10 Oct

Connecticut Magazine takes us inside “Drool-worthy” Private Car Collections

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New Haven, Conn. – In its September issue, Connecticut Magazine visited six automobile collectors across Connecticut, a state where the nation’s most exquisite automobiles hide beneath its top-notch restaurants and museums. Cars are part of Connecticut culture, yet too many of these historical vehicles sit locked away. These six men opened their garages to provide an inside look at their “drool-worthy” collections:

The Driver

Herb Williamson, Marlborough

Herb Williamson driving his 1967 Maserati Mexico

Herb Williamson driving his 1967 Maserati Mexico

When a close friend died, Herb Williamson did what we all do when we lose a special person: he found a way to keep his memory alive. More precisely, he’s kept it running for 23 years. Tucked in a brick garage is Williamson’s big slice of automotive heaven, a 1967 Maserati Mexico he inherited from John Tipton, whose parting gift included eight cars in varying stages of repair. Though Williamson, 66, always loved driving and working on cars, he’d never had a full collection. Daunted by restoring (and storing) each one in between running his roofing business in East Hartford, he eventually whittled down to a select trio of Italian and British sports cars. We’re in the Maserati, the only remaining car from Tipton’s collection, bombing down Route 2 with the windows down.

“I’ve been playing a lot more golf lately than I have fooling around with cars,” he says over the throaty exhaust. Tipton would be proud of Williamson’s fine touches — the white leather roof with its woven hand straps, chrome toggle switches poking out from the polished mahogany dash, and his enthusiastic right foot that blasts us past everyone.

That Tuscan-style garage is every married man’s paradise. There’s a coated floor, heat, bathroom, TV and two more heart-stoppers, a 1963 Iso Rivolta and a 1954 Austin Healey 100M LeMans. “I like sports cars more than anything else,” he says. Williamson is also restoring a 1969 Dodge Daytona that sat in a Colchester barn for 30 years. He’ll sell that one. The others, those masterpieces that look too delicate to drive, will be closing on you in your rearview.

PRIZED POSSESSION: 1967 Maserati Mexico 4.7

  • One of 480 cars built between 1966-72, and just one of 175 with the 4.7-liter V-8
  • Named to celebrate Maserati’s 1966 victory in the Mexican Grand Prix

The Expert

Wayne Carini, Portland

Wayne Carini with his Schoof Special, which raced at Indianapolis in the 1930s and '40s

Wayne Carini with his Schoof Special, which raced at Indianapolis in the 1930s and ’40s

Sight unseen, would you drop a few hundred grand on an old car because one guy told you to? If the guy has a bushy white mustache and goes by the name Wayne Carini, have no doubts. Carini, 65, knows everything and everyone in the classic car world. He even hosts a TV show called Chasing Classic Cars.

He will spout encyclopedic descriptions of a three-wheel 1948 Davis, cite the exact issue of Hot Rod which featured his 1927 Isky, and knows enough to have removed the rear seats on the 1932 Auburn Boattail Speedster before he bought it to make sure it’s a genuine convertible. Jay Leno’s coming to his birthday party.

“People work hard for a lot of things,” he says. “I always wanted a barn full of cars.”

From left, 1932 Auburn Boattail Speedster, 1936 Ford pickup and 1948 Davis Divan, from Wayne Carini's collection

From left, 1932 Auburn Boattail Speedster, 1936 Ford pickup and 1948 Davis Divan, from Wayne Carini’s collection

On the site of a former equine clinic, Carini’s sprawling property houses a few dozen museum quality cars, racers and trucks. There’s not a trace of dust or oil. He wrenches on each one himself, a pleasure rivaled only by mowing the lawn (a stress relief that takes almost a whole day). Vintage motorcycles line his home office. Carini won’t sit here long, or any place for that matter. His pulse races for the next project, whether it’s selling a Lamborghini Countach at his F40 Motorsports shop on Route 66 or finding an unrestored Harley-Davidson sidecar across the country.

A camera crew follows him everywhere for his TV show, which has lasted eight seasons on Velocity network without any fake fights or scripted drama. Carini’s reality — dealer, restorer, curator and father who attends as many autism fundraisers as auto shows — is genuine like his cars.

What draws him to these old autos? “It’s the history,” he says. “Every car’s got a story.”

PRIZED POSSESSION: 1948 Davis Divan

  • No. 9 of 13 built
  • Seats four across
  • Aluminum body and three-wheel layout by race car designer Frank Kurtis
  • Founder Gary Davis served two years in prison for fraud and went on to design bumper cars

The Unlikeliest

Chuck Schoendorf, Norwalk

Chuck Schoendorf, with his 1955 Chrysler 300, dresses his Chryslers with dark steel wheels on black tires

Chuck Schoendorf, with his 1955 Chrysler 300, dresses his Chryslers with dark steel wheels on black tires

Over email, Chuck Schoendorf said he owned a couple of hybrids, a statement that made us hesitant to even meet him. But there he sat in the Milford commuter lot, next to rows of forgettable family cars, in a 1952 Chrysler Saratoga Club Coupe. Schoendorf grins and we trail his burbling Hemi V-8 to visit half of his roughly 10-car collection. He’s a car guy, alright. His “hybrids” are made by Cunningham, a sports car manufacturer from the 1950s that blended Italian style with American muscle.

“I bought them because I love them,” says the retired insurance broker, 68, brushing by a 1952 Saratoga sedan he drove for 1,100 miles in a California rally. A towering 1955 Chrysler 300 sits with its front end lifted on a jack, as if the chrome-mouthed sedan was launching out his garage at full throttle. Schoendorf works on all of them. Detroit’s post-war heyday defined his youth, when automakers outdid each other with bigger, flashier and faster vehicles.

“A new model year was a big deal, where today it’s a yawn,” he says, remembering his father’s 1953 Chrysler that had the “epitome of a great engine.”

Schoendorf runs those original Chrysler V-8s in the unlikeliest of places, including three electric generators from the period. The others power a trio of 1952 Cunningham C-3s, which had their curvaceous bodies and lavish interiors fashioned in Italy before final assembly in Florida. Suave and light, his Cunningham’s look nothing like the bulkier Chryslers from the same era. Just 25 were ever made.

When he’s not waving the Chrysler flag, Schoendorf plays with a 1970 Fiat 500 and a one-off 1946 Lancia Aprilia race car. We’re too happy we met.

PRIZED POSSESSION: 1952 Cunningham C-3

  • Built by Briggs Cunningham, a Westport resident and wealthy entrepreneur who ran a racing shop near Lime Rock Park in Lakeville. He was the first American to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an American car
  • Valued upward of $1 million

The Contemporary

Matthew Ivanhoe, Greenwich

Matthew Ivanhoe will just as eagerly put miles on his BMW M6 (pictured) as he does his 1960 Aston Martin DB4

Matthew Ivanhoe will just as eagerly put miles on his BMW M6 (pictured) as he does his 1960 Aston Martin DB4

The U.S. government did everything possible to stop Matthew Ivanhoe from driving his Aston Martin. He waited months for an importer to release it, an expensive, paperwork-ridden process that legalizes foreign-market cars. But Ivanhoe knows paperwork. He sold his first car at 14, cashed out from an Internet startup at 25, and last May opened an exotic car dealership in New Canaan. Was it all worth it? He’s 30 and cruises in a V12 Zagato, one of the rarest British supercars of this century.

“If it’s a car I have, it has to run and drive as well as that car should,” he says inside his New Canaan showroom, The Cultivated Collector. “A lot of people with cars, they keep them on a pedestal.”

We visit his Norwalk storage facility just to hear the Aston start, and return to New Canaan in a customer’s 1959 Ferrari. Inside, we funnel past a 1989 Ferrari F40 worth $1 million, a couple more Ferraris and a Mazda Cosmo. Ivanhoe strokes a fiery red 1988 BMW M6, the first car he ever kept. “There is literally no amount of money I would sell this for,” he says.

Cars from Matthew Ivanhoe's collection

Cars from Matthew Ivanhoe’s collection

Ivanhoe and two employees take care of business, which relies exclusively on restoring and selling “high-end, investment-grade” cars. There’s more to it than metal. When clients travel to shows such as Pebble Beach, Ivanhoe plans their entire trips, even going so far as to entertain spouses who don’t like cars. Soon, he’ll invite local enthusiasts to his upstairs clubhouse for drinks, lectures, televised races and chit-chat. “I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with these people,” he says. “I’m just a custodian, preserving history.” Ivanhoe is ordering another 12-cylinder Aston, the last of its kind with a manual transmission. The feds should go easy on him this time.

Prized possession: 1988 BMW M6

  • One of 1,787 cars imported to the U.S. at nearly $130,000 in today’s dollars
  • Straight-six engine produces 256 horsepower, 26 less than the German version due to U.S. emissions laws (Ivanhoe tuned his car to more than 400)

The Connoisseur

Herb Chambers, Old Lyme

Herb Chambers with his 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spider and his dog Sid

Herb Chambers with his 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spider and his dog Sid

Herb Chambers wants a new sports car. At the age when our spines beg for nightly hot pads, 75-year-old Chambers is trim, tanned and thrilled to stoop into a racing seat just inches off the ground. Buying a Ford GT (the new supercar requires factory approval) and a 2020 Mercedes-AMG (so exclusive it isn’t yet named) is nigh impossible, even for the man who parks a helicopter on his lawn and owns the neighborhood marina. Even so, someone at his 57 car dealerships will likely cut him a deal.

The problem with older cars, Chambers says, is they don’t drive as perfectly as they look. And sometimes, like the 1995 McLaren F1 he’s stored for years at one of his Boston dealerships, they’re too valuable to move. “It’s such a massive investment because some knucklehead pulls out and causes millions of dollars in damage,” says Chambers, whose McLaren F1 sold for a record $15,620,000 — the most valuable post-1970 automobile to ever sell at auction — at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge auction in California Aug. 18. “I drove my Rolls-Royce to get the newspaper and the damn engine is skipping and popping, every time you can find fault with them.”

But never the Ferrari Daytona Spider. After starting a photocopier business inside an old Hartford barbershop in 1965 — which became the nation’s largest distributor of photocopy equipment — a young Chambers treated himself to the 1972 golden brown convertible. A year later in 1973, he wrecked it and broke his jaw. The car vanished. In 1985, two years after selling his company, Chambers thought he’d buy a Cadillac in New London. He ended up with the dealership. The rest — 2,500 employees and $2.7 billion in annual sales across Massachusetts and Rhode Island — is history.

“I’ve been very fortunate that I always seem to be in the right place at the right time,” he says, recalling his boyhood in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood and how, after leaving the Navy, he tended his mother’s bar and she fired him. “There are a lot of people who are at the right place, but they don’t know it.”

Five years ago, Wayne Carini called. He’d found the exact Ferrari in Denver. Chambers paid nearly $1 million for the car, knowing Carini would restore the rare Italian to perfection. His Daytona is impeccable, in every feature incomparable to the more luxurious and comfortable 2017 Ferrari 488 Spider he’s ordering. “Cars are less important to me,” he says. “What’s important is that Ferrari.”

Prized possession: 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider

  • One of 122 factory convertibles (many 365 GTB/4 Daytona coupes were converted later)
  • V-12 produces over 350 horsepower and exceeds 170 mph
  • Nicknamed “Daytona” for Ferrari’s victory with this model in the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona

The Beginner
Maximilian Van Munching, Darien

Maximilian Van Munching with his 1991 Ferrari Testarossa

Maximilian Van Munching with his 1991 Ferrari Testarossa

Every great collector starts with something small. For Maximilian Van Munching, something is a 1991 Ferrari Testarossa he bought at age 20 after watching The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s now 21. “It’s an investment,” says Van Munching, compressing his tall, lanky frame into the Miami Vice supercar. “I told my dad, if I buy this car, I will make money.”

His cheeks flush as he revs the Ferrari’s flat-12 engine and clicks the metal-gated shifter into first. We’re in a musty brick warehouse in Bridgeport, behind a barbed-wire fence, where the Black Horse Garage stores and services an impeccable cast of European cars. Van Munching is here detailing them before finishing his advertising degree at Loyola University. He admits Mad Men’s Don Draper as his fictional likeness. But for someone who just hit legal drinking age, Van Munching’s pop culture nostalgia cuts deeper than his peers. “Unlike most kids my age, I like old cars,” he says. “My idol is Steve McQueen.” He considered a Ferrari 308 like Tom Selleck drove in Magnum P.I. But buying a Testarossa in its final model year was the smarter choice.

Have you heard of Heineken? After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the Van Munching’s imported America’s first case and ran the beer distributorship until 1993. His grandfather created Amstel Light. He only mentions it to explain how a kid can afford his $100,000 dream car, and how in a few years, he’ll park many more next to the Testarossa. There’s no arrogance — and no power steering — in his future.

Prized possession: 1991 Ferrari Testarossa

  • Introduced in 1984 and ushered in a radical era of supercar design and performance
  • 380-horsepower flat-12 engine is most unusual, as the cylinders are horizontally opposed instead of placed in the classic “V” layout
  • Cost $150,000 brand new in 1990 (nearly $290,000 today)

Article Reprinted from Connecticut Magazine, September 2017 Issue
Story and photos by Clifford Atiyeh

14 Sep

LRP Historics 35 Sunday in the Park Concours: The Show Went On Despite Heavy Rains

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Lakeville, Conn. – The first Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance at Lime Rock Park that required inters and even full wets on the golf carts came to a successful end in damp-but-drying conditions as a full squadron of them snaked down Sam Posey Straight piloted by Festival Chairman Murray Smith, concours organizers Bill Scheffler, Kent Bain and Ryan McIntosh, plus photographers, reporters and various other hangers-on. The flotilla stopped at each class plaza to interview the winning owners and present the trophies, cars in situ.

With all 28 winners duly recognized, dry weather concours protocol was ordered by the stewards; the People’s Choice and Best of Show winners were driven to the presentation area.

Two very special silver Ferraris were winners in the wet:

People’s Choice was a fabulous 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB long-nose/six carb owned by Robert Wilder of New York, N.Y.

Best of Show was sponsored by Analog/Shift, the premier retailer of vintage timepieces. The winning car was the 1961 Ferrari GT Berlinetta Competizione Speciale, the one-off, alloy-bodied Pininfarina aerodynamico coupe, owned by Peter Sachs, of Stamford, Conn. Analog/Shift’s James Lamdin presented a beautiful Universal Geneve Gents dress watch along with the Best of Show trophy.

A complete list of Sunday in the Park winners Presented by the Prestige Family of Fine Cars is available at Historic Festival 35

In the meantime, please enjoy these Sunday photos from Greg Clark, Brian Ciancio and Taylor Kemp posted on Lime Rock Park’s Facebook page.

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11 May

Cannonball Outlaw Reunion set for June 2 in Greenwich, Conn.

Director Hal Needham and Pamela Yates with the infamous TransCon Medi-Vac Ambulance in 1979 - Archive photo

Director Hal Needham and Pamela Yates with the infamous
TransCon Medi-Vac Ambulance in 1979 – Gero Hoschek Photo

GREENWICH, Conn. – On June 2, in Greenwich, Conn., a group of original outlaws depicted in the 1981 film “Cannonball Run” will come together in one place to recount those outrageous stories of beating the law as they raced cross-country from New York City to Los Angeles in some of the craziest vehicles built for the endeavor.

This will mark the third reunion since the first car took off from the Red Ball Garage in New York City in 1971, and it will be held at the Cole Auditorium at the Greenwich Library. A number of the original outlaws will relive those desperado days relating their wild stories as they sped coast-to-coast, evading the law either with excessive speed or outlandish explanations for their escapades. Remarkably, they all avoided jail-time.

Pamela Yates, wife of Brock Yates, the originator of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, who was a patient in 1979 in the bogus TransCon Medi-Vac Ambulance speeding cross-country to a special hospital because her “condition prevented her from flying,” will tell her story.

Judy Stropus, who was part of the Right Bra team in 1972 of three women dressed in pink bell-bottoms and bodysuits, and portrayed loosely (and we mean loosely) by Adrienne Barbeau in the movie, will finally reveal her side of the story of their demise.

The Right Bra Racing Team Left to right: Judy Stropus, Peggy Nemecek, and Donna Mae Mims, “the Pink Lady” - Archive photo

The Right Bra Racing Team Left to right: Judy Stropus, Peggy Nemecek, and Donna Mae Mims, “the Pink Lady” – Archive photo

Riding in a Travco motor home replete with gourmet chef creating fine dining for the crew in 1971, ’72 and ’75, Bill Brodrick (known as the “hat man” at the NASCAR races in the ’70s and ’80s), and Car and Driver writer William Jeanes will describe their adventures.

Other outlaws with zany recollections from the 1970s will include Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance wizard Bill Warner, who still owns and drives the Porsche 911 he piloted in 1975, and Jack Cowell, who, with Pete Brock and Dick Gilmartin, were the “Flying Fathers” in 1972 in a Mercedes-Benz 280SEL, loaned to them by M-B p.r. rep at the time, Leo Levine. Levine will be on hand to explain how he got away with that one. We’ll hear from Bob Brown, who drove with Brock Yates in 1972 in the Cotton Owens-built Dodge Challenger, and Rich Taylor, the official starter at the Red Ball Garage in New York City. We’ll also view videos from other outlaws, such as racing icon Dan Gurney, Pete Brock, Brock Yates Jr., and Anatoly Arutunoff.

Dan Gurney and Brock Yates with the winning Ferrari Daytona relax at the Portofino Inn November 17, 1971 – Archive photo

Dan Gurney and Brock Yates with the winning Ferrari Daytona relax
at the Portofino Inn November 17, 1971 – Archive photo

Long after the dust settled from the original races, long-distance driver Alex Roy and David Maher, with filmmaker Cory Welles on board, set a new transcontinental record in a technology-laden BMW M5. Roy will share the wild highlights and show some never-before-seen footage from the record run!

Car collector, Cannonball fan, and well-known DJ Travis Bell will recount his meticulous recreation of the TransCon Medi-Vac Ambulance, with the support and blessing of Hal Needham and Brock Yates. They liked it so much, they signed the dash!

Cannonball cars on display will include:

  • Dan Gurney/Brock Yates Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona that won the race overall in 1971
  • Brock Yates’ iconic 1972 Dodge Challenger built by NASCAR’s Cotton Owens
  • Bill Warner’s 1975 Porsche 911T
  • Travis Bell’s TransCon MediVac Ambulance recreation
  • Alex Roy’s Polizei 144 BMW M5
Brock Yates’ Cotton Owens built 1972 Dodge Challenger now owned by Wayne Carini – Amelia Is. Concours photo

Brock Yates’ Cotton Owens built 1972 Dodge Challenger
now owned by Wayne Carini – Amelia Is. Concours photo

The panel discussion will be hosted by Mike Spinelli, Executive Producer, TheDrive.com at Time Inc., co-host of The Drive on NBC Sports and co-founder of Jalopnik.

“This event is not to be missed,” said Roger Garbow, co-organizer of the event with Judy Stropus. “The chances of all these outlaws being reunited again in one place to relate their madcap stories are pretty slim. I guarantee that it will stand as an historic event of its own.”

The panel discussion, which will include excerpts from the original 1981 film, onboard video footage from Alex Roy’s 2006 run, a slide show depicting the early days, an auction of Cannonball memorabilia, an autograph session, and other surprises will complete the evening. The event is being held in cooperation with the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance (June 3-4) www.greenwichconcours.com and the Greenwich International Film Festival http://www.greenwichfilm.org/.

Tickets are $125 per person, which includes dinner (gourmet grilled cheese and lobster sliders) and drinks, and may be purchased at www.greenwichfilm.org. The evening begins at 6:30 in the courtyard of the Greenwich Library, alongside the Cannonball cars, with the program beginning at 8 p.m.

The proceeds of this dinner will benefit the New England Auto Museum, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization www.neautomuseum.org.

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01 Dec

Meet the Restorers: Veteran specialist Kent Bain weighs in on the classic car market

Kent Bain with the Aston-Martin DB2/4 he raced in the 1992 Carrera Panamericana

Kent Bain with the Aston-Martin DB2/4 he raced in the 1992 Carrera Panamericana

Stratford, Conn. – There were times when art was the best investment, or antiques, or real estate, but these days it’s hard to beat the appreciating value of old cars. The price for once-common cars such as the Porsche 911 or the Jaguar E-Type have risen so astronomically that you may be able to retire on the profits from selling that old rust bucket in the garage.

To get a snapshot of where we are today, you can start with Automotive Restorations in Stratford, Connecticut, headed by a more than 30-year veteran of the business, Kent Bain.

Bain works with a 32-member staff (many of them from England, where old-world craftsmanship is still alive) in restoring everything from priceless Ferraris, Alfas and Cisitalias from Italy, to Ford Woody wagons and vintage Cadillacs, with the odd Toyota Landcruiser thrown in. He does it all; body fabricating, upholstery, painting, engine rebuilding. Recently a group of the company’s English craftsmen were hand-forming body panels for a 1950s-era Cunningham C4RK, building it up from a chassis that was left in a Connecticut garage for decades. At the same time, another British fellow was spending a day crafting a headliner for a Jaguar XK140 Drophead.

Bain was a designer who turned his car-fixing hobby into a business in 1978. “When I started, the old car hobby was a small group of relatively committed individuals,” he said. “Now there’s something wrong with any hedge fund manager who doesn’t have a collector car in the garage. It’s a phenomenon. And it amazes me that my avocation has expanded so dramatically.”

This 1965 Mustang convertible could maybe fetch $35,000 today, but dock it down to $20,000 with a six under the hood

This 1965 Mustang convertible could maybe fetch $35,000 today, but dock it down to $20,000 with a six under the hood

It’s a sad truism that the market is slowing down for pre-war cars, because their natural constituency is aging out of the hobby. So most of the hot marques today are 1940’s and newer. Baby boomers with money are making nearly any 1960’s car, even the four-door sedans, collectible. Some examples of soaring values:

“A Porsche 912 nobody wanted because it had a Volkswagen engine has gone from maybe $2,500 to $60,000. They’re being bought up by people who really want to get into the hobby but can’t afford a $100,000 1969 911S.” Even the bread-and-butter Porsche 914 (not even the sought-after 914/6) is bringing big money.

“Microcars like the BMW Isetta are really in the spotlight, too. It’s funny, because they may look cool but they’re terrible to drive.”

Porsches are blazingly hot as collectibles, especially convertibles like this 356

Porsches are blazingly hot as collectibles, especially convertibles like this 356

“Jaguar E-Type coupes are selling, not just the convertibles. Even the poor-relative 2+2 models are very collectible now. Also, Lotuses, and four-cylinder post-war Alfa-Romeos from coachbuilders like Pininfarina.”

Everybody wants Jaguar E-Types, and even 2+2 coupes are selling

Everybody wants Jaguar E-Types, and even 2+2 coupes are selling

“Older Ferraris are doing really well. Some collectors’ think they can do just as well buying a new Ferrari and having it appreciate, but that may not happen. Ten years ago, if you bought a Ferrari 330 for $75,000, big money then, it would have appreciated a lot. And you’d be doing much better than if you’d bought a modern Ferrari instead. Old is the way to go.”

This 1947 Cisitalia Vinale 202 SC came out of Argentina; no two are alike

This 1947 Cisitalia Vinale 202 SC came out of Argentina; no two are alike

Bain points out that the hobby is now full of purely financial buyers. They may not know a lot about cars, but they love the idea of a rapidly appreciating asset. They could be in for an unpleasant awakening when they find the car, unlike a painting, needs to be exercised regularly to keep its value. And it can drip oil on your pristine garage floor.

Because of the Carroll Shelby connection, Sunbeam Tigers are now $50,000 and up

Because of the Carroll Shelby connection, Sunbeam Tigers are now $50,000 and up

“The exercise thing is critical,” Bain points out. “Machines don’t sit well,” he said. “Their blood pressure needs to come up. Everything dries out,
including the brake seals and the valve cover gaskets. That means warming them up and driving them regularly.”

Before you get too excited about the big bucks, Bain says there has been some market softening over the past year. Woodies, for instance, have seen some price decline. And there are more people on the hunt. “The notion of ‘stealing’ cars doesn’t really exist anymore,” Bain said. “The sharks are everywhere.”

The Automotive Restorations shop floor is filled to overflowing with mouth-watering cars

The Automotive Restorations shop floor is filled to overflowing with mouth-watering cars

Around the ARI shop floor is an array of mouth-watering vehicles in various states of composition. A ’40 Ford Woody was fully restored, with a brand new hand-crafted wood body. Next to that was the Aston-Martin DB2/4 that Bain raced in the hell-for-leather 1992 Carrera Panamericana in Mexico (but no longer owns). That car is huge fun, but building one like it is an illustration of why vintage racing — becoming hugely popular — is not for sissies. The basic car might be $250,000, and then the same amount would go into it preparing for a demanding course like the Carrera Panamericana.

A tidy 1965 Ford Mustang convertible with a pony interior was worth maybe $35,000. Bain pointed out that a similar car with stock interior and a six-cylinder engine would be downgraded to $20,000.

This 1940 Ford Woody has all new wood, they all need it, and it doesn't diminish the value that it's not "original”

This 1940 Ford Woody has all new wood, they all need it, and it doesn’t diminish the value that it’s not “original”

A 1967 Volvo 1800 coupe was bought for a market-topping $32,000, but still needed a fair amount of work, including removing a silly hood scoop and fixing the horribly orange-peeled paint job. A nearby Triumph Stag, brought in for evaluation, was an example of a car that looked superficially restored but would become a money pit if all its issues were corrected.

Here’s a rundown. A ragged-but-drivable XK Jaguar in a corner needed 300 hours of bodywork, plus at least 50 hours (at $90 to $120 an hour) to install the interior kit. The bottom line would be 500 to 600 hours of labor to make it ready for the concours stage. The cost could be over $100,000 for the work, when the car is only worth $125,000 in that condition. It’s probably better, said Bain, just to get it running, fix the rust, and touch up the bare spots with a paint brush. And if you drove it that way you could actually have fun.

This Bugatti is brought in for further work when its owner-mechanic needs a rest

This Bugatti is brought in for further work when its owner-mechanic needs a rest

Also cautionary, a Mercedes 300SL roadster, bought as “restored” at the height of the market, that needed a full engine and transmission rebuild.

Here’s a good way to approach buying a collector car: Meet the owner, and get their measure. Have the car fully checked out before money changes hands, go through any available records, and buy with full transparency.

Watch Kent Bain on video, discussing the state of the market today:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqnflUzff7M

Article and photos courtesy of Jim Motavalli, adapted from Mother Nature Network

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Welcome to Automotive Restorations, Inc.

Founded in 1978, we are well established practitioners of the art and craft of vehicle restoration, preservation and care. We have grown to encompass a broad range of services with a staff of over 40 highly skilled, enthusiastic and motivated individuals.

Link to us online at www.automotiverestorations.com
Or call or visit us at:

100 Lupes Drive
Stratford, CT 06615
Phone: 203-377-6745 Fax: 203-386-0486

08 Dec

1st Experimental Safety Vehicle Built in Branford, Connecticut in 1957

Aurora prototype unveiled in Manhattan, November 11, 1957

Aurora prototype unveiled in Manhattan, November 11, 1957

Branford, Conn. – Dubbed by quite a few writers as one of the ugliest cars ever built, the 1957 Aurora prototype was designed by Father Alfred Juliano, a Catholic priest, in Branford. Not necessarily the product of divine intervention, Juliano’s purpose was to create the world’s safest automobile. With money contributed by his Connecticut congregation, Fr. Juliano wanted to build the car and make it available to American automakers to put into production. As it turns out, the gods were not with him and the project went bankrupt after creating just a single prototype.

Father Alfred Juliano with the Aurora Safety Car he designed and built

Father Alfred Juliano with the Aurora Safety Car he designed and built

The Aurora prototype was built on a 1953 Buick frame from a wrecked car using fiberglass over a plywood superstructure with plastic windows. The body would therefore be corrosion and dent proof. On the safety side, the car had a built-in roll cage, seat belts, a padded instrument panel, a collapsible steering wheel, and side-impact bars. Even the spare tire was housed under the front end of the vehicle to help absorb impacts. The front end had a “cow catcher” sort of design, filled with foam, to scoop up pedestrians instead of running them over. Perhaps most innovative was that the seats were designed to swivel 180 degrees and face backwards should a collision be imminent.

Styling buck used to form the Aurora’s fiberglass body

Styling buck used to form the Aurora’s fiberglass body

Apparently, when Fr. Juliano brought the car to New York City in 1957 for its reveal, he didn’t consider that the Buick engine hadn’t been started for more than four years and the car broke down multiple ties during the journey. The company’s finances were called into question but in fact Fr. Juliano had gone deeply into personal debt financing the company, and eventually declaring bankruptcy, forfeiting the prototype to a repair shop as collateral for unpaid repair bills. It passed through several hands before finally being abandoned behind a Cheshire auto body shop in 1967. Juliano died of a brain hemorrhage in 1989 in Philadelphia.

The Aurora today as restored by Andy Saunders in the UK

The Aurora today as restored by Andy Saunders in the UK

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In 1993, the car was discovered by British car enthusiast Andy Saunders of Poole, Dorset, in a sketch in a book about dream cars; “It was so ugly it was unreal. I said straightaway, ‘I’ve got to own that.'” After several years of searching, he eventually tracked the car down by the name of the garage in the background of a photograph of the car, purchased it sight unseen for $1,500, and had it shipped to Britain for another $2,000. The fiberglass and wood structure of the car proved to have deteriorated terribly from exposure, as well as the interior and plastic windshield. Restoration was further complicated by a lack of adequate documentation or even photographs of the car, the absence of the late Father Juliano to assist as a consultant, and the lack of replacement parts for a prototype vehicle. However, restoration was completed in early 2005, and the car was unveiled to a newly re-astounded public at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and is now on display in the Beaulieu Motor Museum, Hampshire, England. The Aurora is arguably the first Experimental Safety Vehicle ever made, even before the coinage of the ESV acronym.

Article and photos courtesy Kenny Hoeschen 95octane.com

Magazine featuring the Aurora in April 1958

Magazine featuring the Aurora in April 1958

23 Nov

First Connecticut Auto Race: 1899 or 1900? Historians Disagree

Hiram Percy Maxim driving a gasoline powered Columbia Mark VIII with designer Fred Law

Hiram Percy Maxim driving a gasoline powered Columbia Mark VIII with designer Fred Law

New Haven, Conn. – There seems to be general agreement among auto historians that the first closed course auto race in Connecticut was held at Branford Park in New Haven, a half-mile dirt track built for horse racing. The race meeting had two feature events, one for three-wheeled vehicles and one for four-wheeled vehicles, both being run in three heats. The date of the race meeting is generally cited as July 25, 1899. This date is reflected in several sources including Charles Betts’ Auto Racing Winners, 1895-1947: An Historical Reference Manual of American Automobile Racing (1948) and Allan Brown’s The History of America’s Speedways, Past and Present (2003).

In a 2008 article focusing on Connecticut race tracks, Brown clearly stated that, “Connecticut’s first recorded auto race was at Branford Park, a horse-racing track in New Haven, on July 25, 1899.” This would seem to indicate that Brown was very confident regarding the date.

However, more recent research has turned up evidence that this date may be off by a full year and in fact the Branford Park race more likely took place on July 25, 1900. This possibility was recently discovered by Donald Capps who is chairman of the Society of Automotive Historians Motor Sports History Section. Capps was digging into the very early automotive competitions in the United States for a possible paper on these events during the Late Victorian Era, 1895 to 1901, and sensed that there might be a problem with the date of the Branford Park race.

During his research, Capps discovered contemporary articles in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune on an event held at Branford Park in 1900. Initially, he thought this was a later event, but the winner listed by Betts was Hiram Percy Maxim in a Columbia — who was also listed as the winner of the first five-mile heat for four-wheeled vehicles in both the New York and Chicago papers.

In his article on the subject Capps states “This would strongly suggest that the Branford Park event took place on 25 July 1900 – and not in 1899 as the Betts and Brown dated the event. I am at a loss as how to explain that both Brown and the Betts getting the date wrong by an entire year, although Brown seemed to sense, at least at one point, either some doubt or at least ambivalence regarding the date.”

It is interesting to note that both the Times and the Tribune articles state that the Branford Park meeting was, “The first automobile race meet ever held on a race track in this country,” as the Times stated it. The Tribune article had the sub-heading, “Track Racing for Motor Vehicles Inaugurated in America,” making the same claim as the Times. Capps goes on to state “Of course, there is the awkward problem of the race meeting held at Narragansett Park in Cranston, Rhode Island – another horse-racing track – in September 1896, which would tend to cast doubt on this claim. The race featured 7 entrants and was won by a Riker Electric car. In addition, there was also the event run in October 1899 on a circular dirt horse track at Galesburg Illinois District Fair Grounds, which was essentially a match race scheduled for 50 miles. The race between F.B. Snow in a Duryea and E.V.D. Morris in a Winton was halted at 15 miles when Snow’s vehicle dropped out with ignition problems.”

First U.S. auto race on a track at Narragansett Park, Cranston, RI September 1896

First U.S. auto race on a track at Narragansett Park, Cranston, RI September 1896

In any case, there seems to be no doubt that the Branford Park race was the first closed course auto race in Connecticut but historians should note, thanks to Don Capps’ research, the actual date of the race was July 25, 1900.

According to historian Allen Brown, the second auto racing venue in Connecticut also began as an active horse track, Charter Oak Park in Hartford. It was larger than Branford Park, a one-mile dirt oval. Charter Oak Park featured auto and horse racing from 1904 to 1929.

Connecticut has had 31 oval tracks. Only 3 are still in operation. Stafford Motor Speedway, the oldest, is located at the Stafford Springs Fairgrounds. The half-mile dirt oval was built as a horse track in 1892, and the first auto race ran in October 1934. There is no record of any auto racing at Stafford again until weekly stock car racing started there in 1948. The original dirt track was paved with asphalt in 1967 and it has remained in operation ever since featuring NASCAR Modified racing.

The second-oldest active oval track is Thompson International Speedway in the state’s northeast corner. Built in 1940 as a 5/8-mile asphalt track, it was one of the first in the country to be built as a paved track. Most paved tracks built before 1945, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, started out as dirt tracks. Thompson Speedway also had different configurations of road courses—the first known in the state—in operation from 1952 to about 1978. Part of one of the old road courses is still visible as part of the pit area. A little-known fact about Thompson is that it is the only Connecticut track ever to host what is now known as NASCAR Sprint Cup races (originally called NASCAR Grand National). The third active oval track is Waterford Speedbowl, built as a dirt track in 1951 and converted to a paved track a month later.

Opening day at Thompson Speedway May 26, 1940

Opening day at Thompson Speedway May 26, 1940

Lime Rock Park in northwest Connecticut is the only active road course left in the state. Lime Rock is a 1.53-mile paved road course with eight turns. The track, which opened 58 years ago, on April 18, 1957, has been the site of numerous major road-racing events and was the favorite track of late actor and Westport resident Paul Newman.
Sources: Donald Capps, Society of Automotive Historians
Allen E. Brown, “A Short History of Connecticut Race Tracks” www.ctvisit.com
Archived Photos

Early American license plate featuring Hiram Maxim & the Columbia Mark VIII

Early American license plate featuring Hiram Maxim & the Columbia Mark VIII

08 Sep

Lime Rock Sunday in the Park Concours Honors led by “Count Trossi” Mercedes-Benz SSK Winning Best of Show

With Honored Guests Sir Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass looking on (left), the Ralph Lauren-owned 1930 "Count Trossi" Mercedes SSK is awarded Best of Show honors (Photo by Casey Keil/Lime Rock Park)

With Honored Guests Sir Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass looking on (left), the Ralph Lauren-owned 1930 “Count Trossi” Mercedes SSK is awarded Best of Show honors (Photo by Casey Keil/Lime Rock Park)

Lakeville, Conn. – At Lime Rock Park’s Historic Festival 33, its Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance saw 264 entrants in 29 classes vying for Best of Show honors. The not-surprising but certainly deserving 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK “Count Trossi” was judged the winner. The custom-bodied SSK is owned by Ralph Lauren.

Photo by Greg Clark/Lime Rock Park

Photo by Greg Clark/Lime Rock Park

Originally built with a competition “spyder” body by Carrozzeria Touring, between 1931 and 1933, this SSK was campaigned in the Mille Miglia, various hill climbs and other local events by original owner Trossi and following owners. The Italian count re-purchased the car and commissioned new bodywork in 1934. Willy White, an unknown American coachbuilder, is presumed to be the designer of the spectacular coachwork but that’s never been confirmed.

“The Trossi SSK is truly a work of art,” said Festival organizer Murray Smith. “This car is so rarely in public, I can’t thank Ralph enough for entering it in our concours for everyone to enjoy.” The Lauren SSK previously won Best of Show at the 1993 Pebble Beach concours and Italy’s Villa d’Este concours in 2007.

Appropriately, the SSK was shown alongside five other spectacularly important Mercedes competition cars; two from the Mercedes Classic Center in Germany (the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “722” and a 1955 Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix Silver Arrow), two from The Revs Institute of Naples, Fla. (1939 Mercedes-Benz W154 and 1914 Mercedes Grand Prix car), and one from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum (1908 Mercedes Brooklands).

Class Winners, 2015 Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance at Historic Festival 33

Group A, Our Distinguished Seniors

Class A1, “And So We Begin,” special class for the machines that started it all, pre-1915
1911 Packard 30 7-Passenger Touring, Michael DeAngelis, Stamford, Conn.

Class A2, “The World’s First Wheels,” basic transportation 1915 to 1939, open and closed cars
1932 Plymouth PB Sport Roadster, Kevin Biebel, Stamford, Conn.

Class A3, “Gatsby’s Delights pres. by Castle Cadillacs,” luxury and speed; coachbuilt and special cars from an elegant era, pre-WWII
1938 Lincoln Model K LeBaron Convertible, John Winslett & Sheri St. Germain, Bristol, R.I.

Group B, Practical Machines for Practical Purposes

Class B1, “Off to Work,” post-War transportation machinery; those workhorses we depended on daily
1941 Tatra T87 Diplomat, Barney Hallingby, Sharon, Conn.

Class B2, “Carry Your Weight,” trucks and commercial vehicles up to 1975; machines that earn their keep
1975 Land Rover Series III 3-door truck, Thomas & Kristin Zarrella, Gloucester, Mass.

Group C, Sports and Performance Machines on Display and on Track

Class C1, “Risky and Racy,” racing, competitive specials and speed-record machines
1965 Alfa Romeo GTA, Jon Goodman, Philadelphia, Pa.

Class C2, “The Rallyist’s Revenge,” rallying function in a variety of forms
1985 Audi Quattro, Ed Torres, Norwalk, Conn.

Class C3, “Speed and Agility,” early sports cars to 1954
1952 MG TD Roadster, Hal Kramer, Pittsfield, Mass.

Class C4, “Dashing Between the Drops,” mid-sports car era roadsters, 1955 to 1961
1960 MGA, Phil Brown, Bloomfield, Conn.

Class C5, “Racers are Rewarded,” race on Saturday, show on Sunday (Saturday’s winners on exhibit)
1959 Volvo PV-544, Ronald Polimeni, Capon Bridge, W.Va.

Class C6, “Shiny Side Up,” Sports cars, 1962 to 1967
1962 Austin-Healey 3000 MK II, Donald E. Schneider, Lititz, Pa.

Class C7, “For the Fun of the Drive,” sports cars, 1968 to 1975
1970 Lotus Elan S4 SE/Sprint, David Porter, Darien, Conn.

Class C8, “Speed, Sport and Spirit,” sports cars, 1976 to 1990
1983 Lancia Beta Zagato, Jane & Jerome Roth, W. Cornwall, Conn.

Group D, Grand Touring Greatness

Class D1, “Style, Comfort and Pace,” GT cars, 1955 to 1961
1961 Porsche 356B T5, Mark Reich, North Andover, Mass.

Class D2, “A Businessman’s Express,” GT cars, 1962 to 1967
1964 Chevrolet Corvette, Mike Lombardi, Watertown, Conn.

Class D3, “Speed Breeds Success,” GT cars, 1968 to 1975
1968 Lamborghini Miura, Michael Schwartz, Sharon, Conn.

Class D4, “Outrunning the Wind,” open-air GT-caliber cars, 1955 to 1980
1962 Austin-Healey 3000 BN7 MKII, Roger Hamblin, Sandwich, N.H.

Class D5, “Simply Exceptional,” super-cars and special road cars, 1975 to present
1979 Porsche 930, Bud Szurek, Hebron, Conn.

Group E, Comfort, Style and More – Luxury Transport in a Post-War World

Class E1, “Comfort and Class and Wind in the Hair,” open-air motoring elegance, 1945 to 1985
1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible, John E. Haverty, Pleasant Valley, N.Y.

Class E2, “In the Lap of Luxury,” exceptional luxury in coupe and sedan form, 1945 to 1959
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Frank Nicodemus, Jr., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Class E3, “Life at the Top in Style and Comfort,” luxurious transportation coupes and saloons, 1960 to 1985
1977 Jaguar XK6-C Coupe, Richard Sementilli, New York, N.Y.

Group S, Our Special Feature Classes

Class S1, “Mercedes-Benz: The Legacy of Excellence,” stars of the three-pointed star: track machines
1939 Mercedes-Benz W154 “Silver Arrow,” The Revs Institute, Naples, Fla.

Class S2, “Mercedes-Benz: Practical Excellence on the Road,” stars of the three-pointed star: road machines
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SC Roadster, Old Timer Restoration/Off Bros., Harvard, Mass.

Assorted Groups, Special Interest

Class F1, “Just as we Found it,” untouched originals to 1975
1962 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, Ann M. Fagan, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

Class F2, “A Fresh Approach,” creative machines and “Euro rods” that fall between classing cracks, all years
1976 BMW 3.5 CSL Tribute Car, Joseph Rodriguez, Mahwah, N.J.

Class F3, “Hot Rod,” our tribute to garage-built American
greatness, all years
1956 Chevrolet Suburban, Shaun Nettleton, Washington, Conn.

Class F4, “Mercedes in Motion,” Mercedes-enthusiast passion through the years, all years
1962 Mercedes-Benz 300 D, Jeri & Mary Ann Barrett, Easton, Conn.

Class F5, “Up on Two Wheels,” the lighter side of getting going; legendary motorcycles through 1995
1937 BMW R6, Philip Richter, Ridgefield, Conn.

Class F6, “Domestic Dynamite,” reflections of a golden age of American Muscle, 1955 to 1980
1967 Pontiac GTO, Thomas & Kristin Zarrella, Gloucester, Mass.

Class F7, “Arnolts Abound!” A reunion of Arnolt-Bristols
1957 Arnolt-Bristol Deluxe Roadster, Michael Arnolt, Indianapolis, Ind.

Jochen’s Selection
1966 Jaguar XKE OTS, Thomas V.G. Brown, Norwalk, Conn.

Stirling’s Selection
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “722,” Mercedes Classic, Stuttgart, Ger.

Sir Stirling Moss' favorite car at Sunday in the Park! The 300 SLR he and Denis Jenkinson drove to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia (Photo by Greg Clark/Lime Rock Park)

Sir Stirling Moss’ favorite car at Sunday in the Park! The 300 SLR he and Denis Jenkinson drove to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia (Photo by Greg Clark/Lime Rock Park)

Posting Courtesy Lime Rock Park

27 Aug

House of Cars: Curated Garage Tour and Gala Celebration in New Canaan September 12

TV Star & Race Car Driver Patrick Dempsey

TV Star & Race Car Driver Patrick Dempsey

The New Canaan Historical Society honors its 125th anniversary with an auto event featuring rare, vintage and exotic cars & motorcycles.

New Canaan, CT – With a twist on its tag line, ‘History That Moves You,’ the New Canaan Historical Society is honoring its 125th anniversary with a unique and exciting auto event called House of Cars: Curated Garage Tour and Gala Celebration. On Saturday September 12, car collectors, automotive enthusiasts and the local community will be treated to a remarkable experience with a hand-picked selection of some of the world’s finest cars and motorcycles. The day starts with a ‘Fuel-up Breakfast’ amid a collection of exotic cars, followed by a curated tour of select private collections of cars and motorcycles into the afternoon. The event culminates with an evening gala celebration amongst an extensive collection of rare, vintage and unique cars. Master car restorer Wayne Carini and accomplished racers David Hobbs, and Patrick Dempsey (‘Dr. McDreamy’ of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy) are featured speakers throughout the event. Limited House of Cars Curated Garage Tour tickets are available, beginning at $1,500. House of Cars Gala tickets may be purchased separately, beginning at $1,000. To learn more, or to purchase tickets to this unique event, visit www.nchistory.org or call 203.966.1776.

“This is one of the few area events where you can experience some of the finest examples of motorized works of art, visit unique private garages and mingle with highly-acclaimed car experts and racing aficionados,” said event co-chair Susan Bishop. “Celebrating the Society’s 125th anniversary requires a truly special event, and we’ve created an extraordinary experience where people can surround themselves with automotive inspiration, excellence and unparalleled style.”

Guests will ‘start their engines’ by beginning their day at Miller Motorcars’ Stamford, CT garage, where a House of Cars ‘Fuel Up Breakfast’ will be served amid a collection of exotic cars, including a Rolls-Royce Wraith, McLaren 650S Spider, Aston Martin V12S, Ferrari California T, Maserati Ghibli S Q4, Pagani Huayra and an Alfa Romeo 4C. Wayne Carini of Velocity Channel’s Chasing Classic Cars will be the morning’s host, sharing insights from his lifetime of experience as a master car restorer and collection manager for clients worldwide. Swapping stories and genuine camaraderie are the spirit of the morning as guests share their passions for special and exclusive cars in this exciting setting.

Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars on Velocity TV

Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars on Velocity TV

Attendees will then be directed, in limited groups, to the House of Cars curated tour locations for an intimate and memorable experience. Custom automobiles and motorcycles that are equal parts art and power will be on display, set in some of Fairfield County’s most remarkable private garages. Guests will have a chance to speak with owners and mingle among these enviable collectables, while taking in the stylish backdrops for each ‘House of Cars.’

An elegant evening closes the day with a gala celebration at Collectors’ Car Garage in Bedford Hills, NY. Guests will enjoy cocktails and a seated dinner amongst an extensive collection of exotic, vintage and rare cars. House of Cars gala attendees will have an opportunity to bid on exceptional packages in a limited live auction. Patrick Dempsey, well known for his award-winning role on ABC’s series Grey’s Anatomy, is a noted Porsche racer, and will be the evening’s keynote speaker. For nearly a decade Dempsey’s great passion for motorsports propelled him to drive competitively and create the championship winning Dempsey Racing Team. Dempsey’s most recent racing achievement is a second place finish in the GTE Am class in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest automotive endurance race. Dempsey will be interviewed by emcee David Hobbs, a multi-champion road racer, who over the course of three decades has raced in four Indianapolis 500 races and had three third place finishes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Hobbs recently joined NBC Sports, co-hosting live coverage of Formula One races.

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David Hobbs NBC Sports Formula 1 Co-host

 

“It’s an honor to host car collectors and motorsports enthusiasts throughout the tristate area as they gather together in this spectacular experience that celebrates the automobile,” said Evan Cygler, Miller Motorcars Director of Marketing. “Guests will leave this memorable House of Cars event feeling exhilarated.”

Tickets for the House of Cars Curated Garage Tour and Gala Celebration begin at $1,500 and are very limited. Individual gala tickets may be purchased for $1,000. To reserve your tickets, please send payment to the New Canaan Historical Society, 13 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, CT 06840. For additional details, including advertising and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.nchistory.org or call 203.966.1776.

Proceeds from the House of Cars Curated Garage Tour and Gala Celebration will directly benefit the New Canaan Historical Society, which seeks to educate and enlighten the public in an atmosphere that is welcoming, friendly and fun by offering innovative educational exhibitions and programs for adults, children and families. The New Canaan Historical Society is a not-for-profit, privately supported, educational facility.

The New Canaan Historical Society is especially grateful to the House of Cars event sponsors. They include: Miller Motorcars of Greenwich, purveyor of Fairfield County’s finest motorcars; Chubb Insurance in partnership with Brown Thayer Shedd, provider of exceptional insurance for exceptional cars; CharlesDEAN New York, modern bespoke suits for discerning customers; Jonathan M. Wainwright Esq. of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLC, one of the world’s most prominent financial services law firms; Collectors Car Garage, a country club for car people; and media sponsor, Moffly Media, the leading authority on Fairfield County’s lifestyle resources, information and insights.

By Laura Roberts (Open Post on Patch)

14 Aug

Make It Six: Historic Festival 33 adds Lauren’s ‘Count Trossi’ SSK to Special Mercedes Collection at Lime Rock Sept. 6

Photo by Michael Furman

Photo by Michael Furman

LAKEVILLE, CT – Lime Rock Park Historic Festival 33 Chairman Murray Smith scored another coup by securing yet another historic Mercedes competition car to join the five already confirmed; he’s arranged for one of the very few remaining 1928-1932 Mercedes-Benz SSKs to join the already outstanding display.

In particular, it’s the streamlined SSK built for Count Carlo Felice Trossi. The spectacular “Trossi SSK,” owned by Ralph Lauren, won best of show at the 1993 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the 2007 Concorso D’Eleganza Villa d’Este.

The SSK’s extreme performance and numerous competitive successes made it one of the most highly regarded sports cars of its era. Fewer than six entirely original SSK models remain. The SSK was the last Mercedes-Benz designed by Ferdinand Porsche before he left to found his own car company.

As of today, here’s the outstanding collection of Mercedes competition cars that will be at Historic Festival 33, September 4-7…

  • The “722” 300 SLR driven to victory by Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson in the 1955 Mille Miglia
  • 1954/55 W196 Grand Prix Silver Arrow
  • 1939 W154 Grand Prix Silver Arrow
  • 1930 Mercedes Trossi SSK
  • 1914 Mercedes Grand Prix car (French G.P.)
  • The 1908 Mercedes “Brooklands”
Photo  by IMS

Photo by IMS

The 1908 Mercedes Brooklands, is the sole survivor of only three produced. A Mercedes Brooklands finished fourth in the inaugural 1911 Indy 500 driven by Spencer Wishart, just 10 seconds behind Ray Harroun’s winning Marmon Wasp.

In the 1912 Indy 500, two Brooklands started – one by Wishart and one by Ralph De Palma – and De Palma very nearly won. In the car he nicknamed the Gray Ghost, he led 195 laps, but then a connecting rod broke. De Palma was able to coast one more lap but in the end he was classified 11th, behind winner Joe Dawson. (Wishart completed 82 laps and finished 15th.) These Brooklands were fitted with 583 cubic inch 4 cylinder engines.

The records of the individual Brooklands cars are difficult to distinguish from each other; the racers were leased and loaned to many owners and drivers. De Palma’s Brooklands was later lost in a fire. The Mercedes Brooklands has been kindly lent to Lime Rock by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

“It was the Brooklands models that built the very foundation of Mercedes racing success from the early 1900s onward,” Smith says. “A spectacular grouping, all of these very rare, very special Mercedes in one place at one time? Well, that pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I can’t tell you how pleased Lime Rock is to bring these cars to its fans and the media in such an intimate, beautiful and historic setting. Having Sir Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass as the weekend’s Honored Guests will add immensely to the Mercedes celebration, of course.”

About the Historic Festival: Since 1983, the East Coast’s premier vintage racing and concours event has been the Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park, held annually over Labor Day weekend. No other venue in the U.S. has three days of on-track racing sandwiching a prestigious concours event all on the same property, all at the same time. Historic Festival 33 is Thursday, September 3 (17-mile Vintage Race & Sports Car Parade) through Monday, September 7, while the Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance & Gathering of the Marques is September 6. Historic Festival 33 features Honored Guests Sir Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass, and one of the most distinctive gatherings of Mercedes-Benz competition cars in recent memory. Schedule: Thursday, Vintage Race Car Parade; Friday, Practice & Qualifying; Saturday, 18 races and demonstration laps; Sunday in the Park Concours; Monday, 18 races and demonstration laps. Ticket and other information at limerockhistorics.com & limerock.com

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27 Jul

Four significant M-B competition cars confirmed for Historic Festival 33 at Lime Rock Sept. 3-7

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Lakeville, CT – Competition cars from Mercedes-Benz will be the stars of Lime Rock Park’s Historic Festival 33, September 3-7, 2015. Event Chairman Murray Smith has confirmed the presence of four outstanding race cars:

From the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Stuttgart, Germany

  • The “722” 300 SLR driven to victory by Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson in the 1955 Mille Miglia
  • A 1954/55 W196 Silver Arrow grand prix car

From The Revs Institute, Naples, Fla.

  • 1939 W154 Silver Arrow grand prix car
  • 1914 Mercedes grand prix car (French G.P.)

Smith is currently in conversation with additional entities regarding other rare and significant Mercedes-Benz competition cars; announcements to follow.

• Historic Festival 33’s Honored Guests are Sir Stirling Moss and racing legend Jochen Mass, Mercedes-Benz Classic Center driver

• The Honored Collector for Sunday in the Park 2015 is Jim Taylor, of Gloversville, N.Y. Jim’s unique perspective focuses heavily on collecting “survivors” – cars that show their history and wear it proudly, and aren’t always washed much less restored – as well as eclectic, special cars with significant character. Among the cars Mr. Taylor is bringing to Historic Festival 33 are:

  • “The Evangel,” a 1935 Ford V8 “gospel truck”
  • 1937 Horch 853A Cabriolet
  • 1953 Allard J2X Le Mans
  • 1964 AC Cobra (289 – CSX 2171)
  • 1958 AC Ace Bristol
  • 1962 Chevrolet Corvair wagon (with special factory 4-speed manual transmission)
  • 1932 Ford hot rod

• The Honored Motorcycle Collector for Sunday in the Park 2015 is Rob Iannucci – Team Obsolete – of Brooklyn, N.Y. Rob Iannucci is one of the great stewards of the vintage motorcycle racing community in North America and internationally. Through his racing organization, Team Obsolete, he has participated in and won most of the important vintage motorcycle racing events in the world. Mr. Iannucci’s collection primarily focuses on bikes from Matchless and AJS, with a sprinkling of racing Harleys and other two-wheeled masterpieces. Not just any bikes, these are some of the most famous racing bikes in the world coming to Lime Rock Park.

  • 1954 AJS 7R3 “Triple Knocker,” ex-Rod Coleman, 1954 Isle of Man TT winner
  • 1959 Matchless G-50 #1709, ex-Al Gunter
  • 1969 Arter G-50 “Wagon Wheels”
  • 1967 MV Agusta 500/3; this is one of the legendary “triples” used by Giacomo Agostini to win 13 of his 15 F.I.M. World Championships… The Ultimate!
  • 1972 Harley Davidson 750 XRTT – Cal Rayborn’s last and best XR750TT… The Holy Grail of all the XR 750TT Harleys

New... Sunday in the Park is now accepting post-1985 cars in select classes to spotlight modern marvels (click here) to see the complete class list, some of which have post-1985 divisions)

• Lime Rock Park has made a multi-million dollar investment in its infrastructure as part of the Road to 60 Project. The facility is now substantially improved as compared to 2014 and prior. Rebuilt and/or all-new include: Paddocks, restrooms, viewing areas, walkways, landscaping, Wi-Fi system, PA system and more.

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Find more information at www.limerockhistorics.com

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