Iconic Beach Cars

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As many return from overseas holidays, stay-cations and City breaks I wanted to send a “wish you were here” digital postcard – also my 300th Aestheticons post – from a wonderful visit to France’s Cote d’Azur, more particularly, the iconic French beach-side town of St Tropez with it’s simply beautiful pastel shaded port.

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Fame was assured for this picturesque coastal town when the 1950’s French actress, Brigitte Bardot, born in 1934 and still a local resident at Baie des Canebiers, featured in the 1956 Roger Vadim directed and ground breaking “And God Created Woman” (“Et Dieu Crea la Femme”). Mdme. Bardot’s impact on the region has been honored by local baker “Senequier” who in 1956 launched the delicious “La Tarte Tropezienne”, a delicate almond cream filled brioche topped with powdered icing sugar and chopped pistachio.

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Shot on location in and around St Tropez the film also provided a springboard for the world renowned beach club/restaurant “Club 55” that was founded from a dilapidated beach shack by the parents of current owner, Patrice de Colmont, who provided food for the cast and crew of filmmakers. Rumored to have recently been offered €30m for his iconic beach club M Colmont is understood to have politely turned down the offer as he preferred not to become one of his clients eating the signature dish of “Panier des Crudites” with anchoiade mayonnaise!

The town’s along this stretch of the Cote D’Azur are each rather distinct and have their own style. The beach is never far from people’s minds as they negotiate, sometimes to the frustration of the locals, the summertime traffic of fellow tourists.

Naturally in this style capital it is vital to get your beach or port transport right. For those not seeking to impress in the vast array of American muscle cars that are to be spotted in many locations, my preference is to celebrate the more quirky and classic vehicles.

Aestheticons readers will already know of my passion for the GRP bodied Citroen Mehari – see our previous post here – Citroën Méhari – A reliable French classic that is patriotically supported and really enjoyed in St Tropez and its surrounding villages.

The Mini Moke, which has the look of a vehicle that was designed for the breeze of the Cote D’Azur, is a very popular ride either to the beach or to park up alongside a visiting boat transporting provisions for a day at sea. For the the right clients it is possible to rent one of these wonderful and iconic cars for your stay. See our previous posts here – Mini Moke Goes Electric .

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Closer to the original Mini, I have seen parked in Grimaldi Village, a beach version with wicker seats and no doors, called the “Austin Mini Beach”. It was very beautiful and, I understand, extremely valuable! See our previous post here celebrating the iconic Mini – Mini – the best selling car in Britain

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The third leaf of this Fleur de Lys of wonderful beach and port transport is the Ghia designed Fiat Jolly based on the equally iconic Fiat 500 – see our previous post here – Fiat 500 – 1957-2017

Seemingly one of the most valuable of these iconic beach cars price points of $100,000 have been mentioned for these basket weave seated, frilled canopied expressions of Italian style.

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Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis is said to have had and loved his Fiat Jolly.

In 2108 this charming little car celebrated its sixtieth anniversary and to coincide the guys at Fiat commissioned Garage Italia to produce a reimagined version of the Jolly, limited to 1958 editions, and called the Fiat Spiaggina.

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Image Credits – used with grateful thanks – Hemmings Car Auctions and Garage Italia/FIAT

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Fiat Barchetta

 

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The other day I was following a Fiat Barchetta and was reminded of what a pretty and glamorous little car this particular Fiat was. It was in metallic grey with an open burgundy roof. It was in fantastic condition, gleaming chrome and clean paint, with its hood down, wind blowing through the driver’s hair it looked very cool.

There is a growing trend amongst classic car magazines to try to predict those cars that will be future collectibles, that unlike regular vehicles will either hold or  increase their value over a period of time. For me the smart thing to do would be buy a low mileage, well maintained Fiat Barchetta, mothball it, as I have a hunch that this car may well become one such vehicle – a classic.

As someone keen on the evolution of trade marks the “Barchetta” is somewhat enigmatic. Simply in Italian “Barchetta” is a way of saying small boat. Giovanni Canestrini the Editor of “La Gazzetta dell Sport” is credited with the origin of the name in the 1940’s. Initially in the name was used by Ferrari, Maserati and the lesser known manufacturer, Moretti, who all produced open top race cars.

In 1948 and 1949 a Ferrari 166MM – based on the earlier competition Barchetta called the 166S of which only 39 were made – won the Mille Miglia, the endurance race set in Northern Italy which ran from 1927 to 1957 – only being halted by War.

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In 1966 Abarth produced the 1000SP Barchetta – a track success. In 1991 Maserati produced seventeen Barchettas for the track. In 2001 Ferrari released their stunning 550 Barchetta Pininfarina to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the stellar – now Mahindra owned – Turinese design house.

Whilst this extensive use of a distinctive name would be manna from Heaven for the trade-mark lawyers I suspect the fact that the majority of the dramatis personae in this particular performance were either owned or co-owned by the Turin giant “Fiat” is probably the simplest answer to the lack of any dispute.

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Using the project name “Tipo B Spider 176” between 1990-94 Fiat’s in house Centro Stile team comprising primarily Andreas Zapatistas, Alessandro Cavazza and Peter Barrett Davis conceived and developed the Fiat Barchetta. With a 1,747 cc DHOC petrol engine it was based on the chassis of Fiat’s Mark 1 Punto.

It was first released in February 1995 and is classically Italian in styling. It draws from both the Fiat 124 – see our earlier posts on this iconic sports car –  Fiat 124 Sport Spider – a re-imagined icon   – and the earlier Ferrari 166MM.

Production ceased in  June 2005 with a final production run of around 57,700 cars.

So, back to my suggestion of an investment in this beautiful Italian sports car. A simple but limited search on the internet shows that low mileage examples – under 100,000 Kms – particularly LHD – currently go from around €3,000 to €5,000.

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Images – with grateful thanks – courtesy of Sylvia Druet, Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler SpA.

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Alfa Romeo 1300 Duetto – For Sale

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Many of us will dream of owning a Sunday Car – a preferred classic car – that can be enjoyed in the right climate but for a limited amount of time. The aim is not to add materially to the mileage whilst ensuring that it works well when needed with  minimal trips to the mechanic. The dream is for you and your nearest to enjoy, pose a little, relax and breathe.

One of my clear favourites in this precise category is the Alfa Romeo 1300 convertible. I have celebrated this wonderful vehicle on several occasions in the columns of Aestheticons. Please click on the highlighted following links to read our previous posts – Alfa Romeo Spider and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

The difficulty for many of our UK based readers is the availability of good stock of this beautiful car in Right Hand Drive. Well here’s a potential solution.

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The guys at the amazing Swiss-run curation site – in a nutshell comprising classic cars and associated lifestyle – Classic Driver –  Classic Driver – are busy celebrating their 20th anniversary with 20 Limited Edition Aston Martin DB11! Yes they launched in 1998 on the internet, geez I have shoes older –  Church’s Brogues . They are also currently running a campaign for an auction to take place on 7th July 2018 and by Historics at Brooklands. One particular vehicle to feature at this sale is a red – is there any other colour – 1970 Alfa Romeo 1300 – Alfa 1300 Convertible  – It carries a guide price/estimate of between £22,000 – £27,000. My feeling, whilst I am rubblish at valuations, is that looks like a particularly good sweet spot to kick off the innumerable pleasures of owning a classic car and enjoying classic motoring.

As many will know the Brooklands Museum is a venue particularly close to my heart – please see my previous post Mike Hawthorn – 1958 Formula One World Champion.

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This charming example of the Alfa Romeo Duetto is a right hand drive version and pre-dates the rather challenging era of added rubber bumpers that, in my view, detrimentally affected the aesthetics of this wonderful car in later models.

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STOPPRESS – Don’t know if you have yet had a chance to look at the listings for the Historics at Brooklands auction on 7th July 2018? A deeper study of what’s on offer has disclosed another classic Alfa Romeo – this time a left hooker – with an estimated value at between £50,000 to £60,000. A 1290cc 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta – simply one of the most stunning Alfas ever made.

 

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Image credits – with grateful thanks – Classic Driver and Historics at Brooklands https://www.historics.co.uk

 

Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder by Scaglietti

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Occasionally, when I see something of great design or beauty there is a real ‘catching breath” moment. The sight of your new born offspring and a Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder by Scaglietti will illicit a similar reaction but for so many different reasons.

I completely forgive you for staring as this is widely regarded as the finest and best looking Ferrari ever built. There is an argument – that I buy into that the later SWB versions can hold a candle but its marginal. It’s lines, its air intakes, its expansive boot and shrouded headlights combine to create a simply beautiful car.

We have featured other Ferrari’s and we leave the final decision to you – see our earlier posts here Ferrari 330 GTS and Ferrari Dino

The 250 GT LWB – because of its 2.4m chassis – was intended for the North American market and was produced between 1957 and 1960 being superseded by a SWB version.  Comprising a Pininfarina designed body and a Tipo 128D 60 degree V12 engine that delivered 228 bhp and top speed of 145mph – Paco for the late 1950’s.

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Original owners of these cars have include French film star, Brigitte Bardot (0937GT) and celebrated “Barbarella” film director and a former partner of the wonderful, Catherine Deneuve, Roger Vadim (1283 GT).

The iconic Ferrari GT 250 LWB California – as in our featured image – is a year younger than me and the current seller, Talacrest 2000 AD of Windsor – as featured on the excellent http://www.classicdriver.com – tell us that it bears the engine number 1503 GT, was the 35th of 50 LWBs to be made by Scaglietti and was delivered into their care in Modena on 7th July 1959. It was completed in October 1959, originally in white with a black interior and was shipped to a client in Caracas, Venezuela. In the early 1960’s it was imported into the US and in 1987 was acquired by a renowned collector who added only 700 kms in eleven years of ownership to the odometer but did change the colour to Ferrari’s signature Rosso/Red with a tan interior.

Provenance is vital with this quality of vehicle and like a fine painting or other artwork the amount of detail as to where, when and by whom that can be clearly demonstrated adds greatly to the cars value.

 

In 2015, RM Sotheby’s sold a stable mate of our Rosso, with engine number 1307 GT – as shown above – in stunning dark blue with its aluminium hood and distinctive air vents – for $8.5m. Rarely has an optional aluminium hard top looked so good as to enhance the overall effect of this majestic Italian classic.

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Photo credits – with grateful thanks to: Talacrest 2000 AD Ltd, http://www.classicdriver.com, Richard Owen/www.supercars.net and Patrick Ernzen/RM Sotheby’s

Clarks Desert Boots

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The Fast Show – a UK TV show from the mid-1990’s  – had a wealth of characters created by Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse – amongs others. One particular favourite was “Louis Balfour” – played by John Thomson – who was the oh so slightly pretentious presenter of “Jazz Club” with a catchphrase – when all else failed – of “Nice!”. You rarely got to see his feet but my bet is that he would’ve worn Clarks Desert Boots

See here a sample of Jazz Club The Best of Louis Balfour’s Jazz Club

Now you have to follow this, Louis was cut from a very similar cloth to a couple of Art Masters at my last school. They insisted on being called “Chris” and “Steve” as indeed I suspect they were their real names and as 6th Formers it seemed odd to continue with “Sir”. They wore corduroy jackets – in brown and country green – one with contrasting leather elbow patches – they had a penchant for practical Farah Hopsack trousers – don’t ask – and each had several pairs of iconic Clarks Desert Boots.

Quite what desert there were planning to cross in leafy Cheshire was uncertain but none the less these two were simply the coolest guys in the school.  “Steve” with his long hair even drove a late reg VW Beetle – click here to our previous post Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined – you can imagine he was already ice cool to me.

Assured not to be bitten by scorpions nor rattle snakes, Clarks Desert Boots to this day are an iconic and a highly flexible wardrobe essential that you can wear with jeans, moleskins or chinos and they will always look the part. Just avoid wearing in the rain – they are suede and, after all, are intended for deserts!

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C. & J. Clark International Ltd, (“Clarks”) was founded in 1825 by Quaker brothers Cyrus and James Clark in Street, (Somerset, England) where its HQ is still based – although manufacturing is now predominantly undertaken in Asia. Clark’s continues to be 84% family owned.

Since 1879 the Clark’s trade mark has been the distinctive Glastonbury Tor with the St Michael’s tower.

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The Desert Boot was launched in 1950 having been designed by the co-founders, James’, great-grandson, Nathan Clark, a serving British Army Officer based in Burma. It is said that the Desert Boot was based on the unlined boots made in the bazaar’s of Cairo for returning British Army Officers during the Second World War.

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Post War the Desert Boot saw adoption by the Mod Culture in UK, the Beatnik Culture in the US and were known to be a favourite of the Student anit-capitalist demonstrations in Paris in May 1968.

Why not be like Steve McQueen or Liam Gallagher and get a pair of Clarks original Desert Boots – please click the links below the images below to be directed to AMAZON – the two links show the full colour range available.

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Clarks Desert Boot, Men’s Derby, Braun (Cola Suede), 10 UK

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Clarks Originals Desert Boot, Men’s Derby Lace-Up, Brown (Brown Sde), 9 UK 43 EU)

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Images courtesy of C & J Clark International Limited

A Rare Rolex – The Submariner 6536

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Anyone who knows me will attest three things: I adore Rolex Submariners, I am truly fascinated by the processes of design and I am generally astonished by the extent that some people go to both understand their subject and display their knowledge.

The first is proven by the extent to which I have sung the praises of the iconic Rolex Submariner on many occasions in the pages of Aestheticons – see here a couple of our earlier pieces – Rolex Submariner and The Submariner

The second is fundamentally the reason that Aestheticons exists and I hope is amply demonstrated by our success amongst the likeminded.

Finally, and I cannot claim the credit here, which must go to Paul Altieri and the nice people at Bob’s Watches and Monochrome Watches – both who have links at the end of this piece. Their devotion to the study of the Rolex Submariner and are an illustration of why these fabulous watches have become virtually an “investment class” as would be understood by financial professionals.

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When we walk into a Rolex dealer or look at the array of excellent pre-owned models on-line we tend to be looking at the most readily and commercially available. There are few of us who will get the opportunity of seeing yet alone owning one of the often early and ultra rare version of Rolex’s iconic diver’s watch, the Submariner.

The Submariner with case number 6536 is a case in point. Given the time it now takes to bring a new version to market the early days of the Submariner were marked by an ability to introduce and retire models frequently. The 6536 is such a model. It was released in 1955 and made for just one year and I understand that only around 100 pieces were ever made.

So how can you identify a 6536? It features an unprotected 6mm crown – giving a 100m depth rating – with no side guards built into the case. Early – very rare versions – had the depth written in red ink on its face. Some ultra rare versions came with the Explorer dial but the majority featured a mix of round indexes and stick batons with the inverted triangle at 12 – as used in the modern Submariner. There are one or two specimens with the Arabic 3-6-9 markings of the Explorer.

The Explorer came with the same Mercedes-style hands that first joined the Submariner range from 1954. The very earliest models retained the longer types, with a minutes hand that overlapped the dial’s outer chapter ring, before being shortened at some point during the production cycle.

The 6536 was powered by the Cal. 1030, a 25-jewel automatic caliber first introduced in 1950 – you won’t find any with the ‘Officially Certified Chronometer’ text on the dial – it became a long terms Rolex favorite.

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Link to Paul Altieri’s of Bob’s Watches excellent piece here Rare Rolex Submariner

Ok so let’s understand what we mean by valuable – here’s the full link to Monochrome Watches detailed piece Valuing Rare Rolexes

 

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Running left to right in the above photo –

The 1955 Rolex SUBMARINER Ref. 6536 with Red Depth rating –
Rolex Submariner Ref. 6536 100m Red Depth Rating 5 digits serial number is for sale for €80.000

The 1955 Roles SUBMARINER Ref. 6536 with Ultra-Tropical “Explorer” dial
Rolex Submariner Ref. 6536 explorer dial ultra tropical and 5 digits serial number is for sale at €280.000.

The 1956 Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538 with “Big Crown” and Red Depth Rating – Legend has it that this is the one worn by Sean Connery in the James Bond 007 movie “Dr. No”is for sale at €175.000.

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Images courtesy of Bob’s Watches and Monochrone Watches.

Scalextric

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My Dad really liked Hornby “00” gauge electric train sets. The level crossings, the stations complete with milk churns, uniformed Porters with trolleys and passengers in tweeds with brown suitcases. He bought me a Hornby “00” set as soon as he could assure himself that I was old enough not to be electrocuted myself. I played along as he enjoyed it so much mounting endless lengths of track onto a huge board and creating a village and hillside scenes.

What I really wanted was an iconic Scalextric set. Like all good parents they usually obliged the reasonable requests of their offspring and for my tenth birthday I got my first set.

As kids we lived in the village of Silverstone (Northamptonshire, UK) a home of the British Grand Prix. The circuit is owned the British Racing Drivers Club and is the home of the Jim Russell racing school.

My Dad’s gift was a Scalextric Grand Prix circuit and one of the many combinations of the track set up was a reproduction of the Silverstone circuit with Woodcote, Stowe and Copse Corners and Hangar Straight.

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It was an era when club racing with Minis and Porsches was as much fun as the more serious and competitive Formula 1, so I decided to build the shorter Silverstone Club Circuit. I had four slot cars that I really liked to race, a green Mini, a Red Mini Mini – the best selling car in Britain and two Porsches in red and white Porsche 911 Targa and One Millionth Porsche 911.

I had two gun trigger controls in red and blue – as opposed to older palm held thumb plunger type of control – that gathered dust like a magnet and heated quickly filling the rooms over which I arranged my track with a electrical smell that I remember to this day.

Over the years my usual birthday and Christmas requests were for more track, cars, an automatic lap counter – that proved hazardous to some cars as the slot connection often derailed it if hit the lap counter too hard  – armco barriers, banking and track buildings – the pits etc. Pieces of track were ostensibly rather boring presents but straight and curved pieces with their interlocking electrical elements and black press studs could create a difficult chicane or a straight for breakneck speed.

Scalextric was first made in 1956 by British inventor, Fred Francis. He first made “Scalex” small model clockwork cars made of tin.

Facing a downturn in demand for his Scalex cars, Francis added a small motor to his cars and a slot with electric brushes that provided contact to the track’s power supply from concealed batteries. Scalextric was launched at the 1957 Harrogate Toy Fair “Scalextric” was a huge hit. “Scalextric” is now owned by Hornby Hobbies of England.

In 2009 Top Gear’s James May announced the re-creation of the original Brooklands track – in situ – using Scalextric. He broke the Guiness Book of Records record for the World’s longest Scalextric track – 2.95 miles/4.75 km. My late Dad was a Trustee of the Brooklands Trust – that owns the Circuit. He would have loved the very idea!

Images Courtesy of Scalextric/Hornby/Daily Telegraph and the Brooklands Trust

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