All posts by Howard Koby

Howard graduated with honors from the Art Center College of Design in California. He has been a photographer and automotive journalist for 35 years out of his Los Angeles studio. He has been published in Hot Rod, AutoWeek, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Jaguar Journal, Forza, Vintage Motorsport, Classic Motorsports, Robb Report, Motor Trend Classic, Hemmings Muscle Machines, and 50 Years of Road & Track (MBI Publishing). He has served on the Advisory Committee of the Transportation Design Department at Art Center College of Design. He is the author of the books Top Fuel Dragsters of the 1970s and Pro Stock Dragsters of the 1970s, both available on amazon.com.

Eye Candy: The Rodeo Drive Concours

Photos by Howard Koby

Each Father’s Day, perhaps the most expensive slab of real estate on the planet — zip code 90210 — closes to all traffic from Santa Monica to Wilshire Boulevard for the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance.

More than 100 collector automobiles line the world-renowned street with an impressive display of American and European classics, exotic sports cars, muscle cars, and this year even a rare 1914 Indian Big Twin motorcycle.

Rodeo Drive is a glossy collection of designer boutiques, bistros and high-profile jewelers catering to movie stars, kings and queens, and rock stars so to organize an automotive exhibit of precious classic cars valued in the millions seems quite appropriate.

The opulent Beverly Wilshire Hotel (built in 1928 and the setting for the 1990 Richard Gere and Julia Roberts film Pretty Woman) served as a classic backdrop for:

the original and restored car formerly owned by Fred Astaire — a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom I Town Car by Hooper and presented by the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles,
a stunning 1932 Packard 903 Sport Phaeton (inline-eight) once owned by movie legend Jean Harlow and displayed by Clifford and Joyce Gooding,
the car in which actor and cowboy Tom Mix died — a 1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Phaeton that had a metal cup to hold the heel of his cowboy boot riveted to the accelerator pedal, presented by Bob, Pat and Chris White,
the “Howard Hughes” 1924 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster exhibited by Greg Gill.

This 2014 edition of the concours marked the City of Beverly Hills Centennial featuring Maserati as the “honored marque” and was opened with an appearance by the famed ad original horse-drawn Wells Fargo Wagon, as well as vehicles featured in An American in Paris, The Beverly Hillbillies, and HBO’s Entourage.

The concours also paid tribute to the Beverly Hills Speedway (where the Beverly Wilshire Hotel now stands), a 1.25-mile track for auto racing where racing legends Barney Oldfield and Indy 500 winner Gaston Chevrolet once raced.

In the 100 years of the city, the iconic street has experienced everything horses galloping the original Rodeo Drive bridle path to the high-horsepower super cars of today.

California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby, was honored with a special best of show award with trainers Alan Sherman and William Delgado accepting as the steed could not attend because of an injury.

“This will be the most highly curated show in the Rodeo Drive Concours’ 21-year history with spectacular examples of cars that have graced the winding tree-lined street of Beverly Hills over the past century,” said concours chairman Bruce Meyer.

Fromer’s Travel Guide proclaimed the Rodeo Concours, “One of the 300 unmissable events in the world.”

The best of show award was presented to the 1930 Rolls-Royce P11 Brewster Town Car “Constance Benneett” presented by The Nethercutt Collection.

“Mustangs” photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision

Eye Candy: Mustangs at the Petersen

Photos by Howard Koby

In 1964, the base price of a two-door Ford Mustang hardtop with standard equipment — the original pony car — was $2,368.00, half the price of a Chevrolet Corvette. Gas cost an average of 30 cents per gallon.
The advertising slogan at the time was “Can the unbelievable happen when you meet a Mustang!”

Lee Iacocca was vice president of Ford Division, dreamt up and participated in the design of the Mustang many years before its debut to the public at the New York World’s Fair at the Ford’s Pavilion on April 17, 1964, the same year the Beatles made their American TV debut on the Ed Sullivan Show (which I saw!).

More than one million Mustangs were produced and sold within 18 months and the car enjoyed success throughout the 1960s; in fact, it was the best-selling Ford since the Model T.

By 1971, the Ford Mustang Boss 351 was Ford’s final high-performance Mustang of the muscle car era.
Fast forward to April 16, 2014, Ford reveled the new 50 Year Limited Edition (1,964 will be built) 2015 Mustang Convertible on the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City, just as it did in 1965 with the first Mustang. The car had to be disassembled into five pieces for the journey up the elevators and reassembled at night for the presentation the next day.

In the last 50 years, more than 9.2 million Mustangs have been produced and sold, which now leads to Generation 6, the newest Mustang penned by Moray Callum, brother of Jaguar designer Ian Callum.

On May 3, 2014, a Mustang Madness weekend at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles included a Mustang rally from Galpin Ford in suburban North Hills to the museum, a Mustang car show and many other activities that were a prelude to the Mustang Forever: 50 Years of a Legend exhibit that runs at the museum through mid-October.

The exhibition features examples of every generation of the pony car, as well as Mustang race cars, factory specials and customized vehicles.

The list of Mustangs in the exhibit includes:
Generation 1 (1964½ to 1973):

  • 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible, used by Ronald Reagan during his 1968 campaign for governor of California
  • 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350, a barn find
  • 1967 Ford Mustang MALCO Gasser, the first gasser to run the quarter-mile in under nine seconds
  • 1968 Mustang California Special, one of 111 fitted with a 390-cubic inch big block engine
  • 1968 Shelby GT500KR, “King of the Road” featuring a 428 Cobra Jet with Ram Air Induction
  • 1969 Ford “Four Engine” Mustang Mach IV Dragster
  • 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302
  • 1970 Shelby GT500 428 Cobra Jet
  • 1971 Ford Mustang Mach I

Generation 2 (1974 to 1978):
1974 Ford Mustang II (first year the four-cylinder was available, and the only year that there was no V-8)
Generation 3 (1979 to 1993):

  • 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra SVT

Generation 4 (1994 to 2004):

  • 2000 Ford Mustang Cobra R, one of 300 made in 2000

Generation 5 (2005-2014):

  • 2006 Shelby GT-H, marking the 40th anniversary of the original Hertz “rent-a-racer” program
  • 2007 Saleen Mustang, Parnelli Jones Limited Edition
  • 2008 Ford Mustang FR500-C Bonneville Racer, which went over 252 mph at Bonneville in 2008, giving it the distinction of world’s fastest Mustang
  • 2009 Ford Mustang Iacocca 45th Anniversary Silver Edition, one of 45 built
  • 2011 Ford Mustang GT Retractable Hardtop, customized by Galpin Ford

Additionally, the Petersen showcases several Mustangs in its Hollywood Gallery:

  • 1965 Ford Zebra Mustang by Barris, driven by Nancy Sinatra in “Marriage on the Rocks” (1965)
  • 1971 Ford Mustang Fastback “Eleanor” driven in the 1974 movie “Gone in 60 Seconds”
  • 1991 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 Convertible own by Francis Ford Coppola
  • 2013 Ford Mustang, featured in “Need for Speed” (2014)

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.Petersen.org.

 

Eye Candy: Carroll Shelby tribute

Photos by Howard Koby

Ten years ago, Carroll Shelby coordinated the blueprints for a museum to celebrate his place in automotive history and left implicit instructions to only proceed with the project after his death. On May 16, 2014, the plans were unveiled to a select few at the VIP Founders preview of the Shelby Automotive Museum in Gardena, California.

According to Joe Conway, co-chief executive of Shelby International, the museum will be ready in about a year, but on May 17, the Shelby Tribute and Car Show greeted 100s of “Shelbyphiles” and their GT350s, GT500s, Mustangs and Cobras of all eras at the future home of the museum for an exciting day of gathering of car aficionados.

Carroll Shelby is the only person to win Le Mans as a driver, team owner and manufacturer. His Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe (CSX 2229) ended the reign of Ferrari’s GTO in that race with drivers Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant clocking over 196 mph on the Mulsanne Straight on their way to winning the GT III Class in 1964. The highlight of the show was the actual Cobra Daytona Coupe that Gurney and Bondurant drove at Le Mans, loaned to the show by the Miller family and their Miller Motorsports Park Museum in Utah.

Bondurant was on hand, signing posters and talking to fans while panelists Lynn Park (“Mr. Cobra”), film producer Lucas Foster, Shelby’s grandson Aaron Shelby, writer C. Van Tune and A. J. Baime (author of “Go Like Hell”) had a panel discussions that brought out how Shelby vehicles and their mythology left their mark in pop culture and the “game-changing milestones” from Shelby’s iconic accomplishments influenced the car culture.

The sunny afternoon included a wine and beer garden, a Texas-style chili bar (Carroll’s love for good chili), and at 1 p.m. PDT a worldwide “Rev Your Engine” salute honoring the life of Carroll Shelby.

The colorful sights and sounds of Shelby machines were mesmerizing to the many Shelby enthusiasts and spectators who want to keep the true Shelby spirit alive for many years to come.

For more information, visit www.shelbymuseum.com.

Eye Candy: Greystone Mansion concours d’elegance

Photos by Howard Koby

Thousands of car enthusiasts, many families and just plain curious car buffs attended the elegant and 5th annual Greystone Mansion Concours on a brilliant picture-perfect Sunday.

The estate, in Beverly Hills, California, was built by Ned Doheny, heir to one of the country’s great oil empires, and provides the backdrop for the concours d’elegance hosted by the Beverly Hills City Council and the Friends of Greystone.

The Doheny family occupied the 18.5-acre estate from 1928 to 1955. It now is a city historic site. The 46,000-square-foot, 55-room Tudor castle, which has an original Brunswick bowling alley, and a billiard room on the basement level, has been the backdrop in many motion picture and TV productions, including Batman and Robin, X-Men, Spider-Man and The Godfather.

This year, the concurs honored the 60th anniversary of the Porsche Speedster, 50th anniversary of the Mustang, notable Italian cars and a special Centennial Class honoring Beverly Hills’ 100th Anniversary.

Over 140 superb vintage automobiles and more than 30 rare motorcycles competed in 16 classes for the Greystone Awards. The day also featured gourmet food, libations, lectures, estate and mansion tours, a fashion show and vendor marketplaces (all included in the ticket price).

The “French” judging process was implemented, focusing on overall impression of vehicle with originally, authenticity, design, styling and elegance.

The award-winners:

  • Best of Show Concours d’Elegance went to a statuesque 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost presented by David S. Morrison.
  • Best of Show de Sport honored the William Lyon Family with their fantastic 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ.
  • The Spirit of Greystone went to Christopher and Katrina Cord for their stunning 1937 Cord 812.
  • The Mayor’s Choice was a 1957 Porsche Speedster displayed by Rick Principe.
  • A magnesium-bodied 1935 Bugatti Type 57SC Elektron Torpedo that Jim Hull spent 32 years “resurrecting” achieved the People’s Choice award.
  • The Director’s Choice was bestowed upon Stanley Bauer with his wonderful yellow 1920 Stutz Bearcat.
  • The important Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) Preservation Award went to a 1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce displayed by Brandon Adrian.
  • The Best of Show motorcycle was a 1967 BMW R60/2 with sidecar owned by Dan Reichel and Theresa Worsch.
  • David Gooding, of Gooding & Company Auctions, received the Lee Iacocca Foundation’s Award for achievement in advancing the collector car hobby.

Eye Candy: Drag racers turn clock back at March Meet


Photos by Howard Koby

In the mid-1950s, the “Smokers Car Club of Bakersfield” did a deal with officials of California’s Kern County to lease a World War II auxiliary airfield located between Highways 99 and 65. In 1959, they staged the first U.S. Gas & Fuel Championships, aka the March Meet, and it turned into an East vs. West battle that attracted more than 20,000 spectators, many of whom came to see a young drag racer from Florida. His name was Don Garlits, and at the time he was yet to earn his “Big Daddy” nickname.

For the past 57 years, the March Meet at the Famoso Drag Strip has continued to draw the greatest names — and nicknames — in drag racing, including Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen and John Force.

“People are always telling me about their first time at the March Meet racing a car that they built with their dad,” said Blake Bower, vice president and general manager of the Kern County Racing Association, which operates the track.

In 2008, the March Meet became the inaugural event for the seven-race NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series. The show has street rods, muscle cars, classics and lead sleds built before 1975 lining “Famoso Grove” for a car show and includes a swap meet, but the big attraction is the racing itself, a show full of nitro fumes and flames from the days when front-engine Top Fuel, Funny Car and Fuel-Altered Class cars lit the fuse on 1500-horsepower Hemi engines.

Sports car racers have their vintage racing series with events such as the Monterey Historics. Old-time drag racers have the Heritage Series with showcase events such as the annual March Meet.

This year, in the final rounds of the March Meet, the underdog James Day, on a hole shot in his 1978 Challenger Funny Car, put away Dan Horan in his ’66 Mustang, clicking off a 5.883-second run at 228.31 mph.

In Top Fuel, Tony Barone clocked a 5.623-second run at 262.13 mph defeating Rick White’s 5.715-second performance.

Dan Hix in his ’34 Chevy Fuel Altered won by a tick, clocking a 6.115 to Jeremy Sullivan’s 6.210 in his ’48 Fiat at 6.210. Making the race even more special was the fact it was the first Fuel Altered event since 1970.

For more on the “fumes and fury” competition, see the track’s website at www.famosoraceway.com