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Feature Story


by Bob Hagin

March 12, 1999

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with mail-order catalogs, but there are some I look forward to receiving. Most of these are auto-oriented and I browse through them and then file them away. These are the auto catalogs I've received since we last wrote on the subject:

GRAND PRIX TOURS - If I was a person of independent means and wasn't strapped to this computer to make ends meet, one of the things I'd do is to fly off to all the classy auto races that are listed in "Grand Prix Tours." This catalog offers packaged travel deals to such exotic events as the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco, NASCAR's Las Vegas 400 Winston Cup race, the Miami Grand Prix for CART Champ Cars, the Indy 500 put on by the IRL and the French 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. It's true that you can stay home and see these events on television, but even if you have a big screen and a comfortable recliner, it isn't the same as watching the Monaco GP in person while sipping champagne at the Cafe de Paris overlooking Casino Square, or freezing in the pitch-black infield at Le Mans at midnight in the pouring rain. What fun! Get your own catalog by calling Grand Prix Tours at 800-400-1998.

GRIOT'S GARAGE - Richard Griot's catalog for auto enthusiasts is full of fancy tools, polishes, battery chargers and other items that are several cuts above the stuff you'll find at your local budget-conscious auto parts chain store. For instance, I didn't know that windshield squeegees made in Germany are the best available. Griot has his own logoed line of shop accessories such as The Cadillac of Creepers (with side rails so you won't fall off) and pneumatic rolling short stools. He markets Italian-made USAG tool sets and rolling tool toters that carry the Ferrari "Prancing Horse" emblem up front as well as his own labeled industrial-strength gray garage floor paint that's guaranteed not to come off or "lift." And if painting your garage floor isn't enough, Griot offers oil and gas-resistant carpet in various sizes so that you won't slip getting in and out of your Porsche (like the one shown in the promotional photo). Griot catalogs are available at 800-354-5798.

PEGASUS AUTO RACING SUPPLIES - If you're not a dyed-in-the-wool professional or serious amateur racer, you may want to skip the Pegasus catalog for racing stuff. On the other hand, you may need an Adrox crack testing kit (I used one myself two months ago) or a Unisyn Carburetor Synchronizer for dialing-in multiple carburetors. The Pegasus catalog has lots of interesting equipment that's useful to the home auto shop hobbyist as well as complete Formula Ford 1600 and 2000 racing engines, heavy-duty starters for a variety of engines and an assortment of high-strength nuts, bolts and other fasteners. It also has a section devoted to clothing but in this case, all the garments are fire- resistant driving suits and the headwear is helmets. The Pegasus catalog editor must have a whimsical sense of humor to have put a selection of auto brand-oriented ties along side Vee Tech racing engines and brass fuel fittings. The Pegasus number is 800-688-6946.

CORKER TIRE - If you need low-priced, long-wear tires for your Neon, Saturn or other econobox sedan, your best bet is to roll into your local mass-merchandiser or discount tire outlet. But what do you do if you need 33 X 4-inch high pressure Silvertown Cord tires for the artillery-type wooden spoked wheels on your pristine 1921 model 48 4-passenger coupe with a folding and disappearing extra seat? Tires in this size (and hundreds more for old timers) are found in the catalog sent to me annually by Coker Tire of Chattanooga. Vintage vehicle restorers are sticklers for authenticity and if the owner of a military Jeep show-car wants to win, he has to have the correct 650 X 16 knobby-tread Firestone tires. Besides tires, Coker sells reproduction hub caps, vintage advertisements, and even vintage-type bicycles tires. Coker Tires Vintage Tire Hotline is 800-251-6336.

CLASSIC MOTORBOOKS - In recent years, automotive books have proliferated like toadstools after a rainstorm and Classic Motorbooks has kept pace with the trend. Every year I get two or three updated versions of its catalog that lists enough book titles to fill a small-town library. Coffee-table books are found in great profusion, of course, but there's lots of historical titles on diverse subjects. Ford farm tractors, Schwinn bicycles (including Stingrays), peddle cars, petroleum collectibles (attendant uniforms, gas pumps, etc.), slot cars and American-made motorcycles are all covered, plus hundreds more titles and subjects. Also listed are a multitude of quasi-technical titles (air-cooled VW interchange manual, race car aerodynamics, etc.) as well as biographies on auto luminaries and racers. Especially handy at Christmas, a Classic Motorbooks catalog can be had by calling 800-826-6600.

BEVERLY HILLS MOTORING ACCESSORIES - Few of us can resist the snob appeal of having a catalog from an auto parts and accessory store in Beverly Hills. From Momo and Nardi steering wheels to four-figure sports wrist watches, the Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories (BHMA) catalog has it all. Mercedes-Benz stuff has a section of its own and the items range from burlwood inserts for the interior to first-gear-quick-start valve bodies for the automatic transmission. BHMA also markets its own modified versions of the Chevy Suburban, Yukon and Tahoe SUVs, as well as the Lincoln Navigator and the Ford Expedition. BHMA's own jumper cables have the company logo on the carrying case, so they can be displayed and used with pride. Just having this catalog lying casually on your living room table adds class to your home and the company's contact number is 800-367-2462.

Auto catalogs keep us enthusiasts abreast of what's going on and what's available. And who knows - they may be collectible automotive memorabilia themselves some day.