Pick of the Day: 1974 Mercury Capri

The Capri was made by Ford of Germany and sold in the U.S. as a Mercury
The Capri was made by Ford of Germany and sold in the U.S. as a Mercury

The Mercury Capri coupe of 1970-77 is pretty much a forgotten classic that nonetheless was quite popular in its day. The captive import built by Ford in Cologne, Germany, and sold in the U.S. by Mercury dealers, was favored by those who appreciated its European styling and sporty handling. But these days, they are rarely seen anyplace.

The Pick of the Day is a 1974 Mercury Capri described by its private seller as a “rare, exceptional vehicle.” These were fun cars to drive when powered by the 105-horsepower 2.8-liter V6, as this one is, and four-speed manual transmission. Continue reading

DriveShare: Hagerty’s Airbnb for the collector car community

Who wouldn't want to rent a car such as this 1966 Mustang convertible? DriveShare photo
Who wouldn’t want to rent a car such as this 1966 Mustang convertible? DriveShare photo

McKeel Hagerty admits he was taken aback, to the point of speechlessness, when Ziv Aviram, co-founder of Mobileye, the Israeli company developing cameras and software for autonomous vehicles, told him, “Sorry, I’m going to put you out of business. You have to find something else to do.”

What Aviram apparently was saying was that self-driving vehicles that avoid collisions will eliminate the need for car insurance companies, perhaps even those such as Hagerty’s that specialize in insuring classic vehicles. Continue reading

Monterey auctions post $317 million in total sales

A 1991 Ferrari Testarossa is on the block at Russo and Steele's Monterey auction | Bob Golfen photo
A 1991 Ferrari Testarossa is on the block at Russo and Steele’s Monterey auction | Bob Golfen photos

After four days, six auctions and 1,277 vehicles across the block, the final hammer has fallen on the 2017 collector car auctions on the Monterey Peninsula and the total tote stands at $317 million according to Hagerty, the classic car insurance and vehicle valuation-tracking company that provides daily updates from major auction venues.

Hagerty reports that while that $317 million figure is better than was expected by its marketplace experts, it falls 6 percent short of 2016 results for Monterey auctions. And it also figures to increase slightly as post-sales transactions are included when the auction companies report the official results in the coming week. Continue reading

Oh brother! 1939 Mercedes-Benz wins at Pebble Beach

Concours chair Sandra Button presents Best of Show honors to Bruce McCaw and his 1939 Mercedes-Benz | Larry Edsall photos
Concours chair Sandra Button presents Best of Show accolades to Bruce McCaw and his 1939 Mercedes-Benz | Larry Edsall photos

The 67th annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance likely will be remembered as the Year of the McCaw Brothers.

A 1939 Mercedes-Benz S Barker Tourer owned by Bruce McCaw won Best of Show at the world’s most important car show Sunday, beating out the other two finalists, one of them a 1957 Ferrari 315 S Scaglietti Spider owned by his brother, John, and sister-in-law, Gwen. Continue reading

Racing through the Decades: 60 years at Laguna Seca

Pete Lovelys Ferrari | Nicole Ellan James photos
Pete Lovelys Ferrari | Nicole Ellan James photos

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion can be a chilling experience as iconic cars with historic significance race around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a facility celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

To honor the track’s history, a display in the infield showcases 12 vehicles that had special significance to the raceway. Among them is the 1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa that Pete Lovely drove in November 1957 at the then-brand new race track on the Monterey Peninsula.

Display tent at Laguna Seca
Display tent at Laguna Seca

Lovely and his car raced against such stars as Carroll Shelby, Richie Ginther, Fred Knoop, Jim Hall and John von Neumann, all behind the wheel of more powerful machines from the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, Maserati and Porsche.

Before the start, it appeared Lovely and his year-old 2-liter Ferrari would not have much of a chance. But despite the odds, they prevailed.

The car is one of only 17 produced. It is powered by a 2498cc four-cylinder engine rated at 190 horsepower and belongs within a private collection. It’s also was driven by Von Neumann and Bruce Kessler, who drove it in 11 races prior to its victory in Monterey.

According to track officials, Lovely continued to drive the car in the historic races into the early 2000s.

Before he died in 2011 at the age of 85, Lovely said he would always remember winning the first race at Laguna Seca because “it attracted a who’s who of West Coast sports car racing. I was fortunate enough to be able to come across the line in front of everyone else on the last lap, and I did it in a 2-liter car. That was a real thrill.”

Track literature notes that during the race, Shelby, Jack McAfee and Ginther had all dropped out with mechanical problems, leaving von Neumann, with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine in his Ferrari and Lovely battling for the lead.

“I could get up close to von Neumann, but I couldn’t pass him because I didn’t have enough power to get by” Lovely said, adding “I devised a scheme by which I would very gradually fall back to where he couldn’t see me in his mirror. I then turned on a couple of really hot laps and I got right on his tail when we reached Turn 9. When Johnny saw me there, he got flustered, missed a shift coming out of that turn and I passed him.”

In addition to the 1957 Ferrari, among the other display cars are  a 1963 Shelby King Cobra raced by Dave MacDonald, the 1963 Monterey Pacific Grand Prix overall winner that went from 13th place to first in a 100-lap race at an average speed of 83.2 miles per hour. The Cobra is joined by a 1973 Porsche 917/30 driven by Mark Donohue, winner and champion of the 1973 Monterey Grand Prix, and a 1983 March Indy Car driven by Teo Fabl -– winner of the 1963 Monterey Grand Prix, the first indy car race at the track.

Other display vehicles include a 1993 AAR Toyota Eagle MKIII, a 2005 Audi R8 LMP, a 1985 Porsche 962, 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 302, 1956 Porsche 356, a 1999 BMW V12 LMR, 1990 Yamaha YZR500, and a 2016 K-Pax McLaren 650S GT3.

Innovative antique: Lancia Lambda glows at Concorso Italiano

Part of the sea of Ferraris at Concorso Italiano | Bob Golfen photos
Part of the sea of Ferraris at Concorso Italiano | Bob Golfen photos

Amid all the streamlined fantasy cars at Concorso Italiano, Steve Peterson’s 1924 Lancia Lambda seemed an ancient relic, apparently the oldest vehicle by far at the celebration of everything on wheels from Italy held Saturday on the Monterey Peninsula.

The Lancia seems boxy and old-fashioned at first, but move in a little closer and the trim, handsome and low-profile styling sharpens into focus, and the technological brilliance becomes apparent. Continue reading

Concours d’Lemons drifting off in opposite directions

Lemons? Hardly. But sparkling and shiny Aston Martins were on the show field | Andy Reid photos
Lemons? Hardly. But sparkling and shiny Aston Martins were on the show field | Andy Reid photos

Concours d’Lemons is an event that has always been fun, celebrating strange, unloved and often unknown cars.

However, in the past few years it has drifted away from this concept and moved in two separate directions at once. Continue reading

In a risky business, passion for collectors is crucial

Of the last 15 Pebble Beach best of show winners, 11 are AIG clients | Larry Edsall photos
Of the last 15 Pebble Beach best of show winners, 11 are AIG clients | Larry Edsall photos

The numbers are impressive indeed, but as impressive as they may be, they don’t tell the real story. Nonetheless, it is impressive to learn that of the last 15 winners of Best of Show honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, 11 of them have something in common. And they share it with the owners of 18 of the 39 Ferrari 250 GTOs.

What all of those car owners share is that they are clients of Ronald Fiamma, vice president and global head of private collections for the private client group of AIG, which has grown from its founding in 1919 as American Asiatic Underwriters to become the American International Group, a major and multi-faceted global insurance company. Continue reading

Car star power boosts auction action on Monterey Peninsula

Aston Martin DBR1 rings up a British-car record $22.55 million sale for RM Sotheby's | Andy Reid photo
Aston Martin DBR1 rings up a British-car record $22.55 million sale for RM Sotheby’s | Andy Reid photo

The star cars shined Friday at the collector car auctions taking place on the Monterey Peninsula.

In the daily report from Hagerty, the insurance and vehicle-valuation tracking company that monitors each of the sales, “Much of this week’s perceived success hinged on RM Sotheby’s selling its 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, Gooding & Company selling its 1970 Porsche 917K, and Bonhams selling its 1995 McLaren F1.

“From that standpoint, the upper-most reaches of the market are strong, as each company achieved good results for each model. Continue reading

German cars are stars at Legends of the Autobahn show

Judges looking over classic Mercedes-Benz | Nicole Ellan James photos
Judges looking over classic Mercedes-Benz | Nicole Ellan James photos

Monterey Car Week often appears as a mecca for all things Italian -– countless Ferraris can be seen almost anywhere you look.Ditto for Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeo.

But British cars — Aston Martins, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar — also are in abundance.

Fear not, you lovers of German vehicles, Legends of the Autobahn is the car show for you. Well, that and the Porsche Werks Reunion that also took place Friday on the Monterey Peninsula.

Since the Autobahn show began in 2009, it has brought together the cars and members of the BMW Car Club of America, the Mercedes-Benz Club of America and the Audi Club of North America, each bringing out everything from classics — 190SLs, M3s, R8s and such — to the newest, including a 2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GTS.

Held at the Nicklaus Club, formerly Pasadera Country Club, the event invites spectators to view the cars for a $20 parking fee, making it one of the more accessible events on the peninsula, and one of the most popular.

Participants showing cars receive the same treatment as the more exclusive concours — judges scrutinize each car for everything from originality to overall quality.

There are also “people’s choice” awards voted on by those in attendance.