This is an interesting moment for Ferrari in this shot. It captures the transition from the era of craftsmen hand-building the early F-cars to the technological sophistication that we think of when we see images of the current factory floor.
More than that though, I’m just glad that the ‘Dino’ moniker no longer seems to have the disregard that it once had. Which is a good thing, because It has to be one of Pininfarina’s most beautiful silhouettes. I know I’ll catch flak for this, but I think I’d rather have the 246 Dino in my garage than the Daytona Coupe it shared the factory floor with.
Stumbling across this photo in the Auto Clasico Flickr stream was particularly good timing because I saw an example of each of these cars this past weekend at Wheels of Italy; which was fun as always, but had an uncharacteristic lack of classic Italian scooters this year.
Porsches change. What makes them Porsches doesn’t.
What is it about a decades-old Porsche that makes it so very desirable—even with the $15,000-plus price tag such a car is more likely to command these days?
Horsepower? Top speed?
None of the above.
Its true value lies in the total commitment of two uncompromising men to build cars that would be more than simply a means of getting from one place to another. Cars that would be a joy to drive. Cars like no one else had ever built. Or ever would.
This commitment has been passed on successfully—some might say miraculously—to the uncompromising people who build Porsches today.
The workers on the Zuffenhausen assembly line who, in their off-hours, have been known to grab their friends, point at a passing Porsche and say with genuine pride, “That’s one of mine.”
The quality control technicians—one for every production workers—whose goal is to take the ideal of “zero defects” and make it a daily reality.
And, of course, the engineers at our R&D facility at Weissach.
For them, the pursuit of excellence will never fit comfortably between the hours of 8 and 5. Or within the theoretical vacuum of an air-conditioned office.
For them, theories have value only on the inside of a Porsche, at speed, on the Weissach test track—preferably with one of them behind the wheel.
The results of their labors, and the extent of their success, is reflected in the procession of cars you see below.
From the first recorded Porsche win on July 11, 1948 at Innsbruck to the most recent victory at LeMans, these cars have dominated the racing circuits of a world that loves fast cars.
As they have dominated the highways, turnpikes, interstates, autobahns, city streets and winding back roads of a world that loves to drive them.
An amazing set of images shot in 1914 by photographer J.R. Eike of the St. Louis Motordrome board track and publicity shots of some of the racers. These scans are pulled from the original glass plate negatives, which languished for years in the garage of a relative of the photographer and were very nearly discarded before being rescued by collector Tom Kempland.
The photographer’s notes describe the St. Louis boardtrack as a portable Motordrome, but it sure looks like it has some permanence in these shots. I don’t find any record of the track being moved. Usually ‘Motordrome’ refers to a smaller track that was something between the larger boardtracks and the sideshow “walls of death”; although I have seen early reports of mile-long boardtracks referred to as Motordromes as well.
Even without the ‘wall of death’ moniker, this boardtrack had a bit of notoriety amongst racers of the era as well. Boardtracks were known for their steep bankings—some as much as 68°—but unlike the more gently transitioning tracks, St. Louis’s track was referred to as a “pie tin” because of it’s abrupt transition from a gentle 15° banking to the steeper edges.
I can only imagine the terrifying prospect of making that transition up to the wall of the track. Just performing the feat on it’s own seems like a courageous act. Now imagine doing it in the thick of battle with a dozen other racers operating without brakes in a furious clamor to the front of the pack. There was a fine line indeed between motorsport and bloodsport.
The structure itself was remarkable. Just look at the photo of the steep bowl waiting to be surrounded by eager fans. The lamp posts are interesting as well, not only as an obvious hazard to avoid on the infield, but the number of lights make me wonder if the track hosted night racing. I’ve never read of nighttime board track races, but it seems somehow even more perilous. What a thrill!
In the comments of an earlier post on newly-discovered Pebble Beach photos, Bill Greene pointed us to some photos that his uncle captured of the 1951 Pebble Beach Road Races. I love when these types of things come out of hiding; not only because we get to see new imagery of the ’51 Pebble Beach Races, but because each time a new piece of media of these old races surfaces it reminds me of how many bits of vintage racing amazement are still waiting to be discovered.
Thanks for scanning and sharing these, Bill! See the rest of them at Bill’s Flickr Stream.
Great find by Auto Classica of these Mercedes-Benz factory shots. Hard to imagine the 3-Pointed Star facility being this low-tech looking. Great stuff.