The one that got away

CofE_Poster-final2

In early 2016 I was contacted by the organiser of the Concours of Elegance inviting me to create a poster for that year’s event. This is one of the most prestigious annual gatherings for classic car enthusiasts to display some of the world’s finest vehicles, which in that year was to be held at Windsor Castle.

The brief was quite loose, the only requirement being that it should feature the magnificent Vittorio Jano designed 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and a 1937 Talbot Lago T150C SS, known as the ‘Teardrop’. This was designed by the Italian Giuseppe Figoni, who also designed the 1935 Delahaye 135 chassis.

Windsor-Castle-2016In this instance it was the influence of the American poster designer Edward McKnight Kauffer that I chose to guide me through the design. Although I was very pleased with this bold new direction, it proved to be a mistake, as my illustration was rejected. But at least, I did get paid, which for a jobbing commercial artist like myself, is the main thing. The organiser chose, instead, to use the Charles Avalon design on the left. Oh, well, you can’t win them all, as I believe they say.

You can see other examples of my poster work at: https://www.newvintageposters.com/

Alfa Romeo 1936 Mille Miglia poster

Alfa-Romeo-1936-Mille-Miglia-poster

3-AlfasAfter a year of sabre rattling between Italy and Ethiopia, Mussolini’s army invaded Ethiopia in October 1934, prompting the League of Nations to impose sanctions against Italy. As a consequence, the country found itself suffering severe shortages in many areas, including fuel.

But the Italian motor racing authorities were determined not to let a small matter like international condemnation and lack of fuel stand in the way of running an important event like the Mille Miglia. To calm any public opposition, they devised special categories for cars running on wood, charcoal and a mixture of coal and petrol, called ‘carbonella’. Only one of these cars, a Fiat 508 Balilla Gas, would complete the race, and that crossed the finishing line eighteen hours after the race winner, being obliged to weave through regular traffic by that time. As a result of a great deal of nationalist fervour and International boycott, only one non-Italian car, an Aston Martin, entered the race. This plucky Brit lined up against twenty-three Alfa Romeos, twenty-five Fiats, four Maseratis and a Lancia.

The three works cars entered by Scuderia 1936-Alfa_romeo-75Ferrari comprised of the new 8C 2900A Roadsters, which were purpose built by Alfa Romeo to race and win at Mille Miglia, and were driven by Count Antonio Brivio with mechanic Carlo Ongaro in car number 75, Carlo Maria Pintacuda with Stefani in 79, and Giuseppe Farina with Meazza in 82.
These three cars battled for supremacy throughout the thousand-mile route, with the lead changing hands frequently, although Pintacuda was later slowed by a malfunctioning carburettor and subsequently delayed by thirty minutes for repairs. Farina now took the lead with only seventy seconds separating these three magnificent cars after six hundred gruelling miles.

Brivio finally caught and overtook Farina just outside of Perugia, and clung onto the lead for the remaining four hundred miles to narrowly win by just thirty seconds. Pintacuda managed to recover, despite his delay, to finish in third position, just thirty minutes behind Farina.

The following year Alfa repeated their success in taking the first three places at Mille Miglia, an achievement that prompted the company to produce a road-going version, the 8C 2900B. This new model made the claim of being the fastest production vehicle in the world with a top speed of 110 mph and many of them were raced.

You can find out more about this poster HERE.

1933 Monaco Grand Prix Bugatti Poster

Bugatti Type 51 Monaco poster

1933 Monaco Grand Prix Bugatti poster. The 1933 Monaco Grand Prix, the third race of the season, proved to be as dramatic as its reputation promised.

From the outset, there was no love lost between fellow Italians Achille Varzi and Tazio

Monaco-1933-grid-start
The start of the race. L to R: Varzi (Bugatti), Chiron (Alfa Romeo) and Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo).

Nuvolari, and it came as no surprise when, throughout the race, the lead position switched constantly between these two arch rivals. Nuvolari led for sixty-six, and Varzi for thirty-four of the scheduled one hundred laps, frequently driving side-by-side and often touching wheels.

Then, on the ninety-ninth and penultimate lap, Nuvolari’s Alfa Romeo ‘Monza’ dramatically burst into flames when a piston broke due to over-revving. In attempting to push his car over the finish line he used outside assistance and was subsequently disqualified, leaving Varzi in the Bugatti Type 51 as victor, with team-mate René Dreyfus, also in a Type 51, taking third position. The Alfa Romeo ‘Monza’, driven by Italian driver Baconin Borzacchini, took second place on the podium.

This Monaco event was the first Grand Prix where starting positions were decided by practice time rather than the previous method of balloting; Varzi taking pole and Nuvolari in fourth place on the grid.

This poster celebrates one of the rare victories for the Type 51 machine during its four-year career, and marks the beginning of the decline in Team Bugatti’s dominance of motor sports events.

You can view this poster in my website HERE

tazio-monaco-1933
Nuvolari pushes his stricken Alfa Romeo home.

Ferrari 1953 Mille Miglia Poster

Ferrari Mille Miglia art deco poster

enzo-ferrariEnzo Ferrari began his motorsport career as a driver with the Alfa Romeo team in 1920 and retired from driving in 1932 following the birth of his son Dino. He would now concentrate on management and the development of his racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, within Alfa. In 1939, after a falling-out with Alfa boss Ugo Gobbato, Ferrari left to build his own factory, but it wasn’t until after the war in 1947 that Enzo formed the racing team that we know today.

The team’s first major victory came in 1949 with the 24 hours of Le Mans race, and further successes quickly followed. But it was always his main aim to defeat the still dominant Alfas.

In 1953 Ferrari entered the newly built 340 MMMarzotto in the high-profile Mille Miglia endurance race, with the Italian driver Giannino Marzotto behind the wheel, to take on the Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 driven by the Argentinian, Juan Fangio. Surviving a couple of crashes during the race and being forced to cut a hole in the bonnet of the car to add oil after the bonnet jammed, Marzotto carried on and eventually overtook Fangio’s crippled Alfa to win the race.

Whenever I formulate a composition for a Mille Miglia poster, I like to place the drama in the open countryside to concentrate on the cars and the headline text, as posters are supposed to do. Many paintings that attempt to recreate the race will feature cars racing through the towns and villages of Northern Italy, but I find this a distraction from the immediacy of my posters.

programme-textWhilst I would dearly love to claim the full credit for the beautiful design of the headline text in this poster, I need to confess that I redrew it from this image (pictured left), albeit tiny and very low resolution, which I believe appeared on the original programme cover for this event. So at least, I know it is authentic.

You can view this poster in our shop HERE.

 

 

 

New Vintage Posters: As Seen On TV.

TheAuctionHouse

Here’s a funny thing. I was watching the second episode of the Channel 4 documentary programme ‘The Auction House’ last night, filmed at Lots Road auctions in Chelsea, and there on the wall, to my great surprise, were three of my posters. I was quite curious to discover how the sale went, so I rang Lots Road Auction House and spoke to Nick Carter, the senior auctioneer for paintings and rugs. He told me that they had sold for between £150.00 and £250.00 on the day. Not a bad investment for somebody, I’d say.

Please allow me to add that stuff gets put into auctions all the time, I am aware of this. The reason I was quite pleased with this event was that Lots Road Auction House prides itself in being very selective about the items they accept (although I’m not so sure about the sofa in the foreground), and this particular sale distinguished itself by being what the boss Roger Ross described as ‘fewer and better’ as part of his plan to increase profits.

You can view this very entertaining episode until March 24 on Channel 4 On Demand here.

You can find more details of the three posters featured in the TV programme here: Bentley poster, Alfa Romeo poster and Aston Martin poster.

Alfa Romeo Le Mans poster

I’ve been trying for some considerable time to incorporate one of the beautiful Monet compositions of poplars on the River Epte, painted while he was living at Giverny, into one of my posters. The particular painting I’ve shown here, part of a series that was painted through the summer of 1891, I love to see quite regularly at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, an hour or two from where I live in suffolk. I love the majestic sweep of the trees that suggests such elegant motion.

But after many false starts I finally found the composition that worked. This very dynamic image of the fabulous 1931 Alfa Romeo eight cylinder 2300 dropped straight into my drawing of the trees like a dream. This car seems to have won just about every race it entered, and the Alfa Romeo team was able to call on the very best drivers of the time, much like Ferrari can now. Here I feature this magnificent beast winning the 1931 Le Mans 24 hour race, beating the mighty 7 litre Mercedes-Benz SSK designed by Ferdinand Porsche into second place, with the very successful driving pair of Lord Howe and Henry Birkin of Great Britain behind the wheel. The two “Bentley Boys”, who had turned to Alfas after Bentley ceased racing, went on to achieve even more success with Enzo Ferrari’s team at Alfa.

I’m sure that many purists will argue that this is not an accurate representation of the Le Mans circuit, and they would be correct, but I tend to be a bit more dieselpunk in my approach to the composition of a piece of graphic design, and prefer that it be elegant, dynamic and visually pleasing rather than historically precise. I’m looking for a composition that will grace the most modern apartment as well as an automobile enthusiast’s garage.

For further information on this poster, and indeed the rest of my collection, please visit my website here.

Alfa Romeo Mille Miglia poster

I first stumbled upon a picture of this lovely Vittorio Jano designed Alfa Romeo 1750 some years ago in an Italian Alfa Romeo book, and wanted to use the image as reference for a new poster. But I needed some background information about the car’s achievements to feed me ideas how I might build the design, and not being an Italian speaker I looked to the internet. And here I found a wonderful story about the 1930 Mille Miglia event in which the charismatic Italian driver Tazio Nuvolari (pictured on the right) cheekily overtook his great rival Achille Varzi, also driving an Alfa, by sneaking up in the dark with his headlights turned off, only turning them back on after he had passed Varzi. Of course, I couldn’t resist using this excellent yarn as the basis for my design, despite the fact that eyebrows are raised among the cognoscenti as to the accuracy of this version of events. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

The Coppa delle Mille Miglia is run over a figure of eight course starting out from Brescia to Rome and back to Brescia; a distance, as the name suggests, of close to a thousand miles. And after sixteen hours of racing Nuvolari beat Varzi by seven minutes to win the race.

This particular poster has been my most popular design by a considerable distance and is still selling well. If you’d like further details of this and other posters in my collection you can find them here.