Category archives: Eye Candy

Eye Candy: Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Photos by Steve Purdy

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is a great venue for capturing dramatic images of special cars. Founder and chairman Bill Warner and his dedicated team assemble one of the best shows in the U.S. and always include cars we’d never seen. The four days of events include three auctions, three shows, fascinating seminars, dozens of other elements and the largest gathering car people, including the rich and famous, anywhere outside of Pebble Beach. Everything culminates in the Concours d’Elegance presented on the golf course of the Ritz Carlton Resort.

After immersing myself in all the events I can squeeze in for the first three days I arrive at the show field Sunday just before dawn. Hagerty Insurance provides the coffee and donuts but I have only a couple hours to take advantage of the soft light of dawn and the lack of crowds to get my best shots of the week. After that the sunlight becomes too harsh and the cars become obscured by throngs of show goers. Hope you enjoy the gallery.

Eye Candy: Goodguys Spring Nationals

Photos by Larry Edsall

The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association opened its 2014 calendar with its 5th annual Spring Nationals at the WestWorld complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., where more than 2,400 cars were on display.

The three-day event was both show and go as it included the opening round of the Goodguys AutoCross, a timed run through a cone-defined race track on the pavement up on the hill above the polo fields where most of the cars were displayed.

Actually, the Spring Nationals were a four-day event with some 300 early arrivals taking part in a tour Thursday of half a dozen Phoenix-area custom car and hot rod shops.

The Goodguys tour around the country resumes March 14-15 with the 4th Spring Lone Star Nationals at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The 32nd annual All American Get-Together is scheduled March 29-30 in the Goodguys’ home town — Pleasanton, Calif.

Check here for the Goodguys’ complete 2014 calendar.

As usual, the Goodguys wrap up their tour back in Scottsdale in November, this year for the 17th Southwest Nationals.

Eye Candy: Porsche Lit Meet

 Photos by Bob Golfen 

Known simply as the Lit Meet among the Porsche faithful, the annual Los Angeles gathering is actually a full three days of multiple celebrations for the little rear-engine sports cars from Germany.

The events surrounding the Porsche and Vintage VW Literature, Toy and Memorablia Swap Meet at the LAX Hilton took place Feb. 28 through March 2, and included a “shop crawl” of the many terrific restoration businesses in the LA area, most focusing on the original 356 and early 911 models,  and a major swap meet in Anaheim of classic Porsche parts and accessories.  

Weather was an issue at this year’s Porsche party, with sometimes-heavy rain coming down on all three days.  But the shows went on without a worry, and thousands of devotees made the pilgrimage and shrugged off the rain.

For a full report on last weekend’s events, click on Porsche Lit Meet.

Eye candy: Wheels

Photos by Larry Edsall

According to the dictionary I keep within handy reach of the laptop computer that sits atop my desk, a wheel is “a circular frame or disk arranged to revolve on an axle and used to facilitate the motion of a vehicle…”

Wheels have been around for a long time. Even Fred Flintstone used them.

During the Renaissance, the wheel was defined as one of the six simple machines. The others were the lever, the pulley, the screw, the inclined plane and the wedge. Combine two or more of those simple machines, perhaps adding teeth around the edge of a wheel, and you can build some not-so-simple machines Perhaps even an automobile.

“Don’t reinvent the wheel,” we hear all the time. However, no one seems to have minded the ongoing improvement to the wheel, and not only from its construction from wood to steel to aluminum to magnesium and most recently to carbon fiber, but from making wheels and the tires that circumference them more efficient, thus allowing us to travel further on less fuel.

But we’d rather enjoy what wheels do — carry us down the road — than ponder their engineering and evolution.

We also enjoy looking at wheels on classic cars, especially when we take time to get up close and  examine some of their fascinating details.



Eye candy: Horseless Carriage Club Tour

Photos by Jim Resnick

Editor’s note: Earlier in this week, we presented Jim Resnick’s report on the Horseless Carriage Club of America, which held its 2014 national convention in southern Arizona. In addition to meetings, the group did daily drives, visiting sites such as the Fairbank ghost town, Kartchner caverns, the historic mining center of Bisbee, the Mexican border, the old settlement (now an artist community) of Tubac, and Tombstone and the OK Corral. This ‘Eye candy’ focuses on the drive and visit to Tombstone.

Eye candy: Headlamps

In Cars: 1886-1930, the first book in the encyclopedic three-volume Cars of the Century collection,  G.N. Georgano, automotive historian (and former schoolmaster and from 1976-81 the head librarian at the National Motor Museum of Britain), writes, “The only form of lighting available on the earliest cars was the candle lamp, inherited from the horse-drawn carriage.

“It was barely adequate to render the car or carriage visible by others,” he continues, adding in wonderful understatement, “but was quite useless as illumination to show the driver where he was going.”

By 1900, Georgano notes, acetylene headlamps were available. The gas to be  burned to produce illumination to light the way was produced by dripping water  onto calcium carbide, sometimes within the lamps, which by necessity became quite large, or, preferably, within a device mounted on one of the car’s running boards.

Though homes began to benefit from electric lights in the 1880s, they proved difficult to use on carriage or car, in part because of the problem of generating sufficient electricity and in part because early light bulbs couldn’t tolerate the vibrations of rough road surfaces.

General Motors engineer Charles Kettering’s invention of the self-starter (based on the electric motor he had used to power office adding machines in his previous job) has been well documented. But Georgano notes that not only did Cadillac replace the crank with self-starting technology for the 1912 model year, it coupled that innovation with electrical lighting systems for its cars.

Not only do headlamps light the way for a driver to travel at night, they serve as the eyes of what designers call the “face” of car.

In this latest edition of “Eye candy,” we take a close look at the eyes of some classic cars.



Eye candy: Motoring Thru Time

Photos by Larry Edsall

Does your city recognize the role the automobile has played in its history?

Mine does.

Since 2007, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department has hosted an annual classic car show. “Motoring Thru Time: Where the transportation past meets the future,” is held in Heritage Square, which itself if sort of a past-meets-present (and beyond) square block of downtown Phoenix.

Heritage Square includes some of Phoenix’s oldest homes, among them the  Rosson House (now Rosson House Museum), a 10-room, 1895 Victorian home on what used to be known as Block 14 during the days when Arizona was a territory, not a state. The house sits at one corner of Heritage Square, which includes other historic homes and buildings but also much more modern structures with futuristic architecture, including the Arizona Science Center and Phoenix Museum of History and Science.

On a Saturday early each February, architecture old and new provides the backdrop for a gathering of more than 110 vehicles — cars, a few motorcycles and bicycles, historic fire engines and even classic travel trailers and their vintage tow vehicles.

This year the oldest car was a 1903 Olivera Horseless Carriage — sort of a knockoff of the Curved Dash Olds, though the Olivera was built in Mexico, not Michigan.

The newest vehicle on display was a 2011 Mario Andretti Edition Chevrolet Camaro. The Camaro was parked next to what is believed to be the last 1905 Mitchell D4 runabout in existence.

The cars were parked together for a display of Fast Cars: Then and Now. You know an Andretti-badged Camaro is fast, but the Mitchell set speed records in its day, winning 50- and 100-mile races and averaging more than 55 miles per hour around a dirt-surface horse-racing track. The Mitchell not only was fast, but strong — the first car to summit Inspiration Point in Yosemite National Park.

Fast and strong, perhaps, but not quick. The 627-horsepower Camaro sprints to 60 mph in four seconds. The Mitchell needs 26 ticks of the second hand to reach that same speed.

Eye candy: Steering wheels

Photos by Larry Edsall

The first motorcars were steered by means of a tiller, just like motorboats. The driver held the end of a bar that, through a series of joints and gears, was attached to the front wheel — remember, the first car was a three-wheeler — and later to the front wheels, which  changed direction when the driver pulled or pushed the tiller.

It is believed that it was in 1894 that one Alfred Vacheron first outfitted his car, a Panhard he was driving in the Paris-Rouen rally, with a steering wheel instead of a tiller atop the driver’s end of the steering column. We also know that by 1898 French automakers Panhard and Bollee were installing steering wheels rather than tillers on the cars they were producing.

Today, steering wheels are covered — even cluttered — with all sorts of switchgear designed to make it easy for the driver to adjust everything from a vehicle’s audio system to its HVAC, with paddles to change gears and buttons to make telephone calls.

But such things really are nothing new. Once upon a time, not only the direction in which a car traveled but such things as gear selection and fuel supply (and you thought cruise control was a new-fangled invention) were controlled from the steering wheel, or at least by levers or switches attached to the wheel or steering column rather than by pedals mounted on the vehicle’s floorboard.

Today’s Eye candy presents some vintage — and in some cases quite colorful — steering wheels we’ve seen in recent weeks.


Eye candy: Patina at the Arizona auctions

Photos by Larry Edsall

Usually, the cars offered for sale at auctions are polished to if not beyond perfection. But sometimes they are presented while showing varying amounts of patina.

Perhaps they are barn finds only recently discovered under years of dust and droppings. Or perhaps an owner wasn’t just too busy or too lazy to clean things up but liked the idea of selling a classic as is to underscore the fact that this is no mere trailer queen.

Sure, some people fight the signs of aging. But isn’t there something elegant about some silver hair and even a few wrinkles?

Whatever the reason, we kept an eye out at the Arizona auctions for cars that showed less than pristine surfaces inside and out, and we share them here with you.

Oh, cars that have been preserved rather than restored are becoming highly valued historic time capsules and are increasingly cherished by the collector car community. For example, the 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL (tattered red-interior gullwing) shown here had been parked in a garage for more than 30 years until it was displayed at the Gooding & Company auction, where it sold for just shy of $1.9 million.


Eye candy: Arizona’s concours creates memories

Photos by Larry Edsall

The inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance was a stunning success, with 78 remarkable classic vehicles arrayed around the lawns within the famed Arizona Biltmore resort.

Some 180 cars were nominated by their owners for the event.

Some 20 committee members and numerous others helping out — all of them volunteers — put the concours together.

More than 2000 people attended.

Three “wishes” — and a good start on a fourth — will be granted by Make-A-Wish Arizona as the result of money raised at the event.

But those are just numbers. Meaningful numbers. In the case of Make-A-Wish, very meaningful numbers. But just numbers.

What everyone will remember is the beauty they experienced that day: The beauty of the setting, the beauty of the cars, the beauty of the efforts of the volunteers and all the contributors to the lives of beautiful children, and theirs to ours.