Future Collectible

From Wallace Wyss’s Future Collectible Series, May We Present to You: The Bentley Azure

December 2, 2015 in English / Future Collectible / guest contributor / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

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When you look at the new Rolls Dawn, you can’t help but think you have seen that design before. And I say you have. A few years ago, in fact 20 years ago. The car was called the Azure. Originally launched in 1995, and subsequently followed by a second generation in 2006, the Azure is a convertible that delivered in all the areas you expect of a Bentley: performance and style.

According to an article by Fabio Galvano in Auto & Design magazine, it was an open topped version of the already existing Arnage. Continue reading →

FUTURE COLLECTIBLE: 1999 Bentley Continental SC. Why, you may ask? Because it’s a true Sedanca….

November 30, 2015 in English / Future Collectible / guest contributor / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

1Future Collectible Story by Wallace Wyss

I will admit, under fire, that when thinking of collectible Bentleys I am used to thinking pre-war first, then postwar cars like say the Mulliner/Park Ward ’56 Continental drophead coupe. I normally don’t even consider the 1990s, thinking everything “modern day” would be lacking the class and exclusivity of the more handmade coachbuilt Bentleys of decades earlier.

Now I read a book, Bentley since 1965 (see the review in previous feature today) that changed my mind because it reminded me of a Bentley I saw at an auto show possibly the 1999 LA Auto Show—the Bentley Continental S/C.

What makes the car interesting to me especially is that… Continue reading →

Appreciating Classic: Karmann-Ghia, by Wallace Wyss

July 28, 2015 in Future Collectible / German / History / Italian / Wallace Wyss

1(This ugly prototype looks Volvoish to me. Fortunately VW didn’t go for it.)

 

In the 1970s I inadvertently bought a future collectible, enjoyed it for several years and then sold it after an accident in which I was rammed from the side by a hit and run driver.

I missed it ever since, and am surprised to see they are becoming collectible.

Here’s the history in a nutshell. Back in 1950, Karmann, a coachworks in Germany,  approached Volkswagen with a design for a new vehicle. Karmann had a working relationship with Volkswagen by already building the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet.

Apparently Karmann’s idea was ugly so Karmann swallowed their dignity and went to Italy which is where, then as now, you go for fashion.

They went to Carrozzeria Ghia of Turin who built a prototype of the vehicle, completing it in 1953. In November of 1953, Nordhoff, the head of Volkswagen at the time, went down to Italy, viewed the car and green lighted it for production. Ironically it stole more than a little of the Chrysler prototype designs and reportedly Chrysler was miffed that it seemed like a mini version of what Ghia had built for them. Virgil Exner Sr. was supposed to have claimed that the design for the Karmann Ghia was based upon his Coupe D’Elegance, a car he designed for Ghia, but Ghia company said that their own Mario Boano created the design in 1950. And if you look at Boano’s work on early cars, for example the Alfa Romeo 2500 S convertible of 1949 and a Lancia Aurelia limousine of 1950 it is obvious the main design elements were Italian in origin. It was Exner who was inspired by Italy rather than the other way around.

But what could they do about it? They needed Ghia more than Ghia needed Chrysler.

In July,  1955, the Karmann Ghia was unveiled to the public…
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FUTURE COLLECTIBLE: Jensen Intercepter Convertible- I say it’s like a Rolls Royce Corniche with balls at a third of the price

July 24, 2015 in American / English / Future Collectible / guest contributor / History / Italian / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

4Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

I used to be a barn finder. You go out with a fistfull of dollars entrusted to you by some client and look for something they can have fun with or make money on, preferably both.

I particularly remember the Jensen Interceptor convertible I bought in a barn find. It had four luxurious leather seats and a wood dashboard and sheepskin on the seats so in a cold winter clime (as cold as Southern Cali gets anyway) it was still cozy with the top down.

The one I bought was a rich brown color and I remember it had a lot of cooling louvers in the hood, just like hot rods used to have, back in the day. I only drove it for a week and then it went on to a client in New York. That was back in the ‘80s and I think I got it for $26,000, not that much for a car that impressed everyone who saw it.

Looking back, I found out more about the firm’s history. Allan and Richard Jensen’s auto business predates World War II. They started out making Austin bodies under contract, so the first Interceptor resembled an Austin A40; they also made bodies for the Volvo P1800 (which have been knocked compared to the Swedish ones) the Sunbeam Tiger, and Austin-Healey. Jensen Motors claimed the first use of resin-bonded glass fibre on car bodies and the first use of four-wheel disc brakes…
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Buying that Barn Find: Tips from a Former Pro

July 15, 2015 in Barn Find / Featured / Future Collectible / General Discussion / guest contributor / Patina / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

5Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

 

The finding of the car, that’s one big subject, covered at length in my three books called the Incredible Barn Finds series (see ordering info on the following page after the story).

But maybe a lot harder than finding the car of your dreams is buying the damn thing.

Say the wrong word and you’re out of the running.

Look at the shows on TV where they are pickers. Going from one old barn full of antiques to another. There’s a certain art to buying, with some technicalities to back it up. As a former barn finder (paid by clients to find and buy certain rare cars) here’s what I learned…
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Future Collectible: Ferrari’s Forgotten Fiberglass 308 GTB Group 4 Rally Cars

July 13, 2015 in Future Collectible / guest contributor / History / Italian / Rally / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

11Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

I was perusing the classifieds on the net the other day and came across a car that brought back memories, a 308GTB that has a fiberglass body.

Though it seems to me the weight of a 308GTB vs. power was not such a good ratio, before I started researching it, I assumed maybe it was a few hundred pounds lighter and the engine was souped up.

Ferrari themselves never thought of it as a rally car when they designed it. So it knocked everybody over when a rally version appeared.

Why was the car sent outside to prepare it? Ferrari was intent on F1 so the prototype Rally 308 was built at Assistenza Clienti under Gaetano Florini. One can recall a NART-prepared 308 GT4 ran the 1974 and 75 LeMans so Ferrari at least thought the engine could make it.

That first prototype chassis 22711 served as the basis for homologation in ’76, but Ferrari never fielded a factory team of “resin” 308GTBs…

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The BMW Z8: Wherein our Contributor Advances the Argument for Buying One…

June 11, 2015 in Featured / Future Collectible / German / guest contributor / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

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A Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

 

Now I am always looking for cars that will appreciate—that you can own for a few years and sell it for three times what you bought it for. I’ve actually done that on at least one car (a Ferrari GTC/4) but sold most too soon.

When I recently saw a 2002 BMW Z8 Convertible go at the Mecum Seattle auction in 2015 for $165,000, that rung the bell on a car whose existence I had plumb forgotten and now want to recommend as an upward mover in appreciation. Why? Because now they are finally going for more than they sold for new. I remember how this car came about. BMW had a head man, Wolfgang Reitzle, who was a perfectionist of the highest order, working 18 hour long days, driving the troops at flank speed (is that a mixed metaphor or do only ships move at flank speed?).

If you are a believer, like me, that a strong-minded executive can turn a company direction in positive ways (think Steve Jobs…), then his career in the car biz deserves looking at. In 1976, he joined BMW where he eventually got to the No. 2 position—where he was put in charge of product development in 1987 and stayed roughly ten years.

But then he jumped to Ford, where between 1999 and 1 May 2002, Reitzle ran Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, overseeing the Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover marques. But then he left Ford in somewhat of a huff because, as he broadcast to the media, he was not given sufficient control of developing new models all the way through to the production process. Ford’s viewpoint was more akin to the problem that can crop up when you are dealing with a perfectionist, i.e. there is no end to how much they want to spend to make each part perfect. Reitzle felt you needed perfection to compete with Lexus and BMW.

He could have gone to GM if he had accepted an offer from their Swiss-born top exec Bob Lutz, but it wasn’t a high enough ranking job, and he was quoted answering the offer with a naval metaphor that he “would rather be captain on a destroyer than first officer on an aircraft carrier.”

So he left the auto biz to become head of a company making fork lift trucks

But back to his time at BMW. Ol’ Wolfgang, he might have been head of BMW but damned if the car he treasured in his own garage wasn’t a Jag E-type roadster, V12 style. Now as hard as it is to rationalize, he decided BMW should make a car that looks like that, maybe because he saw a niche in the market for a luxury car, a two seater, with abundant power….
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The Strange Journey of the Jaguar XJ/SC. Yes, it Exists. And I think it’s Collectible…

May 19, 2015 in English / Future Collectible / guest contributor / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

1by Wallace Wyss

We will have to go back in time to see just how this oddball car came about. It’s a Jaguar XJS, made into a semi-convertible by Jaguar purely as a stopgap effort. Here’s why it came about. When Jaguar designed the XJS they designed it as a coupe, figuring new laws against convertibles would make it impossible to pass otherwise. They were wrong. But by the time they discovered that little tidbit of pertinent information they didn’t have the resources to make a convertible design fast enough themselves so they turned to Hess & Eisenhart to convert them. Or maybe H &E did it on their own. …

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Future Collectible: A.C. 428 Frua- With a Frame Designed by Ford for Carroll Shelby’s 427 Cobra…by Wallace Wyss

May 15, 2015 in American / Future Collectible / guest contributor / History / Italian / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

53O.K. in some ways it seems obvious—this car is made by A.C., the same folks that made the Cobra for Shelby, and boasts a genuine 427 Cobra 427 Chassis. Plus gen-u-ine Eye-talian bodywork. What could be better? But yet the A.C. 428 is virtually unknown in the U.S. There were two body styles, the coupe and the convertible. Of them, there were 49 coupes built and the rest were convertibles. The way the car came about was that Ford had lost all interest in keeping the 427 Cobra in production, being much more interested in the mid-engined GT40 because it had the potential to win the 24 Hours of LeMans (and did, four times!). Shelby wound the Cobra production down to zero. So there was A.C., over in Thames-Ditton, left in the lurch so to speak. They thought—we’ve got these 427 frames, we’ve got the ability to buy engines, we’ve got customers who want a comfortable capable grand touring car that could cruise the autobahnen at 150 mph, but what to do?
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