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.

It’s Miami to Detroit for The Drive Home III in January 2018

TDH_III_Map-524x524Some might think that exposing classic cars to winter weather is foolish. But back before they were classics, such cars were daily drivers carrying their occupants to work, to school, to wherever they needed to go, 24/7 and 365.

For the third year in a row, America’s Automotive Trust, via the LeMay — America’s Car Museum, and the North American International Auto Show will join forces to show that vintage vehicles still can take on winter road conditions as they stage “The Drive Home III: Driving The Future,” a 10-day road rally.

The first such event involved three vehicles — a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, a 1961 Chrysler 300G, and a 1966 Ford Mustang — being driven from the museum in Tacoma, Washington, to the auto show in downtown Detroit. Last winter the same cars took part, but their route began in Boston.

This winter — from January 3-12 — the route starts in Miami and works its way north to the show.

“To keep things fresh, TDH III will feature a set of muscle cars from America’s Car Museum as well as a motorcycle, sports car, resto-rod, and even modern ‘green’ vehicles to tell the story of automotive innovation and competition,” organizers said in their news release.

“The Drive Home is truly a fantastic way to lead into the North American International Auto Show as we connect with automotive enthusiasts across the journey to Detroit,” added Rod Alberts, the Detroit show chairman. “Much like NAIAS, we continue to add new elements and partners to the road rally that keeps it exciting and engaging.”

It was Alberts and the LeMay’s David Madeira who launched the drive home event one evening over scotch and cigars.

“We thought it was a great idea to put vintage cars out on the road in the dead of winter – after all, it’s simply something you don’t see every day,” Madeira said.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive – the cars bring out feelings of nostalgia, not only in car lovers but everyday people. I’ll never forget how a string of misfortune could have ended the run to Detroit last year, but the community rallied behind us and were instrumental in finding rare parts and getting us on back on the road.”

Singing the praises of an unsung hero

Roy-Lunn-Dec-2015-Sarasota-Cafe-Racers-lunch-Gary-Jean-524x524

In August 1966, Sports Car Graphic magazine featured two men on its cover. One was Zora Arkus-Duntov, famed father of the Chevrolet Corvette. The other was Roy Lunn, who at the time — and, actually, for time to come as well — was perhaps the Ford Motor Company’s best-kept secret, even if he was the chief engineer of one of the most historic racing cars of all-time, the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40.

Recently, while we were celebrating classic cars, those for the track and the road, on the Monterey Peninsula, word came that Roy Lunn had died. He was 92.

Lunn was a native of England, studied as an aeronautical engineer, and in 1946 joined AC Cars. He helped Aston Martin create the DB2s that raced at Le Mans, and was chief designer for Jowett Cars, taking a fiberglass-bodied Javelins to Le Mans and winning class honors.

He was hired by Ford and helped establish a Ford engineering center in England in 1953, and developed the Anglia, the first truly British Ford vehicle. Impressed, he was invited to the company’s Dearborn headquarters for a visit, a visit that lasted until 1971, when he left to help American Motors produce the Eagle, the first mass-produced American car with four-wheel drive, and then create the lightweight and versatile sport utility vehicle, the 1983 Jeep Cherokee.

At Ford, Lunn oversaw the Advanced Concepts Group and worked a diverse product portfolio — the company’s first front-wheel-drive product, the Taunus, for the European market; an aerodynamic and fuel-efficient over-the-road transport truck; even a potential competitor for the Volkswagen Beetle.

In June of 1963, he presented Ford executives a proposal for a racing car that could exceed 200 mph and would be capable of averaging 130 mph over the course of 24 hours. That proposal would produce the GT40.

By the way, a part of the Lunn’s plan was to produce not only racing cars, but a road-going high-performance sports car as well. Drawings were done and a clay model produced. Sure, some road-going Ford GT40s were built but, basically, they were street-legal racers, not the sleek and compact sports model Lunn had envisioned. The prototype for that vehicle was unveiled at the 1962 U.S. Grand Prix, where Dan Gurney drove it for a lap or two around the Watkins Glen racing circuit.

In the course of writing a book about the development of the GT40-inspired 2005 Ford GT, I talked and corresponded with Lunn at his Florida home. One of the things he emphasized in our letters back and forth was that his team had a name selected for the Ford sports car. They wanted to call it Mustang, after the famed fighter aircraft, and they were irate when Ford put that badge on a sporty but sedate Falcon-based four-seater.

After retiring in 1985, Lunn returned to his aerodynamic and fuel-efficient roots, produced several books about the unsustainability of a fossil-fueled world industrial economy, and worked on a three-wheeled electric vehicle project. In 2015, he moved to California, at age 90, started meeting weekly as a mentor to engineering students at the University of Santa Barbara.

“Roy Lunn is one of the industry’s original disrupters, the product of an enquiring mind and relentless ability to utilize it,” said Martyn Schorr, longtime automotive industry observer. “His goals throughout his career were visionary, with a clear eye to the future.”

6,725 hours later, Pininfarina’s Jaguar is reborn

What may be the rarest Jaguar on the planet recently rolled from its restoration to the awards presentation area at the 67th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The car was the 1954 XK120 SE by Pininfarina, a one-off version of a classic British car by a famed Italian design studio, first shown at the 1955 Geneva and Torino motor shows before being sent to Max Hoffman in New York and then on to its owner.

Hoffman worked with Batista “Pinin” Farina on the design of the XK120 SE.

The Jaguar on the Pebble Beach show field.
The Jaguar on the Pebble Beach show field.

Although the early history of the car after Hoffman delivered it to its initial owner may be lost, the car was in Germany from 1979 to 2015, when it was acquired by employee-owned Classic Motor Cars of Bridnorth, England, which undertook the car’s restoration.

“There is little trace of the car’s history, but we are certain that Hoffman was the supplying dealer, then first owner of the car and that there was only one XK120 by Pininfarina produced, which makes this one of the rarest Jaguars in existence,” David Barzilay, chairman of the Classic Motors Cars operating board, said in a news release.

The Classic Motor Cars team put 6,725 man hours into the car’s restoration.

“Some of the original parts were impossible to find so we had to remake items such as the bumpers and chrome work by hand from photographs,” Barzilay said. “We had to scan the front and rear end of the car and make mock ups of the lights, which were then scanned and 3D printed. Smaller missing parts were also 3D printed in-house.

“The rear window was missing so we also had to scan the window aperture and have a new rear screen made from the scan data.”

There also was the challenge of determining and reproducing the car’s original paint color.

“During the pre-restoration inspection, it was found that Pininfarina had used the original XK body as a basis, and that, at some point in its life, the car was painted Burgundy and had the seats covered with tan leather,” the Classic Motor Cars’ news release noted.

“There were no signs of the original paint color and it all came down to the last nut and bolt,” Barzilay said. “When the front screen was removed, we discovered a small section of original paint and used it as a color match.

“The interior trim door cards were missing, along with the carpets and the original color of the trim, but we discovered a small sample of original Ochre tan leather when we stripped the car down. This was color matched and the original type and color leather was used to recreate the interior.

“The shape and pattern of the door cards was created by looking at similar Pininfarina designed cars from the period.”

Second in class award presented
Second in class award presented

During its work, the team did a full-body restoration including new front end, rear quarter panels, inner arch panels, boot floor, sills and door skins; full chassis repair and repaint; remade front and rear bumpers, remade 80 percent of the original chrome work; remade rear screen and surround; full interior re-trim; full engine and gearbox rebuilt; and refurbished suspension components to return the car to original Jaguar equipment specification.

“The car was admired all day and we are delighted to be bringing a trophy home as a further testimony to the skills, dedication and attention to detail that we have in our business,” said Neumark. “A great result!”

The car was awarded second place in the Postwar Closed class at Pebble Beach, where the class winner was another one-off vehicle, the 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS Boano Coupe Speciale owned by Tony Shooshani of Long Beach, California.

Cover story: London auction catalog mimics style of Underground route map

RM Sotheby’s has done it again, created a collector car auction catalog that is newsworthy, perhaps even collectible, in its own right.

In recent years, the auction house has done some impressive catalogs. Among them, there was the small but brick-thick one for the 2013 sale of the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum. Two years later, there was the catalog for the Andrews Collection sale, chock full of delightful illustrations by Stefan Marjoram.

Arriving recently was the catalog for RM Sotheby’s annual London auction. While the contents are typical for such a sale, the front and back covers are eye-catching illustrations depicting a classic car (front cover) and a sports car (back cover) presented in the style of those famed London Underground maps.

Tucked between those covers are the 71 automotive lots scheduled to cross the block on September 6 at the Battersea Evolution, located on the south bank of the River Thames, a few blocks west of the tube’s Vauxhall station on the Victoria line.

The front cover of the auction catalog | RM Sotheby's graphic
The front cover of the auction catalog | RM Sotheby’s graphic

The auction is being held in conjunction with Britain’s annual Royal Concours of Elegance, which takes place September 1-3 at Hampton Court Palace.

Among potentially concours-caliber vehicles available at the auction are a 1939 Aston Martin Speed Model C-type, 1935 Hispano-Suiza K6 with cabriolet coachwork by Brandone, 1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Record cabriolet, and perhaps the 1955 Mulliner-bodied Bentley T-Type Continental fastback.

Of the 71 cars on the docket, 14 are Porsches — including a 1973 Carrera RS 27 lightweight with rallying history — and nine are Ferraris.

Among the most unusual are a 1999 De Tomaso Nuovo Pantera prototype concept (styling study) designed by Marcello Gandini, what is believed to be the only — and never raced — 1985 Mazda RX-7 Evo Group B works rally car, a 2014 Land Rover Defender SVX that was part of the cast for the James Bond movie Spectre, and in something of a “future classic” for such a sale, a 2012 Lexus LFA driven only 2,600 kilometers since new.

Immediately after the sale, the RM Sotheby’s team heads to Maranello, Italy, where it stages its Ferrari — Leggenda e passione auction just three days later.

Mecum to hold Dallas auction despite Texas flooding disaster

Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area and parts of southeastern Texas, Mecum Auctions will hold its collector car sale in Dallas on September 6-9 as planned, the company announced Tuesday.

The auction will take place as expected at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Mecum said in a news release, even though part of the center is being used to house evacuees from the flooding; the auction is held in another area and will not be effected by the emergency measures.

“While all of us here at Mecum Auctions, as well as the nation at large, feel concern and compassion for the residents recently affected by the disastrous flooding experienced in the in and around East and Central Texas, we wanted to assure our customers and auction participants that the Dallas 2017 auction will still take place as scheduled,” Mecum said in the release.

Dallas, which is located about 240 miles north-northwest of Houston, has not suffered the flooding conditions that have paralyzed Houston and the Gulf Coast.

Mecum expects to offer 1,000 “muscle cars, classics, Corvettes, hot rods, resto mods and more” to the convention center for the four-day sale. Last year, the Dallas auction scored nearly $38 million in sales, not including auction fees.

For information, visit the Mecum website.

Vintage racing: 87-year-old racer wins Spirit of Monterey honors

Lee Talbot, who at age 87 is much older than the 1967 Ginetta G4 sports car he races, received The Spirit of Monterey award at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion during the recent Monterey Car Week.

Lee Talbot

Talbot, a professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University in Virginia, was honored for “the same spry enthusiasm” he has exhibited throughout his racing and scholarly careers, according to the race organizers at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Talbot’s Ginetta finished 22nd among the 42 cars that started the race for 1961-1966 GT cars with engines of less than 2,500cc displacement. The race was won by Porsche factory racer Patrick Long in a 1968 911 T/R

The Reunion actually was a two-weekend event that started August 11 with 27 vintage racing cars driving from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to Alvardo Street in downtown Monterey in advance of the Pre-Reunion racing program that drew 300 cars the weekend before Car Week.

More than 500 vintage racing vehicles then participated in the Reunion, where additional highlights included demonstration laps by Tom Kristensen in an Audi R8 LMP1 and by Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren M23B that Emerson Fittipladi drove to the 1974 Formula One championship.

Featured during the Reunion was the Diamond Jubilee World Tour of Formula Junior cars, with 64 of the cars running in two separate race groups.

Showcased in the Laguna paddock were 12 cars pertinent to the 60-year history of the track, including the Ferrari Testa Rossa that Pete Lovely drove to the overall victory at the track’s inaugural event in November 1957.

Race winners were:

Pre-1940 sports racing and touring cars: Luca Maciucescu, 1934 Ford Granite State Special
1927-1951 racing cars: Paddins Dowling, 1934 ERA R2A
1955-1961 sports racing cars over 2,000cc: Dyke Ridgley, 1960 Chaparral I
1974-1981 FIA, IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT: Bruce Canepa, 1979 Porsche 935
1947-1955 sports racing and GT: Dave Zurlinden, 1953 Tatum GMC Special
1970-1984 sports racing cars under 2,100cc: Timothy de Silva, 1978 Osella PA8
1963-1973 FIA manufacturers championship cars: Chris MacAllister, 1973 Gulf Mirage
1981-1991 IMSA GTP: Charles Nearburg, 1989 AAR Eagle MkIII
1955-1962 GT: Kevin Adair, 1959 Austin Healey 3000 S
1958-1960 Formula Jr. (front engine/drum brakes): Chris Drake, 1961 Elva 300
1961-1966 GT cars under 2,500cc: Patrick Long, 1968 Porsche 911 T/R
1963-1966 GT cars over 2,500cc: Lorne Leibel, 1965 Cobra AC
1961-1963 Formula Jr. (disc brakes): Danny Baker, 1963 Lotus 27
1955-1961 sports racing cars under 2,000cc: Cameron Healy, 1953 Porsche Cooper Pooper
1973-1991 IMSA GTU, GTO: Bill Ockerlund, 1991 Chevrolet Duracell Camaro

HSR and Stand 21 launch raceway line

Historic Sportscar Racing and Stand 21 of France have announced a partnership to produce custom HSR, Classic 24 Hour at Daytona and Classic 12 Hour at Sebring “Pistons and Props” branded race wear.

Shoes, gloves, racing suits, shoes and other race wear was designed to exceed safety and medical standards required by FIA, SFI and Snell Foundation, Stand 21 and HSR said in a news release.

Stand 21 also produces such special gear in conjunction with the Le Mans Classic, Monaco Formula One Historics and the Rolex Monterey Reunion, among others.

The third Classic 24 at Daytona is scheduled for November 8-12 with the second 12 at Sebring November 29-December 3.

Lotus 49 lives again at Beaulieu Autojumble

Lotus 49 will roar again at Beaulieu Autojumble

To celebrate the 50th calendar-year anniversary of the huge International Autojumble (swap meet) at Britain’s National Motor Museum, the famed 1967 Lotus 49 that is part of the museum’s collection will rev its 2,993cc V8 engine for all to hear.

The Formula One car is chassis No. 3 and was driven by Graham Hill. The Lotus 49 is a late replacement for the 1950 BRM V16 which was supposed to roar back to life but has some technical issues yet to resolve. The 51st Autojumble takes place September 2-3.

 

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

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

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.

V10-powered Ford Shelby Cobra concept up for bidding in November

This is what Ford thinks the Cobra would have been had Shelby been starting this century | Larry Edsall photo

With J Mays as its design director, Ford Motor Company was into what Mays called “retrofuturism” in the early years of this century. There was a new Mustang that harkened to the late 1960s. There was the Ford GT, an update of the historic GT40s that won at Le Mans. There were all sorts of retro-inspired concept cars.

Among those concepts was the 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra, that joined the Mustang and GT in what Mays termed the “trilogy of Ford’s most legendary performance vehicles.”

That 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra will cross the auction block in early November at GAA Classic Cars auction at the Palace in Greensboro, North Carolina. The winning bidder will write his or her check to the Henry Ford Estate, a 501-C3 charity that will apply the money to the restoration of Fair Lane, the Dearborn, Michigan, estate of Henry and Clara Ford.

Concept car interior

Note: Because the concept did not go into production, for liability purposes, Ford will “render the car completely not driveable” before its delivery to its next owner, although the engine will remain functional.

That engine is something Carroll Shelby didn’t have available when he built the original Cobra, and which likely wouldn’t have fit within the engine compartment of the AC body he used to create the Ferrari-beating sports car. The engine is a specially created 6.4-liter V10 with an aluminum block and heads, featuring velocity stacks, a 10.8:1 compression ratio and pumping out 605 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque.

Just as in Shelby’s Cobras, the engine is up front, the driven wheels in the back.

The concept weighs a little more than 3,000 pounds and has no roof, window glass or radio.

Cobra was displayed at recent Quail motorsports event in California

“That’s the formula,” Shelby said when the car was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “It’s a massive motor in a tiny, lightweight car.”

GAA’s brochure about the concept notes that because the Ford GT program was codenamed Petunia within Ford, the team working on the Cobra concept operated under the name “Daisy.”

“The Daisy name was a little tongue-in-cheek,” said Chris Theodore, who headed Ford’s advanced-product team. “It was a little bit of a tease. Everybody knew we were up to something, but they didn’t know what. I call it a fan dance — the most tantalizing secrets are the ones that you know are there, but can’t quite see.”

For complete details, visit the special GAA Shelby Cobra Concept website.

Race-proven cars headline Coys’ auction near Goodwood

An alloy-bodied 1950 Jaguar XK120 competition roadster, a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster and a 1989 Sauber Mercedes C9 Group C racer highlight the docket for Coys’ auction during the Goodwood Revival. The “Thoroughbred & Vintage” auction is scheduled for September 7 at Fontwell House in Sussex Downs.

The ’50 Jaguar roadster is known as “Piggy” and is one of only 184 left-hand-drive alloy roadsters. It was delivered new to Charles Hornburg of Los Angeles, the first U.S. importer of Jaguars. The car raced in the U.S. for several years before returning to the U.K. around 1973, where it was raced by John Harper and also gained its nickname.

The car goes to auction with a pre-sale estimated value of £200,000 to £250,000 ($260,000 to $325,000).

The ’60 300 SL is silver with red leather interior, has been driven only 71,000 kilometers, in part because it spend nearly 30 years in a garage before undergoing a mechanical restoration by the Mercedes Classic Center.

The ’89 Sauber Mercedes comes from the Sauber Mercedes Museum, has an M117 C9 engine, “modern” electronic system and all the FIA paperwork needed for vintage racing eligibility, Coys said.

Heralded Bothwell Collection going to auction with Bonhams

Bothwell Peugeot
Bothwell Peugeot

Fifty cars from the acclaimed Bothwell Collection will be offered at auction by Bonhams in a sale to be held at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California, on November 11, the auction house has announced.

Several of the cars — a 1913 Indianapolis Peugeot, 1908 Prinz Heinrich Benz and 1908 Mercedes Simplex — were on display at Bonhams’ recent auction at The Quail Lodge on the Monterey Peninsula.

Lindley Bothwell was a charter member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America and with his wife, Ann, assembled what Bonhams termed “one of the largest private collections of automobiles in the country.”

“Housed at their ranch property amid manicured orange groves just over the hills from Hollywood,” the auction house added, “the Bothwell Collection is without equal.”

Bothwell Benz
Bothwell Benz

Lindley Bothwell, who died in 1986 at the age of 84, had a large orange-growing business, was an agricultural consultant and cattle breeder, and was credited with creating the famed student card stunts at the University of Southern California when he was a “yell leader” at the school. He also raced cars and collected racing and other vehicles.

After his death, his widow “protected, preserved and defended,” as AutoWeek put it, her husband’s car collection until her death at the age of 97 in 2016.

Bonhams notes that the 50 cars going to auction include rare pre-war racing cars, automobiles and horse-drawn streetcars.

The Bothwell’s 1913 Peugeot not only raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1916, but decades later, Bothwell took the car back to Indianapolis to compete in a Veteran Class event, where he boosted Dario Resta’s 85-mph lap record to more than 103 mph, a Veteran record that would stand for 30 years.

The 1913 Peugeot 4.5-Liter L45 is powered by what Bonhams termed “the father of all racing engines… it was this engine that inspired Miller, Offenhauser and a host of others.”

The Bothwells’ 1908 Prinz Heinrich Tour Benz is named for a Prussian prince and early supporter of motor racing. Benz produced a limited series of 10 factory racers named in his honor. The Bothwell car is one of the few surviving. Bonhams said.

The 1908 Mercedes Simplex 60hp is believed to have been owned originally by William K. Vanderbilt.

In addition to motorcars from the likes of Austo-Daimler, Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hudson, National, Packard, Pope-Hartford and others, the auction will include five horse-drawn streetcars. Bothwell was a fan of such vehicles and had a mile track built on his property to give visitors rides.

Bothwell National
Bothwell National

Also offered in the auction will be all sorts of spare parts and items of automobilia that Bothwell collected.

“Lindley and Ann Bothwell need little introduction. Their contribution to historic motoring is renowned, their cars are legendary and, most important, their enthusiasm all encompassing,” Malcolm Barber, Bonhams chairman, said in a news release. “This is truly a monumental collection and we are extremely flattered to represent it at auction. The phrase ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ is very appropriate.”

“The sale of the sole surviving L45 Grand Prix Peugeot will be a generational opportunity to acquire a landmark car in the history of the development of racing in America and Europe,” added Rupert Banner, Bonhams vice president of motoring.