Guest Blog: WAAAM — the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum

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Words and photos by Kirk Gerbracht

So, my wife and I decide to take a trip around Oregon.  After a quick morning flight from Los Angeles to Portland, we spend the next day sightseeing in Portland.  Then it’s off to Tillamook – cheese, cows . . . and the Tillamook Air Museum.  This museum is in a 6 acre WW II blimp hanger.  So I am thinking this is going to be good.  Let’s just say that 60% of the space was RV and camper storage – disappointed is an understatement.

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Fast forward five days, we are in Hood River, Oregon, and I see a sign for an antique airplane and auto museum.  I test the brakes on my rental, make a hard right, and ½ mile later I am at WAAAM; the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum.  After the disappointment of the museum (and RV storage lot) in Tillamook, I was a little skeptical.

Like Bikes?  The WAAMS got those too

Like Bikes? The WAAMS got those too

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No disappointment here — this is a MUST see if you are near Portland, Oregon.  Over 2.5 acres of hanger, 120 planes, 130 cars, 40 motorcycles, and numerous other displays.  The planes date back to 1912 and the cars back to 1899.  Many of the displays are inclusive of an historic airplane, with a period car next to it on one side, and on the other side, a period motorcycle.

Something here for absolutely everyone...

Something here for absolutely everyone…

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The cars included a well-rounded collection of brass era, pre-war antiques and post war classics.  Some highlights are a 1909 Franklin, a 1914 Detroit Electric, a 1916 Dodge Brothers roadster, a 1923 Locomobile, a Stanley Steamer, and a 1930 DeSoto Model CF.  There are antique C-cab trucks and Fords, as well as classic Pontiacs,Oldsmobiles, and Chevrolets.

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There are antique Harley Davidsons, Indians, and Cushman motorcycles.  If you are into planes there are collections of Piper Cub and WACO planes, Aeroncas, and Stearmans. Other exhibits include military equipment and jeeps, period clothing, and radio controlled model planes and cars.

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This museum is involved in the community as well.  The second Saturday of each month is a “play day.”  Lunch is served, selected cars drive around the grounds, and a classic plane takes flight.  When we were there we saw a wonderful movie on the Wright Brothers, and  a video on how to drive a Model T, and a Model T to drive.  What else really impresses is that most everything in this museum is in working condition.

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Founded by Terry Brandt who had built a collection of planes over 50 years, he decided to share his collection.  Someone suggested adding period cars, and the Museum opened in 2007 with 42 planes and half as many cars and a few jeeps.  The museum is a non-profit and there is a small charge to see the collection.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed at WAAAM, 1600 Air Museum Road, Hood River, Oregon 97031.

 

Get the rest at www.waaammuseum.org

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

 

The WAAAM appreciates All Things, Great and Small

The WAAAM appreciates All Things, Great and Small

 

The curators display many of the cars/bikes/planes with cars/bikes/planes of the same era

The curators display many of the cars/bikes/planes with cars/bikes/planes of the same era

 

Plenty of brass and tin era cars on hand too

Plenty of brass and tin era cars on hand too

 

Great group of odd duck faves: love this Stude, Rambler, and Citroen DS

Great group of odd duck faves: love this Stude, Rambler, and Citroen DS

 

The collection isn't dedicated exclusively to 50s American and muscle, but if that's what you love, you'll fine pleny here

The collection isn’t dedicated exclusively to 50s American and muscle, but if that’s what you love, you’ll fine pleny here

 

Given the WAAAM's rural locale, you'd expect lots of great work trucks and farmy type equipment

Given the WAAAM’s rural locale, you’d expect lots of great work trucks and farmy type equipment

Like Fat Fendered Flatties?  '46-48 Ford ragtops are beautiful, a joy to drive, and particularly hot in the collector car market right now

Like Fat Fendered Flatties? ’46-48 Ford ragtops are beautiful, a joy to drive, and particularly hot in the collector car market right now

If you want a charming, pre WWII American collector car you can drive and work on, you could do no better than a Ford Model A, and the WAAAM has some nice ones

If you want a charming, pre WWII American collector car you can drive and work on, you could do no better than a Ford Model A, and the WAAAM has some nice ones

 

and lots of cool Studes, Dudes...

and lots of cool Studes, Dudes…

 

Like I said, something for absolutely EVERYone...you must visit.

Like I said, something for absolutely EVERYone…you must visit.

Car Show Calendar alert: Friends of Steve McQueen Car Show weekend is June 5/6

 

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It’s time again for one of my very favorite car shows; something for everyone, a low key day, and all for a great cause.  This year’s show and pre-show dinner/gala are dedicated to the Steve McQueen motorcycling classic, On Any Sunday.  The location, and charity benefactor is again the Boys Republic School in Chino, California.  See the flyer just above for a few more details, or visit the website at www.SteveMcQueenCarShow.com.  The show committee will be looking for great cars and bikes to populate the field, and almost anything interesting goes; judged or otherwise.

I’ll be there with a car in the field and a camera on my neck, hanging out with friends, celebrating Steve McQueen, and supporting a most worthy cause.  Please bring your family and friends and come out and do the same.

Here’s a few happysnaps from 2014′s show.

Always a great selection of Bullitt style or related cars at this show.

Always a great selection of Bullitt style or related cars at this show.

 

The Three hero cars from the original Thomas Crown Affair; Ferrari 275 NART Spyder, Rolls-Royce Corniche coupe, and modified Meyers Manx dune bug.  The Rolls and Ferrari are the actual cars used in the film, the Manx a modern tribute machine done up with the original builder, Bruce Meyers

The Three hero cars from the original Thomas Crown Affair; Ferrari 275 NART Spyder, Rolls-Royce Corniche coupe, and modified Meyers Manx dune bug. The Rolls and Ferrari are the actual cars used in the film, the Manx a modern tribute machine done up with the original builder, Bruce Meyers

 

Like I said, something for everyone; this being the Dunkel Brothers fabulously restored and detailed GMC transporter and cargo

Like I said, something for everyone; this being the Dunkel Brothers fabulously restored and detailed GMC transporter and cargo

 

The brother I never had, Steve McQueen's one and only son Chad, the show's Co-Chairman, borrows a shoulder to sign an autograph.  Chad is a huge supporter of the school, and spends the day with his and his dad's fans, happy to hang out and schmooze wit h the croud

The brother I never had, Steve McQueen’s one and only son Chad, the show’s Co-Chairman, borrows a shoulder to sign an autograph. Chad is a huge supporter of the school, and spends the day with his and his dad’s fans, happy to hang out and schmooze wit h the crowd

 

and this show has the coolest trophies EVER; all student made in the Boys Republic wood shop, using their skill and a variety of car and motorcycle parts.  Come win one!

and this show has the coolest trophies EVER; all student made in the Boys Republic wood shop, using their skill and a variety of car and motorcycle parts. Come win one!

 

I hope I see you there, thank you,

 

MS

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Barrett-Jackson TV work next year for me on Velocity

Family, Friends and Colleagues,

Thanks to the so many of you that have contacted me asking whether I’ll be working Barrett-Jackson collector car auction coverage on TV when coverage of the events moves to the Disovery’s Velocity network for 2015. I’m disappointed to tell you that, as it stands today, I will not.

I was in conversation with the Velocity folks, and they gave me a fair shot and consideration, but elected to go with a slightly smaller announcer team with the move to the new network next year, and that there was not room or budget for me on the team. Naturally I wanted to join the effort, as I really enjoy this work and the people that I worked with on these shows.

As I understand it at the moment, three of my former, longtime teammates from the old SPEED/FOX Sports B-J broadcasts, have signed on for next year. That would be Mike Joy, my friend, a serious car guy, and absolutely among the best broadcasters I know. With Mike will be Rick DeBruhl, an Arizona local, friend, and also a superb on camera guy. The other is the incomparable Steve Magnante (“Mags” to many of you); Steve brings a great personality and far reaching and often obscure automotive knowledge that nobody else in the business can match.

Two cool dudes and one old fat guy; My friend and SPEED's Five Star general Bob Varsha, plus also my friend and serious racer and car guy, Dr. McRacy, Patrick Dempsey

Two cool dudes and one old fat guy; On the left, my friend and SPEED’s famous Five Star general broacaster supreme Bob Varsha, plus also my friend and serious racer and car guy, Dr. McRacy, Patrick Dempsey

As I understand it, two of Velocity’s well known “franchise players” will complete the new team, one of them being Chris Jacobs, the handsome, funloving host of Velocity’s popular show Overhaulin, featuring the otherworldly design and fabrication talents of Chip Foose. Also joining the B-J team is Cristy Lee, one of the fabulously hot and attractive stars of the Velocity program All Girls’ Garage. I don’t know Miss Lee personally, but have watched the show many times, and observe her to be smart about cars, a damned good mechanic, and very personable and well spoken. She’ll make a positive addition to the B-J Velocity broadcast team.  I’ve also heard that NASCAR stalwart Ray Evernham will also join the team.

Me with another Friend and former SPEED/FOX teammate, the smart and foxilicious April Rose

Me with another Friend and former SPEED/FOX teammate, the smart and Fabulously Foxilicious April Rose

So that’s the story as I know it. I’ve offered my services in the event the Velocity producers wake up one morning and decide they can’t do the show without me, but as of now, I’ll be attending several of the sales as a freelance journalist, or be at home watching the action just like you.

My thanks to the folks at Velocity for their consideration, and my equal thanks to you for your letters, emails, texts, and calls of support during the years I was on the air with SPEED and FOX Sports. As they say in Hollywood, I had a good run, and certainly enjoyed the ride. Maybe again someday – who knows?

Good luck Chris, Cristy, MIke, Steve, Rick and Ray.

Thanks a ton, y’all,

MS

Driven: 2015 Ford Transit Vans

Great looking vans offer a ton of flexibility in terms of size, power, and packaging.

Great looking vans offer a ton of flexibility in terms of size, power, and packaging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love full sized vans, particularly Ford Econolines. Now the outgoing 2014 version of the Ford E-Series (nee Econoline) has been around a while and served well, but Ford has been long planning to replace them with a lineup of commercial level vans that are more fuel efficient, more cost effective to build, and can do as much or more in a more modern package. So comes the new Transit lineup. You may be familiar with the Transit vans Ford sells in Europe and other world markets, and even though these new North American Transits share the name, and somewhat resemble, the “international” Transits, they are very different; developed exclusively for the North American market, with our needs, roads, and drivers in mind.

The North American Transit is as new as new can be, offering packaging combinations not duplicable on the old, wonderful, outgoing E-Series vans

The North American Transit is as new as new can be, offering packaging combinations not duplicable on the old, wonderful, outgoing E-Series vans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new Transits share practically nothing with the old E-Series vans, save for the wearing of Blue Oval Badges. The new chassis architecture is now a unibody design, still rear wheel drive, and is offered in a dizzying array of wheelbases, box lengths, payload ratings, and roof heights. There’s lots of clever design work packed into them, such as super wide opening rear box doors, and interior floors, side panels and roof panels filled with “weld nuts” — in other words, nuts that are welded into the seams of the body panels that allow for the mounting of all kinds of racking and other stuff, preventing the need to drill holes through the panels to mount stuff. Smart!!! Since the weld nuts are part of the body panels prior to corrosion proofing and painting, you don’t mess up the body’s built in rust protection by having to bore holes through the metal.

Even on “base level” models, the standard equipment levels are high, including rear view backup cameras and screen, great for a big van that its tough to see behind.  I also like the smattering of 12V plug in power ports spread around the cabin.

Need a chssis/cab van?  Transit can be had that way.

Need a chassis/cab van? Transit can be had that way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three powertrains are offered; a standard 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V-6, a twin turbo Ecoboost V-6 right out of the F-150, and a new inline 5-cylinder turbodiesel that offers a ton of low end torque and outstanding fuel economy. No more V-8s, at least for now, as Ford claims these three powerplants can meet any owners towing and cargo capacity needs and deliver better fuel mileage and lower emissions in the process.

What?  no overhead console or shag rugs>

What? no overhead console or shag rugs>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was skeptical in that regards, so I drove all three configurations, each backed by an automatic transmission. NO manual trans are offered or needed. The nat asp 3.7 has plenty of punch, but sounds a little thrashy at mid to high rpm.  For some reason, the EcoBoost version of virtually the same engine is much smoother and sounds better, plus it’s downright fast.  I also did time behind the wheel of the I-5 TDI, and its a jewel.  It has that wonderful, soothing low level diesel rattle at idle that sounds like power to me.  And it runs beautifully, smoothly boiling out lots of low to mid range torque and adequate upper end urge, with no smoke or smell or noise or other old school diesel bad habits.  Among the three, this would likely be my personal choice were I buying one of these fans.

 

Van cabin design has come a long long way

Van cabin design has come a long long way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am also impressed at how rattle free these big boxes are; old school vans are usually a bit noisy and rattly inside, but not these.  The structure is drum tight, the cabins are comfortable, and the instruments and controls logically designed and laid out.  I could absolutely drive one of these every day and be happy doing so.

Lots of upfitting opportunities for sure

Lots of upfitting opportunities for sure

There are already several companies that produce a wide variety of up-fit equipment for these vans, from shelving and racking to stakebed truck bodies.  And Galpin Auto Sports has already built a few of them into Lear Jet like Limos with fabulous seating, and high tech infotainment on board.

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I’ve of course not been able to put one of them through 100,000 miles of daily testing with a full payload, but I have confidence that these trucks are built well and tough, and should be able to handle any task you have in mind or need for them.  Higher build quality, more options, choices, and capabilities, plus greater efficiency, than the models they replace sounds like a good deal to me.  And they are handsome, and great to drive.  I’m thinking some mag wheels, tinted windows, and orange shag carpeting, and its 1974 all over again.

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Rusnak’s Morning Octane Cruise-In

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photos by Kirk Gerbracht

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As you know, I love Cars N Coffee style morning cruise-ins. Get your car out of the garage, see some other cool cars, have a cuppa, BS with your pals, and be home in time to get after your weekend schedule or chores. These things are a great invention, and now springing up all around the world, although remember the first one was the original Crystal Cove morning cruise in, born here in the Newport Coast area of Southern California.

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The Rusnak auto group is one of the more visible, and high style automobile dealership groups in Southern California. Paul Rusnak and his family have an impressive fleet of stores, including Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Porsche, Bentley, Audi, Volvo, Lotus and probably a few more I’m forgetting. And they throw a dandy once-a-month cruise-in called Morning Octane, most often held in one of the parking lots at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It’s open to all and any, but draws mostly Porsches and a lot of high end exotics.

For its final Morning Octane event of 2014, Rusnak switched up the venue, and put the whole show on the streets of the Pasadena Civic Center, right in front of its magnificent City Hall. The streets are wide and smooth, surrounded by beautiful buildings and landscape; perfect. The’s a wide curved street running right in front of the City Hall building making it a really attractive spot anyway, and especially for a car show.

Of course I brought one of my own cars; the black 911 on the left is my '89, and the beautiful gray 996 at right is that of shooter Kirk Gerbracht.

Of course I brought one of my own cars; the black 911 on the left is my ’89, and the beautiful gray 996 at right is that of shooter Kirk Gerbracht.

I thought you might enjoy the photos (lots more below), and I for one hope that Rusnak puts this event on here again.

Rusnak was first known as a Porsche dealership, and still is, so lots of Porsches always at their events

Rusnak was first known as a Porsche dealership, and still is, so lots of Porsches always at their events

lots of Jags too...

lots of Jags too…

...and pretty girls...

…and pretty girls…

...and just how elegant is this lovely little Fiat cab?  Its the gray and red top/cabin color scheme that makes it.

…and just how elegant is this lovely little Fiat cab? It’s the gray and red top/cabin color scheme that makes it.

Plenty of Ferraris and Mercedes too...

Plenty of Ferraris and Mercedes too…

and lots of Lambos too.

and lots of Lambos.

Got Loti?

Got Loti?

New 991 Turbo S...yum.

New 991 Turbo S…yum.

Among my most favoritest Vettes of all time, a C3 gen LT-1

Among my most favoritest Vettes of all time, a C3 gen LT-1

Something for everyone at Morning Octane

Something for everyone at Morning Octane

Car Show Alert – The Best of France and Italy show is this Sunday

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One of my very most favoritest local car shows is The Best of France and Italy coming up this Sunday November 2, in the San Fernando Valley’s not so famous Woodly Park.

This show is free to attend and cheap to enter. French cars, Italian cars, lots of car talk and a day in the park with your friends, what could be bad? The organizers are still looking for more great cars to enter. Doesn’t matter if you have a show car, a driver, beater or barnfind; if its french or Italian its likely welcome.

Here’s all the scoop you need to know: http://www.franceanditaly.com/

More great Kirk Gerbrach photos from last year just below…

Tired of Ferraris yet?  If so there will be many Maseratis on hand at Woodley Park this Sunday.

Tired of Ferraris yet? If so there will be many Maseratis on hand at Woodley Park this Sunday.

 

Never seen a Qvale Mangusta?  This Sunday might be your chance

Never seen a Qvale Mangusta? This Sunday might be your chance

 

Talk about rare!  This handsome Ford of France Comete runs a Ford flathead V-8

Talk about rare! This handsome Ford of France Comete runs a Ford flathead V-8

 

All the Euro American hybrids are welcome Iso, DeTomaso, Facel-Vega and even Italian bodied Jensen Interceptors

All the Euro American hybrids are welcome Iso, DeTomaso, Facel-Vega and even Italian bodied Jensen Interceptors

 

I know I'm not yet tired of fabulous Lancias and Alfas

I know I’m not yet tired of fabulous Lancias and Alfas

 

and who just doesn't love 2CVs?  That would be like hating a cute puppy.

and who just doesn’t love 2CVs? That would be like hating a cute puppy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“MUSTANGS IN THE GARDEN”

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Guest Blog: Words and photos by Kirk Gerbracht

ARCADIA, CA – Ultimately, it is cars that make a great car show. But sometimes the venue just adds a little something extra. Such was the case with Mustangs in the Garden. Celebration of the Mustang’s 50th birthday continued, and the “garden” was the famed Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, 127 acres of beautiful gardens, lawns, ponds, and waterfalls. Strategically placed along the wandering walkways of the Arboretum were Mustangs from 1964 ½ to 2014; original unrestored, to custom, to race cars.

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There were several examples of the early 1965 and 1966 Mustangs on display. Most of the cars were original or only mildly restored, and were clearly drivers. There was a nice base Mustang with a straight-six, 3-speed manual and 4-lug wheels. Of particular note was an early red over red car that was all original. The paint and interior, engine and trunk were near perfect. The owner was overheard saying, when asked when the interior had been done, “ask Ford, it was done the day the car was built.”

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There was a nice example of the 1967 convertible and a 1968 fastback.

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From that point on, chronologically speaking, the display got a little thin. No late 60s or early 70s Bosses, Machs or Cobra Jets to be found, and not a single ’71-73, nor Mustang II. There was one handsome black over black 1969 with a touch of custom work (picture). Sadly, some of the most iconic Shelby GT350 and GT500s were missing from the display, but there was a beautiful 2007 GT 500 convertible and a custom Shelby as well . Not a single Fox era car to be found, nor any ’99-‘04s either. Just a one FOX4 car, that being the lone ’96. Representing the most recent generation of the Mustang was a beautiful 2014 convertible.

On this beautiful day there were excellent examples of Mustang history to enjoy; just not enough of them, as the expansive grounds looked a little sparse. There are no doubt thousands of Mustangs living in Southern California. The cars on hand were worthwhile, but the venue and attendees deserved so much more, as the property would have held hundreds of cars had they been procured; there’s great untapped potential here.

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If you are in the Southern California area, please visit the Arboretum. In addition to the outstanding grounds, in the past two years the Arboretum has supported the car culture with “Spyders in the Garden” and “Cobras in the Garden.” The web site is http://www.arboretum.org/

Maserati Celebrates 100th Birthday in Grand Style in Italy

Momenti Parata Maserati  davanti alla storico Stabilimento della maserati_MG_5215

 

A Century of quintessentially Italian Carmaking and Motorsport

This year one of the world’s most-expressive and best-loved car companies celebrates its first full century in business and forges confidently into its second hundred years. Maserati’s history is filled with equal measures of passion, speed, elegance and style, and was recently celebrated in Italy with a weeklong festival of activities starring special Maserati cars and people from around the world

By Matt Stone

Photography by the author and courtesy Maserati

The next time you’re playing a spirited game of automotive Trivial Pursuit with your friends, hit them with this one: name the Maserati brothers. There’s nothing trivial about the birth of Maserati, but too few enthusiasts are familiar with the talented family that founded this amazing marque. Carolina and Rodolfo Maserati, of Piacenza, parented a solid stock of young males: Carlo was born in 1881, Bindo in 1883, Alfieri in 1885—he sadly died as an infant, and in his honor and remembrance his name was given to a fourth son—Alfieri born in 1887, then Mario in 1890, Ettore in 1894 and finally Ernesto in 1898. Father Rodolfo was a railway engine driver, and all of his sons—save Mario who was a gifted artist—took up mechanical and engineering pursuits. Eldest son Carlo designed his own motorcycle engine while still in his teens, and later raced the two-wheelers. He worked for Bianchi, which built both motorcycles and cars. There he ultimately employed Alfieri, Bindo and Ettore. It wasn’t long before the younger brothers left to form their own company, located in Bologna and named of course for the family.

 

Maserati!

 

Their first modest shop was located at Via Pepoli 1 in the very oldest section of Bologna; the company considers the beginnings of its founding on December 1, 1914, with the official deed of incorporation of Societa Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati dated December 12, 1914. Maserati didn’t begin building cars under its own name for another decade, at first modifying and preparing other cars for racing; primarily Diattos and Isotta Fraschinis.  Among the first automotive products to bear the company’s name and identifying “Trident” logo were spark plugs for aircraft, marine, and automotive uses.

 

Mention exclusive, exotic Italian car brands, and most people think of Ferrari and Lamborghini, but Maserati is older than both of them by decades, and just a few months prior to its actual 100th anniversary date, the company celebrated the occasion by opening its doors and hearts to many hundreds of Maserati owners, dealers, executives, employees, enthusiasts, locals, and the media, for a weeklong centennial gathering in the cities of Bologna, Modena, Cremona, and Turin Italy.  Hundreds upon hundreds of cars and participants came from 29 countries, and we were among them.

 

Our visit began at that very first Maserati location at Via Pepoli 1 in Bologna, a small tiny located on the ground floor of a much larger residential, commercial, and industrial building in the oldest part of town, not far from the Piazza Neptune, home to the famous Neptune’s Fountain statue which inspired the Maserati “Il Tridente”logo, designed by Maserati brother Mario, a gifted artist and sculptor; Mario was the only among the brothers that didn’t actively pursue the family business of racing cars, car parts, and carbuilding.  The Via Pepoli property is no longer an industrial shop, instead housing a small local historical society, although Maserati has access to it when the company wishes to use it.  The company only remained in this location for five years, quickly outgrowing it before moving to larger headquarters in another area of Bologna.  Following this visit, we moved to an art and history museum located in the courtyard of the same building for a panel discussion with Carlo and Alfieri Maserati, sons of co-founding brothers Ettore and Ernesto Maserati.  Given that their fathers and uncles were all born in the late 1800s, as you can imagine these two gents are up in their years, but they remain sharp, well spoken, and extremely passionate about the accomplishments of their forbearers.  They spoke with great pride about the fact that Maserati “built nearly everything on their cars” not just the “engines and the badge on the front” as is the case with so many cars today.  They proudly noted that the company was famous for its high levels of design and engineering innovation, and for its great success in motorsport and in record setting (top speed records and such).  Interesting men, of a great and interesting family and times.

The Maserati family sold the company to the Orsi family in 1937, and thus Maserati moved to new factory grounds in nearby Modena in 1939, so that was our next stop.  Many consider Modena to be the epicenter of Italy’s Motor Valley.  It is the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, and home to the first Scuderia Ferrari raceshop, and the home of Maserati since 1939.  It was home to DeTomaso Automobili, and Automobili Lamborghini is just a few miles to the Northeast.  Ferrari’s current home, factory and test track in Maranello lie just a half hour south.

 

It was in Modena that we visited the Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum (the house of Enzo Ferrari’s birth, and his father’s original machine shop, all now part of a fabulous Museum campus belonging to the city of Modena and operated by Ferrari).  The Museum’s ultra-modern, avant garde main building is for this year dedicated to the Maserati 100 – A Century of Pure Italian Sports Car exhibit.  Primary exhibits rotate, and if you are ever in Modena, this property is a must see.  It may initially seem odd to see a Ferrari museum fully stocked with Maseratis, since Ferrari and Maserati were long time, cross town competitors, but now of course the two marques are brothers under the Fiat Group banner, so the old battle lines are long gone.  While at the museum,  Adolfo Orsi, of the family that owned Maserati from 1937-1968 gave a panel discussion about his memories of the company and cars during the time his family was at the helm.  Fascinating stuff, with many charming, first person remembrances of a man who was there.

 

Modena, as with so many European cities, has a central square (piazza grande) that is its social, architectural, commercial and political center, and proved a darn fine place to gather up several hundred Maseratis for an informal daylong display; which everyone on the Centennial program, plus countless locals, all attended.  Maserati CEO Harald Wester toured the square with Modena’s mayor, while cameras clicked and videos recorded every sparkle and flourish.  Then all the cars, old and new, fired up for a parade to the nearby Maserati factory for dinner, assembled inside the factory buildings alongside the production lines, where the wine flowed, and the Luciano Pavarotti Foundation singers gave a memorable opera performance.  Wester greeted the group noting that “it’s great to be 100 years old, and not even feel like it!”

 

The next day our group departed Bologna bound for Cremona, where Stradivarius violins were born and made for nearly 500 years.  Naturally all of the Maseratis parked up in display in Cremona’s Romanesque-Gothic piazza, and we visited the Museo di Violino – obviously the museum of the violin.  Our small group enjoyed a brief demonstration of Stradivari magic by a gifted young female violinist playing a 300 year-old Strad in the museum’s acoustically perfect auditorium.  After a wonderful day spent in this artistic and elegant Italian city, it was off to Turin; home base for Maserati parent Fiat, and to many of the design houses (among them Pininfarina, Zagato, ItalDesign and others) that designed and built many of the most famous Maseratis.

 

The day ended with a magnificent black tie reception and dinner at the Reggia di Venaria Reale museum in Turin.  Several Fiat, Ferrari, and Maserati executives addressed the crowd, as did representatives from Maserati marketing partners Zegna and Bulgari.  Plus there more classical music.  This property is superb and looks for all the world like a large, Italian medieval castle, and is also a must visit should you be in Turin.

 

The final day of Maserati’s Centennial celebrations included a visit to the National Automobile Museum in Turin, a tour of the new Giovanni Agnelli production plant in Grugliasco (just outside Turin) where the current Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans are produced, and where the upcoming Levante luxury crossover SUV will be assembled.  While the gathering of cars in Modena’s square was very informal, the week ended with a more formally organized and judged concours in Turin’s Piazza San Carlo.

 

Add it all up, and you’ll see that Maserati’s first 100 year history is quite remarkable; so many memorable production cars, and motorsports history that includes back-to-back Indy 500 victories in 1939-40, the Grand Prix world championship in 1957 at the hands of Fangio in the seminal 250F, and a business plan to produce and sell 75000 cars annually beginning in 2018.

 

Impressionante!

 Many photos below; please keep scrolling and enjoy

And check out Maserati’s excellent video here:

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Maseratis of all color and stripe swarm the company’s factory HQ in Modena, where the Maserati has built cars since 1939.

B

Italy’s celebrated Motor Valley really turned out to welcome the cars and owners from around the world, with poster, banners and flags everywhere.

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Maserati’s famed Il Tridenti logo

D - Via Pepoli painting

Recent period looking painting of what the first Maserati shop looked like in 1914

E

Via Pepoli 1 today, the doors to the original Maserati workshop in the oldest section of Bologna

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These steps cover what was originally a ramp from the doors opening to Via Pepoli, as the shop sits down about a half level

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Via Pepoli 1’s original production equipment and shop tools are long gone, but Maserati rents the facility when desired and decorates it as the occasion requires.

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Although this Allemano-bodied Maserati wasn’t built at Via Pepoli, it made for a divine set decoration.

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Descendants of the Maserati brothers address an interest gathering of media at a museum near the location of the original Maserati shop in Bologna.

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From left, Alfieri Maserati, son of founding brother Ernesto, my friend Luca Dal Monte, Maserati’s chief press, media, and public relations officer, and Carlo Maserati, son of founding brother Ettore.

K - Neptune Trident Fountain

Neptune’s Statue fountain, located in the nearby Piazza Netuno; it is the three pronged lance in this statue that inspired the design for Maserati’s famous il Tridente logo

M

Besides Maseratis, among Italy’s most popular and prevalent form of transportation is the ever present scooter.

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When is a Chrysler minivan not a Chrysler?  When it’s finished out as a Fiat or a Lancia van, sold in Europe.

 

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As popular and prevalent on the streets of Bologna, Modena, and Turin are human powered bicycles, common commuter transport in this part of the world where gasoline costs about triple what it does in the US.

 

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Elegant  3500GT Vignale Spyder fronts Modena’s famous Duomo and clock tower.

 

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Media from all over the world covered Maserati’s Centennial celebration, including this striking television reporter from Spain.

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Maserati didn’t let the balloons fly until every child that wanted a balloon got at least one.

 

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Among the several thousand balloons netted and ready for the celebratory balloon release

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Modena’s historic Grand Piazza filled with Maseratis had videos and camera phones blazing away

 

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Among the most daring, and famous, Maserati concept cars of all time is the Boomerang, the masterwork of Giorgetto Giugiaro.

 

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New Ghibli sedan looks well at home on the cobbled streets of Italy

 

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Although the house that Enzo Ferrari was born in still stands and is part of the “Casa Enzo Ferrari” museum property, it is currently not yet open to the public as an exhibit.

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The Enzo Ferrari birthplace museum is an artful display of old and new; the block building at left is Enzo Ferrari’s father’s original shop, where he fabricated tools and equipment used in the railway industry.  The yellow roofed building to the right is of course a new structure, very wide open inside, able to house hundreds of cars and large exhibits, plus conference facilities and a tasty gift shop and Ferrari store.

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The gallery building at the Casa museum is fronted in glass, while much of the interior is windowless, and finished in white.

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The Maserati in the foreground is an interesting contrast to the large photo in the background, of Enzo Ferrari himself at the wheel of an Alfa racer competing in the Targa Florio in 1920.

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a thoughtful Adolfo Orsi discussed his family’s ownership of Maserati after its purchase from the founding brothers.

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During our visit, the entire floor of the Ferrari Museum was dedicated to Maserati’s Centennial, displaying cars from the company’s earliest days, as well as current production models and racers.

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There are no columns to support structure inside the new Casa Ferrari Museum building; the curved, arching roof is fully self-supporting

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Elegant Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder contrasts strikingly purposeful Maserati MC12 competizione coupe just behind.

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Any list of all-time great Maseratis will include the still-fabulous Ghibli coupe, the original Quattroporte, and the tidy Frua bodied Mistral

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This hyper rare Fantuzzi-bodied 150GT Spyder is compact, curvaceous and very elegant; its tidy size and compact proportions demonstrate how much larger cars have become over time; a modern Maserati Grand Cabrio would dwarf this beautifully detailed convertible of 1957.

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The first racing car to carry the Maserati name on its nose, this is the 1929 Maserati 26B.  Just 43 were built, and its two-liter inline-8 engine was good for around 150 horsepower

 

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Appropriately, and lovingly named, the Green Monster, is this 1932 Maserati Tip V4 Sport Zagato.  Monster indeed, as it’s powered by a 4-0-liter V-16 (yes, sixteen cylinders) engine boiling out 280 horsepower.  A similar was used to set a ten kilometer speed record in 1929 with an average of 246 kph, equal to 152.857 mph, really flying at the time on a public road.

 

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Dinner was served on the factory floor in Modena, with many Maseratis in various states of assembly all around, including hanging above the dining tables

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No canned music for this dinner, not a chance, not in Italy.

 

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At the moment only Maserati coupes and cabriolets are produced at the Modena facility, which looks strange at night with no workers buzzing about nor sparks flying

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On to Cremona, which like Modena and Turin is also home to elegant squares and piazzas, perfect places for classic car shows

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Cremona’s Museum of the Violins has only been open in this location for about a year, the building sitting previously unused and now thoroughly remodeled for this purpose.

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Most of the Violin Museum’s auditorium is finished in wood which enhances its acoustic properties specifically to benefit string performances

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This amazing Asian violinist held the small crowd rapt with her haunting beauty and stunning musical virtuosity

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The breathtaking Reggia di Venaria Reale in Turin; the perfect place for the event’s black tie reception and dinner; the cars are the Maserati Alfieri concept, left, and a Pininfarina bodied Maserati competizione coupe from the 1950s.  We expected a tuxedoed James Bond to arrive at any moment.

Z.14

the venue, cars, lighting, and mood all particularly dramatic.

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Another angle of the Reggia di Venaria Reale

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Salute Maserati!  Major players in the Maserati script; company CEO Harald Wester, Fiat Chrysler group CEO and now Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne, and Fiat Chairman John Elkann

 

 

 

 

James Garner’s Motoring Life Book Signing Saturday October 4

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I’m pleased to announce that my newest book is off the press and ready for you. It’s the third in my now somewhat trademark trilogy of Hollywood’s True Car Guys biographies. First was McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon, next was Winning! The Racing Life of of Paul Newman,

James Garner Book Cover final

and now, James Garner’s Motoring Life, from Baja to Daytona and Grand Prix to The Rockford Files.

Please come meet me and let me autograph and personalize your copy for you or as a gift for someone special. I hope to see you there.

The Date is Saturday October 4, 2014, at one of my favorite places:

Autobooks-Aerobooks

2900 W. Magnolia Blvd.

Burbank, CA 91505

www.autobooks-aerobooks.com

818 845-0707