Phoenix Art Museum’s Legends of Speed Part 2
Phoenix Art Museum’s Legends of Speed Part 2
Here we take another look at the Legends of Speed exhibit in the Steele Gallery at Phoenix Art Museum. From now through March 15, 2020, there is a remarkable set of 22 competition machines on display. The show includes a rare pair of closed-wheel race cars: a 1929 Bentley and a Ford GT40 that are two-time winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (the world’s oldest active endurance race for sports cars). Both vehicles are owned by collectors who are known for racing their vintage machines. There is also a remarkable variety from famed automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Maserati — and a 1962 Ferrari GTO that sold at auction for $48.4 million.
1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, Chassis CSX2286
We start with both a legendary automobile and the equally renowned man who designed it. The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe was the brainchild of celebrated automotive designer, Peter Brock, who also designed the original Corvette Stingray. Applying a little-known rule, Brock convinced Carroll Shelby they could create a legal race car by implementing a new aerodynamic body on the existing Cobra chassis with its 4.7-liter Ford V-8. Brock’s design is sleek, with its rounded full nose vent and cut-off tail. In its first test, Ken Miles took 3.5 seconds off the standard Cobra’s lap time at Riverside and added 20 mph to the top speed. The six Cobra Daytona Coupes built took GT class wins during the 1964 and 1965 seasons at such tracks as Le Mans, Sebring and the Nürburgring. They then won the 1965 World GT Championship. The display car is the first chassis, CSX2286.
1958 Mk1 Scarab
Lance Graf von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow was heir to the Woolworth fortune. His dream was to create an all-American sports car, the Scarab, and take on the Europeans with his team of hot rodders. Phil Remington, Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes created the frame that was beautifully wrapped by the Emil Diedt-crafted bodywork and penned by 18-year-old Chuck Pelly. Jim Travers and Frank Coon prepped the Chevrolet V-8 engine. The Scarab’s first major win was in the 1958 Riverside Grand Prix, where Chuck Daigh drove it to a victory against Phil Hill and Dan Gurney driving Ferraris.
1968 Ford GT 40, Chassis 1075
Ford had already staked its claim in international racing with wins at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. Then the rules changed and engine displacements downsized, so Ford and Ferrari bowed out. Porsche jumped in, aiming at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But they hadn’t counted on John Wyer. Reverting to the older small-block Ford Mk I GT40s with their 425-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8s, he developed the Gulf-Wyer team. Among their chassis was 1075, the car on exhibit in Phoenix. It racked up six wins for Wyer, but most notably took the victory at Le Mans in 1968 (with a 5-lap lead) and 1969 (after a dogfight to the finish line with a Porsche 908). This vehicle is one of the most famous sports racing cars in history.
1973 Porsche 917/30
Porsche’s 917 saga began with a win in France’s 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. It peaked three years later in a very different venue — America’s thundering Can-Am series. It’s been said that Porsche’s 917/30 is the most powerful road racing car ever, with 1,580 horsepower from the 5.4-liter, twin-turbo flat-12 engine. This power was dialed back in racing for reliability to a mere 1,100 horsepower. The performance ratings vary by source, but include 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds and 0-200 mph in 13.4 seconds. The car’s famed driver, Mark Donohue, took it to a closed-course world record of 241 mph. The 917/30 only raced that one year, 1973, and had troubles in its first two races. Then the party was over for the competition. Donohue made a comeback, and the Penske 917/30 set the fastest lap and won in the remaining six Can-Am races, earning him 139 points to take the series.
1957 Ferrari 315S Scaglietti Spyder
Mille Miglia is Italian for 1,000 miles and is the most famous and exclusive race for classic cars in the world. Anyone who has driven that race route from Brescia to Rome can attest to its difficulty, winding through cities, down countryside roads and along autostradas. After 1927, the race was run 24 times, and Ferrari won it on eight occasions. Their last victory was in 1957 with the 315 S Scaglietti Spyder on show in Phoenix. Powered by a 355-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-12, the Ferrari was driven by the “Silver Fox,” 50-year-old Piero Taruffi. It was Taruffi’s last race, fulfilling a promise to his wife he would quit racing should he win the Mille Miglia. Sadly, it would also be the last Mille Miglia after Alfonso de Portago, his co-driver Edmund Nelson and nine spectators died when his Ferrari 335 S crashed less than 30 miles from the checkered flag.
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1929 Bentley Speed Six, Chassis LB2332
Remarkably enough, Phoenix Art Museum’s exhibit has a pair of two-time Le Mans winners: the 1968 Ford GT40 1075 and this 1929 Bentley. Famously called “Old Number One” after its first Le Mans victory, Bentley chassis LB2332 was driven by “Bentley Boy” Woolf Barnato for both wins, partnered in 1929 by Tim Birkin and in 1930 by Glen Kidston. Over the years, LB2332 won several races and went through numerous rebuilds, including one after a fatal racing accident for Clive Dundee. It ended up with a 250-horsepower, 8-liter inline-6. It now has the Gurney Nutting bodywork seen on the car in 1932. There had been enough modifications over the years that the car’s lineage was questioned at one point, but a British high court declared it as Old Number One and as such, the most famous vintage Bentley racing car.
1953 Jaguar C-Type
Jaguar’s Sir William Lyons was well aware of the fact that successful race cars would help sell production cars, like his Jaguar XK120. This led him to produce the C-Type competition car with its beautiful Malcolm Sayer-designed aerodynamic bodywork. Under the bonnet (or the hood for us Americans) is the automaker’s famed 3.8-liter twin-cam inline-6 with 323 horsepower. This C-Type happens to be the last of the 53 assembled, and so has the serial number 053. It is one of only three lightweight C-Types, which had their weight trimmed with a thinner aluminum body and smaller-diameter chassis tubes. There were also suspension modifications and the Dunlop disc brakes that were so important to the Jaguar’s successes. C-Type 053 raced famously in England and Europe and is the only lightweight with its original bodywork.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
It was the threat of Jaguar’s new E-Type that put Ferrari to work to replace its 250 SWB (Short Wheelbase) race car. Development of the 250 GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) took place about the same time as a palace revolt at Ferrari that saw major engineers depart. Finishing the car with its 3.0-liter V-12 fell to Mauro Forghieri, with Sergio Scaglietti sculpting the body. And it worked — Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien drove a GTO to second place and took all the crucial championship points in its first race at Sebring in 1962. GTOs would win the 2-liter International Championship for the GT Manufacturers class in 1962, 1963 and 1964. If you are looking to purchase one, it is said that only 36 of the 250 GTOs were created, and they have sold for as much as $70 million each.
1960 Maserati Tipo 61, Birdcage
There is a good reason they were called “Birdcage” Maseratis. While this car’s official name is Tipo (Type) 61, one look at its complex, small-tube frame explains that nickname. There are around 200 small steel tubes of 10-15 mm intricately assembled to create the Birdcage frame. For the Tipo 61, Maserati fitted a 250-horsepower, 2.9-liter twin-cam four engine into the lightweight, 1,600-pound race car. Around it is the memorable low-waisted bodywork with its tall fenders. Birdcages went on to many impressive wins, such as the victory by Stirling Moss and Dan Gurney at the Nürburgring’s 1960 1000 KM race in West Germany. The Birdcage in Phoenix is chassis 2470, third from the last made and a successful race winner in the US during 1961 and 1962, driven by Jack Hinkle.
1953 Lancia D24 Spyder
It’s a shame the automotive name Lancia is unfamiliar to many Americans. As a result, some are unaware of Vincenzo Lancia and his innovative Lambda from the 1920s. Vincenzo’s son, Gianni Lancia, kept the firm at the forefront into the 1950s. This 1953 D24 Spyder is fitted with a 264-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine, a 4-speed transaxle and DeDion rear suspension wrapped in distinctive bodywork. Wins include the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and Giro di Sicilia in 1954. The car on display in Phoenix is one of only two that exist today.
1957 Maserati 450S, Chassis 4503
Maserati was playing catch-up with Ferrari in the mid-1950s, so it created the broad-shouldered 450S with its powerful V-8 that featured twin camshafts per bank. Horsepower was rated at 400 for the 2,464-pound race car. The engine’s displacement is 4.5 liters, hence the 450S name. Aimed at the 1957 World Sportscar Championship, the Maserati was as quick as the Ferraris and won in the 12 Hours of Sebring with the Phoenix display car, chassis 4503. A 450S also won the Swedish Grand Prix, but terrible luck dogged the Maserati team, which lost the championship to Ferrari by just five points.
1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
Say “300 SL,” and most think of the treasured Mercedes-Benz road sports cars built from 1954 to 1963. Predating them, however, was the first 300 SL, a gullwing race car. With it, Mercedes won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana in 1952, putting the German automaker on a winning path. That 300 SL’s advanced aerodynamic body had gullwing doors (car doors hinged at the roof as opposed to the sides) to enhance the strength of its lightweight space frame. For all its forward design, the race car was powered by the same basic engine in the “Adenauer” 300 road sedan, a 3.0-liter inline-6 with, at most, 180 horsepower, a number it shared with its top speed at Le Mans, which was enough to earn it the win.
The history and beauty on display in the Phoenix exhibit are remarkable. The Legends of Speed offers an unparalleled opportunity for guests to experience and learn about some of the most successful, famous and beautiful race cars of all time.
John Lamm worked for Road & Track for 37 years and is equally happy behind a keyboard or a camera. He has written ten automotive books and has been honored with the International Motor Press Association’s Ken Purdy award and the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor award for writing. He is on the organizing committee for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for two decades.