The bucolic town of Taghkanic, NY is known mainly for its proximity to Hudson. But it’s also where entrepreneur, race car driver and sometime restaurateur Alan Wilzig has built a private pean to the world of motorsports in the form of Wilzig Racing Manor, the result of a hard-fought battle with the town and various opposition groups. What he calls the “only privately-owned personal-use professional-grade grand-prix style circuit in the world” cost some $8 million to build. On a recent visit to the 275-acre facility to test out the new Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop however it was Wilzig’s incredible motorcycle collection that caught our eye.
Porsche is often jokingly said to have the laziest designers in the business because the 911 has changed so little in 50 years. While that’s obviously an exaggeration the world’s most iconic sports car has remained remarkably true to its original lines. The Targa version, first offered for sale in 1967 as a sort of stop-gap while Porsche figured out how to make a workable cabriolet, has always been one of the most alluring 911 variants. An integral stainless steel roll-bar designed to address safety concerns gave birth to its famed B-pillar hoop bearing the Targa logo. Named after Italy’s Targa Florio race, where Porsche had scored seven victories since 1956 over the likes of Ferrari and Maserati, it was originally equipped with a removable roof panel and a removable plastic rear window, with a fixed glass version offered starting in 1968.
Following various updates in the ‘70s and ‘80s, in 1990 Porsche brought out a Targa version of the then-new 964, now considered the last of the “classic” Targas. In 1993 the design changed from a removable roof panel to a sliding glass one, which while not ugly definitely did not have the same aesthetic appeal, not least because it did away with the iconic B-pillar. Glass roofed Targas remained available until 2008 when Porsche updated the 997, and then last year the company unveiled the new 911 Targa with a radical redesign harking back to the original with the B-pillar hoop re-instated along with a fabric covered roof panel. The car employs a rather complex mechanism to remove the front roof section and stow it behind the rear seats, but overall it’s a styling triumph, a potent blend of modern and retro.
The release of Spectre, the 24th Bond film and the fourth to feature Daniel Craig as 007, isn’t the only thing on the secret agent’s dossier this autumn. On Sept. 8, two months before Spectre makes its worldwide debut, Harper Collins will publish Trigger Mortis, a brand new Bond novel by Anthony Horowitz incorporating previously unpublished material written by Ian Fleming for a never-filmed television series, Murder on Wheels. Though there have been dozens of Bond books commissioned by the Fleming estate since his death in 1964 – he didn’t actually live to see very many of his iconic creation’s cinematic exploits – Trigger Mortis is the first to be set during the original timeline created by Fleming since 1968′s Colonel Sun.
That book, written by brilliant British author Kingsley Amis under the pen name Robert Markham, was a bit tricky for some Bond fans though elements of Amis’ plot were later used in filming The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. Though he had also published two other Bond-related works, a literary study called The James Bond Dossier and the cheeky The Book of Bond, Amis wrote no other Bond novels. A fictional autobiography of 007 by John Pearson appeared in 1973 followed by novelizations of The Spy Who Loves Me and Moonraker in 1977 and 1979. Then the torch was passed to British novelist John Gardner, an ex-Royal Marine Commando, who went on to write sixteen Bond books between 1981–1996.
Our recent report on the Henley Royal Regatta sparked a serious debate about class and style. One commenter’s position that “people should know their place” in regards to attending and dressing for such high-end events struck a chord in particular. Which led us to wonder whether Henley and its ilk are really the bastions of unrepentant snobbery that some make them out to be. Many seem to be of the opinion that rowing is only for the rich, and that the “ridiculous” blazers worn by rowers and clubmen are merely a way of rubbing the proles’ noses in it. So we decided to ask Jack Carlson (photographed above by Jason Varney) to stick an oar in.
A three-time member of the U.S. national rowing team, Carlson has won the Henley Royal Regatta, the Head of the Charles Regatta, and the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. A native of Boston, he first began his rowing career as a coxswain at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols school in Cambridge, Mass., which was the first American high school to win at Henley in 1929. Last year he published Rowing Blazers, a gorgeous paean to the flamboyant garments that have occasioned so much criticism, with photography by F.E. Castleberry of Unabashedly Prep. Oh, and he also has a degree from Georgetown and a Ph.D. in archaeology from Oxford.
“Sailing dinghies down the Charles, M.I.T. men sometimes convey an impression of leisurely living,” imparted the May 7, 1956 issue of LIFE in a story headlined “Amidst Grinding Work, Some Fun”. “But in their fraternities and their rooms on campus, these same men line the walls with banners proclaiming, ‘Tech is Hell.’ Boasting they have the toughest regimen of any U.S. campus, they point out that they average 55 hours a week in class and laboratories, nearly double that of their liberal arts counterparts at Harvard.”
The magazine seemed at pains to point out that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (est. 1861), which other college men might accuse of producing “milquetoasts”, was in fact doing our country an essential service in a time when the Soviets seemed to be outpacing us in the realm of science. Another article titled “The Need for Better Scientists and M.I.T.’s Answer” focused on recruitment strategies and their commitment to turning out more and better engineers and scientists that the pesky Reds.
While lots of people come to gawk at the insanely gorgeous cars on the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance every August, there are also plenty of men with very deep pockets who come to do some serious shopping. There are a few blue-chip auctions during Monterey Car Week, of which the headliner is the three-day event produced by RM Sotheby’s. This year they’re also staging an auction-within-an-auction, with one of the world’s best car collections, called the Pinnacle Portfolio, going up for sale. RM is billing it as “the most significant and valuable private automobile collection ever presented at a single-day auction,” including everything from early model Ferrari race cars to the final production Enzo, gifted to the late Pope John Paul II.
In addition to the 25 Pinnacle cars, which include both classic and modern machines, are some of the most expensive and desirable cars in the world are set to cross the auction block. Top of the class is a 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works race car (top photo), which finished fourth overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1953, and is the second of only three “Works Lightweight” cars ever built by Jaguar in thin-gauge aluminum. It’s expected to bring in $9 million or more, making it one of the world’s most expensive Jaguars. It’s easily the most beautiful car in the sale in our opinion, though the competition is fierce – the 1950 Ferrari 275S/340 America Barchetta by Scaglietti (below) isn’t exactly an eyesore either. It could fetch $8 million-plus, in case you were wondering.
The story goes that one day in the early 1960s, David Brown, chairman of Aston Martin, “entered a board meeting at which some of his engineers were in attendance, plunked his hunting dog down on the table and said, ‘Build me something for him to sit in.’” Brown, who made a fortune building tractors during World War II, had become the quintessential English gentleman, racing horses, playing polo and shooting grouse, and wanted a vehicle he could use on his estate for country pursuits. In 1947 he’d seen a classified advertisement in The Times of London offering a “High Class Motor Business” for sale, and subsequently acquired Aston Martin for £20,500. He then had the company’s now legendary series of ‘DB’ cars, beginning with the DB2 in 1950, named after him using his initials.