Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Legendary Carrera PanAmericana Road Race

The PanAmericana Road Race of the early 1950's was one of the most grueling, deadly and exciting races in the world. Eventually, the sheer madness and length of such a race, under such extreme conditions led to it's eclipse. But the handful of events witnessed were the fertile ground of legends. Over the next few days, I will post pictures and articles about this, one of the Deadliest of Curves...

This is the cover of Motor Life magazine, from February, 1955, which pays tribute to the Mexican Road Race.

Monday, September 24, 2012


You know, just the kind of sedate, soccer Mom, run to the Kroger's kind of econobox...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Hot Rod" Bugatti Type 35C

Here's a rarity - a Type 35C Bugatti Supercharged Roadster, one of only 50 made, cruising the strips of Salem, Oregon in 1958. Owned by Henry Eyerly, this car would be as rare as a Ferrari -turned-tractor nowadays.
Here's the magazine pictures as proof...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kurtis Kraft

Early ad for the Kurtis, from Motor Trend magazine, November 1949

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Beautiful 1937 Hispano Suiza H-6C “Xenia” Coupe

The Hispano Suiza H-6C coupe was a radical pronouncement of style and substance. It was a platform for a Jaques Saoutchik custom body, with an aeronautical streamlined theme, and also highlighted the advanced Andre Dubonnet independent suspension. The cockpit-like interior was a forerunner to the later enclosed "capsules" of the fastest Formula One cars, and the metal alloy composition body was years ahead of its contemporaries integration, outside of a pure racing medium.

Despite its size, the H6 performed admirably for the time. It would run 125 mph and carry four passengers. But it was never meant to be a production vehicle; it was what we would call now a "magnet" car, to draw attention and plaudits for the high-end Hispano fleet.
 It was hidden away in 1939, thought lost, then World War II broke out, but it finally emerged intact and pristine, still impressive for all the years that had passed, in 1946.

Today, it can be seen on the Car Show circuit, having won its class at Pebble Beach and other prestigious events. These shots were taken at the Portland Art Museum in 2011 at a special exhibition, 'The Allure of the Automobile'.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Women and Automobiles, The 1920's

For most men, the growth of the automobile industry over the previous few decades had heralded an era of freedom, work opportunities, broadened travel options and, of course, racing.

For women, it meant the glimpsing of all of these things, and the gradual social acceptance of the "fairer sex" behind the wheel of this still-quite dangerous machine. Women were still being patronized, talked down to, and generally treated as second-class citizens.

But there were some, a few at first, then a flood, who began to assert their rights as searchers, and strivers, and not just dreamers, They began to drive, and race, not officially at first, and segregated in the beginning in the "Girl Ghettos" of competitions.
 It was when pilots like Amelia Earhart began racking up accomplishments that even men hadn't accomplished, and women drivers like Kitty Brunell and Gilberte Thirion drove "like men" in the thirties, forties and fifties that things changed. Not entirely, but more towards equality.

Kitty Brunell

Gilberte Thirion

And soon, the occasional, first-person narrative of a woman driving alone, with no destination, wouldn't be the basis for a singularly voyeuristic look at an oddity; it would become so commonplace that a story like it wouldn't be printed anymore than a story would be printed about a woman wearing trousers.

And "Womens Auto Wear" would become more than wraps, stoles and coats, it would encompass a market for sporting gloves and racing sunglasses, helmets and driving shoes.

Here from 1923 is a story about one such pioneer, Laura Breckinridge McClintock, a woman who decided to go On The Road 30 years before Kerouac
Not above using her wiles, and the dunder-headed perception of men who thought women were helpless, she laughs all the way to her destinations, one gas pedal ahead of the "well-meaning" paternal authorities...

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One of the Greats

Moto Revue Magazine, a French publication that was voluminous, thorough, and packed to the gills with motorcycle racing info and pictures. Here's an example of how encyclopedic their coverage was; this is the cover of their 1,000th issue (!)  published in October, 1950.

Sharp Cars

And sharp-looking men. That's what Italy was about in the 1950's.
They dressed like they meant business, because they did.

Here's to the Italians, and snappy clothes, and fast, beautiful cars...

And Sophia Loren.

Moet on a deck, sunglasses and F1

One way to watch the Monaco Grand Prix.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Portago, and the reason being.

The legendary Alfonso Antonio Vicente Eduardo Angel Blas Francisco de Borja Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, Marquis of Portago, best known as Alfonso de Portago.
 Equestrian, Lover, Royalty, Pilot, Olympic Bobsledder, and most infamously, Race Car Driver.
More on Portago, and an explanation of the illustration below, later...

This is an electric car I can get behind.

   This was the result of the melding of a 1952 Glasspar roadster and an electric engine, by the Banning Electrical Products Corporation. It was heavy, impractical, but hey, it could throw up the mud like a champ. 
   Unfortunately, even its 100 miles on a charge claim couldn't compensate for its 4500 pound curb weight and 60mph top speed. And it was expensive. 
    But what could have been...

I'll take the red one...

I got you the 1962 Ferrari Formula One line-up. Happy Birthday!

Meet The Fish Mouth

The 1960 Daimler 250SP wasn't the prettiest sports car. Its gaping-yaw of a grille wasn't emulated much by other car designs. But it did do 120mph, and was one of the more popular offerings of its time


Hint...its a 1952 creation.

Sometimes they came on two wheels, like the Vincent!

The two-wheel terrors of the Vincent Motorcycle Company were found on the track, the streets, and sometimes tearing up the stairwells of the local Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club. They were fast, dangerous, and the top-of-the-line Vincent Black Shadow was the Ferrari of it's time.