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Author Topic: A curmudgeon writes  (Read 2004 times)
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williamcorke
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« on: 01 November, 2012, 11:25:00 PM »

That's not how I usually see myself, but I'm moved to write having read through this month's Octane magazine, which seems to be making a play to be the 'resto-mod' bible.

What's this got to do with Lancias?  I'll come to that.

First feature I read was about a trio of Alfa Romeos; 105 series Giulias - Spider, Coupe and Berlina - that have been, err, perhaps 'remanufactured' is a diplomatic way of putting it.  All three cars driven have are a product of Alfaholics' drive to update the performance of 105 cars.  All 3 have a twin-spark engine from a 75/Milano.  They even have a new name... the addition of an 'R' suffix, as in 'Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA-R'.  This label is applied to a car that wasn't a GTA to start with, for what it's worth, which apparently is £65,000.  That might be good value for all I know, but what does this kind of exercise do to the supply of original cars?  Let me say that the high-backed bucket seats trimmed in diamond pattern red in the spider were really a sight to behold.  Let me quote the journalist: "The race Recaros have diamond-stitched leather facings which, although nowhere near standard, look 'right'".  Eye of the beholder, that one.  I guess he didn't want to be rude.

I'm usually a supporter of 'it's your car, do what you want with it'.  I wouldn't want listed-car status slapped on our historic motoring possessions. But sometimes I do wonder.

Next feature I read was an extensive piece about a Cunningham race car - 11 pages of it.  Only thing is, it's a replica.  Oh.  Beautiful job, built on an old (modified) Cunningham chassis.  But a replica.  Numberplate is **YUK.  Would I want to own it?  Probably, yes.  Does it mean that the fancy-dress crowd at Goodwood can experience a Cunningham Le Mans car when they would otherwise not have done?  Yes, again.  But couldn't Octane have featured one of the two fully original cars that exist in the USA?  Perhaps a new-build on a chassis spotted on BringaTrailer.com is a better story.

It's possible that my curmudgeonliness has been encouraged by recently reading some copies of The Automobile, a publication that is very concerned with history and preservation.  At this point it seems to me that Octane is shaping up to occupy the opposite corner to The Automobile philosophically speaking, where attitudes to the preservation and usage of old cars is concerned.

Lancia now makes an appearance in my little rant.  

Pages 94-100 (it's December's issue of Octane that I'm kicking here) is a story about Zagato creating a replica of its prewar Aprilia special.

By coincidence a marvellous picture of the original car racing in period was linked to by Sliding Pillar earlier this evening.  Here it is:


You might have read about how back in 2008, Zagato recreated, using photographic evidence alone, a replica of their one-off, pre-war Aprilia racer. Marvellous stuff, you can see why that's a worthwhile exercise and so can I.

But.  The car featured in Octane is the second replica they have made and 9 more are planned.  So what?  Each of these cars will require that a donor car is found and its factory body removed in order to create a new $250k 'special'.

It probably makes economic sense, but oh dear.  Do I have to say more.

Yours curmudgeonly.
William
« Last Edit: 08 November, 2012, 02:55:37 PM by williamcorke » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: 02 November, 2012, 08:33:24 AM »

Dear Mr Curmudgeon,

As we all are well aware, this isn't a new phenomenon. Its been going on for many decades. Just so happens to be AR and Lancias turn in the re-creation merry-go-round. Some are "good"..ie for enthusiasts/collectors reasons, other naff to fulfill a percieved demand by other groups.

Personally, am not a fan of, but if carefully done to a high standard these very rare cars at least get to better appreciated by the knowing cognescenti. Other models get totally orphanized ( this was b*astardized!) and ruined by those then wishing to up-date/modernise individual models, usually to their detriment.

When you get to the stratospheric cost range of £100-300K , then they are indeed the play things of the very wealthy connoisseur, some of those though, are truly fabulous things to behold.

Done well and true for enthusiasts reasons....ok.....just to make a buck or a statement.....no thanks


P
« Last Edit: 02 November, 2012, 08:38:22 AM by Parisien » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: 02 November, 2012, 11:45:45 AM »

Hi William,GTAs.There is an updated version of the Tony Andriaensens work now available if you haven't got it already.richard
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« Reply #3 on: 02 November, 2012, 12:27:34 PM »

Hi William,GTAs.There is an updated version of the Tony Andriaensens work now available if you haven't got it already.richard

I have the first edition, copies of which do sometimes seem to go for ridiculous prices.  It took me a while to track one down for sensible money.  I didn't feel any real urge to buy the new one at £300, though I'm sure it is in some ways OK value at that price and is deliberately designed to be an instant collectible (numbered print run, targeting owners of the cars with chassis-serial-numbered copies; clever).  Will the second edition rocket in value as the first did?  Who knows.  I suspect the copy I have is probably worth less due to the new edition, so that's a warning to speculative buyers of the second (watch out for the 3rd edition!).
« Last Edit: 08 November, 2012, 02:54:06 PM by williamcorke » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: 02 November, 2012, 12:53:13 PM »

I was reading this last week on the train. Much the same thoughts as you, seemed a bit cynical to me. I don't know what Zagato's situation is now but through my work I had a little to do with them a few years ago - seemed very much to trade on their past rather than present capabilities. This seems just such an exercise - cashing in on their history rather than contributing something new.
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« Reply #5 on: 03 November, 2012, 11:34:50 AM »

Have to agree wholeheartedly with William (maybe I am curmudgeon N° 2 )

Apart from The Automobile, there is no "high volume" english language car mag worth reading.

All others, like OCTANE, which I found initially an interesting concept, are mainly for advertising cars that are for sale, or that will be for sale soon. Small people pay for small adverts in the back,  dealers have adverts of a size related to the price they ask for their cars, and some sellers arrange for a photographer, and a writer to eulogize about their treasure, which they reluctantly put up for sale, normally at auction! Those mags have now  hit on another trick, they edit a french translation, so they reach another few car addicts. Dont know if they are planning an italian version.....

The Zagato Aprilia is just a gimmick for Zagato to earn some money, once you have the drawings, and the chassis, how much does it cost to beat out a lightweight skin, and add 2 seats? It is certainly much cheaper than restoring and trimming an Aprilia Berlina correctly!

And those reengineered Alfa 105 are just not right: either you enjoy the cars as they were in their time, marveling at the level of engineering they had, and the tactile pleasure they bring on their skinny tires, or you can buy a  Honda S2000 for example, and drive the hell out of it!

On the other hand, all those activities support a lot of mechanics, metalworkers, small engineering companies, parts suppliers, etc.

So, even if the cars above themselves are not OK, at least to me, and I find the mags just boring, the hobby still exists, and some very nice original cars are still saved and restored thoughtfully by dedicated people. 

Yours, positively

Sébastien
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« Reply #6 on: 03 November, 2012, 09:04:44 PM »

Sig. Curmodgeon

Tut, you should know better. Octane is a very well crafted marketing piece targeting a conspicuous consumption orientated customer - hence the yachts, watches etc and the big ticket Fezzas. The syndication of the magazine to other markets, hey why not it's just a business. So if that all floats your boat, why not indeed, and at the time it was launched, there wasn't anything that catered for that niche. I hope it succeeds as a formula because they found the niche, cherchez le creneau as the French say..

Having said all that,  as an old car mag it's severely limited. We should therefore not be surprised by the (IMHO and I agree) truly and deeply hideous 'Type R' Alfa products they publicise in the latest issue (the spider being by far the worst offender) - fine performace products that they are, what's the point? - I suspect, hearing wooing noises from sons about said abominations, they are targeting a younger market. Good luck again.

Aa for Zagato, I understand the brand is now Dutch owned and operated, and is a pukka business. So why not indeed make these relatively simple to make Aprilia replicas, but Octane's mistake is placing it as a feature, instead of as an advertorial.

A credible high volume old car mag? - The Automobile maybe, but it needs zest. Somebody needs to define the market in question.

C


  
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« Reply #7 on: 05 November, 2012, 09:26:53 PM »

I thoroughly agree with Sebastien. As long as nobody begins to destroy rare specimens by "updating" them I do not care very much. However, there is one problem: The historic car movement has succeeded in achieving more lenient rules for historic vehicles, so that they can be used on the road in their original state. If a growing number of historic cars are modernized authorities might begin to rethink the concessions granted to historic vehicles.
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« Reply #8 on: 05 November, 2012, 09:39:23 PM »

Niels, as these are so very few in number I doubt the powers that be will take much notice, plus invariably, they are substantially up-rated in many ways which indeed make them much safer.


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« Reply #9 on: 07 November, 2012, 09:50:43 PM »

It is true that uprated cars are safer in a number of ways than original cars. However, it is my experience that when dealing with - in may case Danish - authorities originality is important. They will argue that if somebody can instal things such as dual circuit brakes why don't we all do it. We want to stress the point that old vehicles cannot live up to modern demands but should be allowed to be run in their original state, with all the inherent weaknesses. I understand from FIVA that this attitude is found with the authorities in most European countries. Rules differ from country to country, but FIVA wants vehicles to be acceptable as they were when new.
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« Reply #10 on: 08 November, 2012, 08:47:09 AM »

I am absolutely with Sebastien and Niels on this regarding originality...although I do subscribe to and very much enjoy Octane. Robert Coucher, the founding editor is a huge Aurelia fan and has a pretty balanced view of old cars. Having said that, the magazine is now part of the Felix Dennis empire and as such has broadened its appeal and increased its circulation and number of advertisers. It is therefore financially stronger and should be around for years to come which is a good thing I would suggest.
I would have thought though it would be worth writing a carefully worded letter to the magazine itself on this topic as they seem to like a bit of controversy in their Letters column from time to time.
William - its over to you on this one I would have thought!
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« Reply #11 on: 22 November, 2012, 08:17:42 PM »

Not being a subscriber or even occasional buyer of said magaizne, I recently acquired a box full of the same and am working my way through them....starting at Sept 2012 and going backwards.

Yes, it is a magazine too full of adverts, a little bit surreal in its photograpghy, slightly full of itself, but you know what, the 2/3 gems of articles/write-ups comfortably take it beyond the other current crop of classic type offerings.

Coucher himself is both a wordsmith and steeped in motoring all his life, whilst the other contributors lend credibility to the heavier petrolhead end of the spectrum.

All in all...am getting more fond of it .......edition by edition.

I know theres a nice Flaminia write up, also Stratos and Integrale, did they ever do a full article on the Aurelia?

P
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Frank Gallagher
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« Reply #12 on: 22 November, 2012, 09:59:09 PM »

Robert Coucher bought a Fulvia from me some years ago, so in my eyes he can do no wrong !

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« Reply #13 on: 24 December, 2012, 07:20:58 PM »

On the back of Will's post I got myself a box full of Octanes a few weeks ago and have been working my way through them.

Noting along the way, that of the print run for edition No 1.......80000........60000 were returned! Plus its changed hands once or maybe twice, am not qualified to say its changed overly from 2003 through the various changes.

Came across this little vignette of Vincenzo.


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* V Lancia Octane (1275 x 1755).jpg (627.89 KB, 1275x1755 - viewed 108 times.)
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Frank Gallagher
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« Reply #14 on: 25 December, 2012, 01:18:56 AM »

Frank,
Bit of a coincidence as I'm looking at the same picture hanging in my hall,  however having seen Vincenzo's grave, he's certainly not buried behind the Villa but in the centre of Fobello, unless he's been moved since we visited in 1997. Shocked

Brian
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