Mishaps to Smiles

Automotive heartbreak takes many shapes and forms, often with a dash of Murphy’s Law to add further anguish . . . .  Maybe it’s that increasingly persistent knocking sound under your hood that emerges 20 miles after the last rest stop.  Or perhaps it’s the dent in your freshly painted door from the SUV that managed to find you even in the furthest reaches of the Home Depot parking lot.  Or, alas, it could be the deep disappointment of a concours judge pointing out that your new, last-one-in-the-world, $500 NOS taillamp is, in fact, a reproduction ….

For David DeLuca and Jay Bellanca heartbreak came in the form of a trip, respectively, after and just before an automotive concours.  In David’s case, it happened a few days after the 2019 Greenwich Concours, where his Inka Yellow BMW CSL was awarded BMW of North America’s “Most Outstanding BMW” award.  The honor was no surprise, given that David’s car is not just any CSL, but one of the late, low-production “Batmobile” models works-equipped with an aerodynamic package that included a large air dam, short fins atop the front fenders, a spoiler above and behind the trailing edge of the roof and a tall rear wing. 
David’s car was in excellent original condition … until shortly after Greenwich that is, when he was driving the CSL to his storage garage and was hit in the rear quarter by a pickup pulling out of a side street.  The driver claimed not have seen David’s car, which he finds a bit hard to believe: “How could you miss this bright yellow car with a massive wing on the back?”  David emerged from the crash with a bruised knee and a concussion, but the CSL fared far less well, with the impact on the rear corner affecting other parts of the car (though, fortunately, not the underbody). 
A perfectionist at heart, David decided on a full restoration, which is being handled by Gabriel Sports Cars in Yonkers, New York.  “In amazing stroke of luck,” he notes, “the shop had a NOS quarter panel in stock, which was a huge relief.”  In the process of stripping down the car, however, David discovered that it had been originally painted silver, though its current yellow was on parts of the car not normally resprayed during a restoration, so he thinks there’s a possibility that this was a BMW executive’s personal car that, on special request, was repainted in its current color. 
David promises that the work will be completed in time for this year’s Sunday in the Park, where he has been no stranger to the winners’ lineup at the Concours, having captured the “Speed Breeds Success” class last year with Peter Gregg’s personal 1974 911 Carrera.  He’s a huge fan of the event we’re excited to welcome his CSL to year’s event.

Jay Bellanca’s unfortunate mishap took place as he was driving to Lime Rock last fall from his home in Salem, New York – a deer and his Sunbeam Tiger tried to occupy the same space at the same time, with unfortunate results.  So instead of enjoying the fun at Sunday in the Park, he was left to limp home and repair a very damaged front end.  But Jay, like David, took advantage of his misfortune to give his Tiger a thorough update with a fresh coat of red paint. 

The Tiger was the somewhat desperate attempt by Lord William Rootes to endow the handsome but otherwise leisurely Sunbeam Alpine with a bit more pep, which ultimately led to Caroll Shelby building a prototype with a 260-cubic-inch Ford V8 that handily solved the pep problem.  Jay’s personal Tiger enthusiasm came to him at an early age.  “My father managed a printing company in San Francisco that printed all the material for the SF Auto show in 1965, where Rootes put on a big promotional effort,” he says.  “One of  the perks was that my Dad got a loaner Tiger to drive around for a few days – black with a silver stripe across the boot.  It was quite a thrill for a 13-year-old budding motorhead to ride around in that car.”

We’re very happy to welcome Jay back to the 2020 Sunday in the Park Concours, and hope that his drive to the Park this year be a bit less eventful than last year’s. 

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