The List #1 – Factories to Tour (Europe)

We have been lucky to tour several Car Factories and Museums in the US including; BMW, Mercedes, Panoz and Shelby.  A dream trip to Europe would include these factories and museums.  Until we make the trek across the Atlantic We will have to enjoy these virtual tours that can be found online.
  1. Ferrari Factory and Museum (Italy)
  2. Ducati Factory and Museum (Italy)
  3. BMW Factory, Welt and Museum (Germany)
  4. Porsche Factory and Museum (Germany)
  5. Mini Factory (England)

You can check out the US factories and museums we have visited at our Photo Gallery.

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Former Glory #1

When Rock meets Rolls–The Rocking Rolls
Rocking Rolls

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BMW Art Cars and The One That Got Away

It is hard to imagine how the idea of getting famous artists to paint an actual race car for racing and show could even get out of the gate, but it did back in the mid 1970′s with the help of a race car driver, Hervé Poulain and artist Alexander Calder.  That first Art Car started a tradition that has lasted for more than 30 years and featured 16 different artists to date including; Warhol, Stella and Lichtenstein.  We have  seen at least eight of the art cars over the years at the Zentrum in South Carolina and at other car shows throughout the Southeast.

To honor the great history of the Art Car program BMW has launched a website entitled, Art Car Tour.  The website’s gallery includes a 30 minute video on the program and individual details on each of the cars and the artists.  The site is very interactive and you could easily spend a couple of hours admiring the cars and the artist’s vision.

But, not all of the BMW Art Cars can be found on the website, there is one car that has a more cloistered life as an unofficial Art Car.

BMW Art Car

This M1, called Polar Coordinates, was created by Frank Stella in honor of his friend and racer, Ronnie Peterson.  Stella’s first BMW Art Car was a 1976 3.0CSL and was officially sponsored by BMW.  This car circumvented the normal channels, but has lived a very different life in private hands.  The first owner was Peter Gregg a racer and a good friend of Frank Stella.  The car has never been raced and was rarely seen by the public. We happen to see the car way back in 1998 at Korman AutoWorks during an Open House event where it was being carefully restored.  Korman usually holds an annual Open House and invites the local BMW community to the shop for a car show, swap meet and general BMW discussion.  Check out photos from the 1998 event by following this link to our Photo Gallery.  Not long after this public appearance of the M1 it was donated to the Guggenheim Museum by its owner.

But that may all change in a couple of weeks…
BMW Art Car

This very special BMW M1 painted by Frank Stella is up for auction.  The car will be featured at the Bonham’s Auction being held at the Quail Lodge in California later this month.  The expected auction price of $450K to $600K will be used to fund the Guggenheim Museum’s exhibitions and acquisitions.

The lucky owner of this car will be able to boast that they own a rare piece of history on many different fronts.  The question is will BMW try to capture this lone car for it’s private collection.

UPDATE: The car sold at auction on August 18, 2011 for $770,000 and a Buyer Premium of $84,000.

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Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix-2011

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has been around for 29 years. I have a vague memory of it from living in Pittsburgh but never had the chance to attend. Well things are no different this year. I was stuck in Phoenix but Debi convinced her father and brother to take a couple of hours on a hot and humid Saturday morning to attend the event in Schenley Park while she was visiting Pittsburgh for the week.

The event is truly a mega-event with racing, car and motorcycle shows and multiple satellite events during the week at local spots sharing the bounties of Pittsburgh.  This year Porsche was the featured marque and there were quite a few that came out for the fun–with many owners proving their classic 356s and 911s were built for racing by doing time on the roads of Schenley Park.

The park lies at the edge of Carnegie Mellon University and my Alma Mater Pitt and becomes the ultimate urban road course for this particular event every year. The Cathedral of Learning (Pitt) is in the background of the photo below.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
The vintage racing portion of the event starts the week out at the BeaveRun Motorsports Complex and finishes the week on the Schenley Park road course. Throughout the week in between the racing there are cruises, parades, galas, rallies and lots of car talk.
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
This all black BMW race car is from the Sewickley Car Store. I grew up very close to the dealership and constantly drooled over the BMWs and Porsches that lined their lots. Auto fanaticism starts early and runs deep.
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Given the magnitude of the event this motorized couch looks as if it would be the ideal way to get around. Suzuki brought this eco-friendly couch to display electric drive technologies. It is not as stylish as a Tesla Roadster but you probably could get really comfortable.
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Check out photos from the show and the race along the grounds of Schenley Park in the PVGP Photo Gallery. Special thanks to Doug, Debi’s brother, for contributing some of the photos in the gallery.

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