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.

Auctions America scales up Auburn Spring auction

A rare 1960 Chrysler 300F convertible, part of the Rigoli collection | Auctions America
A rare 1960 Chrysler 300F convertible, part of the Rigoli collection | Auctions America

Auctions America holds what figures to be its largest Auburn Spring event May 8-10 with around 900 collector cars crossing the block, including the highly anticipated sale of the John Scotti Collection of more than 400 choice vehicles. All of the Scotti cars are offered at no-reserve.

Other highlights of the sweeping Auburn, Indiana, auction include a highly original classic 1939 Packard Twelve Touring cabriolet with coachwork by Brunn; a rare, restored 1934 Chrysler Custom Imperial Airflow limousine from the Scotti collection; a 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 Lightweight Sport Coupe that has been largely untouched since it raced at the Indy Nationals in 1962; an as-found 1954 Jaguar XK 120SE drop head coupe (British for convertible) rescued from a Georgia barn; a 1925 Ahrens-Fox NS4 fire truck; and a unique 1941 Allan Herschell carousel converted to run on solar power by General Electric.

1939 Packard Twelve Touring Cabriolet | Auctions America
1939 Packard Twelve Touring Cabriolet | Auctions America

The Auburn Spring auction is one of two home-court events held by Auctions America at the historic Auburn Auction Park. The other is the Auburn Fall sale scheduled for August 27-31. The spring event starts up with a preview day on May 7 prior to three days of bidding.

For the first time, the Spring auction will be covered live by the NBC Sports Network, which is delivered to more than 80 million homes in the U.S., according to Auctions America. The auction also features live streaming on the auctionsamerica.com website.

An added attraction for the Auburn auction is the Special National Spring Meet of the Antique Automobile Club of America, which will bring sterling examples of early motoring to the auction complex for public display.

1962 Chevy Impala SS 409 Lightweight | Auctions America
1962 Chevy Impala SS 409 Lightweight | Auctions America

Auctions America is the “mainstream auction” subsidiary of RM Auctions, according to Keith Koscak, Auctions America car specialist, with a range of classic vehicles for everyone from hands-on hobbyists to high-end collectors.

“You have RM and Gooding (Gooding & Company) catalog-style of auctions, the extremely high-end blue-chip collector cars, and then Auctions America would be a mainstream auction; we kind of look after everything else,” Koscak said. “Really, we range from $5,000 to a million and a half. We sold a Duesenberg at Auburn here last fall for a million five. And we cover everything in between.”

The no-reserve Scotti collection has stirred a lot of attention for Auburn Spring, Koscak said. John Scotti is a Montreal new-car dealer with a passion for buying and selling a wide variety of interesting cars, from vintage American cruisers, classics and muscle cars to modern European exotics.

1925 Ahrens-Fox NS4 Firetruck | Auctions America
1925 Ahrens-Fox NS4 Firetruck | Auctions America

“Right now, our registered bidders are 3 or 4 times what they would normally be at this point, and I think the Scotti collection is going to bring in a lot of new bidders and buyers,” Koscak said.

Two smaller but no-less-special classic-car collections also have piqued interest: Seven authentic Chrysler 300 Letter Cars, both survivor and restored, from the Richard C. Rigoli Collection, including a 1955 C-300 hardtop and a 1960 300F convertible; and 18 mainly ’50s and ’60s General Motors cars from the Duffy Grove Collection, featuring a1963 Chevrolet Corvette fuel-injected roadster and a gorgeously restored 1957 Oldsmobile 98 J-2 convertible.

The barn-find 1954 Jaguar XK120SE has taken on a life of its own, Koscak added, gaining from a renewed interest among collectors for great cars that still have their dusty, musty patina from years of neglectful storage.

“It seems like today, barn-find cars like this are just as popular as fully restored cars to collectors,” he said. “You don’t see that many true barn-find cars these days. I think a lot of people refer to something they find in long-term ownership and in a garage somewhere as a barn find, but this literally came out of a barn.”

Barn-fresh 1954 Jaguar XK 120SE | Auctions America
Barn-fresh 1954 Jaguar XK 120SE | Auctions America

The sports car was stored away in the Georgia barn by the widow of the late owner, Koscak said. It sat unprotected for more than 40 years.

“One of my clients found out about it through the local Jaguar club,” he said. “He eventually ended up purchasing it (from the widow) and pulled it out of the barn. You can tell from the photos it’s the epitome of a true barn find. There’s like an inch of dirt on the thing, but that to me is what makes it really cool.”

Fortunately, the new owner appreciated the car in its raw condition and did not attempt to clean it up, Koscak said. He did get it running and driving, however. And quite possibly, the derelict Jaguar will be driven over the block in Auburn just like the restored cars, although the auction people will have to inspect it to make sure it’s safe to drive.

There are also two other possible issues, Koscak added.

“If it happens to be a rainy day, it probably won’t (be driven) because we don’t want to wash off the history,” he said. “Also, whether you can see through the windshield.”

Meyers Manx marks 50th birthday with honors

The 1964 Meyers Manx named Old Red in its natural surroundings, a California beach | Historic Vehicle Association
The 1964 Meyers Manx named Old Red in its natural surroundings | Historic Vehicle Association

A 50th anniversary party for the original dune buggy, the 1964 Meyers Manx, highlights the Historic Vehicle Association’s inaugural Cars at the Capitol automotive heritage celebration this weekend at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The first Manx, known as “Old Red,” was hand-built by Bruce Meyers in his Newport Beach, California, garage and will be present Saturday morning during the opening remarks at the National Mall. Meyers, an active 88 year old, also is expected to attend.

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Famous Jaguar sports cars, racers entered in Mille Miglia

Jaguar C-types, D-types and XKs will run in Italy's famed Mille Miglia | Jaguar Heritage Racing
Jaguar C-types, D-types and XKs will run in Italy’s famed Mille Miglia | Jaguar Heritage Racing

Jaguar Heritage Racing will field 10 of its most-celebrated race and sports cars of the 1950s for the Mille Miglia classic car rally May 15-18 through the heart of Italy.

Driving the historic collection of XKs, C-types and D-types will be famous stars of stage, screen, music and motorsports, who will pair up as pilots and navigators for the driving event that reenacts the former Mille Miglia road race, which ran from 1927 through 1958.

The Jaguar Heritage Racing entries and famous occupants include:

* The 1951 Jaguar XK 120 roadster that raced as part of the Ecurie Ecosse team, driven by retired Tonight Show host Jay Leno;

* The ex-Jim Swift racing XK120 roadster driven by award-winning British actor Jeremy Irons;

* An XK140 once owned by successful British racing driver David Hobbs and to be driven by Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald.

* Three famous C-type racing cars, to be driven by AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson, Belgian singer-songwriter Milow (Jonathan Vandenbroeck) and ex-Jaguar Le Mans 24 Hours race winner Andy Wallace, who will drive the Jaguar C-type that won the 1952 Reims Grand Prix with Formula 1 legend Stirling Moss at the wheel.

* The penultimate “Long Nose” Jaguar D-type, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2014, driven by the team of ex-Jaguar Le Mans and World Sports Prototype Championship winner, Formula 1 driver and TV pundit Martin Brundle and ex-Formula 1 racer Bruno Senna.

* Other beautiful XK 120s will be occupied by British music star Elliot Greave and his wife, Erin Greave, TV personality and former Miss Australia; author David Blakeley with TV personality Jodie Kidd; and Jaguar Vehicle Integrity Chief Engineer Mike Cross in the ex-Stirling Moss Monthlery record-breaking coupe.

One of the world’s most popular classic car events, the 2014 edition of the Mille Miglia hosts a total of 430 cars, “all of them cars of great historical and sporting prestige,” according to the event organizers.

For more about the Mille Miglia, see http://www.1000miglia.eu/

1958 Dodge sways to top in British hill climb

John Harrison careens around a curve in his 1958 Dodge Coronet | Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb
John Harrison careens around a curve in his 1958 Dodge Coronet | Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb

Ordinarily, we would pass on publicizing the upcoming Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb, a competitive event May 4 in Worcester, England. But this photo, and the story behind it, is too good to ignore.

Among the vintage sports and race cars that will run up the historic hill course – along with up-to-date racers competing in the Midland Hill Climb Championship – we have John Harrison of Wareham, Dorset, who again will entertain the crowd by roaring to the top in his 1958 Dodge Coronet sedan.

With its mammoth weight, towering tailfins, pronounced body sway and two-speed automatic transmission, the Coronet most certainly is the least nimble entry. But according to Harrison, that’s the whole point.

“The challenge of hill climbing such a totally unsuitable but exciting car is what appeals to me,” Harrison said in a news release from the hill-climb organizers. “The car is completely unrestored and retains its original paint, interior and drive train, with no power steering or assisted brakes and is running on authentic cross-ply whitewall tires to provide a true 1950s driving experience.

“It will reach 60 mph in first,” Harrison said, “so I just keep it in that gear and hang on for dear life as it wallows along and smokes its tires around the corners.”

Mecum launches ‘super yacht’ auction in Florida

The beautiful 86-foot Permare Amer will be among the super yachts offered by Mecum | Mecum Auctions
The beautiful 86-foot Permare Amer will be among the super yachts offered by Mecum | Mecum Auctions

After more-than a quarter century of classic car sales, Mecum Auctions takes the plunge this week with what it is calling the world’s first Super Yacht Auction.

Super yachts – the massively opulent luxury vessels that can sail the Seven Seas and cost multi-millions of dollars – will be featured May 2-3 in the South Beach, Florida, auction of 25 high-end yachts, off-shore speedboats and other pricey vessels designed to appeal to the world’s wealthiest bidders.

Of the ocean-going craft, about 12 of them are officially classified as “super yachts” because they run more than 75 feet from stem to stern, according to Mecum’s yacht specialist, Jerry Burton. But like Mecum’s classic car auctions, the yacht sale will have enough variety of scale and price to make it interesting, and help separate the real billionaires from the mere millionaires.

The Hatteras 130 is the biggest boat at auction | Mecum Auctions
The Hatteras 130 is the biggest boat at auction | Mecum Auctions

“They are the same class of people who have polo ponies,” Burton said. “These boats are expensive, and owning a boat is an expensive proposition.”

About $30 million would be generated if all the boats are sold, Burton said.

Burton said it was his longtime expertise with yacht sales that convinced Dana Mecum, founder and head of the auction company, to create the seaside auction.

“It’s a new venture for him,” Burton said of Mecum. “He’s not a boat person. I’m as experienced in boats as he is in cars. I know everybody in the boat business as he knows everyone in the car business.”

The largest vessel in the auction is the 130-foot Hatteras Tri-Deck Motor Yacht, which boasts the spaciousness and luxury fittings of a mansion in Beverly Hills. Built in 1995 by Hatteras of North Carolina, the yacht has 5 cabins for 10 guests (including the master suite) and accommodations for 7 crew members.

Mecum includes no value estimates for the auction boats, but a similar Hatteras spotted for sale on an Internet site was priced at $9.4 million.

The Italian-American Magnum 44 | Mecum Auctions
The Italian-American Magnum 44 | Mecum Auctions

Although it’s the biggest, it might not be the most-expensive boat on board, Burton said, with such custom beauties as the 124-foot craft from Delta Marine, which “has a relaxed, beach house ambiance, filled with warm, light woods and fine stonework,” the auction catalog says.

“A lot of these boats have gone to Europe,” Burton said. “You could live on these boats, and live like a king.”

There is a selection of smaller boats for island hopping and exploring the coastline, all of the craft exotic and very expensive.

Even the smallest boat offered, a 16-foot open fishing vessel called the Bimini Bonefisher, is “a work of art,” Burton said. It comes from a small Bahamas company that builds one boat per year with the finest craftsmanship and materials. “It’s gorgeous.”

The idea for the yacht auction came after the successful sale several years ago of a single luxury yacht during a Mecum auction in Florida, Burton added.

“We sold a boat at the Kissimmee auction that one of my wealthy clients brought to Italy,” he said. “It was terrific, and ever since, I’ve been thinking about that and talking with Dana.

“I worked on him for a long time, and finally he said, ‘OK, let’s give it a shot.’”

Car designer Peter Brock to lecture at Blackhawk

Peter Brock will sign copies of his recent Corvette Sting Ray book | Brock Racing Enterprises
Peter Brock will sign copies of his recent Corvette Sting Ray book | Brock Racing Enterprises

Car designer, author, racing-team owner, photo journalist – Peter Brock has excelled at all his pursuits, starting at the age of 19 when he joined Bill Mitchell’s group of stylists at General Motors, where he became a leading force in the creation of the Corvette Sting Ray.

Brock will present a lecture at noon Sunday at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, Calif., focusing on his time as one of the youngest designers ever hired at GM Styling and how he worked with Mitchell, Harley Earl, Zora Arkus-Duntov and Ed Cole in producing the groundbreaking 1963 Sting Ray.

Part of the museum’s Spring Speaker Series, the lecture by Brock coincides with the 34th annual “A Legend on Display” car show presented by the Northern California Corvette Association, which takes place in the museum plaza. More than 100 cars are expected.

Brock's 1957 sketch helped launch the Sting Ray | General Motors
Brock’s 1957 sketch helped launch the Sting Ray | General Motors

Brock will be available to sign copies of his 2013 book, Corvette Sting Ray: Genesis of an American Icon, in which Brock gives an insider’s look at how the Sting Ray came about, and the many competing decisions that went into its design.

A sketch made by Brock in 1957 was picked by Mitchell as the focus for the second-generation Corvette and spawned one of America’s most famous show cars, the Sting Ray Racer of 1959. It also provided the direction for the eventual production Sting Ray that appeared to manic acclaim in the fall of 1962.

Brock is most-famous among racing fans for his work with Carroll Shelby, who hired the young designer as the first employee for his performance and racing endeavors. Brock accepted the challenge from Shelby of creating a version of the Cobra roadster for high-speed performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The result — the iconic Cobra Daytona Coupe — succeeded in beating reigning Ferrari for a GT-class win at Le Mans. It also was the first American car to win the FIA’s GT World Championship.

Brock ran his own racing team at one point, under Brock Racing Enterprises, which campaigned Datsun 510 coupes to conquer Alfa-Romeo and Porsche in Trans Am 2.5 competition. The BRE Datsuns became famous for taking their blue-and-orange livery into victory lane.

For more information about the lecture, the Corvette show and other events at the Blackhawk Museum, see www.blackhawkmuseum.org.

California Mille gets set for thousand-mile tour

Alfa-Romeos and a Jaguar XK soar through the curves during a previous Mille | California Mille
Alfa-Romeos and a Jaguar XK soar through the curves during a previous Mille | California Mille

The 24th annual California Mille starts April 28 for a four-day, thousand-mile classic car tour of scenic countryside and challenging back roads across the middle of California.

“It’s kind of a cross-section of California landscapes, really a mix of the Coast, the Sierra Nevadas, Napa Valley wine country, Sacramento river delta and Central Valley,” co-director David Swig said of the drive route. “So it will be quite a diversity of roads and landscapes. We change the routes every year to give people something fresh and new roads to drive on.”

For the second year, the California Mille is headed by David and Howard Swig, sons of the late Martin Swig, the irrepressible old-car enthusiast who founded the California version of Italy’s famed Mille Miglia road rally. Martin Swig died in July 2012. His sons vowed to keep the premium event going unchanged.

Rally cars displayed at the Fairmount Hotel | California Mille
Rally cars displayed at the Fairmount Hotel | California Mille

As ever, the grand sweep of 80 vintage sports, race and touring cars is the star attraction of the road rally. On Sunday, the day before the rally departs, the public is invited to enjoy a free show of the rally cars from noon to 6 p.m. in front of the Fairmount Hotel on San Francisco’s historic Nob Hill. More than 10,000 people are expected to see the rare field of entries.

“This year’s Mille may be the most signi?cant compendium of classic cars we’ve ever had,” David Swig said. “Along with some 13 Alfa Romeos, 11 Porsches, 6 Jaguars and half a dozen Ferraris – largely vintage ‘50s and ‘60s – we have a ’52 Tojeiro Roadster, a ’28 Bentley, ’57 Kurtis Kraft 500KK and a ’38 Lancia Aprilia.”

David Swig said that for his own rally car, he picked two distinctively different possibilities: a brawny all-American vintage race car or a nimble Italian sports coupe with unique California Mille history.

A pair of red 1950s Jaguars on the road | California Mille
A pair of red 1950s Jaguars on the road | California Mille

“I’m going to drive whatever car is ready to go, but at this point it looks like we’re going to drive a ’51 Chrysler Saratoga, which is a car similar to the car that John Fitch drove in the 1951 La Carrera Panamericana race,” he said. “It looks like the car that John Fitch drove. It has Halibrand magnesium wheels and a 331 Hemi, which is pumped up a little bit. All period stuff in the style that they would have run back in the early ’50s. Still drum brakes and all that.

“If that for whatever reason is not ready to go, I’m going to drive a car that my father drove on the first California Mille, which is a little Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. But I’m really hoping to take the Chrysler because we already have quite a few Alfas and Porsches and small sports cars. Sometimes it’s nice to take something that’s a bit out of the ordinary.”

David Swig, 29, and his brother Howard, 26, along with Dan Radowicz and Ron Wren, have taken on the task of keeping alive the spirit of the California Mille after the death of Martin Swig, who was well-known in classic car circles for his unflagging enthusiasm and gregarious demeanor.

“Basically, my brother and I grew up fully immersed in the car world from all different aspects,” David Swig said. “It was and continues to be a full-immersion experience. He certainly passed on his passion to me and Howard.”

Martin Swig started up the California Mille after taking part in 1982 in the Mille Miglia of Italy, a road-rally re-enactment of what was formerly a full-on thousand-mile road race, which was run 24 times from 1927 through 1958 under the same name (Mille Miglia is Italian for “thousand mile”). The 24th year of the California Mille is therefore considered a notable milestone.

Bonhams readies London motorcar, automobilia auction

The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions
The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions

Coachbuilt Bentleys and an off-road truck built by Lamborghini highlight the Bonhams Collector’s Motor Cars and Automobilia Sale, scheduled for April 28 at London’s RAF Museum.

Bonham’s sale opens with a high-end collection of vintage automotive literature, posters, artworks and pre-war mascots, including a selection of valuable radiator ornaments by French glass designer Renè Lalique.

More than 70 classic cars will be offered after the automobilia sale, with a wide range of values and conditions, from a three-wheeled economy panel van and “barn-find” Jaguars to rare restored Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Alvis motorcars.

Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions
Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions

A classic 1927 Bentley 3-liter Speed Model Tourer with coachwork by Vanden Plas and painted a brilliant red will cross the block with an estimated worth of $170,000 to $250,000. A 1956 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon with shapely streamlined styling by H.J. Mulliner will also be offered, estimated at $470,000-570,000.

An unusual 1949 Bentley MKVI 4¼-Liter Countryman Shooting Brake with a woodie-wagon body by Harold Radford is valued at $120,000-150,000.

The 1987 Lamborghini LM 002, an over-the-top four-wheel-drive SUV known in the U.S. as “Rambo Lambo,” is valued at $130,000-200,000. One of just 328 LM 002s produced between 1986 and 1992, this one was originally owned by Italian racing driver Mario Ricci.

For more information about the Bonhams sale, visit the website at www.bomhams.com.

Eye Candy: Reborn Cruise attracts thousands

Photos by Bob Golfen

Phoenix police cracked down on cruising Central Avenue in the 1980s, breaking a tradition going back to the ’50s when young people meandered up and down the main drag in everything from custom hot rods to daddy’s station wagon.

But the practice was brought back to life in 2002 when the city-sanctioned Cruise on Central was organized by car-show promoter Nancy Perry, who also used the broad parking lot of a Central Avenue shopping mall for a car show that has come to attract thousands of entrants and onlookers.

And, of course, folks still take their vintage rides for a cruise up and down Central, with crowds gathered on the sidewalk to watch them go by.

The Cruise on Central, which happens twice a year in the spring and fall, took place on a recent Saturday under Arizona’s typical cloudless blue sky, with more than 2,000 vehicles that ranged from classic ’50s cruisers, lead sleds and bucket T hot rods to a contingent of custom Volkswagens.

The next Cruise on Central is scheduled for October.

Nancy Perry, who had petitioned Phoenix to allow the Cruise on Central to re-ignite 12 years ago, heads up a production company that also organizes a number of other cars shows, rallies and cruises in the Phoenix area.

$7 million GT40 goes to Utah motorsports museum

The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions
The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions

The Ford GT40 prototype racecar that hammered sold at a record $7 million April 12 at the Mecum auction in Houston will be put on permanent display at the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum in Tooele, Utah.

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