Australian record-setters heading to auction

A pair of cars that set early Australian speed records — a 1924 Vauxhall Trans-Continental and a 1934 MG Q Type — are among those on the docket for Mossgreen’s October 14 auction as part of Motorclassica, the Australian International Concours d’elegance and Classic Motor Show in Melbourne.

1935 MG Q Type cockpit

MG launched the Q Type in 1934 on a chassis slightly narrower than that underlying its K3 model. George Harvey-Noble took a single-seat version around the Brooklands circuit at 122 mph, Mossgreen notes, and the normal two-seat version reportedly could achieve 120.

Offered at the auction is chassis No. 0257, the seventh of only eight such cars produced. It was sold new to Cec Warren of Victoria, Australia, in August 1934 and competed in speed runs on the 3-kilometer smooth sand surface of Sellick’s Beach.

MG (No. 19) in competition

Just before World War II, the car was sold to Hope Bartlett, who set a lap record for cars with engines of less than 750cc with a 3:47 time at Bathurst. After the war, the car posted a 20.1-second time in a quarter-mile sprint and finished fifth in the under 1,100cc championship road race despite suffering gearbox issues.

John G. Peek bought the car in 1948, won the car’s class in the 1951 Australian Hillclimb Championship and lowered its quarter-mile record to 19.55 seconds and then to 18.64. The car also turned a standing kilometer in 38.88.

“MG Q Type chassis 0257, whether originally dark green or black, as it is painted currently, presents a wonderful opportunity for its next owner to become a custodian of one of the purest British pre-war racing cars now available,” James Nicholls of Mossgreen is quoted in the auction house news release.
Mossgreen expects the car to sell for A$400,000 ($313,000 U.S.).

1934 MG Q Type

Vauxhall launched the OE version of its 30/98 in 1922, with a 4.2-liter engine but with no front brakes — they were added in 1923. Production ended in 1927 after 596 were produced.
Going to auction is a 1924 Vauxhall 30/98 Tourer OE86/100 that set Trans-Continental and Round Australia records.

Vauxhall encounters a river on one of its drives

OE100 was purchased as a gift for John Balmer by his mother. Balmer raced the car in hillclimbs and, with Eddie Scott, in 1936 set transcontinental records from Darwin to Adelaide, Fremantle to Adelaide and Adelaide to Melbourne. In 1938, Balmer and Richard Kent set a record by circumnavigating the Australian continent in 24 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes.

Such driving took its toll on the car, so Balmer took his car’s engine, front axle and gearbox and installed them into OE86, a similar car that had arrived in Australia at the same time as his OE100.

Repco advertisement showcases ‘Round Australia’ record

OE100 had been purchased new by R.S. Robinson as a wedding present for his fiance., Janet. The car was driven on a 300-kilometer commute as Robinson launched his dental practice.

Balmer and Robinson had become friends at the University of Melbourne and were pilots together for the Citizens Air Force, both in Australia and overseas during the war, and decided to merge the cars.

Mossgreen expects the car, now completly restored, to sell for A$330,000 ($235,000 U.S.).

1924 Vauxhall 30/98 Tourer OE86/100

Pick of the Day: 1930 Chevrolet Pickup

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first Chevy truck, the Pick of the Day is one of the GM brand’s second generation, after the simple, buckboard-style 1918 One Ton had given way to a complete, closed-cab pickup.

The 1930 Chevrolet half-ton pickup has been completely restored to its original specs, according to the Volo, Illinois, dealer advertising the truck on ClassicCars.com, although the photos with the ad show some period-style embellishments have been added.

The pickup is said to have had a frame-off restoration

This Chevy has all its original running gear, which the dealer says has been rebuilt so that the truck is ready for vintage-style driving.

One advantage of the Chevy pickups of this period is that they were powered by six-cylinder engines while the ubiquitous Ford Model A trucks soldiered on with four-bangers. That was negated in 1932, however, when Ford made its new 60-horsepower V8 available for its next-gen BB pickups.

Brightly varnished pickup-bed rails have been added

“You see lots of Ford pickups restored for show and tour today but rarely do you have the opportunity to own a beautiful ½-ton Chevrolet pickup, all steel with varnished bed and side rails,” the ad says. “This truck was recently frame-off restored, clad in high-gloss Hunter Green and black steel body and fenders. The interior is black leatherette seats and kick panels.

“The 6-cylinder engine was completely rebuilt; runs and drives excellent. A real head turner.”

The shiny varnished frame rails, pickup bed and interior details – including the beautiful wood-slat headliner – might seem over-the-top for this doughty work truck, although they do make the Chevy gleam. Its work days are done, but its job now is to look sharp at car shows and cruise-ins.

The interior has been restored as original, with gleaming wood details

Despite the dress-up bits, the interior remains no frills as original, with a thinly padded, upright bench-seat back that makes my spine ache just looking at it. But the effort to make this Chevy authentic required that factory seating remain. Considering the essentially orthopedic seats in today’s trucks, I suppose people were just tougher back then. Or maybe they were used to being uncomfortable.

The asking price is reasonable at $17,998, especially since interest in classic pickup trucks has been booming among collectors and hobbyists.

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

Historic Prinz Heinrich Benz at Bonhams

Much of the motorsports competition in the early days of the automobile involved long-distance reliability runs, with some of the sturdiest and most-advanced vehicles of the era vying for prizes.

One famous entry was the Benz 50hp that won the 1908 reliability trial presented by the German Imperial Automobile Club, a driving event that spanned a number of days and crossed through several nations. The trophy was a 30-pound silver automobile replica donated by Prince A.W. Heinrich of Prussia, a noted racing fan. The event was therefore named in his honor.

To celebrate its victory, Benz produced from 1908 to 1910 a “Prinz Heinrich” model that was bespoke and hand-built, terrifically expensive and featured such forward-looking technology as an overhead-valve engine and shaft drive. Prinz Heinrich cars could reach nearly 100 mph, making it a supercar of its day.

The Benz was restored to a raceabout configuration

Bonhams has one of these cars, a 1908 75/105hp Prinz Heinrich Benz Raceabout, ready for its November 11 auction at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California.

This Benz also boasts American motorsports provenance with one of the early celebrities of auto racing, Barney Oldfield, who was known as much for his publicity feats as his driving prowess. In partnership with Benz, Oldfield and the Prinz Heinrich ran barnstorming and promotional events together, and even appeared in a silent film, Race for Life.

The Benz later became part of the collection of Lindley and Ann Bothwell, who frequently drove the car and had it restored as a two-seat raceabout.

“Beautiful, unique, rare, groundbreaking, historic, in excellent working order, and full of provenance, the Prinz Heinrich Benz possesses all the desirable qualities a collector could want,” Bonhams said in a news release.

About 50 collector cars will be offered during the auction at Bothwell Ranch, which is just north of Los Angeles. For information, visit the Bonhams website.

Pick of the Day: 1951 Mercury Monarch

The very first custom car to be dubbed a “lead sled” was built by Sam Barris (George’s brother) from the newly redesigned 1949 Mercury Eight. The result was that any custom Merc from the 1949-51 era became known by that title whether there was any lead filler in the body or not.

The ’49 Mercury was the first stylistic clean break from pre-war design, a lusciously rounded shape that quickly became a favorite among the burgeoning band of customizers on both the East and West Coasts. The similarly restyled Fords and Lincolns, with a look that endured through 1951, also hit a chord among those who wanted to individualize their FoMoCo cars.

The Mercury sports fender skirts and dummy lake pipes

The Pick of the Day is a 1951 Mercury Monarch four-door sedan with the typically menacing look of a custom Merc, sitting sleek and low over chrome custom wheels. The Mercury gets away with being a four-door instead of a coupe because of its cool “suicide” rear doors that look so righteous (as they might have said back in the day).

Painted a dark Midnight Blue with subtle pinstriping, the Mercury would be impressive at night, reflecting the street lights as it hunkered past on its wide whitewalls. This look is so evocative of urban life during the 1950s, and it would be a popular artifact for any Rockabilly celebration.

The low-down sedan is the epitome of ’50s cool

The Monarch is powered by its original 255-cid flathead V8 and manual transmission, and features aftermarket air-conditioning that works well, according to the Fairfield, California, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. The diamond-tufted seats and door panels look just right.

The car has been well-cared for, according to the ad. The engine seals and master cylinder have been replaced, and the car has been converted to a 12-volt electrical system, including a pair electric fans added for radiator cooling.

Extra gauges and AC ducts have been added to the original dashboard

The custom styling features rear fender skirts, windshield visor and a period-correct set of dummy lake pipes, which are a sly piece of irony considering the bold dual-exhaust tips exiting under the rear bumper. The chrome bumpers and trim seems to gleam in the photos with the ad.

“This 1951 Mercury Monarch shows nicely with only minor cosmetic wear to the paint and the interior,” the seller says. “The engine bay is typical driver quality but otherwise, this highly original example looks and drives excellent.”

The asking price for the Mercury is $27,000, which seems modest for all this lead-sled glory.

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

Who gets what from the price at the pump?

Once you’ve calmed down and stopped cussing about the price you pay at the pump when you refill your car, be it classic or contemporary, have you ever wondered about where your money is going?

So has Auteria, a Texas-based supplier of fuel-pump assemblies produced in Mexico for the U.S. and Canadian automotive markets. It engaged in research with Spork Marketing to produce the accompanying chart, which shows who got what from a gallon of gasoline in 2016.

“The 2016 data shows that gas-station retailers receive the smallest percentage of the gallon’s cost, at only 7 percent, while drilling companies receive nearly half of the money paid at the pump,” Auteria said in its news release.

“For those in the petroleum industry, it may not be a surprise that drilling and production companies take the bulk of the amount paid for a gallon of gas,” added Ana Rivera, Auteria product manager. “For consumers, however, it might be a shock to see how little gas retailers earn.”

The research shows that of each $1 spent on gasoline, 45 cents goes to drilling, 21 percent to state, local and federal taxes, 18 cents to refining costs, 9 percent to the cost of transporting that fuel to the gas station, and 7 percent to the retail outlet.

“Using the 2016 data, the average gasoline retailer earned about 15 cents for every gallon of gasoline sold (at the average 2016 price of $2.16 per gallon),” Auteria noted in its release.

“However, out of this 7 percent share, gasoline retailers must cover the costs of storing and dispensing the fuel, payment processing and store overhead costs.

“To illustrate just how little gas stations earn from selling gasoline, payment processing charges are typically 2-3 percent of the total bill. If a retailer earns 7 percent of the cost of a gallon of fuel, and has to pay a 3 percent processing charge, their share of the total falls to 4 percent (less than 10 cents per gallon).”

“As a fuel system parts manufacturer, we are obviously preoccupied with fuel efficiency and saving our customers money on gasoline,” Rivera concluded. “This data is a reminder that the best way to save money on fuel is to use less of it. It’s not as if there are big savings to be had in the gasoline production pipeline, at least as far as we can tell.”

Maine museum considers a better mouse trap, and then some

Folks spending October in Maine can take part in what will serve “as booth classroom and catalyst” as the Owls Head Transportation Museum offers a three-week workshop, “More Than a Better Mouse Trap: An Interactive Tour of Human Innovation,” with the first session Tuesday, October 3.

The museum said its collection “will be woven into a story that analyzes how technology and science have influenced the structure of our society” through a journey “of achievements and accidents that have prodoundly altered our culture and communities.”

The opening session is “Foundation,” followed on October 10 by Speed, and on October 17 by Flight and Future.

Sessions run from 10 a.m. until noon at the museum in Owls Head, Maine.

To register, contact Niki Janczura at nj@ohtm.org.

Model by Arizona sculptor Clyde Morgan captures spirit of upcoming seminar   | Owls Head photo
Model by Arizona sculptor Clyde Morgan captures spirit of upcoming seminar | Owls Head photo

Derek Bell to receive Simeone’s Spirit of Competition award

The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia has announced that its Spirit of Competition award for 2017 will be presented to Derek Bell. The 10th annual award presentation is scheduled for November 15 at the museum.

The museum honors someone from motorsports with “a specific inspirational message.”

Bell is a five-time Le Mans winner, three-time Daytona 24 winner and two-time World Sports Car Champion.

Special events this weekend

The Seal Cove Auto Museum and MDI Historical Society will explore the paranormal at History Happy Hour: Ghost Hunters, not this weekend but on Wednesday, October 4, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Jessup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Like Seal Cove, the Simeone has a special event early next week — the sixth annual Bonhams collectors motorcars and automobilia takes place at the museum on Monday, October 2.

America On Wheels museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, hosts a Coffee & Corvettes event Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon.

The Kansas City Automotive Museum will offer a “Meet and Greet the Model T Ford” event Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon. Visitors will hear from owners of various Model T vehicles and learn such things as hand cranking and how to turn on gas-powered headlamps.

The F1rst Sunday Cars & Coffee will be held Sunday from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California.

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu turns the clock back September 30 and October 1 for a British Military weekend family experience. The museum staged as WW1 Family Weekend in 2016 and it was so successful that the program is being expanded this year with living history displays and camping on the museum grounds.

Mark your calendars

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, has set special hours during the AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. October 1-3, from 9 a.m. until noon on October4, and from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on October 5-6. The Night at the Museum gala begins at 5 p.m. on October 4. The museum also offers some overnight parking for cars, trailers or RVs during the week, though advance reservations are required and can be made through the museum’s website.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento will feature Charles Phoenix and his Addicted to Americana “comedy slide show” of space-age style, landmarks, roadside attractions and crazy car culture on November 4.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, has announced the date for its 2018 Wheels & Heels gala; the annual event is scheduled for September 8, 2018.

Like the LeMay, the AACA Museum is looking into the future; it’s Spring 2nd Chance Auction/Flea Market/Car Corral is scheduled for April 7, 2018.

Porsche Turbo that sparked a rock album to be auctioned at Silverstone

A Porsche Turbo that inspired a platinum-selling record album will be offered by Silverstone Auctions during its annual Porsche Sale on October 21 at the famed Silverstone Circuit race track in the UK.

The 1985 Porsche 930 Turbo SE is owned by Judas Priest lead guitarist Glenn Tipton, who wrote the 1986 heavy-metal album Turbo, with the best-selling single Turbo Lover, in homage to  the Chiffon White coupe. The album went platinum, selling more than a million copies.

The right-hand-drive Porsche has white-leather seats and trim

The Porsche boasts a 300-horsepower turbocharged flat-6 engine and manual transmission, and came with the SE enhancements of vented rear wheel arches, sill extensions and leather interior trim. Silverstone estimates its value from £180,000 to £220,000 ($242,000 to $296,000).

Tipton obtained the Porsche while on a European band tour in 1985. Because of the rock star’s demanding schedule over the years, the car has been driven just 14,100 miles, according to a Silverstone news release.

“We had a tour of the factory at Stuttgart and I was so impressed with the engineering and how meticulous they were when building cars, and I just had to have one,” Tipton said in the news release. “But I live out in the sticks, and it has to be nice weather to take the Porsche out, so I hardly ever use it.

“It’s time for it to go to someone who will get some use of it, but it’s going to be very hard to let it go.”

For information about the Porsche Sale, visit the Silverstone website.

Le Mans-winning 1964 Ferrari 275 P to headline Artcurial’s Retromobile sale

The Ferrari 275 P that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1964 will headline Artcurial Motorcars’ annual collector car auction during Paris Retromobile week in 2018, the French auction house announced. The sale is scheduled for February 9, 2018.

The car, chassis No. 0816, was the last Ferrari factory team entry to win at Le Mans. Wearing racing No. 20, the car was driven by Jean Guichet and Nino Vaccarella, covering 4,695.3 kilometers in 24 hours at an average speed of 196.638 km/h (122.161 mph) to post Ferrari’s eighth overall victory in the world’s most important round-the-clock motor race.

After that race, the car was sold and was raced for five years in the United States.

It was acquired by Pierre Bardinon, whose collection included 50 Ferrari factory cars, including four Le Mans winners, which he showcased on his private racing circuit — the industrialists called it his “speed garden” — at Mas du Clos, Artcurial noted in its news release.

The 275 P on the Ferrari factory racing transporter

“This Ferrari 275 P represents the ultimate and the truly exceptional,” Matthieu Lamoure, managing director of Artcurial Motorcars, said in a news release. “It has reached the summit in sports car racing worldwide. To look at this automotive masterpiece, is to see the best and most prestigious racing provenance. It radiates the DNA of success.”

The 275 P won the 1964 Le Mans race by five laps over a privately entered Ferrari 330 P driven by Graham Hill and Jo Bonnier. Another Ferrari factory car, a 330 P, took third with John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini driving. Fourth in that race was a Shelby Cobra couple driven by Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant.

Artcurial notes that the 275 P’s display at the Paris auction will be its first public appearance since it was acquired by Bardinon.

Bardinon, an industrialist who died in 2012, began his car collecting with Bugattis, and then forcused on Jaguars before turning his devotion to Ferrari.

Last year, Artcurial sold a 1957 Ferrari 335 S Scaglietti from the Bardinon collection for €32.1 million ($35.79 million), a euro record for any car sold at public auction.

Artcurial has yet to set a pre-sale estimate on the 275 P. In fact, the consignment is so new the auction house has not had time to take current photographs of the car.

Somewhat modified 1965 Ford Mustang ‘hoonigans’ Pikes Peak

The Urban Dictionary defines a hoonigan as someone who participates in a “reckless” style of driving, “not limited to drifting, drag racing and burnouts.” That probably means that at some point in your life — and perhaps quite frequently — you’ve been guilty of hooning.

But there are few of us who can hoon like Ken Block, the drifting demon made famous by his online videos of racing around unusual venues in rather unusual vehicles. His latest escapade was to have some fun driving up the Pikes Peak Highway, and working with film maker and Pikes Peak racer Jeff Zwart to produce a video, Climbkhana, about the adventure.

Fortunately for us, Block did his drive in a vintage vehicle, albeit his 1965 Ford Mustang has been slightly modified from stock configuration, what with twin turbochargers, burning methanol fuel, an all-wheel-drive setup and and more. The result is 1,400 tire-smoking horsepower, yet somehow the Toyo Proxes R888R tires got him up the 12-plus mile roadway without exploding.

Ken Block and his ’65 Mustang at Pikes Peak

Block and crew needed three separate trips to the mountain over a 12-month period to overcome weather and vehicle-development issues.

“This car is insane,” he said in a Toyo news release about the film. “I feel it genuinely wants to kill me!

“Before we added the twin turbos, it was the most fun car I’ve ever driven. Now it’s still quite fun to drive, but it melts tires ridiculously quick.

“To have this thing be such a beast and then take it to this very dangerous mountain, well, I thought I’d maybe finally taken on a project that might be too much for me to handle. This is the most powerful AWD-type car in the world to be driven this way, so I’m genuinely glad I didn’t die making this video!”

This wasn’t Block’s first run up the mountain. In 2005 he drove a Group N rally car during the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

“It was an underwhelming experience because of the horsepower issue,” he said, “but I loved the road and mountain – and I had always wanted to go back and do it right.”

Right, indeed.

“I have raced at Pikes Peak for 16 years and through the years I thought I had seen everything,” said Zwart. “But to witness Ken’s skills on basically my home mountain and get to direct him at the same time, it was truly something amazing. Nothing but respect for him and his whole team.”

Looking for automotive art along America’s two-lane roads

One of the joys of traveling two-lane roads is following them as they twist and turn and take you through small towns. Towns such as Cassopolis, Michigan.

Founded in 1832 on the land between two lovely lakes — Diamond and Stone — Cassopolis was established as the seat of Cass County in southwestern Michigan.

Town and county took their names from Lewis Cass, a New Hampshire native and brigadier general whose service in the War of 1812 earned him the governorship of the Michigan Territory from 1813-1831 (Cass then became Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War, served several terms in the Senate, and in 1848 was the Democratic party’s presidential candidate.)

Among Cassopolis’ early residents were Quakers, who offered their homes as shelters for the Underground Railroad, the escape route that led from slavery to freedom in the years leading up to the Civil War (the Kentucky Slave Raid took place near here in 1847). Some of those former slaves went on to Canada; others stayed in the area, which still numbers several of their descendants.

Cassopolis has yet another claim to fame: During a frigid day in 1947, a local woman’s sand pile was so frozen that she had to use ashes in her cat’s litter box, but the cat tracked the ashes through the house. She asked a neighbor, Edward Lowe, if he had some sand she could use. Instead, Lowe offered her some clay, which absorbed both excrement and odor. Soon, Lowe was selling 5-pound bags of what he called Kitty Litter, and soon established Tidy Cat.

Artists’ murals give building dealership appearance again

I’d driven through Cassopolis a dozen times or more back when I lived in Michigan, but I hadn’t been back through for a long time. With my professional attention turning from sports to cars, I was fascinated by the murals on the windows of the Cass County Maintenance Department building.

The murals make the building look like a late-1950s Chevrolet dealership, which is what the building used to be.

In 2006, David Dickey, Cass County superintendent of maintenance, got the idea of using murals to make the front and side of the building look once again like a car dealership. Money was raised, and artist Jerry Schlundt was hired, and worked along with a 15-year-old apprentice, Mariah Arianna Wall.

I’ve seen other automotive-themed murals on the sides of buildings in other towns, including some towns that aren’t quite so small, which makes me wonder if that wonderful parking-lot mural still climbs the side of a tall building in downtown Flint, Michigan.

$1.80 a gallon a painted pump on back of the building

I wish I’d have taken photos of those other murals. I wish I’d have learned the stories of their creation. I wish I had a list of all the automotive murals in all the American cities (and, for that matter, cities in Canada and Mexico as well), because I’d like to visit them as I wander around the two-lanes.

Hey, I know: If you know of such a mural, send me an email larrye@classiccars.com with its location, and maybe a photo as well, and its history if you know it, and I’ll try to work it into my travels and into future stories.