Archive for April, 2012

Team Alfa-Romeo's Sartorial Flair

Looking at this photo of (left to right) Fangio, Nino Farina, Felice Bonetto, and Toulo de Graffenried in the pits at Monza’s 1951 Italian Grand Prix, I can only assume one thing… That the Alfa-Romeo team had a mandated waistband altitude regardless of driver’s height.

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Butzi Porsche's Design Legacy

F.A. Porsche at work.Of all the tributes to Butzi Porsche that have floated across the web in the weeks since his passing, I believe that today’s thoughtfully written article at Core 77 would be the one he’d most appreciate.

I think it fitting that it would take a design magazine to strip away some of the artifice of the 911’s legend and focus more on Butzi as a designer. It won’t surprise you that I buy in to author Raymond Jepson’s assertion that Butzi deserves a place alongside architect Ludwig Mies van de Rohe, legendary graphic designer Paul Rand, and Braun’s product designer Dieter Rams as the greats of twentieth century design. Their analysis of Dieter Ram’s recent resurgence of appreciation in the wake of Apple’s frequent homages to his aesthetic is spot on and could well provide a template for Butzi’s wider recognition in the future. It might not be until decades from now, with the benefit of a bit of history between Butzi’s death and ultimate legacy that we’ll be able to more holistically appreciate the impact Butzi had on the world of automotive and product design.

I recommend you click over and read the entire article. It’s a refreshing approach on Ferdinand Porsche’s work with a focus on his work, not on the company his family built.

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Past Glory: GTOs at Amelia Island

If the Ferraris in Justin Lapriore’s “Past Glory” don’t make you want to clear your calendar for next year’s Amelia Island Concours, I don’t know what will.

Love that these jewels are being driven. Can you imagine this crew passing you on a country road?

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Everybody's Automotive Magazine

It says it all right there under the logo doesn’t it: “Everybody’s Automotive Magazine”.

Looking at this cover from the June 1960 edition of Hot Rod, I believe it. Comet vs. Rambler. Chevys for Indy. VW hop up kits. It’s all in there. Muscle. Racing. Imports.

I suppose on the whole, I appreciate that specific tastes can be catered to in today’s media landscape. But it makes me wonder if automotive enthusiasm has become too compartmentalized… Too isolated.

It’s all too rare a car event where all comers are appreciated as part of a unified whole: lowriders and rat rodders; supercar polishers and vintage chrome collectors; drag racers and import tuners.

When I see this old issue of Hot Rod, part of me is immediately caught up in the frame these fellows are dropping this powerplant into: Marveling that this is all just happening in the back lot and somehow looks as clean as a sterile workshop. But when I see the other feature callouts, it reminds me to step back from the details and the minutia and look at the big picture of people—all kinds of people—just messing about with their cars.

Not a bad way to spend 35¢, eh?

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Speed. Safety. Acceleration. Durability. Braking.

I’m not the only one who thumbs through old brochures and fantasizes that I can still ring up my local importer and order an Abarth, right?

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50 Years Later: Stirling's Career Ending Crash

April 23, 1962’s non-championship Glover Trophy race should have been a minor blip on Stirling Moss’ calendar. But when his car had troubles and fell behind he redoubled his efforts and fought hard to climb back up the field. Only to have it all come down again when, after taking the fastest lap, his car careened off the track and crashed into an embankment.

It was an hour before he was extracted from the car. More than a month that he was in a coma; five months to fight off the paralysis that afflicted half his body.

I was among those saddened when Sir Stirling announced his second retirement from racing recently and would no longer be among the vintage racers in the pits at Goodwood and the Monterey Historics and others. That he was around to take part in vintage racing at all is a marvelous bit of good fortune. He’s a tough one.

More at Motorsport Musings, and a hat tip to Scuderiadank.

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Better Than Instagram

Would you believe me if I told you that Bjmullan shot this photo in 2008? 1966? 1972? Three cheers to the timelessness of the Goodwood Circuit.

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California Festival of Speed – Fontana, CA – 04/20/12

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Home Movies from LeMans. 1970.

Have I told you lately how much I love it when people digitize their old 8mm footage of races? Just look at the clips from the pits of the Hippie 917 with its cover still sitting on it carelessly. Just look at the Ferraris being lowered from the truck. Just look at the sheer madness of the flares on the class winning Greder/Rouget Corvette.

Just. look. at. it. And that’s all before the opening parade.

I’m sort of surprised that Wes Anderson hasn’t bitten this dude’s lap update compositions.

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At Auction: 1934 Lagonda Rapier

Lately I’m smitten with pre-war monopostos; often as much for the idea of them as for the machines themselves.

To be more specific, part of me wishes it was still possible to buy chassis and engine packages from manufacturers and then drop it off at your local coachbuilder. What a glorious age that must have been. When a particular chassis/engine combination might have dozens of variants on the road or track, with many of them being truly unique creations. Not cheap when you ding the bodywork, but a marvelous era for displaying individuality through transportation that no amount of ground effects and neon underlights and vinyl graphics and wings can replicate today.

This Lagonda Rapier being offered as part of Coy’s Ascot auction this weekend certainly fits that description. Just compare these photos to the more sedate—though no less beautiful—road-going bodywork that most Rapiers bore when they rolled out of a small British coachbuilder’s workshop. This gorgeous example is sure to draw plenty of attention and I don’t doubt she’ll meet her £50,000 – £70,000 estimate.

Like many of the surviving Rapiers, the machine on offer has had her powerful but fragile Coventry Climax-tuned 1104cc engine swapped. Here it’s with a beefier AC 2 liter unit. With this combination, the car was campaigned for many years by former Vintage Sports Car Club president James Crocker. More recently, the car has been campaigned and partially restored by an unnamed Swiss collector. With the recent rebuild of her engine, new crank, pistons and other bits, she’s bound to be a lovely competitor.

I find that I grow more and more interested in the pre-war group at the vintage events I attend. It’s hard to listen to them pass by and not think of the barnstorming thrill seekers that originally wrestled these giant beasts through around-the-house races in villages throughout Europe. It conjures such a romantic vision that, instead of my old mood of simply waiting through the prewar group to get on to the 50s and 60s racers, I look forward to the old girls’ time on the track with eager anticipation.

I do find it hilarious that part of Coy’s lot detail page (with more information and photos) is cribbed from the Lagonda Rapier Wikipedia entry.

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