Tag Archive | cars

Fun For Fanciers Of Rolling Art

Gentlemen: start your engines! Seven days of seven-figure machinery at seven auctions. The Arizona Concours d’ Elegance is the starting line. Right here in Scottsdale and the surrounding area. Well over $100 million in sales. And parties where you will meet some that are one piston shy of a… Car week is the Burning Man festival on wheels with wallets. Debauchery with no owner’s manual. Shock absorbers required. In preparation:

 

 

The Ultimate Car Event For The Non-Car Person

Say What?

You don’t need to like cars. Or even know anything about them to truly enjoy the world’s most famous and most important race for historical race cars. The Italian Mille Miglia (pronounced MEE-leh MEE-lia). Just throw open the shuttered windows above the Piazza Della Vittoria on race day in downtown Brescia in Northern Italy. Feast your eyes on the museum in motion below. Reverberating exhaust pipes rip the morning air with a deafening roar as the le belle macchine (the beautiful cars) come to life.

Bugatti T 13 Brescia Corsa (1924) Runs In Mille Miglia 2014Voluptuous Beauties

Since 1927, the 1000 mile Mille Miglia from Brescia to the eternal city of Rome and back occurs every May. The race features 1927-1957 cars from at least 25 countries. It is a colorful parade that includes Italy’s sleek red Ferraris, voluptuous blue French Bugattis, elegant racing green Jaguars from Britain and slick, silver German Porsches. These moving sculptures will take anyone’s breath away, car-crazy or not.

The thunderous roar of motorcycles and flashing lights of the Carabinieri (Italian police) signals the beginning of the grueling two-day challenge. Many of these pre-1957 classic race cars have no tops or windscreens. Drivers are flagged off at one-minute intervals, outfitted in driving goggles, leather helmets, and rain gear. They careen off through the countryside with gusto, sometimes in drenching rain. Drivers become unrecognizable due to the mud caked on their faces.

PESARO, ITALY - MAY 15: unidentified crew on an old racing car in rally Mille Miglia 2015 the famous italian historical race (1927-1957) on May 15, 2015

Ripping The Rally

The rally course  entails diverse terrain from the most dangerous Futa and Raticosa mountain passes to the low hills covered with vineyards and olive groves that surround Firenze (Florence), the cradle of the Renaissance and home to Michelangelo’s David. Then it’s on through Ravenna, the former Byzantine capital that offers the dazzling Christian and Byzantine mosaics on churches and monuments, rivaled only by those in Istanbul. The flashy caravan starts its return in the capital city of Roma (Rome) with the rally winding past baroque fountains, churches, and palaces that feature Medieval, Gothic and Rennaissance period architecture. The drivers then race on to Modena, home to the famous tenor, Pavarotti, and famous car makers: Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti, Lamborghini and De Tomaso. The race ultimately goes through fifty towns in the Italian countryside, many of which have been the inspiration for artists, writers, and poets.

Scan 1Ardent Admirers

At each of the fifty towns on the course, cheering local dignitaries, townspeople of all ages, tourists and beauty queens line the streets showering the drivers with gifts unique to that area. Gifts include espresso, pastries, produce, flowers and champagne toasts. Even brown-robed priests are there to offer their blessings with a wave. With great zeal, the drivers race through the narrow, winding streets while affectionate fans wave hankies, palm leaves, and flowers to urge them on. No one loves sports cars like the Italians do, and during the Mille Miglia, everyone’s Italian.

Scan 2Beauty Queen Qualifications

Participants’ cars are highly scrutinized by the selection committee. Preference is given to cars with a particular racing history and to those who have done the Mille Miglia in its earlier days. Cars must be original in their parts, authenticated and certified as such by race officials. The entry fee of $14,400 along with additional shipping and mechanic fees seems an inconsequential amount when you consider that few of these cars are worth less than $500,000 and many fetch multi-million dollar prices. Add up the values of about 450 entries and you have a remarkable, expensive parade, festival, show and competition.

Rally For The Rally

OLD CAR Fiat 600 MILLE MIGLIA 2014Now, the car-challenged might ask; what is a rally? A rally is not actually a race but a competitive run and a series of precise time trials over public roads under ordinary traffic rules. The objective is to maintain a specified average speed between thirty-four checkpoints. For example, one must drive 7.7 kilometers in ten minutes and sixteen seconds exactly. These magnificent machines slowly creep up to the checkpoint to get as close to the allotted time as possible and then with a deafening rumble of six cylinders, roar off to the next challenge. Every tenth of a second more or less than the fixed time is a penalty (reduction in points).

Heart Rumbles

After thirty hours of punishment on the road with perhaps four hours of sleep, the bleary-eyed but jubilant drivers return to the Piazza Vittoria behind a police escort. They hear their names blared over the loudspeaker as boisterous crowds close in around them with congratulatory shouts. While the actual winner of the silver cup is the one with the most points, each arrival is victorious. They finished the 1,000 miles and they brought these irreplaceable works of art to life. The wild enthusiasm of the spectators is as important and enjoyable as the cars or the race. It has been said that Brescia has the rumble in its heart. After a trip to the Mille Miglia, so will you!

 

 

Car Guys

Car guys, gearheads, shade tree mechanics, wrenchers, petrolheads if you’re British…all one and the same. Crazy car guys. Let me tell you about the ones I know. Some are missing a piston. Some have over-active exhausts. A few don’t have their bearings straight while others just have a lot of highway miles on them. One is an airbag. Another one needs a pressure check. More specifically:

Wayne’s wife was looking for him to do some yard work. He’s out tinkering in his garage. She was calling out his name. What does he do? He hides in the trunk of the car he’s working on. Wayne actually admitted this to me….the wife of a crazy car guy. Junk in the trunk? No. Look for bodies.

Mistresses

Cars are their mistresses. They sneak around with them and bring them gifts. I don’t know who is more excited about the gift. The mistress or the coolant giver. They are more interested in the horsepower that their mistress puts out than their girlfriend or wife. They love to give them lube jobs. My hubby likes mistresses that aren’t good-looking on the outside but they have a good heart. Their voluptuous bodies are important too. Especially the dashboards and the rear ends. A rough exterior might be acceptable as long as they are not missing a piston. High RPMs are more desirable. They, themselves, might have a dead battery. Maybe they just need a charge. Or a tune-up. Some of these car guys have no cruise control. They will tell you this is their last one, no more and then the next week, they find another mistress. Their new all-time favorite. And…they bring her home. Shameful!

Old Car In The YardConversation Translation

Have you ever heard a car guy conversation? It goes something like this:

“I sold the 356.”

” Why? For a 911?”

“No. Maybe an XKE or DB7. Or MT4.”

“MGBGT’s are nice. 280SL, sweet. How about a 2CV? Deux Chevaux, Primaquatre, Heynsdyk 2500, Borgward, Volga, Humber Super Snipe, Zaporozhets?”

Get the picture here? If you don’t know the language, you are lost. Like a needle in a haystack. And there is no way to fake it. Pinch yourself to keep your eyes from glazing over. Or just drink more wine and be a good listener. Or retreat at full speed to join the flock of “Normies”, the non-crazies who drive boring cars but that don’t give them too much grief. They can talk about things like the weather. Sometimes I wonder if car guys know any other language. Do they need to?

They share car photos like they are their children. Boasting with such pride over their accomplishments, their looks, their capabilities. Some of their children are named after the cars: Mercedes, Aston, Porscha, Royce, Enzo, Audi. I’m surprised (and relieved) that they haven’t yet named them Borgward, Talbot, Bugatti, Targa or Humber Super Snipe! “Hi, this is my son, Lamborghini and his sister, Topolino.”

Getaways

Car guys are the only people that can get away with:

  • “Hey kids, do you want some speed?”
  • “Go home smart car…you’re drunk!”
  • Car parts in the dishwasher.
  • Buying an entire car in boxes that they are sooooo proud of.
  • Refusing to take their car out into the rain.
  • Parking in the most far away space. Ding prevention.
  • Inebriated chest-butting and bidding at car auctions.
  • Making their wives widows during car auction week.
  • “Look what I just bought you, honey!” (a car that doesn’t run and looks like hell.)
  • Hearing the muffler on a passing Porsche before he hears you.
  • Classifying his cars that don’t run as your cars.
  • Referring to a car half-buried in the dirt for years with flat tires and busted out windows as an orphan that so desperately needs a home.
  • Tearing a car dashboard completely apart in a parking lot because of some annoying noise.

Parts Unknown

Car guy hubby spends hours every morning scouring the internet for parts (and of course the sum of these parts: the whole car). This search is not just for him but for every single car guy on the planet that he might encounter. During these sessions: bills paid? Not. Take out the trash? Not. Eat breakfast? Not. Hear anything I say? Not. Evacuate due to a house fire? Not. Fuhgettaboutit!

The giddy look on his face when his buddy Fed Ex brings him gifts is the emotion of sheer joy. It does not matter that he can’t remember what he just bought or where the other gifts are hiding out in his garage. It’s the thought that counts.

Born To Be Wild

He walks in, after driving a convertible with no windshield, with crazy eyes, wild hair and the grin of The Joker. The bugs in his teeth are not a problem. Just kidding. A joyride without the theft: driving with no particular goal other than the pleasure or thrill of doing so. It’s an addiction. He can’t stop. Steppenwolf told him, “Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, looking for adventure…”

The owner’s manual for a car guy is difficult to comprehend at first. Give it some time and your shock absorbers will be like new.