The Automotive Art of Mark Havens

These photographic prints of vintage car model decal sheets are an amazing collision of my interests in car culture and typography. I’ve long been a fan of these old decals and have spent way too many hours in Photoshop trying to reproduce the vintage printing techniques that make these artifacts so soulful. I’d be on-board with Mark’s project in any capacity, but when I see the scale of the reproductions, I’m simply smitten with them.

I love the colors and the type and the cartoony appeal of these decals at their original size; but the prints are startlingly detailed and textured when reproduced at 4×5 feet. Each little crackle and discoloration becomes so painterly and weathered and beautiful. I’m sure that even the artists that Revell and AMT employed when these decals were designed would be startled by the depth and vibrance of them at this scale.

There’s something about playing with scale that makes us notice things. When we see something familiar at a radically altered size, it makes us notice it again; and we start to look past the idea we have of it and see more closely the details and the construction. I think 3 or 4 of these prints running the length of a garage wall would be an absolutely fantastic display.

The series, appropriately titled Displacement, is being exhibited through the end of July at the JAGR Projects gallery in the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia. More images at Mark’s site.

Moment-to-Moment Knowledge

A good driver drives still better with a Smiths Electronic Impulse Tachometer.

The racing driver’s control of his car depends on knowledge—not just knowledge of how to drive, but the moment-to-moment knowledge he gets from his instruments.

Chief of these is the tachometer. There’s no substitute for the information it gives the driver—information which is now available to you, whatever car you drive.

Smiths electronic impulse tachometer is a handsome, superbly accurate instrument, which can easily be fitted to an existing dashboard. It costs only £9.15—not much to pay for the chance of increasing motoring skill, and motoring pleasure too.

If you’re experienced enough to take advantage of a tachometer, you might be interested in Smiths other supplementary instruments, and the attractive sub-panel designed for mounting them below your dashboard.

Smiths Electronic Impulse Tachometer.

Write to us (or ask at your Garage) for full information about the electronic impulse tachometer and the complete range of supplementary instruments.

Smiths Motor Accessory Division
Sales and Service, Oxgate Lane, London N.W.2

This is something we’re unlikely to see again. It’s difficult enough to swap a new radio in lately, let alone gauges.

1911 Indy 500 Footage

When a race is 40 years older than the Formula 1 World Championship, the newsreels have to both show the race highlights and explain how an auto race works. “Cars remain in platoon formation for the first lap”—platoon formation. That’s the first time I’ve heard that term: definitely ready for a comeback.


This Weekend at Auction: Alfa Romeo TZ Coupé

Race history at the Targa Florio? Check. Le Mans? Yup. Tour de France? Uh-huh. Monza 1000KM? You bet.

Say any one of these things about any single example of a car and you’ll have my attention. Say all of them about a single car and you’ll have a lot of people’s attention. When the car you’re talking about is an exquisite 1964 Alfa TZ Coupé, you’ll have everyone’s attention.

There’s no question that the TZ is a striking machine. One of only 112 made, any Tubulare Zagato is a rare beast. One of the very few early Audodelta prepped machines (those made before the wider homologation production) and with well documented race history. Hell, it’s damn near unique.

This Alfa-Romeo TZ #750006 is crossing the block this weekend as part of RM’s Ville d’Este auction. And it says something about the caliber of machine that they’re presenting this weekend that the TZ isn’t even one of their featured lots. But if you look a bit beyond the sea of vintage Ferraris on offer (a 275GTB, a Scaglietti 500 TRC Spider, a 375MM Berlinetta) you’ll come to lot 126.

Restored to her 1964 LeMans livery by Piet Roelofs Engineering, she looks aggressive, mean even. Despite the relatively light 150 horsepower that the 1.5liter DOHC straight 4 was pulling, Giampiero Biscaldi and Giancarlo Sala managed 15th overall in the 24 Hours (10th in GT). In a field of Ferrari 330s and GTOs and Porsche 904s, that’s a wonderful result that Scuderia St. Ambroeus must have been pleased with (with her sister car finishing 13th for the team).

A truly stunning example of a remarkable car and a masterpiece of design for Zagato—I do so miss that flat-back era of design. I’d say there’s little doubt she’ll reach her estimate of €475.000-€575.000.

More at RM’s catalog. Previously.

Update: Well, the TZ sure met it’s reserve alright, selling for €627,200.

Dammit. They took my Borranis.

Pete Lovely, 1926—2011

The Art of Peter Hutton

There’s something so very compelling about illustration that rides the line between realism and sketch. It’s a bit impressionistic, a bit cartoonish, a bit technical illustration. I’d argue that in Peter Hutton’s case, it’s the best bit of all of these. The vibrance of the colors and the loose gestural form of the lines give a charming crafted feel. But the cutaways, and certain details are so very precise that it exhibits the best artistry of technical illustration. The loose, unfinished sections—like the tires on many of the bikes and formula cars—might just be my favorite parts of each illustration. Coupled with the explanatory passages about the car in Peter’s hand, these pieces would make any garage into an art gallery. Really amazing stuff.

Available, along with dozens more, as a variety of products from Peter’s web shop.

It’s Mille Miglia Time!

Well, they’re off from Brescia to Rome and back. And photos and videos are starting to arrive online. Sorry, this is going to be a long one.

(Hmm.. it looks like YouTube is down, so these videos won’t show up in the short term.) YouTube is back up.

Hope that’s not too much of an overload. I’m sure more will continue to surface throughout the next week.. I’ll keep an eye peeled for the good stuff.

Vaca Valley in Action

A Virtual Return to Vaca Valley

YES! Rudy Dingemans wrote in to point us to his build of a raceable version of the Vaca Valley raceway; ready for you to download and run in the rFactor and GTR2 racing simulators. The track itself may continue to crumble in the lowlands outside of Vacaville, but we can climb back into our digital Cobras for another spin on this great lost American racetrack.

Rudy credits our 2009 post on Vaca Valley as an inspiration: “It was this article that originally caught my eye. And gave me the idea me to bring back this track from the dead (well, at least virtually)”. The Chicane might have brought the track to his attention, but Rudy’s build of the track looks to have far exceeded our little show-and-tell of the venue. The stills look fantastic!

I’ve spoken before about what a marvelous idea it is to use racing simulator and video gaming tools to revive the lost palaces of motorsport, and I’m overjoyed to have played some small part in bringing back another track.

Head on over to the NoGrip Racing community to download the track: either the rFactor version (which has some additional details) or the version for GTR2.

Rudy says, “Hope it will help people enjoy racing this track again, or get to know it (to drive, it’s actually a bit trickier than it looks).” Thanks Rudy, for the service you’ve done in keeping Vaca alive.