Bonhams upcoming December auction featuring the Dick Skipwworth Ecorie Ecosse Collection has no shortage of amazing racing cars included (and one Hell of a nice transporter too), and even though this Cooper-Monaco won’t draw in the top dollar bids the way that the D-Type or C-Type will, it might be my favorite of the bunch. The rear-engined Type 57 is surely one of the most beautiful sports-racing cars to come out of Cooper Car’s garages, if not the whole of the UK racing community. Those elegant curves wrapped around that miraculous little 2 1/2 liter Coventry Climax twin cam just make me smile.
Cooper delivered the cars to purchasers as a kit, and if I were to choose any single example I think I’d be most inclined to trust the one built by this legendary team. It won’t surprise you to learn that this little beauty has a magnificent race history with events on both sides of the Atlantic. Formula Libre events at Watkins, Riverside, and Laguna Seca (with Jack Brabham in the wheel for Laguna) wonderfully complement her European history at Goodwood, Oulton Park, Aintree, and LeMans. Arguably her best years, however, came when the car was entrusted to Ecurie Ecosse driver Jimmy Stewarts scrappy kid brother Jackie. He took to the machine wonderfully and racked up a series of victories right out the gate. Can you imagine owning a car that has been driven by both Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart (and Roy Salvadori! And more!)?
Bonhams is offering this car alongside many of her Ecurie Ecosse stablemates at their December auction. I sincerely hope that a very well heeled buyer comes along and nabs them all. They really do deserve to remain together, don’t you think?
More information on Bonhams’ lot detail page.
It’s not just because it’s beautiful. Which it is. It’s not just because of it’s relationship with Ascari. Which it has. For me, part of its allure is because of what it represents as a nod to a time when racing teams wouldn’t let themselves be pushed around.
When the Formula 1 rulebook got too restrictive, constructors embraced Formula 2 as a means to really showcase their engineering prowess. Every few years, this notion pops up again: that Formula 1 is holding constructors back and so begins the threatening and posturing that the series will be abandoned and that constructors will start their own series. Every single time, part of me hopes that they will. This Ferrari 500 proves that racing teams can do just that… and do it brilliantly.
In 1908 a 14 year old boy arrived for his first morning of his apprenticeship with a Parisian wagon builder. It’s an almost impossible career trajectory in my mind from that first day sweeping up and sharpening files to crafting the luxurious lines of this staggering French Racing Blue beauty. Then again, Giuseppe Figoni may simply have had beautiful machinery in his blood as a crucial part of his DNA that followed him from his native Piacenza, Italian hometown to Paris.
We tend to think of the notion of a “celebrity designer” as a fairly recent phenomenon but Figoni was not unfamiliar with being the center of a rippling design movement. The eliptical teardrop fender and body arced enveloppantes on a Delahaye 135 he presented at the Paris Auto Salon of 1936 caused a minor design explosion. His bodies borrowed from the burgeoning aerodynamic sciences in the airplane industry and gave his machines a slippery silhouette that suggested high speed even when standing still.
If we turn our attention to his Talbot-Lago T150C SS, you can’t help but wonder if it was this particular car of Figoni’s or an amalgamation of the era that helped inform much of the design aesthetic that we so associate with American hot-rodders. The crossover appeal of the 1930s GP cars and voiturettes should be obvious for fans of 1930s Fords—fenders removed or otherwise.
Look at the details of this Figoni’s creation and you’ll recognize many of the design hallmarks of the American hot rod. The close-set headlamps that might well have inspired Clarence ‘Chili’ Catallo to modify his ’32 Ford that famously adorned the Beach Boy’s Little Deuce Coupe album cover. Those motorcycle fenders were fairly common on prewar racing cars and voiturettes but were also popular with American hot rodders trying to skirt fender laws designed to squash hot rods.
And can I get an “amen” on those blue headlamp covers?
There’s no question that cars are cheaper to produce in bulk but part of me yearns for the option to deliver a freshly-built frame and drivetrain to a coachbuilder and craft a truly unique machine. In many ways, these kinds of one-off builds are at an all time high today, and command the attention of not only well-heeled buyers, but television audiences who admire their work. Sadly, I haven’t seen anyone take this common business model for custom motorcycles and extend it to (truly) custom cars.
More on the Figoni & Falaschi Talbot Lago T150C SS Roadster #90115 at coachbuild.com.
There’s no shortage of love for the mid sixties cigar shaped Formula 1 cars. The levels to which we praise Lotus and BRM and Cooper often unnecessarily push Honda’s debut efforts out of our minds, but these are just lovely.