MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: Concours for a Cause

Posted on May 15, 2013 Comments (2)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

I feel like I’ve come to a screeching halt! The Florida Concours season has basically ended, and the next onslaught of motorsports events hasn’t quite kicked into gear.

Before jumping into this summer’s adventures, I wanted to reflect on an event that has evolved into a top notch Concours and also raises a ton of money for charity. In only its seventh year, the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance is a shining example of how to do it right. Many, if not all, Concours and even smaller car shows these days have a charity they support. The Boca event is the crown jewel of Concours for a Cause.

What makes this Concours stand out? Six million dollars and over 12,000 at-risk boys and girls. All-volunteer-driven, monies raised during this spectacular three-day weekend go directly to support the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County. When Rick Case, the inspiration and producer of the event, threw out the $6M figure, I had no clue if this was a lot of money in the world of motorsporting events. If a car can auction off for $13M, how do we put everything else in perspective? Look and listen next time you’re at a car event as to the amount raised for charity. Noteworthy, cumulative charitable giving by the Amelia Island Concours Foundation, entering its 18th year, was $2M, and Pebble Beach eased into its 62nd year with $15M in total giving. So $6M in seven years is astonishing, and part of the distinction for this “fastest growing and most charitable Concours in the world,” as it rightfully boasts.

The timeless 1960 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster.

The timeless 1960 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster.

Chairman’s Choice Award winner, Corrado Loprestos’ 1931 Alfa Romeo GS 6C 1750 Zagato/Aprile, was a 2012 Pebble Beach winner.

Chairman’s Choice Award winner, Corrado Loprestos’ 1931 Alfa Romeo GS 6C 1750 Zagato/Aprile, was a 2012 Pebble Beach winner.

The fun thing for us mere mortal enthusiasts is that Boca’s Concours is actually something we all can afford. The weekend-long event kicked off Friday with an inaugural first, the complimentary collector car seminar, which could net you a tremendous gain if you are in the market for a classic car! The Collector Car Market – the Past Five Years and the Five Years to Come was moderated by the Grand Marshal for the Concours, Keith Martin, with panelists Wayne Carini, Tom duPont, Dave Kinney, Bill Rothermel and Dr. Paul Sable. I felt like I was getting insider tips! Explosive was how they described the last five years. Television has brought more people into the automobile investment market, noted Wayne Carini. Barrett Jackson and Mecum have become household names!

So, why are classic car prices running up? The general consensus was that the wealthy have cash parked and are now unleashing it and truly enjoying the cars they buy. Getting into the classic car hobby? A word of advice from Tom duPont, “You should well vet your purchases.” Auctions are emotional, so do your homework ahead of time and hire consultants to help you evaluate a car before buying. Along with vetting your purchases, well-thought-out financial and estate planning will net you and your heirs higher returns in the long run.

Rupert Banner, Bonhams auctioneer, joins the panel to share trends in the collector car market.

Rupert Banner, Bonhams auctioneer, joins the panel to share trends in the collector car market.

Quirky and unique, Saharas are exceedingly rare with only about two dozen surviving.

Quirky and unique, Saharas are exceedingly rare with only about two dozen surviving.

A show stopper, the fully restored 1962 Jaguar XKE, Series 1 3.8 Liter fixed head coupe in opalescent bronze sold for $165,000.

A show stopper, the fully restored 1962 Jaguar XKE, Series 1 3.8 Liter fixed head coupe in opalescent bronze sold for $165,000.

Also making its debut at Boca, Bonhams inaugural auction on Saturday was a chance for spectators to roam freely among the auction cars lining the entrance to the luxurious Boca Raton Resort and Club. Entry into the auction was a bargain—and great entertainment! Do I know how to pick them, or what? I must, because the photo snapped, the day before, was next to the 1962 Citroen 2CV Sahara 4X, which unleashed an uproar in bidding, between the audience and phone bidders.    

This Concours weekend also boasted high-end lifestyle events, including the duPont Registry Live! Hanger Party. And, yes, a pricey Gala drew in many East Coast high rollers. At the end of the day, what mattered most was that everyone attending had a blast and made a difference in a child’s life. By keeping the children in the forefront, even before the cars, guests were engaged in the Cause throughout the entire weekend. Gracious and constant appreciation for everyone’s support abounded.

I winked back at the stunning 1969 Lamborghini Miura S!

I winked back at the stunning 1969 Lamborghini Miura S!

Thanks to Dr. Paul Sable and his team of judges!

Thanks to Dr. Paul Sable and his team of judges!

20s Flappers pose with the 1929 Willys Knight 66B.

‘20s Flappers pose with the 1929 Willys Knight 66B.

So on to the Concours! This isn’t “just” a car show. I recognized cars from the Cavallino Sports Sunday at Mar-A-Lago which, by the way, has a $250 gate entry fee verses the Boca $50 general admission. Several cars were even on the fairway at Amelia two weeks later, so Boca is evolving as a great layover for top Florida Concours cars. There were upward of 200 cars and motorcycles representing over 24 classes ranging from 1924 Brass, Antique, and Vintage cars through every era of American and European classic and production cars, as well as foreign sports cars and special marque features: Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Lamborghini. Motorcycles had ten classes of their own.

The field was clearly laid out by a team of volunteers headed by the Director of Show Operations, Russell Glace, in the wee hours of the morning. You may not have given it much thought, but two strong factors in the success of a Concours are the judges and the Master of Ceremonies, both of whom are top notch at Boca. Dr. Paul Sable serves as Chief Judge, with a compliment of 21 lead judges, supported by an additional 24 show car judges. Bill Rothermel, another gem in the world of Concours Master of Ceremonies, joined Tom duPont in keeping the show moving, while offering an entertaining history lesson on each awardee. Besides seeing beautiful cars, you actually got to learn something!

Emerson Fittipaldi, F1 1972 Champion and Indianapolis 500 two time winner.

Emerson Fittipaldi, 1972 and 1974 F1 Champion and two time Indianapolis 500 winner.

My ears perked up when the Concours’ 2013 Automotive Lifetime Achievement Awardee and motorsports racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi stepped onto the awards stage on Sunday. His praise for the fundraising efforts of the Concours was quite touching.

Hagerty Youth Judges hover over the 1946 MG TC S-Type.

Hagerty Youth Judges hover over the 1946 MG TC S-Type.

Another aspect of this Concours, which I think was pretty special, was the cadre of Hagerty Youth Judges. Now in its seventh year, Operation Ignite, the Hagerty Insurance Youth Judging Program, brought its program to the Boca Concours for a second year. While nurturing future generations of classic car enthusiasts, the judging program actually gives these boys and girls a chance to learn how to judge a car based on design, interior, electrical, paint, and engine. Owners were only too happy to share the history and uniqueness of their cars. The Hagerty Youth Judges’ winning choice was a 1985 Lamborghini Countach 5000S, a classic for their generation!

Entertainment added to the festive Concours!

Entertainment added to the festive Concours!

Sandy’s favorite, the 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster.

Sandy’s favorite, the 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster.

If it’s February in Florida, Concours for a Cause, the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance, is a great choice for your next year’s winter vacation.


24 Hours of Le Mans: June 22-23, 2013

Posted on May 9, 2013 Comments (0)

Test Day: June 9, 2013
Qualifying: June 13 & 14, 2013

The second round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) took place on the extremely fast Spa-Francorchamp circuit in Belgium on May 4th. This six hour race was a warm-up for Le Mans and although Audi won Prototype and Ferrari won GT Pro, the races were hotly contested by the Toyota Prototype and the Aston Martins in GT. Aston Martin had actually beaten Ferrari in the first race of the season at Silverstone. At Spa, Ferrari won in both the Pro and the Am (see below) race groupings.

Le Mans is arguably the single most important race in the world. Indy 500 may have a bigger gate and possibly even a larger viewing audience but winning or losing Le Mans impacts the sales of more car, tire, oil, and all the other accessory manufacturers than any other race. Ford knew how important it was in the sixties and it hasn’t changed. For the teams, Le Mans pays twice as many points as any other race in their WEC series. Winning is huge.

This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans promises to be fascinatingly competitive in all classes. Half the field will be made up of LMP (Le Mans Prototype) cars in two classes. In LMP1, Audi and Toyota will contest for overall. One Swiss developed Green GT using a hydrogen fuel cell to run electric motors in Prototype body styles is the designated “experimental” car. Audi have won six of the last seven races but Toyota are touted to make them earn it this year. In LMP2, the battle will be equally fierce with the Oreca-Nissans currently leading the Oak Racing Morgan-Nissans.

The cars that capture our interest are contesting the Le Mans GTE Pro class. There the factory teams of Corvette Racing, Aston Martin Racing and SRT (Viper) Motorsports will compete against semi-factory teams from Porsche and Ferrari. All with drivers rated as professionals. An equally large group classified as “Amateurs” will compete in similar cars.

Within the Pro group of GT Cars, based on past performance and the amount of time they have had to develop their teams and their cars, the Ferraris and Corvettes are battling the returned and refreshed Aston Martin Vantage GTEs. And the AMs appear to have the measure of the Ferraris. But Le Mans is always different. This year the Chrysler SRT Vipers are contesting the American Le Mans Series and they have been invited to play with the big boys at the Sarthe.

Because of their development time, they are unquestionably the underdogs but the Viper name is not new to the Le Mans podium and many people will be watching to see how they do.

Tommy Kendall

One of the major reasons we want to see them do well is because they have invited Tommy Kendall to drive for them. Long one of my favorite motorsports personalities and drivers I was pleased when they asked him to test and was somehow not that surprised that he was the quickest of his group.

Tommy Kendall is 46 years old. That alone should make him our hero.

You can follow SRT online.

Join SRT® at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; two exclusive packages available.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Cooling System Part 5

Posted on May 9, 2013 Comments (4)

Improved Cooling –Aesthetics

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the twelfth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

What Meets the Eye

We have pretty much completed the Cooling System Upgrade from a hardware point of view and we are satisfied with the outcome. There remain only two things to do. One is cosmetic and the other requires a little more research on our part before we share it. Stay tuned.

Let’s talk about “The Look” of what we have done. Beginning at the front, we changed the black radiator, the black AC condenser and the two black fans for a shiny aluminum radiator, a shiny aluminum AC condenser and a skinny black “spider web” style fan. Before we made the changes, looking at the front of our Black 308 we saw the aluminum vertical and horizontal bar grill against a dark background. Now, the new AC condenser and radiator are visible through the grill. Doing this again, I would find a way to make them invisible. Probably with high heat spray paint on the front surfaces. Neatly done, of course.

308 cooling system aesthetics

The bigger clamps are neither original nor as elegant, in some people’s opinions, as the originals. I like them better but that is a subjective call. The hoses themselves, in bright blue, don’t really go with anything unless Paul Newman (RIP) were driving the car. Doing it again, I would probably go with black hoses. I am not necessarily a traditionalist, but I think it looks neater against all the aluminum in the engine and the radiator. And I did find silicone far easier to work with.

308 cooling system aesthetics

308 cooling system aesthetics

We removed the Radiator overflow tank, sanded off the rust and spray painted the unit with a black semi-gloss. That now looks much better. And we changed the radiator cap which was looking pretty tired. We bought it from Geoff Ohland at Partsource.

More next week…


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Cooling System Part 4

Posted on May 2, 2013 Comments (0)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the eleventh in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

Improved Cooling – Fans

If there has been a consistent theme to this series, other than the fact that with skilled help even the inept can succeed, it is that each part we changed was an appreciable upgrade.

If the shiny aluminum radiator was a visual and technical improvement over the 35 year old lump it replaced, the fan change was absolutely essential. State of the art in 1978 was twin fans hanging from a structural support above and aimed at the upper part of the radiator. Probably an inspired design at the time, but, 35 years later, with all the advances we have seen in cooling systems, this just looks inept.

Old fan mounted sans radiator

The two metal fan motors, even with plastic props, weigh three pounds each. The single plastic fan weighs less than a pound and bolts directly to the air conditioning condenser which is bolted directly to the radiator. I can’t find a number on the original fan motors that gives the amperage draw but they are fused at 20 Amps and if they were 15 Amps draw new they have certainly changed with age. The replacement unit has a draw of 11 Amps. Less weight, less draw equals win-win.

We looked at a website The Fanman and reviewed our options, one fan or two, shrouded fans or not, and blocking the sides of the fans to the fenders to channel more air to the fan were all considered. In the end, we felt that simply mounting a 14” fan to the AC condenser/radiator unit would be more than the original delivered and more than enough for our needs. The fan was less than $120.

Assembly seen through grill

The fan is triggered by a sensor, once the temperature of the coolant reaches 183 degrees. As mentioned in the hose story, hot engine coolant travels from the right side of the engine through aluminum tubing beneath the floor on the center-left side beside the driver’s right leg to the top of the radiator on the driver’s left. That’s what keeps the driver’s side a little cozier than the passenger’s side. When the fan is working, you can feel its cooling influence all the way down to the lower right of the rad where coolant moves out and back to the engine to begin the process again.

On the road less hood

Spencer Guder of Spencer Restorations in Canterbury, CT, did all of the work and I basically asked questions, ran for parts and tools, and otherwise stayed out of the way. He once again worked in my garage. He brought with him a Dremel to cut and shape metal, and all the tools such as crimpers, heat gun, and parts to make up or adjust a wiring harness. Because the car had once been damaged on the right front he had to do repairs to the existing framework for the radiator/AC condenser/fan unit and reshape parts of the incoming unit to fit the new shape. This is not something a simple amateur can do. But a simple amateur would try.

I believed that attaching a new fan to a new condenser with four bolts and a harness would be the easiest part of this whole operation. What I learned from Spencer is this: the 1978 Ferrari is not a production line car like we see today and there were probably small adjustments made at the factory that allowed this whole unit to come together. Thirty-five years later, and at least one repair in the area, we are trying to fit parts together that were never designed for this car, have different specs that must mate with remaining original parts, make wiring harnesses come together and it simply is not simple. Even if the car were perfect, getting these non-factory parts to come together takes experience, ingenuity, special tools and skill. The final four attaching bolts? I can do that. Maybe!