Category archives: News

McCormick ready for 56th Palm Springs auction

Photos courtesy McCormick Classic Car Auction
Photos courtesy McCormick Classic Car Auction

Keith McCormick was little more than a youngster back in his native England when he began restoring cars at his parents’ home.

“When I got married, we married young and now its 48 years later,” he said of his marriage to Delsey. “We had zero money. The first car we restored as a couple was a Ford Thames van. We paid five pounds for it. We sold it for 25 pounds. There was no looking back from there.”

Well, except the day the police arrived.

“I was selling cars from my home,” McCormick said. “The police posted a notice about misuse of the premise, so we rented a little gas-station forecourt and sold three cars the first weekend.”DSC_5882

Eventually, the McCormicks’ owned five car dealerships, which they sold so they could move to Palm Springs, Calif., in 1981, where they planned to enjoy an early retirement.

But the cost of living in California consumed their savings. McCormick bought a gas station and started selling cars again. He also helped launch the Palm Springs vintage races, which brought motorsports celebrities Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant to town.

“That gave me name recognition so I could do a car auction,” McCormick said.

Not only did he have name recognition, but he was encouraged by part-time Palm Springs resident and television star Telly Savalas.

We have created a village-type auction atmosphere here,”

— Keith McCormick


McCormick staged his first classic car auction in 1985. February 21-22, he’ll stage his 56th. The location is The Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs.

McCormick and his family — Delsey, their son Jason and daughter-in-law Julie —  a few employees that have sort of become family not only do auctions twice a year in Palm Springs, but also have a classic car dealership.

“Palm Springs has a village-type downtown and we have created a village-type auction atmosphere here,” McCormick said. “We get 20,000 people to the events and we know most of them and what they bought and when they bought it.”

McCormick said he has no interest in doing auctions in other locations. “I’m just a homebody with a wife, kids and grandkids. Everybody gets involved in the business. And we’ve made money along the way. But money is not the big factor in life. Family and being happy is more important.”

McCormick’s auctions feature 540 cars — that’s all there’s room for at the casino — but each event actually can claim closer to 600 sales. That’s because cars that arrive early go to the consignment showroom, where pre-auction sales often take place, thereby opening room for additional cars at the actual auction.LOT 201 1993 VECTOR W8

Speaking of the cars available at the auction, McCormick said they’ll range from MGBs to one of the 17 Vectors (see photo) .

“They’ve sold from $400,000 to $1 million,” he said of the Vector, which he added was the first car to reach 242 miles per  hour on the Salt Flats at Bonneville. “Our’s has done 2,000 miles and belongs to a Hollywood-type whose name we cannot divulge.”

To see the online auction catalog, visit

Mullin museum to unveil recreation of advanced 1930s Bugatti airplane

Photos courtesy Mullin Automotive Museum
Photos courtesy Mullin Automotive Museum

Classic car enthusiasts know the name Bugatti from the amazing racing and road cars created by Ettore Bugatti and his son, Jean. But did you know that the Bugattis were a family with artistic skills through several generations, creating everything from paintings to sculptures, furniture to cars, and even an ahead-of-its-time airplane?

On March 25, the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, Calif., opens an exhibition, “Art of Bugatti,” that will feature the work not only of Ettore and Jean, but of  Ettore’s father, Carlo, a famous 19th century furniture designer, and of Ettore’s brother, Rembrandt, who was known for his paintings, especially of animals.

In addition to creating some of the world’s fastest racing cars, Ettore Bugatti and Belgian engineer Louis dMonge designed an amazingly technologically advanced airplane in the late 1930s. Their 100P, the prototype was built between 1937 and 1940, had forward-pitched wings, a “zero-drag” cooling system and even “computer-directed” analog flight controls, all pre-dating the development of the Allied forces’ best World War II fighters.

Bugatti 100P - rear overhead view
Photos courtesy Mullin Automotive Museum

Power came from a pair of 450-horsepower engines. The 100P could reach speeds of 500 miles per hour, a speed previously achieved only with twice the horsepower. The aircraft also was compact, with a wingspan of less than 27 feet and an overall length of less than 25 1/2 feet.

Work on the plane halted in June, 1940, and the 100P was taken from Paris at night and hidden in a barn to prevent its discovery by the German military. The original prototype survived the war, but was not in good enough condition to fly.

In 2009, retired U.S. fighter pilot Scotty Wilson, engineer John Lawson and business development specialist Simon Birney began work under the banner of Le Reve Bleu (The Blue Dream) to recreate the airplane using the same plans (at least those that survived), materials and processes used by Bugatti and de Monge.

The completed aircraft will be shown for the first time at the Mullin as part of the Art of Bugatti exhibition.

This incredible piece of engineering and design will receive the broad recognition it deserves, 77 years later.”

— Scotty Wilson


“We’ve searched for years to gather the best examples of the Bugatti family’s work and couldn’t be more thrilled to host the 100P at our museum,” Peter Mullin, museum founder, said in a news release.“Bugatti has always been known for their remarkable automobiles, but the 100P is one of the missing pieces that truly shows the breadth and depth of the family’s work.”

Mullin’s museum and his personal car collection focus on Art Deco designs. His 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne won best-in-show honors at Pebble Beach in 2011.

“For the first time, this incredible piece of engineering and design will receive the broad recognition it deserves, 77 years later,” said Wilson.

Plans call for the recreated 100P to make its first flight after its display at the museum.

Classic opulence on display at Petersen Museum

1927 Roll-Royce used by Fred Astaire among town cars at the Petersen. (Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum)

Town Cars: Arriving in Style, a new exhibit focusing on the grand chauffeur-driven limousines of history’s most rich and famous, highlights upcoming activities at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Opening this Saturday, the yearlong showcase of bygone opulence features the finest examples from 1900 through the 1960s of the ultra-formal vehicles known as “town cars,” a term which denotes an open chauffeur’s area and an enclosed passenger compartment. The name Town Car was later co-opted by Lincoln.

Elegant town cars came from a variety of premium European and U.S. brands, and from the earliest days of the automobile. Usually, they were the most-splendid and most-expensive vehicles that the auto companies had to offer.

Many were custom-bodied by luxury coachbuilders, and they were as much about being seen in as they were about going places. Fred Astaire’s classically styled 1927 Rolls-Royce will be among the celebrity town cars on display.

Other upcoming events at the Petersen, located on the busy corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, include:

  • The Automotive Design Symposium: Celebrating Southern California Design, at 11 a.m. Sunday, February 23, with a panel of auto designers and industry experts. A Car Designer Cruise-In featuring concepts, classics, hot rods and creative customs starts at 9 a.m.
  • A special Movies and Milkshakes showing of the documentary film “Where They Raced,” featuring racing footage and photos from California’s golden age of speed, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 26. Admission and popcorn are free, and milkshakes are vintage priced at just $1. Click here for a preview clip from “Where They Raced.”
  • The fourth annual Women’s Day at the Petersen Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 8,  presents hands-on lessons in car care, maintenance, tricks and tips presented in an entertaining fashion. For more information, call (323) 964-6308 or email sreck@petersen.,org.
  • Continuing exhibits at Petersen include License Plates: Unlocking the Code, through March 30, and Pickups: The Art of Utility, through April 6.

For more information about the Petersen Automotive Museum and its programs, see

Auto-show ‘Sirens’ sing at AACA Museum

 mermaid reclines on the hood of a new 1967 Plymouth Barracuda during an auto show. (Archive photo: AACA Museum)
Mermaid reclines on the hood of a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda at an auto show. (Archive photos: AACA Museum)

The five most-dreaded words heard by an auto-show model:

“Do you come with that?”

Of course, that’s nothing new. Beautiful women have been used to sell cars since the dawn of motoring, and some variation of that come-on has been uttered repeatedly for more than a century.

The role of attractive models to promote automobiles is the subject of an upcoming exhibit at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pa., where Sirens of Chrome opens March 1 and continues through March 31.

athing beauties dance with a 1927 Packard. (Archive photo: AACA Museum)
Bathing beauties dance with a 1927 Packard

The exhibit, which runs during Women’s History Month, is based on a book by Margery Krevsky, Sirens of Chrome – The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models, that traces the role of women not only at new-car shows but in advertising for print and TV.

And on the cars themselves. Hood ornaments that depict women in various stages of dress and undress graced the noses of automobiles throughout the classic era prior to World War II. Actually, they still do – take a look at the prow of a modern Rolls-Royce where the iconic Flying Lady still leans into the wind.

The AACA exhibit uses period photos, illustrations, programs, posters and other material to show the evolving roles of women in auto marketing, as depicted by Krevsky in her book. The author has plenty of inside knowledge about the world of auto-show modeling; she owns an agency that supplies models, both male and female, to automakers for shows and advertising.

As such, she says, she has helped lift the role of women at auto shows from booth babes to knowledgeable spokeswomen for the automakers.

The AACA Museum will host a book signing and reception March 6 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

For more information about Sirens of Chrome, see the website for the official museum of the Antique Automobile Club of America at

Update: First Corvette emerges from sinkhole, starts and is driven away


Editor’s note: Here’s the latest from the National Corvette Museum, where eight cars were swallowed recently by a sinkhole:

Construction personnel, media, museum visitors and staff cheered as the first of eight damaged Corvettes, the 2009 “Blue Devil” ZR1, emerged from the depths of the sinkhole this morning. Not only was the car recovered, but it started after only a few tries and drove some 20 feet to the doorway of the Skydome. Continue reading

Motorsports stars align for Amelia Island Concours

 special Corvette display at last year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. (Photo: Neil Rashba/
A special Corvette display at last year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. (Photo: Neil Rashba/

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has taken its place as one of the world’s great concours events, a result of Florida’s balmy winter weather, a gorgeous venue and an always-spectacular selection of 300 vintage and exotic automobiles.

As well as showcasing the array of rare cars on Sunday, March 9, on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, the 2014 edition will be highlighted by a number of special features during the two days leading up to the main event.

Two motorsports seminars will include some of the greatest names in racing giving participants a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the team efforts that went into the victories.

The Great Offy Drivers Seminar is an insider’s look at a storied period in American championship racing.”

– Bill Warner

The Great Offy Drivers Seminar features a celebration of Offenhauser-powered race cars Friday, March 7, at 3 p.m., with an all-star panel of Johnny Rutherford, Parnelli Jones, and Al and Bobby Unser. Each of the drivers raced cars powered by the legendary Offenhauser engines, and they drove them to a combined five Indianapolis 500 victories as well as to 35 additional racing victories.

They will be joined by sometimes Offy racer David Hobbs and Louis “Sonny” Meyer Jr., the son of the co-founder of Meyer & Drake Engineering where Offenhauser racing engines were built after World War II. As well as powering Indy and champ car racers, Offy engines provided the competitive edge in midget racers, racing powerboats and sports cars, winning 33 American national championships across 41 seasons of competition.

“The Great Offy Drivers Seminar is an insider’s look at a storied period in American championship racing from depression-era American track racing through the end of the seventies,” said Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

The Merchants of Speed seminar, which will be offered Saturday, March 8, starting at 10:30 a.m., explores the hidden world of motorsports management and the raw business end of racing and features some of the men who helped forge American motorsports as we know it today.

“The Merchants of Speed will be a fast-paced, 90-minute ‘MBA-quality’ seminar about the inside business of motorsport, something that has not been offered to the public until now,” Warner said.

The Merchants of Speed seminar features:

  • Ray Evernham, who will explain the creation and operation of a championship NASCAR team;
  • Alwin Springer, who managed Porsche Motorsport North America from the days of the mighty Porsche 917/10 and 917/30 Can-Am turbos in the 1970s;
  • John Mecom, who ran Corvette’s racing program while General Motors disavowed any motorsport involvement;
  • Bobby Rahal, the Indy 500 winner and team owner, who will speak on the challenges of managing his son’s Indy career while running two racing teams;
  • Tyler Alexander, who will discuss McLaren Cars, the sole marque to win the Formula 1 World Championship, the Indy 500, the Can-Am championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans;
  • Group 44’s Bob Tullius, who will explore the complex mission of transforming a championship-winning national club-racing program into an international championship sports car racing team.

Both seminars will be held in the Talbot Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton. Admission is $30 for each event. To order tickets, visit

Other events happening during the Amelia Island weekend include a concours vehicle road tour Friday morning, automotive art shows, manufacturer test drives, vendors and receptions.

Two major collector-car auctions will be held prior to the concours: Gooding & Company on March 7 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, and RM Auctions, which has its sale March 8 in the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Resort. For auction information and the lists of cars being offered, see and


New magazine focuses on concours, coachbuilt classics

Mascot COVER PR copy

For 10 or maybe it’s been a dozen years, Jim Pixley Jr. has driven to Amelia Island from his home in Atlanta to attend the annual concours d’elegance, the annual gathering of gorgeous classic cars in an island setting on Florida’s northeastern coast. Afterward, he drives home and then searches the newsstand for a magazine that shows the same sort of cars he’s just seen.

Continue reading

Artcurial’s French-record sale boosts Retromobile auction total to $80.5 million

1931 Bentley and other cars await their trip across the block | Photos courtesy Artcurial
1931 Bentley and other cars await their trip across the block | Photos courtesy Artcurial

Artcurial Paris 2014 at a glance

Total sales$33.78 million
Catalog191 vehicles
Sell-through rate85 percent
High sale$3.44 million
1953 Ferrari 166MM
Next 9 price range$1.01 million to $2.95 million
Next auctionJuly 5, Le Mans, France

For the third year in succession, Artcurial Motorcars has established a record for the largest classic car auction held in France with its two-day sale during Retromobile, which posted $33.78 million in business.

“We are absolutely delighted with the results of this year’s Retromobile sale,” said Matthieu Lamoure, managing director of Artcurial Motorcars. “Interest was strong across the full range of motor cars on offer and the atmosphere in the sales room was fantastic. It was wonderful to present these cars to a room buzzing with excitement and packed with so many true enthusiasts.

“The results speak for themselves and our close-knit team, with a shared passion for collectors’ cars, gives Artcurial Motorcars a very special character.

“Selling the Ferrari 166MM the following day the day after the car crossed the block) has been the icing on the cake!”

For the first time, Artcurial’s Retromobile auction spanned two days, the second called “Solo Alfa” and devoted to 44 Alfa Romeos.

The 166MM highlighted by Lamoure is a 1953 166MM originally built with a Vignale body, but that was switched out in 1954 for one-off Oblin coachwork. The car, with an extensive racing history highlighted by victory in the Liege-Rome-Liege road race in 1953 and a runner-up finish in the Grand Prix at Spa in 1955, was restored to its appearance at the 1955 Brussels Motor Show.

The Ferrari didn’t quite reach its reserve price in bidding during its appearance on the block. However, consignor and bidder agreed to a price — $3.44 million — the following day, making the 166MM the top sale of the Artcurial auction and the second most costly car (after a 1955 Jaguar D-type at RM) during any of the three auctions during Retromobile, Europe’s mid-winter celebration of classic cars.

'65 Alfa TZ brings $1.289 million at Solo Alfa sale
’65 Alfa TZ brings $1.289 million at Solo Alfa sale

From the mid-1970s until 2001, Artcurial was an art gallery that was part of the L’Oreal (cosmetics) group’s holdings. After the gallery closed, catalog publisher Nicholas Orlowski, with investment from French aircraft and technology company Dassault, bought the gallery and with auctioneers Francis Briest, Herve Poulain and Remy Le Fur, turned it into an auction company selling not only art but objects from wine to watches and from comic strips to classic cars. In 2002, Artcurial moved into the Hotel Marcel Dassault, just off the famed Champs Elysses.

Combined with the RM and Bonhams auctions earlier in the week, the Artcurial sale boosted the Retromobile totals to more than $80.5 million.

The top sale completed on the block at Artcurial was $3.44 million for a 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sportsman coupe with coachwork by Gurney-Nutting. Talk about a long run of awards, the car won the best coachwork trophy from the Royal Auto Club in 1932 and also best-of-show at the Louis Vuitt0n concours in 1999.

In addition to the top-10 sales, all of which exceeded $1 million, highlights of the auction included the sales of:

  • An unrestored 1937 Delahaye 135 Coupe des Alpes cabriolet with Chapron coachwork ($128,888) that had been owned by the same family since 1961;
  • A 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Mulliner-bodied cabriolet ($386,065) formerly owned by French film star Brigitte Bardot;
  • A black-with-yellow-flames 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air coupe ($65,953) formerly owned by Ringo Starr;
  • One of seven 1975 Citroen SM Mylord convertibles by Chapron ($739,958);
  • A barn-found 1941 Pierre Faure electric car ($69,170, which was more than double its pre-auction estimate);
  • A collection of archival material from acclaimed car designer Tom Tjaarda ($17,465).

Top-1o sales | Artcurial Paris (prices include commission)

  1. 1953 Ferrari 166MM by Oblin, $3,441,225
  2. 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sportsman coupe by Gurney-Nutting, $2,955,945
  3. 1924 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A cabriolet by Ramseier, $1,737,076
  4. 1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Type 68 by Vanvooren, $1,520,940
  5. 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, $1,241,540
  6. 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ coupe, $1,289,366
  7. 1933 Delage D8 S cabriolet by Pourtout, $1,281,647
  8. 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS, $1,213,719
  9. 1969 Lamborghini Miura S, $1,088,669
  10. 1969 Maserati Ghibli Spyder 4.9-litre, $1,011,477



Parisian paradise: Bonhams’ Grand Palais auction generates $23.1 million in sales

Paris' Grand Palais sets the scene for Bonhams auction | Photo courtesy Bonhams
Paris’ Grand Palais sets the scene for Bonhams auction | Photo courtesy Bonhams

Bonhams Paris 2014 at a glance

Total sales$23.1 million
Catalog147 automobiles
150 lots of automobilia
Sell-through rate71 percent
High sale$2.99 million
1968 Ferrari 2785 GTB/4 Berlinetta
Next 9 price range$419,019 to $2.17 million
Next auctionMarch 8, Oxford, UK (classic cars)
April 27, Stafford, UK (vintage motorcycles)

Held during Retromobile, Europe’s big winter-time celebration of classic cars, Bonhams’ Grand Palais auction posted $23.1 million in sales with more than 100 cars, many motorcycles and an array of automobilia going to new owners.

Perhaps the most spirited and lengthy bidding of the event produced the second-most expensive sale with hundreds of spectators applauding the bidding battle for a 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix racer formerly owned by Jack Lemon Burton and Lady Mary Grosvenor.

The car was sold — for $2.17 million — to a bidder who had traveled to Paris from Asia.

The next car available was a 1968 Ferrari 275GTB/4 Berlinetta when sold for record $2.99 million (225,000 euros).

In another lengthy bidding session — perhaps because it was a French car being sold in France — a 1947 Delage D6 3-liter Competition Grand Prix/Sport racer eventually sold for $1.47 million.

Two Aston Martins were among the top-10 sales — a left-hand driven 1962 DB4GT going for nearly $1.6 million — more than double its pre-auction estimate — and a Goldfinger-style 1965 DB5 bringing $1.04 million.

In another highlight, a “barn find” 1962 Facel Vega II coupe which had been kept in storage in the United States for 40 years, sold at the Paris sale for $209,500.

An early highlight in the auction was the sale to benefit charity of a Harley-Davidson owned by Pope Francis.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams
Photo courtesy of Bonhams

Top-10 sales | Bonhams Paris (prices including commission)

  1. 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta, $2,993,640
  2. 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix deux places, $2,172,695
  3. 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT (Series IV) coupe, $1,598,482
  4. 1947 Delage D6 3-liter Competition Grand Prix Sports biplace, $1,474,328
  5. 1965 Aston Martin DB5, $1,047,549
  6. 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, $962,193
  7. 1939 Lagonda V12 drophead coupe, $682,847
  8. 1984 Ferrari 126 C4 M2 Formule One (Alboreto) racer, $651,808
  9. 1989 Porsche 911 Speedster, $419,019
  10. 1966 Citroen DS21 “Le Caddy” cabriolet, $419,019


Harburg Collection’s racing cars set pace for impressive RM Paris sale

RM Auction at Hotel des Invalides | Fluid Images photo courtesy RM

RM Paris 2014 at a glance

Total sales$23.7 million
Catalog53 automobiles
Sell-through rate78.8 percent
High sale$4.948 million
1955 Jaguar D-Type
Next 9 price range$599,700 to $3.34 million
Next auctionMay 10, Monaco

RM’s inaugural Paris auction, held during the annual Retromobile celebration of classic cars, posted $23.7 million in sales, and reached that figure with not quite 80 percent of the 53 lots selling.

“We’ve had a fantastic night here in Paris,” RM’s European managing director Max Girado said in a news release after the sale. “We wanted our debut sale to impress by bringing some exceptional cars to market, and with over 17.7-million Euros sold and almost 80 percent of all lots finding new homes, we have continued our amazing track record in Europe.”

The sale featured seven cars with impressive racing histories from the collection of Australian Peter Harburg.

D-type | Simon Clay photo courtesy RM
D-type | Simon Clay photo courtesy RM

“Without a doubt, it was an honor to offer the Harburg Collection, which perfectly demonstrates that the market is hungry for quality cars with important historical provenance,” Girado said.

Four of those Harburg cars represented the auction’s highest-dollar sales, which include commision:

A 1955 Jaguar D-type, formerly raced by Australian driving champion Bib Stillwell and formerly owned by Le Mans-winner Richard Attwood, led all cars at the sale by bringing $4.947 million.

A 1982 Porsche 956 Group C sports prototype that finished third at Le Mans in 1982 was next at $3.35 million.

A 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider raced by Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby brought $2.6 million.

A 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS sold for $1.72 million.

Another Harburg car, a 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder, was bid to $2.67 million but fell short of its reserve.

In perhaps the biggest surprise of the auction, a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 600 six-door Pullman Landaulet in “barn-found” condition sold for $719,000 — seventh-highest sale of the entire auction — after going to sale with a pre-auction estimate of $100,000 to $160,000.

The catalog-cover feature car for RM’s first Paris auction, a 1953 Gordini Type 24 S that raced at Le Mans, the mille Miglia and the Carrera Panamericana, was bid to $3.34 million but failed to meet reserve, as did a 2008 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP that finished second at Le Mans and won the Petit Le Mans race and was bid to $1.87 million and a 2010 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport bid to $1.13 million.

Fluid Images photo courtesy RM
Fluid Images photo courtesy RM

 Top-10 sales / RM Paris  (figures include commission) 

  1. 1955 Jaguar D-type, 4,947,798
  2. 1982 Porsche 956 Group C sports-prototype, $3,148,598
  3. 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider, $2,623,832
  4. 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, $1,724,232
  5. 1936 Delahaye 135 S, $1,349,399
  6. 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster, $1,102,009
  7. 1971 Mercedes-Benz 600 six-door Pullman Landaulet, $769,746
  8. 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 S ‘SV Spec,’ $697,189
  9. 1990 Ferrari F40, $689,693
  10. 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S roadster, $599,733