Louis Vuitton's antique car mecca at Rockefeller Center
by Sean Doorly for Road & Track Online
There may have been a sea of dingy yellow cabs clogging all the nearby avenues. But at the third annual Louis Vuitton Classic, held October 2-4 at New York's Rockefeller Center, the elegance of bygone automotive eras held sway.
This year's show featured 50 of the world's rarest and most expensive automobiles, ranging from a 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost to the 1949's bizarre Airphibian -- a car/plane hybrid. Other highlights included the ultralight 1933 Dymaxion, the 1952 So-Cal special built with parts from a P-38 fighter plane and the 1994 Aluma Coupe, which has been dubbed a "Faberge Egg in billet aluminum." Two million people showed up to ogle the treasures.
The Phantom Corsair was the creation of a 23 year old Rust Heinz of the Heinz 57 Varities family. His dream was to build an aerodynamic "car of the future" built equally for speed as for safety. Designed with the aid of wind tunnel technology and constructed by leading coach builders Bowman & Schwartz, its wildly voluptuous aerodynamic styling is seen in its lack of running boards. Its clean, low lines and tucked-and-rolled interior anticipated the lowered, de-chromed styling features of American customized cars of the '50s.
In 1952, Alex Xydias teamed up with racer Dave Delangton, who built his own Lakester, and together they perfected the So-Cal Special, drawing on new aviation technology. Using a figure eight shaped wheel from the Lockheed P-38 fighter and war surplus aluminum aircraft seats, the So-Cal Special was the winner that Xydias dreamed of.
Alpha Romeo TZ 2 Prototype
One of the most evocative front-engined GT race cars ever built, this the TZ 2 prototype, is the only example using an aluminum body shell; all others were in fiberglass. The car's race successes include 1st in the 1965 Targa Florio, The Nurburgring 1000 Ks and the Monza 1000 Ks. Rarely have beauty and the beast been so well met.
Porsche 550 Spyder
This is the first attempt by Porsche to build and out-and-out racer -- compact, unburstable, and successful. This very special car is the most original of its type in the world from original paint to original upholstery.
In 1946, at the age of 31, Robert Fulton, Jr of Danbury Connecticut designed the world's first craft capable of commandeering both the highways and the skyways of the land and named it Airphibian. In less than five minutes, and it five steps without tools, the Airphibian converts from plane to car (and vice versa). This car is on loan from the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
This car has been dubbed a "Faberge Egg in billet aluminum."