Was this Mercedes War Booty?

In late March, Frans van Haren and Tony Paalman, Dutch car collectors and business partners, put their 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster on display at the Techno Classica car show in Essen, Germany.

The two men had bought the car, Lot 147, for $3,767,500, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions’ 2011 sale in Monterey, CA.

Life was good — until the German police, executing a warrant issued by a local court, seized the 500K on the basis that it had Read More

From Car Show to Concours

In the course of a year, I attend at least 30 car shows, ranging from the Beaches Cruisin at Portland International Raceway to maximus supremo, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Despite wildly varying locations, audiences and car offerings, I have come to recognize that the shows have more in common than they have differences.

As fascinating to me as the cars on display is the back end of the shows. Deciding on classes, inviting cars, recruiting and training judges, Read More

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder

The 250 changed Ferrari’s destiny. Centered on the famous 3-liter, V12 engine, two Ferrari families were born: one destined exclusively for the track and the other for the road.

The racing line gave birth to such legendary cars as the Testa Rossa, Tour de France Berlinetta, 250 GTO and the 250 LM.

Meanwhile, stars, tycoons and amateur enthusiasts fought over the road-going line’s splendid coupes and cabriolets.

A constant characteristic of Maranello was the strong link between these two groups. Read More

1949 Snowberger-Offy Indianapolis ‘500’ Roadster

Among the many builders of Indianapolis 500 cars, the names Frank Kurtis, A.J. Watson and Quinn Epperly stand out, primarily for their work during the glorious era of the 1950s through the mid-1960s. Over the years, however, many other talented and resourceful builders turned their hands to the craft. One of these was Russell Snowberger. His heyday came during the so-called “Junk Formula” years, when Indy rules were skewed toward production engines.

Louis Read More

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B

When presented at the Paris Salon in 1936, the Mercedes-Benz 540K was the culmination of two models that served as test beds: the 380 and the 500K.

The 380, introduced in 1933, was the work of Hans Nibel, the legendary Mercedes engineer who had developed some formidable competition machines. Thus, the new Mercedes featured a particularly sophisticated suspension for its time: all independent, with double wishbones at the front and swing axles at the rear — Read More

1965 Citroën 2CV Sedan

How many people do you know who bought a new 2CV in 1965, tucked it away and left it untouched? Probably not even one. Its perfectly preserved condition is what makes this car totally exceptional.

As stated on the original invoice, it was bought new from the Citroën showroom in Beverly Hills, CA, by Bill Harrah. An enthusiast of classic cars, Harrah was one of a very exclusive group of collectors to have owned a Bugatti Read More

1929 Bentley 6½/8 Litre Tourer

This 6½ Litre Le Mans-style tourer offered here was constructed from parts by well-known Bentley collector/racer and VSCC competitor David Llewellyn. The car was upgraded with the engine block from an 8 Litre model.

The car started life fitted with Weymann-type saloon coachwork by H J Mulliner and was first owned by RHR Palmer, of Messrs Huntley & Palmer, the Reading-based biscuit manufacturer.

It was first registered in the U.K. on June 30, 1929, Read More

Aston Martin’s Third Savior

Aston Martin and its various ownership incarnations have perfected the art of going under — think massive avalanche — and then being saved for another life of making cars.

Anyone familiar with the history of this much-admired, cherished and revered company realizes that Lazarus has nothing on these car builders from the United Kingdom.

The Big Three saviors that I will reference during the “walking on that razor for survival” chapters Read More