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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on October 17, 2014 Comments (0)

MG Grill

I was recently perusing a very old (1930s?) magazine in which a sports car was defined as “a small, two passenger car intended for short spirited rides”. One of the first cars I owned in the sixties was a 1957 MGA. It was a small sports car. Years later, I remember sitting on the false grid of a Ferrari track event and in front of me was a Ferrari F355. I remember thinking how much higher, wider and fatter it was than my “little” 308.

Black Ferrari 308

A recent article in Automobile Magazine compared a Bentley Continental with a New Ferrari FF. I was struck by how big these 2+2 Touring Cars appeared. The Bentley is 189 inches long, the FF is 193, and my 308 is 172. The MG was a mere 155 inches long. The Bentley is 55 inches high, the Ferrari is 54, and the 308 is 44. Strangely, the MGA was 50 inches high. So the MGA was “little” compared to the “308” and the 308 is “little” compared to the FF. A Ford GT 40 is 183 inches long and, of course, 40 inches tall.

Ford GT 40


Marshall Buck brings us the second installment of his construction of the miniature Ferrari 250 SWB.

Marshall Buck brings us the second installment of his construction of the miniature Ferrari 250 SWB.


Michael Furman’s photograph of the 1916 Simplex-Crane headlight.

This week we feature Michael Furman’s image of the 1916 Simplex-Crane headlight.


F1

Sochi F! Track

Sochi Sucks! Designer Hermann Tilke has done it again! Though his name was never mentioned (I wonder why?), the longish track is simply more of the same. This event was a triple threat come true. The track is boring, the race was boring (and Alonso agrees) and the coverage was abysmal. Our sympathies to the talking trio who sit in Connecticut trying to make an entertaining contribution without any control of the broadcast feed or the ability to review images.

Having said that, their consistent braying “the drivers love it!” about absolutely every venue sounds like a directive from F1 management. They and F1 appear to have forgotten who it is that they are meant to be entertaining.

On the Pricing Bubble!

Alain de Cadenet

Last week’s article by Winston Goodfellow drew many comments from our readers. It brought to mind a recent article in Classic & Sports Car’s 2014 Market Review. Alain de Cadenet, who writes a great monthly column sponsored by Credit Suisse entitled de Cad’s Heroes, explored an aspect of collecting vintage cars which we think you might appreciate. Our thanks to him for permission to reprint his thoughts here.

That’s it for this week.

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Car stuff can be very funny. For your enjoyment:


Models, Chapter 1: Who Knew

Posted on October 15, 2014 Comments (0)

By Marshall Buck

Who knew…? I certainly didn’t have a clue where my hobby would eventually take me. When I first started building model cars on the side (in the 1970s) I was doing so just to supplement some of the money I was spending on my model addiction; I had no intention of doing this as full time work, nor of honing my skills to the level they are at today. It just happened over time - many years, which were fraught with blood, sweat and tears. It’s a long story, but suffice to say, I do realize that I am very fortunate to have been able to turn my hobby into a full time business, though this road, which I partially chose, has at times been equivalent to everything from a rough goat path to the autobahn. I am truly passionate about automobiles, and my work, which is the only reason I am still at it. There are certainly easier ways to earn a living, and at times the position of Assistant French-Fry Manager at the local McDonald’s has looked pretty damn good.

Several years ago in California, at Automobilia Monterey, I was displaying my wares including my partially completed scratch-built model of the one-off Ferrari 375 MM “Rossellini” (yes the same car that won Pebble Beach Best of Show this year). During Automobilia, I was approached about making a scratch built model of a Ferrari 250 SWB by the owner of one. His steed happened to be a spectacular alloy bodied SWB S/N 1905GT, which he also happened to have driven over to the show! We went outside and I briefly looked at the car. We discussed how I work, what he wanted, and agreed on this commission. Later in the week my wife and I went over to his home, well… one of his homes, where this car and a few others were, which was a necessary trip in order to gather more detailed information, photos, and notes.

When I take on a commission for a scratch built model I always have to see the real car in person. But since this commission came about suddenly I did my preliminary work a little differently than usual. Normally, prior to seeing the car in person, I always gather some photos and information to help me prepare, so that I can make many of my own drawings before I travel to see the car which is when I will later fill in my drawings with numerous dimensions, and take many photos… anywhere from several hundred to a couple of thousand. The information required all depends on what I may already have, the level of detail required for the build, and the car itself. This also directly applies to the making of the “patterns” or “master models” for all of my CMA Models limited edition production runs. The patterns are made from scratch, but the engineering and some processes vary since we obviously make more than one of each for the limited editions. I put an extensive amount of my time and money into thorough research for my editions just the same as I do for my scratch built models.

Challenges, best laid plans, nothing goes exactly according to plan, it looked good in theory, blah, blah, blah… I’m sure most of you are familiar with the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” That is sometimes how I feel with my automotive knowledge. I know of an extensive amount of automobiles from obscure to common, their various manufacturers, and countless bits of minutia that I probably can’t trade for a cup of coffee. I know a lot about Ferrari, and so many of its one-offs and production variants made since the beginning; HOWEVER, that amount of knowledge occasionally backfires. It sometimes makes me a little too complacent. Sooo, in the department of “nothing goes according to plan” … I can report that all the Gremlins there are still gainfully employed. Stay with me here.

I’ve had access to quite a few SWBs over many years, and in the early 1990s, my biz produced a 1:24th scale limited edition production run of a Ferrari 250 SWB, which was a great model for the time, and now, maybe just a very good model. Made two versions, race and road. We produced models of a late series SWB, specifically S/N 2735GT. Much to my chagrin, and in addition to all the countless known detail differences listed by the many experts; I came to find that there is also quite a difference in body work between what I refer to as early and late series cars, which is NOT written about. Much more so than I have found listed in any books. There is a substantial difference in the arc/top sweep of front and rear fenders, as well as grill shape and opening size. Roof line varies as well and not just in regard to the early “cut corners” a top, the backs of the door windows. The SWB I was commissioned to make in 1:12 scale is an early series car.

I used to make all of my bodies completely by hand cutting, milling, carving, shaping a material called RenShape. This was arduous to say the least, and always nerve-racking. These days, my work is a mixture of old world craftsmanship with some modern technology thrown in, but still heavy on making the vast majority of parts by hand, one at a time, piece by piece, and on and on. Now, in the case of the bodies, I create most of them by working with a brilliant CAD modeler where we use my drawings, measurements, and photos to create a virtual 3D body, which is far less stressful than my traditional method, but still takes a huge amount of time and hands on. We go back and forth for a few months with renderings sent to me, which I adjust until we get something that is about 95% to where I need it to be. This type of work with a computer can only take you so far. The rest is done by hand. However, I did not work with my CAD modeler on this model, nor did I carve the body from RenShape. Please read on.

Regardless of which way one chooses to work, you must still have a good eye for the shapes, details, and so on, which I do have; otherwise you will still get garbage, which is close to what you get when using another process such as 3D scanning and increasing the size of the part from what was scanned. Any flaws in the original get amplified in whatever is made larger. I had a small body 3D scanned to make a big one. Don’t ask me why; it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

My on the job training continues. It looked good in theory. You really can’t do it all with a computer and it is always best to fully study something before jumping in. In my rush to get going on this SWB, and in order to save myself some time, and make things a bit easier for myself (Ha!!), and also justify my adding a full chassis/frame which I normally don’t do, I decided to have a 1:18 body 3D scanned and enlarged to 1:12 scale. Long story short, 3D scanning is best left to reducing an item in size, not enlarging it. Prepping the smaller body and correcting some of its flaws took more time than expected, as did the scanning, which also cost more money than expected, and then aside from time needed to correct various amplified imperfections, I discovered how very, very different the bodies are of early vs. late series cars. After I grabbed the closest case of Pinot Noir I could find, I sat down, made my list, and arranged to see another early series SWB near to me, from which I could gather the missing needed dimensions and information. Then I reshaped, by hand, the entire body from nose to tail.

Early stage of adding material to tops of fenders. Strips in place on front tops are guides for material to be added. And you thought I was joking about the wine?

Early stage of adding material to tops of fenders. Strips in place on front tops are guides for material to be added. And you thought I was joking about the wine?

Material added to tops of front fenders.

Material added to tops of front fenders.

Rear fender tops to be reshaped, and you'll see that wheel opening has also been revised, which I had to do to all four wheel openings.

Rear fender tops to be reshaped, and you'll see that wheel opening has also been revised, which I had to do to all four wheel openings.

I had my master body molded and cast for strength and back up. On the left is the revised grill opening, and on the right is what I started with. Still more work to do.

I had my master body molded and cast for strength and back up. On the left is the revised grill opening, and on the right is what I started with. Still more work to do.

Signal light bulges from later style are now removed and filled in, and front duct vents penciled in ready to be cut out.

Signal light bulges from later style are now removed and filled in, and front duct vents penciled in ready to be cut out.

The reshaped body ready for primer to check overall shape, and any areas needing more adjustment.

The reshaped body ready for primer to check overall shape, and any areas needing more adjustment.

Of course there is always more shaping to do that shows up after priming the body; mostly the fender tops. All the little dots are primer spotted in to fill numerous dimples/air holes in the body filler. The body gets primed again for a final check, then polished, then sent out for a mold and a few castings to be made.

Of course there is always more shaping to do that shows up after priming the body; mostly the fender tops. All the little dots are primer spotted in to fill numerous dimples/air holes in the body filler. The body gets primed again for a final check, then polished, then sent out for a mold and a few castings to be made.


MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on September 26, 2014 Comments (0)

Ferrari 250 SWB

We are busy winding down September. We attended The Boston Cup last weekend, a maturing event, and this weekend we will be at Santa Fe for their Concorso. 

Ferrari GTO Boston Cup

Several weeks ago we shared an image of our model car collection. We thought it quite typical of what most people have and your responses confirmed that. But several also expressed an interest in knowing what else is available. This week’s lead image kicks off a new series of stories all about model cars entitled Build a Small Collection. Our expert guide for this adventure into the world of building and buying miniatures is constructor Marshall Buck.

Michael Furman image of the hood and mascot of a 1932 Bugatti Royale Type-41

This Michael Furman image is the hood and mascot of a 1932 Bugatti Royale Type-41.

This video of a cluster of Jaguar D-Types racing at the most recent Goodwood Revival graces our homepage. What a sight!

The Weekly Leek European Correspondent, Oofy Prosser, reports on changes to the 2015 schedule. As a result of the recent German High Court decision to turn two blind eyes to B. Ecclestone’s “bribery” and “breach of trust” indictments in exchange for $100M US, a cash flow issue exists at Castle Ecclestone. F1 has announced a new sponsor for the United States GP in 2015.

Singapore GP

The F1 Save the Tires/Save the Fuel GP at Singapore’s $4.5B Marina Bay street and parking garage complex proved two things: First, that Mercedes can be counted on to build the fastest car but fails to consistently field two; Second, nighttime is meant for sleeping. This, the only nighttime event on the F1 schedule, makes sleeping an attractive option. Despite what F1 announcers sitting in an air conditioned studio in Connecticut may say about really wanting to be there, sitting trackside in 100+ degree heat and high humidity is singularly unappealing. The mere existence of this race is galling when one considers the challenging racetracks in Europe and America that could present real tests to F1 drivers and teams before knowledgeable enthusiasts.

No matter what one thinks of the individuals involved or the media hype surrounding their battle for the Championship, Hamilton/Rosberg is the only battle for the title and race after race it is consistently engaging. When one is missing, particularly in this grey-black catacomb of a track, so is the race.

Tudor United Sportscar Championship logo

Tudor United Sports Car Series: Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is arguably the best, and unquestionably the most modern road course in America.

Yet, again, from the only viewpoint that we represent—the spectators—the races at Virginia International Raceway two weeks ago were far more entertaining. The fast and wide Texas track simply didn’t deliver the door handle to door handle competition we saw at the narrower, twisty VIR. As with F1, it matters not a whit to us whether a particular track is the favorite of every driver. Our goal, which may or may not be shared by drivers, is to enjoy close competition. Period. We will have more details next week on this event and the upcoming finale at Road Atlanta.

Tudor racing Porsche

If you are anywhere near Santa Fe this weekend, make the effort to attend their Concorso and say hello.

Remember, if you enjoyed this, please share with a friend.

Peter Bourassa


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!