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.

Nothing Mickey Mouse about car folks doing good

Mickey Mouse and his new Hot Doggin hot rod | Disney photo by Matt Alexander/PA Wire
Mickey Mouse and his new Hot Doggin hot rod | Disney photo by Matt Alexander/PA Wire

‘Goodonya.” Technically the expression is “good on ya,” but on my trips to Australia, it sure sounded as though folks were pronouncing a single word of encourage and agreement and approval for someone who had done something praiseworthy.

With that in mind, permit me to say “goodonyas” to Kevin Cornish and Deb Pollack. And to Dana Mecum and John Andretti. And to a consignor at Auctions America.

I moved from Michigan to Phoenix as the country was in full Y2K, the sky is falling panic mode. One of my early duties was to cover the collector car auctions taking place and I remember people talking even then about how Arizona needed a concours d’elegance and maybe even a vintage racing weekend.

There was lots of such talk, though precious little beyond that, in the ensuing years, at least that was the case until a local car collector named Kevin Cornish put words into action, formed a committee and launched the Arizona Concours d’Elegance. Sadly, after only four years, that event succumbs to a lack of sponsorship.

Nonetheless, in just four years the event featured some of the world’s finest automobiles, and in the magnificent yet intimate setting of the inner grounds of the Arizona Biltmore resort, and perhaps most importantly, raised $300,000 for Make-A-Wish, money that enabled 30 children facing life-threatening illnesses to have their wishes come true, even if only for a day.

Deb Pollack and those who drove toward a cure
Deb Pollack and those who drove toward a cure

And then there’s Deb Pollack, an auto-oriented public relations professional I’ve known for more years than either of us is eager to admit. Complications from Parkinson’s disease claimed Deb’s mother in 2006. Last month, Deb overcame grief with gumption by staging the first Drive Toward a Cure auto rally and convinced 36 car owners to take their choice of routes — south from the Bay area or north from Los Angeles, meeting in Paso Robles a few days and several hundred miles later.

There were various events along the routes, including an autocross in which a skillfully driven 2017 Subaru Outback posted a time faster than any of the exotic vehicles in the field.

From what I’ve heard, a good time was had by all, and in the process $25,000 is being donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center. Deb’s planning another such rally this fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains with the finish line at the second Atlanta Concours d’Elegance, and hopes to stage more such events, including similar rallies in Europe.

Did you know that Mickey Mouse is a car guy?

London cabbie reacts to seeing Mickey and his new hot rod
London cabbie reacts to seeing Mickey and his new hot rod

Turns out that the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has been replaced by Mickey and the Roadster Racers on the Disney Junior and Disney Channels, with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Pluto racing around Hot Dog Hills and other locations.

One of the characters on the animated program is race announcer Billy Beagle, whose voice you might recognize (it’s Jay Leno).

Turn out, as well, that Mickey’s car, the Hot Doggin Hot Rod, has emerged from the television screen to become a running vehicle that was unveiled last week to a British audience at the London Motor Show 2017. Sometime this month, an episode of the program features Mickey and company chasing down a thief who steals the Queen’s crown jewels.

Speaking of racing and the month of May…

Mecum Auctions, which stages its 30th annual Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic sale May 16-20 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, will sponsor Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet-powered car and driver Sage Karam in the 101st Indianapolis 500.

Mecum Auctions sponsors Indy entry | Mecum photo
Mecum Auctions sponsors Indy entry | Mecum photo

Mecum sponsored the historic Dreyer & Reinbold car in 2012, with Oriol Servia driving to a fourth-place finish.

By the way, Karam, 22, is from Nazareth, Pennsylvania, the hometown of the Andretti family.

The Dreyer & Reinbold team traces its roots to the 1920s and Indy car builder Floyd “Pop” Dreyer. Dennis Reinbold is Dreyer’s grandson and has been fielding cars for the 500 since 2000.

Dana Mecum also has a long history with Indy cars, collecting them and each year leading the Millers at Milwaukee vintage racing weekend. Last summer, two of Mecum’s vintage Indy racers were on the 18th fairway for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where his 1965 Ford GT40 roadster also was part of the featured Ford GT40 50th anniversary Le Mans victory class.

Speaking of auctions and Indiana and the month of May…

1947 Dodge pickup
1947 Dodge pickup

Two of the cars on the docket at Auctions America’s Auburn Spring sale this weekend in northeast Indiana are being sold to benefit the automotive restoration technology program at McPherson College in Kansas. The vehicles are a 1947 Dodge pickup (Lot 3134) and a 1932 Ford three-window street-rod coupe (Lot 3135).

Each car has a pre-sale estimated value of $20,000 to $30,000.

Speaking of things most people would prefer to ignore…

In my first professional lifetime, I wrote about sports. Primarily stick-and-ball sports, but also about auto racing. One of the things that makes writing about auto racing different from writing about other sports is that sometimes, too often, your stories become obituaries for drivers for whom the checkered flag has flown too soon.

Knee injuries are debilitating. Death is fatal, and final.

Try as we do, even the most objective of journalists cannot help but establish friendships with some of the people about whom they write. For me, one of those people has been John Andretti, son of Aldo, nephew of Mario, cousin of Michael, husband of Nancy, father of Olivia and Jarett and Amelia.

John may be the most versatilely successful racer in history, having raced not only Indy cars and stock cars and Le Mans-style prototypes but also a Top Fuel drag racer. And he survived it all.

But now, at age 54, and ready to walk a daughter down the aisle at her wedding, he’s been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, and it has spread to his liver and, at last report, doctors fear to his spleen as well.

As might be expected, John is fighting the disease, and his fight includes going public and using his celebrity to encourage everyone to get screened, and to do so years earlier than usual.

“You don’t know,” John told the Indianapolis Star newspaper. “Nobody knows until they get screened.

“I’m glad people are taking this as a wakeup call,” he added.

1979 Aussie touring car champion headed to auction

Bob Morris drove the independently owned Holden Torana to the national championship in 1979 | Mossgreen Auctions photos
Bob Morris drove the independently owned Holden Torana to the national championship in 1979 | Mossgreen Auctions photos

In the 1970s, the Holden Torana was Australia’s fastest muscle car, and the basis for the GM subsidiary’s battle against Ford in the nation’s touring car championship racing series, which was just as intense, perhaps even more so, than Camaro vs. Mustang in the Trans-Am series in North America.

In 1979, Australian touring car history was made when an independently entered Holden Torana won the championship, with Bob Morris beating the legendary Peter Brock for the series title. Continue reading

Gary Bennett retiring from Barrett-Jackson auctions

Gary-Craig-Steve-PB17-3327

Gary Bennett attended the inaugural Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in 1971 as a customer. He returned annually to buy and sell, and after leaving his architecture practice and other ventures, he joined Barrett-Jackson as senior auto specialist, the job Craig Jackson held before becoming head of the family firm. This morning, Barrett-Jackson announced Bennett’s retirement from his position as vice president of consignment for the auction company. Continue reading

Driven: 2017 Genesis G90

The G90 is the flagship of Hyundai's luxury Genesis lineup | Larry Edsall photos
The G90 is the flagship of Hyundai’s luxury Genesis lineup | Larry Edsall photos

Once upon a time, Hyundai’s public relations department bragged about the fact that the company’s compact economy sedan, I recall it as the Elanta but it may have been the Excel, was the most-stolen car in America. What the PR team didn’t point out was that the car was being stolen not because thieves wanted to drive it, but because it had a quality radio that was extremely easy to pop out and sell on the black market.

Not long thereafter, Hyundai invited a group of American automotive writers to visit South Korea, where the next-generation Sonata was going into production. Continue reading

Historic racers featured at Bonhams’ upcoming Spa sale

Osella-Alfa Romeo FA1G among the cars returning to site of Belgian Grand Prix | Bonhams photos
Osella-Alfa Romeo FA1G among the cars returning to site of Belgian Grand Prix | Bonhams photos

With the auction being held at the famed Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, it only makes sense that the docket for the Bonhams sale features a starting grid of vintage racing machines. They include everything from a Grand Prix-winning Benetton-Cosworth Ford F1 racer to a 1969 Volvo Amazon 122S Group 2 rally car.

https://news.classiccars.com/benetton-f1-racer-joins-bonhams-spa-sale-docket/

Considered to be the star of the auction is the 1991 Benetton-Cosworth Ford B191 that won the Canadian Grand Prix and during its racing career was driven by Nelson Piquet, Roberto Moreno and Michael Schumacher. The car also finished fifth in the British Grand Prix and eighth in the French race in 1991. Wearing Benetton colors, Bonhams has assigned the car a pre-sale estimated value of €750,000 to €950,000 ($820,000 to $1.4 million).

Back at Spa for the first time since the 1986 season is another F1 racer, a 1986 Osella-Alfa Romeo FA1G originally campaigned by Piercarlo Ghinzani, a European F3 champion who went on to start 77 F1 races.

“Ghinzani privately maintained a number of the cars that he drove during his varied career, and this 1.5-liter turbocharged machine is a highly original and ‘on the button’ example with extensive in-period race history including outings at the legendary Circuit de Spa Francorchamps,” Bonhams said in its pre-auction news release.

The auction house notes that the car has been restored and is powered by a period V8 engine that Ghinzani owned but that was never used in a race. The car’s pre-sale estimated value is €90,000 to €120,000 ($100,000 to $130,000).

Another and significantly more valuable Alfa Romeo with competition history is the former 1969 Autodelta Alfa Romeo GTA 1300 Junior, a works racer that debuted in the 1969 Tour de Corse with Enrico Pinto driving. Bonhams notes that the car had a long racing history, including class victories at the Nurburgring and Paul Ricard and second overall in the 1972 GR Brno. The pre-sale estimate is €290,000 to €340,000 ($320,000 to $375,000).

The docket also includes another ex-Autodelta 1969 Alfa Romeo GTA Junior valued at €320,000 to €375,000 ($350,000 to $410,000).

VW T1 transporter and Martini-liveried Group 5 Porsche
VW T1 transporter and Martini-liveried Group 5 Porsche

The docket also includes Porsches, among them a 1979-81 911 Type 935 dp35 Group 5 competition coupe valued at €400,000 to €500,000 ($440,000 to $550,000)

“When, after much deliberation, the FIA eventually agreed on its new formula for 1976, the creation of the Group 5 (extensively modified) category gave Porsche the opportunity to let its imagination and engineering expertise shine through,” Bonhams reported. “A stream of exotic prototypes with the very briefest of connections to the production 911 came to the fore, such as the 1979/1981 Porsche 911 Type 935 dp35 Group 5 Competition Coupé.

“One of only three built by dp motorsport, this staggeringly rare competition model has competed extensively in Scandinavia, and is believed to have competed in the 1999/2000 Swedish GTR Championship. Accompanied by a DMSB-Wagenpass attesting that this is a genuine Group 5 car, this machine will undoubtedly be a serious contender on the classic race track.”

Also being offered is a 1976 Porsche 934/5 Kremer Group 4 competition coupé in Martini racing livery. The car raced three times during the 1976-77 seasons and then was retired. Bonhams expects it to sell for €320,000 to €400,000 ($350,000 to $440,000).

Among other vehicles scheduled to cross the block are:

1965 Jaguar E-type semi-lightweight coupe
1965 Jaguar E-type semi-lightweight coupe
  • A 1996 Ferrari F355 Challenge coupe.
  • A 1965 Lotus Elan 26R built to FIA racing specification that already has an impressive vintage racing history.
  • A 1971 Ford Capri RS2600 lightweight competition coupe originally owned by French Formula 3 champion Francois Mazet.
  • A 1969 Volvo Amazon 122S Group 2 factory rally car.
  • A 1965 Jaguar E-type 3.8-liter semi-lightweight competition roadster.
  • The 1989 Belgian Procar championship-winning Audi V8 quattro.
  • The 1986 Belga Stuurwiel-winning BMW 325i Juma Group N comp coupe.
  • An original Volskwagen T2 transporter.

Also on the Spa docket is the so-called Castle Collection of a dozen classic vehicles discovered at a castle in Switzerland. Among them are a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, 1921 and 1934 Rolls-Royce, Maserati Indy America and others.

Pick of the Day: 1955 Buick Century

Century was a new Buick model for 1955
Century was a new Buick model for 1955

Buick launched a new car line for the 1955 model year; Century was the name for what internally was known as the Buick Series 60.

“Buick’s new performance car combining Roadmaster power and the Special’s lighter weight, the Century had a more agile body and shared in the facelift given other 1955 Buicks,” The Standard Catalog of American Cars reported. Continue reading

Gooding moving up Pebble Beach auction to end before concours

Some of the cars at Gooding & Company's 2016 Pebble Beach auction | Larry Edsall photo
Some of the cars at Gooding & Company’s 2016 Pebble Beach auction | Larry Edsall photo

Gooding & Company is moving its Pebble Beach auction up this summer, with the two-day sale scheduled for Friday, August 18, and Saturday, August 19.

The auction traditionally has been held on Saturday and Sunday, with the Sunday sale taking place during and after the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Gooding has the only collector car auction staged on the Pebble Beach golf course property, at its Equestrian Center. Other auctions are held at various venues on the Monterey Peninsula. Continue reading

Artist reports on his drive in the Targa Florio

Kenny Schachter's perspective on the Targa Florio 2017 | Kenny Schachter photos via artnet.com
Kenny Schachter’s perspective on the Targa Florio 2017 | Kenny Schachter photos via artnet.com

I’ve written before about the automotive adventures of Kenny Schachter, the artist and art commentator who last year bought a 1961 Alfa Spider at RM Sotheby’s London auction. Schachter will show a car-centric exhibit — #Manual (as in shift-for-yourself gearboxes) — next month at Design Miami/Basel.

Schachter’s car collection includes a 1970 Fiat Abarth 124 rally car, so Fiat invited him to participate in the recent Targa Florio. Here is a portion of his report, originally published by artnet.com. Continue reading

Barn-found collection joins H&H Classics auction docket

Some of the cars found in barns and now heading to auction | H&H Classics photos
Some of the cars found in barns and now heading to auction | H&H Classics photos

‘Time capsule.” That’s how H&H Classics is describing two car collections of primarily pre-war classics — one of them farm-found — consigned for the docket for its upcoming auction June 2 at the National Motorcycle Museum.

One collection — the Home Farm collection — includes 11 cars and 34 motorcycles, all found dust-covered in barns in Berkshire, U.K.

The other collection — the County Wexford collection — includes 14 cars, among them one of three 1939 Triumph Dolomite 14/60 drophead coups known to still survive. Continue reading