And How! features open and innovative formats for notices, articles and posts.
Strother MacMinn photos from the collection of Robert Ames
Text by Jim Sitz
Strother MacMinn was one of my closest and dearest friends. I met him in 1951. He was a real gay blade and man about town, the Cary Grant of automotive circles.
He had Rolls Royce phaeton and would go from one jazz club to another. He lived out on west 27th street in what was becoming a black neighborhood, but the change was OK with him. Later he moved back to old Pasadena.
We used to drive up to Pebble Beach in his Jag XK120; those were good times for going to the races and the concours in the early 50s. Mac raised our levels of design and good taste and style for cars. We all looked up to him.
I discovered the Bob Roberts agency, where MacMinn took these photos of this Figoni et Falaschi Delahaye, in the wonderful summer of 1949. I also remember seeing the first Ferrari in US, and Roger Barlow’s fabulous International Motors. It was well spent summer!
I loved those MG TCs, but Roberts had an original Duesenberg which had just driven in by a lady from San Francisco. She had received the Duesie as “severance pay” from a crazy old coot in Woodside. He bought 5 or 6 of them, new and kept them. I remember one of them was a roadster with custom coachwork by Murphy of Pasadena. Anyway, the lady traded the Duesenberg for new MG.*
*Cars and Hollywood meant fascinating characters. In addition to MacMinn himself, there was Clifford “Cliff” Henderson (1895-1984) who was the managing director of the National Air Races from 1928 through 1939. Described as “the Barnum of aviation,” he obtained sponsors for two of the most well-known air races of the period, the Bendix transcontinental and the Thompson closed-course classics. [Wiki]
Not to be outdone, the “old coot” remembered by Sitz was millionaire George Whittel, who had at least six Duesenbergs and also gave two to Bill Harrah. At one time Whittel owned a huge amount of lakefront property…Lake Tahoe, that is. He was also a famous animal lover and often could be seen with a cheetah in the passenger seat of his Duesenberg.