I really didn't mean to spend so much time out of town in January. As trips often do, a quick jaunt to the west coast snowballed into a marathon journey when I decided to cram in a few other activities along the way. After all, I was traveling all the way to Los Angeles for the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) media trade conference, so I figured I might as well visit the Arizona auctions on the way. Then my planned weekend at Barrett-Jackson and Russo and Steele expanded a couple more days when I received an invite to Marti Autoworks' open house, scheduled for Thursday. Adding a full day on each end for cross-country travel time, all of a sudden my four-day trip turned into a week plus two days.
But as I've been known to say, a bad day out of the office is better than a good day in the office anytime. The visit to Kevin Marti's new facility was worth the trip by itself. As you can see in this month's Pony Tales, Kevin now has a place to display his collections of vintage Rotunda diagnostic machines, Philco-Ford products, and Ford dealership display items, including a new-car brochure rack and an impressive parts department setup. Kevin is known for his concours restoration products and, of course, the Marti Reports from Ford's production database, so it wasn't surprising to see a number of Mustang restorers there, like Bob Perkins, Jeff Yergovich, Ed Meyers, and Jeff Speegle.
At Barrett-Jackson, in addition to watching the cars go across the block, part of the fun is visiting with many of the people who make things happen in the Mustang hobby. With the Mustang Club of America, Marti Autoworks, and the Mid America Ford and Shelby Nationals occupying booths under the Ford skybox, it's like old home week as everybody from Mustang collectors to MCA directors gather in the area all weekend. I also spent some time with Ford's Large and Performance Car Marketing Manager Steve Ling and Mustang Marketing Manager Jim Owens. Nope, they wouldn't reveal anything about the 2015 Mustang.
With the Batmobile scheduled to cross the auction block, the B-J tents were mobbed with people on Saturday evening, so I slipped back to the hotel to watch the feature auctions on SPEED. I was especially interested in a group of five cars that included four interesting Mustangs. Craig Jackson's "Green Hornet" '68 Shelby prototype (see "Return of the Green Hornet" in the January issue), part of a special Salon Collection with a reserve, was bid to $1.8 million but didn't reach Jackson's bottom dollar. A nice '65 G.T. 350 sold for $220,000 followed by a '69 Boss 429 at $225,000, but the deal of the day was the 9,000-mile '67 G.T. 500 survivor that sold for $175,000.
Finally arriving in Los Angeles after my long weekend at the auctions, I grabbed a rental car for a short side trip to visit Denice Halicki and Michael Leone in order to select photos for this month's "Leading Lady" story about the original Gone in 60 Seconds movie. Denice is the widow of H.B. Halicki, creator of Gone in 60 Seconds and the first Eleanor Mustang, and thankfully she has kept the hundreds of photo stills that were taken during filming in 1973. It was amazing to view the original 35mm slides. The Italian dinner was amazing too, best meal of the trip, so thanks to Denice and Michael!
My next two days were spent at an Embassy Suites, where auto magazine editors convened to meet with MPMC member companies. Every half hour, a cowbell signaled for everyone to swap rooms, which were filled with new products and brochures. It's a great event that allows one-on-one visits with businesses that range from aftermarket icons Edelbrock and Holley to companies with strong Mustang restomod ties, like PerTronix and Flaming River. Mustang Monthly's parent company, Source Interlink Media, threw a Wednesday night party at our Irvine offices, giving me a chance to hang out with former MM Editor Jerry Pitt, now a marketing mogul at SIM.
After returning home dead-tired and way behind schedule, I vowed to never schedule another nine-day trip. But I've made that promise before. I do know that next time I'm going to need a larger suitcase.