All posts by Larry Edsall

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State Univeristy.

British museum celebrates 21 years with 21 icons

Stirling Moss and the MG EX181 set speed records at Bonneville | Heritage Motor Centre photos
Stirling Moss and the MG EX181 set speed records at Bonneville | Heritage Motor Centre photos

Britain’s Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, Warwickshire, celebrates its 21st birthday in May with a special exhibition, “21 Years 21 Icons.” We asked if we could get the list of the 7 vehicles, inventions and people who will be featured.

Not yet, we were told. It’s still a secret.

Curator Stephen Laing in the original cutaway Mini
Curator Stephen Laing in the original cutaway Mini

However, we did get a sneak peek in the form of three photographs — one of Stirling Moss, one of a disc brake and one of curator Stephen Laing sitting in a cutaway of the original Mini.

“Since the Museum opened on 1 May 1993, its collection has been renowned as one of the finest selections of British motor cars,” the centre said in announcing its anniversary exhibition. “The museum tells the story of the people that have shaped Britain’s love affair with the motor car and also houses some of the world’s best-known examples of automotive design and technology. “

The exhibition opens May 2 and runs through December.

“For each of the 21, the exhibition will explore their history and why they are so important to Britain’s automotive evolution,” the news release said.

Pub No. H 5837 Acc No. 90/42/63
The disc brake

“The Heritage Motor Centre has been celebrating the best of Britain’s car industry for 21 years,” Laing said. “It has been a difficult task to choose just 21 products, people and pioneering inventions that represent motoring, the motor car and its industry in Britain.”

In addition to its 21st anniversary celebration, the centre announced that it will receive more than $6.2 million from its Heritage Lottery and will use those funds to construct a new two-story building to house its reserve car collection, workshop and learning education zone. The new facility is scheduled to open in 2015.

“It will allow us to make our collections far more accessible,” said Tim Bryan, head of collections and interpretation.

The Heritage Motor Centre is home to the world’s largest historic collection of British cars and draws together the collections of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust with more than 300 vehicles.

Multiple Choice: A trio of exotics for your consideration

This week, we offer you three options for Multiple Choice: You can select a 1968 Toyota 2000 GT, a 1969 Maserati Ghibli, or a 1972 Ferrari Daytona to add to your collection wish list.

Do you opt for one of the Italian exotics — the Ghibli powered by a V8 and the Daytona by a V12 — or for Asia’s first world-class sports car with its very Italian-looking design cues and an inline six-cylinder engine?

Photos by Larry Edsall

 

 

What’s your choice for World’s Greatest Sports Coupe?

Petersen museum showcases celebrity-selected sports coupes | Petersen Museum photos
Petersen museum showcases celebrity-selected sports coupes | Petersen Museum photos

Yesterday, the Petersen Automotive Museum opened its newest exhibition: The World’s Greatest Sports Coupes.

“Rarely does one genre of car so broadly resonate with people, but sports coupes, with sensuous designs and inspiring capability, generate excitement everywhere they are seen,” the museum said in announcing the showcase.”

But what makes this special exhibition even more special is that it was curated not by the museum staff but by 12 CELEBRITY CURATORS each of whom was allowed to define his — or their — image of just what constitutes the world’s greatest sports coupe.

Here are the celebrities and their selections:

  • Nick Mason of Pink Floyd — 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
  • Patrick Dempsey, actor — 1964 Porsche 356SC
  • James Hetfield of Metallica — 1948 Jaguar Custom “Black Pearl”
  • Film director and producer Francis Ford Coppola — 1954 Plymouth Explorer concept car
  • Brian Johnson of AC/DC — 1974 Iso Grifo
  • Bobby Rahal, Indy 500 winner — 1967 Jaguar E-type
  • John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Pixar 1968 Ford GT40 Mark III
  • Ian Callum, Jaguar director of design — 1961 Aston Maritn DB4 Zagato
  • Top Gear USA hosts Tanner Foust, Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood — 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
  • Adam Carolla, comedian — 1963 Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
  • Bruce Meyer, car collector — 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
  • Angus MacKenzie, magazine editor — 1991 Acura NSX

“For its newest exhibit, The World’s Greatest Sports Coupes, the Petersen Automotive Museum invited twelve celebrities—ranging from rock ‘n roll legends, critically acclaimed film directors, actors and world renown car collectors—to guest curate one sports coupe each,” the museum explained. “The exhibit, which is now open, showcases some of the most beautiful sports coupes known to man.”

We’re glad the museum included the word “some” in that last sentence, because, obviously, the celebrity curators got it wrong. Obviously, there are other coupes that should have been included in a display of “world’s greatest,” and in just a minute or so we’re going to give you an opportunity to pick your own nominee for the World’s Greatest Sports Coupe.

First, however, we need to note that this exhibition at the Petersen, located on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, runs through October 18, and is being underwritten by Jaguar, which is launching its new F-type coupe.

“Sports coupes are the reason most of us fell in love with the automobile in the first place,” said Terry Karges, the museum’s executive director.

“These vehicles represent the pinnacle of art, design, engineering and performance and have been built all over the world. Choosing a dozen sports coupes to represent the finest of the breed was no easy task, which is why we invited the world’s most prominent car collectors to guest curate this exhibit.”

In an acknowledgement that the dozen vehicles selected are not an all-inclusive list, the museum also is displaying photography by Scott Williamson to show “important sports coupes that were not included by any of the celebrity curators.”

“This new approach of curating diverse opinions from a range of automotive enthusiasts brings a real energy to the exhibit and fits the Petersen perfectly,” said Jaguar brand vice president Jeff Curry. “One of the great things about being a car lover is that we can all have our own point of view on what makes a sports coupe deserving to be part of the ‘World’s Greatest.’”

Well said, Jeff. We agree. And we’re now offering the “Share your comments” box below for you to nominate your choice for World’s Greatest Sports Coupe. First, however, we’re offering our own.

Here’s mine: 1993 Porsche 911. “Ferrari collector and chief engineer for the development of a rival super car told me that the sports car that came closest to being perfect was the Porsche 911. He explained that while everyone else tried to reinvent their cars every few years, Porsche simply worked to move its 911 closer and closer to perfection. The 911 known within Porsche as the 993 was the last of the air-cooled cars and thus as close to perfection as it got for the Porsche purist.

Here’s Bob Golfen’s: 1965 Shelby GT350.  “After considering various Lancia and Alfa-Romeo coupes, some of which are achingly beautiful, I opted for something a little closer to home,” Golfen says. “Carroll Shelby’s mastery of performance tuning was in full bloom when he and his team took the stylish but low-tech 1965 Ford Mustang fastback coupe and transformed it into the Shelby GT350, vastly improving handling, power and drivability.   The addition of scoops and stripes, and its hunkered-down profile over Kelsey-Hayes wheels, made the GT350 look like a full-on racecar for the street, but in a very good way.  The great Stirling Moss owned and used a 1965 Shelby GT350 for historic racing in the 1990s. Whenever I see a real GT350 (and there are many fakes) at a classic car show or auction, I always stop for a moment of reverie. “

O.K., now it’s your turn. Sound off in the comments!

Eye Candy: Mustangs Across America

Photos by Larry Edsall

Mustangs — hundreds of them — are galloping across America as their owners head to a pair of big roundups to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the revolutionary American sporty car.

The largest group — more than 500 cars were pre-registered for the Mustangs Across America trip — left the Los Angeles area Thursday morning and drove to Phoenix, where the cars were corralled, fittingly enough, at the Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse at Wild Horse Pass.

From Phoenix, the group heads east Friday morning, to Las Cruces, N.M., and then in subsequent days to Midland, Tex.; Dallas; Jackson, Miss.; and Atlanta before finally arriving in Charlotte, where one of the big Mustang rodeos will be staged. The other is at Las Vegas.

 

Magazine presents classic cars in print or pixels

Richard Truesdell laments the loss of such classic car magazines as Automobile Quarterly, Motor Trend Classic and Musclecar Enthusiast. But the realities of the print-on-paper world are such that producing a glossy-surfaced, real-paper (even if it’s recycled) publication is very expensive.

And as Truesdell points out, as much as we all enjoy browsing the various titles, “the newsstand is a flawed distribution strategy where typically 60-70% of all magazines printed end up in landfills.”

But instead of writing an obituary for the classic car enthusiast magazine in the age of the Internet, Truesdell and his team at BCT Publishing are using web-based technology to launch their own brand-new classic car magazine, Automotive Traveler’s Classic Car. Truesdell has a multi-decade history in automotive writing and photography and he and his team have been producing the automotivetraveler.com website for several years.

The premiere issue of Automotive Traveler’s Classic Car includes 100 pages. Truesdell promises subsequent issues will be just as substantial.

The cover of the premiere issue features five vehicles — the 1979 Le Mans-winning Porsche 935, one of the 1969 Chevrolet Camaros that served as NASCAR pace cars, a Chrysler Turbine Car, a Fiat Abarth Ghia 2300S coupe (aka the Poor Man’s Ferrari) and the two-seat prototype for the Studebaker Avanti. Each of those cars is covered in well-researched and insightfully written stories with lushly photographed and multi-page displays.

And the magazine includes other articles as well, plus there are QR (Quick Response) Codes you can access for additional words, photos and even videos. Imagine, Truesdell writes, getting owners of, say, three mid-’60s American luxury cars — an Imperial, a Continental and a Sedan de Ville — together, let them drive each other’s cars, and then listen to their comments behind the wheel and their post-drive conversation as well.

That’s coming, but for now, the premiere edition includes such features as a piece on James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, a report on the 2014 Desert Classic concours, and more, including my personal favorite — two delightful pages of then (classic postcards) and now (recent photos) showing old car dealerships and what they look like today.

Oh, and no trees are felled in the production of this magazine — unless you demand it.

Automotive Traveler’s Classic Car is a web-based magazine that you can read on a variety of screens. Or if you prefer, you can order an ink-on-paper version produced through print-on-demand technology and available from amazon.com.

Truesdell adds that while the first couple of issues will be priced in the $15 range, as circulation increases, cover price not only can but will shrink. The goal, he says, is for ATCC to become a quarterly, priced at, say, 10 bucks an issue, about that same as you pay now for one of the British-based classic car magazines you still might find at your local bookstore (assuming, of course, you still have a local bookstore and it still has a newsstand).

“Can this plan be successful, editorially, as well as financially?” Truesdell’s column asks.

“I believe it can,” he answers, “as ATCC won’t be supporting a huge publishing infrastructure overhead. It will be a magazine produced by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts.”

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Last — and most badly damaged — Corvette freed from sinkhole beneath museum’s Skydome

Mallett Hammer Z06 is loaded for transport to the exhibition hall |National Corvette Museum photos
Mallett Hammer Z06 is loaded for transport to the exhibition hall |National Corvette Museum photos

“It looks like the worst one… a lot of parts and pieces,” Mike Murphy, chief executive of Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction, said as the last of the eight Corvettes swallowed by a sinkhole emerged from the abyss beneath the Skydome at the National Corvette Museum. Continue reading

Eye Candy: 24th Copperstate 1000

Photos by Larry Edsall

Each spring, the vintage-car rally season starts with the Copperstate 1000.

As its name indicates, the Copperstate is a four-day, thousand-mile driving tour of Arizona.

While the Copperstate gets things started, it is followed very quickly by the California Mille and a series of other sometimes fast-paced drives in various parts of the country.

This year, the 24th annual Copperstate 1000 was staged on the baseball field in Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring training home of the California Angels, before the more than 80 participating cars rolled out to explore southeastern Arizona, including the Kitt Peak National Observatory; the Mission San Xavier del Bac (aka the White Dove of the Desert); the historic Spanish settlement turned art community of Tubac; the border town of Nogales; Bisbee, which in the early 1900s was the largest city on the route from St. Louis to San Francisco; Tombstone and its OK Corral; the Pima Air & Space Museum; Mt. Lemon, site of one of Arizona’s ski hills; and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Participating cars on the 24th Copperstate included 15 Ferraris (from a 1953 212 Vignale coupe to a 1973 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder), 10 Jaguars (’51 XK 120 to ’69 E-type), eight Porsches (’57 Carrera GS/GT Speedster to ’73 911 RS/RSR), eight Shelbys (’64 289 Cobra to ’67 GT350), and seven Mercedes-Benzes (including four — count ‘em — four 300SL Gullwings!).

The oldest vehicles on the trip were a 1924 Bentley 3-Litre Vanden Plas, 1934 Lagonda 16/80 Vanden Plas-bodied tourer, 1936 Cord 810 Westchester and a 1940 Ford Deluxe convertible.

Though dominated by sports cars, the rally also included a 1954 Lincoln Capri from the Carrera Panamericana, a 1955 Chrysler C-300, 1969 Dodge Charter R/T, 1970 Ford Torino NASCAR stock car, a 1971 Pontiac Trans-Am HO and a 1973 Citroen SM.

But the rally is about more than just enjoying fantastic scenery from inside amazing vehicles.

The Copperstate is organized by the Phoenix-based Men’s Arts Council to annually raise money for the Phoenix Art Museum and for programs that support the state’s law enforcement officers. (Indeed, it was a contingent of Copperstate participants who created the 10-90 Copperstate Foundation, an IRS-recognized nonprofit, to provide emergency benefits for families and dependents of Arizona officers injured or killed in the line of duty.)

 

Astronauts’ cars among featured lots at Mecum’s Houston auction

Photos by Mecum Auctions

Houston being the site of the NASA Johnson Space Center, it seems only fitting that among the 1,000 cars being offered up for bids this weekend at Mecum Auctions’ sale are two formerly owned by astronauts. And not just any astronauts, but the first two U.S. fliers to travel into space.

In addition to riding rockets, astronauts were known for their rocketing along the highways in Chevrolet Corvettes. Alan Shepard, the first American into space and later known for hitting a golf ball on a course called “The Moon,” was among those Corvette owners, but later in life he owned by 1995 Camaro Z28 convertible, a car that will be lot F59 at the Mecum sale.

Virgil “Gus” Grissom died in the Apollo 1 catastrophe just a few months after he’d purchased a 1967 Corvette convertible. The car continued to be shown in parades at Cape Kennedy in Florida, has been restored and has won NCRS Top Flight honors. It will be Lot S120.1 at the Mecum sale.

Among other vehicles at the sale at the Reliant Center are:

  • A 1967 Chevrolet Corvette coupe that had been hidden in a garage with less than 3,000 miles on its odometer until being found in 2012;
  • A 1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza coupe, unrestored and with only 15 miles on its odometer;
  • An unrestored, 3,853-mile 1965 Mercury Monterey Marauder;
  • A 1969 Plymouth Road Runner convertible;
  • The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette 7 11 race car used in the movie Viva Las Vegas;
  • A 1920 Cadillac Type 59 Phaeton;
  • A 1934 Cadillac Fleetwood V12 all-weather phaeton (the second of only three built);
  • The 1963 “Bunkie Knudsen” Corvette styling car;
  • An ex-Paul Newman 1974 Porsche 911S race car;
  • The 7-time NHRA national championship 1963 Shelby Cobra Dragonsnake;
  • A 1964 Ford GT40 prototype;
  • 1 of 20 1972 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 coupes
  • A 1970 Plymouth Superbird with a 440/375 V8;
  • A 1910 Locomobile Model 40 Type 1 demi tonneau;
  • A 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Huntington limousine with Brewster coachwork;
  • Six street rods from the same collection.

In addition to the classic car auction that runs April 10-12, Mecum will stage a one-day MidAmerica vintage and antique motorcycle auction April 13, with 200 bikes available.

Among them are nearly 100 bikes from the collection of Mike Doyle, including:

  • A 1928 Henderson K-Deluxe;
  • A restored 1949 Vincent HRD Black Shadow;
  • A 1913 Sears single-cylinder auto cycle;
  • A reproduced 1926 Harley-Davidson JDH-8 valve board-track racer
  • A 1960 Ducati 260 Elite racer

Also crossing the block will be two motorcycles formerly owned by Steve McQueen:

  • A 1931 Harley-Davidson VL;
  • A 1971 Husqvarna 250cc motocross

The Houston classic car sale will be televised by the NBC Sports and Esquire networks.

 

Vintage tractors, farm ‘relics’ bring $2 million in sales at Mecum auction

The scene at Gone Farmin’ sale in Iowa | Mecum Auction photos

Yes, we know, this is the blog of ClassicCars.com, but if you like old cars and vintage motorcycles, how can you not have at least a passing interest in historic farm implements?

Hey, we’ve seen vintage tractors at major concours d’elegance and a few even have rolled across the block at some important classic car auctions. And Ford, Porsche and Lamborghini all have histories involving the design and production of tractors.

A few times each year, Mecum Auctions stages one of its “Gone Farmin’” sales of vintage tractors and farm relics. The most recent such sale took place last week at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa, where 200 tractors and 350 signs and relics sold for more than $2 million, with an impressive 88-percent sell-through rate.

The Little Bull
The Little Bull

The total sales amount was a record for Mecum’s four-year-old Gone Farmin’ sales division.

The high-dollar sale was a 1913 Bull Tractor Co. Little Bull 5-12 that hammerd for $81,000 (all prices here are hammer prices). A 1919 Waterloo Boy N brought $80,000 and had been retained by its original owner for six decades; its second owner had it from 1979 until selling it last year.

Among the top-10 sales were a pair from the Steve Sickafoose Collection — a 1971 Farmall 1456 MFWA going for $65,000 and a 1972 Farmall 1468 getting $42,000.

Six of the top-10- sales were vintage John Deeres, led by a 1924 John Deere D that sold for $46,000.

Mecum’s next vintage tractor auction is June 6-7 at Nashville, Tenn.

 

Coys posts results from Techno Classica auction

1963 Bentley S3 sells for $234,000 | Coys photos
1963 Bentley S3 sells for $234,000 | Coys photos
1972 Ferrari GTB/4 Daytona goes for $667,820
1972 Ferrari GTB/4 Daytona goes for $667,820

British auction house Coys reports that its recent auction held in conjunction with the Essen Techno Classica in Germany produced sales of nearly $5.5 million.

“We are delighted to have successfully sold a significant number of high-value historic motor cars to an international audience,” Coys managing partner Chris Routledge said in a news release. “This truly outlines the global reach of the company.”

The high-dollar sale (well, the auction was conducted in Euros but we’ve converted prices to dollars) was $667,820 for a 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta.

Coys also reported a 1963 Bentley S3 Continental “Flying Spur” sold for $234,000 and a 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 brought just shy of $229,500.

Other sales the company labeled as “important” included $226,400 for a Pur Sang Bugatti Type 35C, $154,350 for a 1962 Jaguar E-type Series I 3.8-litre roadster, $149,750 for a 1929 Packard 640 Custom Eight roadster, $149,750 for a Barker-bodied 1937 Bentley 3 1/2 drop head coupe, and $142,000 for a 1950 Jaguar XK120 roadster.

Coys next sale is April 26 at Ascot, where a display will celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines.