Moss and Hamilton on the Parabolica

Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton demonstrate that there’s still a few serviceable stretches of Monza’s legendary Parabolica banking. I would have thought that Hamilton would have been struggling to keep that W196 that high up the banking at these speeds but he seems positively casual about it. Doesn’t Moss look great nestled into the seat of that marvelous 300 SLR W196R Streamliner?

Edit: Thanks for the correction, Gary. I should have known better than to trust the YouTube uploader

Forgotten Gullwing

This isn’t for the squeamish. I’ve long been fascinated by the Cuban people’s ability to keep the cars of the 1950s on the road without a steady influx of parts. The ingenuity and determination of Cuban mechanics and their ability to cobble together bits and pieces or wholly create spares that keep those old Dodges and Chevys rolling through sheer force of will is just artistry. Why then, couldn’t one or two devote that masterful ability to this Gullwing? Instead it looks to have been abandoned and cannibalized over her years hiding under a banana tree. It’s heartbreaking.

This car is also featured in Degler Studio’s 2015 Carros de Cuba calendar. If you can bring yourself to look at this for a whole month, you’re stronger than me.

Abandoned Gullwing Mercedes in Cuba

More photos and information at This European Life.

Fangio’s W196 Brings In $29,650,095.

Fangio's Mercedes-Benz W196

Ladies and Gentlemen, the ex-Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196 is the most valuable motor vehicle ever sold at auction with a final price of $29.6 million.

I have been guilty of complaining about the skyrocketing prices of classic racing cars (after all, I’m still a buyer in this equation). I have complained about speculators buying these cars simply as investments rather than as an expression of their passion for motorsport… but if ever a car deserved the title of “the most”, it might be this one.

More at Bonhams.


Hermann Lang’s Nürburgring

With the future of the Nürburgring in some doubt, I think it’s worth celebrating how much of this master class from Hermann Lang (with voice over from Graham Hill) still applies today. Let’s hope that Mr. Lang’s example is applicable for at least another 50 years. Save the Ring!

Thanks for sending this one in, Bret!

A Nearly Private Grand Prix

Rudolf Caracciola at Coppa Ciano
When I see images like this one of Rudolf Caracciola in his Mercedes-Benz W154 at the 1938 Copa Ciano, I am both energized by it and saddened.

Imagine the cacophony reverberating off the buildings of this narrow alley in Livorno, Italy. Imagine the show that this handful of people are having as they peer out from entryways and lean out of windows along the Montenero Circuit. It’s almost an intimate moment captured between driver and spectator as Rudolf glances up from his racing line and makes eye contact with a racing fan poking his head out of a doorway.

It’s most noticeable in the restrictions on pit access, but these opportunities for racing driver and enthusiast to connect are just as lost during the race as before and after. The farther and farther we push fans from the action—for good reasons, as Daytona recently pointed out—the more isolated the driver is from the fan.

Gorgeous Silver Arrows-era Comic

You don’t have to be able to read French to enjoy Marvano’s Grand Prix series of graphic novels. These images speak for themselves and should probably work their way onto your bookshelf. I’m afraid I suffer from that dreaded affliction of believing that color was invented somewhere around 1959 so seeing the vibrance in these renderings of the French Gran Prix and Tripoli Grand Prix and Brooklands is a wonderful treat.

Marvano’s vibrant and wonderfully realized ligne claire illustrations naturally bring to mind fellow Belgian Hergé and—like Hergé’s Tintin–the characters surrounding the Silver Arrows in the 1930’s take us to marvelously exotic locations and stirring drama. And that’s all without being able to read a word of it. Reviews say, and Marzano appears to have confirmed, that while the people and locations are true, the story is somewhat fictionalized. As the author puts it: “The ingredients are historical but the dishes are fictitious.”

I suspect that this doesn’t diminish the work in the slightest but race historians may cry fowl as they see cars that crashed out early in Avus continuing to circle the track. I will not be among them and quite enjoyed the first volume of the three part series, which is currently available on Amazon (Grand prix, Tome 1 : Renaissance) with a forward by Jackie Ickx.

Here’s an interview with Marvano on the work.

Stefan Marjoram’s Goodwood: Silver Arrows Edition

It’s become a bit of a tradition here to feature some of Stefan Marjoram’s sketches in the days following the Goodwood Revival. I just popped over to his sketch blog to see if he made the rounds this year.

Did he ever.

The volume of amazing racers at Goodwood might prove overwhelming for anyone; particularly for someone trying to take it all in. The temptation to take a few quick snapshots and run to the next GTO or GT40 or insert-amazingly-iconic-racecar-name-here, must be strong indeed. That’s why I so appreciate Stefan’s patience to sit down for 10 or 15 or 30 minutes and focus on a single machine from a single view and pull out a sketchbook.

Click on through for more of Stefan Marjoram’s Silver Arrows studies.

2009 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing Panamericana. Want.

Gullwing Concept“Let’s update a classic model from our past”, is a sentence that, since 1998’s successful redesign and relaunch of the VW beetle, must have been heard in every manufacturer’s boardroom since. In an era of blasé jellybeans on wheels dominating the auto market, I can’t say I blame them. These re-issues come and go with varying levels of success. Sometimes even multiple reissues from the same manufacturer are on opposite ends of this spectrum. New Dodge Challenger? Yes, please. New Dodge Charger? Nuh-uh.

In general, though, I tend to judge the success of digging into the archives for new product based on how much they evoke the original; how true they are to their roots. By that criteria, this design exercise by Arturo Alonso hits the nail on the head. It’s almost TOO close to the original. This is not, however, simply a replica of the classic Gullwing. The plan for this small production run series is to use modern materials and technologies, including a new Benz V8, mated to a very original-looking body—sadly made from fiberglass and not aluminum. The subtle softening of the edges and taming of the corners give the body a more modern look as well, and further suggest that this isn’t just another kit or reproduction.

Like the earlier Viper design project, it is currently only (publicly) a digital rendering. As a design study, it’s fun. More than that, I hope it does come to fruition and inspires more updates of this quality.

keep your eyes on for the official site. It’ not up yet, though.

In the meantime, Carscoop has the, well, scoop.

Two Views of Monaco ’55

Here’s two fantastic visions of the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix. One is a news blurb style recap in color(!), with a focus on Moss and Fangio’s Mercedes team. I quite like the shot of the pack on the far side of the track, weaving through the Monte Carlo streets. It’s a view we don’t often see of the races today with cameras on every corner of the track. Somehow, seeing the cars in the distance like this makes it feel more like you’re there than seeing every straight and turn.

The other, a home movie shot on grainy 8mm. I can tell you which one I like better. Can you believe how close to the track you were able to stand, filming away happily while these shiny rockets screamed past, narrowly avoiding lamp-posts and curbs? The closeness and immediacy of the home movie displayed below really puts you on the sidewalks of Monte Carlo, as if you briefly glanced over at the passing racing cars on your way into Hermés. It is footage like this that keeps Monaco on the calendar today. Even if huge portions of the romance are gone, Monaco is still magic.