Category archives: Features

Hot rod that beat the horse in a race headed to auction

It’s the tale — or since there’s a horse involved, should it be that tail? — of the teenager’s hot rod that became famous for winning a race against a horse.

The 1932 Ford “Pete Henderson” Roadster that’s heading to RM Sotheby’s Hershey auction not only is a car that achieved a top speed of 120.9 mph on the Harper Dry Lake in 1944, but that same year gained fame when it won a race against a quarter horse that had a history of being faster than the fastest cars.

Pete Henderson helped verify this was his car | Karissa Hosek photo

The horse’s owner had won a series of bets that his animal could beat the fastest cars over a quarter-mile distance. The race against Henderson, who was just 18 years old, and his car was held at La Habra, in California’s Orange County, and drew a large crowd that included the likes of hot-rodding pioneers Vic Edelbrock Sr., Ed Winfield and others; the race photo was taken by Ernie McAfee.

Years later, noted hot-rodders said that the race between the car and the horse was where drag racing’s quarter-mile distance was established.

After its race against the horse, the car also was used in circle-track racing and appeared in several movies. It went through a series of owners but was purchased in 1977 by Chuck Longley, who wondered about its history and ran advertisements seeking more information. Among those responding was Henderson himself.

According to RM Sotheby’s, Henderson had bought the car as a teenager from Don Casselman. It came with a built, bored and stroked 296cid Mercury flathead V8 engine equipped with all sorts of early hot-rod parts, but still rode on its original wire wheels and used the mechanical brakes Ford had installed. Among its features was the dash panel from a 1934 Auburn.

It was the Auburn dash panel that helped Henderson realize the car had been his decades earlier.

The car retained its original frame, body and windshield. Longley and his son, Mike, located other period-correct pieces and began restoration to Henderson’s original setup in 1995.

After that restoration, the car won best-in-class honors at Amelia Island and also was honored at the Grand National Roadster show. Whitworth bought the car and planned to showcase it in a museum he planned to build. The car was invited to Pebble Beach but suffered damage during transport and was sent to rod and custom hall of famer Tim Strange’s shop in Tennessee for restoration.

It’s pre-sale estimated value is $160,000 to $180,000, according to RM Sotheby’s.

Mecum Auctions muscling into Louisville

Big-block muscle dominates as Mecum Auctions rolls in to Louisville, Kentucky, for the second year with an expected 700 collector vehicles crossing the block at the Kentucky Exposition Center from September 21-23.

Coming off the annual Dallas auction that resulted in $22.2 million in sales and a 70 percent sell-through rate, Mecum will offer a wide variety of muscle cars, classics, street rods, custom and sports cars during the three-day sale. Last year’s inaugural Louisville auction resulted in $13.4 million in sales, not including auction fees.

The 1969 Dodge Super Bee is powered by a 440 Six-Pack V8

The 2017 Kentucky auction will feature a triumvirate of top-drawer muscle cars from the Big Three:

A sunfire-yellow 1967 Chevrolet Corvette coupe (Lot S124) with original L68 Tri-Power 427/400-horspower V8 and M21 Muncie 4-speed manual transmission, is a two-time NCRS Top Flight winner with full documentation including its original tank sticker.

A 1969 Dodge Super Bee coupe (Lot S96) powered by a date-code-correct 440 six-pack V8, totally restored in Blue Metallic with just 48,135 miles on its odometer.

The 1969 Shelby GT500 Fastback is fully documented

A 1969 Shelby GT500 fastback (Lot S119) in Acapulco Blue, powered by the 428cid Ram Air Cobra Jet V8 and documented with two build sheets, a copy of the Shelby window sticker and a Marti Report.

For information about the Louisville auction, visit the Mecum website.

Ferrari’s rolling birthday party heads to Design Museum in London

A major exhibit at the Petersen. Another at its own museum. A grand gathering at Goodwood. A huge display of red cars at Pebble Beach.

Ferrari and its faithful really know how to celebrate a milestone birthday. In this case, the 70th anniversary of the first time Enzo shared his last name with one of the cars he’d created.

Next up for Ferrari 70 is “Ferrari: Under the Skin,” a major exhibition that runs November 15 through April 15, 2018, at the Design Museum in London.

“Ferrari’s story has been one of the great adventures of the industrial age,” Andrew Nahum, the exhibit curator, said in a museum news release. “It also represents an absorbing case study in design and development.

“Ferrari uses the subtle and often unseen techniques of automobile design but with the utmost care and precision, and the exhibition provides an insight into the history and practice of the whole private world of automotive design.”

According to the museum, its exhibition will be a “behind-the-scenes look at the design, the people and the engineering that created one of the most iconic car brands of all time.”

Many of the artifacts and vehicles in the London showcase will be coming from the exhibit that has been running at the Ferrari museum in Italy.

“The exhibition will provide unique insights into the world of Ferrari, drawing on rarely seen material,” according to the Design Museum’s news release. “This ambitious display will bring together early design models, drawings, letters and memorabilia as well as some of the most famous Ferraris to be seen on roads and racing circuits around the world. Together, these artifacts and original documents provide an unprecedented study of automotive design.

“Key exhibits include rare personal memorabilia and archival material relating to Enzo Ferrari’s life, early cars, wind tunnel models and hand-sculpted models in both clay and wood.

“Dedicated displays will explore the design development, engineering and manufacturing of Ferrari together with the company’s phenomenal attention to detail in every element of the cars’ design. The exhibition will also present Ferrari’s racing heritage, the ongoing quest for innovation as well as the glamour of their well-known clientele.”

The London museum is itself a piece of art. Originally established in a former banana ripening warehouse, the facility’s space tripled in 2016 with its move to a restored and expanded modernist structure on Kensington High Street topped by a roof that reminds people of a manta ray.

For more information, visit the museum website.

Special exhibits perhaps closer to home

The Cars from Transformers exhibit at America On Wheels in Allentown, Pennsylvania, includes more than Bumblebee and Megatron, though the yellow Chevrolet Camaro and big semi tractor are worth a visit on their own. But joining them are Rollbar, a 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS Rally from the Age of Extinction movie and Sideswipe, the 50th anniversary Corvette Stingray concept from Revenge of the Fallen and a car that provided strong hints at the design of the latest generation of America’s sports cars. The exhibit runs through December 31.

Gyro-X is a hit at Pebble Beach | Lane museum photo by Bruce Sweetman
Gyro-X is a hit at Pebble Beach | Lane museum photo by Bruce Sweetman

Fresh from its crowd-drawing, balancing-on-two-wheels drive to the awards stand at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the 1967 Gyro-X is on display at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville.

“The Gyro-X was an important car in the history of automotive design and to win the Dean Batchelor Trophy (at Pebble Beach) is a validation of that importance and the work we have put into restoring it,” said car and museum owner Jeff Lane.

The Batchelor award is given at Pebble Beach for a car exemplifying the “rebellious spirit” of the hot rod heritage.

Special events this weekend

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine will host a special two-wheeler cars and coffee cruise-in Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon featuring motorcycles, dirt bikes, scooters and more.

Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachussets, stages its annual “Cocktails for Cars,” concours-style gathering of “high-end” classics and exotics. Proceeds from the event support the maintenance and care of the museum’s automobile collection. On Thursday, September 21, the museum will host its Demo Day with a curator presentation of four “hidden gems” from the museum’s collection, including a 1905 Pierce Great Arrow.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, has canceled its car show scheduled for Saturday and the Revs Institute’s Collier Collection museum in Naples, Florida, remains without power and still has evacuated staffers trying to return to their homes so the museum will be remain closed until power and staffing return.

The Automobile Driving Museum in Los Angeles stages its second “JDM at the ADM” car show Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The show features Japanese Domestic Market vehicles.

The California Automobile Museum joins with the Sacramento, California, branch of Universal Technical Institute for the inaugural Campus Car Show on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Blackhawk Museum will host the annual Danville d’Elegance gala dinner Saturday on the eve of the annual concours d’elegance in Danville, California. Special guest for the event will be Grammy-winning musician Linda Ronstadt.

Mark your calendars

The National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, offers its inaugural Kartplex Racing League program this fall. Participants will compete in three weight classes — up to 149 pounds, 150-200 and 201 or heavier — with points accumulated over four dates — September 23, October 7, October 21 and November 4.

The annual Night at the Museum, a gala and fundraiser for the Children’s Education & Transportation Fund, which since 1991 has providing for Bay Area classrooms to visit the Blackhawk Museum is scheduled for October 15.

Variety of rallies and tours open to vintage vehicles and enthusiasts

The Britain-based Endurance Rally Association has set a calendar for the next four years that includes six new events and will offer events on six continents. The group plans 16 endurance rallies through 2021, it announced.

“The ERA continues to go from strength to strength, and the next four years will see us doing what we do best – organizing global events that offer great driving, fantastic company, and brilliant adventure,” rally director Fred Gallagher said in the organization’s news release.

The 2018-2021 calendar begins with The Road to Saigon, which the ERA terms a “follow up” to the Road to Mandalay event staged in February, 2017.

The 10th Flying Scotsman is scheduled for April, 2018, with the third Trans-America Challenge takes owners of vintage vehicles across the United States in May.

Two events are scheduled for September 2018 — the fourth Alpine Trial and the new Himalayan Challenge, an event ERA says is for “experienced rally crews.”

Endurance Rally Association sets calendar for the next four years
Endurance Rally Association sets calendar for the next four years

The Flying Scotsman event opens the ERA’s 2019 calendar that includes the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, “the world’s toughest event for vintage and classic cars,” scheduled for June, 1919. The new Adriatic Adventure is scheduled for September, 1919 “exploring the mountains of the inland Balkans and the brilliance of the Adriatic coastline.”

Another new event, the 24-day Rally New Zealand, is planned for February 2020. Then comes another Flying Scotsman before the Sahara Challenge, a 12-day event from Malaga to Marrakech in late spring.

A new South American event from Lima to Cape Horn will be called ‘The Rally to the End of the World’ and ends the 2020 schedule.

The 2021 calendar starts with the inaugural 21-day Pearl of India in February. Another Flying Scotsman follows, and then the second Baltic Classic is scheduled for that June.

Another new event launches in October 2021 — the ABC Rally in Australia. The route travels from Adelaide to Canberra and Surfers Paradise, then on to Brisbane and Cairns.

“With so many of the winners of the Peking to Paris coming from Australia, it seemed only fitting to take the extensive experience of the ERA into their own backyard,” said Gallagher.

The ERA still has two more events on its 2017 calendar — the Blue Train Challenge, starting September 18 in France, and the Classic Safari in Africa, starting October 9.

For details, visit the association’s website.

Rally Nippon visits historic Japanese cultural sites

Rally Nippon, a vintage-vehicle tour of Japan, celebrates its 10th anniversary in October with a four-day drive that organizers promise will meander from Kyoto to Tokyo while taking in historic and cultural sites.

Eighty vehicles already have filled the registration list for an event sponsored by Peninsula hotels, which also sponsors The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering during Monterey Car Week. The Peninsula Tokyo hotel is the final stop on the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) tour.

Rally Nippon is a four-day tour of history and culture — and cars

“In addition to enjoying stunning landscapes and the camaraderie stemming from a shared passion for the ultimate in automotive design and engineering, participants will enjoy distinctive regional cuisines and sip local sakes, fine wines and spirits,” the organizers promise. “Stays in fine hotels and traditional inns add extra allure to this magical Japanese journey.”

By the way, the Peninsula hotels are more than an event sponsor. The Peninsula Hong Kong not only has a fleet of 14 extended-wheelbase Rolls-Royce Phantoms, but among them is a 1934 Phantom II Sedanca de Ville town car. It also supports The Quail Rally, a three-day charity drive that concludes at the Motorsports Gathering in Carmel Valley.

AACA Museum group to visit Italy

From November 3-12, AACA Museum Tours plans a car-oriented trip to Italy that includes visits to private collections, including Nicola Bulgari’s and Corrado Lopresto’s, as well as the Ducati Museum, the Panini/Maserati Museum, a visit to the Lamborghini factory and museum, the Ferrari Museum, the National Car Museum in Turin, where the group also will tour a FIAT factory. In addition to travel by coach, there will be a drive in antique cars along the Via Cassia from Sarteano to Pienza. For information, visit the tour website.

Vintage riders head to Hungary in 2018

The international federation for vintage vehicles, FIVA, plans a “world motorcycle run” in 2018 in Hungary, home of the Pannonia, Csepel, Meray and other historic brands. The dates are June 21-24 for an event that begins and ends near Budapest.

The tour will include museums and private collections, with daily rides of 75-100 miles. A highlight will be a cruise along the 5-kilometer Gyoin Beton road, where several motorcycle speed records were set in 1934.

For information and registration details, visit the FIVA website.

Closer to home

Spots on the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association’s annual Hall of Fame road tour are sold out, though there is a waiting list. The tour runs September 22-28 and travels from North Carolina to the Lone Star Nationals in Fort Worth, Texas, with stops at the Country Music Hall of Fame, New Orleans, San Antonio and at various automotive shops and car museums along the way.

'Drive Toward a Cure' heads to Atlanta Concours d'Elegance
‘Drive Toward a Cure’ heads to Atlanta Concours d’Elegance

The inaugural Drive Toward a Cure’s “Great Southern Adventure” runs September 27-30, starting in Asheville, North Carolina, challenging the Tail of the Dragon and ending at the Atlanta Concours at Chateau Elan. The event raises money to fight Parkinson’s Disease. For details, visit the event website.

The road leads back to Savannah for historic barn-found racer

When they were youngsters growing up in Savannah, Georgia, Dale Critz Jr. and Richard Papy lived just down the street from each other and just around the corner from Julian Quattlebaum, a doctor by profession but also a car enthusiast and historian. He not only took the boys for rides in his 1908 Buick but was the author of the definitive book about the early and important motorcar races held in Savannah.

Quattlebaum as a child was among those who had attended those races, including the International Grand Prize Race in 1908 and the Vanderbilt Cup that ensued as Savannah emerged as the early home for international auto racing in the United States.

Racing in Savannah in 1911
Racing in Savannah in 1911

Papy’s grandfather was among the stewards for the 1908 race, and his family traces to the town’s first mayor in colonial times.

“My grandfather moved here in 1938,” Critz said. “We’re newcomers.”

Critz’ grandfather moved to Savannah to establish a car dealership. Critz is the third generation to run what now includes Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Buick/GMC stores. The Critz family also has been involved in historic preservation in the historic city, so when Papy, who helped launch the Oglethorpe Driving Club that brought racing back to the community in recent years, learned that one of the cars that raced in Savannah back in the day was going to auction, he suggested that Critz buy it.

That car was one of the three EMF factory racers, a 1911 30-model two-seater, which helped the Detroit automaker sweep the top three places in the Tiedeman Trophy race that was part of the 1911 Savannah Grand Prix and Vanderbilt Cup competition. On September 31 and October 1, that car will be among those showcased at the second Atlanta Concours d’Elegance at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia.

EMF trio on the starting grid
EMF trio on the starting grid

Of the few surviving cars that raced in Savannah in the early years, most are in museums. The EMF is the only one that has returned to reside in Savannah, Papy said.

The car often can be seen in the Mercedes dealership showroom and frequently is driven to various events around Savannah. It has won awards at the Hilton Head, Keeneland and Amelia Island concours since Critz acquired it at Bonhams auction at Amelia Island in 2015.

Coachbuilder and Wayne manufacturer Barney Everitt, star Cadillac salesman William Metzger, and Walter Flanders, production manager at Ford, launched their own automotive brand in 1908. Their cars featured a combined transmission/rear axle, a mechanical mishmash that would give their customers fits.

Nonetheless, they sold more than 15,000 cars in 2010 and decided to further promote the brand by going racing in “light car” class for production-based vehicles. The biggest of those events would be the 1911 Tiedeman Trophy race at Savannah, and they sent three specially built 30-horsepower machines to Georgia, where the cars finished first, second and third.

Critz gives a ride to the then-mayor of Savannah
Critz gives a ride to the then-mayor of Savannah

Papy notes that the car Critz now owns was the third-place car, primarily because the other two had been equipped with special “non-skid” Firestone tires and didn’t have to make pit stops for tire changes during the 175-mile race. However, Critz’ car is believed to be the only one of the three still surviving, which EMF did only for a few months beyond the race before being absorbed into Studebaker.

Long-time car collector Gordon Matson acquired the EMF in 1983.

“He went to buy another EMF and this car was disassembled but in the same barn,” Critz said. “He bought them both and planned to restore the other one. But six months later, he looked at this car and got the chassis and engine numbers and started researching and found out what he had (the historic Savannah racer).

“He forgot about the other car and restored this car.”

Matson, a New Hampshire resident, raced the car in New England hill climbs and “drove it a lot” before taking it in 2005 to David Steinman at the Waitsfield Motor Car Company in Vermont for restoration back to its Savannah race spec and livery. The restored racer was shown at Pebble Beach in 2006.

With Gordon in ill health, the car went to Bonhams for sale in 2015, with Critz getting involved in a bidding battle that resulted in a record price for an EMF. While feeling he probably overspent to buy the car, he’s proud that it has returned to the place where it raced successfully.

Critz and Papy drive to Amelia Island awards stand
Critz and Papy drive to Amelia Island awards stand

He’s also proud of the fact that it remains mechanically sound —thanks in part to a local Ferrari mechanic — and is frequently driven, a fact that meant a trophy rather than a ribbon in the Pre-1935 Race Car class at the Amelia concours.

Seems the judges had awarded the car runner-up status in its class at the Florida concours, but when the class-winning car — a car some 25 years newer than Critz’ racer — was unable to drive to the awards stand under its own power, concours officials changed their mind and awarded the best in class trophy to the historic Savannah racer.

Classic Morgan sports cars converge for weekend of motoring tradition

Morgan are well-known as the most-traditional of traditional British sports cars, still built by hand in the original Malvern factory using time-honored techniques, and still keeping with the pre-war roadster style while other British marques such as MG and Jaguar moved on to more-modern designs.

Three-wheeled Morgans parades from the Malvern factory
Three-wheeled Morgans parades from the Malvern factory

The Morgan Motor Company hosted more than 1,500 Morgans recently in its Run for the Hills reunion celebrating the company’s 108-year history, which includes the iconic three-wheelers that harken to the beginning, and which are being produced by Morgan once again.

The Run, held at the Malvern Three Counties Fairground just a few miles from the Pickersleigh Road factory, was organized by the Morgan company along with the Morgan Sports Car Club.

The three-wheeler parade was led by patriotic flag waver
The three-wheeler parade was led by patriotic flag waver

As well as scores of three-wheelers, Morgan owners brought along their Plus 4s, Plus 8s, Aeros and other sports car models, new and old, for display and driving tours.

A highlight of the weekend was a drive from the factory to the fairground by more than 50 0f the sporty three-wheelers, and witnessed by about 5,000 spectators. The oldest models were built in 1909 by H.F.S. Morgan, while the newest model had rolled off the assembly line that week.

Morgans enter the fairgrounds
Morgans enter the fairgrounds

The parade was led by the new all-electric EV3, driven by Morris managing director, Steve Morris.

“We are continually blown away by the unrivaled passion that our owners and enthusiasts have for the marque,” Morris said in a news release.

 

Duesenberg SJ sets Auctions America record, bringing $2.3 million at Auburn

Led by a 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ “Sweep Panel” Phaeton that brought $2.3 million in a post-block transaction, Auctions America sold more than 500 vehicles at what appears to be its final sale — the 2017 Auburn Fall — this past weekend. The sell-through rate for collector vehicles was 72 percent and sales were more than $18.85 million.

In addition, more than 250 lots of automobilia were sold, bringing total sales for the weekend to nearly $19.2 million, the auction company announced.

The Duesenberg sales price was the highest in Auctions America’s history, the company said. During the sale, RM Sotheby’s founder and chief executive Rob Myers said that beginning next spring, the twice-a-year Auburn Auctions will be staged under the RM Sotheby’s banner. A similar move was made earlier this year regarding the Auctions America sale in Santa Monica, California.

1933 Duesenberg
1933 Duesenberg draws a huge crowd | RM Sotheby’s photo

That forthcoming move was apparent to visitors to the recent sale, with cars displayed along a red carpet at the sales area entrance and with large RM Sotheby’s-style vehicle illustrations along the walls. Gone to tented outdoor locations were the vendor booths that usually shared the entry way with the featured vehicles.

Auction setting has a definite RM Sotheby's atmosphere | Larry Edsall photo
Auction setting has a definite RM Sotheby’s atmosphere | Larry Edsall photo

The ’33 Duesenberg, with coachwork by LaGrande, also was known as the “Mexico City SJ.” Originally delivered to New York stock trader Bernard Smith, the car went to Mexico as part of an investment by Smith and his son in a horse racing facility, the Hippodrome de las Americas. The car returned to the U.S. in 1968 when purchased by a doctor from Alabama. Subsequent owners included prominent car collector, Gen. William Lyon.

The car’s pre-sale estimated value was $2.5 million to $3 million. The final sales price of $2.3 million includes the buyer’s premium.

The second-high seller at the auction was another Duesenberg, a 1929 Model J convertible coupe bodied by Fleetwood. It sold for $990,000.

The third-high sale was a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, a Bloomington Gold winner and the 127th of the 300 built for the sports car’s first model year.

Top 10 sales, Auctions America Auburn Fall 2017

    1. 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ “Sweep Panel” Phaeton by LaGrande, $2,300,000
    2. 1929 Duesenberg Model J convertible coupe by Fleetwood, $990,000
    3. 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, $269,500
    4. 1937 Packard Twelve coupe roadster, $261,250
    5. 1958 Buick Limited convertible, $239,250
    6. 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Chevelle, $187,000
    7. 2003 Delahaye custom boattail speedster, $181,500
    8. 1936 Pierce-Arrow Twelve town car prototype by Derham, $170,500
    9. 1931 Cadillac V8 roadster by Fleetwood, $169,400
    10. 1932 Packard Eight sport phaeton, $166,100
        (Prices include buyer’s fees.)

Auctions America noted that the ’31 Cadillac was offered at no reserve and more than doubled its low pre-sale estimate. The ’58 Buick Limited was another no reserve offering that also sold well beyond its pre-sale expectation.

Among cars bid to top-10 numbers but not hammered sold because of seller’s reserves were a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II drophead coupe ($340,000), a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray “Supernova” race car ($275,000), a 1983 Ferrari 512 BBI ($255,000) and a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 cabriolet ($250,000).

“We’re proud of our success in restoring the Auburn Auction Park and bringing the annual Auburn Spring and Fall events to new heights,” Donnie Gould, president of Auctions America, said in the post-sale news release.

“Thanks to our international marketing reach and in response to client demand, we’ve been able to continually increase the quality of cars on offer at Auburn Fall, which shone through this year in a 26 percent increase in the average sale price per lot.

“The Auburn Auction Park is rooted in collector car history. We have already invested significant resources in the Park and look forward to furthering this investment in an effort to elevate the client experience and seamlessly serve the entire spectrum of the collector car market.

“The RM Group of Companies, myself included, is a team driven by passion. My own passion is one ignited by my late father, Tiny Gould, who was responsible for the modern classic car auction. My father brought me to the Auburn Auction Park from a young age and it’s a place I’ve associated with my entire career. The twice-a-year Auburn sales will continue the great collector car tradition that fuels Auburn, Indiana, and I look forward to being part of the team that draws even more new interest to this hobby we all love.”

In the release, Myers added:“I have been coming to Auburn for more than 30 years, both on my own and with the RM Group of Companies, and I have no plans of stopping. The Auburn Auction Park and the events we hold here are an integral part of our business. We are deeply committed to continuing this great tradition and putting on an even more successful Auburn Fall in 2018.

“We look forward to sharing further details later this year.”

 

Bookshelf: Capturing the photos that capture our lives and our cars

Autophoto is not a book to be taken lightly. And it’s not just the fact that the book spans 494 pages, and each of them is slightly larger than 8×10, so you’re carrying around the equivalent of a ream of copier paper bound between hard covers.

Most of those pages are given over to a series of photographs that follow the theme of the book’s subtitle — Cars & Photography, 1900 to Now.

In fact, the book actually is the catalog for the Autophoto exhibition running from April 20 to September 24 at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. After paging through the book, absorbing some of the poignancy of the photographs, and reading through the various pages of text, I can only imagine the impact of actually attending that show, and let’s hope it becomes a traveling exhibition that at some point visits North America.

In their introduction, curators Xavier Barral and Philippe Seclier write of the parallel development — and impact on society — of the automobile and the camera, one allowing us to travel, the other capturing and sharing images, our memories gathered along the way.

But now, they note, a new era dawns, an era in which the car not only drives itself, but is equipped with its own cameras.

“But before this new transformation allows us to finally let go of the steering wheel, let us pause,” they suggest, we should pause to take a look at where we’ve been, how far we’ve come. They do that though the presentation of a variety of photographic series that, “show us how the automobile has, over the last century and through the eye of the camera, altered the landscape and, with its recurrent themes, forever changed our society and our way of seeing things.”

There are more words to be read in the book, including a note about movie car chases, about the first use of a “getaway” car by criminals, about the impact of the new Leica camera in 1925 — Henry Ford put the world on wheels, the Leica put practical photography in anyone’s hands — about how Jacques Henri Lartigue’s 1912 photograph of a race car in motion was actually a photographic accident now cherished for capturing speed, about how a windshield can be a frame for photography, and much more.

But the heart of the book is its display of photographs, images that show us — us and our cars and how they interact.

For example, over three pages there are 27 images by Sylvie Meunier and Patrick Tourneboeuf under the theme of American Dream, images that show people standing beside — or in the case of two children, on the hood of — their cars in the 1950s.

And it’s not just Americans we see striking strike such poses in the pages that follow.

There are images of roads; an amazing series by Ed Ruscha on parking lots; a stunningly composed series of America by Car by Lee Friedlander; another by Oscar Fernando Gomez, who frames his photos through the right-front window; a multi-page series in which 10 photographers create Nationale Zero, the so-called Transeuropean highway; a gorgeously photographed series, Auto Reverse, in which Kay Michalak and Sven Volker showcase the underside of vehicles; Edward Burtynsky’s amazing photos of piles of used tires; Alejandro Cartegna’s photos from a highway overpass of what passes beneath; and those are just those that most struck me on my first pass through the book.

But it won’t be my final examination of this amazing work of art and words. This is a coffee-table book that won’t just collect dust.

 

Reviewed

Autophoto: Cars & Photography, 1900 to Now
Edited by Xavier Barral and Philippe Seclier
By Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, 2017
ISBN: 9782869251311
Hardcover, 494 pages
$65 from www.artbook.com

Primo classic, muscle-car collections featured at Mecum’s Dallas auction

The 33-car Bruce Church collection of pre-war classic cars (and a handful of more-modern cars) highlights the seventh annual Mecum Auctions sale in Dallas. One thousand muscle cars, classics, rods, customs and exotics are expected for the auction at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center from September 6-9.

A Wilkesboro, North Carolina, businessman who died in 2016, Church’s 35 years of collecting will be reflected in the Dallas auction by an enviable group of restored collector cars from 1929 through 1940 and several street rods built from cars of the same era.

Featured among the Church cars are “several comprehensively restored CCCA Full Classic and AACA Senior award-winning Packards, among them a 1934 Packard Eight 1101 Coupe Roadster that was displayed at the Boca Raton Concours in 2011 and a 1932 Packard Eight 902 Coupe,” according to a Mecum news release.

Mecum Auctions Dallas 2017
The 1970 Buick GS Stage 1 from the Matt Wagoner collection

A number of classic Fords in original and street-rodded condition are also available from the Church collection, including a 1940 Ford Deluxe convertible and a 1934 Ford Deluxe Phaeton.

The Dallas auction also will feature cars from a few other standout collections, such as that of Matt Wagoner that boasts four spectacular examples of premier GM muscle cars: : a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 LS6, 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30, 1970 Pontiac GTO Ram Air IV and a 1970 Buick GS Stage 1.

Some of the collections to be auctioned in Dallas are offered entirely without reserves, including the Kingston collection of 21 American muscle cars and modern supercars, 17 cars from the estate of Freddie “Mack” Widmer and 11 vehicles from the James Hoyo collection.

Mecum Auctions announced last week that the Dallas auction would proceed as planned despite the devastating flooding in Houston and nearby Gulf Coast areas. The Dallas area was not hit by Hurricane Harvey.

For information about Mecum’s Dallas sale, visit the auction website.

Ex-Coulthard, Hakkinen cars headed to auction

Cars driven by former McLaren F1 teammates David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen will cross the block Thursday at Coys’ Thoroughbred & Vintage auction Thursday at Fonwell House, just up the road from the Goodwood Revival meeting in England.

One car is a 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG that Hakkinen drove after he retired from F1 competition. The other is a 1958 Austin A35 that Coulthard drove up the hill in the Goodwood Revival in 2016.

2008 Mercedes Benz
Mike Hakkinen’s post-F1 driver

“The Coulthard-Hakkinen partnership was synonymous of McLaren racing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and now these two cars driven by them will share the share the spotlight at Coys auction,” Coys chief executive Chris Routledge said in a news release. “This is a rare opportunity to own cars with genuine provenance and a special piece of motorsport history attached to it.”

In addition to Coulthard’s run up the hills at Goodwood, the Austin was driven at the Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge earlier this year by boxer Carl Froch, and frequently has carried its drivers to the podium at vintage racing events.

Coys notes that the car was built in 2016 to HRDC Academy racing series regulations using a 1958 donor vehicle. The recent build and rules “make it highly competitive and easy to drive,” the auction house promised.

The racing suit worn and signed by Coulthard is included in the car’s sale.

The ’08 CL65 AMG also bears Hakkinen’s autograph.