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

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

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

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Alfa Romeo is an iconic breed of Italian sports cars founded as A.L.F.A. (“Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobile”) on June 24, 1910, in Milan. By August 1915 the company was under the direction of Nicola Romero who re-purposed the factory’s output to support the Allies with munitions and aircraft engines.

The name changed to Alfa Romeo in 1920 and a car called “Torpedo” was the first to be badged with the new name. The company enjoyed significant success on the motor racing track with Enzo Ferrari and, in the 1950’s, Juan Manuel Fangio being notable drivers. With Romeo’s departure in 1928 and economic downturn the company was rescued by Mussolini’s government and came under State control in 1933. Following the Second World War and into the mid-1950’s Alfa Romeo started to produce smaller, mass-produced vehicles.

In 1952, Alfa Romeo experimented with a traverse-mounted “Project 13-61” its first compact front-wheel drive car.  The Giulietta (750/101) series of saloons, coupes and “Spiders” – open two-seaters was introduced in 1954. All Giuletta’s shared the Alfa Romeo overhead Twin Cam four-cylinder engine, initially 1290 cc. The Giulietta Sprint, as designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, and known as the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé was launched at the 1954 Turin Motor Show.

At the request of Max Hoffman, Alfa Romeo’s US importer, the Giulietta Spider was born in 1955. It was designed by the Pininfarina who also built around 17,000 Spiders at their 107 Corso Trapani and Grugliasco factories between 1956 and 1962 – in the era it was not unusual for the designer to complete the build.

This beautiful example is from 1961:

Our featured image dates from 1959 – see below Hoffman’s range available in the US.

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These beautiful little cars – smaller by today’s standards – would continue to be built in a variety of configuarions until 1965.

Back on the track in the 1960’s and 1970’s Alfa Romeo focussed on competition to great success both in Europe and the US, using production-based cars, such as the GTA an aluminium-bodied version of the Berton-designed coupe.

A Giulietta’s development continued – see this beautiful 1975 Giulietta.

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The 1980’s and 1990’s, aside from a couple of GTV Spiders, were not, in my view, classic years for Alfa Romeo. In more recent years there has been an increasing return to form with a new Giulietta’s and Guilia’s – largely designed as a family vehicles.

In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand became Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy, having first merged with Fiat in 1986.

Add this Alfa Romeo Giulietta T Shirt to your wardrobe – click the link below the image

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Men’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider T-Shirt (X-Large, Military Green)

Add this stunning Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider model – as featured above – to your collection: click the link below the image

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Alfa Romeo Giulitta Spider 1300 Cabrio Rot 1961 Mit Sockel und Vitrine 1/24 Modellcarsonline Modell Auto

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Images Alfa Romeo – with grateful thanks