Denise McCluggage, 1927-2015

That's Denise on the left in  her trademark polkadotted helmet.  A golden spirit who raced during the golden age.

That’s Denise on the left in her trademark polkadotted helmet. A golden spirit who raced during the golden age.

By know you may have heard that Denise McCluggage passed away last week at 88. I knew her for many years, and pretty well. Among many other things, she was a superlative racing driver, competitive skier, and sports and automotive journalist. I won’t recount her entire bio here, as that’s been done now a dozen other places; for a well written piece about her life and career, I suggest you check out this feature from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/sports/autoracing/denise-mccluggage-auto-racing-pacesetter-dies-at-88.html?emc=eta1&_r=0 — which I’m honored to be quoted in. Denise broke down, or worked around, so many barriers, as a woman in professional sports. If you think back to the 1950s, I’ll bet you can’t name too many pro level female sports car racers that ran at Sebring, Watkins Glen and so forth. She raced during the golden age with so many of the golden drivers: Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, the Rodriquez brothers, Richie Ginther, Masten Gregory, and Dan Gurney were among her friends and competitive rivals. She was very close friends with Sir Stirling Moss, and another significant lady racer named Isabelle Haskell DeTomaso (yes, she American wife of racer and car builder Allessandro).

Denise and fellow female drive "Pinkie" Rollo drove this Ferrari 275 NART Spyder to a credible 17th overall and 3rd in the GT class at Sebring in 1967; the same car, repainted a bronzy brown, was later on the cover of Road & Track, and appeared in the original "Thomas Crown Affair" as Faye Dunaway's character's ride...nice.  John Clinard photo

Denise and fellow female driver “Pinkie” Rollo drove this Ferrari 275 NART Spyder to a credible 17th overall and 3rd in the GT class at Sebring in 1967; the same car, repainted a bronzy brown, was later on the cover of Road & Track, and appeared in the original “Thomas Crown Affair” as Faye Dunaway’s character’s ride…nice. John Clinard photo

As a newspaper reporter, she was more than challenged simply trying to do her job, because in many sports, women weren’t allowed in the pressbox. She told me one time that she was assigned to cover the baseball playoffs, and had to buy tickets like any other fan, and had to interview the players by talking to them through the fence. She had similar challenges at the Indy 500 as women weren’t allowed in the pits — imagine that, a woman who had an international racing license, with more than enough talent and experience to run in the damn race, not being allowed proper access to cover it for a newspaper.

Denise drove countless great cars in her life, and seemed to relish them all. She was also among the leaders that launched the Sante Fe (New Mexico) Concours d’Elegance because she lived in that wonderful town and wanted to share its beauty, history, and tranquility with others. Denise and I many times judged together at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.  She was friends with Steve McQueen and dated jazz great Miles Davis, and is a textbook example of a large life, lived large.

My favorite Denise story tells you a lot about her ability as a driver, even well into her seventh decade. I went to the media ride and drive launch program put on by Mazda for the updated MX-5 Miata that came along in the mid-1980s. At the end of the day, after the marketing and technical presentations, lunch, and a long on road drive, Mazda hosted a casual autocross for the attending journalists. Many of the guys there are great drivers; young testosterone-addled bucks who could really pedal. Everyone thought the battle lines would be drawn between rival magazine writers: the Motor Trend guys vs. the Road & Track editors vs. Popular Mechancs and Car and Driver, etc. Guess who beat us all: the short, slightly portly older lady with the gray hair. Most of Miatas just attacked the cones, with engines revving and tires squealing. But not Denise; she drove through that gymkhana course with no more drama than if she were at the mall looking for a parking spot; smooth as glass and not putting the tail out once. Like the great Sir Jackie Stewart says: Smooth Is Fast.

If you’d like to further enjoy Denise’s talent for writing and passion for cars, pick up her book called “By Brooks too Broad for Leaping,” an enjoyable compendium of her AutoWeek magazine columns. It gives you a glimpse into her greatness. I will miss her brains, talent, humility, big smile, warm greetings, and sense of humor, and it’s my honor to have known her as a friend.

Driven: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

When you see this badge, don't mess with this car, unless you've got something really husky underneath you.

When you see this badge, don’t mess with this car, unless you’ve got something really husky underneath you.

When I first saw the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG at an auto show, I knew it was a car I had to drive and evaluate as soon as possible. I immediately liked the CLA’s curvy styling, and was interested that Mercedes had again elected to offer a more value priced “entry level” model to attract younger buyers to the brand. Then add to that the full AMG spa treatment, least of all including a turbocharged, two-liter four spooled up to more than 350 horsepower. With that comes all the usual AMG suspension, interior, and rolling stock upgrades, plus 4Matic all-wheel drive and a 7-speed autoclutch gear box, and I’m in!

Some onlookers guessed that this was an E-Class AMG, an easy mistake to make given its big grille and muscled fenders.

Some onlookers guessed that this was an E-Class AMG, an easy mistake to make given its big grille and muscled fenders.

My handsome tester was finished in elegant metallic gray with a mostly black interior and really looked the business with enough cool exterior upgrades to distance it upwards from the base CLA models, plus a fabulously trimmed interior given seriously grippy and supportive sport seats, and all the expected infotainment toys. My initial concern was that such a small turbocharged engine would be all upper end power with no low end torque for punching the car away from lights and around town.

 

Super high tech, handbuilt two-liter I-4 turbo boils out 355 horse smoothly, yet still delivers reasonable fuel mileage for how fast it is.

Super high tech, handbuilt two-liter I-4 turbo boils out 355 horse smoothly, yet still delivers reasonable fuel mileage for how fast it is.

I needn’t have worried, because AMG’s engine boffins are better than that. It’s not a C7 Corvette off the line, but AMG has tuned in some low end turbo boost helping make plenty of low to mid-range torque. And once you get some revs on the tach, it’s good bye. Motor Trend got a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds, fast by any measure. And the dual-clutch 7-speed sequential manual gearbox is a great partner; there’s a ratio for every occasion, and you can really keep the engine on the boil in any situation. I enjoyed driving it “on the paddles” by using the manual shift mode and shifting myself, but the trans is plenty smart, so if you just leave it in Drive, and orchestrate the powertrain with nothing more than your right foot, you’ll be happy and fast.

Perfect wheel and tire combo for this car, and serious brakes.

Perfect wheel and tire combo for this car, and serious brakes.

18-inch performance wheels and tires don’t seem like anything so exotic today, but believe me are a perfect match for this size car. Turn in is near go-kart quick, with reasonable steering feel, high grip levels, and a generally neutral attitude with still comfortable yet firm ride quality. Another thing I really extra love about this car is a trait common to most AMG Mercedes, and that’s superlative high speed straight line stability; Punch up 120 on the speedo and this thing feels laser guided and like it’s bolted to rails.  All that autobahn breeding really shows.  Torquesteer from a high horse motor in a front-drive car? No worries, because standard in this AMG is 4Matic all-wheel drive, which can adjust and mix power delivery between the front and rear wheels in a seamless fashion, successfully quelling any notion of torquesteer. And this car has a wonderful exhaust rumble too; not too loud, but absolutely there, in a rich, bassy, exotic snarl, with a little bit of pop and burble on the overrun.

Excuse my bad for not straightening the steering wheel prior to snapping this pic.

Excuse my bad for not straightening the steering wheel prior to snapping this pic.

I won’t get too deep into all the infotainment details here, but all of the electronic wizardry inside works perfectly, with a great nav and Bluetooth functionality. The carbon fiber trim inside is real, and looks great and high tech. Build quality is first rate.
I found very little in this car not to like.

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The swoopy roofline compromises rear seating comfort just a bit for taller passengers, and of course: Speed costs money, so it ain’t cheap. The base MSRP is $47,450 and my tester bottom lined at $57,165, window sticker just below. There were a few price options you might choose to live without, but getting a nicely equipped CLA45 is still going to run you $55,000 just about no matter what. Not inexpensive, but the content, luxury, quality and performance are definitely present and accounted for. Those are decisions you need to make for yourself, but if the car appeals to you, I’d say you won’t be disappointed. With absolute respect to Mazda: Zoom Zoom.

CLA45 AMG sticker

Woodies in the Park show coming soon

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Some news from my friends at the Automobile Driving Museum that I thought you might enjoy….

(El Segundo, CA) The Automobile Driving Museum (ADM), a non-profit museum that preserves historic automobiles, is proud to present “Woodies in the Park” picnic and car show on Saturday, July 11th, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The ADM will be hosting some of the nicest wooden bodied station wagons here in the Southern California area. On display will be stock and modified versions of the “Woodie Wagons” built by Detroit from the earliest years up thru 1953. Inside the museum, a special exhibit of three unique Woodies that will be on display from July 3rd to July 19th, 2015.

If you are a proud owner of one of these cool cars or just a big fan, we urge you to attend! A BBQ of hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos will be available for purchase on the grounds of the museum. A beautiful picnic setting will be available for your comfort. Come cool off in our Ice Cream Station inside the museum or rock out with our Surf Band outside. It will make you feel like you are back in the golden years of Woodies, the 1960′s.

Car show pre-registration entry fee is $20 before July 1st, 2015, and $25 at the door for up to two guests. Check-in and set-up starts at 8 a.m. Limited parking of 80 cars. All registrants get an event dash plaque.

The ADM is proud to present this important segment of automotive history and a great summer beach day. Join us July 11th, 2015 for a special day of Woodies at the Automobile Driving Museum, 610 Lairport Street, El Segundo, CA 90245, www.theADM.org or 310-909-0950 for more information. Come see these fabulous vehicles and join us for a picnic and surf rock.

About the ADM:
The Automobile Driving Museum is a unique venue for auto enthusiasts. Not only is the museum filled with over 130 vintage, antique, and muscle cars; but is also the only museum that takes you for a ride in them. The ADM is conveniently located at 610 Lairport Street, just 1Ž2 mile south of LAX in beautiful El Segundo, CA. 90254. Admissions are a requested donation of $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for children (11-17) and 10 and under are free. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Mondays. The ADM is host to many events for families as well as auto enthusiasts and is a great location for weddings, birthday parties, and holiday parties. The museum offers guests the opportunity to see their cars up close. In addition, the museum offers guided tours on the weekends and rides in their cars on Sundays, weather permitting. For more information about the ADM, visit: www.theADM.org, Twitter @TheADMorg, and Facebook at /TheADMorg. Come take a ride you’ll never forget.

Winning, The Racing Life of Paul Newman, documentary film release

Newman Racing Documentary Opens

The movie poster

The movie poster

I’m pleased and proud that my book, The Winning Life of Paul Newman, has been made into a proper documentary film. My big thanks to Adam Carolla and his great team for taking on this job and doing a wonderfully professional job of it. I hope you can go see it when it opens near you. Great interviews with great folks, and I feel you’ll love the archival racing footage — thanks, MS.

The book cover

The book cover

Los Angeles — Notoriously private and likely prouder of his racing accomplishments than his Academy Award for acting and six nominations, Paul Newman’s racing passion and love of the sport is the subject of a new film that will hit theaters and video on demand (VOD) platforms on Friday, May 22.

The documentary “Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman,” directed and produced by comedian/car guy Adam Carolla and Nate Adams, opens in select theaters nationwide and in VOD format on May 22. Carolla has owned, restored and raced seven of Newman’s former race cars, most of them Datsuns/Nissans.

Newman’s racing career spanned 35 years, during which time he won four SCCA national titles as a driver and eight Champ Car drivers’ championships as co-owner of Newman-Haas Racing. He also finished 2nd overall and 1st in GT class at Le Mans 1979 in Dick Barbour’s Porsche 935 with teammates Rolf Stommelen and Barbour. His racing passion began while training for his role in the 1969 racing film “Winning.” Newman didn’t start racing until he was 47 years old, long after most drivers hang up their helmet. At 70 he became the oldest driver to be part of a winning team in a major sanctioned race, his Ford Mustang finishing 3rd overall and 1st in GTS-1 class at the 1995 Daytona 24 Hours with teammates Tommy Kendall, Michael Brockman and Mark Martin.

The 83-minute film includes interviews with Newman himself, Mario and Michael Andretti, Sebastian Bourdais, Tom Cruise, Patrick Dempsey, Jay Leno, Sam Posey, Robert Redford, Bob Sharp, his “Winning” co-star Robert Wagner and widow Joanne Woodward, along with other racers. Carolla stated, “There were so many incredible stories about Newman over his 35-year racing career and I was amazed that no one wanted to commit to telling his story.”

A 2008 Vanity Fair article on Newman noted, “So much of why he loved racing was because he could hang around the track with the other drivers and be ‘one of the guys.’ They didn’t treat him like a movie star, yet they were very protective of him-no photographers allowed, no press, no fans. Eventually he arranged his schedule so he could spend six months a year racing and six months making movies…” Newman died Sept. 26, 2008 at age 83, but not before he took some final laps at his home track, Lime Rock Park.

A major philanthropist, his Newman’s Own food company has donated $430 million in profits to date, to charities, and he also founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children.

The film premieres tonight in Los Angeles and another is scheduled May 22 in Indianapolis, in conjunction with the Long Beach Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500, respectively. All proceeds from screening tickets will benefit charity. Distributor FilmBuff has licensed worldwide rights to the film, and told VM the film will be available on DVD in the late 4th quarter of this year.

DRIVEN: James Bond’s Aston Martin DBS from “Quantum of Solice”

Check out that Walther Banana special 380 snub nose wearing special yellow camo

Check out that Walther Banana special 380 snub nose wearing special yellow camo

Bonds Have More Fun
007 Wannabe Meets a Movie Machine from “Quantum of Solace”
“Quantum of Solace” movie stills courtesy Sony/EON Productions

“Yes, we do, in fact, have one of the DBSs from the filming of “Quantum” in the States at the moment. Would you be interested in driving it?”

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The properly British-accented Aston Martin representative had me shaken and stirred. Time to dig out my Persol 2720-S shades (worn by Craig in “Casino Royale”) and Omega Seamaster Professional Chronograph (performing all kinds of tricks from the wrist of Pierce Brosnan in “Goldeneye”) and see what it might feel like to be Bond—or at least a Bond geek—for a day.

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What makes a real Bond car different from the others? Not so much, this time around. If you’ve seen “Quantum of Solice,” you’ll know there are no machine guns, missile launchers, or defibrillators on Bond’s latest DBS. It’s hardly bulletproof either; this poor Aston is riddled with machine-gun fire by the time “Quantum’s” hyper-thrilling opening sequence is over. The movie machines have six-speed manuals and are fitted with optional sport seats that aren’t homologated for sale in the U.S. This car’s exhaust system serves more bass and volume. The dark, warm gray paint color is called Quantum Silver.

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Then there was the set of Italian license plates in the trunk, as “Quantum’s” chase scene was filmed around Lake Garda. I seriously considered sending the car back to Aston Martin one plate short of a pair.

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Several “hero” cars were used during production, those that need to be seen in one piece, sans bullet holes. They’re also used for scenes shot from the inside, where Bond is being filmed in the interior of the car. At least one of them was rigged for multiple camera use, and another was beaten up pretty good along the way. Another DBS (likely a prototype destined for the crusher) was converted into a giant film rig, complete with a large chassis beneath it, and a separate driver deck in back, a la hook-and-ladder.
Did this Bond wannabe spend his time cruising Italy’s lakes, in search of a Vesper-like lady? Heck no. Like a carnival worker with a pony, I gave rides: friends, my nephew and niece, whoever; the line formed here.

Quantum of Solace

Several women just wanted to park their behinds in a driver’s seat that was once occupied by Daniel Craig.

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Movie provenance aside, this is a wonderful machine to drive. The chesty exhaust and manual trans allowed me to play the 6.0-liter V-12 like a torque-laden pipe organ. The sport seats have a fixed back with no rake adjustment. They’re not luxurious, but really pin you in when you’re flogging the DBS, dodging imaginary gunfire. Sunglasses and blue eyes notwithstanding, Stevie Wonder wouldn’t mistake me for Craig. But a day in his wheels gave me a hint at what it might be like to be the world’s most famous spy.

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Now, where did that sexy minx Vesper disappear to?

DRIVEN: 2014 VW Beetle TDI and 2015 VW Jetta 2.0L TDI SE

In loose terms, this means Turbo Diesel Injection, and if you see this badge on a modern VW you know it has plenty of power, burns cleanly, and gets phenominal fuel mileage

In loose terms, this means Turbo Diesel Injection, and if you see this badge on a modern VW you know it has plenty of power, burns cleanly, and gets phenominal fuel mileage

If you still believe that diesel-powered cars are slow, smokey, and noisy, it’s really time to let go of that notion.

I’ve recently spent some time and lots of miles at the wheels of two different Volkswagens running modern TDI “Clean Diesel” engines, and I promise you they are anything but slow, smokey or noisy. Actually, they are quick, meet all modern emissions standards, and other than the expected soft rattling sound at idle, are anything but noisy.

Reasonable horsepower and a ton of torque out of 120 cubic inches of motor magic, such is VW's Clean Diesel TDI inline four

Reasonable horsepower and a ton of torque out of 120 cubic inches of motor magic, such is VW’s Clean Diesel TDI inline four

You may recall that VW has been selling diesel powered cars in America since the 1970s. And while those early 90 horsepower diesels got great gas mileage, they were slow, smokey and noisy. Well again, forget all that. VW’s new 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel Four is a modern, high tech, fabulous powerplant that’s got more low end torque than some sixes, and is a joy to drive, no matter the packaging: in my case, the packages I tested it in are the charmingly retromodern Beetle, and the crisply Teutonic Jetta.

Still terminally cute: the Beetle's look still works, and still makes you smile

Still terminally cute: the Beetle’s look still works, and still makes you smile

A few words about the Beetle. My Toffee Brown Metallic tester screamed 70s from every pore, but only in terms of its wonderful buglike shape and colors, not at all in terms of its technology or equipment levels. In this car, the engine was backed by VW’s superb 6-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission; its technically a manual trans, but with some very bright mechanical robots managing the clutch and shifter.

Remember the original air-cooled Beetle's pencil sized chromed dual exhaust pipes?  Even though everything about the new car is different -- the engine's in the front, its water cooled, and in this case runs on diesel fuel -- VW still puts a cute pair of dual exhaust tips out the back.  And the TDI's softly purring rattle at idle even reminds of the original air cooled Beetle's pukka pukka sound at idle.

Remember the original air-cooled Beetle’s pencil sized chromed dual exhaust pipes? Even though everything about the new car is different — the engine’s in the front, its water cooled, and in this case runs on diesel fuel — VW still puts a cute pair of dual exhaust tips out the back. And the TDI’s softly purring rattle at idle even reminds of the original air cooled Beetle’s pukka pukka sound at idle.

You drive it just like an automatic, or when you feel racy or want more control, you can use the steering wheel mounted shifter paddles.  And is a smooth operator too, with none of the herki-jerkiness of some early autoclutch manuals. In this application, the two-liter turbodiesel is rated at 140 horsepower, which doesn’t sound like much but is really plenty, and a more meaningful 236 pounds-feet of torque, which is the “low end grunt” that actually moves the car.  And its plenty quick, with lots of punch off the line and a fat mid-range powerband; you don’t need to throttle this car hard to make it move, just learn how to “surf the torque curve” and you’ll pass anyone easily on most any road.

Today's mandated lower sulfer diesel fuel burns much more efficiently than the old "#2" crap diesel oil, enabling modern diesels to run mean and clean, without the smoke and smell of the bad old days.

Today’s mandated lower sulfer diesel fuel burns much more efficiently than the old “#2″ crap diesel oil, enabling modern diesels to run mean and clean, without the smoke and smell of the bad old days.

And get great mileage doing so.  The turbodiesel Bug’s EPA ratings are 32 Average with 29 City and 39 highway.  Meaning on the highway, this thing’s got serious range.  My combined city/highway tests averaged well into the mid 30s.  Among the many things I love about VWs, and its particularly visible on the Beetle, is the way this company uses high quality plastics in its artfully designed interiors.

How to make an affordable car look like a much more costly one; invest in a high quality interior, as VW always does, so that the people sitting inside, who make the payments, feel good about their investment.  Plastics Done Right!

How to make an affordable car look like a much more costly one; invest in a high quality interior, as VW always does, so that the people sitting inside, who make the payments, feel good about their investment. Plastics Done Right!

Everything about the Beetle’s cabin just smacks of quality, with attractive use of plastics, faux metal trim and tough yet supple vinyl upholstery that looks and feels expensive.  And oh by the way, the rest of the car is a joy to drive too, with sharp, crisp handling and braking, and a very comfy ride.  My biggest gripe with the whole car is that once you’ve “popped” the rear trunklid with the button on the keyfob, its a bit of a nailbreaker to stick your fingers underneath to lift it up.  It either needs to pop up further, or have a little recess that you can more easily stick your hand under.  Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this car, and would buy one with my own money if its what I wanted and needed.

Big Diesel, Little Diesel.  Reliable Carriers' Kenworth, my Jetta

Big Diesel, Little Diesel. Reliable Carriers’ Kenworth, my Jetta

I also put nearly 1000 miles on the new-for-2015 Jetta with the same fabulous TDI engine as in the Beetle.  About the only difference in this installation is that my Jetta tester came with a 6-speed manual transmission and an even higher set of EPA ratings; 36 average, 31 City, and 46 on the highway.  I love the Jetta’s packaging; it’s a sharp looking mid-sized sedan, with plenty of room front or back, and a meaningful trunk area too.  It was great fun to smoke another car away from the light, then shift into higher gears, and just ride the torque curve up to freeway speeds and beyond.  There’s plenty of power to stay in 6th on the freeway even for modest hills and climbs; passing only asks a shift to 5th or maybe 4th, and some mid range throttle, and you’re gone.

 

Like all VWs, the Jetta's interior is crafted of high quality stuff that looks good and feels great to the touch.  Layout is logical, clean and easy to live with

Like all VWs, the Jetta’s interior is crafted of high quality stuff that looks great and feels good to the touch. Layout is logical, clean and easy to live with

Like the Beetle, the Jetta also boasts high quality materials in the cabin; maybe its not quite as “arty” as in the Bug, but sturdy handsome plastics and materials that are tough and look like they’ll last forever.

And this car really handles well too; that’s why every carmakers goal is to handle like a “German sport sedan.”  This Jetta has quick sharp steering, flat cornering, a good ride and strong brakes.  I honestly couldn’t find a thing about it I didn’t like.

VW offers the Jetta with a few high quality gasoline engines, but I would only buy mine with this, the fabulous, capable, and thrifty TDI Clean Diesel under the hood

VW offers the Jetta with a few high quality gasoline engines, but I would only buy mine with this, the fabulous, capable, and thrifty TDI Clean Diesel under the hood

Before you sign on for the newest hybrid (and don’t get me wrong; I like and even own a hybrid) check out these fabulous turbodiesel VeeDubs; they are long on power and even longer on a gallon of gas, while meeting modern day emission standards and no more bad habits.  German carmakers are really supporting and pushing the diesel agenda in North America, with good reason.  Now, if the American government would stop taxing diesel as a commercial fuel, and bring the price down to normal gasoline price levels, the bargain would be that much better, and the case for modern diesels that much stronger.  Window stickers for my two testers just below…

Beetle TDI sticker

Jetta TDI sticker

The Automotive Fine Arts Society to Celebrate 30th Anniversary at 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance

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CARMEL, Calif. – April 8, 2015 – The Automotive Fine Arts Society (AFAS) will return to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® on Sunday, August 16 with a collection of their best automotive artwork to celebrate their 30th year. Sponsored by The Lincoln Motor Company, the AFAS exhibit will feature the latest creations of the finest automotive artists in the world at the Lodge at Pebble Beach in beautiful Carmel, California.

“The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a very special place for us and this year is particularly significant,” said Ken Eberts, AFAS president and founding member. “We’re thrilled to share this important anniversary with Concours patrons who gather each year to view a selection of world class automobiles and automotive art. We’re honored to celebrate our 30th anniversary at this spectacular event.”

The Society’s first exhibit as a group was held at the world-renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1986 and has continued annually. AFAS has attracted sponsorship by high profile companies such as, The Lincoln Motor Company, which has sponsored the AFAS Exhibition for 17 years.

First conducted in 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has become the world’s premier celebration of the automobile. Only the most beautiful and rare cars are invited to appear on the famed 18th fairway, where connoisseurs of art and style gather to see these masterpieces. This year’s featured marques include Ferrari, DuPont, postwar Cunninghams and British sports cars.

The AFAS exhibit will take place on the 18th fairway show field alongside these grand vehicles from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. AFAS artists attending this year include Ken Eberts, Bill Motta, Dennis Hoyt, Richard Pietruska, Jay Koka, Nicola Wood, Bruce Wheeler and more.

Along with the exhibit on Sunday, AFAS will also hold an exclusive reception on Saturday, Aug. 15 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. This event has become a popular destination for celebrities and industry leaders to view a preview of new AFAS art work. The reception is by invitation only and is sponsored by The Lincoln Motor Company.

“The Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegeance is the perfect place for AFAS to celebrate a monumental milestone in automotive history,” said Jay Koka, AFAS Board Member. “Similar to this year’s exceptional marquee vehicles, AFAS artists from around the world will be displaying some of the most breathtaking artwork in concours history.”

The Automotive Fine Arts Society was established in 1983 by a group of six artists who are acknowledged by critics to be among the best in their field. Since then, select award-winning artists have been added to the current total of 26 active members.

Pebble Beach®, Pebble Beach Resorts®, Pebble Beach Golf Links®, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance™, and The Lodge at Pebble Beach™ are trademarks, service marks and trade dress of Pebble Beach Company. All rights reserved.
Original painting by Jay Koka, 48x36" acrylic on canvas

Images shown (top and above) “Christmas in my Chevrolet” by Ken Eberts, “Photo Op No2″, ©Jay Koka

About the Automotive Fine Arts Society

AFAS was established in 1983 by a group of artists who are acknowledged by critics to be among the best in their field. Members work in many diverse mediums including oil, watercolors, acrylics, wood, gouache, pen & ink, clay and metal. AFAS participates in select shows across the country including the Pebble Beach Concours d´Elegance. More information is available at www.autoartgallery.com

Amother Amazing Amelia (Island Concours) Again

1930 CORD L29 BROOKS STEVENS SPEEDSTER AND 1932 ALFA ROMEO 8C 2300 ZAGATO SPYDER WIN BEST OF SHOW AT AMELIA ISLAND CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE

1930 CORD L29 BROOKS STEVENS SPEEDSTER AND 1932 ALFA ROMEO 8C 2300 ZAGATO SPYDER WIN BEST OF SHOW AT AMELIA ISLAND CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE

photography courtesy Neil Rashba and Kirk Gerbracht

Here’s some news from my friends at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, at which I’m honored to serve as a judge and also contributing writer to the show’s official program. And extra congrats to my friend David Sydorick on his Zagato bodied Alfa for winning one of the Best of Show awards — MS

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More than 32,000 People and 315 Automobiles and Motorcycles Attend
The 20th Anniversary of the World’s Most Innovative Concours Weekend

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (March 18, 2015) – The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance named a 1930 Cord and 1932 Alfa Romeo Best in Show winners on Sunday, March 15, during the 20th annual event which attracted a record-breaking crowd of 32,000 over the course of the weekend. “The Amelia,” known for its innovative car classes, showcased more than 315 cars and motorcycles on Concours Sunday, with the stunning 1930 Cord L29 winning the prestigious Concours d’Elegance award and the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 taking home the coveted Concours de Sport accolade.

The Concours d’Elegance award was given to the flawless 1930 Cord L29 Brooks Stevens Speedster, which is owned by Ed and Judy Schoenthaler from Oak Brook, IL. This black and white modern-classic was completely redesigned by renowned Wisconsin architect and car designer Stevens who acquired it in 1930. The Cord competed in many driving events including the Copperstate 1000 Rally and several hill climbs and races until Steven’s death in 1995.

The 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, owned by David Sydorick of Beverly Hills, CA, was awarded the coveted Concours de Sport prize thanks to its outstanding racing heritage and impeccable restoration. The short chassis “two-three” Spyder 8C was introduced in 1931 and won the Mille Miglia in 1932, 1933 and 1934 as well as the Spa 24-hour race in 1932. The car has a powerful Jano-designed straight-eight twin overhead cam supercharged engine. The previous owner purchased it in 1950 with a broken clutch. In 2003 Sydorick bought the vehicle and had Wisconsin-based restorer Rick Bunkfield rebuild the engine in 2005 to make it drivable once again.

“Both the Cord L29 and the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 are well deserving of the Amelia’s 20th Anniversary Best in Show awards, with their impressive automotive style and historical pedigree,” said Bill Warner, Chairman and Founder of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. ”I’m not sure how our esteemed panel of judges was able to pick just two winners, given the record number of world-class entrants we had at this year’s Concours. I congratulate them on their excellent selections and I hope we can make their job harder in 2016.”

More than 315 magnificent cars and motorcycles from around the world participated in the 2015 Concours, delighting attendees with a remarkable automotive display of style and heritage. This year Stutz was the featured marque. Highlights on the field included the presence of automotive history’s most rare classic models: the BMW 328, a collection of 1940s wood-bodied Chrysler models, the Porsche 914 model in its rarest variations and a plethora of pre and post-war racecars. Also on display were a number of outside of the box car classes such as a rare Orphan Concept class including the 1954 DeSoto Adventurer, “Cars of the Cowboys” highlighting legendary western themed vehicles from TV and film and a “World Rally Car” class. In addition, a “Hot Rods: East Meets West” car class delighted car fans by highlighting the differences between East Coast and West Coast customizers and classic Hot Rod styling.

The Great Sir Stirling Moss with 25 race cars he's driven over time

The Great Sir Stirling Moss with 25 race cars he’s driven over time

Leading the 2015 Concours was Honoree and legendary race car driver Sir Stirling Moss, who was also the event’s first Honoree at the inaugural Amelia Concours in 1996. Moss was honored for his achievements in motor racing and the tremendous legacy he continues to build upon. In addition, attendees were treated to the presence of over 25 of Sir Stirling Moss’ famous race cars, including the three Mercedes-Benz silver arrows he won with in 1955, marking the first time all three historic vehicles were displayed together.

Henrik Fisker was at one time Aston Martin's chief designer, so here's his now independent take on the current Vanquish, called Thunderbolt

Henrik Fisker was at one time Aston Martin’s chief designer, so here’s his now independent take on the current Vanquish, called Thunderbolt

 

And the same Henrik Fisker's carbon fiber paneled redesign of the new 2015 Mustang,  the Galpin Rocket.  With over 725 horsepower, why would you call it anything else?

And the same Henrik Fisker’s carbon fiber paneled redesign of the new 2015 Mustang, the Galpin Rocket. With over 725 horsepower, why would you call it anything else?

 

In addition, some of the world’s most prominent manufacturers and dealers chose the Amelia Concours to debut their latest models and creations. Lamborghini held the North American debut of the company’s newest and fastest super car, the Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce, following the vehicle’s global debut at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month. Galpin Motors and Henrik Fisker also held the global unveiling of Fisker’s stunning GT Coupe design study, “Thunderbolt,” based on his personal interpretation of the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish Coupe. Galpin also displayed the production-ready version of the Mustang “Rocket,” which debuted at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Manufacturers Alfa Romeo, BMW, Buick, Infiniti, Jaguar, Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Panoz also participated in the 2015 event.

Attendees also enjoyed two seminars, a tradition that has become one of the hallmarks of the Amelia Island Concours. The “Design DNA of Iconic Cars” seminar included designers from General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche who spoke about maintaining each brands’ DNA. The legendary Buick Y-Job, America’s first true concept car and the Buick Avenir Concept were on display to enhance the seminar. In the seminar moderated by Tommy Kendall, Wayne Carini, Ray Evernham, Peter Klutt, Barry Meguiar, Bob Scanlon and Dale Walksler lead a lively discussion about the “The Car Guys of Television,” which gave a behind-the-scenes look at producing automotive television shows.

RM/Sotheby's Auctions preview tent is open to the public the day prior to the show, so everyone can get a free of charge look at what's going under the gavel

RM/Sotheby’s Auctions preview tent is open to the public the day prior to the show, so everyone can get a free of charge look at what’s going under the gavel

 

 

Among the Auction's top sellers was this Ferrari Superamerica Cab.  Tasty, but costs many millions now.

Among the Auction’s top sellers was this Ferrari Superamerica Cab. Tasty, but costs many millions now.

 

Among my personal favorite Maseratis is the always fabulout Ghibli Spyder, only about 25 built by the factory, and never more pretty than this one.  Yum.

Among my personal favorite Maseratis is the always fabulout Ghibli Spyder, only about 25 built by the factory, and never more pretty than this one. Yum.

This year’s RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island, FL auction broke records by achieving the highest auction results in Amelia Island Concours history, garnering $60,328,550 in sales. A 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet was the most valuable vehicle sold during the 2015 Amelia Island Concours week, selling for $6,380,000. Proceeds for this car’s sale will benefit the consignor’s charity for the education of children.

The 21st annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held March 11-13th, 2016 at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The show’s Foundation has donated over $2.5 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc., Spina Bifida of Jacksonville and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996. In 2013, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance won Octane Magazine’s EFG International Historic Motoring Event of the Year award.

About the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
Now in its second decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “Amelia” draws over 300 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. The 21st annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 11-13, 2016. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org or call 904-636-0027.

Please don’t leave, lots more great photos just below

The day before the concours itself, the show hosts a cars and coffee cruise in on the actual show field.  It was well organized and hugely attended.  Maybe the best I've ever seen, with a varied and spectacular turn out.

The day before the concours itself, the show hosts a cars and coffee cruise in on the actual show field. It was well organized and hugely attended. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen, with a varied and spectacular turn out.

 

Amelia's cars n coffee was  extremely well attended, and offered something for everyone.

Amelia’s cars n coffee was extremely well attended, and offered something for everyone.

 

Here's one you won't see every day, the Zagato designed Aston Martin DBR1 America Roadster

Here’s one you won’t see every day, the Zagato designed Aston Martin DBR1 America Roadster

 

Several luxury automotive brands sponsor the show, and with that comes displays of their new and often old products -- Alfa Romeo's booth was particularly well executed.

Several luxury automotive brands sponsor the show, and with that comes displays of their new and often old products — Alfa Romeo’s booth was particularly well executed.

 

Among the rarest and coolest Alfa Romeos you'll ever see, the sexily fabulous mid-engined V-8 Type 33 Stradale coupe

Among the rarest and coolest Alfa Romeos you’ll ever see, the sexily fabulous mid-engined V-8 Type 33 Stradale coupe

 

Ferraris at Amelia Island!  Of course...many, rare, and fabulous

Ferraris at Amelia Island! Of course…many, rare, and fabulous

 

Big Banger Alfa 8C 2900, about as good as pre WWII exotics can get

Big Banger Alfa 8C 2900, about as good as pre WWII exotics can get

 

Inspire of the bright red paint and Momo livery, this is NOT an IMSA Ferrari, instead but an ultra fast turbo V-6 Nissan IMSA prototype.  Besides all the heavy classics and sports cars, motorsport is a bit part of Amelia's makeup, and you'll always see great race cars here.

Inspire of the bright red paint and Momo livery, this is NOT an IMSA Ferrari, instead but an ultra fast turbo V-6 Nissan IMSA prototype. Besides all the heavy classics and sports cars, motorsport is a bit part of Amelia’s makeup, and you’ll always see great race cars here.

 

Everyone has fun at Amelia Island, including this fabulous foursome of ladies.  From left, my friends Bev, Margaret and Cathy, plus wife Linda at far right

Everyone has fun at Amelia Island, including this fabulous foursome of ladies. From left, my friends Bev, Margaret and Cathy, plus wife Linda at far right

Trying My Best to be Media Social

Not much better than hanging out at Jay's Library

Not much better than hanging out at Jay’s Library

I find the media convergence to be very exciting. Although it can be a bit dizzying to an old school dog like me. For my life and business, Facebook and Twitter don’t really fit to well, which is why I’m not active on these platforms. Of course this website is a must, and I quite enjoy doing this blog, and hope you enjoy visting.. I’ve done some other social media segments recently that I hope you’ll consider checking out. And they are described below.

Jay Leno’s Garage

Jay Leno, besides being one of the best ever late night talk show hosts, is without question among the world’s great comics. He’s just naturally funny, and a fine and very nice man. His sense of humor is positively wicked, and of course anyone viewing this site or blog knows him as The Ever Supreme Car Guy that he is. You’ve probably visited his website, JayLenosGarage.com, and if not then you must. Jay does great video segments with us book authors when we publish new books, and helps us plug new releases. The segments are logically enough called “Jay Leno’s Book Club.” And he’s been most generous with me each time I’ve published a new book, and has had me as a guest to talk about it.

Here’s a recent segment that I participated in, and I hope you’ll agree includes one way cool and outstanding ex-James Garner off-road racer. My continued thanks to Jay and his small but highly professional production crew for having me as a guest…

Cars, Yeah!

Another site of interest to car guys and gals is Cars, Yeah! Hosted by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Mark Greene, this is a site primarily for Podcasts with all sorts of great folks from the automotive community. Mark asks thought-provoking questions of his guests, and does a very professional job producing these segments.
Here’s mine:

http://carsyeah.com/ourportfolio/matt-stone/

Petersen Car Stories

From past stories and blogs, you likely know that one of my very Happiest Places on Earth is the famous Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. It also does a fine podcast series with car folks called Car Stories. Here’s mine…

http://shoutengine.com/CarStories/matt-stone-6171