Archives for February 2012
For many of us, Danilo Calmonte is ‘the captain’ of Le Mitiche Sport a Bassano. It is difficult to write ‘was’. Every barchetta aficionado knows about the fantastic event he and his brother Renato created about 20 years ago; participating in Le Mitiche at least once means that one is a real sports car enthusiast.
For the last ten years Danilo was fighting for his life against cancer, but only a few knew it. On February 23, 2012 Danilo lost his battle against lung cancer.
When he was young, Maserati stole his heart. In his collection sits a real jewel, a Maserati A6GCS 1954, the sole Maserati bodied by Scaglietti. Danilo used it regularly, attending all sorts of events, from the Mille Miglia to less known country fairs, always eager to meet people that share the same passion. That passion also brought him to manage his own F3 team in the 1970s, and to finance the career of Miki Biasion, (two time World Rally Champion with Lancia) as he started his profession.
Well, no more phone calls every week to talk about cars, friends, people and what to do for the next Mitiche. I’m gonna miss you, captain. And I’m sure not to be the only one.
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Left, Miss Betty Haig and Mme Yvonne Simon, tuning their 2 liter Ferrari 166MM: one of many unpublished images from the book “Fast Ladies”. Dr. Patricia Lee Yongue not only describes this book but tells us about the lesser known women drivers featured in “Fast Ladies.”
Le Mitiche Sport a Bassano
What is Le Mitiche Sport a Bassano? Roughly, it means “Mythic Sport Cars in Bassano”. Bassano is more correctly Bassano del Grappa, and Grappa is a Brandy. It’s nice to have both an entrant and an organizer write the story of this delicious event in Italy. Only VeloceToday covers this wonderful event every year.
An Atlantic Reappears
Much of the breathless reportage in the business and popular press of the recent sale of a Type 57SC Bugatti Atlantic focused on its price and the supposed fact that there were only two — some said three – Atlantics built. So what’s the real deal?
Michael T. Lynch at his very best…only in VeloceToday
The DeTomaso Mangusta is one of the most beautiful cars ever to come out of Italy. But it does have its problems, and we tell it like it is. This article really got our readers up in arms, both pro and con. The comments alone are worth the price of admission. By WallaceWyss
There was a driver from Chicago, not as well known as he should have been. But long before Kimi Räikkönen, they called him the “Ice Man” – for he was as cool as could be out on the track. Racing driver Frank Bott died November 25th, 2011 and we followed the rumors until we confirmed it recently. He was born on August 25th 1921. He was one of the sport’s more under-rated drivers.
During World War II, Frank was an air transport pilot. Afterward he worked as a service mechanic at the Mercedes-Benz distributorship of importer Max Hoffman.
In the immediate postwar years, Frank became interested in circle track racing and then moved on to sports cars. He knew TV personality Dave Garroway through the Chicago Region of Sports Car Club of America. Garroway had an early Jaguar, an SS 100, and he wanted a little more performance for it. So Frank installed a twin-cam XK 120 engine. Garroway was going to race it at Elkhart Lake in 1951 but was called back to New York for contract renewals. Frank said “I’ll put it back in storage then.” And Dave replied “Oh no, Frank, you race it.” Frank placed second ahead of all the XK-120s except that of Roger Wing.
Story and Photos by Karl Ludvigsen
Journalist Gordon Wilkins said that ‘although it has an impressive performance, it produces in the driver the uneasy exhilaration which may be got from shampooing a lion.’ Consumer advocate Ralph Nader called it the only car that was more dangerous than the much — oft unjustly — maligned Corvair. The German Army was said to have barred its officers from driving it, lest their numbers be diminished even more rapidly than World War II was already managing.
How are we to judge these harsh estimations of the Type 87 Tatra? I found a good assessment to be 14 years of ownership of just such a car. Why did I buy a Tatra T87 from the Honda dealer to whom it had been traded for two motorcycles? I had always nursed a passion for the innovative experiments of the 1930s with streamlined rear-engined cars. Burney, Stout, Tjaarda, Porsche, Fuller, Bel Geddes, Ledwinka, Übelacker and Schjolin were only the best-known of the many adventurous designers and engineers who saw the future of the automobile in rear engines and advanced aerodynamics.
In the 1930s most of these men designed and built, at best, short series of cars or prototypes. Hans Ledwinka was the only engineer whose advanced rear-engined passenger cars were series-produced during the decade. The pathbreaking Tatra cars were manufactured by Ringhoffer-Tatra at its sprawling factory at Koprivnice in Moravia, since World War I part of Czechoslovakia.
A comprehesive look at Paul Greenstein/Dydia De Lyser’s restored Tatra by Don Hodgdon.
Mr. Greenstein’s car, a 1941 T87 was an Ebay find from Upstate New York in 2001. After a three-and-a-half year restoration, including returning the car to Koprivnice in the Czech Republic, the car now resides in Southern California where it is driven weekly.
The T87, considered a luxury car in its day, is quite comfortable and quiet cruising the streets of Los Angeles. We experienced very little buffeting with the windows lowered on the freeway, and the low rumble from the rear mounted air-cooled V8 engine never intruded on our conversation. The T87, with its huge dorsal fin and center-mounted headlight, draws a fair amount of attention, even in car crazy L.A., many drivers stopping to admire the car and ask questions about it while we were stopped to shoot photos. It was not at all a surprise to learn that Mr. Greenstein’s car was voted “Most Collectable” in a recent poll of New York Times readers.
By Roberto Motta
Photos Scuderia del Portello
Italian version below
Milan – The Scuderia del Portello celebrated 30 years of sporting activities with the “Trophy of the Thirty Years” held in Milano on February 17 to 19th. The event was held at the new Fiera Milano, a 345,000 sq meter pavilion in conjunction with the “Milano Autoclassica”.
The celebration was attended by the Alfa Romeo race cars such as the GTA, GTAm, and Giulia, and Giulia GT sedans. The cars were challenged to participate in a circuit specially designed in the square in front of the pavilions of Nations Autoclassica. Eighteen GTA/GTAms were on hand and divided into two classes. The winner of the trophy for the GTA category was Jason Wright followed by Arturo Merzario, while in GTAm, Sabino de Castro and Francesco Frisone were first and second.
A large, passionate audience attended the exhibition of seven historic cars of the Carabinieri, and watched performances by go-karts and cars of every make.
OSCA, Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Nardi, Giovanni Savonuzzi, and Charles Addams are only a few of the many subjects of our Premium articles available only to our Premium Subscribers. Please help support VeloceToday and our contributors by becoming a Premium Subscriber at one of three levels; $9.95 for one month, $7.95 per month for six months, or the best bet, $4.95 per month for one year ($59.40). Use the mediapass form found with each article to subscribe. If you need help, just email us at email@example.com.
Charles Addams Series
Charles Addams and his Cars 1948-1960
Charles Addams was a world famous cartoonist. Less well know was the fact that Addams had what he called a “long collection of rather good vintage cars,” which included two Bugattis, a 1933 Aston Martin, a supercharged Mercedes S, an Amilcar and the Castagna-bodied Alfa 2300. It was no passing fad; an interest sparked in 1948 at Indianapolis lasted forty years until his death at age 76 in 1988.
Charles Addams and his Bugattis
In 1960, Charles Addams was beginning the most lucrative years of his career as a cartoonist. His income had almost tripled as the Addams Family was just making its TV debut. Finally, he would be now able to enjoy his Bugattis, to the distress of his neighbors. He competed with the Bugatti at VSCCA events at the old Bridgehampton racetrack near his home.
Charles Addams CAR toons
A consummate car enthusiast and creator of the “Addams Family”, Charles Addams could not resist putting cars into his cartoons. Here, with exclusive permissions from the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation, are some of Addams’ most interesting artwork incorporating his favorite hobby. The Charles Addams series can only be found in the pages of VeloceToday!
Renault’s Shooting Star
Renault’s Shooting Star Part I
The Bonneville Salt Flats, normally the home of monster records cars and big V-8 hot rods, played host to a tiny Renault streamliner in 1956. The car was small but established a big record of 190 miles per hour. Roberto Motta recounts the story of this remarkable turbine-powered car that won the hearts of Americans and international records at the same time.
Renault’s Shooting Star Part II
Once the engineers at Renault figured out how to shoehorn the turbine into a tiny one man chassis, they shipped the Renault Shooting Star off to America and the lonely Salts Flats in Utah. Roberto Motta, using rare factory color images, relates the record runs and wraps it up with the demonstrations at Montlhéry where Berhard Cahier drove the Shooting Star.
The Nardi Bisiluro Series
Nardi at Le Mans
The French Panhards and Renaults were dominating the small car classes at Le Mans in the post war era. Italians Enrico Nardi and Mario Damonte set about to challenge the French. Nardi created a new car with a Crosley engine and Motto body and trailered it to France. But it was just the opening act of Nardi at Le Mans. Here is the full story of the amazing Nardis at Le Mans.
The Nardi Bisiluro
Undaunted by their 1954 experience at Le Mans, Nardi and Damonte brought in an eccentric artist and architect by the name of Carlo Mollino to design a streamlined body to compete at Le Mans. The results were startling. With the driver on one side and the engine on the other, the Bisiluro was one of the strangest cars ever to compete at Le Mans. Roberto Motta recounts the story.
OSCA 1600GT at Le Mans Series
OSCA 1600GT at Le Mans Part I
Part I deals with the team of John Gordon and John Bentley, whose exploits and successes at Le Mans and Sebring in a 750 cc OSCA led to the drive of an official OSCA factory entry at Le Mans. Their mount was the only flat-topped Zagato coupe, with a twin plug head and live rear axle. Co authored by Sebring Index winner John Gordon himself. Now available to all premium members.
OSCA 1600GT at Le Mans Part II
There were two OSCA 1600GT entries at Le Mans in 1962, s/n 0036, driven by Gordon and Bentley, and 007, entered by N.A.R.T. for Arents/Behra. Yet 007 appeared to be a very stock GT2 model, with IRS and a 108 hp single plug engine. We investigate these mysteries; relate what happened to the cars at Le Mans, and where they are now. Co authored by John Gordon.
The Saga of Giovanni Savonuzzi
From Showcar to Turbine
This first premium article deals with the Ghia Gilda, its history and restoration with full details of the installation of the turbine by as seen by Scott Grundfor in this exclusive interview. Written by Roberto Motta, the article includes rare diagrams, photos and inside views of the famous Ghia Gilda, designed by the great Giovanni Savonuzzi. “Gilda” sets the pace for the entire series on Savonuzzi.
Gilda, the Movie, the Star, the Inspiration
The second premium article, written by editor Pete Vack, explains the connection between the Ghia studios, the American movie of 1946 directed by Charles Vidor, and the impact of Rita Hayworth as the protagonist Gilda on both the movie and the designers of the era.
And did Savonuzzi really name his streamlined wonder Gilda? Find out.
The Cars of Giovanni Savonuzzi
In a stunning color portfolio by Hugues Vanhoolandt, we explore the Savonuzzi enigma: how does one man create the Cisitalia 202, most beautiful, iconic and legendary Italian car ever, and yet was also responsible for one of the most outrageous Prancing Horses ever built, the flying finned Ferrari 410 Superamerica. Along the way we highlight the Cisitalia Ford, the Nuvolari Spider, Nibbio II and much more.
Savonuzzi, the Designer, Part I
Giovanni Savonuzzi was a genius with the ability to be a superb stylist as well as an engineer. He was responsible for the Cisitalia Spider Nuvolari, the Cisitalia 202, the Ford 808XF project, the Ghia Gilda and record breaking motorboat engines. In Part 1, with the help of his daughter Alberta, we document his work at Cisitalia and SVA and why Pinin Farina got the credit for the Cisitalia 202.
Savonuzzi, the Designer, Part II
In Part II of Savonuzzi, the Designer takes us from Ghia to Chrysler, then on to Fiat. Never-before published documents and photos illustrate Savonuzzi’s role in the Ghia Chrysler Turbine and his fascinating American adventure. Written with the help of his daughter Alberta, Savonuzzi, the Designer describes his accomplishments and frustrations while at Chrysler.
Alfa Berlina Series
Alfa Giulietta Berlina Portfolio
Alfa’s 1300 Berlina is rarely seen outside the borders of Italy. In this portfolio, we’ve gathered up the best of show and factory images to present a variety of the Berlina station wagons, limos, special bodies and the standard sedans from the 1300 to the T.I. This is just one part of a series of four articles that cover the Berlina like never before. Only in VeloceToday!
Alfa’s Giulietta Berlina
The Alfa Giulietta Berlina should have been the greatest sedan of the 1950s. We kick off a multi-part look at the semisweet success of Alfa’s first Giulietta, the Berlina, with a fascinating original brochure reproduced at 300 dpi. This is followed by a owners’ manual already available. Coming soon, the full history of the 1300 Berlina, variants, competition history and much more.
Alfa Berlina, Italian Style
VeloceToday’s Italian Editor Roberto Motta explains how the Alfa Giulietta Berlina won the hearts of Italians. “It was a car with a dual personality. Compact, aggressive and peaceful at the same time, the new family sedan was the ideal vehicle to transport children to school, while at the same time engage in competition on the weekends on track all over the world.” Written from the Italian perspective.
Alfa Giulietta Berlina Manual
Part of an in-depth series of Premium articles about the much-neglected Alfa Giulietta Berlina, this segment offers a rare look at a Alfa 1300 Berlina owner’s manual. The series also includes factory brochures, a full history, variants, and much more, all dedicated to what should have been the most advanced sporting saloon of the 1950s.
A Tatra in VeloceToday? Of course!
By Pete Vack with help from Karl Ludvigsen
Why a Tatra in VeloceToday, you might ask. Probably because it is a carmaker lost in the mountains of Moravia, lost almost to history, lost to VW, lost to the ravages of the 20th century and revolution, lost to the incessant demands of a system that requires both profit and excellence. A survivor, Tatra still exists and produces trucks, but the famous and advanced Tatra automobile is no more, one of the homeless but technically interesting cars we often welcome to the friendly shores of VeloceToday. We bring you this to serve as an introduction to our next two articles, one about the Tatra T87, and the other on the post war T600. We also thank Karl Ludvigsen for his help with researching this article.
Imagine, if you will, the prototype Bugatti T35 on an ice-covered lake in Michigan. Eric Davison tells the true story of Ettore’s first T35.
There is no doubt in my mind that I grew up in the most fortunate of circumstances. While my family was not wealthy we were comfortable. We had a nice house, three square meals a day and loving parents. What made my circumstances so fortunate was the fact that my dad was an absolute gear head. He loved great cars and he dragged me along on his wonderful adventures into the world of sports cars. He had been born in England and his preference was for English sports cars but all great cars were covered by his enthusiasm. Detroit, Michigan was where he found work as a commercial artist, painting cars and trucks for ads for ads and catalogs for the Big Three.
While “Detroit” was a word that was instantly recognized by most as a euphemism for big, strong and chrome plated automobiles, it was also the home of a small cult of serious car worshippers who by 1948 had banded together to form the Detroit Region of the Sports Car Club of America
Among those early revolutionaries was Harold Lance, a car enthusiast, original Detroit Region of the SCCA member and a Bugatti fanatic. In those days, the early 1950s, you could count on your fingers and toes, the sports cars to be found in Detroit. There were few Bugattis except the beautiful Royale that was owned by Charles Chayne, then the chief engineer of Buick. There was also a Type 37 that had been the property of Edsel Ford. That car was on display in the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village on the Ford property in Dearborn, Michigan.
While Lance was a young army veteran who was just starting a family and could not afford a Bugatti, he had a subscription to the English Motorsport Magazine and spent considerable time scouring the classified ads.
One day, in the June 1951 edition of Motorsport, he found an ad for what was declared to be a Type 37A Bugatti. This particular car had been fitted with a supercharged Brescia engine and the price was only 400 pounds sterling or around $1600. [Read more…] about Bugatti on Ice
By Eric Davison
I am about to do something that on one should ever do: That is to repeat a story once told by a legendary story teller.
The late David E. Davis told this tale many years ago. He may go down in history as one of the great story tellers of all time and that is a tough act to follow. Since he is no longer around I think it is my responsibility to keep this bit of lore going. The story involves two men who have been part of earlier stories that I have related and is just too unforgettable to let fade. Both parties were friends of David E. who watched the following drama unfold when he was a young salesman at Falvey Motors.