Category archives: Commentary

Commentary: Paris wise to spare classic cars from citywide ban

A classic Citroen DS19 at the Eiffel Tower | Citroen
A classic Citroen DS19 at the Eiffel Tower | Citroen

As vintage-car enthusiasts whose favorite old-school rides lack the basic safety and emissions-control features mandated for modern cars, we always harbor the concern that our classics could be legislated off the road. The fear is that the day will come when we no longer could drive our old cars legally.

There are those misguided zealots who favor such draconian measures to reduce air pollution. But in most places, cooler and more-sensible heads have prevailed. Continue reading

My best and worst car is now a collectors item?

The Audi 100LS. Mine was dark green, and both best and worst car I've ever owned | Audi photos
The Audi 100LS. Mine was dark green, and both best and worst car I’ve ever owned | Audi photos

It’s a good thing I’d finished lunch maybe a 90 minutes earlier, because as I read the dispatch on Bloomberg,com, I nearly dropped my iPad. Any earlier and I might have lost my lunch.

The headline on the story read, “The Vintage Audi That Collectors Want, But Cannot Have.” Perhaps an early quattro coupe, I wondered? They are starting to come to auction from time to time. Continue reading

Back to the Future on the ELK Charity Challenge 2016

'Back to the Future' DeLorean was part of the ELK Charity Challenge caravan last week | Larry Edsall photos
‘Back to the Future’ DeLorean on ELK Charity Challenge | Larry Edsall photos

The inaugural ELK Charity Challenge, staged last year in California, featured a genuine Batmobile. The second edition of the Everyone Loves Kids automotive adventure rally was staged last week, featured here yesterday, and took us from Dearborn, Michigan to Lake Placid, New York.

This time, the featured vehicle was the Back to the Future DeLorean. Stephen Wynne, who owns the car and the rights to put DeLorean back into production (which he plans to do after a new U.S. limited-production vehicle regulation goes into effect; there’s a counter on the New Delorean website that’s counting down the days) couldn’t make the trip, but he sent his car anyway and it was a hit at every stop along the route. Continue reading

Cleansing the soul on a cross-country drive

On the road again: My pickup truck casts a shadow as we cross the prairie | Larry Edsall photos
On the road again: My pickup truck casts a shadow as we cross the prairie | Larry Edsall photos

In The New York Times review of T.J. Forrester’s book Black Heart on the Appalachian Trail, Bruce Barcott wrote that we encounter the three main characters as each is doing a through-hike “as a kind of 2,160-mile cleanse.”

I probably should go back and read the rest of that review because that single phrase very early in the piece, those words about “a kind of 2,160-mile cleanse,” stopped me reading but sparked me thinking. Continue reading

Three things I learned about vintage racing

Open wheel race car
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.

Continue reading

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