Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Breadvan

I paid my fourth visit to the Monterey Historics in the Ferrari year of 1994. One afternoon in Laguna Seca's hot pits I came face to face with the one and only Ferrari 250 GTO "Breadvan", a fascinating anomaly in the marque's history. I don't recall when I first learned of its existence, let alone its significance, but there it was, large as life, and I had a good close look at it while Monte Shelton sat at the wheel waiting to go racing.

The memory of that encounter was prompted by Stephen Mitchell's article, Ferrari 250 GTO vs. Ferrari 250 GT Breadvan in this week's Sports Car Digest, wherein Mitchell reviews his "friend Marc Sonnery’s book 'Rebel Rebel' which deals with the life and times of the Ferrari 250 GT Breadvan".

I look forward to reading "Rebel Rebel". In the meantime, Mr. Mitchell's tale is a delight 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Florence Knudsen's 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

It was not always just the GM execs who were given factory-customized rides; witness Marian Mitchell’s show-stopping 1967 big block convertible. Close on the heels of Bunkie Knudson’s Rose Pearl factory special (also available as Lot S70) is this stunning Pink Pearl 1964 coupe gifted to Knudson’s wife Florence, who drove the car in the comfort of its customized matching Pink leather interior, harnessing its 396 CI engine under a bulging 1965-style hood in what may well have been the first big block Vette produced. A great touch: the finned aluminum knock-off wheels sporting “Pinkwall” tires.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mecum Auctioning The Motor Yacht Elegante

Mecum Auction is holding a very special event on October 30, 2010 at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, where they will offer the one and only Elegante. A one-of-a-kind creation of the Whiticar company, the Motor Yacht Elegante was commissioned by John Hay "Jock" Whitney, a multimillionaire sportsman whose multifaceted career included roles as a publisher, financier, philanthropist, and horse breeder.

Based upon Whiticar's sportfish hull design, the 63' Elegante exhibits exceptional stability in rough seas while enjoying a top speed of 24 knots. It will comfortably sleep 4 people while hosting up to 25 for day and sunset cruises. It sports all the appointments one would expect in a custom made yacht.

This exceptional craft will be offered at auction during the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show on October 30, 2010. The auction location is the Bahia Mar Yachting Center, B-Dock, Slip 223 and will commence at 3:00 PM Eastern.

John Hay “Jock” Whitney
Born Aug. 27, 1904 in Ellsworth, Maine, John Hay “Jock” Whitney was a multimillionaire sportsman whose multifaceted career included roles as a publisher, financier, philanthropist, and horse breeder. He was a descendant of William Bradford, who arrived in America on the Mayflower; his parents were Payne Whitney and Helen Hay Whitney, and his grandfathers were William C. Whitney and John Hay, both presidential cabinet members.

Whitney attended Yale University where, like his father, grandfather and great uncle, he joined the rowing crew, allegedly coining the term “crew cut” to describe the team’s regulation haircut. After graduating from Yale in 1926 he briefly attended Oxford University before returning home after his father’s death to manage the family business.

Jock Whitney also inherited his family’s love of horses. By 1924 Whitney was an internationally ranked polo player, remaining a member of the celebrated Greentree polo team until its breakup in 1940. Along with his sister, Joan Whitney Payson, he managed Greentree Stables and, in 1928, became the youngest member ever elected to the Jockey Club.

Whitney’s interest in the arts prompted him to invest in a number of Broadway productions, most notably in the hugely successful Life with Father, and in the film industry. He was a key investor in Pioneer Pictures, famous for its successful advancement of Technicolor, and in the Selznick International Motion Picture Company, playing a crucial role in securing the pre-publication screen rights to the novel Gone with the Wind. He was a founding trustee of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and eventually built one of the finest personal art collections in the country.

U.S. involvement in World War II prompted Whitney to join the Army Air Force as an intelligence officer assigned to the Office of Strategic Services. He was captured by the Germans in southern France, but escaped when his transport train came under Allied fire; in 1945 he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

After the war, Jock founded J.H. Whitney & Co., now the oldest venture capital investment company in the U.S. In 1956 President Eisenhower appointed him U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, during which time he greatly improved Anglo-American relations, most notably during the Suez Canal crisis. Meanwhile, his company Whitney Communications Corp. invested in several television and radio stations, magazines and newspapers, including the New York Herald Tribune, then the national “paper of record.” After completing his term as ambassador, Whitney returned to the U.S. to serve as the Tribune’s publisher and editor-in-chief until, to his lasting disappointment, it folded in 1966.

A lifelong philanthropist, in 1946 Whitney established the John Hay Whitney Foundation, contributing $1,000,000 annually to educational projects. In 1970, by which time he was one of the ten wealthiest people in America, he donated $15,000,000 to Yale University. John Hay “Jock” Whitney died February 8, 1982.