The newly completed Mormon Meteor III at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1938. Note the original exhaust manifold that was later replaced by individual stacks.

“This is the story about two men, father and son, their racing cars, their lives and the salt flats where they ran their most famous trials. Ab Jenkins was the son of Welsh immigrants, first a carpenter by trade and then a prominent building contractor, who grew up with the automobile and found a new career in driving cars fast but safely.”

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“For Corvette enthusiasts, the real star of ‘Clambake’ is the 1959 Stingray Racer concept— the car that is said to be the opening design salvo in what became the 1963 Corvette Stingray. While Corvette innovation was experience an exciting acceleration, the days of big money movie deals for Elvis were downshifting. Riffing on the similarity of every Elvis movie to every other Elvis movie, a studio executive once quipped: ‘Why do we bother to give his movies titles – couldn’t they just be numbered?'”

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horst a. friedrichs drive style

Jade, Hot Rod Night, Ace Cafe London, 2013 — Image by © Horst A. Friedrichs

I’m a big fan of Horst A. Friedrichs. (I have literally worn the cover off of my copy of Or Glory, 21st Century Rockers.) His style is about as far away as you can get from the balls-out vibe in a lot of today’s lifestyle photography (which I also obviously love). In Horst, there’s a strong sense of controlled curation in every stunning portrait. No minute detail escapes his critical eye. Every subject is perfectly directed (dressed, coiffed, posed) to evoke the desired mood. Horst is much more than a great photographer– he’s an artist imposing his masterful will upon the subject and setting to create lasting images that move you through their overall flawless composition. In Horst’s latest book Drive Style he dives into Britain’s rich & eclectic car culture, capturing amazing rare, historical, and custom automobiles alone or with their owners, drivers, and spectators. Keep reading to find out how you can win a free copy signed by Horst A. Friedrichs.

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The epic tales of Miles Davis and his need for speed have been on heavy rotation again lately, as they are just too damn good to die. I mean, who splits their Lambo Miura on the West Side Highway, and screams at a good samaritan responder for dumping two bags of blow for him before the cops show up? Both ankles were crushed and all Miles wants to do is jump out to see how busted-up his ride is. Cocaine is a helluva drug. The love of cars can be a vice all its own, and Miles had it bad from early on.

Miles Davis, Red Ferrari, New York City, 1969 – Image by © Baron Wolman

Miles Davis And His Mercedes 190SL:

“…In 1955 Miles Davis dragged his quintet into the Prestige Records studio and recorded five albums in a row for the purpose of satisfying his obligations to the label. Although Davis himself had turned away from the worst of his heroin addiction, his crew was all hooked on something — from John Coltrane, who had conspicuous tracks up both his arms, to ‘Philly’ Joe Jones, who showed up to the session with just one drum and a hi-hat because he’d pawned the rest to get high — and nobody could have predicted that the group would settle down and turn out some of the greatest music in recorded history.

Miles hated Prestige. They famously paid $300 a record and didn’t seem to be familiar with the concept of residuals. The moment he had a chance to jump the fence to Columbia, he did so, and celebrated by buying a Mercedes 190SL with pretty much all the money he had at the time.

A new 190SL cost about four grand — easily four times what Davis had just cleared on the Prestige session — and it was not exactly a rapid automobile. Most of them wheezed perhaps 85 horsepower back to the swing-axled rear wheels to push the 2600lb mass. The real hot ride was the 300SL, famous today as the ‘Gullwing’ but far more popular as a convertible back in the day, but Miles would have had a hard time buying one and a harder time keeping it maintained.

Miles eventually fell in with the fast crowd, which included the Baroness Pannonica ‘Nica’ de Koenigswarter-Rothschild. She rolled in a Bentley, and she was well known among the community. PIanist Hampton Hawes recalls:

Thelonius Monk and his wife and Nica and I driving down Seventh Avenue in the Bentley at three or four in the morning… and Miles pulling alongside in the Mercedes, calling through the window in his little hoarse voice… ‘Want to race?’ Nica nodding, then turning to tell us in her prim British tones, ‘This time I believe I’m going to beat the Mother F#cker.’”

Miles Davis, Red Ferrari, New York City, 1969 – Image by © Baron Wolman

“That photo of Miles Davis and his red Ferrari (275 GTB) was taken on New York’s West Side Highway in 1969. We had just shot some portraits in his apartment near Central Park. He said he wanted to go to Gleason’s Gym to work out. He was an amateur boxer, as you probably know. Anyhow, we’re driving along and I said, ‘Miles, pull over. Let’s do some shots of you and this totally cool car.’ He said ‘yes’, we did, and then proceeded to the gym where he threatened to knock me out.” –Baron Wolman

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steve mcqueen 1957 jaguar green rat bw

Jaguar’s epic 3.4 liter, DOHC inline-six powered D-Types were originally built for competitive racing– with a few also falling into the hands of privileged private owners. But by 1958, the D-Type had become obsolete– new racing mandates now called for smaller 3.0-liter engines, which would hurt the D-Type’s performance on the track. Ferrari had proven themselves to be the masters of small-displacement, high-performance racing, particularly with their iconic Testa Rossa that could handily eat the 3.0 liter D-type’s lunch. Jaguar found itself needing to unload 25 of the 3.4 liter D-Types.

Jaguar execs decided to convert the old D-Types to street legal sports cars and sell them to the public as limited-edition GTs. The Jaguar was subjected to a series of street-legal retrofits, including– a full-width windshield, and a bare-bones top and luggage rack added to the rear deck replaced the original racing dorsal fin. Removable fixed-pane side curtains were then mounted to the Jaguar’s doors. A vestigial exhaust system was devised by engineers– complete with a guard to prevent laymen from burning themselves on the Jag’s exposed, aggressive sidepipes. The roadster’s lighting was converted to meet street specs, two nicely-appointed seats were added, a passenger side door and sleek bumpers were tacked-on, and they were ready to roll.  Tragically, 9 of the 25 XK-SS D-Types were destroyed by a fire at the Jaguar factory in 1957, making the remaining 16 all the more special.

One of these iconic roadsters would find its way into the hands of Steve McQueen– who enjoyed an on-and-off love affair with this special Jaguar up until the very end.

Perhaps no other car is more strongly identified with Steve McQueen, aside from the iconic Highland Green Mustang GT from the epic Bullitt, than his 1957 Jaguar D-type XK-SS.  He had his buddy Von Dutch custom craft a locking glovebox for the Jag to keep those Persols from flying out when he punched the gas. via

Steve McQueen first saw his Jaguar XK-SS parked on a studio lot on Sunset Boulevard, back when it originally belonged to Bill Leyden (a local LA radio/television personality).  McQueen bought the Jag from him for $5,000 in 1958– though some historians claim the purchase price was $4,000. Wife Neile recalled, “I know exactly how much we paid for it– I signed the check.” Once, McQueen was pulled over for speeding with Neile, 6 months pregnant at the time, sitting beside him.  He lied and told the cop that she was in labor.  They got an official police escort to the hospital, where nurses were waiting to rush Neile in. After the police left, McQueen told the staff that it was just ‘false labor’, and off they went. He was later quoted as saying, “Neile was pissed. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day. But, by God, it worked. I didn’t get the ticket!”

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Steve McQueen at the legendary 1970 12 Hours of Sebring Race where McQueen (partnered with co-driver Peter Revson) raced with a broken left foot in a cast against racing great, Mario Andretti.  McQueen is sporting his iconic ’67 Rolex Submariner that went for $234,000 at auction in 2009.  BTW – Anyone else feeling the “Brian Johnson AC/DC ” vibe here with the black leather 8-panel cap?

Steve McQueen’s 1971 epic, Le Mans, is the racecar film that is widely hailed as the gold standard for which all such films are measured– now, and certainly well into the future.  It was filmed largely live at the actual 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans, without the benefit of computer generated imagery and modern day trickery that we rely on today.  It feels raw because it is raw.  McQueen had originally planned to enter the #26 Porsche 917K with co-driver Jackie Stewart.  Fate had other ideas–  their entry car was rejected, and McQueen was unable to get insurance for the race.  As such, Jo Siffert and Brian Redman were now given driving duties.  While it was never a commercial success, it is long on guts, and is a sensory feast when it comes to the sounds and sights of what racing is all about.  Looking back at this incredible era, it’s hard not to be struck between the eyes by the strong graphic elements of the cars, logos, racing gear,  and attitude on display at every turn.

In preparation for the filming of the movie “Le Mans”, Steve McQueen went to the 1969 race to scout filming spots around the Le Mans course. When they returned in 1970 with all their camera equipment they knew all the best camera locations for the footage they would need for the movie “Le Mans.” I wonder who has all that film footage that they took in 1969? –Nigel Smuckatelli

1970 — Steve McQueen at Sebring hanging out with Carroll Shelby.

1970 — Steve McQueen at Sebring

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Iconic Auto Design | The Porsche 911


The Porsche 911 (Targa shown here) is one of the most iconic and recognizable sports car designs for pure form and function-- hands down.  Though the world has in large part past it by in terms of innovation, it is and will always be a classic.

The Porsche 911 (Targa shown here) is one of the most iconic and recognizable sports car designs for pure form and function-- hands down. Though the world has in large part past it by in terms of innovation, it is and will always be a classic. The term "Targa" came from the Targa Florio road race in Sicily, where Porsche scored many victories in the 1950s and 1960s. Basically a convertible with a stainless steel-clad roll bar and removable roof panel, the Targa was definitely an automotive icon of the time. --Image by © Car Culture/Corbis


By the late 1950s, it was painfully obvious to Porsche that it’s workhorse 356 sports car (released in 1948) was getting it’s doors blown off by the competition in terms of performance and price.  An innovative and inspired redesign was badly needed, and in Fall of 1963 after years of development and refining, the 911 was launched.  For brand purists, it remains the only true Porsche– the only model that truly harkens back to the heritage of the original 356.  And what a heritage it is.  The birth of the 911 was largely a family affair– a daring initiative mostly instigated by Ferry Porsche, son of founder Ferdinand, with his own son Butzi Porsche alongside as the body stylist.  Porsche could hope, but surely never could have known with certainty that the new 911 would carry the Porsche torch well into the future, and ultimately become a design and engineering legend.  

The longevity of Porsche’s 911 is no accident.  Porsche-style has labored very thoughtfully over the years to constantly freshen and innovate the 911.  They’ve done an incredible job keeping it up to date, all the while staying true to the design and spirit of the original 911– not an easy feat anyway you slice it, and a very commendable one at that.  Those of us in the design industry can certainly acknowledge the mastery involved in keeping a classic icon relevant while remaining faithful to it’s essence.  The art of timelessness evolving with the times.


The 911 was Porsche's design successor to their 356-- a classic beauty in it's own right.

The 911 was Porsche's design successor to their 356-- a classic beauty in it's own right.

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Much has been written, speculated and whispered about the man, Porfirio Rubirosa. One thing is for sure, he led a life that few can imagine, let alone rival.  Truth is always stranger and more interesting than fiction, especially in this case– the infamous and always dapper diplomat, skilled sportsman and legendary lothario. Pass the (eh-hem) pepper grinder, please.

porfirio rubirosa polo horses

The infamous playboy Porfirio Rubirosa with his Polo ponies.
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