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.

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

Best of French and Italian car owners endure the dust and heat

Dare we call this a passel of Facel Vegas at the Best of France and Italy car show? | Larry Crane photos
Dare we call this a passel of Facel Vegas at the Best of France and Italy car show? | Larry Crane photos

‘Best of France and Italy” is not a concours d’elegance. It is a chance for Los Angeles area owners and fans of a specific, under-served, group of enthusiast cars to assemble and share stories, to find help — and rare pieces — as well as buyers and sellers. Continue reading

For Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild: A reunion on home turf

Guildsmen display their futuristic car models at reunion | Larry Crane photos
Guildsmen display their futuristic car models at reunion | Larry Crane photos

From the beginning in 1930 until 1948, a Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild entry consisted of the accurately detailed construction of a model of the Napoleonic coach that stood as the logo for Fisher Body, the company that build car bodies for General Motors.

For the next 20 years, young would-be car designers were asked to create home-built models of the cars of the future. Continue reading

ArtCenter Car Classic: A garden of earthly delights

1938 Delage D8 120S Pourtout coupe among the hand-built cars featured at the ArtCenter Car Classic | Larry Crane photos
1938 Delage D8 120S Pourtout coupe among the hand-built cars featured at the ArtCenter Car Classic | Larry Crane photos

The ArtCenter Car Classic was launched a bit over a decade ago to collect and exhibit the most intriguing automobiles seen in Los Angeles car culture and to celebrate the ArtCenter College of Design’s leadership in that creative adventure.

As succinctly described in the event brochure: “More than just another high-profile car show, this popular public event celebrates the very best in automotive design, showcasing the College’s strong ties to industry and honoring many of our noteworthy alumni.” Continue reading

Petersen curator shares his vision for museum’s car collection

Some of the classic cars recently on display in the Petersen  Automotive Museum
Some of the classic cars recently on display in the Petersen Automotive Museum

The original structure that still contains the Petersen Automotive Museum was designed by Welton Becket Associates, creators of many Los Angeles architectural icons including the art deco classic Pan Pacific Auditorium, the Capital Records building, the LAX theme building, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the city’s Music Center. Continue reading

The making (and collection) of the ‘Most Passionate Enthusiast’

Michael Malamut's collection isn't a museum, but he opens it to car and charity groups | Larry Crane photos
Michael Malamut’s collection isn’t a museum, but he opens it to car and charity groups | Larry Crane photos

Michael Malamut was fixing neighbor’s cars while in high school to raise enough money to have one of his own. The local newspaper classifieds seeded that goal. Cheap cars could be fixed or lightly refurbished and sold for a profit.

Volkswagens were good targets because everyone wanted one in the ‘60s and there were few mechanics willing to repair them. Air-cooled Volkswagens led directly to early Porsche 356s and the profit margins improved. Continue reading

Cars & Characters: The reunion at Paramount Ranch

A classic Nash and a brace of Fords visited the Paramount Ranch, a movie set and sometime race course | Photos by Larry Crane
A classic Nash and a brace of Fords visited the Paramount Ranch, a movie set and sometime race course | Photos by Larry Crane

In September of 1948, Al Moss of Goleta, California, bought the MG TC he owned until we lost him a few years ago, opened his own MG store and, in January of 1949 organized California’s first sports car rally.

Participants who ran through the canyons included Keenan Wynn (already a noted dry lakes hot rod racer), Larry Parks (a recent Oscar nominee for The Jolson Story, and Tom Bamford (character actor and stunt driver) — all three were veteran motorcycle racers. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Automobilia is a celebration of us and our stuff

Tony Singer greets customers at Automobilia show and sale | Larry Crane photos
Tony Singer greets customers at Automobilia show and sale | Larry Crane photos

The Monterey Embassy Suites Laguna Grande ballroom snugly contained the 2016 edition of the annual assembly of folks who collect and share automotive artifacts and literature. It was awash in enthusiastic buyers and sellers — “old guys with old stuff.” Okay, “traders with treasures.” If you are a fan of the history of the automobile and, by extension, the hobby of its passion, it is not to be missed. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Hollywood Movie Car Auction

1953 Cadillac convertible among those available at the Hollywood Movie Car Auction | Larry Crane photos
1953 Cadillac convertible among those available at the Hollywood Movie Car Auction | Larry Crane photos

Ted Moser is a high achiever, champion cattle roper, master mechanic and fabricator, legendary NASCAR fan, purveyor of motor vehicles to the film and television industry, credentialed actor and a stylish guy — with something like 1,000 cars give-or-take in several large lots across Southern California.

“I just can’t afford to store them any more,” he tells me.

The Movie Car Auction could solve some of that challenge. Continue reading