 3,518 original miles. In original pristine condition, the 390cid V8-powered pony car shows the result of careful climate-controlled storage since new. Continue reading

Diverse Mecum auction in Denver hits $11.4 million in sales

A 1960 VW 23-window bus was the second-highest seller in Denver | Mecum Auctions photos
A 1960 VW 23-window bus was the second-highest seller in Denver | Mecum Auctions photos

In case you needed evidence that Mecum brings a diverse selection of collector cars to its auctions, just take a look at the five top sellers from the Denver sale last weekend.

The highest sale was that of a modern exotic, a 2016 Ferrari California T convertible sold for $165,000 (Mecum results do not include buyer fees). The Ferrari was followed by a vintage vehicle from the opposite end of the spectrum, a 1960 Volkswagen 23-window Samba microbus that went for $120,000. Continue reading

Game-changing ’33 Graham inducted into Historic Register

The Graham Blue Streak parked at the home of the designer Amos Northrup | HVA photos
The Graham Blue Streak parked at the home of the designer Amos Northrup | HVA photos

A groundbreaking automobile that abruptly changed the styling direction of American cars of the 1930s, created by a design genius known as a leading pioneer of automotive streamlining, both of them largely unsung and forgotten today.

Such was the fate of the game-changing 1932-34 Graham Eight Blue Streak and its brilliant designer, Amos Northup. The revolutionary enveloping body, unique chassis and aerodynamic shape, not to mention “Pearl Essence” paint made with fish scales, set the Graham Blue Streak apart from the boxy mainstream cars of its era, and established the trend for the coming decade. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S

The Mazda Cosmo sports unique styling that sets it apart
The rotary-engine Mazda Cosmo sports unique styling that sets it apart

One of the fun things to watch in today’s mercurial collector car market is when certain old cars rise from obscurity and gain in value as collectors and investors latch onto them. Recent winners in the collector car lottery range from certain antiques from the earliest days of motoring to postwar classics from Ferrari and Porsche.

Japanese collector cars hit their stride a few years back, led by such limited-edition sports cars as the Toyota 2000GT and the Nissan Skyline GT-R. But as the overall market has cooled, Rising Sun classics settled down from their high prices, although Japanese Home Market cars that were not imported to the U.S. still draw plenty of interest from younger enthusiasts. Continue reading