Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Man Who Would Have Every Name (Signed)

102nd Indianapolis 500 field begins to take shape.  After Danica Patrick's announcement of joining Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2018 Indianapolis 500, this year's field for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing is beginning to settle.

Indy 500 autograph collectors find friendship and rivalry


written by Jordan J Wilson, edited by James Karthauser


Mike Thomsen and some of his Collection. 
 Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar
Mike Thomsen approaches his title as the No. 1 autograph collector of Indy 500 drivers with an admonition.

You see, Thomsen’s 594 signatures only became the largest publicly known collection when the previous leader, Dr. Harlen Hunter, started auctioning off the 597 signatures he had last year.

“I really won’t consider myself No. 1 until I pass 597 because that’s where he got to,” said Avon's Thomsen, who won't divulge where he keeps his collection. “I picked up a rare one this month that made it 594, then I should be getting another one to make it 595, then all five rookies (this year) will make it exactly 600.”

Thomsen already belongs to “The 500 Club,” a self-appointed tag pinned to the highest-end collectors who have amassed autographs from at least 500 of the 758 starting drivers to have ever competed in the Indianapolis 500.

To his knowledge, Thomsen is one of just seven collectors in the world to eclipse 500. As far as anyone can tell, he would also be the first to reach 600 — though, he admits, there could be others “flying under the radar” elsewhere in the world.

This is in Mike Thomsen's collection of Indy 500 drivers' autographs, Friday, May 27, 2016. He has the most autographs from different Indy 500 drivers, in the world. After the green flag waves, he says will have autographs from 600 of the drivers who ever drove in the race. This photo is of Barney Oldfield in the "Blitzen Benz" car. Oldfield set the world's speed record of 131.75 mph in 1910, in this car.  Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar
This is in Mike Thomsen's collection of Indy 500 drivers' autographs, Friday, May 27, 2016. He has
the most autographs from different Indy 500 drivers, in the world. After the green flag waves, he says
will have autographs from 600 of the drivers who ever drove in the race. This photo is of Barney
Oldfield in the "Blitzen Benz" car. Oldfield set the world's speed record of 131.75 mph in 1910, in
this car.  Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar


Otherwise, Thomsen knows most big-time 500 collectors and considers several to be close friends after working together over the years. For those he knows best, he tries to keep their “want lists” handy so that if he comes across a piece already in his collection that another collector needs, he can pass along the details.

“It’s kind of a little bit of camaraderie, but there’s competition, too,” Thomsen said. “There are guys in this industry that are willing to work with you, help you, share their knowledge; and then there are some guys who are willing to cut your throat to get the piece.”

This photo is of Frank Lockhart, from about 1927. Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar
This photo is of Frank Lockhart, from about 1927. Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar


A cutthroat approach never suited Thomsen. For him, forming connections and friendships, and sharing his knowledge has always been part of the fun.

“That’s what I enjoy about it,” said Knightstown's Jim Vogel, who owns 513 signatures and considers Thomsen a friend. “It’s nice going to the track, and no matter what track I go to, I find somebody that I talked to or got autographs with. Everywhere you go, you’re seeing people (you know).”

Whenever he can, Thomsen stresses to new collectors the value of strong networking with previous generations, if simply for the invaluable knowledge veterans can pass along from their experiences.

Thomsen still credits much of his success as an established collector to his personal mentor, Jack Mackenzie, former caretaker of the Borg-Warner Trophy. As Mackenzie once told him, the biggest mistake new collectors make is trying to do too much. That’s to say, trying to collect every program, pit badge, autograph and everything in between. So, Thomsen focused exclusively on being the top guy in driver autographs.

This is a photo of Pat O'Connor, 1958, Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar
This is a photo of Pat O'Connor, 1958, Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar


Veterans can also educate newcomers on the factors that make certain pieces more valuable: condition and quality, supply and demand, popularity of the driver. Without help, rookies might unknowingly pay more for a common autograph or pass up a lesser-known driver’s signature without realizing its value.

“Learn from everybody that made a mistake,” Thomsen said he tells new collectors. “There are so many mistakes you can make, and if you do your homework, you won’t make those mistakes.”

Mackenzie and Hunter, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Bedford, would be what Thomsen considers first-generation 500 collectors: people who spent time in the '70s and '80s building collections of autographed memorabilia ranging from programs and pennants to old autograph books.

“It was the time to get those guys from the '30s, '40s, '50s before they died,” Hunter said.

When it came to hunting down missing pieces, Hunter avoided websites like eBay for issues of authenticity. He recalls once seeing a listing that claimed to have the ballpoint pen of Gaston Chevrolet, who won the 1920 race and died in November of that year. Modern ballpoint pen designs, like the one in the listing, weren’t made commercially available until the 1940s.

This photo is of Ralph Mulford, the second place winner of the first Indy 500 race. Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar
This photo is of Ralph Mulford, the second place winner of the first Indy 500 race.
Photo Courtesy of Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar



Instead, Hunter cut out the middleman and purchased official documents that guaranteed authenticity, such as track licenses, check or entry forms that already contained drivers’ signatures. Or he would seek out drivers’ addresses and personally mail them memorabilia to sign.
Mike Thomsen shows some of his many
Indy 500 drivers' autographs and photos.
This photo is of the first two-time winner
Tommy Milton. Photo Courtesy of
Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar

“And I always wanted to talk to (the driver),” Hunter said of a request he sent along with any mailed memorabilia. “Then, it becomes real, and you’re a real person to them.”

At 13, Thomsen discovered a similar sentiment when he wrote John Paul Jr. asking to have a photograph signed shortly after seeing him win the 1983 Michigan 500. Not only did Paul Jr. sign the photo, he also hand wrote Thomsen a two-page letter in appreciation of his interest.

“What if he wouldn’t have said anything back?” Thomsen wondered decades later. “It wouldn’t have set me on this path. But because he was so interested in it, he helped spur me into the interest.”

Oftentimes, seeking out the lore and history of 500 drivers matters more to collectors than the monetary payoff. Thomsen and collectors like him want to downplay the money involved — though some rarer autographs have been sold for upward of $1,500.

For Thomsen and most serious collectors, though, nothing quite compares to getting a new autograph and calling up friends to learn more about who the driver was.

“We’re not doing it because we’re going to be the Rockefellers or Bill Gates because of it,” Thomsen said. “To me, the cash at the end is learning about these guys.”


Top Five Collectors:


Mike Thomsen (594), Avon, Ind.

Dr. Steven Clinton (576), Dublin, Ohio

Stu Slifkin (564), Murrells Inlet, S.C.

Dr. Allen Hanson (553), Centuria, Wis.

Jim Vogel (513), Knightstown, Ind.


If you collect autographs, at l'art et l'automobile, we have a good selection of photographs, prints, trophies, paintings, programs and other memorabilia that have been autographed by some of the most successful drivers, team owners, manufacturers and famous celebrities of the 20th century. Enjoy looking through our collection and tell us which ones you would like to own. Please Tour the gallery at arteauto.com, and perhaps add a piece to your collection.

All our best from the staff at l’art et l’automobile,


Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive artwork and 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, 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!



Jacques



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 arteauto.com, 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 arteauto.com.  


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 CarinPicture.com


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 arteauto.com, and perhaps add a piece to your collection.

Regards.

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.