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Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection Hardcover – March 15, 2005
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While Ralph Lauren also sprang from a modest, blue-collar background, he was an ambitious young man and always aspired to be one of the moneyed "smart set". He made his fortune from his Polo collection of clothing, which was not so coincidentally influenced by the classical styles of the 1930s. For more than a generation Lauren has dressed men in a moneyed, tasteful way and his collection represents the finest, most visually stunning automotive rarities that money and taste can buy. Lauren's cars track so well with the style and cut of his apparel line that some of them have bee used as backdrops or props for advertising spreads.
This lavish book was produced in 2005 on the occasion of the exhibition of Lauren's collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Now, I think the practice of exhibiting automobiles or motorcycles in art museums is a dubious one and simply an attempt to increase their box office, but in any event, it was a beautiful exhibit. This is a large format book with photographs by Michael Furman, who is often said to be the finest automobile photographer working today. The text is by the prolific English motoring writer Winston Goodfellow and Beverly Rae Kimes. Twenty-nine automobiles are covered, each of which are written about in individual features that are usually six to ten pages in length. The chapters are well-written with a nice series of anecdotes that help explain the origin of the car, its owners and unique allure. As you would expect from a book on Ralph Lauren's collection, the production is nothing short of stunning.
Ralph Lauren was always drawn to automobiles and upper class tastes, so when he had hit it big, really big, he began to collect automobiles, the type of cars he loved and that he knew would be appreciated by the most sophisticated Palm Beach and Pebble Beach collectors. While the cars are a private passion, they are also a manifestation of his well-cultivated public image. The cars in this collection are all very desirable among the cognoscenti, this means Bugattis, Jaguars, Porsches and most of all, Ferraris. Lauren began collecting in earnest in the mid-1980s and most of the cars represented in this book were acquired between 1985 and 1990. He has a good eye for beauty and was patient enough to wait for only the most desirable examples of the cars that he wanted. Once he acquired them, he paid the best restorers to put them into prize awards condition and his cars have taken the big prizes at Pebble Beach and other prestigious "lawn" shows.
The cars covered here include the legendary 1929 Blower Bentley, perhaps the least successful racing car to become a legend, but one that looks so right that it is desired by men as different as Jay Leno and Ralph Lauren. There is the menacing Count Trossi Mercedes SSK, the streamlined 1955 Mercedes 300SL "Gullwing" and an Alfa Romeo Monza 8C from the days that Enzo Ferrari ran the works Alfa team. There are three Bugattis, a Type 59 Grand Prix car, a Type 57SC Gangloff Coupe and what is one of the most valuable cars in the world, one of three uniquely styled Type 57SC Atlantics, which is of course the best and most original of the two survivors.
There are two Jaguars, the sensual, streamlined XK120 that finished 8th in the Mille Miglia and a D-Type that was driven by the legendary Mike Hawthorne. There are only two Porsches in the book, a 550 Spyder and an RSK, because I suspect few of them are stylish enough for the designer. Lauren has Ferraris, boy does he have Ferraris, a brutally beautiful 375 plus from 1954, a surprisingly little raced 250 Testa Rossa from 1958, a stunning 250 TR61 styled by Fantuzzi that won the Sebring endurance race, a 250 GTO that was driven to victories by the likes of the Rodriguez brothers and Roger Penske, one of the most successful 250 SWB racing cars, a classic 250 GT Spyder California, a brutish 250 LM that won races in the Antipodes and finally, a 275 P2/3 Spyder by Drogo, a NART Spyder and the classic front-engined 12 cylinder Daytona Spyder from the early 1970s. The two American cars that appeared in the museum show are a well used Jeep runabout and a Ford "Woody" Station Wagon, one of which has the practicality and the other, the casual grace to serve as stylish weekend cars for Lauren.
If you are a woman who is looking for an exceptional coffee table book as a present for the man in your life - as virtually all of those who fanaticize and fetishize these cars are male - this is an ideal choice. Its beautifully produced, well written and the features on each car do an excellent job of describing their unique history and lasting allure.
shown in a Boston museum a couple years ago. The photography of the cars is
excellent along with the extensive descriptions make it a much sought after book.
I've waited a year to find it at the original price & when I saw it recently at that price I bought it on Amazon immediately.
I've seen a number of these cars at Ferrari Concours in the Northeast and they
are fantastic in person and show brilliantly in this coffee table book.
Love this book! Terrific book for anyone who loves vintage, exotic cars!!