Category archives: News

Car designer Peter Brock to lecture at Blackhawk

Peter Brock will sign copies of his recent Corvette Sting Ray book | Brock Racing Enterprises
Peter Brock will sign copies of his recent Corvette Sting Ray book | Brock Racing Enterprises

Car designer, author, racing-team owner, photo journalist – Peter Brock has excelled at all his pursuits, starting at the age of 19 when he joined Bill Mitchell’s group of stylists at General Motors, where he became a leading force in the creation of the Corvette Sting Ray.

Brock will present a lecture at noon Sunday at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, Calif., focusing on his time as one of the youngest designers ever hired at GM Styling and how he worked with Mitchell, Harley Earl, Zora Arkus-Duntov and Ed Cole in producing the groundbreaking 1963 Sting Ray.

Part of the museum’s Spring Speaker Series, the lecture by Brock coincides with the 34th annual “A Legend on Display” car show presented by the Northern California Corvette Association, which takes place in the museum plaza. More than 100 cars are expected.

Brock's 1957 sketch helped launch the Sting Ray | General Motors
Brock’s 1957 sketch helped launch the Sting Ray | General Motors

Brock will be available to sign copies of his 2013 book, Corvette Sting Ray: Genesis of an American Icon, in which Brock gives an insider’s look at how the Sting Ray came about, and the many competing decisions that went into its design.

A sketch made by Brock in 1957 was picked by Mitchell as the focus for the second-generation Corvette and spawned one of America’s most famous show cars, the Sting Ray Racer of 1959. It also provided the direction for the eventual production Sting Ray that appeared to manic acclaim in the fall of 1962.

Brock is most-famous among racing fans for his work with Carroll Shelby, who hired the young designer as the first employee for his performance and racing endeavors. Brock accepted the challenge from Shelby of creating a version of the Cobra roadster for high-speed performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The result — the iconic Cobra Daytona Coupe — succeeded in beating reigning Ferrari for a GT-class win at Le Mans. It also was the first American car to win the FIA’s GT World Championship.

Brock ran his own racing team at one point, under Brock Racing Enterprises, which campaigned Datsun 510 coupes to conquer Alfa-Romeo and Porsche in Trans Am 2.5 competition. The BRE Datsuns became famous for taking their blue-and-orange livery into victory lane.

For more information about the lecture, the Corvette show and other events at the Blackhawk Museum, see www.blackhawkmuseum.org.

Today is the license plate’s birthday

Some of the historic license plates at the Petersen museum | Larry Edsall
Some of the historic license plates at the Petersen museum | Larry Edsall

April 25 is the birthday of the automotive license plate in the United States.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York was the first state to require license plates on motor vehicles, beginning April 25, 1901.

At the time, the census bureau reports, there were fewer than 15,000 motor cars in the entire country. Today, there are nearly 250 million cars, trucks and buses in the country, and all of them wear license plates.

“Many automobile license plates proclaim glories of the issuing states; others spell out something dear to the drivers but indecipherable to anyone else,” the census bureau’s news release reports.

Regardless, it continues, “Those plates and the basic ones handed out by motor vehicle departments are requirements to drive on public roads.”

Oh, and if you want to decorate your plate — or plates, depending on the state in which you reside — the census bureau reports there are 38,000 auto parts and accessories stores that can sell you decorative license plate frames.

For more such trivia, you can visit www.census.gov.

To learn more about license plates, you can visit the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which has an entire exhibition on the history of license plates. The Petersen’s exhibition opened late last year and runs through December 7.

The famous 1928 Massachusetts plate | Larry Edsall
The famous 1928 Massachusetts plate | Larry Edsall

The highlight of the Petersen’s exhibition is the 1928 Massachussets license plate, which many of that state’s residents blamed for the lousy fishing season that year.

It was in 1928 that the Massachusetts department of motor vehicles added a fish symbol to the state’s license plates, but positioned the fish so it was swimming away from the word “Mass.” After a poor season for fishermen and an anglers’ uproar, the person who designed that plate was fired and the following year the fish pointed toward the state’s name and the fishing industry prospered.

Such tales are shared in the “License Plates: Unlocking the Code” exhibit.

“There really is educational value to each plate in this display,” said Jeff Minard, a license plate historian who worked with the museum on the display. “At the same time, time, these unique pieces are displayed as art for everyone to enjoy.” 

Porsche’s ‘rolling museum’ to visit Pebble Beach

A Porsche participates in the Mille Miglia | Porsche Museum
A Porsche participates in the Mille Miglia | Porsche Museum

Porsche calls it a “rolling museum.”

“It” is a showcase of Porsche racing cars that takes them from their stationary positions within the Porsche Museum in Germany and puts them on roads and race tracks, not only at Europe’s top classic car events this year but also in northern California.

From May 15-18, a 550 Spyder, two 356 coupes and a 356 Speedster will participate in the annual Mille Miglia rally in Italy, the Porsche Museum  announced. Among the drivers for the 1,000-mile rally are Porsche chairman Wolfgang Porsche and famed endurance racer Jacky Ickx.

June 6-7, famed Porsche racers Walter Rohrl and Hans-Joachim Stuck will drive a 911 Carrera 2.7 RS and a 911 Speedster across southwestern Germany in the Paul Pietsch Klassik.

Porsche's 917 at Goodwood in 2013
Porsche’s 917 at Goodwood in 2013

Later in June (26-29), Porsche will participate in the “Turbo” theme of the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, and not only with a 959 Group B rally car, a 964 Turbo, a 993 Turbo and the “Baby” 935, a car that gets its nickname from is scaled-down 1.4-liter engine, but with two 917s — the 917 KH that produced Porsche’s first overall victory at Le Mans and a 917/30 Can-Am series racer.

July 6-7, a 911 Carrera RSR Targa Florio, a 935/77 Group 5 racer, a 911 Turbo Cabriolet and a 911 Turbo 3.0 will go from the museum to the Le Mans Classic.

Porsche itself is the featured marque for the Ennstal Classic that takes place July 10-12. In addition to several 356s from the museum, Porsche will send a 911 2.2 Targa, will have Rohrl in a 718 WRS, Ickx in a 550 A Spyder and current works racer Marc Lieb in a 1998 Porsche GT1 for the Chopard Grand Prix von Grobming. The program includes a hill climb, touring drives through the Tauern Mountains, and the grand prix race through city streets.

Cars from the Porsche Museum will participate in the sixth Schloss Bensberg Classic scheduled for July 18-20, traveling to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the U.S. in mid-August, and from August 21-24 parting in the Sachsen Classic, a classic car rally from Zwickau to Chemnitz in Europe’s Vogtland region.

Porsche says its “rolling museum” is part of its philosophy of making sure all the vehicles in its museum are roadworthy and “thus fulfill the original purpose for which they were built: to be driven.”

Photographers focus on a Porsche during Mille Miglia rally
Photographers focus on a Porsche during Mille Miglia rally

California Mille gets set for thousand-mile tour

Alfa-Romeos and a Jaguar XK soar through the curves during a previous Mille | California Mille
Alfa-Romeos and a Jaguar XK soar through the curves during a previous Mille | California Mille

The 24th annual California Mille starts April 28 for a four-day, thousand-mile classic car tour of scenic countryside and challenging back roads across the middle of California.

“It’s kind of a cross-section of California landscapes, really a mix of the Coast, the Sierra Nevadas, Napa Valley wine country, Sacramento river delta and Central Valley,” co-director David Swig said of the drive route. “So it will be quite a diversity of roads and landscapes. We change the routes every year to give people something fresh and new roads to drive on.”

For the second year, the California Mille is headed by David and Howard Swig, sons of the late Martin Swig, the irrepressible old-car enthusiast who founded the California version of Italy’s famed Mille Miglia road rally. Martin Swig died in July 2012. His sons vowed to keep the premium event going unchanged.

Rally cars displayed at the Fairmount Hotel | California Mille
Rally cars displayed at the Fairmount Hotel | California Mille

As ever, the grand sweep of 80 vintage sports, race and touring cars is the star attraction of the road rally. On Sunday, the day before the rally departs, the public is invited to enjoy a free show of the rally cars from noon to 6 p.m. in front of the Fairmount Hotel on San Francisco’s historic Nob Hill. More than 10,000 people are expected to see the rare field of entries.

“This year’s Mille may be the most signi?cant compendium of classic cars we’ve ever had,” David Swig said. “Along with some 13 Alfa Romeos, 11 Porsches, 6 Jaguars and half a dozen Ferraris – largely vintage ‘50s and ‘60s – we have a ’52 Tojeiro Roadster, a ’28 Bentley, ’57 Kurtis Kraft 500KK and a ’38 Lancia Aprilia.”

David Swig said that for his own rally car, he picked two distinctively different possibilities: a brawny all-American vintage race car or a nimble Italian sports coupe with unique California Mille history.

A pair of red 1950s Jaguars on the road | California Mille
A pair of red 1950s Jaguars on the road | California Mille

“I’m going to drive whatever car is ready to go, but at this point it looks like we’re going to drive a ’51 Chrysler Saratoga, which is a car similar to the car that John Fitch drove in the 1951 La Carrera Panamericana race,” he said. “It looks like the car that John Fitch drove. It has Halibrand magnesium wheels and a 331 Hemi, which is pumped up a little bit. All period stuff in the style that they would have run back in the early ’50s. Still drum brakes and all that.

“If that for whatever reason is not ready to go, I’m going to drive a car that my father drove on the first California Mille, which is a little Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. But I’m really hoping to take the Chrysler because we already have quite a few Alfas and Porsches and small sports cars. Sometimes it’s nice to take something that’s a bit out of the ordinary.”

David Swig, 29, and his brother Howard, 26, along with Dan Radowicz and Ron Wren, have taken on the task of keeping alive the spirit of the California Mille after the death of Martin Swig, who was well-known in classic car circles for his unflagging enthusiasm and gregarious demeanor.

“Basically, my brother and I grew up fully immersed in the car world from all different aspects,” David Swig said. “It was and continues to be a full-immersion experience. He certainly passed on his passion to me and Howard.”

Martin Swig started up the California Mille after taking part in 1982 in the Mille Miglia of Italy, a road-rally re-enactment of what was formerly a full-on thousand-mile road race, which was run 24 times from 1927 through 1958 under the same name (Mille Miglia is Italian for “thousand mile”). The 24th year of the California Mille is therefore considered a notable milestone.

Bonhams readies London motorcar, automobilia auction

The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions
The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions

Coachbuilt Bentleys and an off-road truck built by Lamborghini highlight the Bonhams Collector’s Motor Cars and Automobilia Sale, scheduled for April 28 at London’s RAF Museum.

Bonham’s sale opens with a high-end collection of vintage automotive literature, posters, artworks and pre-war mascots, including a selection of valuable radiator ornaments by French glass designer Renè Lalique.

More than 70 classic cars will be offered after the automobilia sale, with a wide range of values and conditions, from a three-wheeled economy panel van and “barn-find” Jaguars to rare restored Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Alvis motorcars.

Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions
Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions

A classic 1927 Bentley 3-liter Speed Model Tourer with coachwork by Vanden Plas and painted a brilliant red will cross the block with an estimated worth of $170,000 to $250,000. A 1956 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon with shapely streamlined styling by H.J. Mulliner will also be offered, estimated at $470,000-570,000.

An unusual 1949 Bentley MKVI 4¼-Liter Countryman Shooting Brake with a woodie-wagon body by Harold Radford is valued at $120,000-150,000.

The 1987 Lamborghini LM 002, an over-the-top four-wheel-drive SUV known in the U.S. as “Rambo Lambo,” is valued at $130,000-200,000. One of just 328 LM 002s produced between 1986 and 1992, this one was originally owned by Italian racing driver Mario Ricci.

For more information about the Bonhams sale, visit the website at www.bomhams.com.

Everything may be bigger in Texas: Houston doubles up on concours, auctions

2013 best-in-show winners were 1936 Delahaye Type 135 and 1969 Ford GT40 | Concours d'Elegance of Texas
2013 best-in-show winners were 1936 Delahaye Type 135 and 1969 Ford GT40 | Concours d’Elegance of Texas

Pebble Beach, Scottsdale and Amelia Island have become focal points on the classic car calendar, drawing enthusiasts from across the country (and around the world) because of their overlapping multiple events. Is Houston a serious candidate to join that club?

Consider that soon after Mecum Auctions completed a record-setting sale in Houston’s Reliant Center, there will be not one but two concours d’elegance in the oil-driven boom town on the same weekend in early May, each with an auction and all sorts of other activities.

Recently, we shared the news that a Motostalgia auction will join the lineup for the 19th annual Keels & Wheels concours at Seabrook, on Galveston south of Houston. But that early May weekend also is the date for the third annual Concours d’Elegance of Texas, which is held less than 100 miles away, albeit on the other side of the city, northwest of Houston at the La Torretta Lake resort and spa on Lake Conroe in Montgomery.

Judges hear a car's story
Judges hear a car’s story

In its third year, the Texas concours includes:

  • A driving tour
  • Golf tournament
  • Worldwide Auctioneers 19th annual Houston Classic auction
  • “Next Gen” educational summit (with experts from Hagerty and Worldwide instructing high school students and at-risk youth on classic car preservation, maintenance, restoration and judging)
  • Cowboys & Cars strolling charity dinner and dance
  • A 5th annual antiques festival in historic Montgomery
  • The concours, sponsored by the Gullo family auto dealership group, with 34 classes of classic cars on display and being judged.

Featured vehicles at the auction include:

  • A 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A Speedster
  • An ex-works 1930 Riley Brooklands two-seat roadster
  • A garage-found after 40 years 1957 Aston Martin DB 2/4 Mark III
  • A 1-of-4 1934 Auburn Twelve salon cabriolet
  • A 2,700-mile 1969 L88 Chevrolet Corvette

The Texas concours calls itself “The Family Concours” because of its family-friendly location, said the event’s head of operations, John Aguillard. The La Torretta Lake resort includes its own water park, a variety of restaurants and a baby-sitting service.

“Our chief judge, R.C. Willbanks Jr., has two small children and told us ‘this is an absolutely wonderful place to have a concours. Not only do I get to have fun, but I get to have fun with my family’,” said Aguillard, who explained that the judge’s remark led to the event’s subtitle.

The location also makes the event an easier drive for classic car enthusiasts from Dallas, which is the home of event chairman Mike Ames. In addition to Ames, others on the event’s board of directors include Don Sommer, founder of Michigan Concours d’Elegance at Meadow Brook (now held at the Inn at St. Johns); Hudson and AMC collector Ed Souers; former Keels & Wheels co-chairman Ron Stein; and David Madeira, president of The LeMay museum.

Maybe it’s not only Houston’s but Texas’ turn in the classic car spotlight: In addition to the recent Mecum sale and the two Houston-area concours, Leake Auctions has a sale April 25-26 at Dallas, and north of there, up near the Texas-Oklahoma border, the second-annual Cruisin’ Nocona old-car festival, complete with a Vicari classic car auction, takes place May 1-3.

The Leake docket is highlighted by:

  • One of only three known extant (of 16 built) 1957 Chevrolet El Moroccos
  • A 1991 Ferrari Testarossa with only 8,119 miles on its odometer
  • A 2005 Bentley Continental GT that will be sold to benefit St. Cloud’s Rescue, a care and adoption program for large-breed dogs
  • A never-raced, 49th of 50-produced 2014 Ford Mustang Super Cobra Jet (the buyer gets a complimentary visit to the Roy Hill Drag Racing School)
  • A 2009 Dodge challenger SRT8 SEMA show car.

Corvette museum considering options for preserving not only cars but part of the sinkhole

Exploration of sinkhole continues | National Corvette Museum
Exploration of sinkhole continues | National Corvette Museum

With all of the damaged vehicles removed from the sinkhole beneath the Skydome at the National Corvette Museum, options are being considered about the repairs needed to restore the facility and those vehicles. One option is to preserve a portion of the sinkhole for future museum visitors to see and to learn not only about the collapse, but about the ground beneath not just the museum but the entire area. Continue reading

$7 million GT40 goes to Utah motorsports museum

The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions
The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions

The Ford GT40 prototype racecar that hammered sold at a record $7 million April 12 at the Mecum auction in Houston will be put on permanent display at the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum in Tooele, Utah.

Continue reading

Motostalgia auction joins Keels & Wheels lineup

Jon Osha Collection to cross block at Motostalgia's Keels & Wheels sale | Motostalgia
Jon Osha cars to cross block at Motostalgia’s Keels & Wheels sale | Motostalgia

Motostalgia, the auction house that made its debut last year with a sale in conjunction with the U.S. Grand Prix, will conduct a collector car auction May 2 as part of the Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance.

The 19th annual Keels & Wheels concours of classic cars and boats takes place May 3-4 at the Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, Tex., just south of Houston.

“When we learned about Motostalgia’s exceptional inaugural catalog auction in Austin last November, we knew we had to have them reintroduce a collector car auction to Keels & Wheels,” Bob Fuller, chairman of the Keels & Wheels event, was quoted in a news release.

“A rare-car auction brings a new crowd and a higher level of excitement to the entire weekend.”

“We’re thrilled to add this Concours d’Elegance event to our auction calendar,” said Motostalgia founder Antonio Brunet. “Motostalgia has already procured an amazing selection of collector cars such as a vintage 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A Continental Cabriolet, one of a handful in existence today.”

The auction also will feature two Rolls Royce models not seen on the U.S. market for more than 40 years and the 10-car Jon Osha Collection, which will be offered without reserve.

Motostalgia’s news release said the emphasis will be on cars in the high six figures in value.

The Jon Osha Collection includes a 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom I Boattail, a 1968 1/2 Ford Mustang R Code 428 Cobra Jet and a 1954 Jaguar XK120 roadster. The boattail Rolls was ordered by Prince Mdivani with coachwork by Thrupp and Maberly but in the 1950s, it was rebodied with a replica of the Barker Boattail Tourer body.

Also on the docket are a 1933 Rolls Royce Phantom II Club Coupe, a 1929 Phantom I Town Car, a 1965 Shelby GT350 raced by Richard “Dick” Roe and Gerry Mulnix, and a 2008 Bugatti Veyron.

Motostalgia’s inaugural sale in November featured a 1933 Duesenberg Model J “Queen of Diamonds” and a 1998 Ferrari F30 F1 that had been driven by Michael Schumacher.

Keels & Wheels includes 40 classes for cars and 20 for boats. Proceeds from the event benefit the Boys & Girls Harbor, which provides a home and safety for abandoned and abused children, and care for children and families in crisis.

 

It’s the Petersen’s turn to celebrate Mustang’s birthday

Eleanors from both Gone in 60 Seconds movies will be at the museum | Petersen photos
Eleanors from both Gone in 60 Seconds movies will be at the museum | Petersen photos

The big celebrations at the New York Auto Show and at speedways in Charlotte and Las Vegas may be over, but festivities staged to observe the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang continue.

This weekend, May 3-4, the Petersen Automotive museum presents Mustang Madness which will include:

  • An all-Mustang car show.
  • A look at the next-generation 2015 Mustang that doesn’t arrive in Ford dealerships until sometime this fall.
  • The unveiling of the museum’s Mustangs Forever: 50 Years of a Legend exhibit.
  • Live interviews with various “Mustang Heroes.”
  • A visit Saturday morning by Mustang RTR creator and world drift-driving champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. and one Sunday morning by Beau Boeckmann, president of Galpin Auto Sports (Galpin Ford is the sponsor for the special weekend Mustang celebration at the Petersen).
  • Additional appearances by Bob Fria with the first Ford Mustang, by Hollywood Hot Rods’ Troy Ladd with his custom Mustang, and by Pure Vision’s Martini Mustang.
  • A “Value of the Mustang” seminar Sunday afternoon by experts from Hagerty Collector Car Insurance.
  • Screenings of both the 1974 and 2000 versions of the movie, Gone in 60 Seconds, with the Eleanor Mustangs from both movies on display.
  • Food tents, live music and a play area and scavenger hunt for children.
  • A special museum rooftop Mustang Lounge.
It will be all-Mustangs at the show
It will be all-Mustangs at the show

Speaking of the all-Mustang car show, there will be prizes awarded, and Henry Ford III will present a special Ford Heritage Award.

For more information and a time schedule, visit the www.petersen.org website.