MMR Blog

Last Week We Wrote…

Posted on November 19, 2014 Comments (2)

Last week we wrote a piece about the troubles within F1. Alain de Cadenet chimed in with his thoughts about the genesis of today’s issues. We follow up this week with a few suggestions. What do you think?

Money in Formula 1

F1 has two issues but they both boil down to the same thing. Money. The cost of running a team in F1 is too high but for a few. Initially supported by racecar manufacturers, wealthy businessmen and sportsmen, the advent of tobacco company money and big advertising changed all that. Today there remain two self-funding car company teams, one is rich and the other is struggling. The remainder of the teams is dependent on sponsorship to survive. That brings us to the second issue. The price of staging a race is prohibitive. Organizers depend on ticket sales for the major portion of their revenue. It is judged that attendance was down 50% in Brazil and the numbers for Russia were not good and not publicly available. These are not the only places where the gate is down. All is not well in paradise.

Alain de Cadenet added…

Peter… take a look back into the history of all motorsport and you'll see that just as soon as additional funds became available through so called sponsorship, the whole aspect of that formula became contaminated. Everyone putting in wants something to take out. Traditionally it was a sportsman obtaining joy. Drivers obtaining glory. Spectators obtaining thrills and experiencing danger second hand. All real, tangible activities. Rather analogous to traditional investments in tangible substances like gold, silver, platinum, iron, corn, wheat etc. even pork bellies. Lo and behold along came derivatives, bank products, .com and other surreal ways to profit. And lose plenty when it goes wrong.

Isn't this the path that motorsport has followed? The show-business factor excels way more than the racing. When you have to invent ways to overtake and ways to conserve fuel then that's not really racing. Gold bars or certificates? No wonder the vintage-classic car market has gone ballistic. It's all gone wrong and we've lost plenty. Unless you still own the old banger you bought years ago.

Alain

What do you think?

In a few lines we have identified a few of the issues and some history; question is, what to do?

A quick view of open wheel racing would show that F1 eats money. The team that just collapsed had 200 employees. And they bought engines and transmissions. How many do you think Ferrari and Mercedes employ for their F1 effort? Competitive IndyCar teams consist of as few as 20 people. How about taking the best of both and making a 20 race series on both sides of the pond.

Who’s in?

IndyCar had 11 different winners. F1 had 3. The F1 engine manufacturers have made it plain that if the formula goes back to the previous V8 models preferred by fans, they are out. Say goodbye. Chevy and Honda are competitive and their engines don’t cost 10% of an F1 engine. Do you care who builds the engine? Do you care who builds the chassis?

Changes: IndyCar needs to stop racing in parking lots and get back to racetracks, even if they aren’t near a major shopping mall. F1 has to race where people who give a damn can see the race. And ovals can be part of the deal. Ten races in Europe and ten in America. Bernie and his greedy buddies have to be out. 

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let us know.


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:


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.


Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Posted on February 6, 2014 Comments (0)

Paul Chenard

Halifax Nova Scotia Automotive Artist, Paul Chenard, learned that Denise McCluggage would be in Lawrence MA for The Centered Driver Workshop one week before her scheduled appearance on January 28th. Paul is a huge Denise McCluggage fan and he decided that he must be there and asked if he could come. At that point, Michael Ricciardi owner of European Motorsports was flat out trying to create what is now called The Loft out of what was simply a crowded storage space above his showroom and shop. When Paul learned that the windows had been plastered over he suggested he paint a racing scene on two of the panels. Paul made two sketches which he sent Michael for approval, then loaded his vehicle and left home in a snowstorm to be here in time to complete his work. This is how he did it.

The scene depicts the final few feet of what photographer Jesse Alexander called “Fangio’s Great Race”. Driving for Maserati in the 1957 German GP at the Nurburgring, his team employed a different strategy from the Ferraris of Hawthorne and Collins. The plan would require the Maserati to start with less fuel, build a lead, and then stop on the twelfth lap to refuel. But a bungled 39 second pit stop allowed the two Ferraris to get by. Now you can watch a video of this race narrated by Alain de Cadenet and judge for yourself.