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Barrett-Jackson off to a strong start

Photo copyright Brenda Priddy & Company
Photo copyright Brenda Priddy & Company

Editor’s note: Throughout Arizona Auction Week, we’ll be bringing you daily results as reported to us by Hagerty Insurance, which staffs each of the venues and tracks the sales. These are raw results witnessed by Hagerty and may not include any post-sale transactions. The figures do include the buyer’s premiums.

 Tuesday, January 14


Total through Tuesday: $4.4M

151/151 lots sold: 100% sell-through rate

Average Sale Price: $29,122

Overall Top 10 Sales:

  1. 2013 Ford Mustang Coupe sold for $110,000*
  2. 1969 Ford Talladega Sportsroof Coupe sold for $100,000
  3. 1958 Chevrolet Impala Custom Hardtop sold for $75,000
  4. 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe sold for $75,000*
  5. 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Convertible sold for $70,000
  6. 1967 Chevrolet Nova Custom Sedan sold for $65,000
  7. 1966 Ford Mustang Custom Convertible sold for $64,000
  8. 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Convertible sold for $60,000
  9. 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A Hardtop Coupe sold for $60,000
  10. 1951 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible sold for $58,000

* Sold for charity

2013 Results Through Tuesday

Total: $4.2M

159/159 sold: 100%

Average Sale Price: $26,145

Editor’s note (Part 2): Though Barrett-Jackson sold eight fewer cars on its opening day this year than last year, there was a significant increase — more than 11 percent — in the average sales price.


23rd time’s the charm: Mecum’s MidAmerica bike sale in Las Vegas sets records

Photo by Sam Murtaugh | Courtesy Mecum Auctions
Photo by Sam Murtaugh | Courtesy Mecum Auctions

MidAmerica’s 23rd annual vintage motorcycle auction in Las Vegas not only was its first in the aftermath of the company’s sale to Mecum Auctions, it was the most successful in the event’s history with a three-day total of 441 sales for  $7.475 million.

The sale, held at the South Point Hotel, drew more than 1,100 bidders from 48 states and more than 30 countries, both records for the event. With 537 motorcycles crossing the block, even the sell-through rate was impressive at 82 percent.

Two bikes sold for $200,000 or more.

Photo by Sam Murtaugh | Courtesy Mecum Auctions
Photo by Sam Murtaugh | Courtesy Mecum Auctions

The 1911 Harley-Davidson 7D Twin from the George Pardos Collection went for $260,000 while a 1925 BMW R37 brought $200,000 (see photo above).

Twenty bikes from the Pardos collection were offered and 18 of them sold, five of them among the event’s top 10. In addition to the ’11 Harley, those were a 1936 Harley-Davidson EL “Knucklehead” at $165,000, a 1914 Harley-Davidson 10F Twin at $105,000, a 1928 JDH Twin at $100,000 and a 1915 11F Twin at $91,000.

Other top sales were $125,000 for a 1955 Vincent Black Prince, $97,000 for a 1972 Triumph/BSA TRX 7520, $95,000 for a 1909 Harley-Davidson 5 C single, and $95,000 for a 1938 Brough Superior SS80.

Mecum’s next motorcycle auction is April 13 in Houston.


Pope’s Harley to be auctioned for charity

Photo copyright L'Osservatore Romano | courtesy of Bonhams
Photo copyright L’Osservatore Romano | courtesy of Bonhams

Remember last June when part of the 110th anniversary celebration of Harley-Davidson included hundreds of riders and their bikes visiting the Vatican and the presentation of a 2013 Dyna Super Glide to Pope Francis?

Well, that motorcycle will be sold at auction February 6 by Bonhams to raise money for Caritas Roma, a charity.

Proceeds from the sale, which takes place during Retromobile Week, will be used for the Don Luigi di Liegro hostel and soup kitchen at Rome’s Termini railway station. The hostel was established 30 years ago to aid the homeless, jobless and poor. Today, it serves more than 1,000 people each day.

The motorcycle, with its tank signed by the Pope, will be sold at Bonhams Les Grande Marques du Monde event at the Grand Palais in Paris.


Bonhams’ Vegas motorcycle sale does $3.3 million

Ducati photo courtesy Bonhams
Ducati photo courtesy Bonhams

Bonhams fourth annual Las Vegas motorcycle auction held January 9 posted $3.3-million in sales, a 30-percent increase compared to the 2013 event.

A 1978 Ducati NCR offered from the Silverman Museum collection in “untouched” condition sold for $175,500 and is believed to be a record price paid for the Bologna model.

A 1940 Harley-Davidson EL from the Pierce family museum collection reportedly drew “intense” bidding from the room, online and via telephone and set a record of $159,000.

A 1973 Ducati 750 Super Sport “Green Frame” from the Silverman collection brought $137,000, also a record.

The 1923 Indian Big Chief with Princess sidecar, a pair previously owned by Steve McQueen and restored for the actor by the famed Von Dutch, also set a record selling for $126,000. The same buyer also bought the former McQueen 1935 Indian Chief for $80,500.

A race-ready BMW Rennsport RS54 also went for $126,000.

“If that is representative of the market, then the market is strengthened quite considerably,” said Nick Smith, Bonhams’ motorcycles specialist.

However, he added, “up to that morning at 9:30 a.m., I’d have said the market was struggling.”

Smith explained that the vintage motorcycle market had not been following the strong upward price surge being experienced in the classic car market.

But after the strong showing in Las Vegas, he sees good momentum in the bike market as well, especially for the “good stuff.”

Another good sign, he said, was that the auction experienced “minimal” no sales (bikes that did not reach their reserve prices).

“As the international auction house of repute holding sales of collectors’ motorcycles seven months of the year, we know the market intimately and we’re very pleased to be at the forefront of this very exciting industry,” Bonhams CEO and auctioneer Malcolm Barber was quoted in a news release.

Bonhams next big motorcycle sale is the Stafford sale in England in April, where the lots include a barn-find 1939 Brough Superior SS100 that has been in single-family ownership since 1961.



Auction houses already looking beyond Arizona, Kissimmee

Lamborghini Countach 'Koenig' sculpture by Benedict Radcliffe to be sold at RM's Paris auction.
Lamborghini Countach ‘Koenig’ sculpture by Benedict Radcliffe to be sold at RM’s Paris auction.

The bidding hasn’t even begun in Arizona or Kissimmee, but the auction houses already are touting their upcoming classic car sales.

For example:

  • “Excitement builds as RM prepares for magnificent 2014 Paris sale during Retromobile week,” a new release proclaims;
  • “Esteemed Pray Collection to headline RM’s 16th annual Amelia Island sale,” another release reports;
  • “Rare 1963 Shelby 2789 Cobra leads exciting line up at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale Sale,” says yet another;
  • “Bonhams to auction very rare ex-works team Ferrari 375-plus sports racing car.”
Photo courtesy of Bonhams
Photo courtesy of Bonhams

Note that Bonhams sale doesn’t take place until late June, in conjunction with the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, where Bonhams will offer up the car that Umberto Maglioli drove in the 1954 Mille Miglia, that Froilan Gonzalez drove to victory that year at Silverstone and that Maglioli and Paolo Marzotto raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The car has become available in part because Bonhams helped to settle a dispute between two families which had been embroiled in a long-running dispute over who actually owned the car. The buyer gets both the restored car and its original bodywork from the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix

That RM sale Feb. 5 in Paris during Retromobile week (Europe’s big mid-winter classic car gathering) also will feature a famed Ferrari racer that comes with its original bodywork. The 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider at the RM auction is the car that was driven to victories by Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby after Piero Taruffi and Harry Schell took it to a fifth-place overall finish at Sebring.

The car later went through several owners — one even installing a Chevy V8 engine — and the car sat outside a barn in Azie, Texas, for 30 years until being “discovered” in 1994. The car was sold to a collector in Australia who launched a full restoration that included new bodywork to replace what remained of the original sheetmetal. A correct engine also was part of the restoration.

The sale in Paris will include not only the restored car but the original weathered bodywork and all the Le Mans/Hill/Shelby provenance (see photo).

Photo courtesy RM Auctions
Photo courtesy RM Auctions

The Ferrari is part of the collection of Australian Peter Harburg being sold at Paris by RM. Hartung’s cars include a 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder, a 1950 Aston Martin DB2 that race in the inaugural endurance race at Sebring, a 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, a 1982 Porsche 956 Group C sports prototype, a 1955 Jaguar D-type, and a Sbarro-bodied 1969 Lola T70 Mk. IIIb.

Speaking of collectors, 17 cars from the estate of Malcolm S. Pray Jr. , at one time the largest Porsche and Saab dealer in the United States, will be offered at RM’s Amelia Island auction March 8, including a 1937 Delahaye 135 Compeetition Court roadster with Figoni et Falaschi bodywork.

The following week, March 14-16, Auctions America opens its 2014 ground-based auction season at Fort Lauderdale with some 450 vehicles, among them a 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra.

However, Auctions America actually launches its 2014 calendar January 24-25 with an on-line only automobilia sale featuring some 400 from the Wally Arnold Collection and another 400 from another private collection.

ClassicCars.com Acquires Key Competitor, Continues Major Expansion in 2014

Phoenix, Arizona, Jan. 13, 2014 — ClassicCars.com, the world’s largest online marketplace devoted to classic and collector cars, today announced the acquisition of similarly named competitor ClassicCar.com and associated websites serving Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland. The acquisition is part of ClassicCars.com’s aggressive growth strategy to expand its customer base and content offerings while strengthening its leadership position in online classic car sales.

Word of the acquisition comes on the heels of the company’s announcement of its new high-profile blog, among other strategic moves.

“Our U.S. growth has been tremendous at 129% year over year, and this acquisition puts us in an even better position to grow an already substantial international presence,” said Roger Falcione, President and CEO of ClassicCars.com.  “2014 is a breakout year for ClassicCars.com, and we see the ClassicCar family of properties as an important strategic asset.”

ClassicCars.com attracts more than 1.6 million visitors each month (1.2 million uniques) and encompasses a catalog of more than 30,000 classic and collector cars for sale with an aggregate value well in excess of $1 billion. Alexa Internet, Inc. an Amazon subsidiary that ranks websites based on traffic and engagement, ranks ClassicCars.com higher than any other classic car website, including Hemmings and AutoTrader Classics.

Management and operations of the acquired websites will be based out of ClassicCars.com corporate offices in Phoenix, Arizona.


About ClassicCars.com

Phoenix-based ClassicCars.com is the world’s most comprehensive online resource for buyers and sellers of classic and collector vehicles. ClassicCars.com receives in excess of 1.6 million visitors per month and its catalog features more than $1 billion worth of classic cars, muscle cars, antique cars and specialty cars for sale by dealerships, auction houses, and private sellers. ClassicCars.com is focused on expanding and supporting the collector car marketplace for casual enthusiasts and serious collectors alike, while delivering significant value to companies who provide products and services to this market.  For additional information, visit http://classiccars.com.


For more information:

Call: (480) 285-1600

Email: press@classiccars.com

From alley cat to best in show: Nichols’ Hispano-Suiza wins at inaugural Arizona concours

Photos by Larry Edsall

A car found in deteriorating condition in an alley in Sarasota, Fla., has driven away with best of show honors at the inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance. The car, a 1925 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet de Viille, spent 40 years in Donald Nichols garage before, as he put it, he became brave enough to undertake its restoration.

That work consumed nine years, but resulted in honors it claimed Sunday at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix. The new concours featured 78 cars on the various lawns within the resort complex. More than 2000 people came to see the cars, to enjoy the mid-winter sun and to make contributions to Make-A-Wish Arizona.

The car judged to be the best of those cars originally was purchased by Andrew Mellon, the industrialist from Pittsburgh who served as Secretary of the U.S. Treasury from 1921-31.

Eventually, the car was given to Mellon’s chauffeur as a retirement present. When not driving the car, the chauffeur kept it in a garage in Florida. However, after the chauffeur’s death, the car was pushed into an alley and left to the elements.

Nichols, of Lompoc, Calif., saw the car, its Kellner-bodied coachwork no longer in anything close to elegant condition, and bought it. Knowing the restoration would be a daunting challenge, he waited decades to launch the work.

Finally, he was determined to restore the car to its original condition, a project he finished two years ago

Sunday, the car was judged the best in the Full Classic European class, and then was picked by the judges as the best among the winners in the 14 categories at the concours.

Hispano-Suiza was a Spanish car company that also built cars in Paris from 1911-1938, though the key to its success of its vehicles was Swiss-born engineer Marc Birkigt, who joined the company in 1904 and became majority owner of the French division in 1923.

The Mellon car was built in Paris, and was among the first automobiles with four-wheel power brakes, a system so good its use was licensed by Rolls-Royce for its cars.

The car’s six-cylinder engine was based on aircraft engines Hispano-Suiza developed for use in World War I and featured an aluminum block with two spark plugs per cylinder as well as dual batteries.

The car’s body was produced by Kellner, a French company that started building carriages in 1861 and produced its first automobile coachwork in 1903. The company built the famed SPAD fighter aircraft during World War I, then returned to producing fine coachwork, specializing in Hispano-Suiza chassis but also doing luxury bodies for wealthy customers buying Renault and Bugatti cars. Kellner production ended in 1938 (later, Jaques Kellner was arrested and executed by the occupying Nazis).

The other class winners at the inaugural Arizona concours:

  • Antique — 1907 Panhard et Lavassor T-3 (John Konwiser, Scottsdale AZ)
  • Full classic American open — 1934 Buick convertible coupe (Lee Gurvey, Scottsdale AZ)
  • Full classic American closed — 1934 Packard 1104 2/4 coupe (Sharon Briskman)
  • Pre-war Rolls-Royce and Bentley — 1936 Rolls-Royce Sedanca de Ville (Jeffrey McKee, Phoenix)
  • Maseratti centennial — 1937 Maserati 6 CM Grand Prix racer (Bill and Linda Pope, Paradise Valley AZ),
  • Pre-war European sports and racing — 1938 Jaguar SS 100 3.5-liter (Philippe Reyns, Chandler AZ),
  • Avant garde — 1938 Steyr 220 roadster (Peter Boyle, Oil City PA),
  • Post-war racing cars — 1951 Schroeder/Stevens Indianapolis racer (Gary Schroeder, Burbank CA)
  • Iconic post-war American — 1952 Hudson Hornet (Jon Anderson, Murray UT),
  • Post-war Mercedes-Benz — 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster (Grand and Judy Beck, Scottsdale AZ),
  • Post-war European sports cars —  1964 Ferrari Lusso (Tony Shooshani, Beverly Hills CA),
  • Exotic — 1971 Ferrari 246 GT Dino (Pietro Dileonardo, Glendale AZ),
  • Post-war preservation — 1987 Ferrari 330 GTC (Todd Reeg, Scottsdale AZ).

Special awards

  • Wish Kids (presented by Make-A-Wish youth judges) — 1939 Bugatti T57C Galibier (Bill and Linda Pope, Paradise Valley AZ)
  • Most elegant pre-war — 1938 Steyr 220 roadster (Peter Boyle, Oil City PA)
  • Most elegant post-war — 1955 Maserati A6G Frua Spyder (Thomas Mittler Estate, Mishawaka IN)
  • Honorary judges awards — 1930 Packard 745 convertible Victoria (Steve Snyder, Orange CA) and 1928 Bentley 4.5-liter Le Mans (Bennett Dorrance, Scottsdale AZ)
  • Director’s choice — 1907 Renault A1 35-45 (Alan Travis, Phoenix)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Talieson West Distinguished Design — 1936 Delahaye 135 competition cabriolet (Ken and Ann Smith, La Jolla CA)
  • Historic Vehicle Association — 1924 Hispno-Suiza dual cowl sport phaeton (William Ingler, Scottsdale AZ)


Future classics: The Hagerty Hot List

Photo courtesy Jaguar
Photo courtesy Jaguar

Editor’s note: We’re taking a break from our usual “Future classics” format to share the annual “Hagerty Hot List,” the classic car insurer’s yearly list of new cars it thinks will become collectible within the next 25 years.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – With so much attention focused on the record-breaking classic car sales and their rapidly increasing values, many enthusiasts often wonder which cars of today will be collectible down the road. Always keeping an eye on the market, the collector car experts at Hagerty release their annual list of vehicles that stand out as likely being collectibles within the next 25 years.

In order to be considered for the Hagerty Hot List, the vehicle must be produced within the 2014 model year with an MSRP of less than $100,000. Special consideration is given to newly launched versions not appearing on previous Hagerty Hot Lists.

“Most new car news focuses on the latest interactive technology, alternative power sources, and the race to increased efficiency,” said McKeel Hagerty, president and CEO of Hagerty. “But for a car to be collectible in the future, it has to be cool right off the assembly line. A collectible car has to grab you and not let you go.”

The 2014 Hagerty Hot List (with base prices)

  1.  Jaguar F-Type R ($99,000) – The British marque makes a triumphant return to the sports car scene with the growling F-Type. Boasting a healthy V8 engine and rear drive platform, the F-Type will surely be a driving enthusiast choice soon enough.
  2. BMW M5 Sedan ($92,900) – A performance-oriented sedan with an old school manual transmission is quickly becoming an extinct species. While more drivers shun the thought of using three pedals, we applaud BMW for keeping this option alive in this segment.

    Photo courtesy Chevrolet
    Photo courtesy Chevrolet
  3. Chevrolet COPO Camaro ($90,000) – Chevrolet basically guarantees future collectability of the drag-strip ready COPO Camaro by limiting production to 69 units. It is only appropriate that the first production model will be sold at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona.
  4. Maserati Ghibli S ($75,000) – The Ghibli returns for a third time, and this time as a four door. The twin turbochargers feeding the 410 horsepower 3.0 liter V6 ensures the Ghibli is more than just pretty curves.
  5. Alfa Romeo 4C ($54,000) – A budget-friendly Italian sports car might sound like an oxymoron, but the 4C is saying all the right words. With a carbon fiber tub leading to a curb weight of just more than 2,100 pounds, this sporty two-seater isn’t pulling any punches as it aims at the U.S. market.
  6. Chevrolet Corvette ($51,000) – The Corvette is the most popularly collected vehicle in the U.S. so GM had no choice but to make the new C7 great. It is a nice mix of Corvette heritage with real world performance figures and technology goodies. Dollar for dollar this is the best performance buy on the market.
  7. Nissan 370Z NISMO ($43,000) – The Nissan Z car has amassed a following and the 370Z NISMO is the latest and greatest in this lineage. With Japanese cars now representing a standalone class of collectables in a way that we have not seen in the past, 350 and 370Zs will not be ignored by collectors in years to come.
  8. Dodge Challenger Shaker ($36,995) – While the styling of the new Challenger has always harkened to the glory days of muscle cars, nothing says horsepower wars like a bulging hood scoop. Dodge went back to the roots and added the iconic shaker hood to atop of a healthy HEMI engine and R/T options package. We will take ours in Plum Crazy Pearl.
  9.  Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X ($35,095) – Vintage SUV’s are the fastest-growing segment and Jeep leads that pack. While more comfortable than its bare bones workhorse ancestor, the Rubicon X is highly capable for not a lot of money. Many of these now compete at events, which means they will one day command respect at vintage off-road demonstrations.
  10. Ford Fiesta ST ($21,400) – Following the enthusiasm surrounding the Focus ST, the little brother Fiesta ST has been pumping the same iron. Youthful buyers attracted to compact cars don’t always want to sacrifice performance. The Fiesta looks, sounds and acts the part of a modern day enthusiast’s car.

Editor’s note, part 2: So, do you agree with the Hagerty Hot List? Let us know what you’d add or subtract in the Share your thoughts! section below.

Cars auctioned for charities set Barrett-Jackson apart

Photo courtesy Barrett-Jackson
Photo courtesy Barrett-Jackson

We tease that Barrett-Jackson’s annual Scottsdale auction is the circus among classic car sales. There are vendors hawking all sorts of products that would seem to have nothing to do with classic cars. There are tire-squealing joyrides not in classic cars but in the newest of high-performance vehicles.

And while there may not be a big-cat animal trainer, this year there will be cowboys riding bucking bulls and, if you like your animals a little more contented, there’s a merry-go-round — oops, we mean a classic 1922 Spillman Engineering Corp 40 Menagerie Carousel — that will go up for bidding.

Yes, it’s easy to tease about Barrett-Jackson being like Barnum & Bailey, but let’s get serious for a moment. Being the big show isn’t the only thing that sets Barrett-Jackson apart from the other classic car auctions.

Too often overlooked amid the big crowds, big celebrities, big sales and the TV showmanship is the money Barrett-Jackson raises for charities.

As Barrett-Jackson’s 43rd annual Scottsdale auction begins, the company reports that it has generated more than $60 million for charitable causes.

Tonight at the auction’s opening gala, two celebrities hope to boost that total. Actor Billy Baldwin will offer a 2015 Super Bowl package to benefit the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund and drag racing star Warren Johnson will sell his 1987 Oldsmobile Firenza pro stock race car to benefit the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.

Darrell Gwynn’s Foundation has become a favorite with Barrett-Jackson and its community of bidders. Gwynn was a drag racer who was severely injured in a crash. Since then, he has had to use a wheelchair and his charity raises money to provide high-tech, customized wheelchairs to children who need them. Such chairs can cost as much as $40,000 and the foundation donates as many as 50 of them each year.

And those are just for starters. For example, Friday eventing, rocker Gene Simmons will be on hand to sell a 1956 Ford F-100 pickup truck customized by Carroll Shelby to raise money for The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan Foundation.

During the week-long auction, vehicles including an airplane will be sold for the benefit of charities, including The Armed Forces Foundation.

“The team here at Barrett-Jackson gets a special lift out of the impact our auctions have on charities across the country and how we have been able to help so many causes from children to veterans to life-threatening conditions,” Barrett-Jackson president Steve Davis said in a statement. “It makes each auction special.”

“It’s one of the most fulfilling aspects of the word we do,” said Craig Jackson, company CEO and chairman whose parents and the Barrett family staged their first classic car shows to benefit local charities. Those early Barrett and Jackson events were the Fiesta de los Autos Elegantes, annual classic car shows and parades held in the 1960s to raise money for Scottsdale’s art center and to buy books for the community library.

Not only does Barrett-Jackson waive its usual commissions on charity cars, it is not unusual for bidders to spend well into six figures on a charity car, and then turn around and put it up for bidding again, just to generate even more money for a worthy cause.

Photo courtesy Bugatti
Photo courtesy Bugatti

And it’s not always a car that is the reward for the winning bid. For example, at the auction this year, Barrett-Jackson and Bugatti will accept bids to benefit Make-A-Wish Arizona. The winning bid doesn’t get a car, but two people will get the ultimate Bugatti test drive, flying to France, visiting the birthplace of Bugatti cars, seeing the factory where the Bugatti Vitesse is built and getting to drive a Vitesse at the Paul Ricard Grand Prix racing circuit at Le Castellet.

Previously, this Bugatti test drive experience in France has been available only to Bugatti owners.


50 years later, the band that won Le Mans is back together again

Photos by Larry Edsall
Photos by Larry Edsall

Before taking his seat for the panel discussion, Bob Bondurant was posing for photos with the dark blue Shelby Daytona Coupe he and Dan Gurney drove to victory 50 years ago at Le Mans. Parked next to the blue coupe was the Ferrari GTO that finished second in that race.

At one point, Bondurant moved over to stand behind the bright red racer. He turned to his wife, Pat, and asked her to have someone take his picture.

Why, she wondered?

Because, he said with that characteristic twinkle in his eyes, this was the first time he’d ever been behind that Ferrari.

Bondurant and three of his Shelby American teammates  — car designer Peter Brock, mechanic Jason Stucki and engine builder Jack Hoare — were on hand Saturday at the Arizona Biltmore resort to talk about their remarkable achievement 50 years ago when they ended Ferrari’s long reign in the GT class in the round-the-clock race in France.

Though not present in the room, Gurney, who continues to recuperate after a motorcycle mishap, took part via a video presentation. Though in their late 70s and even into their 80s, these guys remain racers who really aren’t ready to slow down very much.

Fifty years ago, they were young men on a young racing team.

“We had no hindsight,” Gurney said. “We were doing things that had never been done, and in a car that was an unproven concept. There was a lot of uncertainty, but we were a team of Americans all full of enthusiasm.”

Actually, Stucki was from Switzerland and Hoare was British, but they were key members of a small band — four drivers, four mechanics, a car owner and a team manager — that traveled to Europe and dared challenge mighty Ferrari, which had won the GT class at Le Mans all five years it had been contested.

In 1963, Shelby had taken his Ford-powered Cobra roadsters to Le Mans, where they wore makeshift hardtops, an unsuccessful attempt at enhancing the aerodynamics of a car created for tight, twisting roads. Indeed, the Cobras were faster than the Ferraris in the turns, but they could manage only 150 miles per hour on the long Mulsanne Straight, where the Ferraris were hitting 180.

Back home that same season, Shelby’s Cobras won the national sports car racing championship. Afterward, his team encouraged him to mount an Indianapolis 500 effort for 1964.

But Shelby, who had been shunned during his own driving career by Enzo Ferrari, wanted to, was driven to beat Ferrari, so he offered up a corner of his team’s race stop where the first new coupe was built by Brock, a former General Motors designer, John Ohlsen, a mechanic from New Zealand, and Miles, other than Shelby and Brock the only native American on the team who was at all enthused about the project.

Most of the team thought the car with its chopped, Kamm-style tail, was ugly. Gurney said he doubted the car would be competitive, especially since it weighed 300 pounds more than the roadster.

But Gurney admitted he was wrong, very wrong.

The car made its first test run on February 1, 1964.

“The car was so fast we didn’t even finish the test,” Brock shared. Instead, Miles called back to the shop and told Shelby to order new tires because the ones on the car didn’t have enough grip to deal with the speeds the car was achieving.

The team took the car to Daytona, where Dave MacDonald set a track record in qualifying (causing Shelby to dub the car the Daytona Coupe).

Next up was Sebring, where the car won its class, finished fourth overall and was four laps ahead of team’s best Cobra roadster, accomplishments that convinced the Ford Motor Co. to underwrite a good share of the Shelby team’s trip to Europe.

In Europe, Shelby American raced Cobra roadsters in hill climbs and other events while setting up shop in Ferrari’s hometown, where the coupe bodies for the Le Mans cars were built from aluminum panels hand-hammered over a tree stump and then welded together by a group of Italian teenagers.

As if beating Ferrari’s newest GTOs wasn’t enough, it looked very late in the race as if Bondurant and Gurney might finish first overall. But then a rock punctured the radiator for the oil cooler, forcing a long pit stop and forcing Stucki, Hoare and crew chief Phil Remington to fashion a bypass device so the car could get back on the track.

Ultimately, they finished fourth overall, but more importantly, first among all GT cars, and 13 miles ahead of that No. 24 Ferrari.

The Le Mans team reunion and panel presentation were part of 10th annual Childhelp Drive the Dream gala held at the start of classic car auction week in Arizona. Childhelp is celebrating its 55th anniversary. It was started by two young actresses — Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson — who played the girlfriends of David and Ricky Nelson on the Ozzie and Harriet television series in the 1950s. On a good will tour to Japan, they saw the plight of orphans whose fathers had been American servicemen. They started raising money for orphanages, schools and hospitals, and later did the same thing in Vietnam. In 1966, Nancy Reagan, the wife of California’s governor and the future First Lady of the United States, asked them to work with abused children in the U.S.  and elsewhere.