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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Update February 27, 2016

Ford GT 40 for under $16,000. Now worth 3 million

Ford GT 40.

The road-going and now legendary GT 40 was once hard for Ford to sell through its dealerships.
To be able to race the GT 40 at Le Mans required FIA homologation which meant that a certain number of the cars had to be sold as road cars. To move the 20 or so cars built for homologation purposes, Ford promoted the car with a dealer roadshow and discounting, eventually clearing its inventory with very little (or perhaps no) profit.
The Ford GT 40, designed to beat Ferrari, captured overall victory at Le Mans from 1966 through 1969, and won scores of other races in Europe and the United States.
Race cars do not become instant success as road cars. Entry and exit was challenging for those dressed in street clothes, and the World Registry of Cobras & GT 40s, 4th Edition, describes entry and exit from the GT 40 as a “spectator event.”
The challenges of owning a GT40 as a daily driver didn’t end there, either. The doors needed a wide opening to negotiate across the wide sill, requiring owners to park on the outskirts of parking lots and hope for the best. Rear-side visibility was limited by enormous C-pillars, ventilation was provided only by small rectangular windows cut within the door glass (which also made paying tolls a challenge), being built in the UK, the car came only in right-hand drive, again a problem for the American potential customers. While customers could configure the GT40 with a number of options (including air conditioning), the starting price for a production road coupe was said to be in the neighborhood of $16,000.
By early 1967, Ford’s accountants were growing concerned with the significant amount of money tied up in homologation GT 40s, all of which were the Mk I variant. (Bean counters are still a problem.)
To stimulate cash flow, Ford initiated the Mk I Promotion and Disposal Program, which kicked off in February of 1967.
The “disposal” part of the program came in pricing, and dealers were advised to drop the sticker price of participating cars from $16,000 to $12,000, less if the car had been previously used. While records are a little incomplete, most cars sold through the disposal program changed hands at prices between $8,000 and $11,800 (in 1967, this was enough to buy two 390 V8 Mustang fastbacks).
This particular GT 40, Chassis P/1065, was built as a production road coupe, completed in December of 1966. Finished in Azure Blue, the car was equipped with a 289 V8 with Weber carburetors, which would have put output in the range of 390 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. Shifting through a ZF five-speed manual transmission, 0-60 mph would have taken around 5.3 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 260 km/h.
Chassis P/1065 was one of seven selected for regional tours, and in November of 1967, it was invoiced to Al Grillo Ford in Lynn, Massachusetts, for $10,000.
P/1065 did not remain on the showroom floor for long, as records show it licensed to an owner in Dallas, Texas, before the end of 1967.
In 1969, this GT 40 Mk I went to Shelby collector Andy Harmon in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Like his Cobra and Shelby Mustangs, the GT 40 was repainted in turquoise with white pinstripes and white side stripes. Harmon also added Mk III style rear windows, rear fender flares and “Mk IB” lettering on the nose, though no such model variant existed.
The GT 40 didn’t remain in Harmon’s collection for long, as records have it turning up in England the following year. There, its first owner painted the car purple with white stripes, and it remained in this livery until a 1984 restoration saw it painted red with black trim.
In 2000, the car was purchased by Bellevue, Washington, collector John McCaw, who returned it to the United States. It changed hands again in 2002, but remained in the United States until 2004, when it sold to a collector in the United Kingdom. In 2008, it was sold to an American owner, who retained possession of the car until 2012, when it sold at a Gooding & Company auction in Pebble Beach for $1.65 million.
Prior to its sale at Pebble Beach, P/1065 was given a “substantial” mechanical and cosmetic restoration, including a rebuild of the original engine, transmission, brakes and suspension, and a repaint in the original Azure Blue. Now it has less than 6,000 km showing on the odometer, though the car was simply described in the catalog as “displaying remarkably low mileage.”
This time around and four years later, Gooding & Company is predicting a selling price between $3.2 million and $3.6 million. While hardly inexpensive, it’s considerably less than the record-setting $11 million paid in 2012 for chassis P/1074, the GT 40/Mirage with a competition history used as a camera car in the filming of Le Mans.
Investing in classic cars is showing a much better return than real estate for example, with this one showing 100 percent increase in four years! However, I have noticed that many cars I have owned have turned into classics – after I sold them – as up till then they were only thought of as old bangers.


Another propulsion method unveiled

Quantino.

A Liechtenstein-based car company called nanoFlowcell is unveiling a car that it claims uses an entirely new energy source to drive.
NanoFlowcell describes electrolyte fuel as “metallic salts in aqueous solution” with one salt solution positive charged and one cell negative charged. Fluid is circulated around the barrier separating the two cells, which produces an electrical current that powers the motor. Similar situation to maglev as far as I can see, and remember this car is yet to prove its capabilities.
But it looks wild and will be shown at the Geneva motor show in March.


Another pay-driver

Rio Haryanto.

We had only just said good bye to the crash prone Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, after his millions of dollars sponsorship dried up, but now hot on his heels comes another make-weight in the F1 teams.
The new driver is 23 year old Rio Haryanto who will make history by becoming the first Indonesian to compete in F1 and joins Germany’s Pascal Wehrlein in an all-rookie line-up for the season that begins March 20 in Melbourne, Australia, driving for the Manor team.
“Melbourne will be a huge moment for me, my country, supporters and fans and I want to thank everyone who’s been with me since I started in single-seaters,” Haryanto said in a team statement issued on Thursday.
“2016 is my chance to reward that faith and represent Asia in F1.”
The second race seat at Manor was the last vacancy among the 11 teams for 2016, and Haryanto’s appointment completes the driver line-up.
Haryanto has spent the past four seasons racing in the GP2 series and has had commercial backing from Indonesia’s state oil and gas company Pertamina.
Manor owner Stephen Fitzpatrick said Haryanto is “tenacious on and off the track and made a big impression on last year’s GP2 battle”.
“Rio’s huge following in Indonesia is great for the team and for F1. They are keen to see him on the grid and we’re confident that we’ll see him enjoying some exciting battles in the year ahead,” Fitzpatrick said.
The appointment of Wehrlein and Haryanto means there is no place for American driver Alex Rossi, who raced with the team last year and had been hopeful of retaining his place (but his piggy bank wasn’t big enough).
Haryanto’s links to the Manor team can be traced back to 2010 when he drove for the team’s GP3 squad. He continued with Manor in GP3 in 2011, before graduating to GP2 in 2012.
He partnered Max Chilton that season and the pair both earned their super licenses at the young driver test at Silverstone with Marussia. During the GP2 campaign, Haryanto was comprehensively outperformed by Chilton, finishing over 130 points behind his teammate.
While Chilton graduated to F1 and then to Indycar in the US, Haryanto continued in GP2 finishing 19th in the standings in 2013, 15th in 2014 and fourth in 2015.
Haryanto gained further F1 experience at the end of 2015 when he completed 56 laps at Pirelli’s post-season tyre test in Abu Dhabi with Manor.
Manor’s switch to a Mercedes engine this season had raised hopes of a more competitive showing for the team, which entered the sport in 2010 as Virgin and then Marussia.
I hope they spend the Indonesian Rupiah wisely, and not all in the same shop.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned there has been only one car not designed for road racing which took part in a world championship Grand Prix race. Who drove it, in 1959? It was a Kurtis midget driven by Roger Ward.
So to this week. Which driver owed his start in F1 to a two month jail sentence?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update February 20, 2016

Full steam ahead

Stephenson’s Rocket.

George Stephenson was the brilliant designer whose steam engines once ruled the world.
On Sept. 27, 1825, railroad transportation was born when the first public passenger train, pulled by Stephenson’s Active (later renamed Locomotion), ran from Darlington to Stockton in the UK, carrying 450 passengers at 24 km per hour. Following the success Liverpool and Manchester interests called him in to build a 64 kilometer railroad line to connect the two cities. To survey and construct the line, Stephenson had to outwit the violent hostility of farmers and landlords who feared, among other things, that the railroad would supplant horse-drawn transportation and shut off the market for oats. (That reminds me of my grandmother who covered electric power points as she was sure the electricity would leak down the wall and discolor the wallpaper!)

Singer 9 Le Mans.

At the opening of the Liverpool-Manchester line in 1829, a competition was held for locomotives; Stephenson’s new engine, the Rocket, which he built with his son, Robert, won with a speed of 58 km per hour.
Whilst steam seemed the way to go for the railways, steam engines were not the only engines used in early automobiles. Between 1832 and 1839 (the exact year is uncertain), Robert Anderson of Scotland invented the first electric carriage.
These first electric cars used rechargeable batteries that powered a small electric motor. The vehicles were heavy, slow, expensive, and needed to stop for recharging frequently. Both steam and electric road vehicles were abandoned in favor of gas powered vehicles. Electricity found greater success in tramways and streetcars, where a constant supply of electricity was possible.
And do not forget that Dr. Porsche built the first hybrid vehicles with electric in-wheel motors with a small petrol engine turning a dynamo to produce the necessary electricity for the batteries.
If we had only ventured further down the electric road, the world would not be controlled by the pimps at the pumps!
An “Auto” Biography
I’ve had a lot of cars. Even a quick count has the total over 100. However, as I have been besotted by cars all my life, this means there is a fair swathe of time that covers.
My first motoring memory was a wonderful BRG Singer 9 Le Mans sports car which my father bought post WW II. He said it was one of the three Singers entered at Le Mans, and even though it had huge headlights with stoneguards, it probably wasn’t one of the team cars. Dad was known to tell a few fibs, but I loved that car. I cried when it was sold.

Five pound Fiat.

The next family car was a 1933 Morris Minor sedan. What a come-down from the racy Singer, but at least I was allowed to drive it on the deserted country roads of Scotland. The fact that the accelerator was in the middle, for some peculiar reason known only to William Morris (later Lord Nuffield), made driving the next car a problem till I got used to the normal position for the go pedal being on the right. The Morris was sold to the wreckers with a slipping clutch in 1953. I cried when that one went as well.
The first car I actually “owned” was a 1949 Austin A40 Devon. This model is distinguishable from the 1950 A40 Devon, in that it does not have quarterlights. I’m sure you will be on the lookout from now on. It does not really deserve to be remembered, other than the fact that I had to learn auto repairs to keep it running. My father bought me a Haynes manual, my automotive bible.
By this stage in my ‘auto’biography I had joined the MG Car Club (after beating an MG TF with the A40 in an unauthorized road race!) and I bought a BRG 1949 MG TC. I really was the starving medical student, working as a night watchman at the Red Cross Blood Bank and pumping petrol at the weekends and convinced a bank manager to give me a loan for “Textbooks”.
Having been seconded to a hospital in the Australian outback as a medical student, my next vehicle was a 1953 Ford V8 Customline. A lazy flat-head, side valve, huge lumbering beast that wallowed along the red dirt roads of western Queensland. It eventually disgraced itself by breaking a front stub axle and gently turned turtle on a suburban back street.
Buying another rather tatty Customline in 1964 for $50, I transferred all the good bits and traded it in for $175 on my next car, a black 1955 MGA, complete with a slipping clutch and a new one in a box on the passenger’s seat. Another Haynes manual later and the MGA now had a clutch and numbers on the doors with white shoe polish and my racing career began.
A working trip to the UK and Europe in 1966 saw my first Mk VII Jaguar in the garage, followed by another Mk VII M. Just like the Customlines, I cannibalized the two cars, kept the best one (VII M) and sold the tatty one.
After two years in the UK and Europe I received an offer I couldn’t refuse for the VII M Jaguar and then bought a Fiat 1100 to last me for the final three months of my stay in the UK before taking up a position as a ship’s surgeon for the voyage back to Australia. It cost five pounds, drank oil, produced a smokescreen that could bring out the fire brigade, but it lasted the 12 weeks. I parked it on Tilbury Docks in London and threw the keys in the water. (If it is still there, you can have it.)
On my return to Australia I bought a Mini 850 (sliding window variety) and a 1965 MGB roadster and an MGB fire damaged shell. Once again, cannibalizing the MGBs I built the first of the Super Bee series MGB race cars, which I drove for the British Leyland Works Team in Australia.
To tow the race car, a Chrysler Valiant ex-ambulance was purchased. What a great vehicle this was. All sorts of nooks and crannies to store tools, a stretcher to sleep on after we all took turns at driving the outfit the thousands of kilometers between home base Brisbane and race meetings in Sydney New South Wales. This had an added advantage that cars in front would see an ambulance bearing down on them and get out of the way, to be left perplexed as an ambulance with a trailer and a race car would rocket past!
When British Leyland pulled out of Australia, I was offered a very special one-off Mini Clubman GT 1275. What a wonderful pocket rocket that was! But oh, the quality, or lack of. Gearbox mountings, door handles, wipers, seat mounts etc etc etc all broke. After two years, Mini Clubman GT was traded in on the first of my Citroens, a new GS 1220 Club.
Thankfully it came with a warranty, as it was back at the dealership with no front brake pads after 3,000 km. The inboard discs were a swine to get at, and I only kept the GS for 12 months, replacing it with my first Japanese car. A friend sold Toyotas and I said I would buy one if it was faster than the Citroen, so a fully optioned Toyota Crown with air-conditioning that even had a crutch blower, in case the dangly bits got overheated, was next in the garage.
It was a lovely car to drive, but really too pedestrian for me, and as I had returned to racing cars, the Crown had to go. So what came next? I’m afraid you will have to wait for another day, as there are lots more to come!


Aston Martin DB4GT worth $20 million?

The most expensive DB4GT Zagato.

The gigantic sums of money that classics are commanding these days is just nothing short of amazing. At the recent Sotheby’s auction in New York, a 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato fetched $19.92 million. The price set a new record for a British car at auction, previously held by a McLaren F1.
When it was made in 1962, the DB4GT cost $11,600, twice as much as the average British house. It was originally built to take on Ferrari in the World Sports Car Championship, but the Aston Martin did not trounce the Ferraris.
Aston Martin sent the model to an Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Zagato, from which it emerged with a new body shape, and with many of its steel panels replaced with aluminium, helping to save 50 kg from the car’s weight. An additional 12 bhp was found from the 3.7 liter engine, taking the total to 314 bhp. Weight was now 1225 kg, giving acceleration times of 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, and a top speed of 246 km/h.
This car is number 14 of only 19 DB4GTs created by Zagato. The original plan had been to build 25, but demand was not as strong as expected.
The car was delivered to Australia, the only one of its kind sold there, where it competed in motorsport events. Its first owner, Laurie O’Neill from New South Wales, is reported to have also owned Ferrari and Porsche racing cars, as well as grand prix cars.
It was later sold to Colin Hyams, who displayed it at the 1965 Melbourne Motor Show, and then three years later to Alex Copland, who left it in storage for the following 20 years.
In 1993 it was brought to the UK and was acquired by G.K. Speirs of Aberdeen, and was restored, before competing at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car was later purchased by Peter Read, who described it as like “a tailored suit. It’s agile, sophisticated, and equally responsive. It’s a truly beautiful car to drive.”
Under Mr Read’s ownership, the car underwent a complete restoration over two years, with specialists from Aston Martin and Zagato helping to bring it back to as-new condition.
It has since been shown at some of the world’s biggest car shows, winning a number of trophies, including overall victor at the Louis Vuitton Concours at the Hurlingham Club in 2002.
Prior to the sale, Rob Myers, chairman of RM Sotheby’s, said: “Never mind being the greatest Aston of all time, this is one of the greatest GT cars ever produced. It is an absolute jewel of a car.”
While this Aston Martin marks the most expensive British car ever sold at auction, it still falls short of the overall record holder, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that fetched 32 million in 2014.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked you to take a look at the Quiz photo and identify the two cars please! They were a BMW on the left (double kidney grille gave it away) and a Tatra on the right (the fin over the rear was the give-away).
So to this week. There has been only one car not designed for road racing which took part in a world championship Grand Prix race. Who drove it, in 1959?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update February 13, 2016

2 (electric) horses

Citroen 2CV.

The Citroen 2CV came from very humble beginnings to become a national icon for France. Whilst now officially dead from Citroen’s point of view, it has been resurrected by Florent Dargnies the CEO of 4 Rous sous 1 Parapluie (4 Wheels under an umbrella) as an electric 2CV.
The origins of the previous humble (very humble) 2CV came from the requirement for a low-priced, rugged “umbrella on four wheels” that would enable four small farmers / peasants to drive 50 kg of farm goods to market at 50 km/h, in clogs and across muddy unpaved roads if necessary. The car would use no more than 3 L of gasoline to travel 100 km. Most famous, was the design brief requirement to be able to drive across a ploughed field while carrying eggs, that the envisaged smallholder customer would be taking to market, without breaking them.
Production began in earnest after WWII and continued through till 1990 with the early models being completely austere, with a pull-cord starter and a fuel dipstick and only battleship grey paint being available (remember the black Model T Fords). Wipers, electric starters and a fuel gauge all came later.
However, the 2CV has been resurrected as a city car, most likely Paris, where an electric version of the 2CV will be whizzing round the Route Peripherique on the way to the Eiffel Tower.


Anti-roll technology for buses

Bus rollover.

With it would appear, a weekly bus rollover, the powers that be here are pointing the finger at the double-deckers to cut down the road toll. However, in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has (NHTSA) had it legislated that ESC (Emergency Skid Control) must be fitted to buses.
It was said that Emergency Skid Control (ESC) in buses could reduce rollovers by 84 percent, preventing between 5,300 and 9,600 deaths annually and up to 238,000 injuries a year once all vehicles are equipped with it.
Around 10,000 people a year die in rollover accidents, even though just 3 percent of crashes involve rollovers.
NHTSA noted that two types of stability control systems have been developed for heavy vehicles. A roll stability control system is designed to prevent rollover by decelerating the vehicle using braking and engine torque control, while ESC includes all of the functions of an RSC system plus the ability to mitigate severe oversteer or understeer conditions by automatically applying brake force to help maintain directional control of a vehicle.
Heavy trucks - especially loaded ones - are more likely to rollover because of their higher center-of-gravity height.
The National Transportation Safety Board has urged NHTSA to do more to prevent heavy truck crashes, including requiring adaptive cruise control, collision warning systems, active braking and electronic stability control saying they “hold great promise in reducing accidents.”
NHTSA first proposed the regulation in 2012 but has made changes to the electronic stability tests that vehicles will need to pass in the final rule.
This is the latest action on larger vehicles by the safety agency. NHTSA is also working on regulations to require speed limiters on heavy trucks and is also reviewing underride guards. It is also looking at whether to require vehicle to vehicle communication on heavy trucks - as it plans to do with cars and SUVs.
In 2013, NHTSA finalized long-delayed regulations that will require lap and shoulder seat belts on commercial buses. But the agency decided not to require existing buses to be retrofitted with belts.
NHTSA has debated requiring seat belts on motor coaches since 1977. The new rules will take effect in 2016 on commercial buses that typically travel fixed routes between major cities, to tourist destinations and for other commercial trips.
The rules don’t apply to school buses and don’t affect the 29,000 commercial buses already on U.S. roads. Seat belts also won’t be required on most public transit buses - those with “request-a-stop systems” - but some public intercity buses that act like commercial motor coaches will need belts. NHTSA is also excluding from the rules airport shuttle buses that transport passengers to parking lots or rental car facilities.


The Good Old Days

A Classic car.

How often do people regret the passing of the Good Old Days? The Rotary Club of Phoenix Pattaya is presenting a Classic Car Show on Saturday February 27 at the Holiday Inn from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. followed by a parade of the Classic cars along Beach Road.
There are different ways of classifying cars in age groups, and my TBX Escort fits in the racing Retro (pre 1985) group. We are planning on being there, but much will depend upon our racing schedule.
If you have any interest in older cars, this will hold much interest for you.


Should manufacturers be in F1?

It was just over one year ago that Automania’s Editor at Large, John Weinthal, died in KL. John had a very keen sense of value, which prompted the following discourse from him. With Renault returning as an F1 team, John’s words are certainly appropriate. I present an edited version here.
“Four of the first eight cars in the final Grand Prix of 2010 were ‘Renault-Powered’; two were called Red Bull and two Renault.
No 2010 F1 cars were called Toyota, Honda or Jaguar although each of these names had some F1 prominence during the past decade, if little success.
Honda quit and its outfit became Brawn which in its first year cleaned up the Manufacturer and Driver Championships. Brawn became Mercedes-Benz for 2010. The new owners shelled out megamoney to come 4th in the Manufacturers’ Championship having spent much of the year explaining the failed efforts of their seven times world champion No. 1 driver who spun himself out of the final race on the first lap and ultimately scored roughly half the points of his junior partner.
Jaguar became Red Bull about 5 years ago and won both titles in 2010.
BMW pulled out of F1 but got a free kick for 2010 when the Ferrari-engined Saubers still had to be referred to as Sauber-BMWs – ain’t F1 a nonsense at times! (A small bottle of correction fluid would have fixed that, but F1 certainly has its head up its A at times – Dr. Iain.)
Toyota quit and refused to share its ball with any of the other kids.
So what?
I’m not sure ‘so what’, but I am coming to believe that F1 is NOT a good medium for car makers, even when they are successful. At best it is probably irrelevant; at worst it can actually damage a reputation. I can find NO evidence that it impacts short-term at least (say five years) on global sales one way or the other.
I think Renault is the best example of this. I find it incredible, in the sense of lacking credibility, that many people, especially the general car buying public, would see any beneficial link - technology or image-wise - between Renault F1 and showroom Renaults.
Renaults are just not perceived as either racy or prestigious, I aver.
I know a tad more about the Malaysian and Australian markets than I know about the rest of the world. Both these countries are fixtures on the F1 calendar. Both have extensive TV and media coverage of the whole F1 season. Both have a solid core of keen followers of F1 who, one might expect, would be seen by many of their family, friends and colleagues as somewhat more knowledgeable about cars than most - the very people to enhance or damage product reputations by word of mouth.
These core folk will have seen Renault rise and fall, but more often than not be successful either directly or as engine-supplier. But Renault has struggled - and that’s being kind - to make any impact, much less money, in either Australia or Malaysia. Renault maintains a marketing presence but the punters seem unimpressed.
I have NEVER seen anyone wearing a Renault cap or anorak!
Renault from my own experience makes some appealing cars, but none that shout “buy me” - a USP is missing almost across the range. The image is akin to Nissan or Seat; above Proton, possibly on a par with Fiat but definitely below VW and most of its brands (Seat and Skoda possibly excepted).
F1 is good for Ferrari without any doubt, but does it help parent company Fiat? Sales figures and ‘image’ would suggest a singular lack of flow on.
In fact, in Australia, apparently the Renault sales and resale values are not high at all. The millions of Euros spent to keep the Renault name ‘up there’ have not been translated into dollars at the Australian cash registers down there.
In fact, it would not surprise me if none of the sponsors could really show a direct flow-on from being involved in motor sport and their core business. Having the letters RBS on a Williams F1 car has not made me feel I should open an account with Scotland’s Royal Bank, nor do I look out for a Petronas fuel station when the needle gets low. My local Caltex is fine, thanks. And Ferrari can keep their ‘Mubadala’, whatever that is.
No, I can see justification for small stakes in motor sport, Asian or anywhere, but it is difficult to see real value in mega dollar sponsorships.
(That was John Weinthal’s impression five years ago now. I am sure he wouldn’t be excited about the name Renault returning to the fold this year. I believe this could be an even more embarrassing 12 months for the French marque than the last one.)


Autotrivia Quiz

 

Last week I mentioned a special finish for a Grand Prix team in 1914 that was never repeated until 1924 and then again in 1928. Even today, that finish cannot be equaled by the current F1 cars. I asked why? It was because the finishes were a 1-2-3 and current GP regulations only allows two cars per team.
So to this week. Take a look at the Quiz photo. Identify these two cars please! One is easy, the other is not!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Update February 6, 2016

Mormon Meteor wins again!

Mormon Meteor (Photo by David LaChance).

Hemmings group in the US reports that the Mormon Meteor, a 1935 Duesenberg Special once owned by the legendary Ab Jenkins, may well be the most desirable Duesenberg (if not the most desirable prewar American car) on the planet.
A multiple land speed record holder, the car claimed Best in Show honors at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, becoming the first competition car to do so. Last weekend, the car continued its winning ways for owner Harry Yeaggy of Cincinnati, Ohio, capturing a Duesenberg class win backed up by a Best of Show award at the 2016 Arizona Concours d’Elegance.
Harry Yeaggy acquired the car at auction in 2004, paying $4.45 million for the Duesenberg and setting a then-record price for an American car in the process. Since Jenkins and the car had parted ways in 1945, it had only passed through three additional owners, and had received a pair of partial restorations over the decades.
That’s not to say it was in original condition, and one of Yeaggy’s first goals was to return the open-top Duesenberg to its as delivered 1935 condition. (And that was after paying the thick end of four and a half million!) This was necessary as both Jenkins and subsequent owners had altered the car to suit their needs and expectations. For land speed record attempts, Jenkins had once fitted a 750 horsepower Curtiss Wright Conqueror V-12 up front, christening the car the Mormon Meteor II in this configuration.
After setting speed endurance records in 1935 and 1936, Jenkins “retired” the car after the 1937 season. At this time it was converted for road-going use, with the original 420 cu.in., 400 horsepower supercharged SJ engine replacing the aircraft V-12. The driver’s head fairing was removed (the passenger head fairing had been deleted shortly after Jenkins took delivery of the car), the exhaust was rerouted to allow the fitting of doors, and the car was resprayed in red instead of its original (and now familiar) pale yellow. In this configuration, Jenkins enjoyed the car during his tenure as the mayor of Salt Lake City.
Yeaggy had long studied the car before its purchase, and he understood the extensive amount of fabrication that would be needed to return the car to its original state. Entrusting the work to Classic Car Services of Oxford, Maine, a firm that had previously restored Yeaggy’s 1937 Bohman & Schwartz Convertible Coupe, the project began with even more research of the car in its as delivered to Jenkins state. The three-year project began with the review of as many in-period photos as Yeaggy and Classic Car Services owner Chris Charlton could unearth, with the assistance of Duesenberg historian Fred Roe.
Disassembly revealed that the prior restorations had been partial in scope, and not nearly as thoroughly researched. One attempt returned the car to a yellow hue, but a much darker shade than the factory paint. With accuracy being the primary goal of the restoration, the original shade of pale yellow was replicated from both period accounts of the car and from traces of the original paint left on brackets not removed during previous work.
Both driver and passenger head fairings were replicated, and the straight exhaust was fabricated after the now original body with no doors was fitted to the chassis. The straight-eight engine, which produced 80 horsepower more than a standard SJ courtesy of a revised supercharger, ram’s horn intake manifold, twin Stromberg UU-3 carburetors and custom camshafts, had already been rebuilt to a high standard, but was refinished to match the rest of the car.
Since taking top honors at Pebble Beach, the Mormon Meteor has also won at Amelia Island and graced the field at the 2012 Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles. As its win last weekend demonstrates, the Duesenberg Special remains a force to be reckoned with even eight-plus decades after its creation.
Other cars in the running for Best of Show included a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Zagato, owned by David Sydorick of Beverly Hills, California; a 1931 Chrysler Imperial CG LeBaron dual-cowl phaeton, owned by Aaron and Valerie Weiss of San Marino, California; and a 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Pillarless Berline with Figoni et Falaschi coachwork, owned by Don Williams of Danville, California.
(Reading about the range of classic cars available in the US and the UK would make an enthusiast weep. I am sure a Hilux will never be a classic!)


Natter, nosh and noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday February 8 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. A couple of the members are scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they often have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene, and one is just back from driving around Australia towing a caravan! Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what is the link between Prince Chula Chakrabongse, HG Wells, Rudolf Valentino, the Shah of Iran and the Sultan of Morocco? They all had Voisin C7’s.
Incidentally, Peter Eades, a regular quiz entrant found there was another identical E-Type hearse a couple of weeks back in a movie called Johnathan Livingstone, 2013, a film by Francois Curlet. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_F28RIoPL8 &feature=youtu.be You deserve two beers for that, Peter!
So to this week. A special finish for a Grand Prix team in 1914 was never repeated until 1924 and then again in 1928. Even today, that finish cannot be equaled by the current F1 cars.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or viacars @gmail.com. Good luck!


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Ford GT 40 for under $16,000. Now worth 3 million

Another propulsion method unveiled

Another pay-driver

Autotrivia Quiz


Full steam ahead

Aston Martin DB4GT worth $20 million?

Autotrivia Quiz


2 (electric) horses

Anti-roll technology for buses

The Good Old Days

Should manufacturers be in F1?

Autotrivia Quiz


Mormon Meteor wins again!

Natter, nosh and noggin

Autotrivia Quiz