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.

$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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La Jolla Concours picks best of show winners

The 1953 Cadillac Ghia was designed to show off the Italian coachbuilder’s skill | Petersen Automotive Museum
The 1953 Cadillac Ghia was designed to show off the Italian coachbuilder’s skill | Petersen Automotive Museum

A Cadillac concept coupe that an Arabian prince once gave to a Hollywood movie queen was picked as a best of show winner at the recent La Jolla Concours d’Elegance in California.

The Cadillac, a streamlined fantasy car designed by Italian coachbuilder Ghia and which first appeared at the 1953 Paris Auto Salon, was the judges’ choice for the post-war grand prize at the 10th annual concours.

The Bugatti is a past Pebble Beach winner |  La Jolla Concours
The Bugatti has a Gaston Grumman body | La Jolla Concours

The winner of the pre-war best of show award was a rare Bugatti touring car, a 1930 Type 46 Faux Cabriolet known as a “Petite Royale” because of its placement as a smaller variation of the massive, ultra-luxury Bugatti Royale.

The Cadillac Ghia, which is based on the Series 62, was one of just two built by the carrozzeria. After its appearance in Paris, the show car was purchased by Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan as a gift for his actress wife, Rita Hayworth. Despite the spectacular present, the couple divorced later that year. Hayworth kept the car.

Now owned by the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, the Cadillac Ghia originally was painted white but later changed to its current burgundy color. Since its restoration, the show car has made a number of appearances at major concours, including Pebble Beach.

The winning Bugatti Type 46 also has a coachbuilt body, created by Gaston Grumman of France, and is now owned by Richard Adams of La Jolla, an affluent seaside section of San Diego.

For a complete list of La Jolla Concours winners, see www.lajollaconcours.com.

‘Barn-find’ classics soar at British auction

A British auction featuring neglected “barn-find” cars and partially completed restoration projects hit the target Saturday, earning £1million ($1.67 million) with 85 percent of the 184 lots sold.

Ranging from valuable classic sports cars in decrepit condition to low-mileage mini cars and downright oddities, Silverstone Auctions’ inaugural Practical Classics Restoration Show in Birmingham, England, offered a few classic car bargains for restorers, as well as some surprisingly high results for beat-up cars.

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Barrett-Jackson hits record sales in Palm Beach

A beach-cruiser-blue 1956 Ford Thunderbird sold in West Palm Beach for $66,000 | Barrett-Jackson
A beach-cruiser-blue 1956 Ford Thunderbird sold in West Palm Beach for $66,000 | Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson cruised to another strong auction in West Palm Beach, Fla., this past weekend, scoring a record $25 million in overall sales that included $2.35 million for charity.

Results for the 12th annual Palm Beach auction easily eclipsed figures from a year ago, when $21 million worth of cars were sold.

Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach 2014

Total sales$25 million
Catalog509 automobiles
Sell-through99.6 percent
High sale$1 million (charity sale)
First 2015 Corvette Z06
Next 9 price range$165,000 to $500,000
Next auctionReno-Tahoe, Jul. 31-Aug. 2

“Each year, Palm Beach continues to expand its impact, bringing better cars, more fans and growth,” Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson, said in a news release. “We have enjoyed the years here and this year was a stellar showing, which continues the explosive start we had in Scottsdale.”

Charity sales led the top results for the Florida auction and provided a stunning déjà vu moment when NASCAR team owner and mega auto dealer Rick Hendrick stepped up once again and bought the rights to the first production 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for $1 million with all proceeds going to the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Another million-dollar Corvette | Chevrolet
Rights to the first 2015 Corvette Z06 hit $1 million | Chevrolet

It was one year ago during the 2013 Palm Beach auction that Hendrick bid $1 million for the first production 2014 Corvette Stingray convertible, also benefiting the Karmanos institute. Hendrick started off his million-dollar run of new Corvettes at the 2013 Scottsdale auction, where he paid $1 million for the first 2014 Corvette Stingray.

Hendrick, a North Carolina-based car dealer and major collector of Corvette and Chevy muscle cars, is a leukemia survivor and a strong supporter of cancer charities.

The 2015 Corvette Z06 sale was the top sale of the Barrett-Jackson auction at Palm Beach. Another car donated by Chevrolet, the first 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 coupe, sold for $500,000 to benefit the AARP drive to End Hunger. Barrett-Jackson charges no auction fees for its signature charity sales.

The 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang was celebrated throughout the three-day Barrett-Jackson auction. The official anniversary date for the Mustang’s debut in April 17.

The 'Need for Speed' Mustang reached $300,000 | Barrett-Jackson
‘Need for Speed’ Mustang reached $300,000 | Barrett-Jackson

Punctuating the Mustang party was the sale of one of the star cars of the Palm Beach sale, the 2013 Mustang fastback that co-starred in the recent Hollywood movie “Need for Speed.” Donated by the Ford Motor Co. and benefiting the Henry Ford Health System, the Mustang went for $300,000.

The wide array of collector cars offered at Barrett-Jackson’s only East Coast auction reflected the laid-back lifestyle of the high-end Palm Beach retirement community, with a strong emphasis on cars that can be driven and enjoyed, including late-model exotics and luxury cars. Two of the top 10 auction sales reflect that: a 2005 Ford GT sports coupe that sold for $242,000 and a 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder that fetched $181,500 (all non-charity results include the 10 percent buyer fee).

Full-classic 1935 Packard V12 convertible | Barrett-Jackson
Full-classic 1935 Packard V12 convertible | Barrett-Jackson

The highest non-charity sale was for a full-classic beauty, a highly desirable 1935 Packard V12 convertible coupe with coachwork by Dietrich, which sold for $330,000. The Packard was one of a handful of cars offered with reserve bidding at Palm Beach, two of which – a 1966 Shelby GT350 and a 1938 Cord 812 Phaeton – were the only no-sales among the 509 auction cars.

As with all Barrett-Jackson auctions, there was a something-for-everybody run of modestly priced collector cars, such as a 1976 Triumph TR6 roadster that went for $10,670, a 1969 Corvette custom coupe for $12,100, and a restored 1967 Mustang 289 convertible for $23,650.

Barrett-Jackson’s next auction is July 31-August 2 with the second annual Reno-Tahoe event that takes place in conjunction with the Hot August Nights old-car celebration. For more information, see www.barrett-jackson.com.

Classic car auctions focus on ‘barn finds’

he barn-find 1954 Jaguar Xk 120SE will be presented at Auctions America just as it was found | Auctions America
The barn-find 1954 Jaguar Xk 120SE will be presented at Auctions America just as found | Auctions America

Everybody dreams of making a “barn find,” discovering a dirt-encrusted classic car forgotten for decades in some musty outbuilding. That’s become a powerful draw in the classic car community, where the debate rages over restoration vs. preservation.

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Danbury Mint ends die-cast model sales

The final die-cast car from Danbury Mint was a limited-edition model of a 1935 Ford Deluxe | Danbury Mint
The final die-cast car from Danbury Mint was a limited-edition model of a 1935 Ford Deluxe | Danbury Mint

The Danbury Mint has gone out of the car business. The Connecticut-based collectibles company, known for its finely honed 1:24 scale replicas of classic cars, announced recently that it would no longer include the die-cast cars among its lineup.

The final offering was a limited-edition model of a 1935 Ford Deluxe three-window coupe, of which the company produced 2,500 versions that quickly sold out.

Danbury Mint has been marketing the die-cast replicas for more than 20 years, producing hundreds of brands rendered in miniature. But the two Chinese factories that produced the cars have closed, the company said, leaving it with no production facilities. The rising cost of producing the high-quality models was also cited for ending their sales.

The Danbury Mint website includes no mention of model-car sales, but shows the company’s continuing concentration on jewelry, commemorative coins, sports memorabilia and figurines.

’55 Chevy wins best of show at Charlotte AutoFest

Jerry Horine celebrates with his '55 Chevy Bel Air that won best of show at AutoFest | AutoFest
Jerry Horine celebrates with his ’55 Chevy Bel Air after winning best of show at AutoFest | AutoFest

A blazing-orange customized 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air was proclaimed best of show at the annual AutoFair, a sweeping celebration of classic cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

Owned by Jerry Horine of Louisville, Ky., the two-door sedan bested competitors from 48 car clubs that vied for awards during the four-day show, which was hosted by OldRide.com.

Horine, 72, said this was the first car-show appearance for his resto-mod Chevy, which he bought about a year ago. His family in North Carolina convinced him to enter the car in AutoFest, he added.

“We’re one for one,” said Horine of the victory, which earned him a silver cup trophy. “And we plan to continue to do more.”

First runner-up went to Eddie Sells, of Apex, N.C., for his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro. Second runner-up went to John Jancic, from Cleveland, N.C., for his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner.

The fall edition of AutoFair takes place Sept. 18-21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Arizona Concours creates special class for the Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright

The Arizona COncours d'Elegance is held on the lawns of the Arizona Biltmore Resort | Arizona Concours
The Arizona Concours d’Elegance is held on the lawns of the Arizona Biltmore Resort | Arizona Concours

America’s most famous 20th Century architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, also was an auto enthusiast who owned a succession of special vehicles during his long career. He added personal touches to many of them, often having them repainted in his signature color, Cherokee Red, a hue that appeared in his architectural designs.

Several of his cars have appeared in concours events over the years, including Pebble Beach, and a number of them are on permanent display in auto museums.

The Arizona Concours d’Elegance is taking that another step by staging a Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright class for its second annual event next January at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix.

The special class will celebrate Wright’s strong connection with Arizona, including his winter home and architecture school, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, as well as his influence on the architecture of the historic Biltmore hotel, which opened in 1929.

“There’s just a mystique that travels with Frank Lloyd Wright,” said Ed Winkler, one of the directors of the Arizona Concours. “Because he has a grand presence in Arizona with Taliesin West and his connection with the Biltmore hotel, that’s what’s driving this class.”

There’s just a mystique that travels with Frank Lloyd Wright.”

— Ed Winkler

The Biltmore’s unique design – created in Wright’s landmark style by architect Albert Chase MacArthur – was the inspiration for gathering as many of Wright’s cars as possible for the concours, Winkler said.

Winkler has been working non-stop to locate the cars and to contact owners and museums, including the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Ind.

“I’ve been talking to lots of people,” Winkler said. “It’s been a challenge to locate the cars and the present owners of the cars.”

Two of Wright’s cars from Great Britain have been confirmed for entry, Winkler said. those are Wright’s 1937 AC roadster and a 1953 Bentley Sedanca Coupe DeVille R Type.

There are a number of other Wright cars in Winkler’s sights, including two on permanent display at the A-C-D museum. Those two are wildly divergent and show the scope of Wright’s automotive interests — a classic 1929 Cord L-29 cabriolet and a 1952 Crosley Super Roadster, which was part of a fleet of the tiny cars that Wright purchased for use by his architecture colleagues.

Wright's 1929 Cord L29 | Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum
Wright’s 1929 Cord L29 | Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

Some of the other cars that Winkler hopes to bring to the concours include a 1936 Lincoln Zephyr; two Lincoln Continentals, one with a Wright-designed formal town-car roof; a pair of 1953 Jaguars; a 1910 Standard; and a 1955 Chevrolet Nomad wagon. There is also a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing which is believed to be located in Italy, Winkler said.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation based in Scottsdale has been helping to find and secure the cars for the concours, Winkler added. The plan is for the Wright cars to assemble the day after the concours for display and photos at Taliesin West, Winkler said.

There are something like 20 Wright cars out there, Winkler said, adding that he plans to pursue all of them.

“We’ll have enough cars for the class,” he added. “But I want them all.”

The 2015 Arizona Concours is scheduled to take place January 11 on the landscaped lawns of the Arizona Biltmore, where the inaugural event held three months ago earned rave reviews. Eighty exceptional cars will be assembled for the concours, ranging from brass cars and full classics to sports and racing cars.

The concours is presented as an exclusive boutique event with a limited number of tickets available.

Besides the Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright, other special classes for 2015 will focus on the classic U.S. luxury brand Pierce-Arrow, competition Ferraris through 1965 with documented racing history, and the 100th anniversary of the Italian design house Ghia.

For tickets, entries and other information, see www.azconcours.com.

Historic Cobra Daytona to star at Shelby tribute

The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is the car that beat Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1964 | Carroll Shelby Foundation
The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe beat Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1964 | Carroll Shelby Foundation

Probably the most celebrated of American race cars, the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe that claimed victory in the GT class 50 years ago in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, returns to Southern California on May 17 for the second annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show.

The event, at the future home of the Carroll Shelby Automotive Museum in Gardena, Calif., features a Ford and Shelby car show, an awards ceremony and an expert panel, plus the legendary Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX2299) that in 1964 delivered the first-ever Le Mans class win for the United States and for Shelby’s racing team.

The Cobra Daytona was designed by a young Peter Brock at the request of Carroll Shelby, who wanted to increase the speeds of his Cobra roadsters on Le Man’s fast Mulsanne Straight. Brock came up with a controversial aerodynamic solution that succeeded in beating the reigning Ferrari 250 GTOs in the GT III Class in the 1964 Le Mans marathon and also helped the Shelby American team take the World Manufacturers Championship from Ferrari in 1965.

Carroll Shelby has been the only person to win Le Mans as a driver, team owner and manufacturer.” 

At Le Mans in 1964, the Cobra Daytona was raced by the driving team of Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant and clocked more than 196 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. CSX2299 was the second Cobra Daytona Coupe built, completed at Carrozzeria Gransport in Modena, Italy, and powered by a 289cid Ford V8.

“Carroll Shelby has been the only person to win Le Mans as a driver, team owner and manufacturer,” said Neil Cummings, co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and a trustee for the Carroll Shelby Foundation. “For enthusiasts, this is a rare opportunity to see the Cobra Daytona Coupe that ended the reign of Ferrari’s GTO at the future home of a museum dedicated to Shelby accomplishments.”

The Le Mans-winning Cobra Daytona was owned by the late Larry H. Miller and is now kept at the museum named after him at Miller Motorsports Park museum in Tooele, Utah. Proceeds from the Shelby tribute benefit the Carroll Shelby Foundation and the new museum. Admission is free, with donations encouraged.

Shelby cars from the past five decades will be on display during the show in Gardena, and owners of Shelby- and Ford powered performance vehicles are invited to enter their cars; a registration form and event information can be found at the Carroll Shelby Foundation website, www.cscf.org.

Organizers plan to re-enact a signature feature of last year’s inaugural tribute: the engine rev salute. Enthusiasts are encouraged to join fans worldwide at 1 p.m. (Pacific time) on May 17 in the “Rev Your Engine” salute to the life of Carroll Shelby.

Datsun Z cars get own concours class at Forest Grove

 The Datsun 240Z was an instant hit when it arrived in the U.S. | Nissan
The Datsun 240Z was an instant hit when it arrived in the U.S. | Nissan

Datsun scored a major breakthrough in the American perception of Japanese cars with the launch for 1970 of its 240Z. Here was a sophisticated and powerful sports coupe that rivaled the European competition, but was available at an affordable price.

Popular and plentiful, Z cars from the 1970s long have filled a niche among hobbyists seeking satisfying, durable sports cars to drive – especially the first-generation 240Z. But the cars never have achieved much traction as valued collector cars.

At least until now. Datsun Z cars should get a major dose of respect this year with another breakthrough: an entire class all their own at the 42nd annual Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance in July.

“The time has come,” said Jim Crisp, treasurer for the prestigious Oregon concours. “The Z cars are kind of unique and there seems to be a lot of interest in them.”

Recent scene at the Forest Grove Concours in Oregon | Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance
Recent scene at the Forest Grove Concours in Oregon | Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance

The featured class will be comprised of six select cars from 1970-79, years that cover three successive models — the original 240Z, the 260Z that was developed to comply with new U.S. regulations, and the 280Z that followed. However, the Z cars chosen for the concours will not necessarily represent each generation, Crisp said.

The Z class came about at the urging for several years by active Datsun Z club members in the Portland area, Crisp added. Finally, the Forest Grove Concours committee wondered, why not?

Leading the efforts to organize the class and to choose the six cars is Don Homuth of Salem, Ore., who has been a Z-car enthusiast for more than four decades and highly regarded for his knowledge of the brand. Crisp said Homuth is contacting Datsun Z clubs around the country to submit applications. The emphasis will be on pristine unmodified cars in their original configurations without custom or performance touches that have become so prevalent with these cars.

Homuth also has chosen a trio of experts who will judge the Datsuns under stringent concours standard for awards, Crisp said. Senior judge for the Forest Grove Concours is Glenn Mounger, well-known among classic car enthusiasts and a frequent judge and past chairman at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Forest Grove Concours d’ Elegance (www.forestgroveconcours.org) takes place July 20 on the campus of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., with more than 300 antique, classic, sports, race, modified and collector cars expected.

The concours theme for this year is “The Art of Italian Motoring.” Besides the special class for Datsun Z cars, the event will celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO.