Thursday, March 8, 2018

John Fitch's Wild Rides

John Fitch and his Cunningham C-4R

John Fitch, Racer, Engineer, Inventor, Friend

John Cooper Fitch was born in Indianapolis in August of 1917. He was a descendent of the inventor of the steamboat, John Fitch, and his stepfather was an executive with the Stutz Motor Company, which introduced him to cars and racing at an early age.

In 1939, he travelled to Europe and saw the last car race at Brooklands before the outbreak of World War II. During the war he flew fighter planes for the Allies, including the A-20 Havoc and the P-51 Mustang, becoming one of the only pilots to shoot down the deadly Messerschmidt ME 262 Jet Fighter.

When John returned to the U.S., he was among the many young pilots who'd developed the need for speed during the war and turned to auto racing. But unlike many of his contemporaries, Fitch was good. So good, in fact, that he caught the eye of Briggs Cunningham, the wealthy racing enthusiast who encouraged Fitch to enter and win the 1951 Grand Prix of Argentina, in a car John prepared himself. This win clinched the support of Cunningham, who accepted him onto his racing team, for which John scored a number of impressive victories in the early '50s, at then-fledgling road courses like Elkhart Lake and Watkins Glen. But Cunningham had bigger plans: His goal was to win Le Mans, the world's most demanding endurance race, with an American car and driver, and Fitch was to play a leading role in that quest. In 1952, he came close to making Cunningham's dream come true. After setting fastest lap in his C-4R roadster, he was forced to retire late in the race because of ‘bad fuel.’

This event gave John a chance at something bigger. John convinced Mercedes team chief engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut to allow him to take several Mercedes 300 SLs to the upcoming Carrera Panamericana, a race that wasn't even on Neubauer's radar. His performance during the race secured him a spot on the Mercedes team, driving with the likes of Juan Manuel Faigio and Stirling Moss. John proceeded to compete successfully in many notable races for these teams, including several seasons of both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring, and other races like the Mille Miglia in 1953 and 1955, and the RAC Tourists Trophy in 1955, as well as the ’53 and ’55 Seasons of Formula One.

But John’s racing career didn't end there, because at the end of 1955, Chevrolet's Chief Engineer, Ed Cole suggested that he help develop the Corvette into a world-class race car and manage a team of Corvettes he planned to enter at Sebring, just six weeks away. Many thought that it would be impossible to make the slow, overweight production two-seaters competitive in such a short amount of time, but in typical fashion, John rose to the occasion. Four cars were entered in two different classes but against overwhelming odds, the team won both classes, earning them the team prize and setting the foundation for the Corvette Racing Team that still performs to this day.

John Fitch at the Italian Grand Prix

John Fitch racing at Monza in the Italian
Grand Prix in 1955

After a horrific accident during Le Mans, that led to the death of his team mate Pierre Levegh, as well as over 80 spectators, John devoted a great deal of effort to the task of increasing the safety of motorsports and driving in general, resulting in the foundation of his company, Impact Attenuation Inc. He became a pioneer in improving race car and street driving safety, and went on to make several racing and highway safety innovations, most notable including the Fitch Barrier System, those yellow barrels you see everywhere on the highway. In typical fashion, John insisted on testing the system himself, and since first being introduced in the late 1960s, it is estimated that they have saved as many as 17,000 lives. John also personally designed five different cars during his life, including the Chevrolet Corvair Sprint and the Fitch Pheonix, a Corvair-based two-seat sports car resembling a Corvette.

John retired from racing in 1964 to his home in Connecticut, where he lived with his wife Elizabeth and their three sons, John, Christopher (Kip) and Stephen. John continued to drive in vintage racing events, particularly at Lime Rock Park, and even returned to racing at 87 years of age, trying to set a land speed record in a 50-year-old Mercedes-Benz 300 SL owned by Bob Sirna at the Bonneville Salt Flats. 

John was the definition of an Auto Enthusiast and I was Lucky enough to spend time with him, both professionally and as friends. Unfortunately we lost this shining star to Cancer in 2012, but his spirit will live on in the hearts and memories of those who new him and followed his career with fondness. On numerous occasions he displayed his great admiration of Cars and Motorsports and always maintained a jubilant attitude with family and friends, and towards life in general. I am sure that he influenced many people who looked up to him and I will always remember him fondly.

Adieu John,

Jacques Vaucher
l’art de l’automobile

Make sure to head to our site at or check out a newly acquired collection from John's personal Library

Monday, February 26, 2018


Come checkout our latest newsletter! This month it details how we are launching our new website and provide our customers with the most up to date online experience.

Read about it in our latest issue:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Unique & genuine automotive gifts at

Unique & genuine automotive gifts at

Santa Claus is on his way to l'art et l'automobile gallery to pick up your presents, and we have plenty of stocks!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Congratulations to Porsche for winning the 2017 FIA Endurance Championship!

Bravo Porsche!

Congratulations to Porsche for winning the 2017 FIA Endurance Championship with the 919 driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber!

It is the 15th Endurance Championship won by the Stuttgart based manufacturer since 1969.

If you are a Porsche fan, at arteauto we offer a good representation of the history of the marque with many items to decorate your museum, garage, office or man's cave, and help you build your library.

We hope that in all the historical Porsche items we have listed on our website, you will find something you would like to own.

Keep your four wheels on the ground!


Jacques Vaucher

For more information you can reach Jacques at (830) 864-5040

Remember for all other automotive memorabilia you can browse our store site as we have many more items in our gallery. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Great US F1 race 2017

The 2017 US Grand Prix in Austin was a great success. Great weather, great crowd, good passing and a few new faces. It is hard to stop Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes but Ferrari and Red Bull put on a great show and tried their hardest.

On Friday night the Ferrari Club of America South Central Chapter organized their 2nd annual dinner  at the beautiful Austin Country Club in honor of the F1 race.

L'art et l'automobile gallery was honored to be invited at the reception to put on an art and memorabilia show dedicated to Ferrari. We had a special room we transformed into a gallery and the show was well received and successful. The event was even better than last year, with close to 300 enthusiasts in attendance, most of them belonging to Ferrari Clubs from around the country and the world, along with a few special guests.

A big Thank You to the FCA for having us there.

You can visit to see some of our Ferrari offerings.

All the best,

Jacques Vaucher

A white Ferrari 458 Speciale A ('Aperta', which is Italian for 'open') and a red F40

Free Wheelin' bronze sculpture by Stanley Wanlass, showing a lady and a her dog driving a beautiful Alfa Romeo 2.9

Various Ferrari paintings, prints and posters

Left is a Ferrari 488 GTE Risi Competizione (plus two Dinos in the background, a 246 GT and a 308 GT4), and the 458 Aperta to the right

 Ferrari 275 GTS (with matching lady) and a 250 LM

Various Ferrari prints and posters

More Ferrari prints, posters, brochures and a sculpture

La Ferrari (left) and the new silver Ferrari F12 TDF

The new Ferrari F12 TDF again

Ferrari 275 GTB bronze sculpture by Vincenzo Tabacco and the 1979 World Championship Team painting by Chuck Queener

Ferrari 250 TR nose sculpture by Dennis Hoyt and a red FCA trophy

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Large Collection of Automobile Prints at

Dear enthusiast,

At l'art et l'automobile we take pride in having decorated many garages and museums hosting some of the greatest collections of cars around the world.

This post will show you a selection of some of the very reasonably priced prints we have by some of the best automobile artists. Click our email campaign ( to see more or just go to

If you have bare walls in your garage, these prints not only will give you colors, history and warmth, they will turn your garage into another room in your home you will be proud to share with friends and family.

If you don't have the time to decorate your automotive emporium, we offer to come to you and take care of it – and if you love books, we also can build up your automotive library.

Enjoy looking through our collection!

Jacques Vaucher

For more information you can reach Jacques at (830) 864-5040