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.

Ferdinand Porsche’s first car, built in 1898, ready for museum unveiling

 

The 1898 P1, displayed on a metal stand, will be unveiled Friday. (Photo: Porsche Museum)
The 1898 P1, displayed on a metal stand, will be unveiled Friday. (Photo: Porsche Museum)

The first automobile designed by Ferdinand Porsche when he was 22 years old was nothing like the iconic sports cars most associated with his name. His initial vehicle, branded by the young inventor as P1 to designate his No. 1 design, was an electric carriage that debuted on the streets of Vienna, Austria, on June 26, 1898.

The P1 was recently recovered from a warehouse where it had been untouched since 1902. On Friday, January 31, it will be unveiled in original condition at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, where it will be put on permanent display.

Officially named the Egger-Lohner electric C.2 vehicle, the car was designed and built by Porsche as a vehicle powered by a compact electric motor ranging from 3 and 5 horsepower that could reach speeds as fast as 21 mph. Porsche used an innovative Lohner alternating vehicle body system that allowed a coupe-style or open Phaeton design to be mounted on the wooden chassis.

The electric driveline produces 3-5 horsepower. (Photo: Porsche Museum)
The electric driveline produces 3-5 horsepower. (Photo: Porsche Museum)

Speed was regulated by a 12-speed control unit, and the range was approximately 49 miles between recharges of its 44-cell battery.

The P1 marked not only the first car for Ferdinand Porsche, but his first racing victory. A 24-mile race for electric vehicles was announced in Berlin in conjunction with an international motor-vehicle exhibition in September 1899.  Porsche, racing the P1 with three passengers on board, crossed the finish line 18 minutes ahead of the next competitor. More than half of the cars failed to finish due to technical problems.

The P1 also won the efficiency competition, recording the least amount of energy consumed during the race.

The unveiling of the P1 will be hosted  by Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of the supervisory board of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, and by Matthias Müller, president and CEO of Porsche AG, with an audience of invited guests. The following weekend, February 1-2, the P1 can be viewed free of charge as part of the celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of the Porsche Museum.

For more information about the Porsche Museum, see www.porsche.com/museum.

Technical Data, Egger-Lohner C.2 electric vehicle

Model year:  1898
Wheelbase:  63 inches
Gross weight:  2,977 pounds
Battery weight:  1,103 pounds
Motor weight:  287 pounds
Production:  approximately four units built
Power: continuous  3 hp,  overloaded to 5 hp (40–80 volts)
Battery: “Tudor system” 44-cell accumulator battery, 120 amp hours
Steering: stub axle front wheel
Driveline: rear wheel drive with differential gear
Brakes: Mechanical band and electrical short circuit
Wheels: Wooden spoke with pneumatic tires
Speed control:  12-speed controller
Top speed:  21 mph
Travelling speed:  15 mph

Future classic: Toyota Supra

The third-generation Toyota Supra gained size and power. (Photo: Toyota)
The third-generation Toyota Supra gained size and power. (Photo: Toyota)

 

Everybody down to the youngest of gearheads knows about the fourth generation Toyota Supra, primarily because of its many appearances in popular video games as well as the “The Fast and the Furious” film series.

With its basket-handle rear spoiler and powerful twin-turbo inline-six engine, the final Supra model (made from 1993 to 1998) has long been subjected to overwrought sport-compact customization, for better or worse. The Supras that survive intact are likely assured a role as future classics on the world’s auction stages.

The original Celica Supra raised the bar for Toyota styling. (Photo: Toyota)
The original Celica Supra raised the bar for Toyota styling. (Photo: Toyota)

But what of the earlier models, the three generations of Supra built from 1979 through 1992? These are also pretty cool sports coupes, all powered by Toyota’s slick and torquey inline-six engine.

The first generation of Supra, now known as the Mark I and produced from 1979 through 1981, is particularly appealing because of its attractively detailed styling, one of the best mainstream production designs from the late 1970s.

Starting off as a slightly longer and upscale version of the Celica sports coupe – stretched to accommodate the inline 6 and named the Celica Supra – the first generation stepped up style and performance to compete with the highly successful 240Z from arch rival Datsun (now Nissan).

The Mark II Celica Supra was restyled with hideaway headlights. (Photo: Toyota)
The Mark II Celica Supra was restyled with hideaway headlights. (Photo: Toyota)

Horsepower from the 2.6-liter six seems paltry by today’s standards at 110, raised to 116 in its final production year, but Celica Supra Mark I was lightweight and still enjoys a reputation as a gutsy performer.

The second generation, or Mark II, was also a variation of the Celica. The styling is more streamlined and features the hideaway headlights that were so popular in those days. Toyota boasted that the suspension was tuned by Lotus, and power was raised with a 2.8-liter six producing 145 horsepower, moving up to 161 in its final 1986 model year.

The Mark III continued the styling trend set by the previous version, but it was now based on a new platform, and Celica was dropped from its name. There was also a major boost for the inline six in size and power, moving up to 3.0 liters and 230 horsepower. But the Mark III gained weight, hitting around 3,500 pounds, which somewhat dulled performance.

The final Supra could be powered by a 320-horsepower turbo six. (Photo: Toyota)
The final Supra could be powered by a 320-horsepower turbo six. (Photo: Toyota)

The exotic Mark IV raised Supra’s profile considerably, particularly with the twin-turbo six that boasted 320 horsepower in standard trim. The final Supra enjoyed a lengthy run from 1992-1998 (with Japanese home-market models continuing through 2002)

Toyota has already set a precedent for the collectability of Japanese sports cars, with the rare 2000GT of the 1960s now commanding prices in the high six figures. It’s the only vintage car series from the Land of the Rising Sun to regularly achieve those lofty results. It has also raised the respectability of its more-humble Asian brethren, including the Supra.

Strong Arizona auctions set the stage for solid 2014

A rare 1967 Corvette L88 coupe at Barrett-Jackson hit $3.85 million, the top American-car sale during Arizona Auction Week. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)
A rare 1967 Corvette L88 coupe at Barrett-Jackson hit $3.85 million, the top American-car sale during Arizona Auction Week. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)

Arizona auction week started off the 2014 collector-car calendar with a bang. The six auctions sold 2,312 vehicles for a total of nearly $249 million and an average price of $107,096, all significant gains over 2013 results.

The premium auction houses – RM, Gooding and Bonhams – stepped up with great collections of cars, and the 43rd annual Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale had the highest number of cars and highest total results in its history. Barrett-Jackson was so big, it made the Guinness Book of World Records.

There was even a classy new starting point for auction week, the first-ever Arizona Concours d’Elegance at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.

The Arizona auctions are considered a bellwether for the year ahead, so last week’s huge success bodes well for collector-car sales and values during 2014. As Corky Coker of Coker Tires said during one of the week’s many classic-car seminars: collecting old cars has become less of a hobby and more of an industry.

A 1958 250 GT LWB California Spider soared  at RM in Phoenix to a $8.8 million sale. (Photo: Bob Golfen)
A 1958 250 GT LWB California Spider soared at RM in Phoenix to an $8.8 million sale. (Photo: Bob Golfen)

While there are just about as many stories and lessons learned as there are vehicles on the dockets, here are a few observations from a hectic week:

Rising tide of values goes across the board – There were more than two dozen sales that reached over a million dollars during the week, but prices for more-modest cars and trucks also had strong gains this year.

The $25,000 to $50,000 range shows a healthy market of cars for regular Joes, although the price of entry has sailed upstream, leaving many left behind.

As usual, spending more up front for a well-restored or highly preserved original will pay off in the long run. Restoration costs are through the roof these days and can quickly take the bloom off a bargain purchase price.

“Barn finds” cast magic spell – Preservation verses restoration was a hot topic of conversation, with most savvy collectors heeding the old adage: It’s only original once. A well-preserved car or truck is a thing of beauty, with an air of authenticity and patina that cannot be duplicated.

But there is a flip side to that, as Sports Car Market and American Car Collector publisher Keith Martin observed, “There’s a difference between a preserved car and a nasty old thing.”

A 'barn find' 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL reached a surprising $1.88 million at Gooding. (Photo: Bob Golfen)
A ‘barn find’ 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL reached a surprising $1.88 million at Gooding. (Photo: Bob Golfen)

And the debate is on after the sales of two rare and valuable “barn finds” at the Gooding auction in Scottsdale. Both results were very surprising, to say the least, because while they were highly desirable cars at the top of the pecking order, neither of them were very appealing. Though original dirt does have its charm.

The first over the block on Friday was a dusty, musty 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing that shocked with a $1.88 million selling price, including auction fee. That should buy you the very best restored Gullwing (steel body, not alloy) and seemed excessive for this survivor. Indeed, several beautifully restored examples sold for much less during the week.

The other one, a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS Spider, soared to exceed $2 million, including fee. This car was a crispy critter, the victim of an engine fire and many decades of subsequent storage. It was in no way preserved and deserves an extensive – and no-doubt wildly expensive – restoration. According to the price guides, the Ferrari is already fully priced for one that’s in top condition.

So there you go. Such is the romantic lure of the great “barn find.”

Ferrari prices are on fire – Beyond the lofty price tag of the soot-smudged 330 GTS, the top sale of the week was a mighty $8.8 million, including fee, for a 1958 250 GT LWB California Spider, a record result and the highest-ever sale at an Arizona classic-car auction. All the Ferraris were hitting big numbers, going well into seven figures for anything of any rarity and history.

The famed 1969 Chevrolet Corvette #57 Rebel L88 convertible sold for $2.86 million. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)
The famed 1969 Chevrolet Corvette #57 Rebel L88 convertible sold for $2.86 million. (Photo: Barrett-Jackson)

Dinos are rocking the house, with a 1973 246 GTS hitting a lofty $500k at Gooding. Even such high-production runabouts as the 308 climbed into six figures; a 1976 fiberglass 308 GTB sold for $114,400 at Bonhams.

Likewise Corvettes – Barrett-Jackson, always Nirvana for aficionados of the Chevy sports car, hit the ceiling with the sales of two very rare and special Corvettes: the 1969 race-winning Corvette dubbed The Rebel, which sold for $2.86 million, and an ultra-rare 560-horsepower 1967 L88 coupe that hit the heights at $3.85 million, becoming far and away the highest-priced Corvette ever sold at auction.

But Corvettes across the board were fetching premium prices as well. For example, among the top sales at Russo & Steele in Scottsdale were a 1971 454 SS convertible sold for $250,250 and a 1953 roadster for $225,500.

Many classic-car hobbyists are feeling priced out of the auction scene, and with good reason. There still are some worthwhile deals out there, and many examples of American muscle cars seem underpriced, but by and large, it takes deep pockets to buy anything of value.

For those still able to take part, 2014 should be a golden year for classic-car auctions if nothing bad happens to dampen prices, such as war, pestilence or another economic collapse like the one that killed the market in 2008. We have now fully recovered from that downturn.

bob-sig

Shelby Daytona Coupe is first to gain historic status

The first 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona coupe is driven during a special event at the Simeone museum in Philadelphia. (Photo: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum)
The first 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona coupe is driven during a special event at the Simeone museum in Philadelphia. (Photo: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum)

 

Score another win for the 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, which has become the first historically significant automobile recorded under the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Heritage Documentation. Like a historic building, the Cobra Daytona and its records are to be preserved in perpetuity.

The first of six Cobra Daytonas built 50 years ago, CSX2287 will have its complete documentation permanently archived in the Library of Congress as part of the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Historic Vehicle Register and Historic American Engineering Record. The HVA and Department of the Interior collaborated in the effort to document the Cobra Daytona, the first in a number of historical vehicles that will be so recognized.

Designed by Peter Brock as an aerodynamic solution to raising the top speed of Carroll Shelby’s Cobra racecars in GT competition, the Cobra Daytona successfully beat Ferrari to win the International Manufacturer’s GT Championship in 1965, making Ford the first American manufacturer to win an international race series.

Having my Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe design recognized as the very first car to be included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress is a great honor and the thrill of a lifetime.”

– Peter Brock

“Having my Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe design recognized as the very first car to be included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress is a great honor and the thrill of a lifetime,” Brock said in an HVA press release.

According to the HVA, the Daytona was picked for historic recognition because of “its association with important persons and events; its construction and aerodynamic design; and informational value as one of the few racecars from the period that has not been completely restored.”

The Daytona, part of the permanent collection of the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, is currently being displayed by the HVA at the Washington Auto Show through February 2.

“It has been nearly 120 years since the first automobiles were produced in the U.S.,” said Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association, in the release. “During that time, we have implemented national programs to recognize our historic buildings, airplanes, spacecraft and vessels but not our historic automobiles.

“Through our work, we hope to celebrate the contribution of the industry’s pioneers, the vehicles they produced and the preservation efforts necessary to ensure future generations appreciate the unique roll of the automobile in shaping America.”

HVA and the Department of the Interior are working to document more historic vehicles as well as refining guidelines and procedures for public input. For more information, see www.historicvehicle.org.

Mecum heads into final days of huge Florida auction

The winning 1963 Corvette ZO6 race car campaigned by Dick Lang will be among Mecum’s weekend  offerings. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)
The winning 1963 Corvette ZO6 race car campaigned by Dick Lang will be among Mecum’s weekend offerings. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)

 

Mecum’s massive classic-car auction at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla., continues through Sunday, Jan. 26, with more than 3,000 cars, trucks, motorcycles and what-have-you offered during the nine-day super sale. There were also more than 3,000 pieces of automobilia to be sold.

Highlighted by an enviable collection of Corvettes – including a couple of rare high-performance L88s, a famous ’63 ZO6 race car, a ’67 convertible formerly owned by astronaut Gus Grissom, and the historic 1956 SR prototype known as The Real McCoy – Mecum cranks into the weekend with a vast range of vehicles to fit most any wallet. Mecum has a grading system for values at its auctions, ranging from general to featured to stars to main attractions.

The 1930 Duesenberg Model J convertible could fetch $2 million. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)
The 1930 Duesenberg Model J convertible could fetch $2 million. (Photo: Mecum Auctions)

Some other top dogs of the Mecum auction include a 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra factory race car valued in the $2 million range, 1969 Mustang Boss 429, 1969 Yenko Camaro, 1973 Porsche 911 RS and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda. For fans of true classics, there’s a lavishly restored 1930 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Berline convertible, formerly part of the Harrah and Imperial Palace collections, as well as the notable collection of the late John O’Quinn. Value estimate for the Duesey runs from $1.5 million to $2 million.

After the rising tide of classic-car values shown during the recent Arizona auction week, Mecum can most likely look forward to a strong finale for its flagship Florida sale.

If you can’t make it to sunny Florida, you can catch the action during nearly 50 hours of broadcasts on NBC and the Esquire cable channel. Check the listings for times or see Mecum.com for more information and a complete auction catalogue.

Blue-chip muscle cars on the rise, seminar experts say

 

1969 COPO Camaro | Photos by Bob Golfen
1969 COPO Camaro | Photos by Bob Golfen

The rise and fall and rise again of blue-chip American muscle cars was the topic of a pair of seminars under the backdrop of Arizona classic-car auction week.

Rare and powerful muscle cars once again are hot commodities, according to the panels of classic-car experts, with the best low-production examples surging ahead in values during the past couple of years after taking a beating in the aftermath of the U.S. financial collapse of 2008.

“These are really the last of the great collectible America cars,” said Colin Comer, author and noted collector. “They are the supercharged Duesenbergs of our generation.”

The first seminar, “The Muscle Car Market – Today and Tomorrow” hosted by American Car Collector magazine and MidAmerica Motorworks at the Barrett-Jackson auction site, included the viewpoints of Comer, an ACC columnist and the author of Million Dollar Muscle Cars, who also delivered the keynote speech; B. Mitchell Carlson, ACC columnist and auction analyst; John L. Stein, ACC contributor and Corvette columnist; and Jim Pickering, ACC managing editor, who served as moderator.

The second seminar, entitled “Under the Hood of the Muscle Car Market” and sponsored by Hagerty Classic Car Insurance at the Penske Racing Museum, included Wayne Carini, veteran classic-car specialist and TV personality; Comer; Donnie Gould, president of Auctions America by RM; Ken Lingenfelter, owner of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering; Matt Stone, automotive writer and author; John Kraman, consignment director for Mecum Auctions; John Bemis, sales director for Russo and Steele auctions; and Dave Kinney, columnist and classic-car appraiser.

Prices for muscle cars were expected to be solid during the Arizona auctions, although the rising tide will not lift all boats, Comer noted. The cars with special provenance of limited production and performance, such as 1965 Shelby GT350s and 1969 Yenko Camaros, have been returning to their previous record values, but the more-common examples of Detroit muscle have remained flat.

The rising values only include those cars that have been verified as real and unaltered since leaving the factory. Comer noted. “The stuff that’s not pure, that’s not authenticated” will continue to struggle.  Resto-mods and “tributes” to famous performance cars – not to mention outright fraudulent representations – will remain flat.

Still, the prospects this year are good, said Kinney.  “I think 2014 is the year we could see a pretty strong turnaround.”

True car people are driving the market. The speculators are gone.”

— Wayne Carini

At both seminars, graphics were shown to illustrate the boost in prices for the best muscle cars since around 2011, drawn from the American Car Collector and Hagerty price guides. But they also showed those that have not recovered.  One example mentioned was the 1970 Chevelle SS 454, which plummeted in worth after 2008 and has yet to come back.

The multi-million values of 1970-era Hemi ‘Cuda and Challenger convertibles will likely never return was a consensus among the panelists.  That was an anomalous bubble pushed up by a group of investors who had cornered the market on the Plymouth and Dodge muscle cars, skewing their values until the inevitable burst, several of the experts remarked.  Buyers still shy away from high prices for those cars.

“These were a couple of guys trading baseball cards,” Comer said.

Another Mopar product that has been languishing despite rarity and uniqueness is the Plymouth Superbird/Dodge Daytona, the NASCAR homologation specials with the soaring rear wings and oddly aerodynamic noses and scoops.  Matt Stone pointed out that these were “an important part of muscle car history.”

“They have lots of wings and things, and they were built for just one thing: cheating on NASCAR ovals,” Stone said.

But the look is too controversial for many.

“I think the reason these cars don’t do better is because most guys have wives,” Comer said. “I know I would be sleeping out in the garage if I brought home one of these.

Some of the top muscle cars mentioned by the panelists that are coming back strong in the current market include:

  • 1969 Yenko Camaro
  • 1969 Camaro Z/28
  • 1967 Corvette 427
  • 1965 Mustang Shelby GT350
  • 1970 Mustang Shelby GT350
  • 1973 Pontiac Trans-AM 455 Super Duty

Some others picked by the panelists that are underpriced but could see resurgence in value are:

  • 1968-70 American Motors AMX 390
  • 1969 COPO Camaro
  • 1966-68 Shelby GT350s
  • 1957 Corvette “Airbox,” fuel injected with cold-air intake
  • 1967-68 Yenko Camaros
  • 1965 Buick Riviera GS
  • 1969 Mustang Boss 429
  • 1969 Shelby GT500
  • 1969 Ford Talladega/Mercury Cyclone Spoiler
  • 1965-66 Impala SS 396

Some other takeaways from the muscle-car seminars:

“True car people are driving the market,” Carini said. “The speculators are gone,”

“The survivor-car aspect is the most important part of the market,” Comer said. “If you have a nice original car, don’t do anything to it.”

“The cars that are moving the market today are the ones with histories that we know,” Bemis said.

“Anything with a connection with Smoky and the Bandit is hot, it’s smoking,” Stone said, referring to the Pontiac Firebird Trans Ams of the mid-to-late 1970s. “Good low-budget fun.”

And the comment that generated the most applause during the seminars: “If you’re buying a car purely for investment, you are doing the wrong thing,” Kinney said.  “Buy it because you love it.”

 

 

Experts offer advice about buying classics at auction, and about enjoying them once you get them home


Photos by Brenda Priddy & Company

As Arizona’s famous classic-car auction week gets into full swing, the experts caution that too much of a good thing can lead to a nasty hangover. That’s when the red-mist of the auction action fades and you confront the reality of what’s now sitting in your garage.

Do plenty of research before you buy a classic car at auction — and make sure it is something that you will love and enjoy — was the advice from a panel of classic-car veterans who spoke at the Phoenix Automotive Press Association’s fifth annual Arizona Auction Week Preview.

The members of the panel – Keith Martin, the well-known publisher of Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines; Corky Coker, the owner of Coker Tire, which specializes in providing rubber for vintage cars; and John Carlson, famed concours d’elegance judge and most recently chief judge at the inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance – spoke before a crowd of old-car enthusiasts at the Phoenix Art Museum. The panelists were peppered with questions about where the classic-car hobby stands today and where it’s heading in the future.

Each of the panelists is a lifelong car collector in his own right. Each is in Arizona this week to enjoy the spate of six classic-car auctions happening in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area: Barrett-Jackson, RM, Gooding, Bonhams, Russo & Steele and Silver.  Last year, more than $300 million worth of vintage iron crossed the block and into new ownership, a number that is expected to be eclipsed by this year’s sales totals.

corky1“It’s turned into a little bit more than a hobby now,” Coker (right) told the group. “It’s an industry.”

But all that auction excitement and beautiful cars becoming the target of desire can get out of control if you don’t approach it with a clear head.

“It’s what I call car horny,” Martin said.  “You walk around and see something you like and get all excited.”

Martin related how a screaming auction deal on a 1964 Chevy Nova wagon turned into a wildly expensive restoration that wound up costing him something in the neighborhood of $45,000.  It’s now an incredible car, he added, but maybe not worth what he has in it.  He’ll find out when it crosses the block this week at Barrett-Jackson, where the car is selling with no reserve.

But that’s part of the risk and the fun of engaging in the hobby, he said, adding that he has gained much enjoyment from his cars over the years, particularly the Italian ones from Alfa Romeo:  “When you buy a car, it changes your life.”

Choosing the right classic car involves much more than its looks or performance, Carlson said.  What matters most is how you will enjoy it, and with whom.carlson2

“I tell folks, ‘What group do you want to associate with?’ ” he said.  “The key for me is that you have fun with your car.”

Despite his longtime participation in concours competitions and judging, Carlson (right) said that for most people winning an award at a show should never be the chief goal of owning a classic car.

“The only person who cares that you won a trophy is you,” he said.  “I tell people that if you really want a trophy, buy one and save yourself $100,000 and a lot of headaches.”

The question of preservation vs. restoration gained traction during the discussion, with all three panel members espousing a cautious approach in attempting to bring a car back to original or even better condition while possibly ruining its originality and authenticity.

Coker is about to debut a new reality television show, Backroad Gold, on the Travel Channel. The show will focus on discovering original barn-find cars. Coker said he is a major proponent of preserving original cars despite their flaws.

“I just like the look of an original car,” Coker said.  “I like the look, the smell and the stories.”

martin3Of course, that only works if the car is in reasonably good condition, Martin (left) noted.  “There’s a difference between a preserved car and a nasty old thing.”

Carlson said that under concours definitions, a preserved car is one that has never been cosmetically restored, with no new paint, upholstery or chrome work.  They can be mechanically repaired as needed to make them run, as well as getting such perishable items as tires and windshield wipers replaced. But the patina of faded paint and interiors can add much to the allure of an automotive survivor.

“We’re really going toward keeping cars in original condition,” he said, noting that the previous trend was toward total restorations.  “We want to keep as many great unrestored cars as we can. They are wonderful and we don’t want to restore these cars.”

In his typical way, Coker got plenty of laughs during the seminar with his dry wit and homespun observations.  At one point, he turned the discussion about driving and enjoying classic cars into an unexpected sales pitch.

“If it’s presentable and makes people smile, then get in it and drive it,” he said. “Why? Because it wears out tires.”

The topic of the classic-car hobby’s future focused on getting younger people interested in cars that were created before most of them were born.  The panelists agreed that getting technology-obsessed millennials interested in old cars could be problematic.

The only way to get young people to love old cars is to make sure that they are exposed to them, Martin said, including getting them behind the wheel.  “They have to be brought in and taught to like these cars because they didn’t grow up with them.”

Coker said he sees many young people coming into the hobby, inspired by their parents to appreciate the classic machines.  Beyond keeping the hobby going, he added, it’s important that people understand the old cars to thwart misguided anti-pollution efforts to get them off the road.  “There are a lot of green people who have no idea what we do.”

The overarching advice from the expert panel to potential buyers is to be savvy, clear-headed and well-informed.  The main way to avoid the pitfalls of classic-car collecting is to do your homework on the make and model before you start bidding, Carlson said.

“The No. 1 tool to have in your tool box is to do your research,” he said.

 

Arizona Concours d’Elegance starts auction week

This 1937 Maserati 6CM grand prix race car is among the featured Maseratis at the Arizona Concours d'Elegance.  (Photo: Michael Tobian)
This 1937 6CM grand prix racer is among the featured Maseratis at the concours. (Photo: Michael Tobian)

Arizona’s famed Auction Week gets rolling this year in a brand new way, with a full-blown, high-end concours d’elegance on the lawns of the historic Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix.

The inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance happens Sunday, January 12, to launch the collector-car madness that includes no fewer than six major auctions in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. The Arizona Concours will display 77 exceptional cars ranging from vintage and full classic to sports and exotic on the winter grass at the Biltmore.

A special feature at the Arizona Concours is the weather. While much of the nation freezes, temperatures in Phoenix are expected to be in the upper 60s to low 70s.

A 1937 Lincoln is followed by a 1947 Cadillac at the Arizona Biltmore during recent 'dry run' site testing.  (Photo: Michael Tobian )
A 1937 Lincoln and 1947 Cadillac during the recent site test. (Photo: Michael Tobian )

If you can’t make it to the concours, you can watch it live Sunday via a web cast on arizonaconcours.com starting at 11 a.m. (Mountain time). However, you will miss the balmy weather.

Modeled after such leading concours as those at Pebble Beach, Calif., and Amelia Island, Fla., the Arizona Concours is a showcase of fabulous automobiles in 20 classes that will be critiqued by some of the nation’s most-experienced concours judges. The respected John Carlson serves as chief judge.

The trophies were designed by Ed Mell, an acclaimed Arizona painter and sculptor, who, in keeping with the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Biltmore Resort, created them from a 1930s-vintage art deco toy car. A number of special trophies and awards also are planned.

Keith Martin, the publisher of Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines, will host the concours as emcee.

The 1937 Cord 812 that film star Tom Mix crashed fatally in 1940. (Photo: Bob White)
The Tom Mix Cord. (Photo: Bob White)

“Auctions and concours go together because they’re all about great cars,” Martin said. “Anywhere you go in the world, there tend to be great concours along with the very best auctions. It makes sense to have this concours here.”

The honored marques for the inaugural concours are Maserati, the Italian sports and racing brand that celebrates its 100th anniversary during 2014, and Packard, one of the most revered names in classic American luxury cars.

The Arizona Concours begins at 8:30 am Sunday,  with the awards ceremonies starting at 2 pm. The event is open to the public with tickets available at www.arizonaconcours.com or at the Biltmore on Sunday. Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Arizona, the founding chapter of the national organization that grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.

For more information about the inaugural event, see www.arizonaconcours.com.

Among the featured cars that will appear at the Arizona Concours are:

1907 Renault AI 35-45
This 1907 Renault AI 35-45 is one of five cars ordered from Renault of France by William K. Vanderbilt for himself and his friends. Renault had just won the 1906 French Grand Prix and Vanderbilt was so impressed that he ordered these slightly smaller versions of the winning car. Vanderbilt was an early supporter of automobile racing and the namesake of the Vanderbilt cup, the first international racing event in the United States.

1924 Hispano-Suiza H6
This unique Hispano-Suiza was originally built as a formal limousine, and then re-bodied in 1934 by Swiss coachbuilder Hermann Graber with this sporty LeBaron convertible design. Hispano-Suiza built some of the most elegant automobiles of the time, competing with Roll-Royce and other top luxury brands.

1937 Maserati 6CM
A grand prix race car, this is one of just 27 built by the Maserati factory for its “works” racing program to compete against the state-supported German teams that were dominating Grand Prix racing at the time. The 6CM was one of the most advanced racers of the era, and examples were used by private racing teams as well with much success.

1937 Cord 812 
The Cord convertible owned and driven by silent-screen Western film star Tom Mix is the very car in which he crashed fatally Oct. 12, 1940, near Florence, Ariz. The Cord has been completely repaired and restored, and is festooned with flags, badges and other Western regalia as Mix had decorated the car when he owned it. This is a unique and important piece of early Hollywood and Arizona history.

1958 Lister-Jaguar
The factory team car driven by Walt Hansgen, shown in a period picture during the 1958 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. For 1957, Lister Cars of Cambridge, England, designed the car around a Jaguar D-type inline-six using an aerodynamic aluminum body. It was tested out at the time by racing journalist John Bolster, who performed a 0–100 mph sprint in 11.2 seconds. Driver Archie Scott Brown won the 1957 British Empire Trophy in a Lister-Jaguar. The Lister-Jaguar was refined again for 1958, and was entered by the team in international competition with impressive results.

LeMay-America’s Car Museum celebrates VW

 

The simplicity of the Volkswagen beetle, such as this 1968 sedan, has wide appeal. (Photo: Volkswagen)
The simplicity of the Volkswagen beetle, such as this 1968 sedan, has wide appeal. (Photo: Volkswagen)

 

‘Vee Dub: Bohemian Beauties” is the unlikely name for a new exhibit at LeMay-America’s Car Museum that focuses on the little car that could: the classic Volkswagen in all its glory.

Opening Saturday, Jan. 11 with a public unveiling at the Tacoma, Wash., museum, the show features examples from private collectors and the museum’s own collection of Ferdinand Porsche’s simple “people’s car” that took the world by storm.

Volkswagen of America, which is partnering with LeMay in producing the exhibit, has lent three rare and significant VWs:

KdF-Wagen — Only a handful of KdF-Wagens were produced between 1941 and 1945 for use by the German army. The fully restored vehicle contains more than 95 percent of the original KdF parts.

Panel Delivery Type 2 — The panel-delivery variation of the rear-engine sedan was ideal for loading and transporting cargo with its large double cargo doors and low floor. Today, it is an enduring collector’s item.

Wedding Car Beetle — Volkswagen de Mexico built two of these wrought-iron-bodied beetles in recognition of the uniquely artistic effort by a private customizer in Mexico during the 1960s.

“We are excited to collaborate with Volkswagen to celebrate a car brand that has defined a culture of customization and entrepreneurship,” said David Madeira, president and CEO of the museum.

The opening Saturday includes a movie marathon showing three The Love Bug films featuring Herbie, the sentient VW race car.

The Vee Dub show also has a social media element: tell your own unique Volkswagen stories under the hashtag #VWACM. The best stories will be on digital display at the exhibit.

For more information, see Vee Dub: Bohemian Beauties.

Antique Automobile Club museum readies exhibit showcasing hot rods and custom cars

The '57 Chevy custom named SwishAir, a Ridler Award contender, will be part of the AACA exhibit. (Photo: Antique Automobile Club of America)
’57 Chevy custom called SwishAir, a Ridler Award contender, is part of the exhibit. | AACA photo

 

The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pa., usually focuses on the preservation and restoration of veteran vehicles to original condition. Which is why the special exhibit opening this month is so unexpected.

“The Art of the Build: Rods & Kustoms”  goes on display Jan. 24 through April 27, and takes a hot rod run through the world of individualized custom cars, including a number of top award winners as well as some of the true oddities of the hobby. Usually, the AACA mourns the loss of original cars to build customs, but this time around, it celebrates the customs and the customizers.

Among the unique beauties  on display are some of the top contenders for the prestigious Ridler Award, given annually at the Detroit Autorama. The AACA show also focuses on some of the legends whose custom cars made everybody sit up and take notice, folks such as Boyd Coddington, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and George Barris, the “King of Kustomizers.”

“The ‘Art of the Build’ exhibit focuses on these individuals, and the rolling art they have created,” an AACA Museum news release says. “By treating each custom vehicle as a piece of sculpture, the Museum has planned this display as an art installation, celebrating each item for what it has become, not lamenting what it once was.”

For more information,  visit aacamuseum.org.