09 Oct

Porsche 962 to be honored at Amelia Island Concours in March, 2019

The Amelia Island Concours will celebrate the car’s 35th anniversary in 2019

962-1Amelia Island, Fla. – Racing is in Porsche’s blood and over the past 70 years the German sports car manufacturer has created some incredible racers; the 904, 917 and GT1 to name but a few. However, one of its creations stands as one of the most successful in all of motorsport and will be celebrated at the 2019 Amelia Island Concours. That car is, of course, the Porsche 962.

Next year the Porsche 962 will be 35 years-old, hard to believe when it still looks the part today. The 24th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is to honor the prototype racing car that dominated America’s IMSA series. In that formula, the 962 won no less than 54 races with 1985 being its golden year, taking the top step at every event bar one. The 962 also won the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hour race three times.

The 962 was born out of necessity as the Group C Porsche 956, that had won Le Mans in 1982, did not comply with IMSA safety regulations. This issue led Porsche to evolve the design of its first monocoque racer and create the compliant 962. When international rules changed in 1985, the 962C ended up replacing the 956 globally.

962-2

Porsche’s 962 was ahead of its time with its extensive use of ground effects, something that kept it competitive for an unusually long period. Star drivers such as Mario Andretti and his son Michael, Indy 500 winner Al Unser and his son Al Jr., Derek Bell, and AJ Foyt have all claimed victory behind the wheel of a 962.

An amazing fact is that with victory at Le Mans as well as Daytona in 1986 and ’87, the 962 had technically been undefeated in 96 hours of endurance racing. Between its first IMSA win in 1984 and the final competitive victory in 1999, Porsche’s 962 tallied 142 victories and won 35 international championships.

About The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Now in its third decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “The Amelia” draws more than 300 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. The 24th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 8-10, 2019. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org or call 904-636-0027.

Courtesy Tyler Heatley, autoclassics.com

15 Jan

Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance celebrates Ferrari ‘Daytona’ March 11, 2018

“The last road car that might legitimately be considered a true Ferrari is the 365GTB/4 Daytona.” – Brock Yates, Enzo Ferrari (Doubleday, 1991)

It’s been a half-century since Pininfarina created the timeless shape of the Ferrari 365 GTB/4. On March 11, 2018 that happy anniversary will be celebrated at the 23rd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance with a special class of the rare and significant Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” automobiles.

am_day2It was revenge, not Ferrari that gave the 365 GTB/4 its popular nickname. The name of America’s first superspeedway clung to the big Italian GT after Ferrari prototypes avenged themselves on American soil following their stinging defeat at Le Mans in 1966. Three victorious Ferrari P4 and P3 prototypes executed a perfectly choreographed photo finish winning the 1967 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It mocked Ford’s botched photo finish at Le Mans the previous June. There was little subtlety in it and everyone got the point. And the name Daytona stuck to the 365 GTB/4 almost at once.

am_day3So the mighty 365 GTB/4 became known as “Daytona” even though Ferrari never made it official. Some historians claim that the project was labeled “Daytona” internally during its gestation following the 1967 Daytona 24 Hour sweep. Then the internal nickname “Daytona” leaked. Ferrari himself was said to have squelched the use of the name when it became public.
Today the Daytona has a special place in Ferrari’s lustrous history. Automotive tastes and the traditional designs that had served Ferrari so well for two decades were under assault in the late sixties. So Ferrari made one last thunderous declaration regarding the creation of the thoroughbred grand touring car. They labeling it in traditional Ferrari fashion: 365 ccs per cylinder, Grand Tourismo Berlinetta, four overhead camshafts; 365 GTB/4.

am_day4Nearly 1,400 Daytona’s were built in coupe and convertible configurations. It outgunned its pricier and rarer 3-liter predecessors with a muscular 4-cam 4.4 liter V-12 fed by six enormous 40 mm Weber carburetors. This exotic recipe makes 380 hp and propels the big two-seater to nearly 180 mph; a sobering number for a 3,600 pound GT.
Despite its weight the Daytona made a fine race car. Ferrari created 15 special Competition 365 GTB/4s from 1971 through 1973. They scored class victories at Daytona, Watkins Glen and Le Mans and won the 1972 Tour de France outright. Second overall (with class victories) at the 1973 and 1979 Rolex 24 at Daytona, appropriately, are the Daytona’s North American racing high water marks.

am_day5“The Daytona has traditional Ferrari provenance, presence and poise.” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “The Daytona is the last of the true ‘Enzo’ Ferraris created before the Fiat influence arrived in Maranello in 1969. The howl of that big V-12 should be part of Il Canto degli Italiani, the Italian national anthem. The big Daytona is a car, a name and a legacy worth celebrating in grand style.”
Courtesy: Mike Eppinger, OldCarsWeekly.com
Photos courtesy of Bill Warner, Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
About the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

am_day1Now in its third decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “Amelia” draws over 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island, The Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. The 23rd Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 9-11, 2018. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org or call 904-636-0027

01 Jan

IMSA GTP cars to be celebrated at 2018 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance March 11, 2018

The Miller High Life-sponsored Porsche 962 of Holbert Racing. Photos by Bill Warner, courtesy Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

The Miller High Life-sponsored Porsche 962 of Holbert Racing. Photos by Bill Warner, courtesy Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

IMSA’s GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) class was founded in 1981, in response to the FIA’s Group C class for sports-car prototype racing cars. Like the Can-Am cars that preceded them, the IMSA GTPs were among the fastest and most-advanced cars of their day, and a quarter-century after the class was discontinued, fans still mourn its passing. At the 2018 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, IMSA GTP cars will be celebrated with a dedicated class and a seminar that recalls the glory days of prototype racing in North America.

Group C and GTP cars were similar, but not the same. IMSA focused less on fuel economy and a bit more on driver safety than the FIA, a distinction than can be seen in difference between the Group C Porsche 956 and its longer-wheelbase fraternal twin, the Porsche 962, which dominated IMSA GTP racing from 1985-’87. In addition to adding nearly five inches to the wheelbase to prevent impact injuries to the driver’s feet, the IMSA 962s carried a 120-liter fuel cell, as compared to the 100-liter limit mandated by the FIA’s Group C. In terms of performance, both the 956 and the 962 were capable of speeds above 350 km/h (218 mph), and the 962 proved even faster than the revered Porsche 917/30 Can-Am car up Watkins Glenn’s Wedgewood Straight.

Both GTP and Group C cars featured enclosed cockpits, with aluminum, carbon fiber, and Kevlar generally used to construct the monocoque and body. Though labeled as “prototypes,” the cars resembled absolutely nothing in a dealer’s showroom, but instead were built solely for the purpose of lapping a circuit as quickly as possible. Most IMSA tracks required more downforce for higher cornering speeds, while European circuits run in FIA Group C competition were often more about top speeds, requiring less downforce and lower drag.

The Kreepy Krauly Porsche-powered March 83G leads the Porsche 935 of Hen’s Swap Shop

The Kreepy Krauly Porsche-powered March 83G leads the Porsche 935 of Hen’s Swap Shop

As with Can-Am, engine displacement and configuration weren’t regulated by IMSA GTP rules. Forced induction was permitted, and favored by many teams for its lower fuel consumption, since even under IMSA rules the amount of fuel supplied for a race was limited. Privateer teams were an important component of IMSA racing, so every effort was made—in the beginning, anyway—to level the playing field in terms of cost, power, and driver safety.

The first full season of GTP racing was 1982, when the championship was won by John Paul Jr. in a Porsche 935. The March 83G was the chassis to beat for the next two years, with Al Holbert clinching the title in a Porsche-powered March in 1983, followed by Randy Lanier’s championship in a Chevy-powered March in 1984. Holbert repeated as champion, this time behind the wheel of a Porsche 962, in 1985 and 1986, while Chip Robinson took top honors with a 962 in 1987.

As quickly as it began, the reign of the Porsche 962 ended in 1988, when Nissan entered the series with its GTP ZX-Turbo. Geoff Brabham took this car to championships in 1988-’89, repeating with its successor, the Nissan NPT-90, during the 1990-’91 seasons. A new champion was waiting in the wings, however: Introduced during the 1991 season, the Toyota-powered AAR Eagle Mk III was about to rewrite the record book on winning.

The Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo

The Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo

During the 1992 IMSA GTP season, Juan Manual Fangio II racked up an impressive seven wins in 15 races behind the wheel of the #99 AAR Eagle Mk III, while his teammate, P.J. Jones, put up another two victories, easily handing the championship to AAR and Toyota. Impressive though the performance was, it paled in comparison to 1993, when the Toyota-powered team earned victories in every race contested, even taking the top two steps on the podium at Miami, Atlanta, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca, Portland, and Phoenix.

The dominance of the AAR Eagle Mk III was one of the factors that led to the demise of the GTP class. By the final season, privateer teams could no longer compete with factory efforts from Toyota and Nissan, reducing the overall number of GTP cars in the field and hence, spectator interest. Across the Pacific, the Japanese economy was in shambles, and by 1994 even manufacturers could no longer justify the expense of multiple racing programs. Like the Can-Am series before it, a combination of external forces and the overbearing success of a single team signaled the end of IMSA GTP racing.

Though the cars to be shown at Amelia Island have not yet been confirmed, it’s safe to bet that the Porsche 962 will be well-represented, along with the AAR Eagle Mk III and Nissan’s ZX-Turbo and NPT-90. Jaguar won its share of races in GTP, as did the March 83G chassis with several engine manufacturers, so it’s likely examples of these will be displayed, too. The panel discussion will be hosted by Bob Varsha, and expected participants include Hurley Haywood, David Hobbs, Davy Jones, Tommy Kendall, Brian Redman, Chip Robinson, and Mark Raffauf, IMSA’s executive VP during the Camel GTP years.

The 2018 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance takes place from March 9-11 at The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Florida. For additional details, visit AmeliaConcours.org.

Courtesy Kurt Ernst, Hemmings.com

14 Dec

Ed “Big Daddy” Roth cars to assemble at Amelia Island Concours on March 11, 2018

Beatnik Bandit -Photo courtesy National Automobile Museum

Beatnik Bandit -Photo courtesy National Automobile Museum

Amelia Island, Fla. – Futurist and visionary, or instigator and Weirdo? Ed Roth might have preferred the latter two terms as compliments, but as culture consumes counterculture, his legacy as an artist has grown over the last few decades, to the point that some have labeled him with the former two compliments and to the point that the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will showcase several Roth-built cars at its 2018 show.
As early as the 1980s, as David LaChance pointed out in his profile on Roth in the July 2017 issue of Hemmings Classic Car, art galleries and museums began to take notice of the work Roth had done 20 years earlier, likely due to the fact that some of the many, many children who bought Rat Fink stickers, wore Mother’s Worry T-shirts, and built AMT-produced Outlaw models had grown up to become influencers in the world of high art.
“He lived long enough to see his work rediscovered… and to be toasted by the mayor of San Francisco with a day in his honor,” LaChance wrote.

Outlaw - Photo by Alan Mayes, courtesy Spritz by Fritz

Outlaw – Photo by Alan Mayes, courtesy Spritz by Fritz

Roth began building hot rods, then painting and pinstriping them himself, long before his art propelled him to a national stage. However, with his fiberglass-bodied Outlaw, built in 1959, he discovered not only that crazy custom car creations could earn him a few bucks from car show promoters eager to use the cars to bring in crowds (who would then pass by Roth’s booth and buy a T-shirt or two), they could also earn him some free publicity via the car magazines of the day, equally eager to spotlight something wacky.
“He wanted to build cars but Roth didn’t want to build just any cars, or even any hot rods,” Ken Gross said in the write-up for the 2007 RM Icons of Speed and Style auction, which featured several Roth vehicles. “It took fantastic cars, conceived and built outside the mold of convention to satisfy Roth.”

Mysterion - Photo courtesy Beau Boeckmann.

Mysterion – Photo courtesy Beau Boeckmann.

Roth then followed the Outlaw with the Beatnik Bandit in 1961, the Rotar in 1962, the Mysterion in 1963, both the Road Agent and the Orbitron in 1964, the Surfite in 1965, the Druid Princess in 1966, and the Mega Cycle (a.k.a. Captain Pepi’s Motorcycle and Zeppelin Repair) in 1967 before turning his attention to choppers and trikes. Only in the late Eighties would he build more cars, among them L.A. Zoom, the 1995 Beatnik Bandit II, and the Stealth 2000. Each car Roth completed with his famed spitwad-and-plaster method progressively pushed the boundaries of automotive design and engineering; almost all of them were immensely impractical for street driving, but most of them could at least roll in and out of auditoriums and show halls under their own power.

Orbitron - Photo courtesy Beau Boeckmann

Orbitron – Photo courtesy Beau Boeckmann

As Rat Fink mania died down in the latter half of the Sixties and Roth shuttered his studio, however, the various cars he built scattered to the four winds. Some went on display at the Cars of the Stars museum and ended up in the Brucker brothers’ collection, the original Outlaw has ended up at the Petersen Museum, and Roth personally donated the Beatnik Bandit to the National Automobile Museum in Reno. Others, including the Road Agent, the Druid Princess, and the Tweedy Pie T-bucket, passed through the hands of collectors such as Mark Moriarty and Ralph Whitworth. The Mysterion has disappeared and thus inspired at least two replicas while the Orbitron, long thought vanished, turned up in 2007 serving as a trash bin outside an adult bookstore in Mexico.

Druid Princess - Photo courtesy RM Auctions

Druid Princess – Photo courtesy RM Auctions

While some of the cars have gathered at events in the past — notably the 2006 Detroit Autorama — the Amelia class represents the first such concours class honoring Roth, who died in 2001. Other featured classes at the Amelia Island Concours will focus on the Porsche Carrera, Auburns, the Jaguar XKE, the cars of Martini Racing, the 50th anniversary of the Ferrari Daytona, pre-war MGs, early electric cars, and cars built for hunting.
The 2018 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will take place March 9-11. For more information, visit AmeliaConcours.org.
Courtesy Daniel Strohl, Hemmings.com

15 Jan

Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance to feature Movie Cars class on March 12

The ‘Rain Man’ 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible restored by Wayne Carini Photo by Neil Rashba, courtesy Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

The ‘Rain Man’ 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible restored by Wayne Carini
Photo by Neil Rashba, courtesy Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Amelia Island, Fla. – One appeal of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance (and trust us, there are many) is the diversity of cars selected to appear each March. From the “Cars You Never Knew Existed” class (featuring automotive eccentricities like a four-door Porsche 928, or the aircraft-inspired 1948 Tasco prototype) to famous racing cars and CCCA Full Classics, the show offers something for everyone to appreciate. For 2017, the show will expand its range to include cars seen on the silver screen, starring in a new Movie Cars class.
Loads of cars have appeared in Hollywood films, but only a select number of them are considered stars in their own right. These are the cars that play leading roles, the ones we remember long after we’ve left the movie theater or drive-in. The special category was inspired by the popularity of the 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible, featured in the Academy Award-winning 1988 feature film Rain Main. It was displayed by Connecticut-based restorer Wayne Carini in the Post War American Production Class at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Owned by Rain Main director Barry Levinson, the Buick will be making a repeat appearance at the 2017 show.
In the words of Concours Chairman Bill Warner “When Wayne Carini brought the 1949 Rain Man Buick Roadmaster to Amelia last year it triggered something important. Memories of special cars and movies often frame the central moments of our emotional lives. Usually they resurrect happy memories. Those feelings and memories are precisely what we’re shooting for with the Movie Cars class.”

Harry Yeaggy’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5, as seen in ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’ Photo courtesy RM Sotheby’s.

Harry Yeaggy’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5, as seen in ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’
Photo courtesy RM Sotheby’s.

Perhaps the best-known car to appear will be the 1964 Aston Martin DB5, driven by Sean Connery (as James Bond) in Goldfinger and Thunderball. As the most astute Bond fans know, two DB5s were originally built for the filming of 1964’s Goldfinger. One, the “Effects Car,” came with the full assemblage of gadgetry seen in the movie, making it too heavy and slow to drive. A second car, the “Road Car,” was built for the driving scenes, but gadgets were later added before the car was used in the filming of 1965’s Thunderball. Additionally, two other DB5s, known as the “Press Cars,” were constructed for promotional appearances.
The Effects Car was stolen from a Florida aircraft hangar in 1997, and has never been recovered. That leaves the Road Car as the sole surviving screen-featured James Bond DB5, and it’s this car, now owned by collector Harry Yeaggy, that will be appearing at Amelia Island.

Elvis Presley with the 1959 Corvette XP-87 Stingray Racer, which has been restored to as-raced condition with a silver livery Photo courtesy Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Elvis Presley with the 1959 Corvette XP-87 Stingray Racer, which has been restored to as-raced condition with a silver livery Photo courtesy Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Other cars to be shown include the 1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider from 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair; the 1969 Porsche 917K, in Gulf livery, from 1971’s Le Mans; the 1958 Chevrolet Impala from 1973’s American Graffiti, recently restored by owner Ray Evernham; the 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder from 1976’s Gumball Rally; the 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Riviera Salamanca, from 1954’s Sabrina; the 1959 Corvette XP-87 Stingray Racer, campaigned in SCCA competition by Dr. Dick Thompson and later driven by Elvis Presley in 1967’s Clambake; and one of three Woodill Wildfires to appear in 1954’s Johnny Dark, now owned by Forgotten Fiberglass’s Geoff Hacker.

The Woodill Wildfire is pushed out of the garage in ‘Johnny Dark’ Photo courtesy Geoff Hacker

The Woodill Wildfire is pushed out of the garage in ‘Johnny Dark’
Photo courtesy Geoff Hacker

The 2017 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will take place on March 10-12 at the Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carleton, Amelia Island. For additional information, or to purchase tickets, visit AmeliaConcours.org.

Poster for the 1954 film ‘Johnny Dark’ | Archive

Poster for the 1954 film ‘Johnny Dark’ | Archive

Article courtesy Kurt Ernst, Hemmings Motornews
About The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Now in its third decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “The Amelia” draws over 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. Since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated over $3.0 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc., Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Shop with Cops, and other deserving charities. The 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 10-12, 2017. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org

23 Feb

Early 21st Century Ford Concept Cars from Bortz Collection at Amelia Concours coming up soon

Lincoln MK9 at the 2001 NY Auto Show (Photo: cardesignnews.com)

Lincoln MK9 at the 2001 NY Auto Show (Photo: cardesignnews.com)

Amelia Island, Fla. – Two heaping portions of hopeful Americana are coming to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance March 11 – 13. Part of the Bortz Auto Collection, the 2001 Lincoln MK9 and 2003 Mercury Messenger concepts will be on display at this year’s festivities.

After the boom of the 1990s, Ford was down on its luck at the turn of the 21st century. Profits were down as high fuel prices, among other things, ate into sales. The success of the 1990s had also made Ford bigger and more unwieldy, with baggage like Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Mazda, and Volvo on board in addition to Lincoln and Mercury.

But the early 2000s weren’t entirely without optimism, as Lincoln and Mercury each revealed major concepts in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Both penned by Gerry McGovern, who would go on to have wild success with Land Rover and designs like the Evoque SUV; the Lincoln MK9 and Mercury Messenger were enormous pieces of an offensive to rejuvenate the struggling luxury nameplates.

2001 Lincoln MK9 Concept

2001 Lincoln MK9 Concept

Heralded as the return of the personal luxury coupe at the 2001 New York auto show, the Lincoln MK9 was supposed to pick up where the Mark VIII left off in 1998. Three years of silence from Lincoln left people wondering where American luxury would go into the 21st century, and the MK9’s blend of stately exterior design and elegant, futuristic luxury cues was supposed to point the way forward.

The Italian composite body rode on a Lincoln chassis. While the proportions were somewhat similar to a Thunderbird, the MK9’s 121.9-inch wheelbase was almost a foot longer than the T-Bird’s, and it was just plain bigger in every dimension. Its low roof and flowing silhouette paired with chrome detailing, aluminum door hinges, and side air exhausts for a delicate yet confident attitude. The boattail trunk is a significant retro cue, while the angled rear calls out to the 1961-1967 four-door Continental models.

MK9 cabin features Eames chair-style lounge seating

MK9 cabin features Eames chair-style lounge seating

Lincoln made a much bigger statement, however, with the interior. Heavy accents of Dark Cherry Red and Marlboro Red leather, polished metal and body-colored gloss seat shells flooded the cabin. Etched glass instruments were illuminated. The cantilevered seats, positioned to improve foot room, were designed after Eames Lounge chairs. And crucially, there was ample room in the back seat, addressing a major pitfall of the Mark VIII. The rear-wheel-drive Lincoln MK9 concept was powered by a V-8 engine paired to an automatic gearbox and used four-wheel independent coil spring suspension, and anti-lock disc brakes. While the new naming convention would appear on cars like the Lincoln MKS and the grille showed up on models such as the Aviator SUV and Lincoln Town Car, Ford and Lincoln never delivered on the prospect of a rear-wheel-drive coupe. The Bortz Auto Collection bought the 2001 Lincoln MK9 from Ford at auction for $101,750. Although it runs and drives, it’s not registered for street use.

2003 Mercury Messenger Concept

2003 Mercury Messenger Concept

It’s not an overestimation to say that the Messenger was the car that was supposed to save Mercury. Debuting at the Detroit auto show in 2003, it made a dramatic entrance by being suspended and dropped from the ceiling on a lowered platform. Obviously the two-seat sports coupe never materialized, and Ford decided to close up shop at Mercury entirely instead.

The hope was that the Mercury Messenger would spark some excitement back into the struggling nameplate, and the design complete with a ‘flying M’ logo, turbine wheels, ducts to cool the brakes, and big air scoops all over seemed the way to do it. If it ever were to reach production it probably would have needed to ride on some version of the Mustang platform.

The projected powertrain was a 4.6-liter V-8 and a six-speed automatic sequential transmission. However the physical concept itself, which was made in Italy, was packed with electric motors to drive it and power all of the equipment. It had a computer-operated active independent suspension on all four wheels. Bortz, since buying the car for $27,500 at auction in 2014, had the electric drivetrain “enhanced” to travel at highway speed.

Styling evokes past Mercury Cougar and Cyclone models

Styling evokes past Mercury Cougar and Cyclone models

The cars were collected by Joe Bortz, a biochemist who made his fortune with Chicago-area chain restaurants and nightclubs, has since the 1980s made a habit of collecting concept cars that would otherwise have been crushed. Bortz has saved many of the GM cars were once displayed at 1950’s Motorama shows. He keeps them in an anonymous garage in the northern part of suburban Chicago, which hides treasures like the 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne, 1954 Pontiac Bonneville-Special, and the 1953 Buick Wildcat. Although concepts like these were never built to production-spec, they were real running cars that drove and turned. It helps for today’s collectors, of course, that fiberglass doesn’t rust.

Check out the both the Lincoln MK9 and Mercury Messenger concept cars at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance beginning on March 11.

Article from Motor Trend
Photos courtesy Bortz Auto Collections

Bortz Auto Collection Amelia Island Concours D'elegance

18 Feb

Copper-trimmed concept car Exemplar I on display at Amelia Island Concours next month

Exemplar I on display at Dragone Classics Showroom in Westport, Conn.

Exemplar I on display at Dragone Classics Showroom in Westport, Conn.

Amelia Island, Fla. – Like many concept cars, the Exemplar I nearly didn’t survive to the present day. After two full years on the show circuit, only a last-minute stay of execution kept it from getting crushed. Yet, instead of returning to the public eye, it has remained largely out of sight for the last 45 years, a condition that will change this spring when the newly restored Buick-based one-off appears at Amelia Island Concours on March 13th.
Unlike most concept cars, however, the Exemplar I didn’t emerge from a major automaker’s styling studio. Rather, its genesis lies with the Bridgeport Brass Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the Copper Development Association, the industry group behind the 1964 Mercer-Cobra. That car built on a stretched Shelby Cobra chassis and bodied by Sibona-Basano after a design by Virgil Exner and his son, Virgil Exner Jr., came about as an attempt by the CDA to convince Detroit to expand its use of copper beyond simple wiring – the exact same reason for the Exemplar I.

Sleek styling by Mario Revelli, built by Carrozzeria Coggiola of Orbassano, Italy

Sleek styling by Mario Revelli, built by Carrozzeria Coggiola of Orbassano, Italy

“The purpose is to present engineering innovations for greater safety, comfort and performance, and to demonstrate new decorative applications of copper and bronze,” the CDA wrote in its brochure for the Exemplar I. As with the Mercer-Cobra, the Exemplar I used copper in its disc brakes, its radiators, and pretty much wherever other cars used chrome – as engine decoration, as exterior trim, and extensively throughout the interior.

Cutaway showing copper disc brakes, cooling and electrical systems

Cutaway showing copper disc brakes, cooling and electrical systems

Without any experience in automotive design and manufacturing, however, CDA officials had to outsource the car’s construction. They started by acquiring a 1967 Buick Riviera fitted with a 360-hp, 430-cu.in. V-8 then turned to Carrozzeria Coggiola of Orbassano, Italy. Sergio Coggiola had founded the carrozzeria just the year before after serving as the head of Ghia’s prototype shop since 1952, and quickly became known for turning out prototypes, though he’d also intended the carrozzeria to serve as a styling studio.
To pen the Exemplar, Coggiola turned to Mario Revelli de Beaumont, who began designing special-bodied cars in the 1920s for numerous coachbuilders and automakers. Revelli went for a modern combination of angles and curves with a back-half shape that somewhat resembles the later second-generation AMC Javelin, if the latter had flush glass between its flying buttress C-pillars. Along the way, he made sure to insert as many copper highlights as possible, particularly in the interior.

Copper trimmed instrument panel, steering wheel and console

Copper trimmed instrument panel, steering wheel and console

Finished late in 1967, the Exemplar I debuted privately for Bridgeport Brass and CDA execs and then publicly early in 1968 at the New York Auto Show. Whether it influenced any automaker to include more brass or copper in the construction of new cars, there appears to be no record, but it traveled to numerous auto shows over the next two years, until CDA officials decided to crush it either in late 1969 or early 1970. Thanks to the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, one-off cars at that time had virtually no chance of becoming street legal, and the CDA thus couldn’t legitimately sell to the public a vehicle that couldn’t be registered for the road.

Only the intervention of Bridgeport Brass president Herman Steinkraus kept that from happening. Steinkraus, a prominent southern Connecticut businessman and supporter of the arts, reportedly decreed the Exemplar I too beautiful to be destroyed. So he bought it and, according to collector Manny Dragone, kept the car under cover and unseen on his 25-acre estate in Darien, Connecticut, until his death in the late 1980s.

In the meantime, the CDA built at least six more cars. A second Exemplar came along in 1972, another Revelli design but this time based on an Oldsmobile Toronado. Apparently unsuccessful in bending Detroit’s ear on copper trim, the CDA then switched tactics and began building conceptual electric cars which, of course, used lots and lots of copper wiring.

Rear window glass featured advanced electrical-defrosting system

Rear window glass featured advanced electrical-defrosting system

Dragone and his brother, George, based out of Bridgeport, came across the Exemplar I in about 1990 and bought it from the Steinkraus estate. Not until this year did they decide to give it a cosmetic restoration, in preparation for the Dragone Fall Auction. “With all the copper and brass, it’s just outrageous,” Manny Dragone said. Dragone later reported that the Exemplar bid up to $850,000 but didn’t meet its reserve price. As result, visitors to the Amelia Concours will be able to enjoy the car as part of the “Concept Cars Beyond Detroit” class.
Article by Daniel Stahl, Hemmings Daily
Photos & images courtesy Dragone Auctions

Exemplar I spare tire behind grille for crash protection

Exemplar I spare tire behind grille for crash protection

25 Jan

Vintage race trophies to appear with cars that won them at Amelia Island March 13th

The Borg-Warner Trophy and Al Unser in the Johnny Lightning Special, twice winner Indy 500 Photos: Sarah Stierch and courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

The Borg-Warner Trophy and Al Unser in the Johnny Lightning Special, twice winner Indy 500. Photos: Sarah Stierch and courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Amelia Island, Fla. – Of course, race cars get all the attention: They’re fast, loud, oftentimes flashy, and driven by men of legend. But those men of legend don’t just race for the thrill of it. They race for the money, the recognition and, not least of all, the trophies. For the first time ever this year, some of the most prestigious and historic motorsports trophies will gather in one place as the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance pairs them with some of the most noteworthy cars that won them.

The idea for the pairings came, according to Amelia Island founder and chairman Bill Warner, over a couple of beers. “A bottle of Guinness with Donald Osborne at the Mille Miglia,” he said. “Seriously, Donald showed me a Mille Miglia trophy while I was over there, and I thought, why not get a collection of them and match them with the cars.”

So Warner went to work putting together a list of the most famous trophies in motorsports. Some seemed like no-brainers, like the Borg-Warner Trophy, which has gone to the winner of every Indianapolis 500 since 1936 and remains with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Warner decided to pair it with the Ford V-8-powered Johnny Lightning Special that Al Unser drove to victory in both 1970 and 1971 and that nowadays resides in the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jamie McMurray, Chip Ganassi, Dario Franchitti with Harley J. Earl and Borg-Warner Trophies Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Jamie McMurray, Chip Ganassi, Dario Franchitti with Harley J. Earl and Borg-Warner Trophies. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Frank Wheeler and three other local men opened the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909. Prior to the inauguration of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, the Wheeler-Schebler company sponsored the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race at the track. The $10,000 trophy was sterling silver and designed by Tiffany. Descriptions of this masterpiece of silversmithing put its height at anywhere from seven to eight and a half feet. It was the traveling trophy for winning the premiere events of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s race meets in 1909 and 1910. The Trophy was retired briefly with the introduction of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, but reinstated in 1913 as the prize for the team leading at the 400-mile mark. As the deed stipulated that the trophy would be permanently awarded to the team winning it for three consecutive years, it was presented to driver turned entrant Harry Hartz when his Miller-Hartz cars won the award in 1930, 31 and 32. It was returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 1950’s and stands proudly today at the Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum. At Amelia Island, the trophy will be paired with the Old Number 10 Buick, winner of the 1909 race.

Harry Hartz with the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy in 1932

Harry Hartz with the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy in 1932

Other trophies that will go on display include the Harley J. Earl Perpetual Trophy, awarded to winners of the Daytona 500, which will be paired with the Richard Petty No. 43 Plymouth Road Runner that won the 1971 Daytona 500; the Stevens Challenge Trophy, awarded from 1927 to 1954 to any manufacturer capable of sustaining 60 miles per hour over a 24-hour period at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which will be paired with a Cord 812 speed record car; the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy, which will be paired with the Ferrari 250LM that Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt drove; the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy, which will be paired with the Ferrari 166MM that Luigi Chinetti and Peter Mitchell-Thomson drove; the 1914 French Grand Prix trophy, which will be paired with the Mercedes that Christian Lautenschlager drove; the Maurice G. Bauer Trophy, “awarded” to winners of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, paired with the Ferrari Dino that Jack May and Rick Cline drove in 1975; and the trophy awarded to the winner of the Race of Two Worlds (500 Miglia di Monza), paired with the 1958 John Zink Leader Card Monza Special Watson-Offenhauser roadster that Jim Rathmann drove.

1909 Alco “Black Beast” two-time winner of the Vanderbilt Cup Photo: Hemmings

1909 Alco “Black Beast” two-time winner of the Vanderbilt Cup Photo: Hemmings

In addition, the display will pair a replica of the Challenge Cup presented by W.K. Vanderbilt Jr. (the original sits in storage at the Smithsonian) paired with the 1909 ALCO Black Beast; and the Alec Ulmann Trophy from the Sebring 12 Hour, which will be paired with an OSCA MT4, built by the Maserati brothers and overall winner of the 1954 race.

Warner said the trophies will go on display in the Ritz-Carlton hotel from Thursday through Saturday and then take their positions on the field with each car on Sunday, March 13th.

Article by Daniel Strohl, Hemmings Daily

About The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Now in its third decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always on the second full weekend in March, ‘The Amelia’ draws over 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. It is a celebration of the automobile like no other. Since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated over $2.75 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc., Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, and other deserving charities. The 21st annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 11-13, 2016. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org

Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt’s Ferrari 250 LM lead an all-Ferrari podium in the last win for Ferrari at Le Mans to date in 1965 Photo: Le Mans (Sarthe France)

Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt’s Ferrari 250 LM lead an all-Ferrari podium in the last win for Ferrari at Le Mans to date in 1965 Photo: Le Mans (Sarthe France)

18 Jan

“Rain Man” Buick coming to Amelia Island Concours on March 13th

Restored 1949 convertible is considered a "styling landmark"

Restored 1949 convertible is considered a “styling landmark”

Amelia Island, Fla. – A late entry is coming to the 21st Annual Amelia Island Concours’ Post War American Production class March 16, 2016: The 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible, one of two used to make the film “Rain Man,” makes its international concours debut. Wayne Carini of Portland, Conn., star of Velocity TV’s “Chasing Classic Cars,” restored the car for the film’s director Barry Levinson.

You’ll recall Levinson’s 1988 film — it tells the story of Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), a car dealer in financial straits. When his estranged father dies, Babbitt learns the old man bequeathed his fortune to Charlie’s older autistic brother, Raymond (brilliantly played by Dustin Hoffman). All Cruise’s character gets is his father’s prized rosebushes and the Buick. Raymond and Charlie go on a cross-country road trip starring the Buick because Raymond refuses to fly.

Hoffman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Raymond, and Levinson for his direction of the Best Picture classic.

Dustin Hoffman & Tom Cruise in a scene from “Rain Man” with 1949 Buick Roadmaster

Dustin Hoffman & Tom Cruise in a scene from “Rain Man” with 1949 Buick Roadmaster

According to the movie’s production notes, Levinson chose the Roadmaster, with its “pipe organ” grille and art deco styling, because “there’s just something very classic about it,” he said.

With only 8,000 1949 Roadmasters produced, the filmmakers scoured the country before finding three that were in good enough condition to film. The car eventually restored by Levinson had its rear suspension modified to accommodate the extra weight of a camera rig and cameraman, who filmed Hoffman and Cruise from the trunk.

Amelia Island Concours founder and Chairman Bill Warner called the Buick a “styling landmark.” He points out the VentiPort — those holes in the fenders – debuted with the 1949s and is still part of Buick design. “We’re very pleased to have one of Wayne Carini’s restorations on the field once again,” Warner said.

This year’s Amelia Island Concours runs March 11-13, 2016 on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The show’s Foundation has donated more than $2.75 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida Inc. and other Florida charities since 1996.

For more concours information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org or call (904) 636-0027.
Article by Wes Raynal, Autoweek/Photos: MGM Studios

1949 Buick Convertible seen in “Rain Man” recently restored by Wayne Carini of Portland, Conn.

1949 Buick Convertible seen in “Rain Man” recently restored by Wayne Carini of Portland, Conn.

20 Oct

Pegaso Featured Marque at Amelia Island Concours 2016

Photo Amelia Island Concours

Photo Amelia Island Concours

Amelia Island, Fla. – The Spanish Pegaso marque will be celebrated at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, scheduled for March 11-13, 2016 at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Florida.

Pegaso is Spanish for Pegasus, the winged stallion usually depicted as pure white on the Pegaso insignia. Pegasus’ mythological role was to deliver thunderbolts to Zeus. Appropriate, because that was the effect the stunning Pegaso Thrill coupe had on the 1953 Turin Auto Show when the Spanish Touring-bodied grand touring coupe made its public debut.

“That such an elegant advanced design could come from a marketing plan promoting plebian commercial vehicles is a testament to the genius, vision and skill of engineer Wilfredo Ricart,” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Ricart was the suave, articulate (he spoke five languages) and urbane creator of the Pegaso automobile. From his arrival at Alfa Romeo in 1936, Ricart was Enzo Ferrari’s nemesis, finally displacing him and creating a fleet of advanced and complex grand prix and competition sports and touring cars. World War II halted Ricart’s leading edge designs for Alfa Romeo and saw him return to his native Spain.

1955 Pegaso Z.102B at the Goodwood Festival of Speed - Photo Brian Snelson

1955 Pegaso Z.102B at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – Photo Brian Snelson

The Pegaso Z-102 was practically a grand touring coupe on a grand prix chassis; detailed with a supercharged, four-cam V-8 of 2.5 liters, a 5-speed constant mesh transaxle suspended by torsion bars and one of the most elegant de Dion rear suspensions conceived. Built in clean workshops by apprentices who were not troubled with the realities of modern mass production or the pressure of a time clock, the Pegaso roadsters and coupes were exotic road toys in the mid-1950s.

Only 84 Pegaso cars were created as nothing more than an advanced apprentice training program for the giant truck, bus and armored car manufacturing enterprise that took root, appropriately, in the former Hispano-Suiza factory in Barcelona, Spain. Nearly ten percent of Pegaso’s total car production will be on the field at the Amelia Island Concours 2016.

A Saoutchik-bodied 1952 Pegaso Z.102 - Factory promotional photo from John Lloyd

A Saoutchik-bodied 1952 Pegaso Z.102 – Factory promotional photo from John Lloyd

Carrozzeria Touring was contracted to produce alloy bodies for the Z.102, though customers could also request coachwork from Saoutchik or Serra. Beneath the skin, frame rails were drilled for added lightness, while the Pegaso used a rear transaxle and differential to optimize front-to-rear weight balance. Power output was initially rated at 165 horsepower, though later increases in displacement would produce as much as 300 horsepower from a 4.7-liter V-8. In between, the factory also offered a supercharger option, which produced 225 horsepower from the 3.2-liter V-8 introduced in 1954.

Given the Pegaso’s extreme pricing, customers expected performance on par with the cars of Ferrari and Jaguar, but the marque enjoyed little success in racing. As a showcase for Spanish manufacturing, however, the Pegaso excelled, and its build quality and attention to detail were reportedly second-to-none. By 1958, however, sports car production was creating an untenable financial drag on parent Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA (E.N.A.S.A.), so the Pegaso Z.102 and Z.103 models were killed off to focus on the firm’s commercial truck business.

“Pegasos are technically extravagant cars,” continued Warner. “It’s period Formula 1 technology for the road, wrapped in coachwork by the likes of Touring and Saoutchik. The Pegaso Z-102 did exactly what Ricart and the Spanish government wanted: it brought Spanish industry to the attention of the world, and did it in a very glamorous way.”

[Source: Sports Car Digest & Amelia Island Concours]

About The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
Now in its second decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “The Amelia” draws over 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. Since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated over $2.5 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc., Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Shop with Cops, and other deserving charities. The 21st annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 11-13, 2016. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org or call 904-636-0027.