Pebble Beach star cars are better than fiction

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The cars elude description; the stories behind them are better than good fiction. Like the story behind Kevin Caulfield’s 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Touring Berlinetta.

According to Dan Maas and Chris Dietz of Motion Products in Neenah, Wis., Caulfield had to completely rebuild his ’51 Ferrari following a devastating fire several years ago.

“That car has been resurrected many times,” Maas said from the huge area where the transports unloaded their exotic cargos during the days before the August 19 Pebble Beach Concours.

According to Maas, Caulfield has owned the car since the mid-1960s and has shown it at Pebble Beach in the past. He is admired for not giving up on the ’51 Ferrari with its LeMans coachwork. The Minneapolis resident would save up and put money into the car each time it was needed.

Peter Russell’s story about his 1913 Twombly Model a Tandem Cyclecar was not as dramatic as the Caulfield tale, but this old two-seater with friction drive had a special charm. Russell, of Pulborough, England, said he has owned the Twombly for the last 10 years. It’s steel body was in good condition when he got it; he worked on its running parts.

“This car was built in Pennsylvania,” Russell said. “It has a four-horsepower gasoline engine, chain drive and a top speed of 30-35 miles per hour. The left rear wheel drives the car.”

Russell said the company claimed it had built 1,000 cyclecars. He thought that might have been some marketing hyperbole. There are only two today: Russell’s and one in the Smithsonian collection.

Another vehicle with friction drive was the 1914 McIntyre Imp Model Z Tandem Cyclecar owned by Richard Atwell of Fredericksburg, Tex.

Its caretakers, Kenneth Wagner and Craig Lindig of Fredericksburg, said Atwell has owned the McIntyre for 18 years. It didn’t need much work when purchased, they said. “We did a touch up,” Lindig said.

The 1935 Hoffman is one of a kind. And, according to the story related by David Stevens of Akron, Ohio, it almost never was. The rounded steel-bodied four-door sedan was built “in secret” in the Boston area, away from prying eyes of Detroit. Now owned by Myron Vernis of Akron, the Hoffman has rear drive. The engine sits ahead of the front axle; the transmission is in the rear.

The Hoffman has rear-hinged front doors. It has been painted blue; the original battleship gray is evident on its inside door trim.

The 1965 Shelby Cobra with chassis 3002 owned by Harry Yeaggy of Cincinnati, Ohio, was under the car of John Carefoot prior during the concours. Carefoot said this 2,000-pound prototype competition roadster is considered by many to the “the hold grail” of 427 bodies.

The wonderfully unrestored 1907 Fiat from the collection of Larz Anderson of Brookline, Mass. was unpacked and carefully dusted by David Greenlees Brattleboro, Vt. prior to its date at the August 19 show.

Greenlees said the car hasn’t run since around 1920. Any “updates” took place prior to that. The chain-driven Fiat has a Quimby wooden body covered with metal. The rear seat has seat backs that fold down; the entire seat folds forward, creating a handy cargo area behind the shabby front seats.