Philippe Defechereux, author of “Watkins Glen, the Street Years, 1948-1952” begins an exclusive series about the Citroën Traction Avant; Graham Gauld comes back from Italy with two stories; rare race cars at Riccione and the charming organizer and his cars; the Editor reviews a delicious new book from Dalton Watson.
Archives for June 2017
By Philippe H. Defechereux
The year 1934 was to be André Citroën’s finest yet, the highest summit in a vast range of accomplishments already marked by several impressive peaks in his two preceding decades. And the year 1934 did start well for great French industrialist. After turning 56 on February 5, in mid-April he witnessed his life’s two grandest industrial creations come to life together, for they were entwined from conception: His new and thoroughly revolutionary Traction-Avant sedan began to come out fully formed and by the hundreds daily. This from his just-completed car production plant in Paris by the Seine, then by far the biggest, most modern and integrated mass-production automobile facility in Europe. [Read more…] about The Saga of the Revolutionary Citroën T/A
Story and photos by Graham Gauld
It does not seem like a year since the last Annual Assembly of the Grand Prix Drivers Club was held in Maranello, but this year’s Assembly, held in the Adriatic seaside town of Riccione, was another occasion to be presented with some remarkable old race cars, some of which were familiar and others certainly not.
The host of this year’s event was Gabriele Fabbri, the owner of the Hotel Promenade, a former racing driver, and friend of the Grand Prix Drivers Club.
So let’s talk about cars. [Read more…] about Discovering Race Cars in Riccione
Story by Graham Gauld
Photos courtesy of Gabriele Fabbri
In the story about the recent event in Riccione, I made a number of references to our host, Gabriele Fabbri. We sat and talked about his own racing career in Italian events and I later mentioned his name to an Italian historian who had never heard of him. Then the penny dropped. [Read more…] about Gabriele Fabbri and His Cars
Berlinetta ‘50s Rare Italian Coupes of the 1950s
By Christian Descombes Color Photography by Xavier de Nombel
ISBN 979-1-090267-28-2 Published June, 2017 by Dalton Watson
240 pages, 472 color photographs, hard cover with dust jacket and slipcase
Review by Pete Vack
This 9 x 12 book from Italy and published in English by Dalton Watson might seem like another potboiler-coffee-table-color-photo-exercise, but it is several rungs up the ladder from that. First, the author and photographer have, as the title implies, focused on Italian coupes built from 1947 to 1962. Why they excluded spiders is a good question, but by narrowing it down to the coupes, it better shows the Italian genius of the era. We are all for it: What could be more exciting than a tight, low and streamlined Italian berlinetta? [Read more…] about Berlinetta ’50s: Rare Italian Coupes Reviewed
Brandes Elitch comments on the USA-Italy Crossroads Exhibition; Jonathan Sharp in the middle of London for a new Concours; Eric Davison recalls the 1950 Watkins Glen race; Bob Temple’s never-before-seen Kodachromes illustrate the same event. Subscribe now to get all seven of Davison’s Watkins Glen Memoirs in PDF format.
Originally published in 2011 in VeloceToday.com
Preparations for the 1950 expedition to the Glen included ordering a British Cromwell crash helmet and obtaining a seat belt from a local Army/Navy surplus store. Dad assembled all his Whitworth tools and arranged to drive in tandem with his friend Norm Couty. Couty and his wife were in his new Olds and it had plenty of trunk space for our extra gear. He had also thrown in a lengthy and stout rope ‘just in case’ the SS100 had problems.
[Read more…] about Sample Chapter: Waktins Glen Memoirs, 1950
And How! features open and innovative formats for notices, articles and posts.
This car was hard to identify. We did, but it took a bit of help from our friends. But instead of telling our readers what it is, why don’t we give away a free copy of the VeloceToday Select “Cuban Grand Prix, 1957” to the first one to email firstname.lastname@example.org and correctly identify the chassis, engine and coachbuilder?
Bob Temple photos courtesy Dale LaFollette at VintageMotorphoto
Before he went west when he was a young man (see Bob Temple at Palm Springs), Bob Temple journeyed to Watkins Glen to see the 1950 event, which was a very big deal. He took along his trusty camera loaded with Kodachrome film, and came back with negatives left in a box until Dale LaFollette found and purchased them after Bob’s death in 1991. The Temple photos have never been published before.
As usual, we asked our resident experts what they could add to the photos: Eric Davison, who was there watching eagerly, while he himself was taking precious color photos; Jim Sitz from the West Coast but who knows everyone, and Philippe Defechereux, who wrote the book “Watkins Glen, the Street Years • 1948-1952” and who kicks this off.
Defechereux: “Watkins Glen can fairly be called the birthplace of organized road racing in America, the sweet date being Saturday October 2, 1948. The following year was a building year for the new sport, with a second event added to the calendar: the first official race at Bridgehampton (Long Island, NY) on June 11, 1949. That event drew praise and 15,000 spectators, also featuring the first Ferrari ever to race this side of the Atlantic: Briggs Cunningham’s V-12-powered 166 SC. Watkins Glen in September ran its second event which proved an even bigger success, thanks in part to new entrants driving a gaggle of new racing cars from Europe besides BSC’s Ferrari. There were H.R.G.s, Allard K1s, and Cisitalias among others.
“It is the year 1950, however, that truly witnessed the “Big Bang” for road racing here. Palm Beach Shores, Florida, opened the season as early as January 3, with the Jaguar Factory even entering an official XK-120. Despite less-than clement weather, 19,000 spectators were counted. Next California joined the fray in the summer with two races that matched the formula, now well-established by Cameron Argetsinger. They took place in Palm Springs in April and Santa Ana in June. That month also witnessed Bridgehampton’s successful second run on June 10. Then a trio of enthusiastic Chicagoans, Jim Kimberly, Fred Wacker and Dave Garroway, using a private Cessna to make a broad aerial survey, determined that Elkhart Lake, WI, would allow for a great Midwest replica of Watkins Glen. Locals then organized the first big road racing event in in the Midwest on July 23. Again, tapping on obviously growing love affair with road racing, the new venue and its race proved an instant hit.
“So when Bob Temple arrived at the Glen in the third week of September, 1950, his timing was perfect, and he would have the privilege to witness three races instead of two as before: the Seneca Cup, the Queen Catherine Cup, and the Grand Prix. Good thing he had plenty of color film rolls for us to relish today.”
Sitz: A Mercer in the Watkins Glen car park. Interest in ‘old cars’ was growing and the Glen even had their old car Concours d’Elegance. When the SCCA was formed in 1944, their purpose was to preserve this type of car from being scrapped. There were no plans for racing since it was assumed ARCA would resume their racing after the War.
Sitz: Alfa 2500 Pinin Farina Convertible. This could be one owned by Alec Ulmann who did arrive at a Suffolk County NY race in May 1950 with an Alfa convertible. Hoffman Motors did not import that many and Ulmann would certainly have been at the Glen.
Defechereux: Tom Cole in his Cad Allard led the 1950 Grand Prix event on the first lap. On the second lap, Cole was exiting Townsend Road Corner ‘with a tad too much speed’, ended up in a ditch where our intrepid Bob Temple was standing.
Sitz: Oddly the year before in 1949, Cole debuted the J2 model in US, with a Cadillac engine. But the American press ignored the car!
Story and photos by Jonathan Sharp
For fans of old cars, the number of events one could attend increases year every year. A new event for 2017 was the City Concours which was held on the Cricket pitch of the Honorable Artillery Company right in heart of the financial district of the City of London, on June 8-9.
[Read more…] about London City Concours 2017
Story by Brandes Elitch
Photos by Hugues Vanhoolandt and the Nuvolari Museum
Currently, and until June 25th, the National Automobile Museum of Turin (MAUTO) features an exhibit called “Crossroads: Italy – USA Intersections from after the war to the postwar economic boom.” It explores the cross-pollination and cultural themes of American and Italian designers and their work from 1945-1975. It is an important exhibition, and if you are able, do not miss the opportunity to see this remarkable combination of American and Italian styles. [Read more…] about Crossroads: Italy – USA at the National Automobile Museum of Turin
Sean Smith bios VSCCA notable Bill Gelles, Jim Sitz provides background for the Bob Temple Kodachromes from Palm Springs, the late Tom Tjaarda on Creativity, and we review a book you simply must have! Please, if you like VeloceToday, become a paying subscriber! Last week for free book offer when subscribing.
Review by Pete Vack, comments by Wallace Wyss
All photos from the book
Italian Coachbuilders: The Masters of Style
By Elvio Deganello
10.5 x 11.5 hardbound with slipcover
Text in English and Italian
Publisher: Giorgio Nada
Cost: 70 Euro
Order here from the Publisher
Or at Amazon.com
The body stylists appearing in this book are: Accossato, Ala d’Oro, Allemano, Balbo, Bertone, Boano, Boneschi, Brianza, CA.SA.RO., Canta, Caprera, Castagna, Colli, Coggiola, Coriasco, Ellena, Eurostyle, Faina, Fantuzzi, Filacchione, Fissore, Fona, Fontana, Francis Lombardi, Frua, Garavini, Ghia, I.D.E.A., ItalDesign, Lotti, Maggiora, Mantelli, Marazzi, Mazzanti, Meteor, Michelotti, Monterosa, Montescani, Monviso, Morelli, Moretti, Motto, OSI, Ostuni, Pininfarina, Riva, Savio, Sala, Scaglietti, Scioneri, Siata, Sibona, Sports Cars, Stabilimenti Farina, Touring, Vignale, Viotti, Zagato.
We can’t recall when we were so thoroughly enthused about a book and relentless in our advice to purchase a copy. [Read more…] about Italian Coachbuilders: The Masters of Style