Category archives: Commentary

Three things I learned about vintage racing

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Open wheel race car in garage bay | Nicole James photos

I can appreciate the long-bodied, elegant pre-war cars with seductive curves, and even family-style sedans built for “grocery getting,” and of course I enjoy “go-fast” muscle cars and hot rods, but nothing is more alluring than a purpose-built race car. I’ve always thought that not every show car can be a race car, but every race car can be a show car.

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Ed Welburn: Management by design

Ed Welburn's sketch of his 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech | GM
Ed Welburn’s sketch of his 1987 Oldsmobile Aerotech | GM photos

Funny, isn’t it, how some memories stick with us. News that Ed Welburn is retiring as head of design at General Motors triggered the memory of the day I first heard Welburn’s name.

It was the autumn of 1987. I had just arrived as the new motorsports editor at AutoWeek as Kevin Wilson, the magazine’s auto industry news editor, was returning from Fort Stockton, Texas, where he’d covered A.J. Foyt setting a series of closed-course speed records in an elongated vehicle called the Oldsmobile Aerotech. Continue reading

Analysis: South Florida auctions show market’s pulse still strong

Ford GT sold at Barrett-Jackson with low miles but for big money | Nicole James photo
Ford GT sold at Barrett-Jackson with low miles but for big money | Nicole James photo

A month or so ago, the Wall Street Journal published what was basically an obituary for the classic car market, saying in a nutshell that classic cars were a dying market.

I was stunned when I read that. I had just returned from Amelia Island and before that from Arizona and honestly feel that the article was simplistic, inaccurate, did not have nearly enough data points, and was borderline irresponsible. Continue reading

Mitch Silver’s auction trumps Donald Trump protesters

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Police barricade at Shea Boulevard and Arizona Highway 87 | Nicole James Photos

This morning I set out to cover the Spring Silver Auction at the Fort McDowell resort just beyond the Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Usually, it’s a relatively quick drive along Shea Boulevard from my home in Scottsdale. Saturday, it was anything but that. Continue reading

Gentlemen… Start your engines: 4 things I learned at NASCAR

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No. 78 car at PIR | Photos by Hans Marquez

I will just come right out and say it: I had never been to a NASCAR race  until the Good Sam 500 and Axalta 200 last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. That’s right, my first real life exposure to the sport was as part of the working media.

But since my passion is motorsports, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to cover a NASCAR racing weekend. Continue reading

Analysis: Amelia Island auctions show collector car market is strong when expectations are realistic

The 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder at Bonhamst sold for a strong $880,000 | Bonhams
The 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder at Bonhams sold for a strong $880,000 | Bonhams

I heard from a lot of people about the weak classic car market after the Arizona auctions. I contended that the market is not weak but has just slowed down a bit.

If the sales at Amelia Island last week told us anything, it is that great cars are still selling for very strong money. Sure, we are not seeing the huge monthly increases that we have seen over the past few years, but the market, in my opinion, is still very strong indeed. Continue reading

F1 champions-signed helmet will be auctioned for charity

Helmet is autographed by every F1 champion alive since 2007 | RM Sotheby's photo
Helmet is autographed by every F1 champion alive since 2007 | RM Sotheby’s photo

Al Pearce is a generous man who last weekend covered the Daytona 500 for AutoWeek magazine for the 47th year in a row, which is how I know Al. For 12 years, I edited the stories he’d send back to AutoWeek — and not only from Daytona but from all the other races on the NASCAR circuit. Continue reading

My great uncle, his Rolls-Royce, and his recipe for chicken divan

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Cook book and cooking materials | Photos by Nicole James

According to the Rolls-Royce Owners Cookbook, printed in 1975 and featuring recipes from the Atlantic Region Rolls-Royce Owners Club, to make chicken divan you simmer six to eight chicken breasts in water, adding broth, onion, carrot, bay leaf, and pepper.

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Analysis: Why some cars didn’t sell during Arizona Auction Week

Pre-war American cars not yet desired by next-gen buyers | Larry Edsall photos
Pre-war American cars not yet desired by next-gen buyers | Larry Edsall photos

While the various Arizona Auction Week sales enjoyed some $251 million in transactions and an overall sell-through rate of more than 80 percent, there were a number of no-sale cars this year, and many of them would have sold a year ago for the same high bids that were rejected this time.

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Afternoon at the improv: An entertaining way to move the metal

Drew Alcazar is on the block, selling another car at Russo and Steele | Larry Edsall photos
Drew Alcazar is on the block, selling another car at Russo and Steele | Larry Edsall photos

I’m exhausted, and not just because Arizona Auction Week involves as many as 10 consecutive days that start well before the sun comes up and don’t end until the time when Cinderella’s Porsche turns into a pumpkin.

No, the reason I’m exhausted right now is that I spent much of Saturday afternoon watching Drew Alcazar perform in Russo and Steele’s auction-in the-round format. Continue reading