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.

Amelia Island Concours rounds up cowboy-cars class

Leo Carillo’s 1948 Chrysler is known as the ‘Steer Car’ for obvious reasons | Alejandro Rodriguez/ Gooding and Company
Leo Carillo’s 1948 Chrysler is known as the ‘Steer Car’ for obvious reasons | Alejandro Rodriguez/ Gooding

Six guns and steer horns will be moseying into the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance next March as the 20th annual event says howdy to its latest featured class: Cars of the Cowboys.

These were the unique custom cars that were designed for and driven by the great Hollywood Western stars of the past, from Tom Mix to Roy Rogers, who expressed their cowboy-movie flair with flamboyant and sometimes outlandish creations.

The 1937 Cord in which Tom Mix was killed | Amelia Island Concours
The 1937 Cord in which Tom Mix was killed | Amelia Island Concours

The Amelia Island Concours, which has taken its place among the world’s top classic car events, is known for its creative featured classes, and Cars of the Cowboys will mark another first. The collection focuses on an era when Western movies and later TV series were an entertainment staple in the U.S., from the 1920s through the 1960s.

“This is the first gathering of cowboy cars at a major international concours,” Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the concours, said in a news release. “We hope to retrieve a few happy memories for the grown up kids of the 1950s who can bring their children and grandchildren to Amelia to see something that was such a fun part of our lives. Besides, without classes like ‘Cars of the Cowboys,’ it just wouldn’t be Amelia.”

Roy Rogers’ wildly festooned 1963 Pontiac | RM Auctions
Roy Rogers’ wildly festooned 1963 Pontiac | RM Auctions

Among the featured Cars of the Cowboys will be the 1948 Chrysler Town and Country “Steer Car” originally owned by Leo Carillo, who played Pancho in The Cisco Kid TV series. A longhorn steer’s head and enormous horns are mounted on the front of the Chrysler’s hood.

Another is the 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton in which Tom Mix was killed in a crash while speeding through southern Arizona in 1940. The Cord has been repaired and restored to the way it appeared when Mix owned it.

Yet another is Roy Rogers’ over-the-top 1963 Pontiac Bonneville that was lavishly festooned with pistols, rifles, horse statues, a saddle console and other shiny emblems of the Old West by famed Western-wear designer Nudie Cohn.

The Amelia Island Concours is scheduled for March 15, 2015, at the Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton. The concours and its foundation raise money for Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast, and have donated $2.5 million for charity since the concours’ inception in 1996.

Auctions America has Duesey of a sale in Auburn

The 1935 Duesenberg crosses the block on its way to a $1.265 million sale | Auctions America
The 1935 Duesenberg crosses the block on its way to a $1.265 million sale | Auctions America

A magnificent 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton topped the bidding at Auction America’s flagship Auburn Fall sale in the luxury car’s home state of Indiana, reaching $1,265,000 to lead the $25.9-million auction held during the Labor Day weekend.

The sale of the rare Duesey, with coachwork by LaGrande, was a fitting high mark for the auction held at Auburn Auction Park during the annual Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Festival. Another appropriate classic from Indiana, a 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster, was the car with the second-highest selling price, $423,500 (all totals include auction fees).

The Auburn Speedster is a supercharged beauty | Auctions America
The Auburn Speedster is a supercharged beauty | Auctions America

Nearly 1,100 cars crossed the twin sales blocks at auction, with a 77 percent sell-through rate. An automobilia auction also was held. More than 81,500 people attended the sale, according to Auctions America.

“Fantastic weather combined with a diverse lineup of quality cars and an exciting range of automotive-themed activities made for another exceptional Auburn Fall,” said Donnie Gould, president of Auctions America. “We’ve received extremely positive feedback on this year’s event, with many attendees declaring it the best yet.”

The third- and fourth-highest sellers at the auction were a pair of modern Ford GTs, a 2006 Heritage Edition that sold for $360,000 and a 2005 coupe for $330,000. Those sales showed the continuing strength of these popular cars.

A true classic, a 1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria, came in fifth at $308,000.

Wendell the mechanical elephant made his debut | Auctions America
Wendell the mechanical elephant made his debut | Auctions America

The Auburn Fall sale and ACD Festival is a family-friendly event with a number of displays and attractions, a swap meet and cars-for-sale corral, monster-truck rides, ATV and dirt bike shows, and helicopter tours of the Auction Park.

A special highlight was the debut appearance of Wendell, Auctions America’s life-size mechanical elephant. Built in England in 1951, the restored beast is one of only two known surviving examples. It weighs 1,400 pounds and is powered by its original Ford four-cylinder engine.

The collector car offerings were a highly diverse selection that included brass-era antiques, sports and muscle cars, American cruisers from the 1950s and ’60s, and modern exotics. Prices across the board reflected the wide scale of values, with some cars selling in the four- and low-five-figure range.

A 1964 Chevrolet Impala convertible sold for $28,600 in support of the Honor Flight to take local World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. Additional fundraising at the auction boosted the total for the effort to $44,000.

Top-10 sales, Auctions America Auburn Fall:

1. 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton by LaGrande, $1,265,000
2. 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster, $423,500
3. 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition, $360,000
4. 2005 Ford GT, $330,000
5. 1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria, $308,000
6. 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, $231,000
7. 1962 Porsche 356B Super Cabriolet, $198,000
8. 1929 Packard Model 640 Custom Eight Roadster, $195,000
9. 1958 DeSoto Firedome convertible, $192,500
10. 1932 Packard 902 coupe roadster, $187,000

A simultaneous dual-stage format was used in Auburn to present the 1,100 cars | Auctions America
A simultaneous dual-stage format was used in Auburn to present the 1,100 cars | Auctions America

Seized ‘blood-money’ muscle-car collection at auction

Ready for auction, a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 (front), 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 and a 1969 Chevelle Yenko hardtop | AJ Willner Auctions
Ready for auction, a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 (front), 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 and a 1969 Chevelle Yenko hardtop | AJ Willner Auctions

An impressive group of classic muscle cars, seized by the FBI and known as the “blood-money collection,” comes up for auction September 12 at the U.S. Marshall Service’s facility in Lodi, New Jersey.

The nine-car collection includes rare and valuable models, such as a 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Super Camaro 427 COPO, a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 and a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi Superbird. The estimated collective value for all the cars ranges as high as $5 million.

The bizarre story behind the cars arriving at a forfeiture auction reflects a morality tale of greed and excess.

A rare 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Super Camaro 427 COPO | AJ Willner Auctions
A rare 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Super Camaro 427 COPO | AJ Willner Auctions

Before the FBI shut down David Nicoll’s fraudulent medical company, which bribed doctors to prescribe unnecessary blood tests, the New Jersey man had built a multi-million-dollar fortune and lived a lavish lifestyle that included luxury homes, private jets, premium seats at sporting events, strip clubs and expensive classic cars.

Through his company, Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, LLC, Nicoll and his cohorts funneled more than $100 million of illegal business by paying off local doctors to send their patients for the unneeded tests. As company president, Nicoll reportedly pocketed the lion’s share of the proceeds, which he used to fund his over-the-top activities, such as buying his own “gentlemen’s club,” hundreds of thousands of dollars in tickets for sporting events, and an expensive luxury home for a girlfriend.

A 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi Superbird is among the seized cars | AJ Willner Auctions
A 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi Superbird  | AJ Willner Auctions

Nicoll, 40, of the affluent New York suburb of Mountain Lakes, and other defendants that included his brother, Scott, pleaded guilty to the federal charges in June 2013 and eventually received prison sentences. As many as 16 physicians were caught up in the criminal net.

As part of his plea, Nicoll agreed to forfeit $50 million worth of his possessions. Now, the FBI and its Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture division are working to sell off the seized assets, including the “blood-money collection” of muscle cars.

Besides the three cars already noted, the feds will sell a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6, 1969 Chevelle Yenko hardtop, 1970 Chevelle convertible, 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Nova, custom 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda.

For information about the U.S. Marshal sale, which is being handled by AJ Willner Auctions, see the auction website at www.ajwauctions.com.

 

LeMay car museum hosts vintage-motorcycle show

Riders of pre-1981 bikes could take part in a number of festival events | LeMay
Riders of pre-1981 bikes could take part in a number of festival events | LeMay

More than 300 classic motorcycles and scooters showed up for the third annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival at LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.

Known simply as The Meet, the festival attracted owners of pre-1981 bikes from across the U.S. and Canada. Besides the judged show, the gathering included a special display of antique motorcycles, swap meet, cruise-in and a 78-mile tour from LeMay to Mt. Rainier and back.

A 1969 BMW R695 Sidecar won best of show | LeMay
A 1969 BMW R695 Sidecar won best of show | LeMay

“This Meet shows just how strong the motorcycle enthusiast community is,” said Burt Richmond, chairman of the Vintage Motorcycle Festival. “We have created a world-class event for riders and their families that grows every year and proves ACM is much more than just another car museum.”

The show included awards for U.S., European and Japanese motorcycles and scooters, with a 1969 BMW R695 Sidecar taking the Hagerty Best of Show award.

“Among a field of top-notch entries, this 1969 BMW R695 Sidecar clearly stood out from the pack,” Richmond said. “It is a vintage bike that epitomizes style and class.”

The Meet is one of five annual events at the LeMay museum, including the Pacific Northwest Concours d’Elegance on September 7, the Wheels & Heels Annual Gala, Cars & Cigars and the new “Drive Away the Blues” beach-themed party scheduled for February 2015.

Pick of the Week: 1954 Chevrolet 3100 pickup

The five-window Chevy pickup looks well-finished in its bright-red paint job
The five-window Chevy pickup looks well-finished in its bright-red paint job

A good old pickup truck seems like just the thing for a relaxed Labor Day weekend, so for today’s Pick of the Week, we have a sweet-looking 1954 Chevrolet 3100 that’s for sale on ClassicCars.com from a dealer in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

The truck is described as original, powered by its stock Thriftmaster 235-cid inline-6 and three-speed column shift, though it’s obviously been repainted and refurbished. The Chevy looks well-sorted in the photos and would be a fun driver for a pick-em-up truck kind of guy.

A Thriftmaster inline-6 provides the power
A Thriftmaster inline-6 provides the power

The pickup is priced at $17,900, which seems reasonable considering what nice trucks are bringing at auction these days. It does have the desirable five-window cab, a stepside bed with wood floor, and chrome bumpers.

For 1954, Chevrolet updated its Advance Design pickups that were introduced in 1947, with a restyled “bull-nose” grille, one-piece curved windshield, revised bed rails and round taillights. The dashboard and steering wheel were also redesigned. The styling would continue just two years through 1955, after which an all-new, more-carlike Chevy pickup was introduced.

The six-cylinder OHV engine was essentially brand new for 1954, with higher compression and a horsepower rating of 115. That should be enough for getting around, but you won’t be towing any heavy campers.

With so many of these early trucks being hot rodded and customized, it’s nice to see this Tennessee pickup from a brief two-year design period that’s still in original configuration.

Volvo marks 70th anniversary of its first compact car

A 1940s-era promo photo for the new Volvo PV444 targeted California buyers | Volvo
A 1940s-era promo photo for the new Volvo PV444 targeted California buyers | Volvo

The end of World War II marked a new direction for Volvo of Sweden, moving away from large staid sedans to smaller and sportier cars with their own unique style. Next month, Volvo celebrates the 70th anniversary of the unveiling of its seminal compact car, the PV444, which was presented on September 1, 1944, during an exhibition for the newly built Royal Tennis Hall in Stockholm.

Though basically a non-functional concept car, the PV444 met with high acclaim and set Volvo off on its career path of practical yet enjoyable small vehicles. Volvo also showed a more-traditional pre-war-style sedan at the exhibition, the PV60, but the PV444 got all the attention.

Early assembly line in Sweden for the PV444 | Volvo
Early assembly line in Sweden for the PV444 | Volvo

Notably, the PV444 was Volvo’s first unibody car for the then-18-year-old automaker, which in 1944 was looking forward to the end of hostilities in Europe so that the company could begin anew. Volvo’s customer magazine, Ratten, called the proposed post-war cars “Volvo’s doves of peace.”

The first production PV444s rolled out in March 1947 with thousands of customer orders already placed. The car also premiered a new four-cylinder engine with Volvo’s first overhead valve design for a passenger car. The original version of the 1.4-liter engine produced 40 horsepower, which was increased over ensuing years.

Many U.S. driver found PV444's styling familiar and appealing | Volvo
Many U.S. drivers found the styling familiar and appealing | Volvo

Most importantly for Volvo, the PV444 helped to establish the Swedish automaker in the United States. The first batch of cars arrived in Los Angeles in 1955, and by the following year, Volvo had become the second most-popular import brand in California. The resemblance of the Volvo to a scaled-down version of a pre-war Ford no doubt boosted its popularity among U.S. drivers.

The car also raised Volvo’s profile as a mass producer of automobiles, with more than 200,000 PV444s built up to 1958. Its modernized successor, the PV544, was built through 1965 for a total of 440,000 cars for both models, of which 280,000 were sold in Sweden and the remainder exported, primarily to the U.S.

Today, the PV444s and 544s are popular, modestly priced collector cars with a loyal following.

Mecum offers 1,100 classic cars at Dallas auction

The 1967 Camaro has been restored to authentic Yenko Super Camaro specifications | Mecum Auctions
The 1967 Camaro has been restored to authentic Yenko Super Camaro specifications | Mecum Auctions

Mecum Auctions, which now conducts 17 sales of classic cars, motorcycles and farm tractors per year and refers to itself as “the largest collector car auction company in the world,” holds its fourth annual Dallas auction September 2-6 with more than 1,100 vehicles crossing the block.

The Dallas sale, one of three annual Mecum auctions in Texas, takes place at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and will be broadcast live and same-day delay on NBC Sports Network and streamed live at Mecum.com.

The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing | Mecum Auctions
The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing | Mecum Auctions

“We’re looking forward to returning to Dallas for our second of three Mecum Auctions in Texas this year and continuing to grow what has become one of the largest Mecum Auctions events,” Dana Mecum, founder and president of Mecum Auctions, said in a news release.

Headlining the Dallas auction is the first 1967 Chevrolet Camaro  delivered to the famed Yenko Chevrolet nearly 50 years ago, built on the first day of production and now completely restored to true Yenko Super Camaro specifications by one of the leading lights in the Yenko community, collector Gary Holub, according to its catalog description.

A 425-horsepower 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda | Mecum Auctions
A 425-horsepower 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda | Mecum Auctions

Fully documented and decoded, the Camaro coupe packs a date-correct 427/450 big block, Muncie four-speed transmission. 12-bolt Positraction rear, fiberglass stinger hood and correct Granada Gold finish.

Another headline car is an iconic 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupe, freshly renewed to concours condition, according to Mecum.

Other featured cars include a Bloomington Gold Benchmark 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, a rare 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Convertible, a 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda.

Petersen Museum hosts hot rod stamps dedication

Hot Rods Forever takes on new meaning with the '32 Ford roadster stamps | U.S. Postal Service
Hot Rods Forever takes on new meaning with the ’32 Ford roadster stamps | U.S. Postal Service

The two ’32 Ford highboy roadsters that posed for the U.S. Postal Service’s new Hot Rods Forever Stamps will be shown today at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles during a dedication ceremony of the limited-edition collection.

The cars – the red ’32 McGee Roadster owned by well-known collector Bruce Meyer and the black-with-flames ’32 Frank Rogers Roadster owned by Mark Graham – will be at the museum with their owners for the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ceremony, along with U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and emcee Barry Maguiar, host of the TV show Car Crazy.

The colorful Hot Rods Forever Stamps are part of the Post Office’s series of limited-edition designs that celebrate American car culture. Previous sets featured classic icons of the 1950s and another focused on popular muscle cars.

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Hot Rods Forever Stamps took place in June at the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) Street Rod Nationals East Plus at the York Expo Center in York, Pennsylvania.

The Petersen Museum event will include a public hot rod cruise-in, and 20-stamp sheets of the hot rod stamps will be available for purchase. They also can be purchased at usps.com/stamps, on the Postal Service’s eBay page at ebay.com/stamps, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), or at Post Offices nationwide.

Eye Candy: First Porsche Werks Reunion brings them all together

Photos by Bob Golfen

An enthusiastic crowd of Porsche faithful swarmed the Rancho Cañada Golf Club in Carmel for the Porsche Club of America Werks Reunion, a new event added to the calendar during Monterey Classic Car Week.

More than 500 Porsches of just about every kind, ranging from early 356 models to the latest performance cars, were spread over the grassy hills, with a separate class for competition and special performance versions.

The Werks Reunion was filled-up with entrants weeks before the event, so many rare and well-prepared cars could be spotted in the parking lots and on the streets around the golf club. During the week leading up to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on the Monterey Peninsula, Porsche 911s were by far the most prevalent vintage cars seen on area roads.

Before this year, Porsches were part of the Legends of the Autobahn show for German cars, but Porsche Club members decided to break away and create their own concours specifically for their favorite rear-engine (mostly) sports cars. Plus, admission to the Werks Reunion was free in a week when high-priced events can cost hundreds of dollars.

Among the most interesting Porsches on display (aside from every 356 and 911) was an exotic all-wheel-drive 959 supercar from 1987, a rare and beautiful 356 American Roadster and a showing of Porsche’s latest supercar, the 887-horsepower 918 Spider for 2015. Price tag: $854,000 for the base model.

Eye Candy: Concorso says ‘Viva Italia!’ during Monterey Classic Car Week

Photos by Bob Golfen

Concorso Italiano is an unabashed celebration of Italian motoring and culture during Monterey Classic Car Week. The sweeping display included more than 800 great vintage and modern Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Alfa Romeos, Fiats, Lancias, DeTomasos, Bizzarrinis, racing specials, scooters and unique concepts from the great design houses of Italy.

And one very-special tractor, an early 1950s farm implement built by Lamborghini before the company added exotic sports cars to its lineup.

Another Lamborghini, a 1966 400 GT, was proclaimed Best of Show among all the Italian finery at Concorso’s 29th annual extravaganza, considered to be the largest gathering of Italian cars in the world.

Concorso has had its ups and downs over the years, but the show is back in form once again because of two major changes: something old and something new. The event is back to its lovely old location at Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, California, with the rolling, tree-lined landscape adding to the ambiance. And for the first time, Concorso took place on a Saturday, mitigating competition from the many other classic car events that now happen on Friday, which had been the customary day for the all-Italian showcase.

An estimated 6,000 Italian car enthusiasts were on hand to view everything from the huge contingent of late-model Ferraris and Lamborghinis to the many vintage beauties that flavored Concorso with a stylish flair.

Special features for Concorso included celebrating the 100th anniversary of Maserati and the 60th anniversary of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and a special exhibition of design by Zagato Atelier of Milan, now in its 95th year. The Zagato display included a grouping of Zagato Atelier Contemporary Collectibles, eight modern concepts that were shown together for the first time ever.