MMR Blog

Seminars at Amelia

Posted on March 19, 2013 Comments (0)

Part of the Amelia joy has to be the multiple seminars. This year’s Corvette, Porsche, and the feature GT40 seminars were all outstanding.

The Corvette seminar celebrated the 50th ground breaking design of the 63 Corvette Split-Window Stingray. In context, before its advent, the 61/62 Jaguar XKE had taken all the air out of the room. Corvette’s exciting new design offered new technical and design features that got Corvette back in the game. Members of the original design team dominated the panel and happily described the evolution of the new model. On the field, significant iterations of it were also celebrated.

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at the Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Ed Welburn, International Director of Design at GM introduced the C7 and shared the thinking behind the design. The significant question from the audience related to its most controversial aspect, the seeming design steal from the Camaro back end. Welburn explained that this was Corvette’s response to the fact that its sales were dropping, as its base was aging, and that it needed to find a way of appealing to a younger demographic. In surveys, the new Corvette’s edgier design was apparently very popular with younger buyers. (See our article on the C7 Corvette for our take on the new car and GM’s dilemma.)

The Porsche seminar was another genuflection to the brilliance of the 911 by the people most closely identified with its success. This rear view tribute to a long in the tooth design ignores the elephant in the room. More and more, the street is saying the Cayman is a far better car.

The Porsche Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40 seminar was billed as the top event and it didn’t disappoint. The beloved native hero, Dan Gurney was the unquestionable crowd favorite. Age and his recent accident made his accession to the speaker’s platform painful to watch. Once in place however, his cogent observations and pithy comments put lie to the thought that Dan Gurney is mentally less than he ever was.

GT40s at Amelia 2013

To me, one of the more interesting interchanges was cleverly engineered by moderator Tim Considine. After several less than positive comments about absent fellow driver Jacky Ickx, the moderator asked Gulf/ Wyer Team Manager and Engineer, John Horsman, who he believed was the best driver he ever managed and Horsman replied, without hesitation, Jacky Ickx. Putting point to his comment he cited the numbers at the end of the first lap of a rainy GT race at Spa when Ickx established a 38-second lead on the second place car. An incredible feat! When you think of that in terms of distance it is unbelievable.

The GT40 Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40, like all success stories had many fathers. Primarily, Wyer, Shelby and Holman-Moody.

Representatives from each team were on the podium and their stories of corporate infighting, conflicting instructions and the struggle at the highest levels of Ford management made for fascinating listening. If you haven’t yet, you must read John Horsman’s Racing in the Rain, recently reprinted by Bull Publishing with a new soft cover, it is not available on Amazon and sells for $29.95 from Bull Publishing. It is the GT40 book to own! Read about it in our Racemaker Book Reviews.

Sandy on Assignment:
Cavallino Classic Concorso d’Eleganza
A Gem in the World of Concours

Posted on March 7, 2013 Comments (1)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Remember the MMR article, last summer, in search of No. 3 in the world of Concours? I had my own thoughts at the time, and after being immersed in elegance and the spectacular, I hope every Concours devotee will treat themselves to the Cavallino Classic at least once in their lifetime! This four-day weekend held mid-January, in Palm Beach, is a gem in the world of Concours events, with something for every motorsports enthusiast, including and beyond the prancing Cavallino marque.

A Ferrari red sunrise at The Breakers for Concours check-in

A Ferrari red sunrise at The Breakers for Concours check-in.

Why a gem? The breadth and rarity of cars, both on display and in motion, plus the credentials of judges, speak to the respect 22 years of Cavallino holds in the motorsports world. Every event is meticulously planned and orchestrated. Even as an attendee, you feel a sense of genuine camaraderie. By Day 4, when most other multi-day events are winding down, Classic Sports Car Sunday on the lush grounds of Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club is high energy among the guests and entrants.

Behind The Donald is the favorite GT car, a 1954 Maserati A6G Zagato Coupe

Behind The Donald is the favorite GT car, a 1954 Maserati A6G Zagato Coupe.

To give you a lay of the land, the weekend basically kicks off on Thursday, Day 1, at The Breakers Hotel, so if you aren’t the car nut in the family, there is still more than enough to hold your attention and make you ooh and awe. For registrants, morning “classic lectures”, tech type and historical sessions with the realclassic cars on hand, start the day. Classic competitors are already at the Palm Beach International Raceway for car inspections and practice. After lunch, the magic unfolds as the Ferraris line up and down the imposing entrance to The Breakers, poised for a tour of Palm Beach with their final destination, the Jet Reception… one huge hanger party with Ferraris on the tarmac and private jets to tour at Palm Beach International Airport.

Top pick at the Jet Reception, a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder

Top pick at the Jet Reception, a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder.

A photo finish for Jim Fuchs in his Ferrari 512 BBLM No.447 in the 1961-1980 Disc Brakes category

A photo finish for Jim Fuchs in his Ferrari 512 BBLM No.447 in the 1961-1980 Disc Brakes category.

Friday at the track becomes my all day itinerary. It was a little light this year, with the added Ferrari Challenge Series at the Daytona 24, but a plus for me to get close to the track and drivers. Only in its second year, this annual classic competition for the vintage and classic racing Ferraris and Maseratis added a new event for 2013—a Pre-War race for Alfa Romeos and Bugattis. Close your eyes and picture a hand full of Bugattis and a couple of Alfas positioned for the start. I was transported into another time and place!

An impressive line-up for the 1947-1960 Drum Brake group

An impressive line-up for the 1947-1960 Drum Brake group.

First in line gets a push!

First in line gets a push!

A treat to see so many Alpha’s up close, this year

A treat to see so many Alpha’s up close this year.

Ever stylish, the Bugatti T35’s came in blue and silver, my track favorites

Ever stylish, the Bugatti T35’s came in blue and silver, my track favorites.

It was all about the Alpha’s when it came to pre-war podium finishes

It was all about the Alpha’s when it came to pre-war podium finishes.

After a day at the track, the Palm Harbor Marina is the place to be for the traditional Yacht Hop. The night before, I learned the price tag to order a private jet. In comparison, a yacht is a bargain! So what’s a yacht hop? Exactly that! Shoes off, as you hop on deck to get a tour of these sailing beauties while sipping champagne at sunset.

At the Yacht Hop, everyone picks a favorite

At the Yacht Hop, everyone picks a favorite.

Saturday is the day… Concorso d’Eleganza, sprawled out over the croquet lawn and adjacent golf fairway of The Breakers with little treasures even in the parking lot! A dawn patrol of its own, you can watch the 100 or so Ferraris systematically line up for check-in and judging placement before the actual event begins. I’ve become fascinated by the Italian body builders… opps, coachbuilders. This year’s event paid tribute to the Pinin Farina designed Ferraris.

This 1957 red and white Ferrari 500 TRC was definitely a winner

This 1957 red and white Ferrari 500 TRC was definitely a winner.

My choice as an elegant favorite was the 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupe

My choice as an elegant favorite was the 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupe.

Owner Andreas Mohringer and his No.9 Ferrari 375 MM Spyder are familiar favorites among the Concours and vintage racing circuits

Owner Andreas Mohringer and his No.9 Ferrari 375 MM Spyder are familiar favorites among the Concours and vintage racing circuits.

The finale to the weekend is worth the splurge, Classic Sports Sunday at Mar-A-Lago and yes, The Donald was there! This beauty contest of multi-marque cars brought out the spectacular! Marque awards are chosen by a Committee of honored judges but the real pleasers for the day are all people’s choice awards. I definitely had my favorites. Agreeing with the Ladies Choice award, I was taken with the 1958 HRG Twin Cam Spider, a British car I had never seen before. America’s pride was strong as the 1929 DuPont LeMans Speedster walked away with the American Best in Class as well as the people’s choice overall favorite, “If I could Take One Home”. The stunning 1946 Talbot-Lago T26 Cabriolet took my breath away along with this year’s Best of Show and Best in Class.

The 1954 XK120 OTS Jaguar enjoys the calm before Classic Sports Sunday begins

The 1954 XK120 OTS Jaguar enjoys the calm before Classic Sports Sunday begins.

Ladies Choice and British Excellence in Class winner, the 1958 HRG

Ladies Choice and British Excellence in Class winner, the 1958 HRG.

If I Could Take One Home, the people’s favorite award, the 1929 DuPont LeMans Speedster

“If I Could Take One Home”, the people’s favorite award, the 1929 DuPont LeMans Speedster.

Best in Show and Best in Class, the 1947 Talbot-Lago Cabriolet

Best in Show and Best in Class, the 1947 Talbot-Lago Cabriolet.

The people I meet make my motorsports adventures. Among Sunday’s featured marque, winning both Pre-War Excellence and Open Excellence in Class was the stunning 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom I Springfield and its owners, Robert and Agata Matteucci. Seeing the Matteuccis and the car that took me on a dream come true at Pebble Beach made my Cavallino Classic weekend sparkle!

The Pebble Beach Rolls Royce back in Florida

The Pebble Beach Rolls Royce back in Florida.

Sandy on Assignment: My Best in Show

Posted on August 29, 2012 Comments (0)

With official media credentials in hand, I was back in Carmel for what can only be described as non-stop magical adventures.

Monterey 2012 Rolls Royce Line-up

For those who remember, I started last year’s Monterey week, in the dark, tip toeing among the transporters, to watch the Concours cars unload and line up for the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. This year I slept in.  Arriving around 8am, the cars were about to start. The Tour is the kick-off event for owners and a chance for them to pick up brownie points by finishing, should there be a tie during Sunday’s Concours judging. With over half of the 184 registered participants in pre-war vehicles, completing the 70 mile drive is quite an accomplishment. The finishers then roll onto Ocean Avenue in Carmel for an owner’s luncheon and cars & coffee style street show.

I ran into Ruben Verdes of The Rolls Royce Owners Club, and, gracious as always, he invited me to look at a special car he knew well.  Listed as the 1930’s Rolls Royce Phantom I Springfield Brewster Tourer, I learned that its chassis number actually identified it as a 1929 production year car. But the complex build order, specifying the way the car was to be finished, meant it wasn’t delivered until almost a year later, in 1930.   It was cool to stand before an American Rolls-Royce, built in Springfield, MA. Similar in design, but not identical to the British-made Phantoms, there were only 30 examples made of these Ascot Tourers, sometimes also called Phaetons. This was one of the Brewster Company’s most elegant and rare coachwork designs.

I leaned forward to take a peek inside and asked Bob Matteucci, the owner, if he would kindly share a little bit of information about his beautiful car. He replied, “please join us for the Tour”. Speechless, I looked to Ruben for guidance. In a whisper he said, “you were invited”. There was a short discussion about who would sit where. With three pedals on the floor, two center sticks, an ignition advance on the steering wheel and a governor to control the throttle, there was no doubt I would be up front so as to allow a wide driving field for our driver, Richard Gorman, the car’s restorer and owner of Vantage Motorworks.

Monterey 2012 Heading out on the tour

We were off in a flash, heading under the Rolex arch.  Bringing up the rear, sandwiched between the motorcycle police escort on our tail and the safety car in front, we held our own, sputtering up the hills on the 17-mile drive. We passed the first tow truck casualty.   The sputtering increased, then a few stalls. I learned later, water in the gas tank was the culprit. We made it to Route 1 where Bob and Richard made a judgment call to turn around.  It was downhill in race car mode back to the start.  Tires squealing, Richard’s hands and feet were taking control. We didn’t need to drive the tour, this was far more exciting!

Monterey 2012 Smiling in the Rolls on tour

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of admiring the Phantom as it drove smoothly up the lawn at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, earning third place in this most prestigious event.  It’s all a magical memory for me.

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast

What makes for a World Class concours?

Posted on July 22, 2012 Comments (0)

Clue: They have original cars, not replicas.


By Wallace Wyss

There is quite a bit of talk in concours circles about which Concours d’elegance deserves to be called “the Pebble Beach of (you fill in the blank).” I know the Palos Verdes concours is a contender to be the “Pebble Beach of the South.” At their event, they have the same ocean to look out onto, like Pebble Beach, learned judges, high quality cars, a nice clubhouse where you can dine fancy or just buy some snacks at the window.

The Dana Point Concours, roughly 50 miles to the South, ironically, has a beautiful golf course location as well, but oddly for a place on the ocean, you can’t actually see it. However, at least you have ocean air and learned judges.

And then there’s the Meadowbrook, in Michigan, which next year will be at a new location.

And the Santa Fe concours (they call it “Concorso”) which, for the newbie on the block, is coming along quite strongly in its third year, also being based at a nice resort with clubhouse, and proper amenities. Their event will be held in September and they plan to distinguish themselves this year by having some restored airplanes (which makes me wonder, why don’t all of the concours on the water also have restored boats?)

I shouldn’t forget the La Jolla concours, held in a park right down by the water. I enjoyed looking over and seeing classic cars and right beyond them, waves crashing against the rocks.

Now that I said all this happy stuff, you just know I’m gonna take off my "Mr. Nice" hat and get straight to my beef—at the La Jolla concours and at the Dana Point concours I spotted, mixed in among genuine in-period built and original-era classic cars, replicas! At one show, the ringer was a GT40 and at the other show it was a Cobra.

Now don’t get me wrong. I would be happy owning a replica of either, and admire how faithfully some replica makers have copied the originals (particularly the Safir GT40). But if I were a customer paying $30 to 40 to attend a concours, I do not want to see original 1962–67 Cobras and mixed in among them, a replica built in 2007. I don’t mind if the concours organizers have a separate section for replicas and put them there labeled as such, but to me it’s an insult to the owners displaying their cars who may have painstakingly restored a “barn find” car at a cost of maybe hundreds of thousands, only to have a replica Cobra pull up next to them, maybe something bought a week ago off Craigslist for $25,000.

I think the organizers of concours who allow such mixing forget that one of the fundamental purposes of concours is to present history. Some fans—ones investigating the details of a restoration, say—go to concours to take pictures and make notes on the originals to help guide their restoration. If the car they photograph is a modern replica, who knows how many original parts the builders didn’t bother to reproduce, instead using a near facsimile? (For instance, on many Cobra replicas it's easy to spot wheels held on by lug nuts instead of a center knock-off.) The same goes for model car builders. They hanker to see originality. Mixing together look-alike clones almost 40 years newer in date of manufacture isn’t paying much attention to history. It’s trashing history.

When I first broached this subject on a forum on a Cobra website, one reader sneered at my critique and branded me an “elitist.” Well, golly, so be it, I accept that title if you define it as someone who wants cars at concours to be properly labeled and displayed accordingly. I think it is a major sin against history that the California DMV allows builders of replica cars to label their Cobra replica built in 2012 a “1965” when only the engine block might have been made in that year. It seems that even a government organization is willing to mess with history to make a buck.

And then there are the concours judges. I really can’t see why they don’t resign their commission! (I can picture the scene in Maj. Dundee where they rip the epaulettes off Charlton Heston’s uniform, only the Judges all toss in their straw hats when asked to judge a replica amongst the real cars!) They would be, in effect, perpetuating a fraud if they don’t ask for the offending car to be summarily moved to a replica section.

GT 40

Now I am not saying this dividing of real cars from replicas should apply to all events. I go to plenty of free cars ’n’ coffee events and Supercar Sundays where there are no rules, no classes, no judges; you just show up, meet car fans and kick tires. There the presence of look-alikes, clones, wanna-bes doesn’t offend me because most of the old cars there are, in many ways, replicas. It’s just that for someone to travel hundreds of miles to a major event, (it costs me anywhere from $500 to $1000 to drive round trip to some of these far-off events, once you add in hotel, meals and gas) only to find that the organizers chose to “fill out the field” and let the viewers sort out the real historical cars from the look-alikes.

Happily, you can't help notice at events that are classy like Pebble Beach, the Villa d'Este, the Colorado Grand and California Mille, the cars entered are genuine and not replicas, (as far as I know).

So returning to where I started, what other concours will, in my opinion, soon be considered second in prestige to Pebble Beach? The only logical answer: the one that refuses to allow replicas to be displayed anywhere near the authentic, restored, truly vintage cars.

Well, that’s my opinion. Call me curmudgeon…

WALLACE WYSS is the author of the “Ferrari Hunter” mystery series.

1000 Islands Concours d'Elegance

Posted on July 16, 2012 Comments (0)

Antique Boat Museum to host second annual classic car show July 21st.

1000 Islands Concours d'Elegance

The Antique Boat Museum, situated on the banks of the magnificent St. Lawrence River, will once again be the setting for a classic car show on Saturday, July 21st. The show will be unique combining up to 50 impressive classic cars dating from the 1950s with a dazzling collection of handcrafted, antique wooden boats from the glory days of American boat building.

The Concours d'Elegance will feature rare and distinctive motorcars including pristine Corvettes, Mercedes-­?Benzes, Ferraris, Bentleys, and a special 1963 Aston Martin DB4C. Considered a breakthrough automobile in the postwar period, the featured sports touring car was considered one of the sleekest and fastest of its time traveling at speeds of nearly 150 mph. The show will present model SN1083L, built in 1962 and one of only 28 left-­?hand drive convertibles manufactured.

All persons, including entrants, attending the show will be invited to vote in several categories including People's Choice, Women's Choice, and The Car I Would Love to Drive Home In. Official judges will be deciding Best of Show and two 1000 Islands Awards for special merit.

Download the Registration Form.