We've spent the last five days behind the wheel of an Oldsmobile mini-van, chasing vintage cars. As the host of a television show Martin Swig is producing about the California Mille for Speedvision, my task was to cheerily interview participants first thing in the morning, then criss-cross the route looking for good taping locations, and hope to find the occasional broken down contestant for a quick conversation ("How does it feel to know that you've run out of gas?").
We watched the entrants drive through sun, rain, snow, hail and finally sun again as they completed their 1,000 mile circuit of Northern California. And as we waited, taped, waited, interviewed, and waited some more for that perfect sentence or camera angle, we had the opportunity to think about these forty-and-more year-old cars, what they meant when new, and what they now represent.
Each of them, from the ivory 300SL roadster of Sam and Emily Mann, to the dark blue Lotus Elite of Ira Zalesin and Geoffrey Finlay, to the Aston Martin DB4GT of Terry Hefty and Dean Meiling, when built represented an individual designer's highest and best effort to design a definitive sporting car within certain weight, engine capacity and cost parameters. None resulted from "design-by-committee" focus groups, and it is unlikely that any potential customers were asked if they preferred the DB4GT "with or without front bumpers."
Each time we read a new-car manufacturer's press releases, in which they proclaim that "their studies show that eight out of ten people want power outlets in the center of the steering wheel," we're not sure whether to be angry, frustrated, frightened, disgusted or all of the preceding. Even at the most elemental level, an automobile can be a mobile act of passion which represents a vision about transport that goes far beyond utilitarianism.
I, for one, am immediately suspect of any product that I am told has "high approval ratings in test groups," and would much prefer to encounter the idiosyncratic, rough-edged concept of a brilliant, perhaps even slightly unhinged designer than drown in the pabulum of a car dumbed down for what the marketers have decided are the lowest-common-denominator masses.


We'd like to thank the auction houses that are helping SCM grow. With the cooperation of Brooks, Coys and Barrett-Jackson, more than 50,000 SCM brochures have recently gone out. And Christie's, Mecum, Silver, Kruse and others have continued to make copies of SCM available to their bidders. The continuing stream of new subscribers we're getting, from all over the world, is an indication that as the market heats up, careful buyers are determined to learn as much as possible about the market before jumping in.
To the many new overseas subscribers who have recently joined the SCM fold, we'd like to extend a special welcome. Their experiences with the market bring a new body of knowledge to SCM, and we hope that we offer a useful perspective towards their understanding of the American market in exchange.
As you are reading this, Ms. Banzer and I will be enjoying the spring foliage of Rich and Jean Taylor's New England 1000 vintage, piloting a 280 SE Cabriolet provided by Mercedes-Benz. It's an event we've always had an interest in, and the timing this year allows us to attend graduation of our oldest son, McKean, from Syracuse University before heading to the starting point at Lake George.
After the Brooks' auction at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Stuttgart that we cover in this issue, Ms. Banzer and daughter Alexandra snuck off to Reims for a few days, reconnoitering that quaint town in preparation for the SCM Historic Racing Team's arrival there this September, for participation in the Tour de France Auto Historique. She reports that the pre-event activities will include a hosted dinner and wine tasting at Moet & Chandon, home of Dom Perignon. There are still a couple of slots open on the team - if you've been looking for an excuse to take your partner and your favorite car to France, drive past castles on great roads and make new friends, call Cindy directly at 503-261-0555, fax 503-252-5854 to reserve your space.
Next time you're online, click by sportscarmarket.com. SCM Art Director Scott Abts is doing a great job keeping the site updated, with your classified and Showcase Gallery ads being posted nearly the same day they're received. Several subscribers have emailed to tell us that they have sold their cars through their photo ads on the SCM site, a harbinger of the future.


This month's cover is a painter's tribute to a photographer. Artist Frank DiMartino met Louis Klementaski a decade ago, and asked permission to render on canvas what Klementaski had so ably captured on film. "Tribute to Klementaski: The Photographer's Eye" captures a pair of the ill-fated Lancia-Ferrari D50s being prepared for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1955. Scuderia Ferrari had been handed six of the existing Lancia D50s by Lancia Corse after the demoralizing death of team leader Alberto Ascari. This was a great boon for Enzo Ferrari, as his own cars had been proven seriously outdated in competition, and he had suddenly inherited the greatest grand prix cars outside of Stuttgart.
A careful observer will note the Lancia emblems still affixed to the nose of the cars in the painting, an indication that the original photo was taken before Ferrari had a chance to place his own Cavallino badge there. All four cars entered at Monza suffered catastrophic failure of their Englebert tires on the new banked speedbowl section of the track during practice and were subsequently, and wisely, withdrawn before the race.
The original photo is in the collection of collector and racer Peter Sachs. This painting is now in a private collection, and there are no prints. DiMartino works primarily by commission, but does have some signed prints of other works available. Contact Arte Storica Dell' Automobile, 700 Belmont Avenue, North Haledon, NJ 07508, (973) 427-7578, email: [email protected]. SCM is committed to using only original automotive art on its covers, and is always looking for art to showcase; please send representative examples to Art Director, SCM, 7017 SE Pine Street, Portland, Oregon 97215.

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