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.

Pick of the Week: 1963 Studebaker Avanti R1

 The styling for the 1963 Studebaker Avanti was striking but controversial

The styling for the 1963 Studebaker Avanti was striking but controversial

One of the most unusual standout designs during the early 1960s was that of the Studebaker Avanti, a “personal luxury” coupe that debuted in April 1962. Created by a team assembled by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the fiberglass-bodied Avanti was true to its name as an avant garde original.

As usual, Studebaker was ahead of the styling curve and the Avanti became something of a “love it or loathe it” piece of automotive quirkiness. The timing was not great, as the Avanti appeared on the scene at the same time as another fiberglass original, the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, which stole much of the popular thunder.

Today’s Pick of the Week is an apparently restored 1963 Studebaker Avanti R1 being sold by a private owner in San Diego. Although appreciated as collector cars, Avantis have never commanded big-dollar sales, and this one is offered at what seems like a bargain price of $25,000 or best offer.

The Avanti’s interior looks immaculate
The Avanti’s interior looks immaculate

The seller’s description is brief and lacking in details, but the car is described as Avanti Red in color with a black vinyl interior, air conditioning, electric windows and other convenience features.

The photos show what appears to be an original Studebaker 289 V8 engine, coupled with an automatic transmission and Twin Traction limited-slip rear. The photos of the interior are very impressive.

This was the original year of the Avanti, when they really looked their best. I particularly like the piece of mid-century chrome flair on the hood, which became a signature styling cue.

Although a handsome Studebaker Avanti would make a good Pick of the Week any time, it’s also a nod to this week’s ClassicCars.com poll results, which found that most people would choose Studebaker as the defunct automaker they would most like to see come back to life.

Unique coachbuilt 1966 Ferrari ‘Tre Posti’ offered for first time at Gooding’s auction at Pebble Beach

The 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale is a one-off design by Pininfarina | Gooding & Company
The 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale is a one-off design by Pininfarina | Gooding & Company

Another fantastic Ferrari has been added to the auction docket for Monterey with the announcement that the unique and groundbreaking 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale “Tre Posti” will be featured at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale.

The one-off prototype – Ferrari’s first mid-engine V12 road-going supercar – is considered an artwork of automotive design, the result of collaboration between three towering figures at the height of their careers: Enzo Ferrari, famed designer Sergio Pininfarina, and Luigi Chinetti, the larger-than-life racing star turned importer and impresario for Ferrari in the U.S.

The three-seater coupe is driven from the middle position | Gooding & Company
The three-seater coupe is driven from the middle position | Gooding & Company

As well as being a masterwork of styling and performance, the 365 P pioneered a three-seat layout with the driver placed in the center and the two passengers on either side and slightly behind the driver. Thus the name Tre Posti, Italian for three seating positions.

The sports coupe was based on the highly successful Ferrari 365 P2 race car but was designed for use on public roads. Power is provided by a race-bred 4.4-liter V12 producing 380 horsepower.

The car is in excellent original condition, Gooding says, with only 7,900 km (about 4,900 miles) on its odometer.

“The Tre Posti stands alone,” said David Gooding, founder and president of the auction company. “This work of automotive art represents the ultimate in 1960s sports car design.

“In my opinion, Tre Posti is an extraordinary coachbuilt tour de force and by all respects one of the most important and valuable Ferraris ever designed. Its competition underpinnings and special provenance make it one of the finest Ferraris in existence.”

The Tre Posti was built for Luigi Chinetti, who counted three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans among his many racing accomplishments before becoming the Ferrari factory’s first and, for a time, only U.S. importer. Significantly, the hand-built 356 P was the last car Ferrari built specifically for a private client.

A broad moonroof is one of the car’s unique features | Gooding & Company
A broad moonroof is one of the car’s unique features | Gooding & Company

Before Chinetti took possession, the bespoke Ferrari was unveiled at the 53rd annual Paris Auto Show, where it was presented by Pininfarina as the design company’s featured car. The Ferrari was a show stopper with its gleaming Gardenia White paint, black upholstery and bright-red carpets, and its distinctive moon roof. The Pininfarina styling cues are strongly evident in the covered headlights, egg-crate grille and sweeping rear buttresses.

The 356 P was owned briefly by two of Chinetti’s special clients but reclaimed in 1969 by the Chinetti family, which has held ownership ever since. The Gooding sale marks the first time the Tre Posti has been offered for public sale, consigned directly by the Chinetti family.

The Gooding & Company auction takes place August 16-17 at the Equestrian Center adjacent to the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

‘Reborn’ 1963 Corvette Z06 race coupe going to Mecum auction in Monterey

The 1963 Corvette Z06 has been restored as Paul Reinhart raced it | Mecum Auctions
The 1963 Corvette Z06 has been restored as Paul Reinhart raced it | Mecum Auctions

A 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Z06 race car with a storybook tale of loss and rebirth will be up for auction during Mecum Auctions’ Monterey sale in August.

The Z06 was originally owned by Oakland, California, racer Paul Reinhart, who was a powerful force among Corvette competitors during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In his 1957 roadster, Reinhart won back-to-back championships in SCCA Pacific Coast B-Production racing in 1960 and 1961.

When the newly minted 1963 Corvette Z06 performance coupe – a Chevrolet factory race car project spearheaded by legendary Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov – became available in 1962, the Union 76 dealer was among the short list of proven racing stars selected for the initial batch of six cars. That impressive list included Dave McDonald, Doug Hooper, Jerry Grant, Bob Bondurant and the “Flying Dentist,” Dr. Dick Thompson.

But unlike the others who were backed by sponsors, Reinhart bought his own car to drive in competition. Reinhart ordered his Sting Ray coupe, number 0895, during the summer of ’62, but his career with the Z06 was star-crossed by circumstances out of his control.

The Sting Ray coupe is one of the first six Z06 cars | Mecum Auctions
The Sting Ray coupe is one of the first six Z06 cars | Mecum Auctions

One was the fierce competition from Carroll Shelby’s new Cobras, which were taking their toll just as the specially prepared Z06s were hitting the track. The other was Chevrolet’s unexpected announcement in February 1963 that it was pulling factory support from racing.

“Dispirited, Paul Reinhart began racing in regional events: Pomona, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Santa Barbara, Del Mar, Vaca Valley, Cotati, Stockton, and other West Coast venues,” according to the Mecum catalog description. “He put 0895 up for sale at the end of the 1964 season.

“Commenting on the period years later, he said, ‘It took years to get over the Z06 in terms of racing in form again’.”

Reinhart did decide years later that he would go at it again, this time in vintage racing. He began searching in 1982 for a suitable Corvette. And here’s where the magic comes in.

Searching the classified ads in the San Francisco Examiner, he found a 1963 Corvette race car for sale. Amazingly, when he went to examine it, he found that it was his old race car, number 0895. It was pretty worn out and in need of restoration, but it was all there, including Reinhart’s own performance tweaks to the engine, suspension and brakes, and its 36-gallon fuel tank.

The Z06 is powered by a 327/360 hp V8 race engine | Mecum Auctions
The Z06 is powered by a 327/360 hp V8 race engine | Mecum Auctions

So not only was he able to re-ignite his Corvette racing passion, he was able to do it in the very same car. He restored old 0895 and started in 1983 to compete in vintage racing events including the Monterey Historics, Wine Country Classic and Coronado Speed Festival.

He sold the car in 2000 to fellow vintage racer Susan Armstrong of Issaquah, Washington, who continued running it in the same events for years until she sold it to its current owner.

The 1963 Corvette Z06 coupe ticks some important boxes for collectors, such as being among the first batch of six factory competition cars, its ownership by an elite West Coast racer who added his own performance enhancements, and the car’s rediscovery and rebirth to become a fixture in West Coast historic racing for more than 30 years.

The Corvette has once again been completely restored, according to Mecum, and is ready to resume its place on the vintage racing circuit.

Billed as “The Daytime Auction,” Mecum’s Monterey sale happens August 14-16 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course.

One of world’s rarest competition Ferraris headed to RM auction in Monterey

The Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale is one of just three competition prototypes built | Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions
The Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale is one of just three competition prototypes built | Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions

An astoundingly rare and valuable 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale, one of just three prototypes built, has been announced by RM Auctions as the marquee car for its Monterey sale in August.

The competition coupe goes to the famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance week amid a flurry of auction announcements for incredible, historic Ferrari race cars, including a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – one of the most valuable cars in the world – offered by Bonhams.

According to RM, the 275 GTB/C has the potential to equal the sale of the GTO, either of which could become the highest-priced vehicle ever sold at auction when it goes over the block. The last private sale of a 250 GTO was reportedly for an amount approaching $60 million.

The high-performance coupe was originally used as a road car | Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions
The high-performance coupe was originally used as a road car | Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions

“(Chassis) 06701’s almost unbelievable rarity and high performance are matched only by its stunning good looks,” Shelby Myers, senior specialist for RM said in a news release. “Simply put, this is one of the most important Ferraris in the world, and absolutely one of the most important motor cars ever to come to auction.

“These cars were a clear evolution of the GTO concept, one of which set a record at Le Mans that stands to this day. 06701’s two sister cars are in highly respected private collections, from which they will certainly not emerge in the near future. This sale is unquestionably an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The 275 GTB/C Speciale was the descendant of the GTO, updated with independent rear suspension and transaxle gearbox, and designed to continue Ferrari’s reign in the GT class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which the ferocious GTO had dominated three years in a row.

Power comes from a  3.3-liter V12 with six Weber carbs | Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions
Power comes from a 3.3-liter V12 with six Weber carbs | Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions

This 275 GTB/C was the first of the three Berlinetta Competizione cars built by Ferrari specifically for FIA homologation and factory development. Each of them was a unique, hand-built car with lightweight aluminum body and powered by a 213/Comp dry-sump V12 engine topped by a six-pack of Weber carburetors.

A homologation dispute with the FIA, the Le Mans ruling body, kept the Ferraris out of the GT class for the 1965 season, although a compromise was finally reached that permitted one of the GTB/Cs to compete in the Le Mans endurance race. That car, chassis 06885, proved the tremendous potential of the 275 GTB/C, not only winning the GT class but coming in third overall, setting a record for the best finish of a front-engine car that has stood ever since.

Chassis 06701 was originally sold to Italian businessman Pietro Ferraro, who used it exclusively as a road car with full factory bumpers. It has gone through several other European owners, including one who kept it for 25 years. Repainted red, the car was owned by Brandon Wang when he loaned it to Derek Hill and his father, 1961 Formula One World Champion Phil Hill, to use in the 1997 Tour Auto.

Wang had 06701 restored after the event and returned to its original color scheme of two-tone silver and gray. The Ferrari’s current owner has displayed the car at a number of events and competed in historic racing, including the 2005 Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca.

The RM sale in downtown Monterey takes place August 15-16, with the Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale slated for offer on Saturday, August 16, as the crowning highlight of the 120-car auction.

“It is a model so attractive, so fast, so rare, and so superior in every respect that it may rightfully be considered one of the most important cars in the world,” RM said it its news release.

Pick of the Week: 1960 Buick LeSabre hardtop

The 1960 Buick LeSabre is best remembered for its bodacious tailfins
The 1960 Buick LeSabre is best remembered for its bodacious tailfins

When the talk turns to tailfins, who could forget the sleek pair that adorned the 1959-60 Buick? Slanted outward from a crested line starting at the front doors, they were a stunning embellishment of sporty style that closed out an exuberant era of car design.

The Pick of the Week is a red-and-white 1960 Buick LeSabre hardtop, a big and brassy 42,000-mile beauty that looks factory fresh with a repaint and new interior.

The low-mileage Buick has been repainted and reupholstered
The low-mileage Buick has been repainted and reupholstered

The Buick is a lifelong Southern car that has never been rusted or in an accident, the seller says. The hardtop was delivered new in Shreveport, Louisiana, in April 1960 to a woman who drove it sparingly until she sold the car in 1999. It is being offered by a classic car dealer in Lakeland, Florida.

The Buick is described by the seller as having “new dual-stage repaint in factory bright red with white hardtop, excellent new red-and-white vinyl interior in as-new condition, mint original dash, new correct door panels and carpet, and very nice original chrome and stainless.”

The car is powered by a 364-cid V8 with four-barrel carburetor and automatic transmission, with a new air-conditioning system by Vintage Air.

A ’60 Buick hardtop in this great original condition is a rare find, and the asking price is $34,500. The car would make a great cruiser and appears all ready to go with its low-mileage drivetrain, restored body and interior, and a new set of radial whitewalls.

“Now it will look great in your garage,” the seller says.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s AC roadster to debut after restoration at 2015 Arizona Concours

Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife, Olgivanna, in the 1937 AC at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1948.| Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife, Olgivanna, in the 1937 AC at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1948 | Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

The second annual Arizona Concours d’Elegance, which will feature a special class dedicated to the Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright, has announced the entry for the January 11, 2015, event of a rare piece of motoring history from the intriguing life of the famed architect

The 1937 AC 16/80 “Ace” roadster that was owned and driven by Wright will make its post-restoration debut at the 2015 Arizona Concours after being out of the public eye for more than 40 years. A classic, upscale British sports car of the pre-war era, the AC will appear just as it did when owned by Wright, down to the signature Cherokee Red paint hue that the architect favored for nearly all of his cars.

The AC has a strong Arizona connection since it was used by Wright during winter stays at his Taliesin West home and architecture school in Scottsdale. He purchased the sports car in 1948 and immediately had it repainted Cherokee Red. Period photos show Wright with his wife, Olgivanna, bedecked in sporty fabric helmets and goggles enjoying the AC at Taliesin West.

The Wrights dressed for driving | Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
The Wrights dressed for driving | Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

The AC has been owned by a Texas couple since 1974, and it has been undergoing a total restoration for the past two years. The car is fully documented as the AC used by the architect and owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation through 1969.

The AC roadster will be among a collection of Wright’s most-interesting cars that will appear at the Arizona Concours at the historic Arizona Biltmore Resort. The Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright class was inspired by the architecture of the Arizona Biltmore, which was heavily influenced by Wright, who served as a consultant for the design of the Phoenix luxury hotel that opened in 1929.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has been an enthusiastic supporter of the efforts to bring together the class of his cars, and one of the special events for the 2015 Arizona Concours is a tour for concours entrants to Taliesin West the day after the concours.

Three other featured classes also are being organized for the 2015 Concours: pre-1965 competition Ferraris; classic American luxury brand Pierce-Arrow; and the cars of Carrozzeria Ghia, the Italian design house that celebrates its 100th anniversary during 2015.

The Arizona Concours also has determined the full class list for the 2015 show and competition, with 17 specialty classes for entries ranging from antique and full classic to sports cars and exotics.

The Arizona Concours d’Elegance benefits Make-A-Wish Arizona, the founding chapter of the national organization that grants wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions.

For tickets, vehicle entries and more information about the Arizona Concours d’Elegance, see www.ArizonaConcours.com.

Coys breaks pair of records in motorcycle auction

A stylish 1931 Indian four-cylinder motorcycle highlights Coys auction in Belmheim, UK | Coys
The classic four-cylinder 1931 Indian rang the bell with a $154,000 sale | Coys

Coys of Kensington celebrated its return to motorcycle auctions by breaking two world records Friday at Blenheim Palace in the United Kingdom, one for a brawny American classic and the other for a petite Italian road racer.

The 1931 Indian four-cylinder that served as the auction’s featured lot eclipsed previous records with a result of £90,000 ($154,000), which was well above the pre-auction estimate.

The 1953 Mondial 125 reached a strong $103,000 | Coys
The 1953 Mondial 125 reached a strong $103,000 | Coys

The other record-breaker was the sale of a 1953 Mondial 125 Monoabero, a lightweight 125cc single-cylinder competition bike in pristine condition, that reached £60,000 ($103,000), which also soared past the value estimate.

The Blenheim auction marked the return of Coys to motorcycle sales, with more than 90 sports and racing motorcycles including rare antiques and classic performance bikes, added to its annual collector-car sale, which happened Saturday.

“We are back in the international collector motorcycle market, setting two world records and selling motorcycles to all four corners of the world,” said Chris Routledge, managing partner at Coys.

 

Pick of the Week: 1954 Ford Crestline Skyliner

The handsome 1954 Ford Skyliner is described as a low-mileage survivor ‘in darn good shape.’
The handsome 1954 Ford Skyliner is described as a low-mileage survivor ‘in darn good shape.’

By 1954, the domestic automakers were getting into the swing of the ’50s and seeking out ways to set themselves apart. For Ford, the biggest news was the new overhead-valve Y-block V8 that replaced its longstanding side-valve engine.

But there was more, and today’s Pick of the Week focuses on a short-lived option that came straight from the aerospace industry.

The tinted Plexiglass roof lets in filtered sunlight.
The tinted Plexiglass roof lets in filtered sunlight.

The 1954 Ford Crestline Skyliner was a new model with a unique feature: a transparent Plexiglass panel that replaced the front half of the stylish hardtop roof, allowing sunlight to illuminate the front-seat occupants.

The green-tinted roof panel was designed to let in filtered light, Ford said, while blocking 60 percent of the heat and 70 percent of the glare. A practical option was a sunshade that fit inside.

This example advertised on ClassicCars.com is described by the seller in Fredericksburg, Texas, as “an unrestored original car that is still in darn good shape.” Just 44,435 miles are showing on the odometer, the seller adds. “The glass roof is in terrific shape with only the common hazing around the perimeter.

Plastic seat covers (remember those?) still protect the upholstery.
Plastic seat covers (remember those?) protect the upholstery.

“The interior is amazing. It looks totally original with the old-timey plastic covers over the front and rear bench.”

The Skyliner had the same upmarket trim accents as that year’s Victoria model, and this one has been fitted with dual exhaust, fender skirts and working spotlights.

The price is set at $27,500, which seems entirely reasonable for such a rare beauty in good original condition.

“This car would make someone a great original cruiser or would benefit from a full restoration,” the seller states. “You can imagine how rare the Skyliner model is. How many have you seen?”

Rare and mighty 1970 Chevelle LS6 454 convertible featured at Mecum auction in Harrisburg

The 1970 Chevelle SS LS6 convertible boasts a high-performance 454 V8 | Mecum Auctions
The 1970 Chevelle SS LS6 convertible boasts a high-performance 454 V8 | Mecum Auctions

The 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6 454 is a true holy grail of the muscle-car era, a one-year-only confluence of ingredients that produced the mightiest Chevelle ever as the decade of unbridled performance drew to a close.

Powered by a race-bred 454 cid big block V8 with an advertised 450 horsepower, though contemporary test drivers pegged it closer to 500, the LS6 became a legend for those who appreciate its all-American style, power and prestige.

Mecum has a great one coming up for sale, a well-documented two-owner LS6 that is the only known red-and-white SS 454 convertible produced by the factory. This special Chevelle will be featured at Mecum’s inaugural Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, auction July 25-27.

For General Motors, 1970 was a watershed year when styling refinement and engine technology came together for a last blast of pure power before emission controls strangled much of the muscle from muscle cars, and insurance rates for performance cars soared. The Chevelle LS6 was available for just one year, and today is considered a crowning achievement for GM’s performance engineers.

The only known LS6 convertible with this factory paint scheme | Mecum Auctions
The only known LS6 convertible in factory red and white | Mecum Auctions

The LS6 at Mecum has been driven only 44,000 miles by its two owners, and it has been fastidiously restored to what the seller calls “a level far beyond concours.” Maybe just a bit of hyperbole, but you get the picture. The car has never been raced or modified, the seller states, and retains its unique, original bright-red paint with white stripes and upholstery.

The car is documented with two build sheets and its original factory Protect-O-Plate, which lists the Chevelle’s original equipment and options.

Prices for 1970 Chevelle SS LS6 454 convertibles range from $155,000 to $245,000, according to the Sports Car Market price guide, though this car’s pristine condition and one-off paint scheme could command much more. The transmission is automatic, not the desirable Rock Crusher 4-speed manual, but that shouldn’t hurt its value any.

The Harrisburg auction at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center marks Mecum’s first time on the East Coast, with around 1,000 collector cars for sale as well as 200 motorcycles, which will be sold on the third day of the auction July 27.

“People have been asking for years when we would host an auction on the East Coast,” Dana Mecum, founder and president of Mecum Auctions, said in a news release. “We’re excited to reach a great community of classic and collector car fans that have long been there. This new location is truly a Mecca for many collector car enthusiasts, and we look forward to becoming a staple in the impressive lineup of car events already held in the area.”

For more information about the Harrisburg auction and TV broadcast times on NBC Sports Network, see www.mecum.com.

5,000 vintage British motoring photos go online

A Bugatti Type 37 slides through a curve during a 1935 British hill climb | Motoring Picture Library
A Bugatti Type 37 slides through a curve during a 1935 British hill climb | Motoring Picture Library

A vast collection of 5,000 vintage photographs chronicling “the golden age of British motoring” has been added to the Motoring Picture Library’s website for public view and purchase.

The images from the National Motor Museum Trust’s Bill Brunell Photographic Collection are now available at www.motoringpicturelibrary.com. They include many striking images of motorsports competition from the 1920s and 1930s, and are among 24,000 images available for purchase online.

The Austin 7 works team at Brooklands in 1937 | Motoring Picture Library
The Austin 7 works team at Brooklands in 1937 | Motoring Picture Library

Brunell was a professional photographer who regularly competed in rallies and sports car events, and is best known for partnering with Hon. Victor Bruce in 1926 to become the first Englishmen to win the Monte Carlo Rally. Brunell’s daughter, Kitty, took part in many of the motoring events, including the Monte Carlo Rally of 1929 in a Talbot 14/45 for which she designed the body, and is featured in a number of the photographs.

“Brunell’s photography, shot mainly on glass plate in the 1920s and 1930s, is an evocative reminder of the golden age of British motoring, capturing perfectly the mood and spirit of the era,” said Jon Day, manager of the Motoring Picture Library Manager. “From street and social scenes to events, trials and rallies throughout Great Britain and Europe, Brunell’s images are an important historical record with artistic merit in their own right.”

The Beaulieu-based Motoring Picture Library contains an archive of over one million photographic images and is considered one of the most comprehensive sources of motoring photographs. The library supplies pictures  to the enthusiast as well as commercially for publishing, broadcasting and advertising.