Mullins’ ‘Star of India’ Delahaye acclaimed best of the beauties at new French concours

The Mullins' 1937 Delahaye wins best of show at new French concours d'elegance
The Mullins’ 1937 Delahaye wins best of show at new French concours d’elegance

Concours d’Elegance is, after all, a French phrase, so perhaps it’s only fitting that Europe’s newest concours d’elegance was held in France. The inaugural La Rencontre de l’art & de l’Elegance (Chantilly Arts and Elegance Concours d’Elegance) was held in the gardens of the Domaine de Chantilly and attracted some 10,000 visitors who came to see 100 of the world’s most beautiful automobiles.

Classes included Maserati Racing Cars, Great Bodywork on Maseratis, a Tribute to Bugatti, Untouched (unrestored) Cars, Pre-1905 Ancestors, Pre-1976 Endurance Racers, Sports and Racing Cars of the Inter War Period, British chassis with Italian coachwork, Great French Coachwork of the 1920s and ‘30s, and Concept Cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Mirror, mirror on the wall… Judged most beautiful of all was, no surprise, a French car, the 1937 Delahaye 135 M cabriolet by Figoni et Falaschi, which was displayed by its owners, Peter and Merle Mullin. Peter Mullin is founder of the Mullin Automotive Museum and chairman of the Petersen Automobile Museum.

Known as the Star of India, the Delahaye is one of only three surviving with Figoni et Falaschi coachwork. It was commissioned by Figoni’s friend, explorer and businessman Casimir Jourde and was one of 11 cars built by Figoni et Falaschi for the Paris Auto Salons from 1936 through 1939.

In 1939, the car was shipped to India where it was sold to Prince de Berae Mukarran Jah. At some point the car was sold and disappeared.

It wasn’t until 1982 that the car was rediscovered, sitting on wooden blocks inside a garden shed in Jodhpur. A British classic car dealer had it disassembled and shipped in crates to England, where it was restored.

But the restoration was an as-found effort because the dealer didn’t know changes had been made to the car in India.

The car was displayed at Pebble Beach in 1992, and then was purchased by Mullin who restored it to its original configuration, although not with its original red paint.

 

Eye Candy: 64th Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village

Photos by Kevin A. Wilson

If you were looking for ways to make an old car show great, you could do a lot worse than to take your cues from the 64th annual Old Car Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s like a re-creation of the early days of motoring on the streets of Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford, with hundreds of pre-1932 cars displayed, driven, discussed and demonstrated.

This year the weekend after Labor Day delivered perfect shirt-sleeve weather for an amble through the park or to sit on a bench listening to expert historians narrate the tale as each car passed in review. Cars from 1918 and earlier drove by the reviewing stand Saturday, and those from 1919 to 1932 did the same Sunday.

Every year since 1950, the longest uninterrupted streak in the country, the historic village Henry Ford assembled has played host to this gathering, one that sets a high standard without resorting to an exclusive invitation list or a focus on high-dollar cars. More than 875 vehicles (including more than 100 period bicycles and motorcycles and some boats and camper trailers in tow) were entered for the gathering from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.

While there were no-shows and cars that appeared for only part of the weekend (a Friday afternoon thunderstorm delayed some), the place was abuzz without being overcrowded. Photographers can get up close to the cars as you can see in our Eye Candy gallery, and most of the owners are friendly and eager to chat about their vehicles.

This year incorporated a tribute to the centennial of Dodge Brothers, the company John and Horace Dodge founded in 1914 to forge their own way after many years of being the key supplier of major components to Ford.

It was not a particularly amicable parting of ways when the Dodges gave Henry a year’s notice that they’d decided to become competitors rather than the ghost company making most of the vehicles that wore Ford’s signature on the grille. But it was an historic turning point that today’s museum properly acknowledged by giving Dodge center stage.

Not that you’d notice any paucity of Fords — the majority of cars arrayed along the streets (organized by year of manufacture) were Fords, with Model Ts and Model As in every conceivable variation. Sure, it’s Dearborn, and the museum and village owe their origins to Ford, but the pre-1932 focus (the Village hosts a show for newer cars, the Motor Muster, in early summer) also coincides with the era when Ford was the dominant brand in the market.

So if the traffic on the village streets was Ford-heavy, there were still plenty of examples from brands still popular today (Chrysler, Chevrolet, Cadillac) and the obscure and defunct ones of the early 20th century. Yes, there are judges, and awards, all aimed at historic accuracy more than “elegance” and the museum curator chooses recipients of a preservation award for unrestored examples.

What makes the Old Car Festival particularly delightful is the setting, of course, in the village where Ford gathered Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, the Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop and a host of other historic structures.

The show is just an activity visitors find happening in the village, like others through the year, such a vintage baseball games or musical events.

Greenfield Village invites show participants to drive their cars around the grounds, and not just for the Pass-in-Review. In a few hours on Saturday afternoon, we heard half a dozen owners say, “Let’s go for a drive, shall we?”

In a trice, family and friends loaded up and hit the streets. For spectators, this proves equally fascinating, as you not only see the cars move through bright sun and shadow, but hear and sometimes smell them in action.

The clattering cacophony of a Model T in motion is interspersed with the chuff-chuff-chuff of a Curved Dash Oldsmobile, the hum of a big Chrysler six, the utter silence of a Detroit Electric and the hiss of a White steamer. And they’re surrounded by vintage buildings, period street lamps, and the sights of a paddle-wheel steamer on the “river” and a steam locomotive on the Village’s railroad.

Want to get a kid hooked on old cars? It all comes to life here in ways far more engaging than seeing the same vehicles polished and posed behind velvet ropes in a museum or poised like fashion models on a golf course.

There’s far more going on at the Old Car Festival, including car “games” on an athletic field, the opportunity to watch a Model T being assembled in minutes, and even a Gas Light Parade just after sundown Saturday when the cars use their acetylene and early electric headlights to navigate the streets.

Go, see for yourself, and take home some ideas for your own old car show.

Ferraris draw big bids at RM London auction, but so do low-mileage original-condition cars

The scene at RM's London sale | RM photos by Tim Scott, Fluid Images
The scene at RM’s London sale | RM photos by Tim Scott, Fluid Images

Ferraris, of course, led the way at RM’s annual London auction, staged in conjunction with the prestigious Concours of Elegance, but other classic and collector cars offered in original and low-mileage condition also did very well.

The sale offered 80 earth-bound vehicles, plus one aerospace artifact. Sixty-nine of the ground-bound cars sold, an 86.25-percent sell-though, for a total of $36,285, 366.

A 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione “Tour de France” model, one of nine built, topped all sales at $8,118,993. The car had a long racing history and twice finished among the top 10 in the race from which it took its name.

The Cobra on the block
The Cobra on the block

A 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, one of 60 produced with alloy bodywork, achieved $3,266,261. Two other Ferraris — a 2003 Enzo and a 1989 F40 — also were among the top-5 in sales.

The third-highest sale, however, deviated from the Ferrari dominance. It was for a 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra that brought $1,959,756. All prices listed here include RM’s buyer’s premium.

“It is wonderful to be reflecting on yet another remarkable sale,” RM Europe’s managing director Max Girardo said in a post-sale news release. “The London auction has always delivered great cars to the market and achieved strong results, and this year has been no exception. The results, which include a strong 86 percent sell through, are a true reflection of the quality of the vehicles presented.”

Speaking of quality, a 1989 Ferrari 328 GTS in classic Rosso Corsa and beige leather colors — and with fewer than 200 kilometers on its odometer — sold for $261,300, double its pre-auction estimate.

Also, a 1990 25th anniversary Lamborghini Countach with 2,600 k on its odo went for $373,287, well beyond its pre-auction estimate, and a 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, a Group B World Rally Car, more than doubled its anticipated bids while selling for $261,300.

The 'Tour de France' Ferrari on the block
The ‘Tour de France’ Ferrari on the block

A highlight of the auction was the sale of the world’s fastest serially produced vehicle, a CIAM-NASA Hypersonic Flying Laboratory “Kholod.” Capable of achieving 4,925 miles per hour, the aerospace artifact sold for $63,367.

RM Auctions London, Top-10 sales:

  1. 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione “Tour de France,” $8,118,993
  2. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB alloy, $3,266,261
  3. 1964 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra, $1,959,756
  4. 2003 Ferrari Enzo, $1,586,469
  5. 1989 Ferrari F40, $1,269,175
  6. 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400, $1,082,532
  7. 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster, $1,026,539
  8. 1937 Bugatti Type 57C Stelvio, $989,210
  9. 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America, $933,217
  10. 1970 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta, $905,221

(All prices include buyer’s premium.)

Some of the cars available at RM's London sale
Some of the cars available at RM’s London sale

 

Mecum auction tops $31.4 million in Dallas

 The top-selling 1969 Corvette L88 convertible is one of two in black-on-black | Mecum Auctions
The top-selling 1969 Corvette L88 convertible is one of two in black-on-black | Mecum Auctions

After the rush of multi-million-dollar Ferraris and other seemingly unobtainable exotics at the recent Monterey collector-car auctions, it’s a relief to see the results of Mecum’s Dallas auction, where Chevys and Fords topped the bidding.

Total sales at Mecum’s fourth annual Dallas auction came to $31,428,039, with 766 of the 1,155 cars going to new owners, a 66 percent sell-through rate. That’s a drop from last year’s sale, which came to nearly $38 million, although that was with nearly 300 more cars crossing the block, including the top-selling 1967 Corvette L88 convertible that went for $3.2 million.

There were no million-dollar sales this year, although another Corvette L88 again led the pack. This one, a 1969 convertible race car that was ordered new by renowned L88 racer Tony DeLorenzo, hammered sold for $680,000, plus auction fees. The high-performance Vette is one of just two finished in black-on-black.

Four modern Ford GTs are among the top-10 sellers | Mecum Auctions
Four modern Ford GTs are among the top-10 sellers | Mecum Auctions

A couple of Camaros fill the next two top-sales slots: The first 1967 Camaro ever ordered by famed Yenko Chevrolet, which reached $300,000 (prices listed here do not include Mecum buyer’s fees), and an award-winning product of Yenko’s performance magic, a 1969 Yenko coupe, which hit $285,000.

Late-model Ford GT coupes, which have gained “instant collectability” status, made up no fewer than four of the top-10 spots at the Dallas auction, with impressive totals ranging from $280,000 to $255,000.

Mecum Dallas auction 2014, top-10 sales (prices do not include buyer’s fees):

1. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 convertible, $680,000
2. 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, $300,000
3. 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro, $285,000
4. 2005 Ford GT, $280,000
5. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible , $270,000
6. 2005 Ford GT, $260,000
7. 2006 Ford GT, $255,000
8. 2005 Ford GT, $255,000
9. 1971 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T, $250,000
10. 2013 McLaren MP4-12C Spyder, $215,000

Alfa roadster wins England’s posh Concours of Elegance

The best of show 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring Flying Star | Concours of Elegance
The best of show 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring Flying Star | Concours of Elegance

Britain’s prestigious Concours of Elegance is unique among such top-echelon classic car events in that its venue changes every year, though it always is held on the grand landscaped lawns of a Royal Palace.

The Concours of Elegance is posh in every sense of the word, with the third-annual gathering last Sunday at one of the UK’s most splendid landmarks, the Fountain Gardens of Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. A special awards presentation was hosted in the Great Dining Hall by concours patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent.

Prince Michael of Kent admires a 1930 Bentley 6 1/2 Litre | Matt Ankers
Prince Michael of Kent admires a 1930 Bentley 6 1/2 Litre | Matt Ankers

A record 10,000 people strolled the historic grounds among 60 of the world’s most rare and exquisite automobiles.

A legendary Italian masterpiece, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Touring Flying Star, won the best of show trophy. The gleaming white Alfa sports car has been winning important awards since its creation – at its concours debut in 1931, it won the Coppa d’Oro trophy at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este – and has been earning praise and trophies ever since.

The Concours of Elegance was established in 2012 with its inaugural event held on the private grounds of Windsor Castle to mark the diamond jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen’s reign. The 2013 Concours took place at the historic Royal Palace of St James in London, when the event raised more than £250,000 (about $400,000) for charity.

Only at the Gilmore: Disney movie set, wood car tires

Nick Chester, 12, demonstrates the scale of the Disney version of a Rolls-Royce | Larry Edsall photos
Nick Chester, 12, demonstrates the scale of the Disney version of a Rolls-Royce | Larry Edsall photos
Here's the real Rolls
Here’s the real Rolls

As you may have noticed through the series of Eye Candy photo galleries we’ve been presenting, the Gilmore Car Museum is known for its classic cars and its historic barns, but there are at least two other things that make the place unique.

The one for which it is most widely known is for being the only place other than Walt’s own studios to have the real set from a Disney movie.

The set is the gigantic Rolls-Royce rear seat used in the 1967 movie The Gnome-Mobile, which starred Walter Brennan as a lumber baron whose grandchildren convinced him to save a redwood forest because it was the home to the “little people,” a group of gnomes.

The movie, based on a book written in 1936 by Upton Sinclair, also starred Ed Wynn as well as Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice, who earlier had been the children featured in another Disney movie, Mary Poppins.

Back in the days before computerized special effects, Disney used photographic tricks to make the actors portraying the gnomes appear to be only inches tall. One way was to build a set four times scale, including the back seat of a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Sedanca De-Ville that also was used in the movie.

After the filming, and despite a strict policy never to let any set leave Disney property, Walt Disney offered the set to Donald Gilmore for his car museum in Michigan, where it now sits next to the Rolls that was used in the movie.

Turns out that Disney and Gilmore were friends. Gilmore had a winter home in Palm Springs, California, where Disney had a house on one side of his and Ronald Reagan had a house on the other side.

In fact, Disney and Gilmore were such good friends that when Disneyland opened in 1955, the drug store on the park’s Main Street, USA was labeled as the Upjohn Pharmacy because Gilmore was chairman of the Upjohn Pharmaceutical company.

It used to be that museum visitors could crawl up and get their picture taken on the oversized Rolls seat. That’s no longer offered — too much wear and tear in a one-of-a-kind feature, but the real car and the gigantic rear seat set are at the museum for viewing, along with a continuously running loop of the actual movie.

Donald Gilmore's wooden wheels
Donald Gilmore’s wooden wheels

The other unique though less highlighted feature at the Gilmore museum are a pair of car tires made from wood.

During World War II, many items were rationed for civilian use, including gasoline and tires. Donald Gilmore was among those seeking alternatives. For example, he had a 1927 Ford Model T converted to electric power. He also had four tires made from wood and installed on his 1940 Cadillac.

As you might expect, that experiment didn’t go so well because the tires simply didn’t provide sufficient traction. Undaunted, however, Gilmore simply put rubber tires back on the car’s rear wheels and continued to drive with the wooden ones in front.

Modern tire engineers will tell you to put your two best tires on the rear wheels (regardless of whether your vehicle has front-, rear- or all-wheel drive) because as your front wheels lose grip for steering, the driver naturally slows to compensate and to keep the car under control. (So why not put the best tires up front? Because only the most attuned of drivers — basically, very experienced auto racers — can recognize the moment when rear tires are about to lose their grip and send the car into a spin.)

A sign next to the wooden tires in the museum notes that Gilmore’s staff liked it when he drove on the wooden tires. Why?

“Because they could hear him coming from a mile away!”

My Classic Car: Tim’s 1949 Cadillac 61 Sedanette

Tim's $500 1949 Cadillac became a best-in-class winner at Meadowbrook concours | Tim Storer photo
Tim’s $500 1949 Cadillac became a best-in-class winner at Meadowbrook concours | Tim Storer photo

In June of 1973, I went to a local car show that was held at the Sloan Museum located in Flint Michigan. I really had a good time seeing all the different cars and trucks that were there and decided that I wanted an old car to fix up and take to the next year’s show.

I was 13 at the time and had saved up some cash from mowing yards, snow-blowing sidewalks — and my parents owned a motel so I would pick up food at the local dinner and deliver it to the guests; I got a $10 tip from the TV star “Down Town” Charlie Brown.

So I started searching Flint for my project. I found a lot of old Buicks and Chevys but they just did not do that much for me.

After looking for about two weeks, I was going over to a friend’s house and, just before I made the turn down his street, there it was the most beautiful site I ever laid eyes on — a 1949 Cadillac 61 Sedanette.

I had no idea what it was from a distance, but when I good and close I saw the Cadillac badge.

The car was behind a Shell and tire store with a FOR SALE sign.

My lucky day! The guy that owned it worked at a pizza place down the road so I rode my bike down there and he said he would sell it for $500. I gave him $20 and said I would have to get my Dad so he could drive it home.

So I got my Caddy, got some Black Magic and did some filling on the front fenders, pulled the chrome and decided that I was over my head so in ’74 I had the car painted.

I missed taking the car the ’74 Sloan Summer Fair (which is still going strong) but in ’75 I won second place.

In 1977, and now with a driver’s license, I bought a Chevrolet Camaro so the old Caddie got put in a barn on our farm and did not see the light of day until the spring of 1992.

Some moisture had got to the motor so I had it rebuilt, and a buddy of mine totally disassembled the body and, after a year and a half painting the car, it looked like new.

The interior is all original. It’s a very nice car. The odo reads 25,000 miles.

I continued taking the car to Sloan and in 2002 and a rep from the Meadowbrook Concours asked if I would be interested in showing the car if the organization voted to accept it. Well, the car got invited and received a best in class blue ribbon and a Lions cut-glass award.

Since then the car gets out once or twice a year.

After 41 years of ownership, I still remember the first time I laid eyes on it.

— Tim Storer, Lennon MI

Breaking news: Rick Cole Auctions reports $23-million post-Monterey deal for Ferrari 410

Ferrari 410 Sport sells in post-Monterey transaction for $23 million |Rick Cole Auctions photo
Ferrari 410 Sport sells in post-Monterey transaction for $23 million |Rick Cole Auctions photo

Late Monday evening, Rick Cole Auctions announced four additional vehicle sales in the aftermath of its recent Monterey auction. The sales include a $23 million transaction for the 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport and a $9.725 million deal resulting in the sale of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

Cole’s company also said it has completed two additional sales: $1.5 million for a 1990 Ferrari F40 and $1.4 million for a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “gullwing” coupe.

Those four transactions add more than $35.6 million to the $23.3 million in total sales previously reported for Cole’s Monterey auction. That boosts the total for Cole’s return to Monterey to more than $58.9 million and ups the overall 2014 Monterey classic and collector car auctions sales total to nearly $463 million, compared with last year’s  record of $302 million.

In another post-Monterey update, Mecum Auctions has announced that the reserve price has been reduced and bidding continues on the 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Spider featured in its Monterey sale.

The Rick Cole Auctions post-sale transactions not only increase that auction’s sales totals but change the top-10 lists for both Cole’s auction and for the overall Monterey sales:

Rick Cole Auctions Monterey top 10:

1. 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport, $23,000,000
2. 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti, $12,000,000
3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, $9,725,000
4. 1962 Ferrari 250 PF cabriolet, $2,200,000
5. 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB, $2,200,000
6. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS, $1,980,000
7. 1990 Ferrari F40, $1,500,000
8. 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupe, $1,400,000
9. 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4, $1,155,000
10. 1970 Maserati Ghibli Spyder, $715,000

Overall 2014 Monterey top 10:


1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO coupe, $38,115,000 (Bonhams)
2. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale coupe, $26,400,000 (RM)
3. 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport, $23,000,000 (Rick Cole)
4. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spyder, $15,180,000 (Gooding)
5. 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Competition Clienti, $12,000,000 (Rick Cole)
6. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM coupe, $11,550,000 (RM)
7. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 coupe, $10,175,000 (RM)
8. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, $9,725,000 (Rick Cole)
9. 1953 Ferrari 250 MM coupe, $7,260,000 (Bonhams)
10. 1965 Ford GT40 prototype roadster, $6,930,000 (RM)

 

Poll results: Which US road would you most like to drive in a classic?

The Question of the Week for the week of September 1st , 2014 asked you, which US road would you most like to drive in a classic?

Mouse over or tap on each slice to learn what you told us:

 

 

This poll is closed but you can participate in the current Question of the Week poll.

Matchbox toy show at Antique Automobile Club Museum

A little antique car that was part of Matchbox’s Models of YesterYear series | Diecast Toy Exchange
An antique car from Models of YesterYear series | Diecast Toy Exchange

The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts its fourth annual Matchbox Collectors show on September 21, featuring the tiny die-cast cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors and other fun vehicles produced in England long before there were Hot Wheels.

Matchbox toys by Lesney started the trend of miniature toy cars in 1953 with the production of inexpensive but high-quality vehicles small enough to fit into a matchbox. They were even packaged in little cardboard boxes and were cheap enough so that kids could buy and collect them. Matchbox vehicles today are grown-up collector items.

The show at the museum is presented by the Diecast Toy Exchange and features some rare and valuable pieces, such as a 1960s-era mint-green Pontiac and matching camper trailer. It’s a one-of-a-kind set valued at $10,000 because it was a color-trial sample and never produced for sale.

A classic motorcycle with sidecar | Diecast Toy Exchange
A classic motorcycle with sidecar | Diecast Toy Exchange

Vendors at the show will sell a wide variety of more-affordable Matchbox toys from the 1950s through the present day. A pair of limited-edition toys produced specially for the show will be for sale while supplies last: A 60-piece series of 1992 Dodge Vipers that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Dodge brand (priced at $12 each) and 40 models of Convoy Trucks (at $30 apiece).

The AACA will offer reduced-price tickets to the museum during the show. Visitors also can take a look at the museum’s full-size collection of vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles going back to the 1890s. Two special exhibits are taking place: Indian Nation: Indian Motorcycles in America and the Mark Watts Reflections art exhibit.

There also is the opportunity for a sneak peak at the upcoming 100 Years of Dodge exhibit, which opens September 26.

For more information about events at the AACA Museum, see www.AACAMuseum.org.

The specially made Convoy Truck commemorating the Hershey show | Diecast Toy Exchange
The specially made Convoy Truck commemorating the Hershey show | Diecast Toy Exchange