History

The Unique Ferrari Shooting Brake

January 5, 2016 in guest contributor / History / Italian / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

3Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

Now I knew Gene Garfinkle, a quiet, modest car designer who had once worked for Ford in Dearborn but preferred working on the coast even if it meant assignments were few and far between.
One of his most unique assignments was doing a Ferrari Daytona “shooting brake” for Lou Chinetti Jr. back when Chinetti was modifiying one Ferrari after another to create a unique series of speciales.
The one-off Daytona, SN 15275, had a long rear cargo area with two glass windows all along the sides, and a sort of concave rear with sharp edges on the metal surrounding the back. The nose was modified slightly but still looks Daytona-ish from the doors forward. Continue reading →

The Top 5 Wallace Wyss Feature Stories of 2015

December 31, 2015 in guest contributor / History / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

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As some of you who frequent CarBuildIndex may have realized, the results of the Top 15 Stories of 2015 (↑) may have been skewed in favor of build threads as a result of having been reposted throughout the year with updates, garnering them more views than normal as a result. It should be noted that our favorite guest contributor, Wallace Wyss has had some memorable stories that otherwise would have made more of them into the running, therefore we would like to present to you on the following page:

The Top 5 Wallace Wyss Feature Stories of 2015

Continue reading →

A Wallace Wyss Book Review of “All the Cars: MASERATI” by author Giorgio Cancelleri

December 24, 2015 in Book Review / guest contributor / History / Italian / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

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BOOK REVIEW
Title: All the Cars: MASERATI

Author: Giorgio Cancelleri

Publisher: Giorgio Nada

Length: 351 pages

Format: vertical

Binding: Hardbound 

REVIEW BY WALLACE WYSS

Giorgio Nada Editore, an Italian book publisher who do car books in English, is doing a great service with these hardbound one-marque guides. I previously reviewed the Ferrari one by Gianni Cancellieri and have to say I enjoyed this one even more.

The format is to give each model of car two pages—then to have a painting on the right hand page and a photo on the left. I was happy with most of the illustrations as being fair representations of the cars that section is about except for the 1961 mid-engine Maserati 63—can’t make out the shape — just looks like a blob. The usual photo he has on the opposite page is no help because on that page is an X-ray view.

The book is mostly about production cars so I was surprised to see… Continue reading →

How a Porsche was King of the Dunes

December 19, 2015 in German / guest contributor / History / Homologation / Race Car / Rally / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

KingsFeature Story by Wallace Wyss

Yes, it’s true, and I am sure most Porsche 911 owners would faint dead away if you proposed rocketing their car across the open desert. But the Porsche Rally variant of the 959 was made for that. It started when the FIA inaugurated the Group B rally category in 1982. Each automaker participating was to make 200 of their proposed race car.

Porsche had developed a four wheel drive car but didn’t want to make hundreds, and fortunately they read the rule books and discovered that, for desert racing, you didn’t have to make that many. It didn’t matter that only 20% of the folks who race Porsches race them off road, they were thinking of the publicity if, out on the desert sands, a Porsche rocketed by vehicles built for the sand from scratch! Continue reading →

A Wallace Wyss Book Review of “Mercedes Benz 300SL Vom Rennsport zur Legende (From racing to legend)”, by authors Mike Riedner & Gunter Engelen

December 11, 2015 in Book Review / German / guest contributor / History / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

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BOOK REVIEW

Title: Mercedes Benz 300SL Vom Rennsport zur Legende (From racing to legend) German language version
Authors: Mike Riedner/Gunter Engelen
Publisher: Motor Buch Verlag
Photos by: Hans-Dieter Seufert Motorbuch-Verlag
Binding: softbound
Pages: 288 pages
Price: Currently on sale in Germany for 19.95 Euro. 

Described by one review as “The German standard compendium for every 300 SL enthusiast”, this edition by Mike Riedner and Günter Engelen is softbound, apparently the third edition of a book first published way back in 1989. Now I know there are a lot of books on the 300SL but this one, to a former gullwing owner, is extremely satisfying so I am recommending on the basis of its artwork for the 300SL enthusiast even though it repeats some pictures and facts found in other books.

Why then do I recommend it? Because for those who do not have those more expensive hardbound coffee table books, this book still serves a purpose, shining a light on the engineering of the early racing models, such as a roadster version in ’52 that I have not seen before, where the passenger side is blocked off. In those photos it appears to be very Porsche 356-inspired. A lot of the other 300SL books dwell on the production car but this book gives equal space to the race cars, the pre-production styling prototypes and the final production cars.

The printing is on slick paper and… Continue reading →

Two Styles lost in Modern Days: Is it time for a Comeback?

November 19, 2015 in guest contributor / History / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

100Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

Times change and I guess that’s the only way you can explain the almost total disappearance of body styles that would seem delectable, at least they do when you see them at a concours.

One body style is the landaulet. That is where the front part of the roof remains fixed in place and the rear of the roof is a convertible top that folds down. I think in the 1920s there were even landaulets where the front part of the roof opened as well leaving only a solid center section. I think those died off in the 1920s for the most part.

The last landaulettes I remember being produced postwar were the… Continue reading →

A Wallace Wyss Book Review of “Jaguar E-Type The Complete Story”, by author Jonathan Wood

November 5, 2015 in Book Review / English / guest contributor / History / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

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BOOK REVIEW

Title: Jaguar E-Type The Complete Story

Author: Jonathan Wood

  • Series: Complete Story
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The Crowood Press (November 5, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861261470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861261472
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Recommended retail Price: $29.95
     

REVIEW BY WALLACE WYSS

The Jaguar E Type (known as XKE to Americans) is a remarkable car, especially when you see one now and realize this car is over 50 years old and looks totally modern.

This book by Johnathan Wood, first published in 2008, is an excellent overall view of the car, how it came to be, and the changes that occurred to it throughout its run.

The personalities of the car’s creators come through well, from Sir William Lyons who founded Jaguar (known as SS cars before the war, a name they understandably had to change after WWII) before the war, to the later designers and engineers that developed it. Particularly interesting is… Continue reading →

The Twisted Tale of a “SEFAC SWB” Ferrari

October 23, 2015 in guest contributor / History / Italian / Race Car / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

5Feature Story by Wallace Wyss 

Imagine if you will coming across an oddball car that looks like a Ferrari but not any model you can remember. Someone says “It’s a short wheelbase Berlinetta Comp car underneath” and you say “Sure, and you’re Santa Claus.”

Well, it’s true, for a number of years a certain short wheelbase Berlinetta went through life (and through races) wearing a one-off body that was of dubious body style, neither fish nor fowl.

Underneath that body was not only a short wheelbase but a short wheelbase Ferrari that paved the way for the all conquering Ferrari 250GTO.

That car was nicknamed the ‘SEFAC Hot Rod’ by Americans because it was so much faster than the other swbs. (SEFAC was the official corporate name of Ferrari) At the factory it was  called  the “Comp/61,” and was one of several that Ing. Bizzarrini went through to prep them for the 1961 season.

Not that Ferrari needed it, as they already had driven the E-type Jag off the track and Aston’s DB4.

But maybe to rub it in, or just to buy time until the 250GTO was ready, Enzo funded more development work. These SEFAC Ferraris had a lighter Tipo 539/61 chassis and a more powerful Testa Rossa-spec engine…
Continue reading →

The Legend of Long Tall John

October 22, 2015 in guest contributor / History / Profile / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

3By Wallace Wyss
Although I grew up in Detroit and worked in the car industry (as an ad copywriter) I never met John DeLorean but I saw him from afar at many auto shows and ran across his influence everywhere.

For instance, when I used to take the family car and go out on Woodward Ave. looking for a drag race, I steered clear of any Pontiac that had been at Ace Wilson’s store in Royal Oak where they created the Royal Bobcat.

Turned out DeLorean had a brother involved with that business and even before he had official GM approval he was fomenting a performance revolution with GM products.

DeLorean grew up on the east side of Detroit during the Great Depression. According to an article by Suzanne Snider on a blog called Longreads.com, “DeLorean’s mother was Hungarian and worked for General Electric. His father was from Romania and worked at the Ford foundry doing factory work. Despite a troubled relationship with his father, DeLorean was a motivated and successful young student who managed to gain entrance to one of the most elite public schools in Detroit: Cass Technical High School, popularly known as Cass Tech.

Originally conceived as a trade school for young men in 1861, Cass Tech grew so rapidly and successfully that in the 1920s students were asked to leave after two years to find jobs, in order to make room for those on the waitlist. Finding a job was relatively easy for Cass Tech’s students since the school functioned as a feeder into design divisions of the Big Three automakers. The young DeLorean’s course in life seemed to have been set. Yet, in the first of many odd twists in his biography, DeLorean initially decided to bank on his skills playing the saxophone.” Continue reading →

The Movers and Shakers: Remembering William L. Mitchell of GM Styling

October 21, 2015 in American / Design / History / Profile / Wallace Wyss

3By Wallace Wyss

Of all the characters I met in Detroit while growing up there, William L. Mitchell, VP of GM Styling, was the most unpredictable. Sometimes, in company PR, he would come across as the consummate executive, tastefully dressed, acting like a GM VP would be expected to act.

He was born 1912 in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Greenville, Pennsylvania. His father was a Buick dealer who often brought home the racier cars he took on trade-ins, cars like Stutzes and Mercers.

In 1927, Mitchell went to work as an office boy at Barron Collier Advertising Agency in New York, a position that eventually led to illustration and layout work, and where he me the Collier brothers. They were a car crazy crowd and on weekends Mitchell would go to their road racing  track near Tarrytown, New York, and watch the rich swells race Mercedes, Alfas and other foreign tin. Mitchell was quoted in a U of M oral history about that time: “They had an estate outside of Tarrytown [N.Y.] between the Stillmans and Rockefellers called “Overlook”—beautiful, and they first raced little sports cars like MG’s, and then they got bigger cars, and I was in the art department, and I always drew cars.”

He was formally trained at  Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh in 1930 and also attend the Art Students League in New York City from 1930 to 1931. It was a pal of  Barron Collier’s who put him in touch with Harley Earl at General Motors.

Mitchell joined what was artfully called the Art and Colour Section (yes, they really did spell “color” that way in the beginning) at GM in 1935 and in 1937 was promoted to the spot of Chief Designer of the Cadillac Studio. His first assignment was to develop a sports sedan. The Cadillac Sixty Special introduced in 1938 was lauded and he was on his way, eventually to succeed Earl. Continue reading →

The Fabled Zagato Speedster Carrera: For one brief shining moment, it showed Porsche the way to go…

October 20, 2015 in German / guest contributor / History / Race Car / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

3By Wallace Wyss

They say it was smashed. Forget about finding it. But, in the writing of my Incredible Barn Finds triology (from Enthusiast Books,Hudson WI) how many times have I heard that same “fogehtaboutit” line. And yet, many times the car that everyone said was missing was still around, maybe with a different body on it.

So I am relighting the torch for the search for the Zagato Speedster roadster, putting that alongside my search for the James Dean ’55 pre-A Speedster (which I am close to finding).

Here’s the story of the first Zagato-bodied Porsche, the 356 Carrera Zagato Speedster (1958)… Continue reading →

Designer Tom Meade’s Work to be Featured at Palm Springs Conorso

October 20, 2015 in American / Design / Engineering / guest contributor / History / Italian / Wallace Wyss

THOMASSIMAIIb
Concorso is pleased announce a celebration of the life and achievements of Tom Meade, the American who went to Italy in the 1960s to follow his dream of designing cars that would be his visions of supercars.

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Mr. Meade blazed a trail. He worked his way across the Atlantic on a tramp steamer to reach Italy. Tom slept on the floors of various coachbuilders as he saved enough to buy old race cars, which he rebodied. He did what many American enthusiasts dreamed of doing. Continue reading →

THE DESIGNER’S DESIGNER: Chuck Jordan

October 19, 2015 in American / Design / guest contributor / History / Profile / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

2Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

Growing up in Detroit, I had a lot of role models in the car industry, some of which I knew in person. When I first used to visit GM Design, called GM Styling back then, it was as a guest of William “Bill” Mitchell, the flamboyant head of design. Charles “Chuck” Jordan that I was first introduced to Jordan,  I was a little intimated because he had this urbane patrician look, kind of hawk-nosed visage that says “I will come down on you hard, boy.”

In fact, in Styling his nickname behind his back was “the chrome Cobra.”

But later, through doing a story on his Lusso Ferrari, I got to know him and he had a far gentler side, the car enthusiast side.

He wore his suits impeccably, and I only saw him once dressed oddly, wearing a raccoon skin full length coat, something out of the 1920’s but hey, he was from the 1920s when you think about it…and Mitchell would wear crazy stuff all the time, like blood red motorcycle driver suits.

In retrospect when I see the Ralph Lauren ads now featuring his son, David Lauren, they evoke the image of Chuck Jordan, a sort of to-the-manor-born look. Continue reading →

THE WRITING OF A BOOK: “DeTomaso: the Man and His Machines”, by Wallace Wyss

October 17, 2015 in American / Book Review / guest contributor / History / Italian / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss


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    When I was young and naïve I wrote a book for a publisher in England, Osprey, called DeTomaso Automobiles. Not only did I never get a royalty but they gave the book to a pirate publisher who doesn’t pay royalties either (no wonder some Brits were among the first pirates!).

    Anyway decades passed and, while up in Monterey,  I met David and Linda Adler while they were driving their Group 3 Pantera race car on the street—a car with Webers, bundle of snakes exhaust, the whole nine yards. They had bought Pantera International, a club, and were producing a magazine of which I became the editor. After awhile I amassed enough information to do a book for them called DeTomaso: the Man and his Machines.

    At the time there was no glossy book on DeTomaso, unless you count Henry Rasmussen’s Panteras for the Road, which was already out of print.

     DeTomaso, as a brand, had not yet arrived so to speak, not like Ferraris of which there were already fifty books on the market. We decided to do it first class, hardcover, slip cover, color inserts, over 100 black and white pictures. We went to Dai Nippon in Japan for first class binding and reproduction. The book had a many page color section showing stock Panteras, Panteras, Vallelungas, Mangustas, and Longchamps.

 In addition there were several chapters on racing, and I was fortunate enough to fly to Europe to buy pictures right in Italy, pictures of Group 4 racers, prototype Formula cars, and of DeTomaso himself.

    I even visited the DeTomaso factory in Modena. I didn’t talk to DeTomaso himself who as absent and was too timid to talk to Mrs. DeTomaso though it was clear that, in her husband’s absence she ran the roost. In fact, at the time I couldn’t think of another automaker where the two owners in charge had FIA racing licenses and had raced at tracks like LeMans. Continue reading →

From a wooden buck formed over a crashed Cobra to a Ferrari 250 GTO crusher

October 16, 2015 in American / History / Race Car

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In 1963, Carroll Shelby and his crew took a crash damaged 289 Cobra roadster and formed a wooden buck over it to shape the first Daytona Coupe, chassis # CSX2287. Their goal was to take on Ferrari on their home turf, who had incidentally also created the iconic 250 GTO using the same FIA loophole which allowed them to re-body existing models for racing. More photos on the following page…
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Book Review of “Intermeccanica: The Story of the Prancing Bull”, by author Andrew McCredie

October 8, 2015 in American / Book Review / guest contributor / History / Italian / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

20BOOK REVIEW BY WALLACE WYSS
Title: Intermeccanica: The Story of the Prancing Bull, originally published May 1, 2010–

by Andrew McCredie (Author), with Paula Reisner

· Hardcover: 192 pages
· Publisher: Veloce Publishing (May 1, 2010)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1845842499
· ISBN-13: 978-1845842499
· Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.8 x 10.2 inches
· Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
· Price: $79.95

I would like to start out this review by saying this is, above all, a love story of a couple that bonded on cars when they first met (he was reading a car magazine in college and she noticed and said she came from a car-fan family), a relationship which lasted several decades until his death.
Andrew McCredie’s book “Intermeccanica: The Story of the Prancing Bull” from Veloce Publishing in England is also the story of the development of one project after another, most of which resulted in some cars, interesting cars, cars which after decades of being in the shadows are coming to the attention of collectors. I speak of cars like the Apollo, the Torino, the Italia and the Indra.
The Reisners are behind them all, except the Apollo which started out with three buddies from SoCal, one of whom ran into Frank at the Monte Carlo GP and when asked what he did for a living, Reisner gave the right answer: “I build cars.” Continue reading →

The Million Dollar Speedster (and to think that was last year’s price…)

October 6, 2015 in German / guest contributor / History / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

2A Feature by  Wallace Wyss

 

OK, it’s time to go out and kick yourself when you remember that could have bought that used, abused Speedster back in the ‘60s or ‘70s for $3000.

Well, now it’s time to give yourself an extra kick in the keester if you remember that the car you turned down said in script below the word PORSCHE the word “Carrera.”

That’s what made this car a million dollar car at auction.

Most of the Speedsters, which started in ’54 as ’55 models, came with pushrod engines. But a precious few came with the optional Carrera engine. Dr Ernst Fuhrman’s Type 547/1 motor was originally conceived in 1952, and it was slated for the famed 550 Spyder race car. The engine was petty special boasting twin ignition, two dual-throat carburetors, and four-cam valve actuation rather than single-cam pushrods. The first production version of the engine  was announced at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show, alongside the debut of the 356 A, and it was dubbed “Carrera”, signifying a special, top-of-the-line performance model in honor of Porsche’s 1st and 2nd in class finish (and 3rd and 4th overall) at the 1954 Carrera Panamericana, a thousand mile long race in Mexico.
Continue reading →

The Howard Hughes Daimler DS420 Limo: With, would you believe, it’s own potty?

October 5, 2015 in English / guest contributor / History / Reader Submission / Wallace Wyss

20Feature Story by Wallace Wyss

To say that Howard Hughes, oil man and one time film producer, was “wacky” would be damning him with faint praise. And yet, at the same time, the tall Texan was immensely creative. In 1946, after plowing an experimental airplane into a Beverly Hills home after engine failure he was sent to the hospital for numerous operations. Bored during his recovery, he designed a push-button bed to help burn victims move around, which led way to modern hospital beds. He always wanted things his way and as a multi-millionaire since age 18, he pretty well got them. Continue reading →

Just Released- Never Published Before Photos of Shelby Mustang GT 350’s Being Produced in Venice

October 5, 2015 in American / History

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Photographer Dave Friedman shared his collection of never-published-before pictures of the very first 1964-1965 Mustangs delivered to the Shelby factory in Venice, California on his facebook page yesterday. Some interesting shots here, and I’ll bet there are some Shelby experts out there who can name the VIN of each and every one. More photos on the following page.
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