MMR Blog

Sandy On Assignment: Sleeping Beauties in Paris

Posted on February 26, 2015 Comments (1)

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

Baillon Collection, Ferrari

On a pedestal, fully clothed, unlike its naked siblings, the Ferrari was stunning.

Fiercely determined to make my way to Paris to see first-hand the Baillon barn finds, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to witness. Surprised by my reaction, I was overtaken with emotion. All senses were on high alert, as I walked among the sleeping beauties.

Baillon Collection overview

The images capture the overall mood of the showing.

1949 Talbot Lago T26, Baillon Collection

Two stars! The 1949 Talbot Lago T26 par Saoutchik with its crushed back end coming in at a final $1,928,706 juxtaposed against the prized Ferrari.

Overwhelmed themselves at their discovery last fall, Artcurial Motorcars worked with Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff, to create an artistic display conveying their initial emotions. Sleeping in total darkness, yellow lighting cast shadows on aging exteriors, while interior features were highlighted with ghostly white lighting. I visited Exhibition Hall Number 2 Thursday morning, where the Baillon Collection was housed during Retromobile, the first week in February at the Paris Porte de Versailles.

Talbot Lago T26, interior, Baillon Collection

It was just as fascinating to look inside as it was to gaze at the exteriors, as witnessed by an inside peek at the prized Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport SWB.

I was mesmerized. The atmosphere was somber — classical music setting the mood. The public was allowed inside at intervals and in small enough numbers so everyone had an opportunity to view the cars with a few potential bidders allowed inside the stanchions.

1927 Amilcar CGSS Biplace Sport, Baillon Collection

Listed at an estimate of €3-5,000, this rather rough 1927 Amilcar CGSS biplace sport, with its authentic and likely original chassis, sold for an inclusive price of €54,832 or $62,136.

I returned Friday to witness the auction and take a final peek at the sleeping beauties. Adjacent to the ‘viewing’ area where the cars were exhibited was another hall for auction seating. I had an excellent vantage point in the press box to watch… the standoff begin!

1934 Delage D6-11 S Coach, Baillon Collection

Fresh on Thursday, by Friday the ivy was looking a bit withered on this 1934 Delage D6-11 S coach.

1963 Porsche 356 SC Coupe, Baillon Collection

A completely original model, the 1963 Porsche 356 SC coupe had been impounded by the police and rescued by Roger Baillon for 290 francs. It sold for a final $101,308.

Reactions to the state of affairs of the Collection were mixed from the onset of the discovery. During Wednesday evening’s cocktail party, graciously hosted by Sports Car Marketing, there were questions among fellow Americans attending Retromobile as to how such neglect could have persisted and opinions on how the new caretakers of these unrestored vehicles should handle their treasures. To answer some of the questions for myself, I delved into what triggered the automotive history I was now witnessing.

1936 Dynamic X76 Coupe Junior

Having seen many Panhard Levassors in the Schlumpf Collection two years ago, this 1936 Dynamic X76 Coupé Junior from the Baillon find, caught my eye. It sold for a final €56,024 ($63,486) with an original estimate between €25-35,000.

Historical write-ups portray Roger Baillon as having both a passion and talent for all things mechanical. He tried his hand at automobiles, building a special body for a Talbot T120, which he showed at the Paris Motor Show in 1947. His mechanical interests also expanded into aeronautics, working for Air France and the French Air Force. An entrepreneur at heart, he used his ingenuity to rebound after World War II, taking cheap or abandoned lorries — some army surplus vehicles — and refurbishing them, eventually expanding into an impressive transport business with the French chemical company, Melle-Bezons, as the major contract anchoring the company.

1952 Delahaye 235 Coach Chapron, Baillon Collection

As noted in the Artcurial catalogue, this 1952 Delahaye 235 coach Chapron is a rare Chapron ‘grand luxe’ version represented by bulging fenders. Only eight were made out of a total 41 sedans made by Chapron on the Delahaye 235 base.

Doing the math, Roger was around 38 years old when his passion for collecting vintage cars clicked in, during the early ‘50s. He had the ideal business to spot and transport vehicles — some even abandoned. His son Jacques inherited this passion for vintage cars and as the story goes both bought vintage cars, whatever their condition, sometimes buying from fellow car collectors. Buying was what they did, apparently rarely selling, as their intent was to follow the lead of other French collectors and restore all their beauties, and then open a museum. By the late 1960s the Baillons had assembled approximately 200 cars within about ten years which they parked under cover on the family estate in France.

160 Facel Excellence, Baillon Collection

One of the Baillon family drivers acquired in 1964, the 1960 Facel Excellence, retains its original Tudor Grey paintwork. It sold for a final $157,741.

What happened next intrigued me. Economic downturns can sneak up gradually, or in the case of Roger Baillon, apparently rather abruptly when he lost his major contract with Melle-Bezons. Cash-flow problems gave way to insolvency. In January 1978, the firm closed its doors. It was only two years earlier, as noted by Artcurial, that the ‘Schlumpf Affair’ took place. In that scenario, the government secured the Schlumpf Collection as assets, eventually protecting the fate of those beauties. In the case of the Baillon beauties, I couldn’t help but think that early on, only 98 vehicles escaped the fate I witnessed. In June 1979 sixty vehicles, most in their original condition, were sold at auction. Six years later in October 1985 a second auction was held with 38 vehicles escaping. After that, as Artcurial put it, the receiver called it a day, and the remaining 95 cars were left untouched on the grounds of the estate. Having walked the halls of the Cité de l’Automobile for hours, I was equally moved at the sight of the Schlumpf Collection, but for very different reasons.

1948 Delahaye 135 M Cabriolet, Baillon Collection

One of three known survivors, the 1948 Delahaye 135 M cabriolet Faget-Varnet rested proudly, a reflection of its days on display at the 1948 Paris Motor Show. Its rarity and beauty was appreciated as witnessed in a final sale price of $486,279.

So what happened next? Nothing. What’s logged in on Artcurial’s account is that mum was the word within the family regarding the remaining cars. A few trusted mechanics and workmen were allowed on the estate, but plans for the cars and the museum were abandoned.

As stated in the auction catalogue, it appeared as though Jacques made a purchase here and there, but for the most part, there was no more buying ... or selling, until the splash at Retromobile.

1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport Berlinetta, Baillon Collection

Suspended in time and space. The other show stopper, the 1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Berlinetta Frua came in double its estimate at $2,278,729.

In my humble opinion, I found the estimates published in the Artcurial auction catalog, all without reserves, to be very low. So when bidding escalated and final figures with premiums and taxes was reported, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me was the ‘warm-up’ to the auction.

The first part of the day’s auction was dedicated to automobilia. At the conclusion, there was to be an hour break, with the audience vacating the area, moving back into the room with the Collection. No one moved! Meanwhile, the crowds were gathering and being held back at the auction area entrances. Auction staff repeated announcements ... “there will be no auction, unless everyone leaves”.

By that time, I was afraid to budge. I worked my way back to the press area, staked out my spot and waited like everyone else. Bidder passes were being checked among those seated in the auction area. Crowds were huddling together. All of a sudden, with a roar, the floodgates opened and a reported crowd of 3500 poured in. Instantaneously, the mood changed from hostility to excitement. The lights dimmed ... it was show time!

Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport, Baillon Collection

The most photogenic from all angles. I couldn’t get enough of the Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport.

Bidding was fast-paced, with figures escalating beyond estimates on all of the cars. With 59 lots, the auctioneers moved quickly, speaking in English with bids flashing on the big screen in seven currencies. Unlike most American auctions, where the cars roll across the block, these cars remained in their resting places, while images before and after discovery were projected on the large screens.

1961 Ferrari GT SWB California Spider auction results, Baillon Collection

In a flash, it was all over. The final take home price paid for the 1961 Ferrari GT SWB California Spider was $18,457,562.

I have been asked, which cars were my favorites? Each one was unique in ways difficult for me to express. For some reason, I didn’t want to show favoritism. They seemed so exposed, yet courageous. For me, it was like looking at a large family… all with a special bond. They were pieces of art. I didn’t want to think of what they once looked like ... or their fates. I personally looked at them for what they were right there ... sleeping beauties.

Fellow motorsports enthusiast and writer, Ralf Berthiez and I collaborated on the photos, each capturing the same images simultaneously, through separate lenses. It was nice to realize someone else was as moved as I at this experience.

So, what is next? Obviously, my vision of this family was broken apart. I will be curious to watch as their new individual identities emerge. Will any stay together? Having been a part of this experience, I know I will be forever touched and will be moved as each reappears.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 5, 2015 Comments (0)

Betwixt & Between

Early February is a little like being a teenager between girl friends. Nothing much goin’ on.

And then again ... On Design Courage

Cadillac CTS exterior grill

The Ford GT has prompted much discussion about design and the historical significance of design cues. As part of the Elegance by Design forum at the recent Arizona Concours d’Elegance, former Cadillac Chief Designer Kip Wasenko spoke of the difficulty he encountered trying to get acceptance for a design change involving the Cadillac grille. Despite the fact that his proposed “mesh” design performed significantly better and, even though it had roots in Cadillac’s historic 1931 V-16, he was still met with resistance. Yet like all good designers, he recognizes the value of history if it can be retained without sacrificing efficiency and performance. In a subsequent discussion about the Ford GT, he applauded Ford designers for maintaining the iconic design features of the classic GT40 in the front portion of the new Ford GT.

Acura NSX

Designers need the courage of their convictions and when the word “bold” is attached to a new car design, translate that into “courage” because someone risked to bring it past the expected, or, the status quo. The second big hit of the Detroit auto show was the new Acura NSX. Any thoughts?

And at F1

Honda Formula 1

First tests of the year for F1 cars at Jerez, Spain yielded surprising results. Usually an opportunity to run cars in and determine if everything works as designed these tests are also a clue as to where everyone is in their development program. From that point of view alone, Ferrari appear to have a car that is quick, reliable and satisfying to its drivers. Ferrari powered Sauber was quickest. The general consensus is that everyone must catch the Mercedes engine. Thus far both Honda and Renault have had troubled introductions. Ferrari has not. Early times but a sigh of relief from the tifosi.

Cavallino!

1965 Ferrari P206 SP Dino, Suixtil-USA

Suixtil-USA have been appointed US distributors for Suixtil vintage clothing for modern enthusiasts. Their handsome products were on display at Cavallino and Managing Partner Lisa Smith shot the eye candy we are using this week.

Somewhere in MMR History

Shelby GT350

We have always unabashedly supported those among us who use their toys, be they cars or motorcycles. Beyond that we encourage the use of newer technology and parts to improve the performance and reliability of older cars. Authentic, no. Better, probably. Our story this week is about a Shelby GT350 that has had an interesting life and as a result of it may be a better car than originally delivered. You judge.

BMW M5 Lives

Rahal, Gordon, Hendricks, BMW President

The BMW Car Club of America (CCA) Foundation announced today that the last unsold example of BMW’s most powerful production model ever – the 30th Anniversary Edition 2015 BMW M5 “30 JahreM5” - was auctioned at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 15, 2015 (Lot #3002) for a record setting $700,000. Famed NASCAR team owner and BMW dealer Rick Hendrick was the lucky bidder.

This Week

1958 BMW 507, by Michael Furman

Michael Furman’s image is a 1958 BMW 507, shot for a private collector.

1957 Maserati 3500 GT Frua Spider

Our featured Classifieds are interesting Maserati 3500 GTs. When introduced, this car was more expensive than its Ferrari rival, the 275 GTB. It was considered a luxury touring car and was the first in its class to have power windows. It has a wonderful engine and is a joy to drive.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on December 11, 2014 Comments (0)

Racing Alternatives

Toyota Endurance

Fed up with F1 blather? Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at another series in 2015. The World Endurance Championship (WEC) the purview of Audi in recent years and before them Porsche, was won in 2014 by Toyota. While everyone was keen on watching the two German giants fight it out, the Japanese giant won. They won at Silverstone, Spa, Fuji, Shanghai and finished second at Le Mans behind the winning Audi. Not bad for the guys nobody looked at after Porsche announced they would compete. Audi was second and Porsche was a close third. Next year Nissan join the fray in LMP1. Former F1 drivers Anthony (Ant) Davidson and Sebastian Beuemi, were the winning drivers for Toyota.

GT Cup for Manufacturers

In the GT Cup for Manufacturers portion of the series, Ferrari won the series over Aston and Porsche. In WEC, the cars and drivers are good and the racing is fierce and close. What more could a fan want? TV coverage for more than just Le Mans and possibly COTA for America PLEASE!!! I know we have the Tudor Sports car series, but why should that preclude having coverage of WEC?

Market Shifts

Gooding & Company AuctionFor the past year the dealers we have contacted have complained bitterly about the difficulty they have finding cars to sell. Nevertheless, 2014 will go down as a very good year for people who are selling classic and vintage cars. Unbelievable! has been attached to the selling price on so many auction cars that it has become the new norm. The key word here is “auctions”. No one dealer or person can make a market. But, auctions by introducing the element of entertainment to the sale of vintage cars have virtually become 21st century’s dealers and by the power of their numbers and their marketing presence, they are definitely influencing market pricing.

Barrett Jackson Auction Company

In the final analysis, dealers and auctions have the same goal, satisfying buyers and sellers. Generally both are looking for a fair price or, hopefully, better. The difficulty for sellers is choosing the market channel that best suits their needs. High prices achieved for spectacular cars and the glitz of huge crowds and TV coverage might appear to give auctions an advantage. They have become a spectator sport. But auctions also have a downside for sellers. Not everyone is selling a rare Ferrari. If your car is a second level or lower car, chances are that it won’t be seen on TV. And likely it won’t be presented in prime time. When the majority of people remaining in the room are car dealers looking for a steal, the seller may be thinking that a respected dealer with a good rolodex has something better to offer. Then again many dealers also use auctions to move their slower moving inventory. So it is an interesting game and as we have mentioned before on these pages, it is not one for the inexperienced. If you are considering buying or selling at an auction, you might also consider using one of the seven auction advisers listed in our MMR Goods & Services Directory.

Bell Chapal HelmetIn the 1950s and ‘60s many famous drivers raced wearing an open faced helmet with a visor and face shield. Bell Helmets and Chapal have teamed up to offer vintage racers a redo. The Helmet below is being offered by Hugh Ruthven of The Finish Line. For those of you in the Chicago area, during December only, you can view The Finish Line products at the corner of Cook and Lake Streets in Barrington IL. Or give them a call at 847-382-3020.

Cars of the 1960s

Jaguar XKE, droptop

The sixties were arguably the golden age of sports and GT cars. Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes, Aston, Corvette all delivered models whose desirability may never be matched. When the new Jaguar XKE was introduced in 1961 the motorsports world swooned. I remember them being offered in Canada at around $6K. Ads featuring the coupe in profile became the model for simplicity, beauty, grace, perfection. Someone quoted Enzo Ferrari as saying that the XKE was the most beautiful car ever made. Even if he thought it, it is unlikely he said it. At some point a friend scored a well used press car from Jaguar Canada and we drove it from Montreal to the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport in Ontario.

Driving it there and back that weekend was about 800 mostly highway miles. It was a cold rainy weekend and by its end the gorgeous green coupe was no longer the object of my affections. The seats were stylish but quite uncomfortable. The wipers didn’t work particularly well but worse of all, the car leaked horribly. If memory serves it was at the top of the windshield. First gear didn’t have a syncro and the lights didn’t seem to work that well at night in the rain. The engine leaked oil.

Jaguar XKE in profile

Jaguar eventually addressed the comfort problems by changing the seats and dropping the floor pan to provide a more comfortable angle of access to the pedals. The newer 4.2 engines were also better. For years the pricing for XKEs languished but no more. That original flat floor design tops the chart in XKE pricing. The desirability of the early XKEs appears to be based on the fact that it is exactly that, an early model. Either way, early XKEs are tough to pin down on price but we have seen them recently offered at well north of $200K. Subsequent models equipped with the 4.2 L engine and a full syncromesh transmission are generally more affordable. Go figure.

This week’s Michael Furman image is of a 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS from his book Curves of Steel.

1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C SS, by Michael Furman

Our Classifieds this week feature Maserati.

Speaking of buying, we encourage readers to support our advertisers. In the coming weeks we will be sharing advertising and buying suggestions from many of our MMR Community supporters.

Have a great weekend.

Peter Bourassa


Exciting Times

Posted on October 15, 2014 Comments (2)

Alain de Cadenet

By Alain de Cadenet


The Bubble has not burst. Far from it; in fact, every report I see enhances the onwards and upwards market trend. For years, the auction houses have led the exhilarating charge to produce fresh values that range from the expected to the outrageous. The only bargains now seem to be cheaper cars needing work that buyers can do themselves; thereby making serious saving.

Mercedes

When Bonhams sold the exquisitely engineered 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196, it provided a boost for important GP machines ranging from pre-WW2 Alfa-Romeos, Talbot-Lagos, and Maseratis to 1960s and 70s F1 kit. Record prices appear to pervade confidence to similar genres of cars and that must surely be mirroring the commodity market? Either way, the auction houses have ramped up their businesses as demand increases and specialist publications have become invaluable to buyers in determining how prices have panned out as well as offering opinions, suggestions, and an insight into just how much knowledge is needed to bid assuredly.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Such is the influence of auction prices that the biggest groans come from dealers who have difficulty obtaining stock. Owners are reluctant to dispose of something just in case it goes up dramatically in price. Who can blame them? Personally, on the premise that he wouldn’t risk his own capital on a dicey machine, I have always thought that a vehicle that was actually owned by a reputable dealer was a better bet than something that was merely on sale or return. Good logic? Depends on the dealer.

About 45 years ago I was chatting with an acquaintance who’d worked out that the sum total of really special, worthwhile vintage, veteran, and classic cars was only something around 3,000. That’s counting just the best of everything and what went into the mix is pure conjecture. Just think about that, though perhaps there aren’t that many totally delicious cars to be had. Remove cars held in trusts, museums, and the like and, even though there is more machinery to be considered from 1969, there will never be enough good stuff to go around.

Ferrari F1 Goodwood

With cheap money abounding, surely you should buy whatever you can get your hands on because this hobby/sport/market is not going to go away in the foreseeable future. By doing so you not only satisfy your cravings, but also provide ample fodder to set up a regime to help keep yourself sane in today’s ever changing world.

After all, old vehicles keep you busy. Research, study, and investigation all lead to what the quintessence of this celebration of artifacts is all about. They stop you playing Sudoku and Candy Crush and teach you about chassis manufacture, castings, machining, brakes, gearboxes, camshafts, bodywork, wheels, tyres, race history, vin numbers, registration numbers, and whatever else it takes to be an expert in your field.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

What’s on offer is wonderful therapy. It is the way knowledge is gained and one of the reasons why demand is so high. Next time you go anywhere the cognoscenti are gathering (Goodwood, for example), just ask them how much fun they are having and you’ll know why prices are on the up.

You’ll notice I have talked only about prices. A price is someone else’s idea of what something is worth and value is a different thing altogether. It is derived from your own feel for the item based on experience, knowledge, and discipline. Your dad’s old car will be more valuable to you than anyone else. So will the car that you always wanted but couldn't afford. Likewise, if you don’t want to wait for years for your favorite to be restored, the ready-to-go 100 pointer may be more valuable to you.

Either way, whatever is going on out there is fueling exciting times in every way in the old vehicle world. That’s why there is no need to worry.


Santa Fe Concorso 2014

Posted on October 8, 2014 Comments (1)

With a slight bump and a bound the midsize commuter jet lands in Santa Fe and disgorges twenty passengers. It is early evening Wednesday and 24 hours from now we begin our Santa Fe Concorso Adventure. My companion is a fellow Bostonian and motorsports friend who owns a place in the Southeast quadrant of the city and has generously offered me lodging and transportation. He is a former Brit and an admirer of all things BRG. It’s genetic. Concurrent with the Concorso, a local British Car Club is also having a conclave and he anticipates att­ending a few of their functions.

First, a Quick Overview of Santa Fe

Conde Nast calls it the Best Small City to Visit and the #2 Travel Destination in the Country. Travel & Leisure have named it the #1 Cultural Getaway. With a relatively small population of 70,000 people and with growth physically limited by the surrounding state and Indian lands, Santa Fe may become more dense, but not larger. That is part of its charm.

Tourism and state government are the major industries In Santa Fe. In the past two years we have attended the Concorso event, “automobiles” have shared the city’s facilities with other major events, often food conventions. We never noticed them. Santa Fe thrives on tourism and they are geared for it. Happily, unlike Fernandina Beach at Amelia and Monterey during Monterey week, accommodation prices don’t skyrocket when the car money comes to town. Quite refreshing really. One last Chamber of Commerce note. Check out the prices to get there from wherever you are. From Boston, which is a fair distance we found the pricing very reasonable, particularly when booked far enough in advance.

Thursday: A Fine Beginning

Thursday evening marked first night of official Concorso happenings with a showing of the Steve McQueen’s film Bullitt at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Downtown area. It was introduced by Santa Fe resident and Concorso advisor, Denise McCluggage, who was friends with McQueen when they both lived in NYC and he was a struggling actor. The small, newly restored theater is the property of George RR Martin, creator of the King of Thrones book and movie series and this was a test run to see if there would be interest in an Automobile Film Festival as part of the Concorso weekend. The cost of attendance was $10. (Find that elsewhere!) And it was good fun to watch the chase scene on the big screen and count the five hubcaps that came off the big black Dodge. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and afterwards, as it was still relatively early, participants dispersed throughout the downtown area to sample various eateries and bars, many with live bands. The MMR Goods & Services Directory lists some of our favorite Santa Fe Restaurants under Haunts & Cafes in the Destinations and Events sections.

Friday: Indy Seminar and Gala at Santa Fe Airport

The Santa Fe airport facility is the nicest on the continent! Period. The administration building contains stunning artwork by local artisans. Art is, after all, Santa Fe’s major claim to fame. The airport terminal itself is small; it only has one gate. It also is decorated with local artwork, has a friendly staff, and boasts a very good reasonably priced family restaurant with a view of the tarmac from which one can watch the plane land and take off. It is serviced by United and American Airlines. No big planes land here and to give you a flavor of the place, our departure was delayed because the Flight Attendant called in sick and another had to be called in to replace him or her. Amazing. There is also an active private plane and glider population centered here. The afternoon event was a seminar of veteran IndyCar drivers moderated by writer/actor/photographer Tim Considine. The participating drivers were Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr., Johnny Rutherford, Parnelli Jones, Lyn St. James, Eddie Cheever, and Indy Historian Donald Davidson. In the presence of some significant Indy racecars, all told interesting and/or amusing stories about racing in the day and at Indy in particular. They also expressed strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong with today’s racing. They then happily sat at a long table and signed autographs for their audience.

Santa Fe Concorso

That evening, in the same location, a fine buffet was presented and more cars were exhibited both in the hanger and outside on the tarmac. The juxtaposition of smaller high performance planes and small high performance cars is always an interesting one. Typical of the weekend, from the first event to the last, each is well attended yet participants are never crowded or herded.

private plane in Santa Fe airport

Saturday: Mountain Tour and Unser Museum Fundraiser

Unser Museum Fundraiser

The plan called for the Mountain Tour cars to gather on the Santa Fe Town Plaza between 8:00 AM and 10:00AM then drive through the scenic parts of town and along the local highways to the post card perfect vintage town of Cerrillos, NM—film locale for the movie Young Guns. There to enjoy an excellent lunch (“imported” because the town’s café was destroyed in an insurance scam fire decades ago) and then a spirited drive back to town.

In the past, we have shot pictures of cars on tours, primarily at Pebble Beach, by attending the early morning gatherings, then setting up somewhere along the route and again at the destination. This tour was different in one significant respect. Through the good graces of the organizers, we sat in the press car, a supercharged Range Rover with a sun roof. While official photographer Garret Vreeland stood up in the back and shot through the roof, we sat in the extremely comfortable and far less exposed front passenger seat and shot out the side window. Our driver was automotive writer and former racecar driver Denise McCluggage.

The plan was to shoot in the plaza, then set up along a scenic city street and shoot the cars in motion as they went by. Once we had shot them, Garret would give the command to Denise to pass them all and hurry to the next stop along the road he had previously scouted. That would provide a different backdrop for the images. Once completed there he would ask Denise to once again pass them all and we could catch them as they arrived in Cerrillos. The task seemed daunting in my mind but seemingly simple to Denise. Forgive the unflattering simile, but she seemed like a dog being thrown a stick to fetch, she saw her duty and attacked the task with relish.

Tours are not in any way meant to be races, but no matter the age of the driver or his ride, a powerful car on a smooth winding road is a form of narcotic for those of us weak of will. In the midst of this add a former racing driver convinced she is possessed of a relevant mission and driving a supercharged Range Rover which she doesn’t own. This might be a recipe designed to alarm an amateur passenger. I assure you it alarmed me at first. But once my life had flashed before my eyes a dozen times, I tired of it and simply focused on not wetting myself.

To fully credit her consistency, the driver of the supercharged Range Rover rarely strayed below double the posted speed limit. For my part, other than prayer I pinned my hopes on the fact that drivers who used their mirrors would see that white behemoth with half a body sticking out of the roof and bearing down on them and simply pucker up, back off, make room and wait for their stomachs to settle. Oncoming traffic? Perish the thought. “Perish” is the operative word.

Range Rover press car Santa Fe Concorso

Feeling somewhat older, I arrived in Cerrillos and we all took pictures of the cars parked where horses might once have been tied. Fitting, in a way, since they did replace them. After a delicious lunch we climbed back into the Range Rover and “headed for the barn”, as we cowpokers say out here. The pace back to town was noticeably more sedate and once back on the Town Plaza, colors, smells and life itself appeared more … important … for lack of a better term. Add the word “thankfully” is somewhere in there.

The Indy 500 Winners

The Saturday evening event took place at the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, 45 miles to the south, and was a reprise of the previous day’s IndyCar Seminar, this time moderated by the aforementioned Donald Davidson. The event was a fundraiser for the Museum and like its Santa Fe counterpart, it was very well attended. Unlike the Concorso crowd, most of the attendees were supporters of the Unser Racing Museum and long-time friends of the Unser family. Seated at our table were several gentlemen who had crewed for Al Sr. and his brother Bobby when they ran Midgets in the early days. They had wonderful stories about dirt track racing in the area with the local greats of the day. Many of the cars they mentioned were in the museum along with other cars, images, engines, and memorabilia from the racing eras in which the Unser family competed.

Racing enthusiasts finding themselves in Albuquerque would really enjoy a visit to this first class facility. Find it and more similar locations in our Goods & Services Directory under Destination and Events – Museums.

Unser Museum Midget Racer

Sunday: The Concorso

It was cool in the morning and even rained at little at some point, but it warmed up in the afternoon and by prize-awarding time in the late afternoon, the weather was perfect. As mentioned, Santa Fe is a small city and in light of that the Santa Fe Concorso has always punched way above its weight in terms of quality of cars on the field. Of necessity, the mix on the field is eclectic. Despite that, each class has some exceptional cars and the difficulty in picking a winner is testament to this.

Early rain at the Santa Fe Concorso 2014

Santa Fe Concorso 2014 Show Winners

Organizers have worked hard to bring quality judging to the event and it appears owners have responded. The winning Packard, with body by Graber, is the epitome of the name of the class. It rightly won, Elegance. And a 1956 Maserati 300S, devoid of fancy winglets or added body parts that characterize sports cars today, is the essence of a racing “sports” car.

Other notable cars on the field included a huge white 1930 Isotta Frachini. What a presence the big car had all weekend. It dominated the smaller cars in town and on the Mountain Tour.

In keeping with the weekend theme of IndyCars, a separate display highlighted them at the entrance to the event and the 1938 Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special” which won Indy in 1939 and 1940 driven by Wilbur Shaw was on the field. The car was driven to the Award area by Al Unser Sr. who was presented with the Lee Iacocca Award for “Dedication to Excellence in Perpetuating an American Automotive Tradition”.

A 1930 Packard Roadster, regularly driven by its owner, 104-year-old Margaret Dunning, also attended and both made a strong impression. Norman Dewis, of Jaguar fame, supported a brace of C-types and D-types on the field.

It was an excellent show and a wonderful weekend. The organizers and volunteers worked very hard and their results reflect their effort. Please go to our Photo Gallery for more images of the Concorso. And, incidentally, do make a note to join us next year. This is an event enthusiasts should not miss.

Santa Fe Concorso 2014