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The Old Man And The Chrysler

The Old Man And The Chrysler
Today’s Friday Lady is Ada Rosa Alfonso. And the car behind her is not your average Chrysler New Yorker. This 1955 convertible was bought new by the late and great Ernest Hemingway but disappeared after his death. Hemingway's driver, Augustin Nuñez Gutiérrez, took it away said somebody, to hide it from the Cuban authorities who wanted it for the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, of which Alfonso happens to be the director. Or has been?

Anyway: many people, including herself, had been searching for the car, but it took until 2011 before it was found back. José Luis Herrera Sotalongo, Hemingway’s doctor, had it from 1961 to 1973 or so it turned out. Then it passed on to the doctor's son with many more owners to follow before it was found back. British travel writer Christopher P. Baker did some researches and confirmed the car’s authenticity after matching it’s serial number with the number on Hemingway’s insurance policy.

Next, Baker teamed up with American actor David Soul to get the car restored for the museum and turn the whole story into a film. A very promising promotional trailer was made in 2013 (click here). But there the trace ends, or so it seems. Baker said that ‘The convertible's bodywork will be repaired and repainted in the correct colours. Its leather upholstery will be renewed. Its 331-cubic-inch hemi V-8 will fire once more. And then it will go on display near the Pilar, where visitors can see the car and the boat and imagine a different end to the Hemingway story.” What happened? And what's more: does this car need restoration at all? What do you think?

PS: Hemingway would have been 118 years old today!

(Words editor, picture Christopher P Baker)

Friday, 21 July 2017

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Muscle car mania

Muscle car mania
If you are in for Camaros, Chevelles, Broncos, Galaxies, Shelbys, Challengers, Wranglers, Hawks, Rancheros, Bel Airs, Thunderbirds, Mustangs, Corvettes, Novas, Trans Ams, El Caminos, Cheyennes, Rivieras, Torinos, Road Runners, Chargers, Falcons, Malibus, Nomads, Impalas, Apaches, Cobras, Prowlers, Cherokees, New Yorkers, Skylarks, Eldorados, Fairlanes, Imperials, Cutlasses, Caprices, Catalinas, Darts, Rebels ad Barracudas you probably are too late. Mecum is selling a thousand (1,000, yes really) of them in Denver, Colorado today. And tomorrow, so you may get lucky if you’ve got a fast car or plane.

But those without the possibility to travel to Denver in a rush, don’t worry. Where exactly Mecum manages to find all these cars is nothing short of a miracle, but they’ll have another thousand (1,000) ready for the next auction from August 3 to 5 in Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania. Being a fan of both cars as cartoons we picked out just two favourites. First is a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner in that lovely hue of ‘Plum Crazy’. The other a 1969 Dodge Hemi Super Bee in least as smashing ‘Citron Yella’. Your favourite muscle car..?

(Words editor, image Morgan Phillips)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

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The car that can park on a postage stamp

Time for some goold old ingenuinety. This is MoBi-One, an 1100cc engined Mini based autotest vehicle created by Maurice (Morris) Bishop in 1968 that came with four wheel steering, seen here being demonstrated by Bishop: ‘It has a ten foot turning circle and can virtually park on a postage stamp’. The car has gone missing since quite some years now, with Morris Bishop looking for it for quite some time now.

Morris wrote: “Analyzing what would make a winning car I dreamed up a four wheel steering vehicle that would have an inside turning radius of approximately 4 foot. I decided to base the build on BMC 1100 mechanicals and bought a burnt out wreck. Some 6 weeks later it was ready for testing. The first few events were mainly to discover how to drive the beast. It quickly became clear that I was suffering from a lack of power, so I wrote Alec Issigonis at Longbridge Birmingham to see if he had a spare Cooper ‘S’ engine laying around. And to my surprise and delight he organized one to be sent to me via their development facility Downton Works! Two weeks later I competed and won – and never looked back I achieved a back-to-back win of the championship 1969 & 1970.” I’m sure he’d still love to find out more about the car’s current whereabouts.

(Words Jeroen Booij, video courtesy British Pathe)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

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Back to back: Dual Ghia or Hudson Italia?

Back to back: Dual Ghia or Hudson Italia?
How many Italian styled and / or bodied American cars were available in the mid-1950s? Available, so we are not talking coachbuilt Corvettes by Pininfarina, Vignale or Scaglietti here. Oh, those are younger anyway. Well? We can think of only two of them: the Dual Ghia and the Hudson Italia. And it doesn’t happen very often that both of them are offered for sale on one and the same day. It is the case, however, this weekend when Worldwide Auctioneers will hammer them down at their Pacific Grove auction on the lovely Monterey peninsula.

To start with the eldest of the two: the 1955 Hudson Italia was dreamt up in Detroit, Michigan ‘to create a flagship experimental sports coupe; fast, sporty, based on the hotfooted Hudson Hornet and also for competition in the Carrera Panamericana.’ And to compete the Corvette and Thunderbird they came up with something that these competitors didn’t have: European styling. The chaps in Detroit teamed up with Carrozzeria Touring to get the so much sought-after ‘European feel’. It didn’t exactly become a success though. The car offered here is one of just 26 built. It is said to have had just three owners, with all the bills from new still there, while a concours-level restoration was just finished. The estimate is $400 - $500,000.

The 1956 Dual Ghia Convertible is similar in many ways. It, too, was an absolute prestige project attracting film stars and presidents (Actor Ronald Reagan reportedly had one but lost it in a poker game with then-President Lyndon Johnson…). Meant to be a make on it’s own, Dual Motors’ products were in fact very expensive Chryslers with bodies designed by Virgil Exner but built by Ghia of Turin. Transporting the cars up and down to Italy proved a real pain and this was reflected in the sales price. With 117 made it was pretty rare, too. This is number 101 and is also said to come with an unbroken provenance including two long-term owners in Monterey, while it is also restored to concours-level. The estimate is $450 - $650,000. So there we go: which is the one for you? Full auction list here.

(Words editor, pictures Worldwide Auctioneers)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

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