In the 1930s, British sports car maker MG manufactured exactly 33 of its vaunted K3 open-top race cars. But if you want to buy one today, there are more than 100 to choose from. No, the defunct manufacturer didn’t restart production. The tripling of the K3 fleet is part of the booming trade in fake antique autos as soaring prices for classic cars spur sophisticated counterfeits. “In the 1990s, I would find one faked car every five years,” says Norbert Schroeder, who verifies classic cars at TUV Rheinland, a Cologne (Germany)-based technical testing company. “Now I find up to five fakes a year.”
Fueling the jump in the number of bogus rides is heated demand from well-heeled collectors. Auction values for vintage cars have risen more than sevenfold over the past decade, according to Historica Selecta, a consulting company that specializes in vintage autos. In 2011, British auction house Bonhams sold a 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 for £230,000 ($380,000). That was more than four times the price the same car sold for—in unchanged condition—in 2003, says James Knight, director of the auction house’s motoring department.
Bonhams, which says sales of classic cars now exceed $1 billion annually, in July 2013 sold a 1954 Mercedes-Benz F1 race car for a world record price of £19.6 million. And at a Dec. 1 auction it sold dozens of pricey vintage autos, including a 1964 Porsche 904 GTS racing coupe for £1.15 million, a 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Sports Saloon for £1.57 million, and a 1956 Jaguar D-Type “Shortnose” for £2.58 million. “People with a lot of money prefer to have a classic car in the garage than money in the bank,” says Adolfo Orsi, president of Historica Selecta.
That’s one reason criminals are going to unprecedented lengths to grab a piece of the action. Sophisticated forgers have been known to buy old screws and washers and leave reproduced frames out in fields to weather. “When there is a lot of money, there are fakes,” Orsi explains. “In today’s world, it is possible to replicate everything.”
Bernhard Kaluza, vice president of international antique auto club Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA), says counterfeiters even bought an old movie theater in France to get the worn antique leather from the seats. “The people faking cars are not a few lone wolves,” says TUV’s Schroeder, who’s traveled as far as California to authenticate cars, evaluating welded joints and chemically testing the metal to determine its age. “It’s organized crime, because it’s expensive to build such cars and you need a good infrastructure to do it.”
Christian Jenny, retired chief information officer of Zurich Insurance Group, spent five years proving his rare 1952 Jaguar C-Type racer was authentic after another car came on the market claiming the same identification number. The owner of 13 vintage Jaguars consulted many experts, including Norman Dewis, chief test engineer for the British luxury brand for more than 30 years. With the car valued at about $2.5 million, a lot was at stake. “It might be a problem if you tried to sell the car years later,” Jenny says. Verifying it was “a precautionary measure.”
Authenticaton can require sleuthing. Simon Kidston, a classic-car consultant in Geneva, was once offered an Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ racer from the 1960s by a seller who claimed to have discovered it in a scrap yard in Italy. After consulting numerous sources, Kidston eventually discovered a photo of a car with the same identification number that was involved in a fiery crash at the annual Sebring 12-hour endurance race in 1964. The driver barely escaped. “It was clear there could be nothing left of the original car,” says Kidston, who rejected the offer.
Many frauds are more subtle, like taking an authentic vintage Porsche 911 and turning it into a high-performance racing version, which could quadruple the car’s value. Other scammers take authentic parts and build a vehicle around them, making the line between refurbished and forged murky. “There are plenty of adapted cars,” says Bonhams’s Knight. “Fake has another meaning: It’s trying to deceive.”
The extent of classic-car fraud is difficult to track because few victims come forward. Still, to prevent the threat of counterfeits from discrediting the whole market, FIVA has proposed issuing a standardized verification document for each antique car, Kaluza says, to improve transparency and help keep buyers from getting duped. “The whole problem of faked classic cars is being treated warily” because people in the market “don’t want to ruin the good mood,” Schroeder says. “I want to speak out on this before the whole thing blows up.”
A 100-year-old Ford Model T is on a challenge to drive around the world.
Dirk and Trudy Regter from the Netherlands have owned their 1915 Ford Model T since 1997, and began their journey in the summer of 2012. The couple, both retired, have so far covered almost 50,000 miles, visiting and supporting various projects run by the international children’s aid organisation SOS – Children’s Villages.
The Model T covered 14,000 miles in 180 days during the first leg of the drive in 2012, which took them from their home town of Edam, to Cape Town in South Africa.
In 2013 the couple drove through the USA and Canada, crossing 22 States during their 17,000-mile, 180-day road trip. In 2014 they ticked off another 16,000 miles through South America in a further 180 days.
Sadly, the Model T was involved in an accident when it returned to Europe. However, the couple plan to continue their journey through New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and India, crossing the Himalayas to China, through Mongolia and back to the Netherlands via Central Europe during 2016 and 2017.
Dirk previously owned a 1923 Ford Model T and a 1928 Ford Model A, inheriting his passion for vintage Fords from his father and grandfather.
Ford built 15,000,000 Model Ts between 1908 and 1927. Production started in the US but quickly expanded worldwide, including assembly plants in Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Spain – as well as at Trafford Park in the UK.
The Ford Model T helped put the world on wheels, and owed its mass appeal to its affordability, reliability and ease of maintenance with standard, interchangeable parts.
The Regters’ Ford Model T is powered by a 3.0-litre petrol engine and is unaltered from its standard 1915 factory specification. The single exception is larger tyres for the wooden-spoked wheels, making the ride softer for long journeys.
“On the border of South Africa and Botswana we met a farmer who had an old Ford Model T in the shed”, Dirk said. “He gave us a tyre off it as a gift to help us on our way.
“In Africa we had to weld a broken front wheel at the local blacksmith. “I’m pretty handy, and a screwdriver, hammer, some duct tape, tie wraps and tensioning straps go a long way.”
In 1951, Ford did not produce a "carry-all" type vehicle or four-wheel drive. They looked to specialty maker Marmon Harrington for assistance in creating these rare vehicles. A truck such as this would have started life as a Ford panel delivery truck sent directly from the factory to Marmon-Harrington. The body was then modified by a company called Seibert and the drivetrain converted to 4X4 by Marmon-Harrington. It is believed that only 54 of these vehicles were built between 1949 and 1952, with only 11 known to exist and only 2 restored. These would the first vehicles ever to receive the "Ranger" designation from Ford.
Purchased by its last owner in Oct 2008, this rare first generation F-Series truck was professionally restored to 100% original condition by J&L Fabricating in Puyallup, WA from 2009 -2010. They would have Byers Custom in Auburn, WA take care of the paint and bodywork, who would invest over 400 hours on the Ford Sheridan Blue paint alone. Every detail is exact down to Ford embossed glass.
Its exceptional restoration and incredible rarity garnered the truck a spot in special Ford F1 display at America's Car Museum for 2015, and it would go on to take the second place trophy in the "Working Guy's" category of the Pacific Northwest Concours d'Elegance of that year.
The original company bearing the Marmon name was formed in 1851 as the Nordyke and Marmon Machine Company, specializing in the manufacture of flour mill machinery. As a top engineering house, the company entered the emerging auto industry around 1900.
For the next three decades, The Marmon Car Company produced some of the world's finest cars. The Marmon Wasp won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, and the Marmon Sixteen was the height of luxury in touring sedans.
The Great Depression drastically reduced the luxury car market, so the Marmon Car Company joined forces with Arthur (Colonel) Herrington, an ex-military engineer, to design all-wheel drive vehicles.
The new company, Marmon-Herrington, procured contracts for military aircraft refueling trucks, 4x4 chassis for towing light weaponry, and from the Iraqi Pipeline Company for what were the largest trucks ever built at the time.
In addition to large commercial and military vehicles, they recognized a growing market for moderately priced all-wheel drive vehicles. This demand gave birth to the Marmon-Herrington Ford.
Their first light duty vehicles came in 1937, and by 1939 there were some 56 different models of Marmon-Herrington Ford conversions. They were offered not only as pickups and station wagons, but also in chassis, stake truck, panel truck, coupe, sedan and sedan delivery form, though only with 85 hp V8 engines. At $1,805, the station wagons sold for more than twice the price of a two-wheel drive wagon. Wider tires added $175 to $230 to that figure.
No production records are known to survive for Marmon-Herrington Fords. Since they were essentially hand-built, assembly rate was necessarily slow and output small, even when demand surged during World War II. Marmon-Herrington aficionados report that only ten or a dozen of each year are known to exist.
"Big as a Buick” was an expression that came to mind as I looked over the handsome blue 1934 Buick 96 convertible sedan parked near the marina at San Fernandina Beach, Florida. Fresh from restoration and owned by famed jeweler Nicola Bulgari, the grand classic car looked every bit like a precious gem glinting in the sunlight.
The following day, the magnificent dowager would take her place among the rest of the automotive finery at theAmelia Island Concours d’Elegance. But on this day, I was expected to get behind the broad steering wheel and pilot her down the coastline.
So the pressure was on. This would be my first time driving a pre-war classic, and the Buick that Bulgari had graciously lent the Hagerty Insurance folk to use in a media drive was no trinket. Bending or breaking was not an option.
The Hagerty people contacted me a few weeks earlier to invite me on the event, in which a small number of automotive journalists would get to drive classic cars at Amelia Island rather than just look at them.
There were five to choose from, including the beautiful Buick that was the only pre-war entry, a lovely 1957 BMW 507, a 1970 Jaguar XK-E Series II coupe, and a 1967 Camaro RS convertible restored by Hagerty employees.
There was also a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am like The Bandit driven by Burt Reynolds inSmokey and the Bandit, and this was the first of two cars that I drove. Well, this Trans Am was a year newer than Burt’s, but close enough to make me want to grow a mustache as soon as I fired ‘er up.
All hunkered down with the T tops removed and Hagerty’s in-house editor Larry Webster in the passenger seat, the ersatz Bandit rumbled out of the parking lot at the Ritz-Carlton Resort and headed north.
Driving this black-and-gold beast with the screaming chickenon its hood was one of those guilty pleasures. The Trans Am is among the few iconic American cars of the challenged ’70s that make the grade among collectors, and they’re gaining in popularity. In January, Burt Reynolds was up on stage at Barrett-Jackson to help auction off one of his actual Bandit movie cars, a guest appearance that helped raise the profile of Trans Ams everywhere.
As we lumbered along, there were loads of thumbs up and “nice car” comments. The Pontiac, a preserved original, drove pretty well despite just 200 horsepower coming from its massive 6.6-liter V8, strangled by rudimentary emissions controls. I felt strangely at home in familiar surroundings.
We met up at Brett’s Waterway Café in San Fernandina for lunch, then strode out to the parking lot to pick out what each of us would drive back to the resort. I had my eye on the 507 roadster – when would I get another chance to drive one of those? But it was having some undiagnosed engine trouble, so I was warned away.
The Camaro looked pretty sweet, but I had already driven a GM pony car. The E-type beckoned, but once again I experienced the painful truth of being too tall to climb into a Jaguar coupe.
Besides, the Hagerty folk were all about me taking the plungeand driving the Buick. This would be a new experience, so I opened the rear-hinged door and nervously slid into the lush interior. My passenger was Tabetha Hammer, from Hagerty’s communications team, and she was determined to keep me on the straight and narrow by continuously reminding me that the majestic Buick had a) a wide turning radius, b) about 5,000 pounds of heft, c) old-school brakes, d) ponderous handling, e) enormous value.
So after going through the starting ritual of turning the key, flipping the ignition switch and pushing the gas pedal to the floor, thus engaging the starter, I gingerly backed the huge sedan out of its parking spot with essentially no rearward vision but a cadre of spotters who treated me as if I were taxiing a jumbo jet. Lots of call outs and gestures ensued.
Once on the road, I quickly found the Buick to be rather pleasant to drive. Enormous torque is generated by its overhead-valve inline-8 engine, the clutch and long-throw shifter were effortless to use, and turning the steering wheel was not so hard once you got under way. And the brakes worked just fine, if you planned ahead.
In an earlier life, I had a summer job as an Angelo ice cream man for the small Philadelphia company that used antique trucks as an attraction to compete with the Good Humor guys. My truck was a blocky 1948 GMC van with a window cut in its side for dispensing the goodies.
It was not easy to drive, especially when squeezing it through the narrow neighborhood streets of Philly. The steering was loose, shifts required double clutching, and talk about funky brakes. But I drove it all summer, so believe me, I was prepared for anything the 82-year-old Buick had to dish out in terms of a vintage driving experience.
Actually, the Buick drove like a dream, aside from the constant attentionrequired by the steering to keep the car from wandering off the road. And there were no side mirrors, in order to keep the car original, just a squinty view through the small rear window.
The nicest part of the drive was when we were rolling quickly down the highway, the engine humming quietly, the sea-perfumed air whipping through the windows and the Buick feeling as if no time had passed since it had left the factory for its first time on the road.
A memorable experience, and which made me think of howHagerty reaches out to young peopleto engage them in the pleasures of enjoying old cars. I’m hardly a young driver, but this was a new adventure for me and taught me something about appreciating the true classics from a time long gone but kept alive by dedicated collectors.
UNBELIEVABLE! 45 miles from new! Ordered by Black and White Cab in Arkansas and never put in service. Truly brand new! New paint (was faded). This Checker was never put in service, sat as a spare waiting and never got the call. 6-cylinder engine, automatic transmission. ALL the taxi options. Completely restored all new fuel system and mechanicals.
Quite the race for this season's opener. New teams, new suppliers, new drivers, all in a day's work. While the end result looked like business as usual nothing could be further from the truth. The winner was Nico Rosberg followed by his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Third went to Sebastian Vettel. The difference was that they really had to work for those results...it wasn't just handed to them.
New teams, Renault and Haas, had great results. Renault team, Palmer and Magnussen, came in 11th and 12th. Haas ended up with Grosjean in 6th on their maiden voyage. His teammate, Gutierrez, was involved in a sever accident with Alonso. As for Alonso's car it was the worst I have seen in a long time.
My favorites, Massa and Hulkenberg, came in 5th and 7th. A nice touch was having Mark Webber, now World Champion Endurance Driver, do the post-race interviews. I miss him in this series.
Beautifully restored car. Awarded first prize at Hershey antique car show in 1990s, in addition to numerous awards. Travels 90 mph top speed. Family owned over 25+ years; always stored in a garage. 54,740 miles. Straight 8 engine. Accelerator and hand throttle– Dual control; Automatic choke. Tan mohair interior with ivory steering wheel. Original wrenches; original jack and handle. Buick's Owner's Manual and Shop Manual.
I am happy that the racing season is here again. For some reason it seemed like a long winter. Juan Pablo Montoya came in first. Once he is out in front there is no stopping him. He was followed by his teammate, Simon Pagenaud, in 2.3 seconds. Third went to Ryan Hunter-Reay.
This year I still have the same favorites....Sato and Kanaan. Takumo Sato came in sixth and Tony Kanaan came in ninth.
The sewing machine sound is the same. Still hard for me to get used to this electric racing. I know it is needed to help with the development of electric cars for the public. Winning this race was Lucas di Grassi. Followed by Jemrome D'Ambrosio and Sebastien Buemi. After the car inspections di Grassi was eliminated from first.....car was under weight.
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