Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Day at the Art of the Car Concours

I spent the second day of a great Kansas City festival weekend at the Art of the Car Concours.  As in prior years, the 2012 edition helps fund scholarship programs at KCAI.  Now in its sixth year, the man behind Art of the Car, Marshall Miller, has built this Midwestern show into a premiere event.  It is by invitation only and features the best cars and motorcycles from the region and the national concours circuit.

I probably made shooting more difficult on myself than I should have.  The old mid-range zoom lens in my kit does not bring out the best in my Canon 60D.  I shot the entire show with my favorite prime macro lens, a Sigma DG 50mm f2.8, and moved myself to compose images.  I used manual exposure compensation liberally.  However, the saturation and contrast is wonderful with this lens even without a polarizing filter.

Can you believe this is a car horn?  This is the first thing I spotted walking into the 2012 Art of the Car Conocurs at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI).
If you found this post through a Google search, you didn't come to read my commentary on camera gear.  Let's move on to the cars.  The collection that follows is a small sampling of the show.  Whole car photos are relatively easy to find, so I try to select the kinds of details that make these vehicles so great.  I am an armchair car guy without the space or time for a hobby car.  You might have noticed that this blog is dedicated to technology.  Art of the Car features the very best in automotive art, design and technology.

The horn snakes up the right front fender of the incomparable Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

This is the chauffeur's instrument panel.  I love these surface mount gauges from the early days of motoring.

Now you know what a four million dollar car looks like.  This is one of a handful 1937 Talbot Lago T-150 SS Teardrop Coupes ever built.  This car won the Pebble Beach Concours.  Its presence in Kansas City is a testament to the growing prestige of the KCAI Art of the Car.  This earned first in the People's Choice awards category.

This dashboard is beyond fabulous.  I love the engraved detail on the panel.

This is another car that looks great from any angle.  My photos cannot do it justice.

There were so many amazing cars to see that I didn't have a chance to shoot many engine details.  Not surprisingly, this power plant is a joy to behold.

Race cars were well represented.  This is a 1959 MG EX 186.

This luscious beast of a car is a 1938 Puegeot 402 Dar'lMat.  Again, beautiful from every angle.  The paint is absolutely stunning and looked just as good in hard mid-day sun as in the early morning when this photo was taken.

This reminds me of the famed Buick fender portholes, but with much more style.

The combined instrument cluster gauges make for a remarkably clean and simple dashboard.

This gives you a feel for the campus.  Each Art of the Car has a sub-theme.  Pedal cars, seen in the background, were a featured group.

If you haven't figured it out already, I have a serious hood ornament fixation.  This belongs to one of seven Duesenbergs  at the show.

I was rushed taking this photo and did not note the car model.  I like the set piece details some owners throw into the mix.
I want this color scheme on a typewriter!  Wow.  I spent a lot of time with this 1929 Hudson Dual Cowl Sport.  The crowd seemed to enjoy it as well. 

This car was selected as the second place winner by a group of youth judges recruited at the gate.  Even though this is a recruiting effort, I still have a pretty strong feeling the car guys and girls are born that way.  A kid I know was in that group and the family love of Studebaker Avantis may have had something to do with it garnering the first place youth award.

I've always regretted that Hudson is one of many brands that didn't make it to the modern era.  This beauty is a 1913 6-54 Speedster.

Motorcycles had a section of their own.  After six hours of continuous wandering and shooting, I gave them short shrift on the way out.  This 1973 Ducati was my favorite among a group of outstanding machines.  It also won a show award sponsored by a local Harley Davidson dealer.  Life is full of little ironies.

No Instagram filters here.  This Studebaker Commander was sitting at just the right angle to have some lens flare and back lighting fun.  Every car photo looks pretty much the same unless a few are over exposed for effect.  Yep, that's me towards the bottom.  The desert hat and a constantly refilled water bottle were necessities as the temperature approached 100 degrees in the afternoon.

My daughters shipped off to Girl Scout camp the same day and could not attend the show.  They both loveth is Bentley.  I again intentionally over exposed this shot.

Every Duesenberg is amazing by default.  This is a particularly beautiful example.  That is a 1960 Cadillac in the background.  I still have a major soft spot for the finned beasts of the '50s and the 1959 Cadillac in particular.

Duesenberg = Stunning
Speaking of fins, here is a small example from a 1960 Dodge Matador.  I've seen this car in other local shows and it never ceases to amaze me.

This is the tail end of a 1960 Dodge Dart Phoenix.  This car earned my vote for the People's Choice award.  I had a great talk with the owners who showed off the convenience features.  Every part of this car is clean enough to eat off of.  Unfortunately, that means it spends its life on jacks in a garage and only runs long enough to move in and out of trailers.

This dash is one of the reasons why I voted for this car.  The space age detailing extends throughout the interior.  That bulge in front of the speedometer is a clock!  At one point my parents owned a 1961 Chrysler Windsor with push button controls and an astro dome instrument cluster.
This 1955 Mercury Monclair earned fifth place in the People's Choice awards.  I had a great talk with the owners.  They pulled out their restoration photo album and we flipped through it.  Can you believe this was once a pepto red, rusted hulk sitting in a field in the Colorado front range?  In doing a total rebuild, the owners decided to use a different factory color.  They keep a dealer paint chip collection handy for loving discussions with judges that question this being a stock color.

These are the kind of details I love in classic cars.  The object on the right is the sensor for an automated headlight dimming system.  I know the electronics from having owned a 1959 Cadillac way back when.  To make this work, there is a vacuum tube based amplifier and secondary control circuit.  The object on the left is a traffic light viewing prism.  This car has a low windshield frame.  With the top up the viewer is almost a necessity.

I love these old Indy race cars.  Unfortunately, I didn't log the year.
This cool detail is on a Ferrari pedal car!  The Mustang in front is also child powered.
I saved one of my favorites for last.  This 1930 Stutz Lancefield Coupe always had a crowd of people clustered around it and won second in the People's Choice awards.
Early in the day the car was closed.  Later, everything was open and I stopped by for another round of photos.  Every detail in this car was thought out and engineered just so.  The engine is a work of art on its own.

The day I win the lottery and join the 1% is the day I start shopping for one of these.

And I will leave you with a last hood ornament from the Stutz.  I wonder what objects from this era will still resonate 80 years from now with this level of style and grace?
Thanks to the organizers for bringing such a great show to Kansas City.  For more information, the main website is located here.  The award winning vehicles are featured here.

I will update this post with links to other photo collections.

UPDATE:  The mother load of photos has arrived!  A friend of ours worked as a volunteer from 6:00 AM as the cars arrived through most of the day.  He shot most, if not all, of the entries and indexed them on his photo website at:

 Another Blogger user posted his summary here

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Sleepy Bear Tail

OK, you may have trouble believing this story.  While we were comfortably sleeping in a National Forest Service campground, our next door neighbor was having a late night encounter with a warm and fuzzy friend.  Read on if you dare.

This image is yet another gift from "The Kingdom of Nature".  I was disappointed that "The Happy Zoo Book" contained lions and tigers, but  no bears.  What kind of kids book is that, anyway?

Here is one of the family campsites.  We are perhaps fortunate that our tents were not shaped like sleeping bears.
There are few better places to typecast from than this.  The bear story just made a great vacation better!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy Typewriter Day from Keylime, the Vogue Royal

I hereby interrupt the vacation typecast series to bring you a greeting from the newest member of the Vintage Technology Obsessions typing stable.  Vintage Technology Obsessions will return to regularly scheduled posts after Typewriter Day.

That would be "exercise" that Keylime needed.  At least I spelled derelict right the first time.  Spell check has ruined me.

You might remember this mystery machine from the recent post on the derelict red Royal I saved from a key chopper on ebay.  It has the Vogue typeface, but is many hours of repairs away from being useful for actual typing.  I found Keylime first and happened upon old Red several weeks later.

It only took us a few minutes to determine the appropriate name for this machine.  She came from Florida and reportedly belonged to the spouse of a former president of a state university.  The color balance in these photos is pretty accurate.  This is one upbeat and perky little typewriter!  She is sweet and tart like a slice of keylime pie.

As I noted in Old Red's post, finding a Vogue Royal was an eight month obsessional journey for me.  I don't regret the search.  However, like any junkie, I have experienced a bit of a letdown having procured my fix.  Now I will happily type away until I find a Graphika or something with a fractur typeface.

As for may statement regarding interesting typewriters showing up in threes, I will provide a few examples.  All of these showed up in one to two week clusters, some have just disappeared even in common form:

Olympia SM3:  Three machines with the italic typeface and fairly clear photos.
Facit:  Three portables of various descriptions with the cursive typeface.
Royal Portable:  Three machines ranging from Futura to Safari models with the obscure cursive typeface.
Erika:  There was a week where almost ten model 5 machines appeared.  This is the week I scored an incredibly rare Erika M while no one was paying attention.  Well, that is more than three.

This typewriter had a bit of a premium attached, but it was in line with the prevailing prices of similar second generation Royal portables with average typefaces.  Having come from Florida, I was pleasantly surprised that Keylime had no funky odors (unlike Margo, the gold Royal QDL from Florida).  All I did was a basic clean and lube and here she is!  The type bars were clean prior to adding a cheap Office Max ribbon.  She really deserves an NOS silk ribbon if anyone has one available.

By the time this post goes live, the big Kansas City weekend of Maker Faire and Art of the Car will be well underway.  I am looking forward to geeking out on technology old and new.  I am not looking forward to the 100+ degree weather expected on Sunday.

With that, I will leave you with a closeup of this luscious typeface.

Friday, June 22, 2012

No Kitty Cat Pajamas Allowed: Typed with a Campy Aristocrat

Welcome to the first of several posts from our most awesome family vacation to the San Luis valley in southern Colorado.  We were unplugged for a good portion of the trip.  I brought along my one compact typewriter, a Hermes Baby clone branded as an Empire Aristocrat.  I bought this last year after looking at the Hermes version.  I can't say I like its stock paint colors.  Besides, the Aristocrat has a somewhat universal keyboard with pound and dollar signs.  I also like the glitzy red keys apparently ripped off from Olivetti.

This most awesome typing locale was right behind our campsite.  The rushing white water is great for sleep and for causing the family to make multiple trips to the pit toilet.

Um, that would be "schlep".  The anniversary part refers to the date upon which MEK and I were hitched.  I can think of worse places to spend an anniversary.

And now for the sorry story behind the "No Kitty Cat Pajamas" camping dictum.  As you read the following typecast, realize that I was sleep deprived.  I got the sequence a little mixed up.  We most decidedly did not go camping last year after this not-so-pleasant episode.  The event in question happened after primitive camping on the Cedar Mesa in southern Utah.  The closest cell tower was around 30 miles away.  The closest neighbor was perhaps 5 miles as the crow flies.  That is the way I like it.

I could try and pass off "diesal" as a warped sense of humor thing.  Alas, I was brain dead and misspelled it while the the grips of the luscious white noise from the stream.

Thus spake the gingercat: "You misspelled whatever."  Watever.
Now you know how we roll.  We aren't misanthropic.  We don't necessarily hate people.  We just want our dose of nature to not involve loud humanoid noises in the night.

Here are a few more images of the Empire Aristocrat.  It isn't a bad little machine.  At some point I will have to try a small Olivetti or Skywriter.  Unlike some Typospherians, I actually like the short throw on the Olympia SF and Socialite machines that were gifted to my daughters last year.