Month: November 2014

SHAMELESS PLUGGING: Enter our sweepstakes to win a 1:18-scale Shelby Mustang GT by Autoart

Shelby GT Orange front qtrWith the holidays fast approaching, Carriage House Models wants to give you a gift: this beautiful 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT in 1:18 scale. Finished in metallic Grabber Orange, this modern take on the classic American ponycar is one of a limited run of 3,000 pieces, and features all of the detail you expect from one of the world’s premiere diecast model car makers, Autoart.

Shelby GT Orange driver intTo enter for a chance to win this limited-edition model, visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/carriagehousemodels. Click the contest link, and you’ll be taken to an entry page where we’ll ask for your e-mail address (which we won’t use to bother you that often, and we’ll NEVER sell.) We’ll announce the winner on December 15th, just in time to deliver the model for Christmas. So head over to Facebook today and enter to win, and maybe Like our page while you’re there!

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TAKING KIDS TO CARS AND COFFEE

Peakin

By the time I was five years old, my status as a hardcore car enthusiast was already well established. My play life centered around Matchbox cars, and I had already expressed an interest in collecting higher-quality diecast models. This passion seems to have skipped a generation, however, as neither my five-year-old son nor my three-year-old daughter has shown signs of being a committed gearhead. True, both have small collections of Hot Wheels cars, and the boy went through a pretty serious Pixar Cars phase, but at this stage, they’re just into other things.

Ready To GoWhile I have no desire to force the kids to follow in their old man’s petrol-sniffing footsteps, I feel that I should make an attempt to explain to them the reason for their father’s monomania about cars, to see if there is at least a sliver of a common bond there. So, last Saturday we loaded up the Carriage House Express and headed south to Irvine for the weekly Cars and Coffee show at Mazda’s U.S. headquarters. As arguably the world’s greatest free-form weekly car show, Cars and Coffee represented a perfect opportunity to take the kids’ temperature on where they stand on “the car thing.” Here’s what I learned:

1. HAVE A PICTURE OF A HORSE ON YOUR CAR

Margot Modena“Dad, a horsey! Take a picture!” shouted Margot as she broke free from my grasp and made a beeline for this 360 Modena. I was happy to oblige her, hoping that I could turn this into a teachable moment about the specialness of Ferraris. My plan was thwarted, however, when her brother Elliott immediately found a row of FIVE horses affixed to the grilles of late-model Mustangs and promptly declared himself the winner. I didn’t know it was a contest…but I guess I should have.

2. PAINT YOUR CAR GREEN

Green Porsche“Green cars are really rare, Dad,” Elliott said. I don’t have the statistics to corroborate this, but I do know that as a family unit, this hot-rodded 911 was our favorite car at the show that day. I loved it for its slightly seedy aggressiveness and its singularity of purpose, packed full of swapped 3.6 and advisable roll cage. The kids loved it because it looked like Kermit. That, and the whole rarity thing.

3. DO SOMETHING RIDICULOUS

GEM4

Your eyes do not deceive you: that is a BMW M4 wrapped in blue foil. At least, I hope it’s wrapped, and that it’s not actually painted that way. Whatever, the kids spent three solid minutes checking out their reflections in it. Not sure that was the sort of attention the owner of this splendid jewel was seeking, but perhaps it’s the sort he deserves.

4. DON’T BRING ANYTHING OUR DAD WOULD LIKE

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Beautiful Healey, isn’t it? I thought so. Know who didn’t? The Margot and Elliott Show. They were equally unimpressed with the Lincoln Mark II, the Dino 246GT, the Mercedes W108 Coupe,  the BMW E28 M5, and a half-dozen other cars that I wanted to stop to admire. Instead, they wanted to see the goofy VW with front-mounted Chevy 427, the Callaway Corvette with blue rims, and the rainbow-liveried Hamann BMW. I try to take consolation that, when I was their age, I thought flame jobs were the ultimate in automotive style.

5. BUT DO PROVIDE HIM WITH A MOMENT OF GRACE

Ell GT3

The kids were starting to hit the wall after only fifteen minutes of browsing, and it was obvious to me that while they clearly had their favorites, the two of them just didn’t have an overwhelming curiosity about cars…and that was totally okay with me. They are very independent kids whose enthusiasms run strong, and that’s all that really matters, even if our passions are not shared. BUT, as we were starting to head back toward the exit, Elliott stopped in his tracks and pointed to the 991 GT3 pictured above. “Dad,” he said with complete seriousness, “I’m going to save my money and buy that car when I’m a grown up.” I told him I thought it was a good choice, secretly celebrating the aspirational power of a really great automobile, and I asked him why he wanted that one.

“Because it’s blue,” he said.

Because it’s blue. Not as rare as green, of course, but I’ll take it for now, kid.

PARKING ON GRASS: The Best of France and Italy 2014

BFI DaytonaIt’s hard to imagine a car show like the Best of France and Italy happening anywhere other than L.A. Where else in the world could one find multi-million-dollar Ferraris parked mere feet away from barely mobile Fiats and Peugeots, Lancias modified for clandestine canyon carving, and Citroen DSs converted into surf crates? Perhaps no other region can compare to Southern California’s wide and diverse enthusiast base and gentle, rust-inhibiting climate to provide a fertile ground for the preservation and appreciation of these notoriously temperamental machines.

BFI FieldWith a love of southern European cars in our DNA and a need to shift some product, we tossed our easy-up tent into the Carriage House Express and headed to Woodley Park in Van Nuys for the annual show last Sunday. Our fears of a muddy field due to recent rains were unfounded; the grounds were as glorious as the blue November skies above. Thankfully, the attendees of this free-admission event were ready to buy a few scale model cars, and as a consequence we were unable to do the sort of comprehensive examination of the full-size cars on display that we would have liked. Nonetheless, there were a few clear standouts.

BFI SEFACMaybe the most welcome aspect of Best of France and Italy is its non-exclusive, egalitarian nature. It’s an unjudged show, so cars ranging from beat-up projects to trailer queens are welcome. Still, even in this friendly environment, the appearance of Bruce Meyer’s priceless 1961 Ferrari 250GT Short Wheelbase “SEFAC Hot Rod” might seem a bit like bringing a gun to a knife fight. Acres of bandwidth have been devoted elsewhere to this car’s impeccable racing history and pristine current condition, so for our part we’ll only add that to see this car in person is to have your jaw forcibly dropped. Its combination of perfectly purposeful good looks and a provenance that includes a class win at Le Mans in 1961 are overwhelming to behold. (Our friends at CMC Models certainly agree…they’ve made a wonderful model of this exact car in 1:18-scale.) No one seemed to mind the car’s overdog status on the lawn though; Bruce Meyer is as passionate a collector and ambassador for the hobby as there is, and it was a real treat to see his precious jewel under such casual circumstances.

BFI GTAm Tucked amongst more pedestrian road-going cars was a spiritual descendent of the 250SWB, Brandon Adrian’s incredible 1967 Alfa Romeo 1600 GTA Corsa. Built by Alfa’s semi-independent competition division, Autodelta, the GTA Corsa was a hugely successful player in European touring car racing at the end of the 1960s. Adrian’s beautifully presented example won its class at the 1967 24 Hours of Spa, and would later claim a class win at the 1971 Targa Florio. Appearing largely as it was last raced in-period, the car still wears FIA and (very rare) ADAC plaques, as well as its original FIA-approved roll cage.

BFI AureliaAs excited by these two race cars as we were, though, a vehicle designed for luxurious touring emerged as our favorite of the show: the 1958 Lancia Aurelia B24S Convertible of John Dimock. Looking as if it had just rolled in from a jaunt through the French Riviera, the Aurelia was finished in deep blue over a red interior, one of our favorite combinations for open cars of this era. Though it had been in his family for over forty years, Dimock took possession of the car only three days prior to the show after a nonagenarian uncle decided it was time to hand over the keys! “It feels like a solid block of metal,” Dimock noted of the Aurelia’s non-spindly, rattle-free driving experience, though he did add that like so many other vintage Italian cars it does have occasional fuel delivery problems. But when you’re living La Dolce Vita, what’s the odd ride on a flatbed every now and then?

BFI GTV6As mentioned above, the Carriage House crew was busy all day long with show-goers looking to take a small piece of the Best of France and Italy experience home with them. All too often these days, we hear that the car hobby is not catching on with young people who are more engaged with electronic devices and other pursuits. Thankfully, this did not appear to be true at this year’s show, where a steady stream of wide-eyed kids came to our booth to  check out the scale model replicas of the dream cars parked nearby. It’s our privilege to share our passion for classic cars with the collectors of the future, and we can think of no better venue than the family-friendly Best of France and Italy in which to do it. We will return next year!

For more photos from the show, visit http://www.facebook.com/carriagehousemodels.

Parking On Grass is the Desktop Concours’ irregular series on California’s vibrant car show scene.  Occasionally, cars will not actually be be parked on grass.