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.

Eye Candy: American pony cars at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Photos by Goodwood Festival of Speed

Amid all the European finery, vintage race cars and exotics that made up England’s annual Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend, there were some familiar faces from this side of the pond.

Mustangs, Camaros, Barracudas and a few other pristine examples of American “pony cars” were a featured class in this year’s Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance on the grounds of the Goodwood House in West Sussex, taking their places among the top-drawer array of concours entries.

Prompted by the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, the seven pony cars on display were:

* One of the original 1964-1/2 Mustang convertibles.

* A 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350.

* A rare 1970 AMC Javelin SST Mark Donohue Edition.

* A 1965 Plymouth Barracuda with its distinctive wraparound rear window.

* A 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28.

* A 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A.

* A 1967 Mercury Cougar XR-7.

* A super-rare 1966 Beverly Hills Mustang Mustero, a real oddball that combines the Mustang sports coupe with the pickup bed of a Ranchero. Just 50 were made.

The pony cars were not the only American beauties on display at the exclusive concours d’elegance. The Cartier event also showed off some of the big 1950s and early 1960s land yachts that the concours called the “Mad Men” class.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed, which combines a sweeping collection of classic cars with a competitive hillclimb race, took place June 26-29. The annual event that refers to itself as “the largest motoring garden party in the world” was founded in 1993 by Lord March to return motorsports to the Goodwood estate.

Barrett-Jackson Cup offers $100,000 in prizes for custom-car competitors at Hot August Nights

This high-performance custom 1969 Ford Torino Talladega won the first Barrett-Jackson Cup | Goodguys
This high-performance custom 1969 Ford Torino Talladega won the first Barrett-Jackson Cup | Goodguys

More than $100,000 in prizes is up for grabs in the second annual Barrett-Jackson Cup custom-car competition at Hot August Nights, the massive festival of American car culture in Reno, Nevada.

Barrett-Jackson, which brings its high-energy classic car auction to the Nevada celebration for the second time   from July 31-August 2, says the Barrett-Jackson Cup is geared up to attract the nation’s most-acclaimed custom builders with the richest prizes in the industry.

The Barrett-Jackson Cup is integrated into the Hot August Nights car shows in downtown Reno, with judging by Bobby Alloway, Pete Chapouris and Bob Millard, some of the most respected names in the custom-car business.

The 2013 winner of the first Barrett-Jackson Cup top prize, dubbed The Ultimate Best of Show, was a spectacular 1969 Ford Torino Talladega performance custom owned by George Poteet and built by Troy Trepanier of Manteno, Illinois.

Cruising under the arch in Reno | Hot August Nights
Cruising under the arch in Reno | Hot August Nights

The 2013 winners took home a $20,000 grand prize, as well as other premium goodies worth thousands. This year, the top prize money has been upped to $30,000, along with a General Motors Crate Engine and Transmission, valued at $15,000; Waterloo Tool Chest and Craftsman Tools, $6,000 value; Reliable Transportation Credit for one year, $5,000 value; and Adam’s Polish Products, $1,000 value. The winner also gets the impressive Barrett-Jackson Cup trophy.

During Hot August Nights, the judges will pick 25 cars from the various “show and shines,” from which the top five are chosen during a special staging at the Downtown Reno Ballroom.

The five finalists will be presented Saturday, Aug. 2, on the Barrett-Jackson auction stage at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and in front of a national television audience via the National Geographic Channel. The winner of The Ultimate Best of Show will be announced during that TV presentation.

For the remainder of the finalists, the first runner-up receives $18,000 plus premium products worth $9,000; second runner-up gets $10,000 along with $4,000 in extras; third runner-up receives $7,000 and a $1,000 gift; while the fourth runner-up gets $5,000.

According to the Scottsdale, Arizona-based auction company, the Barrett-Jackson Cup is designed to take its place among the nation’s most-prestigious hot rod and custom-car competitions, such as the Don Ridler Award and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.

At its inception last year, the Barrett-Jackson Cup was described by auction company president Steve Davis as “this show within a show that will be on par with the finest car shows in the world. We’re raising the bar to top levels never been seen before except at world-class Street-Rod shows.”

Hot August Nights launches it 28th annual high-octane nostalgia festival of streets rods, muscle cars, custom cars and rock ‘n roll on July 29 for five days of parties, shows, concerts and cruising through the spectator-lined streets of Reno and adjacent Sparks.  More than 800,000 people and thousands of classic cars were on the scene last year, according to the organizers.

For a schedules of events, see www.hotaugustnights.net.

 

Pick of the Week: 1973 De Tomaso Pantera

The De Tomaso Pantera is described as a rare low-mileage, all-original car
The De Tomaso Pantera is described as a rare low-mileage, all-original car

This 1973 De Tomaso Pantera is an Italian/American exotic that the seller describes as a low-mileage survivor put back on the road after many years on blocks in climate-controlled storage.

With just less than 49,000 miles on its odometer, the Pantera is in all-original condition and is a “very solid car that looks great and drives great,” the seller states.

Built in collaboration between Ford and the De Tomaso car company of Italy, the Pantera (Italian for “panther”) combines dramatic styling by Italian designers at Ghia with a mid-engine layout and a powerful Ford 351-cid V8 engine. Unveiled at the New York Auto Show in 1970, the Pantera was presented as a bargain exotic compared with Ferrari or Lamborghini and promised easy maintenance from its straightforward, domesticated engine.

The 351-cid Ford V8 is located behind the seats
The 351-cid Ford V8 is located behind the seats

But the initial Panteras, sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers, were plagued by reliability issues, in particular involving build quality and electrical systems. By 1973, the Pantera had been pretty well dialed in by Ford to be less problematic, but the damage to its reputation had been done.

Ford would sell the Pantera for just one more model year, ending the retail relationship with De Tomaso after 1974 in the face of slipping sales, the 1973-74 gas crisis that dampened enthusiasm for thirsty high-performance cars and looming U.S. safety rules that would have required a major redesign.

De Tomaso continued building Panteras in Modena through 1991, always powered by Ford engines though eventually switched from the big-block 351 Cleveland to a high-performance version of the 302-cid V8.

This Pantera wears its original orange paint with a black interior, and it appears to be factory fresh in the photos. The interior looks like new.

The black rubber impact bumpers mandated by U.S. regulations in 1973 don’t do the styling any favors, but at least they are well-integrated into the design.

The sports coupe is equipped with four-speed stickshift, air conditioning, power disc brakes all around and rack-and-pinion steering.

Note that Pantera interiors are fairly tight with driving pedals that are offset to the right, so anyone contemplating buying one should try it on for size beforehand.

Bloomington Gold show revels in Corvette glory

A lineup of 1960s Corvette coupes draws attention at the Illinois show | Bloomington Gold
A lineup of 1960s Corvette coupes draws attention | Bloomington Gold

The Bloomington Gold Corvette Show has seen plenty of changes since it started in 1973, especially in recent years, but it has kept the faith through the decades as an unmitigated celebration of Chevrolet’s fiberglass sports car.

During that time, the longest running Corvette show in the country has become synonymous with Corvette excellence, featuring intensive judging to high standards and cars vying to meet prestigious Bloomington Gold Certification ratings for authenticity.

The 42nd annual Bloomington Gold show, to be held June 27-29 in its second year on the grounds of the University of Illinois in Champaign, also includes just about everything imaginable for Corvette enthusiasts, with a number of competitions, shows, workshops, swap meets, vendors, dealers and car corrals of Corvettes for sale.

Chevrolet will have the new Corvette Z06 coupe and convertible on display, as well as a complete rolling chassis of the C7 Z06, a 2015 Stingray Pacific and a 2015 Stingray Atlantic. This show’s Gold Year display will feature the 1964 Corvette.

One thing that won’t be there, however, is a Corvette auction. Mecum Auctions, which has held Corvette-only sales at Bloomington Gold events for a number of years, announced recently that it was pulling out of the event starting this year, citing falling consignments and results.

For more information about Bloomington Gold, see www.bloomingtongold.com.

National Automobile Museum torched by arsonist, suspect held

The Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth trike High Flyer was scorched in the arson fire | National Automotive Museum
The Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth trike High Flyer was scorched in the arson fire | National Automotive Museum

Police have arrested a suspect in the arson fire at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, where there was damage to the lobby as well as to an Ed “Big Daddy” Roth custom trike that was on display.

Timothy Gray, 47, is being held by Reno police on suspicion of setting the museum fire as well as several other blazes in the area. The arson attacks were described as random and police say the suspect has not revealed a motive.

According to police, the fire started around 2:45 a.m. last Friday morning when the arsonist smashed the glass front door at the museum and hurled a Molotov cocktail inside. An automatic sprinkler system doused the fire before the flames could spread.

The custom trike, a VW-powered Roth creation named High Flyer, was parked near the entrance and sustained serious but repairable damage.

The museum is  closed while cleanup and repairs are being done. It is expected to reopen June 30.

The National Automotive Museum houses more than 200 vehicles, most of them from the once-massive collection of the late Reno casino magnate Bill Harrah.

Porsche 917K from film ‘Le Mans’ in Gooding auction

The 1969 Porsche 917K played a leading role in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans | Mathieu Heurtault / Gooding
The 1969 Porsche 917K played a leading role in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans | Mathieu Heurtault / Gooding

The stars are aligned. One of the world’s most-desirable vintage race cars is heading to auction at Pebble Beach with near-mythical provenance.

Gooding and Company announced Monday that a 1969 Porsche 917K in full Gulf livery will go on sale at its August 16-17 auction that coincides with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But this is not just any Porsche 917 — as if there was such a thing. This is the very 917 featured in the 1971 movie Le Mans starring Steve McQueen.

Chassis number 917-24 also has some racing history, but that pales in comparison with the Le Mans/McQueen boost to its value.

As an added bonus, this 917 has an evocative barn-find back story.

Given the well-documented McQueen effect on anything motor-related, a remarkable record-breaking sale is expected. Porsche 917s have traded in the lofty range of $10 million, and this one could bring double that amount at auction. Or more if the bidding heats up for this one-of-a-kind memento.

David Gooding, founder and president of the auction company said, “917-024 is one of the most significant and recognizable racing cars ever to come to public auction, and we are thrilled to present the legendary Gulf 917 Porsche.”

Steve McQueen as Michael Delaney in Le Mans | National General Pictures
McQueen as Michael Delaney in Le Mans | National General Pictures

There were 25 Porsche 917 race cars built (24 are known to remain) with the goal of winning outright at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, which they succeeded in doing in 1970 and 1971. Chassis 917-24 has the distinction of being the first 917 to compete in a major race. It was entered by the Porsche works team at Spa Francorchamps in 1969.

Famed Porsche factory driver Jo Siffert acquired the 917 after its brief career as a competitor and test car. Siffert loaned the 917 to Solar Productions for the filming of Le Mans which he, McQueen and a number of other racing luminaries helped create. The Porsche remained in Siffert’s private ownership until his death – the 917 led his funeral procession.

Siffert’s estate sold the 917 to a French collector who kept it in storage, out of sight and essentially forgotten.

“This 917 remained hidden and unknown for roughly 25 years before re-emerging as perhaps the greatest ‘barn find’ ever,” the Gooding auction house said in a news release. “Since resurfacing in 2001, 917-024 has benefitted from an exceptional restoration.”

In the film Le Mans, best remembered for its exciting close-action racing sequences, the Porsche 917 is shown in pitched battle against the other leading endurance racer of the era, the Ferrari 512. The Porsche proves victorious in the heated 24-hour competition.

Several other pieces from that landmark film have sold over the years for absolutely stunning prices. The 1970 Porsche 911S that McQueen owned and drove in the opening sequences of Le Mans reached a startling $1.375 million at RM’s Monterey auction in August 2011. That was probably 10 times the value of any other pristine 911S at that time. It remains by far the most expensive 911 sold at auction.

A Ford GT40 that was modified as a camera car for the filming was sold for $11 million despite never appearing on screen. That was in August 2012 at the RM Monterey auction.

But perhaps the most extravagant, even outrageous price was the nearly $1 million paid for the “Michael Delaney” driving suit worn by McQueen in Le Mans, sold at a 2011 auction of Hollywood film items.

So the auction of the legendary Le Mans Porsche 917 should be pretty impressive.

The 917 is not the only McQueen-linked car coming up for auction in Monterey during Pebble Beach week in August. A 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 originally owned and modified by McQueen will be offered by RM Auctions earlier in the week. Valued between $1 million and $2 million, the McQueen effect could double the high estimate.

Memorable Maseratis on display in Modena exhibition

Maserati’s mighty 250F grand prix racer stands with a 5000 GT touring car | Maserati
Maserati’s mighty 250F grand prix racer stands with a 5000 GT touring car | Maserati

The 100th anniversary of the founding of Maserati is being celebrated in grand style with a sweeping display of the historic marque’s most-significant automobiles at the spectacular Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, Italy.

Dubbed “the greatest exhibition of Maserati cars ever staged anywhere in the world,” the show traces the history of Maserati through its collection of 21 cars that will be displayed throughout the six-month exhibit, plus about 10 others that will be rotated through because of outside appearances at other Maserati centenary events around the world.

The purposeful Maserati V4 Sport Zagato | Maserati
The Maserati V4 Sport Zagato at the Enzo Ferrari Museum | Maserati

The unique exhibit, named “Maserati 100: A Century of Pure Italian Luxury Sports Cars,” includes a colorful video show that uses 19 projectors to enable visitors to relive significant moments in Maserati’s history and meet the people who shaped it. The Maserati exhibition will run through January 2015.

“This exhibition, which retraces our first century of history, is truly one of a kind: never before have all these models which have shaped our history been gathered together under one roof,” said Maserati CEO Harald Wester at the dedication of the show.

The Maserati exhibition displays the two sides of the company: the initial “sports” vocation from the early 1920s until the end of the 1950s, followed by a shift to road-going models that heralded the company’s coming-of-age as a car manufacturer.

The Tipo 26 of 1926 wore the first Maserati badge | Maserati
The Tipo 26 of 1926 wore the first Maserati badge | Maserati

Among the featured cars are the Tipo 26, a racer unveiled in 1926 as the first car to sport the Maserati Trident badge; the V4 Sport Zagato, which set the world speed record in 1929 driven by Baconin Borzacchini and was re-bodied in 1934 by Zagato; and the legendary Maserati 250F, winner of the Formula 1 World Championship with Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 and in 1957, the year when the Argentine ace triumphed after a fantastic comeback in the epic German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit.

Racing great Sir Stirling Moss, who was guest of honor at the inauguration of the exhibit, drove this race car to some of his greatest successes. Moss drove many Maseratis to victory over his career, including another highlight of the exhibition, the Tipo 60 “Birdcage” sports racer that was famous for its ingenious lightweight chassis built from slender tubes.

Maserati’s first road car, the 1947 A6 1500 that was produced in limited numbers with a Pinin Farina body around a racing engine, shows the company’s start in sports touring cars. Ten years later, Maserati produced its signature 3500 GT, also on display.

Tipo 60 “Birdcage” sports racer pioneered tube chassis | Maserati
Tipo 60 “Birdcage” sports racer pioneered tube chassis | Maserati

The new Enzo Ferrari Museum, located near the Maserati headquarters in Viale Ciro Menotti, is dedicated to the birthplace and boyhood home of the founder and head of Ferrari and includes historic Ferraris and Alfa Romeo racing cars. Part of the exhibition is located in the large restored workshop where Enzo Ferrari’s father worked beginning in the last part of the 19th Century.

As well as being an exhibition of engineering and technology, the Maserati centennial display focuses on the especially important Italian automotive qualities of style and design. The cars on display are beautiful and evocative, and contain the DNA of any number of Italian design houses.

“For exclusive cars like Maseratis, style, together with speed and power, has always been a key element of success,” said Lorenzo Ramaciotti, head of the Maserati Style Center. “Maserati’s use of Italian designers who enjoyed the utmost freedom means that now, through the models on display, we can read a veritable anthology of designers at the height of their creative prowess.

“From Pininfarina, Touring and Frua to Bertone, Ghia, Giugiaro, Vignale and Zagato, all have contributed to the aesthetic heritage of Maserati with memorable models.”

Pick of the Week: Studebaker Commander convertible

The ‘bullet-nose’ styling of the 1950-51 Studebakers is credited to designer Robert Bourke
The ‘bullet-nose’ styling of the 1950-51 Studebakers is credited to designer Robert Bourke.

Many of the world’s most forward-looking designs are controversial. Case in point: Studebaker’s futuristic 1950-51 models with their rocketship front ends and, in the coupe models, wraparound rear glass.

Love them or hate them, those Studebakers today are popular collector’s items, as well as enduring subjects for exotic street rods.

Listed on ClassicCars.com is one of the coolest of the breed, a 1951 Studebaker convertible in what appears to be  immaculate stock condition. The paint looks shiny and flawless in the photos, and the interior is bright red. Pictures on the seller’s website show a clean engine bay, and the fabric top also looks to be in good condition.

The Studebaker is a stunning top-down cruiser
The Studebaker convertible looks stunning with its top down.

The seller, Cruising Classics of Columbus, Ohio, describes the car as a “beautiful example of American automotive history in the form of a stunning 1951 Studebaker ‘Bullet Nose’ Commander convertible.”

The convertible “runs and drive excellent,” the seller says, and is powered by its original 232cid V8 and three-speed manual transmission. “This hard-to-find classic is in excellent condition throughout including a very solid rust-free undercarriage.”

Maybe not as evocative as the Starlight Coupe with its unique four-piece curving rear greenhouse, the convertible has the distinct advantage of a top that goes down. This would be such an attention-getting cruiser wherever you drove it

Monterey Motorsports Reunion hosts a celebration day for the cars of Italy

A 1957 Maserati 250F leads a 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B at Laguna Seca | TM Hill / Mazda Raceway
A 1957 Maserati 250F leads a 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B at Laguna Seca | TM Hill / Mazda Raceway

The 100th anniversary of Maserati and a tribute to everything Italian will be celebrated at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Friday, August 15, including special benefits for drivers of all Italian cars.

Maserati is the featured marque for the 2014 Motorsports Reunion, which will host an expected 550 historic competition cars, ranging back to the early 1900s, racing wheel-to-wheel in 15 classes on the challenging Laguna Seca course from August 15 through 17.

We will be celebrating the magnificent history of not only Maserati, but that of all Italian cars as well.”

— Gill Campbell

On Friday, the Reunion will host a celebration of Italian motoring with special preferred parking for drivers of cars from Italy and a number of “surprises,” including a special celebrity meet and greet.

Italian car owners will be able to stroll among the Maserati heritage display in the race paddock, walk down the aisles of cars in their pits and see all 15 historic racing groups run throughout the day. The centerpiece of the paddock will be Maserati North America’s display of its rich heritage with significant cars from its past that only will be seen at Mazda Raceway.

“We will be celebrating the magnificent history of not only Maserati, but that of all Italian cars as well,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “On Friday, our doors will be open to welcome Italian motor car enthusiasts so they may enjoy all the sights, sounds and racing pageantry that is unique to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.”

Considered one of the premier vintage-motorsports gatherings, the Motorsports Reunion is a popular spectator event described as “a museum springing to life” as some of the world’s most revered race cars perform on the track. The event takes place during Monterey’s famous classic car week of auctions and special events that culminate in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, August 17.

Friday admission tickets are $50 in advance and $70 at the gate. For Italian car aficionados, attendees who possess a Saturday Concorso Italiano ticket will be admitted free on Friday. And the first 100 Italian cars through the admission gates will receive a voucher to participate in a parade lap on the track. Advance three-day general admission tickets are $130.

For more information and a schedule of activities, visit www.MazdaRaceway.com.

Mecum’s first Seattle auction goes large with top-dog Hemi ’Cuda sale

The ’71 Hemi ’Cuda convertible is rolled off stage after its $3.5 million winning bid | David Newhart / Mecum Auctions
The ’71 Hemi ’Cuda  is rolled away after its $3.5 million winning bid | David Newhart / Mecum Auctions

The stunning, record-setting sale of a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda convertible for $3.5 million was a strong highlight for Mecum’s inaugural Seattle auction this past weekend. Total sales reached $15,125,097 (including auction fees) with 322 of the 618 collector cars hammered sold.

Mecum Auctions inaugural Seattle sale at a glance

Total sales$15.1 million
Catalog618 vehicles
Sell-through52 percent
High sale$3.5 million for a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda convertible
Next 9 price range$115,000 to $340,000
Next auctionJuly 24-26 in Harrisburg, PA

The ’Cuda sale, which Mecum claims is the most ever paid for a Detroit muscle car at auction, was far and away the highest result of the Seattle event. The second-place car, a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 fastback that was part of a Calypso Blue quartet of Boss Mustangs, sold for less than 10 percent of the top seller, at $340,000.

Individual results reflect the hammer prices and do not include auction fees. A car that shared the headline spot with the ’Cuda in Seattle, a rare and desirable 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 coupe, actually was bid higher on the block, topping out at $3.7 million. But that wasn’t enough to make reserve, and the Corvette went back home with the consigner.

Another anticipated feature was the auction of a 2008 Bugatti Veyron, also a no-sale despite a high bid of $975,000.

The top-10 sales list features an all-American lineup with a mix of serious muscle along with some classic beauties. They are:

      • 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible at $3,500,000

      • 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 fastback at $340,000

      • 1968 Shelby GT500KR fastback at $160,000

      • 1958 Buick Limited convertible at $150,000

      • 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 hardtop at $150,000

      • 1937 Packard Twelve Victoria convertible at $150,000

      • 1958 Chevrolet Corvette convertible at $143,640

      • 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz at $130,000

      • 1967 Shelby GT500 fastback at $125,000

      • 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T at $115,000

“It was evident about an hour into the first auction day that the fine people of Seattle were glad we’d come to town,” said Dana Mecum, president and founder of Mecum Auctions. “The auction arena at CenturyLink Field Event Center quickly filled to capacity, and we had a great first auction.

“Our consignment docket exceeded expectations in both quantity and quality, and with the record-setting sale of the Hemi ’Cuda convertible, it instantly put Mecum Seattle on the map.”

Mecum Auction’s next sale is also an inaugural event held July 24-26 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Around 1,000 cars are expected to cross the block.