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

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.

Ferrari Dino

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May be it’s the recent sad loss of the charmer Sir Roger Moore Volvo P1800– aka Lord Brett Sinclair in the early 1970’s caper ‘The Pursuaders!” with Tony Curtis – aka Bernard Schwartz/”Daniel” Danny Wilde as his gritty, wealthy, upstart crime co-fighter  – who drove one in the series – but I have recently been re-admiring the beguiling lines of the iconic Ferrari Dino.

The epic title sequence from “The Pursuaders!” – with an amazing John Barry soundtrack – can be seen here – enjoy! The Pursuaders! Titles

The Ferrari Dino was a brand of mid-engined, rear-drive sports cars produced by Ferrari from 1968 to 1976. It may be that the Dino first appeared during an era in my life typified by raging hormones but even forty years on I am humbled by the staggering beauty of this feat of Italian engineering.

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“Dino” – comes from founder, Enzo’s son and heir, “Alfredo” – nicknamed “Alfredino”- who, sadly, died in 1956 aged just twenty four suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

As used by Ferrari “Dino” was what they call in the fashion business a “diffusion line”, not the full-priced product but one basking in the shadow of the senior brand. During this era the Ferrari name was reserved for the 12 cylinder versions of the marque and “Dino” was used to support a range of more realistically priced versions of this classic sports car. Similarly to the use of the models “Boxster” and “Cayman” in the Porsche range today.

Enzo was initially doubtful about the safety of a mid-engined car but after some persuasion – get the connection….- he agree to allow Sergio Pininfarina to build a mid-engined concept car for the 1965 Paris Motor Show which carried only the “Dino” badge. By the 1966 Turin Show  a further prototype was shown and was very well received. Enzo was finally willing to green light production with the 206 GT. Only 152 Dino 206 GT were built.

The Dino range was described by three digits such as the 206 – being a 2 litre 6-cylinder (containing the signature V6 – designed by legendary Vittorio Jano – Alfredo actually had a hand in its design), 246 – being a 2.4-litre 6-cylinder and the 308 – being a 3.0-litre 8-cylinder.

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In 1969 the 206 GT was superseded by the more powerful steel bodied Dino 246 GT, initially only available as a fixed-top GT coupé,

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A targa topped GTS was launched in 1971 – our example shown has been Federalised for the US market by the addition of more bumpering and side indicators.

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The Dino 246 GT designed by Leonardo Fioravanti at Pininfarina was the first Ferrari to be produced in reasonably high numbers. Dino 246 production numbered 2,295 GTs and 1,274 GTSs, for a total production run of 3,569.

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Initially the Bertone designed 308 GT4 2+2, with its V8 engine was given a “Dino” badge between 1973 and 1976 when it was “upgraded” to a Ferrari. Not one of my favorite Ferraris but it did spawn a later model, the beautiful 308 GTB, the car that succeeded the Dino – and included the “Magnum PA” 308 GTS – but that’s another story!

Get you own die cast Dino by clicking the following AMAZON link Bburago Ferrari Dino 246 GTB 1:24

Get a Red Dino T shirt by clicking the following AMAZON link Ferrari 246 Dino legendary road icon mens T-Shirt (Large, Red)

Images courtesy of ITC Entertainment, Ferrari/Fiat and Bburago

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Maserati A6G/54 Zagato

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I am indebted to a regular Aestheticions reader for expanding my automobile education and introducing me to the sheer delights of the 1955 Maserati A6G/54 Zagato.

The A6 models – with straight six-cylinder 1.5 litre engines – were made by Maserati between 1947 and 1956 and named after one of the company’s co-founders, Alfieri Maserati, who along with his brothers Ernesto, Bindo and Ettore established the iconic company in Bologna in the late 1920’s. Maserati’s trident logo derived from the Fountain of Neptune in the city’s, Piazza Maggiore.

By 1937 the company was in financial difficulty and the remaining brothers sold all their interests to the Orsi family who moved Maserati to Modena where it has been ever since. After year of takeovers, mergers and sales the company is now well funded with an evolving range as part of the car giant, Fiat Chrysler.

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The A6G grand tourer was launched in 1954 at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, it was originally known as the “A6G 2000 Gran Turismo’ – but is more commonly known at the A6G/54.

The A6G/54 was offered in a choice of four body styles: a Carrozzeria Allemano Coupé – only 21 were made, a Coupé and a Gran Sport spyder by Pietro Frua (see below) – only 7 and 12, were made and a fastback by Ugo Zagato of which a total of 19 were made in this configuration plus a racing special on the same chassis. Between 1954 and 1956 the total production was a mere 60 cars.

Given the rarity of these car values are astronomical, it’s anticipated that our featured car, if you could find one to buy would be in excess of $3m.

It may be interesting to note, that in the UK during a similar era Jaguar were making the XK120 – see here our previous post Jaguar XK120 and MG were making the MGA – see our previous post here – MG – MGA. Both of which, although beautiful in their own way, seem to echo the design of cars of an earlier era whereas the A6’s design seems altogether much more modern.

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To be clear our featured car is a 1955 A6G/54 two-door coupe by Ugo Zagato which was sold at Gooding and Co’s Pebble Beach auction in 2010. The name A6G/54 derives from “A” for Alfieri, “6” the number of cylinders, “G” featuring a Ghisa or cast iron engine block and “54” denotes its year of first introduction.

Given the rarity of these car values are astronomical.It is anticipated that our featured car, if you could find one to buy, would cost in excess of $3m.

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A new A6 inspired Maserati – a 2 plus 2 grand tourer – has been scheduled in recent years to join the range. Called the “Maserati Alfieri”, it was trailed as a concept car in 2014 and is understood that its planned launched will be in 2020.

Whilst I am a little concerned by the increasing similarity of super cars, I hope that Maserati delve into their heritage to make this re-imagined classic truly special and worthy of the A6 legacy.

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Images by Gooding & Co Auctions