Archive for the ‘Sportscars’ category


The Paddle Economy: Gooding & Company, Pebble Beach 2018

Nightshift Sports at the Pebble Beach Auctions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gooding & Company

This auction is in process now. 

August 24th & 25th

Location:

Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
Corner of Stevenson Dr. and Portola Rd.

Viewing:

Friday, August 249:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday, August 259:00am – 5:00pmAuction:
Friday, August 245:00pm
Saturday, August 2511:00am

Admittance:
Admittance – $40, admits one to all events
Catalogue – $100, admits two to all events
Cash or credit card only.
Children under 12 free.

Direct Link to Gooding & Company Catalog

Bidder Registration:

$200 includes a catalogue, admission for two to the viewing and auction with two reserved seats, subject to availability.

On-Site Contact Information:

Telephone: 310.899.1960
Fax: 310.526.6594
Email: info@goodingco.com

Mailing Address:

Gooding & Company
1120 Forest Ave., Box 101
Pacific Grove, CA 93950

The Paddle Economy Selections from the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction

1963 Facel Vega Facel II

Lot No. 005

Chassis:A121  (1 of 184)

Estimate: $375,000-$450,000

 

 

1975 Gulf-Mirage GR8

Lot No. 039

Chassis GR8-802

Participant in five 24 Hours of Le Mans races, three podium finishes

One of two, from the John Wyer JWAE/GRRC Organization.

Estimate $2,500,000-$3,500,000

 

 

1965 Shelby GT350

Lot No. oo7

Chassis: SFMSS421

One of 521. Shelby American Automobile Club Restoration.

Presented in the classic Blue and White livery.

Estimate: $300,000-$400,000

 

 

1995 Land Rover NAS Defender 90 Station Wagon

Lot No. 015

Chassis No. SALDV3285SA978703

No. 30 of 500 North American Spec vehicles

Estimate $140,000-$160,000

 

 

2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach

Lot No. 014

Chassis No. WP0CA2A10FS800597

Showing less than 100 miles when catalogued

One of 162 Weissach 918s delivered to U.S.

Estimate $1,600,000-$2,000,000

 

 

2003 Aston Martin DB AR1 w/Coachwork by Zagato

Lot No. 120

Chassis No. SCFAE§2383K800037

Less than 1000 miles

Number 37 of 99 DB AR1s

Estimate: $350,000-$450,000

 

 

1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV

Lot No. 56

Chassis No. J-10

One of 12 build;10 remaining

Driven in Can Am by Revson, Brabham, Follmer

Restored in 2017 to 1967 Le Mans Specs and Livery

Estimate: $2,500,000-$3,000,000

 

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet

Lot No. 136

Chassis No. 111.027-12-001545

Factory Data card

One of the most elegant Mercedes-Benz models

Estimate: $250,000-$325,000

 

1965 Porsche 356 SC Cabriolet w/Coachwork by Reutter

Lot No. 001

Chassis No. 16205

Engine No. 821794

Matching Numbers engine (Factory Kardex)

Estimate: $225,000-$275,00

 

2015 BMW M5 “30 Jahre M5”

Lot No. 018

Very rare: only 29 sold new in USA and only 300 worldwide

Limited edition 30th anniversary  Model

Subject of Bloomberg.Com Article

1,815 Miles At time of cataloguing

Estimate: $175,000-$250,000

 

2013 Pagani Huayra

Lot No. 168

One of 100 Built

Number Thirty-eight (38)

Mercedes AMG Engine

Estimate: $2,000,000-$2,400,000

 

 

1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C

Lot No. 041

Chassis No. 09063

Engine No. 09063

One of 12 single cam GTB/C  models

Owned/Campaigned by Pedro Rodriquez

Restoration by Cognolato and Michelotto

Estimate: $12,000,000-$14,000,000

 

The Fine Print: Photos and provenance descriptions by Gooding & Company. All rights reserved. These photos and details have not been altered in anyway. We thank them for sharing. Please take advantage of the Gooding & Company website, download and/or read the catalog and subscribe to the Gooding & Company Twitter Feed. A direct link to the Gooding & Company catalog is at the head of this article. The Paddle Economy is a service mark of DonaldPierce.com and is a regular feature of this website. Pebble Beach coverage produced by Perception Engineering and the Media Bunker (the team has been working late). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Daybreak

Nightshift Sports:

The Latest Word:

The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is currently in progress. The race started yesterday afternoon and will finish this afternoon.  The teams who have come through the night unscathed (and many did not) now face the daunting prospect that a third of the race is yet to be run. This piece was originally published as part of Nightshift Sports coverage of the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s just as relevant today because it addresses a specific time in a 24 hour endurance race, and not a specific race. 

“In a 24 hour endurance race, it’s only 24 hours for the car. For the crew and drivers, it’s a minimum of 32 or 36 or even 48 hours.”–Miles Geauxbye

Daybreak.

There is a trick that the night/day cycle plays on participants in around-the-clock, 24 hour endurance races.

It is called Sunrise and although the racers naturally feel that racing into the sunrise means the end of the race is very near, that is not the case.

The legendary 24 Hour races start in early afternoon, at 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00PM and when a team makes it to sunrise–safely and still in the game–there is still approximately a third of the race to left to go.

Sunrise is a signal that, having made it through the night, you are now simultaneously required to do things: turn up the wick to close strongly and keep it all together on the track and in the pits so nothing derails your run to the finish line.

Go fast, but don’t go recklessly.

Do your very best work on the track and off at the precise time of day at which you are the most compromised in terms of energy, attention, strength, focus because you have been up all night and working longer than that.

Sunrise is a marker of progress but it’s also a false horizon: you might think you’re almost there, but you’re not.

You made to morning. Congratulations.

But a third of the race is yet to be run, and this is–like all of the race–yet another strategic point.

The next goal is to make it to twelve noon, the point at which –at Le Mans–you have three hours left.

And once you make it to twelve, you get to turn up the wick and race full blast all the way to the end of the race.

Enjoy the sunrise. But it’s not the natural end to the race, just the unnatural beginning of the end.


DRAFT: CLASS WARFARE: LE MANS 2017

THE LE MANS LINEUP FOR 207

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is off and running. The 2017 race  is the 94rd anniversary of the famed historic endurance race, one of the top three automobile events in the world (Grand Prix of Monaco, Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans), justifiably famous for the demands it puts on cars and teams and for the legends who have won there.

In 2017, there are only four classes at Le Mans. You can read very specific information about each class via this link to the ACO Site. A short description of each of the categories is listed below.

LM P1- For manufacturers and privateers. 

The top class with the most advanced prototypes, dominated over the last decade by the magnificent prototype program run by Audi, but also featuring major league efforts from Porsche, Peugeot, Toyota, and Bentley in the past. This year,   Porsche –who has won 18 times overall at Le Mans with their win last year—has staked a claim to being (again) the team to beat at Le Mans.

There are two subgroups in this class, one with hybrid energy systems and one without (only privateers can run in the non-hybrid category)

LM P2-For privateers only 

This class is P1,lite. All closed cockpit (in the past there have been open cockpit cars in the class) and a very short list of chassis suppliers (Dallara, Ligier,Oreca, and Riley) and one engine supplier, Gibson).

 


LM-GTE Pro

LM-GTE (Le Mans Grand Touring endurnace) is the professional GT category at Le Mans. This category is packed with factory backed entries. Most of the players in this group are familiar to followers of IMSA and the WEC (World Endurance Championship) series: Porsche (back with yet another iteration of the iconic 911 RSR);  Corvette (C7R); Aston Martin Vantages; Ford  and Ferrari.

LM-GTE Am

This  is the “amateur” category for GT Racing. In this category, an amateur ( or “Gentleman driver”) is paired up with one or two drivers of equal or better skill(there’s a rating system for the drivers). The cars in this category are at least one year old.

Le Mans, to its’ credit, is very generous in opening up classes for privateer and amateur teams. The newspaper headlines will go to the P1 category and the LM-GTE Pro classes.


The Fastest Lap Ever at Le Mans.

Nightshift Sports:

Records are made to broken, and this year at Le Mans, a Toyota Hybrid driven by Kamui Kobayashi broke the lap record at the famed Le Mans track.

Even better, there’s terrific  footage, great graphics, and very informed commentary. The video is just the thing to get you ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but for full impact, kick it to the big flat screen.

A couple of viewings will definitely put in the mood for some LDR (long distance racing).

Enjoy.

 

The Fine Print: Embed courtesy of our friends at YouTube. Posted by the guys at MotorsportManiac. All rights reserved by their respective parties. 


Original Tastes

The perfection of imperfection; it's a trend.

The perfection of imperfection; it’s a trend.

Editor’s Note: this post was originally produced in 2015 but the story line is still accurate..perhaps even more so..and the link is still good. It’s repeated here as we move into the major season(s) for Concours shows. 

Paying Attention: 

Not so long ago, I was at the Pebble Beach concours, primarily to see a client’s car through the auction process but also to look after another car that a friend had entered in the show. The car was a Ferrari 250 SWB, a very desirable model from one of Ferrari’s great periods and it was beautiful in every way. It had undergone a complete restoration by Ferrari’s internal Classiche Department, and was, for all intents and purposes, brand new.

In a show that prizes perfection, one would think that particular car would have won.

It did not.

It did not even win  its’ class.

And when I tracked down one of the judges to ask why the car did not perform better in the judging, he said something that was a bit startling: “It’s too perfect. The car looks like a new showroom model. There’s no patina at all.”

I understood his point about the car being “too new” although I certainly don’t  agree with the idea that the car should be downgraded because it was a perfect specimen in a beauty contest that traditionally) prized perfect specimens.

The bigger point, however, was that at Pebble Beach (and at other big concours shows now) there is a movement away from engineered/renovated perfection and towards perfected preservation of a car in it’s original state. It’s a serious movement and it’s here to stay;  just a few weeks ago, the New York Times picked up on this significant cultural shift with this very fine article on the rising value of collector cars in “original” condition. It’s a terrific article by Robert Yeager and is going to provide much food for thought for collectors over the next few years.

 

The Fine Print: Photo (C) 2015, Donald Pierce. All rights reserved. 


Flat out: Moto GP, April 21-April 23 at Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX

There is racing and then there is Moto GP racing. Moto GP racing is the F1 of motorcycle racing. The bikes are extreme, the drivers are absolutely fearless and phenomenally skilled, and the action and visual presentation of the sport is without equal. It is a sport that is visibly, incredibly dangerous. On the weekend of April 21st – April 23rd, Moto GP visited Austin, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas, the site of the U.S. Grand Prix. Photographer Regis Lefebure was on site to capture the action and graciously agreed to share some of his photos, which are absolutely amazing. One thing for certain about Moto GP: these guys are totally committed, have amazing balance and skill, and push the limits on every lap. If you get a chance to see a Moto GP race, do it. It will change your idea of what is possible on two wheels. All photos are (C) 2017 by Regis Lefebure. We thank him for sharing (you should too!).


The Zen of Street Racing

A Risi Comp Ferrari GT racer at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Photo (c) 2014, Regis Lefebure. Regis is the Official Team Photographer for Risi Comp. He’s good.

Editors Note: This post originally ran on the Risi Competizione website in April of 2009. It describes a race meeting at the Long Beach Grand Prix, among other topics. The Long Beach Grand Prix(now known as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and also as the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix) is a sports car race conducted on a city-street course in Long Beach, California. There’s a sports car race and an open wheel race. It’s a bit of a classic. The 2017 race is this weekend. The piece is repeated here to set the mood (if you follow racing; if you don’t follow racing, we’re also setting the mood for golf in other posts. Your weekend, your choice.). 

From The Racing Archives: 

(Dateline: Los Angeles, 14 April 2009)……….

“One of these nights
One of these crazy old nights
We’re gonna find out
Pretty mama
What turns on your lights
The full moon is calling
The fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers
And moans
You got your demons
You got desires
Well, I got a few of my own”

One of these Nights, Eagles

Why is it always rock n’ roll and speed? Why is it that a certain song can capture a certain speed and mood with such perfection?

Why does loud and fast and fast and loud appeal so much to me….and to most of those who read this column?

It’s primal, it works at the cellular level, it’s rebellious, it’s us, and we’re not going to change. Ever.

Downtown Chicago. More than a decade ago. A Rosso Rubino Ferrari 275GTB/4 is rolling down Michigan Avenue, the sound from the exhausts ricocheting off the stone and glass-walled skyscrapers as the big four cam 12 cylinder engine housed in,  arguably, the most beautiful production coupe that Ferrari ever produced, emits the purest tone imaginable, a rumbling, threatening, dangerous wave of sound that makes this particular car, at this particular moment, the center of the city.

The sun is just coming up over Lake Michigan as EE and I make the turn out of downtown Chicago and head onto the Dan Ryan Expressway for Lake Forest and the rest of the weekend. We have been up all night, partying, living for The City, and now we are headed out to Lake Forrest to decompress with our friends.

The five speed, competition gate gearbox, with its’ delicate thin chrome shift lever and black shift knob, is fully heated now (the tolerances on the 275GTB/4 gearbox are so fine that if the oil that lubes the box has not reached operating temperature, there will be a bit of a grating sound as gears are changed), and the gearshift clicks through the gates with a sweet type of precision that is almost erotic as I work up the scale, the Ferrari twelve cylinder engine singing a song of rebellion and speed and pride.

First is a memory, second not far behind, we are in third and climbing and then into fourth and past the massive RR Donnelly printing compound, a huge production facility where the Yellow Pages are printed for America. There is a big sweeping curve, a right hander as you go out of town, by Donnelly and EE looks over at me with both trust and trepidation, because we are booking 145 plus and still accelerating as I click the gearshift into 5th and continue the ride up the rev chain, out of town, in a Ferrari, invisible, invincible, too fast to be found, too young to know the consequences of a mistake. We were immortal and we loved it.

Last year, at Laguna Seca, EE and I revisited that moment and laughed all night about it, the fun, the danger, the adrenaline, the pure experience of speed in the city and the sheer, cocky attitude that comes with driving a Ferrari that fast on city streets.

This year, at the Long Beach Grand Prix, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer will take the Risi Competizione F430Gt and drive much faster, on streets much tighter, with traffic much denser. They will be seeking and living their own type of immortality as they do so.

Think of it this way: one hundred fifty-five miles an hour in the Risi Comp F430GT on city streets tightly bounded by concrete barriers, with no room for error, even less room for the faint of heart.

True racing drivers—the ones with the deepest possible well of courage and daring—love city circuits because these circuits are dangerous, technical, demanding, penalizing. They are racing’s equivalent of a knife fight—one mistake and you’re out. We have two of those types of drivers racing for Risi Comp this year, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer. Last year, we also had two: Melo and Mika Salo, an equally dangerous combo.

The Long Beach Grand Prix (Officially known as the 2009 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach) is a major race on the ALMS circuit. It typically attracts one of the biggest crowds and has the largest TV audience. The sponsors lineup for this one like banks working for a TARP bailout: Toyota, Firestone, Patron Tequila, Korbel, Canon, Tecate, Coca Cola, The Orange County Register, The Port of Long Beach, etc., etc., etc. It’s a big race, a hugely popular race, and a very difficult one.

The track is tight, 1.968 miles and 11 turns. It’s a temporary course, like all street courses, and technical. The fastest part of the course is a long, curving straight right in front of the very crowded pits. That straight leads to a 90 degree lefthander, a little juke-and-jive right hand u-turn up to turn 4, another 90 degree right hander. Then it’s down a short straight to turn 5 (90 degrees, turn right—it’s a street course, there are lots of 90 degree turns) down a quick straight to a left hander, up a short straight with a left-hand kink about 1/4th of the way through, then a right-hander (you guessed it, 90 degrees), a blast down the Seaside Way straight to another 90 degree righthander, then a short straight followed by a sweeping left hand semi-high speed curve into the slowest turn on the track, a hairpin! And then onto the curving front straight again. GT1 and GT2 cars don’t have too much trouble with the hairpin curve (officially Turn 11) but it’s a bit of a problem for the P1 and P2 cars that lumber through it, in the automotive equivalent of gasping for breath.

Rick Mayer’s excellent preview of this race should be your guide to what to expect from an automotive dynamics point of view. The field of ALMS cars will be down again this week: Audi and Peugeot have gone away from the ALMS circuit for this part of the year to do battle in Europe and the Porsche RS Spyders are but a memory. It’s Hollywood, however, and this week the surprise guest is Corvette, who bring their wonderfully organized and super-competitive GT1 program to Long Beach for the fans. I said in my Sebring writing that I didn’t think we’d see a GT1 Corvette race again in America this year because Corvette was pointing for Le Mans and a showdown with Aston Martin; their plan was to return to ALMS in the GT2 category, with a new model now in development. But I was, thankfully, wrong.

Hey, it’s Hollywood! And Corvette will be running and Corvette fans should show up and support them, in mass. These are good guys and their program is superb. If the rest of GM was run as well as the Corvette Racing program is managed by Pratt & Miller, GM would not be in trouble.

The real action at Long Beach will be in the GT2 category, where 12 different cars will be entered. Flying Lizard will be there with their two car Porsche 91 GT3 RSR program; Rahal/Letterman, feeling rather spunky after a podium at St. Pete, will bring in a pair of the still-in-the-development-stage BMW E92 M3s; Panoz will bring in an Esperante, the only car in the series to podium in both of the first two races. Lou G will line up his Chevrolet Corvette C6 (he was fourth at Long Beach), and the Dodge Viper Competition Coupe from Primetime Race Group will also be present. VICI Racing, new sponsorship deal with T-Mobile in place, will return to the circuit with their new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, this year racing on Michelins. Welcome back, guys.

Risi Comp will, as the legendary University of Texas Football Coach Daryl Royal once said, “dance with who brung us”, which means Melo and Kaffer handling the driving chores for our Rosso Corsa clad Ferrari 430GT. We had a brilliant start to the year with a win at Sebring and a rather inglorious second race at St. Petersburg, where we DNF’d after leading early (we also had the pole) due to suspension failure. Analysis complete, the  team doesn’t expect THAT to happen again and does expect to be very competitive at Long Beach.

We have had success at this track before. Winning  in 2007 with Mika Salo and Jaime Melo driving. . We did not do so well in 2008, but two races later we won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so……not a bad year, that 2008.

Practice time at Long Beach, like St. Petersburg, is severely restricted, a mere 90  total minutes of pre-qualifying practice, so we will count on Rick Mayer’s legendary memory of how to set up the car up for this particular circuit and Jaime Melo’s ability to dial it in quickly (he was the development driver for the 430GT project at Ferrari). Kaffer is a very quick study in the 430GT (he is also a mechanical engineer) and his input adds immensely to the Risi Comp braintrust. A quick path to the optimum setup is a key to victory here and I believe we will get to the proper setup and race pace very expediently.

Here is what expect: it’s a tight track and passing spots are few and far between. It is not a tough track on brakes because there are enough straights to keep the brakes cool. The track is uneven because it’s a street course. There will be celebrities in the stands and in the pits but we will be unable to fulfill their requests for new Ferrari California convertibles because they live in Los Angeles and not in Houston. The stands will be packed. The atmosphere will be electric. Jaime Melo will put on an amazing show during qualifying. The pits will be crowded and jammed and the yellow flags will be few, because the car count is down and there are fewer things to hit on the track. The hairpin will equalize P1 and P2 cars. The Zone may be achieved, again.

Here’s what not to expect: another DNF due to suspension problems for the Ferrari 430GT. Last place on the grid due to poor qualifying speed. An inability to take advantage of the course and the strategy. A lack of competitive zeal from the Porsche and BMW factory teams (they’re here to win, too). It will not be a walkover for any team.

“One of These Nights” by The Eagles was the opening cut in their seminal “HOTEL CALIFORNIA” Album. It’s a song written about Los Angeles and it pretty much sums up the sentiment at Risi Comp as we get ready for battle at the concrete jungle that is the Long Beach Grand Prix.

We’re here. We’re pumped. Let’s race.

“You got your demons

You got desires

Well, I got a few of my own”

One of These Nights.  Eagles

You got it.

 


SEBRING RESOURCES 2017

Paying Attention: 

The internationally famous 12 Hours of Sebring race is today. The flag drops at 10:40AM and runs until 10:40PM, ET. You can see the race on IMSA.tv, Fox Sports GO (app) and from 2:00PM to 11:00PM (ET) on Fox Sports 1. It’s not an easy race to follow. Our recommendation: radiolemans.com–the best audio coverage of The 12. But…for a totally different and thorough overview along with continuing uninterrupted coverage of the race, check out the Sebring Resources listed below–easily the best and most comprehensive list of information on the race. You never can tell what’s going to happen at Sebring. Last year’s race was something of a water festival….if you like big time sports car racing, this is one of the best.

Sites and Sounds to follow for The 12:

Live Timing and Scoring

 IMSA Twitter Feed

IMSA Instagram Feed 

Sebring Twitter Feed 

Sebring Instagram Feed

Risi Comp Twitter Stream

Risi Comp Instagram Feed

Regis Lefebure Instagram Feed  (Regis is the Official Risi Comp Photographer)

Keith Rizzo Instagram Feed (Keith also shoots for Risi Comp)

Camden Thrasher Instagram Feed (Cam is one of the best young photographers in the sport)

Rick Dole Instagram Feed (Rick is another top photographer. Follow ALL these guys)

Marshall Pruitt Twitter Feed (Marshall is a photographer/writer for Racer magazine other publications)

John Dagys Twitter Feed  (John is the founder/editor of Sportscar 365)

Sportscar 365 Twitter Feed (The daily journal of the sport’s twitter feed)

Graham Goodwin (Editor, Daily Sports Car Racing)

Eve Hewitt Radio Le Mans Twitter Feed (one of the voices from Radio Le Mans)

 Radio Le Mans

Fox Television Broadcast Schedule (scroll down for Sebring)

2017 Sebring Media Guide 

2017 IMSA Spotter Guide  

2017 IMSA Technical Specifications for GTLM Cars 

2017 IMSA Sporting Regulations 

2017 IMSA/Sebring Balance of Performance (BoP) Specifications

2017 Sebring Entry List 

The Fine Print:  Embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. They remain the internet’s go-to source for photos.  This visual has not been altered in any way. We thank them for sharing. This post is a production of Perception Engineering and The Media Bunker. 

 

 

 


Beginnings

Racing:

The official testing season for F1 cars is now in progress. Below, a short photo review, courtesy of our friends at GettyImages.com of some of the new models for 2017. More on the F1 season later.

The Fine Print: Slide Show Embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file.They remain the internet’s go-to source for photos. This visual has not been altered in any way. The Nightshift is a production of Perception Engineering and The Media Bunker.  This post is number 1022 for this site. Thanks for reading.


How to Build a Car

Paying Attention

At one time in the evolution of the automobile, most cars were hand built. After Henry Ford invented the production line, hand built cars became a status symbol and were for the most part,  the very best cars, the most expensive, the fastest, the most exclusive. As a result of mass production, the costs of an automobile went down and cars became “affordable” for the masses. But the lure of a hand-built or custom-built or small run (another term for a limited production run of an automobile) car has always remained, primarily because of exclusivity and sophistication of the vehicle.

In the earlier years of the automobile, obtaining a car built to your specifications was relatively easy, if you had the money (and the clout: it’s said that Ettore Bugatti, who insisted that clients who wanted a special model have dinner with him at his factory in Molsheim, once turned down a sitting European King because “the man’s table manners were horrible”). The process was very simple: a client contracted with a manufacturer–Bugatti for example (this is the Bugatti of the 1930s, not the Bugatti of 2013)–for a chassis and engine, also known as the “running gear”.

The client then contracted  and worked with a designer and coachwork studio for the design and build of the body and automobile interior. The basic elements of the car, chassis/engine and the bodywork,  were  fabricated and then joined together to create a complete, truly custom-made automobile. Every element of these one-off or short run cars was designed, produced, and installed–the doorhandles, window washers, lights, running boards, interior upholstery. It was time consuming and enormously expensive but the end-result was, in the best of cases, a work of art.

With this type of system, it was possible for Bugatti to make Six Type 57s and have none of them look alike—they all shared similar running gear  and iconic styling keys, but the body and interior would be different for each car.

It was a nice way to create something very exclusive and some manufacturers–notably Ferrari and Rolls-Royce–embraced and continued the practice, some more aggressively than others (Ferrari) to current times.

As late as the early 21st century, there were still some firms operating in Europe that produced cars in this manner, producing “short runs” of a particular model or design for big manufacturers.  One of the most famous custom manufacturers was Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design firm best known for their designs for Ferrari. Although Pininfarina was known primarily for their coachwork design skills, the company operated several short-run manufacturing facilities that could build a couple of thousand cars a year for a client. One of their clients was Cadillac, for whom Pininfarina designed and built the Cadillac Allante body.  The process was the same as it had been for generations: Pininfarina would produce the body at their factory and then the bodies were shipped to the US (in specially modified Boeing 747s) to Michigan, to a General Motors facility that combined the bodies with a GM manufactured chassis. Approximately 23,000 Allante’s were built during the car’s production run (1986-1993), an average of about 3000 cars/year. Over the years, Pininfarina also did short run manufacturing for Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Lancia, and Fiat. When the company went through re-organization at the end of 2015, it had already started the process of closing it’s short run manufacturing factories.

Today, the automobile industry seems to be exploding with new brands and models. Tesla is the most recognizable and successful of the new automobile manufacturers, but other new brands and models are either rumored (Apple) or on the way (Uber). Building a car is not an overly complex undertaking, but neither is it an easy one. The new electric cars, which use electric motors and not the gasoline powered internal combustion engine, are much simpler to design and build than gas or diesel cars. As electric car components become readily available, the economics of building short run custom electric vehicles will increase.

However, the more manufacturing experience, knowledge, and contacts a new car company has, the faster it can commence operations and the less mistakes it will make on the way to the showroom floor. Tesla’s business model is Silicon Valley, not Detroit, and that’s one of the reasons for it’s success; it has no legacy technology and is free to upgrade the cars it makes whenever it thinks an upgrade will improve the car and the ownership experience.  Tesla is so certain it’s doing things the right way that it’s open-sourced its’ cars. No other manufacturer has done that.

If you are going to build a new model of car–traditional, electric, or highly innovative– and you want to get it done in a hurry with a minimum of stress and startup errors, you might want to fly up to Ontario Canada and talk with Magna International (if Canada is out of the way, they have offices all over the world), a company that specializes in small run automobile manufacturing as well as producing many of the components that make up the modern automobile. Magna is not a new company–it’s been around for approximately 60 years–but it could be your new best friend if you need a production run of 100 or 1000 new models. Magna International’s Austrian subsidiary, Magna Steyr currently handles small run production for BMW (among others) and has been rumored to be the production choice for the rumored Apple Car. It has also been rumored (and not independently confirmed) that Magna Steyr handled a small production run of certain Lamborghini models after Volkswagen bought the brand (and that those models were considered highly desirable because of the build quality and fit-and-finish) while VW was upgrading the Lamborghini factory in Italy to VW/Audi production processes and standards.

Bloomberg.com profiled Magna and how they have managed to combine the best of old world manufacturing with new century technology in a short, incisive piece. Certainly worth a read if you have even a modest interest in automobiles; definitely worth a read if you’re planning on starting a new car company.

The Fine Print: Image courtesy of our friends at Getty Images, always the perfect source for any image you need for your blog or website. Thanks, guys, for sharing.