The Horseless Carraige Club of Southern California’s 58th Annual Holiday Motor Excursion

 

As many crank start cars as you're likely to see in one place at one time, nearly anywhere

As many crank start cars as you’re likely to see in one place at one time, nearly anywhere

 

Carwise, I’m an omnivore; in that I eat all automotive meats.  I can usually find something to appreciate in nearly any sort, form, brand, or era of automobile.  I love Bugattis and Ferraris, and old trucks too.  I’m not stuck on rare, fancy, fast, high priced or otherwise usually desirable machinery; steam powered, stealthy, stylish or stupid, I, like you I’m guessing, just love cars of all manner and stripe.  Although given my age, you’d likely guess that post-WWII-war stuff is my specialty.  Which is generally true.  So it was with an extremely open mind that I anticipated attending the Horseless Carraige Club’s annual pre-1932 car show and tour.  This group has been gathering their antique and “brass era” cars every December for nearly 60 years, and going for an old fashioned Sunday drive with them.

See, they really ARE called Horseless Carraiges

See, they really ARE called Horseless Carraiges

The gathering place for this year’s run was the former Irwindale Speedway, now renamed the Irwindale Event Center, in the heart of — you guessed it — Irwindale, California; just West of where the Pomona Swap Meet is held, and not so very far east of my Glendale, California home.  The tour itself is open to, or should I say restricted to, pre-1932 automobiles, but the gathering and de facto car show draws a wide variety of stuff, from pure stock antiques to hot rods to customs to all manner of strange automobile and bike.  My kinda deal.  Parking is $5, but there’s no other admission or ticket costs.  Also my kinda deal.

See -- kids of all ages still love to play dress-up.  Many of the tour participants did so in period garb

See — kids of all ages still love to play dress-up. Many of the tour participants did so in period garb

So it was that a small posse of my friends and I gathered on December 29,2013, in Irwindale, to get an automotive history lesson of sorts, meeting the group and cruising the parking lot before the tour took of at 10:00 AM.  I apologize that it’s taken me so many months to post these photos up for you; I’ve just been driving so many cars and attending so many great events that my blogging is a bit behind schedule.

Now you know why they call them "Brass Era" motorcars

Now you know why they call them “Brass Era” motorcars

And it was fabulous: Model Ts, Model As, Duesenbergs, Packards, and examples of brands you’ve never heard of or hadn’t thought about in a while, I promise.

Like I said, you'll see cars here you just won't find at most car shows

Like I said, you’ll see cars here you just won’t find at most car shows

Check ‘em out in these great photos by Kirk Gerbracht.

This spectacular Duesenberg Model J town car is absolutely original and unrestored, with the paint polished through in a few places, and all original chrome too.  Maybe my favorite car there

This spectacular Duesenberg Model J town car is absolutely original and unrestored, with the paint polished through in a few places, and all original chrome too. Maybe my favorite car there

 

...and of course Jay Leno was there.  I don't recall which among his fabulous collection of automobiles he brought and drove that day, but he always takes time to share his cars with other attendeeds, sign autographs, and pose for a few photos...my kind of car guy!

…and of course Jay Leno was there. I don’t recall which among his fabulous collection of automobiles he brought and drove that day, but he always takes time to share his cars with other attendees, sign autographs, and pose for a few photos…my kind of car guy!

 

And Away They Go...part of the fun of this event is watching and listening to, the old cars take off on the tour.

And Away They Go…part of the fun of this event is watching and listening to, the old cars take off on the tour.

 

Luv  this lavish Lincoln convertible

Luv this lavish Lincoln convertible

Big open tourers proved very popular for this event

Big open tourers proved very popular for this event

 

Check out this massive Caddy tourer

Check out this massive Caddy tourer

If I ever end up owning a pre-war car, it'll likely be a Ford Model A, and I hope its as cute as this immaculate convertible pickup

If I ever end up owning a pre-war car, it’ll likely be a Ford Model A, and I hope its as cute as this immaculate convertible pickup

 

A Star is Born: Say Hello to Desert Concorso

The magnificent dark blue sedan about the third car back is the one-of-two Frua bodied Quattroporte built for the then Aga Khan; it certainly inspired later Quattroportes to follow, yet is a bit of a design leader unto its own.

The magnificent dark blue sedan about the third car back is the one-of-two Frua-bodied Quattroporte custom built for the Aga Khan; it certainly inspired later Quattroportes to follow, yet is a bit of a design leader unto its own.

Among my very favorite car shows in the world is Concorso Italiano, which takes place on the Monterey Peninsula each August, all wrapped up in the Monterey Car Week that encompasses the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Rolex Motor Sports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  Conc Ital is all about Italian cars, bikes, boats, style, food and spirit, and I love it.  The folks that put on this fabulous gathering have decided to birth it a cousin in Southern California, called Desert Concorso.  The location is the Shadow Mountain Resort in Palm Desert, and the first annual event was just held, March 30, 2014.  Besides the location, the primary philosophical difference between the two events is that Italiano is built around Italian hardware, while the new event in Palm Desert is open to all European machines, from Italy, England, Germany, Spain and anywhere else over there that we’re likely to think of as European.  And it was one rockin day.

No car show is complete without a great roundup of Ferraris, and Desert Concorso had them.  The brownish skyline isn't smog, it was due to a nasty desert windstorm about ten miles to the north of the show

No car show is complete without a great roundup of Ferraris, and Desert Concorso had them. The brownish skyline isn’t smog, it was due to a nasty desert windstorm about ten miles to the north of the show

About 175 cars populated a piece of the Shadow Mountain golf course, and the display was spectacular.  The field was comprised of many top end show quality cars, and dozens more first rate drivers.  Desert Concorso’s charity of choice is a most worthy one, in this case an organization named Desert Arc, dedicated to creating educational and vocational opportunities for people with disabilities of all kind.

One great Maser that doesn't get enough recognition is the Frua designed Mistral of the 1960s; Available as a coupe or spyder convertible, the Mistral is straight-six powered, handsome, tidy and a joy to drive

One great Maser that doesn’t get enough recognition is the Frua designed Mistral of the 1960s; Available as a coupe or spyder convertible, the Mistral is straight-six powered, handsome, tidy and a joy to drive

The show, among other themes, celebrates Maserati’s upcoming centenary in fine style.

Strolling the Desert Concorso grounds brought to mind a similar show that i used to be involved in putting on; that being the Newporter Invitational Concours d"elegance put on by POCA, the Pantera Owners Club of America.  Back in the day, meaning the 1970s and 80s, the Newporter, and later Regency, was built around exotic, sports and GT cars only, and was a lot like the Desert Concorso in many ways.  This is the program cover, shot by me, from 1984

Strolling the Desert Concorso grounds brought to mind a similar show that I used to be involved in putting on; that being the Newporter Invitational Concours d’elegance put on by POCA, the Pantera Owners Club of America. Back in the day, meaning the 1970s and 80s, the Newporter, and later Regency, was built around exotic, sports and GT cars only, and was a lot like the Desert Concorso in many ways. This is the program cover, shot by me, from 1984

Desert Concorso program cover

Although 2015′s exact date has yet to be finalized, you can bet the show will return next March; to keep up with it all, bookmark www.desertconcorso.com.

And enjoy all these great photos by Kirk Gerbracht

I get by with a little help from my friends; the handsome gent at left is Michael Regalia, one of the games premier automotive restorers, who was there with his fabulous unrestored Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet Series II.  The tan guy in the middle is Chad McQueen, son of you know who of a similar name.  And the fat guy at right is me

I get by with a little help from my friends; the handsome gent at left is Michael Regalia, one of the game’s premier automotive restorers, who was there with his fabulous original, low mile and unrestored Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet Series II. The tan guy in the middle is Chad McQueen, car guy, former racer and son of you know who of the same last name. And the fat guy at right is me

 

If Darth Vader and Batman had Ferraris, this is what they'd drive; a rare, all black Enzo.  This F1-inspired machine is still one of my favorite Ferraris, for its menacing looks, high technology, naturally aspirated race-derviced V-12 and general exotic badassness

If Darth Vader and Batman had Ferraris, this is what they’d drive; a rare, all black Enzo. This F1-inspired machine is still one of my favorite Ferraris, for its menacing looks, high technology, a real  race-derived naturally-aspirated V-12 and general exotic badassness

 

Every great car show includes the sale and display of fine art and toys for kids of all ages, as did Desert Concorso

Every great car show includes the sale and display of fine art and toys for kids of all ages, as did Desert Concorso

My friends at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, USA, located in irvine, CA, always come out to support great car shows.  This is a modern replica of what is arguably the first automobile, called the Patentwagen

My friends at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, USA, located in irvine, CA, always come out to support great car shows. This is a modern replica of the Patentwagen, arguably the first automobile

 

New McLarens are crowdpleasers to be sure

New McLarens are crowdpleasers to be sure

 

This Gulf heritage liveried Ford GT isn't European in any way, so not really sure what is was doing parked on the field next to the Ferraris.  But I love it anyway, so I don't care about the fine points of nationality

This Gulf heritage liveried Ford GT isn’t European in any way, so not really sure what is was doing parked on the field next to the Ferraris. But I love it anyway, so I don’t care about the fine points of nationality

Not from Europe, but certainly exotic and fabulous is what I call the transistorized E-Type, Toyota's memorable 2000GT

Not from Europe, but certainly exotic and fabulous is what I call the transistorized E-Type, Toyota’s memorable 2000GT

More fabulous Masers

More fabulous Masers

 

Driven: 2014 Nissan Leaf SL electric

Few would call it out and out handsome, but you won't mistake the Leaf for any other car

Few would call it out and out handsome, but you won’t mistake the Leaf for any other car

I have great interest, and great faith, in the future of the electric car.  You may or may not remember that at the birth of the automobile, way early in the last century, electric cars were common.  But battery and electric motor technology wasn’t very advanced, and all the electrics were replaced by longer ranged, more efficient, better performing gas fueled automobile.  Many carmakers, inventors, engineers, enthusiasts, innovators, and conspiracy theorists have tried to bring back the commercially viable electric car over the ensuing decades.  Most of those efforts, up until somewhat recently, have either been losers from the beginning or financial scams, or little more than poor driving science experiments — or all three.

Leaf badge

Not any more.  Today’s electric cars are real.  And they’re real good.  I just spent a week in Nissan’s rather fabulous Leaf.  No hybrid here, no diesel fuel made from used french fry oil, or any other such thing; The science experiment days are long over.  The Leaf is a pure electric, designed and built to be that way from the very beginning and clean sheet of paper (or computer screen).  There is no gas engine of any form, and the Leaf relies soley on its own batteries for motive force.  Nissan quotes a maximum range of 84 miles from a full charge (more about that in a moment) and there are a handful of ways to juice up the battery pack.  The car’s weight, aerodynamics, and packaging have been designed to maximize performance and battery range.

The most common is one of a few different types of home charging.

The compact, lightweight 110Volt charger stores in its own dufflebag in the rear cargo area, and should always be with you, so you can top off your charge at work, motels, anywhere the long cord will reach a household plug.

The compact, lightweight 110 Volt charger stores in its own dufflebag in the rear cargo area, and should always be with you, so you can top off your charge at work, motels, anywhere the long cord will reach a household plug.

The car comes with a 110 volt “trickle charger” that’ll charge the car from rock dead to completely full in about ten hours, less if there’s already some juice in the car when you plug it in.  Another option is to have a 240 volt charging station installed at your home, office or wherever.  110 is your standard household current that all your stuff runs on.  240 is the heavier duty juice that may power some of your appliances, and your central AC unit.  240 volt charging cuts the charging time in about half.  Or there’s public charging,  with those pay to play charging stations popping up everywhere.

Pull up, park, plug in your Leaf, and swipe your credit card and buy some juice; most of these are 240V systems to they’ll recharge your car in the time it takes to cruise the mall; in fact many malls have charging stations now.  So Park.  Shop.  Charge.

You can also set up an account with ChargePoint which will provide you with a card reader for use at ChargePoint stations.  Handy and easy.

Now you may be thinking than a 80-84 mile range won’t get you very far.  I always say “horses for courses.”  You don’t show up to run the Kentucky Derby with the largest, heaviest, most muscled black stallion you can find.  So, pick the right horse for the right job.  Depending upon your household, I’m betting that one or more of you has a daily commute cycle that doesn’t extend beyond the range of the Leaf.  Drive to work, make a few stops on the way home, park in your driveway, plug in, recharge; and each charge only costs a couple bucks…never buy gas.  Or do an oil change, or replace a radiator hose or a muffler on your leave, because it never needs any of those things.

Nissan works hard to mitigatge "range anxiety" by always letting you know how much charge you have left and how long it'll take to recharge; its also kind of fun to cruise down a long hill and watch the regen system add miles back to the readouts

Nissan works hard to mitigate “range anxiety” by always letting you know how much charge you have left and how long it’ll take to recharge depending on the plub and voltage of juice you have at hand; it’s also kind of fun to cruise down a long hill and watch the regen system add miles back to the readouts

The Leaf’s creative and attractive instrumentation always shows you how many miles you have left on the current charge, and how long it’ll take to recharge, depending on how much voltage you have available.  And the Leaf has regenerative braking, so as you use the brakes, or coast down a hill, its recharging itself.  And not producing one single gram of tailpipe emissions.

Now you see it (the Leaf's charger plugged into the car's charging point mounted up in the nose)

Now you see it (the Leaf’s charger plugged into the car’s charging point mounted up in the nose)

 

Now you don't.  This little "fuel door" is neatly finished, lighted, and snaps closed to protect the Leaf's charging port from the elements

Now you don’t. This little “fuel door” is neatly finished, lighted, and snaps closed to protect the Leaf’s charging port from the elements

And don’t get any foolish notion of the Leaf driving like a high priced golf cart, because it does not.  It actually a lot of fun to drive, and very zippy.

The Leaf's "engine compartment" is beautifully finished, showing you more "motor" than many of today's plastic enshrouded gas engines

The Leaf’s “engine compartment” is beautifully finished, showing you more “motor” than many of today’s plastic enshrouded gas engines; the conventional battery runs the cars lights, locks, and anti-theft system in the even the main driving battery pack is dead

Remember that electric motors produce their maximum torque at zero rpm, so the off the line punch is impressive.  And there’s no gears or transmission, so the power just keep on pulling.  It’ll quirt you safely through any intersection, and pull freeway on ramps with punch.  The throttle feels like any normal “gas pedal” and the electric brakes have plenty of stopping power, plus ABS, traction and stability control and all that safety stuff, including lots of airbags and tire pressure monitoring.  Yes, its a real car.

The shifter, as such, is the joystick/mouse looking little device on the center console

The shifter, as such, is the joystick/mouse looking little device on the center console

It handles well, rides nicely, and is packed full of luxury, convenience, and techno features.  Needless to say, driving a Leaf across America would be an adventure requiring some planning, but it would certainly be in expensive and emissions free.

Nissan and the EPA estimate your average energy cost to be about $550 per year, saving you nearly nine grand in gas costs to cover the same ground in a similarly sized economy car.

Interior rear

And a word about the Leaf’s packaging too; the car’s really light, but well insulated enough to be very quiet.  There’s adequate head and legroom for real adults, and while you may or may not like its googly eyed lunar breadloaf styling, most agree that its at least cute or endearing, if not handsome in the most classic sense.  Check out the window sticker just below; at $37,090 out the door, its a bargain if driving green is important to you, and if it meets the needs of your driving duty cycle; the cost could be less depending upon tax rebates or other incentives available at your time of purchase.  There are thoughtful touches and smart engineering everywhere you turn; the front charging port is lighted, and the Leaf emits a not too loud but loud enough electronic beacon noise when you shift into reverse, so pedestrians and animals, that of course won’t here any engine running will you know might be reversing into their path.

 

A worthy badge of honor

A worthy badge of honor

There’s a ton of technology and innovation packed into this car for that amount of money, and you’ll feel good not sending tons of money to OPEC oil gods that you may or may not be politically or physically aligned with, and you’ll sure save a ton of dough on gas.

Leaf window stickeer

I’m digging it.

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The Thermal Club – The coolest country club you’ve never seen

My buddy Jeff and his fabulous Alfa Spyder at the entrance to The Thermal motorsports countryclub restort fantasyland

My buddy Jeff and his fabulous Alfa Spyder at the entrance to The Thermal motorsports countryclub resort fantasyland

Photos by Kirk Gerbracht

Imagine your favorite five-star country club; magnificent golf course, great pro shop, luxurious clubhouse, comfortable relaxation areas for your family and guests, pool, fabulous weather, lots of palm trees, gym, spa, and gourmet food too. Now replace the greens and fairways with 4.5 miles of Alan Wilson-designed, purpose built, FIA level road-racing course – finally your driver has a lot more horsepower than a 9-iron! Such a place exists, is well under construction, and is open to you. Welcome to The Thermal Club, Discovery Land Company’s new private motorsports resort.
Never heard of Thermal, California? Don’t worry, nobody else has either, but serious car people will soon know, and can own, a piece of The Thermal Club. Discovery’s new resort baby sits on around 350 acres of former unused desert, about a half hour Southeast of Palm Springs, not far from world famous LaQuinta. We don’t have enough space on this page to describe every amenity and nuance, but in brief, it’s a world class country club resort for car people, without all the unnecessary stick and little white ball stuff. The 4.5 mile FIA-quality track, being built in three phases, can be configured in dozens of variations, and the track can safely accommodate anything from a Sprite to a Ferrari F1 car. Without getting into too many specifics; you buy a membership, then buy a lot. And on that lot you build your own “Garage Villa.”.

4.5 miles of motorsport magic surrounded by about 300 custom built and finished garage villas, and more ameneties that nearly any countryclub or resort you can name.

4.5 miles of motorsport magic surrounded by about 300 custom built and finished garage villas, and more ameneties that nearly any countryclub or resort you can name.

There are about 250 or so lots from which to chose, and all but a few ring the 4.5 miles of fast tantalizing road course. The garage villas, built to a set of pre-approved designs, range from 2500 – 5200 square feet and each encompass a large, high-ceilinged garage space, a kitchen, bath, and living areas. Each design also includes a huge veranda/deck that hangs overlooks the track, giving you the perfect place for outdoor entertaining and unrestricted view of the racing action. Depending on the size of your lot and villa, you can build your Garaj Mahal shop with storage for a couple, a pack or a dozen automobiles — the man cave of your dreams. The track is open and staffed 7/365, and there’s an onsite shop to help with tuning and repairs, plus a fuel facility fully tanked up with racing gas and diesel for your loader. The racing amenities are endless: the school is staffed with experienced instructors (and Porsche Cayman S school cars), and there’s also a gymkhana course plus a shifty kart track. Keep one car in your garage villa or your whole collection.
And the track is fabulous; fast and super safe with more than adequate runoff areas; and its wide long and large enough for nearly any car to make some big speed. If there’s any downside to the Thermal formula, it’s that the Garage Villas aren’t zoned or approved as residences; you can keep your cars there, and work on them until all hours, and you can throw some major parties at your place, but you can’t live there. No worries; lots of condos and many great resorts nearby. But your 250 GTO will be more than safe, as the interior roads and streets are private; the facility is fully walled off to the public, and has on-site security.

Just a couple of the Garage Villa elevations from which you may choose

Just a couple of the Garage Villa elevations from which you may choose

Imagine inviting a dozen or so of your family and friends down to California’s famous resort desert for a weekend of sun, food, drink, cars and entertainment on your massive deck overlooking the track, plus hot laps – that’s the experience that Thermal is offering.

Its kinda too bad that this handsome tent structure is just the temporary paddock / sales center, and will ultimately be replaced by a permanent structure.  Every inch of Thermal is first class quality.

Its kinda too bad that this handsome tent structure is just the temporary paddock / sales center, and will ultimately be replaced by a permanent structure. Every inch of Thermal is first class quality.

And as you’d expect, it isn’t inexpensive, but it’s absolutely first rate. We’ll let Discovery’s staff break down the paperwork for you, but for a membership, a choice lot, and a nicely finished Garage Villa, you’ll need to have a million or so bucks handy.

Just one of the cars that showed up to play during my recent visit

Just one of the cars that showed up to play during my recent visit

Or, you and a few friends can form an LLP and buy and share the property to mitigate the costs. Learn more and schedule a tour at TheThermalClub.com. With absolute respect to Disneyland, for motorsports freaks, The Thermal Club may just be the happiest place on earth.

Jus me'n my boys.  Photographer Kirk, at left in helmet, doing his best Speed Racer imitation, me, the fat guy in the middle, and Jeff, all 6'7" of him at right.  And yes we got to go our and drive the Thermal course in Boxster Ss a lot like this one

Jus me’n my boys. Photographer Kirk, at left in helmet, doing his best Speed Racer imitation, me, the fat guy in the middle, and Jeff, all 6’7″ of him at right. And yes we got to go out and drive the Thermal course in Cayman Ss a lot like this one

As Always, Amelia Amazes

Not only is it wonderful, but its all to benefit great charities too.

Not only is it wonderful, but its all to benefit great charities too.

Let’s begin with the Big Statement: The Amelia Island Concours d’elegance is among the world’s finest car shows. That is a no-longer questioned fact.  Happysnap photos here by me!

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It’s a concours at a Ritz-Carlton golf club, on the beach, no less; what, indeed, could be bad?

But instead of just giving you the usual rundown on all the great cars in the show, I’ve decided to serve you a a taste of the other happenings taking place around town and the actual showfield itself.

Fernandina Beach, Florida, is a charming, genuine, and quaint little historic town, on the Atlantic coast side of Florida; look North across the water and you can see Georgia. I’ve heard it described as the east coast version of Carmel but not as snooty. I’m not sure I completely agree with this notion, because I love Carmel, and find it more tony than snooty. But no matter, one of the great things that takes place in Fernandina is that the Amelia Island Concours classic car tour, held on the Friday prior to the show, and makes a lunch stop in town. The cars park up and everyone gets to see and enjoy them staged among the historic buildings. And the cost is zip/nada. Here’s a few pix…

Among my favorite exotic cars, the elegant and fabulous Maserati Ghibli Spyder -- yet another Giugiaro masterpiece of proportion and detail

Among my favorite exotic cars, the elegant and fabulous Maserati Ghibli Spyder — yet another Giugiaro masterpiece of proportion and detail

 

Courtesy of the "something you won't see every day" department, check out this unusual Stoewer, from Stuttgart, replete with flathead V-8 engine

Courtesy of the “something you won’t see every day” department, check out this unusual Stoewer, from Stuttgart, replete with flathead V-8 engine

This fabulous Graber (Swiss) bodied Bentley cab really attracted me.  Elegance in every line

This fabulous Graber (Swiss)-bodied Bentley cab really attracted me. Elegance in every line

What's a great car show without Porsches?  No worries -- Amelia had plenty, and they were great ones

What’s a great car show without Porsches? No worries — Amelia had plenty, and they were great ones

Good Things in Small Packages: Fiat Abarth 750 Zagato double bubble

Good Things in Small Packages: Fiat Abarth 750 Zagato double bubble

Great American heros: Continental Mk II, big Olds, big Cobra

Great American heros: Continental Mk II, big Olds, big Cobra

 

BMW CSL Batmobiles also celebrated at Amelia this year

BMW CSL Batmobiles also celebrated at Amelia this year

Magnificent Rolls Ghost was a traffic stopper

Magnificent Rolls Ghost was a traffic stopper

and even Smaller Packages, like this terminally cute Fiat 500 Mare Lux beach cruiserette

and even Smaller Packages, like this terminally cute Fiat 500 Mare Lux beach cruiserette

 

There's a car in this photo.  No, really.  I promise

There’s a car in this photo. No, really. I promise

And there it is...the new Lamborghini Huracán, named of course, after a famous fighting bull

And there it is…the new Lamborghini Huracán, named of course, after a famous fighting bull

 

Racing royalty is everywhere at Amelia, from left, racing driver, Le Mans class winner and my friend Justin Bell, Lamborghini's president and CEO Winkelmann, and 5-time Le Mans overall winner, and my friend, and Justin's dad, Derrick Bell

Racing royalty is everywhere at Amelia, from left, racing driver, Le Mans class winner and my friend Justin Bell, Lamborghini’s president and CEO Winkelmann, and 5-time Le Mans overall winner, and my friend, and Justin’s dad, Derek Bell; the Bells never won races in Lamborghinis, but it made for a nice moment and photo no matter

Another of the exciting things that happened at this year’s Amelia is the North American reveal of the Lamborghini’s replacement for the popular Gallardo.  This new model is named LP 610-4 Huracán and its fabulous.  A virtually all new car, its body/chassis is a high tech and handsome combination of aluminum and carbon-fiber technology.  Fast?  Oh yeah, over 600 horsepower and 200+mph.  Automobili Lamborghini President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann was on hand to present the car to the media and showgoers, the unveil proving a huge success with both audiences.

 

RM Auctions always hosts Amelia's on site official collector car auction, and it is an event not to be missed if you are there.  This year, RM set the record for the highest priced car ever sold at auction...more than $6,000,000

RM Auctions always hosts Amelia’s on site official collector car auction, and it is an event not to be missed if you are there. This year, RM set the record for the highest priced car ever sold at auction…more than $6,000,000, although this Lancia wasn’t it

 

If you're not inside the ballroom, the best place from which to enjoy the RM auction is the rooftop, as the cars roll in and out of the auction block

If you’re not inside the ballroom, the best place from which to enjoy the RM auction is the rooftop, as the cars roll in and out of the auction block…oh look another Ghibli Spyder — OK I love them, guilty as charged, your honor…

 

"Fancy a test drive of a new AMG, sir" you can do it at Amelia, with no cost or obligation

“Fancy a test drive of a new AMG, sir?” you can do it at Amelia, with no cost or obligation

 

"Or perhaps a Shaguar F-Type then?"

“Or perhaps a Shaguar F-Type then?”

All weekend long, the Ritz simply teams with lifestyle events of all sorts.  RM holds one of its legendary collector and classic car auctions on property on Saturday, and the cars are displayed on the hotel lawns which are open to the public.  The Hot Ticket:  Trip up to the rooftop of the Ritz’ parking structure, right by the entrance to the hotel ballroom, and you can sit and watch the cars roll in and out of the auction; a fabulous rolling concours of sorts, again at no cost.

 

Porsche's "tent" is really a mini showroom, with free magazines and brochures for all

Porsche’s “tent” is really a mini showroom, with free magazines and brochures for all — so what do you think of the new 911 Turbo

Or fancy driving a new Porsche, Infiniti, SRT, Jaguar, or Mercedes-Benz AMG model?  Those companies are parked up at the main entrance to the hotel, and you can sign up and take a new one out for an obligation free test drive.  Yum.

One of the more popular places to spend your money is the silent auction: photos, art, sculpture, books, local goodies like dinners and spa treatments...and again all for charity

One of the more popular places to spend your money is the silent auction: photos, art, sculpture, books, local goodies like dinners and spa treatments…and again all for charity

The show’s many vendor sponsors are also on hand with booths full of their finest to tempt you — Breitling watches, Hassleblad cameras, the Automotive Fine Arts Society, lots of ways to spend your money on great stuff.  My VISA twitched the whole weekend.

and by the way, there was a jim dandy car show too…

The gent in the middle of the photo is Jochen Mass,  Amelia's 2014 motorsport honoree.  Mass enjoyed a spectacular career in touring cars (winning multiple championships), F1, and endurance racing on the world stage.  This was his first visit to the Amelia Concours

The gent in the middle of the photo wearing the cap is Jochen Mass, Amelia’s 2014 motorsport honoree. Mass enjoyed a spectacular career in touring cars (winning multiple championships), F1, and endurance racing on the world stage. This was his first visit to the Amelia Concours; it was my honor to write the profile about his life and career for the show’s official program.

 

1989's 24 Hours of Le Mans Dream Team: Jochen Mass teamed with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens to win Le Mans in this Sauber-Mercedes C90 prototype sports racer - not a copy this, but the actual race winning car

1989′s 24 Hours of Le Mans Dream Team: Jochen Mass teamed with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens to win Le Mans in this Sauber-Mercedes C90 prototype sports racer – not a copy this, but the actual race winning car

 

My judging class this year was pre-WWII open wheel racing cars, including this 1925-Indy 500 winning Duesenburg roadster.  Not my usual area of expertise, but it was a fun group to judge, and I learned a lot from these cars and my fellow judges

My judging class this year was pre-WWII open wheel racing cars, including this 1925-Indy 500 winning Duesenburg roadster. Not my usual area of expertise, but it was a fun group to judge, and I learned a lot from these cars and my fellow judges

Trust me; if you love great automotive events, you must put Amelia Island on your Bucket List.  Great classic, muscle, sports cars, and all kinds of unusual stuff you won’t see anywhere else, plus a decided motorsport flavor that no other show pulls off as well.

Amelia Island Concours Founder and Chairman Bill Warner does his best Dan Gurney imitation by spraying the winners with champagne.  Amelia awards two best of shows, one to a "classic" and the other a concours d'sport for a sports, exotic, or racing car.  Best of Show Concours d’Elegance at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance went to the 1937 Horch 853 Voll and Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet, owned by Robert M. Lee of Sparks, Nevada.  Best of Show Concours de Sport was awarded to the 1958 Scarab Mark II Sports Racer owned by Miles C. Collier and presented by the Revs Institute for Automotive Research of Naples, Florida.

ameliaislandconcours.net.  I hope to see you there next March.

Calendar Alert: The Friends of Steve McQueen Car Show weekend is June 6/7, 2014

Be therer,

Be therer,

As you may know, I’m a big fan and supporter of this wonderful show and events. You’ll see great cars, meet great folks, and support a good cause.

The spirit of the day is wonderful, low key and fun, very cool and family friendly. Plus you never want to miss the In N Out Burger Truck.

McQueen

Entries are now open, and the organizers are still looking for cool cars and bikes.

It’s a great opp to meet and experience some of the cars and bikes that Steve McQueen owned, rode, drove, raced or put into his films. And in case you’re not up to speed on that topic, you can check out my book about all of it (cover image above). You can buy it, if ya like, on Amazon or at motorbooks.com

Hope to see you in Chino in early June; thanks,

MS

Lunch at Carroll’s Garage

The Great Carroll his own self, with the Ford Cobra concept car of a few years back

The Great Carroll his own self, with the Ford Cobra concept car of a few years back

I miss those phone calls. My cell would ring and it was that unmistakable, I’d-know-it-anywhere-in-the-middle-of-the-night, rich yet raspy Texas voice, announcing that it was “Carroll Hall Shelby, here” – as if it could possibly be anyone else. He’d follow up with “Hey Matt – it’s time for lunch” to which the answer was always, always, “yes it is.”

The reborn, refreshed Shelby Los Angeles hosting one of its early greats, Galpin Auto Sports' '65 GT350

The reborn, refreshed Shelby Los Angeles hosting one of its early greats, Galpin Auto Sports’ ’65 GT350

If the date we’d chosen meant he’d home based that day, it usually meant lunch at the Bel Air Country Club, a really wonderful place even if, as in my case, you could care less about golf. But my favorite place to meet Carroll Shelby for lunch was his Gardena, California office and warehouse. An easy half hour from me, this low lying industrial building sits in the shadow of the Carson, California base camp for the Goodyear blimp, and we would watch it take off and land from his upstairs office. Once in a while, we’d get into the car and head for a little sandwich place nearby, but it usually meant lunch in his office or conference room, casually and nicely prepared by his wonderful front office manager / receptionist Rafaela. A smart, friendly, and fine woman who now runs the Carroll Shelby gift shop store at the same location. Lunch was always the same; a proper homemade ham and cheese sandwich, pickle on the side. Diet Coke. Chips. Perfect.

Some of the finer points of Carroll's personal car collection

Some of the finer points of Carroll’s personal car collection

Shelby’s Gardena property, used to be the main warehouse for his Goodyear Racing Tire distributorship. It’s a big rambling place, many thousands of square feet under roof, and after lunch we’d stroll down to “the garage” to take a look at his personal car collection – most of which – but not all — were Shelby vehicles of one stripe or another, or maybe to see what new monster car he was cooking up. He had a ’27 Rolls-Royce tourer, the last 289 Cobra built, a Sunbeam Tiger, a pretty pristine Chrysler Airflow, a Shelby Series I, a car which he was very proud of. And a massive vintage fire truck, for which he had no use for and was clear he’d never restore or ever drive. Two DeTomaso Panteras always piqued my interest; one was a white GTS model from the late 1970s, which meant an updated interior over my own ’72, and body color-painted wheels and trim. The other Pantera, red I think, ran a Chrysler 340 or 360 V-8, dating from a pre-Viper time when Chrysler was contemplating an ongoing relationship with Allessandro DeTomaso, possibly bringing the Pantera back to America with mid-engined Chrysler power. I love this place.

And then we’d talk. And talk. Then talk some more; mostly about cars, many times about other things.

The "old" Goodyear racing tire trailer still decorates the Shelby Los Angeles parking lot

The “old” Goodyear racing tire trailer still decorates the Shelby Los Angeles parking lot

Much like a kid who was good while at the dentist; he’d always send me home with a small gift of some sort. Sometimes it was a die-cast car model, or a pocket knife (Carroll loved knives, I never knew why. He had rooms and closets full of them, some he’d had for a while, other piles recently delivered via the Home Shopping Network or some such). Since his passing, the property has been cleaned up and fresehened considerably, as it is still home to Shelby Licensing, the Shelby Foundation, and other companies he owned over time. It’s also been renamed Shelby Los Angeles. I don’t care what they call it, it will always be his office and garage to me.

Me and The Man, out for a joyride

Me and The Man, out for a joyride

I really miss those phone calls, and those lunches. And I miss Carroll Shelby.

Review: George Follmer; American Wheelman

FOLLMER - cover - RGB

Here’s the dealio on a killer great new racing career history book you won’t want to miss. It’s a large and semi expensive book but worth every penny in terms of the whole story about one of our greatest ever road racers, and beyond that, the rich history of a couple of wonderful decades in motorsport.

I love our great American racing drivers of the 1960, 70s, and 80s. In no particular order, they include, but are not limited to, guys like Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Parnelli Jones, AJ Foyt, Scooter Patrick, Davey Jordan, Masten Gregory, Phil Hill, the Unsers (all of them), Jeff Gordon, Bob Bondurant, John Morton, the Earnhardts (all of them) and so many more. And absolutely among them, ranking in a very high place, is George Follmer. These are the guys I grew up watching and which have become my racing heroes.

Like Mario, George is as pure a racer as anyone I’ve ever known; a Can-Am champion, three time Trans-Am champ, a guy who raced at Indy and in Formula One…I was even there to watch him win a NASCAR race. He’s super versitile, happy to race anything, anywhere, any time.

His proper career book has been overdue for decades, and it’s finally here. Written by George and my good friend and serious racing journo Tom Madigan, this is a book you can plop down in your lap and read until you pass out for lack of sleep. It’s a page turner, and the archival photos are museum quality. The book is large format with beautiful production values, thanks to the committment from the good folks at Ed Justice Publishing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and some of the photos will make you gasp.

I’ve gotten to know George a bit over the years, and both like and respect him. I once ended up seated next to him on airplane coming home from Indy one time, and we talked the whole flight home; most enjoyable flight, in coach, I’ve ever experienced. On the track and in his life, George has won and lost, had good days and bad, been lucky and been injured, and seen most if not all of it.

And Madigan’s chops as a serious pro racing journalist sparkle brightly here.

If you are a real racing fan, you must order this book.

Title: Follmer
Subtitle: American Wheel Man
Author: Tom Madigan
Forewords by Roger Penske and Parnelli Jones
Format: Hardcover 9” By 12”, 336 Pages, 258 Black-And-White
and 24 Color Photos
Retail Price: $59.95

ISBN-13: 978-0-9828999-2-2

Follmer/American Wheel Man is available through specialty motoring booksellers, and directly from the publisher. Orders can be made by visiting the Web site at www.follmerbook.com.

Justice Publishing Group
2734 Huntington Drive, Duarte, CA 91010
Phone: (626) 359-9174 / Fax: (626) 355-7947
E-mail: courtneyj@justicebrothers.com
caitlinj@justicebrothers.com

Celebrating 50 years of Mustang at the Automobile Driving Museum

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Photos by Kirk Gerbracht

The Mustang 50th Anniversary celebrations have begun and will certainly build to a fever pitch during the rest of this year as countdown to the 2015 Mustang’s arrival in dealer showrooms (and enthusiasts’ garages) this fall. Some of those festivities will be large, like the ones being planned by Ford itself. Others will be smaller, such as those hosted by regional Mustang Clubs all around the world, or the dandy gathering held February 1 at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California.

Best shot from above-inside Museum
“The what in where?” You may ask.

The ADM is one of those too-well kept automotive secrets that you must visit next time you’re anywhere near Los Angeles International Airport. The ADM is a compact pearl of a museum and collection that focuses not only on the history and static display of great classic cars, but also on sharing the in-motion experience of them with visitors. One of the most intriguing aspects of this museum is that each Sunday, the staff chooses a small collection of cars, and gives rides in them. The list of weekly “drivers” is published in advance on the museum’s website, and all you have to do is show up, sign up and take a ride. As a visitor, you can’t drive the cars – staff and docents handle the wheel duty – but in case you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to motor along in a pre-war Packard Limo or perhaps a Studebaker Hawk or Avanti, this is how you find out. And it’s Free! That’s right, there’s no charge for the rides. And ditto for ADM admission, although donations are requested and appreciated – trust me that when you drop a fiver in the jar on your way in, you’ll feel it was the automotive bargain of all time.

Mustang 50th Flyer
The ADM’s “Mustang at 50” day was well organized yet casual. There was some interesting signage, and a special display of “64 ½” Mustangs inside the museum, but the main show took place in the facility’s outdoor courtyard. Several dozen cars showed up – no cost to show your car, or see the show or museum that day – a few vendor booths, a brief welcome and presentation by Ford Public Affairs and Events executive John Clinard, and chow served up by a local legendary BBQ joint. Compact and perfectly formed.
For its size, the variety of cars on show was impressive. From totally stock to substantively modified, from very early to current day Mustang.

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There were a handful of Shelbys present, a dark green ‘68 GT500 convertible seeming to draw the most drools from the crowd.

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There was but one Fox-era car on hand, although it was a good one, in the form of a red, low mile, stock and immaculate 1993 SVT Cobra – nice!

Boss, Dude!

Boss, Dude!

 

The rest of the hardware ran the gamut, from concours level early cars to later V-6 and a rare Laguna Seca edition Boss 302, resplendent in the yellow/orange livery worn by those Trans-Am championship winning Bud Moore Bosses from 1970. A little something for everyone, but no judging hassle or trophies involved, which likely made it all that much more casual and pleasant.

And, stick around, please, lots more photos below.

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Something here for every Mustang person

Something here for every Mustang person

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Several nice early Mustangs were on show inside the Museum - see just below

Several nice early Mustangs were on show inside the Museum – see just below

 

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Not exactly my taste in modifications, but who can argue with the metaphor?

Not exactly my taste in modifications, but who can argue with the metaphor?

08ShelbyGT ragstop

Shelby's a pair -- this Shelby GT coupe wears aftermarket wheels, while my own Shelby BT ragtop wears GT500 rolling stock.

Shelbys a pair — this Shelby GT coupe wears aftermarket wheels, while my own Shelby GT ragtop wears GT500 rolling stock.

 

Just remember, even though its technically also a Boss 5.0, it's really a Boss Three Oh! Two...

Just remember, even though its technically also a Boss 5.0, it’s really a Boss Three Oh! Two…

 

 

Learn more about the Automobile Driving Museum, 610 Lairport Street • El Segundo, CA 90245 at www.the ADM.org or ring 310/909-0950

Learn more about the Automobile Driving Museum, 610 Lairport Street • El Segundo, CA 90245 at www.the ADM.org or ring 310/909-0950

 

 

 

Single-Marque BMW Collection to Highlight Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island Auction

BMW Collection shot

image
copyright
and
courtesy
of
Gooding
&
Company
Photo
by
Brian
Henniker

An impressive collection of V-8, Neue Klasse and high-performance models from the famed Bavarian marque, many to be offered without reserve

From my friends at Gooding & Company, and I thought you’d enjoy this…MS

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (February 4, 2014) – Gooding & Company, the auction house acclaimed for selling the world’s most significant and valuable collector cars, is thrilled to announce that its annual Amelia Island Auction on Friday, March 7 will feature one of the most impressive single-marque collections of BMW automobiles to come to auction in recent years. Stand-outs include a 1957 BMW 507 Series II, a 1980 BMW M1 and a 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL among other V-8, Neue Klasse and high-performance models with many of the lots being offered without reserve.
An exciting addition to the weekend of festivities surrounding the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, this single marque collection is comprised of more than 15 unique, rare-to-market cars, and represents the best of BMW design and engineering from 1950s to 1980s.
David Gooding, President and Founder: “Spanning four decades of German engineering and innovation, these cars represent a significant presentation of BMWs. The emerging market for BMWs has set a trend in the collector car community not unlike the demand for Mercedes and Porsche from the same period. It is a very exciting time for these collectibles and we feel privileged to offer this impressive single-marque grouping in Amelia Island.”
1957 BMW 507 Series II
Extremely rare and one of only 252 examples built, this car is designed by Albrecht Goertz and powered by an alloy 3.2-liter V-8 with twin Zenith carburetors (estimate: $1,500,000-2,000,000). This is a very original roadster, finished in the attractive color scheme of white with blue leather upholstery, with its matching-numbers engine and date-coded wheels intact. Very rarely are 507s found in such outstanding, largely original condition. Delivered new to the United States, this particular car was featured on the cover of Roundel Magazine and was loaned to BMW for use at the Los Angeles Auto Show for the launch of the Z3.

1980 BMW M1

An important piece of motoring history, this M1 is a very special example of BMW’s original supercar (estimate: $325,000-375,000). The development of the M1 represented a radical departure for the famed Bavarian marque. Designed to do battle with Porsche at the height of international endurance
racing, the mid-engine BMW supercar was developed in cooperation with Lamborghini, designed by influential Italian stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro, and constructed by Karosserie Baur in Stuttgart. This car is only one of 399 road cars built and boasts single family ownership for three decades. Impressively maintained, this striking white M1 has covered approximately 25,000 miles from new and features a tool kit and service records. This supercar car is an important piece of BMW history and would make a welcome addition to any collection. Gooding & Company currently holds the world record for a BMW M1 road car during its Scottsdale Auctions in 2014 at $440,000.

1972 BMW 3.0 CSL
Produced in two distinct series between 1973 and 1975, the BMW 3.0 CSL was truly a racing car for the road. Specific features included a lightweight alloy bonnet and outerdoor skins, thin-gauge steel panels, lightweight interior, and an uprated motorsport inspired engine. One of only 169 early carbureted CSLS this car is one of the most sought-after classic BMW models (estimate: $125,000-175,000, without reserve). Beautifully restored with marque-expert supervision, this exceptional black coupe has previously enjoyed the benefits of single-family ownership for more than 20 years. This 3.0 CSL is ideal for long-distance classic tours and events around the world.
Additional highlights from the single-marque collection include several V8 models (501, 501A 3200 CS, 503 Coupe), various Neue Klasse models (2000 CS, 1602, 2000 Sedan), a selection of high-performance models (1600 GT, M6) and a full range of Isettas, from the early 300 to the 600. With again, the majority of lots being offered without reserve, there will be a wide variety of exciting examples across a spectrum of price points for collectors to choose from.

The Amelia Island Auction
Date(s): Friday, March 7, 11:00am EST
Location: Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Racquet Park, 6800 First Coast Hwy, Amelia Island, FL 32034
Public preview: March 6-7
Auctions catalogues: $75, includes admission for two to the viewing and the auctions
General admission: $30, includes admission for one to the viewing and the auctions
Live auction broadcast: www.goodingco.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GoodingCompany
Twitter: @GoodingCompany
RSS: www.goodingco.com/rss.xml
About Gooding & Company
Gooding & Company, internationally celebrated for its world-class automotive auctions, provides unparalleled service in the collector car market, offering a wide range of services including private and estate sales, appraisals, and collection management. Gooding & Company has realized 50 world records and sold $192.6 million in auction sales in 2013. The annual The Amelia Island Auction will take place on March 7 and The Pebble Beach Auctions on August 16 and 17. Gooding & Company is pleased to be the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®. Preceding each auction, a complete catalogue is made available online at www.goodingco.com and the sale is broadcast live on our website. For additional vehicle information and up-to-the-minute results, follow Gooding & Company on Facebook and Twitter @GoodingCompany.
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