Ebay Spotting: Mille Miglia Ephemera

Mille Miglia Ephemera

I’d love to say I just stumbled upon this stuff, but the truth is I’m typing “Mille Miglia” or “Targa Florio” into eBay’s search fields more often than I’d like to admit. In that moment between hitting “search” and the results load, I say a silent wish that someone out there is just cleaning out grandpa’s attic and has some marvelous little trinket from one of the classic races. Ideally they don’t know what they have. This person, however, does know that he has something special—hence the $5,200 price tag. Still worth it if you ask me. The Press grille badges alone could be the centerpiece of a collection. More information at the eBay Lot Detail Page.

Climbing Up the Piantonia Steps

eBay Watching: Mille Miglia Stage Winner’s Trophy

Mille Miglia Trofeo Franco Mazzotti

It’s always fascinating to dig through eBay (the world’s attic). The seller of this Mille Miglia Trofeo Franco Mazzotti doesn’t specify the year, the winner, or much else about this piece of Mille history, but it sure does make this red arrow fan’s pulse climb a bit. The Brescian silversmith’s marks at least lend it a bit of tantalizing authenticity.

More details (well, not really) on the auction listing page.

Wes Anderson’s Tribute to the Mille Miglia

This short film that Wes Anderson made for Prada whimsically evokes the Mille Miglia with the charming beauty the director is known for. The glimpses of the racing cars putting through Castello Cavalcanti are painfully short, but I’ll use any excuse to post a Wes Anderson piece.

Now I just hope that Prada actually makes that racing suit.

More at Variety. Yes, I’m linking to Variety.

Reader Photos: Gary Mason’s 1958 Mille Miglia

Fiat at the Mille Miglia, 1958

A few weeks ago I received my favorite kind of email. Gary wrote in saying these simply beautiful words: “I have found many photos I took from 1957 to around 1962. I am thinking about sending them to you.”

Gary, this is exactly the kind of thing that keeps me inspired to keep this site going. I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when a box of slides and photo prints arrived with races ranging from The Race of Two Worlds to the Mille Miglia to Stateside SCCA races. I had planned to wait until everything was scanned and catalogued to start posting them but I’m sure you’ll understand why I can’t wait for all that. This is just the first of many series of Gary’s photos. I can’t wait for you to see them.

I’m sure there are a few of you that are already puzzled by the title of this post—’58 Mille Miglia? What ’58 Mille Miglia? Sure, the dangers associated with high speed racing up and down the boot were already showing signs of disaster before Alfonso de Portago’s dramatic careening off a stretch of road between Cerlongo and Guidizzolo that killed him and his co-driver Edmund Nelson along with nine spectators. As a result, there would be no proper Mille after 1957. But race organizers (and Brescian businessmen, no doubt) cherished the event and the crowds it drew so as soon as 1958 the Mille was re-imagined as a regularity rally with occasional hillclimbs and speed events along the way. A then-teenaged Gary Mason was perched alongside the route, 35mm Kodak Retina in hand.

Thanks again, Gary. These are fantastic! As always, if this is reminding any of you of a box of forgotten photos in the closet, drop me a line.


Ebay Find: 1957 Mille Miglia Trophy

1957 Mille Miglia Trophy

You never know what you’ll run across when you start digging in eBay’s basement. This trophy from the 1957 running of the Mille Miglia was presented to Georg Bialas for his co-drive with Harald von Saucken to a third place finish in the under 1500cc class. Bialas and von Saucken were scheduled to compete in a 356A but must have been pleased to instead run the event with a 550RS Spyder; examples of which took the top three spots in the under 1500cc class.

The eBay listing page shows a “Buy it Now” price of $11,000. I don’t know enough about silversmithing to understand whether the repairs made to the trophy are well done or if simply doing the repairs at all hurt its value as a collectible. What I do know is that it looks stunningly beautiful and would be an arresting addition to any garage. My hope, however, is that whoever owns the particular Porsche 550 driven by Bialas and von Saucken ends up with it.

They really should be together, don’t you think?

1957 Mille Miglia Trophy1957 Mille Miglia Trophy1957 Mille Miglia Trophy

Perle di Fangio

Available in London: Maserati A6GCS Monofaro

Beautiful. Elegant. Purposeful. I’ve caught myself fantasizing about this particular variation on the Maser A6GCS since it got so much camera time in the BBC2 program, The Real Italian Job: James Martin’s Mille Miglia. While the program is a fairly poor trip through the contemporary Mille Miglia Rally, and the chef’s Maser gave out far too early to really see the beautiful sights of the Mille, there is a shining highpoint that made the program well worth watching: the absolutely captivating A6GCS. Although the dealer doesn’t mention it, this car appears to be the very example featured in the program—notice the Mille Miglia rally number featured on the car here, James Martin’s car bore the same number.

Maserati created a variety of different sportscars under the A6 model designation, from rather luxurious coupes to open-top enclosed-fender sportscars. This stripped-down, (mostly) open wheel variant though is, for me, the title holder. She’s absolutely marvelous, looking something like a machine that somehow successfully combines the Formula Car, Sportscar, and Hot Rod. There’s nothing here that doesn’t need to be, there are no dramatic design flourishes—it is the very essence of form following function.

This example, chassis #2006, is currently among the stock of London dealer Cars International Kensington. One of only 3 of this variant made, she was supplied new to Baron Nicola Musmeci in May, 1948. The Baron wasted no time preparing the car for the Targa Florio the following March, where it placed 4th. He repeated the trip around Sicily the following year, bringing this little machine home in 5th place. The car also raced as a Formula 2 car with the passenger seat blocked out and the road equipment stripped out, and even entered the Mille Miglia in 1951.

Musmeci apparently didn’t tire from the car after the string of successes because the car didn’t change hands until 1972. Sadly the next owner largely mothballed it after a body restoration, and we haven’t seen it on the track until Cars International, after acquiring the car (presumably for Martin) in 2007, entered her in the 2008 Mille Miglia. It has since been restored again, this time with a complete engine rebuild as well. Count ’em. That’s 3 owners since 1948. The James Martin program went into some detail about James buying this car, but was Cars International the “owner”? When Cars International says they “acquired” the car, they did so on Martin’s behalf? This is all assuming I’m right and that this is indeed the James Martin car, which seems more than likely.

I’ve been obsessing about this car for quite some time now, even pouring over this Gilco chassis construction diagram. Why should I let my non-existant welding skills get in the way of building my dream? After all, I’m going to assume it’s HIGHLY unlikely that one of these will come available in my price range any time soon.

More photos and information on the dealer’s info page.

Factories at Work: Preparing for the 1953 Mille Miglia

We’ve had quite a bit of focus lately on the factories and workshops that turned out our dream machines. Winter has hit the upper Midwest and the garage must be calling.

These scenes were photographed in preparation for the 1953 Mille Miglia and the wrenches were spinning furiously amongst the Italian makers. The home race is always reason enough to turn up the heat a bit.

OSCA Workshop - 1953

OSCA Factory - 1953

Maserati Factory - 1953

And of course, the rather more commanding Ferrari floor.
Ferrari Factory - 1953

Here’s Mike Hawthorn checking in on the 250MM Spyder he’d be piloting for the race. He DNFed that year, but his car is still looking amazing 56 years later. The race would be won by the 250’s larger brother, Giannino Marzotto’s 340MM Spyder.
Mike Hawthorn's Ferrari 250MM SpyderMike Hawthorn's Ferrari 250MM Spyder Today