21 Jun

NEAM Father’s Day Car Show 2017 Award Winners

Photos – Jenny Ord Bonadio

Photos – Jenny Ord Bonadio

People’s Choice Award
First Place – Marc Wonderman, ’34 Morgan Super Sports “Trike”
Runner Up – Bob Sabre, ’54 Nash Airflyte

New England Auto Museum Award – Favorite in Show
’49 International Pickup, Emily Gagnon

Mayor’s Trophy – selected by Harry Rilling
’54 Nash Airflyte, Bob Sabre

Malcom S. Pray Jr. Award – Favorite Classic Car
’53 Morgan +4 “Flat Rad”, Rod Griffith

Bob Sharp Award – Most Fun to Drive
’95 Ferrari F355, Mickey Koleszar

James Melton Award – selected by George Dragone
’37 Ford Fordor, Vinnie Pousada

Lime Rock Award – Favorite Race Car
’57 Morgan Plus 4, Chip Brown

“Car Bob” Award – Favorite Morgan
’34 Morgan Super Sports “Trike”, Marc Wonderman

CT Seaport Club Award – Favorite Preservation Car
’73 Buick Gran Sport, Phil Roitman

Karl Chevrolet Award – Favorite Camaro
’69 Chevrolet Camaro, Vern & Kim Cyr

Hagerty Award – Car That Matters
’84 BMW 520i, Nick Ord

NE Racing Fuels Award – Favorite Track Car
’67 Volvo 122S, Automotive Restorations Inc.

Automotive Restorations Award – Favorite Restored Car
’70 Pontiac Trans-Am, Jim Napoletano

Spacefitters Award – Favorite Modern Car
’11 Callaway Corvette, Maria & Bill Myers

Ord Family Award – Favorite British Car
’58 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, Pray Auto Body

Coachmen Car Club Trophy – Favorite Rod or Custom Car
’68 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, Vinny Lyons

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05 Jun

WKPN-89.5FM’s “Car Bob” Show to Broadcast Live from the NEAM Father’s Day Car Show on June 18th

WKPNFM Radio Personality and Show Grand Marshal “Car Bob” Costanzo

WKPNFM Radio Personality and Show Grand Marshal “Car Bob” Costanzo

Norwalk, Conn. – WKPN-FM Radio Personality and automotive expert “Car Bob” Costanzo has been named Grand Marshal for the 3rd Annual NEAM Father’s Day Car Show presented by Karl Chevrolet. The “Car Bob” Show runs on alternate week’s Saturday mornings from 9am to 11am on Bridgeport’s WKPN Radio at 89.5 on the FM dial. The show features a panel of car experts in including “Car Bob”, Mark “The Mechanic” Mushin, Diesel Doug Echols, and Motorcar Historian George Dragone. The provides discussion of all things automotive and listeners are encouraged to call in with questions or comments about the topics of the day as well as tips for keeping your car in top mechanical condition.

“Car Bob” Costanzo has been working on automobiles since his early teens and graduated from Central Connecticut State College in 1974 with a BS in Education, Industrial Arts. For many in the area, “Car Bob” will be remembered as a Judge at auto shows in the Corvette Class and early American automobile up to the 50’s. “Car Bob” is currently a Professor of Automotive Technology at Gateway Community College in North Haven where he is the lead GM ASEP instructor. He is an ASE World Class Technician and also certified in alternative fuels vehicles including hybrid and electric cars.

“Car Bob” is often seen around the Bridgeport/New Haven corridor in his daily driver, a green Morgan Plus 4 roadster. Morgan Cars from England are the featured European marque at the year’s NEAM Father’s Day Car Show which is an official event on the Morgan Club of New England’s 2017 Event Calendar.

The “Car Bob” Show will be broadcast live from the show at Mathews Park in Norwalk and show spectators and participants are encouraged to meet “Car Bob” and his panel of car experts at the WKPN-89.5FM tent beside the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion.

17 May

110 Year-Old Fiat Targa Florio Race Car Coming to the NEAM Father’s Day Car Show June 18th

1907 Fiat 60HP Targa Florio Corsa owned by Manny and George Dragone of Bridgeport, Connecticut

1907 Fiat 60HP Targa Florio Corsa owned by Manny and George Dragone of Bridgeport, Connecticut

Norwalk, Conn. – The first of the classic European road races was the Targa Florio, which began in 1906 and continued until 1976. The first course was three laps of 92-around the Madonie Mountains. Fiat’s entry in 1907 was led by Vincenzo Lancia and Felice Nazzaro. At the end of the first lap Lancia was in the lead, but ultimately it was Nazzaro in the 60HP who won the second Targa Florio. That same year he also won the French Grand Prix and the German Kaiserpreis also in Fiat race cars. This is one of the five original 60 HP Fiat team cars from the Targa Florio. It was discovered with a touring body and has been restored to the specification raced by the great drivers of 1907 by Manny and George Dragone of Bridgeport.

In 1907, there were 51 entrants in the 2nd Targa Florio race in Sicily, including pioneer automakers Darracq, Itala, De Dietrich, Benz, Berliet, Gobron-Brille, Daimler, Clement, Junior, Star-Rapid, Zust, Diatto-Clement, Radia, Ajax, Isotta-Frashini, Rolland-Plain, Opel and the five 7.4 liter/60HP Fiats. Felice Nazarro won the race with a Fiat, followed by Fiat teammate, Vincenzo Lancia, just 12 minutes later and after nearly 8 ½ hours of racing. Lancia also posted the fastest lap of the race, with a time of 2 hours, 43 minutes, 8 seconds. A third Fiat finished in 8th place driven by Aldo Weilschott. The other two Fiat team cars do not appear in the race results, but Fiat established itself as one of the leading automakers in the world.

Vincenzo Lancia and mechanic and future superstar driver of the 20's Pietro Bordino, pushing their Fiat F1 in the pits

Vincenzo Lancia and mechanic and future superstar driver of the 20’s Pietro Bordino, pushing their Fiat F1 in the pits

In 1907, at the age of 26, Felice Nazzaro was the greatest driver in the world. With his effortless and immaculate technique, he stayed at the top, retiring from premier level racing in 1924 after almost 25 years in the most dangerous game in the world. A cagey driver, Nazzaro would often hang back at the beginning of a race, waiting for the leaders to fail and then would pounce into the lead, sometimes making the fastest lap in the process.

Nazzaro was very young when he started work in the workshop of the Ceriano brothers (Fiat founders) and he was soon competing for the new Fiat racing team. He won the Padua 200 km race in 1900 at the wheel of a red Fiat and the 1901 Giro d’Italia in a 6HP Fiat. The popular star of numerous Italian races early in the century; he even became an idol abroad, with a brilliant second place for Fiat in the Gordon Bennett Cup of 1905. Slight of build, gentlemanly of nature and immaculate in dress, his skill as a driver, mechanic and diplomat earned him the position of ‘works’ Fiat driver alongside Vincenzo Lancia in 1905.

The car resides in the Dragone Classics showroom in Westport, CT

The car resides in the Dragone Classics showroom in Westport, CT

While the Fiat Company has records of the serial numbers of the cars that were sent to the Targa Florio, it is not known which cars finished and which didn’t. Records show that the Dragone’s car was shipped to Argentina after the 1908 racing season, where it was fitted with a touring body. It was parked on a ranch in the 1920s and remained there until discovered by Californian Ben Moser in 1976. Moser was successful in obtaining its Targa Florio documentation directly from Fiat, but it wasn’t until 1990 that he was finally able to make its purchase. Unfortunately, Moser passed away before the car arrived in the U.S. The Dragone’s purchased the Fiat from the Moser estate in 1991.

The Fiat’s 4-cylinder 7.4 liter engine rated at 60 hp

The Fiat’s 4-cylinder 7.4 liter engine rated at 60 hp

The Dragone’s 1907 Fiat Targa Florio race car will be featured at the Father’s Day Car Show on Sunday, June 18th at Mathews Park in Norwalk. Anyone interested in showing a car at the show may pre-register online at the New England Auto Museum website at only $15/per car or at the gate on the day of the show for $20/per car. All show cars will be welcome with no cut-off year. Spectator admission is free. Prizes will include awards for the Peoples’ Choice, the Mayor’s Choice, Favorite in Show and many more. Dash plaques will be available for the first 100 cars to register.

New England Auto Museum
The New England Auto Museum will be an exciting new attraction for the state of Connecticut and throughout the Northeast. This non-profit organization will build a first class facility dedicated to preserving, interpreting and exhibiting historic automobiles and automobile artifacts. It will serve as both an educational learning center as well as a display center to highlight an ever changing evolution of car history and its impact on society. Find more information at www.neautomuseum.org

03 May

Greenwich Concours d’Elegance celebrates its 22nd year in 2017

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Bugattis, Historic Race Cars, Hot Rods and Children’s Cars featured to benefit Americares

GREENWICH, Conn. – Recognized as one of the premier classic car shows in the country, the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance will celebrate its 22nd year of showcasing significant cars, motorcycles and one-off automotive creations on June 3-4, 2017.

The brainchild of the late Bruce Wennerstrom, the Concours continues its tradition of holding two unique Concours back-to-back at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park overlooking the Greenwich, Conn., harbor on Long Island Sound.

For 21 years, the proceeds from the Greenwich Concours have gone to support Americares, a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing medicine, medical supplies and health programs.

Organizer of the world-renowned Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Bill Warner, has been named the Grand Marshal.

Saturday, June 3, will be the Concours Americana for American cars and motorcycles, while Sunday, June 4, will feature the Concours International for imported marques.

The inaugural hot rod display being organized by Velocity Channel’s Chasing Classic Cars host Wayne Carini will highlight Saturday’s show. A special exhibit of children’s cars and supercars will round out the day’s displays. Saturday’s ticket also allows attendees to preview all of the cars in the Bonhams auction tent.

Tickets are also available on Saturday night to a gala party and elegant buffet at the Greenwich Delamar Hotel, with luxurious yachts as a backdrop on the quay.

Sunday’s featured marque will be Bugatti and will include a collection of rare Bugattis from the American Bugatti Club. Sunday will also feature race cars from the Lime Rock Park Historic Festival. The Bonham’s auction begins at noon on Sunday and requires a separate admission.

Also showcased during the weekend will be the iconic outlaw cars from the original cross-country Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, held in the ’70s, along with some of the later non-outlaw entries. These cars will also be displayed at the Cannonball Reunion, a joint evening event with the Greenwich International Film Festival, at Cole Auditorium on Friday, June 2. Proceeds from this event will support the development of the New England Auto Museum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a world class automotive display and educational facility in Connecticut.

Both days will include displays of the latest in new cars including BMW, Cadillac, Tesla, Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Miller Motorcars of Greenwich will highlight its Ferrari, Bugatti, Pagani, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, McLaren, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Maserati marques. Opportunities to test drive some of these new vehicles will be offered. There will also be a number of luxury yachts displayed at the adjacent Delamar Hotel docks.

“The Greenwich Concours is proud to partner with Americares to help families in need all over the world,” said Mary Wennerstrom, Concours Chairman. “Not only will attendees who appreciate these rare cars be treated to two days to delight their senses, they will also be contributing to one of the world’s most respected charities.”

“Americares is honored to be the Greenwich Concours’ charity of choice for more than two decades,” said Americares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis. “Together we are helping families affected by poverty or disaster to get the health care they need — the health care they deserve.”

VIP tickets are available on a limited basis. A VIP ticket includes early entry to the Concours, breakfast and lunch with the car owners and judges, access to the VIP lounge and patio at the Delamar Hotel, entrance to the Bonhams Cocktail Reception on Friday night, lapel pin, poster and a VIP lanyard.

  • Gates open at 10 a.m. for general admission, 8 a.m. for VIP ticket holders
  • Advance tickets for both days are available at $30 per day or $50 for both days
  • Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult
  • VIP Admission is $250 per day or $450 for both days
  • Saturday Night Gala tickets are available for $175
  • Tickets can be purchased at http://www.greenwichconcours.com/visitors/tickets/
  • Admission to Bonhams auction is available on site at $40 for two people
  • To request media credentials, please go to http://www.greenwichconcours.com/press-links/

The weekend activities will include other events, open to the public, some in cooperation with the Greenwich International Film Festival:

About Americares
Americares is a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing health programs, medicine and medical supplies. Each year, Americares reaches more than 90 countries and all 50 U.S. states with over $600 million in innovative health programs and quality medical aid. Americares is the world’s leading nonprofit provider of donated medicine and medical supplies. For more information, visit americares.org

Baby Bugatti with a 1925 Bugatti Type 35A/51 Grand Prix at the Greenwich Concours site Photo by Bearded Mug Media

Baby Bugatti with a 1925 Bugatti Type 35A/51 Grand Prix at the Greenwich Concours site
Photo by Bearded Mug Media

18 Apr

Cannonball Reunion – June 2, 2017

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DON’T MISS OUT! Tickets are now on sale for the Cannonball Reunion – in cooperation with the Greenwich (Conn.) Concours and the Greenwich Film Festival.

 

Featuring original Cannonballers and their cars, too! Seating is very limited so don’t delay.

 

Proceeds from the Reunion will benefit the New England Auto Museum, www.neautomuseum.org

 

To buy tickets, go to www.greenwichfilm.org

 

June 2, 2017 – 6:30 p.m. – program at 8 p.m.
Cole Auditorium at the Greenwich Library
101 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
04 Mar

Karl Chevrolet Signs on as Presenting Sponsor of the New England Auto Museum Father’s Day Car Show June 18th in Norwalk

Karl Chevrolet was founded in 1927 by Leo and Emil Karl, two of seven brothers (Photo courtesy of the Karl family)

Karl Chevrolet was founded in 1927 by Leo and Emil Karl, two of seven brothers
(Photo courtesy of the Karl family)

Norwalk, Conn. – New England Auto Museum has announced that Karl Chevrolet of New Canaan has signed on as the Presenting Sponsor of the 3rd Annual Father’s Day Car Show to be held Sunday June 18th from 10AM to 3PM at Mathews Park in Norwalk.

Karl Chevrolet is a third generation, award winning, auto dealership bringing the family’s long time automotive experience to customers from Wilton CT to Mt. Kisco NY and all throughout Fairfield and Westchester counties. For almost 90 years, thousands of customers have come to Karl Chevrolet and experienced their motto: “Honesty, Integrity, Service and Trust! We work hard to earn your business!”

In 1927, Leo Karl, one of the seven brothers, got an opportunity to purchase a Chevrolet dealership that had been struggling. He opened it in New Canaan with a younger brother, Emil, on September 15, of that year. For some months they were located on Railroad Avenue (today Elm Street) opposite the train station, and they moved to their current location nearby the following year. In its first year, Karl Chevrolet sold 34 new and 38 used cars.

Recently Karl Chevrolet received a 2017 DealerRater Dealer of the Year Award which recognizes auto dealerships across the United States and Canada who deliver outstanding customer service, based on consumer reviews written on DealerRater.com. “Car buyers have spoken and have identified Karl Chevrolet as the best Chevrolet dealer to do business with in Connecticut,” DealerRater CEO Gary Tucker said in a press release. “The quality and number of reviews for Karl Chevrolet speak volumes of the top-notch experiences they provide to customers.” In expressing appreciation for the award, Karl Chevrolet President Leo Karl III added “It’s not rocket science; we try to take care of each customer on an individual basis”

In its 3rd year, the NEAM Father’s Day Show takes advantage of its surroundings on the spacious lawns of the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum which provide a scenic backdrop for a spectacular collection of classic cars. The show provides a wide variety of attractions for car owners and spectators alike including tours of the Mansion and the neighboring Stepping Stones Children’s Museum as well as great BBQ food, ice cream and games.

The addition of Karl Chevrolet as Presenting Sponsor highlights the selection of the Chevrolet Camaro, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, as featured American marque.

Camaro # 001, the first of 49 hand built prototypes assembled in Norwood, Ohio in 1966 (Photo Chevrolet Division)

Camaro # 001, the first of 49 hand built prototypes assembled in Norwood, Ohio in 1966 (Photo Chevrolet Division)

The Camaro was officially announced as a 1967 model on June 28, 1966 by Chevrolet Division’s General Manager Pete Estes. GM marketers claimed to have found the name Camaro in an old French-English Dictionary, translating to “friend, pal, or comrade.” It was also joked that a Camaro was “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” The Camaro was undoubtedly a direct response to the success of Ford’s pony car, and its design reflected that.

Camaro will also be honored as a featured marque at the upcoming Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. In announcing the honor, Concours Chairman Bill Warner summarized the car’s secrets to success and longevity, “The Camaro brought affordable world-class design to American car showrooms.” Warner added, “With a big list of models and options one could build a very personalized Camaro. Camaros were road-racing and drag-racing champions, luxury GT cars, Saturday night cruisers, top-down beach cruisers, you name it. Now they’ve taken their rightful place as true modern classics.”

To celebrate the 50 year milestone of the Camaro’s debut, Chevrolet has introduced a specially equipped 50th Anniversary Edition available with unique Nightfall Gray exterior color and orange stripe package plus special interior and exterior trim elements. The special edition is available in both coupe and convertible models and power train options include the 6.2 liter L1-V8 and 6-speed transmission which will deliver a 0-60 time of 4 seconds flat. Karl Chevrolet will be displaying a 50th Anniversary Edition Camaro at the Father’s Day Car Show.

2017 Camaro 50th Anniversary Edition (Photo Chevrolet Division)

2017 Camaro 50th Anniversary Edition (Photo Chevrolet Division)

Anyone interested in showing a car at the Father’s Day Car Show may pre-register online at the New England Auto Museum website at only $15/per car or at the gate on the day of the show for $20/per car. All show cars will be welcome with no cut-off year. Spectator admission is free. Prizes will include awards for the Peoples’ Choice, the Mayor’s Choice, Favorite in Show and many more. Dash plaques will be available for the first 100 cars to register.

New England Auto Museum
The New England Auto Museum will be an exciting new attraction for the state of Connecticut and throughout the Northeast. This non-profit organization will build a first class facility dedicated to preserving, interpreting and exhibiting historic automobiles and automobile artifacts. It will serve as both an educational learning center as well as a display center to highlight an ever changing evolution of car history and its impact on society. Find more information at www.neautomuseum.org

29 Sep

60th Anniversary of N.A.R.T Celebrated by New England Auto Museum September 28th

Emcee Jerry Cotrone introduces N.A.R.T veterans Luigi Chinetti Jr., Francois Sicard, Roger Colson, Jean-Louis Lebreton and Bob Craige at 60thAnniversary Celebration  Photo: Judy Stropus

Emcee Jerry Cotrone introduces N.A.R.T veterans Luigi Chinetti Jr., Francois Sicard, Roger Colson, Jean-Louis Lebreton and Bob Craige at 60thAnniversary Celebration – Photo: Judy Stropus

Norwalk, Conn. – On September 28th, over 100 guests joined the New England Auto Museum to pay tribute to the Connecticut-based North American Racing Team on the eve of the team’s 60th anniversary at Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk, Conn. The goal was to raise funds for the nonprofit New England Auto Museum, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a permanent facility for display and education in automotive arts and technology to be built in Connecticut. Thanks to participation by many former team members including team owner Luigi Chinetti’s son Luigi Chinetti Jr. who travelled to the event from his home in Ottawa, Canada, the evening created many happy memories of the team’s performances over two decades from 1957 to 1983..

A highlight of the evening was a telephone link conversation with well-known former N.A.R.T. driver Sam Posey from his home in Northeastern Connecticut with Luigi Chinetti Jr. and former Paul Newman racing partner Bob Sharp. Sam shared reminiscences of his racing career on the N.A.R.T. team including his best 3rd place overall finish at LeMans in 1971 with co-driver Tony Adamowicz, who also sent along his congratulations on the team’s milestone. The Ferrari 512M that Posey and Adamowicz drove in the 1971 race went on to break multiple speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1974 with drivers Paul Newman, then an amateur driver, 2-time Formula 1 champion Graham Hill, team driver Milt Mitner, and Luigi Chinetti Jr. The actual 512M chassis no. 1020 that Posey drove at LeMans and set records at Bonneville was on display at the event courtesy of the Lawrence Auriana Collection. A CBS-TV film was shown documenting the Bonneville runs which included two Ferraris, the 512M which ultimately self-destructed with Graham Hill at the wheel, and a well-used 365GTB4 Daytona Competition coupe which went on to break five international speed records for 3 to 5 liter cars on the salt flats.

Ferrari 512M driven to 3rd place at LeMans in 1971 and multiple speed records at Bonneville in 1974 courtesy the Lawrence Auriana Collection Photo Alex Von Kleydorff

Ferrari 512M driven to 3rd place at LeMans in 1971 and multiple speed records at Bonneville in 1974 courtesy the Lawrence Auriana Collection – Photo Alex Von Kleydorff

In addition to the Bonneville film, the program included documentary footage by Peter Leahey about the development of the legendary N.A.R.T. Spyder. Luigi Chinetti’s influence with Enzo Ferrari was such that he convinced the factory to build a series of 10 275 GTB4/Spyders with bodies by Scaglietti which became known as the N.A.R.T. Spyders. The first N.A.R.T. Spyder was shipped to America in February 1967, just in time for the Sebring 12-hour race where it was driven by Denise McCluggage and Pinkie Rollo. They finished in a respectable 17th place and second in class behind a Shelby GT350, a good result considering that, mechanically, it was a standard production specification car. Of the ten N.A.R.T. Spyders built, the McCluggage car was the only one raced before being sold to a customer. Initially painted in pale yellow, it became even more well-known later on as the car Faye Dunaway drove in the “Thomas Crowne Affair” with Steve McQueen in the lead role. The car was resprayed maroon for the movie, with McQueen famously calling it “one of those red Italian things”.

Steve McQueen with the N.A.R.T .Spyder in “The Thomas Crowne Affair” Archived Photo

Steve McQueen with the N.A.R.T .Spyder in “The Thomas Crowne Affair”
Archived Photo

Complementing the Bonneville and N.A.R.T. Spyder film presentations, the event included a panel of former N.A.R.T. team members who shared reminiscences on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the team’s formation in 1957. In addition to Luigi Chinetti Jr., the group included former mechanics for N.A.R.T. Roger Colson, Francois Sicard, Jean-Louis Lebreton and Bob Craige. The event was emceed by Jerry Cotrone, ex-Chinetti Motors employee and curator of the Malcolm Pray Achievement Center in Bedford, N.Y. Sponsors of the event included Hagerty Insurance, Dragone Auctions, Pray Auto Body, Pray Achievement Center, Spacefitters Logistics & Technology Group, Rive Bistro Restaurant and Ferrari North America. It was a memorable evening for all the racing fans who attended.

Denise McCluggage driving the N.A.R.T. Spyder at Sebring 12-Hour in 1967 Archived Photo

Denise McCluggage driving the N.A.R.T. Spyder at Sebring 12-Hour in 1967
Archived Photo

17 Aug

N.A.R.T.’s 60th Anniversary Celebration; Special Movie Screening in Norwalk September 28th

Paul Newman with Luigi Chinetti Jr. at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1974 Archived Photo

Paul Newman with N.A.R.T Team Manager Dick Fritz at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1974 Archived Photo

Norwalk, Conn. – On Wednesday, September 28th at 6:30 PM, the New England Auto Museum will host a special one-night celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.) featuring film presentations on the Ferrari team’s Bonneville speed record attempts in 1974 and the development of the Ferrari N.A.R.T. Spyder at the Stepping Stones Multimedia Gallery in Norwalk. The goal is to raise funds for the nonprofit New England Auto Museum, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a permanent facility for display and education in automotive arts and technology.

In September 1974, with N.A.R.T.’s short racing season over, Luigi Chinetti Jr., son of Ferrari legend Luigi Chinetti, decided it would be fun to go to Bonneville in an attempt to break some old speed records; some by Ab Jenkins had stood for over 35 years. To do this would entail taking three cars, and a pit crew. Having raised about $40,000 in sponsorship deals, it was a viable proposition. Two Ferrari 365 GTB4 Daytona’s, one as a spare car, and a Le Mans prototype 512M, were dispatched together with an eclectic mix of drivers, 2-time Formula One world champion Graham Hill, actor Paul Newman and then current N.A.R.T. driver Milt Minter joined Chinetti Jr., to discover what could be achieved under the direction of team manager Dick Fritz.

Speed record breaking Ferrari 512M Le Mans Prototype on the Salt Flats Archived Photo

Speed record breaking Ferrari 512M Le Mans Prototype on the Salt Flats
Archived Photo

There were two courses at Bonneville: the straight-line course and also a 10-mile oval. It was the latter that was being used, with its straights of just over two miles in length, and the curves at each end that, through necessity were very long and gradual. The shorter distance records were attempted first in the 512M, and then progressively longer ones in the 365 GTB4, each record falling as the string of drivers took his turn at the wheel. It all seemed surreal, having two cars circulating in the middle of nowhere, coming in for rapid refueling, and driver change-over, and at the same time being filmed by CBS-TV. The only unfortunate thing was that the 24-hour record remained unbroken, as the 365 GTB4’s front right tire burst, affecting the suspension. A half-hour’s work to rectify the problem took the car out of the equation for breaking the record, so the team gave up the unequal struggle. After the event, Chinetti Jr. said, “It was easy to see how the old record had stood for so long.”

Denise McCluggage driving the N.A.R.T. Spyder at Sebring 12-Hour in 1967 Archived Photo

Denise McCluggage driving the N.A.R.T. Spyder at Sebring 12-Hour in 1967
Archived Photo

In addition to the Bonneville film, the program will include documentary footage by Peter Leahey about the development of the legendary N.A.R.T. Spyder. Luigi Chinetti’s influence with Enzo Ferrari was such that he convinced the factory to build a series of 10 275 GTB4/Spyders with bodies by Scaglietti which became known as the N.A.R.T. Spyders. The first N.A.R.T. Spyder was shipped to America in February 1967, just in time for the Sebring 12-hour race where it was driven by Denise McCluggage and Pinkie Rollo. They finished in a respectable 17th place and second in class behind a Shelby GT350, a good result considering that, mechanically, it was a standard production specification car. Of the ten N.A.R.T. Spyders built, the McCluggage car was the only one raced before being sold to a customer. Initially painted in pale yellow, it became even more well-known later on as the car Faye Dunaway drove in the “Thomas Crowne Affair” with Steve McQueen in the lead role. The car was resprayed maroon for the movie, with McQueen famously calling it “one of those red Italian things”.

Steve McQueen with the N.A.R.T .Spyder in “The Thomas Crowne Affair” Archived Photo

Steve McQueen with the N.A.R.T .Spyder in “The Thomas Crowne Affair”
Archived Photo

Complementing the Bonneville and N.A.R.T. Spyder film presentations, the event will include a panel of former N.A.R.T. team members who will share reminiscences on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the team’s formation in 1957. At this writing, this group includes former mechanics for N.A.R.T. Roger Colson and Francois Sicard, and it will be emceed by Jerry Cotrone, ex-Chinetti Motors employee and curator of the Malcolm Pray Achievement Center in Bedford, N.Y.

This special one-night commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the N.A.R.T. Racing Team will take place Wednesday, September 28th from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres, provided by Rive Bistro Restaurant of Westport, will be served in the hour before the show. Weather permitting, the actual Ferrari 512M that went to Bonneville will be on display in the museum’s courtyard. Location will be the Stepping Stones Museum Multi-Media Gallery at 303 West Avenue in Norwalk (Mathews Park). Sponsors of the event include Dragone Auctions, Hagerty Insurance, Pray Auto Body, Pray Achievement Center, Spacefitters Logistics & Technology Group and Rive Bistro Restaurant. Tickets will be $20 per person and space is limited to 150 attendees. Tickets can be purchased at www.neautomuseum.org

Article includes excerpts from “N.A.R.T. A Concise History of the North American Racing Team 1957 to 1983” by Terry O’Neil

N.A.R.T. Bonneville Record Runs
September 23 – 24, 1974

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23 Jun

NEAM Father’s Day Car Show – 2016 Award Winners

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Photo: Alex von Kleydorff/ Hearst Connecticut Media

 

People’s Choice Award
 First Place – Pray Family Foundation, ’34 Packard Sport Phaeton
 Runner Up – Susan Bechlechner, ’57 Ford T-Bird

Mayor’s Trophy – selected by Harry Rilling
’67 Mercury Comet GT, Carl Bock

New England Auto Museum Award – Favorite in Show
’50 Mercury Custom, Fred Bondi

Malcolm S. Pray Award – Favorite Classic Car
’58 Pontiac Bonneville, Bob DiNardo

Bob Sharp Award – Most Fun to Drive
’58 Porsche 356A, Jim Petty

James Melton Award – selected by George Dragone
’56 Austin-Healey LM, Rudi Merkl

Lime Rock Award – Favorite Race Car
’52 Chrysler Saratoga, Chuck Schoendorf

McMahon Ford Award – Favorite Model A Ford
’30 Model A, Russ Bailas

Coachmen Car Club Trophy – Favorite Rod or Custom Car
’48 Cadillac Series 62, Brooke Buccieri

CT Seaport Club Award – Favorite Preservation Car
’66 Chrysler New Yorker, Evan Kingsley

Alfredo Gulla Award – Favorite Alfa Romeo
’66 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600, Marc & Dee Palmieri

Hagerty Award – Car that Matters
½ Scale Bugeye A-H Sprite, Luca Caniato

NE Racing Fuels Award – Favorite Track Car
’65 Shelby Daytona, Mark Schlegal

Automotive Restorations Award – Favorite Restored Car
’28 Chrysler Roadster, Tom & Rose Boyian

Spacefitters Award – Favorite Modern Car
’64 Buick Riviera, Pat Torraco

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15 Jun

Sneak Peak! New Fiat 124 Spider on its way to Father’s Day Car Show in Norwalk on Sunday June 19

2017 Fiat 124 Spider (Photo Fiat)

2017 Fiat 124 Spider (Photo Fiat)

Norwalk, Conn. – The Fiat 124 Spider first hit the road in 1966 as a 2+2 roadster based on the 124 Coupe’s platform. The model lived a long life, as it ran all the way through 1982. When Mazda announced that it was creating an all-new 2016 MX-5 Miata, it also revealed that it co-developed the roadster’s chassis with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, owners of the Fiat brand. Initially, FCA was going to use the chassis to underpin an Alfa Romeo roadster, but it later chose to use it under a Fiat model. Then, in March 2015 at the Geneva Auto Show, FCA announced that the new Fiat convertible would resurrect the 124 Spider nameplate starting in 2016. The roadster was finally unveiled at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Although it shares underpinnings with the new MX-5 Miata, the 124 Spider received an exterior styling of its own, sharing not even a single body panel with its Japanese sibling. The engine is also different, with Fiat opting to use one of its very own turbocharged four-cylinder units developed by Alfa Romeo.

If you’re among those who were complaining about Mazda not offering a turbo Miata, then the 124 Spider might be what you’re looking for. While they feature different exteriors and engines, the roadsters share an almost identical interior. That’s not to say Fiat was lazy and didn’t want to give the 124’s cabin an identity of its own. It actually has to do with reducing costs and the fact that the MX-5’s interior is very spacious and comfortable for a small car.

Styling of the Fiat 124 Spider has been termed “arguably the most beautiful, elegant, and well-proportioned neo-retro design seen in a very long time” by TopSpeed.com. What makes the 124 Spider such a beautiful car is that it borrowed several styling cues from the original model. Designed by Tom Tjaarda at Pininfarina, the first-generation 124 Sport Spider, which was launched in 1966, is widely considered one of the most beautiful roadsters ever built.

The very first 2017 Fiat 124 Spiders imported to North America are just now arriving in the Greater New York area and one will hopefully arrive in time for the Father’s Day Car Show in Mathews Park, Norwalk this Sunday, June 19 courtesy of one of the show’s Premium Sponsors, Alfa Romeo Fiat of Larchmont. The dealership is owned by Alfredo Gulla, an authorized Alfa Romeo Fiat dealer since 1961, who will serve as Grand Marshal of the 2nd Annual Father’s Day event supporting the nonprofit New England Auto Museum.

The show will run from 10 AM to 3 PM and is open to all years, makes and models of show cars. Owners can pre-register their cars at www.neautomuseum.org for $10 per car. Spectators’ admission to the show is free with a voluntary donation suggested to the New England Auto Museum, a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization. Nearby attractions the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum and Stepping Stones Children’s Museum will be open during the show with special promotions for Father’s Day.

New Fiat 124 Spider with its vintage namesake (Photo Fiat)

New Fiat 124 Spider with its vintage namesake (Photo Fiat)