Jan/Feb 2019 edition
Issue #3 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
For those of us who are automobile history and racing fans, and like to collect along those lines, often the very high outlay (think thousands of dollars) for a significant piece of memorabilia is well beyond consideration for most of us.
Thankfully, a few manufacturers and custom builders have addressed this problem by constructing scale model representations of the real items, creating works that stand on their own as highly collectible.
Sean McKenna, noted builder of gorgeous (and expensive) 1:8 scale Bugatti models, has given the enthusiast the opportunity to own one of his smaller creations at very reasonable cost. He has produced a series of 1:8 scale wheels, some of which grace his large models, from significant racing cars that include Bugatti, Ferrari, Cobra, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Alfa Romeo. They are all comprised of cast and polished aluminum, machined bronze, silver, and period-correct tires. We have concentrated on just three examples; wheels from the Bugatti Type 35, Type 59, and a Borrani from the Ferrari 250 GTO. The workmanship is exquisite, especially with the Type 59, as true to its nickname, the ‘piano wire’ wheel, is a thing of beauty.
The complexity is remarkable, with a host of wheel truing nuts on the wires, and a threaded bronze knockoff that is removable. The Type 35 wheel is striking, not only because of the familiar spoke pattern, but cast-in brake drums are incorporated as well. And the Borrani? The same quality levels apply throughout. All the wheels are shod in correct Dunlop racing tires. Not limiting himself, McKenna has also produced a gorgeous Bugatti radiator, again with all-metal construction, and entirely faithful to the original component. The wheels and radiator were intended to be produced in limited editions of 500 examples each, but as with many best laid plans….less than 50 of each were made, and it is highly doubtful that any more will be produced.
Several years ago McKenna also created an amazing 1:4 scale 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB dashboard, affixed to a steel column, mounted to a hefty aluminum base. The all metal dashboard (over 12” long) is finished in black ‘crackle’ paint, just like the real competition cars, and features beautifully detailed gauges and switchgear, which complement the three-piece aluminum and wood steering wheel. The glovebox is hinged, and opens. This model is a real rarity, limited to just 25 pieces produced worldwide. If you can find one, grab it!
The Ferrari 250 GTO shift levers are from the late Andre Marie Ruf (approx 1:4 scale), and Terzo Dalia in 1:3 scale. Ruf was famous for his 1:43 scale models, but this departure was a welcome one. The shift lever is nicely presented on a smoked plexiglass base, which features an information plaque and silver prancing horse. The Dalia lever is cast aluminum, with a machined steel shift gate, and moveable lever. Dalia is famous for his 1:3 scale Ferrari engines, and ‘wire-frame’ Ferrari body shapes, but these alas, are well into the five figures. The shift lever is very affordable and some crop up on the secondary market; quantity made is unknown, but certainly a very low number.
The Ferrari steering wheel, in approximately 1:2 scale (yes, half scale!), is from an unknown manufacturer, but represents just what is possible in this niche field. The quality is gorgeous, and rivals anything produced by Nardi back in the day. The wood sections that sandwich the three-spoke aluminum frame are through-riveted, just like the original wheels which equipped Ferrari sports racers from 1950-’56. “Grip bumps” are carved into the rear of the rim, and six acorn nuts secure the hub to the rim from the back. The plexiglass-covered Ferrari horn button is machined aluminum and spring loaded! (You have to provide your own beep!) It’s an amazing piece of craftsmanship that perfectly illustrates our current topic.
To read more great columns like this one from automobilia expert John Lutsch...
John C. Lutsch is the owner of Aeromobilia.com, an internet-based purveyor of unique automobile and aviation-related art, models and rare treasures for the collector and enthusiast.