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.

Bookshelf: Capturing the photos that capture our lives and our cars

Autophoto is not a book to be taken lightly. And it’s not just the fact that the book spans 494 pages, and each of them is slightly larger than 8×10, so you’re carrying around the equivalent of a ream of copier paper bound between hard covers.

Most of those pages are given over to a series of photographs that follow the theme of the book’s subtitle — Cars & Photography, 1900 to Now.

In fact, the book actually is the catalog for the Autophoto exhibition running from April 20 to September 24 at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. After paging through the book, absorbing some of the poignancy of the photographs, and reading through the various pages of text, I can only imagine the impact of actually attending that show, and let’s hope it becomes a traveling exhibition that at some point visits North America.

In their introduction, curators Xavier Barral and Philippe Seclier write of the parallel development — and impact on society — of the automobile and the camera, one allowing us to travel, the other capturing and sharing images, our memories gathered along the way.

But now, they note, a new era dawns, an era in which the car not only drives itself, but is equipped with its own cameras.

“But before this new transformation allows us to finally let go of the steering wheel, let us pause,” they suggest, we should pause to take a look at where we’ve been, how far we’ve come. They do that though the presentation of a variety of photographic series that, “show us how the automobile has, over the last century and through the eye of the camera, altered the landscape and, with its recurrent themes, forever changed our society and our way of seeing things.”

There are more words to be read in the book, including a note about movie car chases, about the first use of a “getaway” car by criminals, about the impact of the new Leica camera in 1925 — Henry Ford put the world on wheels, the Leica put practical photography in anyone’s hands — about how Jacques Henri Lartigue’s 1912 photograph of a race car in motion was actually a photographic accident now cherished for capturing speed, about how a windshield can be a frame for photography, and much more.

But the heart of the book is its display of photographs, images that show us — us and our cars and how they interact.

For example, over three pages there are 27 images by Sylvie Meunier and Patrick Tourneboeuf under the theme of American Dream, images that show people standing beside — or in the case of two children, on the hood of — their cars in the 1950s.

And it’s not just Americans we see striking strike such poses in the pages that follow.

There are images of roads; an amazing series by Ed Ruscha on parking lots; a stunningly composed series of America by Car by Lee Friedlander; another by Oscar Fernando Gomez, who frames his photos through the right-front window; a multi-page series in which 10 photographers create Nationale Zero, the so-called Transeuropean highway; a gorgeously photographed series, Auto Reverse, in which Kay Michalak and Sven Volker showcase the underside of vehicles; Edward Burtynsky’s amazing photos of piles of used tires; Alejandro Cartegna’s photos from a highway overpass of what passes beneath; and those are just those that most struck me on my first pass through the book.

But it won’t be my final examination of this amazing work of art and words. This is a coffee-table book that won’t just collect dust.

 

Reviewed

Autophoto: Cars & Photography, 1900 to Now
Edited by Xavier Barral and Philippe Seclier
By Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, 2017
ISBN: 9782869251311
Hardcover, 494 pages
$65 from www.artbook.com

Autojumble 2017: It’s the swap meet, British style

More than 34,000 people turned out for the 50th anniversary Beaulieu International Autojumble this past weekend at Britain’s National Motor Museum, where one of the highlights was running the engine of the Lotus 49 Formula One racing car, which also was celebrating its half-century birthday.

More than 2,300 vendors offered cars, spare parts, accessories, literature and assorted automobilia at the annual event, where even more was available during the Trunk Traders session on Sunday.

Blue Bird re-creation brings $343,068 at Bonhams auction
Blue Bird re-creation brings $343,068 at Bonhams auction

The weekend also featured a collector car auction by Bonhams, with 128 cars and 17 motorcycles and assorted automobilia selling for £3,271,000 ($4.24 million).

The top sale was the £264,700 ($343,068) paid for a re-creation of Malcolm Campbell’s 1921 aero-engine Napier Blue Bird land-speed-record car.

A 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost “Piccadilly” roadster brought $321,294, a 1920 Vauxhall 30-96HP E-type two-seat plus Dickey tourer sold for $285,004, a 1925 Vauxhall 30/98hp OE Velox tourer went for $277,746 and a 1967 Aston Martin DB6 sports saloon “project” sold for $197,909. Prices include buyer’s fees.

But the auction cars weren’t the only ones for sale. There was a Dealermart area where collector car dealers displayed their vehicles and an Automart area with 146 cars for sale by owner, including a 1964 Wartburg 311 used in the Man from UNCLE movie.

Mark Cocklin and David Wilkinson won the Best Stand award for their offering of Austin Seven parts. When the owners of the stand next to theirs for the last 10 years were unable to attend because of illness, Cocklin and Wilkinson took over and ran that booth as well.

“This show is about the buying and selling, but also the socializing and doing the right thing by helping other classic car owners to get the parts they need,” said Cocklin, a clockmaker by trade. “It’s a way of life.”

 

Porsches set pace at Silverstone sale

Silverstone Auctions set some British auction records at its Salon Prive sale Saturday at Blenheim Palace.

Overall, the sale totaled £2.75 ($3.56 million).

Among the British-sale record breakers were a 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo SE “Flat Nose,” one of only 10 produced to UK specification, which sold for £245,250 ($317,500); a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette “split window” coupe that brought £102,938 ($133,250); and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI “Tommi Makinen” edition that sold for £46,688 ($60,500).

Prices include buyer’s fee.

1963 Corvette
Split-window Corvette also sets British record

Silverstone pointed to several other significant sales as well, including a 1969 Shelby GT500 Ford Mustang that brought £102,375 ($132,500), a 1974 Lamborghini Urraco P250 that sold for £96,188 ($124,500) and a Lamborghini 1R tractor that went for £20,813 ($26,950).

Porsches sold very strongly, the auction house noted, listing such sales as a 1962 356B 1600S coupe bringing £118,125 ($152,900) and a 1960 356B Super 90 cabriolet going for £191,250 ($247,500).

Silverstone Auctions next sale is scheduled for October 21 at The Wing, Silverstone.

 

Ex-Coulthard, Hakkinen cars headed to auction

Cars driven by former McLaren F1 teammates David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen will cross the block Thursday at Coys’ Thoroughbred & Vintage auction Thursday at Fonwell House, just up the road from the Goodwood Revival meeting in England.

One car is a 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG that Hakkinen drove after he retired from F1 competition. The other is a 1958 Austin A35 that Coulthard drove up the hill in the Goodwood Revival in 2016.

2008 Mercedes Benz
Mike Hakkinen’s post-F1 driver

“The Coulthard-Hakkinen partnership was synonymous of McLaren racing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and now these two cars driven by them will share the share the spotlight at Coys auction,” Coys chief executive Chris Routledge said in a news release. “This is a rare opportunity to own cars with genuine provenance and a special piece of motorsport history attached to it.”

In addition to Coulthard’s run up the hills at Goodwood, the Austin was driven at the Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge earlier this year by boxer Carl Froch, and frequently has carried its drivers to the podium at vintage racing events.

Coys notes that the car was built in 2016 to HRDC Academy racing series regulations using a 1958 donor vehicle. The recent build and rules “make it highly competitive and easy to drive,” the auction house promised.

The racing suit worn and signed by Coulthard is included in the car’s sale.

The ’08 CL65 AMG also bears Hakkinen’s autograph.

1951 Vincent Black Shadow tops auction at British motorcycle museum

The H&H Classics auction at England’s National Motorcycle Museum posted nearly $650,000 in sales this past weekend with a 1951 Vincent Black Shadow selling for £85,125 ($110,303).

Vincent Black Shadow
Vincent Black Shadow

The bike, originally delivered in Sweden and restored by Scandinavian Vincent expert Severt Bomberg, had won the best in show honors at the 2005 Vincent rally. It was estimated to sell for £75,000 to 80,000 ($90,000 to $103,660).

Many vehicles topped their pre-sale estimates, including a Harley-Davidson Sportster that tripled its pre-sale expectations when it sold for more than $9,900.

1975 Jaguar XJ S
1975 Jaguar sells for 4X its pre-sale estimated value

Also on the docket were some classic cars. Of them, a 1975 Jaguar XJS brought a round of applause when it sold for £40,000 (more than $51,000), four times its pre-sale estimate.

Mercedes-Benz France offering 20 cars at Artcurial’s special auction

Artcurial Motorcars will stage a Mercedes-only auction October 15, and not only will the sale be held at the Mercedes-Benz Center in Rueil Malmaison, Paris, but 20 of the 40 cars on the docket are coming from the private collection of Mercedes-Benz France.

“What an opportunity for an enthusiast to acquire a classic model from the manufacturer itself!” Matthieu Lamoure, Artcurial Motorcars’ managing director, said a news release.

1961 300 SL roadster
1961 300 SL roadster

“Organizing a unique sale with a marque as prestigious as Mercedes-Benz will give collectors the change to immerse themselves in the history of the automobile, an iconic marque synonymous with luxury, strength, elegance and performance.”

Cars on the docket range from a replica of the first three-wheeled 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen to a 300 SL Gullwing — and a roadster — and the 500 SL used in the television series Dallas, among others, Artcurial said.

Benz_Patent_Motor_Wagen-6ok

More details and the complete docket will be available at the auction house website.

Pick of the Day: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280S

The private seller of our Pick of the Day hopes so much that the car goes to a museum that he’s willing to offer special pricing on this tribute to the first AMG racing car.

The car, a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280S, is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the seller is asking $18,975.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of AMG, which started when two Mercedes-Benz engineers decided they wanted to go racing, and grew into a full-fledge tuning shop and car modifier and eventually was enfolded into Daimler ownership.

8391857-1969-mercedes-benz-280s-std-c-524x524

AMG’s first racing effort involved a W108 four-door sedan that was ready to compete at Spa Francorchamps in July 1971. The Pick of the Day is a tribute to that vehicle, the seller says in the advertisement for the car on ClassicCars.com.

The car has a 2.8-liter inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, power steering — with a fast-release, racing-style steering wheel — four-wheel disc brakes, Bluetooth tire-pressure monitors for each of its 16-inch Penta Ronal-AMG alloy wheels, new fuel pump, European-model Backer radio, USB and 12-volt outlets.

It also has black, cloth-covered racing-style seats. However, it does not have air conditioning, but the seller notes that the compressor brackets are installed in case someone wants to add that feature.

“The construction of this vehicle and its redesign is a private enterprise,” the seller notes. “We do not alter the security systems of the original car as built at the time of manufacture and delivery in the USA.

“We just enhance the design of the vehicle with professional add-ons.”

That work, the seller notes, are done by certified technicians in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

By the way, the seller says he is working on similar replicas inspired by other famous Mercedes-Benz racing cars.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

 

7446323-1969-mercedes-benz-280s-std-c

More than 400 vehicles expected for revival of 1910 hill climb venue

Marshal holds car in place as it team awaits its run up Kop Hill in 2016 | Hill climb photos by Richard Daniels
Marshal holds car in place as it team awaits its run up Kop Hill in 2016 | Hill climb photos by Richard Daniels

Motorcars have been challenging Britain’s Kop Hill since 1910, at least that’s the earliest date for which there are records. Since then, the likes of Malcolm Campbell, Henry Segrave and Count Zborowski have seen how quickly they could reach the summit.

The original hill climb competitions were halted in 1925 because of safety concerns, but in 2009 a group of volunteers convinced local officials to close the public road long enough for yet another go at speed up the hill. The ninth revival of the Kop Hill climb is scheduled for September 16-17 in Princes Risborough.

The event raises money for local causes; last year more than £100,000 (nearly $130,000) was distributed among 32 projects.

Racers, spectators await the start
Racers, spectators await the start

More than 400 vintage vehicles — cars and motorcycles — get to challenge the hill each of the two days of the event, and many more vehicles simply are on display in the paddock car show.

Hill climb entries range from a 1914 German-built Fafnir with a 10.5-liter, four-cylinder aero engine, to a 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC and a ’73 Daytona competition model. Edd China, former host mechanic of the popular Wheeler Dealer television series, also is entered and will take his Casual Lofa Sofa up the hill.

The activities not only include climbs up the hill, but a Soapbox Challenge with teams of youngsters aged 10 to 17 seeing which can cover the greatest distance in their gravity-powered vehicles as they travel down a route that includes a chicane and several obstacles.

 

 

Studio becomes temporary museum to celebrate cars by Gordon Murray

The venue won’t really be a museum, but it figures to feel like one in November when Gordon Murray celebrates 50 years of vehicle engineering and design with a special exhibition featuring 40 race and road cars he’s helped to create.

It is believed that this will be the only time these vehicles — including Brabham and McLaren F1 racers, McLaren supercars, lightweight concepts, one-off specials and city cars — will be showcased together in one place. That place is the new Gordon Murray Design studio in Dunsfold, Surrey, England, where Murray’s newest vehicle also will be unveiled.

While the exhibition is open by invitation only, a virtual online tour will be available at Murray’s website.

“There will also be a host of displays that provide an insight into how these iconic cars have shaped the modern automotive world, as well as the many cultural inspirations for Murray’s work over the decades,” the news release noted.

Murray and the McLaren F1
Murray and the McLaren F1

The exhibition coincides with the 25th anniversary of the McLaren F1 and the 10th anniversary of Gordon Murray Design. Among the vehicles on display will be the 1967 IGM Ford Special, 1978 Brabham BT46B “fan car,” 1981 Brabham BT49C and 1983 Brabham-BMW BT52 world-championship winners, the Le Mans-winning 1995 McLaren F1 GTR, a 1996 McLaren F1 LM, a 2013 Yamaha City Car and a 2016 GTV OX truck-in-a box.

“It will be a very proud and emotional day to see all these cars brought together, as they chart my professional life, as well as my perspective over the decades on complex challenges in vehicle design and engineering,” Murray said.

“Making this event happen presents a huge logistical challenge, as many of the vehicles are in private collections and distributed all around the world. Added to that is the fact almost all the cars are one-offs, and their value is greatly enhanced both by their rarity and, in many cases, by their race-winning pedigree. I am hugely appreciative of the generosity of those owners in granting us temporary custodianship of their cars for this unique event.”

Roof repairs at California museum

As repairs are made to the roof above the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento, the facility has altered its operating hours. It will be open Labor Day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., closed Tuesday, September 5, and then open by appointment only through Friday, September 8.

But then comes Classic Car Appreciation Weekend with visitors encouraged to drive to the museum in their vintage vehicles and with a “hoods-up” display of selected museum cars. As part of the weekend celebration, visitors pay only what they want for admission.

The museum is closed except by appointment the following week (September 11-15), then plans to resume normal hours on Saturday, September 16.

Corvette museum offers detailing service

You don’t have to have a vintage Corvette to take advantage of a new service being offered by the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The museum’s delivery department and its pre-inspection team, which preps brand new Corvettes for delivery to their owners, will do a professional detailing of any vehicle.

The basic package — exterior wash, dry, spray wax, windows cleaned inside and out, interior vacuumed and tire finish — is $50 for cars and $75 for trucks, vans and SUVs. A premium package with hand wax and interior trim dressing, is $75 and $100, respectively. Carpet and upholstery shampooing also is available.

For details of how to schedule an appointment, see the museum’s website.

REVS Institute opens an Amazon book store

The REVS Institute at the Collier Collection in Fort Myers, Florida, has a huge automotive library that includes many duplicate copies. To make space for new works and to relieve the duplication, the Institute has opened an online Amazon book “storefront.”

To start shopping, so far more than 800 books are offered for sale, visit the special storefront website.

Vintage trucks at the Beaulieu

Mark your calendars

Racer Scott Pruett will be the featured guest November 10 when the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento presents “An Evening With” program.

Some 350 trucks — classics and currents — are expected to be displayed September 9-10 at the British Motor Museum’s seventh annual Retro Truck Show.

“It is hard to believe some of these are over 40 years old as it only seems like yesterday that these trucks were all working for a living on our roads,” Tom Caren, show manager, said in a news release. “We would encourage even those that don’t own a truck to come along and enjoy the nostalgia. Seeing so many magnificent trucks from different decades is a fantastic spectacle.”

Special events this weekend

The Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine stages its annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival and Antique Aeroplane Show this Saturday and Sunday. A special parking area for vintage motorcycles will be set up for pre-1997 bikes. Those riding in on such vehicles will be admitted to the festival without charge. The museum also will showcase its own collection of motorcycles, including an 1868 Roper Steam Velocipede, 1901 Steffey Motorbike and others. There also will be demonstration flights by vintage aircraft. For details, visit the museum’s website.

This is your last weekend to view the 9th annual Classic Motorcycle Show at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. The special exhibit closes at the end of the day Friday, September 8.

Because of rain last weekend, the monthly auto flea market and car corral at Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, will be held Sunday from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Another High Performance Drivers Education Program takes place today at the NCM Motorsports Park, just across the highway from the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Midwest Track Days for motorcycle riders will be held Saturday and Sunday. This also is the museum’s 23rd anniversary celebration weekend featuring lectures and the hall of fame induction.

The monthly cars & coffee cruise-in is scheduled for Sunday at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, where participants will be reminded of event guidelines regarding behavior. “When the behavior of a small minority of car owners who act in a disrespectful and potentially dangerous manner,” the museum noted, “it is clear that something has to change.” The museum has invited Danville and Contra County police and sheriff staff to attend its shows, where the new guidelines are “Keep it quite. Keep it slow.”

Napier tribute

Britain’s National Motor Museum will be the site of the annual Beaulieu International Autojumble (swap meet) Saturday and Sunday, with a Bonhams collector car auction on Saturday, when one of the featured lots will be an aero-engined 1921 Napier Blue Bird homage to Malcolm Campbell’s land speed-record breaker. The new version is built around a 24-liter W12 Napier Lion aero engine, Delage front axle, Bentley rear, Minerva brakes and has a hand-formed aluminum body. The pre-sale estimated value is in the neighborhood of $350,000.

Is Auburn the last sale for Auctions America?

RM Sotheby’s experiment with an entry-level collector car auction company appears to be coming to a close with the annual Auctions America Auburn Fall sale taking place this weekend at the Auburn Auction Park in northeast Indiana.

Worldwide Auctioneers also has a sale this weekend in Auburn.

Just as with what had been an Auctions America sale in the historic Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, this sale is being retitled for 2018, when the twice-a-year Auburn Auction will be presented not by Auctions America but by RM Sotheby’s.

When RM founder Rob Myers and company did the deal to take over what had been the venue for Kruse Auctions a few years ago, RM also launched the Auctions America brand to stage a series of sales geared more to the mainstream of the collector car hobby than to the six- and seven-figure vehicles that tend to fill the RM sales catalogs.

But that was before Myers sold a significant piece of RM to global art auction house Sotheby’s. The RM Sotheby’s joint effort has been a huge success, bringing new customers from the art-collecting world to classic cars as investments that can be appreciated as you use them, not merely as you look at them.

There has been speculation lately that Myers, who has been in the restoration and auction businesses for nearly 40 years, was about to retire, that Sotheby’s would take over full control and that entry-level sales such as those done by Auctions America would not be part of the plan going forward.

Myers said Thursday that the twice-a-year Auburn Auction would continue.

“I’ve been coming her for more than 30 years,” he said, adding that he’s not about to retire.

However, he said, “I hired a new president (for RM Sotheby’s, Ken Ahn, a Harvard graduate and former investment banker/advisor who had been senior vice president for strategy and corporate development at Sotheby’s).

Having someone else as RM Sotheby’s president, Myers said, “means that I can work only 18 hours a day instead of 24.”

He did say that like Santa Monica, the Auburn Auctions would be organized by RM Sotheby’s, and added that a final decision has not been made whether to continue to do any future sales under the Auctions America banner.

Regardless, “we want to upgrade the quality of the cars” on offer in Auburn, he added.

I spent part of Thursday wandering among the cars on the Auburn Auction Park docket. Above are some I’d want were I a collector buying rather than a journalist reporting.

Photos by Larry Edsall

2003 Delahaye Custom Boattail Speedster
2003 Delahaye Custom Boattail Speedster
Created in the style of the French Art Deco era, this custom was built by Browns Metal Mods, and it took four years to create. The curvaceous car — its fiberglass body was designed by Chip Foose — has a modern chassis and a Ford 5.0-liter V8 linked to a C4 automatic transmission. It also has a red leather interior and a removable fabric soft top.
IMG_3312 (1)Formerly part of the acclaimed Lyons Family Collection, this Duesie retains its original LaGrande bodywork, as well as its supercharged engine and chassis. The car’s original owner was Ben Smith, a stock-exchange floor trader known for making a fortune short selling as the U.S. economy entered the Depression. He and his son invested in a horse-racing track in Mexico and the car was part of the deal; it is known within Duesenberg circles as the “Mexico City SJ.”
IMG_3306McFarlans were early but quite advanced vehicles produced in downstate Indiana in the town of Connersville. This original McFarlan chassis and inline 6-cylinder engine wears boattail-style bodywork.
IMG_3287With its Mittelrot (medium red) paint, black leather interior, black convertible top and fuel-injected inline 6-cylinder engine linked to a four-speed manual gearbox, this 220 SE looks like a terrific way to do a vintage car rally such as the Copperstate 1000.
IMG_3282Whomever buys this car will be only the third owner of this sports car with bodywork by Touring. The 4-cylinder engine is topped by a pair of Solex carburetors and is linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The consignor had a note on the windshield that five new Borrani stainless wire wheels and hubs were imported from Italy and mounted on the car in 2015; they were an option when the car was new. The consignor added that the original wood box with factory-furnished tools is still in the trunk.
IMG_3310This restored and rust-free truck still has its original inline-6 engine and 4-speed manual transmission. It’s been restored as a wrecker, and for many years was owned by a Chrysler Dodge dealer.
IMG_3293My Dad had a ’51 Pontiac sedan that he bought for his commute to work so my Mom could have the “family” station wagon. This sedan delivery also is a ’51, and has a straight-8 with column-shifted 3-speed gearbox, but it’s way cooler than a station wagon.
IMG_3279This is the stunt car that did a spiral jump over a river in “The Man with the Golden Gun” 007 movie. It looks like a regular AMC Hornet but is built on a race-style frame, and the driver sits in the middle behind a repositioned steering wheel. If I bought it, I’d give it to Andy Reid, our East Coast editor and resident James Bond fanatic.