Thursday, September 13, 2018

Remembering Burt Reynolds, 1936-2018

An Interview with a Legend

Burt Reynolds in 2016. Photo courtesy Christoper R. Phillip.

[Editor’s note: Burt Reynolds, perhaps best known for his role as Bo “Bandit” Darville in 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, died on Thursday, September 6, at age 82. The cause of death was an apparent heart attack. We thought a fitting way to remember Reynolds would be to republish Tom DeMauro’s detailed 2016 interview with the star, which first appeared in the August 2016 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.]

Had Burt Reynolds’ life adhered to his plan, he would never have starred in popular car movies like White Lightning, Smokey and the Bandit I and II, Hooper, The Cannonball Run and the rest. Nor would he have amassed hundreds of other movie, stage, and TV credits, been the top box office draw from the mid-1970s into the early 1980s, a Golden Globe and Emmy winner or an Oscar nominee. That’s because young Burt, then known as “Buddy,” had his eye on a pro-football career.

Burt was born in Lansing, Michigan, in 1936, but raised in Palm Beach County, Florida; his father, “Big Burt” Reynolds, was an authoritarian and the local police chief. His mother, Fern, a former nurse, doted on Burt and his sister, Nancy Ann, who was six years his senior.

He was a strong-willed child, who by his own admission courted trouble. By the early 1950s, however, Burt had channeled his energies into football. After making First Team All State and earning an All Southern Honorable Mention in high school, he fielded various college offers. He ultimately accepted a scholarship to Florida State University (FSU) in 1954, and played halfback for the Seminoles.

According to Burt’s recent memoir, But Enough About Me, an on-field knee injury in his sophomore year that required surgery, followed by further damage sustained in a life-threatening car accident some time later, conspired to end his football career, and his time at FSU. At Palm Beach Junior College, an English professor, whom Burt would soon view as his mentor, convinced him to act in a play he was producing. Acting became Burt’s new calling, and he immersed himself in the craft.

After graduating in the late 1950s, Burt played supporting roles in TV shows like Riverboat and Gunsmoke, and appeared in episodes of other programs into the mid-1960s. His talent earned him progressively better roles, and his athleticism enabled him to do many of his own stunts.

Lead roles in TV series followed, as would more stage work and an illustrious movie career, all of which has now spanned six decades. Given his collaborations with stuntman/director Hal Needham in the 1970s and ’80s, some (but not nearly all) of Burt’s more famous movies included high-speed car chases, jumps and crashes–the latter, ironically, the same circumstance that ended his football career and led him to acting.

At 80 years old, Burt is as busy as ever. He’s still acting, teaching, and making guest appearances at various events. His memoir, written with Jon Winokur, was released in late 2015 and it’s a riveting read. HMM contacted Burt to learn more about his contributions to the car-movie genre. What follows are his personal recollections.

HMM: Over the years, you’ve played many characters who drive and appreciate fast cars. Have you cultivated that same admiration for them in your private life?

BR: I do admire them, but it had to develop over the years. Growing up the son of a police chief, the idea of a fast car was not a romantic one–when a cop drives fast it might turn out pretty bad–plus we couldn’t afford one; our family car was a secondhand Buick. I was never big on fast cars personally–that was Hal–he had a Ferrari that I would borrow from time to time. I’ve always liked something a little more upscale, but they can go fast too! I used some of my Navajo Joe paycheck to get my first brand-new car: a European Mercedes 230 SL that I had imported. Later, I had a Rolls. I’ve had Caddies over the years, and drive one now, but my all-time favorite was the 1955-’57 T-Bird.

HMM: You’ve starred in several movies that employed car chases, stunts and/or racing and even a speedboat chase–White Lightning, The Longest Yard, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Gator, Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, Smokey and the Bandit II, The Cannonball Run, Stroker Ace, Cannonball Run II, The Dukes of Hazzard and Driven, etc. Were you enticed by these roles at least partly due to your appreciation of cars?

BR: One of the things that few people realize is that cars all have unique personalities; I know your readers understand that. The Oldsmobile Anniversary Edition we had made up for W.W. was as critical to that film as was the General Lee in Dukes, but neither one could have played the part of the Bandit car, and it could not have worked in Driven. Why did I get “enticed” to do the parts? Probably more due to my background in stunts on the pictures you mentioned–in The Longest Yard, the Maserati [a Citroën SM with a Maserati engine] was only a minor role, but a great car. I chose that picture because I had played halfback for FSU, and wanted to get paid to play football. Chase scenes are a good addition to any picture, whether it’s the speedboats in Gator or the chariot in Hooper, and I always had fun doing them, so that’s what it’s really about–the fun!

HMM: When you met Hal Needham, what was your first impression of him?

BR: He was doubling Richard Boone, on Have Gun Will Travel, and we crossed paths when I first went to Hollywood in the fall of 1958. He doubled me on Riverboat prior to Gunsmoke. I liked him immediately, and thought he was fearless, but not in a crazy way. He had a quiet confidence and was what they call “handy” in the stunt biz.

HMM: Hal had told me in a 2007 interview that when he approached you for feedback on the Smokey and the Bandit idea, he’d assumed the role of Bo “Bandit” Darville would be played by Jerry Reed. You’ve said that the original Smokey and the Bandit script was the worst that you have ever read. Despite the fact that Hal was your good friend and was living in your guesthouse at the time, even he admitted he was quite surprised that you, a top box office draw, decided to star in his movie. What convinced you to do it?

BR: This is a good question, and I wish I had a better answer–a more complex one. It just seemed like it would be fun–there’s the ‘fun factor’ again. I knew if we got Gleason, it would really be something. They couldn’t get him without me, so I said okay. Then I wanted Sally, but nobody wanted her–they all said, “Gidget? For this picture? Are you kidding?” and I said, “She’s sexy–talent is sexy!” She proved them all wrong with the Emmys and Oscars she received later on.

HMM: You and Jackie Gleason had a definite chemistry while the cameras rolled. Did it carry over off camera as well?

BR: Funny you should say that–it was actually all off-screen until we were almost done. We were sitting at lunch one day and realized that we didn’t have any scenes where we were actually together. We found the diner and improvised the whole thing, our only scene together in the whole film. Gleason was called “The Great One” because that’s what he truly was. When we shot the scene, nobody knew what he was going to do; Hal just said to keep the camera on him. And to this day, nobody knows what a “Diablo Sandwich” is!

HMM: Jackie Gleason said that you could easily be a great comedian. Do you view yourself as a dramatic actor first and a comedic actor second or vice versa? Do you feel that one is more difficult than the other?

BR: I am touched to hear that. I’m an actor. People are complex, so a character needs to be as well. When I teach class, I always tell the kids to use a lot of colors–nobody is serious all the time, you have to have humor in your life. Comedy is tougher, with timing and the pauses, but to be playing Lewis in Deliverance is just as tough as Phil Potter in Starting Over. The scene when W.W. torches his beloved car is a dramatic turn in an otherwise lighter picture, and it was just as difficult to show his joy when Art Carney fixed it to snare him at the end of the movie.

HMM: How did you and Jerry Reed become friends?

BR: I met him in Nashville, hanging out at a club in 1971. I’ve always enjoyed live music, usually jazz or country. He was such an amazing guitar player, he really deserves to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame. He did it all, from playing on Elvis’s records, to writing and singing his own stuff. What you saw onscreen was exactly like he was off-screen–talking slow and laughing. And that “Son!” thing of his was really his own–just a great, talented friend. I miss him a lot. So do many others. He seemed like one of those “nice people” you hear about, but later find they were not that way, but Jerry Reed actually was!

HMM: Smokey and the Bandit came across as a group of actors having a great time making a movie. Since that’s not always the case during the making of a movie, how was that atmosphere fostered on the set?

BR: Gleason, Jerry, Sally, Mike Henry, Hal, and we had a bunch of friends like Alfie Wise, Pat McCormick, and Paul Williams, and for Part II we added Dom DeLuise and Terry Bradshaw. With a group like that, how could the atmosphere be any other way?

HMM: How did making Smokey and the Bandit II differ from the original? Was there added pressure from the studio to produce another hit?

BR: Nobody expected anything from the first–only Star Wars was bigger that year–plus I was “falling in like” with Sally. Part II was just as much fun, and we knew we had something, but the studio still wasn’t convinced.

HMM: Was additional support evident from the studio to facilitate the process of making Smokey and the Bandit II, based on the success of the first movie?

BR: Not really. The budget was bigger, but they just thought it was a payback for the first one being done so cheaply. We did get to shoot it in Florida, though. I’d been trying to do that for a while, but the governor wasn’t a fan, so we had been going to Georgia. I now call Georgia my “Lucky State”–I’ve made more pictures there than anyplace else. My last one, Hamlet & Hutch, was made very close to where we shot Deliverance, and I was just presented with the “Georgia Film Legend” award by the Macon Film Festival.

HMM: Do you prefer one Smokey and the Bandit movie over the other?

BR: The first: Sally. In the first one we were getting to know one another and “falling in like.” Part II was a rough patch–if you remember that scene when she leaves the bar and we go walking and she is berating me? That was all real, we had just had a big argument and I told her to get it all out. She did, and it was therapeutic. We made up, but there was some tension on the set. Sequels are just never quite as good.

HMM: Can you recall any happy accidents that made it into Smokey and the Bandit or some of your other movies?

BR: The football field spinout was almost a disaster in Smokey [the Trans Am wasn’t supposed to go through the dugout, but the wet grass caused it. No one was injured.]. In Hooper, the “Ca-Ca Dancer” stunt [Sonny (Burt) tells his horse Dancer to relieve himself in Ski’s (Jan Michael Vincent) El Camino and the horse obliges] was based on a real prank on the set of 100 RIFLES. During the filming of Smokey and the Bandit II, anything with Dom was pretty much an accident. He was nervous I’d be mad when he screwed up, and I let him think that, so it just fueled the fun! In the Cannonball Run, Farrah and I weren’t acting. In Cannonball Run II, watch the orangutan–the same one Clint used in Every Which Way But Loose–he had entered puberty and was “unruly” at times.

HMM: Can you recall any funny and/or interesting behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the movies mentioned above?

BR: Snowman’s dog was mine. The search for Fred was a publicity stunt and none of the dogs worked out–we used mine and always knew it was a fallback. Hal loved the dog, and since he had been the inspiration to begin with, we finally figured why not just use him? He wasn’t the smartest dog on the block; he only had one trick. God love him, he’d be walking along and I’d call him; he’d look back at me but still keep walking, and he’d walk into the wall. He gave me a lot of love and a lot of laughs.

HMM: What are your impressions of driving the movie-prepped Trans Ams on the set of Smokey and the Bandit versus those of Smokey and the Bandit II?

BR: In the second, the cars were faster [it was reported at the time that they were fitted with nitrous systems] but heavier and didn’t handle as well.

HMM: Describe your relationship with Pontiac following Smokey and the Bandit. Was it on-again off-again?

BR: Ha! It was on and then it was just off! They told me they’d give me a Trans Am every year, and they did for a few, but then they just stopped. No note of thanks or anything, so I called to see what was up. They said there was a new president of the company and he didn’t like my pictures!

HMM: You limited your role to a cameo in Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 and Hal chose not to work on that film at all. What was your reason for not accepting the starring role, given the successes of the previous two films?

BR: That was pretty much a scheduling thing: Hal and I were finishing Cannonball Run, and going right into Stroker Ace, so he couldn’t direct it, and I couldn’t be in it. Gleason was hot, so he ran with it.

HMM: Did your previous experience of doing stunts yourself provide an advantage to you while making the Smokey and the Bandit movies and Hooper?

BR: No question. I was like a little kid with Hooper. We had Yakima Canutt gaff the chariot race just like he did for Spartacus. Working again with Sally, Hal behind the camera, along with Jimmy Best and Bradshaw again! I loved every second of making that one.

HMM: Can you recall any notable stunts that you performed yourself in those three films that normally would not be attempted by the lead actor?

BR: “No second takes!!” The chariot race and the falls in Hooper would never be done by a lead actor today. Nor would the helicopter jump, which I also did! Glenn Wilder and I were in the Trans Am in Alabama when the smokestack went down. We just did a short film called When The Stack Fell–it played at a film festival. Glenn’s twin daughters, Myja and Kyja, were the writer and director.

HMM: What do you feel was the most dangerous stunt you ever performed in any film, and why?

BR: The rapids in Deliverance–I broke my tailbone. You can’t control nature, I was lucky to get out of that one. The helicopter jump in Hooper and Dom shoving me out on the ledge in The End were both dangerous simply due to the height. In Shamus, I just missed the branch in the tree I was trying to grab and fell four stories and landed on my upper back–the shoulder blade region. Had the impact been one inch higher, that would have been it.

HMM: Given your vast body of work that includes dramatic and comedic roles, does being remembered by many as the Bandit remain a virtue or has it at times been a vice?

BR: It’s just great to be remembered! Given a choice, though, I’d rather be remembered as a triple-threat–actor, teacher, stuntman, and I’d rather be thought of as a teacher than an actor.

HMM: Which cars have you found to be the most enjoyable to drive over the years and why?

BR: Usually Caddies, T-Birds, or ‘Vettes. Handling, comfort, and power. In film, the T/A was tops.

HMM: In your opinion, could Smokey and the Bandit be made today and be as successful as the original was?

BR: Probably not. It just happened. It wasn’t trying to be a “big” picture. There’s one of those every year and they usually fall flat. We got away with having fun, and it all transferred to the screen. That doesn’t always happen. It’s a rare blend of chemistry that holds up. There’s no way you could get anyone to do what Gleason or DeLuise did either. Who could ever fill their shoes? Alfred Hitchcock’s daughter confirmed that he said Smokey and the Bandit was his favorite film–his secret pleasure.

HMM: Over the span of your legendary career, which three performances are you most proud of and why?

BR: Deliverance–four guys literally bonded on the river in a remarkable picture that was so well cast, everybody was superb. Starting Over–the role that is closest to me in real life. I felt vulnerable and exposed on screen. For the third, I have to say it is a toss-up, roles that are more complex than I’m usually offered–Breaking In and Physical Evidence. The characters aren’t very nice, but the performances are.

HMM: What current projects are you enthusiastic about?

BR: Hamlet & Hutch. I play a New York actor with early onset Alzheimer’s. Shot in my “lucky state” of Georgia, Hutch moves in with his granddaughter in the Blue Ridge Mountains and brings the family together. This family film also focuses on greyhound adoption and has been awarded the Dove Foundation Seal of Approval. Teri J. Vaughn costars and produced. I got to do some scenes from Hamlet onstage. I’d love to get back on Broadway, and this was a little taste for me. They say you’re not supposed to work with children or animals–well, I do both, and loved it. There’s a Trans Am cameo, too!

The author would like to thank Christopher R. Phillip and Gene Kennedy for their efforts to facilitate this interview, and Burt for his candid responses.

This article originally appeared in the August, 2016 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.

At l’art et l’automobile we have had a long and lasting love for the films and TV shows that highlight and celebrate automobiles, the heroes who drive them and their influence on our culture, but the works of the legendary Burt Reynolds stand alone. The loss of this mountain of machismo will leave a sorrowful shadow in every car guy’s heart, and probably his ego…  To celebrate the life of one of the all time classic Auto Actors, we have republished this article in memoriam.

Ten-Four Burt,

Jacques Vaucher

To tour a great collection of automotive memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many categories on our Website. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, share a photo on Instagram and read our Blogs.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

My Week at Pebble Beach

Several Classic and Contemporary beauties lined up in front of the Lodge at Pebble Beach

An Automotive Adventure on the California Coast.

written by Jacques Vaucher, edited by James Karthauser

Monterey Week has come and gone, having been held August 17th to the 26th. The motoring world converged on the Peninsula for a 10 day long event that was packed with racetrack activities, the Concours d’Elegance and other automobile shows, numerous manufacturers’ meetings, car club reunions, forums, vintage car auctions and so much more. I had the privilege of attending, speaking and showcasing items from the gallery, accompanied by my wife Karen, and let me tell you, it was great fun, though exhausting!

Several Classic beauties lined up at the Concours on the Avenue at Pebble Beach.
Photo courtesy of My Car Quest

My Week started on Tuesday, at “Concours on the Avenue,” with a nice representation of sports cars from the 1950’s through the ’70’s.  The event featured a great lineup of beautiful automobiles from most of the manufacturers from around the world, which filled Ocean Avenue in Carmel. A big thank you to our old friends Genie and Doug Freedman for organizing this spectacular event and then inviting us to the Concours Luncheon at the Cypress Inn, Doris Day’s Hotel and Restaurant in downtown Carmel.  

Our Gallery.  We brought plenty of exquisite pieces and  everyone wanted to see them
Our Gallery.  We brought plenty of exquisite pieces and
everyone wanted to see them. 
Wednesday we started setting up and laying out our gallery for the weekend at the Spanish Bay Inn for the Retroauto Show at Pebble Beach.  Afterward we were invited to Rich Attwell’s house for diner, to celebrate his 40th consecutive year of exhibiting his spectacular pre-war cars at Pebble Beach.  Good fun with friends, clients and consignors was had by all.

Thursday we opened our gallery for the show.  The Retroauto Show was wonderful, we were reunited with old friends, new friends were made and many beautiful memorabilia and art pieces were seen and changed hands.  Our little gallery had a very successful day, selling various vintage posters and two exquisite sculptures by Larry Braun.  Our pieces were so in demand, a line formed at our booth to purchase an item or two we had on display.  

A closeup of our Gallery Table including one of the Larry  Braun sculptures that we sold during the week.
A closeup of our Gallery Table including one of the Larry
Braun sculptures that we sold during the week.
That evening we went to meet a few french collectors and friends at the Mission Ranch,
Clint Eastwood’s Restaurant.  We had a great dinner in a beautiful setting and were honored by Mr. Eastwood’s presence.  He seems to be in great form.  In the mid ’70’s when I worked at Chinetti Motors, I sold him one of the first Ferrari 365 Boxer that we imported and federalized.

Friday we were back to work in our gallery, we continued selling some nice pieces of automobilia.  In the afternoon I was part of a panel for a forum on collecting automotive memorabilia.  I gave a short talk on the subject and answered questions about vintage posters, automotive mascots, paintings and sculptures.  Some of the speakers were experts on vintage factory literature, books, new and old, enamel signs and petroliana.  It was definitely a fun discussion about a subject I am most certainly passionate about and that I greatly enjoy.  That night with a few friends we went to have a fondue in a Swiss restaurant with Murray and Susan Smith and some of their friends.  

2018 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider. Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
2018 Ferrari 488 Pista Spider. Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Photo Courtesy of YouTube

Saturday was our last day in the gallery, we continued to sell more interesting automobilia.  Pebble Beach is definitely a great place for finding, selling or trading collectibles, as the crowd is filled with educated collectors that greatly enjoyed what we had to offer.  Later in the day, we had to dismantle our little gallery and then we went to see how the Goodings and Co auction was progressing.  They had some of the best cars ever built on the block, and some of them went for unbelievable prices.  After the auction, we returned to the house we rent every year with Francois and Pamela Sicard from Connecticut, and sat down for a relaxing dinner.  Francois, who curates David Letterman’s car collection, had brought a 275 NART Spyder at the auction from Italian car collector Lawrence Auriana's collection.  The Car was to be displayed at an exhibit on the Ferrari Stand for the introduction of their new Spyder.  He also brought the first Osca race car built in 1948 to exhibit at the Concours the next day.  

A 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, owned by David and Ginny Sydorick, took Best of Show at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
A 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, owned by David and Ginny Sydorick, took
Best of Show at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg

Sunday, is Concours Day.  After making a stop at the artist’s tent on the field, we took a stroll on the green to peruse all the spectacular machines on display.  From Francois’ Osca, as well as other examples of the make, to Classic Tuckers, Scarabs, Vintage Ferraris, Maseratis and Delahayes and all the other magnificent pre-war cars, including the Alfa Romeo 2900 that won best in show, a truly colossal collection of beautiful automobiles was arrayed for our viewing pleasure.  After touring the Concours, we were invited to a collector’s suite at the lodge to watch the parade of class winning cars going up across the podium and the awards presentation.  I have to say it was a great day, especially if you are passionate about cars.  

The l'art et l'automobile van, returning to Texas
The l'art et l'automobile van, returning to Texas
Monday it was time to return to the Ranch in Texas, trading our automobilia collection for our animal collection.  I have found every year that the festivities at Pebble Beach and the Concours are most fulfilling, and I have and hope to continue to enjoy them form many years to come.  

Vive le Concours!


For more great automotive memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our Website. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, share a photo on Instagram and read our Blogs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Artwork of Nicholas Watts

Exploring auto racing from different angles and perspectives

by Jacques Vaucher

Over the last century, not only has England been a nucleus of automobile racing but it also seems that some of the best automobile artists also come out of the UK. With names like Bryan De Grineau, Fredrick Gordon Crosby, Michael Turner, Dexter Brown, Peter Hearsey and Barry Rowe, whose artwork we featured a few weeks ago, just to name a few.

Raging Bulls giclée by Nicholas Watts

Today we are showing the work of Nicholas Watts, who for the last few decades has been using his brushes and pencils to capture some of the most important moments and scenes in the history of motor racing. 

Grand Prix of Japan 1976 acrylic painting by Nicholas Watts
Preserving a fleeting moment in time is something that historians and romantics alike often wish they could do. The paintings of automotive artist Nicholas Watts are dedicated to doing just that. He has mastered the art of capturing a brief second in time, not only through the event and local environment, but the emotional aspect as well.

Born in Tunbridge, England in 1947, Watts is a virtually self-taught artist. From an early age he was fascinated with the automobile, including its structure, form and function. Each painting of his is a celebration of that fascination, and is painstakingly researched and detailed.

Working usually with gouache-on-board and later in acrylic on canvas, Watts’ work is always exploring auto racing from different angles and perspectives. This is clearly evident in his recent work, which not only opens up new views to historical moments in the sport, but also explores new techniques of capturing speed and action on board and canvas.

Fangio - The Maestro print by Nicholas Watts
By stopping time just seconds before the most fateful event of the race, Watts has managed to hold on to the feeling of that specific moment. Even people who didn’t witness the race, or don’t know of its outcome can sense the tension in the air.

“I want to put more of myself into my paintings,” explains Watts. “I can do this through my use of color and brush strokes, without losing the exact shape of the vehicle. I doubt my style will ever become completely impressionistic, but I have moved away from the photo-realism I began with.”

He continually offers us new approaches and perspectives of the motor races, keeping his work fresh and new, and in high demand. If the past 40+ years have been any indication of his growth and potential, we expect Nicholas Watts to remain at the forefront of automotive art for years to come. In his own words, “I only hope I have enough time to create all of the ideas I have in my head.” 

The Final Targa print by Nicholas Watts
Nicholas and I go back a few decades. We started working together in the 1980’s and in 1989, the gallery of l’art et l’automobile organized a ‘one man show’ for Nicolas in our New York Penthouse gallery on 34th Street in Manhattan. Ever since, or relationship has been excellent, and to this day I am an avid fan of him, his family and his work. 

Keep up the Good work Nicholas. I am grateful to know you and will do my best to display your work with the respect it deserves and help others discover and celebrate your art.

At l’art et l’automobile we have a deep appreciation for the artistry of vintage automobiles, but particularly for the artwork that celebrates them. Nicholas Watts is at the forefront of this sense of dedication to capturing the automotive world through the lens of paint and canvas. To celebrate this fact, we have collected all our pieces by this wonderful artist and present them to you. Find out more about this collection here or enjoy looking through the gallery at, and perhaps add a piece to your collection.

Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our Website. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, share a photo on Instagram and read our Blogs.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Monterey Car Week Unrestrained

The Motoring Classic convoying down a California Highway on its way to the 68th annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

How to do it all and do it large, for under $5,000 a day

by Carl Bomstead edited by James Kathauser

 Having attended Pebble for the past 25 years or so, I’ve watched costs continue to escalate and have always dreaded the arrival of the credit-card bill that documented what a great time my wife and I had. But not this time. For the purposes of this exercise, the only caveat is try to keep it under $5,000 a day.

Now, of course, this doesn’t include any car purchases — just everything else.

Arriving in style

The Motoring Classic arrives at the 68th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Courtesy of AutoNXT
The Motoring Classic arrives at the 68th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
Courtesy of AutoNXT

My first call is to Tour Master extraordinaire AlMcEwan, who is the majordomo for the famed Pebble Beach Motoring Classic. The tour is a nine-day, 1,500 mile extravaganza that leaves from Seattle, continues through the Oregon Cascades and then down the California coast, crossing the San Francisco Bay Bridge and arriving at the Pebble Beach Lodge on Wednesday afternoon. About 30 cars attend, and the requirement is that the cars have appeared on the lawn at Pebble Beach or are eligible to do so. The tour cost is $12,000 for a couple but is all-inclusive, including premium lodging, food and libations.

Fortunately, Al has an opening, and we quickly take care of the nancial arrangements.

Rolling tab: $12,000, and that’s before arriving in Monterey.

Where to sleep

The newly renovated Pebble Beach Lodge borders the 18th hole and provides great accommodation for Concours Visitors Courtesy of Pebble Beach Resorts
The newly renovated Pebble Beach Lodge borders the 18th hole and provides great accommodation
for Concours Visitors.  Courtesy of Pebble Beach Resorts

Accommodations are always an issue during the week. I have my normal overpriced franchise motel reserved, but I’ve always wanted to stay at The Lodge. Checking with the powers that be at the concours of office tells me that there has been a cancellation at Casa Palmero, the boutique 24-room facility that resembles a Mediterranean villa. It is part of The Lodge and is renowned for its personal service, but it comes with a price. The Estate Studio that is available is $1,150 a night plus the taxes, gratuities and other fees. For Wednesday through Sunday, that’s around $6,200.

Rolling tab: $18,200.

Red cars and carpets

A Day at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Car Show Courtesy of Dwell
A Day at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Car Show
Courtesy of Dwell

I won’t have much time to relax, as my wife and I will be picked up at 5 p.m. on Wednesday for the McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center. We have purchased Red Carpet tickets for $575 each and look forward to enjoying the “see and be seen” lifestyle event that features current super and vintage cars and aircraft, along with food and beverages from the local upscale providers.

McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center
McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center
Thursday we will be participating in the Tour d’Elegance, so I will have my car ready to go at the Polo Field in time for scrutineering and renewing friendships. The majority of the entrants in the concours now participate in the Tour, which travels through 17-Mile Drive, often continues out to Laureles Grade and then down Highway One to scenic Bixby Bridge. It returns to Carmel, where the cars are parked along Ocean Avenue for all to enjoy. The cars always draw a crowd in Carmel, and this year will not be an exception.

We will get back to “Casa P” in time to unwind a bit before I gather my group of 10 or so friends and head out the Carmel Valley Road to the Baja Cantina and Hot Chili Nights — a gathering of 100 or more collector cars. The Baja Cantina is known for its Mexican food, but I’m also attracted to the automotive memorabilia that owner Pat Phinney has displayed throughout the restaurant. Dinner for the party? $600.

Rolling tab: $19,950.

Exclusive fun

The McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center is an exclusive event hosted during the Festivities Courtesy of Autoweek
The McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center is an exclusive event hosted
 during the Festivities.  Courtesy of Autoweek

Friday, my wife and I will be off to The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, as we have found a pair of tickets on eBay for $1,500, which is an absolute bargain, as they are listed on StubHub starting at $1,950.

The Quail is a day of exciting motorcars, excellent food pavilions and refreshments from a variety of premium suppliers. It is also a lifestyle event, as you can find displays for anything from exotic cars to multimillion-dollar yachts and most anything in between.

We will need some time to unwind when we return to “Casa P,” then we will join friends and walk down to the Lodge for dinner at the Stillwater Bar and Grill, which overlooks the famed 18th fairway and Stillwater Cove. A smaller, more intimate evening. $500.

But it will be an early evening, as Saturday will find us in our transportation to Concorso Italiano at the Black Horse Golf Course. Concorso Italiano was first presented in 1985 and features all that is Italian. There will be close to 1,000 cars that are Italian in origin presented in a number of classes. Keith Martin is again scheduled to have microphone in hand as master of ceremonies as he interviews owners and presents the awards. Two CI Club tickets: $495 each.

The evening will find us at the Gala Dinner for Pebble Beach entrants, judges and sponsors. We are included as part of the Motoring Classic. The fare is always exceptional and the drink is all top-shelf. The band plays on, but we will duck into the Gooding auction taking place next door. Bidder credentials there are $200, in addition to the $300 we spent at RM Sotheby’s, $150 at Bonhams, $100 at Mecum, $200 at Russo and Steele, and $150 at Worldwide Auctioneers — gotta be ready in case a special car pops up that we need to own.

Rolling tab: $24,140

Concours Sunday

Lining up for the Prestigious Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach Courtesy of CAR Magazine
Lining up for the Prestigious Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach
Courtesy of CAR Magazine
Sunday morning will arrive early, as we will be at Dawn Patrol. There, the cars are greeted by Pebble Beach Concours Chairperson Sandra Button as they enter the field. It is also the best time for photos before it becomes too crowded. We have managed to acquire a pair of tickets for the Chairman’s Hospitality at the Lodge for $2,750 apiece, which provides VIP access credentials and access to the Stillwater Bar and Grill for viewing of the award ceremony. Food and beverages will, of course, be provided.

Grand Finale: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Grand Finale: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Following the Best of Show presentation, we will take the short walk to the Beach Club for the after-party, which is part of the Motoring Classic package. It is primarily for entrants and judges, as the winners will be congratulated and the others thanked for their participation. It will have been a long day, so it will hopefully be an early evening.

When we return to Casa Palmero, there will most likely be a celebration under way in the hosted bar, so plans for an early evening will probably go out the window.

Grand total: $29,540.

Cost per day: $5,908.

Of course, this all illustrates that you can’t see or do everything regardless of your budget — and speaking of budgets, I blew my $5,000-per-day plan, too. But what’s Monterey if not a time to splurge on the experience?

With this, I have an exciting Monterey Car Week planned. But my ever-skeptical wife asks if I’m sure the magazine is going to cover this expensive trip. Could my fantasy trip be just that — a fantasy?

Jacques in the Gallery of L'art et l'automobile
Jacques in the Gallery of L'art et l'automobile
Monterey Week is coming quickly, August 17th to the 27th. The motoring world will be converging on the Peninsula at Pebble Beach. The 10 day long event will be packed with racetrack celebrities, Concours d’Elegance and automobile week, numerous manufacturers’ meetings, car club reunions, forums, vintage car auctions and so much more. But Carl forgot to go to the Race Track at Laguna Secca, where they hold great Vintage Car Races, namely the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion held throughout Autoweek. Great fun but exhausting.

L’art et l’automobile’s very own Jacques Vaucher will as usual be exhibiting some of our latest vintage Automobile Memorabilia at the Spanish Bay Inn from Thursday the 23rd through Saturday the 25th. Make sure to please come by, have a chat with Jacques and Karen and peruse the collection in person.

In addition, Jacques has been invited to participate in the Pebble Beach Classic Car Forum on Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, also at the Spanish Bay Inn. He will be collaborating in a talk on “collecting everything but cars” as part of the panel, for a discussion on all memorabilia surrounding car collecting.

Come Visit, and we hope to see you there.

Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our WEBSITE. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, share a photo on Instagram and read our Blogs.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Automobiles of Ettore Bugatti

Bugatti Type 44 and Type 35, on display together at Petersen Automotive Museum’s The Art of Bugatti Exhibition Photo courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum © 2016

One of the greatest car manufacturers in the world.

by James Karthauser

Greetings Auto Lovers,

Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy, and the automobile company that bears his name was founded in 1909 in Molsheim, which was part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1919. The company was known both for the level of detail of its engineering in its automobiles, and for the artistic manner in which the designs were executed, given the artistic nature of Ettore's family (his father, Carlo Bugatti (1856–1940), was an important Art Nouveau furniture and jewelry designer).

Ettore Bugatti, Acrylic Painting on Canvas by Barry Rowe
Ettore Bugatti in front of his paddock at the French Grand Prix, detailed in a Painting by Barry Rowe
available in our Bugatti Collection at  

After World War One, Bugatti was able to obtain at the last minute, a stand at the 15th Paris motor show in October 1919. He exhibited three light cars, the Type 13, 22 and 23, each fitted with the same 4-cylinder 1,368cc engine. Ettore Bugatti, who considered himself not just a constructor but an artist, ensured that his cars made a good showing.   

Bugatti Type 13, the smallest of the three models Ettore Bugatti exhibited in Paris in 1919.
Photo courtesy of

The company was at its peak during the 1920’s and 30’s, building some very successful race cars and luxurious sports cars. Famous Bugattis constructed during this period include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 "Royale", the Type 57 "Atlantic" and the Type 55 sports car. The company also enjoyed great success in early Grand Prix motor racing: in 1929 a privately entered Bugatti won the first ever Monaco Grand Prix. Racing success culminated with driver Jean-Pierre Wimille winning the 24 hours of Le Mans twice (in 1937 with Robert Benoist and 1939 with Pierre Veyron).

1932 Bugatti Type 41 Royale, on display at Petersen Automotive Museum’s The Art of Bugatti Exhibition
Photo courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum © 2016

Bugatti cars were extremely successful in racing. The little Bugatti Type 10 swept the top four positions at its first race. The 1924 Bugatti Type 35 is probably the most successful racing car of all time, with over 2,000 wins. The Type 35 was developed by Bugatti with master engineer and racing driver Jean Chassagne who also drove it in Bugatti’s first ever Grand Prix in 1924, in Lyon. Bugattis swept to victory in the Targa Florio for five years straight from 1925 through 1929. Louis Chiron held the most podiums in Bugatti cars, and the modern marque revival Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. named the 1999 Bugatti 18/3 Chiron concept car in his honor. But it was the final racing success at Le Mans that is most remembered—Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron won the 1939 race with just one car and meager resources.

Bugatti Type 35 working re-creation by Pur Sang
The Bugatti Type 35 Racer, possibly the most winning race car of all time.  This particular example
is a working recreation by Pur Sang.  Photo Courtesy of Autoweek.

Bugattis are noticeably focused on design. Engine blocks were hand scraped to ensure that the surfaces were so flat that gaskets were not required for sealing, many of the exposed surfaces of the engine compartment featured guilloché (an artistic pattern made trough engine turning) finishes on them, and safety wires had been threaded through almost every fastener in intricately laced patterns. Rather than bolt the springs to the axles as most manufacturers did, Bugatti's axles were forged such that the spring passed through a carefully sized opening in the axle, a much more elegant solution requiring fewer parts. He famously described his arch competitor Bentley's cars as "the world's fastest lorries" for focusing on durability. According to Bugatti, "weight was the enemy".

Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic, on display at Petersen Automotive Museum’s The Art of Bugatti Exhibition
Photo courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum © 2016

At l’art et l’automobile we appreciate artistry and craftsmanship as much as anyone, and in the case of Bugatti, those characteristics have produced a marque that refines and defines the terms in the automotive industry. For many, the Bugatti Marque represents the pinnacle of classic automotive engineering, and we are hard pressed to disagree. To that end, we have amassed a good collection of items representing this illustrious marque through the decades. Enjoy looking through the gallery at, and perhaps add a piece to your collection.


Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our NEW WEBSITE. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, share a photo on Instagramand read our Blogs.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The 7 most memorable German Grand Prix moments

Check out the seven most eye-catching and hair-raising moments that have happened at the German Grand Prix      (and one we at l'art et l'automobile feel they missed)

By James W Roberts edited by James Karthauser

The German Grand Prix has been held 75 times and has been part of the FIA Formula One World Championship since 1951, so it is safe to say that in that time a few pretty memorable events have occurred there.  Since the Second World War the race has been hosted by three venues:  Hockenheimring, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and at a shorter version of the Nürburgring and there have been plenty of unforgettable moments.  Here are seven momentous German Grand Prix moments.

Max Verstappen’s dad turns up the heat

Hockenheim, 31st July 1994

Jos Verstappen's miraculous escape at Hockenheim
Jos Verstappen's miraculous escape at Hockenheim
The 1994 F1 season saw the return of in-race refuelling and a few drivers and team bosses worried about the dangers of fuel spraying over red-hot F1 cars, but for the first eight races of the championship it was a case of so far so good.
…but then came the German Grand Prix.

On lap 47, Jos Verstappen stopped in the pits for fuel and tyres. As the refuelling mechanic inserted the fuel hose a clear liquid was seen spraying all over the car. An eerie calm followed before a huge explosion engulfed Verstappen’s Benetton B194 and his mechanics.  The cause? Benetton had fiddled with the refuelling components in an attempt to ensure a quicker stop.  Naughty.  The result? Thankfully, the ensuing fireball was quickly extinguished, Verstappen and a mechanic escaped with minor burns and Gerhard Berger went on to win a crazy race that was dogged by political squabbling and a first corner smash that eliminated ten cars on the spot.

First pole and first win for Webber

Nürburgring, 12th July 2009

Maiden win at Nurburgring 2009
Maiden win at Nurburgring 2009

By the time of the 2009 German Grand Prix Mark Webber was in his third season with Red Bull Racing and despite clocking up four podium finishes, his first Grand Prix victory eluded him.
That was until F1 returned to the reconfigured Nürburgring, under the banner of the German Grand Prix, for the first time since 1985.  Webber confirmed the promise he had been showing since coming into F1 back in 2002 and nailed pole position, the first of his career, ahead of the Brawn-Mercedes machines of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.  In the race Webber led home a memorable Red Bull Racing one-two in front of Sebastian Vettel, sealing a hugely popular victory and becoming the first Australian to win a Grand Prix since Alan Jones triumphed in the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix.

Piquet’s punch up

Hockenheim, 8th August 1982

Nelson Piquet
Nelson Piquet

Perhaps one of F1’s most bizarre (and comical) moments happened during the 1982 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.  Reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet was easily leading the race in his BMW-powered Brabham and on lap 18 and approaching the newly installed Ostkurve chicane he caught the lapped car of backmarker Eliseo Salazar.
And the rest is history…

Piquet contro Salazar al GP Germania 1982
Piquet contro Salazar al GP Germania 1982

"Quite what Salazar thought he was doing…and I have to say that is an absolute disgrace," James Hunt, BBC commentator.  As Piquet went to pass Salazar the Columbian driver inexplicably hit Piquet’s Brabham from behind and sent both cars spinning out of the race.  The furious Piquet leaped from his car, confronted the hapless Salazar and shoved, punched and kicked him in an act of aggression rarely seen (in front of the cameras at least) in the civilised world of F1.

After the dust had settled the Brabham mechanics discovered that Piquet’s engine wouldn’t have lasted the race distance anyway.

Patrick Tambay’s emotional win

Hockenheim, 8th August 1982

Patrick Tambay
Patrick Tambay

The 1982 season was so full of drama and tragedy not even movie director Ron Howard could’ve come up with a crazier plot.  By the time of the German Grand Prix, F1 had witnessed a driver’s strike, the death of popular Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve, and in practice for the race at Hockenheim Ferrari suffered another catastrophic blow.  Didier Pironi, the man expected to win the driver’s title had a monumental airborne accident in practice, smashing his legs and ending his career.

Didier Pironi Crash 1982
Didier Pironi Crash 1982

On race day it was left to Villeneuve’s replacement Patrick Tambay to climb into the sole Ferrari, tackle the high-speed straights of Hockenheim and bring the number 27 car home to score a memorable and emotional win for the prancing horse.

Jackie Stewart’s finest hour

Nürburgring, 4th August 1968

Jackie Stewart in the rain at the Nürburgring
Jackie Stewart in the rain at the Nürburgring

Back in the 1960s the original 13-odd mile long Nürburgring Nordschlife was a daunting prospect for any driver.

"The track is narrow, the undulations so pronounced, the bends so numerous, that you can hardly remember where you are on the circuit even on a clear day, but in fog and ceaseless spray you just have no idea at all," .Jackie Stewart.  Jackie Stewart called it ‘the green hell’ and his drive on that August afternoon at the German Grand Prix in appalling conditions has gone down as legend.

"When I left home to race at the German Grand Prix, I always used to pause at the end of my driveway and take a long look back at my house. I was never sure I would come home again."

 Epic Grand Prix Instagram

In heavy rain and fog, the Scottish driver, racing with a broken wrist, sailed his Matra-Ford in zero visibility through the spray to win the race a massive four minutes ahead of Graham Hill.  The skill and bravery Stewart displayed in a race he himself thought should have been cancelled remains one of the finest displays by any F1 driver ever.

Niki Lauda’s miraculous escape

Nürburgring, 1st August 1976

Niki Lauda at the 1976 German GP
Niki Lauda at the 1976 German GP

The 1976 F1 season had it all. The British upstart James Hunt against the cool and calculated Austrian world champion Niki Lauda. McLaren Vs Ferrari.  And at the German Grand Prix that year, the notorious Nürburgring would be the scene for one of the most dramatic events in F1 history.
Reigning champion Lauda crashed at speed on lap two and as his Ferrari slewed to a halt burst into flames and was hit by two other cars. Grainy footage dramatically shows the Austrian trapped in his burning car as drivers Guy Edwards, Arturo Merzario, Brett Lunger and Harald Ertl heroically struggle to free him.

 Where is Palmer Instagram

Lauda suffered serious burns and almost fatal smoke inhalation. He was given the last rites by a priest, but in a super human feat of recovery was back at the wheel of his car two races later.

"I am bandaged, blind and dumb. A man appears: I understand it’s the priest. He speaks Latin, it sounds like a judgement, the last rites. It makes me so cross – I want to shout: HEY STOP, THIS IS THE WORST F***-UP YOU MAKE IN YOUR LIFE. I AM NOT GOING TO DIE."

Lauda bravely retired his car from the 1976 finale
Lauda bravely retired his car from the 1976 finale

When all was said and done, Lauda only lost the 1976 driver’s title by one point to Hunt and went on to regain his F1 crown in 1977.  F1 never returned to the original Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Schumacher’s first German Grand Prix win

Hockenheim, 30th July 1995

Michael Schumacher on the podium in 1995
Michael Schumacher on the podium in 1995

The 1995 F1 season was the first where German fans could see a reigning world champion on home soil.  By the time of the 1995 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Michael Schumacher fever was everywhere, and as the championship battle heated up with British rival Damon Hill, the partisan crowd were desperate to see their new hero win.  On a hot summer day the capacity crowd basked in sun and scadenfreude as they witnessed Hill’s Williams spin off into the barriers leaving Schumacher and Benetton to make history.  The fact this happened right in front of the densely packed stadium section only added to the fan’s delight and Schumacher cruised to his first German Grand Prix victory and place one hand on the 1995 title.

Die Regenmeister - King of the Rain

Nurburgring, 23 July 1939

Rudolf Caracciola
Rudolf Caracciola

The German Grand Prix at Nurburgring would be one of the last races of the 1939 season, due to the outbreak of World War II in September, but as that event took place months before, contention was still as hot as ever.  

Rudolf Caracciola, the famous German Champion, took it upon himself to tally another win for Mercedes and for Germany.  In a pouring Deluge, Caracciola pushed his Mercedes Benz W154 from the third position to the winners circle, dealing with the weather and engine hardships.  Though he was suspicious that the Daimler-Benz Racing Team favored his Teammate Hermann Lang, he pulled out the victory and went on to become the German Road Racing Champion, proving once again his title of 'King of the Rain.'

This week marks the 77th running of the German Grand Prix. This biennial event has hosted Grand Prix and Formula 1 races since 1926 and is recently returning to the Formula 1 schedule as the Premier German Racing Event. 

 GP of Germany - Hockenheim 1983 poster by Carlo Demand 1939 German GP at the Nurburgring print by Carlo Demand, autographedGP of Germany Hockenheim 1994 official event poster
  Many prints, posters, brochures and memorabilia detailing the German Grand Prix over the years available at

We here at l'art et l'automobile are definitely not going to miss this illustrious event, and we very much hope that you will be joining us as well. To that end, we have gathered a collection of Artifacts and Memorabilia from this momentous race and are providing it to you, our followers. Follow this link to our Newsfeed, where you will find a sampling of the collection as well as a link to find all the German GP artwork and Automobilia we have to offer. Please feel free to tour the gallery here, and perhaps you will find something to add to your collection.

And as always, Like and Share us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Share a Picture with us on Instagram and catch up on the rest of the blog below.

James Karthauser
Development and Social Media
l'art et l'automobile