All posts by Larry Crane

Larry Crane has been an automotive literature aficionado from childhood. Car books and magazines represented most of his reading experience. He moved to Southern California in his early twenties to be close to his favorite cars. After a WestPac stint in the Navy, he was offered a position redesigning Motor Trend magazine. Then, for Steve Earle, he created America's first vintage road racing magazine as both editor and designer. FromVintage Racer he joined Road & Track and then David E. Davis Jr., asked him to help create a new kind of car magazine, Automobile. After 12 years, Crane took his family back to Los Angeles to create his dream magazine, AUTO Aficionado, which attracted an impressive cadre of the most influential members of the collector car hobby until the national economy made that one impossible to continue.

Driven: XK 120 C-type Jaguar

Larry Crane in the Jaguar C-type at the 16th Monterey Historics | Larry Crane archives photo
Larry Crane in the Jaguar C-type at the 16th Monterey Historics | Larry Crane archives photo

Phil Reilly’s big restoration shop in Corte Madera, California, was as bright as a hospital emergency room when my wife, Tracy, and I arrived at about 10 o’clock one Wednesday evening. Ross Cummings was waiting to release the last automotive patient before the four-day car guy’s bacchanalia affectionately known as the “Monterey Weekend.” Continue reading

Passion as enterprise: Mecum offers car-guy dreams at real-guy prices

Something for everyone: '50s convertible, Corvette and 2004 Ferrari 575 Maranello | Larry Crane photos
Something for everyone: ’50s convertible, Corvette and 2004 Ferrari 575 Maranello | Larry Crane photos

Mecum Auctions’ Los Angeles 2017 sale last week was produced at the storied Pomona fairgrounds — now Fairplex — long-established epicenter of Southern California car enthusiast thought and action. True to the facilities’ welcome to all who play in the hobby, Mecum delivered on its promise as “every-man’s auction company” to present a broad selection of vehicles “from entry-level to museum-grade” with sale prices of cars from just a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand.

There in is the carefully groomed reason that Dana Mecum’s auction company, created in 1988, has become the volume leader in “collector car, vintage and antique motorcycle, and Road Art sales” throughout the United States. Continue reading

A Malibu morning at Fireball Tim’s Wheels & Waves

An immaculate 1957 Chevrolet at the Sunday morning gathering of cars in Malibu | Larry Crane photos
An immaculate 1957 Chevrolet at the Sunday morning gathering of cars in Malibu | Larry Crane photos

Sunday morning in Malibu. Down the hill through dense fog and into a lovely English light-box sky — flat white — like the expensive light created in a photographer’s studio. Reflections are pure. Color is represented in its truest form without the brilliant flare that changes the F-stop in your retina and gives you a darker version.

It is a fantastic time and place to photograph cars — anywhere is a great place to look at and talk about cars with knowledgeable aficionados. The brick-paved carpark in front of the Malibu Kitchen in the 7:00 a.m. chill of a Pacific beach winter morning is as authentic a European recreation as we get to experience locally. Continue reading

Driven: USAC sprint car, with bonus laps in a real Indy racer

Larry Crane at the wheel of an Edmonds print car on the high banks at Winchester, Indiana
Larry Crane at the wheel of an Edmunds print car on the high banks at Winchester, Indiana

‘Engage the dogs by squeezing the lock lever against the shifter and pulling it back. As soon as the push truck makes contact, watch the oil-pressure gauge. When the needle moves, hit the ignition switch and brace your neck for the acceleration.”

I did. It did. And we did. Continue reading

Pilgrimage to the Grand National Roadster Show

Mulholland Speedster is America's Most Beautiful Roadster 20127 | Larry Crane photos
Mulholland Speedster is America’s Most Beautiful Roadster 20127 | Larry Crane photos

Al Slonaker launched a modified-car show in the Oakland Exposition hall in 1949 and decided to focus on hot rods for the following year. “Hot rod” meant “public nuisance” (menace, even) in the local (national, too) press, so he called his rechristened exhibit the “Roadster Show.” Continue reading

Driven: Ferrari F50, and my continuing education

Larry Crane rides as Paul Frere masters the Ferrari F50 at the Fiorano circuit
Larry Crane rides along and learns as Paul Frere turns masterful laps in the Ferrari F50 at the Fiorano circuit

A lap of Pista de Fiorano, Ferrari’s on-site testing facility for all production and F1 cars, lived in my head. My first laps there were in a 328GTB. I returned to experience the first Testarossa and again for the 512TR. Then, on the 50th anniversary of the marque, we were given the opportunity to try the F50. Continue reading

Here’s how to get the new year off to a great start

Don Prieto's Deuxus combines '32 Ford with Lexus V8 powertrain | Larry Crane photos
Don Prieto’s Deuxus combines ’32 Ford with Lexus V8 powertrain | Larry Crane photos

Brilliant sunshine. air cool enough to show off your favorite club jacket. and old friends with new stories brought us all together for the 32nd time on January 1 of this new year. It’s not as though you haven’t been driving your favorite ride around Southern California every weekend since January 1, 2016, it’s just a perfect morning to reflect on another year of building — or rebuilding — out of parts we’re glad someone cared enough to save; then visiting a few shops of the guys who have mastered the art.

However, this is not a “driving” event, it is a destination event planned by Larry Wood, responsible for every Hot Wheels car since the sixth one. Continue reading

Rick Rawlins: The automobilist as curator

Rick Rawlins with the Barney Oldfield-liveried 1909 Benz at Pebble Beach
Rick Rawlins with the Barney Oldfield-liveried 1909 Benz at Pebble Beach | Rawlins archive photos

The trove of treasures in Rick Rawlins’ checkerboard jewel box represents the historic touch-points in the century-long narrative of a dream set for a well-read aficionado. In his hands, the race cars are raced and the touring cars are toured and everything is in show car condition. Continue reading

Dorothy and J.B. Nethercutt bought a restorable Duesenberg, then a duPont, and won at Pebble Beach — repeatedly

The Grand Salon at the Nethercutt Collection | Larry Crane photo
The Grand Salon at the Nethercutt Collection | Larry Crane photo

‘The first car I owned was in the very early days of my courtship with my wife Dorothy,” recalled the late J.B. Nethercutt, “…was a 1923 Chevrolet touring… It had a loose piston in the engine… no floorboards in the front… and the running boards were gone. But since I only paid $12 and a .22 pump rifle for it, it wasn’t too bad of a deal.”

J.B. bought a closed body — with floors — and mounted in on the Chevrolet chassis and that was their car for many years as J.B. helped his aunt, Merle Norman, build her cosmetics business. Continue reading

The Petersen presents the ‘Art of Bugatti’ in four acts

'Art of Bugatti' exhibit features cars but also sculpture, furniture and other art by family members | Larry Crane photos
‘Art of Bugatti’ exhibit features cars but also sculpture, furniture and other art by family members | Larry Crane photos

(Editor’s note: In October, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles opened a major new exhibition, “The Art of Bugatti,” featuring works by various members of the artistic family.)

At least four generations of the Bugatti family had their creative energy and Milanese work ethic carefully polished at the Accademia de Belle Arti di Brera, the city’s famous institution founded in 1776 by Maria Theresa, Austrian archduchess and Holy Roman Empress of the Habsburg Dynasty. Its charter was to “provide instruction in fine arts to craftsmen and private artists.” Continue reading