2012 “ Reflections”

As a diagnosed “petrol-head”, the 2012 New Year was thankfully less than twenty four hours old, when Leonid Novitskiy and co-driver Andreas Schultz, won the “car” category of the first stage, of the thirty-third Dakar rally, from Mar del Plata to Santa Rosa, Argentina. Over the ensuing fifteen days, and five thousand three hundred miles, through Chile and Peru, it was Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel who secured a record tenth overall victory, in 2012 in his Mini Countryman; with his compatriot, Cyril Despres winning the motorcycle category, Alejandro Patronelli victorious on his quad-bike, and Gerard de Rooy in his Iveco.

As Northern Europe shivered in sub-zero temperatures, many fortunate collector’s car enthusiasts headed to Scottsdale Arizona, for what has become an annual barometer of the global marketplace. Amongst the cacti, multiple auction houses, Gooding & Co offered more than two thousand cars, over a five day period; and with a sales total of US $39.8 million (below), which clearly proved, significant money remains available, for excellent condition, superb provenance, low volume production cars, whether Ferrari, Duesenberg, Lancia or Bentley.

With the sun still shining, and a five hour flight required to West Palm Beach Florida,” The Breakers” hotel, hosted the twenty first annual “Cavallino Classic” (below)….six days of socialising, Ferrari track-days and concours organised by “Cavallino” magazine publisher John Barnes Jnr. As previously, the recently upgraded Palm Beach International Raceway, and the manicured fairways of the aforementioned hotel’s golf club, were the centre of activity, with overall Concorso victory going to Charles Nearburg’s 250 GTO (ch #3943GT).

Staged at the Port de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, from February 1st – 5th, the thirty seventh “Retromobile” was bigger and better than ever..European manufacturers and dealers provided some superb displays, the focal stand (from the Oxnard USA based, Mullin Automotive Museum) contained ten superb examples of coach-built Talbot-Lago, Bugatti, Delahaye and Voisin. Now established as one of the globe’s most prominent collectors car shows, Ferrari enthusiasts were especially well catered for this year, as Italian dealer Tradex, displayed a recently discovered 250 Monza Spider, whilst auction house Artcurial, took to the night-time Parisien boulevards, to promote the ex Roger Vadim 250 California, which it subsequently sold for €4.5 million.

With snowfall in the UK in late February, and twenty two degrees of sunshine just three weeks later, Bonhams made most of the balmy (or was it barmy?) weather, to secure a whopping £101k for a right-hand drive 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE, requiring a complete restoration, at its annual Oxford sale. Very sadly, in March, the collector’s car movement lost two high profile, much respected enthusiasts…’60’s Ford race-team privateer, and “historic” returnee, Alan Mann – and road/race-car constructor, Lambretta importer and one of Barry Sheene’s early sponsor’s, Peter Agg. The former created the distinctive red and gold livery, which adorned a highly successful, eponymous “stable” of Fords – Cortina GT, Falcon, Escort, F3L and GT40 amongst others, whilst the latter was a highly successful entrepreneur, who manufactured bubble-cars and Can-Am McLaren’s, as well as entering Formula One with his own team…Trojan. The collector’s car market for front-engined Ferrari V12’s continues to be very strong, whilst other marques have played “catch-up”….proof that Porsche definitely has, was demonstrated by the highly successful sale of the Drendel family, competition Porsche collection, at Gooding & Co’s Amelia Island, USA sale. On a weekend when Porsche racer Vic Elford was the Concours event’s honoured guest, these eighteen cars, generated sale revenues of more than twenty-six million dollars alone….

2013 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the legendary Porsche 911, a celebration which sadly won’t be shared by its designer, Ferdinand Alexander (or FA as he was better known) Porsche – who died on April 5th, at the age of seventy six. Also responsible for the sleek and purposeful 904 GT racer, “Butzi” later founded Porsche Design; initially focusing on luxury watch design, but latterly diversified unsuccessfully , to penning bathroom suites and their most replicated design of all…sunglasses.

Two Golden Jubilee’s were celebrated at this year’s Tour Auto Optic 2000, for the Ferrari 250 GTO and AC Cobra, and fittingly, the five day event, was won for the second time, by Shaun Lynn and Kevin Kivlochan, in the former’s AC, whilst attracting much attention, was the all female crew of Daniela Ellerbrock and Zaklina Rohwer, in their 1964 Tour de France winning, 250 GTO. If your preference is for pre-war motoring, there’s an emergent UK based event, which is becoming increasing popular..the “Flying Scotsman” – a three day, one thousand mile, competitive “dash” from Duxford, Cambridgeshire to St Andrews Fife, won this year by former McLaren F1 Team Manager Alastair Caldwell, in his Alfa Romeo 6C…just one problem, it’s the same weekend as Le Tour, and VSCC Silverstone!!

Promoted by Duncan Wiltshire’s Motor Racing Legends company, the superbly organised Donington Historic Festival, has quickly become one of the UK’s foremost events, which this year saw the very welcome circuit return, of 1988 British Touring Car Champion and avid historic racer, Frank Sytner. Hard to believe that the sonorous ex TWR Jaguar XJS is now a “historic” machine, but Gary Pearson’s lapping of Derek Hood’s, ex Win Percy/Chuck Nicholson example in the JD Classics Challenge, Bobby Verdon-Roe’s solo drive in Harry Leventis’s Aston Martin DBR1, and the tussle between Alex Buncombe and Martin O’Connell in Jaguar E-type’s, really captured the crowds attention, marking this event out, as a “must-do next year” on the calendar.

Mid–May was a difficult time for motorsport historians…….on May 8th in Maranello, Jacques Villeneuve demonstrated a 1979 Ferrari T4 marking the thirtieth anniversary of his father’s passing; two days later Carroll Shelby, father of the AC Cobra, and winner of the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours succumbed to heart maladies at the age of eighty-nine, and on May 13th , sometime F1 driver and racewear manufacturer, Les Leston took the chequered flag for the last time, at the age of ninety-one.

Biennially the historic racing community gathers in Monaco for the Grand Prix Historique…previous editions have been bathed in sunshine, but this year’s event had indifferent weather, great racing and a superbly organised car and bike, RM auction, in the Grimaldi Forum. In recent years, several UK domiciled enthusiasts, have taken to driving their road-registered competition car one thousand miles to the Principality, racing, and then driving home…in 2012, a very worthwhile “take” on this was Liz Wenman and Sarah Adams-Diffey, the self confessed “mad birds” who borrowed the family Jaguar C Type, driving from Epsom to La Rascasse, on a trip entitled “Monaco or Bust” in an attempt to raise awareness for breast and prostate cancer, with the slogan… get an M.O.T…

With the European season now in overdrive, June started on something of a low note, as Carroll Shelby’s driving partner in their 1959 Le Mans victory, Essex born, Roy Salvadori, passed away at the age of ninety. A long-time Monaco resident, and “Le club les anciens pilotes” member, Roy made forty seven Grand Prix starts between 1952 and 1962, with 1958 his best season, at the wheel of the then revolutionary, Cooper T45. With umbrella’s, chamois and oil-skins packed, the 2B Consulting Automotive team headed to our local event, the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, where we provided a McLaren MP4-12 for display, and thanks to our trusting customer, Chris Hopkinson, a 1964 AC Cobra 289 Mk2 for demonstration, in the “ Cobra only” class. Making a welcome return to the Cheshire countryside were “Brutus” and “Mavis”, and despite a never ending downpour, more than fifty thousand visitors enjoyed the on-track, two and four wheel variety, including fellow FOC GB member Mike Smith, with his Radical SR3 SL.

In mid-June, the UK Ferrari community bid farewell to one of its longest-established, independent specialists, as Bernard Fosker, lost a protracted battle to cancer. Established in 1968 in Orpington, Kent, Foskers expansion quickly required larger premises – relocating to the nearby Brands Hatch circuit, where over the ensuing forty years, Ferrari’s  shared space with Bernard’s other passion…Ducati’s. Undoubtedly UK collectors car auction of the year, was Bonhams sale, at the nineteeth Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the collection of the late Master Horologist, Dr George Daniels was sold. This year’s celebrated marque at the West Sussex event was Lotus, and in what has become the globe’s finest “car culture” event, where else could you enjoy the ground-shaking thunder of the 1000+ hp MK3 Can-Am Shadow, alongside listening to four-time F1 World Champion, Alain Prost, describe his ice-racing technique for cornering at Chamonix!

The history’s of Ferrari S.P.A. and Pininfarina Design are interwoven…a working partnership, currently celebrating its sixtieth anniversary, with an exhibition at the renamed Ferrari Museum in Maranello (below) – it also profiles the life, and automotive contribution of Sergio Pininfarina, who died in Turin, on July 3rd.

Ironically, that same day, a fiftieth birthday celebration of his most famous design, the Ferrari 250 GTO, was already under way in Northern France, as twenty three examples of the legendary GT racer, took part in a private tour, culminating in laps of Le Circuit de la Sarthe, at the following weekend’s, sixth Le Mans Classic. Bigger, and better attended than ever, the “Classic” attracted a record number of enthusiasts and racers, for twenty four hours of racing, in six “plateaus”…definitely a success for promoter Peter Auto, despite the 2012 calendar’s biggest enemy…rain! Also worthy of mention was French auction house, Artcurial’s sale at the same event, of a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C… a new world record for the tipo!

With more races, entrants and car clubs than ever before, the Silverstone Classic made full use of the circuit’s eight hundred acre estate…catching my eye on track, were a double of trio’s – three Lancia Ferrari’s (below) in the Group C race, complemented by three Lotus 16 in the HGPCA pre-’61 double-header.

The FOC (Ferrari Owner’s Club) GB had a significant infield presence, including an Ferrari F40 dedicated parking area – as more than sixty owners, celebrated the tipo’s twenty- fifth anniversary, with a dinner at the adjacent Whittlebury Hall Hotel.

Traditionally a holiday month in Northern Europe, it was Audi AG, who provided August’s most significant news, as it issued a press release, confirming it had purchased the 1939 Auto Union D-type, previously owned by Aba Kogan, and rediscovered in the mid-eighties nr Kiev, along with a sister example, by Floridians, Paul and Barbara Karassik.

It was another German manufactured car, which was the centre-piece of the annual “Monterey week”, and overall winner of the hotly-contested Pebble Beach Concours. Rebuilt over more than four years, by Massachusetts based restorer, Paul A. Russell & Co – Paul Andrews’s 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik torpedo (complete with Alpina lizard skin interior) attracted much attention, as did the all “Cobra” race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and Gooding & Co’s, two night, US $115 million sale. The Santa Monica CA based, auction house, presented a stunning display of cars, including a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider (realising $11.27 million), a UK consigned, Ferrari 857S (a world record $6.27 million), an immaculate Ferrari 330GTC (a jaw-dropping $500k) and their top sale, a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster ($11.7 million).

Conceived by FOC GB member Chris Evans held at a venue provided by 1979 Ferrari F1 World Champion Jody Scheckter, and supported by car-guys, Nick Mason and James Martin, CarFest was a new event on the August Bank Holiday weekend, uniting the Radio 2 DJ’s love of cars, food and music. With more than twenty thousand visitors to Laverstoke Park in Hampshire, contributing seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds to the BBC Children in Need appeal, and a comparable event two weeks later at Cholmondeley Castle, CarFest was really enjoyable and is likely to be repeated in 2013.

Staged within the grounds of Syon Park in West London, early September’s Salon Privé enjoyed excellent sunshine, and a superb entry. Fourteen Ferrari F40’s, ten Mercedes 300 SL Gullwings and the Gulf inspired, Roald Goethe Collection, formed the backbone of the displays, but it was Dudley and Sally Mason-Styron’s 1950 Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta (below) which took the “Best of Show” award.

Three days later and a unique event – “Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance”. Arranged to celebrate Queen Elizabeth 2nd’s Diamond Jubilee, the entry panel had invited sixty collectors cars, from prominent global collections, where the overall winner would be judged by fellow entrants.  A previous winner of the Pebble Beach Concours, entrants decided that the car they would most like to take home, and consequently overall victory, should go to Jon and Mary Shirley’s superb 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta.

F1 medical delegate for twenty six years, safety pioneer and eminent neurosurgeon, Professor Sid Watkins passed away on September 12th …..credited with improving trackside medical support across several formulae, “Prof” was a Liverpudlian by birth, and enjoyed both a single malt and a cigar….asked once why he insisted on wearing the same FIA baseball cap for more than twenty years, he said it was to annoy Bernie Ecclestone!

Headed by Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver Felipe Massa, and organised by the FOC GB, Silverstone successfully hosted a Guinness World record attempt on Saturday September 15th, to stage the largest ever parade of Ferrari’s in a single location…achieving a total of 964 cars, and with Ferrari Northern Europe contributing £5 per car to the B.E.N. charity it was a fantastic evening. That same weekend, this year’s Goodwood Revival was the best yet, with a record attendance, superb racing and a “Silver Arrows” display, which we’re unlikely to see the likes of any time soon….

As the evenings shortened, and the racing season was completed by the newly named Algarve Classic in mid-October, RM Auctions staged its final European sale of the year on the 31st, at the “Battersea Evolution” ……..achieving some excellent sale prices, not least for a left-hand-drive Ferrari Daytona, which cost its new Portugese owner £320k. Sadly that same day, US born racer and inventor John Fitch passed away at the age of ninety-five. Fitch was one of the first racers from North America, to establish himself in European racing, post-war….a winner of the 1951 Argentinian Grand Prix, the “production” class of the 1955 Mille Miglia and the Tourist Trophy, amongst many others. Much more than a racer, Fitch was a P51 Mustang pilot during WWII, was proprietor of an East Coast US MG dealership, designed and manufactured a car to his own specification, as well as being a consultant to multiple manufacturers and race car series on vehicular and circuit safety.

Frank and Milli Ricciardelli from New Jersey, are serial car collectors and no strangers to success on the Concours field: this year achieving “Best of Show” at the annual Hilton Head Island Concours, on November 5th, with their unique Graber bodied Jaguar SS. Vying for collectors car ”find” of the year…. a week later, AC Cobra racer Kevin Kivlochan let slip he’d unearthed, and identified three AC’s – a 1955 Aceca and 1957 Ace (both with “period” racing history) and a 1962 Greyhound, which had all lain untouched since 1972…in Walsall!

The continuing popularity, and increasing values of “historied”, Lancia Stratos, was re-confirmed by Artcurial’s sale of chassis #391 a week later – a former Italian Rally championship entry, superbly  restored in its original Alitalia livery, it realised a stonking €360k, at their final Paris sale of the year.

For the second year, the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel staged the 2012 Historic Motoring Awards, with five times Le Mans winner Derek Bell the MC for the evening and the awards going to:

  • Museum or Collection of the Year: The National Motor Museum
  • Club of the Year: Aston Martin Owners Club
  • Industry Supporter of the Year: Audi Tradition
  • Publication of the Year: Inside the Paddock (David Cross)
  • Restoration of the Year: Paul Russell & Co. for the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S
  • Personal Achievement of the Year: Jeremy Jackson-Sytner and Graham Sharpe (Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance)
  • Race Series of the Year: Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy
  • Motor Sport Event of the Year: Goodwood Revival
  • Motoring Event of the Year: Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance
  • Car of the Year: ‘Birkin’ Bentley
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

As the year drew to an end, the Autosport and BRDC awards are deliberately arranged within twenty four hours of each other, to encourage oversees attendees to make the trip to London…. it was great to see Lotus mechanic, Bob Dance receive the John Bolster Award from Murray Walker at the former, whilst the BRDC rightfully acknowledged Alex Zanardi’s Paralympic Games gold medal achievement, with the Innes Ireland Trophy.

So there you have our reflections for 2012.  What were your highlights?

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