MMR Blog

Collecting Models

Posted on September 25, 2014 Comments (2)

About 30 years ago, I was living in Toronto, Canada. My then 2-year-old daughter and I had a Saturday morning ritual that centered on us driving my white 1967 Pontiac GTO to the Toronto Zoo. The 700+ acre zoo is located on the outskirts of the City, a twenty minute drive from our then home. Over time we developed a pattern that would see us visit all her favorite animal “buddies” and allowed me to stretch the legs of the GTO. Which I still kid myself she appeared to enjoy.

The parking lot at the zoo was huge and, like all other obsessive car enthusiasts, I would always park the GTO some distance from other cars. Without fail, upon our return, the GTO was always surrounded by other parked vehicles when I came to retrieve it.

Peter's models

Fast forward to 60 days or so ago when I was arranging my model cars for the image we used in a recent MMR Newsletter. This got me to thinking about exactly what drew me to these particular pieces and more importantly, their real counterparts.

I confess to this being totally subjective, but the look of a vehicle is, by a wide margin, the most important factor in determining whether I like a car. I have never bought an ugly car, but I have owned some horrible pretty cars. Next, the sound of a car is important to me and for some reason I have never been satisfied with an original exhaust note. Judging by the number of aftermarket exhaust system manufacturers, my bet is that this is equally important to others. If touch means, the experience of driving, that is next. The smell of leather and wool is really a bonus, as is provenance. That covers the four applicable senses.

Upon reflection, it is clear that while nothing quite grabs the senses by the throat like an original sitting before you, a lovely model comes pretty damned close.

Because the look is so important, the next most important criteria is that the model be correct. We have probably all demurred from buying a model of a car we admired because it just didn’t look right. Maybe it was the color or the fit of the panels or maybe it just wasn’t correct, but for some reason it was simply unappealing. More on this later…

Amon McLaren LeMans Ford GT40 MKII by GMP

As I have mentioned too many times, I do not purport to be a collector. However, I have always had models, usually 1:18 scale. I am not at all attracted to the most popular 1:43 scale format; the first time I saw a 1:12 scale, it was an Amon-McLaren Le Mans Ford GT40 MKII by GMP and I simply had to have it. The look of that car had an impact on me then and it still does today, umpteen years later.

Marshall Buck, writing a column for Sports Car Market made me look at my little assemblage with a fresh and more critical eye. His insightful comments unquestionably introduced many of us to vagaries of model manufacturing and what to look for, to avoid, and to value. While assembling a directory of valued goods and services for the recent MMR compendium that was shipped with the October issue of Sports Car Market, Marshall and I worked together to create the story we did of his model, the original of which subsequently won at Pebble Beach in August.

Original Scaglietti Rosselini Ferrari.jpg

Ferrari model on the workbench

We were walking the famous 18th fairway together and discussing the wonderful model material surrounding us when the idea for a series of stories, explaining the process involved in making a scratch-built model came up. You are now reading the first installment.

In this introduction, I will share with you what Marshall has patiently imparted to me about models and the market. In subsequent chapters, he will explain the building process and share his trials and triumphs in so doing.

The Market:

Mass production units obviously dominate the market and like everything else, vary in detail, overall quality, and pricing. This market is no different from any other in that it generally dictates the price. As investments, mass produced items have generally not appreciated. Considering the initial purpose for purchase which we have established is an attraction which has hopefully not diminished, this cannot be disheartening. You don’t make money on old socks either.

Ferrari 312

But not all models are created equal and there is a market stratification that, if what one counts the basic hobby store purchases to be the bottom, would have fully functioning, yes, with running engines and drive trains, at the top. A fully functioning Ferrari 312PB which took 15 years to build did not sell at auction for $90K. It later sold privately at an undisclosed price. Watch the story of that model:

So, having looked at the bottom and at the top, let’s look at the middle. This is probably where the greatest number of collectors live. The level below the fully functional unit is the “scratch built” model, like the 250SWB pictured above, which Marshall is building for us. This unit is currently in the final stages of a three-year build. Depending on the level of detail required, these begin at approximately $25K and take as much as two to three years to build. These are unique works of art and considering the man-hours involved worth every penny.

250 SWB model in progress

The product to which many new collectors are turning is the personalized, custom made car built from an existing kit. The pricing on these units is wholly dependent on the level of detail required and the quality of the donor kit. In cases where the donor models are not kits, the model maker may be obliged to completely disassemble the car. Although he may not make all the parts, he may need to change some to better represent the original and then make them all fit as they never did before. He then paints the car to the owner’s specs.

Another interesting aspect of model making is the demand for “weathered” models. Three years ago we made a video at Amelia with model maker Dennis Koleber. These models are intended to capture a moment-in-time in the life of the original. 

That brings us back to the lead image for this series, the Ferrari 250SWB serial #1905GT. In the following weeks we will follow the development of the model as Marshall Buck builds it. Enjoy!

MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 19, 2014 Comments (0)

Singapore GP

A flurry of activity in the motorsports world begins with the F1 Singapore GP, otherwise known as Racing-thru-Garages-and-Over-Bridges-in-the-Dark-While-Singaporians-Sit-in-Bars-and-Watch-it-on-TV GP this weekend.

Number 88

MMR Stalwart supporter and uber racer Tom Papadopoulos of Autosport Designs on Long Island will be driving the #88 Prototype Challenge Car with Johnny Mowlem in the final two races of the Tudor United Sports Car Series. This Sunday’s race is from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Let’s cheer for our pal.

Our Michael Furman image this week is of a modern Bugatti EB-110 SS.

Santa Fe Concorso

Our images this week were taken at last year’s Santa Fe Corcorso events by Garret Vreeland of Santa Fe. You can see more of his work at

David Hobbs

David Hobbs of TV commentary fame was in Boston last month for a presentation to the Porsche Club of America NE Region, at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. The organizers were kind enough to invite the MMR Community to join them and over 100 people attended. 

Adrianne Ross, editor of The Nor’Easter Porsche Club magazine interviewed David and it is available here.

Car Shows: An Evolution

The world of car shows has exploded in recent years; this week we take a look at where we are today and what will need to be in place for the ambitious new car shows/concours/concorsos to survive.

News of the World

Bernie beat the bribery rap in Germany by enriching Germany’s coffers by $100,000,000. MMR Ace European Reporter, Oofy Prosser, gives you the inside poop in this week’s issue of The Weekly LeekStreaming the Finest in Pale Yellow Journalism.

New England Events: Northeast Enthusiasts have a double treat coming up.

The Boston Cup

September 20-21: The Boston Cup on the Boston Common

Saturday, September 20th | 7:30 – 10:00AM: Lower Boston Common, Charles and Beacon Streets. Yuppie Racing – Cars & Coffee. Stop by, park your car, and have a coffee.

Sunday, September 21st | 9:00AM – 2:00PM: The Boston Cup The Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common.

IFS Ferrari

October 1-2: IFS of Easton, MA Presents Track Days at Thompson Speedway

Two days of Track Time and one hour Fiat Abarth Enduro. Red, Blue, and Vintage Run groups.

John Tirrell of Independent Ferrari Service (IFS) in Easton, MA, invites drivers interested in attending their two day track event at Thompson Speedway in Thompson, CT, on October 1st and 2nd to contact John or Keegan at 508-238-4224.

Have a great weekend and share this with a friend.

Peter Bourassa

Car Shows – An Evolution

Posted on September 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Automobile shows officially began in America in Boston and New York in 1900. Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit followed in 1901. Today, most small towns and all the large ones have at least one car show and several billed as concours feature specific categories, makes, or countries of origin.

The words concours or concorso are French and Italian for contest. The often-added addendum d’Elegance or d’Eleganza are self-evident in meaning and often not a standard for entry.

By far the greatest number of car shows in America feature local cars on display for local enthusiasts. Most allow fellow competitors or the public to choose their winners. Some larger events are judged. Here winners are chosen based on the opinions of local enthusiasts possessed of varying degrees of competence for the tasks. The latter system can be more controversial than the first but since the stakes are but bragging rights and trophies, no one is harmed.

National level contests have burgeoned in the past ten years. Once the purview of Pebble Beach, Amelia Island and the now renamed Concours d’Elegance of America (formerly Meadowbrook), winning these events had, and still has, meaning for car owners. Today, with the expansion of national events to the stately golf courses in America and the stately homes and country estates of Europe, many more vehicles are receiving national and international attention. Despite that, only Pebble Beach and Amelia in America and Villa d’Este in Europe have gravitas in the eyes of national and international competitors.

For Pebble Beach, Amelia and Villa d’Este, considerably more is at stake at every level. For collectors, winning can mean a significant and immediate difference in the value of the vehicle and the remainder of the collection. It is also a valuable feather in the cap of the restorer. The crucial difference between events at this level and all others is the quality of the judging. Top tier events invest in recruiting and developing world class judges. This investment assures participants that their vehicles will be judged by recognized experts. Some well known collectors will not show their cars at events where they could be beaten as a result of poor judging. Such losses devalue the car in the eyes of the public and prospective buyers.

There will always be a future for both the top tier and the local car shows. The battle for survival is at the middle level. Each event struggles every year to differentiate itself from others and its own previous presentation. They all have the added burden of finding and maintaining sponsorship from national brands that have a growing demand for their resources.

Then there is the enthusiast. Unlike before the internet and 24-hour-live coverage of events, enthusiasts have a plethora of motorsports activity options every weekend. Attending a car show is just one of them. To draw people from a distance, a car show must offer more than 150 seldom seen vehicles on a famous golf course. Monterey Week is probably the best example of stand-alone events combining with local communities, government, and business groups to present visitors with choices. They have realized that to entice people to travel to their area and spend money, they must first present a variety of attractive options.

Two quite different events that have grown in stature are the Santa Fe Concorso and The Boston Cup.

In the case of the Santa Fe Concorso, they have a small population base from which to draw spectators, no major metropolis within convenient driving distance and an equally small car population to supply materials. Yet they continue to grow by focusing on what they do have, a small but beautiful city with a strong arts scene, great weather, interesting roads nearby, serious local racing figures in the Unsers and Denise McCluggage and just as importantly, a hospitality industry is focused on insuring that people come back. Unlike Monterey and Amelia, rates are not inflated because the car guys are coming to town and the base rates are remarkably low. This and a growing program that features a great drive, a museum tour with for real Indy greats, a movie night featuring Bullitt at a refurbished historic cinema and, finally, an interesting concorso that will keep people coming back again and again.

The Boston Cup people have taken a different approach. In the middle of a busy metropolis sits the historic Boston Common. It is huge and because it is a public space, the public have free access. The Boston Cup Sunday event is a celebration of an eclectic mix of cars from the early days of the 20th century and the latest electric cars from major manufacturers. Cars are drawn from local collectors with national stature, race teams – vintage and modern, and coaxed out of garages from throughout New England. Informal gathering for a Cars and Coffee and Arrive and Drive meetings take place on the common on Saturday and a cocktail party for participants is held at the Ritz on Saturday night. The organizers have succeeded in convincing a City Hall with a historically anti-car bias that cars on green spaces are good for both the merchants and the public. The location is very visible from the surrounding streets and pedestrian traffic on the Common is very high. For these reasons, major manufacturers want to be involved and this year BMW is doing a ride and drive program on the day prior to the main event. The judging for the Boston Cup is done by both the public and the participants. The whole atmosphere is relaxed.

These two car events will survive and are models for others to emulate. In the 21st Century, cars may continue to be the feature draw at car shows, but a combination of auctions, movies, tours, vintage racing, knowledgeable judges, and major manufacturers and local merchants and government support will be crucial to survival. Not a short list but this is a tough neighborhood with growing expectations.

Santa Fe Concorso
The Future May Be Here

Posted on September 18, 2014 Comments (0)

Santa Fe Concorso

Each of the past two Septembers we have enjoyed a distinctly different automotive experience in what we termed last year as “America’s Shangri-La”, Santa Fe. This September 26-28, the portal swings open again to this magical place in America. A quick glance at any map confirms that Santa Fe is not on any beaten path. With a city population of just 70,000, and a thriving art community, Santa Fe presents visitors an upscale version of Southwest culture. The schedule of events allows sufficient time for visitors to explore Santa Fe and get a feel for this unique community. The resident car enthusiast population is not large but very active and all appear to be involved in the weekend’s events.

Santa Fe Concorso

Like many other events that for various and good reasons can never be a Pebble Beach or Villa d’Este, the organizers of the Santa Fe Concorso, former Michiganders Dennis and Beverly Little with help from the doyen of all things motorized, Denise McCluggage, have produced what may well be the prototype for this kind of event. An opportunity to participate in a broad selection of reasonably priced activities with like people in interesting settings.

Santa Fe Concorso

Imagine, if you will, a motorsports oriented weekend in a small welcoming community with very reasonable hotel rates, which features, cheek by jowl: A thriving arts community, a fine and always interesting concorso, Southwestern cuisine and the best bakery/café in America, a fun tour through the high desert on wonderful roads, a world class opera facility, and an opportunity to personally interact with famous race car drivers, affordable native silver/turquoise jewelry on the Plaza, a Steve McQueen movie shown in a theatre named after a famous French writer/film director. And, there is much more.

Santa Fe Concorso

An Interview with David Hobbs

Posted on September 17, 2014 Comments (0)

By Adrianne Ross, Editor, PCA-NER The Nor’Easter Magazine

David Hobbs

I was so honored to meet David Hobbs. I’ve been a fan for a few years now, and enjoy his commentary on racing and racers.

David was born in June 1939 in Royal Leamington Spa, England. In 1969 he was included in the FIA list of graded drivers—an élite group of 27 drivers who, by their achievements, were rated the best in the world—and he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2009. Originally employed as a commentator for the Speed Channel, he currently works as a commentator for NBC and NBC Sports Network.

David Hobbs

David currently lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Margaret. They “putter” around the garden in their spare time, and enjoy winter in Florida. David has two sons, Gregory and Guy. His youngest son, Guy, worked for Speed as a pit reporter on their sports car coverage.

David was kind and patient with me, even though he had been running a bit behind, and had the Hockenheim race the next day. I dragged him into the basement of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, and what follows is our conversation. I’ve left it largely unedited, so that you can get a sense of the man himself.

AR: Take me from 0 to your first race.

DH: My dad was always into cars, but at the beginning of WWII petrol was heavily rationed. He was from Australia and the English government asked him to stay to develop his transmissions, and help with technical innovations in the automotive business.

I wasn't good at school so I went to Jaguar cars as an apprentice. They had a great system; a great apprenticeship scheme in England. It was a full-scale apprenticeship, where you essentially earned a technical degree.

David Hobbs

While there, I got keen on cars and there was a Jaguar apprentice’s motor club which I joined. I would take my Mum’s car, a Morris Oxford, and would rally cross and the like. But I drove like a mad man on the road and so I decided I should race. Back then it was cheap to get a license. You would join a motor club, any car club, and then pay the entry fees; the whole thing would have been about £15.
It was my Mum’s car with my dad's automatic gearbox. I raced a few times and then I finally won a sprint in it. The following year I convinced my dad to let me race his Jaguar XK140, it also had his gearbox (David’s father designed transmissions and automotive technology). Unfortunately I rolled it in the very first race, and did a little damage. (David smiled broadly at this, indicating that he’d damaged the car quite badly.)

He said I had to fix it, so it didn't get fixed very well. Then he got a big injection of capital from BSA, and we decided that a good form of advertising would be for me to race in a proper car. We bought a Lotus Elite, which I campaigned in 1961 very successfully. Won 14 out of 18 starts at the small tracks, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, the ‘Ring.

AR: Who inspired you?

Sir Stirling Moss

DH: My hero was Sir Stirling Moss. But it wasn't like it is today with videos and TV. You had to go to races, read the papers and magazines to keep up, or follow a driver.

I did go to the very first Grand Prix, the British Grand Prix with my mom and dad, and my brother. But even then it wasn't like a bolt of lightning, you know, it was not what I wanted to do. But I did drive fast on the road. I did like going fast and I was good at it.

AR: What do you drive now?

DH: I don't have any exotic cars, I don't have any car at all, and I never seem to have enough cash to get one (laughing).

AR: And when you're not racing, what does a typical day look like for David Hobbs?

David Hobbs Honda Dealership

DH: I go to the dealership most days, although my son Greg really runs it now. We have quite a few customers who don't believe I really come in every day.

AR: What do you do for fun?

DH: We like to putter around the garden and we have a house in Florida, because I don't like the winter. We go back to England two to three times a year. But not in the summer because it's racing season. I like soccer and tennis. I used to play when I was a kid, until I discovered Motorsport.

AR: You’ve had 20 Le Mans starts, what are the best and worst parts of that race?

DH: The worst is the rain, and night can be tricky. It's a long circuit, eight miles. It's not like Daytona, when you're there for hours running around a fishbowl. In my day, there weren't all those chicanes, which is very hard on the car, and hard on the drivers. In my day we did the race with just two drivers. Now they use three or sometimes four.

AR: …about [your] grandson, and his working his way into a racing career…

DH: It's so expensive to start racing unless you find a fairy godfather. Four or five of the F1 drivers pay to be there. In my day there was a lot of stepping into a dead man’s shoes. That seems grizzly, but it was really how it worked.

But I've never raced anywhere when I didn't get paid for it. Even NASCAR.

AR: How was NASCAR?

DH: It's harder than it looks. Massively talented drivers come into NASCAR and they can't do it. Juan Pablo was a good example of that.

AR: What do you think of Senna, and RUSH (the movies)?

DH: I thought Senna was very good. Well put together. To be a world champion you have to be selfish, and greedy, and solely, solely concerned with yourself. He was the epitome of that for sure. RUSH was a good story of human conflict. But the drama and partying was a bit overblown. Grand Prix and Le Mans are my favorites. They did a great job considering the time and standards.

AR: Who's the funniest person in F1 ever?

DH: I wouldn't say anyone in F1 is really funny; it’s not a funny place, the paddock of Formula 1. Everyone is just focused on the race and the cars but Graham Hill was an amazing storyteller. Very good at making jokes at other peoples expense but not good when the shoe was on the other foot. Jackie and Jimmy Clark were not particularly jokey guys. The guy that's really pretty funny, and probably pretty good fun to be with is Daniel Ricciardo. He likes to sort of dance in front of his mechanics.

AR: What’s your favorite track?

DH: The ‘Ring, the Glen, Road America, Phillipston; I've never found a track I don't like, really.

DAvid Hobbs at Indy