Can't believe I missed this one -- the Barrington Concours d'Elegance at the ritzy Arlington Park horse track in Arlington Heights IL. Luckily, Bolus buddy & roving correspondent Jim Fuerstenberg was on hand with his camera.
The unmistakable lines of a Delahaye.
Ferrari 500 TRC roadster.
Maybe the most crazysexy grille of all time -- the Brewster.
Raymond Loewy's personal custom Lincoln. Note glass roof, presaging the 50's era Ford Crown Vickies.
Maybe the most beautiful engine ever made -- Duesenberg.
Bobby Rahal's lil' Porsche.
UPDATE: Jim emails a quick correction:
Rahal's car is an Elva Porsche...
basically an Elva Mk7 (which usually ran Lotus Twin Cams) with a 4 cam Porsche
motor... I am pretty famililar with racing Lotus Twin-Cams...knowing a few folks
who race those; and being friends with Barry Sale of PHP Racengines (where we do
development of my Mini motor)...but I digress...anyway, a racing Twin-Cam motor
costs around $20K or so...per my conversation with Rahal, the 4 cam motor costs
about $75K... another reason not to race 4 cam Porsches...
American Underslung -- the first really low profile production car, thanks to its unique upside down suspension.
Rolls Royce Grey Ghost. Whisper-quiet even by modern standards.
Many thanks to Jim for the fine photos. His whole Flickr set - including many more stunning hoopties -- can be found here.
October 1 marked the 100th anniversary of the first Model T to roll off the Ford assembly line, and there's not much left to be said about the car that created the world as we know it. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford made over 15,000,000 T's, a sales record that would stand for over 50 years (eventually eclipsed by the VW Beetle), and at one time accounted for nearly half of all cars sold in the world. The sheer volume of Ts mean that they'll never be collectible in the sense of a Bugatti 1-of-4 muscle car. But nothing stokes the automotive brain center like seeing one of these splendid
sturdy old contraptions putter to life -- like this pair I spotted in an
Iowa parking lot last summer (a '25 Touring and a '15 Depot Hack)
The Model T became an icon almost as soon a it rolled off the assembly line, giving the language terms like "jalopy" and "flivver" and "Tin Lizzy." Buyers quickly discovered that contrary to Henry Ford's fanatical any-color-as-long-as-it's-black standardization, they could easily be customized. Among the first to do so were high school and college kids, who festooned them for campus antics -- a rage exemplified by Archie's sputtering red cartoon Touring, and the Flying Flubber Flivver that Fred MacMurray piloted above Medfield College in 1961's "The Absent Minded Professor." During the Dustbowl days of the Great Depression, migrating Okies kitted them out as pack mules for the long trek to California.
T's also proved a rich vein of iron for hot rodders, one of which used to belong to me -- the "Gusano Roto," a cutdownsteel '23 T Touring built by Orange County hot rod whiz Rudy Rodriguez. With a healthy 300 hp 350 SBC to push around 1500 pounds, it left its share of rubber vapor trails. I sure miss this little screamer, now somewhere in Canada.
With the advent of the T Centennial, I put a little thought into coming up with my list of the greatest Model Ts of all time. It was a little difficult to winnow down 15,000,000 to 10, but here goes.
Iowahawk's Top 10 Ts:
10. The Black Widow. This highly channeled flathead-powered '27 T roadster still looks incredible, 54 years after it rolled out of the Fresno garage of bulder Walter Olson.
9. The Ray Anderegg "Goldenrod." Anderegg built this roadster by whacking the top off a '26 Phonebooth coupe in 1955 and squirting it with Pagan Gold paint. The original is long gone, but our friend Von Franco built a perfect clone -- all the way down to the insanely rare 1956 Disneyland Hot Rod Parade dash plaque -- a few years back. It now belongs to another pal, Continental Club owner Steve Wertheimer.
8. The Munster Koach. Built by Barris Kustoms for the TV series, spliced together from 3 separate Ts, with a motor topped with 10(!) chromed Strombergs. Sublimely ridiculous, the ne plus ultra of wild 60's TV cars.
7. Roy Aldrich Roadster. From the sublimely ridiculous to the just plain sublime: Roy "Multi" Aldrich began building this T in the early '30s, long before the term "hot rod" existed. Every modification -- lowered axles, removed fenders, Buffalo wires, Riley multi-lift head, laid back windshield -- was done with one thing in mind: speed. It was already an old-timer when this photo was taken at Bonneville in 1952.
6. Steve Scott's "Uncertain T". This Nailhead-powered slanted phonebooth coupe caused a sensation when it debuted at the Oakland Roadster Show, and became a popular plastic model kit. Unseen for over 30 years, rumor has it that the car is still in pristine condition hiding in a California garage.
5. Blackie Gejeian's "Shisk-Kebab." Blackie's little '26 RPU tied with the Anderegg Goldenrod for America's Most Beautiful Roadster in 1955, and he was so proud of the detailed chrome undercarriage that he would drain the fluids, pull off the right side hubcaps, and push it upright on its side so admirers could have a close look.
4. Ed Iskenderian's '26. Legendary cam grinder Isky started built his turtledeck roadster in 1939 -- making his own one-off overhead exhaust valve conversion heads -- and it remains almost unchanged today. It's on display at the NHRA museum in Pomona.
3. Tommy Ivo's T. Teen TV star Tommy Ivo stuffed his T RPU with a injected Buick Nailhead and topped it with a jaunty cloth top featuring an outhouse-inspired half moon cutout. But it wasn't just a street cruiser; Ivo ran it hard on the dragstrip, hitting the 11's at 120 mph in street trim. It was Ivo's entree in a drag racing career as a Top Fuel champion.
2. Duffy Livingstone's Eliminator. Car buffs know the Ford GT40 as "the Ferrari Killer," but the original Ford to hold that title was this humble little roadster. Livingstone -- best known as the inventor of the Go Kart -- stuck an early T bucket on Essex rails and stuffed in a 283 SBC punched out to 302". At the L.A. Examiner's 1959 Grand Prix in Pomona this garage built cheapie stomped a field of high tech, high dollar Ferraris and Maseratis and became a legend. It now belongs to legendary automotive writer Brock Yates who wrote a very good book about it.
1. The Lightning Bug / Kookie T. SoCal teen Norm Grabowski began building his T roadster in 1955 and in its original incarnation (The Lightning Bug) it caught the eye of TV producers. He added a four deuce to the Cadillac motor and a wild flame job, and it was cast as the car of beatnik-lingo valet Edd "Kookie" Byrnes on the TV series 77 Sunset Strip. This is the car that launched the T-bucket craze, as well as Grabowski's long career as a character actor (usually playing good natured oafs named "Moose" or "Bronko"). In 1959 it appeared on the cover of Life magazine, under the lights at Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake, with Norm wolfing down dinner. A classic image of Americana.
Unfortunately the original car has gone through several owners and has been repainted and hacked and "updated" beyond recognition. But once again Von Franco came to the rescue, building two perfect clones of both Grabowski versions of the car. In fact there is great new documentary by our friend Evel at Mad Fabricators that tells the story. Highly recommended for that hot rod freak on your gift list!
A few weekend snapshots as the lovely Tammi Jo and I sojourned north for the vintage races at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. On the Saturday drive up we caravaned with Bolus co-blogger Cratedigger; "safety in numbers" is rule #1 when venturing into the dark heart of America's Holstein Jungle. While smaller in scale than Road America's huge annual 'Kohler International Challenge' vintage racing festival, the September races provided plenty of jawdropping hoopties.
Don't know if they were a featured make but there were a load of froggish little Sprites hustling about.
Stately FWD Cord Cabriolet, with a ginchy golfbag compartment.
Vive le France! Space Age Citroen CX DS (thanks to Geoff Kransdorf in comments for correction), with fiberglass roof and air suspension.
A couple more for you automotive Francophiles -- two generations of Renault Alpines.
Nothing says car engineering Nirvana like the precision-milled innards of a vintage Bugatti. This one belonged to a couple of Hawkeyes from Cedar Rapids.
This had to be one of the craziest contraptions I've ever seen -- a Franziss speedster, powered by a 1918 Curtiss V-8 airplane engine. Exposed overhead valve train, with a total-loss oiling sytem. This motor is all about torque; the fella told us it made 10 mph for every 100 rpm. Do the math - that's 100 mph at 1000 rpm.
At the extreme edge of lightness: this 1960 Lola tips the scales at 850 pounds.
More nirvana: a Birdcage Maserati.
Nimble lil Porsche 910.
Subtract 4 and you get this ultra-rare Porsche 906, one of a couple that the factory raced at the Nurbergring. Maybe the best looking Porsche ever.
Billet racing head Ford...
At first glance, a regular MG TD...
Until you spot the Scintilla mag and Marshall crank drive blower.
So veddy British -- Boddington Ale coil cover on a vintage Cooper S.
After the races we headed to beautiful downtown Elkhart Lake for beers at the ancient Siebken resort hotel, then over to the Osthoff resort for the Motor Trend Concourse d'Elegance.
Be still my beating heart: Bugatti Type 57 coupe.
Not your run-of-the-mill Italian job -- Lancia Futura.
Mercer fans used to taunt: "you have to be nuts to drive a Stutz." After ogling this Stutz 8 roadster, I respectfully have to disagree.
Equally impressive two-wheelers were there, like this Brough Superior. Just like the one that killed Lawrence of Arabia.
After suds, supper and shuteye, Tammi Jo and I took the slow road back to Chicago, stopping at all of Wisconsin's lakeside metropoli -- Sheboygan, Port Washington, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha.
Last stop before the border: the timeless Googie awesomeness of Kenosha's Hob Nob supper club, located on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Thanks, you crazy Cheeseheads. See you again soon!
Many thanks to Jim Fuerstenberg from Three Wheel Racing for the following pics. Jim writes:
David - some photos from the RM Auction at Monterey... had to go out there on
business... these are just a sample... the red car is a Virgil Exner design for Chrysler
from the 50s...did not make reserve at about 1.2M.
A Chrysler Diablo? (looks like Lamborghini stole the name!)
the 50s blue car is a hot rod from the 50s ...with Allison V12...did not
make reserve at 150K...
I smell a 1950 Buick somewhere underneath this backyard concept car, with '57 Cad bumpers. The Allison is stroke of genius, but it must be louder than hell.
and from the Zippo Vintage GP at Watkins Glen...where I was racing. The very old blue car is a 1928 Franziss with a 1918 Curtiss Wright Aero engine... 8 liters ...total loss oiling system...great mist every time he started it up...
I'd love to drive this one down to the emission testing station.
Howdy from sunny Southern California! I am still hard at work here gathering alcohol calories and strange stories, including one that involves an evil clown and the L.A. County Coroner's office. More on that later. First, through the magic of the intertubes, some local Illinois fun from last Sunday when I attended the 60th Annual Lake Forest Antique Car Show followed by a jaunt down to Wheeling's Palwaukee Airport for a show of vintage WWII aircraft. Highlights below, and the whole Flickr set is here.
Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon? As you can see from the Rolls/Bentley drag race, Lake Forest's gearheads are a slightly higher class of loser; this was an AACA event -- no modified vehicles allowed -- and as such I had to leave the Coupe of Justice in the parking lot.
The ultimate Ford Deuce -- 1932 Lincoln Town Car.
Early alternate power: 1920(?) Stanley Steamer. This thing was friggin' clean.
1903 Cadillac runabout. Believe it or don't, this was driven to the show.
The size (and proportions) of this 2-seater Rolls roadster were almost comical - a real life version of the car in the Tex Avery cartoon classic "Little Rural Riding Hood"
Invicta Roadster, with plenty of nautical details like the mahogany boattail and speedboat cowl
Compare this '35 Lincoln to the '32 above...
then contrast with this '39 Lincoln Continental. Car design was changing fast in the '30s.
Gordon Buehring's masterpiece, the coffin-nosed 812 Cord. Behind it is its cousin, the Auburn boattail speedster.
RR Winged Victory, with a polished aluminum hood
I'm not a big Benz fan, but this coupe was the shiznits.
The lines on this humpback Nash were incredible
Star of the show: 1948 Tucker Torpedo, one of 30 ever titled.
Down Milwaukee Road to our next stop, a display of vintage WWII aircraft from the Collings Foundation. Here's the B-17 "Nine-O-Nine."