Saturday, May 5, 2012

California Mille Vintage Auto Tour

The Mille Miglia (one thousand miles) auto endurance race was held only 24 times in Brescia, Italy from 1927 to 1957. Martin Swig, auto collector and racer also of the Fairmont Hotel Swig Family lineage, founded the California Mille (web link) in 1990 after participating in the Mille Miglia beginning in 1982 and subsequent races with his good friend John Lamm, Editor at Large, Road & Track.

I guess you can call me a motorhead for my love of unique and vintage automobiles. This all started because I grew up with a father who owned and operated a specialty auto repair garage in the bay area peninsula. In fact when he arrived from Switzerland in 1960 he was the only mechanic certified in the repair of Maserati and Ferrari cars in the region.
In my own history of automobile ownership I had the fun of driving a 1968 MGB/GT, a 1975 Cadillac Seville and a 1976 Porsche 914 all before the age of 26. Although true car collectors will state the Porsche 914 does not count has a sports car. Why do I tell you all this?

The California Mille has an extraordinary free car show  on the last Sunday in April atop Nob Hill in San Francisco in the driveway of the historic Fairmont Hotel. Last Sunday, April 29th in very unusual 78-degree San Francisco weather my husband and I walked the red carpet to view the race participants. A traditional count of roughly 60 glorious pre-1958 racing cars were on public view: mostly Alfa Romeos, Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar and Bentley gleaming in the sunlight, crowded by camera clicking collectors, enthusiasts and casual passers by. This year's 1000 kilometer race will tour California gold rush country from San Francisco to Incline Village, west to Colusa, southwest to the ocean shores of Bodega Bay and end in the natural hot springs of Calistoga.

Here is my 5 min. 33 sec. video of this years' racing field:
CLICK VIDEO LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrYQCeimWNI&feature=plcp

A few interesting highlights of mouthwatering metal and rubber delights.
1958 Porsche Carrera GT
1957 Jaguar MkVIIM
Some vintage cars actually used leather straps to keep the Bonnet tied down. (above)

1958 Ferrari 250GT Spider
Remember that crushing moment this car was destroyed when driven into a ravine in the film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"? (above)
1957 Ferrari Special Coachbuilt
Hubba-Hubba-I am talking about the double bubble roof. (above)


The AC Ace Bristol was the basis for the future AC Cobra also known as the Shelby Cobra built between 1961 to 1967. The AC Cobra used the AC Bristol body and installed a Ford V8 engine. (above)

1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL gullwing






                                                                                                                 



I saved the best for last,
no one can resist a Mercedes
 Benz gullwing....it's so James Bond.












Mark your calendar for the last Sunday in April at San Francisco's Nob Hill in front of the Fairmont Hotel for the 23rd California Mille gorgeous vintage car extravaganza. See you there!


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