One thing I will say for BMW...it's a popular subject. Yesterday's post about BMW brought in far more traffic than normal for a Sunday.
I did go to the car show, and got a pleasant surprise. As I rounded the doorway into the Classic Two-Seater Sports Car room, this is what I saw:
A bonus for Mikey, that's what. Turns out an enterprising local photographer had piggybacked on the Auto Show to stage an exhibit of his work. He's a retired commercial professional from West Allis named Tom Ferderbar.
Here's Tom. We had a nice chat. He knew the late Arnie Gore, a local pro who was a good friend of my father's. He was showing two sets of work in the Two-Seater room: black and white from Yosemite National Park, and color from a project shot along the old Route 66. And he kinda liked the GX1, too.
The color work was done on 6x6 and with Canon DSLRs, and the black and white was all 8x10" Tri-X. The giant prints—I forgot to write down the size, although you can get an idea from the snapshot above—are digital prints made from scans. Tom told me that buyers sometimes ask for silver gelatin enlarger prints, but he can't make them this big, and he says he thinks the digital prints are better anyway. The main advantage, he said, being that he can burn and dodge much more precisely.
I was too polite to ask him if he'd sold any. His prices were right stiff, too.
As you might even have guessed, Tom studied with Ansel Adams—he took a workshop with Ansel in the 1960s (I think it was). The week-long workshop included a private dinner for two students at a time at the Adams home with Ansel and his wife Virginia. Cost for the week? $100.
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The nice thing about going to the Auto Show on the weekend is that you get to meet some of the owners of the gorgeous old cars being displayed. In Tom's room I got to talk to the owner of a perfect 1959 Corvette, as well as a guy who had owned his restored 1957 Ford Thunderbird since new. That's pretty unusual. I also talked to the owner of a Bugatti Type 57 that must have been the rarest car on display at the whole show. He had just gotten it back after a five-year engine rebuild. I didn't even want to know what that cost. I must have been well into six figures.
Best of show: A used Fiberglas-bodied Superformance Cobra on display at Harry's Toys. Harry's is my favorite exhibit year after year, no question. Harry has been dealing in cool fun fine used cars since he was 16. In his day he's sold more Excaliburs than anyone alive. He sells mostly used cars skimmed from his sizeable wholesale business, but he also just took on a brand of Canadian three-wheeler that must have been the strangest vehicle at the whole show. He likes telling the story of one customer from Switzerland who has bought 35 cars from him! If I were a rich guy, I'd trade one used car for another every two years at Harry's for the rest of my life, like clockwork.
Oddities: #1: This might sound strange, but the muscle cars of today are Mercedes-Benzes. In some of their cars there are so many engine choices that they'll offer a 400+ HP bi-turbocharged V8 and then a more powerful option above that. They have a station wagon that will pin a Viper's ears back, and I'm not joking.
#2: I was looking forward to sitting in a Golf R, my current dream car, but, strangely, the VW display did not include a Golf R. Or a GTI. Or a Golf. That's right, no Golfs of any flavor in the VW area. That's just strange.
Hot tip: If you happen to be in the market for a mainstream sedan, make sure you see the new 2013 Mazda 6, a Camry/Accord competitor that's new this year (they've only been on sale for four weeks as I write this). The car looks good in pictures, but in person it's gorgeous. Especially in an as-yet-unidentified smokey blue color. Even the cockpit design is superb. Coming from a company that has been notably styling-challenged in the past few years (remember the cat-car?), that's like a mope who's batting .119 suddenly stroking a game-winning grand slam.
It's really an unusally pretty car for its segment. And it starts at $20k.
Fiat Abarths are nicer than I thought they'd be, too, but who are those cars for? I can't picture men buying them, and I can't picture women buying them. And I think those are the only choices.
It's my birthday today, so I'm going back to the Auto Show this afternoon. Playing hookey two days in a row...what a slug! But the nice thing about going to the Auto Show on a weekday is that there aren't nearly as many people, and you can get better pictures of the cars. Today I'm shouldering the Big Dragoon...gotta get some snaps of that Cobra. Who knows if I'll ever see one again.
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Featured Comments from:
Christian: "I am in love with that first B&W photo with the tree and the waterfall. I can't even see it that well in your picture, Mike, but I am quite smitten. When I grow up I would love to make pictures of that caliber."
Tom Kwas: "FYI, for the years I worked in Milwaukee, Tom had the premier advertising studio in town; and was a genuinely nice guy. Everyone wanted to work there, and they always had the best facilities and equipment. He was blessed, if I can use that term, with owning that studio during what would be the golden years of advertising photography in this market area. He was of the perfect age, such that when he decided to retire, the business market in general was already on the wane, and many of the local businesses that had national and international markets, had already sold themselves to larger concerns not located in this area, and moved their advertising and marketing departments out of this area to their home offices.
"He probably owned his studio when Milwaukee was still the 13th–15th largest metro area in the country, until by the early '90s, it had shrunk to the 38th largest market area. Perfect timing! No studio now exist in this market area that was like his. End of an era...."